It’s World Whisky Day on May 15 – the perfect opportunity for aficionadoes to raise their favourite dram and newcomers to explore the spirit. We spoke to Fever-Tree brand ambassador Trish Brew about the latest trends and tipples.
Brew knows her mixology. She spent eight years as bar manager of one of Australia’s most renowned gin bars, Gin Palace, and was named 2018 Time Out Melbourne Bartender of the Year and 2018 Australian Bartender Bar Manager of the Year before joining Fever-Tree.
According to Brew, while G&Ts have been the traditional Fever-Tree mixer, they’re facing some serious competition from whisky highballs in 2021. And World Whisk(e)y Day is the perfect time to try one, if you haven’t already.
The highball is mixed with a standard proportion of three parts water to one part whisky and is intended to be a substitute for beer and companion to food. While the drink originated in the United States in the 1800s, it was elevated to an art form in Japan about 60 years ago, with icy cold temperature and high carbonation levels being regarded as being vitally important by Japanese bartenders.
“We often look to the east for inspiration and whisky highballs have been popular in Japan for many years, typically served in Izakayas [a type of informal Japanese bar that serves alcoholic drinks and snacks] as a long and refreshing way to enjoy whisky with a meal,” she said.
“Funnily enough the opposite is occurring in Japan now. G&T’s are trending due to the availability of premium mixers and lack of Japanese whisky with leading distillers to produce some incredible gins as a result. Though in Australia there is certainly a place for both G&T’s and whisky highballs. Whisky highballs are unique in the sense that they are warming in winter and cooling in summer. Perfect for any season, with a meal or without, what more could you want!”
Drinks Digest editor Alana House sipped several whisky highballs last week at the Johnnie Walker Highball House pop-up at Sydney’s Spice Alley and was impressed with how well the whisky’s bold flavours integrated into creations including the Johnnie & Green Tea Highball with Johnnie Walker Black Label, green tea cordial and Fever-Tree Soda Water; and Johnnie & Lychee Ginger Highball with Johnnie Walker Black Label, lychee and Fever-Tree Ginger Ale. They were also a great match with the Asian food on offer in the hawker-style centre.
According to Brew, whisky highballs are changing perceptions of whisky among younger demographics and those who had previously considered the spirit as as one to be sipped neat.
“Drinking straight spirits is for the older generation, from a time when mixers weren’t particularly good,” she explained. “Now with the rise of quality mixers, championed by Fever-Tree of course, mixing whisky is fun and more flavoursome than ever.”
As for the best Fever-Tree mixers to use with whisky, Brew explained that, as we know with tonic, there is no ‘one size fits all’.
“Fever-Tree has created a ginger range to compliment the different flavours in whisky,” she explained. “The natural ginger oils add a gentle spice complimenting the oak flavours imparted in whisky during the aging process. For a refreshing highball, try the Premium Ginger Ale, for a zesty twist the Spiced Orange Ginger Ale or for a robust variation try our Ginger Beer, it truly is second to none.”
Brew’s tips for making the perfect highball
- Use only good quality, large ice cubes and lots of them as this will slow dilution.
- Ensure you chill your Fever-Tree mixers as this will keep the bubbles tighter for longer – nothing more depressing than a flat highball.
- Last but certainly not least, ratio. Fever-Tree’s motto is “if 3/4 of your drink is the mixer, mix with the best”… but you really don’t want to exceed 3/4. This is the perfect ratio for a long refreshing highball where you can still taste the whisky.
When it comes to her favourite highball recipe, Brew said she’s currently favouring rye whisky with Fever-Tree spiced orange ginger ale.
“This combination is big and spicy with a flavour reminiscent of a fruit mince tart. This warming combination is perfect for these cooler Autumn evenings,” she noted.
As for how she will be celebrating World Whisky Day, she simply jokes: “Liberally, don’t tell my mum …”