Amarula is a cream liqueur from South Africa and uses the unique fruit of the Marula tree. Marula is an exotic fruit found only on the sub-Saharan plains of Africa, where it grows in the wild for just a few weeks of the year.
Harvesting of the fruit, ripened under the African sun, happens at the height of the African summer, from mid-January to mid-March. Many of these wild-growing trees, indigenous to sub-Saharan Africa, are found in the sub-tropical region of Phalaborwa in Limpopo Province.
When the fruit falls to the ground it is collected by the women of the local rural communities before being delivered to the Amarula production plant in Phalaborwa.
At the plant, each fruit is individually checked to ensure it is fully ripened and free of blemishes before the flesh is crushed with the skins. In a de-stoning tank, rotating blades separate the flesh from the hard seeds or nuts. The fruit pulp is pumped into cooling tanks, where it is kept at a consistent temperature below 6 degrees centigrade to prevent uncontrolled fermentation. The marula pulp is then transported to the cellars in Stellenbosch where it is fermented under conditions similar to wine making. After fermentation, the marula wine is distilled twice, first in column stills and then in copper pot stills, to create a young marula distillate. It is essential that the fresh marula wine is distilled as quickly as possible to retain the fresh fruity flavours. During the second distillation the marula flavours are further concentrated. One distilled, the spirit is aged slowly in wood, spending two years in small oak barrels. Fresh dairy cream is then blended with the Amarula.
So how does Amarula fare? Well below, I give to you my tasting notes –
Amarula – 17%
On the nose, a very light aroma of the exotic Marula fruit makes its way through, with the taste almost bursting as it hits your palate. A sweet tang to it, it covers your palate nicely and gives off a slow release of Marula that lasts.
A great fruit cream liqueur to enjoy over ice after a meal, or ask your bartender for one of these –
160 ml Amarula Cream
2 Tbs crushed brownie or (Chocolate biscuits)
2 Tsp Hazelnut liqueur
2 Tsp Orange liqueur
30 ml Peppermint Liqueur
Pinch of cinnamon
Chocolate shavings to garnish
Fresh ginger to garnish
Add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker or blender. Close, shake or blend for 30 seconds, pour over ice cubes into a hi-ball glass and add crushed ice as a top layer. Garnish with wedge of cookie or with chocolate shavings and fresh ginger.
A great cocktail to enjoy not only all year round, but with one of these –
Amarula Bread and Butter Pudding
500 ml Milk
375 ml double cream
5 ml vanilla essence
40 g butter, melted
6 large eggs
200 g castor sugar
125 ml Amarula Cream
6 small soft bread rolls
25 g sultanas, soaked in water and drained
100 g apricot glaze, warm
In a pan, bring the milk, cream and vanilla essence to the boil. Use a little of the butter to grease a large oval pie dish. In a bowl, whisk the eggs and castor sugar until pale. Gradually add the milk-cream mixture, stirring. Add the Amarula Cream and strain through a fine sieve. Cut the bread rolls into thin slices and butter them. Arrange in the pie dish and sprinkle over the sultanas. Pour the Amarula mixture over the bread. The bread will float to the top. Place the dish in a bain-marie on top of folded newspaper and pour in hot water to come halfway up the sides of the dish. Bake in a preheated oven, 160.
You have to love such a versatile liqueur! Ever since its release back in 1983, its been a staple for both bars and kitchens world wide. Which means only one thing, your missing out.
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.
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.
If you’re ever with me for a drink, it’s a rarity I go for lager these days, nothing against them, I just seem to have a bigger heart towards ales. But what I do love is the time where you can just crack open a bottle at home on a hot summers day. Millers is my preferred tipple when on the hunt, so with this in mind, lets see how the brand came about.
The Miller Brewing Company was founded back in 1855 by Frederick Miller. It was at this time that he purchased the small Plank-Road Brewery in the Menomonee Valley in Milwaukee and utilised the easy access to raw materials produced on nearby farms. Over a hundred years later, the family were no longer a part of the company, with W. R. Grace and Company agreeing to buy 53% of Miller from Mrs. Lorraine John Mulberger (Frederick Miller’s granddaughter, who objected to alcohol) and her family on September 19th 1966. Three years later on 12 June 1969, Philip Morris bought Miller from W.R. Grace for $130 million, before being bought by the South African Breweries in 2002, to become a merged company named SABMiller. On October 10th 2007, SABMiller and Molson Coors agreed to combine their U.S. operations in a joint venture called MillerCoors.
Miller High Life is the companies oldest brand, having been first introduced back in 1903 and marketed as a pilsner. The more widely found brand, especially here in the UK, is the Miller Genuine Draft. First introduced in 1985, it is the original cold filtered packaged draft beer, which means that the beer is not pasteurized. The concept for the brand was developed by product consultant Calle & Company. Martin Calle evolved the concept from Miller’s New Ventures effort to launch a new dry beer at a time Miller Brewing was in danger of becoming a much-cloned light beer manufacturer. Originally introduced as ‘Miller High Life Genuine Draft’, the ‘High Life’ part of the name was soon dropped. Miller Genuine Draft is actually made from the same recipe as Miller High Life but with a different treatment. It was developed to give High Life drinkers the same taste in a can or bottle as they found in non-pasteurized kegs. *
So, how does it fare? Well below, I give to you my tasting notes –
Miller Genuine Draft – 4.7%
A light body with a slight grain malt aroma and a sweet yet sharp flavour. On the palate, it gives off a smooth and lightly hopped finish.
Miller Genuine Draft received the gold medal in the American-style Premium Lager category at the 1999 World Beer Cup, as well as the silver medal at the 2003 Great American Beer Festival. Perfect with BBQ or flame grilled meats, or just on those days where you need something good yet chilled.
On a recent rum master class I hosted here in Manchester, I showcased Gosling’s Black Seal as an example of Bermuda. It was only then that I realised that despite knowing of the brand since my early days as a bartender, I have never covered it here on my site. So without further hesitation, lets take a look at why I don’t seem to be the only man giving such high praise to Bermuda.
The year is 1806 and James Gosling set out on a voyage to America from England, carrying £10,000 worth of merchandise. After 91 days at sea, his ship’s charter had expired, forcing him to set into the nearest port – St George’s in the north of Bermuda. Instead of finding alternative travel routes to America, he decided to stay in Bermuda, establishing a shop in December on King’s Parade in St George’s. 18 years later in 1824, James Gosling returned to England whilst his brother Ambrose rented a shop on Front Street in the new Capitol of Hamilton for £25 a year, a location for the next 127 years.
In 1857, the firm was renamed Gosling Brothers by Ambrose’s sons, and three years later the first oak barrels of rum distillate arrived in Bermuda. 1863 saw the now distinctive Bermuda black rum formulated and offered for sale from the barrel by customers bringing their own bottles to ‘fill up’. This carried on until the First World War where the name Black Seal came into practice. The black rum was sold in champagne bottles, reclaimed from the British Officer’s Mess, and the corks sealed with black sealing wax. The icon is born.
The name ‘Black Seal’ became the rum of choice between many, with the popularity probably explaining the idea of the little barrel juggling ‘Black Seal’ which adorns every bottle.
The production of Gosling’s is a family recipe (made after many trials and errors) from over two centuries ago, consisting of independently aged distillates aged for at least three years in once-used, charred, American oak bourbon casks, resulting in a blend of aged pot and continuous still distillates.
But how do they fare? Well below, I give to you my tasting notes –
Gosling’s Black Seal – 40%
Sweet on the nose with hints of herbal aromas and spice coming through very slowly. Rather well-balanced on the palate, with sweet notes of molasses combined with dry liquorice and cinnamon. Stewed apple and dry wood flavours makes a presence near the long, lingering and slightly dry finish.
Gosling’s Family Reserve – 40%
Dried fruit and oak notes on the nose with a rich flavour of prunes and dark fruits on the palate with a hint of smokiness that creates a mellow finish.
Both great tot’s on their own, but it did contribute to two signature cocktails, with the Dark ‘n Stormy® name owned by Gosling’s –
Dark ‘n Stormy®
50 ml Gosling’s Black Seal Rum
75 ml Gosling’s Stormy Ginger Beer
Build in the glass over cubed ice and serve with a lime wedge.
Bermuda Rum Swizzle
120 ml Gosling’s Black Seal Rum
120 ml Gosling’s Gold Rum
150 ml Pineapple Juice
150 ml Orange Juice
25 ml Grenadine or 60 ml Bermuda Falernum
6 Dashes of Angostura Bitters
Into a pitcher, fill ⅓ of crushed ice and add Gosling’s Black Seal Rum, Gosling’s Gold Rum, pineapple juice, orange juice, Grenadine or Bermuda Falernum and Angostura bitters. Churn vigorously until a frothing appears or mix in a cocktail shaker. Strain into a Martini glass.
Two incredible classics that everyone should have at least once in their lives. Gosling’s also goes well with food, from appetisers to desserts including Bermuda fish chowder and Bermuda onion soup.
Today, Gosling’s is the only company that blends and bottles in Bermuda, and is the largest exporter of a Bermuda made product. In the UK, their range include the two above and also the 151 proof Black Seal Rum, the Gold Bermuda Rum, Stormy Ginger Beer and the ready-to-drink Dark ‘n Stormy®. A collection worthy of any rum lover, and indeed even to novices.