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The Best Gear to Improve Your Whiskey Drinking Experience

A man sipping whiskey from a tumbler.
LightField Studios/Shutterstock

Whiskey is a true classic. While its reputation might seem a bit overinflated, all the pomp and ceremony associated with drinking a good single malt can be a lot of fun. Sure, an aged rum or mescal might be equally as tasty to some, but whiskey has the most ridiculous cachet.

One of the easiest ways to take your drinking experience up a notch is with some choice accessories. Here are some ideas to help you upgrade your whiskey tasting experience.

Oh, and by the way, these will all work with that bottle of rum or mescal, too.

A Tasting Glass

whiskey glass
Glencairn

Taste is a lot more complex than most people know. We don’t just experience taste through our tongues. Our nose and sense of smell play a huge role in how we experience food and drink. Just think about how things taste when you have a stuffed nose or a bad cold.

Just as there are glasses designed to emphasize the smell of certain wines, there’s also a specific kind of glass for tasting whiskey: the short tulip glass.

A whiskey tasting glass almost looks like a condensed wine glass. Really, it kind of is. The angled sides push the aromatic vapors to the center so you can better experience them. And, rather than holding a hefty dollop, they’re meant for a single measure.

A favorite tasting glass is the kind of thing you find as you dive deeper into whiskey. This crystal set from Glencairn is a great place to start, though. They’re well-made and reasonably priced. They also don’t break easily, but you won’t cry if they do. Plus, there are six of them, so you can share with your friends!

A Whiskey Tasting Glass

Glencairn Crystal Whiskey Glass, Set of 6, Clear, 6 Pack

A nice set of whiskey tasting glasses.

A Nice Decanter

decanter
Ravenscroft Crystal

Presentation is everything when it comes to enjoying the (supposed) finer things in life. Sure, you could just slug Lagavulin from the bottle, but where’s the fun in that?

Unlike red wine or port, whiskey doesn’t strictly need to be decanted, it just looks good that way. There’s also a bit of history to it. Gentlemen used to use decanters to disguise the drink they were serving to their guests. It was totes uncouth to boast about the bottles you could afford. Instead, everything was decanted in, admittedly fancy. crystal bottles.

First and foremost, a decanter should look really good. After all, it serves no practical purpose, so choose one you love. It also needs to have an airtight seal. Whiskey will keep just fine in its sealed bottle, so, if you’re replacing it with a decanter, make sure it’ll also do the job properly.

If my mother hadn’t already gifted me one, I’d probably choose this Ravenscroft Crystal Bishop. The Crystal Taylor with matching glasses is nice, as well.

A Lovely Decanter

Ravenscroft Crystal Bishop Decanter

A whiskey decanter is unnecessary, but they sure look good.

Big Ice Mold

Two Ticent Ice Cube Trays
Ticent

There’s nothing wrong with adding a few drops of water (preferably distilled) to your Scotch. In fact, in many cases, it’s actively encouraged—especially with higher proof drams. The water mellows out the harshest alcohol flavors, so you only get the full-on whiskey goodness.

However, you want to deliberately dilute your whiskey rather than allowing quickly melting ice to do it for you.

The secret to properly icing drinks is surface area. The greater the surface area of the ice is, the faster it cools your drink and the faster it melts. That’s why the crushed ice in a slushy cools it super-fast, but also starts to melt right away.

On the other hand, the gigantic chunk of ice whiskey is served with in the best cocktail bars cools things slowly, but sticks around forever. This is the best of all worlds. You don’t want your whiskey so cold that you lose all the flavor, but rather, just mildly chilled. And, of course, you also want to avoid accidentally diluting it.

While some of the best bars in the world employ someone just to make ice and chip chunks off gigantic blocks, you don’t have to go that far. Instead, you can get a nice, large ice cube or sphere right from your home freezer with a simple ice cube tray.

This set of two from Ticent is perfect. You can make six, two-inch cubes and six 1.75-inch spheres at a time.

A Cocktail Shaker

Two-piece Boston Shaker Set.
A Bar Above

There are more ways to drink whiskey than just straight or on the rocks. There are a lot of incredible whiskey cocktails out there. I’m a sucker for an Old Fashioned, but the Whiskey Sour and Manhattan both have their place, as well.

The key to a good whiskey cocktail (other than, you know, being able to make them) is using a whiskey that’s good enough to drink on its own, but not so good you have to. Stuff like Buffalo Trace and Johnny Walker Black Label are perfect.

But you also need some accoutrements to make a good whiskey cocktail, and none are more important than a proper Boston-style cocktail shaker like this one. It won’t make the cocktails for you, but it definitely makes it easier for you to get it right.

Harry Guinness Harry Guinness
Harry Guinness is a photography expert and writer with nearly a decade of experience. His work has been published in newspapers like the New York Times and on a variety of other websites, including Lifehacker. Read Full Bio »

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