Why whiskey tasting in the pitch black is our new meditation

Mar 12, 2019


how to taste whisky
When it comes to trying a special whiskey, you need to take all the superficial stuff - the brand, the colour, your mate’s face - out the way, so you can really focus on what matters: the taste.

That’s the idea behind ‘Dram In The Dark’ at Mac & Wild, where you get to try a selection of whiskeys in the pitch black. Headed up by whiskey guru Blair Bowman, the session is set in a tasting room, squirrelled away in the deepest depths of Devonshire Square (Liverpool Street) in, ‘complete darkness’. (Well, almost, there was a slither of light coming from one end of the room).

Once seated, Blair took us through a few slow breathing relaxation exercises. It felt weird at first, but we soon got into it, shedding away the stresses of the day and focusing on the here, now, and the whiskey. Tentatively feeling around for the first small glass, we take a sip – bold, spicy and very smokey, with sweet caramel notes. No opportunity to take a showy Instagram pic – we’re all about the taste and smell here. Next, we feel around for the second glass, this one smells sweeter and berry-like… less like whiskey and more like, sloe gin? With no vision, our senses are easily deceived.

We’re played a piece of neo-classical music – ‘Winter no 1’ by Max Richter – and instructed to drink from the glass at a point in the track that feels right. To add to the drama, we have a tiny piece of sandpaper, to rub between our finger and thumb to increase the sensations while drinking. Taking a swig, our palette is hit with a powerful, fiery smokey whiskey punch, potentially with the dramatic music enhancing the strong taste.

On come the lights, and Blair unveils the two whiskies we’ve been tasting blindly. We would reveal all, but that would spoil the surprise for your turn…

Talking of surprises, we didn’t expect to come out feeling quite so zen after our session – it turns out half an hour spent in a dark, cool room focused purely on tasting whiskey was just the antidote to a sweaty hectic day in the scorching London sun. Taking away all the other many variables you’d usually find in a bar – jazzy decor, buzzing atmosphere, sexy glassware, and instead narrowing your focus down to just the taste and smell is a very calming experience. Forget yoga, tasting drams in the dark is officially our new meditation.

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