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5 of the best whisky cocktails made using scotch

Scotch is known for being the ultimate neat sipper.

With a depth and complexity of flavour – often unique to where it was made – it’s the type of tipple that deserves to be savoured. And most hardcore whisky lovers would baulk at the idea of “scotch cocktails”, choosing instead to stick to their premium whisky tasting sets.

But the truth is, it’s a surprisingly versatile spirit.

Paired with the right ingredients, a cocktail can showcase the distinctive tastes and aromas of scotch in the form of a well-balanced drink – making them a great way for newcomers to find their way in the whisky world. Plus, they can also help to reveal new aspects of the drink to seasoned drammers.

So why not put down your Glencairn (just for a little while) and give them a go?

Whether you’re an absolute beginner or a full-blown connoisseur, here are five of the best whisky cocktails that you need to try at least once in your lifetime.

Scotch cocktails

Tried and tested combinations for your tasting pleasure.

THE OLD FASHIONED

Arguably, this is the oldest whisky cocktail in the book.

The Old Fashioned can technically be made using any style of whisky, but it works particularly well with a delicious scotch. Deceptively simple to make, just mix sugar, bitters and water in a small tumbler – before stirring in a generous 60ml measure of whisky and adding a splash of soda.

To serve, add plenty of ice and garnish with a slice of orange.

SCOTCH SOUR

A Scottish spin on the traditional whisky sour.

The only difference? Scotch is used as the main spirit rather than bourbon.

Dust off your cocktail shaker and mix together a 30ml measure of whisky, lemon juice, sugar syrup and (if you dare!) a fresh egg white. You can skip this last ingredient if you prefer, but it gives the cocktail an intriguingly silky mouthfeel – which is sure to surprise your dinner party guests.

Squeeze in the zest of a lemon and serve over the rocks.

ROB ROY

Taking its name from the Scottish folk hero, Rob Roy MacGregor. This recipe may be a nod to the classic Manhattan from America, but it’s a Caledonian whisky cocktail through and through – with scotch used instead of traditional rye whisky.

Add your chosen whisky to sweet vermouth and Angostura bitters in a mixing glass. Stir until the outside of the glass feels super cold (as cold as a Scottish glen on a winter’s day!). Then strain the cocktail into an ice-filled tumbler and twist a strip of orange peel over the drink to finish.

RUSTY NAIL

This two-part whisky cocktail was created specifically with scotch drinkers in mind.

Perfect for throwing together as a nightcap after dinner – especially on a cold, dark evening by the fireplace. Just combine your favourite scotch whisky with a honey-flavoured whisky liqueur (such as Drambuie), give it a good stir and drop in a strip of lemon peel to garnish. It’s as easy as that.

No wonder it’s been a favourite for decades!

PENICILLIN

It may have only been around since the mid-00s, but Penicillin has already earnt its status as a classic scotch whisky cocktail – becoming a firm favourite among bartenders and home mixers alike.

Think of it as a Gold Rush, with blended scotch as its backbone rather than bourbon.

Shake together a 50ml measure of whisky, lemon juice, honey-ginger syrup and ice. Double strain this into a tumbler, before topping it up with a float of peaty scotch from Islay and garnishing with a welcome snack of candied ginger. The result is a sweet, tart, spicy tipple that’s surprisingly addictive.

Which scotch should I buy for making scotch whisky cocktails?

A single malt or blended variety?

A 10-year-old Highland whisky? Or a classic Speyside spirit?

Despite the unwavering beliefs of diehard scotch fans, scotch whisky is made for drinking however you like it – whether that’s neat or mixed up into a weird and wonderful concoction. And when it comes to making cocktails, you can use pretty much any bottle you like. It just comes down to personal preference.

However, there are a couple of things we reckon you should keep in mind.

Produced at a single distillery and typically aged for a long time, single malts tend to have a very distinctive taste – which may be too overpowering for some whisky cocktails. Plus, they’re often pretty expensive. Realistically, do you really want to spend £100+ on a 12-year-old single malt from Islay, just to throw it in the shaker with fruit juices and syrups?

Some single malts truly are works of art that deserve to be savoured. Which is why, for cocktails, most professional mixologists would recommend using a blended whisky instead.

These are typically bottled at a cocktail-friendly strength of 40-45%. Containing a blend of both single malt and single grain whiskies, they’re smooth and subtle in flavour – so won’t dominate the overall taste of the cocktail – whilst still having enough character to stand their own ground. And they tend to be much cheaper, making them a ‘safe’ choice for experimentation.

A general rule of thumb?

If you’d like to enjoy a sophisticated whisky tasting session and extend your scotch repertoire, treat yourself to a whisky tasting set featuring high-quality scotch single malts – such as those available at Whisky Tasting Company. But if you’d like to try the scotch whisky cocktails listed above… just pick up an affordable blended whisky from your local supermarket!




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