An expert’s guide to enjoying whisky

Posted on: 15 March 2010 by Mark O'haire

Master blender for Teacher’s whisky, Robert Hicks shares his expert tips on how to enjoy a dram.

An expert’s guide to enjoying whiskyI’ve been blending whisky for over 40 years and am responsible for the consistency of flavour in Teacher’s whisky. I’ve developed a memory of around 10,000 smells and use these in every nosing session. Teacher’s is a blend with a high malt content of 45%, and contains more than 35 malt whiskies including Ardmore, its fingerprint malt.

How to enjoy whisky

Ice, no ice, water, no water, is it ok to add a mixer? There is a lot of confusion on how blended Scotch or any whisky should be drunk. Those from the old school of thought will tell you that the only way to drink whisky is with more whisky. I think differently.

Remember the first time you ever had a drink of whisky? Did you actually like it? Most likely you didn’t as you were told not to add anything as it’ll spoil the taste. I remember my first dram at the age of 18 and I hated it, it was fiery in my mouth, burned down my throat and I couldn’t speak for ages.

To find out and appreciate all the flavour nuances of the whisky I recommend adding just a drop of water, swirl the glass and smell the multitude of aromas. The water helps release the flavours, enhancing the distinctive taste and making sipping your favourite whisky an even more pleasurable experience.

That said, I believe that you should drink whisky in the way you enjoy it most. A lot of people in the industry call me a rebel for saying this but I believe that when you have a drink you should enjoy it and if you want to add ice, water or even a mixer then that’s up to you. If you choose a full-flavoured blended Scotch such as Teacher’s, it will taste equally good mixed with soda, ginger ale or with cola and a wedge of lime – which is my personal favourite (the TLC).


Teacher’s tasting notes


Rich amber with yellowish highlights.


Deep and robust maltiness with hints of apples and pears and heavy honey maturity.


Full depth and substance


Challenging, exciting, round and warming with a silky texture. Tastes of full rich malts and maturity.


Balanced, clean and full.

For more information about Teacher’s whisky, please visit

By Robert Hicks

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