When sitting down to seriously taste whiskey, it’s important to have your palate ready to receive the spirit of life. On several occasions, I popped open one of my more expensive bottles of whiskey, poured myself a drink, and took a sip only to realize I could not taste a thing! I had just eaten a spicy plate of Indian food (I know, I know – duh!) and my taste buds were cooked! A chance to really enjoy that glass was wasted. I could have just as easily reached for some “standard” whiskey.

I learned from that mistake. Before I pour from the top shelf, I always think back on what I ate during that day. For example, did I have spicy food, onions, cilantro, heavily seasoned food, or is there anything sitting on my tongue right now that might overpower my next pour? If not, I go ahead and pour a glass. Otherwise, I either wait it out or try to cleanse my palate. I find that swishing coffee in my mouth or eating dark chocolate sometimes does the trick. More often, my taste buds are shot and I just need to wait it out.

I am not saying that you should be afraid to eat before drinking whiskey. These are some guidelines I try to follow, but you might feel otherwise and that’s great! Onions ruin my palate, but for others might just bring out something in the whiskey that he or she did not previously taste. It’s all part of the fun!

Finally, if you are going to be tasting whiskey, it’s best done with something in your stomach. There is no sense sitting down to taste only to forget everything you are experiencing the day after!

Now that your palate is ready, check out this article on what to while tasting whiskey.