Debunking The Most Common Myths Associated With Whisky
Whisky is one of the oldest spirit based drinks to exist, and over the years there have been many stories, beliefs and legends attached to it. As goes with many stories and legends, the mythology and science around whisky has managed to become clouded with misconceptions, myths and falsehoods that sometimes border on the lines of silliness.
Today, The Whiskypedia attempts to spot and debunk these whisky myths and misconceptions, helping guide whisky lovers to a better understanding of the spirit they love and treasure. These myths are some of the most obvious ones, to some complex and confusing ones so watch out for the ones you may have heard before. Let’s begin debunking these myths about whisky with one of our favourites;
“Only Scotch whisky can be good whisky.”
A very common and perhaps one of the more persistent whisky myths to have been around for a very long time. Many superficial whisky enthusiasts and beginners believe that Scotch whisky is the type of whisky above everything else. While it is true that the Scots do have a reputation for consistently churning out some quality whiskies, so are countries all over the world. To revere Scotch whisky is fine, but to exclusively believe that only Scotch is good whisky is an error. The Irish, the Americans, the Japanese and the Indians are creating some excellent whiskies and a true whisky lover must always be open to trying everything.
“Better whisky is always older, never younger.”
Once again, this is a whisky myth that many novices are easily susceptible towards. Whisky drinkers frequently believe that an older whisky is automatically superior to younger whisky. The belief that the age of a whisky is one of the most important determinants of quality and taste is flawed. There are some truly magnificent ‘younger’ and no-age-statement whiskies being made today.
As far as whisky myths are concerned, there are few as laughable and unquestionably false as this one. To believe that the love for whisky can be dictated by gender is a notion so erroneous, that even debunking it sounds funny to us. Whisky has, and will always be a drink for anyone, and everyone to enjoy. There must be many things in life dictated by gender, but loving whisky is surely not one of them.
“Whisky tasting is an exact science.”
A slightly complicated one, but nevertheless it is something that many whiskyheads fall for regularly. When researching a whisky online, the tendency to take the written tasting notes as set in stone is an error we should all avoid. Taking the tasting notes put forth by a website, or the brand should only be done in a broad sense. Whiskies respond differently based on the person drinking it, because our senses are not the same. So while it is a good choice to read up on a whisky you intend to buy, you should not form an opinion about it before getting a chance to taste it yourself.
“Mixing whiskey into cocktails is a cardinal sin.”
Another one of those classic whisky myths that have no basis altogether. Many veterans and purists do huff-and-puff at people who like to enjoy their whiskeys mixed into a cocktail. But is there any credibility to it? Absolutely not. If you like to take your whiskey with a cocktail, you should do it without flinching even for a moment. The makers of whiskeys like Jameson Irish whiskey, Blenders Pride, Royal Stag Deluxe, Jim Beam and many more encourage their customers to experiment with their drinks.
However, mixing a rare and expensive whiskey into a cocktail is something that might not make sense. It might not be wrong, but it would be unadvisable to add an expensive single malt into a whiskey cocktail. Some whiskies are best enjoyed neat, and some are good however you like to take them. Are there any wrong answers? Not at all.
“Indian whisky is not quality whisky.”
Back in the day, this whisky myth would be considered gospel by amateurs and connoisseurs alike. The emergence of some quality Indian whiskies has however changed this perception. Blenders Pride Reserve Collection, Amrut Single Malt, Paul John Single Malt and many other whiskies made in India have enthralled people in recent years. These Indian whisky brands have dispelled the false notion that quality whiskies cannot be made in India.
“Collecting whisky is only for the rich.”
Movies and Television shows might have created the perception in our minds that starting your own whisky collection is a recreational activity that merely the rich and the famous can pursue. It is another whisky myth that has little truth to it because becoming a whisky collector does not always require the big bucks.
It is very easy to start small, invest smartly and grow your personal whisky collection slowly and steadily. Only purchasing expensive and rare expressions is not what makes a collection great, but the knowledge and acumen of a true whisky connoisseur. The ability to appreciate a high quality drink like The Glenlivet and Ballantine’s, and at the same time recognizing the value of brands like 100 Pipers, Jameson and Something Special.
“One must have a favourite whisky, and always drink that.”
It is easy to let your sense of curiosity and adventure stagnate and entropy when it comes to drinking good whisky. Sometimes, we find a whisky that we like too much, and before we know it, we stop drinking anything else. Playing it safe, not taking many risks and exploring the ever changing topography of the vast whisky industry are ill-advised habits. It is of course not wrong to have a go-to whisky that you might enjoy come rain or shine. However one should always be up for a new experience when the chance to try a new whisky presents itself. You might even end up finding a new favourite!
It is a boring, old man’s drink
Another repetitive whisky myth that resurfaces every few years with a new generation of people who believe whisky is boring, and an old man’s drink. In fact, whisky is one of the most interesting and diverse spirits to have ever been made. Each country, each region of the world is known to create their own refreshing style of whisky that has something new to offer no matter your preferences. Contrary to popular belief, whisky is one of the best cocktail spirits too! The variety of drinks you can mix with whisky is held back only by our imaginations. To find out some of the best whisky cocktail recipes, click here
“Always drink famous whisky brands because they are reliable.”
Believing that quality whisky can only be created by established and famous whisky brands and distilleries is a whisky myth that is far too prevalent. This results in a serious number of underrated gems being overlooked in lieu of popular brands that get their marketing right. Whisky-making and branding are mutually exclusive, so instead of completely buying into ad campaigns by the big players, try to find underrated whiskies. Scotch brands like Aberlour, Longmorn, SCAPA; Redbreast single pot still Irish whiskey, Rabbit Hole Bourbon whiskey and many more should be higher on your must-try lists because they deserve more recognition.
“Only ONE right way to drink whisky.”
This one is easy to debunk. There is not right way to drink whisky, but one – to enjoy it.
“Whisky ‘Colour’ is a good indicator of quality.”
Since whiskies draw out their colour from the barrel, many have been led to believe that the deeper the colour of a whisky, the older and by extension, better it is. This is a whisky myth because legally, distillers and blenders are allowed to add caramel colouring to their whiskies. Thus, the colour of a whisky is no more than a cosmetic façade and has no effect on the quality of a whisky. The Glenlivet’s Nadurra Series of cask-strength single malt Scotch whiskies are a great example. These wonderful and critically acclaimed whiskies are not artificially coloured, but are some of the most prestigious Scotch whiskies on the market today.
“New distilleries should not be trusted.”
It is easier to trust whisky distilleries and blending houses that have been around for centuries. No one gets to be around for that long if they haven’t been any good right? Naturally, a lot of people tend to have an almost blind faith towards such historic brands, but treat newer distilleries with scepticism and caution. This whisky myth that dictates not trusting a new whisky distillery is based on unfounded evidence. Distilleries such as the Rabbit Hole Bourbon Distillery in Louisville, Kentucky is one of the finest new establishments in the business. Recipient of multiple awards, and makers of some of mesmerizing Bourbon whiskeys, Rabbit Hole Bourbon proves that newer distilleries can be just as good as one that has been around for centuries.