News>How to Nose Like a Pro

About 80-95 percent of what we taste comes from our sense of smell, which makes it an incredibly important part of enjoying whisky. Here at the Society, we are all about getting the most out of our whisky to elevate the experience. Curious to know some tips and tricks to nosing your whisky like a pro? Yes, you too can have the nose of a whisky loving bloodhound, so let’s explore some methods to have you well on your way!

First things first, let’s get a lineup of amazing Society whisky! If you’re looking for a perfect trio of whiskies for this exercise, I would recommend our Society Essentials BundleThis consist of three flavour profiles perfect for not only navigating your nose but great drams for tasting too! There are a few key elements to keep in mind when nosing a whisky. 


This is an overlooked, yet important factor. Be sure you don’t have any candles burning or just baked an apple pie in the kitchen! Outside aromas, even simply the perfume or cologne you wear, can alter what you are smelling in the whisky.


If possible, use the same type of glassware for each whisky. A tulip-shaped glass like a Glencairn or copita is best. The belly of the glass gives the whisky space to open up and the tulip neck channels the aromas straight to your nose. Wide mouth style glasses can dissipate the aromas, instead of channeling them, which means you’ll miss out on some noteworthy nose notes! Cask 122.35 ‘A quick burst’ is a whisky you want to get the most out of, especially on the nose. Big burst of lemon peel and freshly baked bread, with swirls of cinnamon iced coffee cake just channel right up the glass!

The Method

To avoid prickle in your nose, don’t shove your nose too far into the glass and take in a big sniff. The alcohol of the whisky can burn out your nose, leaving you missing all of the aromas. Instead, hold the glass slightly below your nose, give it a little swirl and inhale softly through your nose. This is important especially with cask strength whisky. Cask 39.207 ‘With a little help from our friends’ comes in at 61% ABV, so be sure to take your time and take small sniffs. Keep your mouth just ajar when inhaling, and then breathe out through your mouth. You’ll be able to taste the aromas as they leave over your palate. As you continue to nose this delight of a dram, you’ll discover its basket of fruit aromas, like pineapple ice lolly, blood orange and tropical fruit salad!


After you have nosed them neat, add a few drops of water and nose again. The addition of water will release more aromas as it cuts down on some of the strength. I often see (or in this case smell) the biggest changes with water in peated whiskies. Cask 66. 189 ‘A doric takeaway is a great example of this. Neat, it’s a savory bacon explosion of smoked meats and soot. With just a few drops of water, the smoke profile settles a bit and more cereal and bread notes emerge, bringing forward a textural element that is really mouthwatering!

Nosing is a key element in enjoying whisky and I hope that these tips and tricks will have you well on your way to nosing like a pro! If there are any tips that you’d like to share with me, please send me a message at

Wishing you all a very happy nosing!

Jenna Elie