There’s nothing like a wee dram of whisky to warm your soul. The team at J&M (upstairs at angel hotel) are whisky enthusiasts and will happily wax lyrical about the wonders of whisky. Helpfully, they can give you a crash course over the bar anytime, or, if you’re looking for something a bit more structured find out about their Whisky Pride sessions.
Angel hotel general manager Mirza Imran Baig says that there’s always more to discover: “Every time I taste a new whisky it challenges my expectation, knowledge and confirms there is a lot to learn in the world of whisky, even more now as Australian whisky is taking it to the next level by breaking all rules and traditions about whisky making and drinking.”
With World Whisky Day coming up next month we’ve prepared a cheat sheet about whisky to keep in your back pocket.
- New to whisky? Try it in a cocktail. Whisky, to the surprise of many, partners wonderfully with anything from coconut, banana, rhubarb and miso.
- Whisky or whiskey? It’s confusing. Especially after a few whiskies. Whisky is Scottish. Whiskey with an “e” denotes the stuff that comes from Ireland and, in most cases, America.
- When it comes to identifying flavours, there are no wrong answers. If all else fails, go with: fruity, floral, woody, smoky or delicate.
- Tasting is like most skills – the more you do it, the better you’ll get.
- What type of whisky glasses are best? It depends. For tasting, a glass with a narrow opening, like a snifter, is recommended, as this will channel and concentrate the aromas of the whisky towards your nostrils. Tumblers should be avoided for tasting purposes as the aromas dissipate too quickly. But feel free to enjoy your whisky in a tumbler when you’re off the tasting clock.
- Whatever you do, don’t shoot whisky – especially luxury ones. They are made to be sipped and savoured.
- “Cut” is what the professionals call “adding water”. With a small splash, the alcohol is cut and the flavours really open up, just like a garden after it rains. It’s a total myth that whisky should always be taken neat. Whisky on the rocks? That’s a bit different, as it drops the temperature of the whisky and may dilute it– depending on the type or size of the ice used – and inhibit some of the characteristics.
- Learn your regions! There’s Lowland (delicate); Speyside (smooth, fruity, sweet); Highlands and Islands (robust, complex); and Islay (peaty, smoky).
- Scotch must be matured for at least three years, however most are much, much older than that (lookin’ at you, Chivas 18…).
- If you’re on a first date, try a blind tasting where your partner (hopefully also a whisky drinker) orders a whisky and you try to guess it.
- Eating chocolate before your dram can help reveal a new aspect of the whisky. The sweetness on your palate softens the whisky and reduces that alcohol prickle.
- Whisky is a very personal experience. Without being preachy, a good bartender should be able to help you find one (possibly several) that you enjoy personally