We got a question recently that is really getting us here at WhiskeyMade super riled up. Here, I’ll share:
I was at my brother-in-law’s wedding a couple weeks ago, enjoying some Ardbeg Uigeadail at the open bar. When I asked for it on the rocks, my brother-in-law’s cousin (let’s call him Jerkface) loudly began to ridicule me for watering down my drink with ice. Almost everyone agreed with him– and they even ridiculed my wife for marrying someone who, ‘can’t handle his liquor properly.’
I personally like ice in my whiskey. I think warm whiskey tastes cheap, for some reason, and it ruins the experience. Besides that, it was a hot day out! Is it OK that I paired my Ardbeg with some crunchy water cubes or did I commit some serious faux pas? What should I say if I ever run into another Jerkface like this?
– On the Rocks in the Hamptoms
Rocks, let me break it down for you.
What You Taste is What You Get
People who like whiskey usually don’t like drinking their whiskey with anything else. While it can be used as a mixer in a cocktail, most whiskey drinkers drink for the flavor. In the case of your Ardbeg, that whiskey has been deliciously aging with sherry butts, in bourbon barrels for a couple years. Adding Coke or what-have-you can be seen as insulting to the process and the complex flavoring, especially if the whiskey has some notoriety.
When alcohol is produced, it has a natural ‘heat’ to it. A lot of alcohols try to subdue that flavor because it can cover up the more desirable tastes– for example, mead makers would prefer to taste the honey in their drinks rather than the heat. But with many whiskeys, that heat IS desirable.
That Being Said…
Dude. It’s your cup! It’s going into your body! Drink it however you want and nix the naysayers. A true bro would see you selection and admire your good taste in scotch, instead of trying to bring you down. This guy was just trying to show off in front of family and chose you as his scapegoat for it.
If his problem was that you couldn’t taste the heat, adding ice can sometimes be a good thing. Ice cools the flavor of the whiskey, dialing that heat down a notch and making the more subtle and complex flavors easier to taste without a distraction.
Which Ice is Best?
True whiskey bars usually swear by big ice (tell Jerkface that! Real whiskey bars DO carry ice). Large chunks cut off of a big block, or…
My personal favorite? I like a big ball of ice, right in the middle, and my local whiskey bar does it perfect using a silicon ice cube tray like this. The density of the ice ball makes it stay colder for longer– meaning that both your whiskey is colder and there’s less of a water dilution.
If you like ice in whiskey, you’re not in the minority. At all. Don’t let Jerkfaces like, well, Jerkface tell you otherwise. That whiskey is going in your mouth. You drink it however you want.