You picked the right time to get into whiskey, and we aren’t talking about having nothing else to do but drink while you quarantine — although, if we’re being honest, that does free up time to drive into the world of whiskey.
If you’re completely new to the world of this fine spirit, welcome. You’ve made a glorious choice. Whiskey is sophisticated, complex and damn delicious. It’s great right out the bottle (called neat, but we’ll get to that later), chilled, or can be the backbone of an amazing whiskey cocktail. As you’ll learn, there’s really no wrong way to enjoy whiskey. Below we cover:
- The various ways to drink whiskey
- How To drink whiskey like a boss
- Accessories to help you enjoy your whiskey
Whiskey has been a part of human history for about 1,000 years. As the old saying goes, “better late than never.” But good things come to those who wait (Ok, enough with the adages). We’re in the golden age of this fine spirit. Never has there been more great whiskeys available and at affordable prices. You picked the perfect time to learn how to drink whiskey like a boss.
How Do You Take Your Whiskey?
There’s no wrong way to drink whiskey. Some people like to enjoy the full flavor of whiskey by itself, why others prefer it to be the base of a cocktail. Generally, there are four main ways to drink whiskey:
- With water
- On the rocks
The maker of the whiskey most likely intended you to drink it neat. But how do you make a neat whiskey? Here are the steps:
Step 1: Pour whiskey into a glass.
Don’t get us wrong, there is absolutely nothing wrong with adding a little ice or water to your whiskey, which we’ll get to shortly, but before you add anything else to chill or dilute your spirit, you should try it neat. Some whiskeys are perfect right out of the bottle, and the only way to discover if you prefer a particular brand neat is to try it that way first.
A Little Water Never Hurt Anyone
There is absolutely no shame in adding a little bit of water to your whiskey before you taste it. Why add water? The water helps to ever so slightly dilute the alcoholic content of the drink and promote more of the hidden flavors and aromas. That’s right, it can actually promote the taste! In fact, many whiskey makers will use water as a tool to dial in their flavors. They’ll add a little water as they are tasting to ensure that the other flavor notes are correct before the final product is finished.
How much water do you add? Just a splash. You can get really precise with it if you want and use a dropper or straw to add the water. Keep in mind that a little goes a long way, and you don’t want to completely wash out the flavor with too much water.
On The Rocks
The term “on the rocks” means adding a couple of ice cubes to your whiskey. And if we’re being honest, it sounds kind of badass to order it that way. Sometimes, you just want a cold glass of whiskey. But you may want to rethink using ice. As the ice melts, you may over-dilute your spirit and be left with a watery glass of what was once delicious whiskey. Instead, use frozen whiskey stones which chill your drink without diluting it.
Quiseen Whiskey Stones
What about Cocktails?
If you find that whiskey alone or with a little ice doesn’t quite do it for you, try it in a cocktail. It can be a complete game-changer. Whiskey has a lot of complex flavors that allow this spirit to morph and blend nicely with a wide variety of mixers.
You can add whiskey to hot drinks like Irish coffee, or summertime favorites like Kentucky mules. You can even keep it classic with a Manhattan or Old Fashioned and still let the whiskey be the star of the drink. Check out our guide on the best whiskey cocktails if this sounds more your speed.
How To Drink Whiskey Like a Boss
If you really want to drink it and enjoy whiskey like a connoisseur, pour one to two ounces of whiskey into a Glencairn whiskey glass, or into a Paksh Italian-Crafted glass and give it a swirl before you taste it. Now, your sniffer is equally as important when it comes to taste as it is smell, so don’t be shy with it. As you are swirling it lightly around the glass, smell the aromas produced by the marvelous dark liquid. Keep your mouth open as you breath in as this helps defuse the strong alcoholic fumes omitted by the whiskey and promotes the flavorful aromas.
Paksh Italian-Crafted Glass Decanter & Whisky Glasses Set
Ok, now you’re ready for a taste. As you tip the glass back, resist the urge to take it like a shot (down the hatch!). Instead, move the whiskey around your mouth. Whiskey is so complex with flavors that it takes all regions of your tongue to truly experience it. Notice how the whiskey makes your mouth feel? Is there a spice to it that slightly burns? Is it overly smokey? Does it leave your mouth feeling oily or dry? These are all distinct characteristics of respective whiskeys. As you go deeper down the rabbit hole, you’ll appreciate these individual nuances of each brand.
Finally, as that magical liquid is making its way down your throat, continue breathing out through your nose. This is the last step of “the finish.” It’s the combination of the final taste in your mouth, the feel, and aromas and fumes leaving your nostrils. Anyone else ready for a round?
What Whiskey Should You Drink?
A drink that is this complex and sophisticated has to be expensive, right? Au contraire mon frere. There are some incredible whiskeys available — we’re talking award-winning at global tasting events, good — that aren’t just for the elite. Next time you’re in the spirit aisle at the grocery or liquor store, instead of buying a gallon of Fireball, consider a few of these options or check out our whiskey guide, to test out your new-found whiskey-drinking knowledge.