If you had to decide on anything you’d want to come to an end, one might volunteer such things like world hunger, or strip searches at the airport, possibly even the life of anyone who writes another vampire book.
Certainly, one thing no one looks forward to seeing is the bottom of an empty whisky glass.
Thankfully, this is not what is meant when referring to the word finish in the world of nosing and tasting. The “finish” alludes to those flavors and aromas that still linger after the alcohol has been swallowed. Personally, I think the whisky’s job isn’t over until it’s established a small furnace in your stomach—a pot bellied stove for some.
But as you note, or even record your observations on the different whiskies you try, you’ll find some finishes stick around longer than others. A little bit like the bloom of youth on Dick Clark.
Terms to express a whisky’s finish are often times described with words like long, dry, chewy, clean, fresh or lingering, but you can come up with your own terms that are meaningful to you. I’d hope you’d stay away from language like yuck, horrid and awful. In these cases, switch your glass or change your whisky.
Now that you’ve had an opportunity to learn the easy lessons of nosing and tasting, you can walk your guests and friends through the fun, coming off as the erudite individual we all know you are (if for no other reason than the fact that you drink single malt scotch).
Keeping a notebook with the observations you collect not only helps you become a more learned and discerning connoisseur of scotch, but will also allow you to help others decide what they’d like to drink when on the town in your company or in your home (and hopefully invited). People often have no idea what flavors they’d like and will shy away from making a costly mistake or taking a chance on something they’d find off-putting. You can come to their aid by describing some of the drams you’ve already tried, putting your companions at ease and in your debt.
So to recap these last four weeks:
- Blow your nose, clean your glass, pour your dram and note the color, viscosity and clarity. (Part 1)
- Swirl or not. Dab a drop on the back of your hand. Sniff both hand and glass. Identify. (Part 2)
- Note the strength. Add H2O (or not). Take a sip. Breathe. Try not to choke. Locate your flavor wheel. (Part 3)
- Classify the finish. Select a notebook. Decorate with stickers. Consider yourself profoundly erudite. (Part 4)
School is out.
You may leave your teacher assessments on my desk, but remember I know your handwriting.
Now go forth and multiply … your experiences with whisky more confidently.