A beginner’s guide to whisky

by Paramount Digital

Whether it’s dedicating more time to an existing interest or starting something new, there’s no better time to commit to a hobby than the New Year.

In January 2023, 19% of Brits surveyed planned to take up a new hobby. 17% promised to enjoy more time with family and friends, whilst 16% aimed to spend less time on social media and learn to relax.

This year, it’s estimated that two-thirds of UK adults (a whopping 66%) will make a New Year’s resolution – will you be one of them?  

If you like the idea of taking up a pastime that allows you to learn and relax – something you can enjoy alone or with friends – how about whisky tasting?


Then read on for our beginner’s guide to whisky and get your 2024 resolutions off to a flying start.

Getting started – what you need to know!

Types of whisky

Scotch, whisky, whiskey, bourbon, single malts – when it comes to whisky varieties, there’s a lot to learn (it wouldn’t be much of a hobby if you could get to grips with everything overnight, now would it?!).

And whilst all of these fall under the general banner of ‘whisky’, there are marked differences between each one that are influenced by the region, ageing process, ingredients, flavour, and distillation.

For example, a Scotch can only be legally classed as such if it is made in Scotland, is at least three years old, and has a minimum strength of 40% ABV.

You can gen-up in advance by reading our informative blog posts covering everything from what a single malt means to the differences between Scotch and bourbon.

Understanding what you’re drinking

What does whisky actually taste like?

This is a question that gets asked all the time, and as a complex drink, answering accurately can be difficult – as the answer will change depending on the whisky you’re drinking. 

But this is a skill you will develop the more you sample.

Thin, sharp, mellow, peated – just some of the words used to talk about whisky. If you’re going to really make something of whisky tasting, then jotting down notes about each variety you sample is a great idea. Include pointers such as flavours you can identify, the overall taste impact – and how much you enjoy it!

To help, take a look at our whisky tasting glossary for an overview of the terminology used.

Not sure you’re a huge fan of whisky? We’d argue you just haven’t found the right one yet – and that’s all part of the fun!

Developing a hobby of collecting and sampling different malts is a great way to explore new flavours and varieties – and we’re confident you’ll uncover plenty that you love.

Once you find a favourite, you can investigate the nuisances that make it appeal to you – is it light, peaty, oaky? – and try more of the same.

How to drink whisky

For whisky beginners looking to develop an understanding of flavour, we’d recommend keeping things simple.

A single measure of whisky is 25ml, or 50ml for a double. In our subscription sets, each miniature bottle is 30ml – the perfect amount to really experience flavours and enough to share if you’re sampling with friends.

Typically, whisky is best enjoyed straight, sometimes with a few cubes of ice or a few drops of water to release the flavours. Anything more than this and you risk over-diluting the whisky and masking the true taste.

Serve the whisky itself at room temperature in a small tumbler, or a tulip-shaped copita glass designed to allow the aroma to be fully appreciated and contribute to the overall tasting experience.   

Storing whisky

Worried you won’t be able to keep up, or that whisky will go to waste?

We’ve spent a long time honing our subscriptions (we didn’t achieve the title of ‘Best whisky gift subscription’ in 2021 for nothing!), and customer feedback suggests that sending out whiskies every three months works well for most people.

Add to this the fact that each of our bottles is an ideal tasting size at 30ml – even if you come across a malt that’s not your favourite, you won’t be left with an unfinished bottle.

And the great news is – whisky doesn’t expire! Meaning you can do things at your own pace. Whiskies can be stored and enjoyed at your leisure. Perhaps you’ll have a tasting social with friends and sample a number of different malts in one go, or you’ll sip your own way through each bottle individually over a few weeks.

This is a pastime that will easily fit into your life and offers plenty of flexibility.


Get set for 2024

Developing your whisky tasting skills in 2024 is one resolution you’ll love to keep – and Whisky Tasting Company is here to support you every step of the way!

Offering the ideal way to make exploring different whiskies your new hobby with our subscriptions, every tasting set supplied is accompanied by individual tasting cards. These highlight key facts and offer notes on the distillery, cask strength, brewery, and flavours to watch out for – ideal if you’re a whisky beginner and need a hand identifying the flavours you’re experiencing.

Also included is a tasting mat, providing the perfect place to jot down your thoughts and review while you sip.

If you’re worried the enthusiasm for your new hobby will fade (we don’t think it will!), then our starter subscription is a good beginner whisky set, with five malt/artisan whisky miniatures delivered every three months.

Feeling more committed? Then sign up for our full one-year subscription.

If you’re already quite the connoisseur and want to extend your appreciation and knowledge of whisky, take a look at our rare and premium whisky subscription

And of course, if you have any questions about whisky or the whisky subscriptions we have available, please don’t hesitate to get in touch – we’d love to help.