The Whisky World Descend To Oval Space In East London For Another Year Of The London Whisky Weekender

Whisky Weekender

Over 1,400 people descended on Oval Space for The London Whisky Weekender 2015 for a second year of East London whisky festivities.

Iconic venue Oval Space partnered with The Whisky Lounge to bring whisky to the people once more, with the annual London Whisky Weekender which ran from 11th – 12th April.

Guests enjoyed over 30,000 drams of whisky over the three weekend tasting sessions, discovering a world of international whiskies from American bourbons through to Japanese, Irish, Scotch and more.

Dan Sylvester, Oval Space Director and co-founder of the event comments: “The Whisky Weekender once again showed the unfailing appetite for whisky in London, with craft and artisan whisky in particular booming in popularity amongst the East London crowd. Oval Space brings together people of all ages for exciting festivals and events throughout the year and I look forward to seeing this event grow and grow, hot on the heels of the craft revolution.”

Eddie Ludlow of The Whisky Lounge also adds: “This was one of our best events in London yet. It was great to see so many new people heading to the festival, both male and female, which shows this category really is diversifying. Thank you to all of our excellent exhibitors which helped to make it such a standout weekend.”

This year saw a particular emphasis on craft distilleries, along with a programme of tastings, guest appearances from distillers, whisky cocktails, street food and music all weekend, making it the whisky event on the London calendar.  The likes of New York Distilling, Few Spirits and Smooth Ambler showcased the latest trends in small-batch distilling with tastings and whisky cocktails, accompanied by a soundtrack curated by the Oval Space team.

Up on the roof terrace with views overlooking the iconic Bethnal Green gasholders Pull & Punch, a London street-food scene favourite, served up amazing pulled meat creations incorporating whisky into their slow-cooked recipes and offering whisky paired samples.

Whisky lovers of all ages gathered to vote for their Dram of the Day. The Ardbeg Kildaldon picked up the award on the Saturday, closely followed by Nikka Coffey and Talisker 57. Sunday saw a strong showing for other brands, with The Glenlivet Nadurra taking top spot, beating a rogue non-whisky entry Dry Fly Gin and Nikka from the Barrel in the second and third respectively.

Mirroring the recent gin revival where innovation is key, and the shift in cocktail culture towards down-to-earth bars and speakeasies, whisky is having a moment that the London Whisky Weekender perfectly captured. Covering the spectrum from legendary whiskies that have built a name for themselves through quality and reputation, through to the latest emerging brands at the forefront of distilling techniques, the festival brought whisky to London in a new and exciting way.

Underground Punch Pong League Returns For 2015

UPPL Final 2014-0694

Bartenders across the country are dusting off their ping pong balls as the Underground Punch Pong League returns for 2015 with the Bartenders’ Challenge Cup.  

Now in its third consecutive year, the main event in the league’s calendar will be the UPPL Bartenders’ Challenge Cup which will tour to seven cities around the country. Each regional heat will see multiple teams of two bartenders competing against each other in ‘beer pong’-style tournaments, with the traditional beer replaced by Black Pearl Punch, which is currently available at all London Cocktail Club venues. Two teams from each event will win a place in the grand final on the opening night of London Cocktail Week (Monday October 5) at London Cocktail Club – Shoreditch.

As well as bragging rights as national Punch Pong champions and an impressive trophy (pictured with last year’s champions Conor Brennan and John O’Reilly from Love & Death, Inc. in Belfast), the overall winners will receive tickets to an NFL game at Wembley Stadium.

The only rule for entry is that your place of work must stock Monin syrups and Plantation Rum. Register online at www.punchpong.com to book a place in your local heat and claim your UPPL membership card, which entitles you to discounted drinks and entry to special practice nights at UPPL host venues around the country.

The Underground Punch Pong League (UPPL) was founded in 2013 by JJ Goodman from the London Cocktail Club, co-sponsored by luxury French syrup brand MONIN – whose UK brand ambassador James Coston is master of ceremonies on the UK tour, along with Paul McFadyen from co-sponsor Plantation Rum.

James Coston, Monin’s UK brand ambassador and punch pong referee, said: “The Underground Punch Pong League is a great opportunity for bars across the UK to engage in some friendly competition with their local rivals – although some take it more seriously than others! We’re expecting the standard of play to be higher than ever this year, so look out for another dramatic grand final to kick off London Cocktail Week 2015.

“Entries will be accepted on a first-come, first-served basis and spaces at the regional heats are limited so get your entries in early and prepare to battle for punch pong glory.”

To find out more about the Underground Punch Pong League and to enter your team, visit www.punchpong.com.

 

Underground Punch Pong League – Schedule

All events start at 7pm with registration from 6.30pm unless otherwise stated:

Belfast – Wednesday May 20, Love & Death, Inc.

Leeds – Wednesday June 3, Almost Famous

Newcastle – Wednesday June 10, Fat Buddha

Liverpool – Wednesday June 24, Salt Dog Slims

Brighton – Wednesday July 8, Lucky Voice

Edinburgh – Wednesday July 22, The Voodoo Rooms

London – Monday October 5, London Cocktail Club – Shoreditch (5pm, registration from 4.30pm. The London heat takes place just before the Final)

Final – Monday October 5, London Cocktail Club – Shoreditch

The London Whisky Weekender Returns To Oval Space In East London

Whisky Weekender

Set in the heart of East London, iconic venue Oval Space has partnered with The Whisky Lounge to bring whisky to the people once more, with the annual London Whisky Weekender from 11th – 12th April. From just £30, guests can discover a world of international whiskies from American bourbons through to Japanese, Irish, Scotch and more. This year sees a particular emphasis on craft distilleries, along with a programme of tastings, guest appearances from distillers, whisky cocktails, street food and music all weekend, making it the whisky event on the London calendar.

With three sessions to choose from over the weekend, guests will be able to explore Oval Space and discover the best the whisky world has to offer. In the Pickle Factory a selection of new and exciting craft distillers will be setting up camp. The likes of New York Distilling, Few Spirits and Smooth Ambler will be showcasing the latest trends in small-batch distilling with tastings and whisky cocktails, accompanied by a soundtrack curated by the Oval Space team. In a UK whisky festival first two legends of the USA craft distilling scene will be making an appearance with visits from Kent Fleishcmann of Dry Fly Distilling, known as the ‘godfather’ of the American craft distilling movement, and Phil Brandon of Rock Town Distillery.

Up on the roof terrace with views overlooking the iconic Bethnal Green gasholders will be a series of Whisky Tasting Classes. Pull & Punch, a London street-food scene favourite, will serve up amazing pulled meat creations incorporating whisky into their slow-cooked recipes and offering whisky paired samples. Another stalwart of the foodie scene, the Borough Ham & Cheese Company, will be helping soak up any excess whisky with their unique range of charcuterie and cheese and suggested pairings for the whisky brands on show.

With a dram from each of the main exhibitors included in the ticket price there will be no excuse to leave not knowing your Speyside from your Islay. In the main Oval Space area iconic legends of the whisky world such as Chivas Brothers, Talisker and Johnnie Walker will be on hand with brand ambassadors and distillers keen to share their knowledge and expertise. Along with more unusual whiskies from Japan, India and Wales, there will be a world exclusive debut of The Belfast Distillery Company and a pop-up tasting lounge from The Scotch Malt Whisky Society. Tapping into the trend for experiential drinking experiences Ardberg will be premiering its unique sensory serve that gives consumers the chance to taste the whisky as a liquid and a ‘smoke’.

Mirroring the recent gin revival where innovation is key, and the shift in cocktail culture towards down-to-earth bars and speakeasies, whisky is having a moment that the London Whisky Weekender perfectly captures. Covering the spectrum from legendary whiskies that have built a name for themselves through quality and reputation, through to the latest emerging brands at the forefront of distilling techniques, the festival brings whisky to London in a new and exciting way.

Tickets per session cost £30 on a first release basis and £35 thereafter • Available from: http://www.ovalspace.co.uk

Tickets are available for the following three sessions:

Saturday 11th April, 11am – 3pm, £35pp (£30 Early Bird)
Saturday 11th April 4pm – 8pm, £35pp (£30 Early Bird)
Sunday 12th April 12-5pm, £30pp (£25 Early Bird)

Ticket price includes: o Entry to chosen session Glencairn tasting glass, a bottle of water (for obvious purposes), the Festival Guide.
All whiskies sampled in the main hall (not included ‘under the counter’ drams)

The Camarena Family

Casco Viejo

The Camarena Family is one of the most famous and major names within the tequila industry. Here in the UK, they are synonymous with a growing set of brands that are taking a different outlook to the tequila industry and offering an alternative on all three levels of brand leadership. Welcome to Casco Viejo, La Cava and Maracame; The Camarena Family.

Heralding from the town of Tequila within the state of Jalisco over 250 years ago, their origins can be started from when their Spanish ancestors immigrated to Mexico in the early 18th century. In 1761, they co-founded the town of Arandas, where the distillery can be found today. 1860 saw the family plant their own agave estates around Arandas and in 1931, Don Agustin Camarena founded his distillery Casa Casco Viejo. Today though, Elena Herrera Orendain a descendent of Jose Cuervo, assumed control of the company in 1970 and its her children and grandchildren who manage the day-to-day.

La Cava De done Agustin
La Cava De done Agustin

As mentioned, the Camarana Family planted their first agave estates in 1860, and have become the 3rd biggest agave plantation in Mexico with 3000HA  and over 3 million agave plants, located in the Highland region of Jalisco over 2000 metres high. The family is so proud in fact that they have their own jimadors and avoid the rainy season when the piñas can become diluted (contracted jimadors are paid by weight and are tempted to pick when heavy with water). The piñas are harvested between six and nine years, but once cultivated, the fields are planted with beans and then corn to regenerate and nitogenate the soil. The stubble is then burnt and after a gap of a year, the agave is replanted.

The piñas are traditionally baked within a brick oven to convert the starches into sugar. Casco Viejo piñas are baked for 48 hours, La Cava piñas are 60 hours, whilst Maracame is 84 hours, although not within brick ovens, instead volcanic rock ovens. After baking, they are cooled slowly for 24 hours, then crushed. Once crushed, each brand is fermented with a specific yeast strain and a certain amount of time. Casco Viejo uses a cultured yeast for 48-60 hours, La Cava a cultured yeast for 72-84 hours, and Maracame a Champagne yeast for over 84 hours.

Once fermented, both Casco Viejo and La Cava are double distilled within traditional pot stills that hold 200 HL. Maracame however is distilled at a lower temperature and much more slowly. Plus, only the heart is used , no feints or foreshots. After distillation, all the expressions, barring the Blanco, are aged within new American white oak barrels (medium toast), which have had a quick interaction with tequila previously to quieten the tannins. The spirit comes off the second distillation at around 55% abv, and is reduced down to 42% abv before ageing.

Once aged, each expression is reduced to its bottling strength with water from a private well that has been filtered by double osmosis.

So, we know how they are created, but how do they fare? Well below, I give to you my tasting notes on each of the three brands and their expressions –

Maracame
Maracame

Casco Viejo Blanco – 38%

Toasted corn on the nose, with a clean agave aroma coming through. Very smooth on the palate, with a slow developing freshness that becomes aromatic with the agave. A thin finish that lingers a little dry.

Casco Viejo Reposado – 38%

Aged for 2-3 months. Subtle vanilla and fudge aromas on the nose, with thin, dry kicks of earth following. Light upon the palate, with a good dose of vanilla, oak and dry earth blending well for a lively fresh finish.

La Cava de Don Agustin Blanco – 38%

Soft, subtle and with hints of dry agave on the nose. Clean, smooth and with a developing richness of honey and agave on the palate. A lingering, thick texture on the finish.

La Cava de Don Agustin Reposado – 38%

Aged for 4 to 6 months. Subtle ticks of agave, oak and earth on the nose, with a drawn out aroma of corn finishing. Smooth on the palate, with a raw agave kick slowly rising. Thin, fudge and vanilla flavours with a developing dryness of pepper on the long finish.

La Cava de Don Agustin Añejo – 38%

Aged for 12 months. Rich toffee and plenty of new, dry oak on the nose, with sawdust and wood chippings following. Incredibly smooth, plenty of rich honey and agave notes on the palate, followed by warm fudge, slight butterscotch and thick agave on the incredibly long finish.

Maracame Reposado – 38%

Aged for 6 to 9 months. Bold notes of honey, toffee and fudge combining on the nose. Slight oak rounding the finish off. A rich kick of fresh vanilla pods, thick agave syrup and toasted clotted fudge on the palate creating a long, slightly dry and peppered finish.

Some absolute crackers of tequila expressions here, and a surprise to see Casco Viejo, for its price especially, be such a versatile liquid and great for sipping. Speaking of versatile, check out this recipe –

Casco Rojo
Casco Rojo

Casco Rojo

Glass – 

Highball

Ingredients – 

50 ml Tequila Casco Viejo
Clamato juice
1 dash Worcestershire sauce
1 dash seasoning sauce
1 dash Tabasco sauce
2 dashes lemon juice
1 dash salt and pepper

Method – 

Pour Tequila Casco Viejo into a glass with ice, splash lemon juice, add 5 drops of Worcestershire sauce, 4 drops of seasoning sauce and 4 drops of Tabasco sauce, add salt and black pepper to taste, fill with clamato juice. Stir smoothly.

Casco Viejo is award-winning too, grabbing a gold medal and rated ‘outstanding’ by the International Wine and Spirit competition, and there are a couple more expressions of the Maracame to look out for, including Plata, Extra Añejo and the Gran Maracame Platino. Pick up a bottle of Casco Viejo, La Cava or Maracame for your drinks cabinet today and enjoy an alternative way to the tequila world.

© David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog/sites author and owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

The Berry Company

The Berry Company

Drinks Enthusiast is not always about alcohol or distilled spirits, but I try to experience a wide variety of expressions within the soft drink category, as shown with the likes of Zeo and Fentimans. The latest brand to come across me are the new Special Tea varieties from The Berry Company, a venture that bring to you a ‘fruit juice drink range made from all natural berries with no “yucky” bits!’. Their words! But it’s their tea soft drinks that this feature will focus on, so lets see what we need to know about the 5 varieties.

Special Tea – Red Tea with Hibiscus & Cranberry – 0%

Red tea, or Rooibos, is a herb indigenous to South Africa that is blended with cranberry and grape.
Bold notes of cranberry on the nose, with fresh hibiscus coming through well. Soft, light and subtle grape on the palate, with a good combination of the cranberry and hibiscus offering a long finish.

Special Tea – White Tea & Peach – 0%

Coming from the Fujian province of China, the White Tea has been blended with peaches.
Sweet peach aromas on the nose with honey and lemon combining well on the end. Light, floral and delicate on the palate, with the peach offering a scented coat. Natural sweetness is subtle, with a clean, short finish.

Special Tea – Black Tea & Elderflower – 0%

Native to China, the Black Tea has been blended with elderflower and lemon.
Rich yet subtle aromas of elderflower, with a soft sweetness following on the nose. Thick texture on the palate with the lemon dominating over the more lighter elderflower notes. A lingering tartness on the finish.

Special Tea – Yellow Tea & Coconut Water – 0%

A rare type of tea, indigenous to China. Blended with coconut water and lemon,
Rich honey and coconut aromas on the nose, with a thinner texture on the palate. Fresh coconut start, with the lemon cutting through to give a scented and aromatic blend of a finish.

Special Tea – Green Tea with Aronia & Blueberry – 0%

Indigenous to China, the Green Tea has been blended with ariona berry and blueberry.
Soft and scented on the nose with subtle blueberry and ariona. Perfumed flavours of the light berries on the palate, with a slightly dry finish that lingers.

The Special Tea range pride themselves in having no artificial preservatives, colourings, additives, sweeteners or GMO’s, and it makes a difference, with each variation of the teas giving off a wholly natural feel, enlightening the experience some-what. It also offers a different take on the tea culture a little, and can be drunk either room temperature or chilled no matter what time of year. The small 330 ml pouches also make it ideal for lunch or a quick pick-me-up on the go. Give them a go and experience something a little different. 

© David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog/sites author and owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

The Launch Of The Jack Daniel’s Manchester Select

Jack Daniel's

This week saw one of Manchester’s favourite whisky dens, The Britons Protection, host a rather special evening in their 200 plus years of existence. Jack Daniel’s, one of the world’s most famous brands, offer a service where you can purchase a Single Reserve barrel, and to add to their impressive 320 expressions of whisky, over 20 of them Jack Daniel’s labelled, the team at The Britons Protection have just done that!

After making the 4000 mile trip back in November of last year, they worked alongside Randy “Goose” Baxter, part of the team at Jack Daniel’s for the last 38 years, to select a spirit that would be fitting to the Manchester scene, culminating in the barrel arriving in the city with 272 bottles curated. The cask is unique in flavour and only available at The Britons Protection, who themselves are part of an exclusive family as being one of only eight such projects in the UK this year.

The evening itself had the distinguished Cam Dawson, UK Brand Ambassador of Jack Daniel’s, as well as representatives from Bacardi Brown-Forman who develop the brand here in the UK. Touching on the history, anecdotes from Jack Daniel’s himself, as well as of course what makes Jack Daniel’s stand out to other whiskies in the American market, a tasting would be needed.

Starting with,

Jack Daniel'sJack Daniel’s Old No. 7 – 40%

Light nose with a distinct sweetness dominating. A smooth offering on the palate with a slight spice and vanilla flavour. Charcoal notes with burn sugar after-taste. Lingers.

And then moving onto,

Jack Daniel’s Single Barrel – 45%

Bottled from a single barrel from the Jack Daniel distillery. On the nose it gave off a subtle vanilla aroma with a slight oak lingering behind. Smooth vanilla extracts with cereal and hints of citrus on the palate create a long finish.

Before finishing off with the star attraction,

Jack Daniel’s Single Barrel ‘Manchester Select’ – 45%

Light caramel and vanilla on the nose, with hints of butter and wax combined with oak. Very smooth upon the palate, a slight sharpness from the oak but it mellows with honeycomb. A lively finish on the tongue with dry spice battling toffee and oak flavours.

A cracking dram, and a marked difference between the normal expression of Single Barrel and Manchester’s. You can still purchase a bottle at The Britons Protection itself, or indeed just enjoy a dram within the new ‘Jack Lounge’, fitted with authentic barrel top tables and a roaring fire inside one of Manchester’s traditional public houses.

Visit http://www.britons-protection.com if you plan on making a visit, or wish to enquire on how to purchase a bottle.

© David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog/sites author and owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Cocktails In The City Manchester – Preview

Cocktails in the City

Thursday saw the preview of one of the most hotly-anticipated nights in the Manchester cocktail calendar as the makers of Cocktails in the City came to Cloud 23 and showed off this years brand and bar collaborators.

With 20 bars, from across Manchester, bringing their favourite brand to show off a unique signature serve to the cocktail hungry public sounds like heaven, and it certainly can be, with the level of showmanship, creativity and flair all on offer to the waiting press. 6 port-of-calls awaited, a task that is never easy for a man who works closely with many of these bars and brands and would have quite happily sat down with them all to hear their inspiration, but alas the rules of the night involved a speed dating of sorts; 10 minutes with a chosen brand and bar, then move on.

Up, Up and Away with Tanqueray 10 and Cloud 23
Up, Up and Away with Tanqueray 10 and Cloud 23

I’m not here to tell you who made me the best cocktail, or had the best sales pitch, though. I’m here to offer you highlights, reasons why you should purchase a ticket to the two night extravaganza. So, roll call please –

  • Stevenson Square speak-easy The Fitzgerald offer a double delight of the French liqueur Chambord and American delight Woodford Reserve with their Smoked French Manhattan.
  • Northern stalwart Mojo’s repeat the success of Leeds’ event last week with the striking blue looking Rum n Ginger Sherbet with El Dorado 3yr.
  • Host of the evening Cloud 23 bring the history of Manchester into their show as they collaborate with Tanqueray 10 to bring Up,Up and Away, complete with scented balloon.
  • Bowling legends and all round American whiskey lovers All Star Lanes have naturally partnered with Jack Daniels, who have made it their mission to find a star within the ranks as the winner of an All Star Lanes cocktail competition will have their cocktail on show for the event.
  • Newcomers to the Manchester scene, Hawksmoor, are showing off Appleton VX, the Jamaican rum that will be offering the likes of the classic Mai Tai, or even a fresh Banana Daiquiri. The options are endless!
  • Last years winner of ‘best stand’, Elixir Tonics & Treats, are back with a unique serve involving a whole egg, The King’s Ginger liqueur, and apothecary styled masks. Need to see to believe!
  • A movie theme will be set on the main stage as Andy Pope will be hosting cocktail seminars with the likes of The Breakfast Club, complete with Breakfast Martini’s served on toast.
Appleton VX and Hawksmoor will be pairing up.
Appleton VX and Hawksmoor will be pairing up.

Other venues to wow and impress include Fumo, with Disaronno, and Mr Coopers’ House and Garden, with Portobello Road, both who are making their debuts at the show. Northern Quarter haven and tiki bar Keko Moku will buddy up with Santa Teresa rum, whilst tequila gets a nod as Herradura matches with Lucha Libra. Jack Daniel’s has a double-header, not only partnering with All Star Lanes, but also having their Gentleman Jack expression combining with The Alchemist, whilst fellow American styles of Old Forester have joined with Cane and Grain.
The French venue of Montpellier’s have gone all out with Lamb’s Navy rum, whilst last years Benedictine cocktail competition winner Lewis Cooke has gained his venue Epernay to offer a French twist on the evenings proceedings. To round the event off, The Blue Pig have partnered with Whitley Neill, whilst Twenty Twenty Two have a mountain to climb with last weeks Leeds best cocktail winning brand Tsingtao.

A great selection, with an intriguing amount of creativity to, I’m sure, make it very difficult to choose on the evening your preferred cocktail! To help you out though, Finger in Pie Productions will be curating a host of show floor experiences, with food available courtesy of Reds True BBQ, Yakumama and VIETShack.

Fancy it? Grab yourself a ticket and come join me as we hunt for the best. Could take two nights this . . . . . .

© David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog/sites author and owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Jinzu – British Gin With A Japanese Twist

31dover-jinzu-gin

Jinzu redefines the boundaries of gin Jinzu is a brand new, crafted super-premium gin that challenges the norm. Created by a young bartender named Dee Davies, Jinzu is a delicately complex liquid which combines her British roots with her passion for Japan and its unique botanical selection. Blended with a hint of sake for a smooth finish, Jinzu provides an aromatic, unexpected twist to classic cocktails and contemporary serves presenting a new experience for those seeking to explore the world of premium quality gin.

Dee Davies grew up in Somerset in South West England. By her early teens she was obsessed with Japanese culture, which was fully realised after a family trip to Japan aged 16. As a bartender working in Bristol, Dee became increasingly passionate about gin, experimenting with different brands and flavour combinations. In 2013 Dee entered Show Your Spirit, a competition that invited bartenders to submit suggestions for their ‘dream spirit’ that could become reality. Dee wanted to work with a typical British gin as her base and look to encompass her other passion – Japan.

Along her journey of discovery, Dee was inspired by the iconic Japanese flavours of delicate cherry blossom and zesty Yuzu citrus. A flavour journey from West to East, Jinzu is the marriage of British gin with the flavour of Japan. Jinzu draws on almost 250 years of British gin distilling heritage and expertise. Beginning with the craft of high quality neutral grain spirit in a copper pot still, the botanicals juniper berries, coriander and angelica are added. Travelling further east, the fresh flavours of Yuzu citrus fruit and Japanese cherry blossom are introduced, followed by the blending with premium distilled Junmai sake to provide a distinctly smooth sake finish.

Following hundreds of international entries to Show Your Spirit, Dee was selected as one of the four finalists, and after an intense bootcamp and final, was crowned champion.

Dee comments “I wanted to create a gin that would capture my two passions, British gin and Japan. It was important for my liquid to have prominent juniper notes and I felt that cherry blossom was hugely symbolic of Japan. I’m so excited to be launching my own gin, it has been quite a surreal and overwhelming year watching my idea come to life and I can’t believe that my dream spirit is now a reality!”

Named after the Japanese Jinzu River, which is lined with 1,000 cherry trees, Jinzu is presented in a beautifully simple bottle with a delicate cherry blossom branch imprint: an aerial reproduction of the Jinzu River.

Available now in bars and prestige retailers, Jinzu will be a new addition for gin and cocktail enthusiasts seeking an innovative twist to their gin experience.

5cc Announces New Opening In The Heart Of The City

Singer-Tavern-Press-Photo-4 copy

5cc has announced the opening of its fifth venue, adding to its collection of original, specialist bars located behind London’s hidden doors. In the heart of East London, 5cc can be found tucked away in the area’s latest pub, Singer Tavern, also opening in March.  

Introducing a carefully crafted martini menu exclusive to this venue, 5cc Singer Tavern remains true to the collection’s philosophy; offering a variety of quality spirits and well-made drinks in a stylish but approachable environment. The new 5cc experience showcases the very best in London’s clandestine cocktail culture.

THE GRADE II LISTED HIDDEN DOOR

Concealed behind the façade of a Grade II listed East London pub; 5cc has created an individual cocktail bar in the heart of the city. In keeping with the collection’s concept, 5cc Singer Tavern finds inspiration in its location’s history. Built in 1929, the site was originally conceived to house the headquarters of the iconic Singer Sewing Machine Company.

Featuring bare brick walls, original tiles, intimate leather booths and a private space seating up to 10 covers, 5cc Singer Tavern showcases the best in East London design inspiration.

CLANDESTINE COCKTAILS

Mirroring 5cc’s dictum of putting a contemporary twist on a classic, the young and inspiring Group Bar Manager Charles Montanaro has created a bespoke cocktail menu for the venue alongside Bar Manager Andrei Marian. Carefully constructed to showcase the skill of the bartenders as well as the range of fine spirits available, the Singer Tavern menu offers an opportunity to discover new and varied ways to enjoy spirits.

For a true taste of Singer Tavern try the Knock Out: East London Liquor Company Demerara rum, lime, strawberry and black pepper cordial topped up with soda for a balanced cocktail with a kick. If it’s the exotic you’re looking for, look no further than the Loosie D’Ouro featuring Glen Moray Port Cask, P.F. Curacao, Tio Pepe sherry, vanilla, chocolate and chilli bitters served with a Paul A. Young chocolate truffle. Or discover an East London twist on a classic with the East End Old Fashioned: 10 Elijah Craig 12, lapsang souchong cordial, chilli and citrusy orange bitters.

MARTINI INNOVATION

The new 5cc Singer Tavern has a martini menu that boasts batch-produced gins from authentic distillers including the popular East London Liquor Company. From the House Martini to unconventional alternatives such as Saint & Sinner’s Dictador Colombian Aged gin, there is a martini for every palette.

5cc Singer Tavern has created a concise menu of small bites to compliment its cocktail list, including dishes such as smoked mackerel pate and lamb croquettes.

Located below Singer Tavern, 1 City Road EC1Y 1AG, the new 5cc cocktail bar will open from Monday- Saturday 5pm- late and from midday on Thursday and Fridays

For bookings, please email reservations@5cc-london.com.

The 86 Company

86 Company

Bartenders.

The lifeline of any country when the serving of drinks is concerned.

The connection between bottle and customer.

The guys and girls every brand needs to get on their side to really make a splash in the bar world.

Welcome then to The 86 Company.

The 86 Company was formed back in September 2012, launching four expressions that have been worked on closely by some of the worlds best distilleries and distillers available, all with feedback and inspiration from bartenders. So from here on, we’ll be taking a look at what company has come up with, and lets see if they’ll catch your eye too.

Aylesbury Duck Vodka

Aylesbury Duck is a Canadian vodka, made from soft white winter wheat sourced directly from local farmers in the Western Rockies close to Calgary. The distillers create their own mash from the winter wheat, which is then fermented for three days and results in an abv of between 9.5 and 11%. From here it will go to the beer holding tank and onto the beer still for distillation. The spirit will be continuously distilled in three separate copper plated column stills, with all three being built back in the 1940’s, and using Canadian glacial water. In the first still (The Beer Still) the spirit is distilled to 65% abv then moved to stills 2 and 3, or the rectifying stills. Here, it is distilled to a proof of 96.5% abv.

The distilled vodka is then shipped to a bottling facility in California where water from a well in Mendocino County is added by Domaine Charbay Distillers.

So how does it fare?

Aylesbury Duck – 40%

Clean on the nose with hints of the winter wheat, and a slight potato notes near the end. Slightly sweet on the palate, with the flavours of the wheat, baked caramel and a slight light citrus to experience.

A cracking spirit on its own, but how about one of these?

Duck Martini

Glass – 

Martini

Ingredients – 

5 Parts Aylesbury Duck Vodka
1/2 Part Dry Vermouth

Method – 

Stir over ice, pour into a Martini glass and garnish with a lemon peel

Caña Brava Rum

Caña Brava is named and made from sugar cane grown in the region of Herrera, Panama. The rum is produced in the Las Cabras Distillery, which was first erected in 1919 as a sugar mill until the mid-nineties when Francisco “Don Pancho” J Fernandez (a Master Distiller for 45 years) and Carlos Esquivel discovered the neglected warehouse and copper column still. It is here that they boil the harvested sugar cane juice to crystalize the sugars, which are then removed by centrifugal spinning, leaving behind the molasses. The molasses are then diluted and fermented with the aid of “Don Pancho’s” distinct natural pineapple yeast.

The fermented liquid is then distilled through five continuous stills to an abv of between 92-94%. The first 4 stills are copper plate whilst the last still is 100% copper and brass. Once distilled, it is cut to a proof of 75% abv and placed into new American oak barrels and aged for 18-24 months. After the time period, the spirit is cut to 49% abv and moved to used American whiskey barrels (a mixture of bourbon & Tennessee whiskey barrels) and aged for a further 12-24 months.

After ageing, the rums are blended with older rums for consistency, then tried and tested in Daiquiri’s and other famous mixed rum drinks to choose the final blend before being filtered three times – Carbon filtration, Millipore Cellulose filtration and cold filtration.

So how does it fare?

Caña Brava – 43%

Very light on the nose with a slight hint of vanilla, citrus and oak combining. Very smooth on the palate, with soft hints of toffee, oak and cocoa leading a lingering finish.

Of course, works well in a Daiquiri.

Daiquiri Classico (1898)

Glass – 

Coupette

Ingredients – 

60 ml Caña Brava
30 ml Fresh Lime Juice
15 ml Simple Syrup (2:1)

Method – 

Shake all the ingredients over ice and strain into a coupette. Garnish with a lime wheel.

Fords Gin

Fords Gin is distilled in London at Thames Distillers, and is the result of a partnership between 8th generation Master Distiller Charles Maxwell and Simon Ford of The 86 Co. Using a mix of 9 botanicals including juniper, coriander seed, bitter orange peel, lemon peel, grapefruit peel, jasmine flower, orris, angelica and cassia) that are steeped for 15 hours within a base spirit of neutral grain spirit made from English wheat. Two stills are used at Thames Distillers, Tom Thumb and Thumberlina in a distilling process that lasts 5 hours. The finished distilled spirit is shipped to San Francisco where it is cut with water from a well in Mendocino County.

So how does it fare?

Fords – 45%

Light on the nose with a slightly dry citrus note. Aromatic hits of the jasmine and juniper come through. A developing spice on the palate, slight oily texture with a good kick of rind from the grapefruit and orange on the lingering finish.

Great on its own, but how about one of these –

White Negroni

Glass – 

Rocks

Ingredients – 

50 ml Ford’s Gin
25 ml Suze or Gran Classico
30 ml Lavender infused Dolin Blacn Vermouth

Method – 

Stir ingredients over ice in a mixing glass. Strain over fresh ice within a rocks glass and garnish with a lemon wheel.

Tequila Cabeza

Tequila Cabeza is made from 100% estate owned agave that is grown in the Los Altos region of Arandas in Mexico and produced at the El Ranchito Distillery since 1994. The agave are grown by the Vivanco family, who have been cultivating agaves on their 800-hectare mountainside land for five generations, and hand-picked by the Jimadores at seven to nine years of age when the agave has a sugar content of 23-28%. Once harvested, the piñas are cooked in brick ovens for 24 hours at 100 °C and are then left to cool for 24 hours
before being fed manually into the shredder. Here, the agave juice is extracted and the fibres are separated. Natural spring water is added during the process too.

The resulting agave juice (mosto) is fermented with the aid of a Champagne yeast in cooper tanks during the winter months (the cooler temperature allows for an extended mash period (approximately 10 days). Once the fermentation is finished,
the mash sits for two days before distillation. Distillation occurs in two separate copper pot stills, the first being the destrozador still that produces the ordinario at 20-22% ABV, which is then filtered. The second distillation, in the rectificator still, produces tequila at 55-56% abv. There is no filtration after the second distillation, but distilled natural spring
water is added to bring it down to 43% abv. The spirit is then rested in stainless steel for 60 days before bottling.

But how does it fare?

Tequila Cabeza – 43%

Very smooth agave notes on the nose, with hints of coriander spice that follows onto the palate. A citrus and earthy combination blends well, with hints of black pepper but plenty of agave kicks on the long finish.

Way back at the beginning, I spoke about how bartenders have influenced the four expressions above. 4 spirits created for some of the worlds most famous cocktails, versatile in use and a bottle to match. But did you notice, each spirit has a different bottle finish? The neck, for example, has been designed to easily hold with a full hand, whilst there is a ridge in the middle of the bottle for bartenders with smaller hands and is weighted for the perfect pour! Now that’s looking after bartenders, and ultimately giving you a better experience too.

Of course, that shouldn’t stop you from enjoying these yourself at home, and they offer a difference to your usual classic cocktails. Grab some bottles for your drinks cabinet, or head to your local bar and see the bartenders in action with their favourite, bartender in mind, bottles of spirit.

© David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog/sites author and owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Freelance Events Curator/Collaborator, Brand Development, Drink Journalist, Taster & Guide to the World of Drinks

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