So, you're trying to get into whiskey appreciation. Good on you. After all, who doesn't sometimes picture themselves in a luxurious robe, seated on a leather wingback chair, surrounded by mahogany and rare books, and sipping a fine glass of whiskey neat? It's the image that comes to mind when one thinks of "whiskey connoisseur."
It's a pleasant daydream to have. The only problem is, you don't know what whiskey neat is. Don't worry—we're here to help. Are you ready? Here goes.
It's just whiskey, plain: no ice, no Vanilla Coke, no cocktail umbrella, nothing. Usually, whiskey neat is two ounces of not-chilled whiskey poured straight into a neat glass. It's whiskey in its purest form.
"Neat" is not to be confused with "NEET," by the way, which stands for "Not in employment, education, or training"—which, if you're here during the weekdays reading blogs about how to drink alcohol, might just be you...
But we digress. Back to the drink: a neat glass is a small cocktail glass similar to a snifter. While there is different glassware for whiskey nerds, we won't get into all that now. Think of a highball glass combined with a wine glass—short, often with a small stem and a flared rim to allow the aroma to hit your nostrils.
If you don't have access to a neat glass, you can make do with a rocks glass, shot glass, snifter, Glencairn glass, or a copita. Just maybe not an old 7-11 Big Gulp cup.
The presentation of whiskey neat is similar to a shot, but it's meant to be sniffed, sipped, and fully appreciated rather than fired down the hatch in multiples in rapid succession. In fact, when judging great whiskey, neat is seen as the way to drink the spirit to get a sense of its authentic flavor best.
A neat pour is a whiskey served in a small amount, usually just a few sips worth. Overpouring can overwhelm the senses and is a common mistake, so ask your bartender to show a little restraint. Don't sweat if you're a few drops away from the ideal 1.5-2 ounce pour.
If you want to look like a true whiskey veteran, follow the proper technique when you drink whiskey neat. Relax, and observe the color and texture of the spirit. Bring the cocktail glass to your nose for a deep sniff. If the alcohol aroma takes you by surprise, try not to look like you caught a whiff of old diapers—remember, we're going fordignification here.
Once you've had a chance to appreciate the scent, it's time for the moment you've been waiting for: the sip. We probably don't need to tell you how exactly to do that, so just do it. Sip.
That's sip, not chug—this isn't a one-gulp challenge! Depending on the alcohol content of the whiskey, you may feel a subtle burning sensation. Don't worry; you'll come to appreciate that sweet, complex burn after tasting some of the best whiskey. Let the liquid sit in your mouth and swish it around to give your taste buds a full sense of its flavors.
Some people like to add a few drops of water to their whiskey to release the aromas and taste further. Don't worry; that still counts as "neat" in our books. Drinking whiskey neat is all about letting the spirit's best qualities stand out, so you can enjoy it the most, so however you like to drink your favorite whiskey, go right ahead.
So, you've researched and decided that whiskey neat isn't for you. That's perfectly fine. Maybe someday you'll grow up and come to your senses, though.
We're kidding. Everyone's palate is different, so drinking whiskey neat isn't always for everyone. Don't let some tweed-wearing snob named Lachlan MacHoolihan look down at you for diluting your Scotch whiskey by adding ice or a little water. It's a valid preference. Maybe stop short of mixing that 15-year-old Macallan with diet ginger ale.
A similar way of drinking whiskey to neat is "straight up" or "up." They're commonly confused, so understanding the difference is a great way to show off your whiskey IQ.
Whiskey served straight up is the same as it is served neat, except chilled—usually by shaking it with ice and straining it into the glass. The difference comes down to your preference for temperature. It's a common method of cooling the liquid in whiskey cocktails, such as the Manhattan or whiskey sour.
Moving along, we've got whiskey on the rocks, referring to whiskey poured over ice. Now that you know that rocks mean ice, you can avoid looking like a fool by asking for "on the rocks with no ice." Your marriage can be that way, but your drink order indeed can't.
A rocks serving chills the drink but also dilutes it somewhat. A couple of drops of water won't drastically change the taste, but remember that the more the ice cubes melt, the more dilute the whiskey will become.
Once you've chosen your manner of preparation, it's time to focus on flourishes. Ordering your whiskey "with a twist" tells the bartender you'd like a citrus garnish. Usually, that's a spiral of lemon zest which the bartender will place on the rim of the glass. It doesn't change the flavor much but contributes to the atmosphere. After all, your drink should have a great vibe, so if lemon is your thing, fly at it.
Whiskey has a long and diverse history dating back hundreds of years—possibly even a thousand. Today, there are many different whiskeys, depending on the production method and the country of origin.
Scotch whisky and Irish whiskey are two of the most famous types, made in—you guessed it—Scotland and Ireland. The spelling "-ey" and "-y" varies, depending on who's doing the spelling.
Besides these two kinds of whiskey, rye whiskey, a common product of Canadian distilleries, and bourbon made exclusively in America (although it's strongly associated with the South).
Japan is also a new heavyweight contender in the whiskey arena, with Japanese whiskey receiving praise for its often unique flavor profile and great quality. It's based on Scotch whiskey, so fans of either may be fans of both.
Whether you're drinking the finest Irish whiskey straight or mixing up one of your favorite classic cocktails, do it in style. AtFamous in Real Life, we've got a collection of great drinking apparel that pairs beautifully with any manner of spirits and cocktails.Call us old fashioned, but we think it's important to dress for the occasion!