Whisky cocktails are one of the MANY controversial aspects of the whisky industry. But they really shouldn’t be. If you like your single malt cask strength and unadulterated then great. If however, you would occasionally prefer to enjoy your whisky differently then there are a world of cocktail combinations available. Many are great for different occasions, like a hot summers day, a crisp winters night or with a meal.
The most important thing is that if you are adding ANYTHING to your whisky it must be of the same high quality as the whisky. Our production team put so much effort into crafting our whiskies to the desired style, so let's not ruin it by adding any old stuff. This focus on excellence in every detail is exactly what sets the best people in every field apart, from Michelin star chefs to the best bartenders or baristas in the world. It is especially important when you think about honey.
We use honey in lots of Aberfeldy cocktails. Our whisky has a natural honey character that comes from our longer fermentation and tall stills. We honestly don't have a jar of honey in the stillhouse :-). When selecting a honey for your cocktails, be very wary of mass produced versions in supermarkets labelled with "a blend of non-EU honey". This causes uncertainty over how it has been processed (hit google if you want to learn more) but will also mean the honey lacks the intensity or clarity of flavour found in a pure, natural, single source honey. Sound familiar whisky drinkers? Would you buy a dram with “blend of non-Scottish whisk(e)y” on the label. Seek out some honey from specific places or types of plants: heather, wildflower, etc and if you taste it alone you will find fascinating flavour nuances, just like in whisky.
Our Barrels and Bees programme is aimed at bartenders but is just as appropriate to the home mixologist. When selecting your honey, think about what you are using, buy from a local producer and have an opinion. We've even had bartenders place apiaries on bar rooftops around the world. You can save the honeybee and have better tasting drinks at the same time! Here at Aberfeldy distillery, we use Webster honey which has hives on the farm above the distillery. It doesn’t get much more local than that!
Instructions for making Honey Syrup
So how do you get sticky, thick honey into your cocktail easily? The answer is a honey syrup. When starting out with home mixology is it easy to be intimidated by making your own syrups. But in reality, it is so simple even a man can do it. For sugar syrup, take equal parts water and sugar, stir over a medium heat until the sugar is dissolved. To make your own honey syrup, do the same but with honey instead of sugar. You don't even need a hob for honey syrup. Just stir with hot water. Once we made it in a marquee outside Hampton Court Palace! Once cooled this can be kept in the fridge for up to a month and used as required.
Why not experiment with different honeys in the following recipes and amaze your friends with the flavours you can create?
Aberfeldy Honey Highball
- 40ml Aberfeldy 12 year old
- 20ml local honey syrup
- Top with chilled chamomile tea
- Lemon twist garnish
Add the ingredients to a chilled highball glass with cubed ice and stir. Serve without a straw.
Aberfeldy Gold Fashioned
- 50ml Aberfeldy 12 year old
- 10ml Local Honey Syrup
- 2 dashes Angostura Bitters
- 2 Dashes orange bitters
- Orange peel garnish.
Add the ingredients to a mixing glass and stir for the desired dilution. Strain into a chilled rocks glass with a block of ice. Serve without a straw.
Author: Jonathan Wilson, Visitor Operations Manager