Techniques, Tips and Tasting Notes

How to Drink Whiskey Like A Pro

We admit it. Whiskey drinking can be complicated. No, you don’t need a cupboard of different equipment to drink whiskey. Nor do you need to put in a great deal of time and effort (we put that in for you). However, there is a large and varied dialogue on the correct way to drink whiskey that can be… intimidating.

So, with this in mind, we at Jameson Irish Whiskey thought we’d share our knowledge on the subject and give you an easy-to-follow guide on How to Drink Whiskey for Beginners. While we will be looking at how to drink Irish whiskey, the same methods can be applied to whiskey from anywhere in the world.

Let’s get started! Bartender? One measure of Jameson, please.

How to Drink Whiskey Neat

No, we’re not talking about clean presentation. We referring to how to drink whiskey straight. Nothing added or taken away. To start, you will want a room temperature single measure (varies country to country, generally 1oz or 30ml) of whiskey in a glass. No measure? No problem. 3 Jameson bottle caps of whiskey should do the trick.

Does the glass the matter? No. Depending on where you order your whiskey, the glass a whiskey will be served in can vary greatly, from Ikea’s finest tumblers to crystal glasses. However, we do hold some bias when serving our very own, Jameson Irish whiskey. We recommend pairing with our Jameson Tumbler Glasses for the best whiskey-tasting experience. 

Jameson Original Neat

Room-temperature is important (18 – 23ºC). Generally, flavours are subdued through cold or become more pronounced through heat, so room-temperature whiskey is the ideal for tasting a whiskey’s notes and flavours. When thinking about how to serve whiskey to a friend or guest; room-temperature and neat is the safest option. Remember, it’s easier to add than to take away, so start neat and add drops of water, ice cubes, whiskey stones, or a soft drink if requested. 

How to sip whiskey is the next crucial step in becoming a whiskey drinker. The smell and taste; even the mouthfeel of whiskey can vary greatly depending on the style and brand.

Smell will come first. Put your nose to your glass and inhale. Sweet, floral, and spicy scents is what you’d expect from a glass of Jameson Original. You may smell wood, smoke, pepper, or range of other scents. It all depends on what you are drinking.

Next is to taste. Woah! Easy there! This isn’t the movies. No need drink it all in one go. Take a small sip and allow the flavours to come to you. Jameson should reveal spicy, nutty, and vanilla notes with a hint of sherry. Some people might taste more spicy than sweet. Some people will think it is more floral rather than nutty. Taste is subjective, and whiskey flavours can be subtle and complex. Try not to seek out certain flavours and allow your tongue to describe the whiskey to you. 

The most pronounced flavour of all will of course, be alcohol. At 40% volume (80 proof) and above, whiskey is a strong spirit. In initial tastings the alcohol can be overpowering and unexpected, and it can take a little time to get used to a whiskey’s strength. However, once you do, it becomes part of the tasting experience. 

Does the alcohol hit you first before any flavour? Is it more gradual? Where does it sit in the mouth? The tip of the tongue? The cheeks? The throat? How does it affect the drinking experience? Does it provide a slight numbing effect to your mouth and throat, or is it closer to a hot spicy sensation? When it comes to whiskey, there are no right or wrong answers to these questions. It’s about preference.

Now we come to the finish

No, not the end of the article; the finish of whiskey! The finish relates to the swallowing of whiskey. How does it feel in that moment, and what kind of flavours are left. Jameson has a smooth, lingering finish, by which we mean it’s easy to drink, and Jameson’s unique flavours don’t disappear with the liquid.  Other whiskeys may be warmer in their finish, where you feel the liquid’s warmth in your throat and chest as you swallow. Alternatively, a whiskey can have an after-flavour of something new. It might seem spicy when tasting but have a sweet finish.

How to Drink Whiskey with Water

You may have heard of people ordering a whiskey with water in the past. What you may not have noticed is that the two drinks are served separately. That’s right, whiskey and water is not served as one drink but, as neat whiskey with a small glass or jug of water to accompany it. Many regular whiskey drinkers consider this the best way to drink whiskey as it provides drinker control over the whiskey flavour and intensity.

When ordering whiskey and water, it is usually served in either a rocks glass or Glencairn glass. We always recommend tasting the whiskey before adding any water (like tasting your soup before you add salt, it is good practice). A few drops of water should open the whiskey and allow the different flavours to emerge and separate, becoming easier to identify and more pronounced. A splash of water will dilute the whiskey and reduce the burn of the alcohol, which some people find harsh in the beginning.

Whiskey with Water

How to Drink Whiskey on the Rocks

How to drink whiskey “on the rocks.” It’s a phrase you’ve heard in American movies all your life; being a colloquial term for a whiskey with ice. Many regular and occasional whiskey drinkers will order their whiskey with ice and use water or ice as a way to drink whiskey without the burn of the alcohol. While water will dilute the liquid instantly, ice will chill the whiskey and dilute it slowly. The cold helps to dampen the harsher flavours, while the slow dilution allows your drink to gradually mellow and last longer. When ordering whiskey with ice, it comes down to personal preference. However, be aware that there is a sharp jump temperature and dilution with each ice cube added. A full glass of ice will mask the whiskey. 1, 2, or 3 cubes (depending on size) is the most common order when asking for a measure of whiskey with ice.

Whiskey on the Rocks

How To Drink Whiskey with Whiskey Stones

Like ice but without the dilution, whiskey stones are a great gift for a whiskey drinker. Made from metal, marble, and other stones; put these little cubes in the freezer to have them ready for when you are in the mood for a Jameson. Our Irish Whiskey Stones are a fantastic alternative to ice for anyone who likes to drink their whiskey chilled at the same strength all the way through.

Irish Whiskey Stones

How to Drink Whiskey Cocktails

Last, but certainly not least is cocktails! At Jameson we are big fans of cocktails. Our website is stacked with amazing whiskey cocktail recipes you can try out for yourself here. Never had any whiskey before? Then a cocktail is a great introduction. Are you wondering how to drink whiskey for the first time? Jameson, Ginger & Lime is perfect. Sweet, spicy, and refreshing. Not quite ready to drink whiskey straight but love whiskey’s flavours? An Old-Fashioned cocktail is delicious way to enjoy whiskey with some sweetness and is the ideal cocktail for party mingling. 

Learning a few cocktails is a great way to impress friends too. A small home bar next to where you keep your wine glasses will keep guests in good spirits (see what we did there?) for hours as you mix some of your “signature” cocktails (we know we got them from our website, but your guests don’t, and we won’t tell).

Whiskey Cocktails

There you have it; the many different options for how to properly drink whiskey, from neat with no ice to an elaborate cocktail. The real question is not how to start drinking whiskey but how to enjoy whiskey. Answer: Any way you like. 

Common Whiskey Questions

How to drink whiskey neat without it burning?

Drinking whiskey neat without it burning is tricky. Whiskey is a strong liquor and at 40% proof, whiskey will burn. How much a whiskey will burn will depend on. How used you are to drinking whiskey. Adding a splash of water or ice. And the type of whiskey you are drinking  (ahem, Jameson being the smoothest Irish whiskey in the world).

How to drink whiskey for the first time?

For a full guide to drinking whiskey for the first time, see above. In summary, start neat  and add water, ice, or mixers to you taste. Not to your liking? There are endless delicious Jameson cocktails available to try yourself, here.

How do the Irish drink their whiskey?

The Irish drink their whiskey in lots of different ways. Neat, with a splash of water, with ice, with a mixer, or in a cocktail. There is no wrong way to drink Jameson Irish Whiskey but, we do ask you to drink responsibly.

Should whiskey be drunk neat or on the rocks?

This comes down to personal preference. Neat (nothing added) will give you a full flavour of the whiskey. On the the rocks (with ice) will bring down the temperature which will dampen the flavour somewhat and slowly dilute the whiskey.

What mixes well with whiskey?

We’re a big fans of Jameson, Ginger & Lime (obviously). Sweet sodas, bitters, and  fruit juice all go well. Again, it comes down to personal preference. For perfectly mixed whiskey cocktails, see our cocktail menu here.

Ready to put your knowledge to the test?

Try our Jameson Irish Whiskey! Now go and widen the circle. Enjoy Jameson Irish Whiskey with old friends and new and remember to drink responsibly.