Whiskey is clearly not every man’s go-to drink. In fact, you’ll find it quite a rarity to even come across a man who knows his brand of whiskey; let alone hold the drink the way a real man should. It’s easy to have a bottle of the finest Jack Daniels, Jameson or a well-aged Glenlivet in your cabinet to flaunt when you have friends over, or to order when you’re out with your pack. But, do you even know the constituents of each of the three drinks? And by an extension, do you know which of these really works for you instead of just ordering it because it’s a brand, it’s whiskey and you’re trying to be a man?
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Whiskey is a lot more than just an alcohol beverage in a fancy bottle. It is a lot more than just a style statement; it is an extension of your personality. You either enjoy drinking whiskey, or you don’t. There is no in between. Pretending like you do enjoy the drink just to portray an image of yourself is a whole lot of bullwhip. But, if whiskey is something you really think you can develop an affinity towards, then there are a few basic things you need to know about the alcohol before you pour yourself a drink.
For any amateur whiskey aficionado, there are three things you need to consider.
1. That There Are Different Kinds Of Whiskies
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The different kinds of whiskies are best distinguished by their nationalities.
– American Whiskey which is relatively sweeter compared to other whiskies. These are distilled in America and aged in barrels for at least 2 years, before they can be called whiskey. American whiskey can be broken down to your Bourbon, Rye and Tennessee Bourbon is distilled from 51% corn; rye is distilled from 51% rye and Tennessee whiskey is distilled in the state of the same name and is filtered through charcoal.
– Scotch Whiskey is distilled in Scotland mostly from Barley and is aged for at least three years. It has a smoky and earthy flavour to it and can be broken down into Blended Scotch which is a blend of more than one Scotch whiskey, and Single Malt, which is distilled from malted barley at a single distillery.
– Irish Whiskey is distilled in Ireland, aged for at least three years and is a light-bodied whiskey.
– Canadian Whiskey is typically a blend that is distilled in Canada and aged for at least three years. It is light-bodied and relatively fruity.
2. That There Are Different Levels Of Alcohol In Different Whiskies
© Jim Beam
Different whiskies come with different alcohols contents. These levels are usually measured in two ways—percentage and proof. Bottles that measure in percentage usually have the amount mentioned on the label. Others that measure in proof mention a numeric value-proof of the alcohol by volume, or ABV. A simple way to know what the proof amount really means is if you convert into percentage. How? Simple. You divide the total proof amount by half. For instance, if a whiskey is said to be 100-proof alcohol by volume, you divide 100 by 2. So that bottle is a 50% ABV.
3. And That There Is A Way To Pick Yourself A Bottle Of The Whiskey That Suits Your Palate
How you choose a whiskey drink for your taste buds is important, especially so for beginners. The best way for you to figure out which whiskey is for you is to try all out; not at once, unless you want to be lying somewhere on a floor. Start with a style—it could be any of the ones mentioned in point one: American, Irish, Scotch or Canadian. Once you’ve chosen a style, pick a subset of that style. For instance, if you’ve chosen American whiskey, start with a Bourbon, Rye or a Tennessee. The next thing is to try different whiskies under this style at different price points. So you can start with a Jack Daniels and then go for something a little above that in the same style variant. While the flavour will remain more or less the same, you will observe how the slightly more expensive whiskey may seem smoother. You can always ask your bartender for help. Once you’ve conquered the style and the price point, the next step is the alcohol content. You could go from a 45% Bourbon to one with 50% alcohol levels and you will be able to tell the difference between the 5%!
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If you’re a bit of a lightweight, you needn’t get disheartened. As it would turn out, Canadian and Irish whiskies are a lot more light-bodied and fruitier than the other styles and make for a good start for any amateur whiskey drinker.
So, now that you know your Whiskey basics, happy choosing.
Also, while you master the art of choosing the right kind of whiskey for your taste buds, we’ll be conjuring up a whiskey etiquette guide for beginners.