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How to drink whiskey – Whiskey drinking guide for beginners

Updated on January 23, 2012
Whiskey - Neat or straight up
Whiskey - Neat or straight up | Source

Learning how to drink whiskey is a simple yet very intricate art form much like learning how to taste wine, beer and other forms of alcohol. The world of whiskey and scotch is marred with terms like grains, malts, distillation, barley, rye, cask, oak, age and some such. Let's ignore all the jargon for now and focus simply on the different popular ways to drink whiskey. For all you wannabe whiskey connoisseurs and whiskey fans, here is How to Drink Whiskey - Lesson 101.

1) Drinking whiskey with ice aka On The Rocks

We've always seen the images of an action movie hero coming back home after a tough days work of banging up the villains and treating himself to a nice glass of whiskey on the rocks. The only amateur mistake that you must watch out for is to never pour the whiskey before you put the ice cubes in your glass.

  • Fill your glass halfway or to the brim with ice cubes and gently pour the whiskey in it
  • Pour a small amount of whiskey
  • Don't leave your glass away for too long else the ice will melt and dilute your whiskey
  • Warm palms can contribute to ice melting faster – So leave your whiskey glass on a table or another flat surface while you are not sipping it

2) Drinking whiskey neat

Drinking whiskey neat is not the first thing suggested to people looking for answers to the question, how to drink whiskey. But then again, if you want to become an expert at this art, you should know how to learn to decipher the taste, flavor and smell of the different types of whiskeys. This way of drinking whiskey is also known as drinking straight up.

  • Pour a little amount of whiskey in your whiskey glass – About 1/5th of a regular whiskey glass or tumbler is recommended for beginners
  • To put on a class act, sniff the glass and take in a whiff of the aroma and flavor of the whiskey much similar to how you would sip wine from different types of wine glasses – Many male whiskey connoisseurs often mention about how a glass of whiskey should be savored, smelled and treated as if it was a beautiful woman
  • Drink the whiskey in small and minute sips – Too big a sip will go down your throat like a flaming bazooka
  • A pro whiskey drinker does not flinch or make weird faces due to the intensity of the alcohol that goes down the throat when drunk neat – Hold a steel face and try to interpret the intricacies, ingredients and flavor of the whiskey
  • If the taste of neat whiskey grows on you and you can't drink it any other way, you may want to consider buying a cool hip flask for yourself

3) Drinking whiskey with whiskey stones or glass ice cubes

If you like to drink chilled whiskey but are annoyed that the ice cubes dilute your drink, buying whiskey stones is the way to go. Whiskey stones, also known as sipping stones or rock chillers are stones that can be chilled in the freezer and used with whiskey and other beverages. The amazing thing with whiskey stones is that they don't dilute your whiskey, giving you an undiluted whiskey drinking experience. An alternative substitute for whiskey stones is glass ice cubes which are nothing but glass cubes which can be chilled and used in a glass of whiskey.

  • Like drinking whisky on the rocks, put about 3 whiskey stones or glass ice cubes in your glass before you pour your whiskey
  • Pour the whiskey in small amounts – Remember this is just like drinking whiskey neat, except it is chilled
  • You can still sniff the whiskey for its original flavor and aroma
  • Drink slowly and enjoy your drink

4) Drinking whiskey with water

Water dilutes the whiskey, there's no doubt about that. But whether that actually works in the favor of the whiskey in terms of taste, flavor and aroma is an on-going debate. While some say that it ruins the original taste of the whiskey, some rave about how water actually releases and enhances the flavors and aromas. You should try it by yourself to find out.

  • Pour whiskey in your whiskey glass – Fill as much as you would, or slightly more, while drinking it neat
  • Add water in the glass - For starters, pour as much water as the quantity of whiskey
  • There is no fixed answer as to how much water you should add to a whiskey glass – This too, you will need to experiment and fill according to taste

5) Drinking whiskey with coke

Whiskey and coke has been a favorite cocktail for beginners and pros alike. Popularly it is also known as whiskey cola. Utter the words Jack and Coke or JD and Coke to any whiskey lover and chances are that their eyes will gleam with temptation to sip on a nice glass of JD and coke, named after the popular Jack Daniel's Whiskey. Adding coke will not only dilute your whiskey but will also make you drink fizzy. This is great for people who are not big fans of the strong whiskey taste.

  • Pour whiskey in your glass – Fill about 1/4th of the glass with whiskey
  • Add Coca-Cola aka coke to your glass
  • Much similar to how you would mix whiskey and water, the amount of coke really depends on how much or how less you want the taste of whiskey in your drink – Beginners can start by topping up their glasses with coke for a smooth drink that won't feel like whiskey at all
  • Once your tongue and taste buds are familiar with the taste and flavor of whiskey, you can gradually start reducing the amount of coke you add in the glass

6) Drinking whiskey in shots

Shots are the quickest, easiest and most potent answer to our question, how to drink whiskey. Whiskey shots are served in shot glasses and are consumed in one single gulp. Beware, whiskey shots can get you seriously drunk if discretion and maturity is not maintained. If you are a beginner drinker, this way is best avoided.

  • Pour the whiskey n a whiskey shot glass
  • Hold the shot glass with your fingers and gulp the whiskey down in one single gulp
  • Don't make the rookie mistake sipping from the shot glass or leaving behind some whiskey in the shot glass after your gulp
  • Make sure you have an ample time gap between two or more whiskey shots – Frequent or too many shots can get your drunk way to fast and leave you with a massive hangover

7) Drinking Whiskey – Using other mixers

Some of the popular cocktails made by whiskey lovers around the world involve mixing whiskey with mixes like cola, lemonade, coffee and cream, gin and lemon juice, soda water, lemon lime soda, sugary water and mint leaves, sugary water and citrus fruits, ginger ale or ginger wine, bitters and even other different brands of whiskies. Yes, this is an exhaustive list. As you get more familiar and accustomed to whiskey and its different types, you will want to experiment with different mixers. You can make many different types of cocktails with whiskey at home too. Buy a good mixing guide for whiskies and develop and create your own whiskey cocktails!

Accessories and gifts for whiskey lovers on


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    • Thelma Alberts profile image

      Thelma Alberts 

      5 years ago from Germany and Philippines

      My hubbys favorite drink. Pure Scottish whiskey. Thanks for sharing the ways on drinking whiskey. Voted up and useful.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      'The only amateur mistake that you must watch out for is to never put the ice cubes before the whiskey.'

      '•Fill your glass halfway or to the brim with ice cubes and gently pour the whiskey in it'

      Good one. Makes no sense whatsoeer.

    • princesswithapen profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago


      You speak the words of a wise individual. Moderation has never gone out of vogue and that is exactly the way to go while experimenting with spirits, or for that matter any type of alcohol. Thanks for reading and commenting and have fun learning the art of drinking whiskey.


    • princesswithapen profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago


      Yes, water dilutes the taste of whiskey. However, diluting whiskey is an awesome way of getting non-whiskey lovers on board the whiskey wagon, or people who may find whiskey a bit too strong for their liking. That's exactly why experimenting with the amount of water that is added to the whiskey has been recommended in the hub. I'm really glad you liked this article. Thanks heaps for sharing your insight which I'm sure will be helpful to drinkers who have just started experimenting with whiskey.


    • freetron profile image


      7 years ago from Florida

      Excellent article. Makes me realize I have been rather whiskey-challenged. I shall endeavor to rectify this in the near future with fervor, dedication - and of course, moderation.

    • dommcg profile image


      7 years ago

      Great article, interesting reading. I'd suggest starting with as little water as possible rather than matching the amount of water to whisky though. Half and half whisky and water is a sure fire way to ruin a whisky.


    • princesswithapen profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago

      "..then taking shots with a group of blurry, inaudible figures .." Haha! You're funny, Steve! Whiskey does get to you quicker than a lot of other drinks because of its high alcohol content.

      Yes, not some, in fact a lot of whiskey connoisseurs love to drink this form of liquor not to get drunk, but to enjoy it's taste and flavors. The art of tasting good whiskey is just like the art of tasting wine - exotic and confusing at times.

      Thanks for your appreciation and a hilarious comment that made my day.


    • Steve Orion profile image

      Steve Orion 

      7 years ago from Tampa, Florida

      Very informative and interesting article, princesswithapen! I've only drank whiskey two ways; first, taking shots with a group of friends, then taking shots with a group of blurry, inaudible figures =)

      To my surprise, some people drink it for other reasons than to get drunk! You learn something everyday.


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