Focus on Whisky


Here are some views from the trade on how the whisky category is faring in Scotland’s on-trade as well as some facts, figures and brand news. You can find more in your November DRAM..

Said David Howie, Company Bar Manager for Buzzworks Holdings:

“Is whisky going to take over from gin? Probably not, but it could do in the next ten years….

“We saw a shift away from the entry-level whisky brands before we shut for lockdown and customers moving toward taking recommendations from staff. Post-lockdown, they’re even more open to trying new things maybe in some way based on what they got in the supermarket during lockdown and we are now utilising age- statement malt whisky more in our cocktail lists. Dalmore 12yo is a very good brand for us. Likewise Johnnie Walker Black Label – a brand we are very passionate about given we have two venues in Kilmarnock. We have also worked closely with Shackleton and Smokehead in the past cocktails, working on modern serves with the latter like Tartan Tiki.

“We are seeing more young women drinking whisky – not a paradigm shift yet – and Diageo has done really great work with Johnnie Walker on this front. It’s sexy to talk about malts but there are also some other great blends out there. Whyte & Mackay is doing really cool things.”


Joanna Lumley recently paid the Glengoyne Highland Single Malt Scotch Whisky Distillery in Blanefield, Stirlingshire a visit. A decade ago she told fashion and lifestyle magazine Harper’s Bazaar that Glengoyne whisky was her favourite tipple – and it seems nothing has changed. The brand is also celebrating scooping a gold award in the inaugural International Spirits Challenge Tourism Awards.


Said Gillian Kirkland (pictured) owner of Glasgow’s Piper Whisky Bar:

“Customers have had more time to think about the whiskies they want to try because of table service and us being less busy. They are also prepared to pay a wee bit more for a good malt and my malt sales are doing well proportionately to the rest of the sales, not anywhere near pre- COVID levels obviously. Blends aren’t really selling all that well at the moment. They are also looking for more recommendations from staff.

“My best selling malts are probably Glenfarclas and Lagavulin and I also had a zoom call with Glen Moray about its core range and also to check in with licensees during this time. It’s still mostly men drinking malts.”

Isle of Arran Distillers Ltd created a new and unique Blended Malt by filling casks with new spirit from both their Lagg and Lochranza distilleries once it reopened after lockdown in May. The first runs of new spirit from each distillery were vatted together, creating a unique mix that combined both heavily-peated and un-peated spirit. The mixture was decanted into Bourbon barrels, Sherry Hogsheads, and Sherry Butts at their Lochranza Distillery, which will now slumber on the island until the future Blended Malt is ready for bottling.

You could fit the contents of 10.6 trillion standard (70cl) bottles of whisky into Loch Ness.