What's your serve? Graham Eunson on industry change and how to try whisky in new ways
After eight years at Tomatin Distillery, Graham Eunson has been sampling both exquisite single malts and high-quality blends for years. In this time, he’s led tasting events, spoken at whisky festivals, as well as ran production for the entire distillery.
Following his recent promotion to Distillery Operations Director, Graham has taken the time to look back over a career that spans almost three decades in the whisky industry.
Over the years, Graham has noticed a huge surge in the appeal of whisky, as well as the increasing knowledge of the ever-emerging whisky consumer:
Mr Eunson said, “Back when I started in the industry, it was seen that middle aged, working class men drank whisky in the pub, and upper class men drank single malts at home.
“I think over the years it’s become more accepted that actually, whisky is something that appeals to younger people and women in equal measure. Just look at the whisky festivals, there’s such a huge diversity of age, culture and gender and that’s fantastic.”
“I think one of the biggest changes to the industry is that the level of consumer knowledge is much, much greater than it was. People know more about individual brands, they’ve learnt facts about individual distillery history, and they have an incredible wealth of knowledge when it comes to whisky tasting. It makes hosting a tasting session so much more enjoyable.”
Since it was founded in 1897, Tomatin Highland Single Malt is committed to reflecting this diversity of taste in its Core Range of whiskies. The range features a variety of expressions, ranging from £30, up to £600. It includes a light and fruity introductory whisky (Legacy), a cask strength bottling, as well as several premium releases (30 Year Old and 36 Year Old).
When asked if he had a favourite whisky, Graham Said: “It’s like trying to choose your favourite child, I have a favourite son and a favourite daughter because I’ve only got one of each.
“With the range at Tomatin, I like them all but it depends on the season, it depends on the occasion. In terms of Tomatin’s Core Range, The Legacy is your best starting point – it’s quite sweet and less of an acquired taste. What’s more, the Legacy cocktail pairings are some of the most fun and refreshing ways to try the whisky.”
Tomatin is one of the few whisky brands that creates bespoke cocktails for their entry level spirits. Graham believes that it’s a key part of the brand, and something that keeps the distillery innovative.
Graham said: “Over the last few decades, we’ve been missing out on opportunities with cocktails. Because of the quality, especially single malts, everyone says that you shouldn’t mask some of the subtle flavours and that’s true. But, if that’s not how you prefer to drink your whisky, who am I to tell you how to drink your whisky. What is the correct way to drink a single malt?
“There is only one way, and that’s how you as an individual prefer it. It doesn’t matter if it’s in a highball, with soda water, neat, with coke or lemonade or ginger ale. It doesn’t matter. I would always encourage people to try it in different ways, because it may actually surprise you.”
Tomatin Legacy Cocktail Pairings:
Here are some of Tomatin’s recommended cocktail recipes to go with their legacy whiskey.
Cherry and Black Pepper Sour
Tomatin legacy with cherry syrup & black pepper makes for a sumptuous take on the classic whisky sour.
- 50 ml / 2 oz Tomatin Legacy
- 50 ml / 2 oz Lemon Juice
- 25 ml / 1 oz Cherry Syrup
- ¼ tsp Ground Black Pepper
- 1 Egg White
Add all ingredients to a shaker and shake hard. Strain into an ice-filled Old Fashioned glass and garnish with black cherries and black peppercorns.
A beautifully crafted cocktail designed to reflect the magical Japanese cherry blossom season.
- 50ml/2oz Tomatin Legacy
- Barspoon cherry jam
- 50ml/2oz Coconut water
- 2ml/.1oz Orange blossom water
Stir down a barspoon of cherry jam with Tomatin Legacy before adding coconut water and a small amount of orange blossom water. Shake vigorously and then double strain into a chilled Sours glass. Garnish with a maraschino cherry.