When Chivas Regal came over on July 4 for a master class and to debut their new blend, the Chivas Regal 12, I didn’t know what to expect. The notion of how to enjoy “fancy” alcohol — meaning non-brewski libations like whiskey — can seem unapproachable.
Turns out the keys to deciding what you like in alcohol — like anything you put in your gullet — come down to intuition and personal taste.
Spoiler: it ain’t. When Chivas Regal Blender Kevin Balmforth and Custodian Master Blender (a very real job title, thank you very much) Colin Scott guided us through sampling the 12 plus two of their other blends, the Chivas Regal Extra and the Chivas Regal 18 Gold Signature, all anxieties fell away. Turns out the keys to deciding what you like in alcohol — like anything you put in your gullet — come down to intuition and personal taste. To help you loosen up, here are a few tips on how to drink a glass of whiskey and tap into your intuitive powers.
1. Get a whiff.
Whether it’s chashu ramen broth or a glass of something aged 12 years in a European oak barrel, it only make sense to get a scent of what you’re sipping. And what does your nose try to detect in a glass of whiskey? Yes, there’s the alcohol, and the faint hints of metal that come with anything labeled 40 proof. But what else? Don’t be observant; be imaginative. Are you picking up orange peels? Almonds? A Spanish river? You’re automatically correct. Own it, it’s part of the fun.
2. Drink it straight or dilute it.
Little known fact: putting water in your whiskey isn’t a bad thing. If you drink it straight, the flavors usually come through pretty strong. Some people like that. But if you want a chill way to drink whiskey, try adding a little water. That way, the little notes and flavors come through softer and clearer, and the blend goes down smoother. Not a lot of drinks work both at room temp and on the rocks.
3. Ditch the elitism.
Not a step but an attitude. Don’t worry too much about notes, or what’s high- or lowbrow, or if there’s a pure objective standard to judging whiskey. “Everyone is different,” says Balmforth. “Whenever we talk to anyone who comes in, they ask ‘What do I say? What vocabulary do I use?’” Again, personal taste. “The best way is to use your own words, rather than try to use someone else’s.” We ain’t gonna tell you to, like, actively drink more. But if ever you get your hands on some good dark liquor, remember to be open, imaginative, and don’t take yourself too seriously.
To find out more about Chivas Regal, head to chivas.com.