You don’t listen to convention when it comes to hot dogs (which you top with Sriracha instead of ketchup) or pizza (which you dare to eat with a knife and a fork), so why stick to the accepted norms when it comes to drinking scotch? While purists may insist that only a drop or two of water may touch their precious dram, sometimes all you want is a heavy pour over a big ol’ ice cube. And that’s just fine. But you do have to take into account which scotch you’re choosing to chill and dilute. Ultra peaty, briny Islay scotches, for example, just won’t show well over ice. You can go ahead and try, but you’ll just be wasting good whisky. Instead, opt for one of these bottlings, which taste great on the rocks:
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This Glaswegian whisky was created for bartenders, by bartenders. The blend was determined by the New Malt Order, a group of 12 bartenders from around the world. Intended to be both sipped and used in cocktails, its bold, spicy flavors can certainly handle some ice. Poured over a rock, it opens up into bright honeyed flavors with cereal undertones—perfect for sipping before dinner.
This scotch already scoffs at tradition, so it’s no skin off its back if you want to take things a step further and add an ice cube or two. Finished in India Pale Ale casks, it has bright, herbaceous, hoppy notes and a zesty, almost citrusy finish. Chilling it down over ice results in even more of those bright, lightly bitter notes coming forward. Try expressing a swatch of grapefruit zest into the iced-down whisky for an ultra-refreshing sipper.
Another distillery that eschews conformity, Craigellachie distills its Speyside whisky through worm tubs, an old-school way to condense a spirit, which results in a hearty, almost meaty whisky. Sipped straight, this is a powerful dram full of cooked fruit and a hint of bacon. Over ice, it eases up on that heft, becoming more floral and sweet, but still darn potent.
Though Jura 10 is made on Jura, an island adjacent to Islay, it is light on the peat and, thanks to some time spent in ex-sherry casks, has a beautiful sweetness that comes out even more when poured over ice. Slightly fruity with an iced coffee finish, it is easy drinking and food-friendly.
A classic Speyside whisky, Glen Grant’s 10-year-old bottling is packed with bright green apple notes. It’s extremely easy drinking served neat, but poured over ice it becomes downright chuggable, with hints of honey and green almond. It may have been called Single Malt of the Year in 2016 by Jim Murray, but that doesn’t mean you should feel bad about enjoying it over ice. Maybe don’t do it around any super serious scotch nerds, though.