Already a centuries-old favorite, whiskey is finding a fan base with a new generation. “It is huge right now,” says head mixologist Tokiwa “Toki” Sears of Atlanta’s Southern Art and Bourbon Bar restaurant.
If you’re not yet hip to the craze, there are a few things you should be aware of before getting your taste test on. The main thing is that there are variations of the grain-based spirit. Bourbon and Scotch are both members of the whiskey family.
“Bourbon is whiskey, but not all whiskey is bourbon,” says Adam Johnson, director of the Kentucky Bourbon Trail, a self-guided tour of Kentucky’s bourbon distilleries. “By definition, bourbon has to be at least 51-percent corn.”
Scotch, on the other hand, is usually malted barley. “It can be a little sweet,” explains Sears, “but it can also range to have an extremely smoky flavor.”
The mix master suggests the best way to find out which whiskey you prefer—Scotch, bourbon or another, such as rye—is to try it “neat,” i.e., poured straight from the bottle. If you’re a newbie, Sears recommends softening the whiskey with water or ice or in a cocktail combination.
1| WHISKEY SOUR
2 ounces Jack Daniel’s Tennessee whiskey
¾ ounce fresh squeezed lemon juice
¾ ounce simple syrup
Add all ingredients and ice to a cocktail mixer. Shake until chilled through, then strain into cocktail glass.
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