It's a genius way to use a dram of single malt.

By Carey Jones
Updated May 24, 2017
© Jennifer Mitchell Photography

In the world of whiskeys, you’ll see bartenders stirring up bourbon or rye cocktails far more often than Scotch. Why? Single-malt Scotches in particular are quite expensive, and some mixologists would rather appreciate them on their own merits than mix with them. Additionally, Scotch whiskies can be powerfully flavored and, shall we say, full of personality; they don’t always play well with others. As bar-goers keep looking for more unusual drinks, Scotch-based cocktails are gaining in popularity; but unless you’re looking for a dramatic hit of smoke, American or Irish whiskey might be an easier choice.

That’s why “The Major,” created by Mark Stevens, is so clever. It’s built from a base of Glen Grant 12 Year, an elegant single malt that’s fruity and nutty on the nose, vanilla and caramel on the palate. Unlike many other Scotches out there, it’s as far from a smoke bomb as you can get.

Here, it’s stirred with two sherries, dry Fino and richer Amontillado, whose nutty flavor meshes well with the almond aroma of Glen Grant. The amaro Cynar, made with artichoke, gives the drink an earthy, bitter weight and substance, while a twist of lemon brightens it all up.

The resulting cocktail is more than the sum of its parts, a drink where every element integrates seamlessly—almost leaving you to wonder why someone hadn’t invented it long before.

The Major

1 1/2 ounces Glen Grant 12 Years Old

1 1/2 ounces Cynar

3/4 ounces Valdespino Inocente Fino Sherry

3/4 ounces Lustau Dry Amontillado Los Arcos Sherry

2 dashes Angostura Bitters

2 dashes Peychaud’s Biters

Rinse a coupe glass with Glen Grant 12 Year, pouring a small amount in, then gently turning to coat the inside. Discard excess Scotch, then set glass in the freezer to chill.

Pour all liquid ingredients into a mixing glass, add ice, and stir until very well-chilled. Strain into the prepared glass from the freezer. Squeeze the oil from the lemon peel over the top of the glass and discard.