Debunking 6 Common Myths About Whisky

Myths About Whisky

Whisky is a drink that comes with lots of preconceptions. To those who are new it can seem like a space with a thousand rules to follow, but in reality, it’s much simpler than it seems. This revered spirit has long been surrounded by a veil of myths and misconceptions, but it’s time to set the record straight.

Myth #1: Older Is Better

Even the uninitiated in the whisky world are familiar with the concept of aged whiskies and the common narrative is that they only get better with age. But that’s not always the case. Barrel-ageing is an essential part of creating a great whisky but it is possible to have too much of a good thing. If whisky is left to age for too long, it can result in it being ‘over-oaked’. This simply means that it’s spent too long in the barrel and absorbed too much of the woody flavour which can result in it being bitter. Unlike wine, whisky stops ageing when it’s removed from the barrel, so knowing just the right time to make the transfer is part of the magic that separates good whisky from great whisky. 

Myth #2: Darker Whisky Is Better Whisky

Adding colours or chemicals to whisky is usually a huge no-no for reputed distillers, so the rich amber tones that you get from a great whisky are entirely a result of the ageing process in wood casks. In the case of bourbon, it takes on a dark colour, usually because it’s aged for longer, but for other types of whisky, that rule doesn’t necessarily hold true. Because whisky regulations vary from country to country, there are some places where small amount of colouring can be used, which of course distorts your perception of how old it is. Additionally, more ageing doesn’t necessarily make it a better whisky, so the best choice is to stick with reputed distillers making quality bottles. 

Myths About Whisky

Myth #3: Single Is Better Than Blended

Single malts are whiskies made in a single distillery and are said to have a more uniform taste. On the other hand, blended whiskies are – as the name suggests – blended with other whiskies or flavours for a more diverse flavour profile. They’re often looked down on because, if not done right, the multiple flavours can clash and feel a bit discordant. But if done right, blended whisky is an art unto iself and can provide a completely unique and unparalleled drinking experience.

Myth #4: Sherry Aged Scotch Tastes Like Sherry

Now this one might seem confusing, because by all logical standards, whisky aged in casks that used to contain sherry, should be forgiven for tasting a bit like sherry. But that’s not the case, so if you’ve been avoiding them for this reason, maybe its time to rethink that. As with other aged whiskies, it’s the oak barrels themselves and not the sherry that dictates the flavour and they usually result in a subtle and refined finish, rather than a sweeter one as some might expect. 

Myths About Whisky

Myth #5: Whisky Should Be Had Neat

While it’s definitely true that some whiskies, especially ones that are aged well and designed for sipping, would shine best when sampled neat or at most over ice, it’s definitely not a rule for all. Many whiskies, especially blended ones are designed with multiple layers of flavour and intended to be mixed with soda or as part of a cocktail. There are even some like the Johnnie Walker Blonde Blended Scotch that are intended to be mixed with carbonated drinks and enjoyed as a long cocktail on a hot summer day.

Myth #6: Whisky Is An ‘Old Man Drink’

It’s true, whisky has developed a reputation as the drink of choice for older men (probably wearing jackets with elbow patches), but its appeal is quickly evolving. The magic of fine whisky is quickly becoming an open arena. Aside from the resurgence of classic cocktails like the whisky sour and the introduction of a whole host of new , innovative cocktail offerings at trendy bars around the world, there’s a distinct shift in the way whisky is approached overall. It’s no longer limited to any one type or occasion, it’s just there to be enjoyed.