Glass of whiskey on the rocks, isolated over white

“Hard a Port – Iceberg ahead!” | Blog #5

By far and away the most favoured way to drink whisky worldwide is over ice.

In much the same way that the Titanic, despite the best intentions of its captain, sailed on to inevitable destruction, so too do many stick to their firmly held beliefs about ice and if it’s good for whisky or not. So I ask for an open mind, full astern, and give yourself some breathing room to experiment with this foundation of whisky drinking.

Ice has been synonymous with whisky, and particularly Scotch, for a very long time. Golden whisky cascading down into a back-lit tumbler full of crystal clear ice cubes has been the marketing machine behind many a Scotch whisky campaign.

By far and away the most favoured way to drink whisky worldwide is over ice. This is regardless of the whisky category and includes all styles of Scotch, Rye, Bourbon etc.

Let me throw myself in front of the anti-ice campaigners bus by saying that when I’m on the deck with a warm summer sun shining down on me, I love a nice dram on the rocks. When we get into the Summer, I will be writing a follow-up on this blog with a few fun ways to enjoy “iced whisky”.

Ice does however really change any whisky that it comes into contact with.

The first and most obvious effect ice will have on the whisky is to chill it down. While this can bring a refreshing element, it also takes away flavour. The fastest way to take flavour away from most drinks is to chill them. Having spent a lot of time driving around Canada with whisky in my car I can vouch for the fact that at times my whisky bottles have been so cold that they almost tasted like vodka 🙂 So if your aim is to get as much flavour as you can out of the whisky, then ice will work against you.

Secondly, following on from Blog#4 on water, ice will melt and continue to dilute the whisky more and more. It is hard to maintain the perfect balance of whisky and water for your palate using ice. As soon as you have that balance, within a sip or two, it will be gone and potentially over watered.

If you have read my previous blogs then you know that I stand by my belief that you should enjoy your whisky in whatever form you enjoy most.

I do, however, want to challenge you to not always drink your whisky the same way or for that matter, to always drink the same whisky. The very essence of why whisky is so awesome is its diversity. Don’t lock yourself into only one way of thinking and break out of your self-enforced favourite zone now and again. You never know what you might find around the corner that could conceivably blow your ‘favourite’ out of the water and leave you wondering why you didn’t branch out years ago.

My goal with these blogs is to bring you on a journey into new and palate- expanding experiences while at the same time enjoying your whisky and having a lot of fun with it.

To that end I can be at times seen as at odds with traditionally held “whisky geek” views although I am a self confessed member of that club.

Write in the comments and let me know if you are a closet ice user or have always preferred a cube or more with your dram.

Try a little dram homework: Pour two drams and use ice in one and just room temperature water in the other. How is each dram affected? Which do you prefer? To be truly comparative, firstly grab as many cubes as you normally would pour your dram over and put them into a glass to melt. Figure out the volume of water then add that slowly to the second dram till its perfect (how much is left?). Then pour the rest in and note the result. Lots of fun to be had here really figuring out how this all affects your whisky.

My blog next week is a review on one of my favourite drams Amrut Fusion.

Until then,

“na zdrowie”

Jonathan Bray

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