My rationale is based on a recent business trip where I had the pleasure of going on a trip to Binny’s (a large Chicago liquor retailer) with two colleagues. I got them to pick things they liked, and tried to assess whether they were in the mood to try something a little different. Based on what they said they liked, we ended up with Highland Park 12, Glenlivet Nadurra 16 and Balvenie Doublewood 12. They wanted to stay away from peat. No big deal to me…people have to discover whisk(e)y at their own pace.
The tasting was a big hit. So, what’s up with the three thing?
- Tasting one dram in isolation is great if you have a lot of taste memory to compare it to. Personally, I don’t have enough experience to do this well (yet). A newbie needs something right there on the same table to compare it to.
- But nosing/tasting two different drams just makes a line (two points make a line…) with limited possibility for comparison unless there is some degree of overlap between them. Too much overlap won’t be useful since it will be hard to tell them apart, and too little overlap will be useless since there won’t be very, um, comparable.
- Third Dram to the Rescue! A third dram can bridge the gap and point out what flavors and smells are in (or not in) each of the other two drams.
Why is three the maximum? Well, speaking for myself, I find that more than that much detailed nosing/tasting reduces the effectiveness of my nose and taste buds. At a whisk(e)y tasting event, I try to make sure that my first 3 or 4 drams are the ones I really want to try. After that, I think my taste buds are numb.
So…for me, three is the magic number.