If you haven’t had an argument with your buddies yet about how whisky ought to be had, chances are it’s not really your poison, is it?
Words Aninda Sardar
Whisky is less of a drink and more of an emotion. Don’t believe us? Whip out your phone, open your WhatsApp school group and ask your buddies what the correct way to have your whisky is. We’ll wager you a dram that the debate won’t end till the missus, or worse, mum, calls you to dinner.
“On the rocks.” “No, with just a splash of water.” “Neat.” “With soda.” This isn’t one that you should take lightly. More so, because whisky can be a complex subject. They make this thing in Scotland, Ireland, Japan, United States and Canada, and they’re all different. Not just different in flavours. Different even in the way they are distilled. Which is why we have decided to help you hold your own amongst your peers. So here goes.
1. With a splash of water
Not too big a splash, just a few drops will do. Water releases the hydrophobic or water repelling elements of the glass, which in turn liberates the flavours and the aroma of the whisky. A vast majority of Single Malt enthusiasts suggest that this is the only correct way to have a good Scotch or Single Malt. Choose a tumbler with a heavy bottom or a Glencairn glass if you like your whisky with a dash of water.
2. With soda, or any other mixer
Whisky and soda is such a classic that you could compare it to 19th century English literature. Pour a measure of whisky in a high ball glass and fill up half the glass with soda. If you like it cold then top the high ball with ice, pour the whisky over the ice and then top it with soda. In fact, you can have whisky with a whole range of mixers. Strange though it may sound, whisky with tea is fairly popular in Asia and is even had with coconut water in the Caribbean. In fact, contrary to popular notions, the versatility of whisky is such that you can pretty much have this with any mixer of your choice. Not to forget that often reviled though extremely popular Bourbon and cola.
3. With ice
On the rocks is probably the most stylish way to have your whisky, but this is also the one that many a whisky drinker will absolutely rubbish. You see, ice melts. As a result, the whisky in your glass keeps getting diluted, robbing it of the rich flavours that made you choose that pour in the first place. Or so they will say. What many don’t know is that chilling the whisky also enhances some of the underlying flavours. Besides, a Scotch (or any whisky/whiskey) on the rocks feels incredibly refreshing. So how does one balance it out? Fill your glass with large cubes instead of small ones because large cubes and more ice in the glass means it will melt slower. Also, instead of one measure, use a double. Finally, if you want to avoid dilution completely, resort to using whisky stones. Made of metal or soap stone, you can use them to chill the whisky and release those underlying flavours without affecting its profile too much. You should have whisky on the rocks in a tumbler. Just like you’d do if you were adding water.
4. As a cocktail
From a Whiskey sour to a Manhattan to an Old Fashioned or Bobby Burns, there are enough whisky based cocktails out there to prove that the drink is incredibly versatile and works beautifully in cocktail form. Its taste and texture is such that it allows use in a variety of ways, which could end up as a drink that is spicy, sour, bitter or even sweet. The choice of glass would depend on the cocktail you’re sipping.
Some take great pride in downing a glass with just the golden liquid swirling around in it and call it a man’s drink. While I don’t know about that, fact is a neat peg of whisky is the drink you need sometimes. Strong, flavourful and rich in aromas a neat peg can be incredibly refreshing.
At the end of the day however, there is no right or wrong way to consume your drink. The point of drinking after all is for it to be fun and not an exercise in correctness. So, as long as you’re enjoying what’s in your glass you’re home and dry with a smile on your lips. We’ll drink to that.