Flor De Caña ‘Rum Frontiers’ Showcases In Glasgow

Ryan-in-Dusk-with-his-prize-1-e1501603860159
Flor de Caña discovered the new UK ‘Rum Frontier’ Champion on Monday night, as guests basked in the electric vibes of Nicaragua enjoying street food, Flor de Caña cocktails, live street art and a world renowned DJ in one of Glasgow’s best loved venues, Drygate.

Featuring an incredible line-up of first class mixologists from all across the country, each finalist pushed the creative boundaries of cocktail making to the edge in a live heat where they were challenged to design innovative cocktails inspired by the exotic home of Flor de Caña rum. The cocktails were fashioned around many areas of Nicaraguan culture, from its world famous coffee beans to the unique and vibrant art that fills the streets, the volcano which Flor de Caña’s own distillery sits at and the fact that the country is run on 58% clean, renewable energy.

Ten finalists battled it out to be crowned the #RumFrontiers UK winner and get their hands on the coveted prize: a trip of a lifetime to Nicaragua where the winner will represent the UK in the worldwide final as well as enjoying incredible tours of Nicaragua’s top attractions.

The winning cocktail blew away the judging panel, boasting an incredibly diverse and creative skillset from bartender Ryan Rhodes of Dusk in Aberdeen. Named Lava Flava, Ryan’s drink was inspired by the artist Scott Lambeck and his colourful interpretation of Nicaragua which adorned the sides of the glass. Ryan described his cocktail as a drink which he felt reflected Nicaragua; vibrant, fun and playful.

As well as the excitement of live heats, earlier in the day attendees enjoyed a masterclass run by two of the esteemed judges: Daryl Haldane (Head of Brand Experience, Whyte & Mackay) and Tristan Stephenson (The Curious Bartender). Also tasked with judging the cocktail creations were the highly-regarded Andy Gemmell (The Drinks Cabinet) and Marc Catalan (Flor de Caña).

Jonathan Gillbanks (UK Sales Director – On Trade & Specialists, Whyte and Mackay) said: “RumFrontiers was a fantastic event; we witnessed some of the most exciting bartenders from the UK come together to learn and create with Flor de Caña premium rum. The creations from the competitors were truly outstanding.”

Ryan will experience six days of adventure in Nicaragua this September, including sand-boarding on the active Cerro Negro Volcano before spending the night in the historic city of Leon. He will then return to Managua for an exclusive tour of the Flor de Caña distillery ahead of the world wide #RumFrontiers final. The remainder of the trip will be packed full of excursions including a visit to the Masaya Volcano, Masaya Artisan Market and Apoyo Lake. There will also be a City Tour of Granada along with a trip to a private island before returning home.

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St Lucia Distillers Set to Travel Around the UK

Distillers-Final-LogoThis March and April, UK distributor Emporia Brands have put together a calendar of events involving its award-winning St Lucia Distillers range, after the initial success of last year’s programme.

Brand Ambassador Dave Marsland and the Emporia Brands team will be touring fifteen cities as they bring together the Chairman’s Reserve range, which includes Gold, Spiced, White Label and Forgotten Cask, the Admiral Rodney, and an edition of premium expression 1931, plus a selection of the distillates from which they are blended.

In 1931, the Barnard family founded a distillery at Dennery, St Lucia. Now based on the other side of the island at Roseau, the distillery has been considerably modernized and new technologies and improvements constantly incorporated. The installation of pot stills in 1998 added considerably to the variety of rums being produced in this highly regarded distillery which received the accolade of Individual Distiller of the Year at the International Spirits Challenge, one of six trophies received in six years – a unique achievement.

With the premise of a flavour experience, the tour sees an approach to the range that offers bartenders and key industry figures invited to not only learn about St Lucia, but ideas on how to embrace the versatility of St Lucia Distillers, from the Spiced variety to the rare 1931.

Cities on the tour include Manchester, London, Leeds, Brighton, Liverpool, Birmingham, Nottingham, Leicester, Newcastle, Cardiff, Reading, Edinburgh, Dundee, Aberdeen and Glasgow, with Emporia Brands looking to strengthen their campaign as they look ahead to the next instalment of the ‘Chairman’s XI’ with their ever-expanding sales team seeking out some of the UK’s best and brightest to follow in the footsteps of some of the industries key figures, including Lyndon Higginson of The Liars Club in Manchester, Danny Murphy of Aloha in Liverpool and Adam Binnersley of the MOJO Group.

Places are limited for each session, due to the rarity of gaining the exclusive 1931 and distillates for the tasting’s. To secure your place, please contact Dave Marsland at dave@emporiabrands.com, stating the session you wish to attend from the list below.

Manchester       Mojo’s, 9th March, 1:30pm

London                 Burlock, 15th March, 2pm

Leeds                    Mojo’s, 15th March, 1:30pm

Brighton              Oki Nami, 21st March, 1pm

Liverpool             Maya, 23rd March, 1:30pm

Birmingham       Island Bar, 4th April, 2pm

Nottingham       Brass Monkey, 5th April, 3pm

Leicester             The Queen of Bradgate, 6th April, 2pm

Newcastle          Alvino’s, 11th April, 1pm

Edinburgh           Reekie Tiki, 16th April, 4pm

Cardiff                  The Dead Canary, 21st April, 2pm

Aberdeen           Bos’n, 23rd April, 3pm

Dundee                 Draffens, 24th April, 4pm

Reading                               Milk, 26th April, 2pm

Glasgow              Distill, 26th April, 4pm

 

Follow Chairman’s Reserve on Twitter @ChairmansUK, Facebook at www.facebook.com/ChairmansReserveUK and Instagram at  www.instagram.com/chairmansreserveuk

Follow Emporia Brands on Twitter @EmporiaBrandsUK, Facebook at www.facebook.com/EmporiaBrands and Instagram at www.instagram.com/emporiabrands

National Calvados Week Returns For 2016

logo-pere-magloire
The Père Magloire National Calvados Week, in association with UK creator Emporia Brands, returns Monday 17th October 2016 until the Sunday 23rd October 2016, taking place bars and retailers across the UK, including London, Birmingham, Newcastle, Glasgow and Edinburgh.

For some, Normandy’s lush green pastures reach their ultimate expression in the region’s famed cheeses and rich dairy butter. We all know that it’s always been about the Calvados. The magical alchemy that transforms green apples into golden nectar, it produces apple brandy as soft, fresh and pure as the beguiling French countryside from which it’s born. The week long celebration marks the harvesting of the delicious apples for the production of Calvados. During National Calvados Week over 100 bars, shops, supermarkets and independent off licenses, including London based Demon Wise & Partners, NOLA, Cocktail Trading Company, Skylon and 155 Bar & Kitchen, who are pairing their special cocktail creation ‘Apple Turnover’, perfect to be matched with their Beetroot-cured Salmon served with chicory and apple salad, or the Scallops with smoked belly of port.

Other venues and highlights for the week include such Edinburgh stalwarts as Blackbird, Heads & Tales, Voodoo Rooms, La Petite Mort and The Bon Vivant, as well as Glasgow based The Finnieston and Porter & Rye, plus Rye & Soda in Aberdeen. Manhattan in Leicester are also showcasing their serves, as well as The Edgbaston in Birmingham and Bonbar in Newcastle amongst others.

Meanwhile, participating Waitrose stores will be running an in-store price promotion for the month of October, seeing Père Magloire VSOP price reduction of £2. (Original price £22 – promotional price £20). Scotland are covered by Drinkmonger in Edinburgh and The Good Spirits Company in Glasgow, plus independent stores within the likes of Cheshire with Corks Out, The Vineyard Wine Shop in Lancashire, Starmoreboss in Yorkshire, Dorset’s Shaftesbury Wines, Kent based Chiselhurst Wines, Cornwall with North Coast Wines and Wales with Gales of Llangollen. We’ve also partnered with The Drink Shop, who are running free delivery for the month of October on all Père Magloire expressions, as well as Drinkfinder who are offering 10% off all Père Magloire products throughout October.

pere-magloire-bottle-lineup
Highlights of the week involve Soho Wine Supply in London, who will be hosting a Père Magloire tasting table on the 20th, with Soho Whisky Club and Brahms & Liszt hosting a Père Magloire range tasting on the 19th and 21st respectively. TimeOut London are also hosting an evening of Père Magloire on the 18th at MASH London, exclusive for their members and hosted by Brand Manager Matthew Dakers. Manchester will also see Brand Ambassador Dave Marsland showcase Père Magloire at Epernay Champagne Bar on the evening of the 19th, with support from Yelp! John Lewis on Oxford St in London are also getting in on the action, hosting a Père Magloire VSOP and Pont L’Eveque cheese tasting in the food hall, with the offer of a free glass to anyone who buys a bottle!

In addition, Fever Tree are the principle sponsors for this year’s signature serve, promoted within all participating venues across the UK, the Père Magloire and Fever Tree tonic;

50 ml Père Magloire VS
Topped with Fever Tree Tonic Water
Fresh Ice (at least 4 big cubes)
Slice of Fresh Apple

Using a large wine glass or a tall, slim glass, add the ice first then pour in the Père Magloire VS, followed by the Fever Tree Tonic Water. Cut a full slice of apple and drop into the glass.

A promotional video has also been commissioned by Emporia Brands, the exclusive UK importer of Père Magloire and National Calvados Week, which aims to see people coming together from across the UK to enjoy Calvados.

Koval Distillery to Travel The UK in A Series of City Launches

KOVAL_Logo_TaglineThis April, UK distributor Emporia Brands have put together a calendar of launch events involving its new award-winning KOVAL Distillery range.

Master Distiller Robert Birnecker will be touring four cities as he brings together the KOVAL range, which includes the American whiskey expressions of Millet, Rye and Bourbon, as well as their dry gin.

Founded in 2008 by Robert and Sonat Birnecker, KOVAL produces organic whiskey, liqueurs and specialty spirits in Chicago’s first distillery since the mid-1800s. After choosing to leave their academic careers to bring the distilling traditions of Robert’s Austrian family to America, they vowed to make organic spirits from scratch (avoiding the common industry practice of purchasing and bottling pre-made spirits) and to change the way people understand whiskey by creating a new, signature style – using only the “heart” cut of the distillate – affording a brighter, cleaner take on whiskey.

Robert will be visiting the UK from the 18th April, hosting a masterclass at MASH Steakhouse in London from 4-6pm, before heading to Edinburgh on the 19th April to visit Bramble Bar for his second masterclass launch, one that will be co-hosted with Royal Mile Whiskies. A consumer dinner is also planned at The Hanging Bat, involving a three-course meal matched with KOVAL cocktails.

The 20th April see’s Glasgow and The Finnieston welcome Robert, in conjunction with Glasgow Bartender’s Club, for his third masterclass launch before heading to Manchester on the 21st April for his final class at Cottonopolis. To round-off his visit, Robert will be at Harvey Nichols in London on the 22nd April as we launch into the luxury retail outlet.

In the meantime, to whet your appetite just that little bit more, why don’t you experience the ‘Whiskeys Will’, created at the Citizen Pub in Boston.

Whiskeys Will‘Whiskeys Will’

Glass: Rocks

Ingredients:

50 ml KOVAL Bourbon
15 ml Gabriel Boudier Elderflower
15 ml Gabriel Boudier Maraschino
15 ml Lemon juice

Method: Shake, then strain over fresh ice into a rocks glass. Garnish with a lemon peel.

Scotch Whiskymaker Compass Box Releases Smoky Sherried Sibling To The Award-Winning Great King Street Artist’s Blend

Compass Box GK_Glasgow-Blend-50-hi-res

GLASGOW BLEND is the second permanent whisky to be introduced to the Great King Street range of
innovative, small-batch Blended Scotch whiskies from Compass Box.

Glasgow Blend will be available from mid-October in UK and Europe, and from November 1st onwards in
the US, North America and all key international Compass Box markets. It will be priced at around £30 in
the UK and €36 in Europe for a 50cl format (with stylish red gift tube), and $45 and $25 in the US for the
750ml and 375ml formats respectively (without a gift tube).

The Great King Street range is dedicated to applying a contemporary approach to the creation of Blended
Scotch Whiskies in the full-flavoured style of the late 19th century blending houses. To this, they lend a
21st century sense of exploration and innovation for which Compass Box is known. The range takes its
name from 24 Great King Street, the company’s registered address in Edinburgh since John Glaser started
the business in 2000. Great King Street Scotch whiskies lend themselves to a variety of usages—they can be
enjoyed neat, with ice and a splash of water, served as a classic Highball, or as a key ingredient in cocktails.

John Glaser adds, “Over a year in the making, the ‘Glasgow Blend’ involved the creation of over 100 recipe prototypes
before we finalised it. We’ve been trying to make a Blended Scotch whisky like no other on the market today, something
based on the traditional Scotch whisky styles of peatiness and sherry cask aging, but reinterpreted for today’s drinkers who
seek out big flavours, complexity and fullness on the palate. This is full-on Blended Scotch whisky, in all its sherry-aged,
peaty glory, classic in style, updated for today with its flavour intensity and sweetness – part owing to the grain whiskies, part
owing to the small amount of French oak finished malt. There is no Blended Scotch Whisky quite like this.”

In his 1930 book ‘Whisky’, Aeneas MacDonald mentions that Glaswegians historically preferred fuller
bodied and more flavour-packed whiskies than people in other parts of the world. So what better name for
a whisky such as this? For decades, The Wellington Statue, outside Glasgow’s Gallery of Modern Art, has
been cheekily topped by a traffic cone, something the local population has taken to heart as a symbol of
their sense of humour. It has become one of Glasgow’s most iconic images, and graces the label for the
Glasgow Blend.

Danny Whelan Of Kelvingrove Café Wins ‘Sprint to the Finish’ Cocktail Competition

Chairmans Reserve

Danny Whelan, a rising star of Glasgow bartending, working at the Kelvingrove Café is the winner of the “Sprint to the Finish” cocktail competition and will receive tickets to a private box at the Commonwealth Games today when the 100m finals take place. In a closely contested competition Danny’s cocktail “Comerette Cooler” attracted the most ‘Likes’ on the Chairman’s Reserve Rum Facebook page possibly because his recipe was very well conceived, given the unusually hot and dry weather over the last few days.

A delicious long drink made with Chairman’s Reserve Spiced Rum, served long with a side of ice cream, “Comerette Cooler”, attracted plenty of attention from the start and managed to hold onto the lead throughout the week.

‘Comerette Cooler’ by Danny Whelan at Kelvingrove Café (Glasgow) – Named after the white-sand St Lucia beach ‘Anse Comerette’

45 ml Chairman’s Reserve Spiced
25 ml Orange Sherbet
20 ml Coconut Syrup
dash Chocolate Bitters
Topped with a float of Root Beer

Add all ingredients except Root Beer to a mixing tin, shake and pour into a hi-ball glass over cracked ice. Float root beer over the top. Garnish with an Orange Twist, with Vanilla ice cream and Coconut Chocolate on the side.

Runners up in the ‘Sprint to the Finish’ competition were Mike McGinty (Treacle, Edinburgh) and Matt Ronald (Blue Dog, Glasgow) crossing the line in what was almost a photo finish taking Silver and Bronze respectively. Mike McGinty having learnt his trade in Aberdeen moved to join the Edinburgh bar scene a couple of years ago and is now managing Treacle on Broughton Street in Edinburgh . Mike’s drink ‘Chairman’s Re-Served’ had a nice balance of simplicity and theatre, revisiting a classic rum serve.

‘Chairman’s Re-Served’ by Mike McGinty at Treacle (Edinburgh)

50 ml Chairman’s Reserve
20 ml Homemade Falernum
5 Dashes of Angostura Bitters
2 Dash Chocolate Bitters

All put into a metal cup, with a lime cut into a square, covered in Demerara sugar, coffee, chocolate and cinnamon. A light on fire which caramelises the lime and it drips into the drink. Then extinguish the flame with 60 ml water.

This is a twist on the perfect rum serve; coffee, lime and sugar, hence the name.

Bronze medal winner, Matt Ronald, another Glasgow bartender, has been the manager at Blue Dog for a number of years and a fan of Chairman’s Reserve ever since he visited the distillery in St Lucia on a trip organised by Emporia Brands a few years ago. Also electing to make a drink based on Chairman’s Spiced, his cocktail was about balancing the different sweet, sour and spicy elements to make a refreshing summer serve.

‘Bolt from the Blue’ by Matt Ronald at Blue Dog (Glasgow)

25 ml Chairman’s Spiced
12.5 ml Domine de Canton
12.5 ml Gabriel Boudier Blueberry
Fresh Blueberries
25 ml Lemon juice
Lemon syrup
37.5 ml apple juice

Ten contestants made it to the Chairman’s Reserve ‘Sprint to the Finish’ finals, all of whom are established UK bartenders or are rising stars in Scotland .
The final finishing order was as follows; –
– Danny Whelan – Kelvingrove Café ( Glasgow ) GOLD
– Mike McGinty – Treacle ( Edinburgh ) SILVER
– Matthew Ronald – Blue Dog ( Glasgow ) BRONZE

– Lewis Thomson – Clouds & Soil (Edinburgh)
– Alex Muir – Amicus Apple ( Aberdeen )
– Rosie Paterson – The Voodoo Rooms ( Edinburgh )
– Panda & Sons – Phil Jones ( Edinburgh )
– Jon Hughes – Bramble Bar ( Edinburgh )
– James Grant – Bond 9 ( Edinburgh )
– Adrian Gomes – The Tippling House ( Aberdeen )

A Look At The Bacardi ‘Untameable Since 1862’ Campaign

Bacardi

‘Definition of untamable in English: not capable of being controlled.’

It’s hard to imagine going through life as free as a bird and living as easy as one, two, three. There will always be obstacles, there will always be hard times and there will always be surprises that can alter your path and set you off in a different direction. It doesn’t matter what, or indeed who, you are, a life of an object will go on until it ceases to exist. Within the drinks world, the many brands of wine, beer, spirits and soft drinks can be counted into the thousands. Many new names come into the fold, replacing ones that been forced to shut, dipping sales or indeed just run its course. Some though, go through times of hardship, and battle through to win. With this, I welcome to you Bacardi.

Bacardi are highlighting over the next twenty years that despite the obstacles they faced since their opening year back in 1862, they have grown, adapted and can now be counted as the  largest privately held, family owned spirits company in the world. Over the next few months, you’ll be seeing the result of a multimillion pound investment into the likes of TV commercials, a series of Bacardi Parties held in Manchester, Glasgow and London, as well as entwined events within your favourite bars and restaurants.

To kickstart the campaign, I’ve been lucky enough to be a part of the festivities in Manchester, and had the opportunity to speak to Lisa Jazwinski (UK Brand Director for Bacardi), Shervene Shahbazkhani (UK Brand Ambassador) and the now retired Master Blender of Bacardi José Sanchez Gavito.  It was with these three that I learned the passion that Bacardi have had to power through, the determination to succeed and the joy that they all receive when walking into a bar and catching the famous bat symbol on each bottle. For José Sanchez Gavito, it could be relaxing with friends and enjoying a splash of Bacardi Superior with plenty of water. Shervene on the other hand is a true believer in one of the most famous cocktails to be created, the Daiquiri. Invented by an American mining engineer named Jennings Cox, who was in Cuba at the time of the Spanish-American War back in 1889, it was said that he enjoyed one at 8am everyday to start off his shift. Today, Shervene has perfected his recipe to the following –

SherveneDaiquiri

Glass – 

Coupette

Ingredients – 

2 Heaped Tsp Caster Sugar
25 ml Fresh Lime
50 ml Bacardi Superior

Method – 

Shake all the ingredients over ice and double strain into a coupette glass. No garnish required.

To get to where Bacardi are today can be put down to the success of the portfolio that is produced. For 30 years, José Sanchez Gavito was the Master Blender, becoming the first non Cuban and first non family member to be appointed the role. To cap it off, he was head-hunted in the summer of 76 due to his work with the tequila arm of Bacardi at the time with the role of engineer. Not bad for a man who started out as applying for a job in Bacardi seen within a newspaper article.
It’s with this gentleman that Bacardi has been able to enjoy such highlights as amassing over 1.2 million cases of Bacardi Solera, despite having a target of just 40,000 in the 1st year. Another example would be the release of the Ron Bacardi de Maestros de Ron, Vintage, MMXII. Invited to be one of the eight family members to craft this expression, they brought together the best rums from the Bacardi cellar. The rum was then laid to rest in American oak barrels for 20 years and then swapped into 60-year-old Cognac barrels to age. Once the process was complete, the eight Maestros de Ron were left with 4 different rums to choose from. Over three days, they deliberated to find the perfect one that they could bottle within a glass decanter, ultimately giving it as a present to the Bacardi family. I myself have been very lucky to experience the blend, with my tastings notes below –

Ron Bacardi de Maestros de Ron, Vintage, MMXII
Ron Bacardi de Maestros de Ron, Vintage, MMXII

Ron Bacardi de Maestros de Ron, Vintage, MMXII – 43%

Slight dried fruits of raisin and fig on the nose, with plenty of dried woods coming through and balancing nicely. The palate enjoyed a strong flavour of wood, interacting with sharp cherry, then softening with honey notes that created a very long finish. Utterly superb.

It’s not all been highlights though, with plenty of heartache happening to the family since its inception. Earthquakes, fires, the verge of bankruptcy the Cuban revolution and exile from their home country have dealt major blows to Bacardi, but with the launch of the ‘Untameable Since 1862’ campaign, it shows to highlight that despite the obstacles thrown at them, they have managed to counter this with numerous award-winning expressions, and the belief that rum will carry on its popularity around the world.

China and India are two countries that they will be focusing on in the coming years, which according to Lisa, would attempt to capitalise on the growing trend within the two of acquiring rare expressions of rum alongside the already established whisky market. They may be interested to hear then that come April, four new expressions of the Bacardi range will be available to enjoy within your favourite bar as the likes of Bacardi Gold have upped their abv to 40% compared to 37.5% that you can purchase now, as well as Bacardi Black, the return of Bacardi 1909 and finally the Reserva Limitada.

Bacardi Party
Bacardi Party

With Bacardi throwing out all the stops over the coming years, and with the impressive performance I received in Manchester, I think a new-found love for the brand could be seen to consumers.
Just imagine, a hard, stressful day at work. You overcome your objections, the tasks set to you, and you win with a perfect Daiquiri, or Bacardi served in a cut glass tumbler.

Welcome to the way of the Bacardi family.

Check out the rest of the photos from the event via my Facebook page.

© 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.

Ballantine’s

Ballantines

Over the past two years, I’ve been enjoying two rather nice drams from Ballantine’s. The Christmas reserve blew me away back in 2012, and I hailed it as one of the best drams that I have experienced. One year later, I’ve been sent the latest expression in the Christmas Reserve portfolio, but as I conducted some research, I realised that I’ve never covered the rather iconic brand on my website. So, without delay, lets take a look into what, and indeed who makes Ballantine’s.

George Ballantine was the son of a farmer. Born in 1809 Broughtonknowe in Peebleshire, he moved to Edinburgh when he was 13 and set himself up with an apprenticeship. Over the next 5 years, he learnt the trade and by 1827 at the age of 18 he rented a small grocers in the city. By 1836, he capitalised on his growing success and moved into a bigger premises, specialising in whisky and malts. 1846 saw George utilise what we now take for granted, the option of delivery. George advertised his new idea and took advantage of the trains, offering a unique customer service. 1867 saw George honour his eldest son Archibald by naming his store ‘George Ballantine & Son’ in Edinburgh. George set up a new store in Glasgow in 1865, which he deemed a more profitable location, whilst his son Archibald ran the Edinburgh operations. At this time George Ballantine began creating his own blends.

1858, George could boast 2000 gallons on whisky in his warehouse, but in a measure of his rapid reputation, came to have 20,000 gallons of blended stock in bond by 1883. 1891 saw George hand over his business to his sons, and a year later passed away. 3 years after, Ballantine’s was awarded the Royal Warrant by Queen Victoria.

Business thrived under George’s sons, and the family sold profitably to the firm of Barclay and McKinlay in 1919. Building on the reputation and goodwill of the “Ballantine’s” name, the new owners focused on developing it as a brand for their blended whisky. When increasing resources were needed to compete fully in the growing world market, the internationally experienced Canadian distillers of Hiram Walker Gooderham & Worts acquired Ballantine’s in 1937. Ballantine’s Finest, 17yr and 30yr were released during this time, culminating in Lord Lyon granting the Heralding Arms, the shield of Ballantine’s. 1960 saw the 12yr released which catered for the growing cocktail market, whilst the 21yr came in 1993.

In 2006, Sandy Hyslop was appointed as Ballantine’s Master Blender, only the 5th Master Blender in Ballantine’s 180 year history.

Below, I give to you not only my notes on the Christmas expressions, but the core range available too, as well as my adventure with their incredibly rare 18yr and other limited editions –

Ballantine’s Finest – 40%

Oldest recipe in the current range, created in 1910 and uses more than 40 malts and grains, carefully selected from 4 different iconic Scottish regions.
Soft apricot and peach notes on the nose, with hints of delicate almond and lemon coming through. Soft, with a slight developing citrus sharpness. Ripe soft fruits, green apple and pears with walnut, spice and sweet, thin honey.

Ballantine’s 12yr – 40%

Predominant American as well as European oak casked used to mature, with Glenburgie and Miltonduff malts within.
Subtle smoke on the nose with hints of green apple, coconut and oak. Incredibly soft on the palate, with a slight citrus burst mid-way before long, smoky elements combined with red berries, damp forest and thin treacle.

Ballantine’s 17yr – 43%

Soft smoke on the nose with plenty of aromatic citrus and vanilla. Slight kick to begin, with fresh fruits darting through for a lingering warm finish.

Ballantine’s 21yr – 40%

Rich nut aromas with cinnamon and dry, prickly spice. Plenty of ripe, red fruits with good kicks of damp oak, thin fudge and a long whisper of citrus smoke.

Ballantine’s 30yr – 43%

Plenty of pear notes on the nose with rich, juicy aromas coming through. Hints of honey sweetness too. Incredibly smooth on the palate, with a slight dryness kicking in quickly. Well balanced with citrus and light honey counteracting. Rich red berry fruits come through with slight dashes of vanilla on the long, warm and elegant finish.

Ballantine’s Christmas Reserve 2012 – 40%

Slight spice on the nose with a hint of sweetness and rich fruit blending nicely. Soft on the palate with a slight spice nearing the long finish. Flavours of ginger and caramel swirl nicely with a lingering sweetness.

Ballantine’s Christmas Reserve 2013 – 40%

Fresh raisins on the nose, combined with ripe pear and soft ginger. A small amount of spice on the palate to begin with, although grows into toffee apples, caramel and orange peel. Long, lingering and a little dry on the finish.

Ballantine's 18yr
Ballantine’s 18yr

Ballantine’s 18yr – 43%

Discontinued. Lots of soft raisins on the nose, with sherry aromas coming through. Slight sharpness on the palate, although soon smooths out in a warming honey dram. Lingering lemons and a touch of barley to finish.

Ballantine’s Brasil – 35%

Created for the FIFA World Cup 2014, cask steeped with Brazilian lime peel.
Sweet aromas of lime on the nose, with chocolate hints, alongside honey to finish. Very light on the palate, with citrus, predominantly lime, giving off short, lively kicks. Slightly sweet on the lingering finish.

As mentioned, the 12yr came out during the cocktail boom of the 1960’s, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the Christmas Reserve in this way too! –

Spiced Hot Chocolate

Glass –

Mug

Ingredients –

50ml Ballantine’s Christmas Reserve 2012
3/4 mug of high quality chocolate
Mini marshmallows
Chocolate sauce

Method –

Make hot chocolate to suit personal preference. Gently add Ballantine’s Christmas Reserve. Decorate with a handful of mini marshmallows and finish with rich chocolate sauce.

or

Ballantine's Bitter
Ballantine’s Bitter

Ballantine’s Bitter

Glass – 

Martini

Ingredients – 

50 ml Ballantine’s 12yr
15 ml Sweet Vermouth
Aromatic Bitters

Method – 

Chill a Martini glass. Pour Ballantine’s into a mixing glass over ice. Add one bar spoon of aromatic bitters and sweet vermouth. Stir mixture with a bar spoon for 30 seconds and strain into the glass. Garnish with a cocktail cherry.

One of Europe’s biggest whisky brands can boast a rich legacy, and expressions which I am very much looking forward to experiencing. Respected whisky writer Jim Murray even went as far as announcing that the Ballantine’s 17yr was his Scotch Blend of the Year back in 2010. Who care’s to enjoy a couple of drams with me? Or at least try your hand at the 18yr?

© 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.