It is impossible to “taste” a new spirit by taking the sample provided in the shot glass and throwing the liquid into the back of the throat in one quick move. In fact, that move is the antithesis of the “tasting” experience. By rapidly depositing the spirit in the back of the throat, one is bypassing the sensory organs designed to allow us to experience the spirit. About the only thing one obtains from shooting the spirit is a brief ethanol burn.
Spirit “tasting” is intended to be an opportunity to explore the taste, texture, aromatics and other sensory characteristics of the spirit. Taking the time to experience a spirit during a “tasting” allows you decide whether you like the spirit or not, and to further define the qualities of spirits overall that appeal to you, as well as those qualities that you dislike. Ideally, the “tasting” experience is a learning experience for all involved.
So, by all means drink spirits anyway you prefer. If you want to add ice, add ice. If you want to add water, add some water. Do not let anyone tell you that there is a wrong way to drink your favorite spirit. Follow Frank Sinatra’s advice and do it your way. However, when it comes to “tasting” spirits, please take time to experience the spirit as much as you can.
Don’t shoot the spirit. Savor the spirit.