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The Gentleman’s Whiskey Primer

Whiskey is one of the most popular drinks in the world. It quickly became the main drink of choice in England and Ireland. Created in the 1400’s this distilled drink was first known as a medicinal substance. Whiskey has always been a popular choice among gentlemen for centuries including men like George Washington, Winston Churchill, and Mark Twain.

When we hear the word whiskey, most of our minds are stirred with the picture of a manly gentleman wearing a smoking jacket, relaxed in an overstuffed chair, sitting my a well lit fire place with a glass of whiskey in his hand. In this article, we won’t be wearing a smoking jacket or sitting next to a roaring fire, but we will discuss how you can find your favorite whiskey and enjoy it.

Before you end up running off to the local store to purchase a bottle of whiskey there are a few important things to consider. If you don’t know what you’re doing, you will end up spending a lot of money and never appreciate what whiskey was intended for. The great benefit to trying whiskey is that there is a large selection of high-quality whiskies that are available.

In the world of whiskey there are several terms such as single malt, rye whiskey, blended whiskey, which really means nothing to you unless you’re already a man of this particular spirit. One of the simplest ways to understand whiskey is by its nationality or origin. Please understand that this will help lay a foundation for you.

American Whiskey: American whiskies must be distilled in    America and aged in barrels in order to be labeled as whiskey. This will usually take about two years. This kind of whiskey is usually sweeter than most. Its subcategories include: Bourbon, Rye, and Tennessee.

Scotch Whiskey: Scotch whiskey is distilled in Scotland and will be aged for usually three years at a time. This whiskey will have smoky and earthy flavors. Its subcategories include: Blended Scotch and Single Malt Scotch.

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            –Irish Whiskey: This is distilled in Ireland and aged for at least three years. Irish whiskey is light-bodied. It has not subcategories.

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            –Canadian Whiskey: It is distilled in Canada and aged at least three years with a light-body and fruity to taste.

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Choosing Your Whiskey. How do you choose a whiskey that you will enjoy? We suggest you first start with a style of whiskey. Then create a budget and stick within that budget financially. A good place to start is with a range of $10.00-$15.00 a bottle. Then eventually move on to $20.00-$35.00 and then higher. What’s important to do as you purchase these bottles over time is to make sure you compare each bottle. Remember gentlemen this is a journey, not a race. Take a few months with each bottle and search out the flavors. You will learn so much more about each whiskey you try. As you continue to taste whiskey over time your taste buds will mature and you will be able somewhat distinguish the different flavors and different styles of whiskey.

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The Correct Vessel. Guys before you pour your American, Scotch, Canadian, or Irish whiskey into a standard glass take a minute and read through the following first. Please understand that you can drink your whiskey from whatever vessel you desire, even if it is a red plastic cup. At the same time there are vessels that are better than others. First, consider the power of presentation. Imagine having a few of your dapper gentlemen over and you’re hosting a whiskey tasting and your cup of choice is a red plastic cup. You know what I’m talking about. Drinking whiskey is about ritual as well. Whiskey is intended to be sipped in a glass vessel, because other materials will taint the whiskey you’re about to enjoy together. When you serve whiskey or taste for your self use a “rock” glass or what is known as an Old Fashioned or lowball glass (images10 it). If you want to take your whiskey tasting to a new level of dapper, then purchase some specialty whisky glasses (See below). These glasses help to concentrate the vapors and flavors and will allow you to really “nose” the whiskey.

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On the Rocks, Water, or Neat. In the world of sophisticated drinking these three words are often misunderstood. After consulting a whiskey professional it was suggested that when you have your first glass of whiskey it should be tasted “neat.” When the alcohol percentage gets higher within the whiskey it will numb your taste buds. In essence you want to taste what the whiskey makers have made to get the full flavor.

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When you add ice or water it dilutes the strength and taste of the whiskey. Therefore you are not experiencing the full taste of the product. For example if you choose to add a teaspoon of water to your dram of whiskey it will dilute it by 10%. What’s important is that you experiment and find what you enjoy the most. Tasting whiskey on the rocks is having ice placed in your drink. We suggest that you bypass the normal sized ice cubes and use big cubes or spheres. This allows the cubes to melt slower keeping your whiskey chilled, and allows water to slowly dilute your whiskey. We also suggest whiskey cubes (See below) if you decide to enjoy whiskey on a regular basis.     

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Nosing the Whiskey. Sipping and tasting alcoholic beverages such as whiskey or wine can often times be seen as snooty or stuck up. Understand that this is no different than someone sipping a craft made beer, enjoying a fine cigar or a good tobacco pipe. It’s a hobby to be enjoyed.

Start by pouring the whiskey and let it set in the class and settle before drinking it. Then, smell or “nose” the whiskey. Don’t just take a big whiff. Take three timely sniffs of your drink. With each sniff you will break down the flavors within the whiskey. Next taste the whiskey. Don’t gulp it down. Let it sit in your mouth. Let it coat your gums and tongue. Let it linger in your mouth and taste the flavors before you swallow it. Finally gentlemen your drink should be enjoyed over the course of 30 to 60 minutes.

Good luck gentlemen and happy tasting. If you would like to view a few great ideas for cocktails we suggest you visit www.liquor.com. We would love to hear from you. What nationality of whisky did you choose? What is your budget going to be for your first or second bottle? What were some of the flavors you experienced? Share your thoughts and encounters with us. Thank you again for your support. Be sure to follow us on Twitter for updates and tips that we don’t post here. TheDapperGentleman@thedappergent35

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