Scotch Whisky – What a First Timer Should Know

If you’ve ever wanted to get started learning and exploring the world of Scotch whisky, you may have found yourself more than a little overwhelmed by everything you need to know. Scotch whisky is a nuanced beverage, and it takes some time to truly understand all the ins and outs of drinking it. However, everyone has to start somewhere, and there’s no time like the present when you’re interested in getting started with a new alcoholic favorite. In this article, we’ll walk you through everything a beginner should know about enjoying Scotch whisky to its fullest.

A brief history
You may not ever have stopped to think about the history of Scotch whisky, where it came from, or how it became so widely associated with class and prestige, but the history of this drink is actually quite interesting. The earliest mention on record of Scotch whisky dates back to 1494, where it was referred to as “water of life.” This recorded mention leads scholars and historians to believe the whisky distillation process had already been created by this time, since it seems Scotch whisky was being produced in fairly large quantities in the 1400s.

Scotch whisky led a fairly normal existence up until the mid-1600s, when it was first taxed. This led to a widespread increase of illegal distilleries producing whisky and selling it for high prices under the table, so to speak. It wasn’t until 1823 that this taxation was somewhat removed, although it remained in place with lesser consequences and lighter laws after this time, as well. It was at this time that Scotch whisky became a little easier to come by and it really started to take off in its popularity around the world.

The worldwide phenomenon of Scotch whisky was finally sealed when, in 1880, French vineyards were almost entirely wiped out by an insect infestation. Scotch whisky was poised to take over and, for a long time, it remained the most popular alcoholic beverage on the market, until wine regained its footing some years later.

How to drink Scotch whisky
In order to understand how to drink Scotch whisky, you first must know how to order it. While there are many ways to express what you want when you go to a bar or lounge, the proper way to order Scotch is to ask for a dram. A dram specifically refers to an eighth of an ounce of Scotch whisky, but in most places today, it refers to an ounce instead. It can be more or less used to describe a glass of whisky, even though this was not the original meaning of the term.

You may have seen people in movies ordering Scotch “on the rocks.” This, of course, refers to having it with a couple of ice cubes in the glass, and it’s generally frowned upon by those who are very deeply involved in the world of Scotch whisky appreciation. However, if you’re new to drinking whisky, it’s definitely a good idea to order it with some ice cubes. This will help cut the flavor and will also cool down the drink. In short, it will be easier for you to enjoy it as you get used to the flavor and well-known “burn” that this type of whisky offers. Take note that, if you have the choice, using a ball of ice is a better option than a cube, as it won’t melt as fast.

The next step is to “nose” the Scotch. This means waving it gently in front of your nose and breathing in to smell the aromas of the drink. This can take some practice to get it right, but it’s crucial to truly enjoying the flavor of the whisky you’ll be drinking. You should do this a few times in order to prepare your taste buds for the experience to come.

Finally, take a sip and move it around your mouth before swallowing it. This will give your whole taste palate a chance to experience the drink and understand the complex flavors behind it. If you like it, then keep going!

How to buy Scotch whisky
Many people assume the most expensive bottle of whisky is the best. This might be true, but aged whisky (which generally runs the priciest) has a much bolder and stronger flavor that young whisky, and it’s likely to turn you off from drinking Scotch ever again. Because of this, you should stick to something a little more “mainstream” for your first few drams—and no one is going to look down on you for that.

You probably, however, don’t want to start with the cheapest bottle in the store either. Stick to something in the middle ground when it comes to prices, and you’ll be more likely to be pleased with he results. Go with Scotch whisky that doesn’t contain peat if possible. This will make the flavor much less harsh and will cut the burn of the whisky significantly without you ever having to put in any ice, if you don’t want to.

This type of Scotch is a great way to introduce yourself to this beverage without overdoing it on the flavor. Once you work through your first bottle, you’ll be much more capable of moving forward in your pursuit of the world of whisky, and you’ll be happier with the experience, too.

As you can see, there are a lot of things you need to keep in mind when you’re trying to determine how to begin enjoying Scotch whisky. This can be a fun and exciting way to expand your alcoholic preferences and horizons, but it can also be intimidating, especially since there is a whole culture of ordering and imbibing surrounding whisky. If you have a more experienced friend, don’t hesitate to ask for advice and for a buddy to go with you to the lounge for your first dram. If not, however, keep our tips in mind and you’ll be well on your way to the best possible Scotch whisky experience in no time.

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