Whiskey 101: What Novices Need To Know Before Buying

Beginning to collect whiskey or even choosing one bottle for the evening is a difficult task. With so many unique whiskeys lining the shelves, even the most experienced connoisseur can quickly become overwhelmed. In this article, we’ll discuss what novices need to know before buying whiskey so that the liquor store is no longer intimidating, and you may begin your love of what some feel is the only spirit we need—whiskey.

Whiskey Is Wildly Popular

Whiskey fans plan vacations around the whiskey trails of Tennessee and the bourbon trails of Kentucky. Tastings of rare whiskeys are held in restaurants, homes, and even whiskey bars. We’re fascinated by whiskey’s many layers, rich history, and the way it’s distilled. Every bottle is different, and there’s a bottle out there for everyone. Like true love, when you’ve found the one for you, you’ll just know.

There Is More To Whiskey Than Whiskey

There are six main categories of whiskey, and within those categories, each whiskey has its own distinct flavor. The mash and where it’s made determines a whiskey’s fate. Here are the six styles of whiskey.

  • Bourbon: Born and bred in Kentucky, bourbon must be at least 51 percent corn mash and, until recently, had to be distilled in Kentucky.
  • Tennessee Whiskey: It’s more than a popular song; Tennessee whiskey is made with a similar mash to bourbon but takes things a step further with the addition of charcoal filtering.
  • Rye Whiskey: This category must contain a rye mash and be distilled at no more than 80 percent alcohol by volume.
  • Scotch Whisky: Hailing from Scotland, Scotch is known for its peat flavor that comes from the fact that the grains are smoked over peat (an organic compound taken from the bogs of Scotland).
  • Japanese Whisky: Similar to Scotch, you’ll notice there’s no “e” in Japanese whisky. Influenced by the Scots, this category often has a peaty flavor as well, with an added uniqueness of fruits and other fragrant additions.
  • Irish Whiskey: Irish whiskey is, of course, made in the lovely country of Ireland. It’s distilled three times in copper pots and most often found in the form of a blended whiskey.

Taste It Slowly

As a novice, there’s only one way to find out what you prefer—start tasting. But please, do it slowly. Grab a couple of bottles to start, then follow these steps.

  1. Pour an ounce into an appropriate whiskey drinking glass.
  2. Let your nose begin the adventure by first bringing the glass close so you can enjoy the aroma.
  3. Take a small sip and allow the whiskey to hang out a bit in your mouth. Move it side to side to cover each tastebud. Pay attention not only to the notes but also how it feels on your tongue.
  4. Finally, swallow and be intrigued by yet another layer of flavor.

We hope you enjoyed learning about what novices need to know before buying whiskey. Whiskeys are fascinatingly intricate, with layers of aromas and flavors that awaken our senses. Once you begin your journey of discovery, you’ll be thankful you did. If you need advice on where to start or what to add to your collection, contact VS Liquor or explore our online store. We are the trusted source for buying rare liquor online. Let the whiskey tastings begin.