Emily Says . . . . ‘MFDF18’

The Gin Lounge

In her tenth feature under ‘Emily Says . . .’, the voice to the Manchester bar scene in Emily Puckering looks at the MFDF’s Gin Lounge;

The Manchester Food and Drink Festival 2018 is currently underway, and as always, it has a fantastic range of new foods and drinks to offer. Created back in 1998 by Phil Jones, the original concept was to demonstrate that Manchester has much more to offer than just, I quote, ‘meat pies and gravy’! Over the last twenty years, MFDF has achieved a national status whilst watching the drinking and dining scene of Manchester be transformed into the incredible industry it is today.

Naturally, my attention was immediately stolen by the drinking side to MFDF this year, in particular the Gin Festival put together by the Gin Lounge. For two days only, The Gin Lounge held an exclusive event showcasing some of the UK’s favourite gins. With the number of gin distilleries soaring across the UK, the choice of what gin to drink is becoming endless, so The Gin Lounge put on display some new faces to the world of gin.
For any gin enthusiast, The Gin Lounge put on a spectacular event. Sponsored by Fentimans, a range of flavoured tonics were on hand at all times to mix and match with the different gins tasted, ranging from a standard Indian tonic to a Valencian Orange tonic. An ice and garnish station provided an array of herbs and fruits that were designed to complement perfectly each unique gin available. Gin cocktail stands and a gourmet food van finished off the event beautifully, offering something for every gin lover.

As a representative of the North and in particular, Manchester, I found myself leaning towards the Manchester-based distilleries that made an appearance at this year’s gin festival. Three major Manchester distilleries really caught my eye during my time here at the gin festival, so here are the ones that I would truly recommend in indulging in:

The Gin Lounge 2

Didsbury Gin
https://www.didsburygin.com/

Created in the heart of Manchester’s Didsbury, Liam Manton and Mark Smallwood went out to create a citrusy twist on the classic London dry gin under just two years ago. Inspiration was taken from the botanical gardens of Parsonage and Fletcher Moss that date all the way back to 1919 since been gifted to the people of Didsbury by a quintessential English village.
Using traditional artisan methods and infusing modern botanicals such as hand-peeled fresh citrus and juniper, Didsbury gin offers a zesty and fresh drinking experience, with strong notes of citrus fruits such as lemon and grapefruit. These citrus notes allow the gin to be easily drank neat, and is mixed beautifully with Fentimans Indian tonic water.
The Raspberry and Elderflower edition of Didsbury gin is something truly outstanding. Rather than a standard raspberry gin (or more commonly known as ‘pink gin’), the elderflower balances out the usual sweetness that is associated with raspberry flavours, delivering a fruity yet crisp gin.

The Gin Lounge 3

Thomas Dakin Gin
http://www.thomasdakin.com/

A Manchester gin that dates back centuries, Thomas Dakin is surely the household name for gins in the North West. All the way back in 1761, Thomas Dakin began distilling gin in Warrington at the age of twenty five. With Dakin’s inventive and modern outlook upon the distillation process, he created a high quality English gin, despite the negative attitudes towards the distillation of one’s own gin at the time.
Styled around the classic London dry gin, Thomas Dakin is a juniper-led gin created with the use of eleven botanicals. Those botanicals include juniper, orange zest, angelica, grapefruit and English coriander seeds. Whilst the recipe itself remains a well-hidden secret, the knowledge of the botanicals used backs up perfectly the drinking experience that Thomas Dakin provides.
Sweet and citrusy notes dominate the overall flavour, which are beautifully backed up by the spicy and earthy notes provided by botanicals such as angelica and coriander. Mixed with Fentimans pink grapefruit tonic water.

The Gin Lounge 4

Manchester Three Rivers Gin
http://www.manchesterthreerivers.com/

Manchester Three Rivers gin is exactly what the name says. It is named after the three rivers that ran through the city before Manchester’s famous canals took over: Irwell, Irk and Medlock. It was these rivers that pumped life into the city and allowed for its many industries to develop and thrive.
The distillery was located close to the banks of Irk, which is what inspired the name for this Manchester gin. The area has a rich history of creativity and production, and Three Rivers has certainly paid homage to the area with their fantastic creation.
Produced by hand in small batches only by master distiller Dave Rigby, Three Rivers is a well-balanced gin using eleven botanicals, including vanilla, cinnamon, cardamom and almond. Overall, the gin delivers a smooth drinking experience with a slight sweetness on the tongue. It is finished with a spicy black pepper kick, all thanks to the use of cardamom. Three Rivers was mixed perfectly with Fentimans Connoisseurs tonic water.
Manchester Three Rivers also offers an exclusive Gin Experience, allowing one to distil and bottle their very own unique gin in the Three Rivers distillery.

Whisk Yourself Away To The Magic Of Speyside Apple Orchards In The Heart Of Manchester

caorunn-gin-simon-buley-gin-master

On September 30th, Caorunn, the handcrafted Scottish gin, is transforming the Oast House, Spinningfields, into a vibrant urban apple orchard which will offer 500 passers-by a free Caorunn G&T for a truly beautiful crisp, fresh taste of the Highlands.

The urban apple orchard will be brimming with trees for one day during the Manchester Food and Drink Festival. The fragrant fruit is one of the five Scottish botanicals, along with dandelion, heather, bog myrtle and rowan berry, that are infused into the handcrafted Scottish gin. Caorunn is uniquely served with thin red apple slices to create a clean, sweet, full-bodied and aromatic taste with a long-lasting dry and crisp finish.

Caorunn has teamed up with City of Trees to create the beautiful orchard. The charity, is an innovative movement, set to re-invigorate Greater Manchester’s landscape by planting three million trees, one for every man, woman and child that lives in the City Region.

Following its time at the Oast House, Spinningfields, the trees are being donated to Snipe Clough, Oldham, where they will be planted to form part of a new community orchard.

Ibolya Bakos-Tonner, brand manager for Caorunn said: “The Oast House, Spinningfields, is the perfect backdrop to home the urban apple orchard. We hope to brighten up the day of some of the city’s workers, with not just an apple, but a taster of our handcrafted gin during the Manchester Food and Drink Festival.”

“The fact that the trees will remain in Greater Manchester following our event means a lot to us to show our support for the growth of green spaces within urban areas.”

Kevin Wigley, City of Trees, comments: “This is a really exciting project for us to work on and is a chance for gin-lovers to get close to nature in an urban environment.

“We hope this pop-up orchard will show people how trees can really make a space and inspire more urban greening to help transform our cities and towns”

The free Caorunn G&T is only available from the Oast House on the 30th September. The activity is only limited to 500 and can only be redeemed after 13:00.

Manchester Whisky Festival 2012 Review

The Palace Hotel in Manchester was the host of the biggest whisky festival outside of London, so big in fact that there had to be two sessions and two floors. The Whisky Lounge were the proud organisers for the 4th year in a row and had on offer the crème de la crème of the whisky world from both Scotland and Ireland, and even threw in Japan, 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 The Magnificent Seven, hosted by Colin Dunn of Diageo, which took you through an in-depth look into their varied portfolio. Joe Clark of The Whisky Lounge also offered his advice for novices of whisky festivals and helped pave the way of how to get the most out of the drams on offer. To cap the morning session off, Ryan Williams of Buffalo Trace was to be on hand to guide enthusiasts through the award-winning distillery and their delights. 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 – including a rum from the guys at Berry Bros and Rudd.

Below, in order I sampled, I give to you my tasting notes on the mornings offerings –

Auchentoshan Valinch – 57.5%

The Classic at cask strength. Floral and very clean on the nose with a sweet maltness and a creamy flavour on the palate. Lingering finish. Smoother with drops of water with a slight power kick at the end.

Suntory Yamazaki 12yr – 43%

Light on the nose with aromas of honey, vanilla and peach. Becomes a little sweeter on the palate with spice lingering and a long finish.

Bowmore Tempest Batch No. 3 –55.6%

Very dry on the nose with a balanced mix of peat and smoke. Still rather dry once it hits the palate, but develops flavours of lemon and salt with a peppery finish.

Hazelburn 12yr – 46%

Bold with lots of dry fruits on the nose with hints of sherry lingering near the end. Rather spicy on the palate with a rich oak flavour and hints of chocolate on the long finish.

Old Pulteney 12yr – 40%

Rather dry on the nose with aromas of fruit and vanilla slowly making an appearance. Again quite dry on the palate, with hints of salt and smoke initially and becomes rather bitter at the end.

Elmer T. Lee – 45%

On the nose, a very light offering of vanilla and butterscotch creates a smooth, soft and slightly sweet aroma. A sweeter taste of honey and vanilla with some intense fruits on the palate creates a rather creamier bourbon to almost class it as a dessert wine.

Hancock’s President Reserve 44.45%

Instant sweetness on the nose with aromas of exotic fruits that carries onto the palate. A round offering of fruit, spice and honey combine well to create a long finish.

Rock Hill Farms Single Barrel 50%

Lots of oak and dry spices on the nose with a good balance of toffee, chocolate, vanilla and toffee on the palate. Incredibly long.

English Whisky Company Chapter 6 Un-peated – 46%

Sweet but soft on the nose with aromas of vanilla. Very sweet as it hits the palate with lots of malt and spice bursting well. Mellows as it nears the end with a slight dryness.

Singleton 12yr – 40%

Very rich fruit and nut aromas blend well when it hits the nose, with an initial sweetness onto the palate. Rather smooth afterwards however with a slight coffee flavour.

Dalwhinnie 15yr – 43%

Deep soft honey nose countered by a sharp citrus end on the nose. Quite sweet on the palate but does soften with vanilla.

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.

Aberlour a’Bunadh Batch 41 – 59%

Lots of spice and rich orange combine well on the nose and continue on to the palate with ginger and chocolate flavours coming through. A bitter oak and sherry end.

Scapa 16yr – 40%

On the nose there’s lots of sweet honey aromas which move onto the palate and combine with ginger to create a rich and long-lasting finish.

Berry’s XO Caribbean Rum – 46%

Banana, caramel and liquorice dominate the nose with a potent richness. Green fruits offer an intense sweetness on the palate but becomes rather dry at the end.

Compass Box Flaming Heart  – 48.9%

A bold nose of smoke and peat but mellows quickly. A good combination of citrus and vanilla on the palate with a dry spice and smoke ending.

Compass Box The Entertainer –

Light on the nose with peat aromas noticeable and a whisp of soft corn. Rather sharp on the palate however with a slight kick of spice with makes your mouth water every time.

Glenmorangie Original – 40%

Instant citrus on the nose but is soon followed by vanilla. Vanilla is also present on the palate before bursting with fruit near the end, noticeable orange.

Greenore 8yr – 40%

The nose enjoys delicate citrus notes with a slight mix of corn. As it hits the tongue, it gives a short, sharp hit but mellows quickly into a more distinctive citrus taste with a hint of barley coming through.

The Balvenie Caribbean Cask – 43%

Lots of vanilla notes on the nose, with rich toffee and fruit combining well on the palate. Hints of dried spice and tropical fruit help to round the long finish off.

W. L. Weller 12yr – 45%

Soft on the nose with hints of vanilla. A very soft, creamy flavour of wheat on the palate gives this a long, grainy finish that has hints of sweetness.

Arran 10yr – 46%

Instant vanilla to begin with, but tropical fruits follow. A spice start with citrus and oak counterbalancing nicely. Long and mellow ending.

Arran Gold Cream Liqueur – 17%

Soft toffee notes on the nose mix with a slight aroma of fruit. Lots of vanilla on the palate creates a sweet offering, with chocolate dominating near the end.

Glenfiddich Rich Oak – 40%

Soft fruit notes on the nose with slight oak whispers. Rather soft and short on the palate, but a fruity offering with rich vanilla thrown in.

Glenfiddich Age of Discovery 19yo Madeira Cask Finish – 40%

Deep orange notes on the nose with some hints of grape slowly released. Spice immediately hits the palate, but mellows to a smooth offering of caramel and ginger.

Glenfiddich 21yr – 40%

Strong and intense banana and toffee aroma with hints of leather and a rich sweet follow-through on the nose. Smooth with a slight smokiness and ginger and lime extracts on the palate with a long warm after-taste with subtle spice hints.

Glenfiddich 15yr Non-chill Filtered – 51%

Ripe, fresh fruit on the nose with an aroma of pepper at the end. Rather dry on the palate with spice, rich fruit flavours creating a long finish.

As you can see, a rather diverse collection was available, as well as varieties that are already gracing the site including Ardbeg, Connemara and anCnoc. With a total of four hours per session, there’s more than enough to keep you busy, and the guys and girls behind the brands are more than willing to tell you everything you need to know.

I know for a fact I’ll be attending next years festival as it’s the perfect chance to try some whiskies that you may never be able to afford in a bar or restaurant, plus a great opportunity to sample some you may never thought you would like.

© 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.

Elbow’s ‘build a rocket boys!’ Tasting Notes

Last month, the Manchester band Elbow launched a brand new ale, ‘build a rocket boys!’. Working with Stockport based Robinson’s Brewery and named after their recent album, the band created a media buzz at the recent Manchester Food and Drink Festival as they themselves pulled the first few pints in the Robinson’s beer tent. I myself have been enjoying Elbow’s new ale in the various Kro bars dotted around Manchester, but I wanted to wait until the bottle version arrived on my doorstep until I reviewed this golden bitter.

‘build a rocket boys!’  has been created to Elbow’s own specifications. The band enjoyed a series of beer tastings at the brewery where they sampled a range of Robinsons’ ales to shortlist their preferred style of beer, taste and colour. Elbow’s finished product was decided on a golden ale with a rich rounded body, smooth bitterness, with a subtle tang of malt and fruity aroma. It created a golden premium session bitter with a strength of 4.0% ABV.  The nose enjoys a slight bitterness with fresh hops mellowing their way down your sinuses. The palate gets a slow burst of sweet fruit with only a hint of bitterness on the tongue. A fresh, slight citrus note, lasts long on the after-taste with malt flavour staying on your lips. A lack of dryness means you can enjoy two or three of these during a night, and it’s not too heavy to stomach.

Robinson’s recently sent out a press release stating that “Robinsons report brisk trade of the beer with several supermarkets across the North West ordering extra stock of ‘build a rocket boys’, to keep up with demand. Elbow and Robinsons officially launched the beer at the recent Manchester Food and Drink Festival and the ale has gone on to be a big hit with music and beer fans alike. Two of Manchester’s most iconic drinking establishments, Kro Bar and The Castle, have already requested a second helping of the beer after pumps quickly ran dry.”

And to be fair, I can see why. I’ve met numerous people, both ale and non ale drinkers, who have enjoyed the new sensation, and with it rolling out into supermarkets, it can only get bigger.

Robinsons Brewery will also donate a significant percentage of all profits raised by the sale of ‘build a rocket boys!’ beer to Oxfam’s Famine Appeal.

This is an ale you really need to try.

To purchase ‘build a rocket boys!’, click here

© 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 Liquorist Trails Review

During the Manchester Food and Drink Festival last month, a Manchester based company named The Liquorists held 3 different trails around the many bars and restaurants Manchester has to offer. The Liquorists themselves are Jody Monteith and Tom Sneesby, 2 guys who know everything and anything about drinking in Manchester, so ideally the perfect hosts for 2 nights of exploring!

Due to commitments for the London Cocktail Week, I missed out on their ‘Trail of the Flowing Bowl’ which involved some of the city’s best rum bars. Never one to become distraught over missed opportunities, I signed myself up for their ‘Nominees Trail’ on the Saturday. This trail involved visiting a selection of bars and restaurants who were nominated in the festivals awards including best bar, best restaurant and best newcomer.

White Lady - Grill on New York

After gathering in the festival’s hub in Albert Square, Tom lead us to our first stop of the night, Vertigo. The site of the ex. Japanese restaurant Ithaca, it nows houses a modern European menu created by Head Chef Ian Armstrong. Making our way up the stairs to the top floor (the restaurants split over 5 levels), we all gathered round the rooms center bar, where Tom gave us an introduction to what the night had to offer, a little about the company he works for and the drink he was creating in front of us, a Jameson’s whiskey sour. Now I have to admit, I didn’t finish mine. I’m not a fan of whiskey sours but there were plenty of offers in the group to finish it off! We also enjoyed a small beetroot risotto with a herb sour cream to accompany.
After making our way down the flight of stairs, we walked over to Australasia in Spinningfields. Located underground, the entrance looks almost like a shard of glass sticking out of the paving stones. Walking down the flight of stairs, a long, sand coloured room is ahead of you where the seating of the restaurant is, with the bar behind. Here we enjoyed a Grey Goose mix in an Australasian Iced Tea or Fonzerelli’s Punch. Whilst sipping a two rather delightful cocktails, platters of Sushi were brought out (my heart sinking as I’m not the best when it comes to chopsticks!). Rather cunningly, I used the safe bet and re-named the platter ‘finger-food’!

Australasia Pornstar - Australasia

The Alchemist was next on the trail, located just round the corner from Australasia (check out my review on The Alchemist here). The new Bacardi Oakheart was on the agenda, with Oakheart Mojito’s being crafted for us while we enjoyed crispy King Prawns on skewers.  After taking in the wonderous setting, we hopped into a taxi and travelled to The Lowry. Their first floor bar was host to Galliano Ristretto Coffee shots that were handed out to be sipped and savoured, followed by a new creation named the Black Forest Gateaux cocktail. We enjoyed the ‘dessert’ part of the night on the balcony overlooking the River Irwell, while waiting for us inside were chocolate fondant’s with salted caramel, and I can safely say they were being made short work of!
The last bar of the night was a short taxi trip to Blackdog Ballroom in the Northern Quarter. Brugal Golden Mojito’s were created for our arrival as we made our way past the bar to the pool tables. A very sweet Mojito cheesecake finished the offerings off well, with a few games of pool to round off a great evening.

Smokey Old Fashioned - The Alchemist

The next night, The Spirited Ventures trail took place (the theme of the night was that all the restaurants we will be visiting are owned by Living Ventures). Once again, we met in Albert Square and Tom hailed a taxi for us to travel to our first port of call – Grill on New York. A smaller group than the previous night, we were able to sit round one of the restaurants circular tables, and enjoyed the cocktail White Lady. The drink called for the use of  Oxley gin, Cointreau and lemon juice to create a great appetizer! Duck spring rolls were brought out for us to compliment while we introduced ourselves to each other and Tom talked a little about The Liquorists and Living Ventures.
Grill on the Alley was next up, just a short taxi ride away off Deansgate. Sitting next to the bar on high tables and boothed-like seating, we were served a PPP Caiproska (pepper, Pernod and passion fruit) and Thai fish cakes, both being given thumbs up by the group! Live music entertained us from a far, with the restaurant bustling both upstairs and down. A short walk to Australasia (see above for last nights visit) culminated in an Australasia Pornstar with the use of Grey Goose vodka and a range of Sushi to tickle the taste buds. 

PPP Caiproska – Grill on the Alley

Unfortunately, Living Ventures new restaurant, The OastHouse was not completed by the time the Manchester Food and Drink Festival rolled around, so we made our way round the corner to The Alchemist for two different offerings in the same bar. Hot Cognac laced mulled wine was a great winter warmer on a chilly night, with chicken skewers being brought out as we sat on the Union Jack leather couches at the end of the bar. Now me being me, i talked about one of The Alchemist most popular drinks, the Smokey Old Fashioned, pretty much all night. Low and behold, a tray of Makers Mark Smokey Old Fashioned’s were place on our table! Fantastic! A round of applause was given to our host as he had to scoot off to help de-construct their tent at the festival hub, while we finished the night sipping and enjoying our Old Fashioned’s, Cognac muld wine and some tasty looking mini burgers.

Two very good nights were enjoyed by all, with Tom showcasing the best that Manchester has to offer in a relaxed, yet almost without knowing it, busy night. Hard to believe by the end of one night, you’ve enjoyed 5 bars, 5 fantastic cocktails and 5 different light-bites.

The Liquorists are hosting a Vodka Trail next, and you can bet you’ll see me on that one!

Check out The Liquorists website here or here

© 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.

Manchester Food & Drink Festival

Friday the 7th was the start of the annual Manchester Food & Drink Festival which was centred around the town halls Albert Square as well as a variety of bars and restaurants in the city centre. To start the festival off, the Greater Manchester Real Ale and Veltins Oktoberfest had their tents ready to promote a good range of local and international ales, cider and even a hog roast on a rainy morning! So with all this in mind, myself and a friend of mine made our way there to experience the best the North West has to offer!

First up for me was the Stockport based Robinsons and their Double Hop (5%) which was rich, with a good balance of hops bitterness and flavour. A citric yet malty finish lingered around with a slight dryness. This was a great starter ale and an easy drinker!
My friend enjoyed a Ginger and Cinnamon Warm Cider which went down very well. Not too sure what the recipe was but I imagine it was the simplicity of mixing ginger, cinnamon and apple cider together! Crazy I know but it works well on a rainy Friday!

Next up for me was Prospect Breweries ‘Nutty Slack’ (3.9%). A dark and very malty mild ale that had subtle hints of liquorice. A slight bitterness ended this rather smooth brew. Robinson’s Ginger Ale was the next port of call for my friend after I’ve raved about it ever since I first tried it! You can check out the tasting notes for the ginger variety here – https://drinksenthusiast.wordpress.com/2011/08/18/old-tom-range-of-strong-ales-tasting-notes/

Whilst she was finishing off the ginger ale, I tried Chorlton’s Marble Brewery ‘Manchester Bitter’ (4.2%). A very light ale with fruity aromas with a slight sweetness on the palate. Great for my sweet-tooth!

We decided to have a walk around what else the festival had to offer and made our way to the main marquee called the ‘Gastro Room’ which held the Chilli Lovers fair. Local producers mixed with Manchester restaurants to showcase exciting dishes as well as samples of various chilli sauces. Unfortunately I’m not a fan of chilli so I’m unable to tell you how this part of the day went, but I can tell you that Kro bar (a Danish venture based in Manchester) had themselves a stall and were creating cocktails involving chilli! Ever one to try something new, we both bought two chilli based drinks – La Vida Loca and Absolut Redhead.

La Vida Loca

The La Vida Loca had pineapple juice shaken with Sailor Jerry and chopped chillies whilst the Absolut Redhead had Absolut Pepper, freshly squeezed lime topped with lemonade and grenadine. Both two very fiery cocktails, especially the Absolut Redhead with its good dose of pepper vodka!

Absolut Redhead

With fire in our mouths we wandered down to St Anne’s Square where there were pop-up stalls selling everything from pastries, fudge, curry and chocolate. One stall that caught my eye was hosted by the Snowdonia Cheese Company, with a rather interesting product named Amber Mist. Why was it interesting? Its whisky cheese! I’m yet to fully try this, but expect a review as soon as I do!

This capped off a great day at the festival, with thumbs up from both myself and my friend!

I’ll be writing up reviews on two trails organised by The Liquorists that were conducted as part of the Food and Drink Festival so stay tuned!
Check out the following sites for more information on the brands mentioned –

Manchester Food & Drink Festival – http://foodanddrinkfestival.com/

Robinson’s Brewery – http://www.frederic-robinson.co.uk/

Prospect Brewery – http://prospectbrewery.org.uk/

Marble Brewery – http://www.marblebeers.co.uk/

Kro Bar – http://www.kro.co.uk/

Snowdonia Cheese Company – http://www.snowdoniacheese.co.uk/

The Liquorists – http://www.wearetheliquorists.com/

 

© 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/or 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.