CELEBRATING WHISKY WITH DAVE BROOM
Renowned Whisky writer and expert Dave Broom declares why Whisky should be celebrated around the world and his thoughts and tips on the best long Whisky serves. You can also get involved and celebrate Whisky in your bar with our free menu and recipe downloads at the end of the article!
I’m old and gray enough to remember when a training course on Scotch would be met with an apathetic response. It was just something you had to sit through. It wasn’t the bartenders’ fault. Scotch wasn’t trendy, customers weren’t asking for it—and it was considered unmixable. How things have changed. Some of the hottest new bars in the world, be that Australia or America, Tokyo or Toulouse, are Whisky themed. People are drinking Whisky cocktails, or extending their knowledge by exploring the seemingly infinite passageways of the world realm of malt.
Why? It partly comes down to a generational shift. Whisky doesn’t have the baggage for the millennial drinker that it did for their parents (and possibly grandparents). Also, flavor is back and Whisky has plenty of that; so too is the growing understanding that this is a spirit that is real, from an actual place, created by actual people. It has heft, it has a back story.
Though this may seem counterintuitive, I believe that Whisky is gaining in popularity because it is not "easy". Even at its lightest, it will always be identifiable as Whisky. It manages to balance being welcoming but without losing a certain uncompromising nature. This is appealing. It is a drink that says something to you and about you.
It also has a wider range of flavors than any other spirit, from floral and delicate, to heavily fruited and/or smoky and Whisky has character—it is flexible, fun, and versatile.
There was a post-Prohibition belief that Scotch couldn’t be mixed. In reality, it’s been drunk long, flavored or spiced since the 16th century. A great idea is to use classic serves like punch, toddies, sours, old-fashioneds, highballs and recipes like the Bobbie Burns, Blood & Sand, Rob Roy, or Penicillin and expand on them.
That involves deep tasting to see what the hidden subtle characters are in the Whisky—one reason why blends are often better than Single Malts in mixed drinks. Use the other ingredients to enhance those elements—find the stories in its depths, allow them to speak. Most importantly, don’t be scared.
Think seasonally. In spring go zesty and bright, in summer long and relaxing, autumn think of fruits, in winter huddle round the fire with warming spices. Light to heavy. Delicate to rich. The year is also like the day—spring and summer pre-dinner, autumn and winter after. Wake the palate up with a highball, contemplate life later on with something deeper and richer.
Remember that Scotch is a global phenomenon because it is mixable. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries blend recipes were altered to suit the fact it was being drunk as a Highball. Nothing has changed. Johnnie Walker Red Label comes to life when soda or ginger ale is added—the same goes for Black. Buchanan’s works with coconut water and makes a mean Mamie Taylor (ginger beer). Old Parr revels in cola. Don’t be shocked. That’s how they are made to be drunk.
I drink most of my Whisky long. It’s refreshing it’s lower in strength, but the serve doesn’t compromise the flavor, but takes it off into new directions allowing further experimentation. Talisker 10 year old with soda? Magnificent. Lagavulin 16 year old and cola? You have to try it.
Find the right serves for your customer, but please don’t feel that Scotch is only for one time, one sex, one age group, and one serve.
Most of all, enjoy responsibly!
From a twist on the classic Mojito, to a new take on the Manhattan, take a look at these inspiring Whisky serves to offer your customer.
Johnnie & Ginger
- .25 oz. JOHNNIE WALKER Red Label
- .25 oz. lime juice
- 2.5 oz. ginger ale
Fill a tall glass with ice cubes.
Add JOHNNIE WALKER, lime juice and ginger ale.
Garnish with a slice of lime.
- 1.75 oz. JOHNNIE WALKER Red Label
- 8 mint leaves
- 3 lemon slices
- .25 oz. simple syrup
- 5 oz. soda water
Fill a highball glass with cubed ice.
Add all ingredients (keep one of the lemon slices as garnish).
Stir briefly and top with ice as needed.
Garnish with lemon slice.
Red Rye Finish Manhattan
- 1.75 oz. JOHNNIE WALKER Red Label
- .75 oz. Sweet Vermouth
- 1 dash Angostura bitters
- 1 orange twist
- 1 maraschino cherry
Pour JOHNNIE WALKER Red Label, Sweet Vermouth and Angostura bitters into a mixing glass.
Fill the glass with ice, stir and strain into a coupe glass.
Garnish with an orange twist and a maraschino cherry.
Black Label Old-Fashioned
- 1.5 oz. JOHNNIE WALKER Black Label
- 1 sugar cube
- 2–3 dashes Angostura bitters
- Splash soda water
Muddle soda and Angostura-bitter-soaked sugar cube in an Old-Fashioned glass.
Add JOHNNIE WALKER Black Label.
Garnish with orange peel and serve.