Whiskey drinkers can be quite opinionated and a snobbish bunch that look on novice whiskey drinkers with a certain amount of disdain! Some people may find this quite intimidating, even to the point of ordering another drink to avoid doing the wrong thing in front of seasoned whiskey drinkers and exposing themselves as a novice!
Perhaps this is a strategy by seasoned whiskey drinkers to keep the novices drinking something else so that there will be more of the good stuff for them to drink rather than waste it on a newcomer! One of the many questions a new whiskey drinker may ask is whether whiskey should be cold or not.
Whiskey is not meant to be consumed cold. The ideal temperature for drinking whiskey is a recommended room temperature of 60 to 65 Fahrenheit or 15 to 18 Celsius. However, some whiskeys benefit from a block of ice or two to bring out flavors that are otherwise hidden at room temperature.
If you have always wanted to whet your whistle on with a whiskey but were never quite certain how to go about it without enduring the ridicule of your whiskey connoisseur friends, then we here at Craft of Manhood have got your back. Let us introduce you to the fine world of whiskey so that you can confidently become a whiskey tippler without causing offense!
What Is The Right Temperature For Whiskey?
Whiskey is not just a drink, but it is a means around which people can develop friendships and find common ground with fellow whiskey drinkers around the world. Few alcoholic drinks have developed such a dedicated group of followers that it has spawned clubs and social gatherings dedicated to sipping this amber gold liquid!
Wine is probably the closest competitor to whiskey, where there is competition amongst makers and the followers of a particular flavor become militant in their support thereof!
Generally speaking, the correct temperature for drinking whiskey is a room temperature of 60 to 65 F or 15 to 18 Celsius. For me, that is a little bit of a problem since those “room temperatures” are our average winter temperatures, which presents a conundrum for whiskey drinkers in warmer climates.
If these are the accepted ideal temperatures for drinking whiskey, you may be tempted to store your bottle of single malt in the fridge. This is not an accepted nor a recommended practice. Should you offer a friend a whiskey and retrieve your bottle from the fridge, you will most definitely be showing yourself to be a novice regarding all things whiskey.
Storing your whiskey is best done in a dark, cool cupboard where it can be as close as possible to or slightly below room temperature. Cooling whiskey down, and indeed, heating it up has an effect on the flavor.
We will cover some strategies you can use to get your whiskey down to a more acceptable temperature a little later on. But before we get to that, let’s walk the minefield of whether you should drink your whiskey neat, with a splash of cold water, or on the rocks.
What Is The Best Way To Drink Your Whiskey?
In whiskey-drinking circles, it is usually acceptable to drink your whiskey neat, on the rocks, or with a splash of water. Some diehards will voice their displeasure at seeing you add ice or water to your whiskey in some circumstances, but ice and water are generally considered acceptable.
There are a few instances where you may not want to use ice or water in your whiskey, many of which you will only learn as you try different whiskeys.
Ice can bring out subtle flavors in some whiskey, but it can repress delicate flavors in others. The only way to be certain for your particular palate is to try the whiskey with ice and without ice and see if you prefer the flavors with or without the ice.
The same preference principle applies to the use of a splash of cold water. The use of ice and water is generally reserved for the stronger peat flavored whiskeys, as the ice and water also help dial down the strong peat flavor.
Personally, I like a strong peat whiskey and prefer it without water, but maybe a single ice cube if it is a warmer day, but this is a purely personal preference.
If you are drinking a whiskey with a lighter, more delicate flavor, then I would recommend trying the whiskey without water or ice to test it for your palate. Adding ice may enhance some of the subtle flavors in a fruity whiskey, but it may also wash them out, so try it neat first and then with a block of ice. It is a good reason to have a second one!
The Quality Of The Whiskey
If you are drinking an expensive whiskey, it would often be seen as an affront to use ice or water with it, as you would want to experience the unadulterated flavor of the expensive whiskey.
If you are drinking a less expensive whiskey, a cube or two of ice or a splash of cold water according to personal taste is generally a quite acceptable practice and should not raise any eyebrows!
If you are drinking a cheap blend that is really rough, then you may want to go up to 3 blocks of ice or a finger or two of water. This helps to tone down the harshness of these whiskeys and increases their enjoyment.
Should You Mix Your Whiskey With Other Drinks?
Now we are really on shaky ground! Mixing whiskey with other drinks or soft drinks such as ginger ale or lemonade is reserved for only the cheapest of whiskeys.
If you are drinking a whiskey that is not palatable other than by mixing it with other drinks, then you are probably just drinking it for the alcohol content rather than the flavor. To be accepted in whiskey drinking circles, you would do well to change the brand of whiskey you drink to one that is palatable on its own!
It may be a little pricier to purchase, but then you would not have to mix it, and you would gain more respect from fellow whiskey drinkers, not to mention being able to enjoy the bouquet of flavors in a better whiskey!
Mixing a good whiskey with anything other than a little water or ice would be seen as sacrilege and will quickly get you labeled as persona non grata at whiskey tasting functions!
How To Chill Your Whiskey
If, as I do, you reside in a warmer climate, then you may want to use ice or cold water to bring your whiskey down in temperature so that you do not miss out on all the intricate flavors. While this is generally a perfectly acceptable practice, it does impact the flavor of the whiskey and may not be ideal for more delicate whiskeys.
Another method that you can try is to chill the whiskey glass itself. About 20 minutes before you want to enjoy a more delicate whiskey, place your glass in the fridge to chill. This way, when you pour the whiskey, the glass chills the whiskey down, and none of the flavor is lost by way of dilution.
If you don’t want to wait this long to enjoy your whiskey, there is an alternative. There is a product available called whiskey rocks, which are basically ice cube-shaped rocks that your place in your freezer to become cold.
If you keep a supply of these whiskey rocks in your freezer, they will always be available at a moment’s notice to cool your whisky down without diluting it. When you are done, simply rinse them off and place them back in the freezer!
Whiskey is not meant to be consumed cold in the same way that a beer or other such drink is meant to be enjoyed. Whiskey is best enjoyed at a temperature of 60 to 65F, but it is perfectly acceptable to chill it down with a splash of cold water or a block or two of ice, depending on your preference.
Despite the preferred drinking temperature being this low, you should never store your whiskey in the fridge. You should give your guest the option to have their whiskey neat, on the rocks, or with a splash of cold water.
Never mix your whiskey with anything else. This is the fastest way to be recognized as a Neanderthal in whiskey drinking circles! The awesome thing about enjoying whiskey is that there is a strength and flavor among the many whiskey types and distilleries that you are sure to find something that you like and whether you enjoy it neat or otherwise is entirely up to you!