There’s a new Tasting Box or a bottle of something spectacular in your home bar, waiting to punch your tasting buds with incredible flavors. You want to experience them to the fullest, and you’re kinda aware throwing a huge shindig, drowning yourself in the liquor, isn’t the way to do it. You’re a cultured Spirits aficionado, not a wildling at spring break. So, how should you go about it?
Grab your favorite dram and your favorite people; we’ll teach you how to host a proper tasting party and use fancy phrases like “prolonged finish” and “hints of oak on the palate” like a pro.
Step 1: Pick Your Poison
Obviously, you’ll want to go with a Flaviar Tasting Box. These babies come with three Spirit samples that are big enough for three people and come with a concrete coaster and our state-of-the-artFlavor Spiral™ that will tell you what you’re tasting in each Spirit.
There’s an incredibly vast selection of themed Tasting Boxes to choose from, so take your time and pick whichever strikes your fancy. (You can learn more about them here.) If you have an impressive home bar, think about the theme or a category you’d like to explore and pick a couple of bottles.
Step 2: Procure Proper Glassware
Leave those disposable red cups for a frat party; what we’re doing here requires a glass with class. A Glencairn glass is your best choice. It's used in most Whisky labs and is designed specifically for tasting booze.
Its shape amplifies the color and the precious notes of the dram, showing you every tiny nuance and layer of the Spirit. You can get one in our Merch Shop, but any tulip-shaped glass will do, really.
Step 3: Snack up
We know, you’re not supposed to snack because it’s bad for your shape or whatever. In this case, you can say it’s for scientific reasons. Get yourself a pack of unflavored, unsalted crackers, as they’ll clean your palate between the drams, the same way coffee resets your nose when you’re checking out perfumes.
Step 4: Friends!
It’s time for the most important part of the gathering: your buddies. It’s wise to gather a smaller group if you’re using Tasting Boxes (max. three palates per box).
A tasting party is a feast for your senses: sight, smell, and of course taste.
First, look at it. From the color alone you can deduce a lot about the barrels in which the Spirit matured. Ex-Sherry casks impart a deep mahogany shade, while Bourbon gives a rich gold color. A pale appearance in an older Whisky hints at a refill cask. Sure, you can learn all that from the label, but why not label yourself an expert from the get-go?
Then, be like ZZ Top and check the legs. They're those trails on the side of the glass after you swirl it, and they’ll let you know a thing or two about strength and character. There’s a whole science behind that, but what you need to know here is the thicker and heavier the Spirit, the slower the legs will move.
Now, use your nose. Take your time, sniff carefully, and try to identify the aromas. What does the smell remind you of? Vanilla means American Oak casks; smoke means Islay peated Scotch; fruity and herbal aromas mean the Spirit is young, while notes of tobacco and leather indicate you’re strapping a very aged hooch in your hands.
Finally, here’s the actual tasting. Take small sips, swirl each one, and coat your mouth. Focus on the flavors. Does the taste match the aroma? Take note of the mouthfeel: is it light, thin, and fresh, or is it thick, heavy, and rich?
If your palate isn’t fine-tuned and you’re not sure what you’re tasting, the Flavor Spiral™ can help you. You can also find your Spirit in our shop or use our App. Do you get the same aromas and flavors? Is there oak on the palate?
Oh, and don’t spit - swallow. What’s the aftertaste? Is it short, medium, or long? What flavors can you find in the finish? Does the flavor linger like a pleasant memory or does it disappear like the Tik Tok fad from yesterday? Again, have some “you time” with the drink. You know, mindfulness and all that jazz.
Take it to the next level
If you’re all “been there, done that”, it’s time to up your tasting game. Here are a couple of ways to do it:
Idea #1: Pair with food
The trick is to look for complementary flavors and contrasting matches. Try light Japanese Whisky with a light dessert, or Bourbon with barbecue. Seafood goes great with light Spirits, while strong cheeses and game meats love Brandies and Whisky. Fish’n’chips naturally pair with Gin, but if you’re having tapas-style appetizers, go with Vodka.
We know you already have a pack of crackers, but if you’re into real snacks, try peanuts with peated Scotch, or tickle your tastebuds with pickled onions and Bourbon. Dark Rum is popular with popcorn, or if you’re drinking Tequila, have a shot at olives. Fancy a soft chocolate cake? Well, la-di-da, cherry-top it off with a glass of Cognac!
Just experiment and try to find your perfect combo. If you’ve found a heavenly combination not mentioned here, tell us in the comments!
Idea #2: Themed party
Each Spirit category comes with a certain history and heritage, so make a themed party out of that. Again, we’re using Flaviar Tasting Boxes as inspiration, but you can work with what you have in your home bar.
Have a literary evening paired with fine Spirits. Hemingway, for instance, was a prolific writer-drinker and we have not one, but two Tasting Boxes dedicated to him. Give the old man a read while you lose yourself in the sea of Spirits.
Perhaps have a costume p-arrrr-ty where you all dress up and talk like pirates while exploring the vast world of Rum. Or put on a hat and yee-haw like the cowboys with Bourbon and Rye.
Have a tasting party that focuses solely on the misty glens of Scotland, or travel all the way to the Land of the Rising Sun. Turn your home into a house of fiesta with Tequilas and Mezcals, or be sophisticated like Le Français with Cognac. Toast to Her Royal Majesty with a flight of Gins, or party like the Russkies with a fine selection of Vodka.
There you have it! You can now become the best host in town. Find a motif, match it with Spirits and food, and have fun!