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whisky

Tasting and service

The art of tasting fine spirits

Brandy, armagnac, whisky… fine spirits are popular these days. But what exactly are we talking about, and how best should we appreciate these products?

Published on October 14, 2020

Spirits have the wind in their sails, as demonstrated by the many tasting groups that have sprung up spontaneously throughout the province, not to mention the courses offered by various organizations, like SAQ workshops at the Institut de Tourisme et d’Hôtellerie du Québec (ITHQ). The world of fine spirits is complex and varied. Neophytes and experts alike know it takes time to become familiar with the many varieties of fine spirits.

+Getting to know whisky with SAQ workshops by ITHQ

Cognac, calvados, brandy, armagnac, whisky

All these are fine spirits, intended for a leisurely tasting and often crafted over a long period of time. The SAQ divides their flavours into five taste-tag categories. Armagnac, for example, evokes notes of apple and peach, while bourbon (or American whiskey) exudes aromas of nuts or spices.

Neat or in a cocktail?

Fine spirits are so sought after these days that mixologists sometimes even use them in cocktails. But true devotees prefer drinking spirits neat so their complexity can be fully appreciated on the tongue. “There’s a particular way of tasting whisky,” says Jean-François Pilon, founder of Whisky Montreal. “It’s strong stuff, so take time to get to know it. Bring the glass under your nose, sniff gently with your mouth open, then take small sips. The tasting experience will be all the more enriching and the quantity imbibed will be more measured,” says the man who, in addition to organizing private tasting workshops, oversees conferences in bars and at festivals.

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