From David TJ Littlejohn, Malt Whisky Ambassador, Diageo
We are now in the midst of winter and with that in mind, I’d like to take the opportunity to highlight Scotch Whisky and the many ways you can enjoy the spirit over the winter months.
In the on-trade in general, Scotch Whisky is proving more and more popular, with £1 in every £10 spent on spirits spent on whisk(e)y*. People are becoming more open to exploring the category driven by the number of ways it can be enjoyed to suit lots of occasions and palates.
Heat it up
One of the most popular ways that whisky is enjoyed in cold weather is in hot alcoholic drinks** and at a time when outdoor spaces are becoming a more frequently utilised area in the on-trade, the offering of a warm drink is a great comfort to guests looking to get into the festive spirit. Hot cocktails encourage more people to explore the world of Scotch as they provide an opportunity to try the spirit in different serves. For example, a Johnnie Walker Hot Toddy with ginger, festive spices and Johnnie Walker Black label, will showcase the four flavour profiles of Johnnie Walker because the liquid is crafted using whiskys from all four corners of Scotland. Talisker, loved for its distinctive flavours and incredible blend of sweet and smoky notes also works perfectly in a more decadent hot serve – Talisker Campfire Hot Chocolate.
*CGA IFT Data 12 weeks to 17.07.2021
** CGA Christmas Report 2019
Whisky and food – the perfect pairing
If you’re an operator and looking to offer something that others aren’t, a whisky and food pairing presents a huge opportunity for you to upsell on your drinks offering.
Customers seek memorable experiences and cocktails paired with food dishes can help to elevate overall dining experiences. It’s all about stepping outside the ordinary to spark conversation and keep customers interested. Create a special moment for diners by offering a dram of Scotch Whisky with seafood, cheese, smoked and roasted meats, or as an end to a meal with dessert. Whisky has an extremely versatile flavour profile, meaning you can use it as a base to many different serves, matching with a selection of seasonal dishes and the best part is, it can be used in serves suited to any occasion which take you throughout the year – not just for the winter months.
Whisky and food pairings can also provide newcomers to whisky an opportunity to explore the category further. It’s all about creating a narrative behind a menu, and food and cocktail pairings can do just that. Single Malt Scotch Whisky The Singleton champions food and cocktail pairings and its warmth means it’s the ideal single malt for exploring lots of different serve possibilities for the holidays, whether this be enjoying it on its own or using it as a base to create festive cocktails.
You could even go one step further and incorporate a smokey scotch delight into one of your dishes on the menu. A whisky infused desert for example; pouring a dram over a delicious gelato is a great after dinner moment served with a mince pie and would be a perfect addition to any winter food menu.
There are hundreds of whisky cocktails out there, but there’s always room for more. After an amazing Talisker ReWild Tour which encouraged bartenders to get creative with locally foraged ingredients, Talisker is a great option to use in a winter signature cocktail. Beneath its wild character and smoky flavour you’ll find soft fruits and cereal notes, and in the older expressions a rich vanilla imbued by the ageing process.
One of my favourite whisky cocktails is a Good Fashion’d:
50ml Johnnie Walker Gold Label
10ml or 1 tsp of Golden Syrup
1 dash of Angostura Bitters
1 sprinkle edible gold glitter
Orange zest to garnish
Stir over ice and serve with fresh ice. Use orange zest to garnish.
I enjoy this drink because it breaks the barriers. An Old Fashion’d, like a Whisky And Ginger, has been well known for a long time, but this is a combination of old and new. And it’s fun!
There is a whisky out there for everyone. The best way to source a selection that your guests will enjoy is by exploring different flavour profiles, or serving them in a way that they wouldn’t expect. Get creative and make the most of this incredibly versatile spirit.