Category Archives: scotch

Fall Cocktails on the Morning Brew


Greg appeared on The Morning Brew with Friends in Albuquerque today and made two Fall cocktails: the Sidecar and Scotch Milk Punch. If you saw the segment, welcome! Here are the recipes:


  • 1 1/2 oz brandy
  • 1 oz triple sec
  • 1 oz lemon
  • rim with sugar
  • shake with ice, then strain into a glass
  • lemon wedge garnish

Scotch Milk Punch

  • 2 oz scotch
  • 4 oz milk (the fattier this is, the better the drink will taste)
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • shake with ice until extremely cold, then strain into a glass
  • top with whipped cream and nutmeg


Father’s Day Gift Ideas

I’ll confess that Father’s Day and Christmas give me fun excuses to venture out into pseudo-cocktail dude gift ideas, which I really have fun exploring. As always, I have a handful of fun and creative gift ideas for you to consider for your own father or husband this year.

Alberta Dark Batch Rye. I love rye and at $30, this is a really fun alternative to the usual liquor store bottles of rye. Canadian, and therefore sweeter, yet still spicy in your chest, this is an awesome gift choice. It’s interchangeably usable as a sipper or as a backbone for Dad’s Manhattan or Old Fashioned. Find out more at Alberta Rye’s site.

Jelly Belly Cocktail Classics and Draft Beer. This is a good gift for a beer- and cocktail-loving dad. Depending on the size, for $4-10, these are great for a laugh or if you’ve always wanted to try a beer jelly bean…here’s your chance! Use these Amazon links to get Draft Beer or Cocktail Classics Jelly Belly beans.

The 100 Greatest Console Video Games 1977-1987, by Brett Weiss. Does dad speak fondly of “the good old days” of video games, or hanker for his Colecovision, Atari 2600, or NES? This is an awesomely fun, full-color, hardcover book with the top 100 home video games from the early days of console gaming, A-Z. I checked immediately for my favorite, Yar’s Revenge, and it’s in there! Buy it from Amazon or directly from the publisher.

Usquaebach 15 Year Old Blended Malt Scotch. Pronounced oos-ke-bah, the name of this scotch is based on the Gaelic phrase water of life which ultimately is how we ended up with the word whisky. That’s a good thing. This award-winning scotch is finished in oak and sherry casks, and it’s heavenly. For $80 a bottle, you’ll get a warm, sweet, rich, and filling scotch that’s sure to make dad grin. Explore Usquaebach here.


Johnnie Walker Platinum Virtual Tasting

johnnie walker platinum

Arriving to fill the void in the middle of their product line, a new bottling of Johnnie Walker has just been released: Johnnie Walker Platinum. Platinum currently fits squarely between the sub-$100 Johnnies (Red, Black, and Double Black), and the top-of-the-line Johnnie Walker Blue ($200+).

I joined two of my favorite spirits writers – Geoff Kleinman of DrinkSpirits and Christopher Null of DrinkHacker – in a virtual tasting of this new scotch whisky. Here is the video replay of the live tasting (live broadcast September 12, 2013 at 11am MST):

Read the written reviews from Geoff and Christopher.

Balblair Scotch

balblair scotch

This bottle of Balblair 2001 was bottled in 2012, making it an 11-year-old scotch. The bottle itself is classy, to be sure: a squat oval shape with a raised glass vine crawling up the left side. The whisky itself is pale, a more yellow tinted liquid than I’ve seen in scotches, but I’d guess the color is all-natural.

Balblair 2001 is a treat, with a wonderful fruitiness in the smell and a flavor that’s bright and cool. From there, Balblair has a lingering agey-ness in the flavor: the scotch itself is lighter bodied, but the finish is rich and has a distant flavor of charred wood. This isn’t a smoky scotch, nor a peaty scotch, but it’s a very complex tasting, high quality scotch for sure. You can pick up Balblair 2001 for about $65.

Speyburn Scotch

speyburn scotch

Speyburn is a very affordable single malt scotch that I’ve found to be an great choice at its $20 price point.

Remember that I’m still trying (really hard) to learn to love scotch, and Speyburn helps. In general, I’ve gravitated towards the spicier or sweeter scotches that I’ve tried. So far, Dewar’s White Label and Johnnie Walker Black have been my favorites, and I’ve tasted some pricey ones. Speyburn now joins those two as a scotch I’m glad to have in the home bar.

While $20 can be a real hit-or-miss price point for scotch, I found Speyburn to be smooth when I drank it neat (no ice). There’s a spicy and flavorful mix there as well, like a bourbon that’s both zesty and maybe minty, with the familiar scotch/barley taste on the finish.

At this point, I haven’t tried another $20 scotch that I’d recommend any more highly than Speyburn. It’s a solid buy.

Dewar’s Scotch

dewars scotch milk punch

Dewar’s is a very popular brand of blended scotches worldwide, and White Label is the entry-level Dewar’s, running about $22 a bottle retail. I find it to be a good scotch choice for  someone who prefers the more tame blended scotches (like me), it’s good for someone who’s new to scotch, and it’s also a great option for making scotch-based cocktails.

This year, I’ve tasted more scotch brands than I have in my whole life previously. I’ll admit I initially didn’t like scotch very much at all. As I’ve had the opportunity to taste the wide varieties available, there are some elements that I’ve found that I prefer. I like when scotch is sweeter on the palate, and White Label has some nice toasty caramel in the flavor. I prefer scotches that are less peaty and smoky, and there is very little of that in White Label.

So then, Dewar’s White Label is a very accessible scotch that’s got decent quality for the price and a nice, smooth flavor. Here’s a cocktail to try with it:

dewars scotch milk punch

Scotch Milk Punch

  • 2 oz scotch
  • 4 oz milk (the fattier this is, the better the drink tastes)
  • 1 tsp powdered sugar
  • shake with ice until extremely cold, then strain into a glass
  • top with whipped cream and nutmeg

Dewar’s Highlander Honey

dewar's highlander honey

I have to confess this right out of the gate: I don’t particularly love Scotch and I hate the taste of honey. That should make Dewar’s pretty nervous as I prepare to review Dewar’s Highlander Honey, a brand new Scotch-based honey-flavored liquor, right?

Let me follow up and say that much of the reason that I am not a huge Scotch fan is that I haven’t tried a whole lot of it. In fact, I joined the Albuquerque Whiskey Club just to get some more exposure to it.

There is only one other Scotch-based liqueur that I’ve tried, and that’s Drambuie, which is also sweetened with honey, plus an assortment of herbs. Outside of the Scotch and honey connection, these two products might as well be opposites. Drambuie is sticky and most people find it too sweet to drink by itself. Dewar’s Highlander Honey, however, is nowhere near as sweet. In fact, I’d say it’s mostly a Scotch with a very slight trace of sweetness to it, and I detected little-to-no distinct honey flavor.

Funny enough, for a guy who’s a Scotch newbie and a honey hater, Dewar’s Highlander Honey (which retails for $24) is actually just right for me. It takes the distinct characteristics of Scotch that I’m still learning to love and makes them more accessible with a very subtle touch of natural sweetness.

dewar's highlander honey

Photos by Jasmine Nicole.


Walk the Line: Johnnie Walker

johnnie walker bottles product line

This is Walk the Line: a series where I explore the entire product lines of the most popular liquor brands together with a panel of friends and tasters. Click here to view the entire Walk the Line series.

Johnnie Walker joins the Walk the Line series to help prepare us for the return of Mad Men on Sunday. Christina Hendricks (who plays Joan in the show) is the brand ambassador for Johnnie, which is the top-selling brand of whisky in the world. Prices of some Johnnie Walker varieties sell for hundreds of dollars, and every type of Johnnie is a blended scotch, as opposed to single malt. This means Johnnie Walker is a blend of different scotch varieties from different distilleries, and it also means their taste is well-balanced and predictable.

Johnnie Walker Red Label. Originally blended in 1909, this is the most affordable Johnnie of the line at $23 a bottle. Red Label is the scotch of choice for mixed drinks, stuff like a Rusty Nail or a Scotch and Soda. Red Label is a blend of “young malts,” so it’s a bit less mellow than a more mature scotch. This blend is dry and clean and the flavor is light.

Johnnie Walker Black Label. A blend of whiskies that are at least 12 years old, Black Label will run you $34 a bottle. Outside of maybe ice or a splash of soda or water (your preference), this Johnnie is one to drink straight. As this is an older scotch, it’s more mellow and has a more wood and spice in the flavor. This blend was the preferred one for all the testers except for one who prefers a smokier scotch. For the price and taste, Black is a great buy.

Johnnie Walker Double Black. A limited-edition release for Johnnie in 2011, Double Black was permanently added into the line late last year. Double Black retails for $40 in a taller, smoked glass bottle that hints about what lies inside: a blend of smokier whiskies from smaller Scottish distilleries. Double Black is surprisingly less aromatic than the others, but makes up for it with rich, smoky, slightly mossy flavor. This label was preferred especially by drinkers who love bolder, smokier whisky. One taster said it was like “smoke in a bottle.”

Drambuie and the Rusty Nail

Drambuie Famous Grouse Rusty Nail

Because scotch is one of the finest beverages in the world, there are very few cocktails that contain it. The general opinion is that you should use lower quality booze for mixing drinks and higher-quality, more expensive liquors should be drunk straight.

Drambuie (dram-byoo-ee) is a liqueur that contains scotch, heather honey, herbs, and spices. It has a bit of an anise flavor and the spices taste great, but it’s too sweet to sip it straight. The signature Drambuie drink is the Rusty Nail, which is one of the few scotch cocktails:

Rusty Nail

  • 1 oz Drambuie
  • 2 oz scotch (I used The Famous Grouse)
  • Serve neat or on the rocks

The nice thing about cocktails like this is that the ingredient ratio can be adjusted easily for the drinker’s preferences. Want a sweeter Rusty Nail? Use less scotch and more Drambuie. Drier? Have just a splash of Drambuie in your scotch. Drambuie will run you about $30-40 a bottle.