How to nose whisky, without singeing your nostrils

Updated: 28 Aug 2018 | By:

For a select few guests, Glenfiddich hosted an intimate whisky pairing dinner in the ever so hip Skillet@163 with Brand Ambassador Matthew Fergusson-Stewart leading the evening. The menu was expertly designed by Executive Chef Director Raymond Tham, created to go together with three different expressions: the 12-year-old, the 15-year-old, and the 18-year-old – the classic Glenfiddich line-up.

The three-course dinner was an appetising journey that started off with two amuse bouche (poached spicy shrimp with compressed watermelon and cucumber ‘snow’, and a deconstructed Cullen Skink) served with the 12 year old to open up the appetite; followed by a choice of either pan-seared Chinese five spice duck breast in cherry jus, or slow-cooked beef short ribs in coffee, together with the 15 year old which paired well with the robust flavours from the meat; and finally dessert, an abstract chocolate creation of salted caramel Macadamia and chocolate cream, served with a dram of the 18 year old which one could argue is a good choice for a dessert whisky thanks to its delicately balanced sweetness.

Before the dinner was served, however, Fergusson-Stewart shared an interesting technique with the gathered guests on how to get the full scale of aroma from whisky without being overwhelmed by the alcohol when you nose it. He demonstrated by sealing the mouth of the snifter glass with your flattened palm (clean, of course), and quickly turning the glass upside down so the palm becomes wet with the whisky. Put the glass down then gently rub your palms together, allow it to dry, and after the alcohol has dissipated the aromas of the whisky come through much more clearly (and you don’t burn your sinuses getting a whiff) – he compared it to opening a bottle of nail polish remover and using it to wipe off an old manicure, the way the alcohol evaporates from the solution is exactly the same process.

For a more discreet method just dip a finger into your glass and get a few drops of the whisky, then rub it into the back of your hand to let alcohol evaporate and release the aroma. All the guests came away from that night with a belly full of good food and drink, and a fun new way to smell whisky.