Take a walk down the booze aisle of your local supermarket and you’ll certainly not be lacking options in terms of whisky. Whether you’re after a Scotch, an Irish whiskey, a bourbon/Tennessee, or maybe even a Japanese whisky, you know you’ll be able to pick up something.
The problem is that most generic supermarkets have generic whisky. Sure, you can pick up a good quality dram, but what about for times when you’re after something a bit more special? In this instance, an independent bottler such as Great Drams would be ideal.
Independent bottlers produce some truly exceptional whiskies which you simply have to taste to believe. When enjoying a fine Scotch however, you need to know how to get the most from it. Things such as serving it in the wrong glass, at the wrong temperature, with the wrong water etc, can massively affect the taste in a negative way. Nobody wants that.
If you’re lucky enough to be in possession of a fine Scotch, here are 4 simple ways to enjoy it and get the most out of your wee dram.
First and foremost, one of the simplest, and most effective ways of enjoying a fine Scotch whisky is to enjoy it neat.
If you want to give a Scot a medical emergency, or alienate the whole of Scotland, you can of course mix your Scotch with cola, lemonade, or any other generic mixture. It’s your drink, you can do what you like, but doing so would be a slap in the face of a century’s old whisky distilling business. One of the best ways to enjoy a fine Scotch is to enjoy it neat.
In order to do so, you need to ensure you choose the correct drinking vessel. Don’t just plonk it in any old glass and don’t even think about pouring it into a ceramic mug for tea or coffee, or, heavens forbid, a plastic cup! Not unless you want to face the wrath of the entire whisky community. The best way to enjoy Scotch neat is via what is known as a whisky snifter.
These glasses feature large and wide bottoms, which gradually get narrower near the top, with the top of the glass tapering off, almost like a tulip. If you’re at home, or are out somewhere fancy, a whisky snifter is ideal. The glass is designed in such a way that it helps trap the aromas of the whisky and concentrates them in one spot, so you get a real treat on the nose before each sip.
If you don’t have a whisky snifter, however, don’t worry, as a regular rocks glass will also do the job.
Enjoy with Water
If you’re new to the world of Scotch, or are maybe transitioning over from bourbon, rye, or blended whiskey, you may find some Scotch whiskies to be a little harsh on your throat.
Scotch can kick like a mule as it is often well above 50% ABV. If you find that it burns your throat too much, or that the booze is overpowering the whisky, you can actually water it down.
Adding water to your whisky can help to neutralise the harshness of the alcohol so you can better taste and smell the different flavours and aromas present in your lovely wee dram. This isn’t a load of mumbo jumbo either, this is a scientific fact, backed up by evidence. Experts have found that water helps to suppress the alcohol (ethanol) molecules, along with the harsh tannins and chemicals from the wood cask barrels the whisky has been aged in.
Even seasoned Scotch drinkers sometimes prefer adding water to their whisky as it helps lift the taste and aromas.
Now, before you get carried away and start filling your whisky glass with tap water, just be aware that with water and whisky, a little goes a long way. You aren’t making a glass of dilute squash, you’re drinking one of the world’s best alcoholic beverages. Just one or two drops in a glass of Scotch will completely transform the whisky.
Oh, and don’t even think about using tap water. Tap water is chlorinated and treated to make it safe to drink, but it doesn’t taste particularly nice. When you add water to your whisky, go ahead and use a good quality mineral water and a clean and sterile water pipette. Add a drop of water, take a sniff and a little taste, and if it still is a little harsh, add another drop and repeat.
Enjoy in a Cocktail
Contrary to popular belief, you can in fact enjoy Scotch whisky in a cocktail, and we recommend that you do at some point.
Whereas rye whiskey and bourbon are perhaps more commonly associated with cocktails, there are some cocktails out there which were seemingly made specifically for Scotch.
A Rob Roy for example, goes very well with most Scotch whiskies. A Rob Roy is almost identical to a Manhattan, yet it uses Scotch instead of American whiskey. Made with Scotch, vermouth, and a dash of angostura bitters, this is a light and refreshing cocktail that works incredibly well in summer and winter.
Other cocktails include an Old Fashioned, made with Scotch rather than rye or Bourbon, or a simple Scotch and ginger ale, which is the ultimate summer tipple.
Enjoy On the Rocks
Finally, if you’re looking for a way to enjoy your Scotch and keep cool in the process (on those rare days where the sun does actually come out in the UK) we have Scotch on the rocks.
While some whisky snobs will turn their noses up at chilling your Scotch, or diluting it with ice, just remember what we said about adding water to Scotch. Besides which, this is your drink and nobody else’s, so if you want it chilled, you have it chilled!
Cooling Scotch down already suppresses the harsh notes of the wood tannins and alcohol, then there’s the water from the ice cubes as they melt. Just be aware that the taste won’t be anywhere near as strong, though still delicious.
When you add ice cubes, never use ice made from tap water. You want clean ice cubes from mineral water only.
If you do want to chill your Scotch, but not water it down, whisky stones are ideal. These small stones are stored in the freezer and can be added to Scotch in place of ice. They chill the drink without diluting it down so the aroma and flavour isn’t hugely affected.
For the ultimate summer evening’s tipple however, a Scotch on the rocks with a twist of lemon just can’t be beaten.