Is there a right way to drink Scotch? Well, here’s a list of dos and don’ts to follow if you’re in the mood to enjoy a nice glass of whisky tonight.
The popular perception about Scotch is that it is a drinking man’s drink, and why not? Those who swear by this tipple believe that enjoying whisky is an epitome of sophistication, and rightfully so. After all many connoisseurs do believe that enjoying Scotch in the right manner is an art by itself.
There are countless ways to drink your glass of Scotch, and it varies from country to country. In Brazil, for example, Scotch is enjoyed with coconut water, which is quite an unusual combination (we know how purists would scoff at the very idea). Likewise, a combination of some good Scotch and coke is a popular night club drink in many Southern European countries.
So, is there a right way to drink Scotch? We explore this question in this piece targeted at all whisky drinkers -- those who have just been introduced to the drink, as well as Scotch aficionados. These dos and don’ts will help enhance the pleasure of your next drink of Scotch even better.
The difference between Single Malts and Blends
Before you start on your Scotch journey, here’s something you need to know. Scotch is of two kinds: Single Malts and Blends. Single Malts are distilled from 100 percent malted barley, aged in oak barrels for a minimum of three years, and made in a single distillery. Blends, as the name indicates, is the blend of grain whiskies from several distilleries and even Single Malts, mixed in a pre-determined proportion by master blenders that most whisky companies employ.
Serving temperature is the key
It is a question that has exercised the mind of many a whisky drinker. Do you chill whisky with lots of ice, or do you drink it neat? While we all love cold beer, Scotch is best enjoyed at room temperature, and there’s a special reason for it. According to most specialists, if you chill your Scotch with ice, it is most likely that you won’t be able to grasp the flavours since they tend to contract. Scotch served at room temperature allows you to savour the whisky’s varied flavours and enjoy its intoxicating aroma.
Sniffing the Scotch
Enjoying Scotch is about using your sense of smell as well as taste. There’s nothing more soothing than spending quality time sniffing your Scotch first before you take a sip.
For those who like it with water
Adding water is known to release the full bouquet of flavours and aroma in the whisky According to one study: It decreases the “impact of undesirable, immature aromas when wood matured spirits are consumed”. Some specialists recommend that you start with your Scotch neat first, and then add water, at intervals.
Served with ice
Whisky connoisseurs scoff at the idea of adding ice to Scotch. Their belief is that only amateurs and those who only drink to get high add ice to their whisky. Those who want to enjoy its myriad flavours make do with just a few drops of water.
The problem with adding ice is multifold --- it numbs your taste buds which is detrimental to enjoying the flavours, and secondly the cooling effect of ice suppresses some of the dominant flavours and aroma of the whisky. If you must, because of the tropical climatic conditions in this country, use just a cube of ice to chill the drink, without destroying its taste.
The ideal glass for your Scotch
For most aficionados, the tulip-shaped whisky nosing glass is the perfect way to enjoy this drink in the evening. The shape and the size of the glass help aerate the drink which in turn enables the release of its bouquet of aromas and taste. The narrow opening at the top helps concentrate the taste and scent when you sip the drink.
Is using mixers a good idea?
While whisky is best enjoyed as a standalone spirit without any mixers, not even ice or soda, it is always good to add variety to your experience. Whisky cocktails are becoming increasingly popular around the world. Among the more famous ones include Manhattan, which is made from whisky, bitters and sweet vermouth; Old-Fashioned which is whisky, bitters, sugar and water; Whisky Sour which is made using whisky, lemon juice and sugar; and John Collins which is made by adding soda to Whisky Sour.
Appreciating Scotch is a fine art that takes some time to learn, but once you've mastered it, there's no better joy in this world.
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