A revered blend of history, tradition, and malted barley, Scotch most definitely has a distinct presence on the tartan-patterned timeline of its Scotland home. And as the local saying goes, “today’s rain is tomorrow’s whisky,” so it’s also hard to overstate just how crucial the water is and always has been to the production process. Like a New York City pizzaiolo waxing romantically about the importance of their dough’s H2O, so too do you hear from distillers about the high quality and singular taste of the River Spey and other natural springs found elsewhere in the lowlands, highlands, and out on the islands.
Outside of Scotland’s borders, Scotch has influenced the ways in which we drink and taken on many cultural roles since it was first documented in the late 1400s: a cozy fireside companion, business deal closer, inciter of indelicate pub humor, notorious nightcap, and more. For those who have carved out such a place for Scotch in their lives, there can be a tendency to stick with what they like and enjoy the spirit the way they always have, which has led to something of a fixed reputation for Scotch in the hearts and minds of its fans. Well, we’re here to expand those boundaries with three cocktails that proudly color outside those lines to take Scotch to places you may not have encountered it before.
Please pull up a stool and we’ll regale you with a tale of an elusive, rarely spotted Scottish phenomenon that’s fascinated the public and kept everyone speculating for centuries. It’s called Scotchtember: a brand new month for your calendar, and our chance to show off and celebrate Scotch in a new light. Subscribe now through August 31st to get yours—it’ll ship the week of September 2nd.
Just how far can Scotch travel? Let’s ask Caer Maiko Ferguson, who’s expertly applied the spirit to the increasingly popular Japanese highball genre. Whisky pioneer and bar owner Shinjiro Torii is often credited as the progenitor of this izakaya staple in the 1950s, as a way to make whisky more drinkable alongside food. In place of the more delicate Japanese whisky, the cool, tall Highlands and Tani utilizes Scotch to achieve the same balance, bubbliness, and refreshment level, thanks to a precise set of stirring instructions and the tantalizing trio of ginger, matcha, and yuzu.
Caer is a bartender at The Roosevelt Room and bar manager at The Eleanor in Austin, Texas. Her most recent project has been creating the Asian cocktail pop-up Daijoubu with her friend and coworker Sharon Yeung. Recently, Caer was named Bartender of the Year at the 2019 Culturemap Austin Tastemaker Awards.
For more from Caer on her work, her favorite Scotches, Asian flavors in cocktails, and more, check out our interview, where you can get the details behind her drink (plus recommendations for food and music to pair with it!).
Robert Sickler named his El Caballero after those world-class Spanish gentlemen winemakers from the annals of sherry history who frequently lent their used casks for Scotch aging. The rich elements of pecan, chicory, date, and cacao in this cocktail capture some of the spiced and nutty notes that a good Spanish wine might highlight (as would a sherry-cask Scotch). This combination points the way forward to autumn, while undergoing an invigorating lift from the unexpected but deeply satisfying pairing of smooth Scotch and ultra-cooling coconut water.
A lifelong veteran of the drinks industry, Robert is currently co-owner and beverage director at Finn’s Manor, a cocktail bar and food truck pod in Denver. He is also a licensed instructor of the Whisky Ambassador Course, the world’s first accredited whisky training program.
When the steady strength and complexity of Scotch is put on a pedestal flanked by a gently savory and spiced syrup and floral bitters, there is simply no choice but to Keep Calm and Carry On. Aaron DeFeo’s old fashioned emanates a pleasant grapefruit and coriander aroma and features a soothing blend of cinnamon and herbs de Provence that’ll mellow out your evening in no time flat.
Aaron is the owner of the Phoenix cocktail bar Little Rituals, where he’s developed a reputation for innovative syrups, ingredients, and flavor combinations.
There it is right there, heading over the horizon and due for a big splash next month! See it?! Ah, the excitement and wonder of Scotchtember. Join us on this expedition for a month-long discovery of some all-new ways to enjoy Scotch!
The Shaker & Spoon Team
*not vegan: nothing