Food & Drink

Serve scotch properly

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glass of scotch
Learning how to serve scotch is part of the drinking experience
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For some, serving scotch is an art

For those who take scotch seriously, serving it is an important part of the experience. While it's true that each encounter is personal, if you are serious about becoming a scotch connoisseur, knowing how to serve it properly is a must.

Scotch, or scotch whisky, comes in four categories: single-malt, vetted malt, blended and single grains. Growing in popularity, single-malt scotch is not reserved just for the rich anymore.

The term "single malt scotch" is reserved for a spirit that is made of malted barley liquor and is distilled and aged at a single distillery in Scotland. After being distilled, the whisky is then stored in oak barrels for three to five years before it's available for consumption.

Serve Scotch in Snifters

Traditionally, scotch is served in cognac snifters. Smaller than a wine glass, the snifter is important to serving scotch properly thanks to its wide mouth, which makes it easy to drink. In addition, the mouth of a cognac snifter has a slight taper to help focus the aroma.

Cognac snifters also have a wide handgrip, which allows the drink to be warmed, opening it up and making the most of its flavor. The clear glass of a cognac snifter is preferred so the liquid can be seen and appreciated.

While serving scotch in a cognac snifter is most acceptable, scotch glasses, designed specifically with this spirit in mind, are also available. These glasses are slightly taller than cognac snifters but have a similar design. Serious sippers would say that this dignified drink deserves a glass of its own.

On The Rocks?

Some consumers prefer to have their scotch served "on the rocks," or over ice, which results in the release of fewer flavors. Serious scotch drinkers think serving the liquor on ice, with water or any other mix is a serious faux pas and takes away from the genuine taste of the scotch. They prefer it straight up, or neat, without any distracting additions arguing that if you are adding mix to cover the flavor, why drink scotch at all?

If you do decide to serve scotch with water, it is advised not to use tap water as the chlorine and other additives can mask the taste. If you want to be particular, experts suggest adding spring water, which is purer than other types of water and will change the taste and aroma of the malt the least.

Colors And Aromas

Scotch lovers can often judge the clarity and quality of scotch by its color. Also, the aroma of the scotch is revealing. Common scents include oak, nuts and vanilla.

Scotch drinkers will also keep the drink in their mouth, swirling the liquid around and concentrating on its consistency and flavors, which can be subtle or quite strong. Butterscotch, nutmeg and ginger are some of the most common flavors found in scotch.

Serious scotch drinkers will take note of the finish, or the last taste the malt makes on the back of their tongue. This will often reveal flavors not previously noticed.

Scotch is best served with a good cigar, as an after-dinner aperitif or later in the evening as a nightcap.

Knowing how to serve scotch properly will help bring out the taste and quality of the malt, making your scotch experience as good as it gets.

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