A Beginners Guide To Drinking Whisk(e)y

We assume you've tried whisky before We'll even go so far as to assume that not only have you tried it, you've drunk enough to know what you like and don't like. We've put together a guide to drinking whiskey - with everything from where to start (ie - WHAT ARE YOU DRINKING), and how to do it. Ice/ no ice etc. Remember, as with all things to do with drinking, there is no 'right' way, but there are 'better' ways... you're never wrong, but you can be absolutely spot on sometimes.


Choose your whisk(e)y

This is the most obvious, and first step – but you’ve got to start somewhere.  Essentially you’ll be looking at American, Tasmanian, Canadian, or Scotch/Irish, so take your pick.

Scottish:  This is where the greats originate.  You want classic?  Start here.  Think Chivas Regal or Johnnie Walker for blended Scotch whiskies, look to Glenfiddich or Glenmorangie for Single Malts, and  Laphroig if you are searching for something peated and rich.  Our suggestion:  Glenfiddich 12YO

Irish: Jameson is the most well-known, and they have a great range.  Start with the Jameson Original – once you know a bit about what you like, you can move on and explore the rest of the range.

American:  The Yanks have their own style of whiskies – you’ll know them most broadly as Bourbon Whiskey, but they also do Rye Whiskey, Tennessee Whiskey and their range is HUGE.   We recommend: Makers Mark (for a Kentucky Straight Bourbon – you could also do Wild Turkey), Jack Daniels (Tennessee) and Bulleit or Knob Creek if you’re keen to start with Rye.

Tasmanian:  Tasmania has singlehandedly put Australia on the Whiskey map.  Actually, Bill Lark, founder of Lark distillery did when he won best Whiskey in the world in 2014.  Look out for whiskies from: Lark, Sullivan’s Cove, Nant and Overeem. 

Canadian:  Canadian Whiskey is always blended, and so is often lighter and smoother than other whiskey styles.  If want to ease in, start in Canada.  Everyone knows Canadian Club.  It’s easy to get, widely recognised and won’t hurt the wallet.  If you’re keen to try something a little different, you could always consider Gibson’s Finest Canadian Whiskey (owned by the Scottish family-operated whisky distillery William Grant and Sons).


Japan:  responsible for cult whiskies from the Yamazaki and Hakushu distilleries (both Suntory brands) among others.  These are xxy but exciting, if you can get hold of them. 

Margs:  you want local?  You’re speaking our language   Shoot for the best: Limeburners (Awarded Best Australian Single Malt 2017, and Best International Smoked Whiskey 2017).

Choose your vessel

If you don’t have specialty whiskey glasses at home, then at least make sure you are drinking from GLASS, not plastic, not ceramic, not wood… glass (crystal if possible).  Next: lowball.  Short.  A tumbler.  If you’ve got the choice between something OK, and something nice (eg glass VS crystal) go with the crystal everytime.  You’ll feel better, and it’s scientifically proven that drinks taste better from crystal.

Neat, water or ice?

Well this really is a preference thang.  We want to tell you to pour three glasses (equal pours, same vessel x 3) and try each method, so you can taste them all and make your mind up.  In a nutshell:

1.      If you use water, this should just be a drop or two.  Don’t put it under the tap, rather, dip your finger in a glass of water and hover it over your whiskey: one drop. Two. Three.  Whatever.  But DROPS, not pours. If you’ve got distilled water on hand, even better (you can be more liberal then).  The water helps to open up the aromas and flavours, without overly diluting it.

2.      Ice, or ‘on the rocks’.  Ensure you have good quality water frozen, because it will end up melting in your whiskey.  If it’s old ‘freezer-tasting’ ice, then your whiskey will taste like that.  Use your head.  The principle of ice in your whiskey is similar to the water trick above.  Consider that it will dilute the flavours of the whiskey more, as the ice melts.  The other thing ice affects is the temperature.  A drop in temperature is associated with a numbing of aromatics and flavour.  If you want to ease into things, we recommend ice.  But try to not let it sit so long in your glass that the ice totally melts…

3.      Lastly: neat.  As there are no additions to help soften the impact of the whiskey, this method is definitely the one that will take the most getting used to.  If you want to try it the way the distiller intended, this is it.

Get a great whisk(e)y from your local Baron

Our stores carry some great drams, Mt Hawthorn stocks over 100 whiskies in store (and counting) and Lesmurdie is fast becoming regarded as one of the Scotch whisky specialist stores within the co-operative.

Pop by your local store today!