Whisky & Vermouth

Ervin Trykowski, Diageo global Scotch whisky ambassador, shares his thoughts on single malt, vermouth, and making whisky fun. Cocktails by Mike Lynch at Bramble Bar, Edinburgh
By Christopher Coates
The Apple Cocktail by Mike Lynch at Bramble  Bar
The Apple Cocktail by Mike Lynch at Bramble Bar
Hailing from Aberdeen and entering the world of whisky after mixing drinks at number of prestigious Scottish cocktail bars, Ervin now travels the world and spreads the good word of Diageo’s Scotch whiskies.

Are people becoming more receptive to cocktails made with single malt?
Yes. Guests at cocktail bars are becoming more advanced in their tastes. They don’t just want a tasty Cosmopolitan, they want to hear about the craft that went into the product. I always talk about the two key ingredients for making a banging drink: flavour and a story. That’s not just in top bars, that’s in any bar in the world. If you look at the flavour spectrum we have in Scotch whisky, it can fit into not only classic Scotch cocktails or classic whiskey cocktails, but any classic cocktail. If you add on top of that all of these amazing stories from distilleries like Talisker and Dufftown, it’s the easiest thing a bartender can go for. Scotch gives a unique opportunity to offer an experience that wasn’t expected. When you catch them on the back foot, it’s going to heighten the experience for them.

You’re known for serving a Sea Buckthorn Whisky Colada. Do you see the future of whisky cocktails in these more ‘fun’ serves?
Well, nobody is drinking a Boulevardier at a disco! Traditional whisky cocktails aren’t the kind of drinks you see people enjoying while wearing a brightly coloured Hawaiian shirt in a Tiki bar. Saying that, every time that I go to judge World Class my mind is blown by the incredible Scotch drinks and the versatility of them. To pigeon-hole them as one style would be foolish, but you are seeing a broader spectrum. It’s good to see the rule book being thrown out of the window a bit.

Vermouth is key to many traditional whisky cocktails, does it still have a role to play in 2019?
With traditional whisky cocktails, there’s room to innovate. These drinks are actually getting better as the years go by as we have more interesting products such as Belsazar Vermouth. But we’re changing our thought process. Instead of just using whatever ingredients are called for, we’re asking ‘what is the weight of the vermouth?’ and ‘what type of bitters will work best with this single malt?’ It’s really ‘ownable’ for people. You can take these symmetrical measurements and give them to a cocktail enthusiast and they can make their own classics at home. But I think bartenders will be making those classics, stirred down and brown, less and less. Especially as bartenders start playing more with low ABV – vermouth is a key part of that. Scotch might not be the first thing you’d think of in that area, but if you’re using a tiny amount of Scotch to add and heighten flavour, there’s a lot of interesting experimentation to be done. You only need to look at the whisky highball trend just now to see it. How long is it going to be before someone takes one of the shots out of the highball, replaces it with vermouth and tops it with flavoured soda? I think that will happen soon – even lighter Scotch highballs using vermouth.

Belsazar & The Singleton cocktails

All recipes by Mike Lynch of Bramble Bar Edinburgh.

The Appleitif

  • 35ml Singleton of Dufftown 12 Years Old

  • 25ml Granny Smith cordial

  • 5ml Suze

  • 20ml Belsazar White

  • 1 pinch of salt

Build all ingredients in a rocks glass with a sphere of ice and top with soda.

Dried barley.

Thyme for Honey

  • 35ml Singleton of Dufftown 12 Years Old

  • 12.5ml honey syrup

  • 12.5ml Belsazar Dry

  • 12.5ml Farigoule liqueur

  • 20ml lemon juice

Shake with ice and strain into a chilled coupe glass.

Honeycomb (optional).

Rhubarb, Rhubarb, Rhubarb


  • 25ml Singleton of Dufftown 12 Years Old

  • 15ml Nardini Rabarbaro

  • 15ml Belsazar Red

  • 15ml Belsazar Rosé

Stir ingredients with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.


The Vermouth

Part of the Diageo Reserve portfolio, Belsazar vermouths are produced using Pinot Noir wines from the regions of Markgräflerland and Kaiserstuhl in southern Baden and fruit brandies produced by the family-owned Schladerer Distillery. A variety of herbs, spices, blossom and husks are macerated in the wines, which are later combined with the brandy and grape must. The mixture is then left to marry in stone vessels. The range includes Red, White, Dry and Rosé.

The Whisky

The Singleton

Dufftown 12 Years Old 40% ABV
The Singleton brand encompasses single malt Scotch whiskies distilled at three different distilleries: Dufftown, Glen Ord, and Glendullan. Whiskies from each distillery have targeted distribution in specific regional markets worldwide. The Singleton of Dufftown is found on shelves in Europe and Africa, and this expression has been matured in a combination of American and European oak casks.

Other Ingredients

Nardini Rabarbaro 19% ABV
A rhubarb liqueur made with a grappa base and numerous other herbs and spices, it is part of the venerable stable of Nardini Distillery.

Farigoule de Forcalquier 40% ABV
Produced by Distilleries et Domaines de Provence, Farigoule is best understood as a thyme liqueur and is made by macerating both the flowering tops and dried leaves. It also includes small amounts of sage, lemon and angelica.

Granny Smith Cordial
This can be store bought from specialist drinks shops or made by slowly stewing Granny Smith apples with sugar and water until liquefied and straining out the solids through using cheesecloth. Add malic acid as required to adjust acidity.
The Rhubarb Cocktail by Mike Lynch at Bramble Bar
The Rhubarb Cocktail by Mike Lynch at Bramble Bar
The Honey Cocktail by Mike Lynch at Bramble Bar
The Honey Cocktail by Mike Lynch at Bramble Bar