From rock to pop, there’s a whisky for every genre of music as Edinburgh DJ pairs the beats with the malts

From Cocteau Twins to Siouxsie & the Banshees, The Clash to Black Sabbath, there's whisky for you whatever your taste in music, says Vic Galloway.

By Liam Rudden
Saturday, 15th May 2021, 7:00 am
Updated Tuesday, 18th May 2021, 2:58 pm
Vic Galloway at home in Edinburgh

The Edinburgh-based BBC radio​ presenter, DJ and whisky-enthusiast ​has ​teamed up with the Scotch Malt Whisky Society (SMWS) to devise the ultimate guide to music and whisky pairings. As members of the SMWS in Leith and on Queen Street will discover as their members' rooms reopen on May 17, Galloway has ​matched​ the Society's 12 flavour profiles to an eclectic mix of musical genres. As each profile covers an ever changing number of malts, so each genre encompasses any number of bands and performers.

Galloway says, "It's been a lot of fun... and you might find a few surprises in there. Music and whisky go together like, well, music and whisky. There’s nothing better than sitting back with like-minded friends and sharing experiences. And that is what The Scotch Malt Whisky Society is all about. If you’ve not already, I encourage you to become a member of this phenomenal organisation, which in my eyes really is the world’s most entertaining whisky club. Slainte.”

Each whisky profile encompasses a family of maltsm giving a snapshot of what to expect from your dram. The profiles are ‘Young & Spritely’, ‘Sweet & Spicy’, ‘Sweet, Fruity & Mellow’, ‘Spicy & Dry’, ‘Deep Rich & Dried Fruits’, ‘Old & Dignified’, ‘Light & Delicate’, ‘Juicy, Oak & Vanilla’, ‘Oily & Coastal’, ‘Lightly Peated’, ‘Peated’ and ‘Heavily Peated’. So, if you are looking for the perfect whisky to enjoy as you lose yourself in your favourite album, here are Galloway’s pairings.

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Vic Galloway at The Vaults in Leith

YOUNG & SPRITELY - DREAM POP'Effervescent and sweet, joyous and uplifting, this whisky has a naivety and exuberance to it that I just love. Dream Pop pairs with it beautifully. With a combination of candy and citrus, both whisky and music have that impeccable balance of sweet and sour, packing a melodic punch but with a few unexpected twists and turns. Dream Pop makes me feel young and spritely, as does this dram.'

SWEET & SPICY - INDIE-FOLK‘The seasonal flavours of gingerbread and mulled wine tickle your taste buds as you and friends stumble, laughing, arm in arm into a familiar hostelry. Indie-folk somehow manages to sum up that time of year to me; as this spicy dram warms your cockles and cheers you through the snow. This whisky embraces your glass and fits your mitten just right, as you nod along to the music approvingly.'SWEET, FRUITY & MELLOW - DOO WOP'With the aroma of sherbet and freshly baked apple pie wafting upwards, with one sip I am transported to the corner of a New York or Chicago street in the 1950s... The atmosphere is wholesome, untainted and syrupy, yet rich with romance and heady teenage love. This dram conjures up hot and hazy good times and the 50s all-American dream, and there’s no better soundtrack to that than these enduring odes to star-crossed, unrequited love.'

SPICY & DRY - GOTH‘Taking me back to my formative years, the woody and liquorice aromas of this whisky reawaken memories of patchouli oil, leather jackets, black eyeliner and chipped nail varnish. All the boys and girls are skinny, the cheekbones cut like razors and the music is the endless soundtrack to a romantic, vulnerable youth. Dry ice swirls through the club as the whisky goes down and the ‘subbacultcha’ is happy in its clique.'DEEP, RICH & DRIED FRUITS / SOUTHERN SOUL'The balmy heat of the Southern states of the US, with its friendship, hospitality and sugar-coated, deep-fried soul-food on every corner, is truly dripping in culture and home to some of the greatest music known to man. This thick, syrupy, fruity-laden whisky is deep and soulful, so the ideal accessory to the sound of profound, gospel-flecked R’n’B. This long, slow, smooth-sipping dram heats you up, but also relaxes you for the tears of joy and laughter to follow.’OLD & DIGNIFIED - WEST COAST JAZZ'At the time of Be-Bop and the even tougher, wilder shapes of Hard-Bop, the West Coast of America specialised in a calmer, smoother, laid back form of jazz. Suited, booted, slick and suave, with not a hair out of place; a glass of ‘Scotch’ was never far away from the players or the crowd. This whisky pulls in tastes of exotic fruit, perfumed flowers and dark chocolate that brings that era of smoky cool right into your glass.'LIGHT & DELICATE - SINGER-SONGWRITERS'Clean lines, humble themes, acoustic guitars and an unadorned human voice all combine strongly with this subtle, refined whisky. It’s light and delicate, but underpinning that is an honesty and integrity that’s undeniable. There is a direct line between the songwriter, the listener and this crisp-tasting whisky.’

JUICY, OAK & VANILLA - ROOTS REGGAE​'​Let the sweetness overwhelm your senses as this warm, honeyed whisky floods over your palate with hints of ginger, pineapple and banana all dancing across your tongue. The scented escapism of reggae perfectly fits the bill as a backdrop.​ This dram can take you all t​he way to Kingston, Jamaica as you immerse yourself in some of the most beautiful, idiosyncratic and authentic music out there.'OILY & COASTAL - ELECTRONICA & POST ROCK'The esoteric world of electronica and post-rock are closely linked in my musical mind - opaque soundscapes that evoke open-ended panoramas and rustic terrain, in tune with nature yet still alien and unearthly. With its coastal notes and a salty aftertaste that clings to your mouth, this is a dram that lingers and takes you somewhere windswept and untouched... there’s white noise and twinkling feedback, but it’s in the distance… it’s all part of the trip. It’s intense but also refreshing, as the waves of sound engulf your mind and the whisky consumes your palate.'LIGHTLY PEATED ​- ​MODERN PSYCH'​Swirling playfully, colours blazing and head spinning…​ ​after one sip of this incredible smoky dram, fuzzy logic rules and your perceptions of what a whisky can actually be are thrown into the ether. There’s peat, yes…but also a floral, paisley-patterned sweetness at large, light to the touch but also full of attitude and creativity... mind-enhancing whisky that launches you on a journey to the outer limits, pulling you back to reality at the last minute.​'​PEATED ​-​ 70s PUNK​'​London’s Burning…​ ​and the smoke certainly pours from the chimney of your Glencairn on this one​. ​It also kicks like a mule and demands you jump out of your skin and pogo to that fast and furious backdrop of fuzz, buzz and clang.​ Blow the speakers with this stormy concoction of flavours and fire. Not for the faint-hearted, this dram leads you straight to the engine-room and kick-starts your heart. Punk and Peat, medicine and magic ​-​ that’s all you need​.'​HEAVILY PEATED ​- HEAVY ROCK​'​The ultimate ​-​ gunpowder in a glass​.​ Batten down the hatches and bang your head to the darkest, densest dram of all. As this fierce and fulsomely-flavoured whisky goes down, you need a serious soundtrack and only the nastiest, heaviest and sexiest of all rockers will do​... ​but do try to sip this one slowly and responsibly at your own personal pleasure, please​.'​

Vic Galloway at The Vaults in Leith

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