“Too much of anything is bad, but too much good whiskey is barely enough.”
– Mark Twain
Oft underappreciated and/or misunderstood by both fellow members of the stiletto-sporting club, as well as the “brewskies with the boys” crew, whiskey offers such a wide selection of brands, varieties, flavour complexities and ways to drink that even most basic of palates can be satisfied with the right type.
Before we get down to the nitty-gritty, let’s start off with five basics that even a beginner whiskey drinker should know.
1) The whiskey vs. whisky debate is an ongoing bone of contention among connoisseurs of the beverage. Generally speaking, Irish and American brands label their products as ‘whiskey’, while Scotland, Canada and largely everywhere else in the world use the ‘whisky’ spelling.
2) All whiskey is made from fermented grain mash. Scotch, rye and bourbon are all types of whiskeys. Each is distinguished based on the kind of grain used, the type of cask and length of aging and the region of origin.
3) Trying to decide between single-malt or blended? A single-malt scotch whisky is made from water and fermented barley distilled by one producer at a single site. A blended scotch can include a mix of malt and grain whiskey combined from two or more distilleries. We recommend beginners stick to single malt in order to truly determine their taste preference in whiskey, as flavor profiles and characteristics can be more defined in a single malt.
4) Many purists consider neat (room temperature whiskey in a glass) the only way to drink good whiskey. Others claim that adding a splash of distilled water can bring out the more refined notes. On the rocks, or over ice, is another way to enjoy whiskey, although the melted ice can water down your beverage beyond the point of adding a small amount of water. Finally, when you’re not sipping the finest of whiskeys and are looking to mix things up a bit, turn to a classic Old Fashioned or look into creative new whiskey cocktails coming from top mixologists.
5) Finally, one should know that whiskey comes from the Gaelic phrase “uisge beatha” which literally translates to “water of life”. To this, we can agree!