The old stigma surrounding whisky is that it has always been the drink of men in suits. However, with the increasing popularity of craft cocktail bars, it hit the shelves of the market beyond country clubs. It’s for the man or woman who can enjoy the more beautiful things in life such as dabbling in the dark, oak-aged art — be it bourbon, scotch, rye, or Irish.
The drinks, as mentioned above, fall under the same umbrella. This means that whisky is generally a distillation of spirits from fermented grain mash. Barley, wheat, rye grains, and corn are an ingredient in most whiskies. The average whisky is aged for a minimum of two to three years, while costlier, top-shelf alternatives often start at ten years of age.
The difference between its years has a significant impact on its taste, which is why some may seem light to the tongue while others are strong enough to sting your throat. Either way, aficionados will know how to taste the great flavours and spices layered within the funkiness of whisky without being dominated by the heady alcohol content.
Unlike vodka or gin cocktails, a pool of liquid gold may not go down as smoothly for beginners. For that reason, we made a rundown on what you need to consider when drinking whisky so you can join the adult table without any discomfort.
The Different Faces of Whisky
Not all whiskies are made the same. This is why there are many types to choose from that vary in colour, taste, intensity, and the nuances in between.
- Scotch: This is a type of whisky that isn’t meant to intoxicate drunken adventures, but more of a drink that should be savoured for its potency and rich history. It is rooted in malted barley and aged for no less than three years. Created in Scotland, it carries much of tradition and a leathery smell, wood taste, and heavily peated tones that make it, unlike any other whisky.
- Irish: Irish Whiskey holds an equally long, if not more extended history as scotch. Focused on either single malt, grain, single grain, blended, or unique pot still, the distinct taste of Irish whisky features a fruity smell with hints of almond. Upon closer inspection, it foretells a nutty and creamy flavour that finishes smoothly.
- Bourbon: Bourbon is a whisky produced in America, distinguished from European styles due to it being aged in oak barrels with just under 80% alcohol by volume. Its classic sweetness comes from its corn mash, making it less smoky and briny.
- Japanese: Reminiscent of the Scottish Lowland style of scotch, particularly in the Lowlands and Speyside in character, this is arguably the most palatable for newbies as it boasts of a smooth and delicate taste of honey-infused alcohol.
The Different Ways to Drink Whisky
You don’t just order whisky on a whim. It’s the type of drink to be savoured. On that note, there are several ways to drink whisky, all of which vary in influence.
- Order it neat: Typically taken by whisky connoisseurs, ordering neat whisky means it is poured at room temperature and accepted as is. This is the top dog of drinking whisky as it allows anyone to embrace the flavours of whisky fully— from its strong top notes down to its fruity nuances. To really appreciate the complexity of your drink, consider adding a few drops of plain water. It may seem counterintuitive, but the water actually interacts with the ethanol molecules in your whisky, encouraging the intricate aromas and flavours to come to the surface.
- Order it on the rocks: A whisky on the rocks is poured in a glass with ice. This helps to dilute the powerful punch of the alcohol and help ease it down the throat.
- Make it a cocktail: There are quite a number of whisky-based cocktails that will tantalize your tastebuds. Whisky connoisseurs may wrinkle their noses, but drinks like the Irish Mule, the Manhattan, and the Old Fashioned are classics that may become your new favourite order. There are cocktails for every palate, whether you enjoy your drinks creamy, sour, or bitter. Cocktails are often made to cater to first-timers who want to avoid puckering up from the intense aroma and flavour of a traditional whisky.
Whisky is an alcoholic beverage well-loved by people all around the world. Whether you’re in Ontario or Tokyo, you’ll find whisky enthusiasts who will be more than happy to point you in the direction of the best drinks around. Now that you know the basics of how to enjoy this drink, go out and put your knowledge to use!