With stiff mentalities surrounding whisky shifting and opening the borders to new approaches, techniques and expressions, we find Europe producing great liquid inspired by Scottish, American or local heritage. Although it all began by observing their neighbours, European whisky has character, originality and unique identity. We travel to Sweden, Netherlands and France to discover three distilleries which have inspired me to create bespoke libations.
We begin at Mackmyra, a young distillery which was founded in 2002 in Sweden by a group of friends intent on manufacturing local malt whisky. The products they have since created have had a roaring success. With their sixth special release, Mackmyra Special 6 Summer Meadow, they have successfully created a light yet boastful dram which has been matured in ex-Sherry and ex-Bourbon casks. Inspired by the classical Champagne Cocktail, I combined the soft spiced honey from the Flaggpunsch, with the light nuttiness from the whisky. To accentuate the vanillin, I added a few dashes of Tiki bitters to complement the drink with allspice and cinnamon. As a final ingredient, a long pour of Champagne adds depth, elegance and softness to a floral, nutty and fruity dram: the Meadow Fizz.
Next, we go to Zuidam, a distillery based in the Netherlands founded in 1975. From their genevers to the whisky they produce, the quality, consistency and originality of their liquids has continuously amazed me. One of the expressions which has always been an inspiration to work with is the Millstone 8 Years Old French Oak. Aged in a Jack Daniel's barrel for six years then two in fine French oak, it is kept in a warm and dry warehouse accelerating the ageing resulting in a liquid which oozes fruitiness with heavy Christmas spices. I aimed to create a soft, velvety, spiced libation reminiscent of warm mulled wine by combining port for its sweet, spiced and tannic qualities and cherry brandy for its deep tart notes. The addition of honey and egg white add a gorgeous silky texture while the lemon juice and Boston Bittahs add sourness and a floral bouquet: the Dutch Dew.
Finally, we head to Warenghem Distillery, founded in 1900 in Brittany. It produces a range of local traditional liqueurs, aperitifs and whisky. Their Armorik Double Maturation is an expression that has successfully married the Scottish tradition and local Celtic heritage. Aged in oak from Brittany for six years and finished in ex-Oloroso casks, this liquid took on its coastal environment with a light salinity which is irresistible to work with. Inspired by poached fruits in wine, I created the Celtic Pride. Here, I use Lillet Rouge, a red wine aperitif with dry herbal tannic qualities with the addition of Pommeau, a sweet apple liqueur local to Brittany and Normandy. To season the cocktail, we add a couple of drops of Angostura bitters to give depth of flavour resulting in a sweet, tannic, fruity tipple with a beautiful spicy savoury finish.
• 50ml Armorik Double Maturation
• 15ml Pommeau Dupont
• 15ml Lillet Rouge
• 2 dashes Angostura bitters
Garnish: Maraschino cherry and 5ml cherry juice.
Method: Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass, add ice and stir for about 30 seconds. Strain in coupette and garnish with a cherry to the bottom of the glass and lace with a bit of cherry juice.
• 40ml Millstone 8 Years Old French Oak
• 10ml Zuidam Cherry Brandy
• 10ml Fonseca Crusted Port
• 25ml lemon juice
• 10ml honey syrup
• 1 egg white
• 2 dashes Boston Bittahs
Garnish: Mint sprig and dehydrated lemon.
Method: Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker beginning with the lemon and egg white. Shake with no ice to emulsify the egg white for 20 seconds. Add ice and shake hard for about 30 seconds or until the cocktail shaker is frosted with ice. Double strain in Kyoto highball and garnish with a fresh mint sprig and a dehydrated lemon.
• 35ml Mackmyra Summer Meadow
• 15ml Carlshamn Flaggpunsch
• 3 dashes Elemakule Tiki bitters
• Top with Champagne
Method: Combine the first three ingredients in a mixing glass and stir quickly to chill. In a chilled flute, fill one third of the glass with champagne, strain chilled liquids in the flute and top up again with champagne.