Cosy Up with a “Kentucky Hug” this winter


WINTER weather conjures up images of cosy evenings with a warming beverage in hand. American whiskeys hit all the right notes at this time of year, thanks to their toasty caramel, vanilla, honey and grain flavours and the famous “Kentucky Hug” effect – that warm sensation you feel after a sip of good American whiskey.

Find your flavour

Whether your taste leans towards fresh botanical flavours, or warm spices and honeyed malt, American distillers produce whiskeys with flavour and aroma notes to suit any style.

Bourbon, Tennessee whiskey, American rye whiskey, and American single malt whiskeys are becoming increasingly popular in South Africa, as locals discover the broad range of fine spirits emerging from the United States.

The typically higher corn mash used in Bourbon makes for a sweet and full-bodied flavour, while rye generally creates a drier-tasting, spicier American rye whiskey. Tennessee Whiskey, like Bourbon, is predominately corn-based, but it is passed through a charcoal filter before it is aged, resulting in a slightly sweeter, softer taste.

Dating back to the 1930s, The Blinker calls for a mix of rye, grapefruit, and grenadine

Perfect Pairs

Have you tried paring American whiskey with chocolate? How about braaied meat or biltong? American whiskey is aged in new, charred oak barrels, imparting hints of vanilla and caramel, which perfectly complement those sweet treats or balance the salty flavours in savoury dishes. 

Mix it Up  

The complexity and versatility of American whiskeys make them ideal for cocktails. They pair beautifully with winter citrus fruit juices in classic American cocktails, such as Bourbon in the orange-scented Seelbach or lemon-honey Gold Rush, and American rye whiskey with fresh grapefruit juice and grenadine for a classic Blinker cocktail.

Try these top tips for perfect cocktails any time of the year:

  • Keep it simple: you do not need a multitude of ingredients to make a great cocktail. The timeless classics use only three or four ingredients.
  • Always use fresh ingredients: freshly picked botanicals and freshly squeezed juice for authentic flavours and aromas.
  • Make your own simple syrup by heating equal parts of water and sugar, then experiment with flavours by adding citrus zest, spices, herbs, tea, or even pureed nuts to add a new dimension to your cocktail.
  • Use good quality ice. Bartenders are adamant that the quality of the water and ice used in cocktails makes a noticeable difference to the drink.


Honey and lemon are winter staples in South Africa. Add a dash of bourbon to the blend and you’ll have yourself a Gold Rush cocktail, just right for winter in Egoli, or anywhere else. The Gold Rush perfectly pairs the sweetness of honey, the light refreshment of lemon and oaky notes of Bourbon.
To make it, simply blend 44ml/2 parts American Bourbon with 22ml/1 part honey syrup and 22ml/1 part freshly squeezed lemon juice. Garnish with lemon zest to make the most of the citrus aroma.

Follow the social media pages on Facebook and Instagram for classic American recipes, local flavour twists and excellent tips on creating cocktails at home. 

Fine American whiskeys and distilled spirits are being introduced to the South African market by the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States (DISCUS), as part of the “Cheers! Spirits from the USA” campaign. For more information, click here. For trade enquiries please contact Leigh Angelo, email [email protected]

The US distilled spirits industry is committed to social responsibility. For adults who choose to drink, they should do so in moderation and responsibly at all times.

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