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Issue 110 - The Stick & Dram Method

Whisky Magazine Issue 110
March 2013


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The Stick & Dram Method

Dave Broom takes a long hard look at flavour and the joys of blended whisky.

Recently I spent two days giving classes to bartenders, something which is always a heartening experience. After all, when I started this gig a quarter of a century (say it quickly Dave and no-one will notice) ago you'd be lucky to get a couple of barkeeps interested in something as outré as whisky cocktails, and now? Now the room will be packed with fresh faced young things who are genuinely interested in whisky and want to learn more.

You know there's going to be a ‘but' though, don't you? Sorry, there is. What was interesting about these sessions was that they were focusing on single malts in cocktails. Let me say from the word go that I've got nothing against using a malt as a base for a mixed drink. That focus and intensity of a singular character can be advantageous when it is placed at the centre of a quality concoction. Breaking the rules in viewing malts as being a valid part of the bartender's armoury is to be encouraged.

Where though, I mused, even as I spoke, was the opportunity to talk blends? Today, the phrase “I like whisky,” in the UK at least, means “I drink single malt.” It is as true for the on-trade as it is for consumers.

It is surely time to speak blends. It makes more sense at the moment, not just because of their inherent versatility, but because there are less restrictions on supply. Showing whisky's versatility and spread of flavours and then restricting the conversation to malts is, I believe, missing a trick. Malts are built on indivi...

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