If you’re on this page, then you’ve heard of a dozen brands of whisky out there. While there exists plenty of whisky brands you can try as a beginner, it’s still a daunting task to land on the best bottle for the day.
What is the best flavor to look for? Where do you start when tasting your whisky? Which are the best value and quality whiskies? These are some tough questions that you may find hectic to answer if you are new to the whisky category.
Well, if you’re a beginner in whisky, we are here to make your journey hassle-free. Here, we explain some tips and hacks you can employ to land your favorite whisky. Continue reading to learn how to choose and enjoy a fine whisky.
What type of whisky do you like?
The first step to choosing the best whisky is deciding on the best type of whisky you enjoy. If you’re trying your first bottle of whisky, then this may not be easy to answer.
Whisky is a universal or generic term used to describe all types of spirits made from grain mash. Whiskies vary in flavor, color, texture, and aroma, based on how they have been distilled and the grains used in making them.
There are different brands of whisky, depending on where they originate. Some popular whisky drinks include lowlands, Kentucky bourbon, Irish, Speyside, Islay, Canadian, and American. Most people prefer Bourbons – the American whiskies – because they are sweet, smooth, and have a unique vanilla aroma.
If you’re out for a first time shot of whisky, bourbon is the best you can go for. It doesn’t leave you with a hangover, like most whiskies on the counter. Bourbon is for anyone interested in whisky but not willing to start with something strong like scotch.
Know the difference between blended and single malt whiskies
The blending of a whisky influences its taste directly. Apart from learning how to taste whisky, you should also find the best blend of whisky that suits you. Whisky is either blended or single malt; the difference between these two is the production.
Single malt whisky is made of malted barley in a pot and pure water. It may originate from a single distillery but contain several batches or barrels. The idea behind single malt whisky is to create drinks with unique flavors sourced from a single distillery.
A blended whisky contains several single malt whiskies from different distilleries. The other whiskies are blended to come up with a unique taste and flavor profile. The objective of blending different whiskies is to create a versatile and smooth whisky.
Before choosing your favorite whisky, it is essential to taste the two types, single malt and blended. Single malt comes in distinctive flavors, while blended whisky is smooth and strong. You can quickly develop a preference for one type of whiskey once you try several blended and single malt brands.
Choose your whisky by age, not beauty
Age is another factor to consider most when selecting an exceptional whisky. Nearly all expensive whiskies you find in your local bar have an age statement on the label. If the bottle lacks the age statement, you can assume that it’s more than nine years old. Most whiskies are more than ten years old and come with great taste and flavor. Check the age statement on the whisky bottle before buying it.
Whisky matures with time, and the longer it stays on the barrel, the better the quality. It becomes more refined and portrays distinct characteristics as it ages. Whisky becomes smoother with time as the alcohol content evaporates and other unique flavor and aroma comes out of the drink.
Most distillers will place their whisky in a barrel for over three years before packaging it because it improves with age. As the whisky ages, it seeps through the wood, absorbing some new flavors while the alcohol content in it evaporates.
If you are looking forward to enjoying whisky on your first day, you should shop for older whiskies. Although this type of whiskies is a bit expensive, they give you the best experience of your first shot as a beginner.
Learn about the origin of your favorite whisky
Where your favorite whisky originates is equally essential as the taste. American whiskies are quite different in taste and strength from Canadian or Scottish whiskey.
If you prefer Scotch whisky, you can take your time to learn something about the different whisky distilleries in the country. This will help you find the best Scotch whiskey to shop from the region’s best distillery. The following are some of the areas to look out for when choosing Scotch whisky:
- Lowland: Those looking for some cool scotch whisky can find solace in the lowlands. Some of the top distillers in this category include Auchentoshan, Glenkinchie, and Bladnoch. Most lowlands are gentle, light, and malty compared to highland whiskies.
- Highland: most whiskies in Scotland come from the highlands. The whiskies are known to be spicy, deep smoky, and full-bodies. They have the best flavor of Scotch whisky you can try as a beginner.
- Campbeltown: in most cases, Campbeltown whiskies are a bit salty, peaty, and medium-bodied.
- Islay: these have a reputation for high strength whiskies. Some of the top brands to look for in this category include Ardbeg and Laphroaig. They are powerful, big, and peaty, making them ideal for anyone looking for the best Scotch whiskey.
- Island: If you’ve tasted Islay whisky, then you’re likely to confuse it with whiskies produced in the islands of Scotland. The two whiskies are almost similar but only differ in strength. Island whiskies are milder than Islay whisky.
Choose your whisky by the sweetness
Whisky can be sweet in different ways. Some oak woods can bring vanilla and caramel notes in whisky, while some grains will impart fruity flavors. Once you understand your favorite whisky better, you can choose them depending on the different intricacies they come with.
If you’re looking for something more floral, Glen Moray is a perfect choice. Elijah Craig and Suntory Toki are the best for those looking for fruity sweetness. Edradour and Jura are some of the best brands you can find on the shelves for those looking for whisky with a lot of oak sweetness.
- Peat note: Peat is the most common flavor in most Scotch whisky, and you are likely to fall in love with it. This kind of flavor comes by when grains used in making whisky are dried on peat smoke. Most Islay scotch whiskies have this kind of sweetness.
- Spicy note: Whiskies get the spicy note from different things, just like sweet notes. Whiskies with peat notes can also have some spice in them. If you’re looking for the spiciest Scotch whisky as a beginner, you can start with those from Speyside. Some popular brands in this category include Dalmore, Dailuaine, and Glen Garioch.
It takes a lot to explore and find your favorite whisky. As a beginner, we recommend trying a couple of single malts and blended whiskies from different distillers before choosing the best one.
Choosing a special whisky means you must pay attention to age, color, taste, flavor, aroma, and most importantly, the origin. It means you have to get tipsy as you taste a variety of drinks your bartender has to offer. With this simple guide, you can always identify your ideal whisky and never look back again.