Ways To Elevate Your Whisky Drinks

By: Faria Ferdous Ellesson

whisky drinks

You’ll find many different opinions on how whisky (or whiskey) is best served, but there is no right or wrong way to drink it – it all depends on what you prefer. Each to our own. Whether we’re being purist or playful with our whiskies, there are many ways to enjoy this wonderful drink. Our resident whisky expert, Kirsty Thomson, has some top insider tips to elevate your whisky experiences. From simple suggestions like changing your ice cubes and choosing new barware, to sophisticated tasting parties and delicious food pairings, we’re here to help you get the most out of your whisky.

1. Keep it neat and simple

Level of effort: Effortless

Neat whisky is served without any mixer, additional flavour, or dilution. The best way to experience it neat is to pour a 50ml dram of whisky at room temperature, straight from the bottle into a rocks glass or Glencairn glass which are “designed to enhance and enrich your whisky nosing and tasting experience”. Neat whisky is supposed to be sipped slowly, allowing you to appreciate the nuances and savour its unique flavours. To dive in deeper, keep detailed tasting notes, observing the whisky’s appearance, aromas and mouthfeel, as well as the progression of flavours. You’ll be on your way to becoming an expert yourself.

“As drinking neat whisky starts at a minimum 40% ABV, it takes a short time for the palate to open up. Start by initially nosing the aromas before taking a sip, and then hold on the palate before tasting again. You’ll discover more each time.”

2. On the rocks, or with a few drops 

Level of effort: Easy

Many whisky lovers enjoy a dram over ice or add a few drops of water to allow the whisky to open and for further aromas and flavours to come through. One way to level up your on-the-rocks experience is to create speciality ice cubes infused with citrus, bitters, or even floral garnishes. While these elevated ice cubes require some prep work, they make a great addition to your whisky.

whisky on the rocks

“Scientifically, when you add water to whisky it slightly increases in temperature to allow the aromas and flavours to be released. Adding ice to whisky technically suppresses the aromas and flavours, but during summer and in warmer climates, there’s nothing I enjoy more than a dram on the rocks. The more ice you have, the less it dilutes and the longer your drink stays cold. As I like to say, ‘Ice keeps things nice’.”

3. Mix it up with other flavours 

Level of effort: Easy

Whisky’s versatility allows it to play well with others, including a variety of mixers. When you want a simple way to switch up your whisky drinks, look no further than staples you'll probably already have in your kitchen. Club soda, ginger ale, and cola are all classic whisky mixers that add a touch of effervescence. For more advanced flavours, try grapefruit juice, a few drops of aromatic bitters, or vermouth (sweet is recommended, but dry works too) which all add pleasing complexity. Or if you’re looking for a winter warmer, try adding hot apple cider or coffee.

“My favourite whisky mixer pairings are, in no particular order, Lagavulin and cola, Johnnie and ginger, Talisker hot chocolate, Singleton and cucumber tonic. Try them and see what you think.”

4. Back in time with classic cocktails

Level of effort: Medium to high, depending on the cocktail

Classic whisky cocktails have been revered for hundreds of years. While all good cocktails require a little effort to get the right balance of flavours, some are simpler than others. An Old Fashioned, which can be dated back to 1806, is traditionally made with Angostura bitters and garnished with an orange twist, but you can always add your own spin on an old classic.

whisky cocktails

“I love to experiment with bitters. The Singelton 18 pairs wonderfully with desserts, so I like to opt for chocolate bitters and garnish with toasted rosemary for a luxurious, warming winter serve.”

5. Pair it with complementary food 

Level of effort: Medium

Many experts rely on food pairings to enhance their whisky tasting experience, either by refreshing their palates between sips, or by elevating the whisky’s natural flavours with complementary foods, both savoury and sweet. The Singleton goes classically with rich, luxurious desserts, but if you want to be even more specific, we can break it down further: The Singleton 12 pairs well with fruit, hazelnuts and raisins thanks to its notes of soft brown sugar and espresso; whereas The Singleton 15 is bursting with notes of rich red berries, plum and stewed fruit, which contrast wonderfully against a bar of delicious dark ginger chocolate; and finally, The Singleton 18 is a lovely accompaniment to a luxurious truffle or coconut macaroon, which bring out its notes of tropical fruit.

“As a maritime malt, Talisker goes beautifully with oysters, but one of my top pairings is Lagavulin and blue cheese. You’ll know why, once you’ve tried it.”

6. Make a home whisky bar

Level of effort: High

Setting up a home whisky bar is a next-level move for those who love whisky and want to create a space where you can explore, relax, create and share memorable experiences. The first step is to stock your collection with a few bottles to represent various styles and regions, including a mix of single malts, blended whiskies, bourbons, and ryes. As your collection grows, you might consider adding rare or limited-edition releases.

whisky bar

You’ll also want to invest in a selection of whisky glassware, including Glencairn glasses, which are designed to concentrate and funnel the aromas of the whisky toward the nose, allowing you to fully appreciate the nuances of the spirit. Specialised accessories such as whisky stones (designed to cool your drink without diluting it) and water droppers will bring your whisky tasting up a notch.

6. Throw a tasting party

Level of effort: Expert

Whisky is always better with friends. Try hosting a tasting party with a variety of bottles to tackle some of the age-old debates, from peated versus unpeated, to single malt versus blended, or Speyside versus Highland (or any other regional battle for that matter). Make sure you’ve got the proper glassware, offer water between tastings to cleanse the palate, and as a little favour, give your guests tasting notebooks that they keep beyond the party.

7. Whisky infusions

Level of effort: Master

Whisky infusions have gained popularity in recent years as a creative way to find new flavours. By infusing whisky with ingredients such as fruits, spices, herbs, or even other types of alcohol, you can create unique and personalised drinks. Creating a whisky infusion puts you firmly in control, letting you create a one-of-a-kind whisky, whether neat, on the rocks, or in a cocktail.

whisky infusion

While the process of infusing whisky is actually quite simple (choosing an ingredient, pouring whisky over it in a glass container, and letting it sit in a cool, dark place for days or weeks) it can require some experimentation to get the balance of flavours right.

Whether you're a whisky connoisseur or an adventurous novice, getting into whisky infusion is sure to get attention.

At the end of it all
Whisky offers endless opportunities to celebrate complex flavours and aromas. From making a simple drink at the end of the day, to unlocking a whole world of sensory experiences that draw on history and tradition, serving whisky is endlessly rewarding.

This content is not available in your location