With a staggering 400 bottles of scotch, bourbon, and rye, Noorman’s Kil bar in Brooklyn is a whiskey fan’s dream.
“We all loved whiskey and grilled cheese, so we thought, ‘Let’s go nuts with both,'” co-founder Marcel Simoneau told Business Insider.
The bar is a place for serious and casual whiskey drinkers alike (grilled cheese enthusiasts too), so we sat down with Simoneau to learn some tips on how to drink scotch and bourbon without looking like an idiot.
1. Just get to it, tipplers.
Drinkers often start with bourbon because of the taste accessibility and price point. Eventually, many connoisseurs want to move toward scotch.
So just start tasting them, Simoneau says. For a good first date, try the classic single-malt Oban 14. Another “nice and accessible” scotch stepping-stone is The Balvenie Doublewood 12, whose sherry finish gives it a sweeter taste. For fans of peatiness — the smoky flavour that results from peat firing malted barley — Simoneau recommends Laphroaig.
2. Relax. You’re not doing it wrong.
Whiskey snobs may say there’s a “right” way to drink the stuff, but just relax. Simoneau has seen every request, from a Laphroaig 10 year Manhattan (a cocktail usually prepared with rye) to Johnnie Walker Blue and ginger ale. Point being: You don’t always need to drink it neat.
Simoneau says he sometimes adds water to scotch and ice to bourbon when drinking, but the best way to really taste a whiskey is still when it’s alone in a glass. Getting the full taste and aroma also looks dorky, so know your surroundings. Swirl the snifter by your nose to get a whiff. Then put the glass to your face and leave your mouth open as you sniff — you get more of the smell that way. Now take a sip and chew the scotch to let the flavour really hit you. Boom.
3. Look for “distiller’s editions.”
Trying to impress? Peruse the menu for a “distiller’s edition” scotch or bourbon. You’ll probably find a tasty, rare, and expensive treat.
4. Older is not necessarily better.
“Some people say an 8-9 year old bourbon is the sweet spot,” according to Simoneau. Don’t just go with the oldest thing you can find to look cool, even with Scotch. Age is just a number.
5. Branch out.
Everybody has staples, but don’t be afraid to do something different. You could try the High West Campfire — a wacky combination of bourbon, rye, and scotch (one hearty sip will put hair on your chest). There’s Old Pulteney’s sea salt finish or Balcones Brimstone, a Texan corn whiskey with a hint of powdered sugar.
6. Buy the app that will make sure you never pronounce anything wrong.
Go ahead and splurge $US5 for Malt Whisky, a comprehensive whiskey app for your iPhone. The app comes with an essential pronunciation guide. Simoneau says a patron once asked him for a glass of “Le Frog” (apparently that’s not how you say Laphroaig).
7. Get local.
Craft distilling takes more time and effort than craft brewing, but the two industries are both in a renaissance right now. Simoneau likes to feature New York brands, like Brooklyn’s own Kings County Distillery, distiller of award-winning moonshine. Because distilling can take upwards of 10-20 years, fledgling brands will often sell colorless, un-aged “white dogs” for their first few years.
8. It’s fine to shoot flavored whiskey.
There you have it. Enjoy responsibly.