Scotch blended whisky Black Bottle, created in 1879 by tea blender Gordon Graham, is toasting International Tea Day on December 15 with a Gordon Graham’s Old Fashioned tea-infused cocktail. The mix has been designed to highlight the whisky’s delicate smoky and peaty flavours, balanced by notes of sweet oak and honey. 
Conceived by internationally recognised Scottish mixologist, Mal Spence, the tea-infused cocktail creatively features a whisky tea tincture.  Spence is the global ambassador for Black Bottle.
“The whisky tea tincture is a blend created to mimic and enhance the flavour profile of Black Bottle whisky, and involves four differing teas,” says Spence. “Firstly, there is Ceylon, an earthy rich tea, which forms the base of the blend, giving it a depth and structure to add flavours to. Then there is Darjeeling, slightly more aromatic and with more fragrant notes. The third inclusion is Jasmine green tea that adds a delicate sweetness and some lighter grassy notes to the blend. Lapsang Souchong, a smoked black tea, provides the final smoky touch to bring the tea tincture blend totally in line with the taste of Black Bottle.
“With this cocktail, we’re telling the story of Black Bottle creator, Gordon Graham, whose whisky skills evolved from tea blending.  He has been a truly inspiring figure in Scotch whisky history for his uncompromising, daring spirit that has informed many of the drinks we are developing for the brand.”
Do it yourself by following the recipe below, and celebrate with fellow whisky lovers this International Tea Day!

Gordon Graham’s Old Fashioned

Glass:  Old fashioned / lowball / rocks 
Garnish: Orange twist


50 ml Black Bottle
12.5 ml sugar syrup
4 to 5 dashes / drops of Black Bottle tea tincture OR Angostura Bitters 


Tea tincture

For those brave and bold enough to try making their own Black Bottle tea tincture, follow these instructions (or use Angostura Bitters as alternative):
Steep the same quantity (e.g. 100g) of each of the four teas; including Ceylon, Darjeeling, Jasmine and Lapsang Souchong; in unaged grain alcohol in a sealable container. Close the container and leave the mixture for around 8 to 10 weeks, monitoring and tasting it once a week up until the last few weeks, from when it needs to be tasted once a day for flavour profile and balance. Once the desired result is achieved, fine strain the mixture before finer muslin straining. Dispense into pipette bottles and use as required. 

To assemble the Gordon Graham’s Old Fashioned

Add all the ingredients to a mixing receptacle and stir well. Strain into the selected glass over a few blocks of ice, and garnish with orange zest. 
Go to to view a video of Spence preparing Gordon Graham’s Old Fashioned. 
Black Bottle was globally relaunched last year, and is back in a black bottle as its name suggests. It now also features a blend far closer to the Aberdeen original of 1879. It retails for between R240 and R260 per 750ml bottle, from selected liquor outlets countrywide. 
Note to the editor:
With more than 15 years’ experience tending, managing and building up the reputation of some of Scotland’s best bars, Spence has a wealth of knowledge. He is the only Scottish bartender ever to reach the Havana Club Grand Prix World Final; a Scottish Licenced Trade News (SLTN) Mixologist of the Year Award winner for two years running; winner of Maxxium’s Liquid War competition; and in 2011, industry bible Class Magazine bestowed Spence with the Best Bar Menu Award for his work at the Blythswood Square Hotel in Glasgow. Spence is also the director of the Kelvingrove Café in Glasgow, winner of the Best Cocktail Bar at the 2013 Scottish Bartenders Network Awards. 
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