Scotch whisky rarely seems to make its way into cocktails, as many prefer to savor it all on its own, or perhaps over a beautiful cube of ice with a scant splash of water. There’s the Rob Roy, Bobby Burns and the Rusty Nail, but perhaps my favorite Scotch-based classic has to be the Blood & Sand. Inspired by the 1922 film of the same name starring Rudolph Valentino, the cocktail blends our hero with Cherry Heering, sweet vermouth and fresh orange juice. It may seem hard to imagine this unusual collaboration of ingredients adding up to a composite libation, but the Blood & Sand is smoky-sweet, complex, well balanced and delicious.
Blended Scotch can be a blend of malt whiskies or malt and grain whiskies showing a vast range of characteristics. Below are some rather unique blends that all showed wonderfully when featured in a Blood & Sand.
Ballantine’s 12 Year
Blended Malt & Grain Whiskies (Bottled at 40%)
Nose: Honey sweetness, toasted oak, ripe tree fruits—apricot and peaches; floral notes of heather and honey blossom.
Palate: Light bodied with notes of brine and smoke, honey sweetness, poached pears, vanilla and cinnamon spice.
Finish: Medium in length, with a toasted oak reminder.
Compass Box Flaming Heart
Blended Malt Whiskies (Bottled at 48.9%)
Nose: A soft yet pronounced smokiness, slight medicinal notes of iodine and sea air; white pepper and ground clove spiciness.
Palate: Pronounced alcohol, complex and smoky with a rich mouthfeel, sweet and spicy with dried cherry, fig and plum fruitiness.
Finish: Long and lingering.
Compass Box Hedonism
Blended Single Grain Whiskies (Bottled at 43%)
Nose: Elegant and complex with hints of vanilla, cream soda, toffee and toasted oak.
Palate: Rich, medium bodied mouth feel, sweet vanilla, butterscotch, roasted hazelnuts and toasted coconut.
Finish: Medium in length, lingering with the memory of toasted almonds.
Compass Box Oak Cross
Blended Highland Malt Whiskies (Bottled at 43%)
Nose: A sweet malty, graininess, honey sweetness with vanilla and clove spice, with fresh fruit notes of apple and pear.
Palate: Toasty grain, baked apple, cinnamon, vanilla spice with caramel sweetness and roasted hazelnuts.
Finish: Medium to long in length, with the memory of sweet marzipan.
The Black Grouse
Peated Malt Whiskies & Famous Grouse Scotch (Bottled at 40%)
Nose: Sea air, brine, iodine giving way to floral notes of heather, fresh peaches, orange citrus.
Palate: Big smoke—tobacco, toasted oak, orange citrus pith, and honey sweetness.
Finish: Medium to long in length, with a lingering smokiness.
Great King St
Blended Single Malt & Single Grain Whiskies (Bottled at 43%)
Nose: Bright floral notes, honey blossom, fresh green apple, citrus (lemon and grapefruit) and sweet, buttery piecrust.
Palate: Medium bodied yet slightly creamy mouth feel, vanilla spice, caramel sweetness and baked apple.
Finish: Medium in length, with the memory apple pie.
Blended Scotch Whisky (Bottled at 43%)
Nose: Toasty grain, floral notes of heather, fresh tree fruits (apple and pear), sweet vanilla and cinnamon spice.
Palate: Rather thin and light bodied, with notes of sweet orange and clover honey.
Finish: Medium in length, warm and lingering.
Blended Malt Whiskies (Bottled at 43%)
Nose: Very complex with floral notes, bright citrus (orange) and tree fruits (peaches, apples and apricots), with hints of honey and oak.
Palate: Beautiful mouth feel revealing sweet vanilla, cinnamon and nutmeg spice; brown sugar and toffee sweetness.
Finish: Long, memorable with a lingering sweetness. ·
Tony Abou-Ganim is the founder of Las Vegas-based cocktail consultancy The Modern Mixologist and author of several books.
Blood & Sand
1 oz. Blended Scotch whisky
1 oz. Freshly squeezed
¾ oz. Cherry Heering
¾ oz. Sweet vermouth
Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass. Shake well with ice and strain into chilled cocktail coupe. Garnish with a twist of orange.