We have been delivering training in Scotch whisky for 15 years with our one day “certificate of expertise” in Scotch whisky. Having trained bar servers, drinks specialists, Scotch connoisseurs and novices alike we have a great understanding for what it takes to get to grips with Scotch whisky in a way that really engages with customers no matter what their level of interest or knowledge. Here are five fundamental aspects of whisky to start with.
- Master of the basics of Scotch. We started our course because we were constantly exposed to “Scotch blagging”, usually from servers who have been put on the spot selling and serving Scotch whisky with all too little training. The good news is that it doesn’t take much to understand the basics of Scotch – this should always include;
- How Scotch is produced
- Know the jargon – vocabulary specific to whisky production
- The difference between Single Malt, Grain and Blended Scotch Whisky
- The five whisky producing regions and their general characteristics
- How best to appreciate Scotch through nosing and tasting
You can take a look at our Scotch whisky training programme to see how we structure training in these fundamentals.
- Find your own favourites. The best way to connect with people is to tell them about your own favourite Scotch. The power of persuasion and influence is immense and people love hearing about why you like a particular whisky. Know your chosen dram well and focus your conversation on what you love gaining confidence and knowledge brand by brand sharing your journey with your customers.
- Know how Scotch differs from other global whiskies. If a guest knows a whisky from another country finding a Scotch that has a connection is the best way to suggest a dram they will enjoy. This can be either through a great story and anecdote or through a similarity in flavour or production. Ex bourbon casks used for Scotch is a simple connection, the Japanese whisky industry starting with apprenticeships in Scotland and wine cask finishes.
- Get to grips with blending – the expertise and art required to create a beautifully balanced blended Scotch whisky is best understood by trying it out for yourself. You may create a masterpiece and decide you are headed for the top spot as a Master Blender or, more likely, you will realise exactly how much skill is required to encourage whiskies to marry rather than fight. Whatever the result of your own prototype the process certainly hammers home how different blends are created to bring forth certain characteristics perfect for specific global markets or perfect serves.
- Train yourself in whisky and food matching as this opens up the conversation to a wide audience. Focus on serves of whisky with chocolate, desserts and cheese as this is wonderful conclusion to a meal providing some of the best matches to be found. Rich sherry cask finishes are the best match for chocolate based deserts, especially those with a higher cacao content whereas bourbon casks imparting fresher vanilla and honey notes will work well with creamy deserts. Cheeses with robust flavours match well with peaty Islay whiskies or try a lighter cheese with a dry costal single malt. Don’t forget the post dinner Scotch whisky liqueur. Honey, fruit and cream infused liqueurs are based on one of the most traditional ways of consuming Scotch reflecting back on its historical roots.
If you want to take your understanding of Scotch further upcoming training dates can be found here.
Article written by Julie Trevisan Hunter
Master of The Quaich
Head of Marketing, The Scotch Whisky Experience