Win a ₱50,000 mystery box! Every order amounting ₱2,500 will earn you one raffle entry. Registered users only! Earn ₱200 Cashback coins when you create an account!

Comprehensive Whisky Buying and Drinking Guide

Whisky Buying and Drinking Guide

There are many options available when it comes to buying whiskey, including single malts, blends, Scotch whisky, Bourbon, silent distilleries, and independent bottlers. This can make it difficult to know which one to choose. However, collecting whiskey can be a very enjoyable and lucrative investment.

When building your whiskey collection, it’s important to understand some basic concepts in addition to enjoying the process of discovering and following your personal taste preferences.

With this comprehensive whiskey guide from Thirst, you can learn all about the different styles and expressions of whiskey, the differences between them, how to store it properly, and what food or mixers pair best with each type. Whether you’re a seasoned whiskey expert or just starting out on your journey toward becoming one, Thirst’s complete guide covers everything you need to know.

What is Whiskey? Characteristics and Definition

Whisy is a type of strong drink that is made by distilling grains like rye, wheat, barley, and corn. It is produced in many countries, including the United States, Japan, Canada, Ireland, and Scotland. The name ‘whiskey’ is derived from the Gaelic word uisge, which means ‘water of life’.

Whiskey production is regulated in certain countries and regions, similar to champagne production. The rules for producing Scotch whisky have existed since the 15th century, with the latest set of regulations being The Scotch Whisky Regulations 2009.

Understanding Whiskey Types

There are many different types of whiskey, each with its own unique characteristics, flavor profile, and production methods. These include:

1. Scotch Whisky

To be classified as Scotch Whisky, it must be produced in Scotland using malted barley or grain and aged in oak barrels that are no larger than 700 liters for at least three years. While different types of whiskies are produced globally, only those made entirely in Scotland can be officially called Scotch Whisky.

2. Bourbon Whiskey 

American bourbons are often younger than Scotches because of the higher humidity and evaporation rates known as “angels’ share.” However, it doesn’t mean they’re of lesser quality, as they mature faster. The key characteristics of bourbon are its sweetness, abundant flavors, particularly vanilla, and smoothness.

Bourbon can be a great option for those who want to try whiskey but are not yet ready for the perceived snobbery surrounding Scotch. Anyone can give it a try without feeling intimidated, and it can serve as a starting point for further exploration into more intricate flavors. It’s a simple and approachable spirit that allows for experimentation.

3. Rye Whiskey

Rye whiskey is made with a mash bill that typically consists of at least 51% rye grain. This type of spirit has been produced in North America for centuries, and it’s known for its spicy, nutty notes as well as its dryness. It can be aged or unaged, depending on the distiller’s preferences.

4. Irish Whiskey

Irish whiskey is made from cereal grains, usually barley and oats, plus malted and unmalted barley. It’s aged in wooden casks for a minimum of three years in Ireland or Northern Ireland, although some distillers age it for up to 10 years or more. The whiskey has a smooth, mellow flavor profile with notes of honey and a hint of smoke.

Guide to Finding the Right Whiskey

Now that we’re done with the basics, it’s time to dive into how to find and enjoy the best whiskey for you.

The Grain

Whiskey is made from four main types of grains: rye, corn, barley, and wheat. While some types of whisk(e)y may be a blend of these grains, each type typically has a dominant grain that gives it a unique flavor.

Rye whiskey is a type of whiskey commonly found in Canada and North America. It has a distinct spicy flavor and a more subtle taste compared to Bourbon or Scotch. Rye whiskey is great for making cocktails like a whiskey sour or a Manhattan. It is highly valued by whiskey enthusiasts and a great choice for beginners.

Corn is packed with sugar, which gives the whiskey a sweeter quality. Corn is the main ingredient in Bourbon and Tennessee whiskey.

Malted barley is an important ingredient in producing Scotch and similar styles of whiskies made in countries like Australia and Japan. It is responsible for the distinctive nutty and cereal flavors that define some of the world’s most highly regarded whiskies. As you start to acquire a taste for whiskey, it is an excellent beverage to enjoy slowly.


To determine your preferred dram, consider which color you find most appealing. The color can provide insight into factors like the type of oak used for aging and how long the spirit has aged. Typically, a whiskey’s color is derived from the barrel it was matured in.

If you prefer strong and flavorful whiskies, you should choose a dark and barrel-aged option. This is because the longer it stays in the barrel, the more color and flavor it gains.

If you prefer a floral and delicate taste, consider choosing something that is younger. Keep in mind that the color of a drink does not always reflect its strength or richness in flavor. Sometimes, caramel is added just to enhance the color.

Considerations for Beginners

For beginners, it’s important to remember that whiskey is an acquired taste. Don’t be afraid to experiment and try different varieties—you might surprise yourself!

When it comes to tasting whiskey, start slowly by trying a smaller glass or bottle first. This will allow you to taste the nuances without feeling overwhelmed.

Remember, there are no wrong answers when it comes to enjoying whiskey. Ultimately, the best way to find the right whiskey for you is through trial and error. So go ahead, pour yourself a dram of joy, and discover your perfect taste! 

At Thirst, we want to help make whiskey more accessible to everyone. Our goal is to provide education on whiskies from around the world and help you make an informed decision when buying your next dram. Our whiskey guide is just the beginning of your journey—so cheers!

Happy tasting! 


1. Which whiskey is the smoothest?

The smoothest whiskey depends on personal preference. Generally, Irish whiskey is considered to be the smoothest due to its mellow flavor profile.

2. How should you drink whiskey?

To fully appreciate your whiskey, it is recommended to drink it neat while cleansing your palate with cool water between sips. You can also add a few drops of water to your whiskey, which may enhance the flavors as the liquids mix.

3. Which whiskey is good for beginners?

Bourbon, rye, and single-mat-scotch are all great options for beginners looking to explore whiskey. These styles tend to be less intense in flavor and have a milder finish. 

Related Articles