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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.


Growing up in Scotland it’s hard to not be somehow influenced by the whisky industry, but for me that influence began right on my doorstep.

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.


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:


The incredible thing about Single Malts is the vast diversity of flavours that can be created. This is done by using only 3 basic raw materials (water, barley and yeast), the addition of peat smoke during the drying process of the barley and the skill of the people who make it and how they utilise their skills and the distillery.

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.



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.


The world of Single Malts is rapidly changing as we are seeing a newer and younger demographic being curious about malts and how they can enjoy them, collect them or simply learn more about them. Less than 20 years ago it would be ridiculous to think of a Single Malt being the lead spirit in a trend leading bar, but now it’s the norm.

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.


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



(Alcohol content: 18.1g per serve)


The Salt Throne


This maritime Whisky Sour is a nod to the sea lords and a twist on a classic cocktail. The sugar and lemon beautifully amplify the signature smoke and coastal sweetness of Talisker.


(Alcohol content: 18.1g per serve)

Kings of Winter

Bringing some warmth to the coldest and highest Distillery in Scotland. The resilience of Dalwhinnie, producing whisky in one of Scotland’s most challenging locations, echos the stoic strength of House Stark. Dalwhinnie’s classic heather honey sweetness is perfectly complimented by the luxurious spice and warmth of dark hot chocolate.

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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