Calle 23 Tasting Notes

Drinks Enthusiast has lately been expanding out into the category of Tequila, with Calle 23 the first to grace the pages.

Not many consumers choose tequila as their drink of choice, unless it’s mixed in a margarita or tequila sunrise, and it probably gives many glimpses of nightmare sessions from their youth with lemon and salt, and to be fair I can put my hand up and admit to be a part of that. But these days? Well I only go for the 100% stuff – which means in English ‘the good stuff’!

So a little about tequila and Calle 23 then.

Calle 23 tequila is produced in the Mexican state of Jalisco and more specifically the Highland (or Los Altos region) town of Zapotlanejo. Agaves from the fields between Arandas and Tepatitlan are harvested for their fruitier characteristics compared to the Lowland areas of Mexico which produce more earthy, powerful herbaceous flavours.

Tequila can only be produced from the Agave Tequilana Weber (blue variety) and needs to be between 6 to 9 years to reach full ripeness. From this, there are two options for tequila – the first is tequila mixto which has to contain at least 51% of agave sugars, while the rest can come from another different raw material with sugar cane being the most common. The second is tequila 100% de agave which has to contain 100% of agave sugars and must be not only produced, but also bottled in Mexico. Calle 23 tequila is 100% de agave tequila. There are also three variations of tequila –

The Calle 23 Range

Blanco – usually not aged, ageing time maximum 59 days. Calle 23 Blanco is not aged, to fully express the agave character.

Reposado – ageing time anywhere in between 60 days to 1 year. Calle 23 Reposado is aged for 8 months.

Añejo – ageing time anywhere in between 1 year to max 3 years. Calle 23 Añejo is aged for 16 months.

So after deciding where the tequila should be produced, how does it differ from other productions of spirits?

The whole 100% agave Tequila process has to follow the following steps:

Harvesting – the plants are harvested by skilled “Jimadores”. The process is fully manual, only with the help of a tool called “Coa”.

Cooking – agave plants are slowly cooked, and this can happen either in stone ovens or in stainless steel autoclaves. Calle 23 tequila slowly cooks its agaves in stainless steel autoclaves for 7 hours, then lets the temperature drop down for 3 more hours. This manages to get the heart of the agave cooked and the outside of the plant not overcooked or burned.

Milling – agave plants are milled after the cooking to extract the fermentable juice from them.

Fermenting – the extracted juice is fermented either in wooden tanks or in stainless steel tanks. Calle 23 tequila uses stainless steel tanks and uses different yeasts depending on the style of tequila to achieve: different from Blanco and Añejo, to the Reposado.

Blanco has been created with 2 specific yeasts allowing the agave flavour to express itself the best. For Reposado, one yeast is in common with the Blanco and Añejo, and one yeast is different in order to enhance the balance between agave & spiciness given by the initial tequila, and the slight wood character given by the aging. In the Añejo, wood being a major component of the final tequila, importance has been to focus back on the agave character of the initial tequila put in the barrel, yeasts used are the same as in the Blanco.

Distilling – the fermented juice goes now through a double distillation process. Calle 23 tequila distills in stainless steel pot stills, made with copper serpentine inside the still.

Bottling or Ageing – depending the final tequila to achieve, the distillate can be either bottled or find its place in oak barrels.

Calle 23 Blanco – distilled to aprox. 54% abv and diluted with distillery well water down to 40% abv. and bottled.
Calle 23 Reposado – distilled to aprox. 54% abv and aged in ex bourbon casks for 8 months. When perfect rest is reached, tequila is diluted with distillery well water down to 40% abv. and bottled.
Calle 23 Añejo – distilled to aprox. 54% abv and aged in ex bourbon casks for 16 months. When perfect rest is reached, tequila is diluted with distillery well water down to 40% abv. and bottled.

Calle 23 tequila is the brainchild of Sophie Decobecq, a French-born biochemist, which after her experience in South Africa following and taking care of agave spirit production, fell in love with Mexico, with tequila and with the whole aura of traditions and myths around it. She moved to Mexico 8 years ago, and used her expertise to develop what her and her team define “the tequila they could drink for breakfast, lunch, dinner and goodnight cure”. Having launched in 2009, Calle 23 has already won awards including Double Gold for the Añejo at 2009 San Francisco Spirits Competition, gold medal for the Reposado and bronze medal for the Blanco, Best New Product at CLASS Awards 2010 and ‘Chairman Trophy’ at the US Ultimate Spirits Competition.

So after all that, i give to you my tasting notes on each –

Calle 23 Blanco – 40%

Fresh, subtle and ripe on the nose, but a rather short hit on the palate, yet smooth and velvety is a bolder characteristic to enjoy.

Calle 23 Reposado – 40%

Strong, almost herbal and medicinal notes on the nose, but a smooth palate with a hit of sweetness before a short finish.

Calle 23 Añejo – 40%

Sweet with a slight caramel and fudge aroma on the nose, very smooth and almost creamy on the palate with a short finish.

All three varieties can be sipped over ice, and of course in many a margarita, but have you tried this instead?

Gold Rush

Gold Rush

Glass –

Martini

Ingredients –

50ml Calle 23 Blanco
10ml Galliano L’Autentico
100ml fresh Pineapple juice
20ml fresh lime
12.5ml suagr syrup
1 basil leaf

Method –

Shake vigorously all the ingredients with ice. Double strain into a Martini glass. Garnish with pink grapefruit on the rim.

Check out the Calle 23 website here, and if your in the UK, you can purchase Calle 23 via Amathus.

Take a look at the rest of the photos from my shoot at Dawnvale Leisure Interior Solutions via my Facebook page.

© David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast 2012. 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.

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Hendrick’s Library of Delightfully Peculiar Writings

join HENDRICK’S library of delightfully PECULIAR writings FOR UNUSUAL BOOK-WORMING SHENANIGANS AT BRIGHton FRINGE

The delightfully peculiar HENDRICK’S Library – a remarkable haven stuffed full of objects of unusual history and function – will be taking residence at Brighton Fringe (17th – 27th May). A program crammed with informative and agreeable events throughout the week will both bewilder and charm visitors to the library.

·      Stuffing Peter Rabbit: Taxidermy is the art of making that which is dead appear to be very much alive. Lee Paton, celebrated taxidermist for one day only will tell the tale of Peter Rabbit, bringing one very dead rabbit back to life, happily ever after. A most delightful tale will prevail in a celebration of Hendrick’s libations. Saturday 19th May, 3-4pm (Tickets £10 – limited to 75 per session)

·      A Literary Feast:At night, the HENDRICK’S LIBRARY of DELIGHTFULLY PECULIAR WRITINGS turns into a marvellouslyrevered dining chamber . Renowned gastronomic architects Bompas & Parr host a delightfully peculiar dining extravaganza a most majestic setting. Four literary-themed courses, all with matching HENDRICK’S cocktails. Expect delightfully peculiar ingredients presented in a most curious fashion, culminating with an explosive dessert. 23rd May, 7 – 11pm (Tickets £50 – limited to 50 for the evening)

  • The Quintessential Anthology of Gin…and HENDRICK’S in Particular: Hosted by HENDRICK’S minister for unusualness.  Gin has come far from the days of Hogarth.  This rare opportunity to taste the constituent distillates of the award winning HENDRICK’S GIN will surprise and delight novices & aficionados alike. Monday 21st, Thursday 24th May 2-4pm (Tickets £9 – limited to twenty per session)
  • A Genteel Tipple through Gin in Literature:Hosted by David Piper, Gin has fuelled many legendary writers, unforgettable characters and gripping plots. Come and enjoy some especially enlightening extracts and sample specially mixed HENDRICK’S cocktails. All drinks included.  Thursday 17th, Sunday 20th, Saturday 26th May 6-7pm (Tickets £9, a ticket inc. drinks – limited to seventy five per session)
  • Delightfully Peculiar Writings Rewarded!: All visitors to the Hendrick’s Library throughout the Brighton Fringe Festival will be invited to contribute a most peculiar libation-inspired story to Hendrick’s ever evolving collection of curious literary tales. These unusual minds will be rewarded for theirendeavourswith delightful HENDRICK’s tipples.  17th – 27th May, from 12-11pm (free to all, for full program timings visitwww.brightonfestivalfringe.org.uk )

Commenting on HENDRICK’S at Brighton Fringe Festival, David Piper, HENDRICK’S Commander of Special Operations, said: “Festival goers with a penchant for delightfully peculiar book-worming shenanigans are sure to have their thirsts whetted when they visit HENDRICK’S Library of Delightfully Peculiar Writings at Brighton Fringe Festival.From literature salons with leading authors conducting readings to an ‘Authors’ Den’ for budding novelists to pitch their book ideas and literary-inspired dining experiences from gastronomic architects Bompas & Parr to ‘Gin in Literature’ tastings, the HENDRICK’S Library is sure to amaze, entertain and bewilder in equal measure.”

For information on HENDRICK’S LIBRARY OF DELIGHTFULLY PECULIAR WRITINGS, visit:www.hendricksgin.com @hendricksginuk, to reserve places and book tickets, register at www.brightonfestivalfringe.org.uk.

HENDRICK’S LIBRARY OF DELIGHTFULLY PECULIAR WRITINGS will be located at Brighton Fringe Festival, Jubilee Square, BN1 1GE, from 17th– 27th May.

My Gineration Tasting Notes

A new addition to the ever-growing gin category has got a local feel to it, with Chester being the origins to My Gineration and there selection of fruit liqueurs.

The My Gineration liqueurs are made entirely by hand in the village of Mollington, located just outside Chester, and are made using simple and pure ingredients – fruit, sugar, alcohol and most importantly time.

Some of the My Gineration range

Creator Rosie Sedgwick has been making sloe gin for her family for many years (using a recipe given to her by a neighbour soon after she moved to Mollington) when a lack of sloes one year prompted her to experiment with other fruits.  Later she gave a bottle as a thank you to a local businessman who had supported a village fundraising event, little knowing he was Peter Papprill the famous “Cheese Detective” of Pendrill 1651 Ltd. After encouraging words from Peter, Rosie decided to start selling her range, and still produces to this day.

With the use of large amounts of local fruits wherever possible (the sloes, damsons, elderberries and crabapples come from the hedgerows of Mollington), it creates an intensity of flavour which can be sipped neat or added to Champagne or Cava, or even poured over ice cream.

In 2009, the awards started to roll in, with Fine Foods Northwest acknowledging Silky Raspberry Liqueur, and in 2010 they handed one out to Gooseberry Liqueur. A collaboration with the Chester Whisky & Liqueur Company has created Orange Liqueur, with a Peach Liqueur for the Piste Restaurant in Tarporley.

As for myself, I’ve been lucky enough to try four from the range, so below, I give to you all my tasting notes.

My Gineration Damson Gin Liqueur – 17%

A slow release of subtle damson aromas on the nose, with a sharp kick of damson on the tongue resulting in a slight sourness. A freshness develops into a mouth-watering reaction, but a rather short finish.

My Gineration Silky Raspberry Liqueur – 17%

Fresh raspberries on the nose, with lots of deep, bold, ripe flavours mixing well. A rather subtle taste of raspberry on the palate, and not as bold as the nose originally suggested.

My Gineration Sloe Gin Liqueur – 17.2%

Very light and fresh on the nose that leads to a bold offering of sloe berries on the palate with a hint of sweetness that creates a long lingering finish.

My Gineration Gooseberry Liqueur – 16.9%

Lots of fresh, ripe gooseberries on the nose that creates a rather potent aroma. A very strong finish on the palate with a good hit of gooseberry and lots of sweetness. A little dry near the end.

My Gineration

So four very good choices, with my personal favourite being the sloe gin liqueur. However i can see the Damson working rather well in a Kir Royale and the Raspberry being used to create a Berry Variation

Glass –

Martini

Ingredients –

40ml Silky Raspberry Gin
15ml Maraschino Liqueur
10ml Fresh lemon juice
10ml Syrup

Method –

Shake together and garnish with a mint leaf.

With plenty of other flavours available, including cranberry, blueberry, passionfruit and elderberry, as well as some quirky fruits like prune, crabapple and even a Christmas pudding flavour, and an upcoming Tayberry liqueur, their seems to be plenty to experiment with.

Rosie even has the Wedding market tapped, with exclusive offers to have the My Gineration flavours as part of your wedding day festivities!

Click here to be directed to the My Gineration website.

All photos taken at Dawnvale Leisure Interior Solutions. To see more photos, click here.

© David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast 2012. 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.

Esprit de June Liqueur Tasting Notes

I’ve been lucky enough recently to try out some of the portfolio of Boutique Brands, which includes G’Vine gin, Atlantico rum and Roberto Cavalli vodka. But the most unusual spirit they offer is something named Esprit de June, a liqueur created in France and can consider itself the only liqueur produced with the vine-flowers of Ugni Blanc, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and other grape varietals, that blossom for only a few days in June. The added rarity to the ingredients, coupled with what can only be described as a fantastically styled bottled, makes Esprit de June one of the most sought out liqueurs for a bartender.

So how is this liqueur created?

Vine Flowers

The first step is the Vine Flower Harvest. In June, tiny white flowers bloom on the vines for just a couple of days. Their birth is a critical moment after a year-long meticulous care that’s given to the vineyard. These rare flowers are so delicate they can only be picked by hand, and must be harvested immediately.
Hand cut from the vine, the flowers are carefully transported in traditional wooden baskets. The vine flowers are then delicately collected in woven fiber “tea bags”. These “tea bags”, each containing different types of vine flowers, are steeped in artisanal grape neutral spirit for several days to extract their unique flavours.

When all the flavour has been extracted, the grape neutral spirit, now infused with vineflower, is strained off and distilled in a Florentine pot still, the same kind used by master perfume makers. The result is an Esprit, the utmost concentrations of the vine flower. These will be the only vine-flower distillates for a whole year, so they are stored in special vats.

Following an undisclosed recipe, these Ugni-blanc (creates pear, peach and white floral notes), Merlot (wild strawberry and cherry-blossom) and Cabernet-Sauvignon (strawberry, raspberry and violet) vine flower distillates are blended together, before being distilled a final time to perfectly unify their flavours. The use of other vine flowers such as Folle Blanche and Sauvignon Blanc allows the master distiller to guaranty Esprit de June’s flavor profile year after year despite the vintage effect. With the addition of the bare minimum of sugar, Esprit de June is born.

Esprit de June

Esprit de June – 28%

A perfumed mix of rose petals and strawberries with a sweetened edge as it rolls onto the palate. A light, almost non-existent texture, more silky and perfumed is an odd feel, but a long-lasting after-taste that has you craving for more.

Esprit de June is a versatile spirit, with its uniqueness and surprising offering on the nose and palate distinguishing itself away from the usual brands and with the recipes below, it shows that both men and women can enjoy.

June Buck

Glass

Rocks

Ingredients

45ml Scotch whisky or VSOP Cognac
25ml Esprit de June

Method

Pour into an ice-filled glass and top with freshly-opened good-quality ginger ale. Stir briefly.

June & Wine

June & Wine

Glass 

Wine

Ingredients

135ml red wine or chilled, dry white wine
45ml Esprit de June liqueur

Method

First pour the wine (slightly less than a normal serving) then add the Esprit de June. Stir briefly.

Check out my Facebook page for more images of Esprit de June

© David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast 2012. 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.

Socio Rehab Review

Socio Rehab has been called many things since its time on the streets of Manchester’s Northern Quarter, and since its January refurb, those already positive words on their cocktail making skills can be used while sitting in modern comfort. I swung by a few days back for the first time this year for two reasons – number one was to have some damn good cocktails, and number two was to show the rest of the world what their missing!

Although a flying visit, Max, one of the Socio Rehabs friendly bartenders, created for me a Blantons bourbon heavy Manhattan whilst flicking through what can only be described as a comic book of cocktails. Unique, quirky and it works. Recipes that jumped out at me included Lemon Rusky (vodka and limoncello shaken with fresh lemon juice and sugar, topped with grapefruit juice), Fish House Punch (Remy Martin cognac, Havana Club light rum and peach brandy liqueur shaken with strong cold tea, freshly wrung lemon juice, sugar syrup and soda) and a Orange Blossom Martini (Hangar I Orange Blossom vodka, (Benedictine, limoncello, dry vermouth rinse) stirred with mint leaves and a single smashed berry, finished with a Clementine zest).

Manhattan

With low wooden stools at the bar, there’s leather sofas with faded Union Jacks printed on overlooking the high street and nestled between big indoor potted plants. A simple singular tall table is at the other end of the bar next to the almost floor to ceiling windows, followed by a row of stools at a wall mounted side. Well known lounge music set the mood to chilled setting, with candles flickering against maroon coloured walls. Surprisingly, the colour scheme goes well with the tiled floors and red brick bar, as does the back bar itself.

With a fantastic range of spirits that meanders its way across the whole of the wall, there’s something literally guaranteed for all palates. Noticing brands including Woodford Reserve, Mamont vodka, Belvedere, El Dorado rum, Patron tequila, Bulldog gin, Ron Diplomatico and the Sipsmith range, this bar goes one further with the word variety. Theres even a bottle of Smith and Cross, a traditional blended Jamaican rum aged up to 3 years.

Smith & Cross – 57%

A mixture of tropical fruits and wild spices on the nose, with a slight ‘high alcohol’ aroma following. A kick of banana, vanilla and caramel on the palate, but is rather short on longevity.

Culross

Cocktails isn’t all that Socio Rehab serve though, with wines and beers including Heinekan, Moretti and Asahi available amongst an array of soft drinks. Next on the cocktail list for me however was a Culross which involves Bacardi Superior, Lillet, apricot liqueur and lemon juice. Served in a rather stunning gimlet, much to the envy of two fellow patrons, it was a fantastic end to a unfortunant brief visit.

Socio Rehab also host many events including cocktail nights, masterclasses and even the chance to jump behind the bar and have a go yourself! Friendly bartenders who know what they’re talking about – but use simple terms that can mean non-bartender folk can order without feeling out-of-place, an inviting setting, and some great drinks to try, Socio Rehab still hits the nail on the head when it comes to a city centre cocktail bar.

It’s a must try venue.

Check out more photos of Socio Rehab on my Facebook page.

© David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast 2012. 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.

Malmaison’s ‘Toast to the Roast’ at Smoke Bar & Grill

I was given the opportunity to try out Manchester Malmaison’s Sunday offering of ‘Toast to the Roast’, housed in their recently opened Smoak Bar & Grill. Never one to pass up on an opportunity to dine in one of Manchester’s premier hotels, myself and a friend opted for an early time slot and enjoyed a drink at their impressive bar arrangement until our table was ready.

 

Chicken Liver Parfait

Positioned in the corner, overlooking a long open planned room consisting of booths, singular tables and comfy chairs, we were offered a choice of Spanish Rey Viejo red or white wine whilst we browsed their Sunday menu. A choice of either Slow Roasted Plum Tomato Soup or Chicken Liver Parfait to start, with Roast Topside of Beef with Red Wine Gravy, Roast Pork with Red Wine Gravy or Baked Gnocchi Sorentina with Tomato, Basil and Mozzarella – all served with roasted potatoes, seasonal vegetables and Yorkshire pudding as a main. We both opted for the parfait to start, whilst my friend went for the roast pork, and myself the roast beef for our mains.

Despite at the time their only being two tables in, the musical ambience created a good atmosphere as we chatted over a glass of the Spanish red – a dark nose with juicy red berries moving to a mix of refreshing cherries and raspberries on the palate. Our starters soon arrived, set out on a long wooden board with a small jam jar of chicken liver pâté nestled next to four slices of toasted brioche and a dish of raisin chutney. A selection of bread was also laid out on a separate wooden slab to accompany. A great combination to start, with the flavours of the pâté and raisin chutney combining well as we made our way through our first course. But no sooner had our starters been taken away, our mains were being delivered, with Malmaison stamped plates carrying our choice of meat and Yorkshire pudding, hot skillet of carrots and runner beans and a gravy boat each to drizzle red wine gravy to our hearts content. With the pork piping hot, and the beef looking like perfection, we duly tucked in whilst sipping our way through the bottle of red.

The restaurant around us was filling up nicely, with a mixture of families, couples and of course being Mothers Day, a fair few Mothers. This didn’t seem to faze any of the staff, and their were plenty to go around as no problem seemed too small, and no customer left out. As for ourselves, clean plates were taken and followed with the placing of the desert menu. Well it would be rude not to take a look!

The Cheese Platter

I decided to go for the Valrhona Chocolate Fondant with White Chocolate Ice Cream, but almost regretted it when i saw what arrived for my friend – a selection of artisan cheese, crackers & chutney. Carried on a tray that needed its own set of legs to stand, twelve cheeses were on offer, with different chutney and biscuits to make a spectacle that even had the rest of the restaurant talking! Served by a waiter who explained what each cheese offered (I would name them, but I really wouldn’t be able to remember!), six small pieces were placed on a piece of slate, whilst my piping hot chocolate fondant arrived with a ball of ice cream placed delicately on a split strawberry and finished with a dusting of icing sugar. A desert that wasn’t too rich, but instead quite light, with the ice cream there to sooth the palate.

After spending a good two hours (which flew by) we finished the wine, complimented the staff and high service we had received and headed off to the rest of the day – full, yet still buzzing from seeing the Malmaison set the bar for cheese platters everywhere!

£15 per person is money well spent. Although a slimmed down menu for the day, there were still options I could have easily gone for instead, with all food piping hot, well cooked, very well presented and faultless service. I’ve recommended the Smoak Bar & Grill before, and he himself has come away with nothing but a fantastic experience. Consistency is the key.

Check out some of the fantastic photos from the day on my Facebook page.

© David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast 2012. 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.

Johnnie Walker Tasting Notes

Tonight, the Manchester branch of the Malmaison hotel chain hosted an insight into one of the worlds best-selling blended malts – Johnnie Walker. Hosted in their exclusive Ember bar, and by a gentleman ironically named Johnnie Walker, himself a former craftsmen cooper and now a Director of Wine and Spirits for Malmaison, the seven of us were sat in front of three offerings, Green, Gold and Blue Label.

But before we were sampling the delights, Johnnie gave us an insight into the Johnnie Walker brand and how in 1805, the legacy began. Born in Kilmarnock, he purchased himself a grocery store at the age of 14 after his fathers passing and ran the business, selling everything from writing paper to his own whisky, until his death in 1857. His son Alexander took over and set about globalisation just a few years later, trademarking the name Johnnie Walker in 1877. In 1889, his sons Alexander II and George took over after his passing, and introduce the now iconic symbol of the Striding Man, created by the cartoonist Tom Browne, which adorns each bottle of Johnnie Walker and credited as one of the first global marketing icons. In 1909, the bottles were named after the colour that each were associated with, with the Red and Black Labels the first to be born, and each bottle was now housed in its distinctive square bottle as of 1920. From here, a Royal Connection followed in 1934, where still to this day they supply the royal household after receiving a Royal Warrant.

So with a rather regal history, how does the Johnnie Walker range fair?

Johnnie Walker Green Label – 40%

The only vatted malt in the range (no grain, only 100% barley) and has a blend of only 4 single malts with the youngest being 15 years. Slight peat aromas on the nose mixing with citrus and orange to create a light offering. Smooth on the palate with just a whisper of peat that has a burst of mouth-watering flavour at the end, although it doesn’t stick around.

Johnnie Walker Gold Label – 40%

Blended from over 15 single malts, and created to commemorate Johnnie Walker’s centenary. A very light, smooth and sweet nose which carries on to the palate. Lots of honey and mixed cereal with a gentle smoke that creates a long after-taste.

Johnnie Walker Blue Label – 40%

Specially blended to recreate the authentic character and taste of some of the earliest whisky blends created in the 19th century. A bold nose with dried fruits, spice and toasted corn aromas that turns to a rich, silky offering on the palate. A good kick-start of sweetness with vanilla and caramel that almost makes this verge itself to be a whisky liqueur. A long finish of cloves, spice and wood.

Johnnie Walker Gold Label

Tonight was a fantastic insight into not only Johnnie Walker, but also whisky in general, with Mr Walker indulging in the production methods of single malt whisky, the regions and delights that each offers, as well as how blended malts came about. It’s great to try Johnnie Walker Blue Label again after first trying it at this years Diageo World Class Seminar, and at around £130, it’s not to be passed upon.

Since this night, I’ve been able to sample some of the rest of the Johnnie Walker portfolio –

Johnnie Walker Red Label – 40%

A nose of light, soft heather, fruit and honey, creating a creamy palate with subtle flavours of fruitcake and wisps of smoke and oak. Short.

The more familiar Black label will hopefully appear soon on my site to partially complete the collection under the Johnnie Walker family – I say that due to the fact their Johnnie Walker Blue Label King George V is around £350. Anyone with a spare dram?

To check out more photos from the event, click here to be taken to my Facebook page.

© David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast 2013. 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.

Corks Out – Independant Wine and Spirit Specialists

Ruth Yates. Most of you may have never heard of Ruth before, but she has the honour of being named 16th in the inaugural list of the top 75 most influential people in wine. A rather stunning accolade to hold, but not her only achievement as her independent wine and spirits company, Corks Out, has won over 20 awards in its 9 year history (including Independent Spirit Retailer 2012 and IWC Large Independent Retailer of the Year 2011). But how has this 5 store strong merchant be so successful in these hard times that have seen others perish? Well it’s all down to community values and a good sense of family ownership. Helped out by her husband Richard, who has the clame to fame of introducing the Chilean brand Concho y Toro into the UK, Ruth is determined to stay independent and not be seen as another chain store. She chooses her locations carefully, rarely venturing outside of Cheshire, and have her wine offerings reflecting the community around them. And because Ruth is very ‘hands-on’, she is able to find out the latest trends by her number one supporters – the customers.

Not one to be working in an office every day of the week, she splits her time between all five of her stores, helping customers choose the perfect Champagne for their dinner party, or recommending a glass to sample from their innovative wine tasting machines. The tasting machines are a fantastic way to try wines that you would normally shy away from, whether it’s because it’s a name you don’t recognise, or a price that’s making you think twice. Described as a ‘wine jukebox’, each machine holds 8 wines fresh and at the correct temperature for weeks, which if you visit their Chester store, that’s 48 wines on offer at any one time! With outdoor seating at their Timperley and Alderley Edge stores and a wine garden at their Stockton Heath branch, there’s no hurry when it comes to Corks Out, and you can even pay corkage on your selected bottle and enjoy it their and then!

Corks Out also have their own dedicated online store, where Ruth’s daughter takes the reigns to offer a personal experience to those who are out of reach of the Cheshire plains. With around 2500 wines and sparkling wines available, combined with monthly deals and next day delivery service, it gives comfort to those who may have never visited a store.

Ruth Yates - Corks Out owner

And it’s not all about the wine when it comes to Corks Out either, spirits are on the rise too, with some very select products you can’t find in your local supermarket. And with staff that can tell you your cognac from your brandy, they make the experience for any customer both informative, enjoyable and most importantly – relaxing. And just like their tasting machines, there’s always something open to try! I myself have bought many a product from Corks Out, mainly from their Timperley store which opened over 4 years ago. They were in fact my first port of call for last years Christmas wine selection, with one of the store managers Karim recommending bottles of Australian Turkey Flat Rose 2011 and Devil’s Corner Pinot Noir 2009, two wines that made Matthew Jukes’ Top 100 Australian Wines of 2011. Bottles of Martin Miller gin have been bought, alongside Kings Ginger Liqueur, Goslings Rum and Licor 43, which themselves finding pride of place next to offerings of Death’s Door gin, Chase vodka and Ron Diplomatico rum.

As you may have read previously, Corks Out also host a variety of wine and spirit tasting nights at each of their stores, usually focusing on a style or country, and culminating in four big tastings, two in the summer and two in the winter which showcase around 200 different wines, champagnes and spirits! Expect to see your favourite Drinks Enthusiast at many of these in the coming year!

So if your ever around some of Cheshire’s beautiful cities, towns and villages, and you see the striking Corks Out sign flash you by, pull over and pop in for a look around. Sample a fantastic Argentian Malbec, or a sumptuous Italian Pinot, or even treat yourself to a bottle of New Zealand sparkling for your night in. Whatever your budget, whether its £5 or £100, your bound to find the right style and flavour – and with a close-knit family style team, you may even find yourself being a regular before you know it.

And surely that can only be a good thing?

Check out the Corks Out website here

© David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast 2012. 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.

Paul ‘The Mixxa’ Martin – 20 Second Cocktails

Paul ‘The Mixxa’ Martin has released two new videos, but this time with a twist on the speed of creation.

Below you can watch The Mixxa create a Long Island Ice Tea and a Mississippi Mule in under 20 seconds!

Long Island Ice Tea –

Mississippi Mule –

 

You can follow The Mixxa on Twitter and take a look at his website. Make sure you check back on The Mixxa’s dedicated page for upcoming videos as they’re released!

Irish Invasion / St Patrick’s Tastings

I thought this would be an appropriate e-mail to forward to everyone! –
A very quick reminder to you all that The Whisky Lounge have their series of Irish Invasion tastings coming up and starting this Friday! They will be tasting six of the finest from the Emerald Isle, showing off what they can really achieve, rather than some of the more commercial items you might see on Supermarket shelves…
 
As always the tastings are fun, engaging and full of information and useful (and useless!) facts to arm you as you continue your path to whisky nirvana.
 
A reminder of dates:
 
Irish Invasion Tastings, 2012 UK tour
 
Manchester Friday 16th March, The Britons Protection
Newcastle Saturday 17th March, Blackfriars
York Saturday 17th March, Whisky Lounge HQ (not a misprint, we are a team now and splitting up for Saturday!)
London Monday 19th March, Albannach, Trafalgar Sq.
London Tuesday 20th March, Red Lion, Crown Passage
Leeds Wednesday 21st March, Crosskeys, Water Lane
 
All of these are only £20 a ticket and I think most of you will agree that you definitely don’t get this much fun and enjoyment for that little anywhere else! All start at 7pm and go onto until 9(ish) and if you need more info – aside from the whiskey (that’s a surprise) – please do drop in on the website at http://www.thewhiskylounge.com/book-now/
Many of these are nearly sold out so please be quick to avoid disappointment!
 
We really hope you can make it to one near you and look forward to seeing you for a night of whisky and craic!