Obviously, Scottish heritage is steeped in tall tales of its most famous dram: Scotch Whisky. Appropriately, the moniker comes with a laundry list of prerequisites to maintain its integrity, like a minimum of three years in oak barrels, and being processed and aged at the same distillery in Scotland.
One of those, Aberlour Distillery, is located in the heart of the Speyside region (and titled for the town in which it’s located), having been built in 1879 by grain merchant turned philanthropist James Fleming. Historically home to an ancient Druid community, the name comes from the Gaelic “mouth of the chattering burn,” and refers to the Druid belief that the trees and burn, or rivers, all talked to each other.
Gemma Cole, American Brand Ambassador for Aberlour, was born in Ireland…which could make proving loyalty a challenge. But is the choice between Irish and Scottish a difficult one? “I’m an Irish person,” she admits, “so I lean a little towards Irish whiskey, I would say. But now I mostly drink Aberlour.”
Still, she emphasizes the need to, “spread my wings and check out the whole range of whisk(e)y that’s available. “There’s lovely Canadian whiskey, there’s really great Japanese whiskey. There’s so much for people to choose from at the moment.”
But since Scotch is meant to be taken neat, which does she think is best for mixing? “I think American whiskey is great for cocktails. I’ve been drinking a lot of Jefferson’s Bourbon, that’s coming from Kentucky…and it’s got a really lovely, rounded flavor to it.”
Still, for World Whisky Day (Saturday, May 16), Gemma concocted two sensational cocktails in the spirit of experimentation. The Aberlour 12-year-aged Scotch whisky may seem like a sip and savor dram, but it is actually great when paired.
“It’s a whisky sour, so you can definitely go with Aberlour 16,” she explains. “That would make it more of a full bodied cocktail. There’s an optional egg white part of it, but you can simply take that out, put all your ingredients into your shaker, give it a good shake, strain it into your glass, and easy peasy.”
But don’t forget, she says, “If you’re going to do that egg white, which I highly recommend, just make sure you do that dry shake first.”
While Aberlour 12, 16 and 18 year expressions, double casked in bourbon and sherry, are what they’re known for, the cask strength A’bunadh, which is matured exclusively in first fill Oloroso sherry casks, and Aberlour’s two newest non age statements, Casg Annamh and A’bunadh Alba are highly recommended.
If you prefer something Irish? Powers Classic Gold, Three Swallows, or new John’s Lane, named after the historic distillery’s location and aged 12 years, are the way to go.
But how does she feel about celebrating World Whisky Day on the couch this year? “I’m excited. I’m definitely going to be having a little toast here in California. I hope that you’ll be raising a glass with us as well.”
2oz Aberlour 12yr Scotch Whisky
0.75oz simple syrup
1 egg white from 1 egg (Optional)
If using egg white – to get a beautiful froth, dry shake all ingredients (no ice) for approx. 10 seconds.
Add ice in and shake vigorously for another 30 seconds until cold.
Strain into a coup glass or over ice in a rocks glass.
Powers Honeyball High
1.5oz POWERS Gold Label
.75oz Honey Syrup (1:1 Ratio)
1oz Fresh Lemon Juice
Combine all ingredients in a Tall style Collins glass and stir until honey is dissolved with the liquid. Fill your glass with ice right to the top and pour over Soda or Tonic, whichever you prefer. Garnish with a lemon wedge and enjoy!