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#ThirstyThursdays: Cheat sheet on how to enjoy whisky

Image: 123RF/Wavebreak Media Ltd

On the third Saturday of May, whiskey lovers unite to enjoy the special day set apart for them. And according to the official site of World Whiskey Day anyone can join in on the party however they like.

And if you cant wait for Saturday, you will be happy to know that the annual Whiskey Live Celebration will kick off tonight!

Not quite clued up on whether you should have your whiskey on the rocks, mixed or with a dash of water? Well, we've got you covered.




Golden brown, with a hint of expensive

Why do we care?

With World Whiskey Day coming May 19 its best you prepare your FOMO.

What are some of the erroneous ways we have imbibed our whiskey?

The owner of premium drinks company Truman & Orange, Rowan Leibbrandt, has stated that there is no "right" way to enjoy whiskey. You might want to know how to spell it; if you are drinking a whiskey spelt with an 'e' it's Scottish but a whisky spelt without an 'e' is either Irish or American.

Can I dash my whiskey?

According to Glenlivet Brand Ambassador, Isaac Pooe, Whiskey already has flavour due to the ageing process. So, when you add mixers you're adding strong flavours to a subtle flavour. So avoid strong flavoured mixers if you do not know the original notes of the whiskey, which the mixer, if it has the same notes, can help enhance.

Am I breaking any rules if I have a whiskey cocktail?

Not necessarily-let's look at gin. When making a gin cocktail they use botanicals like juniper or citrus peels and keep to the same rule when adding a garnish. So essentially you would need ingredients that would help the flavours come alive.

What about adding water or ice, which one is the best?

Water is the best way to enjoy your whiskey, regardless of whether you use tap or bottled water. The science behind this is that water is an H2O and alcohol is a hydroxide known as OH− which means that when you add water to whiskey it allows the aromas to come out and releases all the wonderful flavours. This also helps minimise that burning effect when you drink it.

So should I shun all my friends who use ice?

Not really, but what ice does to whiskey is that it kills its aroma. Whiskey connoisseurs call this killing your whiskey.

Oh no! How do I bring it back to life?

Keep calm and wait for the ice to melt.

I've seen people swirl wine around me and it always makes me feel left out, should I do the same thing with whiskey?

On average, wine contains more alcohol than whiskey. You will also find that whiskey contains more ethanol than wine so if you swirl it around and stick your nose in the glass all you're going to smell is the ethanol.

OK then how do I appreciate a good glass of whiskey?

You can lift the glass up to the light or a white backdrop to look at how red, brown or gold the colour is. And then you want to swirl and then observe the sides of the glass. You will notice streams of liquid going down. These the little streaks on the sides are called legs (and also called tears) to check the viscosity (how quickly the whiskey runs down) and the complexity of the whiskey. The thicker and slow your whiskey runs, the higher its alcohol content.

Enough chit chat, when do I down the good stuff?

You don't want to shoot it down your throat like a tequila, that's just going to make it burn. What you want to do is hold it on your tongue and coat your mouth so that every bit of it picks up the flavours.

Will this help me know if I'm drinking a bad or good whiskey?

A good whiskey's flavour will linger in your mouth and you will still taste the flavours but a bad whiskey won't even leave an after taste.

The Pretoria Whisky Live Celebration kicks off from 17 – 19 May at Menlyn Park Shopping Centre

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