Scotch whisky is undoubtedly one of Scotland’s most recognisable products. Affectionately known as ‘water of life’, Scotch whisky is exported to more than 200 countries around the world, with a whopping 40 bottles shipped overseas every second!
In fact, the folks at global drinks giant Diageo believe Scotch whisky is so special, that it deserves its own day, separate from its brothers and sisters distilled in other parts of the globe – and we’re inclined to agree. Diageo are a world-leading Scotch whisky producer, and the masterminds behind the introduction of ‘International Scotch Day’, which will take place on 8 February.
International Scotch Day was created as a celebration of everything that gives the world’s favourite dram its unique character, flavour and personality. Amazingly, despite only celebrating its first year in 2017, this year’s festivities are due to take place in more than 70 countries around the world. This is double last year’s inaugural celebrations and is a testament to the global enjoyment of Scotch whisky.
The day was specifically chosen by Diageo as it marks the birth of Alexander Walker. Alexander was the son of the legendary John ‘Johnnie’ Walker and was responsible for bringing this iconic brand to international whisky lovers. This year’s celebrations will include 12 whisky distilleries across Scotland opening to the public free of charge, giving everyone the chance to go behind the scenes and see how their favourite dram is made before it's bottled and shared to enjoy around the world.
In the lead up to this year’s event, we got the opportunity to spend some time with one of Diageo’s Global Malt Ambassador’s, Donald Colville. Growing up in Campbeltown, Scotland, the self-proclaimed ‘Whisky Capital of the World’, it’s fair to say that whisky is in Donald’s blood. He invited us to join him at The Balmoral hotel in Edinburgh for a crash course in whisky and to show us some of his favourite ways to enjoy a dram.
The Balmoral is a stunning five-star Rocco Forte hotel in the heart of Edinburgh’s city centre. Tucked away off the hotel’s lobby is SCOTCH, one of the city's best whisky bars and the venue for our meeting. Home to a collection of over 500 single malts curated by their team of highly trained Whisky Ambassadors this gorgeous bar is truly a must-visit for any whisky lover. Even Donald looked a bit like a kid in a candy shop.
We’ve listed Donald’s weird and wonderful concoctions below and we hope you will join us in trying one or two for yourself.
This one may not be weird, but it certainly is wonderful. Many whisky purists will tell you that this is the only way that Scotch whisky should be enjoyed and debate has raged for centuries on whether anything should ever be added to a dram. Our opinion is that there is no right or wrong way to enjoy whisky, but there is an extra special treat in enjoying it without any other additions to appreciate the dram’s subtle flavours and textures.
Scotch and Soda
The Scotch and soda is a classic way to drink Scotch whisky and is best enjoyed in a highball glass. The name tells you everything you need to know about this incredibly easy to make drink. Simply add one measure of your chosen Scotch whisky into a highball glass with some ice and top up with soda water. The beauty of the soda water is that it can help open up the flavour of the whisky too!
As the name suggests, the Old Fashioned is a classic cocktail and its origins go back all the way to the start of the 19th century. This delicious cocktail is incredibly simple to make and is an excellent way to enjoy your favourite Scotch whisky. Simply combine two dashes of bitters with a teaspoon of sugar and a splash of water. Add your favourite Scotch whisky, some ice cubes and stir repeatedly.
Whisky Hot Chocolate
Last, but not least, we bring you to Donald’s craziest concoction – the whisky hot chocolate. This drink was perfectly made for a smoky whisky like Islay’s iconic Lagavulin. The flavours of the whisky perfectly combine with the creamy chocolate flavours of a good hot chocolate to create drink that has to be tried to be believed. The next time you’re thinking of a nice after dinner hot drink, we definitely recommend this.