For men looking to start enjoying whiskey, it could be a daunting task without the help of a starter guide. There are simply too many different terms, brands, types and ways to drink whiskey to just simply get into it.
First of all, whiskey is the generic term used to name distilled spirits that are made of grain mash, distilled with at least 40 percent and at most 94.8 percent alcohol by volume. Types of whiskey include bourbon, scotch and rye, with the difference between the types mostly depending on the grain used, where the whiskey was distilled, how long the drink was aged and the type of cask used.
Scotch is whiskey made from malted barley, with most scotches using only barley, yeast and water. Scotch should be aged inside oak casks for at least three years, and is only made in Scotland. Bourbon, on the other hand, is made from a mixture of grain made up by at least 51 percent corn and distilled at a maximum of 80 percent alcohol. Bourbon is placed into new charred oak casks and is only made in the United States. Rye, out of all the three, is the hardest to define due to no strict rules, as even a mash composed of a 9-to-1 ratio is already considered rye.
First time whiskey drinkers should start with the type of whiskey that is most prominent in the area where they live. This is because the more of that kind of whiskey in a country, the better chances of finding good quality bottles at cheaper prices.
For first-time whiskey drinkers choosing bourbon, recommendations include American classics Wild Turkey or Maker's Mark. For those choosing scotch, suggestions are Glenmorangie 12 or Aberlour 10.
There are three more subtypes of whiskey, namely single malt, single cask or blended. Single malt whiskey is made from the mixture of all the whiskey that is distilled from the same batch of mash and is the most common type. Single cask whiskey is placed into bottles directly from just one cask, where the whiskey is aged. Lastly, blended whiskey is made by mixing together same types of whiskey, such as different batches of scotch from different distilleries.
Beginners are recommended to begin with single malt whiskey to learn the tastes of the different kinds of whiskey and choose which one is their favorite.
There are four ways to drinking whiskey. The first way is drinking whiskey neat, which is just drinking the whiskey in room temperature. While this is considered by many as the "pure" way to drink whiskey, it is usually a poor way for drinking good whiskey.
The second way, considered by many to be the best way, is to drink whiskey with water. This is because drinking the whiskey neat will cause the alcohol in the drink to cause buzzing on the tongue, numbing the taste buds and causing the loss of taste. Adding a cap of spring or distilled water could eliminate the buzzing, but if it is still present after another sip, add more caps of water one by one until the feeling is gone. That way, the drink can be enjoyed until it is all gone.
The third way is drinking whiskey on the rocks, which means with ice. Arguments against drinking whiskey like this is that ice is usually made out of tap water, which contains chlorine that ruins the drink, and that the melting ice will cause too much water to be added to the whiskey. To drink whiskey ice-cold, the best way is to prepare ice cubes made out of distilled or spring water. Once the whiskey is cold enough and watered down just enough, the ice should be scooped out with a spoon.
The fourth and final way is to drink whiskey in a mixed drink or cocktail. For this way, do not bother using high-end whiskey because that will just waste all the effort into making them. Middle-ground whiskey will be fine to add the whiskey taste to a mixed drink.
This guide only sets first-time drinkers up with a working knowledge of drinking whiskey. There are many different ways and types, but ultimately, the best way to drink whiskey is entirely up to the one drinking it.