Malt whisky is no longer a fireside drink reserved for winter, argues Donald Colville, Diageo’s Global Malt ambassador. Its flavour profile makes it the perfect base to experiment with, especially in summer.
As an ambassador to Diageo’s wide range of classic malt whiskies, including Dalwhinnie, Talisker and Lagavulin, Donald Colville could easily sit back and let the spirit do the talking. Far from it. He believes in mixing reverence to some of the best malt whiskies made in the world with a contemporary creativity that has seen many flavour-led innovations hit the market. Here’s a man who’s just as at home with a Talisker and fresh oysters or a frozen Lagavulin served with sticky toffee pudding.
“Sometimes whisky can be too robust for some people,” he explains “which is why you may need to cut it with ice or add water, much the same as with every summer drink. The old mentality is that it is sacrilege to add water, ice or mixers, but there is a need to change that way of thinking because there is just so much flavour to play around with.”
Donald believes in personal choice and experimentation. “I recently tried a Lagavulin 16-year-old with Coca Cola and three dashes of orange bitters and it was gorgeous. Would you buy an expensive bottle and cut it with Coca Cola? Not necessarily but you can push the line, it is still OK, the choice is yours. There is a no real line as to how old a whisky is before you shouldn’t mix. The line is different for every person.”
“People buy the best Colombian coffee beans, make the purest coffee and then add milk and sugar. It doesn’t make it worse, it is down to personal preference. The fact of the matter is that we make whisky that is so pure, so perfect that it can be drunk neat but you don’t always have to drink it that way. I think it’s great to experiment. I was playing around with some Caol Ila 12 year-old, brown sugar and lemon bitters the other night, making an Old Fashioned. I love the fact that if you add grapefruit bitters instead of lemon bitters it makes it a very different drink.”
3 of the best: Donald’s cocktail choice for summer
All three of these recipes show off the versatility of good malt whisky. While numbers two and three are fruity favourites, the first Skye’s The Limit is an exclusive one for this summer. “Here the Lillet Blanc perfectly complements the powerful, maritime flavours of Talisker Skye whilst the sweeter, more rounded elements of the whisky are enhanced by the sage notes.”
Skye’s the Limit
40ml Talisker Skye
55ml Lillet Blanc
3 leaves of fresh sage
Slap the sage and add into mixing glass. Fill mixing glass with ice and add Skye and Lillet Blanc. Mix until chilled and strain into frozen coupe cocktail glass. Garnish with the sage.
50ml Cardhu Gold Reserve
20ml Lemon juice
20ml Orange juice
2 tbs Golden Syrup water (equal quantities of Golden Syrup and hot water to make the solution, cool before mixing into the cocktail)
Place all ingredients into a shaker. Shake hard. Strain into the Cardhu glass with cubed ice. Enjoy.
A Fruity Scot
40ml The Singleton Tailfire
20ml Lemon juice
10ml Sugar syrup
2 fresh blackberries
10ml crème de mure
25ml white grape juice
Pour all ingredients into a highball glass, add crushed ice and churn. Garnish with a mint sprig and a fresh cherry.