The debate about whether or not whiskey should be served with or with out ice is one that has been going on for ages Those who want it neat believe the ice waters down the whiskey. Those who want their whiskey over ice say it opens up the aromatics of the drink as it dilutes the alcohol flavor.
My thought is both. Whiskey should be served “neat” without ice and “on the rocks” with ice. But wait, how can a drink be served both ways? I typically order all my drinks “on the rocks’ unless it is a whiskey, bourbon, scotch or rye I have never had In that case I will order it “neat”. Here is why –
When ordering a drink “neat” you will experience the full body flavor of that drink the way the master distiller intended for you to taste it. When the master distiller is tasting the product for quality, it is done “neat” and therefore when they determine it is ready for bottling, they intended that precise unaltered flavor. So a new bottle of whiskey, whether I have had it before or not, the first glass is always neat so I can taste exactly what the distiller wanted me to.
After that initial glass, I will then drink it “on the rocks”. While yes, this makes the whiskey cold, that is not the sole intention so do not talk to me about useless whiskey stones!!!! The purpose of pouring whiskey of ice is to in fact dilute the alcohol flavor. But wait why would I want to do that? Simply put, it will “open up” the drink. By diluting the alcohol flavor, it allows for additional aromatics, and flavors to come through. For me this makes a drink much more enjoyable. They key for this is not to use standard ice cubes, but rather a larger slow melting ice cube. This allows the drink to slowly open up as the ice takes longer to melt, and the flavors develop as you sip. What happens here is that the first sip is very different from the last because each level of the whiskey has come through at different points. Ice molds are a great investment for any whiskey drinker. I recommend the Trovolo Sphere Ice Molds which can be found here.
Whiskey stones are something I do not recommend. Essentially all they are used for is to make whiskey cold. I am not against that, however it does not add, nor take away, anything from the drinking experience. If you want a drinked “straight up” or chilled, I recommend placing the glass in the freezer for a while, as you would with a beer mug to make it frosty.
What are you thoughts on having a glass a whiskey with or without ice?
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