How to Drink Whiskey - The Beginner's Guide
Drinking whiskey is a magical experience. It's a drink to sip with close friends or to enjoy while making new friends at your local bar or tavern. And there are many ways to enjoy whiskey: you can leave it unsweetened, shake or stir it into a modern cocktail, or make an invigorating classic whiskey cocktail glass.
While single malt Scotch often has a reputation for being a splurge, enjoying a good whisky doesn't have to break the bank. If you're interested in a cost-effective option, here are the best cheap whiskies under $20 and rye whisky brands under $50.
What is whiskey
In short, whiskey is a distilled spirit made from grains. To reach the distillation point, distillers mash the grains to release the natural sugars, which are then fermented into alcohol. The alcohol is then distilled, creating a more potent spirit in the process. The grains used may vary, but more commonly, you'll find whiskey made from corn, rye, wheat and barley (both malted and unmalted). Other grains such as millet and quinoa are also used occasionally, but the four grains we just mentioned are the main players. Once the mash has been fermented and distilled, it usually spends time in barrels, which helps add flavor and color.
Voila, that's the whiskey in a nutshell. Now, let's take a look at the man taking the New York City whiskey scene by storm, Tommy Tardy.
"The great thing about whiskey is that it's so diverse and can appeal to a very wide range of tastes," Tardie says." Bourbons, ryes, single malts, blends - they're all whiskeys." (If you're curious about the different ways to spell "whiskey," here's a quick breakdown of the differences.)
If there's a theme to this guide, it's "exploration." There is no one right way to drink all whiskeys -- instead, enjoying this drink is a personal journey that can easily go from week to week, from day to day, from drink to drink. The protocols outlined in this guide work well for any whisky under the golden sun. We will take you through the basics, but ultimately you must follow your own palate.
How to drink whiskey neatly
The next time you drink whiskey, resist the urge to immediately add ice to it. You'll find that many whiskies get a big boost from ice, but you'd be doing yourself a disservice if you didn't at least try the whiskey without ice.
"Before I got into the hospitality business, I would usually order a straight whiskey when I went out," says Tardy, who recommends straight whiskey to those who like the taste of alcohol." I call my whiskey a single-ingredient cocktail."
If you find that you don't like straight whiskey, that's perfectly fine. With a high alcohol content (about 40 to 43 percent alcohol) and bold flavors, a straight whiskey may be like a slap in the face to your taste buds. For a warmer hug experience, why not try adding a little water?
How to drink whisky with water
If you're new to the world of whisky, you may be rolling your eyes at the prospect of adding a few drops of water. How can one drop of water make a difference?
"A drop of water can be a good thing," says Tardie." A little water can release the hydrophobic (water repellent) element in the glass, allowing you to smell more aromas on the nose, and by lowering the alcohol content, you can taste more flavors on the palate."
The easiest way to do this is with a glass of water and a straw. Simply add a drop, give your whiskey a swirl, take a sip, and repeat until you find the delightful flavor you're looking for. The bigger the splash, the thinner your whiskey will become, achieving the effect of ice without being icy.
How to drink whiskey on the rocks
Ordering a whiskey "on the rocks" may sound cool, but that's not necessarily what you want." Ice can actually numb your palate and dull the taste," Tardie laments." But sometimes you just want a whiskey on the rocks -- I say go for it."
As for the type of ice, you're better off with large ice cubes (1.5 to 2 inches) or ice balls. Smaller ice cubes or ice cubes will melt faster and dilute your whiskey quicker than larger ice cubes. If you want a chilling effect, but don't want to be diluted, you might consider adding chilled whiskey stones.
If you want to know more about whisky, you can click bolded words.
Editor: Rubick L.