As I was once again wandering on Amazon, hesitating between poodle and pug masks (I know they’re both absolutely fantastic !), I magically found myself scrolling down the results page for “whisky” (I tend to be a bit obsessional when I like something…), surfing endless seas of whisky stones and other malted gadgets. I then took a deep breath, closed the page and realised it may sometimes be kind of a challenge for a whisky novice to figure out where to start – what is essential ? what is optional ? What is pure marketing gimmick ?
As I’m here to help, I put together a list of my personal whisky essentials :
1. The one and only : Glencairn glass
The Glencairn Whisky Glass is a revolutionary whisky glass that really lets one savor the taste and complexity of fine whisky. These are great to use for any of your Single Malt Whisky’s, Irish Whiskey’s, and also your single barrel bourbons. With the tapered mouth, you are able to really smell all of the nuances the whisky has to offer.
Any malt advocate will love this glass and I’m certainly no exception to the rule !
2. My personal Bible : 1001 Whiskies You Must Taste Before You Die (Dominic Roskrow)
The hugely popular 1001 series supplies the connoisseurs’ scoop on the finest spirits from the Scottish highlands to the exotic new whiskies emanating from Japan and the evolving world of American micro-distilleries. The book also covers bourbons and ryes, making this the go-to volume for the serious whisky connoisseur as well as the passionate beginner.
This essential guide represents the collective, subjective wisdom of an international team of critics who winnow the world of spirits down to the “must-try” whiskies—from high-quality, mass-produced brands to small-batch specialty bourbons from micro-distilleries. Each entry includes critical tasting notes, a history of the distillery, and temperature recommendations.
From grain to glass, everything important is covered—including storing and serving whiskies, making whisky cocktails, and pairing whisky with food—making this the most important illustrated exploration of whisky published in years.
I even carry this book with me – despite its heavy weight – in my purse when going out on whisky shopping trips or events ! A real goldmine of information.
Right, this one may not be the most essential of my essentials but it’s always interesting to add a dash of water while sampling whisky to open it up and release the flavours or make it smoother when it’s really too strong for my sometimes-too-sensitive palate. I recently found out that owning a nice and stylish water jug really enhanced the all “whisky tasting” experience, making it a bit more ceremonial, turning a simple tasting into some sort of spirited ritual (and it can also be the perfect excuse to buy more branded merchandising from your favourite whisky brand !)
I like having some empty sample bottles or test tubes in my cupboards, in case I need to conduct some weird experimentations or just send a sample to another whisky aficionado !
You may have already seen those in bars, they are indeed really popular amongst bartenders, but I must admit liquor pourers (or pouring spouts) really changed my life ! Being the most heavy-handed person on Earth, I always found a way to end up with a wet table after pouring myself a dram – I can now pretend that I would make a top-class waitress !