Sean Baxter, national ambassador for Johnnie Walker and classic malts, shares all of his best whisky tips for publicans wanting to promote the spirit on Father's Day.
Q How can publicans take advantage of whisky on Father’s Day?
At this time of year you’re always going to see whisky specials in the off-premise and also in wholesalers so it’s a great time to fill up the whisky shelf and stock up your bar. It’s also a great time to speak to your local brand manager and see what they are able to do in terms of assisting with point of sale in venues or perhaps organise whisky tastings utilising their brand ambassadors. There are lots of ways this can impact on a Father’s Day crowd, whether you use the tastings as door prizes for a lucky dad and his guests or perhaps offer it as a tasting ‘pop up’ throughout the afternoon. Advertising that your venue is offering a whisky-matched food menu for the day is also a great way to excite a group of whisky enthusiasts.
Q What is your advice for publicans and chefs trying to build a whisky-matched menu?
Keep it simple. Some of the best food matches with whisky are the simplest to execute. Also think about your consumer. On days like Father’s Day, I always find you’ll have a lot of families dining so it might just mean you offer a handful of specials, all matched with whisky as opposed to creating a dedicated list which might be a little too intimidating for a casual diner. A really great chargrilled steak, smothered in smoked butter and sea salt, pairs beautifully with Lagavulin 16 year old. Johnnie Walker Gold Label frozen in the freezer and served neat is the perfect folly to a rich slice of chocolate brownie or self-saucing chocolate pudding. There are so many whisky pairing options that work on your standard bistro menu that it really is all about creating a special ‘feel’ around the options you choose – through creative plating and the language you use to sell it to a slightly unsure customer. I believe there is no stronger pairing than a dozen natural oysters served with a round of Talisker whisky’s – and with the right presentation and preparations, you will find it to be a very popular experience.
Q What are the current trends in the market? What styles or blends are we seeing a lot of recently?
At the moment we are seeing a real push towards whisky that is driven by flavour as opposed to age statement. This is due to a number of reasons but the main one is that with the recent surge in interest in whisky globally, the whole industry is experimenting with the way it takes each product to market due to pressures on current stock futures. This can be challenging for a consumer, especially in the worst case scenario if their favourite signature style and age becomes no longer available in Australia (not the case so far with the whisky's in my portfolio but it is a worrying trend across many others in the industry). Often, these non-age statement whisky’s contain a variety of different styles from the same distillery, featuring different wood finishes and ages to create a ‘flavour led’ palate experience. This ‘marriage' still enables the whisky to be called a single malt, due to the fact that the whisky used is all from the same distillery. Over the last three years we have seen some amazing flavour led styles emerge including Talisker Storm, Talisker Port Ruighe and Mortlach Rare and Old, the popularity of these new styles proving that non-age statement whisky does not necessarily sacrifice on flavour or quality.