This year, Bulleit Bourbon will once again be the frontier whiskey of choice for beer enthusiasts as it pops up at bars and locations around the capital throughout London Beer Week 2017.
Over the course of London’s largest celebration of beers, ales, lagers and ciders, a selection of top bars will be serving limited edition Bulleit cocktails, all of which include beer as a key ingredient. At Hopscotch on Brick Lane, a spicy Ginger Bulleit will be on offer, comprised of Bulleit, Hop House 13, ginger, lemon and malt, as well as a shorter, headier concoction of Bulleit Hop House 13 Syrup and Campari in the Beer-vardier at Found. In addition, East London hotspot, Peg + Patriot will be serving up an unusual mixture of Bulleit, Hop House 13, Campari and Wermurtlich, finished off with a clarified banana syrup. These limited edition cocktails with Bulleit and Hop House 13 lager at their centre, showcase the complimentary tasting notes of spicy Bulleit when combined with the flavoursome maltiness of premium beer.
Additionally, Bulleit will continue to champion the iconic Boilermaker serve at the The Beer Edit directly in the epicentre of London Beer Week 2017. Running across three days from the 16th-18th March, The Drink Up Bar will be playing host to a selection of whiskies, giving guests the opportunity to upgrade any of the beers on offer to a Boilermaker serve. Due to its unusually high rye content, Bulleit is the perfect match for the distinctive flavours of the various craft beers on offer, which include Southwark Brewing Co, Cotswold Cider Co, Umbrella Brewing, Canopy Beer Co, Badger Beer, Courage SE1, Renegade Brewery and Gosnells London Mead, all at £3, with a boilermaker upgrade for £2, exclusively to LBW wristband holders.
London Beer Week is a true celebration of beers, ales, lagers and ciders alike, set against the backdrop of the capital. Running from 13th-19th March, the festival provides the perfect backdrop to enjoy Bulleit Frontier Whiskey alongside some of the world’s best beers.
Hard Rock Cafe have always seem to pride themselves in pushing the mainstream burger delights over the years, with the Lancashire Hotpot burger coming to mind! But this winter they’ve teamed with Heineken to offer up a twist, complete with a new set of seasonal cocktails for all comers.
Hitting their Manchester venue within Printworks, you can enjoy Heineken’s take on brisket with half a pound of beef patty, primed with Heineken-braised brisket, caramelized BBQ onions (with added Heineken!), garlic aioli and Gouda cheese, all complete with seasoned fries. Although not as heavy in flavour as ale perhaps, the addition of Heineken within the patty, brisket and onion batter really does bring out the more subtle notes of the Dutch creation!
Of course, a bottle of Heineken on the side would be the easy choice to wash the burger and brisket down with, but the addition of six new cocktails can always sway you.
Take Angelo’s Passion for example. The winning drink from the 2016 Global BARocker Championship, Angelo Delgado created a recipe that see’s Bacardi Carta Blanca, Midori, Passion Fruit Real and ginger beer combined to offer a refreshing, light, fruity serve, complete with stemmed cherry and lime wedges to garnish.
Indeed the Bourbon Milk Punch could be the order of the day, or more dessert than anything, as Jim Beam Red Stage, Malibu, Monin Spiced Brown Sugar and milk are shaken together then topped with whipped cream, a caramel drizzle and spiced pecan nuts. Although sounding indulgent, the cherry flavours of the Jim Beam Red Stag really comes through nicely, with the subtle kick of the coconut Malibu.
It’s not all about the focus on spirits though, as a refreshing addition is the use of white wine! The Maria Sangria offers up Sauvignon Blanc, Bacardi Carta Blanca, tropical juices and lemon-lime soda shaken with fresh lime, orange and strawberries in a fruit-punch style cocktail, complete with a sprig of thyme to really uplift the grape and rum notes.
But what if you’re driving? Or indeed just not a fan of alcohol? The Pomegranate Cooler is a great shout as it see’s Monin Pomegranate, sweet and sour, fresh raspberries, rosemary, lime and lemon-lime soda served up in a wine glass, complete with fresh raspberries on top. A bold, rich serve that brings out the pomegranate, backed with the well-balanced fruit kick.
Two other creations include Velvet Rain that see’s Malbec, Southern Comfort, Chambord, tropical juices and fresh berries come together, and the intriguing Pineapple Sage Rita that offers up Monin Ginger syrup, Sauza Hornitos Resposado Tequila and Agave Nectar.
Fancy it? Head down this winter as both the seasonal cocktails and Heineken brisket burger are available for a limited time only! I’ll see you at the bar.
Southern Comfort, Buffalo Trace Bourbon and Langley’s Gin will all have a high profile during London Cocktail Week 2016, with unique drinks and a diverse offer from distributor Hi-Spirits.
This year’s celebration of the capital’s thriving cocktail culture, running from 3 – 9 October, promises to be the biggest and most vibrant yet.
The Southern Comfort Chicken Stop will be popping up in Spitalfields, welcoming dedicated cocktail lovers with a selection of Southern Comfort cocktails and Southern Fried Chicken. The New Orleans inspired pop-up will mark the first stop on the Southern Chicken Trail. Customers will be encouraged to continue on the trail and explore some of London’s best chicken shops, with Southern Comfort and Fried Chicken pairings on offer at all stops.
The acclaimed Buffalo Bourbon Empire pop-up bar also returns for 2016. Located this year at Hackney House, the Buffalo Bourbon Empire will spotlight six exclusive bourbon cocktails created by leading London venues – The Vaults of Milroy’s, Barbecoa, Basement Sate, Blessings, MASH, and Four Sisters.
Award-winning whiskeys from the Buffalo Trace Distillery in Kentucky will also be on offer, including the first chance for UK aficionados to sample the 2016 release of the Buffalo Trace Antique Collection whiskeys.
For those interested in learning more about the heritage and culture of bourbon, the Buffalo Bourbon Empire will host a series of masterclasses throughout the week. These include sessions with Drew Mayville, the Buffalo Trace master blender, and Nicola Olianas, global brand ambassador for Antica Formula, who will explore the classic cocktail combination of vermouth and bourbon. Tickets can be booked online at www.Buffalotrace.co.uk/bourbonempire
London Cocktail Week will also feature £5 cocktails made with Langley’s No.8 Gin, the award-winning super-premium English gin brand. The exclusive cocktails will be available at Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen, 214 Bermondsey, Arabica, Bermondsey Yard, Merchants House and Village East.
Dan Bolton, managing director of Hi-Spirits, said: “London has always been one of the world’s great cocktail cities, and London Cocktail Week has reinvented the capital’s party spirit. We’re delighted that Southern Comfort, Buffalo Trace and Langley’s will be at the heart of the celebrations, and as always, our team is expecting a very busy week.”
The team at Buffalo Trace came around to Manchester once again to host their annual cocktail competition, but armed with a twist that saw the bartenders of the North West face a variety of challenges in a couple of unique settings.
Hosted at El Gato Negro, the competitors found their way to the final by offering a unique Buffalo Trace serve, but knowing that if they got through, a set of challenges awaited them. Hailing from the likes of Epernay in Manchester, Salt Dog Slims in Liverpool and Filter and Fox, also in Liverpool, the competitors were joined by UK Brand Ambassador Tim Giles, who alongside his team at Hi-Spirits (the UK distributor of Buffalo Trace) of Ross and Jack, set the day off with a ‘Buffalo Migration Tour’. Asking the bartenders to work on their starting clue, this led them to one of four venues across the city of Manchester, where once found, they were set a task that would test the knowledge of each individual when it came to the world of Buffalo Trace.
Tasks included getting the correct barrel maturation letters and numbers out of a series of 8 to choose from, a blind tasting of a selection of the Sazerac whisky range, including Buffalo Trace, as well as the family tree of the company itself. If correct, the competitor receives the key to the mystery box that contains items that can be used within their migration cocktail, if wrong, they have to pick an item, but not one you would necessarily find within a classic whiskey cocktail!
Once all 4 challenges have been completed, a rendezvous back at El Gato Negro kicked off the main portion of the cocktail competition, as each competitor had to re-create their Pioneering American cocktail that they entered with, as well as a Buffalo Trace cocktail using the ingredients won (or lost) over the four challenges.
With myself, Tim and last years competition winner Joe Ballinger judging, each competitor showed off their skills in creation, as well as their knowledge of Buffalo Trace and the links from this to their ideas, both in the original recipe, as well as their quick-fire migration cocktail.
The top three will be showcased here today, so in third place saw Liverpool represent with Beth Leigh of MOJO Bar. Her original Pioneering Creation saw her create the ‘Trial by Jury’, which saw Buffalo Trace mixed with a spiced porter syrup, Giffard’s dark cacao, almond milk and egg white, served with an atomiser which contained White Dog whiskey, almond and chocolate bitters. Her Mystery Migration cocktail though saw her create the ‘Bloody Long Derby’, offering up Buffalo Trace, fresh tomatoes, lemon juice, mint, Antica Formula and sugar, topped with San Pellegrino Lemon and garnished with a mint sprig and fresh cherry tomatoes.
Anthony Hogan of Epernay, Manchester earned second place with his two cocktails. His Pioneering Cocktail, named the ‘Bottle Shock’ saw Buffalo Trace built with a Californian Cabernet Sauvignon, Peychaud’s bitters, lemon juice and blueberry with bluebell soda, garnished with mint and fresh blueberries. His on the spot Mystery Migration recipe, named ‘Hunters of Kentucky’, saw him build a recipe with Buffalo Trace, peach and Red Bull syrup, fresh tomato juice, Antica Formula and Peychaud’s Aperitivo, garnished with a peach fan and lemon zest.
The winning serves though, both seen as equal and of a high-standard when we were discussing the drinks in general, came from Will Meredith of El Gato Negro. His original entry saw him show off the ‘New Orleans Fizz’, a blended serve containing Buffalo Trace, egg white, milk and cream, homemade Creole New Orleans ketchup (fig, date, prune and cayenne pepper flavoured) and a corn, malt and rye syrup. His Mystery Migration serve saw a thrown creation of Buffalo Trace, Peychaud’s Aperitivo, a mango and Dijon mustard syrup, topped with Stella Artois, capped with the fantastic name of ‘Celine Dijon’.
So congratulations to Will, who wins himself a trip to the home of Buffalo Trace in Kentucky! A great idea for a cocktail competition, really getting the competitors to immerse themselves in the brands history and heritage, bringing it to the forefront in their Pioneering America cocktail, and testing their skills with the Mystery Migration serve. All whilst having their knowledge tested, really bringing out the best bartender in the North West and earning their stripes as they head to America.
Jim Beam has been a staple of many a bar for many a year now, so much so that they themselves have the tag ‘The World’s No. 1 Bourbon’ stamped on every bottle. But how does a brand come to call itself that? A brand that, from my knowledge, not many people know much about? Well lets dive into the history of this supposed number one and see what comes out the other end.
Our journey starts in 1740 and the migration of the Boehm family from Germany. Translate the surname and you get the worlds ‘hell’, so a change to ‘Beam’ started the etching into bourbon history books. In 1788, Jacob Beam settled in Kentucky and set about experimenting with the corn and grains that grew on his farm. This blend of ingredients were run through a still, aged in barrels and eventually became bourbon, possibly named after Bourbon County, Kentucky. 1795 saw the year of the first ‘Jim Beam’. David Beam took over his father’s responsibilities in 1820 at the age of 18 and during his reign, America was undergoing an industrial revolution. With the country expanding itself and finding new and innovative ways to not only communicate and travel, but transporting of goods, technology such as the telegraph, steam-powered ships and the opening of waterways and railroads aided the expansion and distribution of the Beam’s family bourbon.
David M. Beam was handed the reins to the family business in 1850 and four years later, in order to be near Kentucky’s first railroad, David M. Beam moved the distillery to Nelson County. Three years after civil war broke out, David’s son James B. Beam came into the world and the family, with a real dislike for his name. Apparently a man who liked to keep things simple, he introduced himself as Jim Beam. After taking over the business from his father, the business thrived. Once the end of Prohibition in the US in 1933, Jim Beam wanted to carry on the tradition of the original recipe from the days of Jacob Beam, so he built and moved to a new distillery in Clermont, Kentucky taking 120 days. From this point forward, the bourbon was called ‘Jim Beam Bourbon’. Son Jeremiah Beam joined the company at the same time as the opening of the new distillery and earned the title of master distiller. With his passion, he travelled the world to share his knowledge of bourbon and the Beam family legacy. After the death of his father, Jeremiah continued to grow the business, opening a second distillery in 1954 near Boston, Kentucky, which is still in use today.
Jim Beam’s grandson Booker Noe maintained the Beam family’s commitment to quality. As the Master Distiller Emeritus at the Jim Beam Distillery for more than 40 years, Booker introduced his own namesake bourbon in 1988 – Booker’s. Booker’s was the world’s first uncut, straight-from-the-barrel bourbon, and the first of the legendary Small Batch Collection. Upon the death of Booker Noe, his son Frederick Noe took over the reigns of the Master Distiller and is still in the position today.
Not bad. And it’s great to see after all these years, the brand is still within the family. But with longevity comes consistency, and consistency means a rigorous check of the production method. The following is taken directly from the Jim Beam website as I found that the process would be better understood as they have written it.
Start With Sweet, Sweet Water
Much has been said about Central Kentucky’s water. It’s famous for making fast horses, pretty women and good bourbon. (We’ve also heard it as:, pretty horses… but the good bourbon never changes.) Because we’re sitting on top of a limestone shelf, our water has a natural filter. This creates an iron-free, calcium-rich water that’s perfect for making bourbon. Perhaps that’s why 98% of all bourbon distilleries are located here.
The Secret Is Yeast
Our jug yeast is a closely guarded family secret. It’s the same strain of yeast we’ve used in our bourbon-making process since prohibition ended. It’s more than 75 years old—and it ensures the same Jim Beam® bourbon consistency in every bottle. So the bottle of Beam® in your granddad’s hand in that picture from his fishing trip in 1953? Same DNA as the bottle you can buy right now just about anywhere in the world. Our yeast is so important to us that Jim Beam used to take some of it home with him on the weekends, a tradition that continues today with Jim Beam’s great-grandson and seventh generation Beam family distiller, Fred Noe. We put the jug yeast in a tank and feed it a hearty diet of ground up grains to create “dona yeast.” We use this yeast in the fermentation process once we’ve cooked our mash.
Mix, Mash & Cook
Hammer mills grind our “mash spill”—our top-secret mix of corn, rye and barley malt. Milling breaks it down for easier cooking. The mash spill feeds into a 10,000-gallon mash cooker. Here we add some of that pure limestone-filtered Kentucky water, along with some “set back”—25% of the old mash from the last distillation. This is the “sour mash” part of our bourbon-making process—ensuring the same Jim Beam® Bourbon from batch to batch.
Fermenting Cooked Mash
From the cooker, the mash heads to the fermenter. We cool the mash down to 60-70°F and add our 75-year-old yeast strain to the mix. And the yeast eats. And eats and eats and eats, feeding on sugars in the mash, heating the fermenter as it eats and multiplying as it goes. The upshot of all this activity? Carbon dioxide and more importantly for us, alcohol. This transforms the mash into “distiller’s beer.” Because it looks, smells and tastes like a rich, light beer.
Distilled Twice. So Nice.
The beer travels into our 35-foot-tall column still. We heat it to about 205°F, which is hot enough that the alcohol turns into a vapor that rises up the still, but not so hot that the beer boils. As the vapor cools and falls, it turns back into a liquid. This “low wine” is 125 proof (62.5% alcohol) of strong-willed goodness. From the column still, the low wine flows into the doubler for a second distillation in our pot still. It gets heated and condenses into “high wine”—at a paint-peeling 135 proof (67.5% alcohol).
Barreling And Aging
After distilling the bourbon, we tap the high wine into brand new charred American oak barrels. We like our barrels to have what we call “alligator char”—that is, they’re fired enough that the insides take on the scaly, bumpy look of a gator’s skin. Each barrel holds about 53 gallons (more than 500 pounds) of what will be the the world’s finest bourbon. The loaded barrels are rolled to rest in one of our airy hilltop rackhouses. As the seasons change, Kentucky’s climate expands and contracts the barrel wood, allowing bourbon to seep into the barrel. And the caramelized sugars from the gator-charred oak flavor and color the bourbon. Throughout the bourbon making process, a fair portion of the 53 gallons of bourbon escapes the barrel through evaporation or stays trapped in the wood of the barrel. We call this the “angel’s share” or “Booker’s share.”
Jim Beam bourbon ages for at least four years—twice as long as the U.S. government requires.
So there we have it. A fascinating history, one that I myself have only realised has influenced so many bourbon distilleries and brands to this day, and a production method that creates such a varied range. I’ve been lucky enough to try a couple of the range lately, therefore below I give to you my tasting notes –
Jim Beam Original – 40%
Aged for 4 years. Light vanilla notes on the nose with a sweetness slowly appearing. Vanilla carries onto the palate, mixed with a little spice that leads to a lengthy finish. Slight touch of oak lingers.
Red Stag Black Cherry – 40%
Through a slow infusion process, four-year-old Jim Beam Bourbon infused with natural flavours. Sweet, ripe dark cherries on the nose with a sugar ladened palate of cherry on the palate with a cinnamon spice to finish. Amazingly long, and a little dry at the very end.
Jim Beam Maple – 35%
Created using 4yr Jim Beam, slowly infused with maple and aged in oak barrels.
Subtle nose of maple syrup, following onto the palate nicely with plenty of bourbon, oak and a rich, sweet maple finish that lingers.
Jim Beam Black Label– 43%
Aged for 6 years. Soft vanilla on the nose with hints of orange lingering. Smooth on the palate with a hint of spice, honey and toffee creating a long finish.
Jim Beam Signature Craft– 43%
Aged for 12 years. Plenty of red fruit, smooth on the nose with hints of cherry near the finish. Rich on the palate though, with a slight spice but a long, bold finish with a little dryness. A couple of sips makes this a cracking dram.
Jim Beam Double Oak– 43%
Launched in April 2016, this expression is first matured in new charred American white oak barrels before being transferred into a second freshly charred oak barrel for a further period of ageing.
A nose of vanilla and caramel blended with freshly cut wood. Rich notes of oak, followed by scorched wood, vanilla and intense red fruits that leads to a long, slightly dry finish.
Jim Beam isn’t just for a great sip, it can also be housed within a cocktail –
Jim Beam Double Oak Fashioned
50 ml Jim Beam Double Oak
4 dashes bitters
2 sugar cubes
In an Old Fashioned glass, add the sugar cubes and bitters along with a little bourbon and ice. With a bar spoon, muddle and stir the liquid so the sugar starts to dissolve – repeat until complete. Then, cut a thin slice of peel from the orange. Pinch the orange peel and rub around the rim of the glass to coat with citrus oils. Repeat with the lemon. Garnish with the orange and lemon twists
or maybe this,
Man O’ War
20 ml Jim Beam Bourbon
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
12.5 ml water
10-15 large fresh mint leaves
Combine all ingredients with cracked ice in a cocktail shaker. Shake well. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
But sometimes the best way to involve Jim Beam is within food –
Jim Beam Bourbon Whisky Cake
1 pound candied cherries
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 pound golden raisins, halved
6 eggs, separate yolks
2 cups Jim Beam Bourbon
2 teaspoons nutmeg
5 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
12 ounces butter
1 pound pecans
2 cups sugar
Soak cherries and raisins in Jim Beam Bourbon overnight. Grease a 10-inch tube pan and line with brown paper or parchment. Preheat oven to 275 degrees. Sift flour and reserve 1/2 cup. Cream butter and sugars until fluffy. Add egg yolks and beat well. Add soaked fruit and the remaining liquid, 4 1/2 cups flour, nutmeg, and baking power to butter mixture. Stir to combine. Beat egg whites by hand or with an electric mixer until they just barely hold stiff peaks. Fold into batter. Toss nuts with 1/2 cup reserved flour and fold into batter. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake 3 to 4 hours or until cake tests done. Remove from oven, cool slightly and turn onto rack to cool completely. To store when thoroughly cool, place in tightly covered container. Stuff centre hole with cheesecloth soaked in Jim Beam Bourbon. Drink any extra Jim Beam®. Wrap in heavy wax paper. It isn’t necessary to soak the cake in Jim Beam® Bourbon as it will be moist and flavourful. Keep very cool, in refrigerator if necessary. Makes 15 servings.
So not only is Jim Beam rich in history, it also shows off with its range as well as its versatility within both cocktails and food. What more can you ask for? It really does prove some valuable points for Jim Beam’s statement of being ‘The World’s No1. Bourbon’. See for yourself.
KOVAL: Common Eastern European surname meaning “blacksmith,” but in some dialects it also means someone who “forges ahead.”
Forges ahead? That seems, to me, to sum up KOVAL and all I have witnessed from the brand since its official UK launch with new distributor Emporia Brands. I thought that I’d sit down and dive into why KOVAL has reached the shores of the UK, have both gin and a range of whiskey expressions released at the same time, and how Chicago has rung the changes from the more traditional Kentucky and Tennessee ideas.
Founded back in 2008 by Robert Birnecker and Sonat Birnecker Hart, KOVAL became Chicago’s first distillery since the mid-1800’s. With Robert being a 4th Generation distiller (his family still runs a distillery and winery near Salzburg, Austria), and Sonat spearheading the product development, distribution, and marketing, KOVAL had a bright future from day one.
Vowing to make organic spirits from scratch (avoiding the usual practice of purchasing and bottling pre-made spirits), Sonat and Robert created a new style that uses only the “heart” cut of the distillate. Using the mentality of ‘grain to bottle’, they both make sure that they use local farmers to grow the grain (all harvested from organic Midwestern farms), on-site milling and mashing, as well as distilling (within a custom-built pot still handcrafted in Germany by Kothe Destillationstechnik that holds 5000 litres), bottling, and packaging. The water is sourced from Lake Michigan using a natural charcoal purification method, and American oak barrels from The Barrel Mill in Minnesota.
With this, lets take a look at the expressions available within the UK. First up, their Dry Gin.
KOVAL Dry Gin – 47%
Made with a unique variety of woodland spices, fresh lime aromas hit the nose, followed by soft lavender and violet. Plenty of earthy, dry spices come through on the palate, with mint and coriander present too. Crisp, clean, and offering a vibrant, long finish.
KOVAL Bourbon – 47%
KOVAL’s single barrel bourbon has the requisite mash bill of at least 51% corn, but instead of the usual rye or wheat supplement, this includes millet (one of the main cereals from Asia and Africa).
Soft, creamy aroma on the nose, with mango, vanilla and oak present. Fresh flavours of fudge and vanilla on the palate, with hints of apricot and dry-leaf tobacco compliment on the long, dry finish.
KOVAL Millet – 40%
100% Millet, the prized grain in Asia and Africa. Very light and clean upon the nose, a profile that runs straight onto the palate in the same way. Smooth, with a touch of dry oak, caramel and sweetened butter. A lingering finish of Summer.
KOVAL Rye – 40%
100% rye recipe, a light, orange zest aromas comes through on the nose, with a slight boiled sweet scent of cream and liquorice. Slightly sweetened on the palate, with the dry spice of tobacco and oak underlining the cinnamon and fudge. An orange zested finish works well.
All three whiskey expressions and the gin really do offer something very different, and can easily be enjoyed over ice or neat. But that doesn’t mean they wouldn’t work in some of these –
Pomp & Circumstance
50 ml KOVAL Dry Gin
90 ml Premium tonic water
1 sprig of mint
Build the ingredients over an ice-filled highball glass and garnish with a sprig of mint and grapefruit peel.
Under The Sun, by Joy Richard, Citizen Pub, Boston, MA
50 ml KOVAL Bourbon
25 ml Yellow Chartreuse
15 ml Orgeat
30 ml Pineapple juice
2 Dashes Peychaud’s bitters
Shake and strain over crushed ice. 1 dash Peychaud’s bitters on top. Orange peel & cherry garnish.
It’s always great to see a range that is classic to drink, but also versatile to enjoy too. A couple of bottles for your drinks cabinet for sure, plus every product they make is Certified Organic by Midwestern Organic Services Association (MOSA) and Certified Kosher through the Orthodox Union (OU). Always a plus.
For the past two months, the Spirit Cartel family, runners of fine liqueur, have been engrossed in the search for a bourbon don with the right balance of whisky parlance & cocktail shaking.
And they’ve found him; Benji Purslow has been named the face of cult bourbon brand Four Roses in the UK. The passionate whiskey aficionado impressed the judges in a hard-fought battle at the southern soul sanctuary, The Blues Kitchen in Shoreditch, London. Each of the four worthy competitors were put through their paces to exhibit their passion and knowledge to establish why they deserve to be initiated into the Four Roses and Spirit Cartel lineage.
Judging the contest was JJ Goodman, founder of the legendary London Cocktail Club, Charles Marshall, Spirit Cartel Consiglieri and David Hood, newly appointed Capo di Capo at Spirit Cartel.
Charles Marshall said of the competition: “The quality of the finalists made it a very difficult decision for the judges to choose the ultimate winner. Benji stood out from the competition with his captivating persona as well as in-depth knowledge, ability to communicate and enthusiasm for all things bourbon. Welcome to the Four Roses & Spirit Cartel family! As this shows, we like to do things differently at Spirit Cartel, and this has allowed us to see just how much talent there is in the UK bar community.”
Benji has worked in the London cocktail scene since 2007 and has travelled the world to compete in bartender competitions with bourbon being Benji’s choice of poison. His exceptional skills in cocktail creativity, bar training, consulting, presenting and bar management has culminated in him part owning celebrated bar Victory Mansion in Stoke Newington.
This role will see Benji host consumer and trade events across the country to take Four Roses to its rightful position at the go-to and must-drink bourbon in the finest bars in the UK.
Commenting on his new position, Benji Purslow says: “Four Roses bourbon is a brand steeped in heritage and craftsmanship and I’m absolutely delighted to have won the chance to play a key part in the brand’s exciting bourbon journey in the UK. Working together with the rest of the team at Spirit Cartel, it’s game-on to make Four Roses the most desirable bourbon in the UK and the quality of the spirit makes that job so much easier!”
Charles Marshall adds: “We love what we do at Spirit Cartel; we see ourselves as the smiling assassins of the spirits world and are confident that Benji will have as much fun engaging the trade with Four Roses and its iconic story as we do.”
As well as receiving a contract to work with the winning combination of Spirit Cartel and Four Roses, Benji has also been invited to take an unforgettable trip to the Four Roses Distillery in Kentucky, USA, later this year.
Iconic frontier whiskey Bulleit and enterprising coffee experts, The Gentlemen Baristas have worked together to create one of the UK’s first Bourbon Barrel Aged Coffees which will be unveiled at the London Coffee Festival, 7th – 11th April.
Two varieties of single origin coffee beans have been put through a unique and innovative roasting process to create a coffee which has the flavour notes and characteristics of a whiskey. The beans are rested in American Oak single fill Bulleit Bourbon casks all the way from Kentucky. The coffee, which is sourced from sustainable and 100% ethical coffee plantations in Colombia and El Salvador, is then roasted – picking up Bulleit’s sweet and spicy character to create two unique and exciting coffee offerings:
The Trucker – an espresso coffee which is smooth with sweet lime acidity, citrus and orange blossom floral notes. With a heavy mouth feel of rich dark chocolate, the Bulleit ageing gives a sweet zesty finish
The Gatsby – a filter coffee with a syrupy mouth feel and a balanced acidity. Boasting milk chocolate and caramel, with hints of keylime, strawberry, and green apple, the Bulleit provides a spicy note as a finish
Following its launch at the London Coffee Festival the coffee will be available for customers to buy online from World of Zing. Bulleit Brand Ambassador Andrea Montague will also be working with the bar team at award-winning Callooh Callay in Shoreditch to create a unique offering of bourbon barrel aged coffee and whiskey cocktails, including the below:
The Gentlemen’s Agreement by Andrea Montague
35ml Bulleit Bourbon
80ml The Gatsby Coffee
20ml Roasted Coconut & Nutmeg Syrup
1 drop Orange Blossom Water
Method: Throw drink
Inspired by the flavour of the coffee – the rich warm spice notes taken form the barrel are highlighted using roasted coconut and nutmeg, whislt the slight citrus lift you taste at the back of the palate is accentuate by the floral orange water.
Some of you may have come across this day. It’s a celebrated event as it marks the occasion of the repeal of Prohibition in the United States, accomplished with the passage of the Twenty-first Amendment to the United States Constitution on December 5th 1933. It’s with this historic day in the history of alcohol production that Old Forester bourbon made its mark this year as the brand is officially the longest running bourbon on the market today (144 years) and is the only bourbon to be bottled pre, during and post prohibition.
It’s astonishing then that I’m only just sitting down and really taking a look at the brand. So here goes.
Old Forester originates back to 1870, and is the brain child of George Garvin Brown, a gentleman who based himself on Main Street (322 W. Main Street to be exact), the center of Louisville’s whiskey economy through the early 20th century. George sought to have America’s first bottled bourbon; not only sold in sealed glass bottles, but each made according to Brown’s 1870 Original Batch process of batching barrels from three distilleries to create a consistent flavor profile.
In 1897, Bottled in Bond Old Forester was presented at 100 proof in sealed bottles to comply with the legal regulations specified by the U.S. Bottled in Bond Act of 1897. This followed the legend that involves Old Forester and the now classic cocktail ‘Old Fashioned’, where it was deemed that the local Louisville’s Hometown Bourbon was used in the 1880’s.
In 1910, Old Forester Old Fine Whisky robust small batch was created on Whiskey Row, but in 1920, Prohibiton begins and saw many distilleries close. But the company, now named Brown-Forman after being originally named J.T.S. Brown and Bro., applies for and receives a federal license to continue producing Old Forester for medicinal purposes. 4 years later, Old Forester operations move from Whiskey Row to 18th and Howard streets in Louisville, and in 1933, Prohibition is repealed. Old Forester production is increased and, as mentioned, today Old Forester is the only bourbon continually distilled and marketed by the founding family before, during and after Prohibition.
1935 saw the Old Forester barrel entry proof established at 125 proof to comply with new post-Prohibition federal standards for distilled spirits, and in 1941, an Old Forester plant begins producing industrial alcohol to help World War II efforts.
1946 saw the purchase of the Bluegrass Cooperage, which today is known as the Brown-Forman Cooperage, to make Old Forester whisky barrels. To this day it’s the only cooperage owned by a major distiller!
In 2002, Old Forester celebrated the 156th birthday of founder George Garvin Brown with a limited-edition Old Forester Birthday Bourbon™ on his birthday, Sept 2. A year later, Old Forester Birthday Bourbon receives the title of American Whisky of the Year at WhiskyFest New York and in 2015, Old Forester Mint Julep is named Official Drink of the Kentucky Derby®, a race starting back in 1875.
So what makes Old Forester stand out to the other bourbons available?
Well the 86 proof version, or the one you are likely to see in many a bar, is twice distilled and uses a grain recipe of corn, rye and malted barley. You also have the Signature 100 proof which uses only a selection of barrels available, and the original 1870 batch which see’s select barrels from three warehouses, each barrel originating from a different day of production, with a different entry proof and a different age profile, then batched together.
But how does the 86 proof fare? Well below, I give to you my tasting notes –
Old Forester – 43%
Floral notes of tobacco and vanilla on the nose, with a subtle orange zest coming through slowly. Thick on the palate, with a good kick of oak, fudge and caramel to begin-with, turning to a lively, fresh butter and orange finish that’s long, slightly sharp and offering hints of honey.
A great dram to be enjoyed on its own, but what about a twist on a Blood and Sand perhaps using Old Forester, spiced pineapple and vanilla as recommended by Massimo Zitti of Cane and Grain in Manchester? Or maybe the Kentucky Derby favourite?
60 ml Old Forester
25 ml Simple Syrup
8-10 mint leaves
3 mint sprigs, for garnish
Rub 8-10 mint leaves along the inside of a mint julep cup. Pack mint julep cup with crushed ice. Pour bourbon and syrup over ice. Swizzle with swizzle stick or bar spoon. Top with ice and garnish with 3 generous sprigs of mint. *Make sure to slap mint and insert straw into ice near mint.
A recommended bourbon for sure when it comes to stocking your drinks cabinet. The brand offers a liquid that is unique to the American industry, and with its versatility, it really shows off how bourbon would have been enjoyed not only today, but back in the 1800’s too.
* Thank you to Massimo Zitti of Cane and Grain in Manchester for showing off some of his Old Forester bourbon cocktail skills to me.*
Last week, the Buffalo Trace Trail came into Manchester as it meanders its way across the UK. Working alongside restaurants within key cities such as London and Liverpool, UK Buffalo Trace Brand Ambassador Tim Giles hosted an evening at the ever-popular Hawksmoor, a venue that Time Out has said is “a place to blur day with night over cocktails and the country’s finest meat”.
With a focus on their 2015 Antique Collection, including expressions such as Eagle Rare, Sazerac and Thomas H Handy, the team at Hawksmoor came up with a fantastic menu, complimented by Buffalo Trace serves from the bar team.
Starters included short-rib nuggets with kimchi, fried oysters with tartar and roast beetroot salad with Dorstone, enjoyed with a serve named ‘Zenith of Man’ which saw Buffalo Trace paired with Pimento Dram, PX, apple and mint.
Entwined between courses was a short look into Buffalo Trace by both Tim and Ross Thompson of Buffalo’s UK distributor Hi-Spirits, before indulging into the main course of a Hawksmoor burger with Ogleshield, triple cooked chips and vinegar slaw, showed off with a serve from the bar named ‘Trace It Back To Bill’, which saw Buffalo Trace roast plum and pepper syrup, soda and lemon come together.
For pudding, a delicious honeycomb sundae paired with with the ‘Trailblazer’; Buffalo Trace, Tawny port, Chartreuse and bitters that worked well to finish the evening in style.
Well I say style.
Tim and Ross introduced the 2015 Antique Collection by Buffalo Trace. 5 expressions of highly commended and award-winning liquids, with enough for one or two drams to really finish the evening!
An evening such as this really got the audience in attendance looking at Buffalo Trace in a different way, as the 3 courses by Hawksmoor worked perfectly with the Buffalo Trace serves created by the bar team (special thanks to Richie West and Anthony Hogan). With a look at the Antique Collection, it really made the evening a special one, and a potential break of the bank as I now search for a bottle of the Thomas H. Handy!