How to drink whisky if you hate it


Karen Krizanovich finds the perfect whisky glass. Now, if only she liked whisky…

The Denver & Liely whisky glass

The Denver & Liely whisky glass

“So much I like to drink Scotch that sometimes I think my name is Igor Stra-whisky.” Igor Stravinsky said that. I can’t join him because I can’t stand the stuff, unless it’s a hip flask of Percy Special (whisky/cherry brandy) and then only if I’m cold and on a horse. But, I *am* a believer in maximising experiences and I’ve become obsessed with glassware that enhances what you’re having. I may hate the taste, but the whiff of good whisky is so descriptive, it’s like snorting a great oil painting. Every whisky tells a story, right?

If you drink, think back to how many different kinds of booze stick in your memory? Not many. With right glassware, those drinks stand a better chance of leading a memorable journey through the windmills of your mind. Unless you’re a whisky fiend, the thought of specialist glasses will seem poncy to you, but glass shape and flavor enhancement has been proven (with wine, anyway) in a scientific and dental lab in Japan. I tell no lie.

Remember: harshness is bad

Besides increasing the selection of available memories you may have on your deathbed, there’s anther reason to enhance your alcoholic experience. This autumn, London’s Billingsgate hosts The Whisky Show a two-day malt Mecca. Andrew Milne, the show’s head honcho, says that a tulip shape concentrates the aromas to your nose, but “with a wide rim, the alcohol is more prominent. By having a slightly open top, this helps to remove some of the harshness of alcohol onto the nose and palate.” Remember: harshness is bad.

The Waterford footed tasting tumbler

The Waterford footed tasting tumbler

It’s surprising how important a rim is. “Ideally you want a ‘perfect’ rim rather than a rolled rim. This relates to how they cut the glass. If it’s cut when it’s warm, the rim rolls over itself, creating a thicker top. This affects the way that the liquid hits your tongue. If the rim has a perfect finish then the liquid will hit the tip of your tongue and roll straight down the centre of your tongue.  If the rim is rolled, then it will spread out across your entire tongue and the alcohol will be emphasised as it hits the side of your mouth.” Remember: the rim.

If you’re drinking not very nice whisky, it’s possible that the widest glass is best. Andrew, again: “A rocks glass is not the best glass for evaluating whisky as it’s hard to pick out the specific aromas. It is, however, great for whisky cocktails such as an Old Fashioned, Sazerac or Whisky Sour.” Andrew likes the Denver & Liely whisky glass, a new monster hybrid from Australia, while most folks seem to think a cognac balloon or a squat highball is a whisky glass anyway. Remember: a rocks glass is fine if the person who uses them is smart and cute and not if they’re not.

Personally, I like one of the glasses from Waterford’s new Lismore Connoisseur collection of whisky tasting drams and decanters. The Footed Tasting Tumbler is thistle-shaped, cut, adorable, expensive yet customarily sold-out. It’s also heavy and survives a short drop, despite being crystal. With all this specialism though, I agree with Andrew who says it’s not important what glass you drink whisky from but that you enjoy it. Which I don’t. C