man holding glass

A Beginners Guide to Whisky

Getting into the world of whisky can be a complex business. One thing that becomes rapidly apparent is how much information there is out there on the subject. Types of whisky, distilleries, body, nose, finish. It can all be a little confusing to those just beginning their journey into enjoying the wonderful world of whisky. Once you start to get familiar with the terminology and the tastes, it is a journey that you will enjoy for the rest of your days. Have a look at our guide to those just starting off and you never know, you might just pick up a few handy tips along the way.

Knowing the Different Types

Whisky is the generic term given to distilled spirits made from grain mash. Bourbon, Rye and Scotch are a type of whisky and they are all similar in taste and appearance. The difference between the types of whisky depend on the types of grain used, the location in which it was distilled, the length of ageing and the type of casks used in the process. If you’re a beginner Whisky drinker, we suggest you start with something light and easy on the palate such as Bains, Grouse or Jameson.

Knowing the Different Kinds

glass whiskey with ice cubes
  • Single Malt – Single malt whisky is made from mixing whisky all distilled at the same distillery, the age being the age of the youngest whisky added. This is the most common type of whisky you will encounter.
  • Single Cask – Single cask whisky is bottled entirely from a single cask. This whisky is typically only found from smaller distilleries or as novelty/high-end lines from some of the major ones.
  • Blended Whisky – Blended whisky is made by blending together whisky of the same main type. Some companies, such as Johnnie Walker who are premium, only make blended whisky. They don’t distil any of their own spirits, instead choosing whisky from other distilleries with specific traits to mix and blend into a new drink.

Knowing How to Drink It

  • Drink it straight or neat – This is because by drinking whisky neat, you can taste the whisky in its true, natural form with all the original distillery characteristics and flavours from the cask in which it’s been maturing.
  • Drink it on the rocks – To help lessen the punch, simply add a few blocks of ice. Rather than enhancing flavours, the ice inhibits them as it brings down the temperature of the whisky quite rapidly. This is a preferred option if you want to tone down the taste of alcohol or are still acquiring the taste of whisky.
  • Drink it with water – By adding a few drops of water to a whisky, you can open up different, new and subtle flavours. By adding some water, this dilutes the alcohol and reduces its effect, giving both the prominent and more subtle flavours a chance to shine.