How can you become a know-it-all when it comes to whiskey? Richard Betts, author of the New York Times bestseller The Essential Scratch and Sniff Guide to Becoming a Wine Expert, and The Essential Scratch & Sniff Guide to Becoming a Whiskey Know-It-All, joins the Clever Cookstr to discuss.
Richard's books take intimidating subjects (wine and whiskey) and make them fun, accessible, and informative. Here's Richard's cheat sheet for learning what you like in a whiskey.
1.) The three components that make a whiskey what it is are the grain, the barrel it's aged in, and the place where the barrel is aged. By dissecting those things, you can learn which common elements you like in a whiskey and why you like them.
2.) Those elements get described in words like "smoky" or "peaty" or "malty." Smelling whiskey is a great way to begin learning how you respond to different flavors.
3.) Older is not necessarily better. Just like wines, there are excellent whiskies that have been aged for a long time, but also equally enjoyable whiskies that are fresh out of the barrel.
4.) More expensive is not necessarily better. Collectors abound in the world of whiskey, and supply and demand impact prices significantly. If you're not interested in developing a collection, you'll find that there are plenty of stellar, complex, and delicious whiskies in a very affordable price range.
5.) When mixing whiskies in drinks or pairing them with foods, think about variables like temperature, sweetness, and acidity. Whiskies actually pair very well with food, so don't shy away from serving them together! Some scotches that have been aged near the ocean go well with oysters, echoing their salty, briny notes.
Check out Richard's book The Essential Guide to Becoming a Whiskey Know-It-All, which includes lots of fun illustrations and special scratch and sniff pages.