We, that would be some of my coworkers and I, got into a little discussion about whiskey the other day and I was almost ashamed to admit that I really didn't know much about it. Sure, I love a great beer on a hot day and have been known to sip on a glass of wine from time to time, but I've never really gotten into whiskey. So I decided to do a little research.

My first stop was a website called TheManual.com. They are a fount of knowledge on just about everything and filled me in on the basics.

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What is whiskey?

It's a distilled spirit made from grain. A distiller will mash the grain to release its sugars, then ferment it into alcohol. Most of the time the grain is either corn, wheat, rye, or barley, but millet and quinoa have also been used. Once the mixture is fermented and distilled it is usually aged in an oak barrel. It's this aging process that adds flavor and that familiar amber color.

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How should I drink whiskey?

This is pretty much open to personal choice, but there are a few standard ways to consume whiskey.

You can have it neat. That's just the whiskey, pure and simple, in the tumbler of your choice.

You can add water. OK, don't gasp at the idea of diluting your favorite brand of whiskey with something as lowly as H2O, the process of adding just a tiny bit of water actually releases the hydrophobic elements in the glass and lets you detect more aroma from the whiskey. Just don't use too much. The recommended procedure is to trap a drop of water in a straw, add that to your whiskey and stir it gently. By going slowly you can experiment and find the exact ratio you like best.

Or you can have it on the rocks. While it sounds cool to belly up to the bar and order a "Whiskey on the rocks" it's not always your best choice. First of all, the ice actually numbs your palate and dulls the flavors of anything you're drinking. Secondly it tends to water down your mixture even more than when you add a little bit drop by drop. If you do opt for this method your best move is to go with a large ice cube. The smaller cubes will melt more quickly and increase the dilution of your drink.

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ipopba / ThinkStock

Now that I know the basics, where should I go to actually drink some whiskey?

A quick online search only turned up three places in Wichita Falls and they all sound pretty nice.

There's Karat Bar & Bistro downtown. They moved into what was the old Zale's jewelry building at the corner of 8th and Ohio a while back. In addition to having a full bar they also serve food and cupcakes.

Then there's The Maplewood. They have a full bar, hold karaoke nights, and highlight local artists from their location in Century Plaza, just off Maplewood Avenue.

Don't forget the Whiskeyta Club. This is a true whiskey bar with more than 100 bourbon and scotch whiskeys to choose from. They're at 3709 Gregory Street, behind the Courtyard Marriott on Lawrence Road.

Of course you can always swing by your local liquor store and sip on your favorite whiskey from the comfort of your own home.


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