How to Drink Whisky
Knowing how to drink whisky comes with practice and patience. If you want to learn how to appreciate whisky and all its being, you’ve come to the right place. We’ll be discussing the history of whisky, how to read labels, how to select the right type of glassware and more! The history of whisky is a long and fascinating one, with its origins dating back to ancient civilizations. It’s quite remarkable to learn about its history and evolution as whisky has only improved over time. The earliest possible evidence of distillation comes from the ancient Greeks and was later practiced by the Arabs in the medieval period. It was in Scotland, however, where whisky as we know it today began to take shape. Drinking whisky is where the real art lies. The simplest and best way to drink whisky is neat, and then cleansing your palate with water between sips. You can also add a few drops of water or ice blocks if you find the whisky too strong. See what you prefer and experiment as you go along.
Choosing the Right Whisky
First things first is understanding the different types of whisky. There is single malt whisky and blended whisky. A single malt whisky is made form 100% malt barley and produced in one distillery whereas a blended whisky is a combination of many different grains. Each type of whisky has popular brands that have their own unique flavour profiles and tasting notes. This can be attributed to the type of grain used, the yeast, the aging and much more. Reading whisky labels can be a fun and educational way to learn more about different types of whisky and to discover new favourites. As a beginner, don’t shy away from the whisky label as there are certain key components to look out for. Follow this easy guide below on how to read a whisky label:
1. Look for what type of whisky it is, is it Scotch or Bourbon, single malt or blended?
2. Many whisky labels reveal how long it’s been aged for in years, such as 3 or 10 years. 3. What percentage of alcohol is in the whisky? Most whiskies can range from anywhere between 40% and 60%.
4. The label should also reveal the name of the distillery that produced the whisky. This is useful for if you want to learn more about its origin.
5. Some labels actually describe the flavour and tasting notes of the whisky. The best way to find the right whisky for your palate is to try different brands and styles and see which ones you enjoy the most. It’s a matter of personal taste and what you like to sip on after a long day. Experiment and discover what you like by trying different types of brands and types of whisky. You can do this by visiting a whisky bar or attending a whisky tasting event to sample different brands and styles.
Selecting the Right Glassware
Believe it or not, but selecting the right glassware for drinking whisky has a major impact on the experience. Besides a standard tumbler whisky glass, there are other types of glasses that you can choose.
1. The Glencairn glass is a small, tulip-shaped glass that is designed to enhance the aroma of the whisky. It has a wide bowl that narrows towards the top, which helps to concentrate the aroma and directs it towards the nose.
2. The Copita glass has a similar shape to the Glencairn glass, but is slightly taller and narrower. It is commonly used in Spanish sherry tastings but has become popular for whisky tastings as well.
3. The Snifter glass has a wide bowl and a narrow top. It is often used for sipping aged whiskies, as the shape helps to release the aromas and flavours.
We know it’s just a glass, but choosing the right one really makes a difference. The type of glass you choose allows you to fully immerse yourself in the tasting and can contribute to the flavours and aroma. Here is a simple guide to help you out:
• Single malt Scotch should be served in a Glencairn glass.
• Blended Scotch can be served in either a Glencairn or tumbler glass.
• Bourbon is ideally served in a tumbler glass.
Preparing Your Whisky for Tasting
Preparing your whisky for tasting is like prepping your meals for the week; it should be done carefully and precisely. From beginning to end, take your time with the experience and don’t rush it through. Trust us, the wait will be worth it. Follow this easy step-by-step guide on how to pour whisky correctly and just the right amount.
1. Choose the type of glass you want to drink your whisky from and ensure that it’s clean.
2. Hold it at a 45-degree angle. This will prevent spilling and allows you to be in control of the pouring.
3. Pour in your choice of whisky slowly, keeping the bottle close to the glass. Don’t be tempted to pour in quickly as it can overflow.
4. Try stick to a serving size, which is about 59ml. You can add in more if you prefer.
5. Best rule of thumb is to not fill the glass. Whisky tasting involved swirling it in the glass, so you don’t want to spill that liquid gold. Whisky is best served at room temperature. This allows you to get the most out of the complex flavours and experience. Many people dash whisky with water or add in cubes of ice, and this is always a matter of preference. The water is for when the whisky is tasting too strong – it creates a balanced flavour. Personally, we recommend that whisky should always be served neat. This way, no flavours are diluted or compromised and you can enjoy it at its best.
Tasting Your Whisky
The colour of your whisky is an indication of how long it’s been aged for; it’s also the first step in the tasting process. Apart from looking at the colour, you should observe for its clarity – it should not be cloudy or contain any sediments. It should also be still and not have any carbonation. Any possible bubbles you see could be a result of contamination or improper storage. Whisky should be clear, have a dark, golden colour and tasted at room temperature.
The aroma of your whisky is equally as important as its appearance. It can provide valuable information about the whisky, help set expectations for the flavour and overall quality of the whisky. By taking the time to evaluate the aroma of whisky, you can gain a deeper appreciation for the complexity and craftsmanship that goes into making a high-quality whisky.
The finish, also known as the aftertaste, is the flavour that remains in your mouth after swallowing the whisky. It involves recognising how long it lasts for, how intense and complex it is and the mouthfeel of it. A smooth and creamy finish could indicate a well-aged and well-made whisky, while a harsh and burning finish could indicate a lower quality whisky.
Enhancing Your Whisky-Drinking Experience
Another way to enhance your whisky-drinking experience is by pairing it with food. Certain types of whisky pair excellently with a range of foods. For example, sweet and rich bourbons pair well with sweet and savoury dishes like grilled meats, roasted vegetables, and desserts like apple pie or pecan pie. It’s all about trying new things. Don't be afraid to experiment and try different pairings to find the perfect combination for your palate. Speaking of experimenting, have you ever had a whisky cocktail? They’re refreshing, full of fun flavours and so easy to make. Try this quick recipe below! Whiskey Sour Recipe
• 60ml your whisky of choice
• 20ml fresh lemon juice
• 15ml simple syrup
• Lemon for garnish
Combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice. Strain and pour into a glass with ice and garnish with lemon.
Whisky drinkers have good taste. Not to say that the other alcoholic beverages are inferior - whisky is just a more complex drink that can be enjoyed in many ways. From on the rocks to in a cocktail, there are many ways to experiment with whisky. But drinking whisky shouldn’t be rushed - take your time and savour those aromatic flavours.
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