This Isn't Your Grandpa's Scotch

Scotch. It’s a distinctive spirit. One that calls to mind memories of an uncle, a grandfather or a family friend whose favored drink was a single malt neat. This unique whisky imported from Scotland develops signature flavors from extended barrel aging, the use of special malts and the secret variations between regions and distilleries.

With craft spirits emerging in a very big way, Scotch has taken a new place in the world of libations. Surprising new variations and greater access to really high quality whisky have enabled Scotch distillers to catch the eye of today’s bartenders and foodies alike. Read on to find out about what’s new with scotch, brands to look for and a featured recipe that is an absolute must-try for the mixologist at heart!

The Great Debate

For generations, there’s been discord among whisky aficionados. Neat, on the rocks, one cube of ice or a dash of spring water? To swirl or not? Highland, Lowland or Islay?

One thing is clear—everyone has their preference. The best thing to do is explore to find yours! Try a whisky flight to easily see the difference side by side. Try swirling a little to see if you see any appreciable difference. Try the same whisky with or without water to see what you like.

Here’s a brief guide on how water (or the absence of it) affects your drink:

  • Neat: The sharpest of the bunch. Whisky served neat will retain its alcoholic “heat” on the palate. It will also be in its most unadulterated form which is usually how distillers intend for it to be nosed and tasted.
  • Ice: The cooling of ice will change the mouthfeel of scotch making it more viscous. Flavors will be a bit different with some popping out, and some being muted. One cube will melt and dilute the drink changing the flavor, while a rocks glass full of ice will chill the whisky without adding much water.
  • Splash of water: This can sometimes help “open up” flavors and aromas in a whisky. It will slightly dilute the spirit reducing the initial alcoholic “heat,” without drastically changing the flavor profile. Err on the side of adding too little and make sure it’s spring or filtered water.

Recommended Glassware

The Strauss On The Rocks DOF is a superb vessel for quaffing and savoring fine whisky. What’s more, it’s heavy bottom creates a stunning optical effect—a dazzling crystalline aperture that catches the eye. Fine whisky deserves fine glassware to be fully appreciated. Like all Luigi Bormioli products made with SON.hyx, it carries a 25-year guarantee that guards against chipping on the rim, as well as discoloration or cloudiness resulting from washing. (Did we mention they’re lead-free and eco-friendly, too?)

Scotch to Look For

Lots of distilleries are offering new variations like port, sherry and rum barrel-aged whisky that imparts interesting and unexpected nuances to the traditional Scottish spirit. Look for The Balvenie and The Macallan for a myriad of barrel-finished variations. Traditional examples include Laphroaig (with offerings that are deeply smoky and almost oily in texture) and Dalwhinnie (one of the most approachable styles—elegant and smooth).

There are great blended scotches too—if you like that sort of thing. Blending allows for skilled craftsmen to create exceptional and consistent flavor profiles (much like fine tea and coffee companies do to great effect). Johnnie Walker is perhaps the most famous, and a great introduction to the world of blends.

The Flying Scotchman

Also known as The Flying Scotsman, this cocktail was invented some time in the 18th Century and was being served and enjoyed as early as the 1930s. With today’s unlimited variations on ingredients, there’s no shortage of possibilities—even with a simple cocktail like this one abstracted from one of our favorite blogs.


  • 1 Dash Angostura Bitters
  • Ice
  • 1 Dash Sugar - Syrup
  • 2 Oz Sweet Vermouth
  • 2 Oz Scotch Whisky
  • Tools: Bar spoon, mixing glass, strainer, cocktail glass


  1. Stir well with ice and strain into your cocktail glass.

At Luigi Bormioli, we take pride in our Italian-crafted, superior quality glassware. Your glasses, created using our proprietary SON.hyx ultra-clear formula, will retain their brilliant and transparent appearance and are backed by our 25-year guarantee that guards against chipping on the rim or foot, as well as discoloration or cloudiness resulting from washing. You will enjoy their beauty, durability and strength for many years to come. We aim to enhance your tabletop lifestyle and entertaining experience with a glass for every occasion. When the moment matters, the glass matters.