“I’ll have a whiskey on the rocks.” We’ve all heard it, read it, and probably even said it before. When exactly is it appropriate to order liquor on the rocks? It’s true — some liquors benefit from the addition of ice, while others are meant to stand solid on their own, consumed “neat.” So how do we know which liquors fall into each category? Of course, everything is subjective to the taster, but there are some basic rules you might want to follow. When it comes to Scotch, single malts are meant to be enjoyed without ice, as they are more terroir-driven spirits, while blended Scotches can actually be brought to life with the addition of some ice. With tequila, we keep our higher-end anejos neat, yet love dropping an ice chip or two into our favorite silver or reposados. Gin is generally always enhanced by the addition of ice, and bourbon is a little more subjective.
Sometimes you just want a cold drink. Here’s a list of seven of our favorite liquors to drink on the rocks:
Dewars 12 Year Old The Ancestor Blend
Named after honorary founder John Dewar, this blended Scotch is one of the best on the market. After blending, the whisky is put back into vintage oak casks for further aging, allowing for proper integration of the flavors. Drop an ice cube in and let the honeyed fruit aromas open up in this classic blended Scotch.
Johnnie Walker Black
The classic on-the-rocks blended Scotch. Seen as a benchmark for blended whiskies around the world, Johnnie Walker Black uses only whiskies aged for at least 12 years, creating a smooth and complex flavor profile. Rocks will open the dried fruit aromas and the long-lasting, lightly smoked finish.
Casa Noble Crystal Tequila
Is there anything better than a chilled blanco tequila? We think not. Adding a few ice chips to this organic, small-batch tequila truly brings out the honeyed agave flavors and light citrus notes that make this tequila one of the best for sipping.
Tequila Herradura Coleccion de la Casa Port Cask Finished Reposado
This unique tequila ages for 11 months in ex-bourbon casks, then completes its 13-month aging cycle in old port casks. The varying barrel use adds layered aromas of vanilla-caramel, leading way to a savory palate rounded out by lingering sweetness, thanks to the bourbon and port casks. Adding rocks not only adds a pleasant chill to the liquor, but helps integrate all the varying flavor profiles going on in this complex, one-of-a-kind tequila.
Despite only having been on the market for the last 18 years, this Scottish gin is absolutely killing it. The product is created using juniper and other usual gin-producing suspects, though it’s set apart by the addition of rose and cucumber. These pleasantly sweet, floral components added to the bottle become soft and mellow with the addition of ice, creating an unforgettable sipping experience.
This iconic bottle has been crafted the same way for over 200 years and remains one of our on-the-rocks staples. This powerful gin presents strong juniper flavors with a zingy finish; tame this sucker down with a few ice chips and you’ll be sweetly sipping for longer than expected.
Four Roses Single Barrel Bourbon
We’re huge fans of all of the Four Roses products, though the Single Barrel Bourbon is by far our favorite. However, the bottle presents the highest rye percentage bourbon mash bill on the market, which can be a bit spicy for some. A slight chill and minimal dilution aids in toning down the spiciness factor, making the ripe and robust fruit characteristics of the palate come to life.