The following article has been sponsored by Johnnie Walker
A fierce controversy surrounds whisky, whirling like the vortex of an especially intoxicating storm.
There are purists who believe there’s only one way to imbibe the amber liquid: neat. No water. No ice. No bitters. No twist. Just unadulterated spirit, appreciated for all its fiery nuances and tongue-numbing qualities.
Then there are the upstarts. In our era of new-fangled mixology, whisky is experiencing a resurgence as a versatile alcohol. It’s woody, smoky, peaty properties are combined with unexpected flavours to create drinks beyond your wildest cocktail imagination.
These days there’s no right or wrong way to drink whisky, just the way you want to drink it. Stuck in a whisky rut? We’ve teamed up with Johnnie Walker and Sean Baxter to bring you 9 ideas for new ways to enjoy your favourite adult beverage.
#1 Explore Ice
Ice isn’t new to the world of whisky (much to the consternation of traditionalists), but it’s rapidly becoming an art of its own. “Many premium ice distributors have popped up over the last few years to satisfy the growing need for quality ice within luxury venues in Melbourne and Sydney,” says Sean. The bigger and better the ice, the less your whisky is diluted. The end result is a drink that’s actually colder, not just wetter.
To try it for yourself, freeze a large container of boiling water overnight. In the morning, use a sharp knife to cut the block in half, then in half again, then again. Continue until you have cubes big enough to sit snuggly in a glass (or just buy moulds from a trendy cake shop).
#2 Shape Up
As with wine, the shape of your glassware affects the taste of your whisky. Certain shapes accentuate certain flavours. A rocks glass is the classic vessel, but getting more creative can release a side of whisky you haven’t seen. A speciality whisky glass has a tulip shape that concentrates the vapours and flavours, allowing you to experience the spirit to the fullest degree. If that’s more than you’re ready to handle at this stage, stick to a wider lipped glass that allows the vapours to disperse.
#3 Energise It
The Antipode blends your favourite morning beverage with your favourite evening tipple. Despite its fancy name, the construction of the drink is simple: pour whisky over a coffee ice cube. The concoction starts out heavy on the alcohol, but as the cube melts, its coffee composition increases until its mostly java-based.
#4 Revisit The Classics
Give the original whisky drinks a new lease on life. Old Fashioneds, Sours, Fizzes, Spritzes, Highballs – the classic cocktails are experiencing a renaissance thanks to whisky’s popularity boost. “Even single malt whisky, once just a bastion of the ‘neat’ serve, is now being experimented with whole-heartedly,” says Sean. If you normally stick to a simple pour, try a cocktail out of your comfort zone. If you’re a master of mixed drinks, use an unfamiliar whisky in an all-too-familiar refreshment.
#5 Weigh Your Options
Believe it or not, the weight of your glass can affect the way you perceive your drink. Weight communicates subconscious messages to the brain about the quality of a beverage. Some whisky fanatics favour the heft associated with base-heavy crystal tumblers, while others see the feather-thin crystal rim of Riedel glassware as superior. It’s all down to personal taste. Choose a vessel that makes you feel like you’re having a premium experience, regardless of which whisky is inside the glass.
#6 Spice Things Up
For a while, the whole world had a love affair with sriracha hot sauce. The hysteria has died down, but the urge to experiment with the spicy Thai condiment remains. In the cooler months, warm yourself with a Sriracha Hot Toddy. Whisk 4 tablespoons of honey, 1 tablespoon of sriracha and 1 tablespoon of fresh lemon juice in a bowl. In a small saucepan, bring 1 cup of whisky, 2 cups of water and a few pieces of fresh ginger root to a light simmer.
After 10 minutes, combine the mixtures and let simmer for another 10 minutes. Pour the warming results into mugs and garnish with a thin ginger slice if you’re looking to impress.
#7 Discover Your Perfect Blend
Join Johnnie Walker and HOYTS LUX for a special night at the cinema. Through the “What’s Your Johnnie Walker?” experience, customers embark on a journey of discovery to find their perfect blend.
To begin, a bartender assesses the foods and aromas you enjoy, as well as the occasions you like to drink in. Based on a combination of these results, the bartender recommends your ideal flavour profile, the Johnnie Walker blend that suits it, and how to best enjoy it. Then you can kick back with a glass while enjoying the rest of the HOYTS LUX experience.
#8 Chill Out
Aggressively changing the temperature of your whisky can yield remarkable results. Sean recommends chilling Johnnie Walker Gold Label Reserve in the freezer to thicken the viscosity of the liquid. The ‘frozen’ whisky warms as it’s sipped and held on the palate, emphasising its malty cocoa flavours, sweet honey notes, and rich, buttery characteristics.
#9 Pair With Food
Wine lovers aren’t the only ones who can pair their elixir of choice with meals. Oily, creamy and fatty foods blend well with whisky because their flavours tend to linger on the tongue. Either sweet or savoury works but steer clear of foods that dramatically affect your palate. Acidic fruit juices, vinegars, and strong spices like chilli and wasabi can interfere with the flavours of the whisky, so it is recommended avoiding these.
Salt is a staple that assists in creating more definition. During dinner, Johnnie Walker Double Black whisky pairs well with oysters or prosciutto. For dessert, try salted chocolate with Johnnie Walker Black Label. The combination can dramatically lengthen the flavours.