Whiskey accessories are very important to have for two reasons. First because they help you enjoy your whiskey properly and second because they force well-meaning friends and family to buy you something else for your birthday.
So here are the eight most useful whiskey accessories that you should consider buying.
1. A Glencairn Whisky Glass
Without doubt, the most important whiskey accessory to have is a nosing glass. That’s because their tulip shape – so wide bowl and a long narrow neck, is designed to bring out all the flavors of your whiskey.
The wide bowl allows air to get to the whiskey so some of the alcohol (which in whiskey is at least 40%ABV) will evaporate and become less dominant, which allows the whiskey to release more of its flavors. The long narrow neck allows the whiskey’s aromas to accumulate so you can detect them and, since flavor is smell as well as taste, make your whiskey taste better.
Using another type of glass to drink whiskey will mean the loss of a certain amount of flavor as less alcohol will evaporate keeping the whiskey’s flavors closed up, and more of the whiskey aromas will dissipate preventing you from getting the full flavor of your whiskey.
There are several types of nosing glass to choose from where the size of the bowl and neck varies, but the most popular – and effective, is the Glencairn Whisky Glass which you can find on Amazon here.
For more information about how whiskey glasses affect your drink, see this in-depth article I wrote about it here.
2. A Whiskey Tumbler / Rocks Glass
Whiskey tumblers or rocks glasses are a must have accessory for times you want to add ice cubes to your whiskey to chill it, because that’s exactly what they’re made for.
Their wide opening allows you to add larger or giant ice cubes (which is better than many smaller ones, as with less surface area they’ll melt slower and give you more time to enjoy and finish your drink before they dilute its flavors) which won’t fit through the narrow neck of nosing glasses.
The stronger sides and thicker bottom of whiskey tumblers prevent the ice cubes from breaking or scratching the glass – something that can easily occur with the more delicate and fragile nosing glasses.
The thicker sides and bottom also insulates the contents of the glass from the heat coming from your hand or surface the glass is resting on. That way, you don’t accidentally warm your whiskey while you’re trying to chill it.
There are lots of different whiskey tumblers out there, but since they all do the same thing equally well, which one to choose will depend on personal taste for a particular design. You can find some great options on Amazon here.
3. A Whiskey Decanter
Using a whiskey decanter is not a necessity – it doesn’t help the whiskey taste better as it does with wine, but it does have some useful functions. It allows you to separate the whiskey from any sediment, it can help preserve your whiskey, it’s a natural place for storing your own blends, and if necessary, it allows you to keep the precise whiskey being drunk, a mystery.
Additionally – and maybe primarily, they can add class and style to your whiskey which is why they can be a pretty cool accessory to have.
Just make sure when choosing a whiskey decanter, that it meets the following criteria:
It Has an Airtight Seal
It’s important that a whiskey decanter has a seal that’s as airtight as possible. That’s because if air gets into the decanter it will eventually oxidize your whiskey causing its flavors to change.
It’s The Right Size
Make sure that the decanter is not much bigger than your bottle of whiskey, otherwise you’ll have a lot of headspace (the empty space between the stopper and the whiskey) in the decanter, which is actually air that can oxidize your whiskey.
It’s Made from Lead-Free Crystal
If a decanter is made from crystal as opposed to glass, it’s important that it be lead-free. Otherwise, the amount of lead that will leech from the decanter into the whiskey over the time it’s stored there, can reach dangerous levels.
Once again, which decanter to choose will depend on your personal taste for a particular design, and you can find some great whiskey decanters on Amazon here.
For more information about what a whiskey decanter does and what to look for when buying one, see this in-depth article I wrote about it here.
4. A Water Dropper
As mentioned, whiskey has a high level of alcohol and using a nosing glass somewhat reduces its impact. To reduce its impact further many whiskey drinkers also add water. However, since even one drop of water can change the taste of your whiskey (and one drop too much could ruin its flavor entirely), some whiskey drinkers like to be very precise in how much water they add.
If that sounds like you then a water dropper will be an important whiskey accessory to have. It allows you to add one drop of water to your whiskey at a time and compare the flavors you detect for each amount. Since people and whiskeys are different you’ll be able to discover the exact amount of water that you find brings out all the flavors of each whiskey you try.
Water droppers are very easy to use. Load the dropper into a water container and use your finger to cover the small hole at the top. Place the dropper over your whiskey and gently loosen the grip of your finger until a drop of water is released. Take a sip from your whiskey, noting the flavor, and repeat the process until satisfied.
You can find water droppers on Amazon here.
5. Clear Ice Molds
As mentioned, there may be times you’ll want to add ice cubes to your whiskey to chill it however, it’s important that the ice cubes are clear and not cloudy. That’s because the cloudiness is impurities from the water that will be transferred to your whiskey and contaminate it, and trapped air that makes the ice cube fragile causing it to break quicker and melt sooner.
If you’ll be adding ice cubes to your whiskey regularly then clear ice molds is a must have accessory, as regular ice molds are the cause of cloudy ice cubes. That’s because in regular ice molds all four sides are cooled at the same time, so the outermost parts freeze first and center freezes last. And since it’s the purest water that freezes first – on the outside, all the air and impurities become trapped in the center of the ice.
On the other hand, clear ice molds are insulated at the sides and on the bottom. That way the water inside freezes from the top down, and the impurities and air are pushed to the bottom and out of the mold.
The only drawback to clear ice molds is that they’re four or five times more expensive than regular ice molds, but if you’re planning on using ice cubes in your whiskey regularly, it will certainly be a worthwhile investment.
Some great clear ice molds are the Dexas ice•ology Clear Ice Maker that makes eight 1.375 square inch ice cubes in one go, which you can find on Amazon here, or the Berlinzo Ice Ball Maker that makes four 2.4 inch ice balls in one go, which you can find on Amazon here.
6. Whiskey Stones
Ice cubes are great for chilling your drink and allowing you to taste all the changes in your whiskey as they melt, and the added water opens up more of the whiskey’s flavors. However, sometimes you’ll want to chill your whiskey but at the same time ensure that it keeps its exact flavor and doesn’t become diluted. That’s where whiskey stones come in handy.
Whiskey stones are pieces of stone or metal that are frozen and then added to your whiskey to chill it. Since they’re not made of water they can’t melt, add water to your drink and change its flavors or dilute it.
There are several types of whiskey stones each of which will chill whiskey to a different temperature. This is great as you can choose the right type of whiskey stone for the level of chilling that you want. (No type of whiskey stones will chill your drink as much as ice, but that can be a good thing as it means your whiskey won’t become too cold which can mute its aromas and flavors.)
If you only want to slightly cool your whiskey so that it’s just below room temperature, then you should use whiskey stones made from soapstone or granite, which you can find on Amazon here. If you want to chill your whiskey significantly but not so much that it loses its flavor, then you’ll need to use steel whiskey stones, which you can find on Amazon here.
For more information about how to use whiskey stones to effectively chill your drink, see this in-depth article I wrote about it here.
7. Books About Whiskey
Books about whiskey are a great way to expand your knowledge and appreciation of whiskey and are a must have accessory for anyone on a whiskey journey. There are books that cover whiskey from every conceivable angle including taste, history, geography, recipes and distillation. Some popular whiskey books are:
The Complete Whiskey Course: A Comprehensive Tasting School in Ten Classes by Robin Robinson
This is a wide-ranging whiskey guidebook that explains whiskey history, how it defined the way whiskey is made in different countries and regions, the myriad styles, how aging and finishing works, and the basics of nosing and tasting whiskey. It also offers helpful recommendations on how to choose a bottle of whiskey and build your own collection. You can find this book on Amazon here.
101 Whiskies to Try Before You Die by Ian Buxton
Not a list of the best whiskeys or those that have won awards, but a list of decent whiskeys you’ll want to try, that for the most part, doesn’t include those that are exceedingly limited or impossibly expensive. You can find this book on Amazon here.
The World Atlas of Whisky by Dave Broom
This book explores over 200 distilleries and over 400 whiskeys from all over the world. With hundreds of tasting notes and six flavor camps that group whiskeys by style on an interactive flavor map, you’ll be able to identify new whiskeys you’ll want to try. You can find this book on Amazon here.
Hacking Whiskey: Smoking, Blending, Fat Washing, and Other Whiskey Experiments by Aaron Goldfarb
This book is a collection of ingenious whiskey ideas that you can try in the privacy of your own home. Things like making cheap homemade blends that taste fancy, infusing whiskey with smoke, adding it to infinity bottles, and doing bone marrow luge shots, to name a few. You can find it on Amazon here.
8. Flaviar’s Spirit Subscription Service
Of course, the best way to learn about whiskey is to drink it. But some whiskeys can be very expensive, and you don’t want to pay a lot of money for something you’re not sure you’ll like. That’s where Flaviar comes in.
Flaviar is an online spirit subscription service that will give you personalized recommendations based on your current likes and dislikes. With one complimentary tasting box containing three premium spirit samples every quarter, you’ll discover new favorites without breaking the bank.
Additionally, you also get access to their online course on fine spirits, tons of articles and videos to get educated about whiskey, members reviews that can also help direct you to your next favorite whiskey and live events with special tastings.
They also have a selection of whiskeys that eclipses what you’ll find at local liquor stores. Members get special pricing and shipping is free on everything.
There are several versions of their membership which you can check out at Flaviar.com here.