How to become a whisky ‘expert’ in just two hours
The Week enjoys a few drams at a virtual masterclass with Felipe Schrieberg
I was never all that keen on school but then again, none of my classes involved sipping delicious tipples as the main part of the curriculum.
In a happy turn of events, however, my most recent educational activity involved exactly that. Whisky tasting was the subject matter and our teacher for the evening was Felipe Schrieberg, a judge of the World Whiskies Awards who also writes all things whisky for Forbes.
During our two-hour virtual whisky-tasting masterclass, Schrieberg taught us willing students all about one of the world’s most popular alcoholic beverages as we enjoyed a dram… or six.
What’s in the tasting packs?
After launching online tastings in April, Schrieberg has collaborated with whisky subscription service The Dram Team to offer a new tasting pack featuring five 25cl drams, one 10ml premium Scotch whisky miniature and tasting notes.
Masterclass bookings need to be made at least a week in advance so that the packs can be delivered to the customer’s door by courier. A Zoom invite is then be sent via email ahead of the two-hour session.
Our masterclass featured the new tasting pack, which comprises the following:
- Glen Moray Classic Port Cask Finish (single malt Scotch whisky, 40%)
- Old Pulteney Aged 15 Years (single malt Scotch whisky, 46%)
- Balblair Aged 15 Years (single malt Scotch whisky, 46%)
- Mackmyra Grönt Te (Swedish single malt whisky, 46.1%)
- Aerolite Lyndsay Aged 10 Years (single malt Scotch whisky, 46%)
- Octomore Edition 10.1 Aged 5 Years (single malt Scotch whisky, 59.8%)
Schrieberg, an American living in London, has hosted more than 100 online tastings for 1,500 guests. He says: “One of the joys of whisky is the incredible variety of flavours you can taste and relish. This selection of phenomenal bottles, featuring both classic and unusual choices, covers that spectrum extremely well.”
Christmas cake or TCP?
The masterclasses offer the opportunity to taste some exceptional bottles while also learning interesting facts about and the history of single malts, single grains, blended malts and blended whiskies.
Having lived and studied in Scotland for ten years before founding his own whisky business, Schrieberg really knows his stuff. Among the fascinating insights that we picked up during our tasting session was how whiskies matured in sherry-seasoned casks often have tasting hints of Christmas cake, and how peated whiskies have a smoky flavour and finish with a hint of TCP or medicinal antiseptic.
The range of six drams in the tasting pack are varied and a nice blend for a beginner connoisseur. Starting with the very soft and sweet 40% Glen Moray and ending with the intense 59.8% Octomore 10.1, every palate will be tested by the complexity and finish of the different tipples.
The final grade: A*
From learning the difference between a malt and a blend to finding out how bottles are given their age, this is the perfect class for any aspiring whisky student, or just a fun experience to share with family and friends.
While I enjoy a dram or two at the weekend, I have never considered myself anything of a whisky “expert”. Yet I finished the masterclass feeling that not only had my nose and palate had a workout but also my brain.
About the Virtual Whisky Tasting Masterclass
When are they held?
Virtual tastings take place via Zoom four times a week: Thursdays and Fridays 6pm-8pm; Saturdays 7.30pm-9.30pm; and Sundays 4pm-6pm.
The Dram Team pack features five 25cl whisky drams and one 10ml premium Scotch whisky miniature (Octomore Edition 10.1 Aged 5 Years). Tasting notes for each whisky are also included.
How much does it cost?
The price is £39 for one person or £75 for two (excluding booking fee).