Sequential Tasting Method

Whiskey Tasting Theory™: An Introduction

You’re about to witness the birth of something new. Something that could forever change the way people analyze and taste whiskey. And you can be part of it.

Ok. Before I get ahead of myself, let me set the stage. In late 2016, LeAnne and I released the Sequential Whisk(e)y Tasting Chart. I said, “It’s like Sherlock Holmes for whiskey. Use this chart and you’ll be able to pick up any glass of whiskey, take a quick glance at the color, a couple whiffs, a sip, and know things like age, region, and base grain all without ever having seen the whiskey before.” Which is all true.

You responded, “This sounds awesome!” You downloaded it. And then you asked, “How do I use it?” 

“Oh, it’s easy!” I said. “All you have to do is look at your whiskey and mark what you see here. Then nose it and mark what you smell here. Sip it and put what you taste there. And then make your deductions accordingly.”

Looking back, I’m a little embarrassed. I now realize I probably didn’t answer your question. You didn’t need me to tell you how to look, smell, taste and then mark off words. When you asked, “How do I use it?” You meant, “How do I become the Sherlock Holmes of whiskey? How do I take all my notes and turn them into correct deductions?”

I’m sorry. “Make your deductions accordingly,” was a weak sauce explanation. So, I’m going to fix that, and I’d like your help.

How am I going to fix it? And how can you help?

First, I’m going to do my part by periodically publishing articles under the main title of Whiskey Tasting Theory. Each article will have a subtitle based on what it’s specifically about.

For example, in a recent post I made the statement, “Give your whiskey a swirl and then watch how the legs run down the glass. From this, you can learn things like proof and age.” To which someone asked, “How exactly do you determine these things from the legs?” A valid question and a perfect topic for an upcoming Whiskey Tasting Theory article.

Where do you come in?

The more noses, eyes, and palates we can get contributing their observations, the better and richer the theory will become. So I’m officially inviting you, and anyone else, to send in your findings.

Now, we’ll have to do this in a semi-scientific way to make sure the deductions we’re drawing can be repeated. For example, a pattern based on three whiskeys probably isn’t solid enough to be able to deduce that trait in the future. However, if you’ve observed, for instance, in eight to twelve different high proof whiskeys, that every time you swirl a high ABV whiskey long slow legs run down the glass, you’ve made a solid observation. In the future, you’ll be able to use that information to make accurate deductions in a blind tasting.

How do you send in your findings?

For now, use the Contact Us page on our website by clicking here. In the Message box list your finding along with what specific whiskeys you used to draw your conclusion. For example, you could write something like: “Mahogany color is evidence of older age OR aging in a hot climate. Found to be true in this, this, this, this, this, this, this, and this whiskey.” In the near future, there’ll be an easy to fill out button click form. Until then we’ll use the Contact Us page.

What will happen with the findings you send in?

If your observation is repeatable, then we’ll publish it in a Whiskey Tasting Theory article with full credit for the find going to you. Eventually, we’ll publish a book on Whiskey Tasting and you’ll be immortalized in print for your contributions.

How do you get started?

If you don’t already have the Sequential Whisk(e)y Tasting Chart, then download it for free here. Then start using it to catalog your whiskeys. Once you see a pattern emerge, write it down and send it in here.

Do you want to be one of the founders of Whiskey Tasting Theory? Start today. It’s an untouched field and all the easy-to-make observations are up for grabs. The longer you wait the harder it’ll be to find new connections.

Ready to forever change the way people analyze and taste whiskey?

— Zac Smith

P.S. Why call it a theory? It’s not because it can’t be proved. In fact, a definition of theory is, “a system of ideas intended to explain something.” That’s what we’re doing here. Creating a system to explain sequential whiskey tasting. Much like music theory is the study of the practices and possibilities of music.