Borden Chase

I’m continuing with my Scotch whisky experiments. Now I’m about to learn Borden Chase, one more cocktail based on wonderful combination of Italian vermouth and Scotch whisky.

This cocktail should be called Rob Roy variation but if it were not for pastis. With pastis and orange bitters, this cocktail turns to something unique. Yes, there are Rob Roy Holiday Style and Bobby Burns with lightly anise-flavoured Drambuie and Benedictine, respectively. And there is almost identical Robert Burns Cocktail. But at first I’ve known it as Borden Chase at David Wondrich’s Esquire drinks database.

Both Drambuie and Benedictine work perfectly with whisky so I thought that pastis’ strong anise note could be nice addition to Scotch whisky flavour.

David Wondrich didn’t mention who was the first man added pastis to Rob Roy. He just writes that Borden Chase was invented somewhere between late 30’s and early 40’s and was named after American writer Borden Chase (born Frank Fowler).

Also he recommends to use here blended scotch whisky and Pernod (or «another pastis, like Ricard, Herbsaint, Absente, or Pastis Henri Baudoin»).

It so happened that I fell in love with Borden Chase cocktail and started to experiment with some my scotches, pastis and bitters. The results are below.

As pastis, I used Ricard and Pernod. I can’t say which one was better. I think they both work well. As orange bitters, I used homemade orange bittes (recipe based on Regan’s #5) and Angostura orange bitters. Definitely the latter was better one. My homemade bitters proved to be weaker in flavour so it couldn’t compete with pastis. As sweet vermouth I’ve chose worldwide distributed Cinzano Rosso.

Borden Chase

  • 60-65 ml Scotch whisky,
  • 25 ml Italian vermouth,
  • 0.5 tsp (3 ml) pastis,
  • 2 dashes orange bitters.

Stir and serve in chilled coupe glass.

Here Wondrich called for shake. But after tasting shaken and stirred Borden Chase, I’ve chose stirring because it helps to create special «silky» texture I love very much.

Everyone who tasted Rob Roy knows how well sweet vermouth and whisky work together. The same full-bodied and sophisticated composition of dry wood and spicy wine can be found in Borden Chase too.

The difference is in aftertaste. Light fresh anise and orange offer more balance than strong spicy Angostura or sweet Drambuie. At least I think so.

Borden Chase

Dewar’s White Label

I didn’t expect too much from this blended whisky with very rough taste. And I was quite surprised with its good work in my Borden Chase. Dewar’s White Label was able to control joint flavour outburst of vermouth and pastis. It resulted in well-balanced cocktail with adequate aroma, not too delicate but tasty.

The sip started with strong whisky flavour without burn. The palate was softened by vermouth’s sweetness. Nice aftertaste of oak, honey, flowers and herbs, apple, leather and tobacco. Long dry finish with hints of anise, orange peels and peat.

Nice cocktail, especially if you keep in mind that it’s made of relatively cheap ingredients.

White Horse

I always prefer White Horse when cocktail recipe calls for blended scotch. That’s really good whisky for its price. Its smooth, a little tart taste works well in many cocktails… but not here.

White Horse was too weak to compete with strong vermouth’s flavour. I can’t say that White Horse was bad but definitely I was unimpressed with its behavior in my Borden Chase. Here White Horse was defeated by Cinzano Rosso and sent to the background.

Anise and licorice appear in the nose along with traditional wood and peat notes.

The sip is smooth, fruity, with strong anise and herbal undertones. No usual whisky flavour at all, only vermouth and pastis. Tart aftertaste: citrus zest, anise, spices. Light floral finish – apples, anise, a little wood.

Not bad, very fresh drink but… Where is the whisky?

Dewar’s Special Reserve

This aged blended whisky has showed the difference between ordinary and premium blends. It was almost perfect. Dewar’s Special Reserve brought depth, smoothness and power to the cocktail at the same time.

I think it was optimal for Borden Chase, it has brought harmony to the taste. The cocktail became smoother and deeper, it turned to very comfortable and luxury drink.

The nose was full of fresh orange, honey and anise. The sip started with mellow warm notes of oak, malt, herbs and honey. On the palate it brought wine and fruit undertones, and delicate whisky dryness, floral spiciness and, in particular, hint of anise all dominated in aftertaste.

The honey note in the taste was a surprise. There is no honey in the recipe but its hints are present in this Borden Chase version. I think the cause is the special flavour combination Dewar’s Special Reserve and Cinzano Rosso created here. Subtle malt sweetness and vermouth’s floral aroma works together in the tricky mixture bringing light honey-like flavour.

Auchentoshan Сlassic

This low-cost Lowland single malt whisky was near perfect in the another combination with Italian vermouth. There was Drambuie behind but here in Borden Chase the whisky failed to impress without support from the liqueur and let Cinzano Rosso dominate the flavour.

Certainly Auchentoshan Сlassic has gave strong background for vermouth and pastis bouquet as well as beautiful subtle aftertaste but definitely weak whisky caused a lack of balance in the taste. So I think that was unsuccessful experiment, and Auchentoshan Сlassic isn’t a companion for Cinzano Rosso in Borden Chase cocktail.

The nose was delicate, with light coconut, oak and red wine. Quite sour taste brought a mixture of wine, anise, wood and citrus. On the swallow it became more tart and dry. Whisky background started to push forward combining with orange peels. But in the finish sourness returned with anise and citrus.

Strathisla 12-years-old

For me, this Highland single malt whisky is on the agenda when I’m trying to decide whether it’s worth using any single malt whisky in a cocktail. I think Strathisla 12 yo has typical single malt whisky profile so this whisky can’t excite me neat but works perfect in most of scotch-based cocktails. I love to see how it works in Rob Roy and Bobby Burns providing nice background for vermouth and enriching vermouth’s aroma with its sophisticated fine wood and fruit flavour.

Here was the same. Strathisla let vermouth flourish and hide its heavy sweetness. Strathisla controlled sour balance adding a portion of noble dryness. Strathisla used its fruitness to combine with pastis and Cinzano Rosso herbal profiles. Maybe it lost some energy but brought much more nuances to cocktail aroma.

In the nose, honey-floral aroma is set off by oak and black peppercorns. The sip with strong whisky flavour comes to sweeter palate full of luxury vermouth’s wine-and-spice undertones, and later all it’s underlined with fine touch of anise.

On the swallow the taste becomes more tart, and there I could find some notes of Cognac as well as pastis. As expected, dry wood and vermouth’s herbs form long pleasant finish.

Well, Borden Chase proved to be more than Rob Roy clone. A little change in proportions and adding pastis have turned it to another nice cocktail with scotch and sweet vermouth.

My task to find perfect whisky for Borden Chase isn’t complete yet but now I can say that good aged blended scotch will be nice choice for it.

I’ll be happy to learn how another vermouths and scotches work in Borden Chase so please let me know if someone makes his own Borden Chase. And in the end I have to admit that Jamie Boudreau’s experience was inspirational for me.