Patience Gould on honeyed whiskies

Stateside Dewar’s is synonymous with Scotch and if that’s not the case then something has gone very wrong in its marketing communication over the years. But at least the SWA admits to “concerns”, and at least Diageo has no plans to follow Bacardi, even though the launches of Bushmills Irish Honey, Crown Royal Maple Finish and Seagram’s 7 Crown Dark Honey and Stone Cherry have proved successful in the US. 

But, aside from all these issues, adding ‘honey’ to whisk(e)y is such a cop-out when there are so many other ways of adding taste. Consider Diageo’s latest innovation with its Isle of Skye single malt Scotch whisky Talisker. The multinational has unveiled Talisker Port Ruighe (named after the main town on the island Portree) and this is enriched by a double maturation in port cask wood (see What’s New, p15). 

Weighing in at 45.8% abv there is no age statement and the malt is described on the palate as: “Smooth and mouth-coating: the spicy pepper on the tongue rapidly grows into peatiness with a difference, as a creamy smokiness mingles with spice and dark fruits. The earthy, soft notes found in a fine chocolate tart are balanced by the bite of red fruit, cherry or plum ...” It goes on a bit, but all these tastes have been achieved through clever maturation and finishing off – not just by adding a dollop of honey from Perthshire – and we already have a superb blend of Scotch whiskies, honey and spice. It’s called Drambuie.