If you’re just getting into whiskey, it can be intimidating to go into a bar and order something new. Whiskey—not unlike wine—is steeped in tradition, and there’s so much to learn, from the way it’s made to all the minute differences between scotch, bourbon and everything in between. But there are even a few easy ways to look like you know what you’re doing the next time you order. Here, six ways to fake your way to pro whiskey status.
Learn a Few Key Whiskey Words
You don’t need to know everything about whiskey to hold a decent conversation about it at your local bar. By familiarizing yourself with some key terminology, you’ll already be ahead of the curve when it comes to whiskey knowledge. Here are a few helpful phrases to know:
- Mash bill: This refers to the mix of grains used to make whiskey—essentially, a recipe—and most often refers to American whiskeys like bourbon and rye. Bourbon must contain at least 51 percent corn in its mashbill, and rye whiskey must contain at least 51 percent rye grain.
- The difference between whiskey and whisky: If you’ve ever seen whiskey referred to as “whisk(e)y” before, you may have wondered what the hell it meant. Well, it’s relatively simple: Scotch, Japanese and Canadian whisky are spelled without an “e.” Everything else (for the most part) gets an e.
- Bottled-in-bond: Occasionally you’ll see “bottled-in-bond” on the label of a bottle of bourbon or rye. It references the Bottled-in-Bond Act of 1897 and is a sign of quality through government oversight. It also requires a whiskey to be 100 proof.If you spot this on the label, don’t hesitate to snatch it up.