Today I attended the 3rd annual Altrincham Bottle & Cask Festival hosted by the Le Trappiste Belgian Bar in the historic Altrincham Market. After missing last years due to work commitments, I was looking forward to this years, and the promise of 30% more cask ales and cider than last year and with many new breweries making appearances, you’d be a fool to not go!
Only costing £5 to enter and £5 for a drink vouchers, me and my father made our way round the stalls of the local charity Stockdales, CAMRA as well as passing Dilli of Altrincham’s chicken and chorizo paella that they had produced. Le Trappiste had their own stall with a selection of lesser known Belgian, Czech, Dutch, German and American beers and there was a separate table of Ciders and Perrys. We made our way to the line of ales that awaited are taste buds. Local recognisable breweries include Dunham Massey Brewing Company, Bollington Brewery and Tatton Brewery entwined with lesser known Blueball Brewery of Runcorn, Wirksworth Brewery of Derbyshire and Red Willow Brewery of Macclesfied. Our first tipple of the day for myself was a recommended Porter ale from the Tap House Brewery of Derby named Dark & Dangerous (ABV 5%) while my father went for Derby based Dancing Duck Brewery and there 22 (Two Little Ducks) Copper ale (ABV 4.3%). For a starter drink, mine wasn’t too bad with a dark malt flavour with chocolate aromas, whilst my fathers was a balanced malt flavoured ale which set him up nicely for his next drink – Cheshire IPA from the Dunham Massey Brewery (ABV 4.7%)
I went for the bitter Little Bollington from the Dunham Massey Brewery (ABV 3.7%) which was a light ale with no distinct flavour reaching out at you. An easy drink that you can have a night of. The Cheshire IPA was a strong traditional IPA with a good mix of hops and malt. My father then went for one of Le Treppiste’s Belgian range –
Biolegere from the Belgian brewery of Dunpont (ABV 3.5%). It was a very light and blonde ale with again no distinct flavour reaching out to you. I went for the Oor Bonnie of Blueball Brewery in Runcorn (ABV 4.3%) which had a sweet nose of malt which gave off the aromas and flavours of caramel. A slight bitter taste rounded the drink off. I myself then went to Le Trappiste’s stand to try Callewaert Extra Stout (ABV 5%) which originated from the Struube brewery. This was a very nice dark, sweet beer that gave off a lovely brown head, perfect for my sweet tooth! My father opted for another local porter ale named Scoundrel (ABV 4.1%) from the Leatherbritches Brewery in Ashbourne. Another dark and smooth ale that gave off distinct chocolate and caramel malts.
To round off our visit we both went for the Le Trappiste Classic produced by the Bollington Brewery (ABV 7.4%). This was apparently made to celebrate the 1000th beer they sold! And to carry on the trend, it was a very dark and sweet Belgian ale to finish the day nicely.
The venue of Altrincham Market was perfect for the event, with me witnessing on several occasions people passing by and looking in, only to then be next to me in the que for a drink! The local band Bearfist were playing well-known rock songs from the 80’s to present day and the incredible smell of local award-winning restaurant Delli’s paella had me resisting splashing out! The crowd was a good mix of families, guys and girls, with soft drinks available for the designated drivers and wine for the ladies from Le Trappistes range (but to be fair, they weren’t afraid to have an ale in their hands!).
Overall, an enjoyable day out with some excellent beers from both the local breweries and Belgium itself. If you ever get the chance to go to these festivals, DO IT! There a great way of trying different drinks as well as supporting your local breweries. This is my 4th ale festival in 6 months, and my second hosted by Le Trappiste, and with 2 more coming up before the end of the year, there’s always plenty to go to and see!
Glenfiddich is a staple in the whisky world. Seen by thousands, stocked in venues you frequent and no doubt in many a drinks cabinet at home, the brand is a pioneer in to be fair not only the world of whisky, but spirits in general.
For me, Glenfiddich will always have a certain place in my very own drinks cabinet, primarily due to it being one of the first ever distilleries I visited nearly 3 years ago, but also the willingness that the brand offers towards my work in developing the image of whisky and the versatility that comes with it, seen within the Malt Mastermind cocktail competition. It’s with this that I’ve taken a new look into the brand and replaced my original piece written back in 2012. So without further delay, lets head to Dufftown.
Dufftown is seen as the malt whisky capital of the world, located within the Speyside region of the Scotch whisky world. With its brother The Balvenie next door, it thrives as one of only a few family owned distilleries in existence, with William Grants & Sons still at the helm. William Grant had a dream in 1886 of creating ‘the best dram in the valley’ and looked to just one stonemason to build the distillery, using a staggering 750,000 stones and taking a year to complete. With help from his 7 sons and 2 daughters, the Glenfiddich (Gaelic for Valley of the Deer) distillery became fully functioning, with the first drops from the stills coming on Christmas Day 1887.
1923 saw Prohibition in full swing, but to the surprise of many, William’s grandson Grant Gordon increased the whisky production in view of the ban ending. The stroke of luck meant that once the ban was lifted, Glenfiddich were part of only 6 distilleries in Scotland ready to meet the surge. Another vision of genius came in the form of the now iconic triangular bottle, created by designer Hans Schleger in 1961. Two years later, and the world became introduced to not only Glenfiddich, but to single malt whisky. Before this, blended whisky was seen as the dram of choice in all establishments, but the proud Sandy Grant Gordon, great-grandson of William made Glenfiddich the first to be actively promoted outside the Scotland borders.
Innovation flourished again in 1998 as the fifth Malt Master created the Solera Vat, a pioneering process used to craft the 15 year old expression. Three years later, the family released the oldest single malt whisky. Cask 843 was laid down in 1937 and due to natural evaporation (or the Angel’s Share), only 61 bottles could be filled.
A rather cracking bit of history, and it’s amazing to still see it all family owned after so many years. If you wish to find out how Glenfiddich comes about, the methods of production, ageing etc, take a look at my feature on the Glenfiddich Distillery that looks at the time I visited a few years back.
For this feature though, we’re going to look at some of the expressions available within the Glenfiddich range. So below, I give to you my tasting notes –
Glenfiddich12yr – 40%
Matured in American bourbon and Spanish sherry oak casks for at least 12 years. On the nose you receive fresh pear with citrus notes following. Plenty of fresh aromas. Plenty of pear on the palate with strong flavours coming through. Sweet bursts follow with hints of malt and a slight spice to give a smooth yet short finish.
Glenfiddich Rich Oak – 40%
After 14 years maturing in Spanish oak and American Bourbon casks, the Malt Master selects virgin Spanish and American oak casks to release extra layers of aroma and flavour.
Soft fruit notes on the nose with slight oak whispers. Rather soft and short on the palate, but a fruity offering with rich vanilla thrown in.
Glenfiddich 15yr – 40%
Matured in three casks – sherry, bourbon and new oak. Hints of vanilla and honey blended together on the nose. Warm sherry oak flavours coming through on the palate followed by a combination of ginger and cinnamon. A pleasant smoothness on the finish with a sweet, spicy end.
The Glenfiddich Solera system is a unique process amongst Scotch whisky. Glenfiddich 15yr from sherry, bourbon and new oak casks are married together into a large Solera vat, made of Oregon pine. The vat is always kept at least half full, so when topped up, it gives a consistent whisky quality.
Glenfiddich 15yr Non-chill Filtered– 51%
Ripe, fresh fruit on the nose with an aroma of pepper at the end. Rather dry on the palate with spice, rich fruit flavours creating a long finish.
Glenfiddich 18yr – 40%
Spanish Oloroso wood and American oak used to mature. On the nose, rich fruit aromas with wet spices dominate. Gentle spice on the palate, with red fruits and oak producing a warm follow-up to a short finish.
Glenfiddich 18yr Small Batch – % Unknown
Mahogany wood on the nose with wax scents, slight burnt orange and toffee notes. Incredibly smooth on the palate with a viscus texture, light bursts of cherry, honey and oranges creating a lingering, light finish with fresh apricots.
Glenfiddich 21yr – 40%
Spends 4 months in a Caribbean rum cask. Strong, intense banana and toffee aromas with hints of leather and a rich sweet follow-through. A smooth start on the palate with a slight smoke with ginger and lime extracts. Leaves a long warm after-taste with subtle spice hints.
Glenfiddich Excellence 26yr– 43%
A rare single malt Scotch whisky that has spent 26 years maturing in American Oak ex-bourbon casks. Plenty of green apple, cream and almond notes on the nose. Incredibly smooth on the palate, with a developing dry cinnamon cutting through the apple and soft red berry notes. Soft vanilla is also present on the warm lingering finish.
Glenfiddich Age of Discovery– 40%
A 19yr old aged in previously used Madeira wine casks. Deep orange notes on the nose with some hints of grape slowly released. Spice immediately hits the palate, but mellows to a smooth offering of caramel and ginger.
Glenfiddich Vintage Reserve 1974 – 46.8%
Glenfiddich’s first ever vatted Single Reserve. Rich with vanilla on the nose, with fresh hints coming through near the end. Sweet toffee engrosses the palate, with a bold, mouth-watering flavour of honey and spice leads into a long finish.
Glenfiddich 125th Aniversary Edition – 43%
Aromatic scents of wood on the nose, with plenty of ripe fruits following. A good citrus burst on the palate, with a developing richness of malt and sweetness, leading to a whisp of smoke on the finish.
Glenfiddich Malt Master Speyside – 43%
Soft toffee and honey combine on the nose with ripe pears. Very soft on the palate, with sharp fruit, spice and vanilla offered on a short finish.
A refill bourbon cask filled on 13th March 1992, the year that The Whisky Shop was founded. Light on the nose with soft wood notes combined with lemon and macadamia nuts. Rich plum flavours combined with a growing black pepper and roasted nuts are present on the palate, with a long, soft kick of plums for a smooth finish.
Glenfiddich The Original– 40%
A limited edition release from Glenfiddich, The Original is based on Hamish Robertson’s 1963 Straight Malt recipe, considered by many to be the world’s first single malt.
Light notes upon the nose of soft fruits, followed by a subtle sea salt. Thick on the palate, yet offers a light, fresh sherry flavour that begins a long, warm, slightly dry finish with white pepper and oak notes.
The Experimental Series:
The Experimental Series from Glenfiddich is said to embody the family philosophy of freedom and possibilities, to create a range of ground-breaking single malts. 2016 saw the release of their first pioneering expression in the series: The IPA Experiment. In collaboration with IPA expert, Seb Jones, they created an innovative new craft ale and bespoke IPA barrels, to finish their single malt. Also released is their second, most ambitious expression to date: Project XX (Pronounced Twenty). This unusual single malt combines the top picks of their warehouse from 20 industry experts, to create an exceptional single malt.
Glenfiddich IPA Experiment – 43%
Toasted seasoned oak on the nose, with soft hops and subtle green fruits appearing. Those same green fruits follow to the palate, with hints of citrus creating a mouth-watering effect that leads to a bold, fresh finish of vanilla.
Glenfiddich Project XX – 47%
Subtle green fruits on the nose, with light oats following. A sweet orange rind appears on the palate, releasing a sharp tip of the tongue that turns into red berries and white pepper waves. A long, bold finish of almond and sweet oak.
A stunning range with some great limited editions and unique expressions. More than one surely worthy of a place within your drinks cabinet. The legacy of Glenfiddich is, to me, proven with the standing the brand has to this day and the opportunity to release more expressions that stand up to rival Speyside brands who contribute in the same market.
I suppose what I should outright say is, there’s a reason for the brand to be well-known. The spirits produced are exceptional.
Funkin Puree are a well-known brand of fruit purees commonly used in most bars and restaurants. When I contacted Funkin regarding the use of their purees back when I worked at Casa Tapas, they sent me 3 ready-to-serve pouches to try – Cosmopolitan, Mojito and Passion Fruit Margarita. The Mojito pouch has unfortunately long gone but today I review the other two classics.
Passion Fruit Margarita –
I mixed the pouch with 1 25ml shot of Jose Cuervo Silver and stirred in a high-ball glass. As you can see by the picture, the cocktail would look a lot better with more ice in it – I only used two cubes for a short drink. As you can imagine, the distinctive smell of passion fruit hits your nostrils straight away and it seems to mask the tequila aroma. Upon taste there was a subtle sweet passion fruit texture until it hits your throat where it seems to release itself on your senses. You get the slight kick of the tequila but the mixer seems to subtly over-power it and I think it works well.
If you were to choose a tequila to go with the Passion Fruit or even the classic Margartia they have, try to edge for the silver variety. I think gold tequila may clash a little too much with the mix and take the enjoyment away from you.
This was hard to put my thumb on. The taste gave me a slight cranberry and lime on the palate, yet no hint of vodka (although admittedly that may have to do with the choice of the only open bottle of vodka I had – Co-op Imperial). The aromas gave off the same ingredients, yet they seem to mix quite well together. Don’t understand? I think what I’m trying to say is that it’s not the same Cosmopolitan you would order in a bar, and it doesn’t look like one either. But if you did a blind tasting of this, although a little thicker in texture, the only drink you would think is the Cosmo. I think it’s a hard drink to master in a puree style, it’s a little delicate if ordered fresh and is well-known to a lot of people. But I think they have just about done it. Its well worth a try, even if it’s just to check off your drinks list.
From the Castilla la Mancha region, this 3-year-old white gave off a subtle golden-yellow colour once poured. On the nose it gave off small amounts of floral extracts, an almost summer garden feeling. A buttery taste slowly hits your senses once you sip, with that floral sensation being slowly released as a gentle after-taste. It gives a slight dryness to your mouth after an initial watering sensation, and its relatively low acidity (the wine is marked at 12.5%) doesn’t give any harsh tones to the overall quality.
This is a great wine to have as both with a fish or seafood platter or as a social drink to share with friends. It’s relatively cheap (around £4 for a bottle) and wouldn’t look out-of-place on your wine rack.
There is a Tempranillo Rose available (unfortunately my bottle has been well and truly drunk over a year ago now).
I had the 3 Las Corazas types available as the house wine in the Spanish restaurant Casa Tapas. They accompanied a wide selection of dishes that we served including chorizo, seafood and meat paella, fried manchego and serrano ham. They were always a popular addition to any event that we organised and had some great feedback from customers. Give them a try!
With a strength of 6.4% and my love of rum, this is a perfect mix! The aromas and smells of vanilla instantly hit your nostrils with a spice mix following closely behind. A huge vanilla hit surprises you when you first taste, with the unmistakable flavour of Morgan’s Spice coming through soon after. A slight spicy end lingers in the back of your throat but its smoothness almost soothes it to a mouth-watering effect. Granted it’s not on par with the fresh pairing of Morgan’s Spiced and Coke, and at 6.4%, you don’t seem to get a strong taste of the base spirit, but don’t let that put you off. It’s like a mask for alcohol – it’s there, you know it’s there, and after 5 of these you will be close to having a very good night! This is a top 5 pre-mix contender!
Upon opening the can, no distinct aromas came out, although you may receive the obvious flavours of Southern Comfort and lime if you poured it into a glass. Tasting it though, SoCo is definitely there! If you had to do a blind tasting of pre-mixers, you’ll be kicking yourself if you got this wrong. The sweet spices and fruit hit you instantly with the lime lingering around and subtly mixing well. The low carbonated lemonade makes this a smooth beverage to have and gives that classic Southern Comfort after-taste, albeit a little dry. It’s not too strong on your senses but you don’t feel like you’ve been cheated out of anything like other pre-mixers can.
This would be great for a summer’s day drink, especially if poured into a lime rimmed glass to add some extra fresh flavour (and just look at the can! Strikingly better than the other pre-mixer can out there!). Give it a try, I know I wouldn’t pass up on the opportunity if I saw it again.
After an impromptu night off work, a friend of mine suggested going back to a place we visited nearly a year ago named Lime. It’s situated in Salford Quays opposite The Lowry and after a brief walk from the Metrolink, we made our way through the ample outdoor seating to the bar area.
We decided to try some of the cocktails on offer and trawled through their extensive range. Highlights include classics like Mojito’s, Margarita’s and Long Island’s while what seems to be their own creations with names like Jamaica Funk, Quiet Sunday and Boston Gold.
I plumped for a Midnight Love whilst my friend went for the Jamaican Funk. There doesn’t seem to be any table service so upon walking up to the bar and ordering, I was able to scour their spirit range. Again notable names of Grey Goose, Havana and Tanqueray mixed with the lesser seen Frangelico, Kahlua and Benedictine.
Our drinks were bought over, my Midnight Love served in a Hurricane glass whilst the Jamaican Funk came in a Margarita glass, both garnished with fresh strawberries. My Midnight Love consisted of both fresh and strawberry syrup, vodka, orange juice and lime which blended well to create a fresh and very drinkable fruit-based cocktail. The flavour of strawberry overpowered the rest of the ingredients, but you could tell they were a part of it all as i powered through the crushed ice to get the last drop. The Jamiacan Funk was a more tangy affair – Appleton V/X rum blended with lime, Chambord and raspberries, topped with Champagne. This deeply fruity cocktail was a hit to the senses, with the initial burst of three fruits (four if you count the strawberry garnish) and the Appleton rum, followed by the fizz of the Champagne that gave it a raw feeling as it goes down. There wasn’t much aftertaste, almost as if the champagne cleanses your palate on every sip, and it definitely wasn’t as smooth as the Midnight Love. Don’t get me wrong, Champagne does obviously make a difference when added to any drink, I just don’t think it mixes well with those ingredients.
Next on the agenda was another two cocktails, Toblerone and Baby Kiss. The Toblerone consisted of Baileys, Kahlua, Frangelico, cream and Butterscotch while the Baby Kiss was a blend of strawberries, Chambord and Champagne. Whilst these were being made I took some time to check out the surroundings of Lime. It’s a spacious venue with an obvious yet subtle divide between bar and restaurant. The bar itself stretches round the back corner, with bottled beers displayed in small alcoves against bold lighting. The rest of the place has a lot of tin and copper ‘ripped apart’ to create a stunning effect, especially with the various lighting bouncing off the different angles.
My Toblerone arrived in a Martini Glass while the Baby Kiss was in a small Champagne flute. A garnish of chocolate dusting gave off the obvious smell of chocolate, with a rather striking taste. I’ll tell you know, it doesn’t taste like a Toblerone, rather a chocolate you get from an old sweet shop. Granted there’s no Creme de Cacao in the mix, and it does give you a creamy taste, but it’s not got that silky chocolate taste you expect. As for an after-taste, whether the bartender put too much in or not, Butterscotch ruins the end. It’s an unnecessary liquor to three that could have worked a lot better on their own. The Baby Kiss seemed to be a reverse of the Jamaican Funk, you got the Champagne first and then the subtle flavours of the fruit arriving after. With its basic ingredients, you won’t be disappointed, and is an excellent alternative to the Kir Royale.
To end the night we decided to go for a glass of red wine. My friend had been picking at a bowl of olives so i suggested a Spanish Tempranillo, whilst i went for a Chilean Merlot. I’m a huge fan of South American wines and was very impressed with Lime’s offering. The Santa Helena Merlot was a creamy and vibrant red, with distinctive cherry notes making their way through as you drink. It didn’t leave any hints of dryness which made this red an enjoyable end to my night. The Marques de Luna Tempranillo was a rich and well-rounded wine, with no significant flavour bursting through to your pallet. Compared to the Merlot though, it did leave a rather dry taste, something that i don’t particularly like when it comes to wine.
Overall, this is a great place to come and wind down, and would be a great bar to sit outside in the sun. I’d be a little picky on the cocktails next time as some don’t sound too appealing, or cost a bit too much for what ingredients are being used, but there is a good range of wines and beers (Heineken, Peroni, Budweiser etc.) to keep you going for a night or two.
A work colleague of mine left to travel back to Poland a few weeks ago and she left me a can of Lech, a Polish lager which is apparently quite popular. At 5.2% I was expecting something rather strong, however it was rather surprisingly smooth and not as gassy. It had a light, slight hoppy taste, and no defining aroma to speak of. A slight bitterness comes through at the end but overall it is an enjoyable and refreshing lager.
If I had to choose between the two Polish lagers I have currently tried, i would choose Tyskie. Theres not much flavour to Lech which whilst sometimes a good thing for an easy drinking lager, you do wonder if your going to have another. Tyskie on the other hand, you know you will be asking.
A while back on my Twitter feed, Peroni asked me to try out there Peroni Nastro Azzuro and let them know what I thought, so last night I nipped down to The Waterside in Sale to taste this Italian lager.
Served in a tall and elegant Peroni branded stemmed glass, a pale yellow lager awaits you. Upon tasting, it gave off a light malt flavour with a sweet follow through and a surprising refreshing end. At 5.2% it has a slightly higher alcohol content than most lagers, but you don’t really sense that and it disguises itself well. It doesn’t make yourself too bloated so I could see myself having a few pints or bottles of Peroni Nastro Azzuro to last the night.
I also came across another brand under the Peroni title named Peroni Gran Riserva. They sell both bottles at The Circle 360, so my friend purchased the slightly stronger lager (6.6%) and let me try. On the nose it gave off a dry fruit and note aroma, with the taste coming through a little more stronger, all though it is quite well-rounded. It’s a smoother lager than the Nastro Azzuro and is lightly carbonated – you could almost mistake it for a light ale. A sweet after-taste presents itself making a mourish scent. This is one lager I’ll be buying in a hurry!
Out of the two, Peroni Nastro Azzuro is obviously the most commonly available in bars and restaurants and is a light and refreshing drink, but don’t be afraid to try its brother the Gran Riserva – it could surprise you into making itself the head of the family.
Martin Miller’s is fast becoming one of those ‘must have’ premium gins to see on any back bar or drinks cabinet. But why is it becoming so popular, and even touching the heights of Tanqueray?
It all begins in the heart of England, the Black Country, and the use of batch distillation. Combining the two traditionalists (the industrial revolution and the prefered method of production for only a few gin producers), their copper pot still ‘Angela’ is the heart of Mr Martin Miller’s creation. Over 100 years old, it distills and infuses the botanicals of juniper, orange and lemon peel, coriander, liquorice, cinnamon, cassia, nutmeg, angelica and orris root. For real attention to detail though, the water to combine the infused alcohol comes from a 3,000 mile round trip via Iceland. The reason? Iceland has the softest, purest water on the planet. The glacial waters are up to 10 times purer than the standard bottled water found on sale today.
So with botanicals sourced from all over the world, to a round trip of 3,000 miles – how does the finished product taste? Below i give to you my tasting notes on the two products.
Martin Miller’s London Dry – 40%
Dominated by citrus notes on the nose, but subtle floral aromas follow slowly. Rather mellow on the palate, with a slight dryness. It gives off some interesting citrus flavours with juniper overtones with a hint of peppercorn on the odd occasion. A slow-fading after-taste of floral and citrus.
Martin Miller’s Westbourne Strength– 45.2%
Juniper aromas swirl well with short, sharp hints of citrus on the nose, whilst the palate enjoys a rich yet smooth flavour of spice and citrus, which develops into a long finish.
Two fantastic offerings to get your hands on, but what happens if you create a cocktail?
The London Cup
Jug – served with two rocks glasses
50ml Martin Miller’s Gin Westbourne Strength
50ml Martini Rosso
50ml fresh pink grapefruit juice
Mix all ingredients. Top with Fever Tree lemonade and garnish with slices of cucumber, lemon, strawberry, pink grapefruit, blackberry. Add a sprig of mint for garnish.
A great sharing cocktail for the summer!
Take a look at the rest of the photos, taken at 24 Bar and Grill, via my Facebook page.