Christmas is a time of celebration.
There’ll be food, drink and socialising aplenty. In fact, you’ve probably already started to stock up on drinks and nibbles in preparation for welcoming guests into your home.
But having a great selection on standby is only half of the battle. If you really want to be a good host, you need to know how to serve them too.
We all know gin needs tonic and mulled wine needs to be warmed, but how should a good malt be served?
Whether for yourself or your guests, if you’re new to the world of whisky, you might be wondering how it’s best enjoyed. Is there a right way and a wrong way to drink whisky? Should it be served on its own, with a mixer, chilled?
The good news is you can’t go too far wrong. Thanks to its complex flavour, the distinctive taste of whisky can be appreciated in a number of ways - but there are a few favourites!
Want to know what they are?
Here the Whisky Tasting team share five of the nation’s most loved ways to drink whisky.
5 ways to drink whisky
1. On the rocks
‘Whisky on the rocks’. It sounds pretty cool, but what exactly does it mean?
Rocks simply refer to ice. So if a guest asks for their whisky to be served this way, just pour a measure of whisky over ice cubes.
Sounds easy – but it can go wrong! The key is not to go overboard with the ice. Three or four standard cubes, or enough to cover the bottom of the glass, should be plenty. Any more than this and you risk the whisky becoming over diluted as the ice melts.
2. With water
Helping to release the flavours, serving whisky with water is a popular choice but it can be difficult to get right.
‘A splash’ to some may taste like a tidal wave to others, spoiling their enjoyment of the drink.
To avoid this, the ideal is to invest in a small water jug. This can then be presented with the whisky to allow guests to control the amount of water added and perfect the serving to their taste.
Read our blog, ‘Should you add water to whisky?’ for more on this.
Sometimes things are best kept simple and one of the ideal ways to appreciate whisky is just to serve it exactly as it is.
Simply pour a measure into a short tumbler, and that’s it. Quick, easy and oh-so delicious.
4. With a mixer
Controversial among more hardened whisky drinkers, but many people like to enjoy their whisky with a mixer.
There are a few possibilities here. Coca-Cola is popular, but other options include lemonade, ginger ale or soda water.
As a rule of thumb, aim for one-part whisky to two-part mixer – it's always better to add more to taste than to pour too generously initially.
There’s no question that chilled whisky is a favourite serving suggestion, but at this time of the year, there’s a lot to be said for the comfort of a warm drink.
To serve whisky warm, you’ll need a heat-resistant glass. Boil the kettle (and allow to cool slightly) then add in the hot water - typically at the same ratio as a mixer (one part whisky to two hot water). Give it a gentle stir and enjoy a gently warmed drink.
So which way is best?
Truth is, there is no right or wrong way to drink whisky - it’s all down to personal preference.
In the same way that some people prefer a peaty malt and others a spicy bourbon, everyone has their own favourite way to enjoy this drink. For some a splash of water helps open up the flavours, while for others it dilutes the intensity. Some love the addition of a mixer, yet even the idea is sacrilege to others.
The best advice we can give you is not to assume that your favourite way to enjoy whisky will be the same as your guests – so be sure to ask them how they would like their drink to be served.
Be the ultimate host
It’s not just how you take your whisky but which whisky too.
It’s a varied drink - the distillery, region, age and cask type all influence the flavour. So why not fill your drinks cabinet with choice?
Receive a range of 3 or 5 miniature bottles of varied but equally delicious whiskies offering a quality selection to experiment with - without waste!
Each 30ml bottle is the perfect measure to sample and enjoy. And thanks to the individual tasting cards provided you’ll gain insight and understanding of the unique flavours and what it is you and your guests like – or don’t like – about different malts.
Enjoy experimenting with different types of whisky - and different serving suggestions - to find new favourites. You might not discover it on the first go but, you’ll certainly have a great time trying!