Women account for the fastest-growing segment of worldwide whiskey consumers, which means more of us are enjoying what had been traditionally seen as a male spirit. There’s something very powerful and commanding about stepping up to the bar and ordering a whiskey cocktail such as an Old Fashioned, Manhattan or Whiskey Sour. And those are great gateway drinks for the whiskey neophyte.
Even better is getting comfortable with ordering a straight glass of the spirit says Kurt Maitland, curator of Whiskey Selections. “I think everyone should find a whiskey that they like,” he says. “Having a knowledge of whiskey, what you like the taste of etc, is invaluable in social situations.”
Maitland suggests those new to whiskey order it neat to start so they can familiarize themselves with the flavor. You can always decide later if you want to add water or ice, but be picky when it comes to what kind of ice goes in your drink. “Many a cocktail or whiskey has been ruined by too much ice or the wrong kind of ice,” says Maitland. “You don’t want the little slivers of ice or the small cubes because they melt way too fast and leave you with a watery drink. You want a big cube, that will melt slowly and cool down your drink. If they don’t have “good” ice, a splash of water will help temper an unruly drink.”
If you’re game to start ordering whiskey but don’t know where to start, Maitland offers the following recommendations:
• Macallan 12: either the Fine Oak or the Sherry Cask.
• Balvenie Doublewood: This is the Balvenie that most bars will have, though keep an eye out for the Single Barrel release or the Caribbean Cask as they are worth tasting.
• Dewar’s 12 Year or White Label Dewars: Say hello to a staple. Most bars will have one of these two in house.
• Old Pulteney: Not every bar will have it but it’s worth trying if you can get it. It provides great value backed up by great taste.