How to Drink Whiskey: A Complete Guide
There may be no liquor more synonymous with "having a drink" than whiskey. Champagne is celebratory, wine is the epitome of sophistication, but whiskey is the platonic ideal of a grown-up's pour, the most adult thing you can order.
Whiskey is an incredibly versatile spirit, perfect for sipping neat or mixing into a cocktail. It's a wide umbrella though—there's whiskey from Ireland and the U.S. and whisky (yes a different spelling) from Scotland, Canada, Japan, and elsewhere. There's bourbon, rye, and scotch—and a broad range of
Read on for what to order, how to order, and how to sound smart when you talk about it.
IF YOU’RE A COCKTAIL PERSON
Try one of these four classic drinks:
2 oz rye whiskey
1 oz sweet vermouth
2 dashes Angostura Bitters
Stir the rye, vermouth, and bitters in a mixing glass with ice. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass and garnish with a maraschino cherry.
2 oz bourbon or rye whiskey
1 sugar cube or 1 tsp sugar
3 dashes Angostura Bitters
Place the sugar in an Old Fashioned glass. Splash it with three dashes of bitters and muddle together. Add the whiskey, a large ice cube, and stir. Garnish with an orange peel.
8 oz. hot water
1 tea bag
2 oz. whiskey
1 tbsp. honey
1 tsp. lemon juice
1 lemon slice
Pour hot water into
2 oz whiskey
.75 oz lemon juice
.75 oz simple syrup
Add whiskey, lemon juice, and simple syrup to a cocktail shaker. Fill shaker with ice and shake. Strain into an ice-filled rocks glass. Garnish with a cherry
IF YOU PREFER IT STRAIGHT
Connoisseurs recommend drinking whiskey from a Glencairn glass (above), which is designed to direct the aromas from the liquid up and out of the glass toward the drinker's nose. This is valuable since smell is an integral part of taste (if you don't believe that, try pinching your nose the next time you put something in your mouth).
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To release additional aromas and
IF YOU LIKE ICE
Along with tasting whiskey straight (or "neat"), another option is to drink it on the rocks, meaning over a few ice cubes. The ice chills the whiskey, but as it melts it also dilutes it.
Some people welcome this, but if you want to avoid that, whiskey stones are an option. The solid soapstone cubes, which can be stored in the freezer, are
HOW TO STORE YOUR WHISKEY
For storage, you can consider a glass decanter like this one, but know that many whiskey lovers prefer to store their beloved liquid in its original bottle, especially since most whiskies come with interesting labels.
Cocktail enthusiasts will want to invest in a set of tools for mixing drinks, like this one from
First a note on spelling: It's
Now for the basics: Whiskey is a distilled spirit made from fermented grains including barley, corn, rye, and wheat. It's typically aged in wooden casks, often made from charred white oak. The video below describes the complex process.
A primer on the different types:
- Bourbon: While many think bourbon needs to be made in Kentucky, that's not true. In fact, today it's produced in every state in America except Hawaii. The only rules around it stipulate that bourbon must be made from at least 51
percentcorn, aged in new charred oak barrels, distilled to no more than 160 proof, put into barrels at no more than 125 proof, and bottled at no less than 80 proof (40 percentalcohol by volume). While there is no minimum agingrequirement, "straight" bourbon must be aged for a minimum of two years. Here's a handy tip, too: all bourbon is whiskey, but not all whiskey is bourbon.
- Rye Whiskey: Must be made from a mash bill (or recipe) that contains at least 51
- Malt Whiskey: Must contain at least 51
- Tennessee Whiskey: Must be distilled in Tennessee using the charcoal-filtering method.
- All Scotch whisky has to be distilled in Scotland and aged there in oak barrels for at least three years. It also must be at least 40
percentalcohol by volume (80 proof).
- A "single malt" is a malt whisky produced entirely at one distillery; a "blended malt" is a mixture of single malt whiskies.
- Any age stated on the bottle (like in the case of Talisker 10-Year-Old Single Malt) must reflect the age of the youngest whisky in the bottle. In other words, a whisky that's been aged for more than 10 years can go into a 10-year-old Scotch whisky, but a younger one cannot.
- Scotch has a reputation for being smoky, but many Scotches exhibit no smoky
flavorsat all; most of the ones that do come from the island of Islay, which is known for its peat bogs that provide the decayed vegetation that giveLaphroaig, Lagavulin, and Ardbeg and other island whiskies their signature smoky flavor.
- Irish whiskey must be distilled in Ireland and aged in wooden casks for at least three years.
- Known for blends without age statements, a few typical Irish whiskies are Jameson, Bushmills, and Tullamore D.E.W.
- Canadian whisky is typically lighter-bodied and fruitier than whiskies from other parts of the world
- It needs to be distilled and aged for at least three years in Canada.
- Canadian Club and Crown Royal are a couple of popular brands.
- Japanese distiller Shinjiro Torii looked to the Scotch world for inspiration when he launched the company that eventually became Suntory and built Japan's first malt whisky distillery,
- Torii hired , who had studied distilling in Scotland, as an early Suntory executive, and in 1934 Taketsuru formed a competing company now known as Nikka.
- Japanese whiskies are now among the most popular in the world—following Jim Murray's declaration of the Yamazaki Single Malt Sherry Cask 2013 as the best whiskey in the world in his 2015 Whisky Bible.
- The whiskies resemble the style of smooth Scotch single malts and are not typically peated.
Michter's 10 Year Rye, drizly.com, $114.99, Maker's Mark Bourbon Whisky, drizly.com, $19.98, Bowmore Islay Single Malt Scotch Whisky 15 Year, drizly.com, $59.99, Johnnie Walker Black Label, drizly.com, $24.99
Tullamore Dew Irish Whiskey, drizly.com, $16.99, Crown Royal Deluxe, drizly.com, $9.99, Yamazaki
12 Year Old Whisky, drizly.com, $63.99, Hibiki Japanese Harmony Whisky, drizly.com, $57.10
*This story originally appeared on Townandcountrymag.com
*Minor edits have been made by the Townandcountry.ph editors