Whiskey has been talked about, sung about, fought over, and enjoyed for centuries. Kings have toasted it, books have been written about it, and marriages have been won or lost because of it. But for something considered so sacred to so many, there are still plenty of whiskey myths that refuse to die. We’re tired of these ancient tomes that dominate the whiskey world, so we’ve decided to finally put them to rest.
1. You Need to Drink Whiskey Straight
For centuries whiskey connoisseurs have asserted that you must drink whiskey neat, that you should not dilute it with water, ice, or any wash. Otherwise, you’ll ruin the taste. But recent research reported from NPR (by scientists out of Sweden no less) notes that whiskey will taste better if a little water is added. They say that “adding water breaks the surface tension of the drink, allowing more of its aroma to escape.” The scientists did not divulge how much water should be added to create the magical formula, but experimenting with whiskey yourself to find that sweet spot of water-to-whiskey ratio doesn’t sound like a chore!
2. Only Men Should Drink Whiskey
Ok people, it’s 2021. It’s time to ditch this archaic sentiment. In times past, women were not even allowed in bars, so it is not very surprising that women have taken a backseat in whiskey drinking. But times are changing. Currently, women represent about 30 percent of whiskey drinkers in the United States. And perhaps more importantly, they are responsible for about 70 percent of the liquor purchasing decisions in a household. Take that, Mr. Whiskey.
Whiskey distilleries would be wise to strategize the marketing to gear towards women as well as men, as the number of women whiskey drinkers continues to rise. And women are not only drinking it; they are creating and distilling it. A few women have wiggled through the closed doors of liquor distilling through the years, and are starting to take a bigger role in the industry. For instance, Marjorie Samuels had a big hand with her husband Bill in the family business of producing Maker’s Mark. But the road for women has been slow going. The industry is finally starting to open up, with distilleries like The Noble Experiment in Brooklyn, which is run entirely by women.
3. You Need to Be a Lonely Old Poet to Enjoy It
Gone are the days of the old man with patches on the elbows of his sweater, sipping whiskey in an armchair by the fire. Well, not totally gone. We’re sure a few Hemingway-wannabes still exist. Drinking whiskey can also be a social event, with local distilleries holding whiskey tastings, groups of friends getting together to try out a few varieties of whiskey on their own, and even whiskey festivals that avid fans can enjoy.
4. The Older the Whiskey, the Better
Age does not necessarily indicate quality. Although most people think ‘the older, the better’ when it comes to whiskey, there is a point where the age and quality break even, and then the quality starts to suffer. Some distilleries can use this to their advantage. Glenlivet actually sells a 50-year-old bottle for 25,000. But don’t be fooled into thinking age is everything. There is a certain point at which the taste degrades, and the whiskey loses the flavor and texture that makes it popular. The sweet spot for whiskey is about 6-10 years. This gives the whiskey enough time to age and pick up the taste from the barrels, but not enough time to start breaking down.
5. The Color of Whiskey Indicates How Old It Is
Actually, whiskey has no color at all. It is crystal clear as it is leaving the stills. Depending on the type of oak barrel in which it is aged, the color can change dramatically. This doesn’t have as much to do with age as it does with the infusion of color from different oaks. Some oaks offer the whiskey a reddish color, while others a more yellow hue. Though often a darker hue will taste more refined, that is not always the case.
Although he enjoyed a good story now and then, Mark Twain was not reporting a myth when he said that too much whiskey is never enough. But there are still some myths that persist in the wonderful world of whiskey that we’ve debunked. You’re welcome!