What kind of glass should you use?

“You can serve whisky in small wine glasses, if that’s all you have at home, or in an old-fashioned glass. If you really want an enhanced tasting experience, you can invest in glasses made especially for the occasion—I recommend the Glencairn brand, a Scottish crystal glassware company that makes whisky glasses. You can easily find them in speciality boutiques for about $10 each. They’re a good investment.”

Ateliers SAQ par l'ITHQAteliers SAQ par l'ITHQ

What serving temperature is ideal for highlighting whisky’s complex profile?

“Your best bet is to serve whisky at room temperature or the temperature of a wine cellar maintained at approximately 16 degrees. Avoid using ice, as this will only dilute your whisky and alter your taste buds. If you want to cool your whisky, you can always use granite stones, but know that they can kill some of the flavours. Add a few drops of water to your glass. This helps reduce the burn of the alcohol and coaxes out some of the more delicate complexities.”

Scotch, bourbon, rye… which one should I start with?

“If it’s your first whisky tasting experience and you don’t want to spend a fortune, I suggest opting for a blend, which contains whisky and scotch from several different distilleries and is made with several different grains. Johnnie Walker and Ballantine are both good options. Bourbon is also a good first choice, with its pastry-like aromas and affordable price; I recommend Bulleit or Maker’s Mark. Same thing goes for Canadian and Irish whiskey—it’s a little more delicate and easy to drink. Canadian Club and Jameson are both great. Experienced whisky drinkers often opt for finer products, such as Single Malts.”

  1. Taste tag : Light and floral
    Johnnie Walker Red Label Blended Scotch Whisky Scotch whisky | 750 ml United Kingdom , Scotland
    $30.50
    AvailableOnline AvailableIn store
  2. Ballantine's Blended Scotch Whisky Scotch whisky | 1.14 L United Kingdom , Scotland
    $39.50
    AvailableOnline AvailableIn store
  1. Taste tag : Full-bodied and complex
    Bulleit Frontier Bourbon American whiskey | 750 ml United States , Kentucky
    $37.75
    AvailableOnline AvailableIn store
  2. Taste tag : Medium-bodied and woody
    Maker's Mark Bourbon American whiskey | 750 ml United States , Kentucky
    $39.25
    AvailableOnline AvailableIn store
  1. Taste tag : Light and floral
    Canadian Club Canadian whisky | 750 ml Canada , Ontario
    $25.15
    AvailableOnline AvailableIn store
  2. Taste tag : Light and floral
    Jameson Irish whiskey | 750 ml Ireland
    $36.00
    AvailableOnline AvailableIn store

Is there a particular order to respect when it comes to enjoying whisky’s aromas?

“You go in ascending order; start with the light ones and work your way to the darker, more intense ones. SAQ taste tags can serve as a guide: light and floral, medium-bodied and fruity, medium-bodied and woody, full-bodied and complex, full-bodied and smoky. For a Single Malt tasting experience that features whiskies from all around Scotland, here are my top suggestions: Auchentoshan, Glenfiddich, Aberlour, Glenfarclas, Dalmore, Springbank, Smokehead, Laphroaig, Lagavulin.”

  1. Taste tag : Medium-bodied and fruity
    Aberlour 10 ans Highland Scotch Single Malt Scotch whisky | 700 ml United Kingdom , Scotland
    $55.75
    Not availableOnline Not availableIn store
  2. Taste tag : Medium-bodied and fruity
    Glenfiddich 12 Years Old Highland Single Malt Scotch Whisky Scotch whisky | 750 ml United Kingdom , Scotland
    $61.75
    AvailableOnline AvailableIn store
  1. Taste tag : Full-bodied and complex
    The Dalmore 12 Years Old Highland Single Malt Scotch Whisky Scotch whisky | 750 ml United Kingdom , Scotland
    $89.75
    AvailableOnline AvailableIn store
  2. Taste tag : Medium-bodied and fruity
    Glenfarclas 12 Years Highland Scotch Single Malt Scotch whisky | 700 ml United Kingdom , Scotland
    $73.50
    Not availableOnline AvailableIn store
  1. Smokehead Islay Scotch Single Malt Scotch whisky | 750 ml United Kingdom , Scotland
    $69.50
    Not availableOnline Not availableIn store
  2. Taste tag : Full-bodied and smoky
    Springbank 10 ans Campbelltown Scotch Single Malt Scotch whisky | 750 ml United Kingdom , Scotland
    $94.75
    Not availableOnline Not availableIn store
  1. Taste tag : Full-bodied and smoky
    Laphroaig Ten Years Old Islay Single Malt Scotch whisky | 750 ml United Kingdom , Scotland
    $83.00
    AvailableOnline Not availableIn store
  2. Taste tag : Full-bodied and smoky
    Lagavulin 16 Years Old Islay Single Malt Scotch Whisky Scotch whisky | 750 ml United Kingdom , Scotland
    $121.50
    Not availableOnline AvailableIn store
  1. Taste tag : Medium-bodied and fruity
    Auchentoshan 12 ans Lowland Single Malt Scotch Whisky Scotch whisky | 750 ml United Kingdom , Scotland
    $60.25
    AvailableOnline AvailableIn store

What should I avoid doing when drinking whisky? What should I do to enhance my tasting experience?

“Avoid whiskies that are overly perfumed; and of course, avoid serving your whisky on ice! Always have a glass of water at hand; it’s important to stay hydrated. Remember, there are three steps to drinking whisky: 1) visual analysis (colour, clarity, viscosity); 2) olfactory sensation (so you can detect whisky’s aromas); and 3) gustative analysis (appreciating the texture, aromas and finish). It’s a good idea to serve little bites to eat with your whisky. For example, you could serve salty or umami-flavoured foods, such as seafood, fish, charcuteries, hard cheese or fermented products. A big part of it comes down to your own personal tastes. The most important thing is to have fun!”