Whisky Cocktail Experience


The whole concept of a whisky cocktail is definitely an area of whisky knowledge that I am lacking in. So, when I noticed that the Scotch Whisky Experience had hired a mixologist to develop and create a range of cocktails for them, I was more than happy to find out their results.

My experience in whisky cocktails is pretty much limited to the occasional Manhattan and my invention of the Sminger  one fateful eve a few summers ago. You can imagine then, when mixologist Ian showed me the list of ten cocktails that he had developed for the SWE, I was a little bit spoiled for choice. My ignorance came into effect here and eventually I just asked him to choose me a wee selection for sampling. He then proceeded to hop, skip and jump (that’s how cocktails are made yeah?) through a series of manouvers to create four rather delicious looking refreshments. He went on to explain the parameters that he used to create the list in front of me. Basically, he was asked to create a range of cocktails centred around the classics (Manhattan, whisky smash, old fashioned etc) that had appeal to both whisky fans and the countless number of tourists that come through the doors everyday up there. This involved a lot of experimenting with ingredients to create a sweet or refreshing mask to hide the whisky behind, or to exaggerate the flavours and bring certain elements of the whisky to the forefont.

I have to admit I thoroughly enjoyed my tasting session and if you find yourself in Edinburgh fancying a cocktail and some beautiful city views, then you will be hard pushed to better the cocktail bar here. Below are the four cocktails that I tried and enjoyed. Sadly I can’t name the whisky involved in each, due to the SWE having to be impartial to all brands, but I shall endeavour to describe the whisky so that you can guess! I have attached my own tasting notes, but why don’t you give them a try and find out for yourself. Oh and if anyone has any good whisky cocktails/bars that I should try next, I am open to ideas!


Grand Smash

Method: Blended Scotch whisky shaken with fresh lemon, mint and a splash of Grand Marnier. Based around the Smash, one of the base cocktails that was an original hit in the late 19th century. Garnished with orange and mint.
Taste: Very refreshing! A nice burst of clear, sharp mint and citrus at the start. Moves onto a dry, well rounded citrus body. Masks a lot of the whisky notes that would usually be quite dominant and so would definitely suit the non-whisky drinkers. Drink relatively quickly as the ice melts and leaves a sharp, minty water.

Whisky Business

Method: Blended scotch whisky, fresh citrus juice, grapefruit liqueur and lavender syrup. Egg white is also added to create a velvety texture to the cocktail. Based on the traditional whisky sour, and garnished with lavender flowers.
Taste: I always find the texture of egg white a little wierd, like a foam shrimp but liquidised! So, I was never going to enjoy this as much as some people would. Looking past the texture, it is full bodied and creamy. The grapefruit juice comes through a good deal in the beginning but slowly fades out. Lavender is constantly there, but muted enough to be quite pleasant. Sweet and creamy with a nice citrus hint. Again not too much whisky.

Thyme Well Spent

Method: Thyme syrup and sweetly sharp rhubarb bitters (Ian uses a brand called the Bitter Truth which he swears by) with a deep, rich and orangey highland single malt (Deery me, wish I had More of a hint to give you). Garnished with thyme and based around an Old Fashioned.
Taste: Finally a nice deep, malty whisky note behind the cocktail. A rich milk chocolate note that subsides into a refreshing rhubarb and custard sweet chew! Like a kids sweet, but with a whisky kick in the background. Well rounded and refreshing like iced tea.

The MacHattan

Method: Obviously based on a Manhattan. Double hit of a rich, well rounded highland single malt (Ian originally wanted to call it the New Yorkney – hint). Mixed with Bitter Truth Elixier and a touch of Creme de Cerise. A cheeky cherry is dunked in the centre.
Taste: Much more like it! As a fan of strong flavours this is much more up my street. The sweet cherry notes on the nose perfectly compliment the deep, herby whisky notes on the palate. A little hint of smoke clouds the edges and helps to maintain a great harmony with the sweet cerise.

Graeme Gardiner

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