This week’s Cocktail of the Week is a fruity little number created by Andy Huntley, Copper Dog whisky’s newly-appointed GB brand ambassador. A singer, songwriter and bartender by trade, here Huntley delves into the curious history behind the blended malt Scotch bottling – and reveals how he orchestrated the first ever DJ set at Stonehenge…
The link between taste and sound is a connection few understand better than singer, songwriter, bartender and now Copper Dog whisky ambassador Andy Huntley. Having recently joined the Diageo Reserve team in the UK with 18 years’ experience in the bar and music industry, it’s safe to say the South Wales native knows a thing or two about the perfect soundscape for a dram.
We took five with Huntley to find out how he’ll apply his pitch-perfect knowledge to the blended Speyside malt brand – and scored a simple recipe to try at home. Siri, open Spotify…
MoM: Huge congratulations on the new role, Andy! You’ve almost 20 years’ experience in the bar and music industry – could you share a handful of your career highlights so far?
Andy Huntley: I first fell in love with the world of hospitality when I began my career as a barback in Australia. Before joining Diageo, I worked with a number of brands within large drinks companies where I headed up the portfolio of premium and luxury brands creating bespoke events for the on-trade. I was also the whisky and music ambassador for single grain whisky 8O8 where I created a Whisky and Music training and advocacy platform for the UK on-trade – this is mainly what led me to bring both my passions together of whisky and music and inspire bartenders nationwide. As GB brand ambassador for Copper Dog whisky, I’m thrilled to continue telling this story and help to bring together these two industries, sharing my knowledge of both scenes. I’ve been lucky enough to share a stage and work with some amazing artists from Snow Patrol to Ellie Goulding and played for Prince William and Harry a couple of times. A highlight for me as a whisky and music ambassador was partnering with Paul Oakenfold and Carl Cox for the first ever DJ set at Stonehenge – we had a VIP coach from London with the likes of Hollywood A-lister Andy Serkis. I made some drinks for them on the way down then we had a party inside the stone circle with Paul and Carl going back-to-back. It was a really moving experience to be that close to the stones with two of the biggest names in dance music.
MoM: Could you talk about any common ground between the two industries and how you’ll be exploring those further in your new role?
AH: Music is intrinsically linked to both a great night in or out. It heightens the senses and can make everything from an intimate conversation to a fun night out even more enjoyable. It adds another dimension. Shared love of music – and great whisky – is also a brilliant way to break down barriers and bring people together. My new role will see me harness all this and raise brand awareness for Copper Dog in quite a unique way by hosting tastings, playing live shows, working with record labels, creating music events and brand activations. Music is an essential atmospheric ingredient in any bar or restaurant. Over the last few years I’ve developed and implemented a music and atmospherics programme educating bartenders to create the perfect playlist for their bar. I’m excited to continue this journey with Copper Dog.
MoM: For those who are new to the brand, could you share a little bit of the backstory?
AH: Copper Dog was originally founded by bar and nightclub tycoon Piers Adam, and the inspiration behind the creation of the whisky comes from the Craigellachie Hotel located in the heart of Speyside. The once run-down hotel was purchased by Piers in 2014 and has now been restored back to its former glory. The Copper Dog name comes from an old device made from copper tubing with a penny soldered to one end and cork in the other, which was used by distillery workers to smuggle whisky home in the 19th century. It’s also the name of the bar at the Craigellachie Hotel. The simple, bold honesty of the Copper Dog brand is also mirrored on-pack in the unique whisky dipper and dog emblems, designed by famed British illustrator Hugo Guinness, to grace every bottle.
MoM: What makes Copper Dog different to other blended Scotch whiskies – in terms of the liquid but also the philosophy behind the brand?
AH: Copper Dog is a truly modern whisky – familiar, inclusive, friendly and relaxed. It’s Scottish hospitality in a glass, without the stuffy conventions or dress codes and is always amplified by a soundtrack of friendly conversation. Bottled at 40% ABV, the liquid is a unique blend of no fewer than eight single malt whiskies, slowly married together in old oak casks. It’s an easy, accessible Scotch, with ripe fruit aromas, and a delicate, spicy finish. Simple enough to be approachable but complex enough to thrive when mixed. Each bottle really is bursting with the true spirit of those Speyside rascals who inspired it. The mischief-makers and opportunists who agree it’s enjoyed best when shared. What also makes it unique of course is that it is blended by master blender Stuart Morrison. The whiskies included in Copper Dog have been aged in a mixture of refill American and European oak casks, first fill bourbon casks and rejuvenated casks, before being married in hogsheads.
MoM: And finally, could you talk us through the concept behind the Apple Dog cocktail?
AH: An Apple Dog is simply a 40ml measure of Copper Dog with one freshly-juiced Granny Smith Apple, served over ice. This drink brings the fresh orchard fruit flavours of Copper Dog to life and the acidity of a Granny Smith really cuts through the drink to add a delicious sourness. It’s always been a personal goal of mine to introduce new drinkers to the wonders of whisky. It’s such an exciting and vast category but it can also be quite intimidating or seen to be complicated to those new to this world. It definitely doesn’t need to be that way and we believe that simplicity is key. Copper Dog is a perfect introduction to whisky and can be enjoyed served with a quality mixer. We want to suggest serves that everyone can make at home and it doesn’t get much simpler than an Apple Dog. I always start my whisky tastings and brand trainings with a welcome Apple Dog. It’s a great way for consumers or industry friends to try Copper Dog for the first time. I guarantee that not many gin drinkers first tried their favourite tipple neat, in a snifter glass and at room temperature. It would have been in a G&T or a cocktail. I take this same approach to whisky and have had nothing but love for Apple Dog by those who have tried it.
So without further ado, here it is, the Apple Dog!
45ml Copper Dog whisky
1 Granny Smith apple or 70ml of good quality apple juice
Juice one Granny Smith apple (or save yourself the trouble and use bought apple juice) . Combine apple juice with Copper Dog whisky in a rocks glass. Add cubed ice and serve.