Ditch Your Resolutions In Style At Slug And Lettuce

With New Year’s Resolutions beginning to be a thing of the past, a leading bar chain, the Slug and Lettuce are offering guests the opportunity to ditch them in sophistication with fantastic offers this January*.

Available at Slug and Lettuces throughout the country, the chain of bars will be providing customers the opportunity for a guilt-free celebration with a selection of 10 drinks available, all below 100 calories. What’s more, they are all available at the minimal cost of £3.50. Whether it be a refreshing Gordons Gin and Tonic or a delicious Absolut Vanilla and Diet Coke, there will be something for all.

For those looking for more than a drink, there are also an array of food options available, set to whet anyone’s appetite. The signature ‘Fast & Fresh’ section of the menu will be on hand for all with a complimentary 20% discount on top. The selection of dishes take inspiration from around the globe, with the likes of a Superfood Salad, BBQ Pulled Pork Burrito or Noodle Boxes set to ignite the taste buds.
Full list of Slug and Lettuce January deals*:

· £3.50: Whitley Neill Gin and Bottle Green Light Tonic, Gordons Gin and Bottle Green Light Tonic, Havana Club 3yr and Diet Coke, Sailor Jerry Spiced Rum and Diet Coke, Midori and Bottle Green Light Tonic, Disaronno and Diet Coke, Tia Maria and Diet Coke, Smirnoff and Bottle Green Light Tonic and Absolut Vanilla and Diet Coke.

· £4.50: Beck’s Blue non-alcoholic beer and 125ml Prosecco

· Dishes for £5: Chicken Salad, Classic Burger, Chicken & Bacon Club, Butternut Squash Lasagne and Bacon, Avocado and Tomato Sandwich at the following sites: Reading, Brentwood, Nottingham Cornerhouse, St Albans, Fetter Lane and Epsom.

· Dishes for £5: Cottage Pie, Chilli Con Carne, Butternut Squash Lasagne, Steak Sandwich and Southern Fried Chicken Wrap at the following sites: Huddersfield, Beckenham, Derby, Chelmsford, Hove and Southampton.

Deal runs from Tuesday 3rd January to 31st January 2017.

*£20% off Fast & Fresh menu at 67 Slug & Lettuce’s throughout the country. Not including the following sites: Wilmslow, Marlow, South Woodford, Weybridge, Salisbury, Clapham, Fareham, Southend, Derby and Southampton. Not to be used in conjunction with any other promotion or offer.

Jim Beam

Jim Beam

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.

Since the birth of Jacob Beam, the Beam family legacy has influenced 60 different bourbon brands in three countries.

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.

Jim Beam MapleThe 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 Oaked Fashioned
Jim Beam Double Oak Fashioned

Jim Beam Double Oak Fashioned

Glass –

Old Fashioned

Ingredients – 

50 ml Jim Beam Double Oak
4 dashes bitters
2 sugar cubes
1 orange
1 lemon

Method –

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
Man O’ War

Man O’ War

Glass –


Ingredients – 

20 ml Jim Beam Bourbon
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
12.5 ml water
10-15 large fresh mint leaves

Method – 

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

Ingredients – 

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

Preparation – 

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.

© 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.

Bar Convent Berlin (BCB), One of the World’s Premier Bar Shows, Announces Its Ninth Edition


Bar Convent Berlin (BCB), one of the world’s premier trade fairs for the bar and beverage industry, today announces its ninth edition that will take place on October 6-7, 2015. An estimated 200 exhibitors will showcase about 500 brands to 10,000 attendees that are expected from 35 countries, including the U.S. BCB is held at Station Berlin, the iconic landmarked railway station. It provides an ideal backdrop for meetings between key industry players and newcomers, ranging from bar owners and bartenders to international manufacturers and distributors of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, equipment and bar accessories. This year, a nighttime Mixology Market event will kick off the show on October 5.

More Attendees, More Exhibitors and More Floor Space

BCB is growing and is adding new companies and an additional demonstration bar. Some 200 exhibitors and numerous brands representing the spirits, non-alcoholic beverages, beer, and bar accessories sectors have already booked their spaces several months ahead of the show.

“We’re very confident that this year’s trade fair will once again grow by leaps and bounds,” says Jens Hasenbein, Managing Director, BCB. “As in the past, we’re focused on two aspects: matching up the right companies with the right target groups and offering a top-notch program of tastings, lectures and seminars. Our selection of exhibiting companies provides our show with a distinctive profile within the premium segment.”

In order to meet growing demand, the BCB team is implementing an expansion into a new hall. Hall 8 will feature two tasting forums and a “Made in GSA” area. Presented in cooperation with the magazine Mixology, the space will be dedicated to products from Germany, Switzerland and Austria and offer samples of more than 60 spirits, liqueurs, bitters and soft drinks. The cocktail creation that wins the “Made in GSA” competition will also be featured here. In addition, the expansion into Hall 8 will give Brew Berlin room to spread out. BCB’s beer area will get its own space in Hall 3 this year.

Europe’s Trade Fair for the Bar Business

About 10,000 trade visitors are expected to attend BCB, including top international bartenders. Last year, 26 percent of trade fair visitors were bartenders, 16 percent bar owners and 9 percent bar operators and managers. The beverage and spirits industry also made a strong showing with 20 percent. Nearly half of visitors said they were focused primarily on new products, while another 21 percent were looking for new business contacts and 16 percent were most interested in onsite seminars and workshops. For a quarter of the visitors, the most important reason to come to the event, which brings together all the key industry players, was to network.

Global Industry Gathering Place; A Focus on Brazil in 2015

After Mexico, Poland, Peru and the U.S., the ninth BCB will be devoted to yet another major beverage nation. This year’s guest country will be Brazil. For visitors, this means an up-close look at the enormously varied uses of the popular spirit, Cachaça, as well as additional beverages from the rising, resource-rich country. In addition, former guest countries, Peru and the U.S., will return.

“Internationality begets quality. That’s why we care so deeply about bringing even more nations to BCB,” says Petra Lassahn, Event Director, Reed Exhibitions, who now works alongside Hasenbein to manage BCB. “Exhibitors get an opportunity here to present their products to international markets and visitors get to discover new products from around the world.”

More than half of the approximately 9,400 trade visitors last year traveled to BCB from outside Germany, including the U.S., the U.K., Poland, Italy, Switzerland, Russia, Austria, Finland, the Czech Republic and Denmark.

About Bar Convent Berlin (BCB)

Since its founding in 2007, Bar Convent Berlin (BCB) has emerged as one of the leading international trade fairs for the bar and beverage industry. Every year, a who’s who of the German and European bar and beverage industry meet in Berlin for two days to establish new contacts, catch up on the latest product innovations and attend educational seminars. Launched in 2013, Brew Berlin adds a beer-in-bars platform to BCB. BCB was created by bar and beverage experts Jens Hasenbein, Bastian Heuser and Helmut Adam. Reed Exhibitions, a leading international trade fair organizer, came on board in 2015. The trade fair will take place at Station Berlin on October 6-7, 2015. About 10,000 trade visitors are expected to attend. For more information, please visit http://www.barcovent.com.

Villa Lobos

Villa Lobos

A range of tequila expressions that have floated around the UK market over the last few years has found footing on some major stepping-stones coming in the next few months, placing itself within the highly respected Instil Spirits portfolio to certify that it’s not just a one-trick-pony.

So what is Villa Lobos?

Villa Lobos is the result of a friendship and close collaboration with two of the world’s most respected and trusted authorities on tequila: Carlos Camarena and Dale Sklar. Carlos Camarena is the brainchild behind the likes of Ocho, Tapatio and Casco Viejo tequila’s, whilst Dale Sklar is the Managing Director and founder of importers Wine and Spirit International. Question is though, what makes Villa Lobos stand out to the rest of Carlo’s brands?

The agave used for Villa Lobos comes straight from the agave plantation owned by the Camarena family in Los Altos, but by chance Carlos had created too much for his usual requirements and began storing it within open steel tanks. A year later, he tried the agave to make sure it was still suitable, but with the extra oxidation it became ‘more feminine and silky’, he couldn’t use the agave for his usual brands, so instead he went in a different direction and Villa Lobos was born.

The four expressions are your usual suspects, and below, I give to you my tasting notes on the core three –

Villa Lobos Blanco – 40%

Double distilled. A good kick of dry oak on the nose, with light agave notes and soft sweetness coming through.A tender kick of agave hits the palate, developing into a wet spice and soft smoke aroma that gives a fresh, light and lingering finish.

Villa Lobos Reposado – 40%

Spends at least 6 months resting in tanks before being aged in American oak for 11 months. Very light, subtle notes of agave, with licks of oak and earthy aromas on the nose. Raw oak flavours are hit with a good kick of dry agave and plenty of course soil to give a lingering, slightly harsh finish.

Villa Lobos Añejo – 40%

Spends at least 6 months resting in tanks before being aged in American oak for 24 months. Soft, slightly coarse aromas of earth and agave blending well on the nose. Licks of smoke give off plenty of oak flavours, with kicks of raw agave coming through. A long, heavy feeling smoked finish.

Villa Lobos
Villa Lobos Los Hombres
– 40%

Created to celebrate the friendship between Carlos and Dale, this is a 2000 bottle release, aged for 10 years within American oak barrels.
Soft earthy butter notes upon the nose, with slight ripe banana and papaya coming through. Thick butterscotch hits the palate early, developing into a lively cracked black pepper and dry oak. A long finish with plenty of roasted red pepper lingering.

Some very interesting expressions here, with a fifth, the Extra Añejo also available and aged for 48 months. One’s for enjoying straight, even the Blanco, which at a push could make a good cocktail base if you had some good ingredients to match it with.
Although created by accident perhaps, the year in open air tanks makes a pleasant difference to many other tequila names, especially Carlos’ other brands. Perhaps one for your drinks cabinet at home, or to impress your friends with on a night out if you happen to come across it in your favourite bar.

© David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast 2018. 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.

Russian Standard

Russian Standard

Vodka as a category is huge, and has been for many a decade now. There are many brands you rattle off when one talks about vodka; Smirnoff, Grey Goose, Belvedere and Russian Standard are present in many a list, and it’s the Russian liquid that this feature will concentrate on, looking at why it is seen as one of the well-known in its category, and some of the expressions that are sometimes easily looked over.

It begins with a gentleman named Roustam Tariko, a Russian born in Menzelinsk in Tatarstan back in 1962. In the 1980’s, he saw the potential for new businesses in Russia after the economic reforms and started the likes of a cleaning company and then the importing of Kinder Surprise and Ferrero Rocher chocolates (goods that were previously only available within hard currency stores closed to the average Russian). Tariko parlayed his success in selling Italian chocolates into an exclusive contract to import the Martini brand. Record sales of Martini enabled him to grow his company Roust Inc. into the leading importer of premium spirits in Russia. It’s here when he realised that Russia did not possess a domestically produced premium vodka brand, so in 1998, Tariko, through his Russian Standard Company, brought to market Russian Standard Vodka Original, the first genuinely Russian premium vodka.

Roustam Tariko also used the influence of Professor Dmitri Mendeleev, the inventor of the periodic table and alumni of the St. Petersburg State University. What was considered the standard for vodka making, Tariko invited some of the modern-day graduates to work at the Russian Standard Vodka distillery and impart their wisdom on the likes of the analysis of the natural water, to gas chromatography which measures the cleanliness of the vodka itself. Because of this, they are at the fore-front and developing new techniques in vodka chemistry, a unique business model that only Russian Standard apply.

So how is it all created?

Within their St Petersburg distillery, a proprietary distillation has been developed which means it retains the natural character of the spirit, yet filters out the impurities. The winter wheat spirit from the Russian Steppes passes through over 200 distillation stages, all controlled at every stage. It is then filtered through Russian birch charcoal filters and a Urals Mountains quartz crystal filtration process, as well as silver to further refine the vodka if creating the Platinum expression. The vodka then passes through a final and unique process called relaxation, where the liquid matures and the ingredients ‘marry’ each other to result in a perfect balance, smoothness and ‘final development of organoleptic properties’. The relaxation process is said to be critical to the final product as it is where the super molecular structure is built. The water used within the processes is pure glacial water from Lake Ladoga. Once bottled, every bottle is sealed with a Certificate of Origin – a guarantee issued by the Russian government that the vodka is 100% Russian.

So how do the four expressions fare? Well below, I give to you my tasting notes –

Russian Standard Original – 40%

Bold notes of the winter wheat come through on the nose, with a thick aroma of coarse earth placed nicely for the base. A sharp kick of wheat upon the palate, with a good dose of dry spice, vegetal and earthy notes coming through. A lively dryness forms near the spicy, long finish. Slight creamy notes comes through too.

Russian Standard Gold – 40%

Russian Standard Gold is inspired from an ancient Siberian vodka recipe made popular by Peter the Great and has extracts of Siberian Golden Root.
Soft ginseng on the nose with a subtle aroma of the wheat coming through. Very soft upon the palate, with a slight developing richness of the root bringing a bold finish. Natural sweetness is present, with a sugar beet style texture. A good lingering finish.

Russian Standard Platinum – 40%

Silver filtered for extra clarity. Clean on the nose with a slight soft sweetness and citrus element present. Very soft on the palate with the powdered citrus blending well with the smooth texture of the winter wheat. A slight kick of pepper near the lingering finish.

Imperia – 40%

Produced by the world’s most advanced distillation process (eight times) and layer-filtered through quartz crystal from the Ural Mountains, Imperia is allowed to rest in relaxation tanks for 72 hours before bottling.
Slight herbal notes on the nose surround the clean, thin scent of the spirit. A crisp start to the palate, with a creamy, thick texture developing with hints of citrus and herbal sweets. An aromatic hit near the finish that lingers perfectly.

Four very different styles of vodka here, with the Original perfect for one of these –

Russian Mule
Russian Mule

Russian Mule

Glass – 

Copper Mug

Ingredients – 

50 ml Russian Standard Original
150 ml Premium Ginger Beer (or Ale)

Method – 

Fill a copper mug with ice cubes. Squeeze in half of one lime. Add 50 ml of Russian Standard Original and the Ginger beer to fill. Garnish with a wedge of lime.

Russian Standard hits the mark across the board, with a good entry-level and cocktail base with the Original, to the vodka sippers in Gold and Platinum, to the prestige Imperia. At least two should be in your drinks cabinet at home to really impress your friends and family, or visit your local bar and see what the bartenders are mixing up for you. This is a classic Russian vodka, which some would say is a classic vodka in its own right. Grab a taste and join in.

© David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog/sites author and owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Hard Rock Cafe World Burger Tour

Hard Rock Cafe

Hard Rock Cafe are well-known for their burgers across the world, and all 199 sites have been coming up with creations that define their corresponding city. For the next two months though, customers are being invited to sample the aptly named Local Legendary Burger offerings, with 8 being highlighted at Manchester’s Hard Rock Cafe over the coming weeks.

So, if you pop in this weekend, you can grab yourself the Indian styles of the Tandoori Spiced Chicken Burger, coming complete with chicken breast marinated with authentic tandoori spice and fresh herbs, topped with Jack cheese, cucumber and mint yoghurt. Or perhaps the Java Lava Burger from Seattle, America that involves the beef patty rubbed with espresso to release a subtle flavour of coffee, alongside homemade lava sauce, java onions, Cheddar cheese and smoked bacon. This works perfectly with its American cousin the Maple Old Fashioned, Hard Rock Cafe’s twist on the classic American cocktail that uses Makers Mark bourbon, cherries, maple syrup and orange juice, garnished with a stick of crispy bacon.

Hard Rock CafeSan Antonio in America are also featured, giving you an insight into the city’s culture with their Jalapeño Cream Cheese Burger. This comes layered with double-battered jalapeño slices and jalapeño cream cheese, alongside red onion and Sriracha mayonnaise. The South Pacific island of Guam also makes an appearance with their Chamorro Burger, using island spices that are rubbed into the beef patty, with layers of Pepper Jack cheese and homemade Chamorro glaze and chilli paste on top. Perfect to accompany is the Mai Tai One On that features Mount Gay Eclipse rum, Cointreau, Monin Orgeat, fresh lime and orange juice.

Other cocktails that work perfectly with the World Burger Tour include the likes of the Pomegranate Mule, blending Absolut vodka, Monin Pomegranate and ginger beer together, as well as the Mezcarita that offers Del Maguey Mezcal, Cointreau, Malibu and fresh strawberries for a Mexican flavour.

Of course no visit to the Manchester cafe would be complete without the Lancashire Hot Pot Burger that features a de-constructed Lancashire Hot Pot, minted lamb pate, potato rosti and onion frazzles, all topped with gravy!

As of June 1st though, four new burger variations will be available, including delights from Miami, United Arab Emirates, Vietnam and Guatemala. So you have two reasons to pop in and really splash out on your cultured cuisine!

See you on the big booth at the back!

© David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog/sites author and owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.



The UK has a new whiskey from the US, and it’s landed with fanfare in many of the influential icons of the drinks world laps as the bar trade is scrambling for a piece of what is known as WhistlePig. The oddly named is a straight rye whiskey, and is heralded as one of the best rye’s in the world today. But how did it earn such a moniker? Lets take a look.

Born in 2007, WhistlePig started its life when Raj P. Bhakta bought WhistlePig farm, containing 500 plus acres in Shoreham, Vermont. He joined forces with ex Makers Mark Master Distiller Dave Pickerell and set about finding the best batch of rye available in North America within a 5 year plan to bring rye back into the USA. The first day of 2010 saw Raj and his family clear out an old barn, and in 2013 they harvested their first crop of rye. WhistlePig prides itself as being the first ever ‘single malt, one-stop rye shop’, with all the stages of the whiskey process happening on site. Finally, in 2015, the single-estate farm distillery is open, with the first run of distillation scheduled for July 4th 2015.

So how is WhistlePig fairing within the first few years?

Until July, the WhistlePig has been distilled in western Canada, but once the summer rolls around and the whiskey flows from the WhistlePig farm, the whiskey will be matured within a warehouse located just a few feet away. It’s here that the spirit is within new American charred oak barrels (or early use bourbon barrels) for at least 10 years, braving the open warehouse elements.

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

WhistlePig 10yr – 50%

Aged for 8 years in new American oak, then early use bourbon barrels for 2 years. Good depth on the nose, lots of aromas with soft spice and fruit. Subtle oak aromas combine well. Spice on the palate with a high, lively sweet and floral flavour, mixing well with the rye to create a very long, warm finish with a creamy texture.

A great spirit, which has caught the bartenders eyes a little –

World’s Greatest Rye Perfect Manhattan
World’s Greatest Rye Perfect Manhattan

World’s Greatest Rye Perfect Manhattan *

Glass – 


Ingredients –

60 ml Whistlepig straight rye whiskey
15 ml Sweet vermouth
15 ml Dry vermouth
3 dashes Angostura bitters
Lemon peel, for garnish

Method – 

Combine all liquid ingredients into an ice-filled mixing glass and stir briskly for about 15 to 20 seconds. Strain into chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with lemon peel after running the inside of the peel around the lip of the glass.

There are one or two other expressions that you may see popping up soon, including TripleOne, aged for 11 years and at 111 proof (55.5% abv) and Boss Hog 2014, selected from among the oldest barrels from Bond 77, which entered wood on April 5, 2001. Something different and exciting for your drinks cabinet, and despite the price, worthy of a cocktail or two as well. Enjoy.

* Recipe from The Five O’Clock Cocktail Blog

© David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog/sites author and owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.


Cotswold Distillery

English whisky is creating a new era. The English Whisky Company is the most well-known at the moment, but there are a couple of producers ageing their stock to satisfy a growing interest in, well, whisky that’s not from Scotland, Ireland or America. People’s palates are changing, and the likes of Cotswolds are there to entice.

The owner of Cotswolds Distillery is Dan Szor, and he will soon be the first to distil whisky in the beautiful Cotswolds area ever. His reasoning? Like many distillers, he caught the bug of craftsmanship when he escaped his London life over many a weekend and travelled to Islay. For those in the whisky know, Islay is one of the many regions that produce some fantastic brands, and Dan himself bought his first cask of whisky from the Bruichladdich Distillery. With regular visits to the Cotswolds over weekends too, he realised that the fields were full of barley, planting the seed to distil and create a unique liquid.

Dan purchased an old barn conversion in the village of Stourton, near Shipston-on-Stour and set out to create an eco-friendly production line. As mentioned, he sources his barley from the nearby farmers, the malt is hand-made less than 50 miles from the distillery and ensures that the malting, mashing and distilling take place in the Cotswolds. A true local affair. After learning the craft, he appointed a team that included Alex Davies as Head Distiller, he of Chase Distillery fame. Dan also consulted with Richard Forsyth of the Forsythes plant in Rothes, Scotland to commission two copper pot stills to use for his whisky production. Not content with just whisky though, Dan also sought out the help from Arnold Holstein in Germany to create him a tailor-made 500 litre hybrid still, consisting of an onion head, botanical chamber and column for the production of the first Cotswolds Distillery spirit, Cotswolds Dry Gin.

Pot Stills
Pot Stills

Now, with the origin of the Cotswolds Distillery being 2014, and by law whisky needs to be aged for at least three years, I have not had the opportunity to of course sample and experience, that’s a 2017 bottle to look forward to! To get a little geeky though, the distillery houses a 500 kg mash tun, 2,500 litre wash still, 1,600 litre spirit still and four 2,500 litre fermenters being able to produce over 150,000 bottles of what will be a Single Malt Whisky annually, so there not going to be short of bottles when it does finally hit the shelves. They will be releasing an age statement each year too, so expect a 4-year-old in 2018, 5-year-old in 2019 etc.

To wet your appetite though, lets take a look at what Alex and his team are doing for the Cotswolds first whisky.

Using organic barley which is grown on a farm less than 20 miles away from the distillery, it is harvested and malted by the oldest working floor maltings in Great Britain, the ‘Malt Stars’ of Warminster. Once delivered to the distillery, a batch of 500 kg of malted barley is combined with more than 2,500 litres of hot Cotswolds pure water to create a mash within the mash tun. Once the water is drained, it enters one of the four fermenters, where yeast is added to begin the fermentation process. Four days later and you are left with what is called a ‘wash’, essentially a strong ale at around 8% ABV.

The ‘wash’ is transferred to the wash still, where it is turned into ‘Low Wines’ at a strength of the low twenties. These ‘Low Wines’ are then distilled in the spirit still where the strength rockets to above 70% ABV. During this process, Alex will take what is called ‘the spirit’, or essentially the desirable flavours. The beginning (foreshots) and end (feints) are ‘cut’, which are the less desirable flavours not needed in the final product. ‘The spirit’ is now what is termed ‘new-make spirit’ and is reduced to 63.5% ABV and transferred to either a bourbon barrel, red wine cask or sherry cask for maturation.

The production of gin though has been going since the beginning, and gives an indication of the quality that the Cotswolds Distillery is producing. Using either the maceration or vapour infusion method within the copper Holstein still, depending on the botanical, the 9 locally sourced ingredients (juniper, coriander, angelica root, Cotswolds lavender and bay leaf, grapefruit, lime, black pepper and cardamom seed) are combined with wheat spirit.

So as this is one spirit I have been able to try, below, I give to you my tasting notes –

Cotswold DistilleryCotswolds Dry – 46%

Fragrant, natural and fresh on the nose, with a good combination of grapefruit and lavender. Herbal spice notes on the palate, with a developing citrus and cracked black pepper as it heads towards a long, clean and fresh finish with the bay leaf.

A great gin, with plenty of ‘countryside’ flavours backing up the local theme that Dan has gone for. You wouldn’t feel out-of-place if you were sipping this on a wooden fence overlooking the fields of the Cotswolds that’s for sure. They recommend the two gin recipe staples as standard serves – gin and tonic as well the Martini, so definitely one to purchase and play around with.

Something else to look into if you are ever in the area is the distillery tour. One that I’ve been on recently,it gives a great insight into the future of English whisky, as well as the gin process and production. If you can’t make it, grab a glass, pour yourself a Cotswolds gin and wait with ease for the whisky to arrive. I’ve just ordered mine . . . . . .

© David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog/sites author and owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Bold London Spirit

Bold London Spirit

Britain’s answer to the aperitif is said to originate from this 2014 release of Bold London Spirit. A bold statement perhaps (and yes, pun fully intended)? Well this Notting Hill born spirit has made a bang as its unique flavour collaboration has drawn praise from many bartenders.

But what exactly is it?

Well Bold London Spirit has been created by infusing tart cherries, cassia bark, anise, lavender, hibiscus, clove, raspberry leaves and a selection of other botanicals into a distilled neutral grain spirit.

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

Bold London Spirit – 36%

Soft clove and cinnamon on the nose, with herbal aromas of anise and fresh pine coming through near the finish. A rich palate of flavours including cherry, raspberry and cracked black pepper combine well, The cassia bark comes through slowly, with fresh lavender scents present on the lingering, dry finish.

Something very different to your usual aperitifs found from France or Italy especially. Recommended serving suggestions include lemonade or Champagne too, which would give this a refreshing beverage choice on any menu. Something new to add to your drinks cabinet at home, or perhaps ask for it in your favourite bar, you may be pleasantly surprised.

© 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.



Think of Scotland and you’ll think of whisky. Nothing wrong with that at all of course, but have you ever wondered about the likes of gin or vodka perhaps coming from Scotland? The most famous you may recognise would be Hendrick’s, developed within the family of William Grants & Sons, but lately there’s been a resurgence of tipples to add to the ever-expanding gin and vodka category. The likes of Rock Rose for gin, or Valt for vodka have become sought-after as customers venture away from the traditional country of origins. Arbikie can count itself as one such brand, priding itself with production from farm to bottle. So lets dive into how this Scottish vodka came about –

Arbikie has been launched by Iain, John and David Stirling and have utilised a part of the Arbikie Highland Estate which they own. The land has been used for farming for four generations and continues to grow all the raw ingredients used for production of the vodka, as well as future production of gin and whisky.Overlooking the Lunan Bay on the Angus coast, the distillery itself is created from an ancient barn that’s been a part of the family since the 1920’s.

Being inspired by the founding of distilling records that date back to 1794, and the plan of utilising ingredients that are planted, sown, grown and harvested within an arm’s-length of the distillery, they have decided to be the first single-estate distillery to distil all their spirits in the same copper pot stills. The vodka and gin continue their journey to a 40 plate distillation column, but ultimately the distillation process captures “the traditional Scotch whisky method” they are after.

So to Arbikie. The vodka is created using potatoes (Maris Piper, King Edward and Cultra to be exact) grown from their farm. and is triple distilled before hitting the 40 plate distillation column mentioned above. The water used within the production is sourced from an underground lagoon, which itself contains mountain-filtered water from the Angus hills, which once all completed, is bottled, labelled and sealed on their estate.

With Master Distiller Kirsty Black overseeing all this, lets see how it fares. Below, I give to you my tasting notes –

Arbikie – 43%

Rich aromas of potato with sweet scents of butter and earthy notes on the nose. Rather smooth on the first sip, but with a growing warmth and a good spicy and incredibly fresh kick on the palate. Thick, plenty of potato for body and a sweet, long, creamy finish.

Now that’s a vodka! Very different to what you’d expect, and you can truly taste the craftsmanship, the effort put in to produce it. Very farm based experience here. Now they say to enjoy this over ice, but I’ve found a cracking recipe which would be perfect to try out –

South Side
South Side

South Side

Glass –


Ingredients –

60 ml Arbikie
30 ml Fresh lemon Juice
2 tsp Sugar
4/5 Fresh mint leave
Soda (optional)

Method – 

Shake all the ingredients together, barring the soda, with ice within a cocktail shaker. Pour into a coupette glass, top with soda if you wish, and garnish with a mint sprig.

As you can imagine, being new there’s only a select few places to purchase the vodka, but I do believe it’s well worth a try. I’m looking forward to experiencing their gin and whisky once available, but in the meantime, buy, open and enjoy Scotland in a different way.

© 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.