Whiskey does not have a flavor because of what it is but because of how it is made. You can make whiskey taste delicious using a similar approach. But now you’re probably wondering, how do I make whiskey taste better?
There are myriad ways to make whiskey taste better—experts say adding a few drops of water will open up the whiskey’s taste. In contrast, others say chilling it with an ice ball is the way to go. There are other methods too! Mix up a cocktail, make honey whiskey, or re-age it at home.
We’ll dive straight in today and offer you the best ways to help you make whiskey taste better. Pour yourself a dram—whichever way you like it—and read on.
How To Make Whiskey Taste Better
There are various ways to make whiskey taste better—from adding water to mixing it up with a mixer to simple or elaborate cocktails—-there is an option for everyone. You could even re-age an inexpensive young whiskey!
Mix a Hot Toddy
Nothing will taste great when you are down with a cold or the flu. The Hot Toddy, reckoned to be the grandfather of hot drinks, may hold the answer. It is my go-to when I come in from the outside on a bitterly cold winter’s day—-comfort in a mug.
The whiskey will help numb pain, honey (or sugar) acts like a throat lozenge, and the warmth brings an overall feeling of comfort.
While the Hot Toddy is technically a warm cocktail, we feel it deserves its place because of its versatile range of situations where it can bring comfort and some medicinal qualities home in one delicious warm drink.
Make Honey Whiskey
Whiskey and honey are two ingredients that play together exceptionally well. Honey enhances whiskey’s warmth and tempers its harsh edge while whiskey draws out the honey’s smoothness.
Just look at the Hot Toddy for one such example. It is possible to buy commercially produced honey whiskey, but you can make your own at home and ensure you get the best taste.
Add Some Water
Adding a few drops of water can temper the ethanol in your whiskey and enhance the flavor profile. This also allows the whiskey’s other unique aromas to shine through and gives you a deeper understanding of its unique aromas.
An ice ball will chill your whiskey, and add a small amount of water which will have the same effect as adding water. Chilling an inexpensive whiskey with ice is also a good way of masking some of its less desirable tastes.
Use a Whiskey Glass
This one may seem like an overstatement of the obvious. Still, there’s a reason why the professionals use Glencairn and NEAT whiskey glasses.
Both allow you to swirl your whiskey to release the flavors and concentrate the flavors at the top of the glass so you can smell the unique aromas (which prepare your palate for the tasting).
Drink It With a Mixer
The most popular mixer to drink with whiskey is coca-cola or coke. Coca-cola’s sweetness pairs perfectly with bourbon-style whiskeys.
We recommend that you stick with the inexpensive whiskeys and reserve your single malts for sipping, but the choice remains yours. Coca-cola is the historic choice when mixing alcohol with a mixer.
Ginger ale or ginger beer is another great choice—it combines ginger’s earthy, spicey taste with whiskey’s wide range of flavors. Spicier ginger beer and Irish whiskey will complement each other exceptionally well.
There’s no shortage of cocktails calling for whiskey, or replacing one type of alcohol with whiskey can open an even wider range of cocktails.
We’ll look at three unique options to get you going.
One of the best ingredients to combine with whiskey is vermouth—both sweet and dry. Sweet vermouth offers you tastes such as vanilla, orange, and clove. In contrast, dry vermouth will taste more herbal or flowery.
The classic vermouth-and-whiskey combination is undoubtedly the Manhattan. Still, there are so many other options you could also try. Rye whiskey is the choice ingredient in a Manhattan, but a Rob Roy will bring out a blended Scotch whisky’s unique flavors.
Pair Whiskey With Pears
Usually, apples take center stage during fall, but have you considered pears? Pears provide a subtle sweetness when you combine them with whiskey cocktails.
For some interesting facts about pears, which ones to consider, and of course, cocktail recipes, take a look here.
Soda Water & Whiskey
The whiskey highball might be one of the most humble cocktails you’ll ever mix, but it does not have to take backstage compared to other whiskey-based cocktails.
Boldly flavored whiskeys will work well with the fizziness of seltzer. A sweeter whiskey, such as Suntory Toki, mixes well with soda water. You can add a squeeze of lemon for a citrusy kick or take it a step further by adding citrus syrup—this would work well with bold-tasting and slightly bitter whiskeys.
We’d recommend filling a highball glass with ice, adding your whiskey of choice, and then your desired amount of citrus syrup. Slowly top it up with your chosen seltzer to avoid a mess and preserve the bubbles. Stir with a bar spoon to combine.
During the aging/maturation process, a whiskey gains 80% of its taste.
There are three ways to age a whiskey and impart more flavor to it: put it in a small barrel, add oak sticks to the bottle, or add oak shavings.
The latter two work on the same basic principle—the wood will swell and absorb whiskey, and when the temperature dips again, the wood contracts and expels the whiskey and the wood flavors.
When whiskey is aged in barrels for years or even decades, fluctuations in temperature and humidity allow the whiskey to seep into the barrel’s wood and then back out, collecting up all sorts of chemicals in the process (wood sugars, vanillin, lactones, tannins, and other compounds).
The more this happens, the more the barrel wood imparts unique and complex tastes to the whiskey.
We’ve looked at various ways to make whiskey taste better, from adding water or an ice ball to mixing up cocktails to mixing it up with a mixer, making honey whiskey at home, and even re-aging it at home.
The options are nearly limitless. The only thing stopping you is your imagination.
Let your adventurous spirit loose and see what you can come up with at your next cocktail party, or just enjoy it yourself.