How to Drink Whiskey Neat
A pro move, let's check out why people choose to drink whiskey neat over straight up and on the rocks.
We all know that whiskey is a popular drink, but why do people drink it neat? This article will explore the history and the different types of whiskey. Some people love a good Old Fashioned, some love Jack & Coke's, but we're not here for that. We're here to talk about how to drink whiskey neat.
Whiskey usually has an alcohol content of 40% or more and is typically made from a fermented cereal grain mash (barley, corn, rye, wheat, etc.). No doubt, Whiskey comes in many varieties. In fact, some distilleries even use millet, oats, rice and other grains.
The process for making this drink originated in Ireland and Scotland, where it was used as a way to preserve excess barley during winter months when brewing beer wasn't possible due to colder temperatures.
Table of Contents
- History of Whiskey
- What Makes Whiskey Neat?
- What is the Best Whiskey to Drink Neat?
- How Do You Drink Whiskey Neat?
A Brief History of Whiskey
There are many theories as to why whiskey is called "whiskey" but the most popular one has to do with Irish immigrants who came to America. Along with their Irish-Style Ales, they brought along their drink of choice which became known as "whiskey" because it was known for being made in Ireland and Scotland where they speak mainly Gaelic languages.
What are the different types of whiskey?
You can find a wide variety of whiskey types in the market, but there are two major categories: American and Irish.
American Whiskey is distilled from fermented grain mash with most brands being rye-based or corn-based. The main characteristics you will taste when drinking this whiskey include vanilla, caramel, citrus fruits and oakiness. It has to be aged for at least three years before it becomes available on the consumer markets. Some examples of popular American whiskeys are Jack Daniels Tennessee Rye Whiskey; Jim Beam Kentucky Straight Bourbon (Uncut & Unfiltered); Maker's Mark 46; Woodford Reserve Distiller’s Select, etc..
What is Irish Whiskey Made From?
Irish whiskey is made from a barley-based grain and it is distilled three times. The Irish use a pot still for their distillation which can result in a smoother flavour than the American-style of using a column still. It has to be aged for at least three years before it becomes available on the consumer markets.
Some examples of popular Irish whiskeys are Jameson Distillery Original Irish Whiskey; Bushmills Original; Tullamore Dew Pure Pot Still; Paddy's Irish Whiskey, etc..
What is American Whiskey Made From?
Stop by a liquor store and you might find a whole wall of whiskey. But if you're trying to buy whiskey from America, it's not that simple. American whiskey is made from a lot of different types of grains, including corn, barley, rye, wheat, and oats. In the past, American whiskeys were also made from rye and other grains like rice.
The main characteristics of American whiskeys are vanilla, caramel, citrus fruits and oakiness. These different flavors come from the usage of rye or corn as the base rather than barley. Examples of American whiskey include Jack Daniels, Jim Beam, Maker's Mark, Bulleit, etc..
What makes Whiskey "Neat"?
In order for whiskey to be considered straight or neat, it must not have any additives added before consumption such as water or ice cubes.
What is the Best Whiskey to Drink Neat?
We're big fans of bourbon, that is, when we aren't drinking craft beer. Bourbon is a great starter whiskey as it tends to land on the sweeter side of your taste buds.
How Do You Drink Whiskey Neat?
You're going to want a lowball glass for an optimal tasting experience. Either yourself or a professional bartender should go straight from the bottle to the glass with the liquid. If you're pouring, 1-2 shots (1.5-3oz) will do. A standard pour of liquor is 1.5oz (hint - you'll get ~17 shots in a fifth of alcohol), but you're probably freehanding the pour and that's ok.
A pro bartender is going to pour you ~2oz worth of whiskey when you ordered it neat. So you know, a shot or neat pour of whiskey will be served to you at room temperature.
Other Ways to Drink Whiskey
Most drinkers know that there are a few other ways to drink whiskey, including on the rocks, straight up, and as part of cocktail, such as a Classic Old Fashioned, Irish Coffe, Bourbon Sidecar, Manhattan, Sazerac along with many, many others. Whiskey Sours are also on the list of classic cocktails that malt whisky can help create.
Let's get back to on the rocks. Adding ice to distilled spirits, whether they are single malt or blended, top-shelf or well, cocktail glass or solo cup, will cause a dilution in the strength of your spirit. Even a few drops of water will affect the alcohol content (ABV) your favorite whiskey. That doesn't mean it's a bad thing, not at all. It's just a matter of preference.
Maybe you find that your favorite whisky really blossoms when you add a few drops of water. Or, you're simply looking to cut a high-proof, cask-strength whiskey down a bit. Actually, we aren't sure why you would, but to each their own.