Life & Culture

Five Golden Rules for Drinking Whisky

Royal Salute’s ‘Master Perfumer’, Barnabé Fillion, shares five tips for optimising your whisky-drinking experience

  • TextAnother Man

This article was created in partnership with Royal Salute.

Whisky making is, in many ways, akin to the art of perfumery. Both involve a complex layering of scents to create a something that stimulates the senses. Both, too, in the case of Royal Salute, involve a ‘nose’.

Royal Salute’s nose, Barnabé Fillion is an expert on creating perfume compositions. With a background in botany and phytotherapy, he studied under the tutelage of Christine Nagel – the nose at Hermès – and designed scents for Comme des Garçons and Paul Smith before joining Royal Salute in 2015.

Last week, Royal Salute and Fillion invited Another Man to the Tower of London for a private tour of the Crown Jewels and the Ceremony of Keys, as well as a five-course tasting menu paired with selected whisky and the ‘Olfactory Experience’. While the setting nodded to Royal Salute’s links to royalty (the whisky launched in 1953 to mark the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II), the food was specially designed to bring out the flavours in the whisky.

And that’s not all – the food was accompanied by flowers, fossils, fragrance and even an eight-million-year-old piece of petrified wood. Together, these elements created a truly multi-sensory experience, demonstrating not only the consideration that goes into whisky making, but the complexity of the final product and its flavour, as well as the drink’s relationship to history and nature.

Off the back of this evening, Fillion five tips for optimising your whisky-drinking experience.

1. Start by smelling the drink

“You should definitely start by smelling the whisky. With blended whisky, you need to understand that it is almost like a perfume or a piece of music. You have to think that somebody composed it, and decided to use this instrument and that instrument to make beautiful piece of music.”

2. Don’t add ice, but do add water

“One thing I don't do is put ice in my whisky because whisky needs to be drunk at room temperature. Also, if you put ice in it, then it blocks your taste sensations. I do put some water in it, though, because that opens the aromas.”

3. Don’t add soda

“Don’t add soda to such a beautiful whisky like Royal Salute. That said, get inventive and maybe make a cocktail with it.”

4. Don’t drink it too fast

“You shouldn’t drink it too fast either, enjoy the moment, enjoy the complexity of the smell and taste, and enjoy all the effort that has gone into creating such a product.”

5. Drink it in good company

“My golden rule is drinking it with people that I like and celebrating something. But drinking it by myself is good, too: having a moment of inspiration, thinking about some work I have to do or when I want to have a really beautiful inspiration.”