Beer Drinkers Guide to Drinking Whiskey

It has come to my attention that a lot of the beer drinkers on this blog do not enjoy whiskey like they do beer.  I think this is a shame, as many of the barrel flavors that many beers now have come from using whiskey barrels and integrating the flavors of the barrel and the whiskey into the brew.  Why then would many beer drinkers not get the awesome connection that exists between the two spirits?

Of course there is the classic drink, the Boilermaker that adds a shot of whiskey to a beer like a depthcharge seeking its pray, however this drink has never tipped the scales on the popularity charts.  It is, however an indication to the fact that the two flavors go together very well.  For some having a “Whiskey Back” to a beer is a great flavor combination, and it is, but to others they just find whiskey too challenging.  I was wondering why, then I received a comment yesterday on the blog that gave me a clue…

Beer all the way, just for the diversity and being able to drink several different varieties in one sitting (hard liquor hits me hard – yes, I’m turning into a lightweight in my old age).

And given that I have yet to find a whiskey that doesn’t make my throat feel like it’s simultaneously burning and closing when I drink it, I’d again have to go with beer.

So that’s two votes!

This was a comment left on the blog by Mark Siebler the other day, and it got me thinking.  I wonder how many people feel the same way when they drink Whiskey.  My Brother Jim had a similar problem.  He used to say that all whiskey tasted like drinking paint thinner to him.  Well in April we got together and I figured out his problem and now he really enjoys a good whiskey.  It was simple to fix, but probably one that happens quite frequently.

See in the movies, especially the old westerns you would see John Wayne or other cowboy at the bar with a bottle and a shot glass just shooting whiskey down his gullet as fast as possible.  Well this will set your chest on fire, and give you that pained expression he always had after drinking a shot.  That is because whiskey wasn’t meant to be gulped but sipped, and herein lies the answer for many beer drinkers.

If you are trying to drink whiskey like you drink beer you aren’t going to like whiskey.

Think of it this way, you wouldn’t gulp hot tea, no this is the quintessential sipping drink.  Why?  Because its HOT!  If you gulp it you will get some nasty burns.  Well Whiskey isn’t hot, but it gets that way when you drink it, and if you gulp it you will more than likely experience the same sort of discomfort as you would gulping hot tea.

So to properly drink whiskey you want to take a sip, swirl it around your palate a little bit, then let the whiskey slowly make its way to the back of your throat and then swallow slowly.  This allows the great flavors of the whiskey to open fully on your palate and keeps that fire tamed.

One other way to keep the heat down is to put an ice cube or two in your whiskey to cool it before you drink it.  This kind of compensates for the fire.  Some people like to put the bottle of whiskey in the freezer to chill it.  One problem with this approach is if the whiskey has not been chill filtered it can become cloudy and thick like the consistency of maple syrup.  No harm in it, but it is just a little weird.  Finally you can add a splash of water to the whiskey to cool it down a bit if needed.

So there you have it.  the antidote to whiskey fire, and a lesson for beer drinkers as to how to sip whiskey for maximum enjoyment.  I’m sure that if you give it a try you will love the flavors of my favorite beverage.  Have a great weekend everyone.


Categories: Beer, Lifestyle, Scotch Whisky, Whiskey

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29 Comments on “Beer Drinkers Guide to Drinking Whiskey”

  1. Angela Arp
    October 15, 2010 at 1:56 pm #

    once in a while I’ll take an entire dinner to finish a manhattan!

    • Don
      October 15, 2010 at 2:03 pm #

      No shame in that. And you get an A for whiskey drinking effort!

  2. Rob Crozier
    October 15, 2010 at 2:24 pm #

    Its not the burn or fire that limits me to drink whiskey as frequently as beer – its just that beer offers more flavors and options. I love whiskey, I just don’t find myself craving it or wanting it as I do beer.

    • Don
      October 15, 2010 at 2:45 pm #

      Then this post isn’t for you Rob. I think however a lot of people find Whiskey too challenging because they drink it wrong. Just trying to bring a few more into the fold. 😉

      • Rob Crozier
        October 15, 2010 at 2:55 pm #


  3. October 15, 2010 at 2:36 pm #

    I’ve always enjoyed beers aged in bourbon barrels, so it makes sense that the combination fuses well. My issue though, Don, has been — what kind of whiskey should I buy? Unfortunately, sampling a variety of whiskey isn’t as cheap & easy as buying a $4 – 5 pint of craft beer to find out if you like it or not.

    • Don
      October 15, 2010 at 2:44 pm #

      Here are my two go to’s and if you don’t like them, chances are you don’t like whiskey. First Ancient Ancient Age 10 star. It is a 90 proof bourbon and very affordable. About $14 here in Idaho for a fifth. Make sure you get the ten star version. The regular version is 80 proof and just mediocre. Second is Old Wellar Antique. It is 107 proof and aged for 7 years. This is a higher proof bourbon but very easy drinking. It runs about $24. You can also find a lot more here Shane.

    • Rob Crozier
      October 15, 2010 at 2:55 pm #

      Seek out Elijah Craig – I served it at a party over the summer to non-bourbon drinkers and it was a hit! A bottle cost under $25. It was smooth with not a lot of heat and plenty of buttery, toffee notes – a great introduction (for me at least) into the world of bourbon/whiskey.

  4. October 15, 2010 at 2:37 pm #

    Plus whiskey gives you a much nastier hangover than beer. Trust me, I know. Today.

    • Don
      October 15, 2010 at 2:39 pm #

      That is an individual thing Jim. I have a much better time with Whiskey hangovers than Beer hangovers. I typically don’t get a hangover from whiskey, but I will with beer, just about every time.

  5. October 15, 2010 at 2:42 pm #

    You can always get a whiskey liqueur like Stags Breath (I think Wild Turkey makes one too) as a “starter” whiskey. They are a lot more sweet and mellow on the palate.

    • Don
      October 15, 2010 at 2:48 pm #

      Not sure who makes Stags Breath, but Beam makes Red Stag which is a cherry flavored Bourbon liqueur. Its just ok, but if it attracts more people to bourbon I’m all for it. I think the Wild Turkey product you are thinking about id “American Honey” . This is so sweet I would only use it for cooking or mixing.

  6. David
    October 15, 2010 at 3:35 pm #

    Don, I like your enthusiasm. I’m going to make a concious effort this weekend. Any thoughts on Wild Turkey Rare breed? It’s VERY cheap at my corner store right now.

    • October 15, 2010 at 4:12 pm #

      Wild Turkey Rare Breed is very good bourbon! I think it’s like 114 proof, so sip it carefully or water it down some. Skip the ice though. I find that it dulls the taste. Like Don, “The Don of Whiskey” said, take it slow and enjoy!


      • Don
        October 15, 2010 at 9:17 pm #

        Thanks G-Lo. I actually read your response after I wrote my own. As usual great advice. Hey I am really Jacked. I picked up a fifth of The Glenlevit Nadurra 16 year old today. Can’t wait to give it a try!

    • Don
      October 15, 2010 at 9:14 pm #

      Buy as much of it as you can! It is a VERY good whiskey. Jim and I love it. Chances are the reason it is so cheap is that your corner store is going to stop carrying it once they sell out. (Just a hunch) That is a good one to start with, but start slow it is also very potent. Try a couple cubes of ice and if that isn’t enough to tame it put in small amounts of water until you can take the burn. The key is not to dilute the heck out of the experience, but to gradually acclimate to the experience. It sounds like a bit of a pain, but it is very rewarding once you become accustomed to the flavors.

      • October 15, 2010 at 9:36 pm #

        The Nadurra is excellent and quite potent! You really can’t go wrong with Glenlivet. It is the Single Malt that started it all afterall. Or so they say. 🙂

        • Don
          October 15, 2010 at 10:00 pm #

          Yes, I noticed it is 55.1% ABV. Very big. Previous the only scotch I’ve had is 80 proofers, so I think this will be a great experience. I loved The Glenlivet 12, and Keith Wood from Whisky Emporium recommended this one, so when I saw it I grabbed one. Of course I will have a write up about it soon.

      • October 15, 2010 at 10:40 pm #

        I’ve been to a couple Glenlivet tastings and was lucky enough to try the 12, 18, 21, 25, and The Nadurra. It is a very impressive range of whiskies, but I don’t recommend having them all in one night. It’s tough to hold back when the drams are free. 🙂

        Looking forward to your review!

  7. Elena
    October 15, 2010 at 4:11 pm #

    so many beers so little time; maybe whiskey in my next life.

    • Don
      October 15, 2010 at 9:15 pm #

      Why wait? Just add it in now! 😉

  8. Mark S.
    October 15, 2010 at 5:36 pm #

    Thanks, Don! I think the real key to learning to like whiskey is in what you did for your brother, i.e. someone experienced showing a novice what to look for, how to appreciate it, and what to avoid. Which can be said about many of the finer things in life!

    • Don
      October 15, 2010 at 9:19 pm #

      Glad you liked it. I was hoping you wouldn’t mind me using your comment in the post. It really got me thinking, and hopefully others can learn from it and begin to enjoy the spirit I am so enthusiastic about! Have a great weekend!

  9. Steve
    October 29, 2010 at 3:44 pm #

    Tempteton rye is a great whiskey to start with however I do enjoy iowa’s best bourbon. Both are hard to find but well worth the effort.

    • Don
      October 29, 2010 at 3:56 pm #

      Is that the Cedar Ridge Bourbon, of which you speak? I’d love to give it a go. I am excited, because a friend of mine will be bringing me back a bottle of Templeton’s Rye some time around Thanksgiving. I’m really looking forward to it.

  10. Elizabeth
    April 26, 2012 at 9:55 pm #

    I have the opposite issue; I love whiskeys, but have a hard time finding beers that I like. The finish is too bitter for my taste more often than not. Just discovered Paulaner Salvator and it thrills me, but any other suggestions on beers a whiskey drinker might savor?


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