Avatar photo

By Vukosi Maluleke

Digital Journalist

Neat or on the rocks? ‘There’s no specific way to enjoy whisky,’ says connoisseur

'If it puts a smile on your face, you're doing it right,' says Glenmorangie global brand ambassador, David Blackmore.

How will you be enjoying your good old scotch whisky this festive season? Neat, on the rocks or mixed in a colourful cocktail?

With the hot summer season upon us, everyone’s out flexing their perfect heatwave busting concoction, with some claiming superiority over others.

Speaking to The Citizen during his recent visit to South Africa, Glenmorangie global brand ambassador, David Blackmore, settled the age-long ‘ice versus no ice’ debate.

The whisky connoisseur said there’s no specific way to enjoy whisky, and that different strokes apply for different folks.

“Drink it however you like. If it puts a smile on your face, you’re doing it right,” he said.

Glenmorangie Global Brand Ambassador, David Blackmore whisky
Glenmorangie Global Brand Ambassador, David Blackmore recently visited South Africa for the A Tale of Tokyo launch. Image: Supplied.

ALSO READ: WATCH: Sustainability meets single malt whisky

Finding the perfect whisky

Top notch scotch whisky is often associated with affluence, with the oldest and priciest often being paraded as status symbols.

Undoubtedly, the gentleman’s club signature beverage has many connotations of wealth attached to it.

Nonetheless, when it comes to shopping for the perfect bottle of whisky, David said there’s no need to break the piggy bank, especially if you’re a novice.

“You don’t have to buy the most expensive bottle if you’re new to single malt, absolutely not.”

ALSO READ: WHO says time to hike alcohol, sugary drinks tax

Dash of water, no ice?

If you’re looking to add whisky to your collection this festive season, David shared some tips to enhance your overall taste experience.

Adding a dash of water to your whisky at room temperature sparks an “exothermic reaction”, releasing strong flavours from the beverage.

“When you add water, you emphasise some of the notes from distillation, so you’ll pick up more of the floral, fruity notes in any whisky,” David explained.

Those who enjoy scotch on the rocks might be unknowingly depriving themselves of the full olfactory experience. “If you add ice, like chilling anything, you’re going to lower your nose’s ability to pick up everything.”

As an example, David noted that ice cream at room temperature tastes a lot sweeter than it does when frozen. Whisky is no different.

“When you chill whisky, you’re going to [reduce] a lot flavours,” he said.

David further explained that most elements from maturation, and extractives from the barrels, might not be easily picked up when whisky is served cold.

Cocktail Morangie

The global ambassador isn’t opposed to the idea of Glenmorangie being used in cocktails.

“If you went to a restaurant, you wouldn’t expect the chef to use anything either than the best raw ingredients for the dish,” David said.

“Why would you expert a mixologist to use anything less?”

ALSO READ: Whisky – No longer just your suave uncle’s favourite drink

New edition to the cellar

Meanwhile, Glenmorangie recently launched their A Tale of Tokyo flavour in SA, just in time for the festive season.

Conceptualised by Glenmorangie’s Director of Whisky Creation, Dr. Bill Lumsden, the flavour is the fourth in the company’s A Tale Of series.

The whisky was inspired by Tokyo’s unique contrast between the fast and futuristic city life, and stark ancient heritage.

“You’re almost time travelling,” David said, narrating the story of Lumsden’s inspiration for the new flavour.

“He took the inspiration of the contrast of the city to make a whisky that would represent both the soft, traditional side of Glenmorangie, and this kind of spicy, ultra modern side… without one overwhelming the other,” he told The Citizen.

Glenmorangie’s recently launched A Tale of Tokyo flavour. Image: Supplied.

While the Glenmorangie whisky is classically known for its soft, floral tones, David noted that the new flavour might be quite the opposite.

The Tale of Tokyo, aged in the Japanese Mizunara oak, boasts a contrast of strong versus soft flavours.

“Japanese oak is very robust, it gives a strong flavour to the spirits,” David said.

Notes of pepper, bitter cherries and coconut meet flavours of orange zest fused with incense and elements of sweet oak – giving the new scotch a distinct taste.

Best enjoyed?

So, how is it best served? David said adding water to A Tale of Tokyo brings out more of the Glenmorangie citrus notes, while softening some of the cherry notes, making it more floral.

Meanwhile, adding ice will unleash the spicy, pepper notes and bold flavours from the oak.

The scotch expert encouraged whisky lovers to play around with their taste buds when having their favourite drink.

“Add an ice cube one time, and add a dash of water the next time,” he said.

ALSO READ: Alcohol abuse in SA: Booze still a big killer – expert

Read more on these topics

alcohol whisky

Access premium news and stories

Access to the top content, vouchers and other member only benefits