When we were but wee lads, the inexpensive but potent gin-juice combo was enough. We just wanted to get wasted.
Nowadays though, we want to get wasted and, you know, actually enjoy what we're drinking.
Enter whisky, that beautiful amber liquid that we used to dismiss as a dad-drink but now appreciate for its fine, intoxicating qualities. Like a beautiful woman, a bottle of good whisky inspires gladness in the hearts of men, and has the ability to turn any bad day around.
One of the finest we've had a taste of recently is this exquisite bottle here at a whisky-tasting event at Sage Restaurant in Shangri-La Plaza:
That, gentlemen, is a bottle of Chivas Regal 18, one of the world's leading ultra-premium Scotch whiskies.
The blend, formulated by Chivas Regal Master Blender Colin Scott, was launched 17 years ago. Scott wanted to offer a sophisticated, multi-layered luxury whisky that would truly offer the discerning whisky drinker something special. For their efforts, the Chivas 18 was recently awarded the Blended Scotch Whisky Trophy at the International Wine and Spirits Competition awards ceremony in London. This is what the panel had to say about it: "Wonderfully warming in the mouth. Rich in sherry characters with raisins and plum. Vanilla is prominent in long, well sustained finish. Delightful.”
Sounds too fancy? It does, but at the end of the day, it's a bottle of alcohol. You drink it, and you have fun. But if you're serious about graduating from chug-fests and you're feeling a bit gentlemanly, below are a few tips to get you into the world of whisky-drinking. There's no one right way to drink it, but here's how we've been enjoying ours.
1) It's okay to mix it...
Purists will scoff at the idea of whisky cocktails but pay them no mind, and drink what you deem to be enjoyable. For those that are just starting out with the drink, mixing coke with whisky softens the strong flavors of the alcohol. This goes especially well with a type of American whisky called bourbon, which is sweeter than Scotland-made Scotch whisky.
2) ...but it's way better if you don't
Sooner or later, you'll graduate from whisky cocktails, and actually learn to appreciate the whisky on its own.
Here are the ways:
- On the rocks - The ice makes it cooler on the tongue, and as it melts, makes the whisky more mellow.
- With water - Some whisky experts advise that putting a dash of water opens up the smell and flavor of the drink.
- Neat - Just the whisky. It's the purest way to experience the drink, and what we'd recommend if you're drinking a particularly expensive one.
There's also a semi hi-tech way where you use these "whisky stones" to cool your drink instead of ice so that the flavor isn't diluted:
Image via Gizmomagazine.com
3) Know your poison
Explore the different kinds of whiskies to find out what you like. There are several types:
- American whiskey - Aged for two years, and tastes sweeter than their European rivals. Jack Daniels is one example.
- Irish whiskey - Made in Ireland, and has a typically lighter flavor than Scotch. Jameson is one example.
- Scotch whisky - Made in Scotland, and is the most popular type. The Chivas Regal 18 is one example.
There are also two types of scotch: single malt and blended scotch. Single malts are made from one distillery, while blended scotch is a combination of any number of single malts. At the whisky tasting event, we got to taste some of the single-malts that comprise the Chivas 18. Each of them comes from a different region of Scotland, and has a different flavor.
4) Don't just pour it in a cup
Hey, if you're going for expensive whisky, you might as well get a nice glass to pour it in. Champagne glasses work well as it channels the smell of the whisky into your nose. But if that's too feminine, a short, chunky glass will do. Putting it in a plastic cup isn't advisable as the plastic's smell will mix with the whisky's.
Check out the glass we used:
5) Warm up your taste buds
The same way you warm up your muscles before you exercise, it's also advisable to wake up your taste buds before having a glass of whisky with some nuts or fruits. In other words: Don't forget the pulutan.
6) The three-step process
Don't just chug it.
First of all, it's expensive. Also: That's going to burn your throat. Give the whisky a swirl around the glass, and give it a good sniff like connoisseurs do with their wine. Let the aroma linger a little. Now, take a sip—not a chug—and let your tongue soak it in, and enjoy the flavors. Now, swallow. If the whisky's any good, it will leave you with a lasting, distinct finish.
Lastly, don't hog it all for yourself. If there's something that whisky shares with gin-juice it's this: It's more fun with the buds!
"Tama ka riyan, FHM. Tama ka riyan."