Having a direct approach to whiskey is not an easy task. We are confronted with a minimum 40 degrees beverage, thus quite higher alcohol percentage when compared with other drinks, such as beer and wine as examples.
Whiskeys features the benefit that can be diluted with water. This is a good starting point, but can not finalize the topic. It is worth noticing that adding water is an “irreversible process”, modifying the intrinsic characteristics of the product we are tasting. As a secondary point, the absolute quality of some whiskeys can only be perceived when tasting them in a “cask strength” modality, thus by adding water we might alter the inner nature a product, as thought by the manufacturer, should unveil.
Let us consider as examples “cask strength” Ardbeg, such as Corryvreckan and Uigeadail. Adding water we “domesticate” them, but we also modify the characteristics: alcoholic intensity, mouth persistency and finally tastes and aromas that only cask strength can deliver. It is worth reminding, especially to beginners, that it is not always simple to be confronted with pure spirit, not even taking into account the cask strength (also called full strength) ones. Even 40% abv can be tough to face if we do not have the right experience. We run the risk to ruin the experience.
Our suggestion is the following: try, try, try. Start with low % abv, 40 or 43 or 46, maybe also diluting these products at the beginning with some drops of water up to 1/3 of the total, in order to reach a comfortable alcohol intensity. Later on, when the palate will get used to these sensations, we could approach the full strength samples: several products are available in the market which can be considered as suitable for this task, in addition to the already mentioned Ardbeg Glendronach Cask Strength, Lagavulin 12 years, Aberlour A’Bunadh, Glengoyne Cask Strength cannot be forgotten. These are excellent products all of them, and with a good price/quality combination, which will be discussed later on.
And keep in your mind: the journey has to start from somewhere.