The taste of Scotch


Global Malts Ambassador for Diageo, Donald Colville, explains the nuances of Scotch and especially those of Diageo Malts.

Donald Colville, Diageo Global Scotch Ambassador – Malts, on his first visit to India is a man on a mission. Given the task of supporting the development of all of Diageo’s Single Malt Scotch Whiskies – The Singleton, Talisker, Cardhu, Lagavulin, Caol Ila and Oban, while managing the Global PR and Influencer strategy for Diageo Scotch Whiskies, he also overlooks the Diageo Scotch Whisky Education courses worldwide. He is an expert on all of Diageo’s 28 single malt distilleries and

related sites.

Donald joined Diageo in 2008 and was appointed as Diageo’s Global Scotch Whisky Ambassador – Malts in December 2010.

Growing up in Scotland’s historical whisky capital, Campbeltown, Donald has deep roots in whisky distilling as his great-grandfather previously operated the Dalintober Distillery, a supplier to the

Johnnie Walker blends.

There are six Scotch regions Speyside, Highlands, Lowlands, Islands, Campbeltown and Islay. The Highlands is the largest of the whisky producing regions in Scotland and generally produces more

full-bodies whiskies with deeper notes of peat and smoke. Lowlands is located at the southernmost part of Scotland, and is a flat region with no mountains. Scotch from this region are generally considered

as the most light bodied of the Single Malts. Speyside, is the center for whisky in Scotland. More than half the distilleries in Scotland are located in Speyside. Although geographically part of the Highlands, its unique characteristics the waters of the river Spey, which distilleries use straight from the river Spey in their production process, make the Speyside scotch the country’s most complex, and known for their

sweetness and elegant flavors and aromas. Campbeltown was once the whisky capital of Scotland. The Scotch here is peaty, and has a salty hint and a briny character. Islay, pronunced “eye-luh”, scotch is considered to be the smokiest and strongest-flavored Scotch of the single malts. Their strong flavor is believed to be due to the region’s exposure to the high winds and seas of the west coast. Island – considered by all as a region of its own, produces Scotch that can be described as a milder version of

Islay whisky (sort of like a hybrid between Highland and Islay whiskies).

Malts, responsible f Talisker, Cardhu, Lagavulin, Caol Ila and Oban, to name a few. Some of the classic

single malts in the Diageo repertoire include:

Lagavulin 16 YO Aged in oak casks for at least sixteen years, this much sought-after that’s typical of southern Islay, but also has a beautiful complexity that offers hints of sweet and malty notes.

Oban 14 YO A combination of rich sweet orange notes with a gentle smoky dryness and appetising spice distinguishes this lovingly-matured Highland malt.

Caol Ila Malt 12 YO A smoky, sea-fresh aperitif, this one comes with beautiful notes of citrus and malt from remote Island of Islay.

Talisker 10 YO Made by the sea, this is the classic stalwart of the Talisker family. A rich dried-fruit sweetness, clouds of smoke, strong barley-malt flavours, warming and intense, this one.

Singleton of Glen Ord 12 YO A fruity, well-composed liquid that manages to be both light and smooth without compromising any depth of flavour or fullness of palate. Savour the good taste.

Many of the whiskies from Diageo’s repertoire are appropriately paired with Indian food. “There is Talisker which is from Scotland with a smoky flavour which combines well with the chillies in the Indian food. There is also Glenmore which is a complex whisky and goes well with richer, spicier food that is the norm in India. In India there is a wide variety of breads and Glenmore is apt for them too,”

says Colville.

He is also the judge at the Diageo Reserve World Class Comp part of the competition are the seminars

and the training sessions that are held to improve the skills in the industry.” He also adds that there has been an unbelievable improvement in the skills of the bartenders as compared to past years. “I can see that there is a staggering difference in the learning and understanding of flavours, in the use of new modern techniques and the use of spices among the bartenders in India now,” says Colville.

IMFL. In the first six months of 2016, India emerged as the third-biggest export market for Scotch, The average age of the whisky drinker too is coming down, says Colville. From being a drink of the middle age and elderly men, there is an expanding of the net. It has now become age neutral.” It has

also helped that whiskies now come in a number of flavours and a wide variety of cocktails can be concocted which appeal to a diverse audience.

Whisky, which Colville describes as age- and gender-neutral, accounts for almost 60% of the IMFL. While India remains the whisky capital of the world, Scotch remains the world’s favourite whisky,” says Colville.

“Using single malt in a long drink or a cocktail is another way to popularise the drink,” says Colville. The idea of using a Lagavulin, a Talisker or a Cardhu in a cocktail might sound incongruous to the

whisky connoisseur but Colville says it can be a platform for creating a wonderful drink. “If you taste a Talisker Old Fashioned and a generic Old Fashioned, there is a marked difference, and that could be a start of a journey.”

Colville shows a preference for blended Scotch whiskies because they are blend of many good single malts. Our biggest-selling brands in India are Black Dog and Johnnie Walker Black Label. In single malt, it would be Talisker.” People can try different things. One has to be open to experimentation. So, the best way to consume single malt — any way you want.”

Diageo operates 28 malt distilleries, accounting for nearly one-third of the industry’s total capacity, along with Scotland’s largest grain distillery at Cameronbridge. Of these 14 are for single malts and 14 are for blended Scotches. The company’s leading brand is Johnnie Walker; the best-selling blended Scotch in the world, but it boasts other high-ranking blended brands such as J&B and Bells, along with an array of respected single malts, including Cardhu, Talisker, Mortlach and The Singleton.

There are 118 licensed distilleries in Scotland. Ninety three percent are for blending and seven percent are for single malts.

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