Markets such as Asia and South America have developed a taste for the ‘water of life’ or ‘uisge beatha’ in Gaelic, and demonstrate the strongest growth in terms of shipments while the USA, France and Germany remain among the top ten export destinations.
Enjoying a dram may be becoming increasingly popular around the world but while it will always be known and linked to Scottish custom, whisky drinkers are putting a modern twist on the traditional and finding different ways of enjoying the spirit.
In China, a popular and fashionable way to drink whisky is to mix it with green tea while in a bar in Tokyo you might see it being consumed ‘mizawari’ style – diluted with lots of water. Spaniards often prefer it long mixed with ice and cola whereas a New York bartender is likely to be using whisky as the central ingredient when making up a cocktail.
As one of Scotland’s leading whisky experts Dewar’s Master Blender Stephanie Macleod explains, whisky drinkers are becoming more adventurous and there are a number of surprising combinations to try:
"Food and whisky pairing is really catching on – and there are a wide range of foods that match really well. Depending on what variety of whisky you are trying, you could sip it along with cheese, smoked salmon or dark chocolate. Scotland’s fantastic natural larder offers up a number of options which perfectly complement the various flavours you tend to find in our whiskies. At Dewar’s we often pair our White Label Blend with chocolate to pick out the vanilla, heather and honey tones – it works really well."
"Whisky drinkers are becoming more adventurous and there's a number of surprising food and whisky combinations to try". Stephanie Macleod, Dewar's Master Blender
Smoky, rich blends are considered to be the best match with cheese platters while strong, peaty varieties hold their own against robust flavours like hot smoked salmon and mature cheeses. Full bodied whiskies from sherry casks pair well with sweet, rich cakes and puddings while lighter, more fragrant blends and malts match fish and seafood.
With more than 2,500 varieties of whisky produced in Scotland in over one hundred distilleries, each characterised by its own distinctive taste, the range of potential food pairings in endless.
But it’s still the authentic Scotch sampling experience that many visitors coming to Scotland intend to find, along with exploring whisky trails scattered around the country. It would appear therefore, worthwhile revisiting the customary ritual around enjoying a dram which, in the home of whisky, is served neat or with a little water to release the flavour.
With 13 years of tasting experience, Stephanie Macleod advises there are three key points to remember to get the most out of your drink:
"Firstly, you should ‘nose’ the whisky to absorb the full aroma, then take a sip and swirl it around your mouth to release the intense flavours. Finally, enjoy the finish – you should experience a warm and lingering taste."
Find out more about Scotland’s whisky producing regions - each of which have distinct varieties with their own characteristics, as well as more about the types of whisky.