Founder, president and CEO of The Scotch Malt Whisky Society, Alan Shayne is undeniably an expert on the golden liquid. When trying a whisky for the first time, he suggested the following: pour the liquid into a short, clear glass tumbler and hold it up to the light to look at the color. Then breathe in deeply, concentrating on the flavors one can pick up. Add filtered water to open up the flavors. Each person’s water–to-whisky ratio is different. You know you’ve found the right balance when there is no longer any alcohol burn as you sip. When you’re ready to taste, take a sip and swirl it slowly around in your mouth, giving the nuanced flavors time to register. Then swallow and breathe deeply, again taking note of the taste and feel.
Four Roses Single Barrel Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
This woodsy bourbon cloaked with smoky undertones tastes like a celebration.
Templeton Rye Small Batch Rye Whiskey
Light and smooth, this whiskey has a mellow yet complex flavor with a clean, spicy finish that conjures up prohibition-era sepia sunsets and, if you chose to use it as a mixer, would make a darned-good Old Fashioned.
Bernheim Original Small Batch Kentucky Straight Wheat Whiskey
You can taste the wheat in this beautifully bottled, award-winning concoction. Sweet on the nose and in the mouth, it has a rich, even flavor that finishes with delicious honey and almond essences.
This lighthearted newcomer is full of sweet maple flavor and is great for beginners who want to try drinking whiskey neat, but haven’t yet developed their palates.
True whisky enthusiasts might consider a membership to The Scotch Malt Whisky Society, which allows one to purchase exclusive bottlings from over 120 distilleries. All their whisky comes from rare single casks and limited editions that, once drunk are gone forever. For more information visit SMWSA.com.
Whiskey vs. Whisky
According to Grammarist.com, the difference between whiskey and whisky is simple but important: Whisky usually denotes Scotch whisky and Scotch-inspired beverages, and whiskey denotes the Irish and American beverages. The word itself (both spellings) is of Celtic origin, and modern whisky/whiskey distillation practices originated in Ireland and Scotland. Using whiskey to refer to Scotch whisky can get you in big trouble in Scotland.
By Abby Hoeffner • Photography by Jessica Larson • Originally published in the April 2013 issue of Living Magazine.