How To Drink Whiskey Without Burn? Answered

by Dane Wilson | Last Updated: July 1, 2022

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Whiskey is an iconic drink and is seen as the go-to choice for a lot of rich people in films, shows, and media in general. While the rise in popularity of whiskey is another conversation, let’s discuss how you can drink it without your mouth and throat feeling like you have drank liquid sandpaper.

If you have tried to drink whiskey or any other strong spirit, you have probably hated the burning sensation that comes with it. Thankfully, there are ways you can reduce or completely avoid this.

My dad and I like whisky. So we drank a Lagavulin 16 year old whisky which has great peted taste.

Why Does Whiskey Burn?

There are two main reasons why whiskey burns your mouth and throat when you drink it. Thankfully, it is nothing bad. The burning sensation is common and does not mean you are not able to drink whiskey.

The first, and main, reason why you feel that burning sensation is all to do with your VR1 receptors. These cover your mouth and throat and have the job of alerting your brain when you drink or eat something that can be perceived as hot or dangerous.

The main job of these is to cause a bad sensation to deter you from drinking or eating that same thing again. While we know that it is whiskey and is not harmful, the receptors can perceive it as such. This same sensation can be experienced if you eat too much black pepper or any other spice that is likely to sting you.

The second reason to explain why whiskey burns you is simply that you are highly sensitive to alcohol. More likely, you are sensitive to the dehydrating effects of alcohol and the mucus membrane in your mouth does not like it.

If this membrane is highly sensitive, then the whiskey may cause it to start drying up, which is what causes the burning feeling. This feeling is there to persuade you to drink some water or a soft drink in order to rehydrate your mouth.

Vintage crystal glass of bourbon whiskey by an outdoor campfire

Tips For Stopping Or Reducing Whiskey Burn

If you are really wanting to get through the whiskey burn as you enjoy drinking it that much, there are a bunch of tips you can do to help with this. However, if you are not that much of a fan of whiskey, the easiest thing you can do is drink something significantly weaker. If you are sensitive to strong alcohols, it may be better for you to drink something weaker such as beer, cider, or wine.

1. Exhale before you drink

While it may seem a bit extreme, exhaling before your drink is a great way to reduce the burn that you feel. When you drink normally, there is a chance that you will inhale when the whiskey is in or near your mouth. This causes the whiskey vapors to hit the nerves and mucus membranes of your nasal passage. This will cause a burning sensation although this can entirely be avoided if you do not inhale.

Exhale a large amount of air from your lungs, while leaving some air remaining, and take a sip of whiskey. Once you have swallowed the sip, you can exhale the rest of the air in your lungs and then inhale. The whole process does not have to be so robotic as you can find yourself doing it quite naturally after a while.

Hopefully, by following this, you will notice a decrease in the burning sensation and can start to enjoy the flavors in the drink. Once the alcohol fumes escape from your drink, you will find it a lot more tolerable.

2. Drink chilled whiskey

While some snobby whiskey lovers will tell you that you have to drink whiskey at room temperature in order to perfectly experience it, this is not true. There is no point in putting weird and restricting rules like this on alcohol. It is all down to personal preference, and if drinking whiskey while it is chilled helps reduce the burning so that you can actually tolerate it, go ahead.

Chilling whiskey will reduce the sting considerably and you will be a lot more likely to enjoy it after it has been chilled. The great thing about alcohol is that it does not freeze, so you can place your whiskey in the freezer to chill it in no time.

Alternatively, you can use ice cubes to do this. Not only will the ice cubes chill your whiskey and help reduce the burning, but once the ice cubes melt, they will dilute the whiskey which will also help with the alcohol burn you are experiencing.

3. Drink with mixers

Again, a lot of whiskey drinkers might tell you that the only proper thing to do is drink whiskey neat, but this is not true in the slightest. Drinking whiskey with a mixer such as cola or lemonade is not just good for reducing the burn, but it is also good for making the drink taste nice. Neat whiskey tastes great, there is no denying that. But sometimes, you might find yourself at the pub with your friends wanting something a bit more casual. This is where you order a jack and coke and get to enjoy it for longer. It will also burn a lot less than straight whiskey does.

4. Try a chaser

If you are determined to enjoy a smooth whiskey without adding ice or a mixer, but still want to reduce the whiskey burn, then you may want to try a chaser. These are best when drinking whiskey from a shot glass although you can do the same with a glass of Irish whiskey or any other whiskey of your choice.

A chaser is simple a soft drink that you will drink immediately after your whiskey. This will immediately relieve the burning sensation in your mouth and let you drink whiskey more often.

It has to be more than a few drops as you need a mouthful of the chaser, but drinks such as cola, lemonade, orange juice, or water are great for doing this. This will let you enjoy whiskey without experiencing the prolonged burn that you normally feel.

5. Take smaller sips

If the alcohol vapors are hurting the delicate tissues in your mouth, the best thing you can do is simply reduce the number of alcohol vapors. Less alcohol means less burning, right? To stop burning your taste buds, you could drink small sips of whiskey instead of having a mouthful at a time. This will significantly help with whiskey burn as it will be less intense.

One shot glass of whiskey is a good amount to have at a single time, but if that is too much for you then having smaller sips with a reduced alcohol content will help you a lot.

Whisky in a glass

Practice Makes Perfect

Whether it is malt whiskey, bourbon whiskey, single malt scotch, or an 18-year-aged Irish, the best way to enjoy them without the burn is to practice. Similar to working out, where you break down your muscles and then rebuild them stronger, you can do the same thing to the tissues in your mouth.

The more whiskey you drink, the more likely you are to start to tolerate it. While this might take a while, and a lot of alcohol burn, it will eventually be fine. If you try this simultaneously with the other tips, you will eventually be able to drink whiskey easily without burning at all.

FAQs On Whiskey Burn

Why does it burn when I drink whiskey?

Whiskey can burn you as the VR1 receptors lining your mouth and throat detect it as something that is hot or dangerous for the body. This is wrong, but they still perceive it as such. Similar to how some spices can cause a similar sensation.

What is the proper way to drink whiskey?

The proper way to drink whiskey is very relative to what your expectations are. Traditionally, you would drink it neat from a glass with an ice cube or two in it. However, if you want to drink it mixed with cola or a mixer, go right ahead.

Is there whiskey that doesn’t burn?

Not all whiskey will burn you as it depends on the strength of the whiskey and the alcohol content in it. If you are experiencing burning from a whiskey that has been aged for 18 years, it is best to try a whiskey that has not been aged at all.