It’s strange how many myths there are surrounding whisky drinking — from price snobbery to ice shaming. Who decided there had to be ‘rules’ to enjoying a nice drink? Certainly no one I know.
To bust these myths wide open and bring some actual truth to whisky drinking, we’ve brought in Glen Moray‘s Distillery Manager, Graham Coull to break it down for us.
1. You’ve got to pay a lot
“Many people think that lower-priced whiskies are inferior. I would urge anyone to put any preconceived ideas to one side when choosing a whisky,” Coull said.
“The [extra] advantage of lower-priced whiskies is that if it is not to your taste you have not wasted a huge amount of money.”
If you’re new to whisky drinking and aren’t sure what to get, Coull recommends just asking for help.
“Whether it be in a bar or a store ask the staff to describe their whisky. Explain the flavours you like and don’t like, but above all keep an open mind and don’t be afraid to try something new.”
2. An aged whisky is always better
This myth makes sense, considering the way people talk about aged wine. However, Coull said it’s not necessarily true of whisky. At least not to the point that you can conclude an aged whisky will be better every time.
“With age comes rarity and therefore a higher price. Older whiskies can have more character and complexity but for me, it is all about the quality of casks used for maturation.”
3. Adding water or ice is a sin
The short answer, according to Coull, is no, at least when it comes to adding a drop of water. “Water can actually improve the taste because [it reduces] the alcohol strength [and] allows other flavours to come through.”
This is backed up by a study out of the Sweden’s Linnaeus University which discovered a little water helps aromatic compounds reach the surface and improve the taste. The same can’t be said for ice, however.
“Ice can dull the flavours by reducing the temperature, but on the other hand, it can make the whisky more refreshing to drink. I always say enjoy your whisky the way you like it.”
4. Never use good whisky in a cocktail
As it turns out, people who are turning up their nose at others for using good whisky in mixes or cocktails are just being a little snobbish.
“[It’s] not a problem,” Coull said. “In fact, there is an argument that you should use your most flavoursome whisky to get the best effect.”
Which is exactly what you’d think about any other spirit, so why shouldn’t you indulge in a tastier whisky cocktail?
5. All whisky has a smokey flavour
Whisky can seem like an intimidating drink to start sipping, mainly because of the perceived notion that it always has a strong, smokey flavour. Turns out we were wrong again.
“There is a wide range of smokiness from zero to high intensity,” Coull said. “Again ask for advice on this and start at the lower end and then increase the smokiness. You will soon find the level that suits your palate.”
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