Whisky is a complex libation, and it takes a particular sort to really understand it. A sophisticated sort, a refined sort, an educated sort… but if all you’re doing is bluffing your way through, trying your hardest not to look like a complete barbarian, here’s what to do to not look like an amateur.
As in, don’t line up a file of shot glasses and sink them one by one before beating your chest and proclaiming your love for the weekend. A lot of time and effort has gone into that amber hued libation, so be sure to savour it. It’s a gentleman and gentlewoman’s drink, after all, and should be treated as such.
Add a little bit of water
Even if you like it neat. A dash of water is said to release all the esters (flavour compounds) thus enhancing the delicious taste. Note: don’t top up your whisky as though it’s orange cordial, the key word here is dash — use a pipette if you really want to look top dog.
‘Nose’ your whisky
By that, we mean smell it, of course. Distinguishing the notes through the smell is important as your nose can pick up so many more flavours than your palette can.
Use the correct terminology
When describing whisky, take note of its aroma, appearance, feel and flavour. As a general rule of thumb, the basic whisky flavour profiles are usually smoky, fruity, sweet, herbal, floral, spicy, oaky, nutty or dry — but feel free to add in ‘phenolic’ (meaning that it has a taste or scent that is tarry and heavy), ‘austere’ (meaning that the whisky is simple and straightforward, what you see is what you get) or ”balanced’ (meaning that the flavours blend well together) wherever you see fit.
Add ice if you so wish, but not too much
A small amount of ice is acceptable, but too much kills the flavour — try and limit it to one cube. And at no point should you utter the word ice when ordering, be sure to say ‘on the rocks’.
Use the right glass
If you’re ordering in a bar, you get what you’re given. But if you’re serving up the tipple from the comfort of your own home, be sure to opt for a round glass as they are able to capture the aromas and direct them to your nose better. (All the better for the ‘nosing’ step.) Click here for three great whisky glasses.
Know your stuff
Being able to talk about whisky while drinking whisky is almost as important as the drinking of the whisky itself. Make sure you know your stuff before you start babbling on. Remember that scotch, bourbon, rye and all the other types fall under the umbrella term ‘whisky’, and that both whisky and whiskey can be used, depending on where the drink originated from. A single malt whisky means that it came from a single distiller, and a blend means that it came from more than one.
Pair everything you say with eye contact and everything you do with an air of superiority — like all great bluffs, the art is in the confidence.