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Issue 143 - Focus On The Whisk(e)y

Whisky Magazine Issue 143
June 2017

 

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Focus On The Whisk(e)y

Jon Hughes plays to the strengths of different styles of spirit

Jon talks to me about developing new cocktails a bit like a blender speaks about creating a new whisky expression. Phrases such as ‘building foundations', ‘core elements', and ‘top notes' crop up regularly, and it's clear that there's no cookie-cutter approach that can be applied.

“One thing you learn to do if you're making mixed drinks with expressive (and expensive) whisky, is to get out of the way,” begins Jon. “With something like Ultis, you want to complement the whisky without dominating it. It's a very rounded, relaxed blend, but it doesn't take well to having its toes stepped on too much!”

Conversely, Jon finds that Tincup does play well with others. “It struck me as lively and spicy but also quite light. The flavour was intense but a little short-lived, so I wanted to add a foundation to the cocktail.” To achieve this, Jon imparted some low register intensity by using Branca Menta and aromatic chocolate bitters.

When it comes to young grain whisky and cocktails, I've often seen it being used as if it were a neutral spirit – almost a vodka substitute. But Jon was keen to show that grain whisky's delicate profile doesn't mean it has to be lost entirely. “There's a fun fruit characteristic to the Loch Lomond and I wanted to lean into that," he continues. “I resisted the temptation to add in too much in the way of darker flavours as they didn't seem to sit well with the lighter tenor of the spirit.” Instead, Jon built upon the Loch Lomond's ...

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