Peaty aroma and a long lingering finish is what many believe best describes Scottish whisky. Enjoying a reputation as being among the world’s most revered spirits, anyone favoring a tipple, or two, should know a thing or two about Scotch whisky.
However, just as with other fine drinks, there is a certain whisky drinking etiquette involved in maximizing the taste and thrill of the experience.
Allow us to present the As and Bs of whisky, helping you to relish this palatial drink to the very fullest.
Single Malts vs. Blended vs. Grain
What’s the difference? The whisky connoisseur would, without question, identify a sharp distinction between single malt, blended, and grain whisky. To help you understand whisky a little better, here’s a quick breakdown: single malt whisky is distilled from water, yeast and barley, while grain whisky is made with water and grain. Unsurprisingly, blended whiskies are—you guessed it—blended from both malt and grain, and although rare, single grain whiskies do exist.
It’s worth noting, however, that single malt does not necessarily mean that it is distilled from the same cask; it may very well be blended from many different malt casks.
The Older, the Better
Older whiskies are usually more valuable than their younger counterparts; it’s not just snobbery; they really do taste better. And why is that? Whisky is aged in wooden casks, where wood is porous, having an impact on the taste of the whisky. Hence, whisky producers boldly state whether their whiskies have been aged in sherry casks (used to store sherry), or bourbon casks, etc. Furthermore, a small proportion of whisky evaporates during the maturation period, thus mellowing the flavour. Some casks may also be charred before being filled with whisky, which produces a unique flavour and helps to purify the whisky.
In some cases, whiskies are given a finish, where after aging in their barrels for years, or even decades, they are transferred into a different cask for six to twelve months, further improving the flavour. Once a whisky is bottled, it stops ageing completely.
The Whisky Glass
Your drinking vessel may not change the taste of your whisky significantly, but it is, without doubt, much more exciting to drink whisky from a real whisky glass, instead of your next coffee mug.
Mix it with Water or Rocks
While some purists believe that the only acceptable way of drinking whisky is to drink it straight, we recommend adding a little water or rocks. Must we remind you that this is seriously strong stuff? So, what better way to enjoy such a delectable spirit than drinking it slowly to savour the taste and enjoy the experience?
Smell it! The smell will tell you a lot about the whisky. Is it smoky? Salty? Fruity? Sweet? Woody? The essences are endless. What’s great about whisky is its variety of scent and taste; with such an extreme diversity, you’ll struggle to find the same in any other drink.
Start with a Small Sip
After spending half a minute or so nosing, it’s now time to take a sip. Start with a small one – just enough to coat the entire tongue. Keep it in your mouth for a while until you get that “mouthfeel” you’ve been waiting for. How does it taste? Swallow it and enjoy the aftertaste. How is it? Different whiskies have different aftertastes; some short, and others long.
Do it again, until you finish your glass, and then get another one! Just remember to bide your time. Drink slowly to relish in the affair. Whisky is distinctly stronger than the average beer, so drink it responsibly and love it indefinitely.