There are many enjoyable ways to drink whiskey. By far, my favorite is standing in a circle and passing a bottle around, preferably in the woods. This is not appropriate for all situations, however, so other ways have evolved:
Neat – A variation on passing a bottle around, the whiskey is still straight, but it’s served in a glass, usually a two-ounce pour, except for the places with the fancy stuff that let you get a one-ounce poor. I like to taste a whiskey neat first to decide its true flavor, and then might add ice cubes if needed. This is a nice way to sip away an evening.
Recommended – Lagavulin Single Islay Malt Whisky, Highland Park Single Malt Scotch Whisky, Bernheim Original Wheat Whiskey
On the rocks – With ice. It has the nice effect of cooling the whiskey, taking the edge off some of the edgier ones, and making the drink last a little longer. It also makes for that nice clinking sound. Depending on how watered down you want it, this method can either require faster sipping or the occasional top-off. The proper way is to have a bucket of ice nearby for people to add rocks as needed.
Recommended – Elmer T. Lee Bourbon Whiskey, Four Roses Bourbon
As a shot – Straight pour, tilted back. Sipping not required or even recommended. This is usually done in celebration, to get to the later part of the evening a little earlier, or because it is the later part of the evening and all ideas sound excellent. Warning to novices – there are whiskies that are considered “sipping whiskies” and are often quite expensive. If someone treats you to one, sip and appreciate, don’t take it all at once.
Recommended – Jameson Irish Whiskey, Maker’s Mark Bourbon Whisky
As a mixer – Jack and Coke was my starter drink and is still a go-to for early in the evening. Whiskey can make a nice cocktail, as long as you aren’t wasting the good stuff, and is better in your coffee than cream. Jack and Ginger(ale) makes for a light, summer drink. My favorite Autumn drink is spiked cider with cinnamon, cloves, and a healthy tip of the bottle. For winter, I recently met Hot Toddy and he gives quite the comfort – tea heated in a big pot, add whiskey and lemons. For Spring, there is actually a whiskey sangria that you shouldn’t knock until you try it. And, of course, an old-fashioned favorite is a Manhattan, not too sweet with just a touch of class.
Recommended – See “In a Cocktail” page for recipes.
A chaser is acceptable if you are not of the whiskey-drinking variety and still want to partake, but, please, do not crinkle the nose, scrunch the mouth, or spit if you do not enjoy the whiskey. Others are enjoying, and a shout-out of “how can you drink this?” or “this stuff tastes like rubbing alcohol” will make you no friends.
Personal preference – cigars or pipes go better with whiskey than cigarettes.
The one amber-colored golden rule of whiskey is don’t drink too much. Savor it, love it, but don’t get sloppy. And it is best enjoyed in company. But there are exceptions to every rule…