How do people drink decent whiskey

How do you actually drink the different whiskeys properly?

He casually grips the tumbler with a wide hand, looks into the eyes of those who come in with an appraising look and tips the golden fire down in one gulp. The soft jingling reveals that a few ice cubes have joined the bourbon. Admiring the cool, self-confident cowboy, the friends in front of the television raise their whiskey glasses and do the same. That's how you drink whiskey, or is it? The last time they visited a distillery, the friends were at a single malt tasting. Here people drank from tulip-shaped, fine-walled glasses with high stems with their little fingers spread apart.

So do you drink single malt whiskey from nosing glasses and American bourbon in thick-walled tumblers? Are there rules for how to drink whiskey properly, or is it just a matter of taste? We want to introduce the most important ways in which you can drink whiskey. The main focus is on the three fundamental questions that whiskey lovers like to argue about: which glass is the right one, do you drink whiskey with or without ice, and can you mix whiskey? How you drink it then decides ... exactly, your taste!

The right glass for the whiskey

Before you can drink the whiskey, it has to be poured into a glass. Ideally in a suitable whiskey glass. Even here, whiskey lovers begin to argue about which is the right vessel for enjoying whiskey. A thick tumbler for real guys, or the tall nosing glass, maybe even a Glencairn, so that the flavors develop even better? This question is actually one of the taste, but not exclusively of the personal, but the taste of a whiskey changes, as well as that of a wine, depending on which glass you drink from.

The right glass for a bourbon whiskey

If you like to drink bourbon or rye whiskey, you can't go wrong with a tumbler. The thick-walled glass, which is usually just as wide as it is high, has enough space for a good sip of whiskey and the obligatory ice cubes that you find in it to cool the whiskey. But more on that later. In contrast to fine Scottish single malts, American bourbons are not so highly complex in terms of their variety of flavors that it is not so bad if they rise quickly over the wide surface towards the nose. If you hold your nose about ten centimeters above the glass, you immediately feel the dominant sweetness mixed with the oak wood in which the whiskeys are stored for maturation.

Incidentally, many Irish people also drink their whiskey, mostly blended whiskey, from a tumbler or any other glass that is at hand. But even some malt whiskey ends up in a tumbler all over the world. In a convivial group, with a light malt, a blend, a grain whiskey or even a bourbon, the thick-walled glass is simply perfect. Here it does not matter that the eyes, nose, tongue and palate decode and absorb all the many aromas in a perfect presentation. It's about having a cozy evening with friends.

We have put together a selection of beautiful whiskey tumblers for you here.

Nosing and Glencairn for single malt whiskey

It looks completely different with a complex, usually quite expensive, Irish or Scottish single malt. Here you want to feel the full power of the aromas, really enjoy the whiskey with all your senses. That is why malt connoisseurs and lovers have sworn by a nosing glass for many years. This is tulip-shaped, but does not taper steadily all the way to the top, but rather diverges slightly just before the edge. The glass is thin-walled and often sits on a relatively long stem. This special shape makes it possible to gradually grasp the aromas with the nose. The aromas rise slowly and do not reach the sensitive nose with a single pouf. In addition, the opening ensures that the golden water of life is distributed evenly and slowly in the palate from front to back. So you can absorb the deep aromas right from the tip of your tongue.

But the nosing glass has had competition for a number of years. the Glencairn glass is also in the shape of a tulip, but sits on a short, thick base. It lies better in the hand and is more stable than the fine nosing glass. The hand is very close to the belly of the glass when you hold it. This makes it possible to adjust the temperature of the whiskey by hand if it is too cold. Glencairn glasses are becoming more and more popular and are perfect for the relaxed enjoyment of a single malt in everyday life, in the evening with friends or at a dinner or afterwards. But you can also drink very good blends, a bourbon or a grain whiskey from them. You might even discover completely different flavors in your favorite whiskey that were previously hidden in the tumbler.

One more word about the size of the whiskey glasses. The stronger the whiskey, the bigger the glass becomes. Especially Islay whiskeys, which are very strong, aromatic and smoky, can develop more generously.

The perfect glass for a whiskey tasting

So far it has been about enjoying whiskey alone, with friends, in other words, simply to relax in private. There are no rules how to drink properly. At best, recommendations and tips on how to get even more out of the golden brand. It's different with whiskey tasting. Under no circumstances should you enjoy the fine samples from a tumbler here. The Glencairn glasses just mentioned are perfect, but they still have a long way to go before the fine spirits can fully fall back on them during a tasting.

As a rule, the drops come in nosing glasses for tasting. As described above, they are simply perfect to fully grasp the complexity of the whiskey. If a glass breaks in the process, it's not so wild, just a shame about the drop that seeps into the earth. When it comes to tasting, the most important thing is how to drink whiskey properly. Exact sequences, information on the distance between the nose and the glass, the filling quantity and much more are extremely important when tasting. We are therefore dedicating a very special contribution to whiskey tasting.

We have put together a selection of Nosing and Glencairn glasses for you here.

Do you drink whiskey with or without ice?

The ice cubes clatter contemplatively in the tumbler, the sky shows its most beautiful side and you just enjoy a few nice hours. But stop! Your best friend is looking at you seriously. Did you do something wrong? Yes, you have ice in the whiskey. A sacrilege against the precious water of life. But is it really that bad when you drink the whiskey with ice? Of course you won't burn in hell as a punishment, but we definitely want to get rid of something with the ice in the whiskey.

It's best to drink whiskey at room temperature, pure, without ice. If the whiskey becomes too cold, the complex aromas cannot develop properly, the whiskey tastes completely different. Ice also has the unpleasant property of diluting the whiskey. So you voluntarily forego many beautiful aromas that could tickle your palate. But why then do so many American heroes drink their Whiskey On the Rocks? On the one hand, it is not so bad with a bourbon, but also with a very strong blended whiskey, if it is enjoyed a little cooler and a little watered down. On the other hand, the climatic conditions in sunny California, Tennessee and Kentucky are completely different from those in the rather cool and harsh Scotland and Ireland. The delicious drink quickly gets a little too warm in the hot sun.

Whiskey stones instead of ice

So if you want to cool your whiskey a little when the evening sun is still conjuring up 30 degrees on the terrace, then it is best to use whiskey stones. They are prepared in the freezer and cool the whiskey slowly and in a controlled manner by a few degrees and do not water it down. At which temperature which whiskey develops best, you can read in our special article: At what temperature should you drink whiskey?

Drink whiskey - pure or mixed?

In many countries around the world, whiskey is a popular drink in a wide variety of glasses and on a wide variety of occasions. The unbelievable variety of whiskey varieties and the different worldwide drinking cultures have led to the fact that whiskey has found its way into bars not only pure, but also mixed. Whiskey is drunk as a long drink, as a cocktail, with ice, with a little water, even with tea. Is that even allowed? Where are the whiskey police when someone comfortably refills their whiskey with cola or even mixes it with other spirits and all sorts of other ingredients to make a cocktail? Don't worry, of course you are allowed to drink the whiskey the way you like it. Whiskey connoisseurs, however, will usually turn up their noses at this, because whiskey is drunk straight! Yes, what now?

Drink whiskey straight or with water

Again and again you read that with a little water you can elicit a little more aroma from the whiskey. Like right now? Wasn't water that got into the whiskey through ice just bad? Not quite. Whiskey comes out of the casks with a strength that is not suitable for consumption. Therefore, it is diluted to drinking strength (usually around 40 to 47 percent by volume) with water before it is bottled. So anyone who claims that they always drink the whiskey straight does not actually do so at all.

But there are also stronger whiskey, even special bottlings in cask strength, the Cask Strength whiskeys. This is where the water comes in. Even more aromas can be broken down with a few drops of low-mineral water in whiskeys from 45 percent by volume. In the case of Cask Strength whiskeys, the recommendation is even to dilute the whiskey one third with water. Incidentally, we have dedicated a separate article to the subject of whiskey and water.

Learn more! Why and when to dilute whiskey with water.

There are special whiskey pipettes with which you can dose slowly and precisely so that only drops of water really get into the exclusive drink.

Whiskey as a long drink and cocktail

There is another popular way to drink whiskey, especially when partying in clubs, bars and concerts. As a long drink or cocktail, the golden brandy is not only very popular with younger people. Bourbon, blended scotch and rye whiskey prefer to end up in the glass. But enjoying it as a mixed drink, short or long drink and cocktail is not as new as you might think. Famous whiskey cocktails such as the Old Fashioned or the Whiskey Sour have not only been known since the 1960s. It is said that cocktails and long drinks with whiskey were once invented in order to make the taste of cheap whiskey and home-distilled food more bearable or to mask it. It is therefore more than understandable that whiskey as a mixed drink had its first boom in the days of American prohibition.

Drink whiskey in Asia - mixes here!

We want to make a short trip to Asia. Whiskey is also very popular in Asia. This is evident not least from the fact that in the last few decades Japanese whiskey in particular has found its way more and more into the bars and shelves of whiskey lovers. The Asians concentrate mainly on the traditional recipes of the Scots and Irish, the masters of whiskey. But if we look at their drinking habits, then it is anything but a traditional European whiskey lover imagines how to drink whiskey properly. They do not drink their single malt straight, or only in the rarest cases, but rather like to mix it with green tea, for example. This is also a product that is artfully manufactured. Green tea can contain citrus fruits, have floral aromas, and even taste like smoke.

So mixing the two exclusive drinks might not be so bad after all. At some point we have to try it out! And if we like it, then we've found another way of drinking whiskey.

Finally, we wish you a lot of fun trying it out and, as always, a hand's breadth of whisk (e) y in the glass.