Scotch Whisky isn’t just a beverage for consumption; it’s an experience that must be savoured. As with all expensive spirits, the effort and patience that goes into the production of scotch results into a taste that shouldn’t just be glugged down—it should be tasted and mustered to its fullest extent!

Scotch embodies a complex and full-bodied taste that must be consumed in specific conditions to be fully appreciated. While you can consume this particular spirit in any way you prefer, beginners are more likely to appreciate this spirit’s flavours if consumed in a very particular way.

Here are four things that you need to know to enjoy your first swig of Scotch Whisky:

  1. It is consumed in drams

Technically speaking, a dram of whisky is about 4 mL, which will feel roughly like a small splash in your mouth when consumed straight. For absolute beginners, we recommend starting with a single dram just to get a taste of the spirit without getting too overwhelmed.

Unfortunately, many people today tend to forego this distinction and just give you a full ounce—which is roughly 30 mL. If this happens to you, just take a measured sip of your scotch from time to time. Don’t try to drink it straight in one swig, as the spirit will just burn the back of your throat, leaving you unable to taste the flavours of this wold-class marvel. 

  1. It is best served in glencairn glasses

Glencairn or a tulip-shaped glasses have a bulbous body and a slightly narrower lip in terms of diameter, which serves to capture the aroma of the scotch. If a tulip glass is not available, you can use a wine glass or a lowball glass instead. 

  1. Use large ice balls or none at all

Traditionally, Scotch Whisky is served at room temperature with a side of spring water. That being said, if you prefer cold Whisky, we suggest using a large ice ball or King Cube that will fit your glass.

A larger ball of ice will keep your drink cold for longer without diluting it immediately. If you only have ice cubes, fill your glass with as many cubes you can find to keep them from melting before you drink your scotch. While the size may not play a big factor in the temperature of your drink, having your ice melt into your scotch will make for an incredibly poor and watered-down experience when you drink it!

  1. There’s a “proper” way of tasting Scotch Whisky for the first time

In truth, Scotch Whisky can be a bit of an acquired taste. Many first-time scotch drinkers complain about the drink being too harsh. If this is your first time, we encourage you to take a few sips first to see if you like it.

One way to fully appreciate scotch is to let it linger in your mouth and swish it between your teeth for a while—much like it is with wine tasting. Many drinkers find that this reveals interesting flavour notes, such as caramel and vanilla, depending on the specific whisky that you’re tasting.

If the scotch is still too strong for your taste, you can take a few sips of water—if you’re drinking it in room temperature—or let the scotch whisky sit on ice and dilute it a bit further to suit your palate. As time goes on, you’ll develop a stronger palate and may avoid ice or water altogether.

Conclusion

If you’ve tasted scotch before and have been disappointed with the experience, then you may have been taking on the wrong approach! While it is, in fact, an acquired taste, experiencing this spirit entails a process that goes beyond merely gulping the beverage. Just follow these four steps to unravel the complex flavours and aroma of this legendary spirit!

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