I love exploring. Working in the drinks industry I get to encounter plenty of concepts that are created to amaze, divulge and ultimately get you talking and even giddy. Some fail, granted, but most succeed in their own way. A recent visit to London though offered up a venue I’ve heard plenty of, but never had the pleasure of experiencing.
Located beneath Harrild & Sonsat on Farringdon Street, 5cc City of London presents itself as a rather intimate cocktail bar. Low level lighting sets the mood, and the central bar shows off its impressive whisky collection, the reason for my visit that evening. I’d been presented with a chance to divulge my senses into the 5cc City of London’s new whisky menu, featuring over 90 bottles from across 12 different countries.
Taking a seat in the leather backed bar stools, my pilot for the evening would be the knowledgeable Andrei, who whipped up a recipe named Morning Dew, combining Four Roses Small Batch Bourbon, lemon, elderflower, star anise syrup, egg white and topped with an absinthe spray, housed within a glass filled cut glass tumbler and a folded cucumber strip to garnish. As expected, a soft absinthe and cucumber blend on the nose, with light elderflower and soft citrus on the palate. Short, slightly dry and with slight kicks of the absinthe and Four Roses on the finish.
Whilst enjoying, Andrei explained that the bar now prides itself from stocking whiskies from as far as Sweden and Japan, India to New Zealand and Canada, Australia and Wales. Its most extensive though is of course the range from Scotland and America, and looking over the prices, are affordable too. With this, Andrei cracked open four expressions, poured within a snifter glass for the full effect. In true tasting style, below, I give to you my tasting notes –
Copper Fox Rye – 45%
Matured in first and second fill bourbon casks along with new and used apple wood and oak chips in 12 months.
Smooth rye base on the nose, as if you were walking through a field of rye itself. Fresh, natural cherry lingers, but becomes more dominant once onto the palate. Light, with a slight apple flavour makes this a short, yet approachable whiskey.
Suntory Yamazaki Bourbon Barrel 2013 – 48%
Aged in 180 litre casks which used to hold bourbon and matured in a warm moist climate, and the last in the Cask Collection series.
Light, aromatic aromas of peat and stewed apple, with hints of a copper rum scent following. A big kick of a blend of bourbon flavours, including vanilla, heavy wood and pot-still copper. Falls away quickly though.
Scapa 16yr – 40%
On the nose there’s lots of sweet honey aromas which move onto the palate and combine with ginger to create a rich and long-lasting finish.
Mortlach 16yr – 43%
A sherried single malt matured for 16 years. A low-level smoke, fresh, lingering on the nose. A sharp hit or ripe fruit to begin, with apricot notes creating a mouth-watering texture. Hints of copper and dry fruits dry off the finish.
A cracking set of whiskies, all offering something a little different, but personally a winner would be the Copper Fox Rye. I’m sure though that this opinion would change if I splashed out on some of the rarer versions available, or what the venue call ‘Whisky Porn’, including a Japanese Exclusive Laphroaig 1980 Sherry Cask, a port Ellen 30 yr 1982 Rare Malt and a Dunglass and Littlemill (Signatory) 1967.
Heaven I’m sure!
As are the places to enjoy. Depending on your mood you can join me at the bar on the leather stools, or sit within the cubby holes. Booths and private alcoves behind the bar are also available, but whatever your preference, the mood will be set. And it’s not just whisky that they list for your delights, but a good range of gin, vodka, tequila and rum are available to create the likes of the Mary Pickford, Don Collins and the B&B Sour.
Service from Andrei was to be fair spot on, and a very enjoyable conversation was had over my hour or two with his hand-selected whisky flight. Give him a shout if you ever get the chance, and wander around the world with a glass of something good in your hand.
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