Festive Whisky Drinking

Well I survived the Highland Park Fire candle and didn’t set fire to anything except the taste buds with some more whisky samples – that’s in a good way.

I’ve recently been checking over a piece about whisky cocktails and mixed drinks which are delightful at any time but there’s perhaps the opportunity to be even more adventurous at this time of year. I’ve received some fantastic recipes for the new Chivas Regal Ultis I wrote about last month but they do need a fair amount of equipment and preparation. You may well have them in your workplace if you’re in the bar or restaurant business but they’re not things we’d all have readily to hand at home such as ice cups and atomisers. Lovely to look at and great theatre, though.

Chivas Regal The Blend at Truman Brewery 18th October 2016.

Chivas Regal The Blend at Truman Brewery 18th October 2016.

One, which doesn’t need so much equipment is “The Ultimate Punch” which is supposed to show off, in harmony, all the five malts in the blend: 50ml Chivas Regal Ultis, fresh mint (placed at base of cocktail cup and pressed with the other ingredients), 15ml spiced honey syrup, 40ml freshly pressed pineapple juice, 15ml ginger wine, 5ml cassis, 5ml elderflower. Shake and pour. Serve with crushed ice and and a straw and garnish with 2 pineapple slices. My kitchen is going to be awash with cocktail experiments this festive season.

The Famous Grouse has a good hot toddy recipe and given the cold I seem to be in middle of at the moment it’s certainly one I should be trying. They suggest 50ml The Famous Grouse, squeeze of lemon juice, 1 teaspoon runny honey, 1 spiced teabag e.g. apple and cinnamon, hot water, lemon zest. Add the spiced teabag and pour hot water into the hot toddy glass, Then add The Famous Grouse, honey and lemon juice and stir. Remove teabag and finish with a sliver of the lemon zest. It’s good. However, my standby favourite is a cold powder like Lemsip or Beecham’s or whatever, a hefty spoonful of honey, juice of a lime (more vitamin C than lemons), a hefty belt of a good sherry matured whisky e.g. The Glendronach and boiling water to top up the mug. Makes you feel warm to the core and banishes the sniffles for a while. A master blender ex-colleague once told me dark rum would be better than the sherry-matured whisky but each to their own.

News items since my last piece include the Scotch Whisky Association joining forces with the Brazilian Institute of Cachaça (IBRAC) – a private entity representing the Cachaça Brazilian spirit industry –  have signed a mutual cooperation agreement. The agreement provides for collaboration on themes such as the prevention of misleading commercial practices, promotion of responsible consumption of alcoholic beverages, and mutual promotion and protection of the geographical indications (GIs) Scotch Whisky and Cachaça. We are mutually important markets for these products so it makes good sense.

The Scotch Whisky industry is also the single biggest net contributor to the UK’s balance of trade in goods and that was celebrated recently at a reception in London. Seems that without our contribution Britain’s trade deficit would be 11% larger. Something to be proud of.

At the beginning of this month, Strathearn Distillery in Perthshire launched its whisky at the age of 3 years and 1 day following an online auction, held over a few months, for the first 100 bottles. The first bottle went for £4,150 which is being hand delivered to the bidder, in Italy. Bidders for all the bottles were from  a number of countries. The Strathearn spirit is put into small 50L (octave) casks. They can use peated and unpeated malt and vary the cask type amongst sherry, bourbon or rum so each batch is unique.


Glengoyne has recently launched its latest Teapot Dram – number 5, in fact. Sadly, no sample but we are told, “Matured in first fill Oloroso sherry oak casks, Glengoyne Teapot Dram V is teeming with brown sugar, sweet fruits and soft spices, with a natural colour of dark mahogany. Bottled unchillfiltered and at cask strength (59.6%), just 3,138 bottles of Teapot Dram V are released, available exclusively from the Glengoyne Distillery shop or at Glengoyne.com.” We are told, “The Teapot Dram was created in tribute to an old Glengoyne Distillery tradition: for over 150 years, workers would be given three fingers of whisky, three times a day. The less seasoned workers would, to save face, discreetly pour some of theirs into a copper teapot on the windowsill. Their older colleagues would intersperse official drams with unofficial “cups of tea” from the teapot, ensuring none went to waste.  As the daily dram would never be taken from an old cask, this is a deliberately young and bold malt.” It will retail at £90. With that nose and flavour profile it sounds like just my kind of dram but it will need to be a request to Santa.

The guys at Glasgow’s Liquid Academy have announced a major presence at the ScotHot show in March 2017. They’ll be “offering tips, tricks and expertise for visitors to take back to use in their own businesses. From exploring innovation with ‘Simple Serve Sophistication’ that looks at new and unusual ingredients entering the soft drinks market; to ‘From Grain to Cask’ celebrating traditional spirits with a cask strength whisky tasting.” Sounds good to me and I hope to  attend myself. We can – and should – all learn something new all the time. It’s the joy of this industry.


Lastly, what was your favourite whisky from this year? I can’t decide. Lots of good things but, from the samples sent, nothing that really left me gasping in amazement. There were Glenmorangie Milsean and a couple of the Compass Box and Benriach and Glendronach offerings which I particularly liked and Lagavulin 8 but a range of good, steady offerings industry-wide is something to be celebrated – with a dram.

On that note, I’ll love you and leave you for 2016 and wish everyone a merry and busy (business-wise) Christmas and a very happy and prosperous New Year.

Slainte mhath!





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