It might be snowing in some parts of the world but winter isn’t truly here until the eighth and final season of HBO’s Game of Thrones TV series airs in April. Till then, Diageo and HBO are releasing a series of eight limited edition single malts that are inspired by the show, each heralding from a lauded Scottish distillery, and each suitably represented by one of the Houses of Westeros — and beyond.
If you were wondering what these fine Scotch whiskies had in common with the acclaimed series, the answer is plenty. Like the Seven Kingdoms, Scotland enjoys a landscape so diverse that every distillery from Diageo’s extensive portfolio boasts unique qualities and flavours, making it effortless to pair them to each of the House according to their characteristics.
This isn’t the first time Diageo has attempted to conquer the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros. Last December, Johnnie Walker launched the White Walker by Johnnie Walker, a whisky that paid homage to the icy creatures that resided in the far north. The whisky — outfitted in a frosted bottle sleeve that revealed hidden designs when chilled — is a blend of whiskies that’s, unsurprisingly, best enjoyed freezing cold.
The Cardhu Distillery, for example, was pioneered by Helen Cumming and her daughter-in-law Elizabeth in the 1800s – an era where males dominated the industry – so it was only fitting that the Cardhu Gold Reserve was matched to the fiery Daenerys and the Targaryen House of which she rules over.
The Lannister’s tenacity in attempting to conquer the Royal Throne, on the other hand, is perfectly mirrored by Lagavulin’s bold single malt. Meticulously crafted on the shores of Islay for more than 200 years, the whisky is best served unadulterated — neat or with a single drop of water.
Royal lineage might be a theme deeply explored in the Game of Thrones series but it was the obvious similarities between House Baratheon and Royal Lochnagar that made this such an iconic pairing. Just as how Robert Baratheon ruled the Seven Kingdoms on the Royal Throne, Royal Lonchnagar has made prized whiskies that are deemed worthy of the royal family, especially since it was granted the Royal Warrant by Queen Victoria in 1848. Its 12-year-old single malt is a regal experience that’s best enjoyed neat, especially if you want to savour the delicate balance between fruit and spice.
With a location that boasts picturesque views of Isle of Skye, Talisker was easily paired with House Greyjoy, which rules the Iron Islands and worships the Drowned God. Here, the wave-battered shores where the distillery is situated, impart a distinct maritime character with layered flavours, giving the Talisker Select Reserve an intensely smoky character with spicy notes.
A Great House of Westeros with a line of descent that stretches back over eight thousand years amidst Winterfell’s frigid temperatures, it’s safe to say that the House Stark is no stranger to intense situations. Dalwhinnie — one of the highest distilleries in Scotland — enjoys the same remote, chilly conditions, which lend a remarkable honeyed sweetness and spicy warmth to the Dalwhinnie Winter’s Frost single malt whisky. Fittingly, the whisky is best served chilled or over ice.
Like the rest, The Singleton Glendullan Select’s pairing to House Tully is geography-inspired. Located on the banks of the River Fiddich in the wooded hills of Dufftown, the distillery harnesses water flowing through the land to power the entire property, a reflection of the house’s close association with the water.
Finally, the Oban Bay Reserve celebrates the darkness of The Night’s Watch. Sitting beneath the steep cliff that overlooks the bay in the frontier between the West Highlands and the Islands of Scotland, the Oban Bay distillery draws obvious comparisons to the Castle Black’s location between Westeros and the lands beyond The Wall. Here, the complex liquid is accompanied by a spicy dryness alongside notes of charred oak.