Whisky Magazine Issue 101
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A new category is finding favour with bartenders, Naren Young looks at why
White whiskey. It just sounds a little weird, avant garde perhaps. It certainly doesn't have the cache or appeal of our favourite single malts or small batch Bourbons. The idea of a whiskey being white shouldn't really be surprising to anyone that understands that every spirit comes out of the still as clear as water. Sure, it's not yet actually ‘whisky' as we know it, but tell that to a growing number of distillers – whether they be giants like Heaven Hill or small artisans from Wisconsin – who are propagating this new spirit category. Their most curious consumer? Bartenders.
And while it's not exactly new per se – indeed all whiskies were at one stage clear until the advent of barrel aging came along –tell that to the world's top mixologists who are always looking for new and shiny toys to play with. Enter white whiskies, which are flooding into the American market and offering a flavour profile that is not only unique but surprisingly versatile. If you're a sceptic (and trust me, there are many), one sip of the Gravesend Cocktail (see recipe below) from renowned New York bartender Richard Boccato, and even a devout aged whiskey drinker might not be converted but they will at least be satiated.
The most obvious drink that bartenders are manipulating using white whiskies is the classic Manhattan. Sacred? Not anymore, it seems. The usual combination of rye or Bourbon and sweet, red vermouth, tickled with a few drops of bitters is being eschewed for a clear vermo...