For the last week, I’ve been fixated on the Olympics. I was thinking of taking a look at the Olympic cocktail, but it is a pretty boring drink and doesn’t even come close to be as epic as the Olympics. It’s just brandy, triple sec and orange juice. You might as well put Grand Marnier in a glass of OJ. So, I decided to dig through my liquor cabinet and see if there was anything interesting to write about. The bottle of choice was Lochan Ora, a sweet scotch liqueur, made by Chivas Brothers, which is very similar to Drambuie.
Drambuie is the ubiquitous Scotch cordial. It is found in every corner of the planet and is the famed ingredient in a Rusty Nail. These scotch liqueurs are made from aged scotch and sweetened with heather honey. This type of honey is made by bees from Bell Heather and Ling Heather flowers, among other types. This is where the name comes from anyway, in case you were wondering. The other additions to the liqueur include herbs such as fennel and angelica which provide a very slight medicinal taste. Now, when I say medicinal, I mean it in the best possible way. Also, these herbs are not the predominant flavour; they just add to the complexity of the liqueur.
Lochan Ora translates to “golden loch liqueur” and is made from 100% Scotch Whiskies produced by the well known Chivas Brothers. There is limited information on this product, and even the Chivas Brothers website doesn’t provide much information.
When sampling the liqueur, the first thing that hits you is that it is very sweet, but exceptionally smooth considering the alcohol content is 35%. As the sugar passes, the herbal and smokey scotch notes come out. There is a slight warming as you sip this liqueur. The sweetness is a bit much straight, but on ice works a little better. But, this liqueur shines when making a Rusty Nail. Personally, I like to make them with 2 parts Scotch and 1 part Lochan Ora. Now some people will scream blasphemy, but I like Macallan 10 Year in my Rusty Nails. My drink, my choice. If I’m going to drink, I’m not going to sub in lower quality ingredients. It’s like cooking; better ingredients make a better drink.
Another way to enjoy these sweet Scottish liqueurs is to mix them with Poteen or vodka. I prefer Poteen as it is a malted barley distillate and retains some of the unique flavours from the mash. You can use vodka if you want. This just allows the flavours of the Lochan Ora to come out a little clearer, with out the muddy effect of the honey sweetness.
If you find a bottle of Lochan Ora, I would recommend you pick it up if you like Drambuie. It will give you some variety in your Rusty Nails.