Cocktail of the Week: The GlenDronach Rob Roy

Named for a Scottish folk hero and mixed with one of the Highland’s best bottlings, this smoky-sweet cocktail is an ode to mischief and pluck…

Outlaws, with their rule-breaking and trouble-making, tend to have the best taste. Take Raibeart Ruadh MacGriogair, for example. The freebooter, rascal and rogue — who battled and feuded his way across the 17th century Scottish Highlands — lived a wild life, overflowing with adventure and excess.

Among his illicit escapades, the folk hero — whose deep red curls earned him the nickname ‘Rob Roy’ — politically plotted against the aristocracy, trained himself to master swordsman status and saw his cattle-dealing business go south when his chief herder went missing under mysterious circumstances.

His was quite the story. So it’s no surprise that, in the late 19th century, American composer Reginald De Koven chose to tunefully spin Roy’s swashbuckling life into an operetta — which debuted in New York. When the show opened, a bartender at the nearby Waldorf Astoria mixed a cocktail to honour the Scottish legend. And, by swapping out a Manhattan’s bourbon whiskey for scotch, the Rob Roy was born.

Decades of drinking later, and the Rob Roy has both transcended its nefarious namesake — and hopped the pond back to Scotland. And one place where this cocktail is mixed more readily and richly than anywhere else is Aberdeenshire, a county bordering Roy’s native Perthshire and home to the spirited GlenDronach Distillery.

This heritage-heavy whiskymaker has been creating spirits since 1826 — and the brand has led an even more interesting life than Rob Roy himself; sometimes-challenging, sometimes-charmed. Today, it produces a series of elegant expressions. And the best bottle for mixing a Rob Roy cocktail is the ‘Original’, a 12-year-old whisky matured in sherry casks, and brimming with notes of vanilla, ginger and spicy mulled wine.

Blend it with bitters and sweet vermouth, and this amber-red whisky will serve up a perfectly sapid sipper. Sherry sweetness and raisin notes swirl into the slight smoke of the scotch, offering up a strong aperitif with a warming nutty finish. Try it for yourself — and raise a glass to Scotland’s most spirited scoundrel…

How to make The GlenDronach’s Rob Roy


  • 2 parts The GlenDronach ‘Original’ 12-Year-Old
  • 1 part Sweet Vermouth
  • 2 dashes of Angostura Bitters
  • 2 Maraschino Cherries to garnish


  1. Fill a mixing glass with ice
  2. Add the whisky, vermouth and bitters
  3. Stir until well-mixed, to your preferred level of dilution
  4. Strain into a chilled coupe or martini glass
  5. Garnish with two maraschino cocktail cherries
The GlenDronach ‘Original’ 12-Year-Old

The GlenDronach ‘Original’ 12-Year-Old


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The GlenDronach is a registered trademark. ©2023 Benriach

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