Dear Wine Ladies
Loved the show last week on whiskey! One of the topics I didn’t hear you cover was how to best enjoy whiskey; in terms of preferred type of glass, are the standard tumblers suitable? Is swirling the glass as you do in wine tasting a good or a bad idea and what does the addition of water do to the whiskey’s flavor?
Thanks for the great questions. Although whiskey is often served in tumblers, this style of glass definitely does not allow for a whiskey’s maximum enjoyment. There are a number of glasses out there specifically engineered for whiskies, including various kinds of whiskey. Riedel, The Wine Glass Company from Austria has a couple of options, one of which is the Riedel Crystal Single Malt Whiskey glass, and another is the Riedel H20 Whiskey Glass. Both of these were carefully researched by George Riedel himself to find the best design to accentuate the flavor of single malt whiskies. The shape of the glasses allow for the elegant creaminess of top-quality, single malt whiskies to be emphasized but are also suitable of course for single malt whisky.
As to adding a splash of water to your whiskey, we too were surprised that this is recommended, even by the Master Blenders themselves. At a recent Jameson Irish Whiskey tasting we attended at the Tappo Wine Bar, David Quinn, Jameson Master of Whiskey Science encouraged us to nose and taste first, then add a splash of water to our whiskeys, then nose and taste once again. The complexities and layers of the flavors were enhanced, were more available and the whiskey more enjoyable. The addition of the water reduces the alcohol content and raises the temperature slightly releasing more of the aromas. For the ultimate treat in whiskey, search, and you may be most fortunate to find the Jameson Rarest Vintage Reserve whiskey; with only 7 bottles remaining in Ontario at $399.95/bottle, this would be the ultimate gift or experience for the Irish whiskey lover. As to the benefits of swirling, we’ll address that question in a future column; in the meantime, swirl your whiskey! gently.