There’s no right or wrong way to drink whisky. As long as you enjoy it, that’s all that matters.
However, there are some techniques that can heighten the experience of drinking whisky, making it even more pleasurable.
Try different glasses and different temperatures. Add a little water, or a mixer. Try a cocktail. But remember, only you know the serve that’s right for you.
Consider these few things before getting to the whisky itself.
A good, solid tumbler (a short glass with a heavy bottom) if you’re drinking your whisky neat, or with a little water or ice. For ‘long’ whisky drinks, use a ‘highball’ – a tall, slim, straight-sided glass.
A huge part of the flavour of food and drink comes from the way it smells – and whisky is no exception. Enjoying the aroma of whisky can be hugely rewarding.
Savour the flavour by allowing the whisky to roll over your tongue, before letting it slip smoothly down.
A good whisky will present a whole range of flavours and scents – many of which you may find familiar. The flavours experienced are unique to each person, with certain elements being stronger to some than others. Discussing the flavours you discover with friends is one of the many joys of drinking whisky.
Both have their benefits! The simplest way to enjoy your whisky is neat, cleansing your palate with cool water between sips. Many people also add a few drops of water to their whisky, which can open up the flavours as the liquids combine. Experimentation is key, but remember the old adage: “you can add, but you can't take away”.
Adding ice to Scotch instantly makes for a more refreshing experience, but it can also significantly change the flavour profile as it dilutes the whisky. Chilling whisky has the effect of muting some flavours, and enhancing others.
To find a balance that works for you, consider the amount, shape and size of the ice, as well as the measure of whisky. The more ice in the glass, the slower it will melt – and the impact will, of course, be greater on a single measure than a double.
Some people prefer to use a single, larger ice cube or even an ice ball to really slow the rate at which it melts. Another option is to invest in some whisky stones – made of metal or soapstone – to use as a replacement to ice. So if you like your whisky cold, but don’t want the effects of dilution – whisky stones may well be the right choice for you.
However you chill your Scotch, the act of taking small sips and savouring each one will rapidly bring the temperature back up. As the whisky warms, the taste will evolve – allowing you to experience a broad spectrum of flavour.
The mark of a truly great whisky, is its versatility. Combining Scotch with a mixer makes for a longer, more accessible drink – a fantastic way to ease yourself into the world of whisky, without compromising on flavour.
One of the simplest ways to enjoy whisky, is as a Highball . Fill a tall glass with lots of ice, a measure of your favourite Scotch, at least two parts to one in favour of your mixer of choice, plus a complementary garnish.
There are no rules on what you can or cannot use as a mixer – from the universally beloved combination of whisky and soda, to the sophisticated pairing of whisky and tea (popular in Asia), to the tropical mix of whisky and coconut water (favoured in the Caribbean) – nothing’s off the table. And there are no rules that mandate expensive whiskies should only be served straight up, either.
All kinds of wonderful cocktails can be made with Scotch. The only thing that matters is your enjoyment.
In our opinion, no other spirit works as well in so many different ways as whisky. Its taste and texture allow for a myriad of creations and diverse interpretations. From Whisky Sour, to the Scotch Old Fashioned – its complex flavour profile works with the widest range of taste combinations. So whether your cocktail is intended to be sweet, spicy, sour or bitter – it really is the quintessential ingredient.
View our selection of whisky cocktails