How to Drink Your Whiskey
From my many years in retail at The Party Source, folks had always asked me for advice about
how to drink whiskey. They’ve just selected a terrific bottle for a gift, and they often asked “so,
how should my mother/father-in-law/uncle/great-grandma enjoy this whiskey?” And my
response—dare I say, the correct response from that position—was always,
Drink that whiskey any way you want, just buy it from me.
Ginger ale, Coke™, Big Ice, cocktails—do whatever you want to that whiskey, just choose mine!
All that said, there IS a way I like to drink my whiskey.
First off, I don’t drink it with ice. I drink plenty of whiskey cocktails with ice, but a glass of
“whiskey on the rocks,” never. I think the flavors of any whiskey show better without being
chilled. I offer a “chicken analogy”: what smells better, a roasted chicken from the oven, or the
refrigerator? Obviously, the non-chilled, fresh-roasted chicken is far more appealing (even
though you would happily gnaw on that cold chicken!). The fact is that chilling a substance,
whether whiskey or chicken, slows down its molecular activity and, in this case, the aromatic
availability or activity of the whiskey It smells better, and there are simply “more smells”
available, when it’s not chilled with ice. So, that’s step one: no ice.
Step two is, replace the ice, and its dilution factor, with a splash of water. The water serves to
soften the blow of the ethanol—which the ice does as well, but at the cost of muting the
aromas due to the chill factor. But moreover, the water causes the whiskey to “open up,”
revealing more and different aromas and flavors than what was present in the straight,
undiluted whiskey. This is particularly the case with a non-chill-filtered whiskey like all New Riff
products. The splash of water can really be quite dramatic in its impact, as some quite
distinctive flavors and aromas can be accessed or “liberated” through the water. I always feel
like I am leaving some flavors behind on the table if I don’t hit the glass with H 2 O.
Here’s what it looks like, and watch the oils swimming around in the glass as the water goes in:
People, that is Smoothness You Can See™! That doesn’t happen, or at least not so dramatically,
in a typical whiskey that has been chill-filtered, heavily diluted, and much of its essential oils,
fruity esters, and fatty acids removed or attenuated during the filtration. We don’t do that at
New Riff! All, ALL of the flavor, aroma, the color, the TEXTURE, the experience of the whiskey is
preserved from the barrel all the way to your liver glass. And isn’t that what we’re really here
for? A great whiskey experience? Isn’t that what all my customers at The Party Source were
looking for, a really satisfying whiskey experience for their loved one? We can enjoy that
experience every day, and never leave behind a drop of flavor, if we will just add a splash of
Finally, I do get the question, “Ok Jay, we’re adding water, but how much? When is enough
water, enough?” To which I can only say: it will take practice. Very, very much practice! Many
glasses of whiskey and water, over a lifetime. Any more, the way I do it at home is, I get a glass
of whiskey, I go to my refrigerator which has a little spigot inside that emits a chilled supply of
water, and I just hit the glass with what can only be described as a sploosh of water: and that’s
enough. But if you’d like some additional advice, we may learn from none other than Winston
Churchill, who wrote in his memoirs (emphasis mine):
We were stationed in the desert. The water was not fit to drink. To make it palatable, we had to add whiskey. By diligent effort, I learned to like it.
Dear whiskey drinkers, please do heed the advice of one of the world’s great leaders and
drinkers, and make a diligent effort to add whiskey to water. Your New Riff dram will never be