spirit tastings

The Language of Tasting Spirits


There’s a lot of colourful, descriptive and evocative language used when describing spirits, and while the imagery called to mind can make a spirit sound inviting, the descriptions themselves can sometimes be a bit over-the-top. Generally the language used to describe a spirits aroma, flavour and mouth-feel isn’t quite as elaborate as with wine tasting (can you really smell the fresh dew on a dandelion petal in the morning sunlight?) but to someone who’s new to smelling and tasting spirits, it can still be intimidating.

To a lot of people bourbon smells like whiskey, gin smells a bit piney and vodka smells like alcohol, so when they read that they should be smelling dried apricot, pencil shavings and vanilla fudge, they wonder if they're doing something wrong. So I thought I’d take a look at the language we use to describe the effect alcohol has on our senses and the way we approach identifying the characteristics of different spirits. Take this as a beginners guide to the language of tasting spirits, if you will.

we're not drinking... we're learning!

In my last blog about the way we form deeper bonds with brands I stated " Many bars are now offering consumer tasting events where you can learn about a specific spirit category or individual brand, or are running cocktail master classes, there is the opportunity to learn more and have a better drinking experience every day.” It turns out quite a few people read it, and several readers got in touch to ask me for some recommendations… cue follow up blog highlighting just a few bars that hold regular tastings!
These tasting events really are a great idea from all points of view, they give the bar that hosts them a way of offering a little added value to their customers, they give consumers a chance to learn about and sample brands that they might otherwise not have encountered, and they give brands a way of talking directly to consumers and hopefully making them a lifelong fan of your product (assuming they like the way it tastes!). The number of bars starting to put on tasting evenings is definitely on the rise and there has never been a better time for consumers, brands and bars to come together for a little bit of learning… because as Francesco Lafranconi always says ‘we’re not drinking, we’re learning!’