3 Lessons I Learned at a Whiskey Tasting — Stress-Free Party Planning

I go to some cool places around the city. And I’ve gone to a lot of tastings — wine, tequila, kobe beef. So when I got an invite to a private whiskey tasting to showcase Usquaebach, even though I’ve never heard of the brand, I was very interested in checking them out.

Like high school, there are “types” you can look for and expect to be there. There’s the “novice or beginner”, the “I don’t care what it is as long as it’s free”, “history buffs”, the “imposed experts” aka “I’ve been drinking/eating this for so long I should get paid for it” and of course the “press”.

Lesson #1 — It’s very important to know your surroundings…so you don’t get trapped by someone later.

I arrived just in time to grab a seat as the whiskey sommelier (expert) began to go over the history of blended scotch whiskey. The company has been around for over 200 years. They use distilleries only in the Highlands of Scotland. And depending on the type of bottle the age of the whiskey can be anywhere from 11 to 25 years old. I find all of this very impressive and I can’t wait to try them out.

We get to taste 3 types — reserve, 15 year and a 25 year whiskey (in that order). The first one smelled really good, but wasn’t a fan of the taste. One of the “imposed experts” commented that they found the drink to be meaty like chicken noodle soup. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want any drink that reminds me of chicken noodle soup. Anyways, I digress. So the next drink we tried didn’t smell as good as the first, but it tasted better. With each type introduced, the sommelier would talk about the whiskey and how it’s normally used. For instance, the 15 year is often used for cocktails.

Now the third and final tasting is given out — the 25 year whiskey. I sniff my glass and notice the smell was very subtle and perhaps that was my mistake. Because before the sommelier could talk about it, I took a small sip. And I swear to you my life passed before my eyes. The heat and spice was too strong. I tried to spit it out, but it was too late. It was going down my throat at the same time my body was rejecting it, and as a result I’m choking. But I’m ultra-aware of my surroundings and I’m trying not to make a scene. My friend is so engrossed with what the sommelier is saying she’s ignoring me. It’s not until I gasp loudly that EVERYONE then looks at me and realize I just choked on a 25 year old bottle of whiskey.

Lesson #2 — Do Not Think of Taking a Sip Until the Sommelier Has Presented All of the Information

After I get water to quell my burning and destroyed throat, the sommelier then says that this type has a bit more spice than the others. Really? You don’t say! He continues to say a great way to change the taste is to have a glass dropper on hand and put a few drops of water in the glass.

So after all of that, I would still recommend Usquaebach. Not for myself, but for others. After tasting these drinks, I could easily name 8 people who would love this blend of scotch whiskey. And that is really the essence of what I do as an event planner.To detect what others would love for an event. Even if it nearly kills me ☺
 Lesson #3 — Always give yourself the opportunity to discover something new or unfamiliar — You’ll never know where it will lead

Notes to Self:

* Stay away from the “imposed experts” — they tried to get me to take a sip of their drink after they put water in from the glass dropper. Yuck!

* Stay away from the “I don’t care what it is as long as it’s free” — this night they swooped in and took my glass and drank the whiskey I choked on. Double Yuck!

Originally published at apowellenterprise.com on December 4, 2015.