Haig Club

Haig
Haig Club was released with much fanfare after the collaboration with footballer David Beckham and British entrepreneur Simon Fuller, with many taking it as a swipe to ‘outsiders’ who attach their name to a brand to make quick cash, whilst others looked at it as a great opportunity to shed light on a brand and category that has some elements that need a 21st Century update to its customer audience.

It’s with this that I take a closer look and see if the hype is worth its name.

The House of Haig itself is built on nearly 400 years of distilling heritage and can trace its whisky producing roots back to the seventeenth century in Scotland. In 1824, John Haig established Scotland’s oldest grain distillery, Cameronbridge, and is said to have perfected the art of producing Grain Whisky in continuous Coffey and Stein stills.

Haig Whisky quickly rose to become one of the most successful and popular Scotch whiskies in the world before falling into decline some 30 years ago as it left the Haig family ownership and was passed through a series of multinational drinks companies. In 2014, Diageo launched a new Haig whisky to add to the existing old guard whisky stable of Haig Gold Label, Haig Dimple and Haig Pinch blended scotch whiskies; Haig Club, an expression utilising a unique process that combines grain whisky from three different cask types.

But how does it fare? Well below, I give to you my tasting notes –

Haig Club – 40%

Light butterscotch and fudge on the nose, with a slight hint of tropical flesh fruits coming through. Subtle notes of vanilla, butter and toasted oak on the palate, with a hint of coconut and tropical fruit provide a long, slightly dry finish.

A great flavour profile to enjoy on its own, or indeed within its signature serve;

Haig CLub - New Old FashionedNew Old-Fashioned

Glass – 

Rocks

Ingredients – 

60 ml Haig Club
10 ml Sweet Vermouth
2 dashes orange bitters

Method – 

Build by adding cubed or hand cracked ice in an Old Fashioned glass or tumbler. Add Haig Club and pour in 10 ml of sweet Vermouth. Drop in 2 dashes of orange bitters and garnish with a lemon twist and cherry and serve with a glass stirrer for the drinker to dilute.

The inspiration for the name Haig Club can be found in archive materials dating back to the 1920’s, in which Haig Whisky was advertised as “The Clubman’s Whisky”. Last year also saw the release of the Haig Club Clubman, the different in it being matured exclusively in American ex-bourbon casks. Either one a good call for your drinks cabinet, and its versatility means you can create a decent drink, whether cocktail or mixer. To be fair, I’d enjoy it on its own, it works!

© David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast 2017. 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.

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Skin

Skin
German gins are seen as some of the best around, with Monkey 47 leading the way in how we can approach the category. With this, Skin gin has made a splash here in the UK since its launch by Martin Birk Jensen in March 2015, and its striking packaging and different ‘skins’ that can be produced have caused many a stir in the right direction. But what about the liquid itself?

Produced in the ‘Altes Land’ (which translates as ‘Old Country’), just outside the German city of Hamburg, seven botanicals are chosen to enhance Skin gin; unique Moroccan Mint, citrus peels of orange, pink grapefruit, lime and lemon, juniper and Vietnamese coriander. Each botanical is individually distilled on a wheat based neutral spirit in a ‘Anisateur’ within an old copper still, in order to obtain close to 100% of the essential oils they contain. The essences are then blended by hand and bottled.

So how does it fare? Well, below I give to you my tasting notes –

Skin – 42%

Bold, fresh mint bursts through, followed by the pink grapefruit and the wax of lemons on the nose. Incredibly soft on the palate, with a slight menthol note flowing gently. Lime, the subtle hint of coriander, and the orange peels blend well for a long, fresh finish.

An incredibly fresh gin to enjoy, and one that would stand up well within a classic gin and tonic;

Skin Gin and tonicSkin Gin and Tonic

Glass – 

Wine / Goblet

Ingredients – 

40 ml Skin Gin
1 bottle Thomas Henry Tonic Water

Method – 

Stir over ice and garnish with orange peel.

A great gin to enjoy over summer, and with the different skins available, as well as their navy strength option, it’s a fantastic addition to any drinks cabinet.

© David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast 2017. 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.

 

Jägermeister

Jägermeister
I think it’s safe to say, Jägermeister has become Germany’s most famous drinks export. But other than its consumption within energy drinks, I’ve been looking forward to actually understand Jagermeister, and how it became one of the biggest brand calls the bar scene has ever seen.

So, here goes.

Jägermeister can trace its way back to 1878 and a gentleman named Wilhelm Mast, who founded a wine-vinegar business in his home town of Wolfenbüttel, Lower Saxony. The business is successful, and his son Curt Mast, comes on board, yet decides to turn the company into a different direction.

Curt showed great talent in the preparation and mixture of herbs, and in 1934, after many years of experiments, he developed a recipe that would become the profile we see of Jägermeister. Curt Mast dedicated his new recipe to all hunters and their honourable traditions. A toast of which every hunt would begin and end due to the spirits combination of only natural ingredients and pure alcohol. It’s with this that the stag would be become the figurehead to Jägermeister. However, it’s not just any stag to emblazon each bottle, but it’s said to be the stag that appeared to a wild hunter and converted him to Christianity. The same hunter who later became the patron saint of all hunters: Saint Hubertus.

The bottle itself is durable, with Curt tried and testing a variety from great heights to make sure the bottle was reliable in transporting his recipe across Germany. He also instructed that the doors to the “Kräuterkellerei”, where Jägermeister is produced, are only open to the 56 secret exotic herbs, blossoms, roots, and fruits, delivered here in sacks from across the world.

After selecting raw materials that are of high-quality for Jägermeister, their master distillers then carefully weigh them as specified in the original traditional recipe. They will then prepare several different dry mixtures of herbs. These are then gently extracted by cold maceration in a process that can take several weeks. Once complete, the master distiller will blend the macerates together and transfer them to one of 445 oak barrels within the cellar at Kräuterkellerei, themselves hewn from wood grown in the local forests of the ‘Pfalzerwald’.

But how does it fare? Well below, I give to you my tasting notes –

Jägermeister – 35%

Fresh orange peel and cinnamon come through on the nose, with a bold richness of allspice and cardamom present. Light, fresh notes of anise present on the palate first, with the rich, bold notes of burnt sugar, toffee, roasted coffee and tobacco leaf coming together. A lingering finish of sweet oak, raisin and orange peel.

Jägermeister Manifest – 38%

Pipped as the ‘world’s first’ super-premium herbal liqueur, Manifest is based on the brand’s original recipe of 56 herbs, roots and spices, but contains additional botanicals and is made using five macerates rather than four, whilst also being double-barrelled matured in both small and large oak casks for more than one year to intensify the flavour.
Light honey notes upon the nose, with a subtle sweet caramel profile sneaking through. A thin texture on the palate that warms up to an anise led profile of honey, raisin, cinnamon stick, clove and ginger. A lingering lick of spice on the finish.

Two fantastic herbal liqueurs, and would be enjoyed chilled or over ice for many years to come. However, this did catch my eye;

Jagermeister - Root 56
Root 56

Glass – 

Highball

Ingredients –

50 ml Jägermeister,
Top with Ginger Beer
Squeeze of fresh lime
Garnish with a slice of cucumber

An underrated brand to those who choose to shot, but take the time to experience it and it may surprise you. Make sure you have a bottle of either in your drinks cabinet, and grab some ginger beer too.

© David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast 2017. 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.

 

 

 

Italicus Rosolio di Bergamotto

Italicus

Italian drinks are a big focus for me at the moment, with the opening of my ‘The Bassano Bar @ PizzaExpress‘ in Manchester a great example of utilising a variety of Italian styles. The rosolio aperitivo category escapes me though, until the arrival of Italicus Rosolio di Bergamotto!

I’d imagine the rosolio category isn’t one that strikes too many bells to many, so a little rundown before heading to Italicus.

Rosolio is an ancient type of Italian liqueur, deriving its name from ‘Drosera rotundifolia’, itself a species of sundew. It used to be flavoured exclusive with the herb, but now it’s known for more homemade low alcohol content spirits. The liqueur is common in Piedmont and in Southern Italy. It enjoys a special popularity in Sicily, where it has been prepared since the sixteenth century and was given to house guests as a sign of good luck.
Local ingredients are typically used depending on the region (for example Sicily with Cedro citrus fruit and fennel) and aromatized with herbs and spices.

Giuseppe Gallo has brought the category from the 1850’s of Rosolio back to the new-age with the launch of Italicus back in September 2016. Using peels from bergamots grown from Italy’s UNESCO-protected area Calabrian region and Cidros from Sicily, they are infused into cold water to release the essential oils (a process named sfumatura) prior to being blended with Italian neutral grain spirit, all within a family-owned distillery in Moncalieri, Torino.

The resulting bergamot and cedro flavoured spirit is then blended for several days with a separate maturation that contains Roman chamomile from Lazio, lavender, gentian, yellow roses and lemon balm from Northern Italy.

But how does it fare? Well below, I give to you my tasting notes –

Italicus Rosolio di Bergamotto – 20%

Very fresh lemon balm, bergamot, citrus peel and gentian coming through on the nose, followed by a naturally sweet chamomile flavour upon the palate. Notes of subtle lavender, honey, rose petal and lemon balm ride a lingering fresh finish.

italicus
A fantastic liquid on its own, but one recommended to be enjoyed in the following way;

“50/50 with Prosecco, over ice and garnished with three green olives”

Better get a bottle for the drinks cabinet, there are friends and family to impress.

© David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast 2017. 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.

 

Sons of Armagnac Launches Across The UK

Lauvia

Sons of Armagnac is the new awareness campaign spearheaded by UK innovator Emporia Brands and its Armagnac partners Comte de Lauvia and Marquis de Montesquiou. Starting on June 12th and ending on 18th June (Fathers Day), many of the top bars and retailers across the country will be taking part in raising the profile of the Armagnac category with cocktail specials, menus, events, tastings and more.

Specially created Marquis de Montesquiou cocktails can be found across London, including Skylon, German Gymnasium, Looking Glass Cocktail Club and Hush, as well as Cottonopolis based in Manchester’s Northern Quarter, Manhattan in Liverpool, Nitehawks and Bonbar in Newcastle, Vice & Virtue in Leeds and Manhattan 34 in Leicester. Some of the UK’s premier dining arenas are also combining their expertise with Marquis de Montesquiou Armagnac by offering specials within Harborne Kitchen in Birmingham and the aforementioned Vice & Virtue in Leeds.

Comte de Lauvia has been the chosen brand to be highlighted within unique serves from venues such as Merchant House and The Light Lounge in London, to The Edgbaston in Birmingham and Petit Parlour in Liverpool. 155 Bar & Kitchen in London, World Service in Nottingham and Wygston House in Leicester have put together at a food pairing menu for the week to highlight the versatility of the Armagnac category.

Retailers from across the UK are also getting involved, including in-store promotions of Marquis de Montesquiou Armagnac within Riddles Emporium, South Manchester, 23 Wines & Whiskey in Leicester and Fenwick’s in Newcastle. Comte de Lauvia Armagnac will be highlighted across all Harvey Nichols stores, including in-store tastings, in the UK as well as Riddles Emporium.

Specialist online retailers are joining in, with 31 Dover offering £3 off a purchase of Marquis de Montesquiou Armagnac Fine, £4 off the Reserve expression, and £5 off the XO. The Drink Shop are running a week-long offer of 20% off both the Marquis de Montesquiou and Comte de Lauvia expressions, and finally Drinkfinder have put together 20% off the full Marquis de Montesquiou range until Father’s Day.

For more information and for a full list of activity during the Sons of Armagnac week, please visit www.emporiabrands.com/sonsofarmagnac and www.emporiabrands.com/s/Art-Of-Armagnac.pdf

#SonsOfArmagnac

Ron de Jeremy

Ron de Jeremy
Most spirit brands in the world will have some association with a celebrity, entrepreneur, fellow brand within a different sector, or in this case, a porn star. Define Ron Jeremy as an actor and all of a sudden the taboo goes away. After all, George Clooney and Dan Ackroyd are two who stand out as a perfect example of crafting a spirit and promoting it as such.

I’m not going to focus on the man himself though for this feature, as it’s the rum that hits the table in the form of its XO and Spiced expressions.

The XO is said to celebrate the extraordinary life of Ron Jeremy, seeing a blend of selected pot and column still based rums from Barbados, Trinidad and Guyana, aged for up to 15 years within ex-American oak bourbon barrels. It’s spiced expression uses rums from Trinidad and blended with exotic spices.

But how do they fare? Well below, I give to you my tasting notes –

Ron de Jeremy XO – 40%

Honey, toasted maple syrup and walnut come through upon the nose. Smooth offerings of sweet honeycomb, toffee and slight burnt cinnamon on the palate, leading to a lingering thick vanilla finish.

Ron de Jeremy Spiced Hardcore Edition – 47%

Rich nutmeg, toffee and fudge aromas on the nose, followed by toasted marshmellow. Soft, sweet caramel on the palate, with slight orange rind and warm cinnamon powder, resulting in a long lingering finish.

Good sipping rums, and a cracking base for something like this;

Ron de Jeremy
Cherry J Sour

Glass – 

Rocks

Ingredients – 

50 ml Ron de Jeremy Reserva
20 ml Fresh Lemon Juice
20 ml Cherry Marnier
10 ml Creme de Cacao Dark
1 Barspoon Galliano
5 Drops Plum Bitters
20 ml Egg White

Method – 

Shake all ingredients over ice and double strain over ice filled rocks glass. Top with grated chocolate.

A great talking point for your drinks cabinet, and the spirits stand up, so it’s not just the expected gimmick!

© David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast 2017. 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.

Zeca

Zeca

Cachaça is a criminally underrated Brazilian spirit, with most bars and restaurants stocking it out of curiosity, rather than intent. The cachaça based Caipirinha is probably the most well-known signature serve from the category, with many venues pushing flavoured variations to their customers as if the fruit were the last available.

But what about just taking a seat and enjoying the spirit for what it is? Capturing a country within its reasoning, much the same way we look at whisky from Scotland, tequila from Mexico or Armagnac from France.

With this mindset, lets take a look at Zeca, new to the UK market and recently launched into the likes of Selfridges and Harvey Nichols.

Hailing from the apparent lush green mountains of Brazil’s hidden Zona Da Mata, in Minas Gerais, Zeca has been hand-crafted by the Matos family estate for over 100 years, using only traditional methods. Utilising once-pressed sugar cane grown at high altitude, the juice is distilled in old alambiques and resulting in Zeca, itself paying homage to Joseph “Zeca” de Matos, the first of the family to be born in Brazil and son of the pioneer Antonio de Matos, who moved from Portugal in 1891 to settle in the untamed region of Minas Gerais.

Created by Marcos Matos and Tony Austin, the focus is not solely on the liquid itself, but also the aesthetics of the brand, including the bottle illustration that brings to life the diversity and beautiful abundance of the Minas Gerais gem stones producing region of Zona da Mata. The blue colour apparently stands for the gem amethyst, whilst the purple celebrates the oxidised colour of the alambique copper, the most traditional cachaça distilling apparatus that they utilise.
The Tamanduá anteater is the brand’s most lively character, a natural pest control who roams the sugar cane fields at night eating the ants.

So how does it fare? Well below, I give to you my tasting notes –

Zeca – 40%

Passionfruit and dried banana peel come through on the nose, with hints of fresh sugarcane present. Damp earth blended with rich sugarcane and flesh fruit on the palate, bringing in a slight zest spice. A long finish.

A real kick of artisan Brazil, perfect to be sipped. Although they do recommend it, if you wish to have a longer serve, with fresh ginger beer or homemade lemonade. One to add to your drinks cabinet if you wish to pack a Brazilian offering to your friends and family.

© David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast 2017. 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.

Boodles

Boodles Mulberry

Standing out in the ever-growing gin world can be hard work. Staying in can be an even harder task as the consumer trends can waiver at the drop of a hat. It’s with this that I take a look at a gin that I’ve worked with on the odd occasion over the last few years, but never really sat down to take an in-depth look.

So, here goes.

Despite only hitting the shelves since June 2013, Boodles Gin is associated with the likes of Ian Fleming and Winston Churchill due to its history stretching back to 1845. Named after the Pall Mall Gentleman’s Club called Boodles, over time it became increasingly hard to find here in the UK. Resurrected by G&J Distillers, it continues to be different in not including any citrus botanicals on the assumption that it will always be served with lemon or lime.

The gin itself? British wheat spirit base with non-citrus led botanicals including nutmeg, sage and rosemary. But it’s not the original I want to focus on today, it’s their Mulberry expression.
Paying homage to the mulberry tree, a familiar site in the English countryside, they’ve taken the opportunity to feed a fresh interpretation of the more traditional sloe gin. Made with mulberries, the Boodles gin itself and a blend of natural ingredients, Boodles Mulberry became the first ever Mulberry expression to hit America.

But how does it fare? Well below, I give to you my tasting notes –

Boodles Mulberry – 30%

Thin notes of fresh raspberry and soft currents upon the nose, with a silky texture offering upon the palate. Slightly dry, the fresh kicks of soft berry create a sweet, warm finish that lasts long on the finish.

A tasty tipple on its own, a fizz concoction should not go unnoticed;

Boodles - Mulberry Fizz
Mulberry Fizz

Glass – 

Coupe / Collins

Ingredients – 

60 ml Boodles Mulberry
30 ml Lemon Juice
2 Mint Leaves
Soda Water

Method – 

Combine Mulberry gin, lemon juice and mint in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a Collins glass over fresh ice and top with soda water.

A great variation on the berry styled gin liqueurs on the market, and one that seems to offer flexibility in how it can be consumed! One to offer a space to in your drinks cabinet. 

© David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast 2017. 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.

 

The Winning Formula: Antica Formula Launches Cocktail Competition

Antica Formula cocktails
Bartenders from across the UK will put their mixology skills to the test in a cocktail competition showcasing the versatility of Antica Formula, the original Italian vermouth.
At stake is the chance for four regional winners to enjoy an exclusive VIP trip to Milan to visit the Fratelli Branca Distillery, where Antica Formula is still made to the original 1786 recipe.

With Antica Formula a key ingredient in three much-loved cocktails – the Negroni, Americano, and Hanky Panky – entrants will need to demonstrate their knowledge of the heritage and character of the iconic red vermouth.

UK distributor Hi-Spirits is inviting bartenders to create their own aperitivo recipe based on one of the four classics. The drink must either feature on the cocktail menu or as a special at their bar. The shortlisted finalists will be invited to compete at four regional events in Scotland, London, the North West and the Midlands, where they will be asked to:

• Make three of their chosen cocktail from the Negroni, Americano and Hanky Panky; the drinks will be made individually and contestants judged on consistency;
• Make the cocktail which they originally submitted to the competition.
The four regional contests will be decided by a panel of judge headed by Nicola Branca, world ambassador for Antica Formula. Judges will be awarding points for drinks that reflect the tradition and strengths of Antica Formula, as well as the contestants’ technical skills.

Dan Bolton, managing director of Hi-Spirits, said: “Antica Formula is at the heart of some of the world’s best-loved cocktails. We’re not only inviting the UK’s top bartenders to show that they can make the classics expertly and consistently, but also that they have the skill and ingenuity to create an aperitivo of their own as a twist one of these great cocktails.”

The competition opens on 1 May, and entrants have until 31 July to enter their aperitivo recipe online at http://www.Hi-Spirits.com/competitions, where full terms and conditions can be found. The regional finals will be held between 4 and 8 September, with the winners heading to Milan later in September.

• Antica Formula is the classic Italian red Vermouth, sweet and with a subtle vanilla aroma. It was created by Antonio Benedetto Carpano, the inventor of the Vermouth category, in 1786. Made by Fratelli Branca Distillerie with a selected infusion of mountain herbs and spices, including saffron, Antica Formula is produced in limited quantities and sealed with a cork in a distinctive brown bottle which includes a reproduction of the original 1786 label. As well as an essential ingredient in many classic cocktail, Antica Formula is ideal to drink over ice with an orange wedge, both as an aperitivo or after dinner.

For more information, contact Hi-Spirits on 01932 252 100, email info@hi-spirits.com, or visit http://www.hi-spirits.com.

A Romantic Cocktail To Warm Up Valentine’s Day

feeneys-irish-coffee
After a romantic meal with your loved one, why not end the evening sipping a delicious Feeney’s Irish Coffee in front of a roaring fire.

Feeney’s Irish Coffee is easy to make too. Heat gently 100 ml Feeney’s Irish Cream Liqueur with 1 cup of freshly brewed coffee and serve in a toddy glass topped with 1 teaspoon of whipped cream and grated chocolate.

Feeney’s Irish Cream is marketed as the world’s most luxurious Irish Cream Liqueur and contains 100% Irish whiskey. Feeney’s is masterfully distilled in the heart of Ireland and matured for at least three years and is available from:

Tesco’s which stocks 1 litre bottles RRP: £15.00 and 31Dover.com which stocks 70cl bottles RRP: £12.50 and 1 litre RRP: £15.00 and Amazon. ABV: 17%