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Posted 1 year, 2 months ago by Marketing Douglas Laing

Choosing the Right Dram for a Whisky Cocktail

From the Whisky Sour to the Old Fashioned, the whisky cocktail has long been a mixologist’s favourite. It’s not hard to see why - whisky as the star ingredient delivers the necessary depth, smokiness and flavour that other spirits lack. So, how do you make a whisky cocktail that appeases both whisky purists and beginners?

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From the Whisky Sour to the Old Fashioned, the whisky cocktail has long been a mixologist’s favourite. It’s not hard to see why - whisky as the star ingredient delivers the necessary depth, smokiness and flavour that other spirits lack.

Devout drammers may scoff at the thought of drinking whisky in any other way than neat, but as summer temperatures continue to rise, swapping out a no-frills dram for a cocktail could be a refreshing solution to staying cool.


Cocktails are also an excellent way to introduce the uninitiated into the world of whisky. Whisky is, after all, something of an acquired taste for many, and a cocktail offers the flexibility for prospective drammers to explore the spirit, without facing the initial burn of drinking a dram on its own.


So, how do you make a whisky cocktail that appeases both whisky purists and beginners?


Selecting the Right Whisky for Your Cocktail

The key to making an exceptional cocktail begins with selecting the right type of whisky. Choosing a particularly characteristic, well-aged or rare single malt, such as those from our XOP range is unlikely to add much to your cocktail – the complexity of this style of whisky deserves to be savoured and enjoyed on its own.

On the other end of the spectrum, mixing with a budget Blended Scotch is likely to overpower the overall taste of a whisky cocktail due to the harsh profile of the spirit, no matter how many other flavoursome ingredients there are.

Selecting a quality Blended Malt will yield the best results. Blended Malts are considered preferable to Blended Scotch for two key reasons:

  • Higher Strength – The inclusion of grain within a Blended Scotch can lower the alcohol strength of a whisky. Complete with a superior taste profile, a higher strength Blended Malt will stand out clearly within a cocktail - without leaving a nasty burn.
  • Non-Chill Filtration – The process of chill filtration (commonly applied to Blended Scotch) is carried out to remove sediment or “haze” within a whisky – however, this resulting process can strip away enzymes and sacrifice substance for visual appeal. Non-chill filtrated Blended Malts are often creamier upon the palate, and this consistency, in turn, elevates the resulting cocktail.


Simple Whisky Cocktails to Get Started

Playing around with the regional profiles of whisky will ultimately impact the final taste. The smokiness of an Islay whisky will enhance a savoury cocktail, as opposed to a sherried Speyside, of which is more likely to satisfy a sweet tooth.


Showcasing the “best of” their region, the Remarkable Regional Malts are in a prime position to enable professional mixologists and casual drammers alike to tailor cocktails based on their prominent taste profiles.


Creating a great whisky cocktail doesn’t have to be complex - why not try one of our fuss-free serves?

The Horse's Neck

A cocktail with a kick! Using a highball or tall glass, create a simple Horse’s Neck cocktail by mixing three parts Ginger Ale with a dram of the versatile Lowlander, The Epicurean, and served over cubed ice. To garnish, add a lemon zest spiral to the centre of your glass. Add an edge to your cocktail with three optional dashes of Angostura Bitters.

The Manhattan

This cocktail classic brings minimal fuss using only three ingredients. Fill a mixing glass with ice and combine a sweet Speyside 25ml dram of Scallywag with 15ml of Sweet Vermouth. Stir well and strain the mix from the ice into a chilled cocktail glass.

The Whisky Sour

Embrace the peatiness of whisky with this much-loved cocktail. Grab a shaker and fill up ¾ with cubed ice. Add a dram of Islay’s finest Big Peat, as well as three dashes of Angostura Bitters, one part lemon juice and one part sugar syrup. Shake vigorously until chilled throughout. Strain your shaker into an ice-filled tumbler of choice, then garnish with a cherry and lemon wedge. Kick things up a notch by adding an optional ½ part egg white before shaking to achieve a dreamy consistency.

There is no right or wrong way to enjoy a dram – neat or in a cocktail, Blended or Single Malt, with or without water – what tastes best is up to you. But, if you’ve never tried a whisky cocktail before, we urge you embrace your curiosity – the results may just surprise you!

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