Dean Martin's Old Fashioned Swapped Bourbon With Scotch

Dean Martin
Dean Martin - Fpg/Getty Images

Dean Martin may have sang "Little Old Wine Drinker Me," but the Rat Pack musician paid no less attention to spirits. Martin was an avid drinker of whiskey and was known to enjoy a glass of bourbon. Yet despite this preference, Martin didn't always stick to the American whiskey in his old fashioned -- which typically uses bourbon or rye whiskey -- preferring Scotch as his spirit of choice.

Martin's exact rationale for making the swap is unclear, but the similar categorization -- yet distinctive tastes -- of bourbon and Scotch may explain the success of the swap. Scotch and bourbon are both categorized under the umbrella of whiskey, though Scotch comes, of course, from Scotland while bourbon is American. Those different origins present different grain and aging logistics that, in turn, result in different flavors. For example, Scotch tends to be sharper than bourbon, while the latter is more mellow and sweet.

A Scotch old fashioned, therefore, may taste slightly smokier and more intense than one made with bourbon. Swapping the two spirits, then, is a matter of personal preference, though the switch is easy to make -- and works well with different types of Scotch.

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Follow Dean Martin's Lead And Use Scotch In Your Next Old Fashioned

Old fashioned cocktail
Old fashioned cocktail - Heleno Viero/Shutterstock

Just like an old fashioned is versatile, so is Scotch. You can therefore follow Dean Martin's example while adding your own twist, choosing between different Scotch variations. For instance, if you're a fan of peated single malts, you may want to make an old fashioned with Torabhaig's Cnoc Na Mòine, which will complement your old fashioned's sugar and bitters with notes of orange peel, vanilla, and oak. If you prefer a blended Scotch, Johnnie Walker Black does the trick just as well. So much of cocktail making is about personal taste, as evidenced by Martin's cocktail switch-up.

If you're not crazy about an old fashioned, you can alternatively pay homage to Martin through other spirits. Fans of vodka, for instance, may prefer a flame of love cocktail, which was created specifically for Martin in the 1970s. That drink forgoes whiskey altogether in favor of vodka, sherry, orange bitters and orange peel. For Martin, that's amoré.

Read the original article on Tasting Table.