SINGLE MALTS – A WORLD TO EXPLORE
Do you use single malts in your bar? Well if not you are missing out on a world of flavour to explore in your creations. Diageo Single Malts Ambassador Donald Colville gives us a guided tour into the realm of single malts, giving top tips along the way about how to use these incredible flavours in your bar, including some special Game of Thrones Single Malt recipes.
MY STORY IN WHISKY
Guarding the door to my family home was a large piece of stone tile, drilled with tiny holes, that was one of the last remaining pieces saved from my Great Grandfathers distillery ‘Dalintober’ in my home town of Campbeltown, on the west coast of Scotland. Campbeltown was, and in many ways still is, one of Scotland’s most important whisky regions.
There are only 5 legally recognised whisky regions; Highlands, Speyside, Lowlands, Islay and Campbeltown. Sadly, there isn’t the bustling whisky community there once was in Campbeltown, at one point boasting over 27 working distilleries all within a 2-mile square area of the Scottish fishing town. A lot of the whisky was sold and shipped off to the US during prohibition. When Prohibition ended the sales stopped and the big blenders in Scotland had no need for the volume of intensely smoky whisky the Campbeltown distilleries produced. Sadly, this led to the decline of the region and there are now only 3 operational distilleries remaining there.
However, I grew up hearing stories of whisky and there was simply no other industry I could have, or wanted to, work in. This industry offers more of a vocation than a job. I also knew I was in the right job when I found information in the archives that showed that my Great Grandfathers main distillery was bought by and used in the blends of the Walkers.
DIFFERENT TYPES OF SCOTCH
I am incredibly lucky to have always worked almost exclusively with Single Malts. While all Scotch is incredible the different types of Scotch you can get all offer something beautifully unique. There are five legal definitions of Scotch:
FLAVOURS TO EXPORE
This then translates into how these beautiful Single Malts can be used in your bars.
This incredibly vast array of flavours offers so much choice for your guests whether it be neat in a more traditional way with ice and water on the side or as the main component of a stunning Rob Roy (not a Manhattan - if it’s a scotch, it’s a Rob Roy!). Never be afraid to offer Single Malts in cocktails. If anyone claims its sacrilege to enjoy a good Single Malt with other ingredients, it’s only because they haven’t been privy to a decent cocktail yet.
Others may argue it’s difficult to offset menu or supplier costs if using Single Malts for cocktails, but pricing shouldn’t stand in the way of the wonderful depth and complexity afford to cocktails from Single Malts.
It’s also a great way to introduce new drinkers to the category. Don’t forget, very few people start drinking coffee on double espressos.
SPOTLIGHT ON MALTS IN YOUR BAR
The often mispronounced (it’s ‘Cull-Eel-ah) but never underestimated Caol Ila is a formidable giant of Scotch that harnesses the power and charm of Islay. Situated on the shores of the Sound to draw water from Loch Nam Ban, Caol Ila has a signature smoky charisma and is often regarded as the perfect entry point to peaty whiskies.
Flavour notes: Caol Ila 12yo - clean, fresh, sweetly fruity, character and lightly fragrant smokiness.
Perfect Old Fashioned: Caol Ila 12yo/ Simple Syrup/ Lemon Bitters.
Celebrated around the globe for its rich, intense character since 1816, the Lagavulin distillery on Islay is situated in arguably the most romantic setting for any Scotch distillery – in a rocky bay by the sea, overlooked by the ruined Dunyvaig Castle.
Flavour notes: Lagavulin 16yo – intensely smoky-sweet with seaweed and oak notes that build to a big finish.
Perfect Old Fashioned: Lagavulin Distillers Edition/ Demerara Simple Syrup/ Chocolate bitters.
FUTURE OF DRINKING SINGLE MALTS
It would have been crazy to think of them being interwoven into popular culture and now we have the incredible collaboration between our Scotches and HBO with the new Game of Thrones bottlings. These collectable editions tie the past with the present by marrying some of the world’s most iconic Single Malts with the cultural phenomena of Game of Thrones. To celebrate, we’ve developed some beautiful serves to tell the story of the distillery, the associated house and the scotch itself.
SINGLE MALT SERVES
Along with all the incredible cocktails we can suggest for our malts there are also some beautiful ritual serves and hot serves. For example, for the new Mortlach range we are simply suggesting that they are served over a large ice block or ball with a black olive on the side on a copper skewer. The oily and meatiness of the olive works incredibly well with the new Mortlachs, especially my favourite: the 16yo Distillers Dram.
For hot serves Talisker is leading the way as there is no better whisky to enjoy outdoors due to its rugged luxury and no better hot serve than the campfire hot chocolate. Try this recipe:
Talisker Campfire Hot Chocolate
50ml Talisker 10yr, Skye or Port Ruighe 125ml Milk *Dairy or Oat Milk both work well 2x Tbsp Dark chocolate powder 10ml Sugar syrup Large marshmallow
- Add all ingredients into a milk frothing jug and heat/stretch the milk as you do for a latte.
- Pour into mug.
- For the garnish put a toasted large marshmallow on a stick.
(Alcohol content: 18.1g per serve)
GAME OF THRONES SINGLE MALTS SERVES
The Salt Throne
50ml Talisker – House Greyjoy 20ml Lemon Juice 10ml Sugar Syrup 1 Pinch Seaweed Salt Seaweed garnish
- Add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker.
- Shake with cubed ice, double strain into a coupe glass.
- Garnish with seaweed.
(Alcohol content: 18.1g per serve)
Kings of Winter
Glass 1 - Frozen Dalwhinnie – House Stark
Glass 2 - Dark Hot Chocolate with a nutmeg dusting
Serve 50ml of Dalwhinnie straight from the freezer in your favourite glass which should also be frozen. On the side serve dark hot chocolate and grate fresh nutmeg over the top.
(Alcohol content: 17g per serve)
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