Going global can pay dividends

Whiskies from around the world can complement strong Scotch selection

Interest in whiskies from around the world is growing among Scottish bars and consumers.

TO ‘e’ or not to ‘e’ – that is the question! Differences in the spelling of ‘whisk(e)y’ between countries of origin is said to stem from the late 1800s when Scotch whisky was considered poorer quality, prompting Ireland’s distillers to add an ‘e’ in order to differentiate their products.

Today, of course, the quality of Scotch whisky is second to none – but the spelling distinction largely remains.

As a general rule, most American and Irish producers have retained the ‘e’ in whiskey, while distillers from the rest of the world – including, of course, Scotland – use ‘whisky’.

And when it comes to ranging, it can pay dividends to ensure both spellings are represented on the back-bar.

Mike McGinty, trade ambassador in Scotland at Bacardi, which counts blended Scotch Dewar’s in its portfolio, advised stocking a “solid core range of whiskies ticking all the key regions”.

“Starting with a few Irish whiskies and Japanese would be essential,” he said.

“When it comes to north America we’d suggest a couple of bourbons, ryes and Tennessee whiskey, with a Canadian whisky as well. You can then rotate a unique bottle of something from New Zealand, Australia or South Africa.”

The team at New Zealand’s Cardrona Distillery agreed that stocking a global range of whiskies can bring benefits.

A spokeswoman for the distillery advised operators to “expand their whisky range to include new world whisky, categorise by flavour profile and encourage your bar staff to provoke conversations”.

“This is an exciting time for the world of whisky with great-tasting liquids from around the world,” she said.

“We are seeing a genuine interest from bars and pubs in Scotland for new world whisky; the time old distilling traditions of Scotch but with our own unique story to tell.

“New world whisky is growing and offers great-tasting liquids. These provoke great conversations and also give an opportunity to broaden customers’ repertoire beyond Scotch, Irish and American whisk(e)y. Look at those countries you may not expect like New Zealand, South Africa and Australia. Ultimately, it should come down to the quality of the liquid which these countries can deliver.

“Encourage your customers to try and enjoy their whisky in a different way – expand the consumption occasion.”

The merits in promoting whiskies from around the world in long serves and cocktails were underlined by David Hood, general manager of Spirit Cartel, which distributes Four Roses bourbon, James E. Pepper rye whiskey and Westward American single malt whiskey.

Advising operators to build around established world whisk(e)y-producing nations like the USA, Canada and Japan, Hood recommended adding in bottles from lesser-known ‘whisk(e)y countries’ such as Mexico and Australia, as well as offering a range of serves and cocktails.

“Long serves are the simplest, easiest and most successful way to bring drinkers into new categories and whiskey is no exception,” he said.

“A Kentucky Peach Tea is a quick, simple example of how this can be achieved – with precious little bartender time, but one that gives drinkers a real taste of Southern hospitality.

“Classic cocktails such Old Fashioneds are helping, but also home-grown recipes profiling the uniqueness of the category are showcasing how flexible whiskey is and how broad the flavour profile is.”