At-home hobbies saw a predictably meteoric rise throughout the last year and I diligently attempted to jump on every possible pandemic pastime bandwagon. Forming a passive-aggressive relationship with my sourdough starter? Check. Spending more time building a home gym than working out in it? Check. Finding any excuse to prune and water the growing surfeit of pot plants in my garden? Check and check. This last one has been a surprise favourite, especially since I recently found a way to make it even more fun: Just. Add. Whisky.
As a budding horticulturist (honestly didn’t spot the pun until it was typed and now it’s too late), I was intrigued to learn that The Scotch Malt Whisky Society (SMWS) has teamed up with the Royal Botanic Gardens’ Dr Greg Kenicer and mixologist Jason Scott (of Bramble and Lucky Liquor fame) to explore how fresh plants can enliven and enhance the flavour of whisky cocktails.
This partnership has led to an array of boozy bouquets that can be sampled at both SMWS locations (Queen Street, Edinburgh and Bath Street, Glasgow) as well as The Four Seasons on Greville Street, London.
They’ve also released a small-batch bottled libation called a ‘Flaming Primrose’; while this may sound like an Australian insult from the ’80s, it’s actually a Negroni-inspired combination of ‘oily & coastal’ whisky, sweet vermouth and gorse-infused Campari.
Best served either shaken or on the rocks, this lively concoction has the tannic mouthfeel of a dry red wine rounded with the viscous whisky. Heady and intense perfumed aromas give way to pleasant hints of marmalade that linger on the palate in a bittersweet finish. An edible flower is the recommended garnish, but for those who don’t have easy access to primrose, a spritz of lemon peel sprayed over the top and then dropped in will enliven the drink with a citric pizzazz.
It’s a strong cocktail for a light occasion and one that will no doubt have more than a few of the nation’s anthophiles in the pink this summer (OK, I meant that one).
David Harfield is the director of PepperStorm Media and writes about his three passions: food, booze and travel.
Photographs courtesy of The Scotch Malt Whisky Society