How to drink whiskey?

Updated: 24/12/2020
6 mins read
How to drink whiskey?

If there was ever a hobby that would bring you pure pleasure, it’s drinking whiskey.

It’s a rather magical beverage, whiskey. You can share it with friends, make new friends at a tasting, or simply drink it neat while you appreciate the warmth of a fire on a cold winter.

whiskey on glass with ice and cigar

Whiskey can be an excellent addition to your evening, whether you mix it in a cocktail or learn to appreciate the taste of it.

Of course, as with any alcoholic drink, it should be consumed responsibly. In this article, not only will you learn how to drink it, you’ll learn how to enjoy whiskey for the first time.

How To Drink Whiskey

The biggest question when it comes to whiskey is how to drink it. There are so many different ways to enjoy whiskey, and it comes down to personal choice. Here are some of the best ways to drink whiskey - work your way through them to decide which is best for you!

With Ice

It cannot be crushed, but whole cubes of ice can give the whiskey a refreshing taste. For seasoned whiskey drinkers, they're likely shaking their heads as it goes entirely against the traditional whiskey-drinking style. However, what's a little variation from time to time?

With Lemonade

Whiskey is a drink that makes you feel hot on the inside; some people describe it as liquid fire. If you have an untrained palate, then the best thing you can do to avoid spluttering all over the place is to add a dash of lemonade. Whiskey is earthy and smoky in flavor, and the lemonade offers a sweet edge to help it go down a little easier. You'd add sugar to a spoonful of medicine, so why not lemonade to your whiskey?

whiskey lemonade

In A Cocktail

Speaking of flavourful ways to enjoy whiskey, there are plenty of cocktail variations that you can try to add a little something-something to your drink. Cocktails range from Christmas-themed with a Cinnamon Maple Whiskey to a Cranberry Whiskey Sour, which is perfect for the sunshine!

In Coffee

Irish coffee is known to be the breakfast of champions: black coffee with a dash of whiskey can give you a boost. Of course, this may not be the best breakfast before work, but it's often the drink of choice after a delicious meal with friends.

On Its Own

Neat whiskey is the traditional way to drink it, but it isn't for everyone. There are different whiskey types out there, so you need a little trial and error here to see which one you like. There are benefits to drinking whiskey neat, and we'll get into those later on in this article.

How To Enjoy Whiskey

Properly enjoying whiskey starts with the right type of glass. Believe it or not, the right glass does matter here. You may think that you can choose any glass on the shelf, but it can change your impression of whiskey. A tulip-shaped glass can give you the space to swirl the drink to release the aroma, and you can hold the drink by the stem of the glass, avoiding warming it in your hand.

Norlan glasses are also an excellent option for drinking whiskey, as they are designed to enhance the experience. If you like ice cubes in your whiskey, then the Old-Fashioned glass is the way to go as you can add a couple of ice cubes. Your whiskey glass should be clear and clean, especially if you want to avoid mixing drinks!

Once you have your chosen glass ready and your drink poured, you move into how to taste whiskey. You don't just knock this drink back: you need to go slowly and appreciate the aroma and flavor of what you are about to swallow. Let's look at the steps for pure enjoyment.

Start With A Sniff

Did you know that your nose can identify millions of aromas? While working with your nose, your taste buds cannot detect as many flavors as the nose can detect smells. Sniff your whiskey gently after swirling it around. Keep your mouth slightly open as you sniff and avoid other odors. Concentrate on the sniff and try to identify what you are smelling.

smelling a glass of whiskey bourbon

Move To A Sip

Once you have finished sniffing the whiskey, take a small sip, but don't swallow it yet! Hold that sip on your tongue and let it slowly reach through your mouth. As you drink slowly, breathe out through the nose and assess how it feels. Is it rich? Creamy? Thin? Is it hot? Spicy? Sweet? Sniff as you sip, and if it's too harsh, add a dash of water to bring out new flavors.

Enjoy It Your Way

It's nice to get an idea of how whiskey tastes and smells, but this is YOUR whiskey. However you want to enjoy it, you should!

Drinking Whiskey Neat

You’ve probably guessed by now that whiskey is exceptionally versatile. How many other drinks can you have hot, cold, and in food? Exactly! In this section, we will talk about the benefits of drinking whiskey neat and whether you should drink your whiskey straight. Let’s check out the advantages first:

Anti-Cancer Properties

Did you know that Scotch whiskey can neutralize rogue cells working within your body? As it ages, it gains higher ellagic acid levels, which is an antioxidant. This works to reduce the risk of cancer.

Heart Disease Risk Lowers

There are plenty of studies that show that single malt whiskey has high antioxidants compared with wine. When consumed moderately, the risk of heart disease lowers significantly.

Avoiding Sugar

Without mixers that are often overly sweet, your teeth will thank you for the sugar break. Not only that, but you’ll also lower your risk of developing diabetes.

Lowering Stress

High-quality whiskey goes down warmly with anyone who drinks it, which means that you will feel your stress levels drop down with it. Of course, relying on whiskey to relieve stress is not a good idea, but in moderation? Relax!

Improved Circulation

You can prevent blood clots when you drink whiskey neat. Your circulatory system is boosted, and your risk of stroke lowers, too.

Should you drink your whiskey straight? If you enjoy it. Only in moderation should you enjoy any alcoholic drink!

How To Get Into Whiskey

Whiskey is a delicious drink to enjoy, but if you want to get into whiskey, the best thing that you can do is learn the basics. Let's take a look:

Understand How It's Made

The basics of whiskey drinking go beyond pouring and enjoying it. There are a variety of countries out there that produce whiskey regularly, and they don't all produce it the same way. Some countries allow their whiskey to age for longer than others, and there are even differences with how it's spelled!

There are different distillation strategies, and some countries qualify their whiskey differently from others. There are various ways to make whiskey, and your favorite type of whiskey will come from a specific place.

If you love bourbon, you will get that from the US. If you love Scotch, you'll get that made in Scotland. The aging process differs for each batch of whiskey, too, and the age can change the taste. The aging process stops once your whiskey is bottled, so a ten-year-old whiskey will remain that age no matter how long it's been on your shelf.

whiskey barrels

Learn The Flavour Profiles

Now you know that different countries have different production methods, start discovering each whiskey’s different flavor profile. American whiskey is aged for far shorter periods than Scotch options, which means that American whiskey is often sweeter. Scotch is usually smoked, which is where that aromatic and smoky flavor comes from. 

Taste The Difference

You should explore your whiskey options as much as possible. Different distilleries do things differently, and some mass-produced whiskey options aren’t as delicate as specialist distilleries. There are so many to explore there before you settle on a particular one, and you can even take tours of some distilleries while you taste different whiskey types. Training your palate will also help you learn which ones you like the most - and which you don't!

Know The Lingo

Whiskey isn't just about pouring, tasting, and feeling a little more relaxed than usual. There are so many new words you're going to learn in your pursuit; for example, a dram is a measure of whiskey, and an angel's share refers to the evaporation of alcohol on the surface. These aren't terms you'll hear with every alcohol out there. You'll understand terms like cask strength, too, and this is the alcohol by volume of the whiskey when it's bottled.

The Takeaway

Whiskey drinkers and newbies out there alike will finally enjoy whiskey the proper way with this guide. Now you know about glasses, sniffing, sipping, and where you can find the sweeter whiskey options, it’s time to go out and get equipped!

Ashleigh Cain

Ashleigh is a key part of the editorial team at Whiskey Rocks. You'll often find her either writing educational articles or reviewing the latest artisan whiskeys. Her favorite drink? Ashleigh loves smokey scotches like Laphroaig, but you'll also often find her with an old fashioned in hand.

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