The wonderful world of whisky is filled with a variety of flavours and packed with history. But there are a few misconceptions too that tend to make an appearance from time to time. It’s time to set the record straight and debunk these pesky myths once and for all.
Whisky has to be drunk neat
This one tends to come from veterans, adamant that drinking your dram any way other than neat is an outright offense to the spirit and common sense. While you probably shouldn’t mix expensive whiskey with coke, the truth is simple: the proper way to drink whiskey is how you enjoy drinking it - straight, on the rocks, with soda (currently very popular in Japan), green tea (the Chinese love this) or coconut water (the craze in Brazil). But for full “appreciation,” particularly of single malt, skip the ice and try a little water, which opens up the aroma and makes it easier to appreciate the nuances of the whisky. Drinking it neat will only anesthetize your taste buds and put them out of commission. Just be sure to use only distilled/spring water. Chlorine will ruin your drink.
Pale whiskies are not as good as the darker ones
Colour is simply an unreliable indicator of quality. In fact, you will be surprised to know that many brands use flavorless spirit caramel to darken their products and maintain colour consistency from batch to batch. A pale spirit can be just as robust. The color of Scotch (if it’s not artificially coloured) is more reflective of the type of wood it’s aged in. American oak tends to impart a golden hue, while European oak lends a darker, more mahogany color.
Older the whisky, the better it is
Age is just a number. Even in alcohol! Here, older means more expensive, and people seem to believe that if it’s more expensive it must be better. This is untrue. There are great young whiskies just as there are bad old ones. As always, in the world of whisky, it’s more complicated than just checking the age.
High-priced whiskies means they are of high quality
Not necessarily. Quality is a matter of personal taste. So there is no guarantee you’ll like an expensive whisky more than you will like an inexpensive one. The price reflects rarity, how long the distillery has had to hold on to the whisky and the cost of the packaging. But if you have forked out a lot of money for a drink, your head could make you believe it was all worth it – even if your palate says otherwise.
“Single Malt” Means It All Comes From The Same Barrel
Another common misconception is that “single malt” means that all the whisky in the bottle came from just one cask. This confuses the term with “single cask” or “single barrel.” Instead, “single malt” means the whisky is an “all malt” whisky and comes from the same distillery.
Women Can’t Appreciate Whisky
Whisky is for everyone, and definitely not a drink exclusively reserved for men. In fact women are better placed to appreciate the subtleties of whisky than men are. Why? Because enjoying a good whisky is all in the nose and at least during their reproductive years women seem to be far better at detecting subtle odours than men. Plus there are enough female bartenders, brand ambassadors, bloggers and authors who know more about whisky than the average male.
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