|VISUAL - Take a look at the glass. Slivovitz thatís not aged, or is aged in glass should be clear as water.
Wood aged slivovitz picks up color from the casks, but should still be clear, not cloudy. Swirl the glass and look at the legs or tears ( the Marangoni effect).
Itís caused by differences in the surface tension between alcohol and water. You should notice more legs in higher proof slivovitz.
AROMA - Sniff deeply, searching for plums, mold green, or rotten egg smells (sulfites). Notice the bite of the alcohol.
Smoky or wood odor is expected in an aged slivovitz. Smell for chemical odors, acetone, or fusels. Swirl the glass and repeat.
Now do the Stawski Sniff. Place the palm of your hand over the glass, and tip it over. Rub the circle of slivovitz between our palms to warm it.
Cup your hands and sniff deeply.
ALCOHOL - Higher proof slivovitz tends to have a harsher bite, simply due to the alcohol.
The higher the quality of the slivovitz, the less noticeable the alcohol for the same proof.
MOUTH FEEL - A very subjective measure. Hold the slivovitz in your mouth for a while. Rub your tongue against the roof of your mouth.
What does the slivovitz feel like? Is it thin and slippery, smooth, viscous, astringent, dry? Does your tongue feel coated?
Good slivovitz has a smooth, slightly dry feel. Higher alcohol levels can cause dryness, but a sweeter slivovitz can be deceptive.
TASTE - Start with the instance it touches your tongue, was it bitter, smooth harsh, or smoky? Could you taste plum or was there more oak?
A taste like bitter almonds means the distiller broke the pits when preparing the slivovitz or let it ferment on the seed longer than necessary.
A burnt taste is usually caused by burning the mash when using direct heat on the still. Taste acetone, chemical, or dull? There may be tails
(the end of a distilling run which contains fusals, fatty acids, and esters). An herbal taste usually means the plums werenít stripped of leaves before fermenting.
AFTERTASTE - After you spit, and slivovitz experts always spit while tasting more than one bottle, what did your mouth feel like?
Did your tongue go numb? Old gym socks or chemical waste dump is bad. Plum, oak , or pleasant lingering tastes are good.