Summer signifies long evenings and long drinks. Whisky highballs such as The Hive and Cloudy Lemonade make the perfect summer sippers, showcasing the brilliance of blended malt in mixed drinks. Here, we take a look at the art of blending and the beauty of a blended whisky highball
Blending whisky is an art – and it is a big part of Scotch’s history. The practice was introduced in the 1860s by the ‘godfather’ of blended whisky, Andrew Usher in Edinburgh, and blending helped to put Scotch whisky on the world stage. Today, the biggest Scotch whisky brands on the planet are blends – and they date back to the same era.
Blended malt is just that: a blend of single malt Scotch whiskies from more than one distillery. And the beauty of a blend is that a skilled blender can accentuate certain notes, adding all kinds of nuanced flavours to create a whisky that is versatile. This makes blends a great bet for all kinds of drinks – from sophisticated solo sippers, right through to even the most complex cocktails.
Vibrant blend The Hive’s recipe is divided into three segments: the base, support and signature malts – and the whisky is created using all Speyside malts. Steven Shand, blender at Wemyss Malts explains that the region has a vast amount of single malt variety, including light, nutty, spicy, oily, light fruit, rich fruit, meaty and even smoky characteristics.
“The base of the Hive is made from a variety of Speyside malts to provide a malty, cereal-rich and sweet foundation to the smooth, medium-bodied blend,” he explains. “The support Speyside is richer, with dried fruit flavours and this adds some depth to the blend.”
Lastly, he says that the signature malt is an ester-rich malt with lots of citrus fruits and floral character, thanks to long fermentation times, clear wort, shell and tube condensation and the early cut point of the new make distillation.
“The combination of all of these variations of Speyside whisky lead to a sweetness that we describe as ‘sweet as honey’, as it has depth, richness and both floral and fruity notes,” he says.
At Wemyss, the blended malts are primarily aged in refill casks that showcase the fruity quality of Speyside. This helps with the consistency of the liquid from one year to the next. And it is also part of the fun of blending – first-fill casks, for example, can provide a range of intensity of flavours such as vanilla, coconut and spice. So, it really depends on what a blender is trying to achieve.
When it comes to using a blend like The Hive in mixed drinks, Shand says the aim should be to use a soft drink that matches the sweetness and approachability of the whisky.
“Soda would have diluted and dried out the whisky and ginger beer worked OK, but overwhelmed the whisky,” he says. “A good quality cloudy lemonade really enhances the floral and fruity flavours in the whisky, while matching the same amount of sweetness.”
So, here’s how to make The Hive and Cloudy Lemonade:
- 50ml of The Hive
- 150ml of cloudy lemonade
- Lemon wheel garnish
- Highball glass
Pour The Hive whisky into a highball glass full of ice. Top with cloudy lemonade and garnish with a lemon wheel.
The Hive malt whisky is available with four free bottles of The Hive and Cloudy Lemonade HERE.