Intimidated by Scotch whisky but still want to celebrate Friday as National Scotch Day? Not to worry. As Glenfiddich Ambassador Tracie Franklin puts it: “I don’t think people realize how approachable Scotch can be.”
Franklin suggests a two-ingredient cocktail, the highball, to Scotch novices.
“For those who don’t want to try it neat, I absolutely recommend a highball because it’s extending those flavors — especially for Glenfiddich 12 — with the vanilla, the oak, the citrus and the apple that it has,” she says. “That fruit extends through with the soda water effervescence. If you already like vodka and soda, this is that, only with a little bit more flavor.”
Also known as the Scotch and soda, this drink takes your favorite Scotch and adds soda water, serving the whole thing over ice (feel free to skip the cubes if you want). The addition of bubbles accentuates Scotch’s natural flavors, fruit notes in the single-malt Glenfiddich included.
Purists might cringe at the thought of adding soda to a single malt, but Franklin says that attitude is changing.
“I think the stigma around Scotch is that you have to suffer for it. That you have to either have been someone who can [afford it] or that you are strong and bold enough that you can get through this incredibly rough flavor and learn to enjoy Scotch, like, this thing that has been put on this pedestal,” she tells CL. “And really in the Scotch world, there is such a diversity of flavor that there does not ever have to be anything that you suffer for.”
Let’s face it — the hospitality biz is evolving, expectations are growing and taste exploration is also increasing. The industry has responded accordingly, which makes it easy to trust your bartender.
“As an industry, we are becoming more educated, and consumers as well are becoming much more educated,” says Franklin, “so bartenders have to step it up a notch. They have to really know their whiskeys, they have to know their flavor profiles. Bartenders nowadays are more savvy.”
Turning more sippers onto Scotch might come down to simply getting it in front of them, according to Franklin.
“Giving people the opportunity to get their hands on a Scotch whisky, see how it works and how it plays in a cocktail is something really powerful,” she says.
Glenfiddich started doing its own tinkering two years ago, stretching the boundaries of Scotch with the release of a single malt finished in IPA casks. Fire & Cane is the latest expression to roll out as part of the distillery’s Experimental Series; it’s a smoky, sweet combination of peated whisky and malts matured in bourbon barrels and finished in Latin rum casks.
In the spirit of experimentation, step outside of that comfort zone of yours and enjoy a dram, or two, of Scotch in honor of National Scotch Day.