National Calvados Week returns for the sixth time this October as UK bars and restaurants celebrate Calvados Père Magloire and Normandy’s world-renowned apple-based spirit. National Calvados Week runs from Monday 15th October until Sunday 21st October, marking the harvesting of the delicious apples for the production of Calvados.
During National Calvados Week over 100 bars, shops, supermarkets and independent retailers will have specially curated cocktail menus, Père Magloire range tastings, food pairing, and cooking with Calvados, and will be offering the classic serve of Père Magloire and tonic. To reward all pubs, bars and restaurants who participate within National Calvados Week, Emporia Brands, the UK distributor and creator of National Calvados Week, ask that Père Magloire and tonic be promoted to customers, with a complimentary case of tonic to support them.
Creativity is key too, with plenty of inspired serves needed to show off the Normandy spirit through a week-long promotional menu.
> Retailers can sign up by participating in the ‘National Calvados Week Best Retail Display’. By uploading their display to the campaign’s social media pages on Twitter or Facebook, the best display wins the retailer a bottle of the exclusive Père Magloire Memoire for their efforts.
> A bottle of Père Magloire Memoire is also on offer for the ‘NCW Most Creative Cocktail’ which is to be run on their venues’ cocktail menu throughout the week. An image of their creation is to be uploaded to the campaign’s social media pages of Twitter or Facebook where the winner will be announced at the end of the promotional week.
> Calvados and Cigar matching at Soho Whisky Club, with Hunters and Frankau
> Special calvados drinks menus at Cocktail Trading Company, The Vault at Milroys, Frenchies, Merchant House, South Place Hotel, Trading House, Café Pacifico and others.
> In store tastings at Gerry’s and Hedonism
> Special Calvados drinks menus at Milk (Reading), Wash House (Manchester), Petit Café (Liverpool), Jakes’s Bar (Leeds), Circle Lounge (Halifax), 33 Cank Street (Leicester), Wilderness (Birmingham), Boiler Maker (Nottingham), Jazz Café (Lincoln).
Tasting at Blue Blazer, Edinburgh
> Meet the Maker event at Harry’s Bar
> Calvados Cup and Voodoo Rooms
> Special Calvados drinks menus in Edinburgh at Red Teapot bars, Bullard and Worth, Nightcap, La Petite Mort, Panda & Sons, Hoot the Redeemer, Blue Blazer, Nauticus, Miss Woos and others.
> Pop up menus in Edinburgh at Harry’s Bar and Kin.
> Special Calvados drinks menus in Glasgow at Five March, The Parlour and others.
> Pop up menus in Glasgow at Atlantic, Kelvingrove Café, Porter & Rye AND Finnieston.
I’ve noticed lately that you can’t beat a good, refreshing drink. Easy to say, and I suppose everyone will have had the experience at some point in their lives, but if you’re like me, branching out and trying something different just seems to make it all a little sweeter.
It’s with this statement that I would like to introduce Luscombe to the table. An organic soft drink range from Devon, England with history stretching back to 1975, Luscombe offer an extensive range of flavoured drinks, with an ethos that owner Gabriel David says is “It’s all about the taste”.
Going direct to source, Luscombe pride themselves on working with the fruit producers over purchasing through fruit companies, meaning that they receive what they believe is the very best at the right times of year. Examples include UK growers (usually their own Devon orchards) for the apples and elderflowers, lemons from Sicily, ginger from Peru, Williams pears from France and apricots from Spain. Oranges from Sicily or Mexico and limes from Sri Lanka.
With the use of fresh ingredients, it means that it lacks a full consistency due to the seasons and weather conditions, but a tiny amount of variation, for me, really hammers home their idea of creating a true form of flavoured soft drinks.
So with this, below I give to you my tasting notes on my experiences so far –
Luscombe Sparkling Apple Crush – 0%
Soft baked apple on the nose, with hints of naturally sweetened apple pulp. Slightly sharp on the palate, with the fresh apple juice coming through. Bold red apple skin flavour on the lingering finish.
Luscombe Damascene Rose Bubbly – 0%
Lightly scented rose petal on the nose, with a soft citrus following. Very soft on the palate, with hints of the rose coming through, blended with freshly cut lemons and clementines.
Luscombe Madagascan Vanilla Soda – 0%
Soft vanilla notes on the nose, with the flavour thinning off once onto the palate. Light, scented and lingering on the finish.
Luscombe Lime Crush – 0%
Ripe lime on the nose, with a sharp hit of zest. Softer than expected, but a back-of-the-throat catch of lime creates a long finish.
Luscombe Sicilian Lemonade – 0%
Very light on the nose, with only hints of the lemon coming through. Subtle once again, with the dry lemon profile offering a scented finish.
Luscombe Wild Elderflower Bubbly– 0%
Fresh elderflower on the nose, with slight sharp hits of the flavour following. Sweet start, with a softer ending, seeing the elderflower linger with bursts of freshness.
Luscombe St. Clements – 0%
Bold, dry notes of the orange and lemon combining on the nose. Slight sharpness to be gin with on the palate, following to a smoother finish with hints of the rind and zest of each.
Luscombe Strawberry Crush – 0%
Fresh, soft strawberry aromas on the nose, with a smooth offering onto the palate. Short, but a bold finish.
Luscombe Raspberry Crush – 0%
Bold raspberry notes on the nose, with a tart follow-up on the palate. A lively, long finish of vibrant, fresh raspberry.
Luscombe Cranberry Crush – 0%
Subtle notes of stone cherry, with hints of ripe vanilla coming through. Very soft, a little dry, with the cherry flavour coming through slowly. Short on the finish.
Luscombe Cool Ginger Beer– 0%
Created with less ginger.
Soft, fresh ginger comes though on the nose. Very soft on the palate too, with more of the root ginger present, followed by dry earth notes leaving a lingering finish.
Luscombe Passionate Ginger Beer – 0%
Fresh, sparkling ginger on the nose, with lighter notes than its Cool expression. Ripe ginger, with a bolder profile, seeing a lingering, dry, passionfruit etched finish.
Luscombe Hot Ginger Beer– 0%
Bold notes of stemmed ginger comes through on the nose. Light start, but the ginger profile hits, bringing a warmth to the long, slightly spiced finish.
Luscombe Orange – 0%
Ripe orange rind on the nose, with a sun-kissed flavour on the palate which see’s the orange come though smoothly to a long finish.
Luscombe Apple and Pear – 0%
Pear notes dominate the nose, with the red apple flesh underlining. A more balanced profile on the palate, with the apple notes offering a rich, fresh experience, and the pear creating a long finish.
Luscombe Apple Juice with Ginger– 0%
Subtle apple on the nose, with only a dash of ginger coming through. The ginger hits a little more on the palate, offering a slight kick as it follows the bold, fresh apple.
Luscombe Apple and Apricot– 0%
Very dry notes of the apricot come through on the nose, with the apple scents following slowly. Slightly stewed combination on the palate, seeing the apricot dominate as it heads to a lingering finish.
Luscombe Carrot and Orange– 0%
Very subtle orange and carrot aromas on the nose, followed onto the palate with a smooth offering. Thin, with a short finish.
Luscombe Devon Cider – 4.9%
Made with Devon apples including Tail Sweet, Sugar Bush, Devon Crimson, Slack-Ma-Girdle. Subtle notes of rich apple, followed by a sweet vanilla profile. A good hit of fresh vanilla once again, with the apple scents opening a bold, rich finish that lingers.
The lifeline of any country when the serving of drinks is concerned.
The connection between bottle and customer.
The guys and girls every brand needs to get on their side to really make a splash in the bar world.
Welcome then to The 86 Company.
The 86 Company was formed back in September 2012, launching four expressions that have been worked on closely by some of the worlds best distilleries and distillers available, all with feedback and inspiration from bartenders. So from here on, we’ll be taking a look at what company has come up with, and lets see if they’ll catch your eye too.
Aylesbury Duck Vodka
Aylesbury Duck is a Canadian vodka, made from soft white winter wheat sourced directly from local farmers in the Western Rockies close to Calgary. The distillers create their own mash from the winter wheat, which is then fermented for three days and results in an abv of between 9.5 and 11%. From here it will go to the beer holding tank and onto the beer still for distillation. The spirit will be continuously distilled in three separate copper plated column stills, with all three being built back in the 1940’s, and using Canadian glacial water. In the first still (The Beer Still) the spirit is distilled to 65% abv then moved to stills 2 and 3, or the rectifying stills. Here, it is distilled to a proof of 96.5% abv.
The distilled vodka is then shipped to a bottling facility in California where water from a well in Mendocino County is added by Domaine Charbay Distillers.
So how does it fare?
Aylesbury Duck– 40%
Clean on the nose with hints of the winter wheat, and a slight potato notes near the end. Slightly sweet on the palate, with the flavours of the wheat, baked caramel and a slight light citrus to experience.
A cracking spirit on its own, but how about one of these?
5 Parts Aylesbury Duck Vodka
1/2 Part Dry Vermouth
Stir over ice, pour into a Martini glass and garnish with a lemon peel
Caña Brava Rum
Caña Brava is named and made from sugar cane grown in the region of Herrera, Panama. The rum is produced in the Las Cabras Distillery, which was first erected in 1919 as a sugar mill until the mid-nineties when Francisco “Don Pancho” J Fernandez (a Master Distiller for 45 years) and Carlos Esquivel discovered the neglected warehouse and copper column still. It is here that they boil the harvested sugar cane juice to crystalize the sugars, which are then removed by centrifugal spinning, leaving behind the molasses. The molasses are then diluted and fermented with the aid of “Don Pancho’s” distinct natural pineapple yeast.
The fermented liquid is then distilled through five continuous stills to an abv of between 92-94%. The first 4 stills are copper plate whilst the last still is 100% copper and brass. Once distilled, it is cut to a proof of 75% abv and placed into new American oak barrels and aged for 18-24 months. After the time period, the spirit is cut to 49% abv and moved to used American whiskey barrels (a mixture of bourbon & Tennessee whiskey barrels) and aged for a further 12-24 months.
After ageing, the rums are blended with older rums for consistency, then tried and tested in Daiquiri’s and other famous mixed rum drinks to choose the final blend before being filtered three times – Carbon filtration, Millipore Cellulose filtration and cold filtration.
So how does it fare?
Caña Brava – 43%
Very light on the nose with a slight hint of vanilla, citrus and oak combining. Very smooth on the palate, with soft hints of toffee, oak and cocoa leading a lingering finish.
Of course, works well in a Daiquiri.
Daiquiri Classico (1898)
60 ml Caña Brava
30 ml Fresh Lime Juice
15 ml Simple Syrup (2:1)
Shake all the ingredients over ice and strain into a coupette. Garnish with a lime wheel.
Fords Gin is distilled in London at Thames Distillers, and is the result of a partnership between 8th generation Master Distiller Charles Maxwell and Simon Ford of The 86 Co. Using a mix of 9 botanicals including juniper, coriander seed, bitter orange peel, lemon peel, grapefruit peel, jasmine flower, orris, angelica and cassia) that are steeped for 15 hours within a base spirit of neutral grain spirit made from English wheat. Two stills are used at Thames Distillers, Tom Thumb and Thumberlina in a distilling process that lasts 5 hours. The finished distilled spirit is shipped to San Francisco where it is cut with water from a well in Mendocino County.
So how does it fare?
Fords – 45%
Light on the nose with a slightly dry citrus note. Aromatic hits of the jasmine and juniper come through. A developing spice on the palate, slight oily texture with a good kick of rind from the grapefruit and orange on the lingering finish.
Great on its own, but how about one of these –
50 ml Ford’s Gin
25 ml Suze or Gran Classico
30 ml Lavender infused Dolin Blacn Vermouth
Stir ingredients over ice in a mixing glass. Strain over fresh ice within a rocks glass and garnish with a lemon wheel.
Tequila Cabeza is made from 100% estate owned agave that is grown in the Los Altos region of Arandas in Mexico and produced at the El Ranchito Distillery since 1994. The agave are grown by the Vivanco family, who have been cultivating agaves on their 800-hectare mountainside land for five generations, and hand-picked by the Jimadores at seven to nine years of age when the agave has a sugar content of 23-28%. Once harvested, the piñas are cooked in brick ovens for 24 hours at 100 °C and are then left to cool for 24 hours
before being fed manually into the shredder. Here, the agave juice is extracted and the fibres are separated. Natural spring water is added during the process too.
The resulting agave juice (mosto) is fermented with the aid of a Champagne yeast in cooper tanks during the winter months (the cooler temperature allows for an extended mash period (approximately 10 days). Once the fermentation is finished,
the mash sits for two days before distillation. Distillation occurs in two separate copper pot stills, the first being the destrozador still that produces the ordinario at 20-22% ABV, which is then filtered. The second distillation, in the rectificator still, produces tequila at 55-56% abv. There is no filtration after the second distillation, but distilled natural spring
water is added to bring it down to 43% abv. The spirit is then rested in stainless steel for 60 days before bottling.
But how does it fare?
Tequila Cabeza – 43%
Very smooth agave notes on the nose, with hints of coriander spice that follows onto the palate. A citrus and earthy combination blends well, with hints of black pepper but plenty of agave kicks on the long finish.
Way back at the beginning, I spoke about how bartenders have influenced the four expressions above. 4 spirits created for some of the worlds most famous cocktails, versatile in use and a bottle to match. But did you notice, each spirit has a different bottle finish? The neck, for example, has been designed to easily hold with a full hand, whilst there is a ridge in the middle of the bottle for bartenders with smaller hands and is weighted for the perfect pour! Now that’s looking after bartenders, and ultimately giving you a better experience too.
Of course, that shouldn’t stop you from enjoying these yourself at home, and they offer a difference to your usual classic cocktails. Grab some bottles for your drinks cabinet, or head to your local bar and see the bartenders in action with their favourite, bartender in mind, bottles of spirit.
There’s plenty of brands, especially gin, that attempt to cause a stir upon their arrival. Some fall flat, most succeed. However, crossing over from a bartenders favourite to the actual buyers of the brand, the customers, can be a difficult task. I’ve seen many brands become a ‘must-use’ within recipes or signature serves, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that the customer will be convinced to depart with their saved pennies. You see, it takes research, knowing your audience ultimately, to really hit the mark with a new product. Wednesday 4th June saw one such brand of gin reap the benefits of such development – Sibling.
The Battledown area of Cheltenham, England is the home of Sibling Distillery, a venue I have had the pleasure of visiting to learn a little more about the ins and outs of this family owned venture.
Oh, and the ages range from 15 to 22 years.
Who says you need to be old and wise to create a spirit?
The team of Clarice, Digby, Felix and Cicely, aka the Elliot-Berry clan, have used a combined total of 30 years experience within the hospitality trade to launch Cheltenham’s first ever commercially available gin. Growing up around their parents love of beer, or more precisely the family owned Battledown brewery, the craft creation has always been in the blood of the siblings. The start of the gin journey though can be culminated through to one stand-out point; perfume. Clarice’s love and enthusiasm to enter the world of perfume creation indirectly started the road to Sibling gin, as her nose of the best botanicals brought together a harmony of flavours that would ultimately define Cheltenham’s foray into the spirits market.
With Cicely tending bar at weekends and Felix working a full-time job with a design company, they were able to understand the market better, working out the flavours most associated with customers through a variety of concepts, as well as testing the boundaries with ideas that would stand out amongst all others. All three turned down the offers of university to focus on the distillery, with Digby, the youngest at 15, set to join once he finishes school. Cicely, my guide for my visit, said herself that she has always wanted to run her own business, departing away from the more usual answers like hairdressing when looking ahead in life.
Back onto those flavours. One aspect that impressed me the most is that cost doesn’t matter. If the vanilla pods are not the best they can source, then it won’t be used. Ultimately, Madagascar offer such a variety that is worthy of being included in the recipe, despite not being the cheapest available. The same can go for the juniper berries, lemons, blueberries and oranges. Even the bottle had a look in, more on design over cost. When was the last time you heard someone say “I would like this, this and this laid out this way with these over it”, then ask for the cost? Oh, and then think that cost does not matter and to sign it off for production? It’s a rarity.
From these statements, you’re probably expecting Sibling gin to be rather expensive, but to be honest, it’s really good value for money. To see the work that goes into the production of Sibling gin, you’ll be hard pressed to find someone who wouldn’t mind giving this new spirit a go.
Have I also mentioned that it’s rather unique too?
The story just gets better as they produce within their crystal distillery, a stunning revolutionary design made of glass and steel, ultimately the first of its kind in Europe. This allows them to monitor, observe and improve the gin at every step of the 12ft tall piece of stunning machinery. The botanicals are held in a woven basket (carter head) during the vapours descent to the condenser, which within this giant piece of what looks like Mecanno, offers the ultimate flavour experience desired by the siblings. The eight hour, three times distilled process of neutral grain spirit, which they create themselves, goes against most producers option of purchasing ready-made neutral vodka. But again, the attention to detail and the desire to not cut corners when creating the ultimate gin really shines through. Local water filtered through a layer of Fuller’s Earth in Cheltenham is used to reduce to the strength of 42% abv.
So how does the gin actually fare? Well below, I give to you my tasting notes –
Sibling – 42%
Smooth, rich vanilla notes on the nose, with a slightly sweet orange hit on the finish. The vanilla kicks off the palate, but soon develops the rest of the botanicals. Slightly dry, but the vanilla and blueberry offers a smooth, bold and ultimately fresh offering. Well-rounded with a slight sweetness creates a long experience.
Sibling Cranberry and Clementine – 42%
Their winter edition, released in 2016, that see’s Sibling Gin infused with Cranberries and Clementine peel.
Soft notes of the cranberry skin come through upon the nose, with the clementine taking over once the palate approaches. Fresh, with the suspected bitterness arriving slowly. A long, warm finish, with the soft vanilla notes of the gin coming through.
A genuine cracker. The use of vanilla offers a different perspective to the category, and creates a gin that’s worthy enough to be drunk neat, or within a cocktail.
Thicker Than Water
8 Mint Leaves
50 ml Sibling Gin
30 ml Rose Water
15 ml Fresh Lemon Juice
Combine the lemon, rose water and lavender with Sibling Gin in an ice filled glass and stir. Serve with fresh mint.
Sibling gin has offered the world something a little different. Even the way they are marketing it to customers is an intriguing way to look at it. No release of any kind until only a few weeks before the launch date, and the launch itself attended by the public, instead of the usual trade only you see these days. They are also organically growing, with no push into London yet unless called for.
To be fair, they can only create around 180 bottles a week. I’d rather give them a chance and create me something I’d enjoy, than cut corners just to meet with demand. Either way, one to definitely make room for in your drinks cabinet, and to impress your friends with know you know how unique Sibling Distillery really is.
The Bridgewater Hall in Manchester was the host of the biggest whisky festival outside of London, so big in fact that there had to be two floors filled with some cracking brands. The Whisky Lounge were the proud organisers for the 5th year in a row and had on offer the crème de la crème of the whisky world from both Scotland and Ireland, and even a few in Japan, India, England and America for good measure. Part of the Manchester Food & Drink Festival, there would be a host of seminars and masterclasses on offer including names such as Colin Dunn of Diageo and The Whisky Lounge founder Eddie Ludlow. This year I myself didn’t participate in any of the workshops on offer, but took full advantage of scanning the list for new additions, rare offerings and old favourites.
So, below, in order I sampled, I give to you my tasting notes on the days offerings –
Sultana, apple and chocolate notes on the nose, with lots of spice, treacle and dark chocolate blending well on the palate. Creates a very long finish.
Elements of Islay BR 4 – 54.7%
From Bruichladdich. Lots of sweet fruit notes on the nose, with the fruits moving straight onto the palate. Blended with a honeyed sweetness and a pepper finish.
William Grant’s Ale Cask Reserve – 40%
Smooth herbal nose with a little sweetness lingering. Edinburgh ale aromas on the palate, with the oak coming through more as it develops. Slight fudge and barley near the honey finish.
William Grant’s Sherry Cask Reserve– 40%
Light and fruity on the nose, with a mix of honey and nuts present too. A well-balanced palate with dried fruits, spice, nuts and oak dancing nicely to a long finish.
Tullamore Dew – 40%
Lots of fruit and oats on the nose, with hints of sweet caramel coming through too. Hints of spice, sherry on the palate leads to a long caramel finish.
Tweeddale Batch 3 12yr– 46%
A great blend of apples and vanilla on the nose, with a sniff of raisin near the finish. The aromas follow onto the palate, with an added hint of ginger. A little kick of spice to finish.
Tweeddale Batch 4 14yr–
A light nose of dry lavender and herbs, with a palate that enjoys soft caramel blended with waves of spiced peat. Hints of salt and smoke come through as it finishes.
‘The Bomb’ Blended Malt – Oloroso Finish– 47.4%
A nose of fresh plums and raisins dominate, whilst sweet flavours of marzipan and spicy fruits blend well for a lingering finish.
‘The Bomb’ Blended Malt – Pedro Ximinez Finish – 45.4%
Lots of sweet fruits with dark berries on the nose, with a vanilla and fruit blend on the palate that creates a long finish.
The Salty Sea Dog – 46%
Fresh on the nose with plenty of sea salt and peaty smoke that carries onto the palate. Draws out a long, tangy yet defining finish with lingering peat and crunchy salt.
Springbank 10yr – 46%
Lots of oak and earth notes on the nose, with a more cereal base on the palate. Peat, nuts and smoke create a long, crisp finish.
Hazelburn 12yr– 46%
Very aromatic on the nose with dry fruits, sherry and toffee coming through. A little spicy on the palate, with cocoa, coffee and a hint of peat nearing the finish. A long finish.
English Whisky Chapter 13 – 49%
Hints of smoke on the nose, with a following of spice and dark chocolate. A creamy texture on the palate, with notes of vanilla and toffee blending with fruits to create a long, dry finish.
English Whisky Founders Private Cellar (Cask 0859)– 60.8%
Dark berry notes on the nose with a slight kick of cinnamon lingering on the finish. Black pepper flavours on the palate, moving to a creamy texture of fudge and vanilla. The spice returns for a long, dry finish.
Longmorn 12 Year Old (Gordon & MacPhail)– 40%
Lots of fruit on the nose with some oak aromas following. Plenty of citrus and orange flavours dominate the palate, creating a long, juicy finish that lasts for a while.
Atholl Brose – 35%
Light and fresh on the nose with a mix of ginger and citrus that doesn’t dominate and overpower too much. A light ginger flavour to begin, it develops nicely with an instant warming. Sweet ginger near the end as the soft velvet texture coats your mouth.
Girvan Patent Still Single Grain 25yr – 42%
Light aroma on the nose of caramelised fruits, with good doses of toffee, honey and rich vanilla on the palate as they blend well to create a lingering dram.
Hakushu 12yr –43.5%
Fresh nose of green fruit with a whisp of smoke lingering. Sweetness on the palate, with pear dominating and the soft smoke creating a dry texture.
Hibiki 12yr – 43%
Lots of pineapple and plum aromas blending nicely on the nose and following through onto the palate to create a soft and sweet flavour. A little spice on the end.
Bold notes of vanilla and spice on the nose with hints of sweet ginger following. Roasted nuts and vanilla flavours are present on the palate, creating a long, not-wanting-to-end finish.
Aberlour 16yr – 43%
Dry but rich on the nose with spice and raisins dominating. Quite sweet on the palate with a soft plum and long oak finish.
Rock Town Brandon’s Small Batch Gin – 46%
Very fresh with lots of citrus on the nose. Plenty of juniper, with subtle spice wandering around. A little dry on the palate, with coriander noticeable, and angelica following. A kick of spice to finish a long offering.
Rock Town Arkansas Young Bourbon – 46%
Aromas of fresh corn on the nose, with some dried fruits and spices present on the palate. A little hint of oak on the long, long finish.
Laphroaig Quarter Cask – 48%
Butter, toffee and raisin are present on the nose, surrounded by scented oil. A sweet start on the palate, but a huge kick of heat with iodine and fruit coming into play. A shorter finish than what you expect.
Laphroaig 18yr – 48%
Toffee nose with hints of cereal and spice leads to a warm yet rounded flavour of smoke and liquorice on the palate. A long, rich toffee finish.
Cardhu 12yr– 40%
Sweet, rich aromas of white fruit on the nose. Well-rounded on the palate, with a good dose of smooth peat and whispers of smoke on this long dram.
Some fantastic whiskies on offer yet again at the Manchester leg of the show. There’s some on the list above that I probably will never get round to trying again so to attend a show like this can really throw towards you some real gems. Highlights for me include Rock Town Arkansas Young Bourbon, Auchentoshan 18yr, Hakushu 12yr and English Whisky Founders Private Cellar (Cask 0859).
If you like whisky, then you will love attending these festivals. If you’re not a lover, you can be pointed into the direction of some of the more introductory whiskies on offer in the world. This is the best thing about this category – love it or hate it, there will always be something to convert or possibly soften your initial thought.
This past Thursday saw the eighth meeting of the Manchester Whisky Club, held at The Castle in Manchester. Just like last month, a theme was the order of the day, and as we had covered Ireland, Scotland, Japan and the USA, it made sense to take look at some of the lesser known whisky producing countries including Sweden, Taiwan and England. Club founder Andy brought with him 6 expressions, so without further a do, lets see how they all fared –
Mackmyra First Edition – 46.1%
Swedish. Very dry on the nose, a little damp but some sweetness follows. Ripe on the palate, a slight sweetness follows with wisps of cocoa coming through slowly. Short.
Three Ships 10yr Limited Edition – 43%
South Africa. Very light with a sherry and fruit salad nose with hints of vanilla. A sharp start on the palate with bold citrus flavours and a slight blend of peat and smoak.
Kavalan King Car Conductor – 46%
Taiwan. Rich fruit and a sherry nose, with a sharp, dry texture and flavours of banana on the palate. Creates a long finish.
Amrut Fusion – 50%
India. Dry yet bold with toasted barley aromas on the nose. Very sharp on the palate, with a mouth-watering and long flavour of citrus. It soon dries though, with a salty finish.
English Whisky Company Chapter 6 – 43%
England. Slight smoke on the nose with a light sweet peat aroma coming through. Very sweet on the palate though, with a long flavour of dark chocolate creating a smooth yet dry finish. Hints of iodine and sea salt pop through too.
Penderyn Madeira– 46%
Light on the nose but with sweet honey notes lingering around. Sharp citrus cuts through on the palate, with a dry spice and hints of green fruit coming through. Creates a long finish.
A great look around the world, with some surprising results. My personal favourite out of the range would have to be English Whisky Company Chapter 6, although the Mackmyra First Edition came a close second. There seemed to be a split divide on which whisky favoured each member, but the great thing about the club is, and I could guarantee on my behalf, there would have been a hesitation in purchasing a dram in a bar if I had ever come across these brands, now though, I’d not only purchase, I’d recommend.
Next on the agenda for the Manchester Whisky Club is a touch of India, with Paul John whisky being showcased by the chaps themselves.
Syrups aren’t the most well advertised when it comes to the use of them within a bar. But the thing is, they should be, because they could make or break a drink, and indeed your experience within that bar. So with this in mind, it makes sense to showcase a brand that have got some of the UK’s finest bartenders creating many a great cocktail. I give to you Blossom Syrups.
Launched in 2010 by Aude Dupont Dudley, all of Blossom Syrups are produced in Southern England and use high quality fruit concentrate, inverted sugar and a drop of citric acid. They pride themselves on being completely natural, meaning no added aromas, preservatives or colours.
Consisting of an original range of Blackcurrant, Grenadine, Passionfruit, Pineapple, Strawberry and Raspberry, but now with added Pomegranate and the most recent flavour of Sour Cherry. But how do they fare? Well below, I give to you my tasting notes on each –
Rich, bold flavours of pineapple on the nose, with a sharp flavour on the palate. Plenty of pineapple hits each spot on a long finish.
Deep flavours of passionfruit on the nose, with a quick sharp edge on the palate. Creates a lingering thin texture of passionfruit.
Light and subtle on the nose, with the aromas carrying on to the palate. Creates a long flavour of pomegranate.
Blossom Sour Cherry
Bold notes of cherry on the nose, but light and subtle on the palate. Rather short.
Fresh, rich aromas of strawberry creating a bold nose. Sweet and powerful on the palate creating a long hit of strawberry.
Lots of aromas of raspberry on the nose, creating a rich, bold reaction. A little sour on the palate, but packs a raspberry punch soon after. Short though.
Dark notes of blackcurrant on the nose, with lots of sweet aromas coming through. The sweetness lingers on the palate to create a rich, yet short offering.
Soft and subtle on the nose, with a slight sweetness present on the palate. A lingering flavour to finish.
Fresh, smooth mango on the nose, with a slight sweetness following. A bite of acidity on the palate, although fresh for a short finish.
A great range that adds depth to any cocktail. Say one of these * –
The Dutch Club
50 ml Bols Genever
35 ml Lemon Juice
25 ml Blossoms Raspberry Syrup
4 Turns Of Black Pepper
1 Egg White
Dry shake (without ice) & hard shake (with ice) all ingredients
A great use of the raspberry syrup! And wouldn’t go a miss in food recipes such as desserts, souffles, ice lollies and jellies, drizzled over ice creams, yoghurt’s, porridge, cheesecakes , added to flavour cakes and their icing, whipped cream but also in savoury recipes such as meat gravy, marinade and salad dressing. Worthy of having some at home, especially with these possibilities.
From my experience, you can’t go wrong with seeing Blossom Syrups on the bar, and especially if it is within your cocktail.
As mentioned in previous articles of late, England is on a role in the gin category, with many a distillery popping up in the past few years to showcase there brand to the gin-loving public. One of these distilleries is the City of London Distillery (or COLD for short), and have done things a little differently than the rest.
How different though?
Well first of all, the site of the City of London Distillery is not where you’d expect it to be located. Amongst Bride Lane near Blackfriars is a basement. A basement that holds both a distillery AND a fully functioning bar. And separating the two? Windows. So you can have a drink whilst watching Master Distiller Jamie Baxter hard at work to create his citrus based gin. Impressive to think that behind you is the gin that you’re drinking being created. I’ve always said to people that if you ever get the chance to go to a distillery, take in everything you see. It puts everything into perspective of the spirits you enjoy, and it’s very rare to come across one that has a bar so close to the action.
Jamie got himself into the business of City of London Distillery after meeting venue owner Jonathan Clark back in April 2012, who had an idea of creating a venue in which the story of gin could be told from beginning to end. With Jamie’s expertise (he established Chase distillery) and Jonathan’s vision, they set to work over the next seven months to renovate the basement and fit the two stills inside, thus making it the first distillery in the City of London for more than 200 years. The two stills house and create two different spirits – vodka and gin. The neutral spirit is bought in from an outside source (as with most other producers), but Jamie is on hand to create a rectified vodka, and then using the vodka as a base, the now available City of London dry gin. 15th November of 2012 saw the first time that Jamie was able to start his distillation process, despite the bar being open to the public before-hand for a few hours a day. Jamie and Jonathan recruited the London Bar Consultants to run the gin-heavy bar, with a range of tonics and garnishes it’s a great chance to explore the gin category. A cocktail menu of gin cocktails is available, alongside a couple of non-gin based creations to cater for all.
The City of London dry gin itself has seven botanicals – juniper, coriander seed, angelica root, liquorice root, fresh orange, fresh lemon and pink grapefruit. But how do they fare when housed within Jamie’s creation? Well below, I give to you my tasting notes –
City of London Dry – 40%
Lots of flavours on the nose, with citrus, dry herbs and liquorice most noticeable. The palate enjoys a spicy start, with a sharp, bold, rich flavour of liquorice and grapefruit zest. Develops a long, warm finish, that’s slightly dry. A cracking gin to enjoy on its own.
City of London dry gin is a great addition to any experience in your favourite bar. Expect to find this in not only the gin palaces, but in the more broader ranges of back-bars, or even in your own drinks cabinet. Jamie and Jonathan have done an excellent job in not only turning around a former comedy club in 7 months, virtually by hand, but creating and winning rave reviews for their small-batch brand. I can’t see this going away any time soon.
There’s a new gin on the market, showcasing itself with its creator Colonel Pinkster aka Stephen Marsh in North Hertfordshire. A big gin drinker himself, and seeing the resurgence that gin has been having these past few years, he decided to create his own, using the rather lesser know botanical of raspberries.
For two years, experimenting with different spirit strengths and recipes using raspberries has culminated in Pinkster. Initially just something for his friends and family, the realisation that he could be onto a winner meant a meeting with Charles Maxwell (famed distiller of Thames Distillers, and who’s family have been distilling since the 17th Century) to see if Pinkster could me small-batched for the market. Charles used both his stills (named Tom Thumb and Thumbelina) to create the premium gin and used the five botanicals in the original recipe of Stephens. Although juniper is the dominant botanical, the fresh use of the raspberries steeped within the three times distilled spirit gives off the faint pinkish colour of the gin, as well as its qualities within the final product.
So how does Stephens creation fare? Well below, I give to you my tasting notes –
Pinkster – 37.5%
Lots of raspberry aromas on the nose, with hints of freshness and scents of juniper coming through. A sharp beginning on the palate, with a bold yet warm offering of raspberry that slowly mellows. A slight spice finish develops and lingers.
Not bad on its own, but worth a crack within one of these –
The Colonel’s Tipple
50 ml Pinkster
Fever Tree tonic
Sprig of fresh mint
Combine the Pinkster and tonic within an ice filled balloon glass. Add the mint and raspberry for garnish.
Simple, but effective for this gin that dares to be a little different. Worthy on an inclusion within your drinks cabinet, and has been popping up on many a back-bar since being launched in July this year. A new trend is about to be enjoyed.
There’s many a new gin that made an appearance last year, but one I’m yet to feature is Portobello Road 171.
Created by the gin bar Portobello Star in London, namely Jake F Burger, Gerard Feltham and Paul Andrew Lane, and distilled by 8th generation London Distiller Charles Maxwell, Portobello Road 171 is a traditionally styled London Dry Gin. Formulated using 9 botanicals (juniper berries, lemon peel, bitter orange peel, coriander seeds, orris root, angelica root, cassia bark, liquorice and nutmeg) and with reference to antique gins from The Ginstitute’s own collection then overseen by a tasting panel of industry experts. Handmade, Portobello Road 171 is a small batch product, paying reference to the long-standing traditions of London Dry Gin. Each bottle comes individually numbered and signed by the proprietors.
So how does it fare? Well below, I give to you my tasting notes –
Portobello Road 171 – 42%
Fresh citrus and lime on the nose, a little sharp in places with added spice. A clean palate with an instant freshness. Juniper dominates with a slow developing spice that lingers.
A great sipping gin, and could possibly be used within classic cocktails such as the Martini or Gimlet, or possibly one of these –
50 ml Portobello Road Gin
30 ml Mozart Dry
5 Dashes Fee Brothers Rhubarb Bitters
1 Rosemary sprig
Shake all ingredients except the rosemary in a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Strain into a coupette glass and garnish with the rosemary sprig.