How to Drink Whiskey

How To Drink Whiskey

Ask 100 people “How should I be drinking whiskey?” and unless you’re in a room of elite whiskey snobs you’re likely to get 100 different answers. Some folks will tell you it should always be served with ice, some will say whiskey is only fit for a cocktail or even only for certain cocktails and some will tell you that whiskey should only ever be consumed neat and preferably in a Glencairn that you’ve held in your hand for a few minutes to warm the whiskey. All of these people are wrong… or are they?

The #1 question I get asked through this blog, at tastings I host, or by co-workers, friends and associates is “How should I be drinking my whiskey?” Sure they may all phrase it a bit differently and say things like “What is the best way to drink whiskey?”, but really they are all looking for the same thing. They want to know if there is a right or a single best way to drink whiskey. Well I’m here to tell you there is… and I’m going to tell you what it is.


Lots of people drink it as a shot

How To Drink Whiskey - As A Shot
A popular way to consume whisk(e)y and was indeed the first way I consumed this nectar of the Gods.

Some love to sip it with some Coke

How To Drink Whiskey - With Coke
I don’t drink soda, but I do know my fair share of folks who like their Jack, Jim, Johnnie or Turkey n’ Coke.

My personal preference is to drink it neat

How To Drink Whiskey - Neat
It’s how I consume 90% of my whiskey.

Or sometimes with a splash of water

How To Drink Whiskey - A Splash of Water
With 100+ proof whiskey, a splash of water will help cut the ethanol and really open the whisk(e)y up. Though I know some folks who even like a splash in their 80-90 proof and there’s nothing wrong with that.

On a hot day there’s nothing like a whiskey on the rocks

How To Drink Whiskey - On The Rocks
Need I say more?

Adding club soda to the party is a classic combo

How To Drink Whiskey - A Splash of Soda
Particularly popular when drinking a blended Scotch like Johnnie Walker.

Though a good whiskey cocktail truly is something to behold

How To Drink Whiskey - As A Cocktail
You can ruin good whiskey with a bad cocktail and you ruin a good cocktail with bad whiskey, but you can’t ruin good whiskey with a good cocktail (or vice versa).

These are all fine ways to consume whiskey, but really the single best way, and truly the only RIGHT way, to drink whiskey is…

How to drink whiskey - Any Damn Way You Want

Hope that clears things up.

Josh Peters

Josh Peters

I read about, think about, write about, and drink whisk(e)y. In short, it's my passion.
Josh Peters

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20 Responses to How to Drink Whiskey

  1. I agree with you drink it any way that pleases you but if you are “tasting” whiskey neat should be how we start. I find when I do this I also start to figure out which ones will work best in cocktails, on the rocks or with a coke.

    • I’m 100% with you on the tasting Joe. I always start with it neat no water when doing notes and reviews and then I move to other forms of manipulation and drinking.

  2. Here’s my question: I am not much of a whiskey fan, wish I were, but recently made sweet tea, added some lemon and bourbon (Bulleit) and became obsessed. Polished off the boyfriend’s bottle and now I’m wondering what’s the cheapest you would go with bourbon for cocktails? The Bulleit was delicious but maybe not the best value.

    • Bulleit is a great cocktail whiskey (I use it quite often myself and it used to be distilled by Four Roses using their high-rye mashbill so you’ll want to look for something along the same lines. Try Old-Granded Bottled in Bond or Four Roses Yellow for mmaking cocktails. Both have that nice rye kick and can be found for pretty cheap.

  3. As long as it is never mixed with a soft drink, I am good. The sugar in a a soft drink ruins it and makes me cringe when I see it. Personally, I drink it either in a shot or neat.

  4. do y’all get a buzz from this stuff???
    I don’t see you saying anything about copping a buzz!…but I’m not sure you’d be drinking if you didn’t get something its Ariel from it Rite ?
    if this stuff didn’t get u really f***** up I don’t see why anybody would really drink this …
    so my question is this: would you still drink this stuff if you couldn’t cop a buzz from it???

    • Hey Dan,

      To answer your question yes. Yes I do drink it and not get buzzed. Most nights I only have an oz or two after work and it’s over the course of an hour or two. I love the way it tastes. I honestly wish I didn’t get drunk, If I didn’t I’d drink a whole lot more of it because it tastes and smells amazing.

      • same here, i dont drink it to get drunk. i can, for damn sure. but mostly its for the taste. my favorite is with some coke for getting tipsy and neat for just enjoying the taste. shots are a waste of whiskey. and a few sips honey whiskey will fix you right up in allergy season.

  5. Started with shots but the more I read and the more I learned, I moved to drinking whiskey neat. I feel like I’m drinking a bit of American history when I have a pour of bourbon, so I like it neat. It makes me slow down and enjoy. Maybe one day, I’ll try it in a cocktail…
    And I agree, I’d love to drink more than a couple ounces at a time, hate being drunk.

  6. How about some discussion of temperature and glass type. I’ve read that Jack Daniels keeps his in the freezer. A little chill is good but not some much that it dulls the flavor. Straight out of the closet is a bit too warm and on the rocks waters it down too much when you reach the bottom. I like it in a snifter my daughter gave me. The space and shape above the whiskey builds a nice bouquet to fill the nose.

    One or two ounces only is a start if you want to let the flavor build on the palate even when sipping. Two or three fingers in a generous two to three inch diameter glass works for me. The mild buzz is a good relaxer for an overworked brain. Shots seem to be how you drink something you don’t like the taste of for the express purpose of getting drunk.

  7. Bless you, Josh Peters……because you’re ABSOLUTELY CORRECT!!! Despite what so many snobs might lead people to think, whisk(e)y (spelling bump to include everyone’s preferences, and I don’t mean spelling) is quite the versatile libation. Forget all the damned analysis. There’s so many versions of this particular libation, and folks who enjoy every single one. It doesn’t matter what version you enjoy, as long as you enjoy it.

  8. Great article. Like in one of the earlier comments, my first taste of a new whiskey is neat, just to get the full effect of it unaltered. However, I don’t have what you would call a sophisticated palate and I don’t really enjoy a strong “burn”, so I typically use a bit more water than more journeyman whiskey drinkers would be comfortable with.

  9. Just discovered this blog and I like it a lot. It helped me get over the slight embarrassment of buying Evan Williams just because it was cheap. If you say it’s pretty good, hell, it must be, even though it’s less than ten bucks for a fifth!

    Unlike you, I’m not a “super-taster” — which is my word for people who can actually perceive flavors like “vanilla frosting” and “allspice” when tasting whiskey. I just know I like bourbon, and I usually mix it with Coke Zero. It’s nice to have one or two in the evening.

    Anyway, Josh, keep up the good work. Next time I decide to try something new at Total Wine & More, I’ll check your blog first!

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