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Issue 7 - Sweetness and light

Whisky Magazine Issue 7
December 1999


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Sweetness and light

There's a brave new world of drinkers and they are ordering whisky liqueurs. Maisha Frost reports on changing times at the soft end of the malt market.

What is nectar on the palate, can be enjoyed with or without ice, as part of a cocktail, with soda or another mixer, yet just as easily transform a hot toddy or cup of coffee?

“Whisky,” you may well chorus. Close but wrong; the answer in this case is whisky liqueur.
OK, you may not often drink one yourself (although more of that later), but it's pretty certain you know someone who does like a tipple, even if it is only at Christmas. So what better time to catch up on what's happening in a market that's interesting not least because it spreads far beyond the traditional whisky boundaries.

All liqueurs are sweet, spirit-based drinks where flavourings from such things as herbs, flowers or seeds are introduced by re-distillation, infusion or maceration. In the case of whisky ones, heather-flavoured honey figures large, but each brand trumpets a secret recipe usually spiced up with a romantic tale concerning its genesis.

If you had to name just one whisky liqueur, most of us would probably respond with Drambuie, the heart of the Rusty Nail cocktail and a cause of many a youthful regret the morning after. One of the reasons why Drambuie has such a big profile is the wholehearted way it has embraced event sponsorship; the dynamic images of glacier skiing or powerboating reflect the contemporary image the company and its product now project. Drambuie is shouting loud and clear: this is a drink for happening people.

Image is a problem whisky liqueurs have struggled with for s...

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