Learn How to Properly Taste It
Simoneau says there’s no right or wrong way to drink whiskey, and we agree. But learning how to properly taste it will make your first few sips that much more enjoyable and rewarding.
“When tasting a spirit, we typically like to start neat and then add water slowly to see the differences,” he says. “Some people like ice, others don’t, and that’s okay. But one of the most important elements of tasting whiskey is the aroma. Nosing it is crucial to get a full, round taste. You can also sip and chew on it a bit before swallowing so the flavors hit all corners of your tastebuds.”
Any old rocks glass will work fine to taste whiskey. But if you want something with a bolder design—or simply feel like rewarding yourself for trying something new—snag yourself a set of bona fide whiskey glasses.
Drink Your Way Around the World
So, you’ve mastered bourbon and are ready to move on to another whiskey type. Simoneau recommends sticking to the American stuff before traveling overseas. “Try rye and wheated bourbons first, then move on to Irish or Japanese whiskies, which tend to be a little more accessible,“ he says. “Once you get a taste for these, then you can graduate to scotch.”
Once you’re prepared to try scotch, try first dipping your toe into some of the milder regions before jumping into the smoky nectar of the islands. “Start with the Highland and Speyside regions and then work your way down to Islay for the peatier, smokier stuff,” Simoneau says.
Pair Whiskey with Food
Sometimes, after trying new flavors and spirits, all you need to soothe your overworked palate is a little food. At Noorman’s Kil, they pair whiskey with grilled cheese because all that gooey, delicious fat highlights whiskey’s varying sweet, smoky and spicy notes. “Cheese pairs particularly well with scotch, but we always recommend nuts like almonds and different types of chocolate depending on the spirit,” Simoneau says.
We believe in the great power of a drinking snack, so we recommend whipping up a batch of something crispy or salty to cleanse your palate during your next tasting.
There you have it. Follow these steps, and you’ll be on your way to loving whiskey in no time.