10 ways to mildly irritate a whisky enthusiast

1.) Use “Whiskey” instead of “Whisky” when referring to a Scotch

I see this happening on Facebook a lot and although technically the E means very little, it still annoyed the fine Malt Maniacs folk… a lot.  Alongside a picture of a Single Malt was the title “Best Scotch Whiskey I’ve had in a long time”.  The irony was that the words “Scotch Whisky” were written right there on the bottle in the photo.

2.) Insist supermarket chain own brand Scotch is worth your time

Now I have nothing against supermarket own brand Whisky.  In fact some supermarkets have proven to have good taste in their Scotch releases, but don’t drink it and expect me to respect you for choosing it over distillery branded Scotch. When you have the option, why go for something else?  Distillery Scotch has been around longer than supermarket Scotch.  It’s made by people who are dedicated to the process and love their product.  So invest a little and maybe then we can have a real conversation about the merits of one Scotch over another! Unless you’re talking about the splendid Lidl range from 2015, then we can talk further…

3. Tell them you aspire to be Don Draper, a true appreciator of Whisky

Mad Men was a great show.  It captured a lot of truth about the 60s and the important issues of that era.  In terms of Scotch however, it may have made it more popular but it certainly didn’t give it any depth or nuance.  I mean, it’s not like it should have, it’s a TV show about ad men after all.  But don’t set your sights on enjoying Scotch to become Don Draper.  Scotch is better than that.  You’re better than that.  We’re all better than that.  Don Draper is not cool because he drinks Scotch and Scotch is not cool because Don Draper drinks it.  Go out and find your own Scotch to enjoy and make your mind up about it that way!

4. Correct them when you think they’ve pronounced the name of a Scotch wrong

This has happened a few times… In fact the latest was a bartender who corrected me, making it a tad worse.  I was talking to a friend about Laphroaig when the bartender informed that it was pronounced “La-Frog” and not “Laphroaig” with a G.  I didn’t tell him he was wrong, it did not feel like time well spent.  I just laughed it off and went about my business.  Even if you think you know how to pronounce the name of a Scotch just be careful and certainly don’t assume somebody at a bar knows less than you just because you’re behind it and they’re not. Have a go at pronouncing Wemyss or Auchentoshan.

5.) Get the Scotch regions wrong

In a whisky tasting a while ago, one of the attendees attempted to blow off the entire Highland region as “meh”, which is bad enough as it is, but they were doing so while referring to a Jura malt.  I wanted to shout at them and explain just how incredibly wrong they were.  Not only did they get Jura’s region wrong but they completely ignored the nuances and complexity of the Highlands as a region itself.  I think what annoyed me most was them thinking they knew enough about Scotch regions to making sweeping statements, when in fact the Islands and Highlands have vastly different flavour profiles.  Do your research and you might just learn something new!

6.) Attempt to argue the case that single malts are better than blends

For some reason, there is somewhat of a snobbery about drinking single malts over blends.  If people really knew what they were talking about they might know that up until recently blends made up the vast majority of Scotch sales and single malts were considered their weird cousin that nobody acknowledged.  Of course things have changed and both have their supporters and critics.  But don’t think that single malts are somehow better because they only have one malt.  in fact blends have been proven to be richer and more complex due to the interesting combinations that can be made.

7. Assume all glass is the same and worthy of holding your Scotch

Glassware is a vital part of drink tasting and appreciation.  From the tumbler to the tulip glass, every curve is important.  Don’t throw your Scotch in an every day, run of the mill, household glass and assume you’re a tasting expert.  You’re not.  And with the right glassware you never will be.

8. Coke and Scotch.

Personally, I don’t mind mixing coke with something like Jack Daniels or Jameson, but when it’s with Scotch it gets a little bit more controversial.  Scotch is too good for coke.  The two should never meet.  They should be kept apart like your drunken uncles at a family wedding.  Maybe that makes me a snob but I’d rather be a snob than see good Scotch tainted by coke.  If you think this is the best way to enjoy a Scotch then you are simply wrong and should not be allowed to drink anymore Whisky, as that would simply be a waste.

Again, it’s not a bad thing if you like ice with your Whisky, but don’t ever think that ice is going to make it better or somehow pull out more flavours and aromas.  It doesn’t, ice is too cold for that.  If you like ice that’s fine, but it doesn’t help you become a better taster, in fact it hinders you.  Especially don’t swirl your glass and sniff it when you have ice in it, you don’t look cool and any true Whisky appreciator will laugh in your face if you insult Whisky in such a way.

10. Don’t understand the nuances of Scotch, believing it to be the drink itself rather than the overarching term

Now that I understand Scotch and just how many Scotches there are in the world, I die a little when someone orders a “Scotch” at a bar.  What Scotch?  Which distillery? What age?  What cask finish?  Chill filtered or not?  Which region?  Peated or non-peated? Single malt or blend?  What ABV?  The list of questions goes on.  And if you simply order a Scotch, then you do not know these questions and should not be allowed to order Whisky ever again.  In fact just hide yourself away until you can grasp that Scotch is more than just a sophisticated drink your mate’s dad has in his cupboard.  Or that Don Draper is fond of.

Tags: BlendsDrinkWirePiss offscotchWhiskeyWhisky Enthusiast


My name is Greg, and I’m a brand strategy consultant, writer, speaker, host and judge specialising in premium spirits. My mission is to experience, share and inspire with everything great about whisky, whiskey, gin, beer and fine dining through my writing, my brand building and my whisky tastings.

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