Q&A: Naked Malt targets Sour serves in World’s Best Bars

Having recently attended Naked Malt’s Live Naked Bar Swap competition in Copenhagen, Shay Waterworth caught up with global brand manager Colette Duff and master blender Marc Watson to discuss the brand’s direction.

What is Naked Malt’s vision for the future?

Du­ff: “Our vision is for bartenders across the world to choose Naked Malt as a great whisky for their cocktails and furthermore to recommend Naked Malt to their guests as a whisky that not only tastes great, but also shows the versatility of the whisky in their serves.

“As part of our ambition to be the go-to whisky for Sour serves, we want to continue to support the incredible bartender community, which we are able to do with our Live Naked Bar Swap competition. This challenges bartenders to innovate and have the opportunity to learn from di­fferent cultures, as part of the winning ‘swap’.

“We’re also able to do this as global official scotch whisky partner with The World’s 50 Best Bars, where we can showcase our versatile liquid and hero Naked Sour serve to a global community of bartenders.”

Is the prime goal to grow volume?

Duff: “We want to continue to be a challenger brand in our key markets and win in the on trade. Drinks International has helped us to deliver this, in our inclusion in the top trending list of the Brands Report and by recognising us as a top 10 bestselling Scotch whisky. The top trending lists are aiding our goals of building our credibility among the top bartenders, owners and journalists globally.

“In recent years, Naked Malt has become the fastest-growing contemporary whisky with consecutive years of double-digit growth, and is currently distributed in 63 markets globally.” (IWSR 2022)

Why is it such a secret that The Macallan is in the blend?

Watson: “It’s no secret that a unique blend of the world’s finest single malts go into our whisky but we’ll never disclose the recipe.

“It’s the art of blending. Edrington is best known for its single malts: The Macallan, Highland Park and The Glenrothes and we are known to invest in what we believe are the finest sherry seasoned oak casks in the industry. Naked Malt uses first fill sherry casks in both the blend and then to further mature the blended whisky – all of this time in sherry casks imparts those delicious notes of sultanas, vanilla and sticky to­ffee pudding unctuousness. We want those sherry casks to impart those flavours and thickness or texture that we feel is an incredible platform to enjoy Naked Malt on its own or in a cocktail.

“Edrington has a great array of distilleries in the portfolio and, to ensure our blend is consistent, we blend eight key flavour components to put them together. They are split into categories which help define their structure. They stretch from cereal and fruity, which helps make up the backbone of Naked Malt, to light and fruity, which helps round out the edges and keeps the blend bright, culminating in using a lightly peated whisky which we use with care to add in that complexity that Naked Malt is known for. The blend is about keeping everything in balance while also showcasing the complexity of the liquid. Putting the Naked Malt blend together is one of my favourite parts of being master blender, the liquid is incredible to work with.”

Is there a plan to create new expressions?

Watson: “While we would never rule it out, we feel that there’s a lot of potential for Naked Malt in its current form, thanks to the versatility of the liquid and our work with the global bartending community. Particularly with the Live Naked Bar Swap competition and our partnership with The World’s 50 Best Bars.”

Where do you see the future of blended malts?

Watson: “The future is bright. Consumers are seeing the value in blended malts and how we put together di­fferent profiles that you can’t get from one distillery or one single malt.

“This gives Naked Malt the versatility and complexity of being able to really shine in a World’s 50 Best Bar cocktail.”