Techniques, Tips and Tasting Notes
How to Drink Whiskey Like a Pro
Anyone can enjoy whiskey. You don’t need a bunch of special equipment, and you don’t need to put in a lot of time and effort (we put that in for you). However, there are a lot of opinions on the correct way to drink whiskey, and we acknowledge that can be…intimidating.
So, we at Jameson Irish Whiskey thought we’d share this easy-to-follow beginner’s guide on how to drink whiskey. While we will focus on how to drink Irish whiskey, you can apply the same methods to whiskey from anywhere in the world.
Let’s get started! Bartender? One measure of Jameson, please.
How to Drink Whiskey Neat
Drinking whiskey “neat” refers to drinking whiskey straight, without any mixers or ice.
To start, you want a room-temperature single measure (this varies from country to country, but it’s generally 1 oz or 30 ml) of whiskey. No measure? No problem. 3 Jameson bottlecaps of whiskey should do the trick.
Does the Glass Matter?
The short answer: No. You can enjoy whiskey in anything, from IKEA’s finest tumblers to your grandmother’s crystal glasses. However, we do hold some bias when serving our very own Jameson Irish whiskey. We recommend our Jameson Tumbler Glasses. These tumblers have enough headroom to capture the aromas of whiskey.
At What Temperature Do You Drink Whiskey Neat?
We recommend drinking your whiskey at room temperature (60 – 70ºF). Cold subdues whiskey’s flavors and heat makes them more pronounced. Room temperature is ideal for bringing out a whiskey’s aromas and flavors.
If you’re serving whiskey to a guest, we recommend starting them with a room-temperature, neat whiskey. You can always add drops of water, ice cubes, whiskey stones, or a mixer later.
How to Smell Whiskey
Next, let’s talk about how to smell your whiskey.
To smell your whiskey, bring your nose close to the glass and inhale. Keep your mouth slightly open – this allows your palate to work its best.
You can expect sweet, floral, and spicy scents from a glass of Jameson Original (you can see the tasting notes here). Depending on the whiskey, you may smell notes of wood, smoke, pepper, or a range of other scents.
How to Taste Whiskey
The next step is tasting the whiskey. Take a small sip and allow the flavors to come to you. Jameson Original should reveal spicy, nutty, and vanilla notes with a hint of dried fruit. Some people might taste more spicy flavors than sweet. Others will think it is more floral than nutty. Taste is subjective, and whiskey flavors can be subtle and complex, so experiences can differ. Try not to look for specific flavors – just let your tongue describe the whiskey.
The most pronounced flavor will, of course, be alcohol. At 40% alcohol by volume (80 proof) and above, whiskey is a strong spirit. When you first start drinking whiskey neat, the alcohol can be overpowering and unexpected, and it can take time to get used to. However, once you do, it becomes an enjoyable part of the tasting experience.
Here are some questions to ask yourself about the alcohol flavor:
Does the alcohol hit you first before anything else? 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 numb your mouth and throat slightly, or is it closer to a hot, spicy sensation?
There are no right or wrong answers to these questions – they’re just here to help you understand your whiskey-tasting experience.
The finish comes after you swallow the whiskey. It’s about how the whiskey feels on your tongue, throat, and chest and what flavors you’re left with.
Jameson has a smooth, lingering finish. It’s easy to drink, and Jameson’s unique flavors don’t disappear with the liquid. Other whiskeys may have a warmer finish – you feel warmth in your throat and chest as you swallow. Alternatively, a whiskey can have a different aftertaste. For example, it might seem spicy when you first sip it, but there’s a sweet finish.
How to Drink Whiskey with Water
You may have seen people order whiskey with water, but did you know these two drinks are served separately? When you order whiskey with water at a bar, you get a neat whiskey and a small glass or pitcher of water. Many regular whiskey drinkers consider this the best way to drink whiskey because it lets them control the flavor and intensity.
The whiskey is usually served in a rocks glass or a Glencairn glass. We always recommend tasting the whiskey before adding any water. Then, add a few drops of water. This opens up the whiskey and allows different flavors to emerge and separate, becoming easier to identify and more pronounced. A splash of water will also dilute the whiskey and reduce the burn of alcohol, which some people find harsh when they first start drinking whiskey.
How to Drink Whiskey on the Rocks
Whiskey “on the rocks” means whiskey with ice. Ice is another way to drink whiskey without the burn of alcohol. While water will dilute the liquid instantly, ice will chill the whiskey and dilute it slowly. The cold helps to dampen the harsher flavors, while the slow dilution gradually mellows your drink.
How much ice you order your whiskey with depends on personal preference. However, be aware that each ice cube added results in a sharp drop in temperature and more dilution. A full glass of ice will mask the whiskey, preventing you from tasting some of the subtler flavors. One, two, or three cubes (depending on the size of your drink) is the most common.
How To Drink Whiskey with Whiskey Stones
Whiskey stones chill your drink like ice, but they won’t dilute the whiskey. Usually made from metal, marble, granite, or stainless steel, we recommend putting these little cubes in the freezer and having them ready for when you’re 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 but still strong.
How to Drink Whiskey Cocktails
At Jameson, we are big fans of cocktails. Our website features tons of amazing whiskey cocktail recipes.
If you’re new to whiskey, a cocktail is a great introduction. Are you wondering how to get started with whiskey cocktails? Jameson, Ginger & Lime, our signature cocktail, is the perfect place to begin. It’s sweet, spicy, and refreshing. Not quite ready to drink whiskey straight but love its flavors? An Old Fashioned is a delicious way to enjoy whiskey with some sweetness.
Learning to make a few cocktails is a great way to impress friends, too. A small home bar 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).
Drinking Whiskey Your Way
There you have it! There are many options for drinking whiskey, from neat with no ice to a refreshing cocktail. The real question is not how to start drinking whiskey but how you enjoy whiskey.
Whiskey Drinking FAQs
HOW CAN YOU DRINK WHISKEY NEAT WITHOUT IT BURNING?
Drinking whiskey neat without feeling a little burn is tricky. Whiskey is a strong liquor at 80 proof. There are other factors, including how accustomed you are to drinking whiskey and how smooth the type of whiskey you’re drinking is (such as Jameson, the smoothest Irish whiskey).
HOW DO YOU DRINK WHISKEY FOR THE FIRST TIME?
For a complete guide to drinking whiskey for the first time, see above. Here’s the short version: We recommend you start with neat room-temperature whiskey and add water, ice, or mixers to your taste. Looking for more ways to enjoy whiskey? There are endless delicious Jameson cocktails available to try yourself. Start with some of the classics.
HOW DO THE IRISH DRINK 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 YOU DRINK WHISKEY NEAT OR ON THE ROCKS?
This comes down to personal preference. Neat (nothing added) will let you enjoy the full flavor of the whiskey. On the rocks (with ice) will bring down the temperature. This will dampen the flavor somewhat and slowly dilute the whiskey but reduce some of the burn from the alcohol.
WHAT ARE THE BEST MIXERS FOR WHISKEY?
We’re big fans of Jameson, Ginger & Lime (obviously). Sweet sodas, bitters, and fruit juice all go well. We’re also big fans of coffee cocktails. Again, it comes down to personal preference. Check out our guide to whiskey mixers.
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.