Culture & Lifestyle / A Woman’s Guide To Drinking Scotch

A Woman’s Guide To Drinking Scotch

Culture & Lifestyle Apr 14, 2016

Drink to impress with these tips that will help even a novice scotch drinker look like a pro.

Scotch 101 
Ladies, I promise, after reading this article, you'll sound like a pro when talking Scotch. For starters it is imperative to know the difference between a Scotch blend and a single malt Scotch.

A single malt is made with malted barley in pot sills at one single distillery and a blended scotch whisky is made by combining several single malts with wheat and or corn whiskies in a column. Scotch whisky is divided into five distinct categories:

1. Single malt Scotch whisky
2. Single grain Scotch whisky
3. Blended malt Scotch whisky (formerly called vatted malt or pure malt)
4. Blended grain Scotch whisky 
5. Blended Scotch 

You would be surprised to find out that of the recognizable brands are a blended Scotch whisky.

Being a novice myself, I eased into the world of Scotch with the blended scotches which included household favourites like The Glenlivet, Johnnie Walker, Royal Salute, Dewar's and a few more. 

For your introduction I am going to explain how to talk, drink, serve and and enjoy scotch like a pro. with these little tips your friends will think you know way more than you actually do.

Scotch whisky, often simply called Scotch, originally made from melted barley, is malt whisky or grain whisky made in Scotland and must be made in a manner specified by law. Commercial distilleries began introducing whisky made from wheat and rye in the late 18th century.

There's nothing like scotch.
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How to Serve Scotch

To start, there are three ways Scotch is consumed: neat, on the rocks or with water. 

Neat is just the Scotch with no ice or water. Typically, true scotch connoisseurs drink Scoth this way and are looking to savor their drink by enhaling the aroma and sipping the heavy dark liquid. Note: the first serving of a neat Scotch should be about two fingers.   

On the rocks is Scotch with ice. Scotch etiquette suggests that you pour the liquid over the ice instead of adding it afterwards as some believe that adding the ice to the drink can bruise the alcohol and affect the taste. When serving a true Scotch drinker these are the little nuances they will take note of and yes, they are judging you. 

In all of my research it was said that adding water enhances the flavour of the scotch. I taste tested a Glenlivet 18 years with water and in my opinion it diluted the flavour. It is recommended to taste the Scotch first before adding water.

With Scotch age does matter. The first thing you will note is as the Scotch ages the colour and the texture of the alcohol changes. The later years have a darker and thicker texture to them, are spicier in flavour and, if the right Scotch, the burning sensation is subtle allowing you to savor and experience the Scotch without the dreaded burn.  

A fun fact is that all Scotches are legally required to be aged in an oak barrel for at least three years and therefore the youngest Scotch can be three years old, which is rare. Characteristically the youngest age that you would normally see is five years old and then 10 to 25 or 50 years in age.   

Shopping For Scotch 

It is very important to note the difference for buying a Scotch for yourself versus for guests or a birthday present. To start, I would highly recommend going to a Scotch tasting. Depending on who is hosting the event it can cost anywhere from $15 CDN to $35 CDN for a Glenlivet tasting.

For this article I called my sister-in-law and we had a homemade Scotch tasting which consisted of all the Scotches we had in our house. Of coursed true to our South Asian heritage, we had the complete Johnnie Walker collection at our fingertips and to my surprise, I liked it.


It's time to give scotch a try.
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I would recommend all novices start with a younger scotch. In The Glenlivet family I would recommend a 12 or 15 year old scotch, on the rocks to start. A bottle of the 12-year-old scotch is approximately $30 CDN in liquor stores. If you are a Johnnie Walker drinker, experiment within the red or black label which would cost about from $30 CDN for the red to $80 CDN for the black label. (The Black Label is a 12 year-old blend.) Most of the younger scotches or starter scotches are within the $30 CDN to 60 CDN price range. 

Scotch to Impress

For the readers that enjoy the finer things in life, I must agree the Blue Label Johnny Walker and the Royal Salute were a treat for my taste buds. Probably the smoothest in texture and flavour, the waves of spice were perfect and I enjoyed sipping my drink. It was so good I almost forgot how potent this magic potion was.

If you can afford it, a bottle of Blue Label is about $300 CDN, but here is a little secret I will let you in on. The Blue Label and the Royal Salute tasted almost the exact same and the Royal Salute is approximately $185 CDN. If you are a Glenlivet fan then you are buying the 21 or 25 year old bottles and are paying $220 CDN to $350 CDN.

However, Glenlivet has a special blend that is not readily available all the time. It is the Nadurra Oloroso and it sells for $85 CDN a bottle. It is a delicious blend and it looks good in your liquor cabinet and makes a great impression as a gift.


The Glenlevit Scotch
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When I started this project I did not realize the scope of the scotch industry. To get an idea, take a walk in the scotch section at any liquor store.  

Next time you are out, tell people you are curious to learn about Scotch and sit back and listen because you are going to be bombarded with some very interesting facts. When you see a woman drinking a glass of Scotch, raise your glass to her in cheers as we all know she is a woman with incredible taste. I am off to taste some more Scotch and hopefully see some of you at the next Scotch tasting.

Now you know the basics about Scotch. Please share your thoughts on your Scotch experiences and favourites.


Enjoying my new favorite drink. 
Photo Credit: Peter Woo

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