The first records of whiskey date back to 1405, where an old Irish history book describes the distilling of the drink by medieval monks. Today, it is the top-selling spirit in America, even surpassing vodka in popularity.
Despite its long history, we’re in the golden age of whiskey. There truly has never been a better time to be a fan of the spirit. There are more whiskey brands and variations of the spirit than ever before, and there doesn’t seem to be any sign of it slowing down.
But how do you actually drink it? Well, the way that whiskey is served has changed significantly over the years. In the ‘80s and ‘90s, you would have found many Scotch drinkers to only support drinking whiskey neat, or without ice.
Many whiskey enthusiasts are adamant about preserving the drink’s natural flavor. However, this tradition is shifting, as more and more people are starting to sip whiskey with ice or using it as a cocktail ingredient.
There are few spirits that can compete with this storied drink. Keep reading below with Saucey to learn to drink whiskey like an expert!
Try It Neat
Ice can greatly enhance the flavor of your whiskey, but if you’re a beginner in this space, you should absolutely try it neat first. You should become familiar with the spirit before you begin adding any other ingredients into your drink, even if it’s as simple as ice.
If you enjoy the taste of alcohol, you’ll love whiskey. Generally, the spirit has a grainy, wheaty flavor. Its taste will largely depend on what kind of whiskey it is, but all whiskey is made out of grain, so you can expect some of that.
The great thing about whiskey is the variety of flavors you can get out of it. Out of any other spirit, whiskey provides the most diverse range of tastes and blends. Depending on the aging process of your whiskey, you may also notice notes of caramel, vanilla, toasted almond, coconut, maple syrup, and toffee.
Once you’ve got a solid understanding of how your whiskey tastes, you can add ice to it or use it for mixed drinks. If you find out that you prefer your whiskey with ice, there’s nothing wrong with that! Whiskey is fairly strong, with an alcohol content typically at or above 40%. So adding a little bit of ice makes a ton of sense.
Just Look at the Whiskey
Before you actually taste your whiskey, you should take a good look at it. You can learn a lot about your drink just with a quick glance.
If possible, hold your whiskey against a white background, so you can see it clearly. The color of your whiskey will tell you a lot about it. Some whiskeys are amber; others are light gold. Some can even be a darker brown, but they generally all fall into this color family.
Older whiskies are usually darker, while younger ones are lighter. The color of your whiskey can also tell you about what kind of cask the whiskey was aged in and where it was made. Check the label on your bottle for these details.
The Nose Test
Next, it’s time to smell your whiskey. Now, you may feel the urge to just skip these prerequisite steps and just go straight into tasting the whiskey. But if you really want to get the full experience out of your drink, these steps are essential.
In fact, some people say that the nose test is one of the most important parts of tasting. The aroma plays a huge role in the overall presentation of a drink. The aroma of whiskey is potent. Similar to its taste, you’ll notice hints of grains, notes, and sometimes fruits.
To properly smell your whiskey, lower your nose to your glass slowly. Taking it slow will allow you to really get all the complex flavors that you might otherwise miss if you rush it.
Take your time with your sniff. Some people say you should take fast, small sniffs, while others say you should take long, soft sniffs. Ultimately, it doesn’t really matter, though.
Just make sure that you’re getting the full spectrum of aromas. Focus on certain aromas. Think about what they remind you of. Then, move on to another aroma and do the same. You can take thirty seconds to a minute between each aroma.
Take a Sip
Finally, it’s time to take your first sip! There are a few different approaches you can take when tasting your whiskey. The most common way is to take a small sip and swish it around your mouth for a bit before swallowing.
Really try to hone in on the different flavors you taste. Think about the initial taste. Think about the aftertaste. Consider how smooth the finish is.
One advantage of taking your time with the first sip is that it prepares your palate for tasting. For instance, if you just go straight into taking a shot, you’re not going to be able to process what notes you’re tasting in your drink.
As you sip your drink, repeat this process periodically. Look for different flavors that you didn’t notice before. You’d be surprised at how complex some of these whiskies can get!
The Water Drop Method
One way of tasting your whiskey is to add a few drops of water to it. People use this trick to lower the alcohol percentage of the whiskey and allow its natural taste and smell to shine. It becomes much easier to notice the different notes in your whiskey when it’s slightly watered down.
Start out with just a few drops of water. Mix it in with a straw, then take a sip. If you don’t notice any new flavors, try adding a few more drops. Keep going until you’ve found those buried flavors.
Making a Cocktail With Whiskey
If you decide that drinking whiskey straight isn’t for you, you can always try it in a cocktail. Whiskey is one of the best liquors you can use in a mixed drink because of its multiple layers of flavor.
We recommend using a rye whiskey base, as it provides a balance of boldness and smoothness. A lot of people who don’t like whiskey complain about its robust taste. To offset it, you can add flavored liquors, simple syrup, and fruit garnishes.
One of the most classic whiskey cocktails you can try is the Whiskey Sour. All you need is some whiskey, lemon juice, simple syrup, and a garnish of your choice.
To make this cocktail, mix together your whiskey, lemon juice, and simple syrup in a cocktail shaker. Fill the shaker with ice, cover it, then shake vigorously until the outside of the shaker is ice cold.
Then, strain your drink into a bowl or glass and garnish your completed Whiskey Sour with a slice of orange or a cherry. The result is a deliciously fruity, strong drink that’ll make you feel great!
Whiskey is becoming so popular that it could practically be its own category of alcohol. Compared to other spirits, this industry has the widest variety of choices by far. One thing is for sure, though: this classic spirit isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.
This drink is meant for the true aficionados of liquor; for those who long for rich, distinct flavors in their spirits, whiskey is the perfect drink for you. So put aside the vodka. Throw the rum on the shelf for now. Right now, it’s the golden age of whiskey, and it’s time to enjoy what the market has to offer. Don’t be left out!
For the widest selection of whiskeys on the market, visit Saucey! We carry over 1,000 different types of whiskey, from Bourbon to Scotch, to Rye whiskey and Japanese whiskey. We carry virtually every brand in the industry, including Johnnie Walker, Skrewball, Bulleit, and much, much more.