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Learn to

nose a whisky

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SPW Contributors

Sanlam Private Wealth

In Part 2 of our bespoke whisky master class, South African whisky maestro and Master of the Quaich Pierre Meintjes pours himself a wee dram – and shares his top whisky-tasting tips.


Rich, heavy, light or fruity? Citrus, pepper, burnt chocolate, herbs…

All of the above?

It may appear complicated, but nosing whisky like an expert is simply appreciating the delicate balance between glass, nose, palate and finish. Learning the varied and expressive characteristics takes time, but care and attention – and practice – are great teachers.

For a novice, whisky can be intimidating before you even take your first sip. How long do sniff for before you drink? Why is the smell of alcohol so strong? Why does it burn the nasal passages?


When you taste whisky, you’re actually performing a sensory evaluation using taste, aroma and mouth-feel. It’s important to free your mind and be open to any flavours you think you may recognise.

There are no wrong answers and, as everyone’s palate is different, the flavours different people detect will also vary.

And when you’re ready to drink, remember to make a traditional Scottish toast slàinte mhath! (slanj’-uh va’)!

Video shot on location at Bascule Bar, Cape Grace Hotel.

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