It’s been that time of month again at Kro 2 with their monthly whiskey tasting and this time incorporating the whiskies of the independent Scottish company Compass Box.
Again for those of you who don’t know what Kro Bar is, they’re a Danish family business who specialise in Danish food and beer. A popular idea in the Manchester area, they’ve expanded from 1 outlet to 5 in the space of 10 years.
Our host for the evening was Celine Tetu, the Sales & Marketing Executive of Compass Box, and she took us through a thorough history of Compass Box itself as well as the whiskies they have under their portfolio. These included –
– Great King Street
– Oak Cross
– The Spice Tree
– The Peat Monster
Now I’ve personally never tried any of these whiskies before, although i have encountered Compass Box at bar trade shows in the past. Compass Box was only founded in 2000 by John Glaser, and in that short period of time they have explored the full range of Scotch, from the peatiest of malts to the richest of grains.
Below are my tasting notes on each whiskey offered to us:-
Great King Street – 43%
Named after the street in Edinburgh where Compass Box is registered, it’s made combining 3 malt whiskies (two Northern Highland one Speyside) and 1 single grain whisky (Lowland) in never-before-used French oak barrels and American oak barrels. On the nose, a heavy scent of vanilla, citrus and some dried fruits with a sweet aroma hitting overall. As it moves onto your palate, fruity flavours gently hit your tongue which develops into vanilla, raisin and citrus. A creamy whisky that gives a long after-taste with a hint of spice.
Oak Cross – 43%
A Highland single malt whisky that’s vatted with a mix of 3 different malts for 12 months. The cask itself is a combination of French and American oak barrels, hence the name ‘Oak Cross’. On the nose it’s very light and sweet with a slight peat aroma emanating. The sweetness returns to the palate with vanilla notes making their way as well. A brief hit on the throat which gives a slow after-taste.
Spice Tree – 46%
Again another vatted malt from 3 single malts for a period of 24 months. The same cask process as ‘Oak Cross’ are used however they are burnt on the inside. Fruit aromas on the nose with a rich, spicy flavour igniting the palate that evolves into a lively well-rounded after-taste.
Peat Monster – 46%
3 single malts (two Isles and a Speyside) are vatted together in American oak casks to produce a soft, peaty aroma on the nose. Hints of smoke arise as the palate senses a light, sweet whisky with a slight spice and floral hints which goes into a lingering smoky finish. Not as harsh as expected!
Hedonism – 43%
First whisky to be created by Compass Box, a combination of grain whiskies in American casks that lasts for 20 years. A 100% grain whisky, rich flavours of coconut, toffee and vanilla create a creamy sensation on both the nose and palate, with the hints of grain in the background. A slight spicy end that gives a tingle towards the after-taste.
Orangerie – 40%
An infusion of Scotch whisky and the natural ingredients of orange peel and spices for a period of 3 weeks, this unique spirit can’t be named as a Scotch whisky due to its involvement of different ingredients. On the nose it gives a short orange aroma (almost a Jaffa Cake flavour) with a smooth orange, vanilla and subtle spice taste on the palate that balance well to create a clean, fresh feeling. It’s almost likened to a dessert whisky and the orange liqueurs of Cointreau and Grand Marnier.
Mid-way through the tastings, Kro supplied us with a delicious lamb-stew which went down very well in a cold and rainy Manchester!
A thoroughly enjoyable event in which we were able to sample a good range of what Compass Box have to offer. Personal highlights were the Orangerie and Oak Cross, hopefully two items I’ll be picking up to add to my collection soon! Special thanks to Celine Tetu who displayed a great amount of knowledge of the whiskies on offer, and hopefully I’ll get to speak to her again when Compass Box make an appearance at the Manchester Whisky Festival next Saturday.
Next month’s Kro 2 whisky tasting will be hosted by Maxxium Brands. On offer will be Ardmore, Highland Park 10yr, Macallan 10yr Fine Oak, Glenrothes Select Reserve and Laphroaig 10yr. 5 whiskies I’ve never tried, but can’t wait to taste!
Malibu Winter (21%) is the new limited edition from the coconut loving people of Malibu and they’ve come out with a unique concept – coconut flakes! It’s a very good idea, and the bottle itself has a ‘window’ where you can see the coconut flakes floating inside! It’s like your very own snow globe! The spirit is the same but as I haven’t reviewed Malibu as of yet, below are my tasting notes –
On the nose you get a mellow hit of coconut, whilst on the palate you receive a very sweet mix of fresh tropical fruits and coconut mixing together and forming a rather pleasant after-taste that doesn’t give that suspected ‘burn’. It’s very smooth and a little thicker than you may think, and with the added addition of the coconut flakes in this version, you get a little more Caribbean in your drink! The flakes themselves dissolve so there’s no clogging feel in your mouth which can put people off.
The back of the bottle recommends a Malibu Blizzard – 50ml Malibu Winter, 100ml lemon/lime soda and 10ml lemon juice which sounds like a winner, as well as a chilled shot on its own to get that ‘cool sensation’.
It’s a little bit more expensive than the original Malibu and is being sold exclusively at Selfridges for £18.50, but with the addition of coconut snowflakes, it’s a great conversation starter!
I’m going to save this bottle for the Christmas party this year, i think as a winter shot, it might go down well!
Swung by my local Majestic Wines looking for a bottle of wine to take away with me and to try their open sample bottles that are available daily. Currently they are promoting their range of South African wines and below are my tasting notes on the six that were available –
Robertson Winery Pinot Noir 2011
On the nose it gave off fresh strawberry and raspberry flavours with hints of gooseberry that came more apparent as it hits your palate. A good medium-bodied red wine with a slight dryness on the after-taste.
Available for £5.99 with their 20% off South African wines deal (£7.49 normally)
Rasteau Domaine Notre Damn des Pollieres 2009
A strong mix of wild berries on the nose but becomes smooth and soft on the palate. A slight kick of spice hits the after-taste.
Available for £12.49 or buy two and save £5
Vergelegan Cabernet Sauvignon 2005
On the nose the aromas of the dark fruits of plums and blackcurrants instantly hit your senses, whilst on the palate you receive a slight kick of spice to add to the experience that softens out as it dries a little.
Available for 20% off at £13.59 (usually £16.99)
Boschendal Sauvignon Blanc 2011
A ripe gooseberry flavour on the nose that has hints of olive oil mixed in. On the palate the gooseberry mellows out into a smooth and very soft wine with a slight tingle on after-taste.
Available for 20% off at £6.99 (usually £8.74)
Bernard Series Hand Picked Viognier 2010
On the nose there’s instant aromas of sweet peach, tropical fruit and a small hint of litchi that blend well onto the palate to create a sweet and rich yet smooth finish.
Available for 20% off at £8.79 (usually £10.99)
Groot Constantia Sauvignon Blanc 2009
A good mix of fresh green peppers and gooseberries on the nose that give a smooth, fresh, ripe flavours on the palate. A great medium South African.
Available for 20% off at £9.99 (usually £12.49)
The Bernard Series Hand Picked Viognier 2010 was personally recommended by Matt and what a wine! Perfect for my sweet tooth so a bottle was bought!
Sign up to my e-mail subscription to receive the latest wine tasting notes from Majestic Wines as and when I come across them. Not to be missed!
Sloane’s Gin have just come off the success of their first ever world cocktail competition held at the The Blacksmith & The Toffeemaker in London, so i thought it would be a good time to take a look back at this Dutch gin that first graced the shelves back in October last year.
So what is Sloane’s?
Well Sloane’s is named in honour of Sir Hans Sloane (Royal Physician and Botanist, 1660-1753) whose botanical collection (which formed the foundation of the British and Natural History Museum collections) most likely introduced to the UK the exotic botanicals of juniper, orange & lemon peel, oris root, angelica, cardamom, coriander, cassia bark, liquorice & vanilla which undoubtedly influenced and inspired the early English gin distillers and have formed the basis for flavouring gins ever since.
As an aside, Sir Hans Sloane also gave his name to the prestigious upmarket areas of Kensington and Chelsea, namely Hans Crescent, Sloane Square and Sloane Street. He was a life-long benefactor and landlord of the Physic Garden Chelsea one of the UK’s foremost institutions for growing and experimenting in the use of plants and plant extracts for medicinal purposes – one of the first uses for juniper distillates – the forerunner of modern gin.
So with a rather unique history, it’s not surprising that the production of Sloane’s also follows the path.
Sloane’s distills each of its 9 botanicals individually before each distillate is blended together. Each botanical (juniper berries, coriander seeds, vanilla, cardamom, liquorice, lemon, orange, angelica and iris root) is distilled fresh, so discards the traditional gin distillation of using dried fruits, so that the natural flavours can be captured.
Sloane’s – 40%
The aromas of vanilla, coriander, orange and citrus fruits blend well in your nose to create a well-balanced mix, with the palate enjoying a sweet kick of juniper with the fresh citrus hints coming through soon after. A rather short after-taste doesn’t disappoint the overall experience.
With it amassing some prestigious awards already – double gold medal and 2 awards of ‘World’s Best White Spirit’ and ‘World’s Best Gin’ at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition 2011 as well as a silver medal and ‘Best in Class’ at the International Wine and Spirit Competition 2010, expect something rather special if you order this at a bar. Or maybe ask your bartender for this –
Sloane Ranger – created by Robin Webb, winner of the Sloane’s Twisted Traditions Cocktail Competition
50ml Sloane’s Gin
25ml Lemon juice
20ml King’s Ginger
3 Dashes of rhubarb bitters
1 Barspoon of Ginger & Rhubarb jam
Shaken and fine strain over cubed ice.
Take a look at the rest of the photos taken at The Circle 360 via my Facebook page.
G’Vine, handcrafted in France, seems to have redefined the frontiers of the gin category, erasing traditional ideas and changing the perception of this centuries-old spirit. While most of the world’s gin is made from grain spirit, G’Vine Gin is crafted from grape spirit which creates a silky, luxurious feel. France’s Cognac region is the birthplace of G’Vine, using Ugni Blanc grapes which in every September, are harvested and immediately pressed and converted to wine. The result is then distilled in a column still producing a neutral grape spirit over 96.4 % abv. Unlike traditional grain spirit associated with Gin production, the neutral grape spirit is significantly smoother with a heady body.
Once a year, in mid-June, the rare green grape flower blossoms but only exists for just a few days before maturing into a grape berry. This delicate flower is immediately hand picked and carefully macerated in the neutral grape spirit over a period of several days to obtain the best floral essence. The infusion is then distilled in a small Florentine pot still.
As the neutral grape spirit and the green grape flower infusion are nurtured, nine fresh whole-fruit botanicals of juniper berries, ginger root, liquorice, cassia bark, green cardamom, coriander, cubeb berries, nutmeg and lime are macerated over a two to five day process. Small bespoken liquor stills are used to insure the best quality.
In the final step, the green grape flowers infusion, the botanicals distillates and more neutral grape spirit are blended together and undergo a final distillation in a copper pot still affectionately nicknamed “Lily Fleur.”
G’Vine embodies the vine’s life cycle, resulting in G’Vine Floraison and G’Vine Nouaison. The two products represent the evolution of the grape through its various stages, from the blossoming period right through to the harvest. G’Vine Floraison captures the essence of the exhilarating fragrance of the vineyard when the vine flower blooms to life, and the warmth of the arrival of summer. whilst G’Vine Nouaison captures the emotion around the birth of the berry.
So with a unique process of creation compared to your traditional gin brands, lets see what they represent when each G’Vine is sipped –
G’Vine Floraison – 40%
Winning gold at the International Review of Spirits in 2007 and 2008 and a silver medal at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition. On the nose there’s a clean, crisp scent with a slight sweetness lingering with ginger making an easy appearance as it enters your palate. A fresh floral hit to begin with but mellows out rather quickly with the flavours of juniper and ginger leaving a lasting, slightly dry finish.
G’Vine Nouaison – 43.9%
Winning gold at the Drinks International Gin Challenge in 2008. A cleaner, more forest aroma on the nose which turns into a richer, sweeter, and fruitier flavour on the palate. Hints of citrus and cinnamon create small bursts in your mouth that leaves a rather silky feel that evolves into a fruity after-taste.
If I was to pick between the two, the Nouaison would be my preferred choice, with its richer sweetness on the palate (perfect for sweet tooth drinkers!).
Both G’Vine products are considered premium gins and you can expect to pay around £25-30 retail.
G’Vine has also created its very own Gin Connoisseur Program, and now in its third year, it searches for the most gifted gin-loving bartender in the world. In addition to challenging bartenders with the basics of hands-on cocktail creation, the contest also includes some seriously academic elements that set this competition a world apart from the typical shake-off. Winners of this years programme will receive the title of G’Vine Gin Connoisseur 2012, $3,000, a platinum pin worth 800 €, a trophy, a trip to Tales of the Cocktail 2012 and a trip to Bar Convent Berlin 2012 as well as a year’s supply of G’Vine gin for his or her bar. So no pressure. Enter here.
If your not in the bar trade, or just fancy creating some cocktails, try out some of the recipes below, or better still, ask your local bartender to create. Enjoy!
Muddle the kumquats, lime and syrup then pour G’Vine Floraison. Add ice, shake and double strain into a cocktail glass containing the Champagne. Garnish with a kumquat flower and raspberry in the middle.
Hailing from Trinidad & Tobago, 10 Cane Rum is produced by Moët Hennessy (also the producers of Veuve Clicquot, Belvedere and Moët & Chandon) and is a relatively young product, being available to the public from 2005 and considered the first in-house developed brand by Moët Hennessy (instead of being traditionally aquired). Although not steeped in history like other rums, 10 Cane has been creating quite a stir, winning a range of awards at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition including one double gold, two gold, and two silver medals and faring well in international spirit ratings.
The real question though that is on most consumers minds is why is it called 10 Cane?
Well traditionally, sugar cane stalks are harvested in bundles of 10. Additionally, it takes 10 sugar cane stalks to make one bottle of 10 Cane Rum. Simple! 10 Cane also uses first press cane juice which is the purest, most flavorful juice extracted from hand-harvested Trinidadian sugar cane. After the cane is hand-harvested, it is taken to the nearby distillery where it is gently pressed. The sugar cane juice is then fermented for 5 days in stainless steel tanks to allow for slow development of the aromas. The fermented sugar cane juice is then distilled twice in small batches in French pot stills ensuring optimal yet gentle extraction of the sugar cane aromas. Aged for one year in vintage French oak barrels, the sugar distillate is blended with a touch of extra old Trinidadian rum, which is to add complexity and versatility.
10 Cane– 40%
On the nose, 10 Cane releases hints of fresh floral aromas with a small hint of pear. The palate emphasises the presence of the pear and mixes well with vanilla and spice. It’s smooth as it makes its way around your mouth and gives off a soft kick in the after-taste of citrus flavours.
Theres also a fair few cocktails out their which utilises this light rum –
50ml 10 Cane
35ml Pineapple juice
10ml fresh lime juice
Shake all the ingredients together and strain into a chilled Martini glass.
25ml 10 Cane
25ml Banana liqueur
50ml Orange juice
Splash of Pineapple juice
Splash of Grenadine
Blend and serve in a margarita glass. Garnish with a slice of orange.
Two great ideas to ask your bartender for, or even create at home!
Check out the rest of the photos, taken at The Circle 360, via my Facebook page.
Unfortunately due to work commitments, I was unable to participate in the launch of Bacardi’s new spiced rum – Bacardi Oakheart. The event was hosted by the Manchester based ‘The Liquorists’ in the setting of the BlackDog Ballroom in Northern Quarter. My two friends, who I was to be attending with, went along and below are their reviews on how the night went on –
Free Spiced Rum Masterclass and Introduction to all things Rummy!!!
This event was based at the BlackDog Ballroom in the Northern Quarter of Manchester. The Drinks Enthusiast representatives were warmly greeted at the entrance of the bar by a member of The Liquorists who directed us to a private room where the rum tasting was to take place.
First impressions were very impressive as The Liquorists had obviously put a lot of effort into the atmosphere by providing candle-lit lighting, mellow music and lots of Bacardi Oakheart rum advertisements around premises.
Straight away we were greeted by a cheerful bartender who instantly provided us with a Bacardi Oakheart rum, coke and lime which for want of a better word was awesome. The fact it was served in a Bacardi glass was a nice touch as well.
Because we hadn’t attended an event by The Liquorists team before we really didn’t know what to expect and was happy to find out that we would be trying a variety of spiced rums whilst being given a thorough overview of the rum-making process, its origins and how it has developed into the modern world.
The information was very interesting and was well presented by such an enthusiastic host and worked well in tandem with the dispensing of beverages.
After a short break, our host then involved the participants with a fun exercise where we blindly tasted four rums and evaluated their attributes based on distinct categories including: its “woodyness”; “citrisity”, “fruityness”, “spice” and “nuttiness”.
This process was conducted by a group vote on a scale of 1-5 (but in some cases up to eight) 1 being low and 5 high. After all votes were in for each category the host was able to complete a radar chart/spider diagram for each individual rum to see how well-balanced the flavours are.
This was an extremely fun exercise and in some cases acted as a deterrent for sub-standard spiced rums and in addition save on unwanted purchases.
It was highly evident that the Bacardi Oakheart rum was the most successful as it had an overall balanced flavour range and was favourable to all participants (which made the night’s objectives successful). Lambs Navy Spiced Rum and Sailor Jerry’s were also appreciated, but Morgan’s Spiced was reviewed very badly with its dominant vanilla flavour, and as our host described it: “like drinking death”.
The session ended after three hours with a final round of Bacardi Oakheart rum, coke and limes which we drank whilst listening to the host promoting the next drinking courses available (http://foodanddrinkfestival.com/event/mfdf-and-the-liquorists-present-manchester-spirit-trails/).
Overall the event was a very exciting and enjoyable experience and has encouraged us to attend scheduled future events, especially with people who appreciate rum to the level that we do!
Review by Gary Clough
Rum Tasting Review
I should probably start by saying I have never been to any kind of alcohol tasting event before and so had no idea what to expect – but I jumped at the chance for the rum tasting session. I know BlackDog Ballroom quite well as a drinking venue, the bar was made even friendlier by the welcome from Tom and Jody who both work for the company The Liquorists.
The event kicked off with a bit of a chat and a couple of Bacardi Oakheart Cuba Libres – large shot of rum, topped up with coke and two good twists of lime – the result was refreshing and very tasty, and already knew that the Bacardi was going to live up to expectations. Not too sickly with vanilla like some spiced rums, but carried a lot of flavour.
As the evening went on, Tom explained the history of rum and Bacardi – a very interesting story. With the explanations of course came the rum tasting – Bacardi Superior White, Bacardi Gold and Bacardi 8 Year Old – each had a story behind it, with the differences between them explained.
After the break, we were given a blind taste test, with flavour wheels to fill in. It was amazing to see the difference between the 4 rums – 2 of which I drink on a regular basis – comparing them made me realise they are not as good as I thought. The all-round favourite was of course Bacardi – and when compared with Sailor Jerry’s Spiced Rum, Morgan’s Spiced Rum and Lamb’s Spiced Rum, it was easy to see why. The flavour is very rounded, making it an easy sipping rum as well as a good cocktail rum, there isn’t the synthetic sickly taste you get with SJ’s and Morgan’s.
All in all, it was a great night, and something I would definitely try out again. I would recommend going to one of these evenings, as they are really interesting and is a chance to try a range of different drinks on an evening out.
Lastly – I would say that Bacardi Oakheart will be my spiced rum of choice when on a night out!!
I swung by Corks Out in Timperley today to have a chat with their new General Manager Karim about all things wine and spirits. After pondering whether Chase should have kept their Marmalade vodka packaging clear or in their current orange bottle, Karim moved our attention to some open bottles of rum that he had available and out came Ron Barceló Imperial, XM Royal Rum and XM Guyano Rum VXO!
Unfortunately due to me driving and always being one to abide the laws of the road, I could only sample a few. For the ones I did, below are my tasting notes –
Ron Barceló Imperial – 38% abv – Dominican Republic
It released heavy hints of toffee on the nose, with some intermittent hits of spice to compliment whilst on the palate, it was rather smooth with a slight sweetness of vanilla and caramel. The flavours of dry fruits is also detected, although the caramel and vanilla are the dominant forces. It finishes well with a lingering after-taste of caramel.
XM Royal Rum – 40% – Guyana
The smells and aromas of orange mix with the tropical fruits of carambola and grapefruit to give you a rather mouth-watering scent. Upon taste, a very sweet mix of vanilla and toffee which gave a rather creamy texture on the palate. Hints of citrus came through but my sweet-tooth was enjoying the long after-taste.
Both these rums are available on the Corks Out website –
I also sampled Expre Espresso Liqueur, which unfortunately I can’t put into words how much I didn’t like it. I try to write the positives of everything I try but not being a coffee fan anyway, it was a little too intense and over-powering on taste. I would stick with Kahlua or Tia Maria, because I don’t think you will be seeing Expre Espresso Liqueur around for too long.