Whisky is one of the most popular spirits in the world. It originated in Scotland in the 1400s and was taken over to America when the states were being colonised. It became the drink of choice for George Washington, who spend up his own distillery. In this post we are going to show you some of the best whisky tasting kits available. But first, you need to learn a bit about whisky, to ensure you can pick the best one for you. Clic on the tabs below to see what you can expect from the different types of Whisky.
American Whisky is usually sweeter than other whiskies. They must be distilled in America and aged in barrels in order to be labeled as whiskey (usually for two years, but not always).There are a few different categories of American Whisky:
- Bourbon — distilled from at least 51% corn.
- Rye — distilled from at least 51% rye.
- Tennessee — bourbon that is distilled in Tennessee and filtered through charcoal.
Scotch Whisky has smoky and earthy flavours. It is distilled in Scotland, from mostly barley, and aged for at least 3 years. You can have two types of Scotch Whisky:
- Blended Scotch — literally just a blend of one or more Scotch whiskies.
- Single malt Scotch — distilled at a single distillery from malted barley.
Irish Whiskey (note it is spelled slightly differently) is light-bodied, but more robust than Canadian whiskey. Distilled in Ireland and aged for at least 3 years.
Canadian Whiskey is light-bodied like Irish Whiskey, but has fruity tones. It is distilled in Canada and aged for at least 3 years and are typically blended.
Whisky Alcohol Content
One of the characteristics of whisky you need to look in to, is the alcohol content. There are two ways it will be stated on the label. It will be shown as a percentage or as a “proof.”
To find the alcohol percentage from a proof, simply divide the number in half. So a 100-proof whiskey is 50% alcohol by volume. Typically, You’ll find a range of 40% to 60% ABV in whiskies, with the lower end being more common.
How to Pick a Whisky
The best way to pick a whisky, is to choose a style and try a few different whiskies of that type. To do this it was necessary to buy whole bottles of whisky and sip it over a couple of months, before trying another one. This makes it quite difficult, because if you are new to whisky, you may not be able to taste much of a difference. You will however, be able to notice a difference in smoothness and strength.
Your taste buds will mature over time as you get used to it. But, you may want to buy (or get someone to buy you) some whisky tasting kits.
Whisky Tasting Kits
The good thing about whisky tasting kits is that you can do a back to back taste test without having to buy full bottles of whisky. We have come up with a list of excellent whisky tasting kits that will allow you to choose your favourite.
1. Drinks by the Dram - Regions of Scotland
This is a nice little selection of single malt Scotch Whiskies. You get 5 3cl including:
- Glenfarclas 15 Year Old
- Kilchoman Machir Bay
- Talisker 10 Year Old
- Dalwhinnie 15 Year Old
- Auchentoshan 12 Year Old
2. Virtual Whisky Tasting
For something a bit more interactive, why not check out a virtual Whisky tasting event?
This event comes courtesy of the Scotch Malt Whisky Society. Join Master Brand Ambassador John McCheyne, while introduce a special selection of whiskies in a special tasting at The Vaults. Buy your tasting kit and join the event online. The kit includes:
29.249 Sweet black tea in the surgery • Heavily Peated • 2nd fill ex-PX hogshead • 21 years
35.214 Without pretence • Sweet, Fruity & Mellow • 1st fill ex-bourbon barrel • 22 years
63.49 In the dark of the abyss • Deep, Rich & Dried Fruits • Refill ex-oloroso butt • 11 years
93.94 The final trawl • Oily & Coastal • Refill ex-bourbon barrel • 15 years
135.6 Cones vs crones • Spicy & Dry • 2nd fill ex-bourbon hogshead • 10 years
3. Whisky Flavour Conveyor
If you are committed to your whisky and want to expand your whisky palette, have a look at the Whisky Flavour Conveyor.
This is more of a membership the the Scotch Malt Whisky Society. You get a bundle including:
- 1 years subscription
- A SMWS brand notepad and pen to log your whisky experiences
- 2 mystery whisky samples
- 2 SMWS whisky tasting glasses
4. Peated Malts of Distinction
This selection of peaty malty whiskies consists of Scotch and Irish Whiskies. This is a good way to narrow down your choices.
Connemara’s smooth sweet malt taste and complex peat flavours makes it a truly unique Irish whiskey. Experience vanilla fudge, sea air and peat smoke, balanced beautifully by honeycomb and cinnamon spice in the Bowmore Whisky, with mouth-watering citrus, gentle saltiness and vanilla with flakes of coconut.
The Laphroaig Select is a great fully natural colour whisky to sample.
5. Lost Distillery Discovery Selection
The Discovery Selection from the Lost Distillery, is a selection of 5 samples from their award winning range. These are highly rated and hopefully something you haven’t yet tried.
How to Drink Whisky
To get the most out of whisky tasting kits, you can’t just fill up a wine glass and start swigging. There is a proper way to drink whisky.
The Correct Glass
Before we get in to the correct glass to drink whisky from, we would like to point out, that you can drink if from whatever you want. Jars, egg cups or even a shoe if that is all you have. But, there are better ways to enjoy whisky.
It is common for people to drink whisky from a tumbler style glass. Also known as a lowball glass, these are quite traditional glasses to serve whisky in.
If you really want to get fancy, you may want to opt for the tulip style tasting glass. This type of glass will concentrate the vapours and flavours in to your nose. The shape of the glass really makes a difference in how much you can enjoy your whisky tasting kits.
Water or No Water?
Whisky come out of the distillery how the distillers want you to drink it. Therefore, they suggest that you drink it neat. However, if you have a whisky with particularly high ABV, a little cold water helps take the harshness away from it.
Ice or No Ice?
Ice melts (obviously) and dilutes your whisky further, therefore you will want an alternative way to keep your whiskey cool. The best way is to use whisky stones or cubes. You keep these in the freezer and pop two in to your drink.
All this is brilliantly explained by Richard Paterson in the short video below from Whyte & Mackay.
Let us know your questions and thoughts in the comments section below.