The Liquorists Vodka Trail Review

Last night was another installment into The Liquorists busy calendar, the vodka trail. Following the same concept of their Nominees & Spirited Ventures trails last month, we were to be enjoying 5 different vodka’s, 5 different vodka cocktails in 5 different bars accompanied by 5 different light bite appetizers. Sound daunting? Challenge accepted!

Finlandia Caiproska at Blackdog Ballroom

Starting the night in the Blackdog Ballroom in Manchester’s Northern Quarter, we gathered in the bar’s Ballroom, a quietly tucked away private member’s bar which is perfect for events like this. Mr Tom Sneesby would be our host for the evening as he explained a brief history on vodka, what The Liquorists are all about and why we had a shot of Finlandia in front of us. Finlandia is a perfect example of how a spirit can get better when mixed properly. Although nice on its own, the Finlandia Caiproska that came after brought this Finnish vodka more alive. A small bite to eat followed in the form of breaded chicken strips and chips and then we were hopping into a taxi to our next venue, 24 Bar & Grill.
Cariel Vodka was the choice of vodka at this newly re-branded bar (formerly Obsidian), and one of my personal favourites in the cocktail world, the Pornstar Martini, was made to perfection using Cariel’s vanilla flavour. Nestled at the end of the bar in their boothed seating, we enjoyed small pineapple and coriander salsa pastries to accompany the cocktail, as well as a shot of Cariel vodka to finish the visit off.

Pornstar Matini with Cariel Vanilla vodka at 24 Bar and Grill

Epernay was the next port of call, with the stunning champagne venue offering us Belevedere vodka to sip while French 76 cocktails were being hand crafted for our pleasure. Tom gave us a little history lesson on Belvedere, and mentioned that the building on the front of every bottle is the Polish presidential palace Belweder, with the vodka being named after it. From Poland to Sweden, Absolut vodka was next to showcase themselves at Hula, with a tiki cocktail being elaborately concocted while we munched on what I can only describe as a volcano of sweets – literally. Sherbert straws were on hand in our tiki drinks, while we drank amid a beach bar with hammocks and fire (no joke with the fire part!).
Our last bar for the night was in Manchester’s mecca when it comes to cocktails in the Northern Quarter – Socio Rehab. The French vodka Grey Goose was sipped, while Grey Goose le Fizz cocktails were brought over to us amid vegetable and meat toasties to warm the cockles of the rainy weather outside.

Grey Goose le Fizz at Socio Rehab

A great night was had, with a round of applause given to Tom by all  in attendance. And it truly was. My friend came with me last night as the trail was a great idea for an early Christmas present, and he’s now raring to go back to all 5 bars again, with Hula and Epernay his highlights. As for me, all 5 bars are favourites of mine for various reasons, but the Pornstar Martini with Cariel Vanilla vodka at 24 Bar & Grill would be the recommendation of the night, but this is coming from a guy who loves vanilla!

They’ll be more trails coming up in the near future, so keep an eye on The Liquorist’s website and Facebook page for more information

Click on my Links page for links to all the bars and brands mentioned in this article

 

© David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast 2011. 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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Elbow’s ‘build a rocket boys!’ Tasting Notes

Last month, the Manchester band Elbow launched a brand new ale, ‘build a rocket boys!’. Working with Stockport based Robinson’s Brewery and named after their recent album, the band created a media buzz at the recent Manchester Food and Drink Festival as they themselves pulled the first few pints in the Robinson’s beer tent. I myself have been enjoying Elbow’s new ale in the various Kro bars dotted around Manchester, but I wanted to wait until the bottle version arrived on my doorstep until I reviewed this golden bitter.

‘build a rocket boys!’  has been created to Elbow’s own specifications. The band enjoyed a series of beer tastings at the brewery where they sampled a range of Robinsons’ ales to shortlist their preferred style of beer, taste and colour. Elbow’s finished product was decided on a golden ale with a rich rounded body, smooth bitterness, with a subtle tang of malt and fruity aroma. It created a golden premium session bitter with a strength of 4.0% ABV.  The nose enjoys a slight bitterness with fresh hops mellowing their way down your sinuses. The palate gets a slow burst of sweet fruit with only a hint of bitterness on the tongue. A fresh, slight citrus note, lasts long on the after-taste with malt flavour staying on your lips. A lack of dryness means you can enjoy two or three of these during a night, and it’s not too heavy to stomach.

Robinson’s recently sent out a press release stating that “Robinsons report brisk trade of the beer with several supermarkets across the North West ordering extra stock of ‘build a rocket boys’, to keep up with demand. Elbow and Robinsons officially launched the beer at the recent Manchester Food and Drink Festival and the ale has gone on to be a big hit with music and beer fans alike. Two of Manchester’s most iconic drinking establishments, Kro Bar and The Castle, have already requested a second helping of the beer after pumps quickly ran dry.”

And to be fair, I can see why. I’ve met numerous people, both ale and non ale drinkers, who have enjoyed the new sensation, and with it rolling out into supermarkets, it can only get bigger.

Robinsons Brewery will also donate a significant percentage of all profits raised by the sale of ‘build a rocket boys!’ beer to Oxfam’s Famine Appeal.

This is an ale you really need to try.

To purchase ‘build a rocket boys!’, click here

© David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast 2011. 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.

Alchemist Dreams Review

Ruth Ball. If you’ve been to any trade shows, farmers markets or festivals recently, you will no doubt recognise the name. Ruth is the creator and founder of Alchemist Dreams, an idea that transforms the liqueur category into a new age. If you’re not familiar with the name, to put it simply, she creates hand-crafted liqueurs, any flavour, for any occasion. When was the last time you heard something like that?!
The process is easy too. Pick your base flavour, choose your accent(s), decide what bottle you would like your liqueur in and even create your label and voilà! With a great range of base flavours to choose from including blackberry, fig, lime and orange, and combined with cinnamon, juniper, ginger, elderberry, coffee or even red cinchona bark, you can create something unique and personal to yourself or to your backbar.
If your stuck for ideas though, Ruth has some house blends that you could try including (1) –

Black(berry) Magic – A mysterious blend of blackberry, ginger and Szechuan pepper

Everything’s Rosy – An optimistic blend of raspberry, juniper and rose

Blue Monday – A mellow blend of blueberry, elderberry and vanilla

Winter Warmer – A delicious blend of orange, nutmeg, cinnamon and clove

Drinks Enthusiast creation

I was lucky enough to win one of the Alchemist Dreams competitions, and the prize was the chance to create my own liqueur. So after racking my brains over which flavours would be the best to blend and what would work well, Ruth created me a base ingredient of orange, with a mix of vanilla, cacao and cinnamon.
On the nose, the orange flavour is soft, with small hints of the vanilla and cacao slowly coming through near the end. The palate enjoys a sensation of the vanilla and orange, with a bold hit of cacao and cinnamon following. A sweet mix on the tongue with a slightly thick layer being left for you to savour long after. Wow!

Personalised label

Alchemist Dreams gives you the chance to create that something different, and with many small, niche bars being opened lately, it’s the perfect chance to have a signature range that you can tell your customers it really is a once in a lifetime experience. But it doesn’t have to be for the bar’s though. Alchemist Dreams caters for weddings where you design the flavour, select the bottles and then they can be decorated with a variety of different trimmings to match colour schemes, decor or themes. You can even include special extras such as gold leaf! The labels are hand-printed with a message or can even be professionally printed to include a picture of the happy couple for a truly memorable gift. Alchemist Dreams can also be used for corporate gifts and events as gifts for something a bit more memorable.

I know I’ll be hoping to see a good range of Alchemist Dreams bottles on the backbar when I open my own place, it’s a fantastic idea!

Ruth has come on to a winner here. Give it a try!

Check out the Alchemist Dreams website here

 

(1) House blend recipes taken from the Alchemist Dreams press pack

 

© David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast 2011. 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.

Whisky Tasting at Kro 2

Coming soon is the fourth whisky tasting event to be held at Kro 2 on Manchester’s Oxford Road.

Following last month’s successful visit from Maxxium Brands (click here for the review) they now welcome Moet & Hennessy Distillery to the table to present their portfolio of Scotch whisky delights.

Their range will include –

– Glenmorangie Lasanta
– Glenmorangie Quinta Ruben
– Glenmorangie Nectar D’or
– Ardbeg 10yr
– Ardbeg Uigeadail
– Ardber Corryvreckan

Kro 2 will also have their head chef create a dish to compliment the whiskies on offer!

This must-go-to event will take place Wednesday 7th December from 7.30pm and will cost £20 per head.

For further details and to purchase tickets, you can either swing by Kro 2, give them a call on 0161 236 1048 or visit their website at http://www.kro.co.uk/kro-two

See you there!

Maxxium Whisky Tasting at Kro 2

It’s been that time of month again at Kro 2 with their monthly whisky tasting and this time incorporating the whiskies of Maxxium.

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 Mike Green, the Brand Development Manager of Maxxium, and he took us through a thorough history of Maxxium itself as well as the whiskies they have under their portfolio. These included –

– Ardmore Traditional Cask
– Highland Park 12yr
– Macallan 10yr Fine Oak
– Glenrothes Select Reserve
– Laphroaig 10yr
– Snow Grouse
– Highland Park 18yr

Now I’ve personally never tried any of these whiskies before apart from Laphroaig 10yr, and i encountered Maxxium at the London Cocktail Week a few weeks back (click here for my review on Stolichnaya). Maxxium themselves are responsible for the sales, local marketing and distribution of many of the world’s leading premium spirits and wine brands including Jim Beam, Courvoisier, Bols and Makers Mark. The company is owned by two equal shareholders: BEAM Inc and The Edrington Group.

Back to the night, below are my tasting notes on each whisky offered to us:-

Snow Grouse – 40%

Served chilled. Smooth on the nose with a fragrant aroma of vanilla coming through near the end. On the palate, a sharp, slightly harsh flavour of vanilla with an almost tequila like taste lingering around giving a warm after-taste.

Glenrothes Select Reserve – 43%

Slightly peaty on the nose with hints of citrus lemons and limes blending their way through. A smooth, slighlty velvety taste on the palate, with vanilla and barley subtly making an appearance near the end. A slight malt burn on the after-taste but an easy drinker non-the-less.

Macallan Fine Oak 10yr – 40%

On then nose, smooth vanilla produces a slight sweetness aroma that becomes enthasised on the palate, although the flavour is rather short. A blend of walnut and butter mix well but result in very little after-taste. Short offering, but a great choice!

Highland Park 12yr – 40%

Slight peatyness on the nose with subtle aromas of honey and citrus fruits to give a well-balanced flavour. On the palate, it’s clean, almost breathless with a light texture. A low spice on the after-taste with a slight sweetness if you add a dash of water.

Ardmore Traditional Cask – 46%

Lots of caramel on the nose, with a slight peat aroma making its way through near the end. Sweet palate offering with a slightly peaty burn on the tongue. Some caramal and vanilla flavours mixing well too.

Laphroaig 10yr – 40%

Smoky peat instantly hits your nose, with sea salt following soon after. Iodine aromas flowing slowly near the end. The palate enjoys a smoky smooth vanilla with oak flavours resulting in a long after-taste with a hint of spice near the end.

Highland Park 18yr – 43%

Lots of toffee sweetness on the nose with some fresh fruit aromas subtly overtaking near the end. The palate encounters a very smooth blend of cinnamon and toffee with a citrus end resulting in a very mild offering with a slight sweetness.

Mid-way through the tastings, Kro supplied us with a delicious dish named Cullen Skink. A mix of smoked Scottish Haddock, potato and onion served with fresh oven baked seeded bread rolls. Delicious!

Another thoroughly enjoyable event in which we were able to sample a good range of whatMaxxium have to offer. Personal highlights were the Highland Park 18yr and Macallan 10yr, hopefully two items I’ll be picking up to add to my collection soon! Special thanks to Mike Green who displayed a great amount of knowledge of the whiskies on offer, and hopefully I’ll get to see both himself and Maxxium in the near future with their wide range in their portfolio.

Next month’s Kro 2 whisky tasting will be hosted by Moet & Hennessy Distillery. On offer will be –

– Glenmorangie Lasanta
– Glenmorangie Quinta Ruben
– Glenmorangie Nectar D’or
– Ardbeg 10yr
– Ardbeg Uigeadail
– Ardber Corryvreckan

Check out Kro’s website here – http://www.kro.co.uk/

Take a look at Maxxium Brands website here – http://www.maxxium.co.uk/

You can purchase the above whiskies here – http://www.masterofmalt.com/whiskies

© David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast 2011. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog/sites author and owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

The Liquorist Trails Review

During the Manchester Food and Drink Festival last month, a Manchester based company named The Liquorists held 3 different trails around the many bars and restaurants Manchester has to offer. The Liquorists themselves are Jody Monteith and Tom Sneesby, 2 guys who know everything and anything about drinking in Manchester, so ideally the perfect hosts for 2 nights of exploring!

Due to commitments for the London Cocktail Week, I missed out on their ‘Trail of the Flowing Bowl’ which involved some of the city’s best rum bars. Never one to become distraught over missed opportunities, I signed myself up for their ‘Nominees Trail’ on the Saturday. This trail involved visiting a selection of bars and restaurants who were nominated in the festivals awards including best bar, best restaurant and best newcomer.

White Lady - Grill on New York

After gathering in the festival’s hub in Albert Square, Tom lead us to our first stop of the night, Vertigo. The site of the ex. Japanese restaurant Ithaca, it nows houses a modern European menu created by Head Chef Ian Armstrong. Making our way up the stairs to the top floor (the restaurants split over 5 levels), we all gathered round the rooms center bar, where Tom gave us an introduction to what the night had to offer, a little about the company he works for and the drink he was creating in front of us, a Jameson’s whiskey sour. Now I have to admit, I didn’t finish mine. I’m not a fan of whiskey sours but there were plenty of offers in the group to finish it off! We also enjoyed a small beetroot risotto with a herb sour cream to accompany.
After making our way down the flight of stairs, we walked over to Australasia in Spinningfields. Located underground, the entrance looks almost like a shard of glass sticking out of the paving stones. Walking down the flight of stairs, a long, sand coloured room is ahead of you where the seating of the restaurant is, with the bar behind. Here we enjoyed a Grey Goose mix in an Australasian Iced Tea or Fonzerelli’s Punch. Whilst sipping a two rather delightful cocktails, platters of Sushi were brought out (my heart sinking as I’m not the best when it comes to chopsticks!). Rather cunningly, I used the safe bet and re-named the platter ‘finger-food’!

Australasia Pornstar - Australasia

The Alchemist was next on the trail, located just round the corner from Australasia (check out my review on The Alchemist here). The new Bacardi Oakheart was on the agenda, with Oakheart Mojito’s being crafted for us while we enjoyed crispy King Prawns on skewers.  After taking in the wonderous setting, we hopped into a taxi and travelled to The Lowry. Their first floor bar was host to Galliano Ristretto Coffee shots that were handed out to be sipped and savoured, followed by a new creation named the Black Forest Gateaux cocktail. We enjoyed the ‘dessert’ part of the night on the balcony overlooking the River Irwell, while waiting for us inside were chocolate fondant’s with salted caramel, and I can safely say they were being made short work of!
The last bar of the night was a short taxi trip to Blackdog Ballroom in the Northern Quarter. Brugal Golden Mojito’s were created for our arrival as we made our way past the bar to the pool tables. A very sweet Mojito cheesecake finished the offerings off well, with a few games of pool to round off a great evening.

Smokey Old Fashioned - The Alchemist

The next night, The Spirited Ventures trail took place (the theme of the night was that all the restaurants we will be visiting are owned by Living Ventures). Once again, we met in Albert Square and Tom hailed a taxi for us to travel to our first port of call – Grill on New York. A smaller group than the previous night, we were able to sit round one of the restaurants circular tables, and enjoyed the cocktail White Lady. The drink called for the use of  Oxley gin, Cointreau and lemon juice to create a great appetizer! Duck spring rolls were brought out for us to compliment while we introduced ourselves to each other and Tom talked a little about The Liquorists and Living Ventures.
Grill on the Alley was next up, just a short taxi ride away off Deansgate. Sitting next to the bar on high tables and boothed-like seating, we were served a PPP Caiproska (pepper, Pernod and passion fruit) and Thai fish cakes, both being given thumbs up by the group! Live music entertained us from a far, with the restaurant bustling both upstairs and down. A short walk to Australasia (see above for last nights visit) culminated in an Australasia Pornstar with the use of Grey Goose vodka and a range of Sushi to tickle the taste buds. 

PPP Caiproska – Grill on the Alley

Unfortunately, Living Ventures new restaurant, The OastHouse was not completed by the time the Manchester Food and Drink Festival rolled around, so we made our way round the corner to The Alchemist for two different offerings in the same bar. Hot Cognac laced mulled wine was a great winter warmer on a chilly night, with chicken skewers being brought out as we sat on the Union Jack leather couches at the end of the bar. Now me being me, i talked about one of The Alchemist most popular drinks, the Smokey Old Fashioned, pretty much all night. Low and behold, a tray of Makers Mark Smokey Old Fashioned’s were place on our table! Fantastic! A round of applause was given to our host as he had to scoot off to help de-construct their tent at the festival hub, while we finished the night sipping and enjoying our Old Fashioned’s, Cognac muld wine and some tasty looking mini burgers.

Two very good nights were enjoyed by all, with Tom showcasing the best that Manchester has to offer in a relaxed, yet almost without knowing it, busy night. Hard to believe by the end of one night, you’ve enjoyed 5 bars, 5 fantastic cocktails and 5 different light-bites.

The Liquorists are hosting a Vodka Trail next, and you can bet you’ll see me on that one!

Check out The Liquorists website here or here

© David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast 2011. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog/sites author and owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

The Alchemist Review

There’s been a lot of talk lately in the Manchester area, and one place that keeps getting a mention is a bar that ‘is proud to stay true to the principles of bartending’. They name themselves The Alchemist, and their situated in the busy Spinningfields area of Manchester.

They were in the running for the title of ‘Best Bar’ in last month’s Manchester Food & Drink Festival awards, it utilises a corner section of one of the buildings, where you enter to be greeted by a range of friendly staff (a touch which I feel needs to be standard in all restaurants and bars). I made my way to the bar and was handed both a food and drinks menu to scour through, although my attention was diverted to their rather impressive back-bar of spirits and wines! I like my passion fruit in drinks so I plumped for a Passion Fruit Meringue Martini (£5.95), which boasted a mix of Russian Standard vodka, passion fruit liqueur, passion fruit syrup, lemon mix and culminating in flambéed meringue foam. The finish product looked very impressive, with their policy of ‘staying true to the principles of professional bartending’ shining through in their creating of the meringue. The drink itself was rather light and well balanced, with a hint of sweetness on the palate lingering on the after-taste (great for my sweet-tooth!).

Passion Fruit Meringue Martini

While I was enjoying the Martini in the comfort of their old fashioned Union Jack leather sofas, my Chicken Tandoori Wrap (£6.75) arrived with a good portion of crispy fries to go with. The dish looked ample to someone who was after a bite to eat instead of a full lunch, and with a pot of sour cream sauce to compliment, I can safely say it went down a storm! The chicken wasn’t too overpowering in its flavour, and there was a good wrapping of salad to boost your 5-a-day. Too often I’ve eaten wraps where the chicken has cooked the salad that comes with it, but this seemed to be spot on. It’s as if the chefs have the same policy as the bartenders – attention to detail.

Whilst enjoying a Diplomatico Rum Reserva Exclusiva over ice, I took in the surroundings that The Alchemist has to offer. There’s no shortage of places to sit, with a long perch table along the window as well as comfy leather bar stools and scattered tall tables close by. The restaurant itself is situated at the end of the bar (although you are more than welcome to eat at any of the bar tables) with simple traditional dark wooden square tables leading around the side. Their use of lighting is a noticeable feature too, with snow lights falling from each large windowpane, which at night must look the part from both inside and out. The bar has small lanterns hanging from the ceiling in a range of different lengths and theirs a sign of The Alchemist on the wall that surprisingly doesn’t look out of place.

Chicken Tandoori Wrap

The bar itself is also a sight for any professional bartender to get a little bit giddy over! A spirit collection that includes Chase vodka, Elements 8 rum, Martin Millers gin, a range of Patron tequila and my personal favourite of Diplomatico Rum Reserva Exclusiva are all below small alcoves of the wine selection that stretches the length of the bar. Highlights of the list include Johnson Estate Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc (£25.95 or £6.20 / £8.85 for a 175ml / 250ml) for the whites, a Castillo de Clavijo Rioja Reserva (£21.95 or £7.35 / £5.25 for a 175ml / 250ml) in the red section and for the rosé drinkers a ‘classy and seductive’ Dinastia Vivanco Rioja Rosardo (£23.95 or £8.15 / £5.70 for a 175ml / 250ml). Their range of wines start at the £13 bracket and rising to £42 for those special night outs. Champagne and Prosecco are also available with brands such as Veuve Cliquot Yellow Label (£65), Prosecco Doc Bel Star (£23.95) and Dom Perignon 2002 (£135) chilled for you to enjoy. Cocktails are also a main attraction here, with the menu divided into 6 main categories. Depending on the style of drink your after, there’s no shortage of options and ideas. The list includes ‘Artisan’ (hand-crafted) cocktails from The Alchemist’s very own bartenders, molecular techniques involving smoke, foam and fruit dust and a rather interesting concept that includes the use of flavoured caviar. One that caught my eye was the Maple Manhattan. Woodford Reserve is stirred into Antica Formula (red vermouth), aromatic bitters and grapefruit zest. It’s then topped with lemon and maple syrup foam! Non-alcoholic cocktails are also available with a good selection of teas and coffees to finish your visit off.

This is a superb place to visit, whether its for a drink and catch-up with friends, meeting with clients or enjoying a 3 course meal from their menu (the fillet steak fajita sounds like a winner!)

Check out The Alchemist website here – http://www.thealchemist.uk.com

 

© David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast 2011. 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.

What to look forward too . . . . . .

It’s been a busy month with lots of events, tastings and experiences to write-up about!

I apologise if posts of the events are not being displayed as quickly as they have done in the past, time has escaped me all too often lately! But I’m catching up and hopefully within the next week I should have the following articles up and ready for you all to enjoy –

The Liquorists Nominees and Spirited Ventures Trails from the Manchester Food & Drink Festival reviews

Elbow Beer tasting notes

Alchemist Dreams review

Glengoyne 10, 17 and 21yr tasting notes

Photos from the London Cocktail Week

Maxxium whisky tasting at Kro2 review

So with all this to look forward to, make sure you sign up to my e-mail subscription located on the home page.

You can also follow me on Twitter @flowgomanic

And make sure you ‘Like’ my new Facebook page!

Porcupine Ridge Viognier Grenache Blanc Tasting Notes

On my last visit to Majestic Wine’s in Sale (https://drinksenthusiast.wordpress.com/2011/10/01/majestic-wines-tasting-notes/), I purchased a bottle of South African Porcupine Ridge and their Viognier Grenache Blanc (14.5%). Recommended to me, I was looking forward to cracking this open, and to be honest, trying one of my first South African wines. I’m more a South American lover if I were to choose a region, but as a common theme in my job role, I never say no to trying new things!

I digged out a bit of research into Porcupine Ridge and they are a brand underneath the brand Boekenhoutskloof. Located in the Franschhoek valley just North-East of Cape Town, French settlers occupied the land in 1776 and made use of the ideal soils and Mediterranean climate. In 1993, they started using Viognier grapes and combined with the idea of the local Porcupine population, Porcupine Ridge was born. They use fruit from dryland vineyards from Malmesbury and Citrusdal to give flavour and structure. Extended ripening of the Viognier develop the spicy floral aromas while the early harvesting of Grenache Blanc delivers natural acidity and minerality to the blend. Its matured in French oak to give silkiness to the product.

Porcupine Ridge Viognier Grenache Blanc

So with all this in mind, here’s my tasting notes on the 2010 version –

Aromas of wild flowers and ripe apricots mix well on the nose with spicy aromas powering closely behind. The palate is more crisp with a sharp edge to begin with.  A soft finish that lingers nicely.

A great wine to enjoy, with Majestic Wine’s suggesting vegetable stir-fry or chicken kebabs being a perfect accompaniment.

Give it a go!

To purchase a bottle, click here

Check out the Boekenhoutskloof website here – http://www.boekenhoutskloof.co.za/

 

© David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast 2011. 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.

Stolichnaya Vodka Tasting Notes

Another event I took part in at the recent London Cocktail Week was hosted by Maxxium Brands at the Soho based Zenna Bar. Patsy Christie was our host as she talked about the Russian vodka Stolichnaya and 4 of their flavoured offerings – vanilla, citrus, raspberry and the new apple flavour.

Before I come onto the tasting profiles of the 5 spirits, a little history of Stolichnaya first.

Stolichnaya begins with its origins in the Moscow Distillery Crystal (or Moscow State Wine Warehouse No. 1). The distillery opened in 1901 by the Russian authorities to ensure higher quality vodka production. The birth of Stolichnaya itself though is surrounded in confusion. 1948 is the earliest confirmed production date of the vodka, yet the label design clearly predates this to 1946. There are also rumours that it was created by V.G. Svirida who was the extra-class distiller at the time of 1944. There is also a trademark patent dated 1938 of Stolichnaya.

In 1953 however, Stolichnaya was introduced on the international trade show in Bern and received a gold medal, the first of many. In 1972, the PepsiCo company struck an agreement with the then government of the Soviet Union. The deal involved PepsiCo being granted exportation and Western marketing rights to Stolichnaya vodka in exchange for importation and Soviet marketing of Pepsi-Cola (This exchange led to Pepsi-Cola being the first foreign product sanctioned for sale in the U.S.S.R.).

After the downfall of the Soviet Union, Stolichnaya vodka continued to be produced for export in several of the ex-Soviet republics. Because of this, the bottles retained their Soviet-era labels.

One of the most famous and long-winded legal battles began in August 1991. The Soviet patent office revoked the Soviet agency’s right to use the Stolichnaya name in Russia. This led to numerous lawsuits, including what companies could market vodka under this name in the United States. On November 20, 1992, a federal judge ruled that PepsiCo would maintain the exclusive right to the name in the United States, as allowing others to market under the name would bring a “risk of irreparable harm” to the trademark. Since 2001, Stolichnaya trademark has been an object of a dispute between the SPI Group and the government of Russia. In 2002, a Moscow court ruled that Russia would get back the rights to the Stolichnaya brand name from Soyuzplodimport (SPI). In 2009, William Grant & Sons USA signed an agreement to distribute Stolichnaya in the USA, taking over the deal made by PepsiCo.

So with a brief, and sometimes colourful history, how is Stolichnaya produced? Created in a town named Tambov, located in the Black Earth Region of Russia, the fermentation of Stolichnaya starts with wheat and rye grains as well as artesial water from the Russian city of Samara located in the Kaliningrad region. The fermentation process takes around 60 hours to be completed. Once fermentation is complete the resulting liquid is distilled four times to a strength of 96.4% ABV. The spirit is then diluted to bottling strength with more artesial well water. It is then filtered through quartz, sand, activated charcoal, and finally through woven cloth.

So with all this in mind, below are my tasting notes on Stolichnaya itself, as well as 4 of their flavoured vodkas.

Stolichnaya Red – 40%

On the nose, a potent strong alcohol smell is instantly recognisable with a sharp citrus kick following. The aromas mellow out fairly quickly into scents of almond and aniseed. A smooth taste of aniseed on the palate, with a slight harshness on the tongue. Floral extracts are noticeable with a tingle after-taste to wet the appetite for more.

Stolichnaya Vanil  – 37.5%

An intense vanilla flavour on the nose dominates the senses, yet smooths out once it hits the palate. A lengthy finish follows a delicate and soft offering of Madagascan and Indonesian vanilla beans.

Stolichnaya Gala Applik – 37.5%

The nose experiences fresh red apple flavours with a slight juicy, alcohol aroma mixed in. A slight rawness on the beginning with a slight hint of pear. It leads to a short end with a little dryness on the tongue.

Stolichnaya Citros – 37.5%

A softer hit of citrus flavours than Absolut, a sweetness comes through with hints of Limonchello aromas following. A mellow beginning on the tongue turns into a heavy dose of lemon, but not enough to ruin the palate.

Stolichnaya Razberi – 37.5%

A great raspberry aroma on the nose that gives off fresh extracts. Wild menthol flavours on the palate, with hints of cherry mixed in to give a slightly stronger taste to the rest of the range.

Moving on from the Stolichnaya tasting, Patsy created for us all 3 different cocktails involving the Stolichnaya products.

  • Moscow Mule using Stolichnaya Red
  • Secret Orchard using Stolichnaya Apple
  • Raspberri Caiproska using Stolichnaya Raspberry

My favourite out of the three made was the aptly named Secret Orchard. A blend of Stolichnaya Apple (50ml), Elderflower (15ml) and Creme de Fraise (15ml) shaken and strained into a Martini glass. Perfection!

A twist that Patsy also put on the Raspberri Caiproska was the use of Balsamic Vinegar drizzled on top of the finished product. Looked great, tasted even greater!

Finishing the night off with cocktails from a brand that, I have to admit, I’ve never really given much time for, was a fantastic end. A bottle of Stolichnaya Apple sits proudly on my shelf with Secret Orchards being sipped away on these long Winter nights!

With 37 available flavours on the market, it might take you a while to taste them all, but I can guarantee you, the apple and vanilla flavours are personal highlights. You will not be disappointed.

OTHER STOLICHNAYA EXPRESSIONS

Stolichnaya Chocolat & Razberi

Stolichnaya Chocolat Razberi – 37.5%

Stong chocolate aromas hit the nose first followed by a bold raspberri scent. Lively on the palate with dark chocolate dominating but mellows quickly. A long tingle is created with a smooth, warm ending.

Stolichnaya Ohranj – 37.5%

Subtle orange on the nose with a slight kick nearing the end. Smooth on the palate with a little boost of orange that develops over the long length. A little sweet with a orange spice warmth growing nicely.

At the bottom of this article, a have posted photos that I took of Patsy creating the 3 cocktails. Enjoy!

Take a look at the Stolichnaya website here – http://www.stoli.com/

Patsy Christie and Maxxium Brands website – http://www.mixxit.co.uk/

You can purchase all of the above flavours and the original here – http://www.thedrinkshop.com/products/nlpdetail.php?prodid=636

© David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast 2011. 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.