How to Drink Whiskey & Whiskey Cocktails

Whiskey is the perfect drink for surviving a long winter night. It warms you up and gives you that extra boost of energy to keep going through your day or night. Whiskey cocktails are also a great way to warm yourself up in cold weather, while still satisfying your taste buds with unique flavors.

The “how to drink whiskey without burn” is a guide on how to drink whiskey and whiskey cocktails. The article includes some tips, tricks, and a list of recipes for the cocktail.

A man put ice cube in whiskey glass illustration.

While whiskey began as a medical liquid known as aquavitae, or “water of life,” it quickly acquired popularity and became one of the world’s most popular beverages. According to the greatest concrete evidence we have, whiskey as we know it was originally distilled in the 1400s, most likely in Scotland. It became the drink of choice, particularly in England and Ireland, and via taxes, it began to provide 30 percent to 50 percent of the nation’s income.

The popular liquor crossed the Atlantic with the settlement of the states, and Mr. George Washington himself considered whiskey to be his favorite vice. He even established a distillery at Mount Vernon, which grew to be one of the country’s biggest. They are still producing whiskey today.

Despite its often violent past (see the Whiskey Rebellion), whiskey has long been a favorite of males. Mark Twain, Winston Churchill (often with a nice cigar) and Clark Gable were also habitual drinkers. When you think of manly pictures, you probably think of a guy in a tweed coat sitting by the fire with a drink of whiskey in his hand. You’re in luck if you’ve ever wanted to be that guy and learn about this macho ritual. While we’ve already given you a crash course on Scotch whisky, today we’ll expand on that and speak about whiskey in general – specifically, how to enjoy it!

I got the chance to speak with Jess Graber, the creator of TINCUP American whiskey, on how to properly enjoy this historic spirit. Look him up if you’re ever in Woody Creek, Colorado; he’s the kind of man you’d like to have a drink with.

Where to Look for Your Favorite Whiskey

To really appreciate whiskey, you must first understand some of the essentials about the spirit itself, such as the different types, alcohol levels, and how to choose a bottle. Whiskey is an alcoholic beverage made from fermented grains that has been matured in wooden barrels (most commonly oak). The movie below does a far better job of explaining how whiskey is manufactured than I could ever do in words. While the procedure is unique to Scotch whisky, the general concept is the same.


Fortunately for us, there has never been such a wide range of high-quality whiskies to try (responsibly, of course).

Unfortunately, assessing all of the whiskies available in a liquor shop or a bar might be frightening. There are several words (single malt, rye whiskey, blended whiskey, etc.) that have little meaning unless you’ve done some research.

The simplest method to differentiate whiskies is by their country, which is then split down into subcategories that provide further information. While there are a few additional variations out there, these will cover the most of what you’ll come across:

  • American whiskey has a sweeter flavor than other whiskies. To be designated as whiskey, American whiskies must be produced and matured in barrels in the United States (usually for two years, but not always). Subdivided into the following subcategories:
    • Bourbon is a distilled spirit made up of at least 51% maize.
    • Rye whiskey is made out of at least 51% rye.
    • Tennessee bourbon is distilled and filtered via charcoal in Tennessee.
  • Scotch whiskey has a smokey and earthy taste profile. Distilled in Scotland with a majority of barley and matured for at least three years. Subdivided into more subcategories:
    • A combination of one or more Scotch whiskies is known as blended Scotch.
    • Single malt Scotch is made from malted barley at a single distillery.
  • Irish whiskey has a lighter body than Canadian whiskey but is more powerful. Aged at least three years after distillation in Ireland.
  • Light-bodied and fruity, Canadian whisky is a popular choice. Distilled in Canada and aged for a minimum of three years. They’re usually mixtures.

The alcohol concentration of whiskey may also be seen on the label. It might be described either as a percentage or as a “evidence.” Simply split the figure in half to get the percentage from a proof. As a result, a 100-proof whiskey contains 50% alcohol by volume. Whiskies have an alcohol content ranging from 40% to 60%, with the lower end being more prevalent.


In my experience, the easiest method to choose a whiskey is to choose a style and sample a few different whiskies from that type. Compare an inexpensive bottle ($10-$15), a mid-range bottle ($20-$35), with a more expensive one ($35-$100). (This does not have to be done all at once! Take a few months to get to know the tastes of each bottle you purchase.) You won’t be able to notice much of a difference in real taste at first, save that the more expensive varieties will be smoother and have a bit less burn (due to the wood’s harshness diminishing as it ages). You’ll notice the difference between a bourbon with 45 percent alcohol and one with 50 percent alcohol when you taste them side by side.

Your taste buds will grow with time, and you will be able to discern distinct tastes and kinds of whiskey to some extent. Canadian or Irish ales are a wonderful place to start since they’re lighter and fruitier. You may next go to American whiskies, which have a little more taste and variation. Finally, since Scotch has the most distinct taste and is the “harshest” for someone who hasn’t had much whiskey, you should definitely try it last.

Whiskey Drinking Instructions

Selecting a Drinking Vessel

Glass of alcohol placed on table.

The Old Fashioned glass, often known as the “rocks” glass.

When it comes to drinking containers, you can be as picky as you want with almost any alcoholic beverage. Before I go into detail about this part, let me state straight away that drinking whiskey from a plastic or styrofoam cup is absolutely OK. To each their own, like I stated, and do what you want to appreciate what you’re consuming.

Having said that, certain containers are superior than others when it comes to maximizing taste. And, let’s face it, some glasses are just more attractive than others. The way you present yourself may make a big impact. Is it all in your head? Maybe. However, I believe that the drinking cup one chooses enhances the experience and creates a sense of ceremony.

Always serve whiskey in a glass if at all feasible; other materials may contaminate the taste. My whiskey is served in a “rocks” glass, often known as an Old Fashioned or a lowball glass. It’s just a short tumbler that can carry 6-10 ounces of liquid.

Whisky glass.

You might take it a step further by investing in some unique whiskey glasses. These tulip-shaped glasses (seen above) will concentrate the vapors and tastes, allowing you to really “sniff” the whiskey (more on that a little later). It may seem snobbish, but it makes a difference. I don’t have any of them, at least not yet.

A man pouring whiskey into cup.


Do you want to go old school? In a tin cup, pour your whiskey. According to Jess, in the 1800s, miners would drink their whiskey from a tin cup since glass was significantly more delicate than metal, and transporting it over the mountains by carriage (railroads didn’t reach every section of the nation) would cause glassware to crack. Tin was less expensive, therefore that’s what the guys in the highlands used back then. It does affect the taste a bit and makes it a touch “tinny,” but the experience of sipping from a tin cup like the great men of a century ago is worth it every now and again. A tin cup’s durability makes it excellent for drinking whiskey while enjoying the great outdoors.


Take a look at our guide to the finest whiskey glasses.

Neat? Water? Ice?

Ice cube in the whisky glass.

If you’re going to utilize ice, go for a huge cube or spherical rather than smaller cubes.

This was one of my first questions for Jess, and it’s one of the most contentious among whiskey connoisseurs.

“The first time you consume any whiskey, it should be savored neat,” he said. That’s how the person who created it wants it to taste. Because it’s wonderful to drink TINCUP neat, we produced it at 84 proof. It numbs most people’s taste receptors when it gets extremely high [in terms of alcohol content]. You want to try what he produced.”

When you add water or ice to a beverage, you’re decreasing the alcohol by volume (ABV). A teaspoon of water will reduce a 40% ABV beverage to 30% for a single serving (1.5oz).

Many professionals, especially for high-proof whiskies, will add a little amount of tap water. This serves to dilute the drink somewhat while also softening the alcohol’s punch and allowing the whiskey taste to shine through. If you go this method, start with a little amount of water, taste it, and then add more if required. If you have too much water, the only way to fix it is to pour more whiskey.

While many whiskey specialists would object to the usage of ice, it is my preferred method of drinking whiskey. Unless it’s a particularly smooth, high-end whiskey, you’ll probably just need a smidgeon of anything to soften the blow. According to the experts, chilling the whiskey numbs the tastes a little, but I like my whiskey cooled, and I’ve tried enough variations to know what I enjoy.

Instead of using regular ice cubes, I like to use large cubes or spheres. They melt more slowly because they have a smaller surface area. As a result, your whiskey is cooled but not as much as it would be if you used conventional ice cubes. There are also whiskey stones, but in my experience, they don’t do a great job of cooling whiskey to my preferred temperature. I won’t go into too much detail here since we’ll be publishing an article on different ice and cooling methods for drinks this summer.

The Spirit is being sipped and savored.

A man sniffing whiskey in glass.

The whisky is being smelled.

There are particular tastes to look for and techniques to drink that will help release and identify those flavors, just as there are with any alcoholic beverage. For example, with wine, you should smell it first, then let it to settle for a few minutes before allowing the liquid to remain in your tongue to fully absorb all of the aromas.

When it comes to drinking or eating anything, you should always let your nose lead the way. The experience of flavor is a blend of smell and taste, believe it or not. The sense of smell is much more vital for complex tastes, such as those present in many alcoholic drinks.


So, before you take a taste of whiskey, make sure you stick your nose in the glass and take a deep sniff. “The first thing is your nose,” Mr. Graber explains. Your palate will be educated by your nose. We prefer sweet stuff, so that’s what you’ll concentrate on initially.”

The initial whiff will mostly be alcoholic, and it will probably cleanse your nose a little. So take a second and third whiff to obtain a sense of the actual whiskey taste. Next, take a little sip and move the liquid around in your mouth in a circular motion. Rather of eating immediately away, attempt to distinguish between distinct tastes. Because whiskey is usually matured in oak barrels, the typical flavors of vanilla, toffee, and caramel are virtually always present. Then, over the period of 30-60 minutes, enjoy your drink with nice company, and you’ll be a happy whiskey drinker.

How About a Few Cocktails?

Cocktail controversies, oh my. Many whiskey aficionados will be snobby and declare that adding anything other than whiskey to your whiskey is blasphemy, as I’m sure you’ve seen. Some whiskey bottles even say, “Best served neat or with a splash of water.” It ultimately boils down to personal preference and taste. That is all there is to it. While your first taste of any whiskey should be neat, Mr. Graber, the creator of two whiskey firms, advises that after you’ve come to know the beverage, you may experiment a bit to see what you prefer. While I like whiskey as a stand-alone drink, it’s great to experiment with other tastes every now and then.

The Manhattan is without a doubt my favorite drink. At home, I have my own particular recipe:

  • 2 oz whiskey (either rye or bourbon; TINCUP is a good choice since it’s a high-rye bourbon)
  • 1 ounce of sweet vermouth
  • a splash or two of bitters
  • Maraschino cherries are a kind of maraschino cherry that is
  1. Using ice cubes, fill a pint glass halfway.
  2. Fill the glass with whiskey, vermouth, and bitters. Stir for around 30 seconds.
  3. Place a cherry in an Old Fashioned glass, along with a tiny bit of the cherry jar’s juice.
  4. Fill the Old Fashioned glass halfway with the blended contents from the pint glass, and you’re ready to go.
  5. I’ll create a flavored Manhattan now and again (it’s my wife’s fave). I’ll get some peach or apple whiskey and mix 1oz of that with 1oz of ordinary whiskey for this. The rest of the components stay the same.

You’ll undoubtedly hear a lot of opinions from a lot of people (whether “experts” or not) on how to drink whiskey correctly, which whiskies to drink, and how much you should spend. Don’t pay attention to any of them. At the end of the day, drink what you want, when you want. These are suggestions rather than rules. So take a glass, pour yourself a drink of whiskey, and get into your leather man chair for some taste testing.


What’s your go-to bourbon? What’s your go-to whiskey concoction? Tell me in the comments section below!



Watch This Video-

The “how to drink whiskey on the rocks” is a popular cocktail. The ingredients include ice, whiskey, and club soda.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the correct way to drink whiskey?

A: The correct way to drink whiskey is by using a teaspoon and slowly sipping it. Whiskey tastes best when the ice melts on your tongue, so that you can enjoy the flavor of both the watery melted ice as well as the alcohol content in it before swallowing.

How do Beginners drink whiskey?

A: Some people say that you should never take your first drink of whiskey, but instead enjoy it with a splash of water. Others claim there is no right way to do this, and that the person who says they have found their perfect taste are full of shit.

Is it bad to drink whiskey straight?

A: It is not bad to drink whiskey straight if you dont have a problem with your liver. Drinking alcohol does cause damage, but its the frequency of drinking that matters more than anything else because moderate drinkers actually live longer than abstainers.

Related Tags

  • how to drink whiskey reddit
  • how to drink whiskey for the first time
  • how to drink whiskey with ice
  • whisky on the rocks
  • how to drink whisky with soda