Episode 187 – Whisky Philosophy with Billy Abbott

  • 1.5 oz Blended Scotch whisky

  • 1.5 oz Sweet Vermouth (for this application, we’d select a dark option, like Punt e Mes)

  • And ½ – ¾ oz Benedictine.liqueur

Combine these ingredients in a mixing beaker with ice, stir until well chilled and diluted, then strain into a stemmed cocktail glass and garnish with a lemon twist. A slightly more precious garnish would be to express and discard the lemon twist and serve the drink with a sweet biscuit or slice of shortbread.

Now, if you’re following along at home, you’ll notice that this is a Manhattan and that it very closely resembles another Manhattan variation, the Vieux Carre. This explains the fact that no two recipes for the Bobby Burns seem to agree on ingredient ratios. More traditional (i.e. Mid-20th century) recipes seem to agree on an equal split between Scotch and Sweet Vermouth, while more contemporary versions pare back the sweetness quite a bit. This is further complicated by the fact that when the drink first appeared in print in about 1900, it was made with Irish Whiskey and absinthe.

So, the moral of the story here, is that a good Bobby Burns should closely resemble a Manhattan, but you can feel free to mess with the ingredient ratios just a bit. Personally, I wouldn’t mind swapping out that blended scotch for a single malt on occasion to really let the terroir and the regional character drive the flavor of the drink. But hey, that’s just our take on it. Follow your bliss.

Show Notes

Here are some highlights and links from this wide-ranging conversation.

  • Billy is a writer and educator for The Whisky Exchange, a spirits retailer that specializes in old/rare spirits and has a large collection of whiskies from around the world.

  • In addition to teaching spirits courses for the WSET, Billy is a bone fide Awamori Jinbner, “someone who [spreads] the beauty of awamori with wisdom across the world.”

  • For more information about Shochu, check out our interview with Taka Amano.

  • For more information about Baijiu, check out our Interview with Derek Sandhaus.

  • Distilleries mentioned include Bimber Distillery, and J. Gow Rum

  • And of course, this page wouldn’t be complete without featuring some of Billy’s impressive sandwich architecture.


Delicious Cinnamon Babka

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Blondies