Stage 1 - Appearance:
Note the colour and brightness.
Stage 2 - The nose:
It is always difficult to put words to aromas. First, what is the effect on your nose? Is the smell pungent, prickly, warming, drying? Second, how ‘forward’ or ‘shy’ is it? Don’t inhale too deeply, as the strength of the alcohol vapours may dull your senses, causing ‘palate fade’. Third, work through this checklist of aroma groups:
Cereal notes: malt, toast, vegetable
Ester notes: fragrant, fruity, flowery
Aldehyde notes: hay, leaves, flowers
Sweet notes: honey, vanilla
Wood Notes: new wood, resin, old wood
Oily Notes: nutty, buttery, fatty.
Stage 3 - Primary taste:
What are the initial flavours you pick up as the liquid slides over your taste buds? Are they sweet, sour, salty, bitter?
Stage 4 - Back of palate:
Back of palate: As you swallow, is the back-palate flavour consistent with that promised by the bouquet and first taste? Or is it beginning to show different characteristics?
Stage 5 - Aftertaste:
Is it a short finish, a rapid fade, or does the flavour linger like a summer sunset over the Brecon Beacons? Welsh malts will linger on your taste buds.