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A Singular Flavor: Your Guide to Hosting the Perfect Scotch Tasting

Wed, Jan 24, 24  |  tastings and pairings


A little pregame goes a long way and leaves your guests hoping for another tasting invitation soon. And like a lot of get-togethers, planning is made of little details. Here are some easy tips to consider.


It might be fun to invite your entire neighborhood--but will your space accommodate everyone? Keep in mind that each taster needs a seat at a table with the same number of glasses as Scotches poured, tasting program & notes, water, and snacks or food.


Choose a fun theme, like Scotch regions. Select a Scotch from at least four of the five regions with the goal of identifying and comparing profiles of each. You could also decorate with tartan table cloths, napkins, accent pieces, and even attire.


Choose and purchase your whiskies. If you need help, a Celebration Specialist is happy to help you select a good variety for your event.


Shop our huge selection of Scotch here online! Use our convenient curbside or delivery options to help ease your party planning prep.



Use tulip shaped whisky glasses a/k/a nosing glasses or snifters. A Glencairn glass also works well. Remember that you'll need one glass for each whisky for each guest. Four whiskies and ten tasters equals 40 glasses. You might not have that many nosing glasses, so we recommend a tulip shaped wine glass. In either case, use glass drink ware. No red solo cups for this tasting!


Having a printed program for each taster really takes the tasting up several notches. Tasting notes on the whiskies you're pouring are readily available on the web. A little history of the distillery is nice to include with the basic whisky notes.


We've done some of the heavy lifting for your event. Check out this printable mat that makes organization of each pour a breeze. Under each glass is an outline of the basic tasting notes for each of your guests, along with space for notes. 


You're pouring Scotch whiskey, and some of the whiskies will be very strong. So make sure each taster has a glass of water. By adding some water, tasters can see and note changes to the color, body, and flavor of the whisky. Distilled water is recommended because tap water adds chlorine or other tastes to the whisky. 


A normal whisky tasting pour is 1½  ounces; if you're pouring four whiskies you're serving six ounces per guest. Providing some food that compliments your theme and Scotland is a good idea.


While we like to say Celebrate More, it's essential that you and your guests celebrate responsibly. Have plenty of designated drivers. Prepare overnight staying arrangements for your guests. Call a rideshare service for those who can't stay. Just make sure nobody drives when they've been drinking!


It's always nice to know something about the whisky you're serving, and sharing the info while your guests are sipping elevates the event. Keep tasters together and sample in order of your program. It is a good idea to pour all the whiskies at once. A correct pour is 1.5 ounces per whisky. Remind your guests that these whiskies aren't shots to throw back--they're fine spirits to be savored slowly.

Trying the whiskies neat, just as they are poured out of the bottle, is the best starting point. Then have tasters add a teaspoon or so of water to each whisky. Allow a little time for the water and whisky to marry. Swirling the glass will speed up this process. Swirling and a little time really opens the whisky to reveal its full range of flavors. Some tasters prefer to add an ice cube or two. Make some ice from distilled water ahead of tasting time to have on hand.


One more thing that comes in handy for any tasting is a spit container or two. Make sure your guests know that there's no shame in spitting out a sip they don't care for.

Talk your tasters through the process using the tasting mat as a guide. Make sure the distiller is noted along with the distilling region and the whisky’s age. Start by looking at the whisky in the glass, and really engage your guests.  Descriptions like, "this reminds me of the golden color of the sunflowers in my grandmother’s garden" or "the color is rustic, like the color of the old barn out on Lawson road" help spark peoples' imagination and info retention. Move on to body, nose, and palate using the same technique. Encourage comments from your tasters and remind them to take note of a flavor or characteristic they like.

It might not be necessary to remind them, but ask tasters to re-sample during the neat and water-added process and note how the whisky "opens up” after having some time in the glass. We hear very often that the last sip was the best sip – "opening up” really does make a difference.


Wrap up your event by asking each taster which dram was their favorite, and their reason for choosing it. Your guests will have a great time and may pick up a new favorite dram from the wonderful world of Scotch!

Check out our blog – Scotch At The Source: A Tasting Triad in Scotland. Glenn traveled to Scotland and documented his firsthand tasting experience at one of Scotland’s distilleries.

By Jodie Spears

Tags: scotch