Are Whisky Nosing Aroma Kits Worth It?

Credit: clappstar

Credit: clappstar

When you read tasting notes, do you know the difference between fresh fruit and dried fruit? I know I didn’t, until I went on The Macallan distillery tour and went into the nosing/aroma area of the museum.

Of the entire tour, that area was my favorite. They had about a dozen hanging glass jars with “stuff” in them. You could put your nose into the jar and smell the aroma on the label and it wasn’t until that moment that I started to understand what various scents were like when you saw them in tasting notes.

I liken it to listening to individual instruments rather than the whole orchestra. When you hear an orchestra, it’s much easier to pick out the violin after you’ve heard a violin on its own. A cello is much different than a violin, but only if you’ve heard the two independently. I found that I was better able to pull out aromas after I went on this trip.

This begs the question – is it worth it to buy a whisky aroma kit? A whisky aroma kits is a kit that contains a dozen or so little jars that contain an “essence” of an aroma. Some places call them aroma kits while others call them nosing kits. If you do a quick search online, you can find a bunch of different places selling these kits.

The kits themselves vary in size but the basic set up is the same. A dozen or more labeled vials that contain a unique aroma along with a booklet and some paper strips you can use to put the scents on (so you aren’t just sniffing the vials). The kits themselves can get pricey – a 12-aroma kit from the Whisky Academy goes for $105 and a 24 vial kit goes for $190 (plus shipping).

What are the scents in the 24 vial kit?

  1. Alcohol
  2. Balsamic (Vanilla)
  3. Balsamic (Hay)
  4. Buttery
  5. Caramel
  6. Citrus
  7. Decay
  8. Ethereal
  9. Earthy
  10. Floral (Rose Water)
  11. Floral (Carnation)
  12. Fruity
  13. Cut Grass
  14. Malty
  15. Medicinal
  16. Nutty
  17. Peaty
  18. Phenolic
  19. Smoky
  20. Solventy
  21. Sherry
  22. Spicy
  23. Spirituous
  24. Woody

Personally, I’m not sure I’d buy a kit just for myself. When we used to do scotch nights, it might make sense for everyone to chip in a few bucks and buy a kit for the group. Or you can all chip in and buy a few bottles of scotch instead. 🙂

If you’re a fan of wine, you’ve probably seen wine tasting and aroma kits as well. Same idea, different beverage.

As for the difference between fresh and dried fruit, dried fruit is sweeter and less lively (more candy-like). You don’t often see “fresh fruit” as a tasting note though, they often refer to a specific fruit like oranges (or citrus).

Don’t ask me what heather is like though, I still have no idea. 🙂

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