What better way to share your passion for Society whisky in the run-up to Christmas than by hosting your own tasting evening? If you’ve never tried it before, here’s some advice about how to go about it

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Your collection of Society bottlings is starting to grow and there’s nothing better than seeing the look on someone’s face when you introduce them to the wonders of cask strength, single cask whisky. So you decide to take the next step and organise a tasting for a group of friends in your own home.

It’s a great idea at first – but then you start thinking it might be a little bit daunting. That’s why we asked some Society members in Scotland and around the world for their tips about how to get prepared and make your first home tasting a resounding success. Here’s what they had to say:

PROVIDE FOOD OR SNACKS: Jim Coleman, Scotland

Make sure you have snacks or some food, says Jim Coleman.

“In a five-dram tasting you should take a break for some light and not too highly spiced food. I also always have oatcakes and chocolate on the tasting table, and I provide plenty of water and bread to clean the palate. But above all else, make the tasting fun. Encourage interaction with everyone who’s there and ask for suggestions for your next tasting. And try to get women involved – they can give better nosing and tasting opinions.”

DON’T RUSH IT: 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.”

Toby Nygaard (left) at a home tasting with Sam Snyder.

LESS IS MORE! Peter Burger, Germany

Don't get too carried away with the number of bottlings, says Peter Burger.

“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.”

GO ONE BY ONE: 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.”

Keep your guests focussed by pouring the drams one by one, says Gunter Vaes.

PREPARE YOUR TASTING NOTES: Thomas Ackermann, Switzerland

A full table at one of Thomas Ackerman's tastings in 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.”

GO FOR VARIETY: Olaf Meier, Scotland / 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.”

Olaf Meier recommends choosing contrasting whiskies.

Set up your tasting with Society glasses, and water jugs – see our full range of home tasting accessories at www.smws.com/gifts

Here’s Olaf with more of his tips on hosting the perfect whisky tasting in your own home