4 Scotch Whisky Liqueurs Worth Considering, And Cocktails To Drink With Them
Felipe is an award-winning London-based whisky writer, tastings host, drinks competitions judge, and author. He is also a musician and co-founder of The Rhythm and Booze Project, a duo that fuses live music and whisky through gigs, tasting events and multimedia.
While there are plenty of whiskies easy to drink, for various reasons you might be considering something a little less strong. Maybe a cocktail or a mixed drink - or maybe you just feel like a taste on the sweet side.
Enter whisky liqueurs, and the healthy market driving their popularity. Often much sweeter in taste and infused with ingredients that cancel some of the harshness in whisky, creating a liqueur is an opportunity for whisky companies and distilleries to find a different consumer who normally wouldn’t drink whisky.
The four listed here in alphabetical order are my favourite liqueurs with Scotch whisky in them (or at least spirit from malt whisky distilleries). They provide more complexity than the typical sugary sweetness that can infect some whisky liqueurs. I've added a cocktail suggestion so you can can them to good use.
Edinburgh chefs Rupert Waites and Tom Chisholm decided to craft a liqueur to accompany the meals at their boutique pop-up restaurant Buck and Birch, and this is the result. It was such a wild success that they’ve started distributing it across Scotland. Thanks to Royal Mile Whiskies, you can get it shipped anywhere. Made from a mix of whisky and foraged elderberries, the result tastes like a really nice rich fruit juice, making it a little dangerous to drink. It’s a delight.
Suggested Cocktail: Aelder Royale
Mix a dash or two of Aelder and then top it off with Champagne or Prosecco as an aperitif.
2. Arran Gold
Arran is the only distillery on the island of the same name. In addition to whiskies, though, it's also in the liqueur business. Arran Gold is a cream liqueur that serves as an upgrade on Bailey’s or anything of that ilk. It keeps the same agreeable thick creaminess but it’s just a classier drink. Fresh, sweet and thick, it’s got chocolate and toffee elements all over the smell and taste.
Suggested cocktail: Toasted Almond
- 1 part Arran’s Gold
- 1 part Kahlua
- 1 part vodka
- 1 part amaretto
- 1 dash of whole milk
Mix everything into a shaker with ice, then shake. Pour through a strainer.
3. Compass Box Orangerie
Compass Box is the cheeky rogue of the Scotch whisky world. It creates high-end blended whiskies that stand up to the best single malts. Founded by American John Glaser and based in London, Compass Box is also behind the Orangerie, which it calls an "infusion." It's not officially a liqueur as no sugar has been added. Made with both malt and grain whisky, orange peel, cloves from Sri Lanka and cassia bark from Indonesia, its name makes sense. The orange is overwhelming and both sweetness and bitterness are present. It’s not for everyone, but it’s a truly interesting tipple. It’s also 40%, the same strength as plenty of whiskies.
Suggested cocktail: Blood and Sand
- 1 part Orangerie
- 1 part cherry brandy
- 1 part sweet Vermouth
- 1 part orange juice
Mix all ingredients into a cocktail shaker with ice, and shake. Strain into a cocktail glass, and garnish with a cherry.
4. Kilchoman Bramble
One of the first of the new wave of Scottish microdistilleries, Islay-based Kilchoman creates a delicious and meaty smoky whisky. Its Bramble mixes both malt whisky and "new make spirit" - whisky that hasn’t been matured in a cask - with honey and blackberries. It’s remarkable, with a full, sweet, fruity experience undergirded by Kilchoman smoke - making it one of the only smoked liqueurs you can find.
Suggested cocktail: Smoked Summer Spritz (As created by celebrity bartender Mr. Lyan)
- 30 ml Martini Bitter (Or Campari or Aperol)
- 25 ml Bramble
Stir over ice in a hi-ball and top with soda, add blackberries and a grapefruit twist for garnish.
By Felipe Schrieberg
Felipe is a London-based whisky writer, musician, tastings host, drinks competitions judge, and author. He writes for internationally renowned publications such as Forbes, Whisky Magazine and The Whiskey Wash. He has been awarded the Icons of Whisky Communicator of the Year award at Whisky Magazine's 2022 World Whiskies Awards.
He is the co-founder of The Rhythm and Booze Project, a duo fusing live music and whisky through gigs, tasting events, and multimedia. His past projects encompass performances at the Edinburgh Fringe of the band's own show Two Guys, Three Drams which combined live blues with whisky tasting, and building the world's first bass drum made from an entire Scotch whisky cask with a barrel of Lagavulin.
He is also a judge for the World Whiskies Awards and The Independent Bottlers Challenge. Through his online tastings hosted at The Virtual Whisky Masterclass, he has welcomed over 3,000 guests across 250+ tasting events.
His first book, London Cocktails, is now available worldwide. Follow him on Twitter/Instagram @schriebergfr, or at www.felipeschrieberg.com
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