Buffalo Trace Mystery Migration Hits Manchester


The team at Buffalo Trace came around to Manchester once again to host their annual cocktail competition, but armed with a twist that saw the bartenders of the North West face a variety of challenges in a couple of unique settings.

Hosted at El Gato Negro, the competitors found their way to the final by offering a unique Buffalo Trace serve, but knowing that if they got through, a set of challenges awaited them. Hailing from the likes of Epernay in Manchester, Salt Dog Slims in Liverpool and Filter and Fox, also in Liverpool, the competitors were joined by UK Brand Ambassador Tim Giles, who alongside his team at Hi-Spirits (the UK distributor of Buffalo Trace) of Ross and Jack, set the day off with a ‘Buffalo Migration Tour’. Asking the bartenders to work on their starting clue, this led them to one of four venues across the city of Manchester, where once found, they were set a task that would test the knowledge of each individual when it came to the world of Buffalo Trace.

Tasks included getting the correct barrel maturation letters and numbers out of a series of 8 to choose from, a blind tasting of a selection of the Sazerac whisky range, including Buffalo Trace, as well as the family tree of the company itself. If correct, the competitor receives the key to the mystery box that contains items that can be used within their migration cocktail, if wrong, they have to pick an item, but not one you would necessarily find within a classic whiskey cocktail!

Once all 4 challenges have been completed, a rendezvous back at El Gato Negro kicked off the main portion of the cocktail competition, as each competitor had to re-create their Pioneering American cocktail that they entered with, as well as a Buffalo Trace cocktail using the ingredients won (or lost) over the four challenges.

Bottle Shock, by Anthony Hogan

With myself, Tim and last years competition winner Joe Ballinger judging, each competitor showed off their skills in creation, as well as their knowledge of Buffalo Trace and the links from this to their ideas, both in the original recipe, as well as their quick-fire migration cocktail.

The top three will be showcased here today, so in third place saw Liverpool represent with Beth Leigh of MOJO Bar. Her original Pioneering Creation saw her create the ‘Trial by Jury’, which saw Buffalo Trace mixed with a spiced porter syrup, Giffard’s dark cacao, almond milk and egg white, served with an atomiser which contained White Dog whiskey, almond and chocolate bitters. Her Mystery Migration cocktail though saw her create the ‘Bloody Long Derby’, offering up Buffalo Trace, fresh tomatoes, lemon juice, mint, Antica Formula and sugar, topped with San Pellegrino Lemon and garnished with a mint sprig and fresh cherry tomatoes.

Anthony Hogan of Epernay, Manchester earned second place with his two cocktails. His Pioneering Cocktail, named the ‘Bottle Shock’ saw Buffalo Trace built with a Californian Cabernet Sauvignon, Peychaud’s bitters, lemon juice and blueberry with bluebell soda, garnished with mint and fresh blueberries. His on the spot Mystery Migration recipe, named ‘Hunters of Kentucky’, saw him build a recipe with Buffalo Trace, peach and Red Bull syrup, fresh tomato juice, Antica Formula and Peychaud’s Aperitivo, garnished with a peach fan and lemon zest.

New Orleans Fizz and Celine Dijon by Will Meredith

The winning serves though, both seen as equal and of a high-standard when we were discussing the drinks in general, came from Will Meredith of El Gato Negro. His original entry saw him show off the ‘New Orleans Fizz’, a blended serve containing Buffalo Trace, egg white, milk and cream, homemade Creole New Orleans ketchup (fig, date, prune and cayenne pepper flavoured) and a corn, malt and rye syrup. His Mystery Migration serve saw a thrown creation of Buffalo Trace, Peychaud’s Aperitivo, a mango and Dijon mustard syrup, topped with Stella Artois, capped with the fantastic name of ‘Celine Dijon’.

So congratulations to Will, who wins himself a trip to the home of Buffalo Trace in Kentucky! A great idea for a cocktail competition, really getting the competitors to immerse themselves in the brands history and heritage, bringing it to the forefront in their Pioneering America cocktail, and testing their skills with the Mystery Migration serve. All whilst having their knowledge tested, really bringing out the best bartender in the North West and earning their stripes as they head to America.

Enjoy Kentucky Will!

© 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.

Introducing A Unique And Peculiar New Take On The Tradition Of Burns’ Night

Ally Martin

Burns’ Night is known for many things: the tribute to renowned, radical poet Robert Burns, the ceremonious supper and ‘Address to the Haggis’, the spellbinding sound of bagpipes, but this Burns’ Night, there will be one other curious addition – Hendrick’s Gin.
Confirming our firm belief that beyond the bagpipes, the neeps and tatties, this day should mean something much more monumental, Hendrick’s UK ambassador, Ally Martin, will be spending his January 25th on the weird and wonderful ‘Voyage of the Black Haggis’. The voyage is intended to be a celebration of the unusual, allowing curiously minded individuals to gain a true appreciation for the peculiar – but oh so important – ritual of Burns’ ‘Address to the Haggis’ and its resemblance to the rituals behind the gin martini.

As Martin prepares for his journey, the passionate Scot explains: “Burns’ work stands as a testament to the story of an ordinary Scotsman – albeit with a unique and radical style – that still rouses the passion of our little nation. The ritual of the mythical ‘Address to the Haggis’ is something I’ve always wanted to perform. This voyage is a brand new exploration of how gin can be wonderfully merged with the Burns’ celebrations, with spectacular results.”

Hendrick’s is uniquely able to offer a peculiar twist to toast Robert Burns. Infused with rose and cucumber, Hendrick’s is distilled in the Scottish village of Girvan – a stone’s throw away from Burns’ birthplace, Alloway.

Martin’s arduous but illuminating voyage will start out in Edinburgh, and zig-zag its way down to London via Leeds and Manchester. Each city will be treated to an inimitable event including a Hendrick’s Haggis – a marvellous creation, crafted by Dram & Smoke, that takes the humble haggis and adds the magic of Hendrick’s botanicals.

The Voyage of the Black Haggis Manchester
25 January, 3.45pm-4.45pm: Press and On-Trade guests welcome at Epernay (Unit 1a, Great Northern Tower, Watson St, Manchester, M3 4EE)
Guests will be able to enjoy a Burn’s lunch of

v Haggis Hot Dog with Rose, Cucumber & Elderflower Jelly, Caraway Mustard & Crispy Neeps

v Haggis Scotch Egg with Hendrick’s Ketchup & Cucumber Mayo

v Haggis Sausage Roll with Irn Bru & Elderflower Chilli Jam & Juniper Mustard

Finalists Announced For The Chairman’s Reserve Cocktail Competition At Northern Restaurant and Bar

Chairmans Reserve

The five recipes have been chosen to go through to the final of the Chairman’s Reserve Cocktail Competition, to be staged at The Northern Restaurant and Bar Show in Manchester on Wednesday 19th March at 3:15pm.

With expert opinions by Peter Holland of The Floating Rum Shack, and Steven James of Rum Diaries, the five have been selected, with Steven commenting “I like ‘rum forward’ drinks that play to the strengths of the base spirit…..and whether I myself would order the drink in a bar. I know Chairman’s Gold as a rum and think that the flavours and presentation of the chosen entries will highlight the Rum”.

Taking into account the high calibre of recipes, and the feedback by Peter and Steven, organiser Dave Marsland, aka Drinks Enthusiast, and Emporia Brands, the distributors for the St Lucia Distillers based rum here in the UK, have decided to open an extra slot, making it six competitors overall.

The selected finalists are:

Emma Andrew – 99 Hanover Street Bar, Edinburgh
Amir Javaid – Epernay, Manchester
Adrian Calderbank – The Church Green, Lymm
Adam Binnersley – Corridor, Salford
Adam Day – The Violet Hour, Didsbury
Tom Higham – Kosmonaut, Manchester

All 6 are invited down to the main stage at the Northern Restaurant and Bar, and have the chance to recreate their drink to the judging panel. This year, they will each need to impress Mark Ludmon, Editor of Bar Magazine, Lyndon Higginson of The Liars Club, Manchester and Scott Wallace of Emporia Brands. Each judge will be looking for knowledge on the Chairman’s Reserve brand, the appearance and presentation of the drink, the aromas of the cocktail and finally how it tastes.

The winner will visit St Lucia as the guest of St Lucia Distillers, who beat off the challenge from the world’s finest malt whisky and cognac distilleries to take the trophy for Individual Distiller of the Year at the International Spirits Challenge 2013. The visit will include rum training at this distinguished distillery, and the chance to share expertise with the island’s enthusiastic bartenders, as well as plenty of opportunity to find out why the beautiful island of St Lucia is one of the world’s favourite Caribbean destinations.

Bénédictine Crowns Manchester’s Cocktail Champion

Tom Higham, Paul Curry & Amir Javaid - Benedictine Competition (Manchester)

Bénédictine Liqueur has crowned Tom Higham and Amir Javaid as joint winners of the Northern heat of its 2013 Cocktail Challenge in the closest heat of the competition so far.

Tom, from The Liquorists, and Amir, from Room Manchester, both fought off stiff competition from the other skilled entrants in the third heat of the challenge at Epernay Bar in Manchester and took part in a dramatic final shake off as they were awarded joint highest scores by the judges (including my good self).

With the shake off still not able to separate the two contestants, it was decided that both Tom and Amir were equally deserved winners of the once in a lifetime paid trip to France in October, which includes a visit to the liqueur’s birthplace in Fécamp, Normandy and a Cocktail Safari in Paris, all courtesy of Bénédictine.

All the aspiring mixologists were required to create a new cocktail containing a minimum of 35ml Bénédictine, which was then marked on taste, aroma and presentation. The entrants themselves were also judged on their knowledge of the Bénédictine brand, plus the creativity and presentation of their cocktail.

Amir impressed the judges with his chocolate-inspired “The Grand Belle Epoc”, which was created using a mix of Bénédictine, Dark Chocolate Tea, Kings Ginger, Peychaud Bitters, topped with a lemon and mint garnish, and presented with stem ginger coated in dark chocolate accompaniments.

Speaking about the competition, Amir said, “I love using Bénédictine in my cocktails and was interested to see how others use it as an ingredient too. I wanted to be as creative as possible and really challenged myself, so to be named the joint-winner is a great achievement.”

Tom took a different, but equally delicious, steer on his drink of choice, “Eternian Flip”, which was also a big hit with the judging panel. Made using a most enjoyable mix of Bénédictine, Angostura Bitters, Guinness, Coca Lopez and egg yolk, he presented his drink with a Pain du Chocolat, which complemented the sweet flavour of the drink perfectly.

Joint-winner Tom said: “I always enjoy experimenting with new flavours and I had great fun coming up with my drink for today so to win the competition is amazing! The trip in October sounds incredible and I can’t wait to learn more about Bénédictine, by visiting its hometown of Fécamp.”

Paul Curry, brand manager at Bénédictine Liqueur, said: “Once again, the competition has been fantastic, and the quality of both bartenders and cocktails has been excellent. The Northern heat is always a strong competition, but this year was exceptional and we simply couldn’t choose between Amir & Tom’s creations!

“We loved both of the winning cocktails, which made it incredibly difficult for us to choose a winner. Tom and Amir both came up with really imaginative recipes that demonstrate just how versatile Bénédictine can be as a cocktail ingredient.”

Amir and Tom will also be joined on the trip to France by three other regional contestants, from the London, Birmingham and Glasgow heats, which have been taking place throughout September.

Cocktails In The City Review

Cocktails in the city

The biggest cocktail master class came back in full force this year in the form of Cocktails in the City. Located within Manchester Town Hall, 15 of Manchester’s bars teamed up with 15 brands ranging from tequila to rum and vodka to create a cocktail that would wow the consumers and tempt them to part with their tokens. Not only that though, The Liquorists held tasters for all ranging from ‘The Taster’ which involved two cocktails, main stage demonstrations and a cocktail booklet to ‘The Connoisseur‘ which included a champagne cocktail reception, food from Almost Famous, three cocktails and a Liquorists tutored tasting session.

This year, I was lucky enough to be asked to judge, giving me the perfect opportunity to see what the bars and brands came up with.

Starting the night with the bar in the sky, Cloud 23 served up two cocktails in the form of what myself and fellow judge Keeley Watts described as a Starter and Dessert using rum brand Ron Zacapa. The ‘starter’ came with Ron Zacapa, sherry syrup, yuzu juice and whisky aged bitters that were served with bread, chorizo and feta cheese, whilst the ‘dessert’ was created using Ron Zacapa, maraschino, Tip Pepe sherry, sweet vermouth and came with smoked almonds. Pop-up bar specialists Escapade were next with their unusual takes of creation and glassware. The creations being their enthusiasm and team work to create a Blue Lagoon within a closed jam jar (check out the photos, link at the bottom, to see what I’m on about!) plus a Heinz Bloody Mary using Heinz tomato soup, vodka, lemon and spice mix – served in the Heinz soup can. Innovative, and it worked! 31DOVER,the premium online drinks retailer, collaborated with BarChick, the best bar guide on the internet, to come up with a signature cocktail for the evening named The 31 Dover – gin, lemon juice, honey syrup and topped with Champagne.

Harvey's Marmalade Fizz
Harvey’s Marmalade Fizz

One of the new kids on the scene, The Liquor Store, collaborated with well-known tequila brand Jose Cuervo Tradicional to create the Maria Pickford which involved the tequila, lime, maraschino, pomegranate syrup and topped with pineapple foam and cracked pepper. A fantastic blend of flavours, and one that used the worlds first tequila in the best way. Chase Marmalade were partners with Harvey Nichols Second Floor Bar to produce Harvey’s Marmalade Fizz. Using the ever popular marmalade vodka, Campari, lemon and lime juice as well as egg white, sugar, Seville marmalade and topped with soda, the serving of it all in a jam jar complete with a dried orange wheel created one of the more visually stunning cocktails of the evening. A look that complimented its name went to Mojo’s and their cocktail with tequila brand Calle 23. The Pink Chihuahua had the simple ingredients of a healthy dose of Calle 23, pomegranate juice, lime, orgeat and egg white, served in the classic coupette glass.

Visiting one of the bars on the outskirts of the city next in the form of Chorlton’s Proof and their collaboration with Lambs Navy Rum. Two cocktails available from these guys – Any Port in a Storm used Lambs Navy, port, ginger, sugar and lime juice whilst the Mutiny on the Bounty had Lambs Navy, dark chocolate liqueur, crème de cacao and cocoa cream complete with a piece of Bounty for the garnish. Next to them were fellow rum brand Flor de Cana and Sandinista. Going for a ‘rum connoisseurs choice of drink’, they came up with Fat Like Buddha – Flor de Cana 7yr, Antica Formula, Benedictine, Cointreau and maraschino liqueur. Venturing back on to the outskirts soon after, visiting Didsbury’s The Violet Hour and Dutch gin Sloane’s, with their two options –  Summer Picnic (Sloane’s, elderflower, lemon, apple juice, marmalade and vanilla) or a more Traditional Cocktail using Sloane’s, curaçao, sugar, lemon and Angostura Bitters.

Another new kid in Neighbourhood partnered with Absolut Elyx to create a Lavender Cosmopolitan. Using pre-steeped lavender and sugar mix to the Absolut Elyx, Grand Marnier and cranberry juice created what Neighbourhood called ‘a seductive zingy Cosmo twist’. The use of Whitley Neil and The Whim Wham Cafe to create the African Sky caught the attention of many an enthusiast, mainly for the loud toots of owner Alix and his African horn (take that how you will) but also for their creation of a cocktail that looks literally like the African sunset. Created using Whitley Neil gin, Cointreau, marmalade syrup, cranberry juice, lime and Peychaud Bitters. Dry ice bellowed from the next bar as Apotheca teamed with Ketel One and made full use of their copper kettles. Creating the Citizen Kettle, they used a double healthy dose of Ketel One, elderflower liqueur, lemon juice, white grape and Peychaud Bitters.

Sandanista and Flor de Cana
Sandanista and Flor de Cana

Northern Quarter guys Dusk til Pawn went with white grain spirit Bootlegger to create the aptly named One Old Boot. Using Bootlegger, whisky barrel bitters, sugar, marmalade and ginger, they created a stirred drink with a nod to the Prohibition styles. Cross back into Europe and Belvedere vodka created a twist on the Bramble with Epernay. Using Belvedere, poppy liquor, sugar and lemon, the short yet powerful drink set us up nicely for the trip across the corridor to the The Lord Mayor’s Parlour and three of Manchester’s tiki bars.

Starting with The Liars Club and El Dorado, they created a Liars Club Party Punch using ingredients such as El Dorado 5yr, Prosecco, apple and grapefruit juice, Yorkshire tea and sugar. It came complete with an El Dorado cake courtesy of rum lover North West Nosh! Keko Moko were up next partnering with Chairman’s Reserve to create The Keko Fizz – both Chairman’s Reserve and their Spiced variety as well as cloudy apple juice, egg white, lime, passion fruit liqueur and ting. Described as ‘definitely tiki’, the next and last bar of the evening, Hula, had its work cut out with Havana Seleccion de Maestros. Creating an El Presidente using Havana Club, sweet vermouth, Cointreau and grenadine, the classic went down way too easily.

The winners haven’t been announced yet, but I can tell you that it was no easy task to narrow it down for best cocktail, best bar and best personality. If you can, try each of the above cocktails at some point in the bars, they’re definitely worth a try and maybe you can decide for yourselves who you think should be the winners. While you at it, you may want to keep your eyes peeled for next year, a fantastic atmosphere is not to be missed!

Check out the rest of the photos via my Facebook page. Also check out MWarrenDesigns and the view through his camera.

© 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.



The Liquorists Belvedere Trail Review

Ever feel like having a night of luxury? A night of sophistication? Well last week Manchester showcased themselves with a brand that oozes these qualities and more with the ever elegant Belvedere and the ever knowledgeable and glamour of The Liquorists. The usual trait of five bars. five samples and five cocktails to indulge in, with a gathering sporting a mix of bloggers and consumers set the tone for a night that despite there only being the one brand on offer, an excitement rippled through as we met in The River Bar & Restaurant in The Lowry Hotel. I knew from past experience what Belvedere has to offer, but am yet to really see what it can do when mixed with cocktails and food, so when Tom Sneesby gave us a history of Belvedere, I eagerly caught the eye of the Belvedere Polish Zephyr being handed out with a base of Belvedere Pure, pink grapefruit, almond and Fever Tree tonic water that came complimented with passionfruit jelly cubes. Heaven.

To fit so much into a night, you have to experience and savour to the best of your abilities as you’re soon whisked off to the next venue which in our case was The Liquorists own #22redbank. Here, Jody Monteith was busy creating us a bartender favourite – Bloody Mary using the aptly named Belvedere Bloody Mary. An expression I rate well on its own, it was interesting to see it used in its primary use, and also in a traditional form – vodka, Tabasco, Worcester sauce, dash of lemon juice and a pinch of salt and pepper. Complete with celery stick, it was a smooth addition to its rather spicy self when sipped on its own. The added olives and chorizo slices completed the visit to the speakeasy style venue and we were soon whisked off to a relatively new addition to the Manchester bar scene in Kosmonaut. First ventured into on the tequila trail, I was glad to be back and also trying something new to me. Belvedere Citrus made an appearance here with a fresh nose and long, smooth offering on the palate. Perfect then for Kosmonaut’s own Amir Javaid and his trail created cocktail named the Belvedere Triangle. A mix of citrus, Briotett rhubarb liqueur, egg white, clementine juice and grenadine, it served very well with a rather unusual accompaniment, a Mr Kipling lemon slice. Genius!

Belvedere Polish Zephyr and passionfruit jelly

Driven to the other side of the city, Epernay was back into the trail loop with Belvedere Grapefruit ready and waiting with a black forest gateaux with Belvedere Grapefruit infused cream. A nod to Ernist Hemingway while we were there too as we savoured the Ayala Champagne heavy Hemingway Royale which also housed grapefruit juice and maraschino. Although not the biggest fan of grapefruit, the use in Belvedere doesn’t overpower so it resulted in a rather enjoyable tipple, especially with the nice touch of a vodka based gateaux. Last on our whirlwind tour was to be Manchester’s newest pop-up in The Ski Club.
Housed in Spinningfields, its decor, as you would imagine, resembled a ski club, complete with melted cheese fondue, meat and cheese platters and Belvedere Intense. This version in their portfolio was saved till last with its instant mouth-watering effect that seemed to last for ever. Food a plenty and a gathering that all easily got on well together made for a great ending to a night that promoted luxury, glamour and excitement.

Sound good? GET ON IT.

Check out the rest of the photos 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.

Kamm & Sons Ginseng Spirit

A few weeks ago, I was given the opportunity to indulge my senses into a rather diverse new spirit – Kamm & Sons (or as it was previously known, Kammerlings). Hosted at the appropriate venue of Epernay, Manchester, Alex Kammerling showed an air of enthusiasm behind his creation as we delved into his findings, his reasons behind his venture, and of course some cocktails thrown in for good measure!

Kammerlings - as it was previously seen

So to start us off, Alex told us all the history of alcohol and its first uses for medicinal purposes. Alcohol was heavily used as a botanical medicine and created the category vermouth. Vermouth is a combination of fortified wine and dry ingredients such as aromatic herbs, roots and bark. The antiviral, antibacterial and antifungal properties of all these plants have been used since there was life on this planet, but the consumption of vermouth was widely believed to have begun in ancient Greece around 400 BC, where the extra dry ingredients were added to the wine for two main reasons – one was to mask the foul odors and flavours that wine produced at the time, and the other was to make it a medicinal drink to help treat stomach disorders, internal parasites etc. This coined the expression “Lets drink to health”.

‘The father of Western medicine’ Hippocrates was one of the first people to treat illness as something that was caused naturally and not as a result of superstition, and paved the way for the use of alcohol as an ailment. His legacy still upholds today as each new physician or healthcare professional requires to swear against the Hippocrates Oath. The Chinese invented the art of distillation around 200BC which alchemists then brought over to Western Europe between 1300 and 1700, to experiment on aqua vitae, or the “water of life”. This distillation of a new spirit was seen as a status in society compared to the usual tipple of wine or beer. Angostura bitters, a new version of vermouth, was first compounded in Venezuela in 1824 by a German physician, Dr. Johann Gottlieb Benjamin Siegert, as a cure for sea sickness and stomach problems. The difference between vermouth and bitters is that bitters don’t have the use of fortified wine, and the main ingredients found include cascarilla, cassia, gentian and orange peel. Bitters themselves are not distilled like vermouth, but infused by a process named Tincture which involves putting herbs in a jar and a spirit of 40% pure ethanol is added. The jar is then left to stand for 2–3 weeks, shaken occasionally, in order to maximise the concentration of the solution.

During the prohibition era, bitters were not banned as doctors protested that the alcohol used was strictly for medicinal purposes. The early 1900’s saw the wave of drug companies that killed off the use of bitters as the ailment to natural remedies. They were also keen to dispel herbal medicine as old fashioned or hippie-ish.

So with a brief history lesson, Alex then explained his reasons behind Kamm & Sons, telling us how he first had the idea whilst working for Martin Millers where he helped create their Westbourne Strength gin.  His great-grandfather was also an inspiration. His career was a practitioner in medicine which lends it hand to the medicinal shaped bottle that now houses Kamm & Sons. Alex started off with 100 botanicals, carefully blending, mixing and creating different aromas and flavours for over 5 years until the right recipe was found. He infused them all with alcohol for 3-4 weeks, filtered them, then tested them, adding sugar or watering down to see if it changed the floral, taste or sweetness of the outcome. Eventually, 4 types of ginseng root (Red Korean, White Panax, American and Siberian) were chosen, with 41 other botanicals, including Ginko Biloba, Echinacea, and Goji berries, as well as fresh grapefruit and orange peel.

Alex uses the traditional gin distillation method, where a small pot still houses all of the botanicals. The resulting alcohol vapour is added to an herbal infusion that contains manuka honey, gentian and wormwood, and then blended with annatto seeds to give it its burnt orange colour (Kamm & Sons is sold in a brown bottle as the anatto seed colouring will go clear if in sunlight). Water and a small amount of sugar reduces the ABV to 33%.

Kamm & Sons were offered around, so I give to you below my tasting notes –

Kamm & Sons – 33%

A soft ginseng aroma on the nose creates a sweetness that blends with citrus, floral flowers and fresh bark. The palate enjoys a fruity, fresh, and only a slight bitterness and spice which . Sweetness from the honey is noticeable, and creates a long, slightly dry finish.

Alex creating some Kamm & Sons cocktails

Alex finished off his experience with the creation of some Kamm & Sons cocktails. Below are a selection of cocktails that include Kamm & Sons, all easy to create at home, or ask your local barman to craft together for you. Enjoy!

Make sure you check out my Facebook for more pics!

The Precurser




50ml Kamm & Sons
35ml Grapefruit juice
15ml Elderflower cordial


Shake and strain, garnish with lemon zest

Adam & Eve




50ml Kamm & Sons
75ml Lychee juice
75ml Grapefruit juice


Build over cubed ice, garnish with lemon wedge and cucumber slice

The Grosvenor


Small cocktail glass


50ml Kamm & Sons
15ml Punt e Mes
5ml Islay whisky

Method –

Stir with cubed ice, garnish with lemon peel

The First Word




50ml Kamm & Sons
25ml Lemon juice
2 bar spoons Maraschino liqueur
2 bar spoons sugar syrup
dash of egg white


Shake and strain, garnish with lemon zest


© 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.

The Bombay Spirits Company Flavour Experience


Some of you may have heard of a category named ‘gin‘. If you’ve ever decided to research into this category a bit more, you will probably learn the art of distillation, and the various forms around that can produce this versatile product. But have you ever though about categorising gin by aroma? When was the last time you had a gin over ice and took the opportunity to waft those botanicals through the nostrils? That’s the question that the Bombay Spirits Company has been asking as they’ve made their way around the UK with their Flavour Experience.

Sean Ware talking about production methods

Sam Carter and Sean Ware, the Bombay Sapphire brand ambassadors, rolled into Epernay, Manchester today to teach us the understanding of the botanicals you can find not only in Bombay Sapphire, but in other gin brands as well. We would also explore the history of Bombay itself, as well as its production methods and iconic blue-bottle. So with no hesitation needed, and to wet the whistle of the rather sizeable group of bartenders and industry figures, a round of Aviation’s were created whilst we made our way from the bar to Epernay’s rather grand setting of floor to ceiling windows, draped lighting and empty champagne bottles neatly dotted around for decoration. Each table was set out to include an aroma kit, a book on Bombay Sapphire and 10 champagne flutes with samples of both clear and coloured liquids. The kits and samples would have to wait though as Sean and Sam talked about the gin category in general, the trends that bartenders have seen in the last few years and what consumers seem to look for when ordering both gin and a gin based cocktail. Names of classic gin cocktails were shouted out, including Negroni, Tom Collins, Gin and Tonic and the Martini, whilst only the Bramble could be thought of as a more recent addition to the list, something Sean and Sam said that ultimately gave gin cocktails the perfect example of drinks that stand the test of time.

The aroma kit was then introduced. The creator of this unique idea was by a gentleman named Dr. George Dodd of the Aroma Academy, an aroma scientist and bio-chemist as well as a Master Perfumer, and he selected 24 different vials, each with a unique aroma, that gives the clearest indication to both bartenders and consumers what actually makes each gin so unique. Each vial is numbered 1-24 with a label displaying the botanical inside. We started with the first four vials, each containing a different style of juniper. Using scent sticks, we dipped the ends into each and discussed the dominant aroma that hit the nose first. We were also asked to describe any trigger memory scents, for example, the second vial housed green juniper, yet it reminded me of fresh leather. With the nosing of the four juniper scents, we then worked out which of the two spirit samples from our tasting mat was created using juniper vapour, and which was created using juniper that was steeped and distilled. Vials of violet, orange, forest floor and pepper were then nosed so we could get a better understanding of citrus, dry root, spice and floral, again trying to see if the aromas found triggered any memory scents (rather odd to find the scent of forest floor reminding me of a garden centre!). We then nosed and tasted two more samples from our tasting mat, this time a blend of coriander, juniper, angelica and liquorice. Again we had to differentiate between a spirit that had been steeped and distilled or mixed after a vapour process. The results found that after being created using vapour, it had a clean, more bold flavour hit to the nose, compared to a smooth, buttery, creamy texture given from the steeped and distilled method.

The range of spirit samples

Our tasting mat also housed 4 different gin’s, where using our senses and new-found understanding of aromas, we had to pick out the flavours from each. Below you can find my tasting notes on each of the four –

1 – Beefeater – 40%

A light citrus creates a soft hit on the nose, with juniper following slowly after with a very light hint of spice. A long aftertaste after a more dominant hit of lemon citrus on the palate.

2. Bombay Original Dry – 40%

A slow nose of nutmeg and forest floor blend well whilst on the palate you get a slight hit of citrus that creates a very short soft, yet dry and subtle spice end.

3. Bombay Sapphire – 40%

A slight pepper, yet very light and floral mix on the nose, with a hint of harshness on the palate that evolves into a bold mix of juniper and citrus. Very smooth on the aftertaste though.

4. Hendrick’s – 41.4%

Small mixes of cucumber, rose and juniper on the nose whilst a clean and crisp hit of citrus and cucumber on the after-taste.

Our last aromas of the day were two samples, one was a juniper macerated (steeped) in alcohol for 6 hours, whilst the second was the same process, yet for 24 hours. Despite only 18 hours between them, the first sample had a nose of elderberries and a strong sweetness to it, yet the second was a lot more heavy with an intense elderberry aroma.

After a short break, we reconvened to hear from Sean and Sam the history of Bombay itself.

The Bombay Sapphire aroma kit

In 1761, Thomas Dakin of Warrington was born, where at the age of 24, purchased a site on Bridge Street with the passion to creating gin. With an ideal location between Liverpool and Manchester, the ease of transportation with the newly dug canals, as well as the A1 of London to Edinburgh, Thomas Dakin released what was then known as ‘Warrington Gin’. Over the years, new technology was sought regularly, including in 1831 where a new copper pot still was purchased, resulting in one of the earliest Carterhead stills. A perforated basket created the process called Vapour Infused which was used to create a smooth and more refined spirit to rival the French imports of the time. The Dakin family distilled for nearly 100 years until 1860, where they passed on their expertise to two local brewers John and Gilbert Greenall.

Two hundred years after Thomas Dakin first created his gin, an American entrepreneur going by the name of Allan Subin saw the opportunity to develop an English gin into the growing American clientele. During his search of England, he discovered the 1761 recipe of Thomas Dakin and re-created using his method of Vapour Infusion and 8 botanicals. Inspired by his English wife, he chose the image of Queen Victoria to grace each bottle (despite it being illegal to have royal figures on products, because it was exported, Allan Subin was able to get around the law), as well as the name Bombay to signify poise and elegance during the days of the British Raj. 1959 was the year The Bombay Spirits Company was created with the release of Bombay Original.

Gins popularity was waning by the end of the 1970’s, with the new interest of vodka taking over. Michel Roux, an American importer at the time, collaborated with The Bombay Spirits Company to try to re-invent Bombay and catapult it back into the hearts of drinkers.Working with Ian Hamilton (Master Distiller at the time) and using the same distillation method as Bombay Original, they added exotic spice notes which totalled the number of botanicals to 10. Michel Roux also created the iconic blue-bottle that now houses the 1987 launched Bombay Sapphire. Continuing the use of Queen Victoria, he also added the striking picture of the 182 carat sapphire ‘Star of Bombay’ as well as a list of the botanicals used.

In case you’re wondering, the botanicals in Bombay Sapphire are – juniper, coriander, angelica, almonds, cubeb berries, lemon peel, orris, liquorice, cassia bark and grains of paradise.

So with our new-found noses and a history of Bombay itself, the bar beckoned where both Sam and Sean created some fantastic gin based cocktails to say thank you. Below I give you the cocktails created. Enjoy!

Aviation cocktail

Tom Collins




25ml lemon juice
50ml Bombay Sapphire
2 tea spoons of caster sugar
Topped with soda


Stir lemon and sugar together in a Collins glass to dissolve, add ice, gin and soda, stir to mix, garnish with a lemon slice.

West Side




40ml Bombay Dry
15ml Martini Dry
20ml lemon
15ml simple syrup
4-6 mint leaves


Shake and strain over cubed ice, garnish with a sprig of mint

Army and Navy



Ingredients –

40ml Bombay Sapphire
20ml lemon
10ml orgeat

Method –

Shake and double strain, garnish with ‘light shower’ of lemon twist





50ml Bombay Sapphire
10m Maraschino
2.5ml Creme Violette
15ml lemon juice


Shake quickly and double strain into a Martini glass, garnish with a cherry

Check out the rest of the photos taken at the event 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.

Henriot Champagne Tasting Notes

On Wednesday night, I had the chance to try the relatively unknown champagne house Henriot at the Epernay champagne bar in Manchester. Three bottles were on offer to sample, with hosts Cyriaque and Joelle giving a speech on the history of Henriot and what to expect from their Rose Brut, Brut Souverain and Blanc De Blancs.


A little history first,


Native to Lorraine, the Henriot family relocated to Champagne around 1640. In Reims, the Henriots slowly acquired vineyards as well as the acquisition of the Hôtel des Douanes and the Fermes Royales. Nicolas Henriot married Apolline Godinot. Together, they developed a fascination for the culture of the vine and production of wines of quality.

After the death of Nicolas Henriot, Apolline Henriot decided to continue to develop the vineyards and refine the style of the wines. The 33 year-old set forth her name and founded Veuve Henriot Ainé in 1808. Apolline sold her wines both in France and abroad and became a huge success with royalty, concluding with Henriot being declared Official Supplier to the Imperial and Royal Court of Austria.

The vineyards grew bigger when Paul Henriot, nephew of Ernest Henriot, married Marie Marguet, who owned vines in the Côtes des Blancs.

Once Apolline passed away, the family legacy continued with her grandson Ernest, where in 1875, Ernest enlarged the company’s holdings and developed the House. Etienne Henriot, son of Paul, who had trained as an agronomist, took over the management of the House. With great vision, he expanded the house’s viticultural domain, which then covered nearly 110 hectares (275 acres).
1957 saw the death of Etienne Henriot, and his son, Joseph Henriot, who was also a trained agronomist, gradually taking over the reins of the family company from 1962.


So with a little history explained to us, our first champagne of the night was poured, Rose Brut (all prices are straight from the Epernay champagne menu).

Henriot Rose Brut – £58

Made up of 58% Pinot Noir grapes and 42% Chardonnay grapes, a fruit nose dominates the senses with citrus and floral scents making their way through slowly. The palate enjoys a light, salivating fruityness, with floral and hints of spice mixing well to create a long-lasting flavour.

Brut Souverain – £46

Created with a balance of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes, the nose has a hit of boldness, moving quickly into a refreshing citrus and floral flavour mix. Fresh bread was also detected. A taste of apricot and oranges lay well on the palate, with vanilla and cherry subtly making an appearance near the end.

Blanc De Blancs – £58

The sole use of Chardonnay grapes creates a sophisticated blend of fruit, floral and spice on the nose. The honey, vanilla and almond attack the palate to lay down a soft and smooth finish with lingering vanilla scents.


My personal favourite? Blanc De Blancs. And for £58, I’ve found a champagne worth splashing out for! For the same price, the Rose Brut is also a good shout, while the Brut Souverain, albeit not my personal favourite out of the three, is still a great champagne to drink.

The Henriot range is not readily available in supermarkets, however you can purchase the three above champagnes here. Or better still, get yourself down to Epernay in Manchester where you can enjoy the range in comfort and style. Give me a shout, I’ll see you there!


© 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.

The Liquorists Vodka Trail Review

Last night was another installment into The Liquorists busy calendar, the vodka trail. Following the same concept of their Nominees & Spirited Ventures trails last month, we were to be enjoying 5 different vodka’s, 5 different vodka cocktails in 5 different bars accompanied by 5 different light bite appetizers. Sound daunting? Challenge accepted!

Finlandia Caiproska at Blackdog Ballroom

Starting the night in the Blackdog Ballroom in Manchester’s Northern Quarter, we gathered in the bar’s Ballroom, a quietly tucked away private member’s bar which is perfect for events like this. Mr Tom Sneesby would be our host for the evening as he explained a brief history on vodka, what The Liquorists are all about and why we had a shot of Finlandia in front of us. Finlandia is a perfect example of how a spirit can get better when mixed properly. Although nice on its own, the Finlandia Caiproska that came after brought this Finnish vodka more alive. A small bite to eat followed in the form of breaded chicken strips and chips and then we were hopping into a taxi to our next venue, 24 Bar & Grill.
Cariel Vodka was the choice of vodka at this newly re-branded bar (formerly Obsidian), and one of my personal favourites in the cocktail world, the Pornstar Martini, was made to perfection using Cariel’s vanilla flavour. Nestled at the end of the bar in their boothed seating, we enjoyed small pineapple and coriander salsa pastries to accompany the cocktail, as well as a shot of Cariel vodka to finish the visit off.

Pornstar Matini with Cariel Vanilla vodka at 24 Bar and Grill

Epernay was the next port of call, with the stunning champagne venue offering us Belevedere vodka to sip while French 76 cocktails were being hand crafted for our pleasure. Tom gave us a little history lesson on Belvedere, and mentioned that the building on the front of every bottle is the Polish presidential palace Belweder, with the vodka being named after it. From Poland to Sweden, Absolut vodka was next to showcase themselves at Hula, with a tiki cocktail being elaborately concocted while we munched on what I can only describe as a volcano of sweets – literally. Sherbert straws were on hand in our tiki drinks, while we drank amid a beach bar with hammocks and fire (no joke with the fire part!).
Our last bar for the night was in Manchester’s mecca when it comes to cocktails in the Northern Quarter – Socio Rehab. The French vodka Grey Goose was sipped, while Grey Goose le Fizz cocktails were brought over to us amid vegetable and meat toasties to warm the cockles of the rainy weather outside.

Grey Goose le Fizz at Socio Rehab

A great night was had, with a round of applause given to Tom by all  in attendance. And it truly was. My friend came with me last night as the trail was a great idea for an early Christmas present, and he’s now raring to go back to all 5 bars again, with Hula and Epernay his highlights. As for me, all 5 bars are favourites of mine for various reasons, but the Pornstar Martini with Cariel Vanilla vodka at 24 Bar & Grill would be the recommendation of the night, but this is coming from a guy who loves vanilla!

They’ll be more trails coming up in the near future, so keep an eye on The Liquorist’s website and Facebook page for more information

Click on my Links page for links to all the bars and brands mentioned in this article


© 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.