Irish, Scotch Win at WhiskyFest

WhiskyFest hit New York last week, and the usual standing-room-only crowd showed how popular Scotch, Irish, American, Canadian and Japanese whiskies are with consumers. And elsewhere in this issue, we talk with chef Jose Garces, whose new bar-restaurant, Village Whiskey, includes numerous whiskey-based drinks.

Bourbon and rye, of course, have been at the lead of the latest wave of the cocktail revolution, but what about Scotch and Irish? Thirty minutes or so in a room full of whiskey and I had tasted the full spectrum of flavor Irish and Scotch profiles: light and airy, rich and sherried, potent and smoky, lush and intense. The range of Irish whiskies may not be as wide, but still, while tasting these spirits, I thought about how much American drinkers are missing out, since Scotch and Irish cocktails are so rarely encountered on drink menus or embraced by imbibers.

Sure single malt is usually too expensive to work with, but there are plenty of well-priced blends that make perfect sense in mixed drinks. That’s especially true for fall and winter menus, when fresh-pressed apple juice, ciders, lemons, brown sugar, clove, ginger and all sorts of darker, spicy, earthy flavors come into favor, all well attuned to Scotch whisky. Indulge the malt fans, folks: there’s more than bourbon and rye to be explored when mixing cocktails.

Jack Robertiello

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