Should Whiskey Be Chilled or Drunk Straight? (2023 Updated)
Last Updated on May 16, 2023 by Lydia Martin
Whiskey connoisseurs seldom endorse drinking whiskey on the rocks because they believe it tastes better at room temperature.
However, it isn’t a sin to want to take a sip of an ice-cold whiskey from time to time. Guess what; there’s even a definite time and place for such.
Whiskey: Better Chilled Or Not?
There’s no right or wrong way to serve whiskey. How you serve your whiskey all boils down to your personal preferences. Most experts claim that whiskey is considered best at 60-65 °F or room temperature.
Some drinkers also prefer drinking whiskey straight from the bottle to savor its authentic flavors. If you also want to feel the kick in an instant, trying it straight first is an excellent idea.
However, if you want to have an invigorating whiskey dram because you live in a place with a very hot climate, then trying it with ice could be your best bet.
You can opt to chill your whiskey in the freezer, as you do with your vodka, before serving it to your guests. You can also drop a huge crystal clear ice cube in your whiskey glass to have a smoother encounter with your drink.
Why Would You Want It Cold
You Want To Dilute Its Alcohol Content
One of the main reasons some drinkers want to drink whiskey cold is to dilute its high alcohol content.
It’s not a secret that whiskey is hard liquor, so drinking whiskey neat may somehow give the drinker a burning feeling down his throat on his first glass.
Some people couldn’t stand the heat, so they wanted to tone down the alcoholic content of the whiskey for a smoother experience.
Some master blenders even use a few drops of water to dilute the whiskey down to 20% ABV to help release all its subtle flavors, aromas and bring any flaw to the surface.
Some Whiskeys Are Better Chilled
It’s challenging to look past the alcohol aromas of high-proof liquors, making it hard to enjoy even just a glass of whiskey. It’s also important to note that whiskeys bear different characteristics and personalities. But what is whiskey proof?
Some are better drunk straight, while some are too harsh that they need to be served cold as they are easier to take in when their alcohol has been toned down.
It also shreds off its “bad taste” when cold, so first-time drinkers find it easier to drink whiskey cold.
To Have A Refreshing Drink
Living or staying in a very hot place could make you want to have a refreshing drink to cool off your steam. Having a cold whiskey could help you feel refreshed.
Sometimes, when it’s a very hot day, you’ll feel less interested in picking out the whiskey’s different flavors, profile, and aromas.
Why You Should Avoid Freezing It
Cold Mutes Its Aroma & Flavor
The worst thing that could ever happen is to drink whiskey without its true flavor notes and aromas while chilling on a special day. Drinking cold whiskey makes its spirit barely noticeable, so it ultimately loses its flavors.
This could be a major drawback since one would want to drink whiskey to get as much as he could from its flavor notes and aroma. When they are served cold, it prevents the flavor molecules from evaporating.
Thus, there will be no exquisite aromas to smell. Since the flavor combines aroma/smell and taste, you won’t get all, if not more, flavors from your whiskey either.
Whiskey May Become Cloudy
Unlike vodka, when exposed at a low/cold temperature, whiskeys become cloudy. Its natural fatty acids, proteins from the barley, and esters used to make the alcohol are undissolved and separate from the alcohol.
They then become micelles, making the whiskey cloudy. But, what’s the main difference between whiskey and vodka?
3 Ways To Chill It
1. Use A Big Chunk of Ice
Instead of putting whiskey in the freezer, our team suggests using spheres or big ice cubes to freeze up your single-malt whiskey. They melt slower, adding less water to your beverage. You can simply put a couple of large ice cubes in your drink.
Then, let the ice melt and wait for it to become cold. Also, when you add ice to whiskey, it provides warmth to your mouth, waking up the flavor molecules, so the aromatics shoot straight up to your nose via the sinuses. It then becomes an additional taste/flavor. But, what does whiskey taste like?
2. Use Whiskey Stones
Aside from ice, you can also use whiskey stones to freeze up your whiskey. These are pieces of metal or stone used as an alternative for ice. Whiskey stones are frozen at a very low temperature and are solely used to make your drink cold.
And unlike ice, whiskey stones won’t melt, so there would be no dilution. They provide a slight chill to your whiskey without affecting its taste, color, and smell.
However, whiskey stones may make your whiskey cold, but as it absorbs and retains the heat of the alcohol, it also becomes warmer. When its temperature becomes warmer, it becomes less effective in cooling your drink.
3. Put It In The Freezer
You can also opt to put your whiskey in the freezer, just like how you’re keeping vodka cold. You can do this option to store your whiskey before drinking, just to have an invigorating and cold drink afterward.
However, it may have a slight but lasting effect on your whiskey profile. Unlike vodka, it may become cloudy, lose its flavor and aromas, and dilute its alcohol content when put in the freezer.
10 Whiskeys That Taste Better When Chilled
1. Bushmills Black Bush Irish Whiskey
When it’s cold, the Bushmills Irish whiskey becomes a mouth-watering super hit. It will definitely give you a pleasant smokiness, subtle chocolate, ripe, baking spice, red apples, and some balanced tartness.
2. Tincup American Whiskey
This rye-heavy whiskey from Indiana is perfect for mixing into Manhattans. It provides extreme crispiness and lightness when added with ice. Try tasting this monster with some ice cubes and experience the invigorating Rockies air.
3. Kikori Whiskey
This rice-based Japanese whiskey is also best served at ice-cold temperature.
It has tropical fruit notes like coconut, pineapple, and lychee, along with tea-like aromatics, which become more intense when served chilled/cold.
Read: Top Japanese Whiskeys Under $100
4. Henry McKenna 10 Year Single Barrel Bourbon
If you’re not confident to take this cool beast of bourbon whiskey neat, you can actually tame it with a big chunk of an icicle. Tame it’s spicy and fiery roasted, salted almond notes with a lot of oak notes/flavors, and you’re good to go!
Also Read: Brandy vs Bourbon
5. Buffalo Trace
Some people drink neat, while some think this whiskey is also best served when freezer-cold. Buffalo Trace has a smooth and sweet pinch, with a mild spice from the oak and grain on the finish.
When ice cubes are added, you’ll get to savor a cool orange zest note, making the alcohol silkier to drink up. It’s something you couldn’t just get from storing it at room temperature.
6. Jameson Irish Whiskey
Jameson Irish Whiskey on icicles is practically an apple juice.
It comes with a natural honey flavor and some citrus notes/flavors when cold. This chuggable beverage is a delicious treat when one needs an invigorating beverage.
7. Berkshire Mountain Bourbon
If you’re chilling on a couch, watching your favorite series, adding ice to this hefty and dark, with a nutty and caramel finish, is an excellent choice. Try adding a couple of huge ice cubes with your bourbon sitting at room temperature to enhance gingery notes/flavors and dry out its thick maple flavor.
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8. Wild Turkey 101 Proof Rye Whiskey
Wild Turkey 101 Proof Rye Whiskey comes with a daunting 101 proof liquid, enough to prove that it’s wild enough to frighten newcomers to take a deep breath and sip it straight.
However, if you expose it to low temperature, you’ll get to taste some hints of herbs, thyme, and some spicy grains and cinnamon poured right into your glass.
9. Johnnie Walker Gold Label Reserve
Adding ice to Johnnie Walker Gold Label Reserve, served with a square of dark chocolate on the side, is probably one of the best life hacks for those who love whiskey.
It’s like having an exquisite dessert wine with notes/flavors of vanilla custard, deep caramel, a curl of pipe tobacco, a hint of spearmint, and deep caramel.
Read: Johnnie Walker Double Black vs Black Label
10. Knob Creek Single Barrel Reserve 9-Year-Old Bourbon
At over 120 proof at room temperature, Knob Creek whiskey takes a fearless warrior to drink this giant straight.
You can always act to be a tough guy, but adding ice to weaken its barrel-proof spirit won’t hurt you. You can enjoy a bottle of subtle nuances, bittersweet chocolate, cereal sweetness, orchard fruits, and a little bit of leather!
Read: Knob Creek Bourbon vs Jim Beam
Are whiskey and ice bad for your heart?
No, whiskey and ice aren’t particularly bad for your heart, unless, of course, you’ll drink lots of hard liquor, like scotch, in more than ten years.
Whiskey has high levels of polyphenols, plant-based antioxidants linked with lowering your risk of heart disease. 
Does whiskey go off once opened?
No, whiskey doesn’t go off once opened. However, if the bottle is left open for a long time, it could somehow turn bad.
Some experts even claim that certain whiskeys can expire at about six months if it’s a quarter or less full.
Can old whiskey make me sick?
No, old whiskey cannot make you sick. Since alcohol, like scotch, doesn’t expire, they can only give your palate a nightmare for tasting a beverage with a duller or strange aftertaste.
Also Read: Is Whiskey Acidic?
So, Should Whiskey Be Chilled?
Somehow, when your purpose is to have a cool, refreshing beverage, just chill on your balcony, basking in the sun, then having a chilled bourbon or Irish whiskey is your way to go. However, it is better to remember that there are no standard rules to follow when drinking your whiskey.
It solely depends on your preference. There are also various ways you could try to chill and enjoy whiskey. Feel free to freeze it, add water or ice, and use whiskey stones. Trying out some whiskeys with ice could also be a cool and fun experience.
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.
7 thoughts on “Should Whiskey Be Chilled or Drunk Straight? (2023 Updated)”
Whiskey stones are frozen at a very high temperature?? What exactly is a high freezing point?
Whisky stones are probably the only sacralige when it comes to drinking Whisky…..
Should whiskey be “drunk” straight, not drank.
Opps! Edited, thanks!
The answer is fairly simple, however the f you like is the way you should drink Whisky.
A nice compromise is to keep a bottle of your favorite bourbon in the refrigerator, not the freezer. It’s chilled but still has all the flavor. Also, stirred (not shaken) and poured into a glass to enjoy neat works well.
Great article… thank you for the info… normally, I drink it straight, but noticed adding a couple of ice cubes, really brings out the flavor