Whiskey is an alcoholic beverage made from distilled wort or malt and aged in wooden barrels. Appreciated for its variety of flavors, it can be as smooth and fruity as it is heavy, with a slight smoky taste. If you've never tasted whiskey, try drinks of different styles, ages and flavors to discover your favourite. Pure or added to a delicious cocktail, ordering a whiskey will not be difficult once you have learned the difference between the different types of drink and how best to enjoy each one.
Method 1 of 5: Drinking Whiskey Pure
Step 1. Put the whiskey in the glass
Give preference to small and wide glass glasses, suitable for serving whiskey. To make the most of the drink's aroma and flavor, invest in a tulip-shaped glass.
- Avoid using plastic or polystyrene cups. Glass is the only material that does not risk altering the taste of the drink.
- To sip a whiskey the classic way, try using a pewter cup, as long as, of course, you don't mind the metallic taste of the material.
- Whiskey should always be served in small doses. Start with a little finger (about 30ml to 50ml) of the drink. To measure the dose, run your index finger around the bottom of the cup and fill the cup until you reach the outer edge of your finger.
Step 2. Taste the whiskey neat before adding water or ice
Before adding any other ingredients to your whiskey, try at least a little of the drink in its pure state. This way, not only will you get a good idea of the true taste and aroma of the whiskey, you will also be able to decide in a more informed way whether you really want to drink it with something else.
If you like the taste of alcohol, you may prefer to drink whiskey straight
Step 3. Sniff the whiskey two or three times before tasting it
Put your nose into the cup and inhale. You may need to do this more than once to smell the drink. The smell of alcohol often overpowers other scents on the first inhalation. From the second onwards, you will start to notice traces of wood, spices and other ingredients.
Leave your mouth open while smelling the whiskey to stimulate your taste buds along with your sense of smell, allowing for a greater appreciation of the taste of the drink
The tulip's narrow spout concentrates the whiskey fumes at the top of the glass, accentuating the aroma of the drink.
Step 4. Rinse the whiskey before swallowing
Don't quit turning the drink down your throat! Take a small sip and pour the liquid back and forth on your tongue. After downing the whiskey, wait a while before taking the next sip so you can enjoy the taste of the drink in your mouth.
- You may notice traces of ingredients like caramel, toffee and vanilla in the whiskey.
- Some people like to “chew” the whiskey before swallowing it so that it well covers the entire surface of the tongue, cheeks and roof of the mouth.
- Breathe through your nose as you gulp down the whiskey to get a good feel for the aroma of the drink.
- Don't give up if you don't like the whiskey right away. The first sip always has that strong alcohol taste. However, you will probably start noticing the other flavors of the drink on the second or third sip. Whiskey is an acquired taste. It may take you a while to learn to appreciate the complexity of the drink's aromas and flavors.
Step 5. Add water to whiskey to enhance flavor
Add a few drops of pure, fresh water to the whiskey and gently stir the drink with a straw. This will lessen the impact of the alcohol and accentuate the more subtle flavors present in the drink. Add the water little by little until the whiskey has the desired taste.
No one is quite sure why water makes whiskey taste better. However, some scientists claim that the water absorbs the chemicals responsible for the bad taste, while others believe that it carries the tastiest components of the drink to the surface.
Step 6. Add a handful of ice if you want a refreshing drink
Add a large ice cube or ice ball to the whiskey for a chilled drink. While most whiskey lovers frown at drinks on the rocks, there's nothing wrong with putting a little ice in your drink. After all, the whiskey is yours! Take it as you like.
- Remember, though, that ice will melt and dilute the whiskey. The cold can also numb your taste buds, making it harder to feel the subtle flavors of the drink.
- Large chunks of ice melt more slowly than smaller ones and take time to dilute the drink.
- You can also use frozen whiskey stones if you wish. Whiskey stones are made of soapstone and serve to make the drink refreshing without diluting it.
Step 7. Take it easy
Part of the whiskey's appeal is precisely the taste. So, ideally, you should drink it slowly instead of turning it over to fully enjoy the taste of each sip. For each glass of whiskey, set aside between 30 and 60 minutes.
There's nothing wrong with downing the whiskey, though. Try it both ways to find out which one is your favorite
Method 2 of 5: Trying Whiskey Cocktails
Step 1. Bet on an Old Fashioned if you want a classic, simple and sweet drink
Old Fashioned is the grandfather of all whiskey drinks. It can be made with different variations of the drink, from a sweeter bourbon (the traditional choice) to a more spicy and subtle rye. Only depends on you! To make an Old Fashioned:
- In the bottom of a whiskey glass, crush a cube of sugar along with three drops of powder.
- Add a shot of whiskey and some ice. Stir until the ice starts to melt.
- Add another shot of whiskey.
- Decorate the drink with a cherry or a slice of orange.
Step 2. Prepare a light, refreshing Mint Julep
Made with sweet bourbon, this cocktail is traditional from the US state of Kentucky. The better the whiskey, the better the drink. Always use fresh mint leaves. Lightly crush them with a cube of sugar in the bottom of a glass before adding the bourbon. Then put 60ml of bourbon with a cube of sugar and a handful of crushed ice into the glass and mix.
Take a tall glass or silver glass to the freezer to serve the drink in a cool container. Use a cloth or paper napkin so you don't touch the glass with your hands and ruin the effect
Step 3. Try making a Manhattan if you like sweet and slightly bitter drinks
Manhattan can be a little too bitter for some people. Others, however, love the combination of flavors in the drink. Just like Old Fashioned, you can choose the type of whiskey you prefer to make the cocktail to your liking. Use a rye to make a very strong drink, for example, or a bourbon if you prefer something sweeter. To make a Manhattan, place the ingredients below in a shaker with ice. Then just serve.
- 60 ml of whiskey.
- 30 ml of sweet vermouth.
- 1 or 2 drops of some bitter, such as Angostura.
- 1 small strip of orange peel.
- When made with scotch and orange sprouts instead of rye whiskey and aromatic sprinklings, the cocktail is called Rob Roy.
Step 4. Prepare a Whiskey Sour if you prefer fruity and sour cocktails
Simple and easy to make, Whiskey Sour doesn't require many ingredients and has a delicious sour taste that goes down without difficulty. To make a Whiskey Sour, mix the following ingredients with plenty of ice in a shaker:
- 60 ml of whiskey.
- 30 ml of fresh lemon juice or lemon mix.
- 1 teaspoon (about 4 g) of sugar.
- To make a Boston Sour, add an egg white to make the drink thicker and more bubbly.
Step 5. Warm up the breast with a sweet and spicy Hot Toddy
Hot Toddy is a hot drink made with whiskey and spices. It is perfect for giving that warmth to your heart on cold and rainy days. Typically, the cocktail is made with Irish whiskey. To make a Hot Toddy, put the whiskey inside the glass, heat the ingredients below and turn the boiling mixture over the drink:
- 60 ml of water.
- 3 cloves.
- 1 cinnamon stick.
- 1 x 1.5 cm piece of peeled and sliced ginger (optional).
- 1 strip of lemon peel.
- 60 ml of whiskey.
- 2 teaspoons (10 ml) of honey (adjust for your taste buds).
- 1 or 2 teaspoons (5 ml to 10 ml) of lemon juice.
- A dash of nutmeg.
Method 3 of 5: Choosing a Scotch
Step 1. Opt for a Speyside or Highland Scotch if you prefer sweet flavors
Scotches, or Scotch whiskeys, have a wide variety of flavors that depend on the region where they were made. While this is not always the case, Speyside and Highland whiskeys tend to be more fruity and sweeter than other scotches.
Both Speyside and the Highlands are home to a large number of distilleries. Therefore, flavors vary widely from bottle to bottle. Try different whiskeys from both regions to find your favourite
If you're a first-timer, a Speyside like Glenfiddich or a Highland whiskey like Glenmorangie might be a good choice. Both drinks have a low alcohol content, around 40%, and usually cost between R$ 200 and R$ 400.
Step 2. Try a Lowland Scotch for a lighter drink
If you prefer light, smooth whiskeys with a floral or grassy touch, a Lowland Scotch is the perfect choice. Made with malt, the region's whiskeys are known for being delicate and make excellent appetizer drinks.
- Currently, there are few still operating distilleries in the Lowlands. The two oldest and most famous that remain operational are Auchentoshan and Glenkinchie.
- Like most scotches, Lowland whiskeys are single malt, meaning they are made with barley malt from a single distillery. Malting is the process of putting the beans to germinate in water before fermentation.
- Most scotches have a milder flavor than other malts due to the special double or triple distillation process used to make the drink. Typically, the alcohol content of Scotch whiskeys is around 40%.
Step 3. Opt for an Islay, Campbeltown or Scottish Isles whiskey if you prefer strong flavors with a slight peat hue
These regions are known for strong whiskeys with complex flavors, with shades of smoke, peat and salt. The drinks are perfect for those who are not a fan of sweet or floral drinks. However, they can be too heavy for those who are not used to it.
- Scotches from the Islay region are famous for the strong flavor generated by the peat used as fuel in malting. Some of the most famous distilleries in the region are Lagavulin, Ardbe and Laphroaig. If you prefer a lighter whiskey, try a Bruichladdich.
- Whiskeys from the Scottish Isles also have a slight peat taste, but are often sweeter and smoother than Islay. Try a Tobermory or Highland Park, or bet on a bottle of Arran for a lighter, fruitier drink.
- Campbeltown are complex and slightly salty, with peat notes similar to those of Islay. The main distilleries in the region are Glen Scotia, Longrow and Springbank.
Method 4 of 5: Choosing a bourbon
Step 1. Start with a wheat bourbon, with a milder flavor
If you don't have a lot of experience with bourbons, start with a variety with a high wheat content. Wheat makes the drink taste more delicate and smooth, which makes it more palatable than other bourbons for people who are not in the habit of drinking whiskey.
- Some popular wheat bourbons are Maker’s Mark, Old Fitzgerald and Pappy Van Winkel.
- These bourbons also tend to have hints of caramel, vanilla and bread.
Bourbons are blends made with at least 51% corn, barley and usually a third grain for flavor.
Step 2. Try a traditional bourbon if you like sweet whiskeys
Traditional bourbons have a high corn content (around 70%) and are made with rye instead of wheat. Corn gives the drink a sweet touch, while rye makes it spicier.
- Some well-known traditional bourbons are Knob Creek, Jim Beam and Wild Turkey.
- If you really like the sweet flavor of corn, try an even higher bourbon, like Old Charter, 80% corn, or Tuthilltown Spirits Baby Bourbon, 100% corn.
Step 3. Try a spicy bourbon with lots of rye
Bourbons with a high rye content have a strong and very spicy taste. If you like impactful drinks, invest in a bourbon with more than 10% rye, like an Old Grand-Dad, a Four Roses or a Bulleit.
- The Four Roses Single Barrel has 35% rye in the composition. The drink is the richest whiskey in rye on the market.
- Bet on a Bulleit if you like the spiciness of rye but also want a fruity whiskey.
Step 4. Try single-barrel bourbons to discover exotic flavors
If you like an adventure, how about trying different types of single-barrel bourbon? As the name implies, drinks are made from a single barrel instead of mixing ingredients from different barrels. Flavors are affected by factors such as storage time, wood used and warehouse conditions.
- Some very popular single-barrel whiskeys are the 18 year old Elijah Craig, the Wild Turkey Kentucky Spirit and the Eagle Rare.
- Flavors can range from smoky and woody to mild, sweet and spicy.
- Although bourbons of this type are often quite expensive, they are not always prohibitive. A bottle of 10-year-old Eagle Rare can be imported for approximately US$20, or R$60.
Method 5 of 5: Choosing Other Varieties
Step 1. Opt for an Irish whiskey if you prefer light drinks
Irish whiskeys tend to be lighter and fruitier than Scottish and American whiskeys, as well as having a weaker alcohol taste. Due to their delicate flavor, they are great for those just starting to drink whiskey.
- Irish whiskeys are typically aged for at least three years in barrels until they reach the smooth consistency for which they are known.
- Jameson and Bushmills White Label are two of the most popular Irish whiskeys. Whiskey connoisseurs also recommend Greenspot, Redbreast 12 Years Old and Clontarf.
Irish whiskeys often contain both malted and unmalted barley and are traditionally distilled in copper pots. Some people say that whiskeys distilled this way are particularly full-bodied and flavorful.
Step 2. Bet on a Canadian whiskey to taste a unique blend
Canadian whiskeys are often blends, meaning they are a mixture of drinks made from grains and malt. Blends are often much smoother than single-distilled whiskeys. In addition to the grain blend, Canadian whiskeys can also be made with a variety of other ingredients, such as wines or any other alcoholic beverage aged for at least two years.
Due to the large number of blends and distillation techniques that exist in Canada, Canadian whiskeys have a wide variety of flavors. Try an 18 year old JP Wiser’s if you want a smoked drink with earthy tones. If you prefer a softer, sweeter and fruity drink, a Corby's Pike Creek is always a good choice
Step 3. Invest in a rye whiskey, or rye, for a strong, spicy flavor
Like bourbon, rye is an American drink aged in oak barrels. To receive the title of rye, whiskey must be prepared with at least 51% grains of rye. The drink tends to be spicier and more savory than other whiskeys. Bet on it if you're not a big fan of sweetened drinks.
Some popular brands of rye are Old Overholt, Wild Turkey and Bulleit
Step 4. Try an aged whiskey for a smoother drink
If you're not too fond of burning alcohol, try to find a more mature whiskey. Over the years, the wood in the barrels alleviates the strong taste of the drink and adds new flavors to the mix, typical of the material used for storage.
Older doesn't always mean better. Long-aged whiskeys (for 23 years instead of 15, for example) can end up absorbing excess tannins from the wood and getting a bad aftertaste
Unlike wine, whiskey doesn't taste better if it spends too much time in a glass bottle. The main part of aging should take place in the barrel, before the drink is bottled.
Step 5. Try different whiskeys of each type
Even drinks of the same variation can be very different from each other. A single Irish whiskey isn't enough for you to decide you don't like the style.You may prefer a different label, more aged or with a higher or lower alcohol content.
Compare cheaper drinks with more expensive ones if possible. You may find that your favorite isn't even one of the highest priced
- While some aficionados have pretty strong opinions about the best way to drink whiskey, there is no general rule. If you prefer your whiskey on ice or as one of the ingredients in a fruit cocktail, don't let anything boring stop you from drinking it. Enjoy the drink as you see fit!
- Think of foods that go with whiskey. Light and sweet drinks, such as Dalwhinnie and Glenkinchie, are delicious with sushi, salmon, goat cheese and cream cheese. Lightly full-bodied whiskeys, such as Bruichladdich, are perfect to drink with smoked fish or duck and game. In turn, full-bodied whiskeys, such as Mallacan, should be served with roasted or grilled beef or pork, and with desserts such as chocolate and honey bread.
- The whiskey bottles have at least 40% alcohol content. Most brands range between 40% and 60%. If you buy an American whiskey with the alcohol content measured in proofs, just divide the number informed by two (an 80 proof whiskey, for example, has 40% alcohol content).
- Drink your whiskey responsibly. Never drive after drinking and restrict your consumption to one or two drinks a day. As far as whiskey is concerned, a drink is equivalent to 45 ml, give or take.
- Remember that even when the alcohol content is not very high, whiskey is a very strong drink compared to other drinks. Beer, for example, tends to be around 4.5% of alcohol content, while the average content of wine is 11.6%.