World Association for Spirit Tasting & Education

Tasting Guide


Clarity/brightness: bright or dull, clear or hazy/cloudy (faulty?)

Intensity: water-white ~ pale ~ medium ~ deep ~ opaque


white colorless ~ green ~ lemon-green ~ lemon

golden gold ~ amber ~ copper

brown tawny ~ mahogany ~ brown

colored pink ~ red ~ orange ~ yellow ~ green ~ blue ~ purple ~ brown ~ black (natural/synthetic?)

Other observations e.g. legs/tears, louching

 (2) NOSE

Condition clean ~ faulty (fault: feinty ~ woody ~ TCA ~ stale - other taint)

Intensity neutral ~ light ~ medium (-) ~ medium ~ medium (+) ~ pronounced

Maturation unaged ~ rested ~ short ageing ~ matured ~ very aged (rancio)

Aroma e.g. fruits, flowers, vegetables, grains, botanicals, herbs, oak, sweetness, other

Other observations e.g. changes of character after adding water to the sample


Sweetness dry ~ off-dry ~ medium (-) ~ medium ~ medium (+) ~ sweet ~ luscious

Alcohol comment on integration, effect on texture

Body light ~ medium (-) ~ medium ~ medium (+) ~ full

Flavor intensity neutral ~ light ~ medium (-) ~ medium ~ medium (+) ~ pronounced

Flavor e.g. fruits, flowers, vegetables, grains, botanicals, herbs, oak, sweetness, other

Other observations e.g. tannins, texture, balance

Length short ~ medium (-) ~ medium ~ medium (+) ~ long

Finish balance, complexity, cleanness


Quality faulty ~ poor ~ acceptable ~ good ~ very good ~ outstanding

Reasons for quality e.g. balance, length, concentration, complexity, typicity

Origins (if applicable e.g. Cognac, Islay)

Raw materials (e.g. grapes, other fruits, grains, agave, sugar cane, molasses)

Style (e.g. XO, VSOP, Reposado)

Price (approximate retail price, including all taxes)


FRUITY/FLORAL (ESTERY) ~ fresh or cooked? natural or synthetic?

  • Citrus Fruit orange, tangerine, grapefruit, lemon, lime
  • Orchard Fruit apple (green/ripe?) gooseberry, pear, apricot, peach, plum, red cherry, black cherry
  • Berry/Currant grape, strawberry, raspberry, redcurrant, blackcurrant, blackberry
  • Tropical Fruit banana, kiwi, lychee, mango, melon, passion fruit, pineapple
  • Dried Fruit fig, prune, raisin, sultana, citrus peel, fruit cake
  • Flowers rose, violet, perfume, lavender, lilac, dried flowers



  • Cereal husk, porridge, barley, rye, linseed, malt, flour
  • Fresh vegetable agave, bell pepper, mushroom, asparagus
  • Herbaceous grass, hay, eucalyptus, blackcurrant leaf, wet leaves, conifer
  • Botanicals/herbs juniper, coriander, basil, rosemary, thyme, sage, lemongrass, mint
  • Kernel chocolate, coffee, hazelnut, almond, coconut, cashew



  • Oak toast, coffee, cedar, char, spice, sherry, sawdust
  • Sweetness corn, vanilla, butterscotch, menthol, caramel, burnt sugar, toffee, molasses
  • Sweet anise, fennel, liquorice, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, nutmeg, cardamom,
  • black/white pepper, cumin



  • Peat (phenolic) peat, medicinal, smoked fish, earthy, smoky, seaweed
  • Animal leather, meaty, gravy, yeast extract
  • Rancio fruit cake, candied fruits, mushroom, forest floor, polish
  • Solvent peardrop, turpentine, paint, varnish
  • Feinty wax, leather, biscuits, tobacco, cheese, sweat, plastic
  • Sulphur rubber, spent matches, boiled cabbage, drains



Component Balance

  • Sweetness unctuous, cloying, sticky
  • Alcohol delicate, light, thin, soft, smooth, integrated, warm, generous, hot, heady, spirity,
  • burning, harsh
  • Overall Harmony unbalanced by alcohol, sugar, wood, other components
  • shapeless, angular, clumsy, disjointed
  • elegant, harmonious, mellow



  • Tannins Level: trace, noticeable, gentle, grippy, intrusive
  • Effect: bitter, austere, dusty, woody, drying
  • Viscosity/Alcohol thin, fluid, supple, creamy, mouthcoating, oily, rich, thick, heavy
  • Overall Impressions
  • Cleanness clean, well-defined, vivid, lively, refreshing, dirty, stale, dull, tired
  • Complexity one-dimensional, simple
  • some complexity from…, complex due to…, multilayered
  • (list what contributes to complexity)


Modified by W.A.S.T.E.D., from the WSET Systematic Approach to Tasting Spirits, Copyright WSED 2011.