Sunday, July 1, 2012

Mixing With Malt: Scotch Whisky Cocktails

While scotch whisky is a notoriously difficult spirit to mix with, it just takes a certain amount of care to find ways to make it integrate with other ingredients.

Speyside Sunset
1.5 oz Aberlour 12 Year
0.5 oz lemon juice
0.5 oz honey syrup
0.25 oz allspice dram
1 dash Angostura bitters

Combine all ingredients, shake with ice, and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

The malty, sherried scotch and allspice twine together on the nose, while a bit of lemon oil and clove poke their heads up. The sip opens with dueling honey sweetness and a bit of sourness from the lemon. The malt whisky and allspice dram appear smoothly near the back of the mouth, with the drink finishing similarly with a slight return of the lemon. Throughout it all, the bitters help to keep the drink from falling apart into disparate pieces.

I wanted to put scotch and allspice dram together. There was a false start, but this version came together beautifully. The lightly sherried Aberlour fits well with the allspice for a lovely sour cocktail.

1.5 oz Glenfarclas 12 Year
0.5 oz sweet vermouth
0.25 oz orgeat (B.G. Reynolds)
1 dash Fee's Whiskey Barrel bitters

Combine all ingredients, stir with ice, then strain into a chilled cocktail glass and garnish with a lemon twist.

The nose is dominated by the sweet vermouth's wine, with rich almonds from the orgeat, cinnamon from the bitters, and hints of lemon from the twist. The sip is deliciously thick and opens bittersweet from the interaction between the orgeat, bitters, and vermouth. There is also a strong underlying maltiness, which shifts briefly into wine flavors from the vermouth and the whisky's sherry cask aging. There's a sense of something building, then a fantastic wash of cinnamon and chocolate leads into the finish. Just a hint of the Glenfarclas' ginger bite lingers for a good long while.

Once again, I think the bitters really make this drink. I had been trying to think of a way to get Glenfarclas 12 into a cocktail as the flavors are so deliciously rich that I thought they would stand up well. However, the trick was to find a drink that would compliment the whisky without completely overwhelming it. This mashup between a Rob Roy and a Japanese Cocktail seems to have done the trick.

Papa's Crutch
1.5 oz Glenmorangie Original
0.5 oz lemon juice
0.5 oz grapefruit juice
0.5 oz simple syrup

Combine all ingredients, shake with ice, and strain into a maraschino-rinsed cocktail glass.

The nose is extremely fruity. It reminds me a bit of rhum agricole, with the whisky and maraschino coming together to produce a funky pear note. There's also honied apples, grapefruit, and cherry blossoms. The sip comes a little bit thin with some light apple juice, but then there's a wave of malt, sweet lemon, bitter grapefruit, and funkier flavors from the maraschino. It finishes with honey, almonds and some floral notes.

This drink is right on the edge of being a confused mess. The maraschino and scotch just barely play well with each other, threatening to come to blows. Glenmorangie Original is a relatively light, floral whisky and the interaction with the maraschino brings out a lot of interesting fruits. While not quite as coherent as its Hemmingway Daiquiri inspiration, it's all an exciting ride.


  1. Hey Jordan. Do you recommend any brands of sweet vermouth? I've only tried the cheapies -- Martini Rossi and Gallo -- and have found them too sticky and saccharine. Thanks!

    1. Michael, right now I'm using Vya, but it's a little bit too soft. Punt e Mes and Carpano Antica should be much more robust.

    2. Those two look excellent. Thanks!