How to Drink Single Malt Scotch Whisky: Solved (2023)

Last Updated on August 21, 2023 by Lydia Martin

Drinking Scotch is like an art, and while there is no right or wrong way to drink it, there’s a way to get the best out of your Scotch whisky.

Whether you drink Scotch whisky for leisure or socialization, some methods can help you appreciate the unique flavor and characteristics of Scotch whisky.

Here’s our expert guide on how to drink Single Malt Scotch just like a pro. 

5 Ways To Drink Single Malt Scotch 

1. Serve It At Room Temperature

glass of whisky with ice and cigar

The best way to get the most out of Single Malt whiskies is by serving them at room temperature.

Based on Nick Savage, Master Distiller of The Macallan Distilleries in Scotland, Scotch whisky at normal temperature allows optimal taste. 

The whisky’s palate profile will volatilize, and whisky drinkers can appreciate it more.  

2. Don’t Refrigerate It

top view shot of refrigerator

Even if a bottle of Single Malt is tempting to refrigerate, make a mental note that you shouldn’t do it.

Chilling Scotch before drinking may tighten up and contract the flavors and aroma. 

3. Decide Which Glass To Use

whisky glass on a wooden table

When tasting different Scotches, decide which glass to use would be best. Scotch drinkers will agree that the tulip-shaped glass is the recommended whisky glass.  

When you swirl around the whisky, it will not spill and help concentrate the aromas in the neck of the tulip-shaped glass. 

Learn how to drink whiskey without burn here.

4. Appreciate It

man smelling a whisky

Check Its Color

If you drink Scotch, appreciate its color first because it will indicate how your drink matured. Hold it up to the light and observe its color. 

Older Scotch tends to be darker; golden-colored single malts come from sherry oak casks. Paler single malt whisky is matured in bourbon casks. 

Check Its Legs

Hold your glass by the stem, tilt, and rotate it briskly so the whisky will coat the walls of the glass.

When you hold it straight, you will see the “leg” forming as it runs down the walls of the glass. 

The legs will help you determine how long your whisky is matured. The slower the legs, the older the Scotch whisky is. 

Smell It

Use your nose to prepare your taste buds with what your Scotch tastes like because 80% of our sense of smell is responsible for what we taste [1].

Hold the glass away from you and pass it under your nose as you detect different flavors. 

Before drinking Scotch, the multi-sensory experience will help you understand the palate profile and characteristics of different whisky. 

Take A Sip

Take a sip, and don’t chug the whisky because it is not beer. Form your tongue into a small spoon shape and let the whisky rest on it as you consume the dram. 

While drinking, your mind will remind you of the complex aroma you experienced earlier.

If you are a new whisky drinker, tasting whisky can be overwhelming; but the next time you drink whisky, your mind will identify the flavor and aroma of the dram.

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5. Decide How To Drink It

man drinking a glass of whisky

Add Water

Adding water, especially still spring water, can enhance the taste and aromas of the whisky.

Avoid adding tap water containing high choline levels because tap water may spoil rather than complement the whisky. 

Drink It Neat

If you want to taste the pure flavor of unpeated Scotch and blended whiskies, consume whisky neat.

Adding water may enhance the flavors of whisky, but drinking it neat will allow you to appreciate the flavors of whiskies. 

Serve With Ice

Adding ice cubes to Scotch may not be recommended by many whisky drinkers, but if you order Scotch whisky on the rocks in a bar, they will serve whisky with ice.

Whisky will chill if you add ice cubes to the drink, but it may dilute and affect the taste of the whisky.  

Add Mixers

Adding mixers is a popular trend because, with the right ingredients, you can make a refreshing cocktail. Some popular mixers you can try are soda, lemonade, ginger ale, and cola. 


Is single malt Scotch supposed to be drunk straight?

Yes, single malt Scotch is supposed to be drunk straight. It has a unique character and depth of flavor that is best enjoyed without adding ice or mixers.

Check out this single malt whisky and double malt comparison here.

Is single malt Scotch hard to drink?

No, single malt Scotch is not hard to drink. It has interesting tasting notes, and it is versatile enough so you can consume it the way you prefer. 

Final Thoughts

Get the most out of your Single Malt by serving it at room temperature and not chilled.

It can be served on the rocks or as a cocktail, but you will appreciate it more neat or with a splash of water.

Before drinking Scotch, observe the color and palate profile, then slowly consume it. 



Lydia Martin

Lydia Martin hails from Redmond, Washington, where you’ll find some of the best cocktail bars and distilleries that offer a great mix of local drinks. She used to work as a bar manager in Paris and is a self-taught mixologist whose passion for crafting unique cocktails led her to create Liquor Laboratory. Lydia can whip up a mean Margarita in seconds! Contact at [email protected] or learn more about us here.

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