Today we are on the cusp of a golden age for whisk(e)y, as age-old artisanal distilling meets high-end scientific techniques to create high-quality products at a wide range of price points. Because whisk(e)y can be made anywhere, countries such as India, France and Australia are now producing excellent spirits that will only grow deeper and more complex as their inventory continues to age. Distillers are playing with unique grains such as triticale, red winter wheat and quinoa, as well as innovative barrel finishes from ex-sherry casks to re-toasted hogsheads that once housed Sauternes wines. It all adds up to more selections from more places, with no signs of slowing down. In short, it’s a good time to be a whisk(e)y lover.
How Do I Drink Whiskey Straight?
This is a trick question because there’s no wrong way to drink whiskey. It’s all about personal preference and enjoyment. But there are some guidelines to keep in mind when pouring yourself a dram. Many mass market whiskies like Jack Daniels are chill-filtered to remove impurities and ensure clarity (sometimes, when whiskey gets really cold then warms back up, it becomes cloudy without chill-filtration, which in no way affects the quality of the spirit). While there’s nothing wrong with this process, it removes fatty acids from the spirit, which help contribute to the flavor. If a whiskey is non chill-filtered, these fatty acids are left intact, meaning that adding a drop of water will help open up the spirit and bring new flavors to the surface. So with a small batch, unfiltered bottling (like Hudson Whiskey, for example), it makes sense to taste the spirit both as is and with a few drops of water. Of course, if you love your whiskey on ice, you should absolutely drink it chilled—even Anthony Bourdain says it’s okay.