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May 30, 2012 10:41 AM

Scotch for mixing- recommend a brand?

What kind of scotch is recommended for use in recipes? I assume a blended scotch, not a single malt, but what type? I know there is a lot of variation in flavor of single malts, but I'm wondering whether there is significantly less variation in blends (hence the lack of qualification in recipes), or whether I am supposed to intuit the best blend for a particular recipe. If there's a particular scotch you think is good for a range of cocktails, what is the brand?


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  1. For my list of recommended brands, I collected the bunch of trusted recommendations from here and elsewhere: White Horse, William, Grant's, Teacher's, Famous Grouse, Ballentine's. Some mix with Johnnie Walker Black, which is also certainly nice enough to drink on the rocks.

    Because I love the taste of scotch, I mix with a single malt. I generally use Bowmore Legend for a really smokey / peaty Islay or Balvenie 12 for a more mild Speyside. For the rare time when you think the scotch flavor will be too dominant, you could add vodka to the single malt.

    You will also often find a rinse or touch of an Islay in a cocktail. You could use the Bowmore for that, although often a hugely smokey expression like Laphroaig 10 is called for. Just use a bit more.

    -- | Craft + Collect + Concoct + Categorize + Community

    4 Replies
    1. re: EvergreenDan

      So would most of the blends you mentioned above taste fairly similar when mixed? Or would I want to select one or another depending on the drink?

      1. re: CJB12

        Most of the blended scotches would be similar, depending upon how much is in the cocktail and what the flavors are of the other ingredients. When you see a specific brand called for in a recipe, you have to use your experience and familiarity with the brand or spirit category to interpret what to do.

        Sometimes a brand is called for simply because the cocktail was commissioned by a specific spirit manufacturer.

        Sometimes a brand is specified to give you a feeling for what flavor profile is intended. For example, a rinse of Laphroaig 10 means that the recipe creator intended the aroma of smoke and peat and another smokey / peaty scotch will work as a substitute.

        Sometimes a brand is specified because the cocktail is designed for its unique flavor profile. For example, a specific single malt might be specified with, say Carpano Antica Formula sweet vermouth in order to contrast the fruit aromas in the scotch with the spice and vanilla in the CAF. Feel free to substitute, but realize that you probably aren't drinking the cocktail quite as it was intended to taste.

        Sometimes a brand is specified for its alcohol content. A higher-proof spirit may have been selected to maintain the alcohol content in the face of other low/no proof diluting ingredients.

        And sometimes the brand is specified just because that's what the person had on hand; it may not even be the best brand or even a particularly good choice.

        My general rule is to substitute liberally, but if I don't like the cocktail realize that it may have been my substitution that let me down.

        -- | Craft + Collect + Concoct + Categorize + Community

        1. re: EvergreenDan

          Thanks for all the great info! There's such a wealth of knowledge here. I really appreciate it.

          1. re: CJB12

            I use Grant's for all my mixing scotch needs, it's tasty and cheap.