One of the first things needed to be understood in order to enjoy whiskey to its fullest capacity, is to know how to properly drink it. Whiskey is very similar to wine in its diversity and appreciative elements. Just as wine is designed to be “nosed” or smelled out of a proper glass, so is whiskey. Just as wine is designed to be savored on the tongue to decipher complex tasting notes, so is whiskey. Just as you wouldn’t drink your white wine out of a warm coffee mug, or pour red wine into a water glass with ice, there is a right way and a wrong way to drink whiskey.
The preceding is not an elitest statement designed to infer, “Do it this way because that’s how its done, you uncultured knob.” But it is designed to inform you that drinking whiskey the correct way will enhance its taste and feel on your pallet, so as to broaden your mind to weather or not you actually like it or not. Most whiskeys are within a 40%-55% alcohol percentage (ABV). Being nearly 50% pure alcohol, whiskey can be quite the punch in the face for those not used to drinking it. Many whiskeys are designed to be “cut” with water. Meaning, the alcohol content in whiskey is designed to be lessened by water. Diluting a glass of whiskey with cool water lessens its “bite,” or “punch,” while allowing the spirit to maintain its flavor and aromas. In some cases, adding water even enhances and broadens the whiskey’s unique smelling and tasting notes. However, the idea is not to simply dump water into a glass of whiskey. It is to dilute the whiskey down to an approximate ABV. Most whiskey is at its peak flavor at around 30%-35%. Some Master Distillers in Scotland will dilute the scotch whiskey down all the way to 20%. That’s just slightly more than your average wine or craft beer.
Drinking whiskey in this manner will allow the drinker to properly understand the scope of flavors whiskey can exude without being overwhelmed by its strength. Try your hand at whiskey in this manner, by cutting it with water. Each brand and bottling of whiskey varies in its “ABV peak taste” and personal preference is a large factor as well. Some whiskies are enjoyed better with a good amount of water, while some are much better with no water at all. As your palate evolves and matures, you’ll learn how you like your whiskey and which kind of whiskies you like best.
BWG believes that whiskey is not only for the leather palleted, iron gutted, log splitting good old boy, but it’s for everyone. You just have to develop a taste. Hopefully, learning how to drink it properly will help.