Rules are made to be crushed up and served with a twist. Our brand ambassador and whisky expert, Matty Follent, shares his tips for a top tasting experience.
From pouring it neat, to mixing it in a cocktail, or even slurping it in a slushie – there is no one right way to drink whisky. There are, however, certain things you can do to enhance your chosen whisky’s flavour profiles in different ways. And it all comes down to personal choice.
‘At Starward, we’re all about exploring how versatile and exciting whisky can be,’ says our brand ambassador and resident whisky expert, Matty Follent.
With Matty’s help, we’ve put together a few guidelines to help you navigate the world of whisky drinking.
How to sip whisky.
Because whisky can be strong, especially to newcomers, Matty recommends enjoying the flavour by first easing up to the glass with a‘safety sniff.’
‘If you’re just doing shots of whisky, then, sure, just go for it and have a good time,’ Matty says.‘But smell is connected to our perception of flavour, so with a safety sniff, you’re really getting all the aromatics. If I’m just enjoying the whisky, I’ll smell it for 10 to 20 seconds to try and figure out what flavours I’m picking up – red wine, brown sugar, fruit, whatever.’
Then, he’ll confirm it with a sip.
‘Start off with a small sip and hold it in your mouth,’ Matty says.‘That lets you assess the flavour and the aroma together, so you get the best understanding of its taste.’
Matty assures us that sipping and tasting whisky doesn’t need to be intimidating,‘maybe you just pick up an aroma of fruit – or a wine influence. That’s enough. That’s spot on.’
Adding water to whisky.
Not everyone likes their whisky neat – and that’s okay.‘Whiskyhas a really intense flavour profile. At 40% ABV, it can be a real punch in the face for people who are new to it,’ says Matty. Adding water softens the whisky’s intensity and opens up the flavours.
‘It also depends on the type of whisky,’ says Matty.‘WhenI’m tasting the whisky and coming up with different serves, I always test it both with and without water. Sometimes water really brings out the oaky spiceflavours, for example, or even the juicy red wine notes can become brighter and bolder.’
But how much water should you add? The trick is to try your whisky neat first, without water. Then, add a drop or two at a time and try again.
Whisky mixer drinks.
We’re not afraid of experimentation at Starward. We love using Two-Fold in mixed drinks, with its barley and wheat spirit imbuing a lightness and softness that blends beautifully with other ingredients. Our signature serve? Two-Fold topped up with tonic water and a slice of grapefruit.
‘It’s the drink you didn’t know you needed,’ says Matty.‘The beautiful wine characteristics we get through our unique red wine barrel maturation process give us red fruit notes that pair excellently with the tonic water’s bitter quinine. Add a slice of ruby grapefruit to garnish, and you’re good to go!’
Another favourite is the Starward Spritz: Two-Fold mixed with rose vermouth and grapefruit soda, garnished with a sprig of mint and a wedge of grapefruit.
‘Not all whiskies go well in spritzers. But the soft wine character in our whisky allows it to work perfectly in light, bright, effervescent mixes like this one.’
‘We love classic cocktails – so we use them to add a new-world twist that truly complements Starward whiskies,’ says Matty.
For Two-Fold cocktails, he suggests trying our New World Sour: Two-Fold with lemon juice, sugar syrup, egg white and a float of red wine.
For Nova, Matty recommends the Tawny Old Fashioned: Nova with tawny port, Angostura bitters and a drunk cherry to garnish, or our Coffee Manhattan: Nova mixed with sweet vermouth and coffee liqueur, garnished with a twist of orange.
When it comes down to it, whisky can be enjoyed in so many different ways.‘There are tips and guidelines we think can make the experience better,’ says Matty,‘but at the end of the day –just drink your whisky the way that suits you best.’