Scotch: Neat or On the Rocks?

When ordering scotch, it’s often important to indicate how you’d like it. There are really only two choices in the scotch world:

  • Neat means you want the scotch without anything else.
  • On the Rocks means you want the scotch served with ice.

If you use any other terms, you’ll just confuse the bartender. If you forget which is which, just explain it and the bartender will gladly serve it the way you like it. :)

If you’re at home and want it neat but a little chilled, consider whisky stones. A little chill but no water.

Does my glassware matter?
It won’t matter when it comes to serving your scotch neat or on the rocks, though you might have trouble getting ice into the classic Glencairn glasses. I personally prefer Glencairn glasses or Reidel’s Vinum Single Malt Whiskey glasses (though they are much pricier) but either will be fine. Glassware tends to matter mostly in the nose and ice won’t accentuate, or reduce, that in any way in any glass.

You won’t often see these glasses at bars, given how expensive they are, but if you enjoy scotch at home with any regularity then they are worth the investment!

About Jim

Jim is the founder of Scotch Addict and one of the many fans of whisky in all its forms. Connect with me on Google+.
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7 Responses to Scotch: Neat or On the Rocks?

  1. Modder says:

    In places that really know their scotch, they will also offer you little water on the side of your neat drink, so you can dilute it a wee bit (brings out some of the hidden aromatics). A good scotch place would never insult you by offering such a fine beverage on the rocks. You can ask, but they will give you a well deserved eyebrow. :-)

    My mantra is that if it tastes so horrible that you need to super cool and massively dilute it to handle it – don’t drink it! If you are too weak to handle the drink straight up – don’t drink it!

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  3. Yorkshire Gentleman says:


    That mantra only works with alcohols meant to be drank by themselves. Calvados, for example, is a brandy distilled almost too strong to drink by itself. However, a good friend of mine loves the drink Jack Rose, made with Calvados brandy. Schnapps oftentimes has too great a concentration of alcohol to be served to responsible drinkers, unless the drink is first mixed.

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