Here's the setup:
You head out to the liquor store to purchase a whiskey recommended by a friend, professional reviewer, and/or amateur blogger. You rush home, pull out the cork (hearing that lovely blung sound) and pour it into your glass (an even better sound). You take a sip, letting the spirit roll over your tastebuds, and ease it down slowly. The experience causes you to exclaim aloud...
You try it again another night, seeing if maybe you just need to get used to it, like a new pair of boots. But on the second try, it tastes like boots. Dirty boots. A little sh*tkicker on the palate.
How could this be?
Taste truly is a matter of taste. All these whisky awards and rankings by everyone everywhere every week/month/season/year are all subjective. Portwood finish to one person may taste like berries, but like ammonia to another. Some folks like the sweet, some folks like the peat.
The liquor shop stored the bottle, incorrectly, around too much heat and sunlight, damaging the liquor.
Your tastebuds are broken. Meth is a hell of a drug.
In any case, the crappy whiskey situation happens to us all. So what are your options now that you have 650mL of brown stuff that you really don't want to drink neat?
- Hit it with some water. Pour yourself a shot's worth into the glass, then add about a tablespoon of room temperature filtered or spring water. Give it a swirl. Give it a sniff. Give it a taste.
Pros: Water stirs up the oils within the spirit and opens up dormant aromatic compounds. A little water can really change the nose and palate of a whiskey.
Cons: It's entirely possible that the aromatic compounds released by the water are those that re-awaken your gag reflex. Also, if one tablespoon doesn't do anything for you, a second tablespoon will likely demolish the flavor all together, unless you have a strong cask strength malt.
- Hit it with some ice. Rather than adding water, plop two or three small ice cubes into your shot of whiskey. Give it a wait, let it cool. Then try.
Pros: Cold whiskey in the summer is very refreshing. And the ice may hide those bad flavors.
Cons: Ice hides almost all flavors. It neutralizes the aromatic compounds. So you may just have a cold waste of time in your glass.
- Add club soda. Please note, this is in lieu of the water and ice. Think of all of those great classic movies where the characters are ordering a whiskey and soda. This is it! Now you're making your own. Add it slowly and taste to find out how much you should use.
Pros: This can be even more refreshing than just the ice. Plus it stretches out your drink. And your burps will be lovely...
Cons: ...unless you have a poor Islay, wherein your mouth will taste like burning garbage two hours after you've finished drinking. Also, you have a cold glass of bubbles and not much else.
- Seven and Seven, or Jack and Ginger. Glass, ice, shot of whiskey, and 7-Up (or Sprite) will give you a 7 and 7. Originally it was Seagrams 7 and 7-Up, but I don't recommend going out of your way to buy a bottle of Seagrams 7. Some folks like to swap out the Sprite for ginger ale. Different flavors produce different results.
Pros: The sugar (read: high fructose corn syrup) will smother most of the bad whiskey taste. Plus it's a fun social drink.
Cons: High fructose corn syrup and factory-designed chemical flavorings on ice. Yum? You may just want to grab a beer from the fridge, instead.
- Whiskey cocktails. Manhattan, Irish Coffee, Smokey Martini, Whiskey Sour. Google for recipes since there are dozens of variants on each. Perfecting these is a talent on its own, but totally worth it if you find your drink.
Pros: If you find your drink.
Cons: If you don't. Plus you'll need a bunch of other ingredients. Plus the more stuff you add to the whiskey the less of a purpose it serves.
- Whiskey slush. Kristen's extended family likes to bust out the Whiskey Slush during get-togethers. Whiskey, water, sugar, orange juice concentrate topped with ginger ale (or 7-Up) -- again a matter of experimenting necessary to get this right. Plenty of recipes to be found on these Internets.
Pros: It's an adult Slushie! Great for summers.
Cons: Do not make this with an Islay, Island, or other peated whiskey. If you already don't like the taste of the spirit, you will not like the resulting slush. Also, this may cause a sugar hangover before the night is out.
- Shots. You knew this was coming.
Pros: Getting fitshaced. A quick way to rid yourself of the unwanted whiskey.
Cons: If it tastes rotten going down, how do you think it will taste coming back up?
- Give it away. Maybe there's someone you hate. Hand them the bottle at a party. Or maybe you really think a friend will like it better. Hand them the bottle at a party. Maybe there's an amateur whiskey reviewer who'll be willing to give it a try. And he will be willing to give it a try.
Pros: Free whiskey! You're such a great friend.
Cons: It ends your friendship.
- Dump it down the toilet.
Pros: The visual representation of that terrible liquid memory will now be in the Big Distillery In The Sky. It'll be gone and you'll have a blogpost to share about the experience.
Cons: Bye bye, Mr. Whiskey. *Flush*
I've had three bottles that had to be Number 9'ed. Kristen had to do it, I just couldn't bring myself to dispose of it. What a good wife.
Alas, no crying over flushed whiskey. There's plenty of great stuff out there. If you're going to drink, then drink what tastes good. Save the misery for tequila.