Sweetdram Whisky Amaro
WHAT IS WHISKY AMARO?
‘Amaro’ is a very popular type of bittersweet Italian liqueur that’s typically drank after dinner to aid digestion. They’re commonly wine-based, but we can’t grow grapes in Scotland – so we figured, why not combine two of our all-time favourite things (whisky and amaro) and try to create a completely new, completely unique drink.
The inception of Whisky Amaro came about back in 2015 as part of a collaboration with Kings County Distillery, Brooklyn, who were the first whiskey distillery in New York City to reopen since Prohibition. The challenge we set ourselves: use botanicals and their unaged whiskey – called ‘moonshine’ in the States – to create a dry liqueur that mimicked the flavour of an aged whiskey, but without using any oak. It was just a bit of fun, and limited to only a few hundred bottles, but it planted a seed in our head: given how well that trifecta of allspice, coriander and hibiscus worked with the grain, could we use it as a starting point for an even more complex and progressive spirit? After 3 years of intensive recipe development, we had a delicious, definitive answer.
To make Whisky Amaro, we first start with the base, which is carefully made up of 3 different Scotch single malt and grain whiskies. We source, disgorge (i.e., empty) and blend the casks on site at the distillery.
- Ardmore (7-year-old, bourbon 1st fill), for a subtle hint of sweet, billowy smoke
Role: Adds body and binds the many layers of natural flavour
- North British (3-year-old, virgin oak), for toffee-like oak and spice, like a Scottish bourbon
Role: Reliable woody backbone to underpin the berried fruit
- Invergordon (12-year-old, ex-sherry), for a bit of punch and depth
Role: Sherried punch and depth to balance the bitter finish
Then we add nine botanicals, which all contribute their own specific flavour characteristic: lovage (minerally), kola nut (earthy), lingonberry (jammy), fresh lemon peel (bright citrus), rhubarb root (savoury), quassia (bitter). And finally, instead of adding sugar and E numbers to colour, like most other Amari, we sweeten with a blend of Sussex blossom and local honey from rooftop hives in Edinburgh and simply let the natural magenta colour shine through.
The end result takes you on an extraordinary flavour journey from sweet to sour to herbal to fruity to bitter to umami. It’s truly a modern Scottish dram unlike anything else you’ve ever tasted.
Magenta (which oxidises naturally over time)
Natural red wine, orange marmalade
Cocktail cherries, herbal, hint of wispy smoke
Long, bitter but balanced, spice
Allspice, hibiscus, coriander, lovage, kola, quassia, rhubarb, fresh lemon, and lingonberry
Volume: 700ml (or 750ml in the US)
Strength: 40% ABV
Bottle: Custom-moulded amber glass with tapered sides
Closure: Custom debossed synthetic stopper
Capsule: Black PVC
WHISKY AMARO HIGHBALL
Pour a shot (35ml) of Whisky Amaro into a highball glass then
- Add ice
- Add soda water
- Add a slice of orange
ON THE ROCKS
Instead of a Negroni, pour two shots (70ml) of Whisky amaro into a rocks glass then
- Add ice
- Stir well until chilled and diluted to taste
Thanks to its bitter-yet-balanced intensity, the opportunity to work Whisky Amaro into your cocktail recipes are endless.
Split your bourbon or rye base with Whisky Amaro in classic cocktails like the Manhattan, Old Fashioned or Sazerac, substitute it in for Campari in a Negroni or Boulevardier.
For a simple, unique twist on any cocktail that calls for classic bitters, (e.g., Angostura, Peychaud’s) try a barspoon of deep, rich Whisky Amaro instead.