Fraser Campbell busts some myths about Scotch and breaks down drinking cultures from around the world
Mixologist Fraser Campbell, was in town last week, bartending at The Reservoire - Koramangala, and hosting a session at the Four Seasons. As the global brand ambassador for Dewar’s, Fraser knows a thing or two about whisky. Popular on Instagram as @dramble_on, this Scot also has a keen interest in boulder climbing and playing the guitar. We chat with him about whisky making in the highlands, and cocktails:
How did you get into bartending?
After finishing university in 2006, I decided to move to Edinburgh. I found myself pulled into the thriving bartending community when I got a job in a cocktail bar. I was immediately hooked on the buzz!
There is a misconception that blends are inferior to single malts. What are your thoughts on that?
The ‘blends vs malts’ mindset has only permeated the whisky industry in the past 60 or 70 years. Due to marketing, pricing and the romanticism of location origin, single malts have become preferential over blended Scotches, to the point where consumers are being mis-led that they are ‘better’. Blending is the pursuit of balance and new ideas. We blend food, paint, perfume, spices, the list is endless. Blended Scotches have so much flavour and versatility.
What are some secrets of blending whisky?
Blending whisky is about creating harmony between many different styles of single malts, and often grain whisky. The base whisky that you build on is vital to creating the perfect blend. For example, if you use a heavily peated Islay whisky as the majority, it’s safe to say that it will be intensely smokey and the other whiskies you use such as fruity and floral styles, may be drowned out.
You’ve worked in Scotland, Australia and Spain and are now touring India. What are some differences in drinking cultures that you’ve noticed?
For most of the countries I’ve been to, you always notice differences in cultural flavour which on the most basic level, usually come down to how sweet they like their drinks. For example, in Spain they love to drink whisky and coke because of their sweet palette, but in Japan they like very clean flavours so the original Whisky Highball with soda is the number one tipple. In China, they love their whisky with green tea, and in Latin America they drink it with coconut water. The climate plays a large part in preferred drinking habits, so hotter weather will mean cooler drinks served over ice. That’s probably why in Scotland, we’re still just drinking neat whisky because we only get about four days of summer per year!
Give it a stir
For those who want to move away from the tried and tested Old Fashioned or Whiskey Sour, Fraser has some recommendations. “If you want something slightly more fruity and fresh, the Dramble has a great mix of citrus and dark berry flavours. For something more tropical, the Coconut Highball, served tall with fresh lemon and sweet and nutty coconut syrup, topped up with soda over ice, is a sure winner,” he says.