Edward VII, at the time when he was still The Prince of Wales, was subject to a protest when he was about to swallow the old cognac that had just been served to him :
- "Your highness ! such a nectar ! One must first let the amber blonds play around in the crystal. Then one breathes it gently in, religiously. Then at last...
- One drinks it !
- No your highness, not yet... one talks about it !"
The tasting technique is progressive and follows a classic ritual. The perfect tool is the tulip shaped glass which contains the aromas and releases them delicately and progressively throughout the tasting.
First step : visual aspect
The eye must judge the spirit in three ways : transparency, colour and viscosity (the liquid must not be cloudy nor have sediments).
By tilting the glass, one can observe the "legs" or "tears" effect which is a sign of good age.
Second step : the scent
Firstly, the connoisseur will detect the very volatile and very subtle scents that are often hidden to the novice : he carries the glass to within an inch of the nostrils and tames the burning vapours, he then smells a little closer before inhaling at length all the released smells with the nose in the glass.
Secondly, the connoisseur discovers the less volatile aromatic components : he stirs and tosses the liquid inside the glass to allow the spirit to release new scents. He repeats this action several times to make the pleasure last and to discover a whole new bouquet every time.
Third step : the taste
The tasting must obey strict rules : The taster takes small sips at a time (1 to 2 ml). He holds each sip in the front of the mouth and appreciates the "taste" (balance between softness, acidity and bitterness) and the "touch" (feeling of roundness, warmth, strength, astringency, body, oiliness, volume, etc...).
The second, longer sip will suffuse the whole mouth and will bring into full bloom the flavours and the less volatile notes that complete the bouquet.