Hosting for beginners

There’s no great difficulty in getting some friends together for an evening of Society whisky tasting. But in Unfiltered issue 42 from February 2019 we asked some SMWS members from around the world who regularly host home tastings for their advice on how to make sure things go smoothly. Here’s what they told us...


Toby Nygaard, United States

“Take your time! People new to sampling Scotch may not have used a Society or Glencairn tasting glass before and need to be introduced to nosing the whisky as part of the experience. Those who are used to having whisky on the rocks or with water also need to be encouraged to try at least a sip neat before adding a drop of water. Encourage a revisit to the nose and delay finishing the whisky for 15-20 minutes or more.”



Peter Burger, Germany

“Less is sometimes more! For my first home tasting I asked everybody who came to bring a bottle of whisky of any choice, but that was too much. Now we have between eight-12 whiskies and choose them based on a specific theme, for example different bottlings from the same distillery, SMWS vs original bottlings, or blended malts and single malts.”


Gunter Vaes, Belgium

“It’s amazing how much joy people can have in coming together and having a dram, with a little guidance of course. The expectation for the next tasting and the sheer happiness in their eyes when I send them home amazes me every time! My advice would be not to pour the whiskies all at once. It helps to keep the crowd focused when you pour them one by one. Also, it’s okay not to know everything – but try to find out the answers to any questions before the next tasting. It gives you a nice ‘follow up’ to start with the next time you get together.”



Thomas Ackermann, Switzerland

“A home tasting is a great way to find like-minded people. I have made many new friends who share this passion with me. The whiskies may speak for themselves, but people usually need some explanation, as they may not normally drink cask strength whisky. It’s fascinating to see how people recognise different tastes in every round.”



Olaf Meier, Scotland and Germany

“Choose a selection of whiskies that are very different – the 12 flavour profiles of the Society’s whiskies are a great help in selecting different styles of whiskies, but you can also choose by different maturations from different kinds of casks. That also gives you different colours from the whisky, and there's nothing nicer for a feast of the eyes if you have a range of colours in the glasses right at the beginning. You could also go for old whiskies versus young, smoky whiskies versus non-smoky. The choice is endless, but go for one theme – don't overdo it the first time.”

Sit back and watch Olaf's tips on hosting the perfect whisky tasting in your own home

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