Whisky Focus - Glen Moray Old Fashioned Whisky Cocktail

Glen Moray Old Fashioned Whisky Cocktail

25th September 2019
Does it make a difference using single malt whiskies in a whisky cocktail, I explore Glen Moray and the classic Old Fashioned cocktail with the help of drinks writers Joel Harrison and Neil Ridley.

Glen Moray whisky range and the Old Fashioned Whisky Cocktail

Last week ahead of Old Fashioned Cocktail week (who knew there was such a week), I was invited along to a rather intimate Glen Moray Old Fashioned Masterclass in Glasgow which was presented by drink writing double act Joel Harrison and Neil Ridley.

Through running the Scotch Malt Whisky website it has become obvious in recent years that the trendy bar cocktail culture is finding its way into peoples homes and they are seeking out information and advice on what single malt whiskies are good to use in a whisky cocktail.

I know many devotees of whisky could not bring themselves to use a good Scotch single malt whisky in a cocktail but it could be argued that the key to a good Old Fashioned or indeed any cocktail is to use a whisky that you particularly enjoy.

Anyway I headed along to the event to see if Joel Harrison and Neil Ridley could convince me that using different expressions of of the Glen Moray single malt as the base spirit in an Old Fashioned cocktail would produce a enjoyable Old Fashioned with the influence of the individual single malt whisky clearly contributing to the final flavour and enjoyment of the drink or would it turn out to be a waste of a good single malt and a cheaper Scotch blended whisky would  have produced a similar and equally enjoyable drink.

Glen Moray Old Fashioned Masterclass in Glasgow presented by drinks writers dJoel Harrison and Neil Ridley.

The evening kicked off the with Joel and Neil giving us a bit of background on the rather aptly named 'Old Fashioned' whisky cocktail which has been around for a lot of years and has seen quite a resurgence in popularity in recent years thanks to TV shows such as 'Mad Men' and also the booming cocktail culture in bars as well as the fact that the Old Fashioned is a relatively quick and easy cocktail to make.

Joel and Neil then took us through what goes into an Old Fashioned, which isn't a long list of ingredients, basically sugar and water to make a syrup or a ready made syrup if you choose, bitters, whisky and ice cubes and if you wish it can be garnished with some fruit such as orange or lemon peel or even some cherries. Even with such a short list of ingredients the number of different expressions of the Old Fashioned cocktail is almost infinite with so many different sugars to choose from such as Demerara sugar and castor sugar, there is a huge selection of syrups such as maple syrup and these days there is a an ever increasing array of different flavoured bitters with Angostura bitters often being the bartenders first choice when you order an Old Fashioned in a bar.

Joel and Neil each then demonstrated how they make their own favourite version of a Glen Moray Old Fashioned and let us have a taste before setting the Masterclass attendees loose on the multitude of sugars, syrups, bitters and of course Glen Moray whiskies laid out on the table before us. We were challenged to create our own Glen Moray Old Fashioned  which we were to present it to the knowledgeable cocktail twins Joel and Neil who would pick out a winner on the evening.

Now this is the experimental research (fun) that I had come along for, I initially began to experiment with the different sugars and stuck with the classic Angostura bitters and tried using the different expressions of Glen Moray including the Glen Moray Classic, Port Cask Finish, Sherry Cask Finish, Peated and Fired Oak 10 Year Old. I moved on to creating some with the different syrups and different flavoured bitters such orange, chocolate, cherry, I quickly learned that that depending on how heavy handed you are with the intensely flavoured bitters and to a lesser extent the sugars and syrups very much effected how much of the the whiskies character was apparent in the final drink.

Engrossed in my busy Glen Moray Old Fashioned cocktail making research I had forgotten about the challenge set out by Joel and Neil and was asked to present my Old Fashioned to them, I had actually made quite a number of Old Fashioned cocktails by this time, some of which were consumed by a couple of Glasgow based Instagram food and drinks bloggers who seemed to be particularly enjoying what I had produced.

Glen Moray Peated and Fired Oak Old Fashioned Cocktails by William Morrison

Anyway when they asked me to submit my Old Fashioned effort I put forward two cocktails which I happened to have just made, one was created with the Glen Moray Fired Oak 10 Year Old which I thought worked well, those of you familiar with an Old Fashioned will know that it is often made using American Bourbon whisky and for a good reason it creates a enjoyable drink so with this in mind I thought the rather bourbon like Fired Oak worked well, with it I used Demerara sugar and a couple of light dashes of Angostura bitters, I was aiming for a more classic style of Old Fashioned although when I presented my Glen Moray Fired Oak Old Fashioned to Joel and Neil, both 'judges' wrongly identified the expression of Glen Moray in the drink and both thought that it was made with syrup, which I have to say left me slightly amused and in itself is telling as to whether the single malts character shines through in the final cocktail above the bitters and sugars.

With the second effort which I presented to Joel and Neil I used the Glen Moray Peated and with the Peated being a more intense expression of Glen Moray I was able to be bolder with the other ingredients, using maple syrup and orange bitters, this created a deliciously rich drink with a lovely sweet vanilla'd, orangey, peaty flavour. There was no mistaking the Glen Moray Peated whisky I used in this one with both Joel and Neil identifying it but both thought I had used sugar and as I said I used what I thought was the rather obvious maple syrup, although both preferred this drink.

I very much enjoyed the evening and being given a free hand to explore what different styles of Glen Moray single malts contribute to the classic Old Fashioned cocktail. I know there is a booming cocktail market out there and what I learned was as long as you are not too heavy handed with the the sugar/syrup and bitters the Glen Moray Classic, Port Cask Finish, Sherry Cask Finish, Peated and Fired Oak 10 Year Old are ideal for making a Old Fashioned but there is no need to look at more expensive single malts whether from the Glen Moray range or other brands as maturity and quality of more expensive single malts would likely be lost in the drink. So to answer the question: "Does it make a difference using single malt whiskies in a whisky cocktail?", I would say that there is not a simple yes or no answer, the quality of the base whisky is always going to have an effect but it is a delicate balance especially with a less intense single malt when mixed with a lot of sugar and intense bitters, in this scenario I would say a blended whisky whisky would do just as well.

If you fancy trying your hand at creating a Glen Moray Old Fashioned you will find the current Glen Moray whisky range as well as a good selection of bitters and syrups available from specialist online whisky retailers such as The Whisky Exchange, The Whisky Shop and Master of Malt

Glen Moray Old Fashioned Cocktails

William Morrison's Glen Moray Fired Oak Old Fashioned:

1 tsp of Demerara sugar
2 tsp water
Add to glass with 3 cubes of ice and stir until the sugar has dissolved
Add 50ml of Glen Moray Fired Oak 10 Year Old and another ice cube, stir.
Add another ice cube and 2 dashes of Angostura bitters, stir again.
Garnish with some lemon peel.

William Morrison's Glen Moray Peated Old Fashioned:

1 tsp Maple syrup
Add 50ml of Glen Moray Peated and stir.
Add to 3 cubes of ice, stir
Add  2 dashes of orange bitters, stir
Add another 2 ice cubes, stir
Garnish with some lemon & orange peel.

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