The best way to watch Game of Thrones is with a matching whisky

If there was any night you were going to need something a little stiffer than your average nightcap, it's tonight's episode of Game of Thrones when the Night King's army meets dragon-riding Dany, her nephew-boyfriend and co at the Battle of Winterfell.

And thanks to an unprecedented licensing deal between HBO and distilling giant Diageo, you can toast the series finale with a glass of limited edition Game of Thrones Single Malt Whisky.

Good company

The single malt collection joins White Walker by Johnnie Walker, another limited-edition whisky released in celebration of the series.

Available in Australia are seven single malt whiskies paired with six of the Houses of Westeros, as well as the Night's Watch.

"Diageo's unparalleled diverse range of distilleries in Scotland, much like in Westeros, each have their own unique characteristics and produce a distinctive whisky representative of its local terroir," the distiller says.

"These similarities were the inspiration behind the collection, drawing an authentic storyline between each House and single malt pairing."

A toast of winners

The promotion appears to have been a masterstroke, based on the level of hype among whisky fans on social media.

Retailers have mostly sold out of their allocations and bottles are appearing on eBay with drastically marked up prices.

"Other than the Johnnie Walker White Walker Whisky which we released late last year, this is the first type of licensed product we have seen launched in the whisky category," said Dan Murphy's  assistant category manager Nick Rose.


"The hype and excitement was quite unique. We launched this as a bundle of seven single malt whiskies (valued at $799) as an online exclusive offer to our My Dan Murphy's members.

"The response was phenomenal, selling out in less than a day. There is obviously a huge cross over between fans of the show and lovers of great whisky."

Battle of the drams

Scotch Malt Whisky Society director and cellarmaster, Andrew Derbidge, says the landmark promotion has occurred at a time when Scotch whisky is currently facing unprecedented competition from other brown spirits.

"Bourbon is making huge waves at the moment. The Irish whiskey industry is exploding like you wouldn't believe," he says.

"So Scotch is having to look at new ways of marketing itself. And you have to say, hats off, the marketers have done a tremendous job – they've really tapped into something very effective here."

Seven Kingdoms

Diageo has 28 malt distilleries in Scotland, an embarrassment of riches from which to select the seven brands participating in the promotion: Dalwhinnie, Singleton of Glendullan, Cardhu, Lagavulin, Oban Bay, Talisker and Royal Lochnagar.

An eighth single malt from Clynelish, representing House Tyrell, has been excluded from the Australian collection for reasons that have not been explained by Diageo.

Presumably Clynelish is not a priority brand in Australia, or it doesn't have the stocks to fulfil a global rollout.

"They would have been very deliberate about the distilleries they chose for this promotion," says Derbidge.

"You don't want to promote one of your smaller, more obscure distilleries that can't sustain sales afterwards."

How's the flavour

I've tried a couple of the whiskies. The Night's Watch edition (RRP $129.99) comes courtesy of Oban in the West Highlands, and it was a very enjoyable dram with genuine distillery character.

But you'd expect that and more for a single malt at that price, which is marginally more expensive than the distillery's flagship Oban 14 ($125), which carries an age statement to boot.

The Tully edition ($99.99) meanwhile was sourced from Singleton of Glendullan in Speyside, and is a pretty forgettable whisky at that price.

But you can't really expect tremendous value from the whiskies, given the licensing fees tied up in the beautiful GOT-themed packaging and inventive back stories.

"The whisky nerds can argue black and blue about whether they're good whiskies or not, but that's probably beside the point," says Derbidge.

"If the Game of Thrones whisky series is gaining a bit of attention and bringing people into the Scotch whisky category and lifting its profile, then really every brand will benefit from that."