Whisky Cocktails

04 March, 2013
Scotch whisky

At Maxxium, the UK distribution partnership between the Edrington Group and Jim Beam, one of the single malts Collins does a lot of work with is, of course, the renowned Islay dram Laphroiag, and a revelation here is how well the whisky goes with orange juice. “For instance in a Whisky Sour if you use half lemon and half orange juice with Laphroaig it’s an excellent result.”

Undoubtedly, though, it’s the Manhattan which is Collins’s ‘desert island drink’. “It’s such a majestic drink and it works with all the whiskies – Scotch, rye and bourbon – and the early recipes just specify ‘whisky’, not the type.” 

Big blends

Also in the Collins armoury is The Macallan and the 10 Year Old makes a great Manhattan. “With the big blends and big tasting malts it has to be sweet vermouth in the Rob Roy – although a blend such as Cutty Sark, because it is lighter, works well with dry vermouth.” 

On the American whiskey front, Collins works with Jim Beam, Maker’s Mark and Knob Creek. “Bourbon on the whole is easier to work with, whereas with Scotch you’ve really got to know its DNA – what type of casks it’s been ageing in. In terms of the panoply of tastes it’s extremely complex.” Furthermore, Collins firmly believes Maker’s Mark is the perfect bourbon for the Mint Julep – and that’s due to its “abv and lighter taste” generally. 

Certain tasty revelations have come to Collins during his work with these whiskies and one is how well pineapple juice goes with the Orkney single malt, Highland Park, and what a great Whisky Punch you can make using either Famous Grouse or Black Grouse. 

“People actually think this is a rum-based Punch,” says Collins.  “It’s all about rediscovery though. If you think back to the old days and the cargos of exotic fruits, including pineapples, that would arrive at the Glasgow docks – and the locals would mix these with their Scotch.”

Over in the Pernod Ricard-owned Chivas Brothers camp, brand ambassador Max Warner has been fashioning cocktails with Chivas Regal for almost 10 years now and still finds it “very exciting to be working on such a luxury brand”. 

As Asia is now one of the French multinational’s leading regions it’s not surprising that green tea has come under scrutiny. 

Myths to be dispelled

“There are a lot of challenges and certain myths to be dispelled – some still think it’s sacrilegious to mix Scotch and some folk not in the know still find Scotch overpowering taste-wise, so a cocktail can make it more palatable – a cocktail is crafted for the senses.”

It’s good to know that so much mixing activity is ongoing with whisky per se, but particularly Scotch, as it takes an age to break down long-held notions, particularly one that maintains Scotch – let alone a single malt – should never be mixed. Not even with water. 

But as one chap told me many moons ago: “It’s typical of the English to take two of Scotland’s greatest traditions – Scotch and golf – and turn them into denizens of snobbism.” 

Isn’t it just.


Nick Strangeway


Happy customers across the UK enjoyed their first pints and non-homemade cocktails at the start of July as its hospitality sector reopened after months of lockdown. But normal service has hardly resumed.