Behind bars: whiskey | Scottish Licensed Trade News

Scottish Licensed Trade News

Behind bars: whiskey

Chris Conway, Van WinkleGlasgow

How many American whiskies and bourbons do you currently stock?

We currently stock 113 bourbons and American whiskies, which we believe  to be the largest selection in Scotland.

Have you noticed any change in consumer demand for American whiskey? Do you expect interest in the spirits to grow in 2019? If so, why?

We notice a younger crowd getting into bourbon/American whiskey; this in part can be due to the higher levels of smoothness and sweetness than, say, a Scottish whisky.

Also, bourbons blend very well into cocktails and for us this is many of our customers’ first introduction to it. Furthermore bourbon and American whiskies always have great backstories, which customers love learning – something we continually push through our social media and also our Bourbon Bible.

What do you foresee proving popular in the year ahead within the category?

For us single barrel offerings will see a real surge this year; each different barrel offers a slightly different flavour profile and also at a higher strength, in a consumer market where the customer wants uniqueness, this is the perfect product, at what’s still a relatively affordable price.

Led by the likes of Blanton’s, many other bourbon houses are now creating single barrel bottles which we think will prove highly popular.

Are you promoting any particular American whiskey/bourbon just now?

We actively promote a separate bottle each week, with our Bourbon/American Whiskey of the Week where we offer one of our range at £5; over the past few weeks we have had offerings featuring Noah’s Mill, Maker’s 46, Michter’s Bourbon, Whistlepig, Four Roses Single Barrel and many more.

What tip(s) would you offer operators looking to improve their offer?

Research and knowledge is the key. Most customers are still a little lost when it comes to buying bourbon and American whiskey, so being able to make suggestions to suit a customer’s taste will keep them coming back.

What is your favourite American whiskey/bourbon and why?

From our current stocking, my personal favourite is Blanton’s Gold Edition. A hand-bottled single barrel Kentucky straight bourbon that really is like liquid gold; you get a great caramel smoothness to begin with, which then makes way for a great spicy finish.


Grant Murray, Scotch & Rye, Inverness

How many American whiskies and bourbons do you currently stock?

Being an American-influenced bar, we try and hold a wide and varied selection at all times, although it is always fluctuating according to availability and whatever we might be excited by at the time! Generally though, we tend to stock around 35 to 40 American whiskies and bourbons.

Have you noticed any change in consumer demand for American whiskey? Do you expect interest in the spirits to grow in 2019? If so, why?

Being based in Inverness, tourism forms a large part of our trade over the course of the year. By offering a wide selection and being able to talk and be excited ourselves about the American whiskey and bourbon category, it forms a good, steady portion of spirits sales year round.

I am also finding that our home market is branching out more and more into American whiskies and bourbon. They are more familiar with the category – and they are willing to pay for it. Jack and Coke is still popular as ever, but it’s refreshing to see that people are now open to education and to trying new and exciting whiskies and bourbons.

What do you foresee proving popular in the year ahead?

The Old Fashioned will never go out of fashion. I also think innovation will ramp up a notch soon, taking the lead from brands like Glenfiddich and Hudson, employing new techniques and approaches in order to continue to make the category as exciting and appealing as possible. 

Are you promoting any particular American whiskey/bourbon at the moment?

We have been working very closely with Buffalo Trace and Hi-Spirits. They host regular consumer tasting evenings at our venue, even whipping out the Pappy occasionally.

What tip(s) would you offer operators looking to improve their American whiskey/bourbon offer?

Education: if the bartender can talk about it, the bartender can sell it.

Give brands a shout; get some training and support, POS, glassware, recommended serves, etc.

What is your favourite American whiskey/bourbon and why?

For flavour, my go-to just now is the Woodford Reserve Double Oaked. For versatility, it’s got to be Buffalo Trace.

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