8 Tips You Must Remember to Order and Drink Whisky Like a Pro

Ashish Dev Kapur  |  Updated: September 15, 2017 13:20 IST

8 Tips You Must Remember to Order and Drink Whisky Like a Pro
  • The Americans call it Whiskey while Whisky is made in Scotland
  • Cocktails are a perfect starting point for whisky beginners
  • Understand the types of whisky single malts, single cask and blends
This golden liquid is a favourite at bars. On-the-rocks, with chilled water or a splash of soda – everyone has their own preferences, but the art of drinking whisky can be tricky. On World Whisky Day which is celebrated every year on the third Saturday in the month of May (this year it falls on 20th May, 2017), we’ve got you some great tips to drink and enjoy whisky like a pro. Here are some of the first few things that every aspiring malthead should learn.

1. Know your whisky or shall we say whiskey? Whisky is made in Scotland which is also known as Scotch. The Americans call it Whiskey with an ‘e’. The difference in the spellings is because of the translation of the word from Scottish to Irish form. Scotch whisky is only produced in Scotland and is generally made from malted barley. Irish whiskeys, on the other hand, can only be produced in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland and they are aged for at least three years. They are lighter and have a more neutral taste. And finally, American whiskeys are of three types - rye whiskey made with rye, bourbon which is made with corn and Tennessee whiskey which is bourbon made in Tennessee. 

2. Once you know where your whisky comes from, understand the different types of whisky – single malts, single cask and blends. Single malts are those that are mixed and distilled at the same distillery. Single cask whisky is bottled entirely from a single cask and blended whiskies are made by blending different whiskies but of the same type. 
(Also read: Not All Single Malts Are From Scotland)

3. Try different blends, brands and types – it takes time to find the one that suits your palate. For a beginner, whisky can feel like an acquired taste. You can choose between scotch which is peaty and smoky, bourbons for a sweet flavour, Japanese whisky which is savoury or rye whiskey if you want a bit of spice. Start with lighter flavours so as to allow your palate to develop. Once you've picked your type, don't gulp your drink down. Let it sit in your mouth and swish it around once before swallowing. This will help you understand and appreciate the notes of whisky. 

4. They say that whisky is best enjoyed 'neat', but everyone has their own way to drink it. While for some connoisseurs it is sacrilege to add water or ice, I recommend adding a dash of chilled water to really open up the drink. Just a few drops can open up aromas, soften a dram and help you identify the flavour better. Also, know the whisky terminology. Neat means nothing in your glass except whisky and on-the-rocks refers to whisky with ice cubes. Finally, when a person asks the bartender to 'cut it', he or she is basically asking them to add few drops of water to the whisky - just the way I enjoy it. 

(Also read: What is a Patiala Peg?)

5. Swirl it. The aroma of whisky can tell you a thing or two about its flavour. By smelling the whisky, you will be increasing the flavour that you receive on drinking it. Put the glass to your face and leave your mouth open as you sniff - you get more of the aroma that way. Now, take a sip and chew the scotch to let the flavor really hit you. The true flavour of the drink is a combination of its aroma and the taste. 
6. Older is not necessarily better – age is just a number when it comes to whisky. Although the golden beverage takes time to mature, age may not always be linked to quality or maturity. A 40-year old whisky can taste as vibrant as a good quality 10-year old whisky. So, don't go by the age. Instead, choose your whisky according to its taste. This way you will be able to develop a liking and understand your own preferences. 

7. Cocktails are a great dimension to whisky and a perfect starting point for beginners. If you like shaken cocktails you can opt for a Whisky Sour or a Penicillin with Scotch and if you prefer stirred cocktails go for the classic Old Fashioned. 

8. Whisky is best served in a tulip-shaped glass which is designed to preserve the aroma of the drink so that you can enjoy it. Avoid drinking whisky in tumblers made with other materials besides glass as they may impact the true flavour of whisky.

Keep these tips handy the next time you're out partying with your friends and you'll be able to easily impress them. 

About the Author:

Ashish Dev Kapur, is a hospitality entrepreneur and the owner of Whisky Samba – a whisky bar in Gurugram that offers fashionably inspired cocktails, curated whisky trails, unique cask-finished whiskies and over 140 varieties of fine drams.

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