Glen Grant

Glen GrantTo be classed as one of the best-selling single malt distilleries in Scotland, you need to be able expand, re-invent and keep up with demand. May I please welcome then Glen Grant, a brand considered of such a title. But how did this all come about?

Glen Grants established itself back in 1840 by two brothers, John and James Grant, close to the port of Garmouth and the River Spey to the south. They were pioneers in the whisky trade and became the first to install electric lighting just over twenty years after opening. In 1872, James Grant unfortunately passed away and the distillery was passed down to his son, Major James Grant. James built a second distillery across the road, joined by a whisky pipe which transported the new make spirit across. Glen Grant No. 2, as it was first known, was completed in 1897, but just five years later it was closed. Soon after in 1931, Major Grant, the last Glen Grant, died, handing the reigns to Douglas MacKessack, his grandson.

Once 1965 rolled around, the previously closed Glen Grant No. 2 re-opened under the name Caperdonich, followed by Glenlivet and Glen Grant Distilleries Ltd merging with Hill, Thomson and Co. Ltd, and Longmorn Distilleries Ltd to form Glenlivet Distillers Ltd in 1972. From here, the Glenlivet Distillers Ltd was under the umbrella of Chivas Brothers via Pernod Ricard, until 2006 when the Campari Group acquired Glen Grant whisky distillery for the sum of €115m.

Regarding production, Glen Grant are the only distillery in Scotland to use purifiers in both of their two distillations. This was an invention of James “The Major” Grant and ensures that only the purest vapour is allowed to pass from the still to the condenser, creating hopefully a fresh and light whisky. All bourbon and sherry casks used in the maturation period are individually hand-picked by Dennis Malcolm, one of 8 Glen Grant Distillery Managers since 1890, with natural spring water used from the Scottish Highlands during all stages of production.

So how do the Glen Grant expressions fare? Well below, I give to you my tasting notes on my experiences so far -

Glen Grant 10yr - 40%

Matured in bourbon casks for 10 years. Light with a good hit of fresh, ripe fruit on the nose. Slight sweet sherry notes come through too. Plenty of fresh, flesh fruits on the palate, with a thick texture of vanilla and oak near the finish. A rich, bold finish with a slight hazelnut aroma.

Glen Grant The Major’s Reserve – 40%

No age statement malt aged in bourbon casks. Incredibly soft with green apple and pear notes on the nose. Sweet flavours of oak, vanilla and fudge on the palate, followed by a spice kick that develops a slight treacle note. Spicy, lingering finish.

Not a bed selection there at all, with The Major’s Reserve a recommendation for anyone trying to get into the Scottish whisky world. There is also a 16yr variation available  from within the core range, as well as some more exclusive bottling’s including 25yr, 50yr and a Distillery Edition, amongst many independent bottling’s from the likes of Gordon and MacPhail.

Worthy of a space in your drinks cabinet, and offers a good tipple at the end of the day.

© David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast 2014. 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.

Bold London Spirit

Bold London Spirit

Britain’s answer to the aperitif is said to originate from this 2014 release of Bold London Spirit. A bold statement perhaps (and yes, pun fully intended)? Well this Notting Hill born spirit has made a bang as its unique flavour collaboration has drawn praise from many bartenders.

But what exactly is it?

Well Bold London Spirit has been created by infusing tart cherries, cassia bark, anise, lavender, hibiscus, clove, raspberry leaves and a selection of other botanicals into a distilled neutral grain spirit.

And how does it fare? Well below, I give to you my tasting notes -

Bold London Spirit – 36%

Soft clove and cinnamon on the nose, with herbal aromas of anise and fresh pine coming through near the finish. A rich palate of flavours including cherry, raspberry and cracked black pepper combine well, The cassia bark comes through slowly, with fresh lavender scents present on the lingering, dry finish.

Something very different to your usual aperitifs found from France or Italy especially. Recommended serving suggestions include lemonade or Champagne too, which would give this a refreshing beverage choice on any menu. Something new to add to your drinks cabinet at home, or perhaps ask for it in your favourite bar, you may be pleasantly surprised.

© David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast 2014. 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.



This year I’ve dabbled a little into the low ABV scale of the drinks world, due mainly in part to Mal Spence, owner of the Kelvingrove Cafe in Glasgow. He partnered with Emporia Brands, a UK distribution company, to promote their range of Italian products, primarily from the Nardini family, to bartenders and have them take a deeper look into the use of these classic liquids within drink recipes. Going off this, I wanted to feature the Nardini range and take a look at both the grappa and aperitivo expressions they have available.So lets dive in!

It all begins with Bortolo Nardini, founder of what is now Italy’s oldest distillery way back in 1779. It is here at the entrance to the Bassano bridge on the river Brenta that he opened his distillery and grapperia. Nardini was already skilled in the art of distillation, but his new venture was a far cry from his home town of Segonzano in the Cembra Valley near Trento. Here at the Bassano bridge, it was, like it still is now, a meeting place for Bassano natives and everyone who crossed what is described as the ‘most famous patriotic bridge in Italy’.

Looking ahead, Bortolo Nardini, grandson of Bortolo, introduced steam distillation in 1860, replacing the direct flame technique used from the beginning. Between 1915 and 1918, the First World War was taking effect on the area, becoming a battleground for soldiers. However the grappa distillery of Nardini saw its popularity rise as the soldiers took to the liquid to warm them on the cold evenings in the trenches. Once the war ended, the ritual of a sip of grappa carried on. The Second World War would be different however, as the frequent requisitioning of grappa by the armed forces and the complete destruction of the Bassano bridge by the Germans as they retreated affected the distillery and its production. After the war, the Alpini soldiers rebuilt the bridge financed entirely by private funds and re-opened on October 3rd 1948, by Alcide De Gasperi, and christened with a bottle of Nardini for good luck.

With the war over, the 1950’s saw a change in attitude towards spirits. Gone were the sweet liquids, to be replaced by drier tipples such as grappa. Nardini took full advantage and created new markets within Italy and abroad. Nardini also introduced ageing of grappa in oak barrels, to positive acclaim within the market. In 1964, vacuum distillation was installed within the distillery and in 1981 a new bottling centre was built. In 1991, Nardini purchased and refurbished the distillery of Monastier, near Treviso, where a substantial part of the distillation now takes place to satisfy the growing demand.

So with two distilleries, both located in the Veneto region, they both offer a different side to the Nardini family. Both sites use fresh grape pomace (Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Bianco and Tokay) that is carefully selected and sourced from the foothills of north Veneto and Friuli. After a resting period in silos, the fermentation process begins. From here, it is transported to both distilleries.

The original Bassano distillery use the traditional vacuum distillation method in a discontinuous cycle. Here, within cauldrons, steam flows through the fermented grape pomace and up through the distillation column. Once the ‘heart’ of the spirit is selected, it passes through rectification and condensation phases.
The Monastier distillery on the other hand is a little different. The distillation method is a continuous steam cycle where the pomace is placed in a dealcolizer through which vapor passes for the extraction of the alcoholic content. This then flows to the distillation column where the ‘heart’ of the liquid is chosen, then passes on to the rectification and condensation phases.

It’s not just grappa that the Nardini family are famous for though, a selection of aperitivo’s are also wildly acclaimed. So without further waiting, below, I give to you my tasting notes -

Nardini Acqua di Cedro – 29%

Traditional citron based liqueur. Fragrant, sweet citrus notes on the nose. Thick, creamy texture on the palate, with plenty of fresh, ripe, zesty lemon flavours coming through. A sweet, long finish with a slight raw citrus feel.

Nardini alla Mandorla – 50%

Natural infusion of bitter almond with Aquavite di Vinaccia combined with a cherry distillate. A good blend of dry almond and stalked cherry on the nose. Developing warmth on the palate, with the almond flavours dominating. The cherry comes through on the slightly sweet finish, but ultimately both main flavours contribute to a dry, lingering finish.

Nardini Tagliatella – 35%

“La Tagliatella” is a registered trademark by Nardini, creating a fruity liqueur with an Aquavite di vinaccia grappa base. Lots of cherry and red berry aromas on the nose. Slightly herbal, but a well-balanced approach. Thin, with a constant switch between sweet and dry from the dominating stewed cherry flavour on the palate. A growing dry spice on the long finish.

Nardini Bitter – 24%

Obtained by a mix of herbs and citrus, effectively grain alcohol and natural aroma of bitter Milano. Incredibly rich on the nose with plenty of forest floor mixed with vegetal and citrus aromas. Surprisingly mellow on the palate, with sweeter notes coming through, followed by bitter lemon and a clean finish of herbs.

Nardini Rosso – 24%

A combination of grain alcohol, natural aroma of bitter Milano and vermouth. Light with lots of subtle fresh lemon aromas, with a slight herbal note near the finish. Very light on the palate, with a thin sweetness. Herbal notes come through again on the lingering finish.

Nardini Rabarbaro - 19%

Grain alcohol with essence of rhubarb rhizome. Incredibly bold, rich notes of vegetal and rhubarb on the nose. Thin, with slight vegetal flavours coming through on the palate. Sweeter as it grows, with rhubarb bitterness making it an aromatic finish.

Nardini Amaro – 31%

Grain alcohol with bitter orange aroma, peppermint and gentian. Well balanced upon the nose with mint, liquorice and orange aromas coming through. Fresh, sweet flavours of peppermint and orange are present on the palate. A lingering bitterness on the finish.

A great selection here, with suggested serves including the Rabarbaro mixed with soda water and a lemon peel, or the Acqua di Cedro over ice cream, fresh fruit or as a sorbet. Or perhaps this from Mal Spence’s archives -

Inverso No.2

Glass -


Ingredients – 

40 ml Nardini Amaro
20 ml Rum
Dash Bitters
Dash Sugar Syrup

Method – 

Combine all the ingredients over an ice filled rocks glass and stir.

There’s some other variations available, including the original bianca and riserva expressions of grappa, which I am yet to try, but if you ever would like to go for something a little different, or indeed enjoy the tipples on the lower end of the ABV scale, grab yourselves some bottles for your drinks cabinet and imagine you’re in Italy.

© David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast 2014. 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.



Think of Scotland and you’ll think of whisky. Nothing wrong with that at all of course, but have you ever wondered about the likes of gin or vodka perhaps coming from Scotland? The most famous you may recognise would be Hendrick’s, developed within the family of William Grants & Sons, but lately there’s been a resurgence of tipples to add to the ever-expanding gin and vodka category. The likes of Rock Rose for gin, or Valt for vodka have become sought-after as customers venture away from the traditional country of origins. Arbikie can count itself as one such brand, priding itself with production from farm to bottle. So lets dive into how this Scottish vodka came about -

Arbikie has been launched by Iain, John and David Stirling and have utilised a part of the Arbikie Highland Estate which they own. The land has been used for farming for four generations and continues to grow all the raw ingredients used for production of the vodka, as well as future production of gin and whisky.Overlooking the Lunan Bay on the Angus coast, the distillery itself is created from an ancient barn that’s been a part of the family since the 1920’s.

Being inspired by the founding of distilling records that date back to 1794, and the plan of utilising ingredients that are planted, sown, grown and harvested within an arm’s-length of the distillery, they have decided to be the first single-estate distillery to distil all their spirits in the same copper pot stills. The vodka and gin continue their journey to a 40 plate distillation column, but ultimately the distillation process captures “the traditional Scotch whisky method” they are after.

So to Arbikie. The vodka is created using potatoes (Maris Piper, King Edward and Cultra to be exact) grown from their farm. and is triple distilled before hitting the 40 plate distillation column mentioned above. The water used within the production is sourced from an underground lagoon, which itself contains mountain-filtered water from the Angus hills, which once all completed, is bottled, labelled and sealed on their estate.

With Master Distiller Kirsty Black overseeing all this, lets see how it fares. Below, I give to you my tasting notes -

Arbikie – 43%

Rich aromas of potato with sweet scents of butter and earthy notes on the nose. Rather smooth on the first sip, but with a growing warmth and a good spicy and incredibly fresh kick on the palate. Thick, plenty of potato for body and a sweet, long, creamy finish.

Now that’s a vodka! Very different to what you’d expect, and you can truly taste the craftsmanship, the effort put in to produce it. Very farm based experience here. Now they say to enjoy this over ice, but I’ve found a cracking recipe which would be perfect to try out -

South Side
South Side

South Side

Glass -


Ingredients -

60 ml Arbikie
30 ml Fresh lemon Juice
2 tsp Sugar
4/5 Fresh mint leave
Soda (optional)

Method – 

Shake all the ingredients together, barring the soda, with ice within a cocktail shaker. Pour into a coupette glass, top with soda if you wish, and garnish with a mint sprig.

As you can imagine, being new there’s only a select few places to purchase the vodka, but I do believe it’s well worth a try. I’m looking forward to experiencing their gin and whisky once available, but in the meantime, buy, open and enjoy Scotland in a different way.

© David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast 2014. 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.



I don’t feature wine often on this site. No particular reason other than the lack of opportunities I’d say. I do drink wine, and I’ve even worked in an independent wine shop for several months to gain the experience from within the grapes. I think that may be it though; the lack of experience, the doubt to dive in and explore the flavours, the aromas, the history and back-bone of a good tipple. Then again, I was in the same boat with spirits, beers and mixers, and I grew to appreciate them a lot more once I took the initiative and dove in glass first.
So it’s with my head held high that I can say that this is my second wine feature of the week. I know, doesn’t sound much, but the ratio is slipping dangerously when compared to the spirit features available for your viewing pleasure. So without delay, I intend to take a view on what to me is a well-known Argentinian brand, and who incidentally come to the front of the queue due to their release of the UK’s 1st mini Argentinian Malbec.

Before I look more closely (pun fully intended) at the miniature release, I think it’s best to see what Trivento is all about.

Trivento Bodegas y Viñedos was founded back in 1996, with a vision of producing brand-name wines distinguished for preserving the character of the winds. ‘Trivento’ itself means ‘Three Winds’ and is tribute to the Polar winds from the South, the Zonda winds from the Andes mountain range and the Sudestada winds from the South East. These winds travel over the 1,289 hectares, wherein lies eight vineyards (Los Zorros, Los Vientos, Cruz del Alto, Los Ponchos, Los Sauces, Tres Porteñas, Los Portones and Los Indios) which are equipped with drip irrigation systems and situated in the winegrowing areas of Mendoza. Winemakers Germán Di Césare and Victoria Prandina oversee the range of white and reds produced, including the 4000 French and American oak barrels that are used to age their wines.

So to the Trivento Malbec, the expression that put the brand on the New World map so-to-speak. Well below, I give to you my tasting notes -

Trivento Malbec Reserve, 2013 – 14%

Aged in French oak barrels for 6 months. Lots of sweet spice on the nose with vanilla and fresh oak coming through. Incredibly soft on the palate, with the vanilla and caramel flavours combining well with juicy red fruits, dry spice and sweet crème brûlée. A little dry on the finish, but remains fresh,

I can see why it’s award-winning. A robust kick of Argentinian red wine here, and the miniature now makes it perfect for that one glass of wine at dinner. Don’t stop there though, with the miniature now available to buy, they are perfect for travelling or attending an outdoor event, or even as an adult stocking filler for something a little bit different at Christmas.

I do like South American wines, and with liquids like this being produced, I think I need to venture a little further.

© David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast 2014. 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.

Glen Moray

Glen Moray

I’ve recently been introduced to a new expression of whisky from the Glen Moray brand. Now this is a name that has never graced these pages before, so it only makes sense to dive into the back-story a little and see why the new port cask finish should be given the time of day.

Glen Moray started life as West Brewery in Elgin on the banks of the River Lossie, run by a family company named Robert Thorne & Sons. In 1897, the brewery site was converted to a distillery and bought themselves two stills. Following a fire and extensive rebuilding program at their Aberlour Distillery, the company focused on production of Aberlour whisky, allowing the Glen Moray distillery to run down. The site closed in 1910, then reopened a few years later, only to once again close before 1920 hit and Macdonald and Muir took over the distillery.

During the 1970’s, the two original stills were replaced and two further stills were added. In 1996 however, Macdonald and Muir Ltd renamed itself Glenmorangie Plc and in 2004 the group was acquired by Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy, for the sum of £300 million. Most of the whisky from Glen Moray has long since been used in blended Scotch. More recently, the Glenmorangie Co decided to cease producing whisky for blending and subsequently, in 2008, the distillery was put up for sale.

In its lifetime, the distillery has known only five distillery managers, but how does the new expression from current Master Distiller Graham Coull fare? Well below, I give to you my tasting notes -

Glen Moray Classic Port Cask Finish – 40%

A small batch release single malt, matured in American Oak barrels and finished for eight months in Port pipes sourced from Gran Cruz in the Douro Valley in Portugal.
Light oak with rich, ripe red fruits dominating on the nose. Bold flavours of lively spice, citrus and juicy plums on the palate, creating a rich port soaked wood finish that dominates an incredibly long finish.

A very interesting dram there, with plenty of punch that you would expect from the port pipes used. A treat to be enjoyed for Christmas, or a Winter evening with friends. Plenty going on for an experience of one of Speyside’s hidden gems. Other expressions we should be looking out for in the range include Glen Moray 10yr Chardonnay Cask Matured, 12yr and a 25yr Port Wood Finish.

© David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast 2014. 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.

Five Trends For Cocktails In 2015

Real Launch

2015 trends predicted by the leading fruit-infused syrups brand Re’al Cocktail Ingredients -

1) Some like it hot:

Warming, soothing, and bang on trend – hot cocktails are set to be even more popular in the colder months of 2015.  And what could be better than using a local, craft cider as the base (local, British-made drinks are of course hugely sought after these days)?  The rich flavour of the Pumpkin Re’al is utterly delicious with apples and spice.

Glowing Pumpkin

20ml Pumpkin Re’al
200ml good quality, dry, bottled English cider
1 teaspoon fine-cut marmalade
Cinnamon stick
Slice of fresh apple

Heat the cider gently then thoroughly stir in the Pumpkin Re’al and the marmalade. Pour into a thick, stubby glass tumbler, pop in the apple slice and stir well with a cinnamon stick, leaving it in the glass to stir and sip while it’s steaming hot.

2) Time for Tea…

Tea is set to follow coffee as the next big trend in caffeine drinks, with serious tea sippers turning to a wider range of styles and flavours, and drinking various brews at different times of the day. And in the evening, elegant tea cocktails! Green tea makes a delicate, exquisitely refreshing cocktail, here combined with ginger and lemongrass for an Eastern take. This is a warm, clean-tasting, non-alcoholic cocktail:

Ginger Tea Garden

20ml Ginger Re’al
200ml freshly made green tea
One stalk lemongrass, outer leaves discarded
Fresh wedge of lemon
Honey to taste (optional)

Put the hot tea in a bowl, cut the lemongrass into four pieces and add, together with the Ginger Re’al, and stir well, bruising the lemongrass lightly with a spoon. Strain into a tumbler, and squeeze the lemon briefly before adding the wedge in. Stir in a little honey for a slightly sweeter drink.

3) Herbal heaven…

Using fresh herbs – homegrown, organic, straight from the kitchen garden, ideally! – in cocktails is a new trend that follows hot on the heels of the new craze for herby vermouth. Vermouth is fortified wine flavoured with herbs and spices, and premium examples from Italy and France, as well as homemade versions, are going to be everywhere in 2015. Here’s a sparkling cocktail that uses Blueberry Re’al, fresh herbs and herby vermouth, a delicious combination of dry and herbal with sweeter, fruity depths. Using prosecco simply references another big trend for this currently hugely popular Italian sparkling wine.

Blueberry Herbal Fizz:

15ml Blueberry Re’al
15ml dry vermouth
100ml chilled prosecco
Long stalk of fresh thyme

Pour the Blueberry Re’al into the bottom of a Champagne flute, and add the vermouth. Gently bruise the sprig of thyme and use it to stir the mix, then stand it upright in the glass. Top right up with cold Prosecco.

4) Whisky galore!

Whisky is set to be the big spirit trend for 2015. All the top bars now stock a magnificent wide range of whiskies, not only from Scotland, but America, Ireland and Japan too, and whisky cocktails are big news. Raspberries and whisky is a particularly lovely, Scottish combination, so Scotch whisky really should be used here!

Raspberry Ginger Re’al:

10ml Raspberry Re’al
30ml Scotch whisky
20ml chilled dry ginger ale
Fresh raspberry to garnish

Pour the whisky into a tumbler with a couple of ice cubes, then add the Raspberry Re’al. Stir with a spoon, and top up with ginger ale. Pop a raspberry in the drink to garnish.

5) Coming up Rosés

No one can have failed to notice wine lists turning bright pink over the past few years as sales of rosé – French, Spanish, Italian, New World – went through the roof. This Spring/Summer expect more rosé cocktails to appear; refreshing, pretty, mouthwatering. Here’s one which combines the margarita with Blue Agave Nectar Re’al and dry rosé to create a vivacious, colourful, hot weather cocktail!

15ml Blue Agave Nectar Re’al
15ml tequila
10ml orange liqueur
60ml dry rosé wine
15ml fresh lime juice
Strand of lime zest

Shake all ingredients with ice in a cocktail shaker and strain into a cocktail glass, twist the lime strand and add to the cocktail.

The new Re’al line boasts favourites such as Blueberry, Mango, Peach, Strawberry and Raspberry, as well as more unusual flavours including Pumpkin, Ginger and Agave Nectar.  The product benefits for Re’al Cocktail Ingredients are simple but compelling:

·         Flavourful: premium fruit purée sweetened with 100% cane sugar delivers impactful flavour with a clean finish

·         Mixable:  dissolves easily in hundreds of beverage applications

·         Squeezable:  proprietary wide-mouth bottle/closure combination features a built-in oxygen barrier and a unique volcano-shaped spout to ensure no wastage

·         Long-lasting: lasts for four weeks in the fridge once opened


Price and Availability:

Prices start at £4.35 for Coco Re’al, increasing to £6.80 for Agave.  Available from UDAL Ltd.

Robinsons Are Brewing A New Look

Robinsons Master Unicorn-Brewery CMYK CPR AW

ROBINSONS – one of only 32 independent family-run breweries in the UK – has announced a company-wide rebrand commencing with a new logo design by Truth Creative; an award winning design agency based in Manchester.

The brand revamp comes as Robinsons prepares for their biggest pub investment commitment to date, which includes fresh pub signage throughout the estate to reflect the sleek new look, and over the coming months new pump clips, bottle labels, merchandise and literature, together with a newly designed corporate website, will be updated to reflect the new brand identity.

Explaining the vision behind the new look, Darren Scott, Founder and Creative Partner of Truth, commented: “We were thrilled to be asked to deliver a new brand proposition and corporate identity for Robinsons. We have modernised, refined and simplified the brand mark to be bolder, more dynamic and future proofed. Robinsons rebranding is distinctive without detracting from the Unicorn motif; which has formed the backbone of their respected lineage and represents all the company stands for as an independent family brewer. Likewise we felt ‘Copper’ was a key ingredient in the Robinsons brand recipe. The material is historically intertwined with the craft of brewing and beer; as well as having a strong presence throughout Robinsons’ Visitor Centre; including a reconditioned Copper vessel which served the brewery for more than 80 years.”

“We have a wonderful tradition of strong brand identity that stems over the last 176 plus years,” explains Oliver Robinson; joint Managing Director (Beer Division) of Robinsons Brewery. “As custodians of our family business we have reached a point to move forward with its development and in doing so take a tighter control of our image, how we portray ourselves and importantly our tone of voice. Following heavy investment in our pubs, brewery and beers, we felt it was the perfect time to brew a new look and redefine our positioning.”

Handcrafted in the historic market town of Stockport since 1838, Robinsons has evolved from a local Stockport brewer to a multi-million-pound establishment owning over 300 pubs across Cheshire, Lancashire, Derbyshire and North Wales. With the sixth generation now at the helm, Robinsons continues to offer a wide range of award winning ales, ranging from heritage brews (such as Old Tom and Unicorn) to lively young ales (such as Dizzy Blonde and TROOPER; brewed in collaboration with Iron Maiden). It’s a winning formula that has earned the company worldwide recognition.

William Robinson, joint Managing Director (Pub Division) comments: “We’re incredibly proud of our achievements and of our unique family heritage which binds us together. Robinsons is a passionate and dynamic business with great traditions and bold new ideas. It’s at this critical point in our drive to evolve and move forward that we have reviewed our image and experience as a brand.”

Robinsons remain one of Britain’s best-loved family-run breweries and one of the most celebrated, having won many prestigious awards over the years, including ‘World’s Best Beer’, ‘BBPA Beer Champion’ and ‘Family Business of the Year’. In addition, the brewery Visitor Centre has recently been voted ‘Best Small Visitor Attraction’ by Marketing Cheshire, automatically being put forward for the Visit England awards in 2015, and Robinsons has been shortlisted for the Publican Awards under the category ‘Best Community Pub Operator’.

Concluding, Oliver Robinson said: “It’s an exciting time for Robinsons – and for our customers. Combining craftsmanship with innovation, we will continually strive to better our offering and bring brilliant products and outstanding social experiences to our customers.”

To stay in the mix, please visit


Royal Salute

Royal Salute

There’s always a brand in the world that I’m intrigued about. It could be something new, or perhaps a re-brand of a timeless classic, or in the following case, a 61-year-old brand that I’ve simply never had the chance to experience. Well I can tick off one from this sub-category as tonight I have had the pleasure of being introduced to Royal Salute via the medium of a tweet tasting.

For those who don’t know, a tweet tasting is a social media (Twitter to be precise) based tasting of a variety of expressions, involving many experts, novices and connoisseurs who give their opinion on the brand as they work their way through the portfolio. For me, it’s a great chance to sit down and get my head around a specific brand whilst chatting to like-minded folk, plus it throws in one or two expressions I’ve never had the pleasure of trying. In the case of Royal Salute though, my slate is clear.

Royal SaluteFirst though, a little about Royal Salute.

Royal Salute came about due to a man called Charles Julian, Master Blender at Chivas Brothers, wanting to mark the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953. He worked to create an unheard blend of whisky, a 21yr, and ultimately took the name from the Royal Navy’s traditional 21 gun salute. Created within the Strathisla distillery, located in Speyside and owned by Chivas Brothers, Royal Salute has only ever had four Master Blenders since its inception, and prides itself on being the only Scottish whisky with a range starting at 21 years old. In fact, that very first Royal Salute 21yr was said to have been created with some of the world’s rarest whiskies that were aged in cellars since the 1920’s and 1930’s.

It’s not just the liquid that is rare to create, but the bottles themselves have a story to tell. Or to be precise the Royal Salute 21yr, for example, is housed within a porcelain flagon. Each flagon’s journey can be traced to the Jurassic period, with its Cornish clay from the period being hand-crafted, air-dried and then burnished in one of three colours – Ruby, Emerald and Sapphire – to represent the jewels on Queen Elizabeth II’s Coronation crown.
Or how about the Royal Salute 62 Gun Salute decanters, crafted by Dartington crystal. These are individually blown by the Master Glass Blower who creates a midnight blue outer wall and a crystal clear inner wall. The bottle is then hand cut with a diamond-tipped tool so that both the clear glass and the whisky can be revealed through the blue crystal. Each decanter is the result of over forty hours of care and attention.

Not bad eh?

Question is though, how do the expressions fare? Well below, I give to you my tasting notes -

Royal Salute 21yr - 40%

A marriage of whiskies aged no less than 21 years. Sweet fruits on the nose with plenty of Autumn air aromas coming through. Subtle dry oak with beeswax notes too. Smooth start on the palate, with a slight developing spice. Orange marmalade flavours combine with dry nuts, leather and dry spice to finish. Long.

Royal SaluteRoyal Salute The Diamond Tribute - 40%

Created by Colin Scott to mark the 60th anniversary of HM The Queen’s Coronation. Royal Salute The Diamond Tribute has been crafted from an exclusive collection of whiskies, the rarest of which have been selected from the Royal Salute Vault at Strathisla, the oldest working distillery in the Highlands of Scotland.
Plenty of peach on the nose with soft sherry notes lingering. Very rich and thick on the palate, with sweet raisin and dry plum flavours dominating. Lingering dryness to finish with a slight toffee kick.

Royal Salute 38yr Stone of Destiny – 40%

Crafted from whiskies aged for no less than 38 years, this unique blend shares its name with the Stone of Destiny, the legendary and enigmatic Coronation stone of the ancient Scottish Kings.
Lots of damp sherry oak on the nose with hints of wood-infused vanilla and dried almonds. Very rich on the palate with plenty of dried fruits, floral forest floor and thin honey kicks. Long, rich and mouth-watering.

Royal Salute 62 Gun Salute – 43%

Previous Master Blenders Charles Julian, Allan Baillie and Jimmy Lang, as well as current Master Blender Colin Scott, have all set aside over the years a rare collection of the finest whiskies. With 40 years of maturation, only a few litres are bottled from each cask. Named after the ultimate ceremonial honour in the British tradition, the firing of 62 cannons which is an exclusive privilege of the Tower of London and reserved only for the most special Royal anniversaries.
Ripe plums dominate the nose, with lots of fresh berry notes combined with warm spice. Oh wow! A fantastic palate that develops from light and sherry flavoured to an incredibly rich orange, hazelnut and fresh smoke finish. Bold, intense and absolutely fantastic.

An absolutely cracking range of blended whiskies here, with the 62 Gun Salute one of the best I’ve come across, and I can safely say matches the price. You really get a sense of prestige with these expressions and is a worth-while treat for any whisky lover. One for the cabinet at home perhaps, or at least one to look out for in your favourite whisky haunt.

Don’t miss out.

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Ron Zacapa Introduces Reserva Limitada 2014


From the rainforests of Guatemala, the home of Ron Zacapa rum, comes a truly unique and individual blend, Reserva Limitada 2014. It is the second in an exciting new annual series of luxury vintage special editions, hand selected by Master Blender Lorena Vasquez, and only available in limited quantities.

The sublime complexity of Reserva Limitada 2014 is created by slow-aging barrels of Zacapa for two years in a herb garden created high above the clouds, in the cool temperate climate of the Guatemalan highlands. At this altitude, the rich and fertile soil nourishes more than 20 different herbs such as fennel, coriander, anise and tarragon which in turn, subtly scent the air and infuse in the rum. Inspired by traditional Mayan rituals which used aromatic herbs in cooking and religion, this slow-aged artisanal rum is a true expression of Guatemala and Mayan heritage.

The infusion with the herbs creates a complex flavor with notes of melted caramel, vanilla and cinnamon. The flavor of the liquid is enhanced best when it is enjoyed neat or with ice but can be made into a range of luxurious cocktails that play on the herbal elements.

This limited edition blend will be available at internationally renowned London bars including the Artesian at The Langham, London and Oblix at the Shard. A small allocation will also be available to buy at stockists including Gerry’s Wines & Spirits and The Whisky Exchange at an RRP of £82 for a 70cl bottle. Only 642 bottles of this are available in the UK, making it a truly luxurious limited edition; the perfect gift this Christmas but a delight to enjoy all year round.

Like all Zacapa rums, Reserva Limitada 2014 is made from the sugar canes of the volcano-shadowed Guatemalan lowlands, with an ageing process that takes place above the clouds at 2,300 meters above sea level. Traditional hand woven petate bands adorn each bottle and are individually created in Guatemala by skilled craftswomen.

Freelance Bar Advisor/Consultant, Events Organisation/Collaboration & Reviewer, Taster & Guide to the World of Drinks

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