The spirit tasting experience is incredibly important and here at the SIP Awards, we understand that hosting your own spirit tasting requires the right guidance. The details matter, so here’s our “How to” guide on hosting your own tasting with some delicious spirits.
Choose Your Spirit
You have some serious (but fun) choices ahead of you, and you’ll want your tasting to have a focus. For example, will it be all tequila, all gin, or all whiskey? Will they be from only local, national, or international distilleries? Vodka distilled from rye or potatoes? These preferences are ultimately up to you so have fun with it — maybe our judges’ preferences can give you an idea. We also prefer the blind-tasting route; it removes your own potential biases and leaves enough mystery to add just the right amount of excitement.
The Glassware and Pours
The glass of choice will make or break your tasting. Since 2014, the SIP Awards has exclusively used the NEAT Glass during competitions, and ts design was recently the focus of a scientific paper. It’s imperative that all glasses are identical; presenting spirits in different glasses will surely change the experience for each taster. Each pour should be around one-half ounce to one ounce; measuring tools should be used for accuracy.
It’s easy to underestimate the number of glasses necessary for a tasting. For example, a group of four people tasting six unique samples would require 24 glasses. A more economical approach would be to serve the samples in two separate batches, which would only require 12 glasses with a proper washing of glassware in between.
How to Disguise for Blind Tasting
You won’t want your guests to see any bottles while in the act of pouring if you want to keep the element of surprise intact. You could place each bottle in a paper or plastic bag, but this approach isn’t aesthetically pleasing. We recommend pouring each spirit into a separate pitcher or carafe. This approach will help you avoid any tackiness. It’s also important to label each pitcher or carafe in a manner that will help you keep track of each spirit. A simple label like “Bottle A” or “Bottle 1” will suffice.
Drinking Each Spirit
We have all the tips and tricks you need in one of our previous blog posts titled How to Drink a Spirit and Why it’s Important. Our step-by-step guide will help you expertly conduct your spirits tasting event. Have a look!
If you plan on serving food, after the tasting will be most ideal. This will ensure everyone’s palates stay optimal, however, it is recommended to provide dry, unflavored crackers and/or water to clear the palate in between tastings. Also, allow a short break between each palate cleansing before tasting the next spirit.
After a few rounds, your memory could start to blur. Taking notes will become necessary in order to accurately recall how you felt about each spirit, especially if it’s a blind tasting. The main point is to enjoy yourselves, but keeping track of which glass is your new favorite spirit matters just as much.
Do Some Research
Once you know which spirits will be blind tasted, it’s important as a host to do some background research on each brand. Your guests will have questions, especially if they took good notes. Knowing the answer and other fun facts will quickly score you extra points with your friends or family.
The After Party
There’s a strong chance there will be plenty of leftover spirits to morph your tasting into a full-blown mixing experience. The options are bountiful, so tailoring mixed drinks to the type of spirits at your tasting will help everyone see how their newly-discovered, favorite brand mixes into some delightful cocktails.