A first timer’s guide to Jim Murray’s Whiskey Tasting

Tasting legend Jim Murray spills the secret on a good whiskey
Jim Murray
Jim Murray

In what could be called a memorable evening at the Taj Bengal, celebrated whiskey taster and author Jim Murray hosted a special blind whiskey tasting session with three wonderful whiskeys from the Amrut distillery which celebrates its 75th year in 2024 along with four other global flavours. The evening saw the audience unlearn the art of drinking whiskey and learn it again under the guidance of the man himself through the Jim Murray method. Indulge was present on the occasion and we bring to you the tips of tasting whiskey for the first time.

Jim Murray
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The step that comes first is selecting the whiskey. When asked where to begin, Murray comments, “If you are new to whiskey don’t let anyone tell you that something is a start to whiskey. Go Anywhere! And then see where the road takes you and keep on experimenting. Every single whiskey is a starter.”

Interestingly, we were asked to pick up a glass in front of us, and not swirl it at all. Just a slight sniff to get an idea of the smell and a slight taste in the beginning to wet the mouth was all that was required. But the catch was, to spit it out right after. The next round had us take another sip, hold it for a while to taste the flavour profiles and then spit it out again. The varied flavour profiles ranged from sweet to spicy and mild.

Some of the whiskey that were tasted
Some of the whiskey that were tasted

Murray informed that the colour of a whiskey has absolutely nothing to lend to its taste and noticeably there were no knick knacks to go along with the liquid too. When asked, he mentions, “If you are going to eat along then have a beer or wine. Don’t have whiskey. You notice how harsh some of those whiskeys were. If you consume food, it’s going to burn your mouth because it neutralises the sugars and the whiskey becomes aggressive.”

Jim Murray
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Asking if he remembers the first time he tasted whiskey, Murray promptly narrates the episode, “I was nine or ten when I first tasted whiskey. My uncle poured me some. I remember my aunt came in and shouted at him. But I loved it. By the time I was 16, in America I was already into tasting and when I was 17 I went to my first distillery.”

Rakshit
Rakshit

Rakshit N Jadale, managing director, Amrut reflects on current trends in whiskey drinking. According to him “If you are talking about India, what we have witnessed is the aspect of premiumisation. Earlier somebody was drinking blended scotch would now opt for black label or chivas and those drinking the former would graduate to single malts. People want to drink good quality alcohol, even if in less quantity.”When questioned about the rise of cocktail and blended drinks he says, “I think single malt whiskey should be preferably consumed standalone. Anything apart from soda or sparkling water would remove the essence of the hard work that a distiller puts in.”

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