Corks Out is an independent wine and spirit merchants who base themselves in the North West. A couple of years ago they opened a store in Timperley and I use to frequent there to purchase that something special. Both wines and spirits have been bought including Licor 43, Goslings Navy Seal rum and Martin Millers gin, Old Tom ales and various wines from different countries.
Me and my flat-mate made a recent trip there a few days ago to purchase for him a bottle of gin for a friend’s birthday. As ever the staff were very knowledgable and helpful in choosing the best gin for our price range (he opted for Martin Millers London Dry), a selection that also included Chase Williams, Blackwoods and Haymans.
We had also heard about Corks Out new seating areas that they have recently introduced where you can have a glass of wine or champagne. We decided to go for their corkage deal where you can purchase any bottle of wine for over £10 and pay only £3.50 corkage! We opted for a Chilean Montes Pinot Noir 2009. An easy drinking medium-bodied red wine that had wonderful red berry and raspberry aromas. On the palate, it gave off an intense flavour of strawberries and vanilla with a savoury character which gave it a long lingering after-taste. At only £9.95, this was a bargain, and to be able to drink it surrounded by what literally can only be described as a wine cellar on street level, it can even beat having a glass of wine in a local bar.
Theres stores in Alderley Edge, Chester, Stockton Heath and Heswall so if you’re near, pop in and take a look at what I can safely say is one hell of a good range! I may even see you there myself!
Check out their website at http://www.corksout.com for deals and details of there wine tasting sessions that they offer every month. Don’t forget to sign-up to my drinks blog (available at my home page) for reviews of the upcoming tasting sessions as and when they happen.
Classed as Manchester’s best bar for whisk(e)y, The Briton’s Protection has got it all. On the corner of Great Bridgewater Street, the outside decor gives it a traditional pub feeling, and with hanging baskets from every window, it oddly doesn’t look out-of-place nestled in Manchester. Once you step foot inside you enter the long bar area where your greeted with a smile by both barman and customers. On my most recent visit, I of course opted for a whisky, but they do have other varieties available including Guinness, Staropramen, Strongbow and Carling on tap, and a range of spirits including the new Kraken spiced rum and Monkey Shoulder. Wines are available as well as ales including Tetley, Beartown and Angel Tears.
As mentioned, my most recent visit I opted for a whisky. You are handed the whisk(e)y menu (something that has never happened to me before!) and can browse through their quite stunning selection. You can scan there backbar that includes the Scotch Glenfiddich range and Johnnie Walker, the Irish Jameson’s as well as American Jim Beam, Makers Mark and Knob Creek but the menu indicates some little gems that you can miss. Their selction also includes a Czech and Welsh whisky which im going to have to go back and try. I went for a Dalmore 15yr (check out my tasting notes on the Dalmore 15yr here – https://drinksenthusiast.wordpress.com/2011/08/08/dalmore-whisky-masterclass-review/ )
Whilst sipping on The Dalmore, I couldn’t help but notice they have a certificate hanging predominantly on the bar with the words ‘Whisky Bars of the World 2011’. I couldn’t agree more! With nearly every whisk(e)y available, you will surely find something that will take your fancy, and if not, the barman seem more than capable in offering you their advice which although probably mandatory in the job description, always makes you feel a more welcomed.
If your ever in the Manchester area, this is one of the must-see places on your to-do list and when you can pick up a Glenfiddich 21yr for just £7.50, even Jamie Milne, the Glenfiddich UK Ambassador, is pleasantly surprised!
The Bacardi Training Team were back in Manchester recently for the next round of their training sessions, this time held in the Champagne and cocktail bar Epernay. Leanne and Tom were our hosts in this popular Manchester bar and perfect setting to learn about Jack Daniels and Woodford Reserve!
Starting off with a cocktail named Stonefence, a mix that I’ve surprisingly never heard off yet so simple – whiskey and cider! Apparantly made around the 1800’s in the time of Jerry Thomas, it was surprisingly nice and balanced quite well!
Leanne then spoke about the 400 year history of whiskey in America whilst we sampled rye whiskey (not very strong on the nose, gave off a soft vanilla scent. The taste gave a slight fire burn which resulted in a long after-taste). To be classed as Rye Whiskey, it must be made from at least 51% rye, distilled at less than 80 percent and stored in new, charred oak barrels for at least two years and most Rye whiskies are made in Indiana and Kentucky. An example of rye whiskey is Rittenhouse, a brand that I used to sell in my last place of work.
We then learnt about the start of whiskey, where in the late 1800’s, the Scottish and Irish settlers brought over to America their knowledge of the production of whisky and settled in the surrounding regions of Virginia. Since corn is native to America, this resulted in the use of corn as a basis for whiskey production. We tried a small sample of corn whiskey, before the start of maturation, that gave off a very overpowering and a scent of fresh bread which came more alive upon tasting. To compare, we also tried a wheat whiskey that gave a smooth scent and taste but a rather bland and virtually no recognisable flavour on the palate.
The legend of Elijah Craig was also explored. He apparently is credited in being the pioneer of the first true bourbon whiskey and also the charred barrel method of ageing the whiskey. Many stories for the charred barrel legend include that he purchased a barrel that had previously been used to store fish and burnt the inside to remove the smell. He then put his whiskey in and transported it down the river.
Next, the laws of American Bourbon were mentioned. These include –
Bourbon can be made anywhere in the USA (but mainly found in Kentucky)
Only Bourbon from Kentucky can advertise the state in which it is made
Must contain at least 51% corn
However no more than 80% with the other 20-49% having a combination of rye, barley and wheat
All American whiskies must be aged in new American white oak casks that have been charred on the inside for at least 2 years.
As mentioned above, the charring of the barrels releases sweet and smoky flavours to the Bourbon which give it a stronger, more flavoursome whiskey than that of Scottish or Irish whisky. The barrels can’t be re-used, so they are sold to other spirit distillers of rum, tequila and Scotch.
The addition of ‘sour mash’ is also a signature of American whiskey. 25% of the mash from a previous batch is added to the fermentation process so to keep a consistent style.
The Lincoln County Process was also mentioned by Leanne, which is the main difference between Bourbon and Tennessee whiskey. In Tennessee, the whiskey is filtered through maple charcoal before ageing and must be made by at least 51% of single grain and can only be made in Tennessee. This brought us nicely onto Jack Daniels. Being from Lynchburg, Tennessee, it is therefore classed as a Tennessee whiskey. We sampled Tennessee whiskey both before and after charcoal ageing. The before whiskey had the same nose as corn however the taste wasn’t as strong and gave a smoother more delicate flavour. The post whiskey had a more subtle nose and a creamier taste than before charcoal ageing.
2 different Manhattans were then made to both see and taste the difference between the one made using Woodford Reserve and Jack Daniels Single Barrel. Being a Manhattan drinker, both = excellent! And one sip was definitely not enough!
The Jack Daniels Single Barrel was next on the agenda to be tasted. On the nose it gave off a subtle vanilla aroma with a slight oak lingering behind. The smooth vanilla extracts were released upon tasting which made it just that little bit easier to drink than its Old No.7 version.
The Gentleman Jack on the nose gave off a very strong vanilla aroma yet on the tongue it was very smooth and not as harsh as you may think after the initial nosing. It gives a gentle vanilla/toffee colour compared to a more Old No.7 style colour for the Single Barrel.
We also tried Woodford Reserve to have a comparison. On the nose it gave off a strong caramel scent with a smooth lingering vanilla aroma which carried on to the taste. However the caramel becomes more subtle in flavour resulting in a smooth lingering after-taste.
If you are close to any of the BBFB Training Shows, make sure you go along and check them out. It’s a great chance to learn and sample the brands that Bacardi Brown-Forman have got underneath them. Check out there website at http://www.pourfection.com/trainingteam
I received a bottle of Eristoff Vodka (40%) from Russia as part of a competition I won involving Funkin Purees, and as a vodka I’ve never actually got round to tasting, I was pleasantly surprised!
You can pick a bottle of Eristoff up for around £15 so it’s in the same price league as Smirnoff and Russian Standard, but this I have to say is one of the rather better vodkas.
On the nose, it gives off a strong classic vodka aroma with a hints of fresh floral. However on the tongue, the vodka becomes very smooth, with the floral flavours still lingering around your mouth. It’s not as strong as I thought it would be and it gave a slight fire after-taste to ‘pick you up’. Its good enough to drink neat or over ice and would even work well with some classic cocktails like the Moscow Mule, or even a Vodka Collins. Don’t knock it till you try it!
A few weeks ago I won a competition organised by Funkin Puree via Bar Magazine where the prize was a bottle of Eristoff vodka and 4 boxes of there Strawberry Woo Woo pre-mix pouches. Never one to shy away from experiencing new things, me and my flat mate poured ourselves a glass with a 25ml shot of Eristoff and tasted a surprisingly nice drink.
The aroma of Strawberry naturally gives the dominant flavour, and the same for its taste. And that’s a good sign when you’re enjoying a drink that you primarily buy for its fruit flavour, and you know has got alcohol in it, yet the vodka doesn’t overpower it. It blends very well and gave a very smooth texture on the palate.
This is an enjoyable drink and one that im glad I have around 30 pouches to enjoy! I may also give it a try with different vodka types, see if it gives a different edge to an already great mix.
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!