First off, let’s get one thing straight. Is it whiskey or whisky? Well, it’s both, it just depends on where it’s produced. Most American and Irish brands are labeled “whiskey,” while most Japanese, Scottish and Canadian’s are labeled “whisky.” For the sake of less confusion, the spelling whiskey will be used to speak about all forms here. Each region produces their whiskey differently by either using straight malted barley or mixing several grains together.
Additionally, the way that the malted barley and other grains are dried out differs. Some areas use peat and others use alternative fuel sources. There are many interesting facts available about whiskey, but also just as much fiction. Let’s explore some misconceptions:
The Whiskey That’s Aged the Longest is Best
Who decided this? The aging and cost of whiskey is not the deciding factor for how good it is. So, what is? Personal tastes trump amount of aging any day of the week. You like a whiskey that has been aged for nine years, great! Your buddy prefers 20+ year-old whiskey? Great for him, too! Who’s right? You both are. Can’t decide? Try a taste test. Try different whiskeys aged from different time periods and notice the differences between each. Then you decide what’s the best aged whiskey for you.
Tasting Notes Are an Honest Representation
While this may be true to the taster, most tasting notes are subjective. Some whiskey’s taste and aroma has been described as “mulchy seaweed, brine, and smoldering varnished wood” and having a “long maritime aftertaste.” Um, yum? You could drink the exact same whiskeys and come up with other flavors and aromas that you pick up. Maybe you notice more fruit aroma or a certain spice, either way; you can come up with flavors and aromas that are familiar and recognizable to you.
Neat is the Only Way to Drink Whiskey
Again, who decided this? There’s nothing wrong with adding water to your whiskey. You can add a drop or more; it’s personal preference. Also, put some ice in it if you want. Start by adding one cube and seeing how it tastes. Now, you don’t want to completely water it down, though, so filling the glass full with ice and adding whiskey, might negatively affect the taste – especially, if you’re a very slow drinker. You really don’t hear about too many people chugging whiskey, so keep that in mind when deciding how much ice to add. One cube is a good starting point.
So get out there and try a few different aged whiskeys, come up with your own tasting notes, and add water if you want. A toast:
“Here’s to those who wish us well; all the rest can go to Hell! Cheers!”