Finest Call

Finest Call

High volume venues can struggle to produce consistent cocktails, especially in the high-demand areas where one below-par drink can effect several others. It’s with this that developers have sought out opportunities to produce brands that can take the stress away from cocktail creations, especially in venues that are not traditionally cocktail led. By coming up with a base ingredient, or a multitude of them that forms the basis of a classic cocktail, and ‘all you need to do is add your spirit’ and it’s as easy as one, two, three.

Or is it?

Some brands work well for a time-being, and then start to lose their own flavour, their own consistency and ultimately you are back to square one. But one brand that prides itself with knowing how a venue works, no matter what the scale of service you are on, is Finest Call.

In 1995, the American Beverage Marketers (the same company behind the Real range) came out with a new line of premium cocktail mixers, designed with the bartender world in mind. Using fruit sourced from around the world and redefining the packaging by utilising a store-and-pour design, Finest Call made waves within the industry.

To go away from my usual style of feature, It’s best with the Finest Call expressions to explain as we go along, so below, you will find my tasting notes on each variation I’ve had the chance to experience so far –

Finest Call Pina Colada Mix – 0%

Produced with Bakers cream of coconut from the Philippines and Dole pineapple juice from Thailand, they utilise the coconut meat and milk for a thick and creamy texture.
Fresh coconut on the nose, with the bold pineapple aromas coming through slowly. A thick, natural sweetness follows. Thick texture with a thin flavour of the coconut flesh, followed by a slight zest from the pineapple. A lingering well-balanced flavour to finish.

Finest Call Mojito Mix – 0%

Using Key limes from Mexico and blended with spearmint and superfine sugar. Plenty of lime notes come through on the nose, with soft hints of the spearmint following nicely. Natural aromas of the sugar gives a good base. Light with a dry lime flavour standing out. More refreshing on the second sip, with the spearmint releasing fresh aromas on the lingering, slightly sweet finish.

Finest Call Sweet and Sour – 0%

Created using pure lemon juice from California (Eureka and Lisbon varieties) and simple syrup. Sharp on the nose with the citrus naturally dominating. Soft sugar notes come through to underline. Clean and light on the palate, with natural elements of the citrus drawing out a long finish with kicks of sweetness following.

Finest Call Cosmopolitan Martini Mix – 0%

A blend of New England Ocean Spray cranberries, Key lime juice from Mexico and sweet orange oils. Fresh, dry aromas of the cranberries come through on the nose, followed by the natural note of the Key lime juice and the subtle orange. Thick texture on the palate, with a stringent stewed cranberry and lime mix as the dominating flavour. Subtle orange oils follow but the cranberry offers the long finish.

Finest Call Wild Berry Puree Mix – 0%

A combination of strawberries from California, raspberries from Pacific NW and mangoes from India, combined and then an addition of pomegranates and lemon juice from California. Bold, fresh raspberries come through on the nose, with the mangoes offering a soft underlining aroma. Thick texture with a good balance of the strawberries and raspberries. The mango once again offers the smoothness and kicks off the subtle aroma on the finish. Fresh and naturally sweet.

As you can imagine, all of these are designed to be a part of recipes such as –

Wild Berry Colada

Glass –

Highball or Hurricane

Ingredients –

30 ml Finest Call Wildberry Puree
30 ml Jim Beam Red Stag
90 ml Finest Call Pina Colada Mix
3-4 leaves mint leaves
2 cups ice

Method – 

Pour Finest Call Wild Berry Puree in the bottom of the glass. Combine remaining ingredients in a blender and pour over Wild Berry Puree. Swirl with spoon and garnish with fresh berries.

or perhaps

Finest Call Mojito

Glass – 


Ingredients – 

50 ml White rum
90 ml Finest Call Mojito Mix
Top with soda water

Method – 

Combine the first two ingredients in a Boston glass filled with ice. Shake and strain into a tall glass filled with ice. Top with soda water and garnish with a mint sprig and lime wedges.

There are many other expressions available, including Margarita mixes, a range of purée such as banana, mango, strawberry, passion fruit and watermelon, a Bloody Mary mix and syrups like sugar syrup, almond and triple sec. These are perfect for at home too, with simple to use bottles and a long shelf life (on average around 18 months unopened, 12 months when opened and refrigerated and 3 months if not) and great for summer or winter punch bowls. Pick up some bottles for your bar at home and take a test to see how quickly it can be to whip up a cocktail, and keeping the freshness.

© David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast 2015. 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.



There’s a new whiskey making waves here in the UK, and if you follow me on any of my social media channels, you would have seen me become one of the first to experience when they were released only 12 weeks ago. A look into these new expressions from the Michter’s brand reveals some classic history lessons, so pour a dram and let’s go exploring!

The Michter’s brand starts way back in Schaefferstown, Pennsylvania in 1753. Swiss man John Shenk founded a distillery and named it after himself, producing whiskey from rye grain, favoured by many local farmers in the Pennsylvania Blue Mountain Valley. In the mid-1800’s, Dutchman Abraham Bomberger purchased the distillery from the Shenk family, changing the name of the distillery to Bomberger. Once 1919 hit, Prohibition came into force across America, temporarily shutting the distillery until the repeal. Once it reopened though, the distillery changed hand many times, coming close to financial ruin until the 1950’s when Lou Forman, the current owner at the time, created the Michter’s brand we see today. He combined portions of his son’s names – Michael and Peter. in 1989 though, the American whiskey industry was in the midst of a downturn of fortunes, and the owners declared bankruptcy, leaving the distillery in disrepair.

It wasn’t until the 1990’s did we see the foundations laid for the brand we see today. Joseph J. Magliocco (a previous lover of Michter’s and bartender in New York) and his consultant and mentor Richard “Dick” Newman (previous runner of Old Grand-Dad, Old Crow, and Old Taylor for National Distillers before becoming President and CEO of Austin Nichols, the distiller of Wild Turkey) came together with a focus to honour the Michter’s legacy. After gaining the Michter’s trademark, they made the bold decision to resurrect Michter’s in Kentucky to ensure better access to the resources needed.  Here they built a a 65,000 square foot distillery in the Shively section of Louisville and, currently under renovation, the architecturally significant Fort Nelson Building in downtown Louisville.

So what are Michter’s Master Distiller Willie Pratt and Michter’s Distiller Pam Heillmer doing to create the range of expressions available?

After using two small pot stills and a custom-built 32 inch diameter, 46 foot high copper column still with a distinctive copper pot still doubler, they are utilising a different method than usual to mature the casks. Using charred oak barrels that have been dried, sometimes for as long as 18-36 months, this causes the whisky to interact with an enhanced state from the natural properties of the wood, resulting in a supposed better flavour. The whisky itself is 103 proof instead of the normal industry level of 125 proof, and it’s said to be lower so the concentrated sugars in the toasted and charred wood can dissolve more readily.

A relatively unheard of process being used is heat cycling the barrels. Essentially, the more often whiskey expands and contracts (‘cycles’) soaking in and then out of the wood of the barrel, the more flavour it absorbs from the sugars in the caramelized toasted wood. Heat cycling is caused by the raising of the temperatures in the barrel warehouses to induce extra cycles within a given year. Although the process is not without its flaws. It is extremely costly due to the cycles increase of the ‘Angel Share’ evaporation during ageing.

The US*1 expressions, so named to honour Michter’s heritage harkening back to America’s first whiskey company, are the current released names in the UK market, so below, I give to you my tasting notes –

Michter’s US*1 Straight Rye – 42.4%

Made from select American rye grain and comes from a new American single white oak barrel. Light with dry rye notes on the nose. Plenty of oak on the palate, with dry raisin and fruits to create a very long, soft spice finish.

Michter’s US*1 Sour – 43%

A hark back to the 1970’s and 1980’s when the original Michter’s Sour Mash Whiskey was the distillery’s single most popular product.
Light on the nose with soft butter notes. Soft with a punch of dry fruit upon the palate. Cinnamon flavours are present leading to a very dry finish with hints of oak.

Michter’s US*1 Bourbon – 45.7%

Made from a selected mashbill that features the highest quality American corn. Matured often in excess of eight years. in a batch size composed of no more than two dozen barrels.
A great nose of whiskey soaked Christmas pudding, with sharp intakes of caramel. Slight bitterness from the fruits on the palate, but mellows into rich caramel to create a long and very dry spiced finish.

Michter’s US*1 Unblended American Whiskey – 41.7%

Taken from the Michter’s website – “Unlike Bourbon or Rye, which, by definition, must be aged in new oak barrels, our US 1 Unblended American Whiskey is aged in a way that utilizes bourbon-soaked barrels to achieve a rich and unique flavor profile. In late 2013, Master Distiller Willie Pratt agreed to re-release our US 1 Unblended American Whiskey after a nearly three-year absence from the market, deeming it “just right” and “the best it’s ever been.” Crucially, our US 1 Unblended American Whiskey never contains grain neutral spirits – hence its “unblended” distinction”
Very light upon the nose, with soft oak aromas mixing with vanilla essences. Soft and light on the palate too. Butterscotch and caramel blend before a slight hit of fruit before the short finish.

A great range, with four different profiles to entice a wide range of whiskey lovers. Although not once to shout about any signature serves per say, a good dram on its own or over ice would do the trick.

One or two for your collection at home, and lets just hope that this latest chapter of Michter’s is a lot more steady than its previous years!

© David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast 2015. 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.

National Final Of Wild Turkey Bourbon’s UK Cocktail Competition Comes To Manchester


Gruppo Campari’s Wild Turkey® Bourbon has searched the length of the country for its annual UK Cocktail Competition; seeking out the best whiskey bartender to be judged at the final on the 27th of August at the recently opened bar, Cane and Grain in Manchester.  The finalists will be competing not only for the 2014 Title but for a transatlantic trip to the home of Bourbon – Kentucky.

The iconic American brand began its search in July at Edinburgh’s Voodoo Rooms, followed by Jenny’s Bar in Liverpool, then headed south to Boilermaker in Nottingham, took to Hawksmoor in the Capital and finished up in Bristol at the Red Light.

The judges, which included Wild Turkey’s UK Brand Ambassador Martin Taylor, as well as the likes of Tiger White from the Edinburgh Whisky Blog, Greg Dillon from, Leon Dallaway from Shake Rattle and Stir and Lynette Pinchess from the Nottingham Post chose the best 12 bartenders from a list of more than 200 entries. 

The 12 finalists will be judged by Martin Taylor and with him; leading trade publication Imbibe’s spirits expert Clint Cawood and last years winner, Henry Yates of Boilermaker in Nottingham.

The winner, plus 2 runners up, will win an exclusive trip to Kentucky to discover the recently opened Wild Turkey Visitor Centre, indulge in a VIP tour and special tasting, before wrapping up with a night in New York City checking out all the best bourbon bars.

Last years winner Henry Yates won the competition unanimously with his cocktail named ‘The Right to Freeze Peach’ which was voted for by judges Simon Difford of, Martin Taylor of Wild Turkey, and Hugo Mills, previously of Gruppo Campari.

Speaking about his creation, Henry said, “My inspiration for the peach, ice tea and mint cocktail originated from Wild Turkey country.  I wanted to create a cocktail with ingredients which are readily available, as an introduction to Bourbon.”

To make last years winning Wild Turkey cocktail ‘The Right to Freeze Peach’ by Henry Yates, you will need;

50ml Wild Turkey 81
10ml Crème de peche
20ml Peach syrup (canned)
10ml Lemon juice
100ml Iced black tea (Chinese)
6 drops of Grapefruit bitters

Shake over ice, strain and serve in an empty peach tin can with a sprig of mint and garnish with a Wild Turkey 101 atomised peach slice.

Details of this years finalists who will be competing for Henry’s title are as below:

Scotland –                      Will Cox of The Bon Vivant , Michael Braun of Panda & Sons and Michael Cameron of Guy’s Restaurant & Bar
North England –           Tim Laferla of Mr Coopers House & Garden and Paul Murphy of Whiskey Business
Midlands –                     Andy Moran of Boilermaker and Joe Macbeth of The Lacehouse
South West –                 Richard Tring of Red Light and Michael Sharpe of Hyde & Co
London –                       Joshua Cynar Reynolds and Alistair Reynolds of Hawksmoor Spitalfields and Sam Kershaw of Hawksmoor Guildhall


Raise A Glass To Elmer With Buffalo Trace’s Limited Edition Elmer T. Lee Commemorative Edition

Elmer T. LeeCelebrate the spirit of Elmer T. Lee with a new limited edition from Buffalo Trace. One year after the bastion of bourbon passed away at the age of 93, Buffalo Trace has created the Elmer T. Lee Commemorative Edition as a tribute to their iconic Master Distiller who devoted his life to
developing and safeguarding their unparalleled bourbon. With only 36 bottles available in the UK and featuring Elmer’s inimitable single barrel recipe, the Elmer T. Lee Commemorative Edition is set to become as legendary as it’s namesake.

After serving in the United States Air Force and graduating with a degree in engineering, Elmer joined Buffalo Trace’s Kentucky Distillery in 1949. It was his passion for engineering that enabled Elmer to develop the first ever single barrel bourbon in 1984, revitalising the industry and placing Buffalo Trace at the forefront of the bourbon trend. It was this revolutionary trait that was to stay with Elmer throughout his career, first as master distiller and then as Buffalo Trace’s global bourbon ambassador – travelling the world to impart his knowledge to bourbon fans and regale them with stories from his past.
It was only after almost 4 decades of service that he was honoured with his eponymous bourbon, visiting the distillery every week in his retirement to carefully select the barrels for his namesake spirit.

Sadly, Elmer died in 2013, just weeks before what would have been his 94th birthday and it is now, 1 year on, that Buffalo Trace honours Elmer again. Commemorating and honouring Elmer’s distinguished life, this velvet-smooth bourbon is the jewel in the crown for Buffalo Trace – a befitting celebration of Elmer’s many years of service. The release signifies Elmer’s boundless commitment to Buffalo Trace as well as his love of bourbon and it is for that reason that the Elmer T. Lee Commemorative Edition is bottled at 93 proof (46.5% ABV) – 3 proof
higher than the other editions (90 proof, 45% ABV), denoting Elmer’s age and quality as a Master Distiller.

Selected from the same warehouse floors, which Elmer liked to find his “honey” barrels for his
namesake bourbon, the Commemorative Edition features Elmer’s characteristic signature and wears the profile of the legendary Master Distiller, as well as details about his life, on the back label. Its smooth and balanced sweetness and classically spiced flavour, make this limited edition bourbon a must-have for enthusiasts and aficionados alike and features the classic Elmer T. Lee taste that bourbon fans have come to know and love.

In a final salute to Elmer, profits from the sale of this limited edition Elmer T. Lee Commemorative Edition bourbon will go to local Veterans of Foreign Wars charities.

Priced from £79.99 and available from 15 August 2014 from Gerry’s, Hedonism, Whiskey Shop and Amathus

Shot Dropz Tasting Notes

Shot Dropz

“We’ve all been there. On a cruise, dying to let our hair down and let loose. You get a bottle of rum, vodka, whatever you prefer, and you get your party started.

But something doesn’t quite taste right. You need something to mix with your shot and you don’t want to pay the insane prices that usually accompany small travel drinks, right?”

The above comes straight from the literature that Shot Dropz provide, and to be fair, I’ve been in the same kind of pickle myself at that young adult point in my life. There’s nothing worse than you just wanting to spice up a spirit, but having to buy way more than you would ever need.
Enter Glenn Hettinger of Columbus, America. Whilst being in the same situation, he had an idea, and in 2012 the first batch of Shot Dropz were released.

Housed in a 15 ml pouch, Shot Dropz come in four different alcohol-free varieties, all ready to be added to a 30 ml shot of either rum, vodka or tequila. So, lets see how they fare, and of course if they really do make a spirit more palatable –

Shot Dropz Lemon Drop – 0%

A very subtle nose of lemons, with an incredibly sharp, sweet and sour flavour on the palate. Think sherbet dip. Short.
Try with Jose Cuervo Silver or Bacardi Superior.

Shot Dropz Appletini – 0%

Plenty of apple aromas on the nose, with sweetness coming through. Again incredibly sharp, sweet and sour flavours on the palate. Also short.
Try with Smirnoff Red.

Shot Dropz Orange – 0%

Strong dried orange aromas on the nose, with yet again an incredible sharp, sweet and sour flavour on the palate. Short as well.
Try with Smirnoff Red.

Shot Dropz Margarita – 0%

Potent citrus on the nose, with, surprisingly, a palate that is a little softer than its counterparts. Still short, but more agreeable.
Try with Jose Cuervo Silver. 

Personally, I think Shot Dropz is very student-orientated. Quick and easy, and creates four ‘cocktails’ that are readily available in most Student Unions. Although I’m not taken with the idea of having the shot on its own, the mixers to the spirits suggested above will add a different slant to them, but to be honest we’re not talking anything ground-breaking. To be fair though, it does what it says it will do, and the students could love it.

© David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast 2014. 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.

Death’s Door Tasting Notes

Death's Door

Washington Island, Wisconsin isn’t the first place you would think of when it comes to naming a birth place of a gin brand. To be fair, compared to the likes of Britain and Holland, the US lacks the productivity and numbers of every mothers favourite tipple. But the trend is changing, and America is once again embracing the juniper based spirit with open arms and producing some classic brands in the process. There’s one brand in particular that I’ve personally been trying to get hold of for a couple of years now, and not for the lack of trying. You get the sense of a great gin when only limited bottles come over to be stocked in your favourite spirit merchant, only to run out after a day.

Welcome to Death’s Door.

But before we come onto taking a look at the brand, we have to venture back into the history of Washington Island, and how it has raised itself to be a significant contributor to the making of Death’s Door.

Washington Island is like a fairytale. ‘A 22 square mile island that hosts 700 residents who enjoy the school, a rec center, a medical clinic, a downtown strip with bars and a grocery, churches, a bank and a gas station. What Washington Island also has is miles of beautiful uninterrupted shoreline, protected coves and inlets, and acres upon acres of open land with rolling hills and hardwood stands’. Washington Island is also famous for its potato farming, exporting all over the world until the 1970’s when the potato industry packed and left, leaving the island with no reason to grow its crops. 2005 thought saw a resurgence, after a small group explored the possibility of reinvigorating the farming culture. It wasn’t just potato they thought of, but also wheat, as two brothers, Tom and Ken Koyen, saw the opportunity to try something different. This wheat is now the select speciality grain for use in Capital Brewery’s Island Wheat Ale and all of Death’s Door Spirits products. With this significant contribution towards this, both Death’s Door Spirits and Capital Brewery have supported the farmers’ efforts on Washington Island to expand the acreage of hard red winter wheat from five acres to 1,200, while two years ago organic certification was achieved for all of the crops.

So how did Death’s Door come about?

Following on from the resurgence of the agriculture trade on Washington Island, founder Brian Ellison commissioned the construction of Death’s Door new state-of-the art distillery in Middleton, Wisconsin which was completed on June 4th, 2012, becoming the largest craft distillery in Wisconsin and one of the largest in the region. The distilling of Death’s Door is led by John Jeffery, who uses the local organic red winter wheat, the Death’s Door vodka base, as well as only three botanicals (coriander, fennel, and juniper) which again are all sourced locally from Wisconsin.

The big question is though, how does it fare? Well below I give to you my tasting notes –

Death’s Door Gin – 47%

A good, soft hit of juniper and coriander on the nose, with a spicy start on the palate. It mellows slightly, with the fennel coming through alongside the coriander to create a herbal combination. Lingering spice on the tongue as it finishes.

A cracking gin, and I can see why it is a popular brand. If you see it in your favourite bar, ask for one of these –

Corpse Reviver
Corpse Reviver

Corpse Reviver

Glass – 


Ingredients –

25 ml Death’s Door Gin
25 ml Lillet Blonde
25 ml Cointreau
25 ml Fresh Lemon Juice

Method – 

Add all ingredients except absinthe to an ice filled shaker. Shake and strain into a chilled coupet glass rinsed with absinthe. Garnish with a lemon ribbon.

Death’s Door takes its name from the body of water between Door County peninsula and Washington Island. You can take your own bottle from here as part of your collection. I’d say share with your friends, but once you try, i don’t think you’ll want to!

© David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast 2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog/sites author and owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Jefferson’s Tasting Notes

jeffersons banner

Everyone loves a small-batch spirit. Usually it means more care and attention, no commercialisation, no huge production lines ‘ruining’ the quality of the spirit its producing. Quick question though, how small do you have to be to be called ‘small-batch’? Thousands of barrels produced like usual? Well how about around 8-12?

Jefferson’s Bourbon is a small collection as you can imagine. Founded only 15 years ago by a gentleman, and well-known bourbon historian, named Chet Zoeller and his son Trey, they wanted to pay homage to one of the countries most complex founding fathers, Thomas Jefferson, the American President and politician instrumental to American Independence in 1783. Trey also continues a family legacy of distilling passed down from older generations. Handcrafted in “very small batches,” using traditional techniques, his bourbons appeal to novices and experts alike.

Jefferson’s “Very small batch” bourbons are produced by skillfully marrying a selection of 8 to 12 barrels of various ages, and in the Reserve ‘s case, is a blend of 60% Corn, 30% Rye and 10% Malted Barley. But how do they fare once they are bottled? Well below, I give to you my tasting notes – 

Jefferson’s Reserve – 45.1%

The first bourbon released by Jefferson’s It is a combination of three different bourbons, including whiskey aged up to 20 years in American oak.
Cream, hints of vanilla and a little scent of dried hay are present on the nose. A little sharp on the palate to begin with, but soon mellows into a warming hit of sweet toffee, tobacco and subtle spice. Lingers.

The newest addition to the Jefferson’s line, Jefferson’s Rye, is made with 10 year old North American Straight Rye Whiskey, so that’s 100% North American Rye, aged in number 3 charred American oak barrels. But how does the newcomer fare?

Jefferson’s Rye – 47%

Hints of vanilla and green apple on the nose, with a slight hint of baked pear coming through. Lots of rye flavours on the palate, with ginger, honey and hints of spice near the long finish. Bold and moorish.

Two great bourbons on their own, but what about asking your bartender for one of these –

Perfect Manhattan
Perfect Manhattan

Perfect Manhattan

Glass – 


Ingredients – 

60 ml Jefferson’s Reserve
15 ml Sweet Vermouth
2 dashes The Bitter Truth Old Time Aromatic Bitters

Method – 

Combine the ingredients into a shaker with ice. Stir and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a cherry.

There are tw0 others in the Jefferson’s portfolio including the younger brother of the Reserve in Jefferson’s Bourbon and the 18yr Presidential Select. Something to also bear in mind is the range is also award-winning, with the Reserve grabbing a gold medal at the Wine & Spirits Olympics 2001, a gold medal winner at the Moscow Spirit Fair 2005 and announced as Bourbon of the Year 2005 Wine Connoisseur Buying Guide.

Just when you thought it couldn’t get any better, and you’ll be saying the same before you even hit the new 10yr rye expression. Limited quantities, so make sure you grab a bottle.

Manchester Whisky Festival 2013 Review


The Bridgewater Hall in Manchester was the host of the biggest whisky festival outside of London, so big in fact that there had to be two floors filled with some cracking brands. The Whisky Lounge were the proud organisers for the 5th year in a row and had on offer the crème de la crème of the whisky world from both Scotland and Ireland, and even a few in Japan, India, England and America for good measure. Part of the Manchester Food & Drink Festival, there would be a host of seminars and masterclasses on offer including names such as Colin Dunn of Diageo and The Whisky Lounge founder Eddie Ludlow. This year I myself didn’t participate in any of the workshops on offer, but took full advantage of scanning the list for new additions, rare offerings and old favourites.

So, below, in order I sampled, I give to you my tasting notes on the days offerings –

Talisker Storm – 45.8%

Spice on the nose with hints of smoke and honey. A rich beginning on the palate, with a spicy kick following and sea smoke hitting the finish. Long.

Talisker Port Ruighe – 45.8%

Smoky notes on the nose with a ripe fruit following. A peppery beginning on the palate, but develops a peat flavour that mixes smoke and dark fruits. A lingering finish.

Berry Bros. & Rudd Blue Hanger Blended Malt, 6th Release – 45.6%

Rich orange and vanilla on the nose alongside waves of peat aromas. Fruits are present on the palate, with the well-rounded finish of sweet orange and smoky flavours.

Aberlour – Batch 2 (That Boutique-y Whisky Company) – 52.1%

Sultana, apple and chocolate notes on the nose, with lots of spice, treacle and dark chocolate blending well on the palate. Creates a very long finish.

Elements of Islay BR 4 – 54.7%

From Bruichladdich. Lots of sweet fruit notes on the nose, with the fruits moving straight onto the palate. Blended with a honeyed sweetness and a pepper finish.

William Grant’s Ale Cask Reserve – 40%

Smooth herbal nose with a little sweetness lingering. Edinburgh ale aromas on the palate, with the oak coming through more as it develops. Slight fudge and barley near the honey finish.

William Grant’s Sherry Cask Reserve – 40%

Light and fruity on the nose, with a mix of honey and nuts present too. A well-balanced palate with dried fruits, spice, nuts and oak dancing nicely to a long finish.

English Whisky Company - Founders Private Cellar
English Whisky Company – Founders Private Cellar

Tullamore Dew – 40%

Lots of fruit and oats on the nose, with hints of sweet caramel coming through too. Hints of spice, sherry on the palate leads to a long caramel finish.

Tweeddale Batch 3 12yr – 46%

A great blend of apples and vanilla on the nose, with a sniff of raisin near the finish. The aromas follow onto the palate, with an added hint of ginger. A little kick of spice to finish.

Tweeddale Batch 4 14yr

A light nose of dry lavender and herbs, with a palate that enjoys soft caramel blended with waves of spiced peat. Hints of salt and smoke come through as it finishes.

‘The Bomb’ Blended Malt – Oloroso Finish – 47.4%

A nose of fresh plums and raisins dominate, whilst sweet flavours of marzipan and spicy fruits blend well for a lingering finish.

‘The Bomb’ Blended Malt – Pedro Ximinez Finish – 45.4%

Lots of sweet fruits with dark berries on the nose, with a vanilla and fruit blend on the palate that creates a long finish.

The Salty Sea Dog – 46%

Fresh on the nose with plenty of sea salt and peaty smoke that carries onto the palate. Draws out a long, tangy yet defining finish with lingering peat and crunchy salt.


Springbank 10yr – 46%

Lots of oak and earth notes on the nose, with a more cereal base on the palate. Peat, nuts and smoke create a long, crisp finish.

Hazelburn 12yr – 46%

Very aromatic on the nose with dry fruits, sherry and toffee coming through. A little spicy on the palate, with cocoa, coffee and a hint of peat nearing the finish. A long finish.


English Whisky Chapter 13 – 49%

Hints of smoke on the nose, with a following of spice and dark chocolate. A creamy texture on the palate, with notes of vanilla and toffee blending with fruits to create a long, dry finish.

English Whisky Founders Private Cellar (Cask 0859) – 60.8%

Dark berry notes on the nose with a slight kick of cinnamon lingering on the finish. Black pepper flavours on the palate, moving to a creamy texture of fudge and vanilla. The spice returns for a long, dry finish.

Longmorn 12 Year Old (Gordon & MacPhail) – 40%

Lots of fruit on the nose with some oak aromas following. Plenty of citrus and orange flavours dominate the palate, creating a long, juicy finish that lasts for a while.

Atholl Brose – 35%

Light and fresh on the nose with a mix of ginger and citrus that doesn’t dominate and overpower too much. A light ginger flavour to begin, it develops nicely with an instant warming. Sweet ginger near the end as the soft velvet texture coats your mouth.

William Grants & Sons
William Grants & Sons

Girvan Patent Still Single Grain 25yr – 42%

Light aroma on the nose of caramelised fruits, with good doses of toffee, honey and rich vanilla on the palate as they blend well to create a lingering dram.

Hakushu 12yr – 43.5%

Fresh nose of green fruit with a whisp of smoke lingering. Sweetness on the palate, with pear dominating and the soft smoke creating a dry texture.

Hibiki 12yr – 43%

Lots of pineapple and plum aromas blending nicely on the nose and following through onto the palate to create a soft and sweet flavour. A little spice on the end.

Auchentoshan 18yr – 43%

Bold notes of vanilla and spice on the nose with hints of sweet ginger following. Roasted nuts and vanilla flavours are present on the palate, creating a long, not-wanting-to-end finish.

Aberlour 16yr – 43%

Dry but rich on the nose with spice and raisins dominating. Quite sweet on the palate with a soft plum and long oak finish.

Rock Town Brandon’s Small Batch Gin – 46%

Very fresh with lots of citrus on the nose. Plenty of juniper, with subtle spice wandering around. A little dry on the palate, with coriander noticeable, and angelica following. A kick of spice to finish a long offering.

Rock Town Arkansas Young Bourbon – 46%

Aromas of fresh corn on the nose, with some dried fruits and spices present on the palate. A little hint of oak on the long, long finish.

Laphroaig Quarter Cask – 48%

Butter, toffee and raisin are present on the nose, surrounded by scented oil. A sweet start on the palate, but a huge kick of heat with iodine and fruit coming into play. A shorter finish than what you expect.

Laphroaig 18yr – 48%

Toffee nose with hints of cereal and spice leads to a warm yet rounded flavour of smoke and liquorice on the palate. A long, rich toffee finish.

Cardhu 12yr – 40%

Sweet, rich aromas of white fruit on the nose. Well-rounded on the palate, with a good dose of smooth peat and whispers of smoke on this long dram.

Some fantastic whiskies on offer yet again at the Manchester leg of the show. There’s some on the list above that I probably will never get round to trying again so to attend a show like this can really throw towards you some real gems. Highlights for me include Rock Town Arkansas Young Bourbon, Auchentoshan 18yr, Hakushu 12yr and English Whisky Founders Private Cellar (Cask 0859).
If you like whisky, then you will love attending these festivals. If you’re not a lover, you can be pointed into the direction of some of the more introductory whiskies on offer in the world. This is the best thing about this category – love it or hate it, there will always be something to convert or possibly soften your initial thought.


© David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast 2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog/sites author and owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Wild Turkey Tasting Notes

Wild Turkey

It’s not often you get to have lunch with a Master Distiller, especially one who has never even visited the UK before. But that’s exactly what happened today when Eddie Russell of Wild Turkey came to Manchester’s Room Restaurant and Cocktail Bar to talk about his and his fathers, Jimmy Russell, creations.

With bartenders coming from some of Manchester’s finest including Australasia, Simple, The Living Room and The Liquorists, ex Manchester based Martin Taylor (of Black Dog Ballroom, Corridor and Fluid Bars fame) who is the UK Wild Turkey Brand Ambassador, introduced Eddie and his fascinating insight into a brand that many of us know of in some way or form. I myself didn’t know too much about the name, although I’ve had many a dram of it’s two main expressions,  so with my new-found knowledge and initial research, let’s take a look into the Bird –

Eddie Russell
Eddie Russell

The brand can start its history way back in 1869 when the Ripy brothers opened their family distillery on Wild Turkey Hill in Lawrenceburg, Kentucky. Initial interest of the distillery came from the Ripy brothers representing Kentucky at the 1893 World’s Fair, but with the beginning of Prohibition in the US in 1919, the distillery closed until 1933. In 1940 though, Thomas McCarthy, a distillery executive, brought some of his whiskey with him on a wild turkey hunt and shared it amongst friends. It’s said that they enjoyed it so much that they requested he bring some more ‘Wild Turkey’ bourbon on the next hunt. 1954 saw Master Distiller Jimmy Russell (Eddie’s father) join the company, and in 1980, Eddie himself started to work in all parts of the distillery process and bottling, eventually rising to his current role as the associate master distiller. Before Eddie joined though, 1971 saw the Ripy brothers bought out by Austin Nichols Distilling Company, who were subsequently acquired by Pernod Ricard in 1980. Now though, its name is under the Campari Group who purchased the brand back in 2009.

It’s hard to believe that Jimmy and Eddie Russell have a combined 93 years of loyal service in producing Wild Turkey, even more so when Eddie reveals that his father still works at the distillery every day, producing their 15 strong portfolio. It would also be common to see him chatting to other industry distillers like Booker Noe of Jim Beam and Elmer T. Lee of Buffalo Trace (who has very unfortunately passed away this past week) over a dram of his favourite – Wild Turkey 101. But how does Jimmy and Eddie create their biggest seller?

It begins with the selection of sweet corn, rye, and barley malt for distilling, and then using water that comes straight from the Kentucky River to cook the grains during the mashing and malting stage. Once the malted barley gets tossed in, sour mash is added to start the fermentation process. During this process, the yeast turns the starch into sugar. The yeast strain used is the same from the very beginning, and kept in various places (including Eddie’s fridge and even another state in case the power goes and warms the strain, rendering it useless) and is added to the corn, rye, and malt to create the yeast mash. Once the fermentation has finished, the liquid mash is pumped into a continuous still where it is heated so the alcohol can disperse from the mash, rise up the still and into a condenser where it forms back into a liquid.
After distillation, the spirit is poured into new #4 alligator char, white oak barrels and then stored for aging. The whiskey is tasted annually after two years until ready to be drawn from the cask (Wild Turkey age there whiskey longer than most distilleries). Once Jimmy and Eddie believe that the Wild Turkey is ready, the bourbon is poured through a filtration system and into a bottling machine.

Wild TurkeyThe UK only have three of their fifteen strong portfolio available, but two of them have been created by Eddie Russell himself, and their 101 has been a mainstay since the beginning. But how do they fare? Well below, I give to you my tasting notes –

Wild Turkey 81 – 40.5%

Introduced in 2011 and has aged bourbon of 6-8 years. A nose that begins rather light, but develops aromas of vanilla and caramel to have a rich finish. Smooth on the palate with a velvet texture despite lots of wood flavours. A slow spice and vanilla finish that’s long and mouth-watering.

Wild Turkey 101 – 50.5%

A marriage of primarily 6, 7 and 8-year-old bourbon. Aromas of light wood with lingering notes of caramel and vanilla on the nose. A sharp slice of spice and the vanilla at the beginning of the palate, with the spice developing a warmth that freshens and lingers for a long finish.

Wild Turkey American Honey – 35.5%

Introduced in 2006 and is a blend of pure honey and 4-year-old Wild Turkey. Soft and light on the nose with a lingering scent of honey and sweetness. Almost aromatic. Soft again on the palate, with the sweetness carrying on to oak and vanilla flavours. A great blend of flavours that leaves a fresh aromatic experience.

A fantastic range, with the 101 your traditional sipping bourbon, the 81 introduced by Eddie for the cocktail mixer crowd, and the American Honey to introduce non-bourbon drinkers to the American spirit. As mentioned, the 81 would go great with one of these –

Prohibition Era Manhattan
Prohibition Era Manhattan

Prohibition Era Manhattan

Glass – 


Ingredients – 

60 ml Wild Turkey 81
30 ml Cinzano Rosso Vermouth
1 dash of Angostura Bitters


Stir all of your ingredients with ice in a mixing glass until well chilled. Strain into a chilled glass. Garnish with an olive and a lemon twist.

Wild Turkey is a growing brand, with Australia and Japan huge fans of the brand (Eddie and Jimmy once spent 45 minutes signing items on their first visit to Japan, and they had only just left their car!), but the UK is seeing more awareness in the name, especially within the bars as they compete in Wild Turkey’s first ever cocktail competition. If you’re in cities including London, Bristol, Edinburgh and of course Manchester, expect many a bartender to try out their creations on you all as they try to win themselves a prize to the Wild Turkey Distillery!

A brand that is worth gracing your drinks cabinet, and a name that covers all aspects of bourbon drinkers too. What more could you ask?!

* A special thanks to Martin Taylor for allowing me the time to come along and meet Eddie Russell in person.

© David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast 2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog/sites author and owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Manchester Whisky Club Review – June

MCR Whisky Club - USA

The end of last month saw meeting number six of the Manchester Whisky Club, held at the new venue of The Castle in Manchester. Just like last month, a theme was the order of the day, with everything American celebrated. Club founder Andy brought with him 5 expressions covering a little bit of everything, so without further a do, lets see how they all fared –

Kentucky Vintage – 45%

Quite floral yet rich on the nose with a hint of sweetness. Lots of flavour on the palate with a long citrus finish that freshens.

Four Roses Single Barrel – 50%

Initial hit of wood on the nose but smooths out to fruit and spice.Surprisingly smooth on the palate with ripe fruits starting before receiving a kick near the middle and slowly mellowing out to a long finish.

MCR Whisky ClubBalcones True Blue – 50%

Light beginning on the nose but develops a rich aroma of fudge and caramel. Rather sharp on the palate too, with caramel and citrus flavours lingering for a very long time.

Sazerac Straight Rye 6-8yr – 45%

On the nose, a spicy aroma mixes with pear to produce a soft fruit offering with a slight sweetness. The spice makes a slightly intense presence on the tongue but develops into a sweeter ending.

Buffalo Trace White Dog Mash 1 – 62.5%

An unaged bourbon, on the nose it gave a distinct corn and grain aroma which turned into a very strong, hot flavour on the palate. Surprisingly mouth-watering.

A great collection showcased, with the Sazerac Rye and White Dog my personal highlights. Although the Balcones was a pleasant surprise and it’s been a while since I’ve had the Four Roses, and after trying again I’m surprised it’s not in my collection.

July is all about Japan with a selection of their highly regarded whiskies.

Join Manchester Whisky Club here or follow them on Twitter at @MCRWhiskyClub and Facebook.

Check out the rest of the photos of the first meet via my Facebook page.

© David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast 2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog/sites author and owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.