I'm expanding my liquor collection over time and I'd like to do a more formal job of tasting. I'd like suggestions on what type of glasses to use, what items I should include in my tasting notes, and what process you suggest I follow.
Well, I suppose this will differ for different liquors. For brown liquors: whiskey, cognac, aged tequila and rum, the best glass to use is something that is wide at the bottom but tapers at the top. A brandy snifter works well as does a white wine glass, but there are lots of specialty glasses made for different liquors. My favorite (and I mostly taste whiskey) is the glencairin glass which is made especially for whiskey drinking but works fine for all of those liquors.
In whiskey tasting, people usually divide their notes into four sections: (1) nose (the aroma); (2) taste or flavor (the actual taste of the whiskey); (3) finish (the aftertaste); and (4) balance (the whole experience).
Personally, I tend to favor more holistic tasting notes that give general impressions about the flavor and experience. Too often tasting notes tend to ramble into free association of very specific flavors that are very subjective (honey, spring clover, blood oranges, Goodyear tires after you break, etc. etc.). Of course, that's for tasting notes that are meant to be read by the public. If you are doing these just for you, you should use whatever terms and identifiers will be most helpful to you in recalling the specific character of the spirit.
sku - Thanks for the great comments. I've been debating getting a set of Glencairn glasses as I've heard good things about them.
This is the best price I've found: http://www.cobhthaighceltique.com/The...
Has anyone purchased from them?
My primary interest is gin and although the Glencairn glasses are made for whisk(e)y I think their shape would lend well to any liquor.
So, I have found that there are better prices on Ebay. Although it may not seem as professional, the ones I got are quite good. There is an Ebay storeish place which seems to sell plenty of Glencairn glasses. 6 of them, each in a box. Shipping was prompt and the price was right.