Distilleries look to TV shows for new inspiration in their spirits

Say cheers to Game of Thrones-inspired whiskey.
Say cheers to Game of Thrones-inspired whiskey. Photo: HBO

There is no better way to honour your favourite TV show than with an alcoholic drink (unless, of course, that show is Peppa Pig). Take Game of Thrones. You needed a full glass just to make it through the weekly festival of slaughter and dysfunction – and another to calm your ragged nerves at the end.

GoT may be gone, but its spirit lives on, literally – at 46 per cent ABV, matured in sherry and bourbon casks. The ninth and final bottling in the Game of Thrones Limited Edition Single Malt Scotch Whisky Collection has just dropped, hot on the heels of two Johnnie Walker/GoT limited editions, A Song of Ice and A Song of Fire whiskies. In 2018, there was Johnnie Walker White Walker, a liquid tribute to the show's below-zero zombies.

Zombies also inspired The Walking Dead's Kentucky bourbon, the latest in a cavalcade of big- and small-screen liquor tie-ins. Among them, an IPA inspired by gangster series Peaky Blinders; a gin and a whisky for Downton Abbey; a Johnnie Walker expression for Blade Runner 2049; and Old Forester Statesman Kentucky bourbon for Kingsman: The Golden Circle.

These liquid extensions of fantasy universes are as lucrative as their inspirations. Spirits giant Diageo reports that its first seven GoT single malts sold out in Australia in just four weeks; 70 per cent of the shoppers were new to the Scotch category.

TV as a portal to whisky appreciation is a concept that excites Matt Bailey, from the Scotch Malt Whisky Society. "When you look at the tremendous history around each distillery in the GoT single malt series, there's a huge opportunity for newcomers to learn," he says.

Scott Fitzsimons, whisky and spirits educator at liquor retailer The Oak Barrel, sees another intriguing possibility: explaining spirits through the medium of TV. With each of the GoT single malts reflecting qualities of a different house in Westeros (like rich flavours in a "Lannister" Lagavulin nine-year-old Scotch), "there's another way to understand flavour profiles, within a framework that's familiar to a fan of the show", he says.

As GoT's boozy priest, Thoros of Myr, says: "There's no story so good a drink won't make it better."

Low res composite of television themed alcoholic drinks for Good Food Magazine April 2020 issue.

From left: Game of Thrones Six Kingdoms Mortlach Aged 15 Years; Outlaw King Blended Scotch Whisky; Bollinger 007 Limited Edition Millesime. Photo: Supplied

Game of Thrones Six Kingdoms Mortlach Aged 15 Years, 700ml, $220

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Matured in first-fill sherry-seasoned casks and finished in American oak ex-bourbon casks, this single malt from Mortlach distillery in Dufftown delivers a bold, smooth taste with notes of vanilla and spice.

Available from most bottle shops nationwide.

Outlaw King Blended Scotch Whisky, 700ml $70

This liquid spin-off from Netflix's historical action epic about Scottish hero Robert the Bruce is from Annandale Distillery in south Scotland. With a backbone of award-winning Man O'Sword bourbon cask single malt, it offers honey, tropical fruit and smoky notes with a whiff of peat to finish. annandaledistillery.com

Bollinger 007 Limited Edition Millesime 2011, 750ml $320

Ease the wait fort he postponed No Time to Die with this 40th anniversary celebration of the Bond x Bollinger partnership. This fresh, lively champagne with subtle plum and honey notes is entirely pinot noir from the grand cru French village of Ay.

Available at David Jones, Langtons and specialty bottle stores.