The Dalmore Distillery Tour

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The second distillery of my Scotland tour was located in the North East Highland’s and a little town named Alness, home of The Dalmore.

After walking the short 20 minute walk from Alness town centre, we were greeted by a stunning location. The Dalmore distillery is situated on the banks of the Cromarty Firth, and with the morning sunrise filtering its way through the crisp January sky, it was the perfect setting as the light hit warehouses, pagodas and barrels.

Matusalem Casks

Making our way to the visitors centre, we were greeted by our tour guide for the day, Morag, who whisked us off to the Dalmore Custodian Wall. The Dalmore Custodians is members only, where you can find exclusive rare bottlings, events and information, and if your were one of the lucky first 1263 Custodians (the year the Dalmore stag was founded), your name will be etched onto their Custodian wall. Next to the wall, was the story behind The Dalmore, ‘The Death of the Stag’. A replica of the canvas that is housed in the Scottish National Gallery hangs proud as Morag explained how in 1263, a predecessor of the Clan MacKenzie saved King Alexander III from a rampaging stag. The King rewarded him with the Royal emblem of a 12-pointed stag that he used in his coat of arms, and would go on to use on every bottle of The Dalmore since.

Morag then proceeded to explain the history of The Dalmore itself, which turns out to be a rather simple affair. Established in 1839 by Sir Alexander Matheson, he built the distillery overlooking the Black Isle. 47 years later, the MacKenzie family purchased the distillery, and with their history dating back to 1263, the iconic 12 point stag came to life. Recently, the MacKenzie motto ‘Luceo non Uro’ or ‘I Shine, not burn’ has also been used by The Dalmore. The MacKenzie family owned The Dalmore for almost a century, until Whyte and Mackay took over.

Making our way to the ‘Lauter Tun’, The Dalmore use golden barley from the Black Isle, which is then ground into grist which maximizes the amount of starch that converts into sugars during the mashing process. After milling, it is then ready for combining with yeast and water from Loch Morie. The barley is fed into the lauter tun (a huge copper pot) and combined with the Lock Morie water. The resulting mixture is named the ‘wash’ where it is pumped through to one of the 6 metre deep washbacks made of Oregon Pine. After being steeped for several days, the wash is then pumped through to their unique flat top wash stills to start the distillation process. This huge room, sweltering from the heat of these giant structures, houses 4 of the flat top wash stills, where their being heated at 94°C. The vaporised alcohol slowly makes its way up the still and through the lyne arm that leads to one of the four ‘cold water jacket’ stills. Pipes in the still pump cold water around, condensing the alcohol vapour into liquid or ‘low wine’ and is then pumped through the ‘spirit safe’ where they get the chance to control the condensed spirit.

Once we explored the distillation process, Morag took us to one of The Dalmore’s warehouses where, in a rather bitterly cold environment, rows upon rows of casks were housed. She explained that The Dalmore use only two kind of barrels to mature – American white oak bourbon barrels from Jim Beam, and Matusalem sherry casks from Gonzalez Byass. The Dalmore is the only distillery permitted to source Matusalem sherry wood from Gonzalez Byass, giving it a unique blend of 30 years of oloroso sherry flavours. Morag also told us a fascinating story regarding The Dalmore’s New Years Eve celebrations back in 1999. The staff and their families were quite possibly making history as they gathered at the distillery and the chimes echoed, they produced what was very probably the first scotch whisky anywhere in the Third Millennium. 12 years later, the first casks are set to be bottled.

The Dalmore Distillery

The final part of the tour was to enjoy the work that Master Blender Richard Patterson and The Dalmore create. We entered a small room with a round table laid out in the middle. Here, 12yr, 15yr, 18yr and King Alexander III waited for our approval. So below, I present to you my tasting notes on each:

The Dalmore 12yr – 40%

Aged for 10 years in a Jim Beam cask and then 2 years in a Matusalem sherry cask. A nose of vanilla and honey with an orange citrus and a more subtle hint of vanilla, cocoa and marmalade on the palate.

The Dalmore 15yr – 40%

12 years in a Jim Beam cask and then 2 years split into 3 thirds. One third in Apostoles cask, one-third in Amoroso and the last third in Oloroso. The final year is matured in a Matusalem sherry cask. On the nose it has an orange and marmalade blend, with hints of fruit cake. A well-balanced ginger and mandarin flavour on the palate, with chocolate hints coming through.

The Dalmore 18yr – 46%

Aged for 15 years in a Jim Beam cask and then 3 years in a Matusalem sherry cask. On the nose, fruit and spice blend well, with subtle almond and cinnamon aromas near the end. Vanilla, rosemary and hints of coffee present itself on the palate, with slight flavours of citrus and cocoa near the end.

The Dalmore King Alexander III – 40%

This is the only Single Malt with 6 different finishes – Matusalem, Sauvignon Blanc, Amoroso, Jim Beam, Oloroso and Apostoles. Fresh flowers and exotic fruits being released on the nose, with vanilla and zest of oranges coming through. Red berries and hazelnut, almond, rich citrus and vanilla produce a very smooth, sweet flavour on the palate.

I feel that I need to apologise for the briefness in my review of The Dalmore distillery. Compared to the in-depth writing of my visit to Auchentoshan, it may feel a little rushed. This was down to a rookie error on my part, my notebook was left back at the B&B. I have therefore lacked the specifics regarding the intricate workings of The Dalmore, however, I’m sure that if you have read this far, you will let me off this once! I do intend to return to The Dalmore in the near future, and my tasting notes cover the core range of what The Dalmore offer, where if you purchase any of the four available, you will not be disappointed.

For more information on The Dalmore, see my review of the brand here.

© David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast 2012. 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.

Auchentoshan Distillery Tour

Auchentoshan

Last week, myself and my father made the 4 hour trip to Clydebank, Glasgow to visit my first ever whisky distillery – Auchentoshan. Why Auchentoshan? Well it’s the only whisky producer in Scotland to use triple-distillation, and one of only 5 distilleries in the Lowland area. Legend also has it, that you need to start in the Lowlands to truly open your palate up to the delights of Scotch.

The Auchentoshan Distillery

Located close to the River Clyde, the rather picturesque setting of the Auchetoshan distillery invites you in via their visitors centre. Here you can sign up for one of four tours available, from a classic tour to the ‘Ultimate Auchentoshan Experience’ tour, and if you have a spare £200 available, you can even explore the delights of Auchentoshan ‘after-hours’. We selected to go for their ‘Classic Tour’, and while waiting to see if any others will be joining, sat in their auditorium as a short film was played introducing Auchentoshan to those who were not too familiar. It turned out, granted it was the middle of January, that we were the only two up for the tour at this time, so we were greeted my Mehj, our tour-guide for the hour.

Lauter Tun

Mehj started by explaining the areas of Scotland and the categories that now define the Scotch whisky industry, as well as the two sister distilleries that are asscociated with Auchentoshan – Bowmore and Glen Garioch. A brief history of Auchentoshan followed, explaining that the name ‘Auchentoshan’ means ‘corner of the field’. The distillery was officially granted a license and opened in 1823, although there is evidence that a distillery was operating on the same site from the late 1700s. The distillery has changed ownership on several occasions in its history, including a spell under Scottish brewing firm, Tenants during the 1960s. The current owners are Morrison Bowmore, who took control in 1984 and were subsequently taken over 10 years laer by Japanese drinks company Suntory. With a ressurgance in recent years, consumption can now be granted to the US, Canada, Nordic countries as well as Russia.

Auchentoshan use malted optic barley which spends 2 days soaked in water and then gently kilned. The barley is then ground into grist which maximises the amount of starch that converts into sugars during the mashing process. After milling, it is then ready for combining with yeast and water from Loch Katrine. The barley is fed into a lauter tun (a huge copper pot) and combined with the Lock Katrine water first at 63.5°C. The second filling is at 74°C and left fr 1 1/2 hours, and the third at 94°C (the heat helps turn the starches into sugar). After two fillings, its ready for fermentation (the third filling is used as the first water in the next mash).

The fermentation process happens in 6 metre deep Oregon Pine washbacks. Steeped for 5 days, it creates 35,000 litres of fermented wash at 8% ABV. At the end of the 5 days, the wash is pumped through to the first of three copper pot stills, the wash still. This huge room, sweltering from the heat of the three pot stills houses is where the uniqueness of Auchentoshan begins. Heated at 94°C, the vaporised alcohol slowly makes its way up the still and through the lyne arm that leads to the condenser. The left over ‘pot ale’ is then sold as fertiliser. Pipes in the condenser pump cold water around, condensing the alcohol vapour into liquid or ‘low wine’ and is then pumped through the ‘spirit safe’ where they now get the chance to control the condensed spirit. The actual spirit distillate begins life as something known as fore-shots. This is the remnants of the previous distillation combined with the current distillation (the fore-shots don’t make it any further – they’re recycled through the spirit safe into the feints receiver).

Triple-distillation

After eight minutes of fore-shots, the spirit starts to runs clear. This is known as the ‘new make spirit’. This ‘new make spirit’, is collected in the intermediate spirit receiver until the alcohol content drops to 80% ABV. The last process is known as ‘off spirit’, which is a second cut. This ‘second cut’ is recycled by redistilling. The ‘new make spirit’ makes its way to the intermediate still, at 19% ABV and around 16,400 litres. Again heated up, the alcohol vapour travels up and through the lyne arm, and cooled in a condenser where it is then pumped through the spirit safe and into the feints receiver. Finally, they take the high strength feints and distil 2600 litres in the spirit still. After passing through the spirit safe for the third time, it hits the spirit receiver at between 80 and 82.6%. Here it is now ready to be cask filled at a strength of 63.5%.
The Auchentoshan distillation process takes the fermented liquid from 8% ABV to 80%, a unique number resulted from the triple-distillation instead of the more usual double-distillation that usually reached just 70% ABV.

Bourbon barrel in the Auchentoshan warehouse

Mehj then took us outside into the bitter cold and through to one of the warehouses where we were able to see first hand the rows upon rows of cask filled barrels. Auchentoshan use American bourbon oak barrels from White Turkey and Jim Beam at a cost of £80 and £100 per barrel. Spanish sherry casks are also used – Oloroso and Pedro Ximenez at around £800 a barrel. American oak is used to blend in flavours of caramel and vanilla, as well as to give it a sweetness, while dark, rich flavours and citrus notes are released from the Spanish casks. The darkened, cold warehouse housed casks raging from ages 6 to 50 years old, and Mehj explained that the older the barrel, the less that would be in it. Why? Natural evaporation causes the alcohol and water to be released. After taking in the age that was surrounding us, we headed to the warmth and Mehj led us to Auchentoshan’s purpose built bar where we enjoyed a dram of 12yr and Three Wood. Below are my tasting notes on each –

Auchentoshan 12yr and Triple Wood

Auchentoshan 12yr – 40%

Matured for 12 years, an instant burst of citrus flavours hits your nose, with a destinct toffee aroma floating rather quickly behind. Very smooth on the palate, with raisin and nut blending nicely with a sweetness lingering soon after, with a small hint of ginger.

Auchentoshan Three Wood – 43%

Matured in three different cask types, American bourbon to Spanish Oloroso sherry and finishing in Pedro Ximenez sherry casks, a nose of deep sweetness, orange and raisin mix extremely well, with a heavy dose of black currant to finish. The palate has some dry fruitness of raisin, with fresh lemon and butterscotch dancing slowly resulting in a long oak finish.

Two fine starts to the Scotland tour, and a rather in depth teaching of how Auchentoshan differ from all the rest. It’s great to see in person the size of the wash backs, the copper pot stills and the magic of a whisky warehouse, and I can finally truly grasp and appreciate the work that goes into creating a spirit that we can all safely say, has been around for donkeys years.

Check out the rest of the photos from the Auchentoshan distillery here, and my article on the brand, including other Auchentoshan expressions, here.

© David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast 2012. 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.

Elbow’s ‘build a rocket boys!’ Tasting Notes

Last month, the Manchester band Elbow launched a brand new ale, ‘build a rocket boys!’. Working with Stockport based Robinson’s Brewery and named after their recent album, the band created a media buzz at the recent Manchester Food and Drink Festival as they themselves pulled the first few pints in the Robinson’s beer tent. I myself have been enjoying Elbow’s new ale in the various Kro bars dotted around Manchester, but I wanted to wait until the bottle version arrived on my doorstep until I reviewed this golden bitter.

‘build a rocket boys!’  has been created to Elbow’s own specifications. The band enjoyed a series of beer tastings at the brewery where they sampled a range of Robinsons’ ales to shortlist their preferred style of beer, taste and colour. Elbow’s finished product was decided on a golden ale with a rich rounded body, smooth bitterness, with a subtle tang of malt and fruity aroma. It created a golden premium session bitter with a strength of 4.0% ABV.  The nose enjoys a slight bitterness with fresh hops mellowing their way down your sinuses. The palate gets a slow burst of sweet fruit with only a hint of bitterness on the tongue. A fresh, slight citrus note, lasts long on the after-taste with malt flavour staying on your lips. A lack of dryness means you can enjoy two or three of these during a night, and it’s not too heavy to stomach.

Robinson’s recently sent out a press release stating that “Robinsons report brisk trade of the beer with several supermarkets across the North West ordering extra stock of ‘build a rocket boys’, to keep up with demand. Elbow and Robinsons officially launched the beer at the recent Manchester Food and Drink Festival and the ale has gone on to be a big hit with music and beer fans alike. Two of Manchester’s most iconic drinking establishments, Kro Bar and The Castle, have already requested a second helping of the beer after pumps quickly ran dry.”

And to be fair, I can see why. I’ve met numerous people, both ale and non ale drinkers, who have enjoyed the new sensation, and with it rolling out into supermarkets, it can only get bigger.

Robinsons Brewery will also donate a significant percentage of all profits raised by the sale of ‘build a rocket boys!’ beer to Oxfam’s Famine Appeal.

This is an ale you really need to try.

To purchase ‘build a rocket boys!’, click here

© David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast 2011. 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.

Wemyss Malts

 

Wemyss

Wemyss Malts were on of the first ranges on whisky I covered when I started Drinks Enthusiast back in 2011. Since then, Wemyss Malts range of expressions have grown, culminating in some hand-crafted beauties! Before I re-visit though, lets take a look at Wemyss;

Wemyss Malts, pronounced ‘Weems’, are a boutique whisky company with connections to the Wemyss family who hailed from Fife, Scotland. Wemyss itself comes from the Gaelic word for caves which stems from the rocky outcrop on the Firth of Forth on which the family home of Wemyss Castle sits.
The Wemyss Land was used at the turn of the 19th century where a gentleman named John Haig built his first distillery on the island. It is said that John’s passion for the industry made him realise the confusion that consumers had with the ever-increasing terminology of the whisky industry. With this, he aimed to create his whiskies and not only make them more accessible, but also understandable.

Wemyss Malts use a combination of the taste and aromas of each individual whisky to identify each bottling, rather than the traditional distillery way, resulting in the consumer understanding the style being purchased more easily.

But what about the whisky?

Wemyss Malts have two sub-categories – Blended Malts and Single Casks. With the blended, the Wemyss family hand select each individual cask, under the expert eye of Charlie Maclean, chair of the Wemyss Nosing Panel for both the Single Casks and Blended Malts.
Up to sixteen different single malt whiskies are blended together before introducing the “signature” malts to create the three distinct taste profiles.

Question is, does this really de-mystify the whisky labelling? Well below, I give to you my tasting notes –

The Hive 8yr – 40%

The Hive range uses a signature malt is from Speyside.
A sweet nose with a mix of wood and leather aromas, becoming more vibrant upon the palate. Smooth, plenty of light honey flavours to create a lingering finish.

WemyssThe Hive 12yr – 40%

On the nose, the sweet scent of  honey is dominant which carries nicely onto the palate. A slight buttery scent is also present. The fresh flavour of the honey spread along the palate and gives a bit of a spice kick near the end. A snip of vanilla is their but the honey is the main characteristic.

Spice King 8yr – 40%

Spice King range uses a signature malt is from the Highlands.
A fresh nose of spice become a little dry as it develops, although retains its smoothness. A slight sweetness on the palate, with dry pepper and spice evident creating a lingering warm finish.

Spice King 12yr – 40%

A bold, rich nose of sherry mixing with lemon zest but a slight harsh entrance on the palate. Bitter lemon and ginger flavours linger with spice notes and leads into an oak finish which leaves the mouth a little dry.

Peat Chimney 8yr – 40%

Bottled October 2010. The Peat Chimney range uses a signature malt is from Islay.
Light peat aromas on the nose, with a balance of heather and honey developing. Light on the palate too, with honey evident, moving to a lingering peat finish with some bold whispers.

Peat Chimney 8yr – 40%

A tweaked version of the above, sampled on 18th May 2014.

Very light, honey peated notes on the nose, with a little whisp of heather and heat. Incredibly sharp peat flavours on the palate, creating a spice heat that sticks to the roof of your mouth. Hard peat flavours on the finish, with a little smokey wood and honey elements thrown in. Lingering.

Peat Chimney 12yr – 40%

Soft peat notes on the nose with an oily scent soon after with a hint of sea salt. Heavy flavours of peat do mellow out as it comes to a finish, with a ‘peat chimney’ smoke on the after-taste.

Wemyss Malts are also the producers of premium blended whisky Lord Elcho. David, Lord Elcho, eldest son of the 5th Earl of Wemyss, was one of the most celebrated supporters of Bonnie Prince Charlie during the ill-fated Jacobite Rebellion of 1745. Flirting between England and France originally, he settled in Italy and met Charles Edward Stewart, playing a significant role in the uprising, eventually being appointed colonel of the Prince’s lifeguards. After being defeated at the Battle of Culloden in 1746, he was punished with the stripping of his land and titles and forced into exile.
Lord Elcho whisky is a nod to his life, created to honour the “refined masculine spirit of its namesake”.

Lord Elcho 15yr – 40%

Bottled August 2012. Crafted from a selection of malt and grain whiskies. Light, with lingering honey notes finishing with a slight sweetness on the nose. A well-rounded palate of honey and toasted wood, with the sweetness and warmth resulting in a lingering finish.

Lord Elcho NAS – 40%

Light cereal notes on the nose, with hints of honey and syrup coming through. Plenty of honey on the palate, with a light enjoyment of cocoa, fudge and creamy dry spice with cinnamon, ginger and cardoman. Long and warming.

Some absolute crackers to enjoy in your favourite whisky glass. But Wemyss Malts are versatile, with leading bartender Jason Scott of Bramble, Edinburgh creating gems such as –

Hive and Seek
Hive and Seek

Hive and Seek

Glass –

Coupette

Ingredients – 

40 ml Wemyss Hive Whisky 12yr
12.5ml Campari
20 ml fresh lemon juice
2 bar spoons (10ml) saffron honey or orange blossom honey
Dash pasteurised egg white

Method –

Pour all ingredients into shaker and dry shake (no ice). Fill with ice and shake rapidly. Double strain.

or perhaps

Peat Smash
Peat Smash

Peat Smash

Glass – 

Julep Cup

Ingredients – 

50 ml Peat Chimney Whisky 12yr
14 mint leaves
2 bar spoons Demerara sugar
Spritz of Fernet Branca

Method –

Firstly spray the inside of cup with Fernet Branca. Separately, with all ingredients and cubed ice in a mixing glass, stir till ice cold and the flavours and aromas of the mint have infused into the liquid. Single strain over cracked ice in cup.

Brilliant! A superb range across the board, with personal favourites being The Hive and Peat Chimney. Although I’m yet to experience their Single Casks, I can only imagine that I will be impressed. Wemyss are coming out with a fantastic portfolio, diving into their heritage and creating blended whiskies, premium offerings, single casks and even two expressions of gin. You may not see this everywhere when it comes to bars and restaurants, but I can guarantee, if you know a venue with a good whisky selection, expect to see some Wemyss. It would be VERY rude not too. If not, pick one up for your drinks cabinet.

© 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.

Amarula Tasting Notes

Amarula

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 –

Dusky Decadence
Dusky Decadence

Dusky Decadence

Glass – 

Highball

Ingredients – 

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

Method – 

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

Ingredients – 

Bread and Butter Pudding
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

Method – 

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.

© 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.

Glenfiddich

Glenfiddich

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 –

Glenfiddich 12yr – 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 125yrGlenfiddich 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 & Vintage Reserve

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.

Glenfiddich Rare Collection 1992 Single Cask Whisky Shop Exclusive – 56.3%

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 Original
Glenfiddich The Original

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
Experimental Series

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.

© David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast 2016. 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.

Martin Miller’s Tasting Notes

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.

Martin Millers London Dry

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

Glass –

Jug – served with two rocks glasses

Ingredients –

50ml Martin Miller’s Gin Westbourne Strength
50ml Martini Rosso
30ml Campari
30ml Cointreau
50ml fresh pink grapefruit juice

Method –

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.

© David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast 2012. 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.

Miller Genuine Draught Tasting Notes

Miller Genuine Draft

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.

* For a more detailed explanation, please see this short video.

© 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.

Gosling’s Tasting Notes

Gosling's

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
Dark ‘n Stormy

Dark ‘n Stormy®

Glass –

Highball

Ingredients –

50 ml Gosling’s Black Seal Rum
75 ml Gosling’s Stormy Ginger Beer

Method – 

Build in the glass over cubed ice and serve with a lime wedge.

or

Bermuda Rum Swizzle

Glass – 

Martini

Ingredients – 

(Makes 6)
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

Method – 

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.

© 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.

Licor 43 Tasting notes

The ‘Spanish Smooth Sensation’ has made a comeback recently, with Licor 43 being ever-present on many new and existing back bars. This Spanish liqueur is made from citrus and fruit juices, flavoured with 43 different vanilla and aromatic herbs and spices (hence the name). Its origin though starts in the early 20th century at a small factory in the Mediterranean city of Cartagena.

Three brothers (Diego, Angel and Josefina Zamora Conesa) and Mrs Conesa’s husband Emilio Restoy Godoy started the company and became the most sold liqueur in the South East of Spain. Since the beginning, the Diego Zamora company (still family owned to this day) has been a pioneer in Spain for its use of advertising on radio, TV, press and cinema, with the 60’s paying off as Licor 43 went global to 55 markets to become the most international Spanish liqueur ever. Licor 43 are rather proud of their history and recipe, and the 43 herbs and spices are a guarded secret, however this doesn’t stop you from enjoying the moment as you try to work it out for yourselves –

Licor 43 – 31%

Subtle vanilla aromas blend their way through on the nose accompanied by sweet fruit and spices. A smooth, instant mouth-watering vanilla taste hits the palate first with subtle citrus hints following. Creates a long, sweet after taste.

Licor 43 makes an ideal ingredient to use to balance out a Daiquiri, or even used in a dark Mojito to add a slight extra vanilla flavour to the rum used. Or try one of these –

Cosmo 43

Glass –

Martini

Ingredients –

50 ml Licor 43
50 ml Vodka
75 ml Cranberry juice
50 ml Lemon juice

Method –

Shake all ingredients together and serve in a chilled Martini glass

Spanish Temptation

Spanish Temptation

Glass –

Hurricane

Ingredients –

125 ml Licor 43
50 ml Vanilla Syrup
75 ml Cream
175 ml Passion Fruit Nectar
125 ml Orange juice
25 ml Cherry juice

Method –

Mix all ingredients without the cherry juice with ice in a shaker. Add the cherry juice once poured into a hurricane glass.

This versatile liqueur really shows what it’s made of, and has even caught the judges eyes, winning gold in the 19th Cocktail Challenge Edition at Shaker & Company in 2012 and silver at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition in 2011.

Expect to see a lot more of Licor 43 of the coming years, not only in cocktails, but offered as part of your after-dinner range as well as over desserts such as ice cream, fruit salads and strawberries. Or better still, have one in your drinks cabinet.

Check out the rest of the photos, taken at The Circle 360, via my Facebook page.

© David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast 2012. 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.