If your only experiences with whiskey were double-dog-dares to down shots in college, you might be intimidated to take another look at the amber-colored drink. But if you give it another go, you may be surprised by its warmth, complexity and ability to mingle well with what you probably already have in your kitchen. Let's wipe away any mistruths you've heard and get to the bottom of the glass.
Myth: The older, the better
"Older isn't necessarily better, it's just different," says Stephen Marshall, Dewar's Global Brand Ambassador. He recommends older whiskeys for the end of a night, "as your palate tires and you need a bit more flavor."
Myth: Whiskey is a man's drink.
Not so, says Heather Greene, one of the country's few female scotch experts and a Glenfiddich Ambassador.
"Bringing whiskey to the world of women is actually something that's really dear to my heart," Greene says. "Women have an incredible ability to enjoy and nose beautiful whiskeys, and I don't see any reason why not women should come into the whiskey world and start enjoying it the way they've been enjoying wines. You could actually take much of the same vocabulary and some of the concepts that are in the wine world and apply that to the whiskey world. Women have really embraced the wine world, and I think whiskey's the next frontier."
Want to learn more? Greene is the founder of the Mrs. Roberts Society, a single malt scotch society for women. "What we're doing is demystifying whiskey and answering all these questions that [women] have," she says. For a schedule of upcoming Mrs. Roberts Society events, visit www.glenfiddich.com.
Myth: There are only a few good whiskey cocktails.
Feel free to experiment beyond the Old Fashioneds, Whiskey Sours and Manhattans the next time you fancy the spirit -- and trust that your bartender knows the ropes.
"There are professional bartenders today who take their craft as seriously as chefs," says Rob Samuels, the chief operating officer of Maker's Mark and an eighth-generation bourbon distiller. "When bartenders choose Maker's Mark with their cocktails, we love that, we encourage that. I don't think there's necessarily a right way or a wrong way [to drink it]. I think it depends as much on the season, who you're with, the type of restaurant, the type of food."
Learnin' 'bout bourbon
And speaking of Maker's Mark:?It's the world's oldest operating bourbon distillery, and a must-see on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail.
Help yourself to some bourbon-flavored coffee before your tour, which will take you through every step of the bourbon-making, including the hand-tearing of labels and the hand-dipping of bottles into Maker's signature red wax. Once you're done, you'll taste three Maker's Mark varietals and have the chance to hand-dip your own bottle to take home.