Today is International Scotch Day, and This is What You Should Be Drinking
Between the growing competition from Asian brands and our own image of whisky-on-the-rocks-swilling titos, has Scotch whisky lost its old shimmer?
Not quite yet. Young and electric brand ambassadors such as Diageo’s Ervin Trykowski have become highly instrumental in rebranding this fogy old drink and reintroducing it to a younger, more discerning whisky market. Not that sales have really been dwindling—Scotland’s population of over five million people still miraculously churns out 400 million bottles of whisky a year. Johnnie Walker Black Label continues to be the world’s largest selling whisky. Still, it’s been difficult to strike out that image of an elderly Sean Connery-esque gentleman in tweed every time talk turns to Scotch.
Thirty-year-old Trykowski is hoping to replace that image with a fresher, more relatable approach. At a recent masterclass in The Curator, his respect for the centuries old tradition of Scotch blending is unmistakable. “It’s this tradition and these strict regulations which make scotch whisky such an enduring and beloved drink,” Trykowski points out. But at the same time, he believes in “breaking down the barriers for fans around the globe to enjoy it any way they choose.” While traditionally, whisky purists prefer to drink the amber liquid neat, Trykowski understands how this might be more challenging than pleasurable in our tropical climate. “Drinking Scotch on the rocks might not be optimal for the ‘nose,’” he says, pertaining to the scent of the whisky, “but it does much for texture or mouthfeel. And, if you’re drinking Scotch at the beach, it just makes more sense.”
With #LoveScotch International Scotch Day coming up on February 8, Trykowski sees the future of scotch whisky to be more accessible and approachable. “Cocktails and highballs,” he claims. And for those who wish to enjoy a bottle of the good stuff to celebrate the event, here are a few suggestions.
Johnnie Walker Black Label. Incredibly well-balanced, full of dark fruits, sweet vanilla, and its signature smokiness, it’s knows as the “Iconic Blend” with plenty good reasons. Extremely drinkable on its own, and also popularly mixed with ginger ale or soda. Even whisky snobs might admit this was their first scotch drink, making it a nostalgic one.
Johnnie Walker Gold Label Reserve. Creamy and smooth, with a luxurious burst of delicate nectar and gentle smokiness. This is easily considered as their “celebration blend” and something to be reserved for a really good day. With its sweet fruit notes and velvety honey tones giving way to a lingering smokiness and oak finish, it’s no wonder mixologists favor this blend for cocktails.
Johnnie Walker Blue Label. Master blender Jim Beveridge (yes, real name) selects only from the rarest casks of both Speyside and Highland distilleries to piece together this fruity and delicate blend. Rich spicy notes seamlessly come together with flavors of honey and fresh fruits, topped of by that unmistakeable smokiness that comes from blending in Islay malts. It is refined with a truly unbeatable smoothness, surely a special occasion drink. Then again, life is short.
Singleton of Dufftown 12. Smooth. That’s what this Scotch is known for and it really does go down easily. That signature smoothness is achieved by aging in a secret combination of both American and European oak, the liquid gold made with the purest spring water from the sleepy Speyside town. The flavor profile is nutty with dried fruits (we smell apples) and might just be the best beach companion.
Dalwhinnie Distillers Edition. A whiff of this lovely single malt will easily transport you to lush meadows and cascading waterfalls in the romantic Scottish highlands. On the nose, you get delicate floral aromas with wispy hints of heather, with a soft and subtle finish. This distillers edition was double-matured in Oloroso casks, so expect the dessert-like richness of sherry. With that sweet and spicy complexity, this can easily be a hit with the ladies.
Talisker 10. With it’s rough-around-the-edges charm, it is easily the most award-winning single malt of it class. Produced in the rocky terrain of the Isle of Skye, that powerful sweet-smokiness reminiscent of a very expensive leather sofa is an unmistakable characteristic. That seawater saltiness in the nose is reflected on the salty, briny finish which makes it a popular match with fresh oysters. Powerful, brawny, and evocative.