- 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 without any of the pesky water.
What’s the best glass?
If you’re enjoying your Scotch neat, I recommend one that has a tulip bulb shape – where it tapers near the top to direct the scents to your nose. You have the classic Glencairn glasses, made and marketed as “the” scotch drinking glass. I personally prefer Glencairn glasses or Reidel’s Vinum Single Malt Whiskey glasses (though they are much pricier) but either will be fine.
You won’t often see these glasses at bars, given how relatively expensive they are, but if you enjoy scotch at home with any regularity then they are worth the investment!
As for enjoying it on the rocks, any heavier Old Fashioned glass will do. The tulip bulb shape of the Glencairn, and it’s generally much smaller size, makes it hard to put ice in. An Old Fashioned glass, which you can also use to make cocktails, is better with the ice.
Ultimately, it’s about what’s in the glass and not the glass itself… I’ve had delicious scotch in a red Solo cup before. 🙂
Oh, and for what it’s worth, I wouldn’t drink Macallan 12, or any decent single malt scotch, on the rocks. Those distilleries work hard to make a good product and I want to enjoy their masterpieces, I don’t need frozen tap water messing up the balance!
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!
While staring into the night sky searching for UFOs, idiots dreamed up rules for drinking Scotch whisky, one being that it cannot be mixed with anything. How absurd! Drink to satisfy your own palate. Mix whisky with whatever pleases. If some idiot gives you an eyebrow, nothing says “I disagree” like an eyebrow, the finger and no tip. (Finger optional.) Enjoy your Scotch!
Essentially he is saying “Don’t be a bitch”
Cooling a complex scotch enhances some flavor and aroma notes similarly to a bit of water, but they never enhance the same notes. As Glen Morangie noted, take your scotch as you please. But don’t waste your time telling someone else how to take theirs… unless they ask.
Actually, I’ve drank Lagavulin, Laphroaig and other single malts neat and on the rocks….I prefer them cold. Sorry, just me. I don’t let them sit in ice long enough for the ice to melt significantly. Chilling the whisky just makes it taste better to me on a hot day. In the winter, I’m more apt to drink it neat. It’s not a matter of being ‘weak’….just what I prefer.
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.
As we say up here in Maine “try em side by each” personal taiste is just that; its personal. But pour two glasses one on the rocks with one neat and then enjoy both. Get over that James Bond thing in the back of your head.
Of course we all forget the cask strength behemoths some of us appreciate. A tiny drop or two of water significantly changes the experience….no question.
Lagavulin. Neat. Double.
What point is there to burn your palate?
Terminology question. Is the term two fingers still used? Thanks
“…. Oh, and for what it’s worth, I wouldn’t drink Macallan 12, or any decent single malt scotch, on the rocks. Those distilleries work hard to make a good product and I want to enjoy their masterpieces, I don’t need frozen tap water messing up the balance! …”
I sooooo agree with you!!! thank you.
What does the term “up” mean???
Up or straight up typically means shaken with ice then strained and served without the ice.
I agree! Never add ice to a fine scotch.. If you must have a wee chill… add a chilling stone! Said by a true Scottish Lassie, Ms Blair!