If you are going to become a true Bangkokian you’ll need to learn how to drink whisky. Thailand is perhaps best known for some dubious and almost deadly brands of alcohol, such as Samsong and Mekong which are commonly referred to as whiskeys but are both much closer to being rum, not to mention the dreaded Yaa Dong (a lethal home brew sold street side) which doubles up as paint stripper. However, there are far more hardcore whiskey connoisseurs in Bangkok than you may realise, not just among the many RCA clubbers knocking back bottles of Chivas and Red Label, but also many aficionados tasting some of the finest single malt scotches being served in Bangkok’s grander settings such as the Crossbar, Glen Bar, and Barber Shop.
Not only does ‘real’ whisky taste great but it also makes you look cool too, especially if you know what you are doing. So here is our guide to drinking whiskey like an expert:
Know what you are ordering
If you are going to drink a proper, manly whiskey you’re going to want to get a scotch whiskey. Scotch whiskeys are generally defined by which of the 4 regions they come from (the Highlands, Lowlands, Spey side or from and Islands). For example Lowland whiskeys have a milder flavour while Island whiskies tend to be smokier. You don’t need to do hours of research but start taking note of which whiskeys you try (and enjoy), and try to remember the fragrances and flavours.
You should also know if what you are drinking is single malt or a blend. A single malt has only used 1 barley to distil the liquor, while a blended malt has use more than one barley or grain to distil the liquor. If you don’t know what you are drinking ask to see the bottle or simply ask the bartender.
Investigate the glass
Once you have had your whiskey poured it’s time for the pretentious bit, and investigate the whiskey you’ve been poured:
– First hold the glass up to the light and examine the colour of the liquor. Here you are trying to judge if it’s golden, brown, or yellow in colour, and how bright or dark that colour is.
– Next, give the glass a swirl so that the whiskey splashes up against the sides of your glass. Now hold it up to the light again and look at the liquid slowly running down the inside of the glass (these are called legs of whiskey). What you are looking for is how quickly or slowly they run down the glass, a slow running leg indicates a thick-bodied whiskey, while fast running legs point to a lighter whiskey.
– Now you need to give the glass another swirl before tipping it towards your face, leaning your nose into the glass so that the underside of your nose/top of your lip is pressed against the glass, and inhale a deep breath of the whiskey fumes. It takes time to develop a skill of identifying the different tones of whiskey, but with a bit of practice you should soon be distinguishing between hints of vanilla, caramel, fruits and nuts.
It’s now time to taste your glass, but make sure to give it another swirl to release the flavours.
– First you’ll just want to take a small sip and roll it around your mouth so that it coats your tongue and taste buds. Here you are looking to identify the flavours as you did through the inhalation test, but again it can take time to develop a knack for it.
– Now swallow a small sip and take a small breath of air into your mouth to judge the aftertaste. You are looking for the flavours left behind in your mouth, which won’t necessarily be the same flavours you inhaled on tasted previously.
And that’s it. It will take time to develop your senses in order to really know what you are seeing, smelling and tasting, but in the mean time you can at least try to look cool and knowledgeable!. Bottoms up!