Did you know there's a right way to drink whiskey if you like it on the rocks? Tasting Table sat down for a conversation with expert, Barrett Stapleton, a Master Micro Distiller at METHOD AND MADNESS, to learn all about the transformative power of chilling and adding just a bit of water to whiskey. But first, Stapleton emphasized, "The number one rule of whiskey drinking is the best way to drink whiskey is the way you like it. That being said, I think it's always good to know what happens to the whiskey when you do things like add ice or water."
The key is to not overdilute the whiskey or eliminate its flavors with water but rather to open up its more subtle notes. Stapleton informed us of a few ways that you can add water or lower your whiskey's temperature. To maintain complete control over the dilution while boosting the spirit's flavor and aroma, he recommends simply adding a drop of water. "This works especially well with high-proof whiskey," Stapleton emphasized.
As for those who enjoy their whiskey on the rocks, should you go for a scoop of ice, one large ice cube, or whiskey stones? "Adding a big cube ... I often find it lasts longer than just a single pour, making it perfect if you're looking to have more than one," Stapleton explained. With one big ice cube, the whiskey will be cold, with just the right amount of water dilution to enhance and disperse its flavors.
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Perfecting Your Whiskey Pour With Chilling Or Dilution
Barrett Stapleton also pointed out that adding a scoop of ice instead of a single large ice cube will give you the fastest and highest level of dilution. However, this can lead to over-dilution of your whiskey since the smaller ice cubes will melt quicker than large ones. Thus, the right way to drink whiskey, if you like it on the rocks, is to enjoy it with a single big ice cube. For those who wish to just chill their whiskey without diluting or enhancing the flavors with water, opt for cold whiskey stones. Stored in the freezer until ready for use, these neat cubes of stone (usually made from soapstone) work as well as ice but don't melt or dilute the whiskey.
Now, not all whiskey is made the same, and there are times when you don't want to chill or dilute your drink. "With cask strength releases, you can often find such big difference[s] that it's almost like a whole new whiskey," Stapleton explained. "Adding ice has the added alteration of chilling the whiskey as well. Generally, chilling a drink can soften or, [in] some cases, eliminate the flavors of the whiskey." In the end, the right way to drink whiskey if you like it on the rocks is to enjoy it the way you like it -- but, for best results, use a single big ice cube, whiskey stones, or just a single drop of water.
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