I’m not a professional event host or anything, and I’m not trying to make any money off of this thing (yet). But a couple times now, I’ve been asked or offered to walk some friends through some whiskies as a fun thing to do when we get together. It’s not that hard, and I recommend it as a great way to introduce people to something you enjoy.
Once you have your date, place and crew, you have to select what you’re going to talk about – is this a scotch tasting, or a more general whisky one? Do you want to show a region, or a specific grain?
I recommend a maximum of 4 whiskies for a hosted tasting, especially if you’re not pairing with food. Remember that you have to keep people’s attention and people will be huffing whisky fumes and going back for seconds of what they like, so less really is more here.
If you’re cheap like me, get your head around this – if it’s poured, it’s gone. Not everyone will like everything, not every glass will be drained. Some people will just want to smell it. Be okay with that.
When sampling three or four whiskies, make sure at least two are truly noteworthy – something from far away, or something interesting for other reasons like high proof or weird ingredients. High cost or age might impress some people but it’s not really that fun. Give them one or two of something that’s reasonably close to the average as examples, but make sure to give them something to talk about afterwards.
Keep in mind you’re not doing a review – don’t worry about precision or planting flavour ideas in people’s heads. In fact, give people a hint of what they’re looking for and see what they come back with. Chances are, the taste will trigger memories and you’ll be sharing more stories than flavours. This is great; it gives each glass of whisky a chance to be enjoyed.
As always, it’s a completely subjective experience, so there’s no right and wrong, which helps keep things fun. That and the fact everyone’s drinking, which never hurts. Share the tidbits about whisky you’ve picked up and people will take that away and share it.
And remember, always be generous with your whisky because it’s meant to be drunk and so are you.