Re: Can I taste different regions whiskeys together?
Ganga put it very well.
Doing a tasting of various whisky's from the different regions is a good idea. Some things to remember when doing tastings:
- Start with the lighter whisky's first. Drinking the heavier whisky's (more heat, cask strength, overbearing personality) will kill your buds pretty fast so that it becomes harder to taste the subtle flavors of the lighter whisky's (or other heavy whisky's).
- Begin with the Speyside region first. They are the most "generic" and IMHO the most appealing if you are one trying to identify which regions you prefer. Speyside whisky's have the most mellow personality (though some are more peculiar). Then go with the Highlands, lowlands, and Islands/slays. I recommend Islays last because (to me) they have the heaviest peat and smoke/iodine personality, and make it very difficult to fully appreciate the other whisky's that follow.
My recommended order is:
- Balvenie 12 Doublewood
- Glenrothes Select Reserve
- Glenmorangie Quinta Ruben/Lasanta
- Dalmore 12/15
- Highland Park 12
- Woodford Reserve
- Makers Mark
As for how to drink it, many people say there is a "proper" way to taste whisky (nosing it, tasting it, then adding very little water for the second taste, etc).
You can read about what to expect from the various regions but the "degree" of each trait in the whisky is determined by your taste buds. I can only give you an idea of what (I feel based on my tastings) are the expected flavors of the regions:
- Speyside: light/mild sweet nose, occasional hint of peat with chocolate/sugar of some sort , low to moderate heat, and a mild to smooth finish (often pleasantly lingering after taste).
- Highlands/Lowlands: ranges greatly. To me, on average, they start with a mild nose (heavy on the mix of flavors), burst of peat which dissipates slowly, sweet, floral, oaky, moderate finish with occasional lingering heat.
- Islands: This region I find varies in personality the most. Some from this region can act like a speyside and some I find are more like the highlands/lowlands/speyside.
- Islays: Strong iodine, peaty, smoky nose, peaty bitter, with underlying sweetness, lots of heat on the finish, bitter lingering after taste.
Once you develop a better understanding of what you can expect from the regions (based on tasting various whisky tastings), you'll have a better idea of what you want and during which occasion. Me, I like the mellow tastes which is why I lean toward the Speysides and the occasional Highlands.
Some whisky's will come in specific batch numbers which I believe means that each batch in question may have a different personality than the previous/unknown what to expect.
Having a very expensive "high end" whisky does not necessarily represent the region. Even having a really expensive whisky may give you with a bad impression.
Go to tastings once in a while. Many of the times, they are free and you learn about some new ones. I went to a whisky tasting for Balcones whom I've never heard of. I had their "unlabeled" blend which to my surprise tasted like a Speyside.