1. Start with cocktails
Scotch cocktails can be both delicious and a way to acclimate your palate to the smoky profile of aqua vitae by rounding it off with some sweeter flavors. A Rusty Nail, for example, mixes scotch with a honeyed liqueur made from scotch; the flavor profiles align nicely, and you can adjust the ratio to meet your needs (the traditional recipe is a 1:1 scotch-to-liqueur ratio, but a 2:1 or even 4:1 proportion may be more appealing as you get closer to drinking scotch by itself).
If you’re looking for something a little more hifalutin, a Rob Roy is a Manhattan that swaps out the whiskey with whisky. (They drop the “e” in whiskies from Scotland, Japan and Canada. Why? They just do.)
Prefer something more complex? Try a Blood and Sand, which is equal parts scotch, cherry liqueur, sweet vermouth, and orange juice. Like the other two drinks I just mentioned, it’s legit tasty. As you work your way closer to the promised land of drinking scotch neat (or with a few drops of water) channel your grandfather—along with a highball of cocktail history—and order a Scotch and soda.
Blended scotches tend to work better in cocktails than single malts, but this doesn’t make blends a lesser product. Blends are supposed to be versatile enough for cocktails; their crafters combine numerous malt whiskies with multiple grain whiskies to produced a balanced, smooth, and consistent flavor. Order them with confidence!