Whisk(e)y How To, Sequential Tasting Method

The Three Stooges and Whiskey


I want to begin with a big, "Thank You!" to the whiskey community. You have been downloading, using, and commenting on our Sequential Whiskey Tasting Chart like crazy! The interest you’ve shown has been so encouraging to LeAnne and I.

Thank you.

We’ve gotten some great questions and feedback from those who’ve been using the chart. So this week we’re releasing an updated version. Then we’re going to talk about why it works and how it works. Are you ready for the newest version of the Sequential Whiskey Tasting Chart?

For your whiskey tasting pleasure, I proudly present the Sequential Whiskey Tasting Chart Ver. 3.0!

Did you click on it? No worries, click here to get your free download.

What’s the difference between this version and previous ones?

We’ve added some taste descriptors that were provided by you the readers. And we’ve reorganized the chart to flow in a more deductive manner. Does that mean the older charts you have are obsolete? No, not at all. They’re still revolutionary. But we’re always looking for ways to improve. I mean, if we didn’t, what kind of Whiskey Sommeliers would we be?

Here’s what hasn’t changed - how we want you to use the chart. As always, feel free to print off or share the chart with whomever you’d like. Send a copy or a link to your friends and family. After all, whiskey is more fun when you have people to share it with.

Now that you have your new tasting chart, let’s talk about why it helps you get more from your whiskey, and then we’ll shed some further light on how it works. If you’ve already been using the chart, then jump down to “Why it works.” These will be some new points for you. If this is the first time you’re hearing of a sequential whiskey tasting chart, then click here to be brought up to speed.

Why it works

Have you ever seen the Three Stooges try and go through a door at the same time? You know what happens. They get wedged shoulder to shoulder in the doorway and no one gets through. Well, your eyes, nose, and mouth are like the three stooges. When you sip whiskey, your senses try to all get through at the same time, and then…well you know. Nobody gets through. You experience this as sipping whiskey and then immediately forgetting the word for smells and tastes you know well. The chart fixes that. It acts as a gatekeeper and only allows one at a time through by focusing you on one sense at a time.

How it works

The tasting chart helps in two ways. First, it gives your brain a list of vocabulary words for smells and tastes. Simply seeing the word can jog your brain to connect it with what you’re smelling. Second, it helps you find what’s not there. What do I mean? Sometimes your brain is better at telling you what’s not there than what is. For example, has the following situation ever happened to you? You’re at a friend’s house. You’re both hungry…

Friend: Are you hungry?

You: Yeah.

Friend: What do you want to eat?

You: I don’t know. What do you want?

Friend: I don’t know.

Both of you: ………

Friend: Do you want pizza?

You: No.

Friend: Do you want hamburgers?

You: No.

Friend: Do you want tacos?

You: No.

Friend: Do you want Chinese food?

You: Hmmm…That sounds good.

What happened here? It was easier to know what you didn’t want until your options got narrowed down. The same goes for smell and taste. Sometimes it’s easier to know what’s not there. So focus on that until you can narrow down what is there. When you’re first using the chart, make sure to ask yourself, “Is fill-in-the-blank in this whiskey?” for every aroma listed. Then scratch out or leave unmarked what isn’t there. If a smell is a maybe, then come back to it later.

It’ll take about 20 minutes to use the chart your first few times, but don’t worry. It won’t take long for you to become an expert deductive taster.

That’s it for this week. Print off the chart. Use it. Become a whiskey master.

— Zac Smith