A Night Of Living Ventures In The Suburbs

Hale Bar and Grill

Guest writer Keeley Watts experienced once of my spirit evenings a few weeks back. Take a look at what she thought of the expressions I had on offer;

Most drink related events in the North West tend to take place in Manchester City Centre. This is great for me as I live there so can just wander out but I know friends who live in the suburbs really struggle to get to some of them. Quick to recognise this was The Drinks Enthusiast who joined forces with Hale Grill for a spirit tasting with a difference.

We started with a chat about what spirits we liked and disliked. Lucky for me I had tried all the spirits Dave brought to the tasting but it was lovely to listen to others in the group who had never been to an event like this.

Dave started with Grey Goose vodka and the fascinating story of Sidney Frank. Frank was responsible for the promotion and development of Jagermeister in the States which, was huge, and decided he wanted to hit the market currently enjoying Absolut vodka. He was originally beaten by Belvedere being recognised as a premium brand. Not deterred he upped his game and decided to search for a brand in France rather than the more traditional vodka producing countries of Russia and Poland. He found an excellent base in winter wheat which gives the vodka a smooth and light taste ideal for sipping.
The product has ‘slow legs’ in the glass showing no sugar has been added. On the nose are notes of butter and almond with this buttery taste coming through on the palate. It is sweet and smooth; so unlike any other vodka I have tried.

Up next was a personal favourite of mine, Portobello Road gin. Now I like gin, this isn’t a secret. But then it comes to a sipping gin I prefer something smooth and slightly sweet with no spikiness. That is exactly what you get from Portobello Road which was brought to us by Jake Burger, Gerard Feltham and Paul Andrew Lane. Juniper is quite heavy on the nose as is lemon anise and liquorice. The liquorice is prominent on the palate too which is likely to be thanks to the cassia bark, coriander and nutmeg used in the distilling process.

A whiskey followed with Monkey Shoulder. I’m not a fan, the flavours just don’t work for me but if you are thinking of trying whiskey for the first time, this is definitely one to start with. It is a blend of whiskeys from Speyside and other none whiskey drinkers in the room described it as incredibly drinkable. Dave had a few converts on the night!

Last but most definitely not least was Old J spiced rum. Formulated by Tom Hurst in 2009 who tried 60 varieties to find the perfect blend, this rum is delicious. Butterscotch and slight honey aromas on the nose yet toffee, vanilla and lime are prevalent on the palate with a gentle spice kick.

Hale Grill has launched their new summer cocktail and invited us to try one of two cocktails featured. I chose the honeyed rum daiquiri which blends honey, lime and Old J spiced rum. A classic this is slightly sweet with the lovely toffee flavours coming through from the rum. I also got to try the apple, mint and raspberry cosmopolitan as other guests ordered this on the evening. Stoli raspberry, Cointreau, mint and apple juice gives a fresh twist to the classic cosmopolitan whilst the mint provides a lovely freshness.

A thoroughly enjoyable evening and a feast for the senses, it was really interesting to hear what beginners thought of the spirits neat. All are readily available at your favourite bar in the City but this just goes to show that you don’t need to venture too far to get your fix.

A Guest Look Into Bacardi – Untameable Since 1862

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Bacardi’s recent launch of its new campaign has bought a wave of interest from both sides of the bar. For guest columnist Keeley Watts, a history lesson and a new love were the order of the day when the brand rolled into Manchester.

When asked what the most recognised rum brand in the world is, most people would be hard pushed not to think of Bacardi straight away. Love it or hate it the brand has been around for 150 years with the bat symbol instantly recognisable to most.

The Bacardi history is a colourful one with the brand still being family owned. To say they have been through a rough 150 years is an understatement. Their first distillery opened in Santiago de Cuba where they spent 10 years learning how to make rum. The discovery of fruit bats in their distillery could have been an issue but, instead, they embraced this using the symbol on their product forming their brand. As the brand grew in popularity the family opened their first distillery outside of Cuba deciding on Mexico as a new base. This was followed by their Puerto Rican distillery due to the climate being similar in the 3 countries.

Throughout their history the Bacardi family have faced some challenging times including the Cuban revolution, a devastating fire, an even more devastating earthquake not to mention prohibition. It would have been easy for the Bacardi family to decide fate wasn’t in their favour and to walk away from rum production. What actually happened is the opposite; they continued to pursue their passion, live large and not only survive but thrive against all odds.

Using this ‘survive and thrive’ attitude Bacardi bring you the launch of their untameable campaign. A £10 million investment launching this month across Glasgow, London and Manchester which started with the party to end all parties at the Albert Hall earlier this month. Industry professionals were treated to a sneak peek at the new brand, the untameable advert which is now a regular on your tv screens and the most motivational talk ever from Britain’s first triple amputee from the Afghanistan conflict. Mark echoes the untameable attitude having been told he would need a carer for life as well as never being able to walk again. He now travels the world spreading messages of positivity whilst being able to drive a regular car with no adaptations whatsoever. He’s also a business owner, an author as well as being a charity fundraiser doing some physical challenges most able bodied people wouldn’t consider yet alone be able to do. Someone you could call a true hero and someone who refused to give up the fight despite devastating circumstances.

Following the talk from Mark guests got to try the 150th anniversary blend of Bacardi which sells for £1200 trade price. The wonderfully sweet and aromatic vanilla flavours are rounded well with lots of oak to create a truly premium sipping rum. Other rums in the range include Bacardi Black, Ron Superior and their Reserva Limitada 16 year old bottle. To showcase the range guests were ushered out of the auditorium by prohibition era police officers, through an airport style check in desk into a bar where snacks were served alongside some beautiful cocktails including daiquiris and the more traditional serve cuba libres.

Prior to this tour of the Bacardi history I would have told you I wasn’t a fan of the ‘mass market’ brand. Learning the brand is still family owned and clearly passionate about their product, I’ll be at the bar lusting after their anniversary blend.