Sage advice from a flight of whisky ambassadors

What game-changing piece of advice has helped you on your journey to whisky nirvana? We asked Society ambassadors and staff near and far to find out how to make the most of your malts and take your appreciation of whisky to the next level

“Don’t compare your whisky journey with those of others. Whisky is personal and a different experience for everyone, so let it stay that way. Find your own groove, enjoy it on your own time and in your own way!”

Jenna Elie, SMWS America ambassador

“The SMWS introducing the flavour profiles has been, and continues to be, a very useful tool in navigating and experimenting with many different whiskies.”

Allura Fergie, SMWS Canada team

“Who paid for the bottle of whisky also decides how it is drunk. There are no rules about using the right glass, with or without ice, or not using good whisky for cocktails. Have it your own way!”

Marcel Paschilke, SMWS ambassador, Hannover, Germany

“Always give a whisky due time to fully reveal itself. If you’d been stuck in a barrel for a decade or more then trapped in a bottle for years, you’d need time to unravel and shine as well!”

Andrew Derbidge, cellarmaster, SMWS Australia

“Taste and smell flavours wherever possible and enhance your flavour library. This will raise your enjoyment and delight to a new level and will always guide you through your entire whisky and spirits journey.”

Ralf Dänzer, SMWS ambassador, Nürnberg, Germany

“You’ll often hear brands and distilleries talk of ‘must have’ releases or ‘must tries’. Focus more on what flavours you enjoy and the journey will be far more enjoyable.”

Matt Bailey, national ambassador, SMWS Australia

“I had my personal ‘wow’ when I was shown how to NOSE and TASTE whisky: the right glass, a sheet of paper on top, nose and taste and drops of water into your whisky in the second round. A big difference.”

Peter Moser, ‘Mr Single Malt’ and friend of the SMWS

“Whisky is made to enjoy, and the only valid reason to buy and drink it is because you want to enjoy it. So, when you want to enjoy it, buy and drink the very best you can afford! Drink less, drink better!”

Bob Wenting, country manager and ambassador, SMWS Benelux

“Once I started to explore different tastes and even different serves, I never looked back. Since then, I always try to look for something different and unusual behind the bar, sometimes you will love it, sometimes you might not – but it’s all part of the fun!”

Emily-Jayne Barker, events coordinator, SMWS 28 Queen Street

“‘Add water!’ shouted Charlie MacLean, when I met him in 2018 in Royal Lochnagar. Water brings out delicious flavours, such as flowers, fresh fruits, sometimes cream, or’s like a glass of liquid gold dessert, then fill the room with “Fly me to the Moon” by Frank Sinatra!”

Christina Leung, SMWS China

“Trust your palate! If you’re in a room with 20 other people (remember those days?) and all of them except you dislike a whisky, it doesn’t mean you’re ‘wrong’ or that it’s a bad whisky. Everyone’s palate is different and it’s important to trust that what you like (and dislike) is absolutely right – for you.”

Kelly Carpenter, SMWS Canada

“I recommend using different glasses, like cognac, or wine glasses. Also, there are many different shapes of whisky glasses. Because they can have a huge impact on the aromas, I recommend trying them out. It’s great fun, strengthens your sensory skills and you will find the one glass which is best for your favourite dram.”

Thom Glas, SMWS ambassador, Hamburg, Germany

“Focus on the texture. Paying attention to the whisky’s initial approach, how it plays on the mid-palate and changes toward the finish reminds me of my wine studies! While it’s easy to get captivated by flavours, I’ve found the textural tap dance a great whisky does on the palate to be a true indicator of quality.”

Charlene Rooke, SMWS Canada team

“Whisky is best shared with friends. And a whisky is never as good as when it’s shared with friends who also appreciate whisky.”

Magnus Fagerström, SMWS country manager, Sweden

“Know what you like! I’ve never seen myself as a whisky buff, but I do know what I like when it comes to drinking whisky. Find out your favourite flavours but don’t be afraid to experiment and try new things”

Helen Stewart, captain, the good ship membership, SMWS UK

“It’s yours. Respect it.”

Lee ‘Connas’ Connor, ambassador, SMWS UK

“My dear friend, fellow scribe and mentor Michael Jackson (1942-2007) once told me: ‘Whenever you enter a distillery always pretend it is the first one you encounter. Then you will keep your eyes and ears open time and again.’”

Hans Offringa, SMWS honorary ambassador

“Some of the best advice I’ve been given on my whisky journey is to enjoy the whisky for what it is, not what you want it to be. I’ve found myself enjoying whisky from many different distilleries ever since!”

Zachary Kemble, southeast ambassador, SMWS America