Haig Club

Haig
Haig Club was released with much fanfare after the collaboration with footballer David Beckham and British entrepreneur Simon Fuller, with many taking it as a swipe to ‘outsiders’ who attach their name to a brand to make quick cash, whilst others looked at it as a great opportunity to shed light on a brand and category that has some elements that need a 21st Century update to its customer audience.

It’s with this that I take a closer look and see if the hype is worth its name.

The House of Haig itself is built on nearly 400 years of distilling heritage and can trace its whisky producing roots back to the seventeenth century in Scotland. In 1824, John Haig established Scotland’s oldest grain distillery, Cameronbridge, and is said to have perfected the art of producing Grain Whisky in continuous Coffey and Stein stills.

Haig Whisky quickly rose to become one of the most successful and popular Scotch whiskies in the world before falling into decline some 30 years ago as it left the Haig family ownership and was passed through a series of multinational drinks companies. In 2014, Diageo launched a new Haig whisky to add to the existing old guard whisky stable of Haig Gold Label, Haig Dimple and Haig Pinch blended scotch whiskies; Haig Club, an expression utilising a unique process that combines grain whisky from three different cask types.

But how does it fare? Well below, I give to you my tasting notes –

Haig Club – 40%

Light butterscotch and fudge on the nose, with a slight hint of tropical flesh fruits coming through. Subtle notes of vanilla, butter and toasted oak on the palate, with a hint of coconut and tropical fruit provide a long, slightly dry finish.

A great flavour profile to enjoy on its own, or indeed within its signature serve;

Haig CLub - New Old FashionedNew Old-Fashioned

Glass – 

Rocks

Ingredients – 

60 ml Haig Club
10 ml Sweet Vermouth
2 dashes orange bitters

Method – 

Build by adding cubed or hand cracked ice in an Old Fashioned glass or tumbler. Add Haig Club and pour in 10 ml of sweet Vermouth. Drop in 2 dashes of orange bitters and garnish with a lemon twist and cherry and serve with a glass stirrer for the drinker to dilute.

The inspiration for the name Haig Club can be found in archive materials dating back to the 1920’s, in which Haig Whisky was advertised as “The Clubman’s Whisky”. Last year also saw the release of the Haig Club Clubman, the different in it being matured exclusively in American ex-bourbon casks. Either one a good call for your drinks cabinet, and its versatility means you can create a decent drink, whether cocktail or mixer. To be fair, I’d enjoy it on its own, it works!

© David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast 2017. 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.

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Skin

Skin
German gins are seen as some of the best around, with Monkey 47 leading the way in how we can approach the category. With this, Skin gin has made a splash here in the UK since its launch by Martin Birk Jensen in March 2015, and its striking packaging and different ‘skins’ that can be produced have caused many a stir in the right direction. But what about the liquid itself?

Produced in the ‘Altes Land’ (which translates as ‘Old Country’), just outside the German city of Hamburg, seven botanicals are chosen to enhance Skin gin; unique Moroccan Mint, citrus peels of orange, pink grapefruit, lime and lemon, juniper and Vietnamese coriander. Each botanical is individually distilled on a wheat based neutral spirit in a ‘Anisateur’ within an old copper still, in order to obtain close to 100% of the essential oils they contain. The essences are then blended by hand and bottled.

So how does it fare? Well, below I give to you my tasting notes –

Skin – 42%

Bold, fresh mint bursts through, followed by the pink grapefruit and the wax of lemons on the nose. Incredibly soft on the palate, with a slight menthol note flowing gently. Lime, the subtle hint of coriander, and the orange peels blend well for a long, fresh finish.

An incredibly fresh gin to enjoy, and one that would stand up well within a classic gin and tonic;

Skin Gin and tonicSkin Gin and Tonic

Glass – 

Wine / Goblet

Ingredients – 

40 ml Skin Gin
1 bottle Thomas Henry Tonic Water

Method – 

Stir over ice and garnish with orange peel.

A great gin to enjoy over summer, and with the different skins available, as well as their navy strength option, it’s a fantastic addition to any drinks cabinet.

© David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast 2017. 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.

 

Jägermeister

Jägermeister
I think it’s safe to say, Jägermeister has become Germany’s most famous drinks export. But other than its consumption within energy drinks, I’ve been looking forward to actually understand Jagermeister, and how it became one of the biggest brand calls the bar scene has ever seen.

So, here goes.

Jägermeister can trace its way back to 1878 and a gentleman named Wilhelm Mast, who founded a wine-vinegar business in his home town of Wolfenbüttel, Lower Saxony. The business is successful, and his son Curt Mast, comes on board, yet decides to turn the company into a different direction.

Curt showed great talent in the preparation and mixture of herbs, and in 1934, after many years of experiments, he developed a recipe that would become the profile we see of Jägermeister. Curt Mast dedicated his new recipe to all hunters and their honourable traditions. A toast of which every hunt would begin and end due to the spirits combination of only natural ingredients and pure alcohol. It’s with this that the stag would be become the figurehead to Jägermeister. However, it’s not just any stag to emblazon each bottle, but it’s said to be the stag that appeared to a wild hunter and converted him to Christianity. The same hunter who later became the patron saint of all hunters: Saint Hubertus.

The bottle itself is durable, with Curt tried and testing a variety from great heights to make sure the bottle was reliable in transporting his recipe across Germany. He also instructed that the doors to the “Kräuterkellerei”, where Jägermeister is produced, are only open to the 56 secret exotic herbs, blossoms, roots, and fruits, delivered here in sacks from across the world.

After selecting raw materials that are of high-quality for Jägermeister, their master distillers then carefully weigh them as specified in the original traditional recipe. They will then prepare several different dry mixtures of herbs. These are then gently extracted by cold maceration in a process that can take several weeks. Once complete, the master distiller will blend the macerates together and transfer them to one of 445 oak barrels within the cellar at Kräuterkellerei, themselves hewn from wood grown in the local forests of the ‘Pfalzerwald’.

But how does it fare? Well below, I give to you my tasting notes –

Jägermeister – 35%

Fresh orange peel and cinnamon come through on the nose, with a bold richness of allspice and cardamom present. Light, fresh notes of anise present on the palate first, with the rich, bold notes of burnt sugar, toffee, roasted coffee and tobacco leaf coming together. A lingering finish of sweet oak, raisin and orange peel.

Jägermeister Manifest – 38%

Pipped as the ‘world’s first’ super-premium herbal liqueur, Manifest is based on the brand’s original recipe of 56 herbs, roots and spices, but contains additional botanicals and is made using five macerates rather than four, whilst also being double-barrelled matured in both small and large oak casks for more than one year to intensify the flavour.
Light honey notes upon the nose, with a subtle sweet caramel profile sneaking through. A thin texture on the palate that warms up to an anise led profile of honey, raisin, cinnamon stick, clove and ginger. A lingering lick of spice on the finish.

Two fantastic herbal liqueurs, and would be enjoyed chilled or over ice for many years to come. However, this did catch my eye;

Jagermeister - Root 56
Root 56

Glass – 

Highball

Ingredients –

50 ml Jägermeister,
Top with Ginger Beer
Squeeze of fresh lime
Garnish with a slice of cucumber

An underrated brand to those who choose to shot, but take the time to experience it and it may surprise you. Make sure you have a bottle of either in your drinks cabinet, and grab some ginger beer too.

© David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast 2017. 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.

 

 

 

Italicus Rosolio di Bergamotto

Italicus

Italian drinks are a big focus for me at the moment, with the opening of my ‘The Bassano Bar @ PizzaExpress‘ in Manchester a great example of utilising a variety of Italian styles. The rosolio aperitivo category escapes me though, until the arrival of Italicus Rosolio di Bergamotto!

I’d imagine the rosolio category isn’t one that strikes too many bells to many, so a little rundown before heading to Italicus.

Rosolio is an ancient type of Italian liqueur, deriving its name from ‘Drosera rotundifolia’, itself a species of sundew. It used to be flavoured exclusive with the herb, but now it’s known for more homemade low alcohol content spirits. The liqueur is common in Piedmont and in Southern Italy. It enjoys a special popularity in Sicily, where it has been prepared since the sixteenth century and was given to house guests as a sign of good luck.
Local ingredients are typically used depending on the region (for example Sicily with Cedro citrus fruit and fennel) and aromatized with herbs and spices.

Giuseppe Gallo has brought the category from the 1850’s of Rosolio back to the new-age with the launch of Italicus back in September 2016. Using peels from bergamots grown from Italy’s UNESCO-protected area Calabrian region and Cidros from Sicily, they are infused into cold water to release the essential oils (a process named sfumatura) prior to being blended with Italian neutral grain spirit, all within a family-owned distillery in Moncalieri, Torino.

The resulting bergamot and cedro flavoured spirit is then blended for several days with a separate maturation that contains Roman chamomile from Lazio, lavender, gentian, yellow roses and lemon balm from Northern Italy.

But how does it fare? Well below, I give to you my tasting notes –

Italicus Rosolio di Bergamotto – 20%

Very fresh lemon balm, bergamot, citrus peel and gentian coming through on the nose, followed by a naturally sweet chamomile flavour upon the palate. Notes of subtle lavender, honey, rose petal and lemon balm ride a lingering fresh finish.

italicus
A fantastic liquid on its own, but one recommended to be enjoyed in the following way;

“50/50 with Prosecco, over ice and garnished with three green olives”

Better get a bottle for the drinks cabinet, there are friends and family to impress.

© David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast 2017. 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.

 

Ron de Jeremy

Ron de Jeremy
Most spirit brands in the world will have some association with a celebrity, entrepreneur, fellow brand within a different sector, or in this case, a porn star. Define Ron Jeremy as an actor and all of a sudden the taboo goes away. After all, George Clooney and Dan Ackroyd are two who stand out as a perfect example of crafting a spirit and promoting it as such.

I’m not going to focus on the man himself though for this feature, as it’s the rum that hits the table in the form of its XO and Spiced expressions.

The XO is said to celebrate the extraordinary life of Ron Jeremy, seeing a blend of selected pot and column still based rums from Barbados, Trinidad and Guyana, aged for up to 15 years within ex-American oak bourbon barrels. It’s spiced expression uses rums from Trinidad and blended with exotic spices.

But how do they fare? Well below, I give to you my tasting notes –

Ron de Jeremy XO – 40%

Honey, toasted maple syrup and walnut come through upon the nose. Smooth offerings of sweet honeycomb, toffee and slight burnt cinnamon on the palate, leading to a lingering thick vanilla finish.

Ron de Jeremy Spiced Hardcore Edition – 47%

Rich nutmeg, toffee and fudge aromas on the nose, followed by toasted marshmellow. Soft, sweet caramel on the palate, with slight orange rind and warm cinnamon powder, resulting in a long lingering finish.

Good sipping rums, and a cracking base for something like this;

Ron de Jeremy
Cherry J Sour

Glass – 

Rocks

Ingredients – 

50 ml Ron de Jeremy Reserva
20 ml Fresh Lemon Juice
20 ml Cherry Marnier
10 ml Creme de Cacao Dark
1 Barspoon Galliano
5 Drops Plum Bitters
20 ml Egg White

Method – 

Shake all ingredients over ice and double strain over ice filled rocks glass. Top with grated chocolate.

A great talking point for your drinks cabinet, and the spirits stand up, so it’s not just the expected gimmick!

© David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast 2017. 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.

Zeca

Zeca

Cachaça is a criminally underrated Brazilian spirit, with most bars and restaurants stocking it out of curiosity, rather than intent. The cachaça based Caipirinha is probably the most well-known signature serve from the category, with many venues pushing flavoured variations to their customers as if the fruit were the last available.

But what about just taking a seat and enjoying the spirit for what it is? Capturing a country within its reasoning, much the same way we look at whisky from Scotland, tequila from Mexico or Armagnac from France.

With this mindset, lets take a look at Zeca, new to the UK market and recently launched into the likes of Selfridges and Harvey Nichols.

Hailing from the apparent lush green mountains of Brazil’s hidden Zona Da Mata, in Minas Gerais, Zeca has been hand-crafted by the Matos family estate for over 100 years, using only traditional methods. Utilising once-pressed sugar cane grown at high altitude, the juice is distilled in old alambiques and resulting in Zeca, itself paying homage to Joseph “Zeca” de Matos, the first of the family to be born in Brazil and son of the pioneer Antonio de Matos, who moved from Portugal in 1891 to settle in the untamed region of Minas Gerais.

Created by Marcos Matos and Tony Austin, the focus is not solely on the liquid itself, but also the aesthetics of the brand, including the bottle illustration that brings to life the diversity and beautiful abundance of the Minas Gerais gem stones producing region of Zona da Mata. The blue colour apparently stands for the gem amethyst, whilst the purple celebrates the oxidised colour of the alambique copper, the most traditional cachaça distilling apparatus that they utilise.
The Tamanduá anteater is the brand’s most lively character, a natural pest control who roams the sugar cane fields at night eating the ants.

So how does it fare? Well below, I give to you my tasting notes –

Zeca – 40%

Passionfruit and dried banana peel come through on the nose, with hints of fresh sugarcane present. Damp earth blended with rich sugarcane and flesh fruit on the palate, bringing in a slight zest spice. A long finish.

A real kick of artisan Brazil, perfect to be sipped. Although they do recommend it, if you wish to have a longer serve, with fresh ginger beer or homemade lemonade. One to add to your drinks cabinet if you wish to pack a Brazilian offering to your friends and family.

© David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast 2017. 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.

Boodles

Boodles Mulberry

Standing out in the ever-growing gin world can be hard work. Staying in can be an even harder task as the consumer trends can waiver at the drop of a hat. It’s with this that I take a look at a gin that I’ve worked with on the odd occasion over the last few years, but never really sat down to take an in-depth look.

So, here goes.

Despite only hitting the shelves since June 2013, Boodles Gin is associated with the likes of Ian Fleming and Winston Churchill due to its history stretching back to 1845. Named after the Pall Mall Gentleman’s Club called Boodles, over time it became increasingly hard to find here in the UK. Resurrected by G&J Distillers, it continues to be different in not including any citrus botanicals on the assumption that it will always be served with lemon or lime.

The gin itself? British wheat spirit base with non-citrus led botanicals including nutmeg, sage and rosemary. But it’s not the original I want to focus on today, it’s their Mulberry expression.
Paying homage to the mulberry tree, a familiar site in the English countryside, they’ve taken the opportunity to feed a fresh interpretation of the more traditional sloe gin. Made with mulberries, the Boodles gin itself and a blend of natural ingredients, Boodles Mulberry became the first ever Mulberry expression to hit America.

But how does it fare? Well below, I give to you my tasting notes –

Boodles Mulberry – 30%

Thin notes of fresh raspberry and soft currents upon the nose, with a silky texture offering upon the palate. Slightly dry, the fresh kicks of soft berry create a sweet, warm finish that lasts long on the finish.

A tasty tipple on its own, a fizz concoction should not go unnoticed;

Boodles - Mulberry Fizz
Mulberry Fizz

Glass – 

Coupe / Collins

Ingredients – 

60 ml Boodles Mulberry
30 ml Lemon Juice
2 Mint Leaves
Soda Water

Method – 

Combine Mulberry gin, lemon juice and mint in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a Collins glass over fresh ice and top with soda water.

A great variation on the berry styled gin liqueurs on the market, and one that seems to offer flexibility in how it can be consumed! One to offer a space to in your drinks cabinet. 

© David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast 2017. 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.

 

A Romantic Cocktail To Warm Up Valentine’s Day

feeneys-irish-coffee
After a romantic meal with your loved one, why not end the evening sipping a delicious Feeney’s Irish Coffee in front of a roaring fire.

Feeney’s Irish Coffee is easy to make too. Heat gently 100 ml Feeney’s Irish Cream Liqueur with 1 cup of freshly brewed coffee and serve in a toddy glass topped with 1 teaspoon of whipped cream and grated chocolate.

Feeney’s Irish Cream is marketed as the world’s most luxurious Irish Cream Liqueur and contains 100% Irish whiskey. Feeney’s is masterfully distilled in the heart of Ireland and matured for at least three years and is available from:

Tesco’s which stocks 1 litre bottles RRP: £15.00 and 31Dover.com which stocks 70cl bottles RRP: £12.50 and 1 litre RRP: £15.00 and Amazon. ABV: 17%

Glen Grant Whisky Toasts Burns Night With A Haggis Cocktail

the-chieftain-3
For Burns Night, multi award-winning Scotch Whisky, Glen Grant, has partnered with The Bon Vivant bar in Edinburgh to create the ‘The Chieftain’, a haggis-infused cocktail named after Robert Burns’ famous description of Scotland’s national dish, the “great chieftain o’ the pudding race”.

Created by Will Cox of The Bon Vivant, The Chieftain’s recipe is inspired by a traditional Burns Supper menu and includes the ingredients found in the occasion’s centerpiece.

Haggis is traditionally made from sheep’s offal (heart, liver and lungs) minced with onion, oatmeal, salt and spices. The Chieftain comprises of an oat-washed Glen Grant 10 Year Old combined with an offal stock syrup to replicate the unique meaty haggis flavour. It is served with a pickled red onion, representing the ‘heart’, a salt and pepper air, representing the ‘lungs’, a turnip cordial, a nod to the famous ‘neeps’ accompaniment, and a haggis rim.

Will Cox said: “The opportunity to team up with one of Scotland’s most iconic whiskies, Glen Grant, to make a Burns Night cocktail was too good to miss. It was very challenging, but we had a lot of fun coming up with The Chieftain and are looking forward to serving it to customers with a haggis bon bon or two on Burns nicht.”

Nick Williamson, Marketing Director Campari UK, said: “With the bard’s birthday being such a well-loved celebration, we want to mark the occasion with the same creativity the man himself approached his work. The bar team at the Bon Vivant has done a remarkable job with The Chieftain and we look forward to raising a glass or two in celebration come the 25th January.”

Glen Grant’s new range of aged single malt Scotch whiskies has continued to turn heads as it secured some of the whisky industry’s most prestigious awards in 2016, including the Glen Grant 10 Year Old winning Best Single Malt Scotch (10 Years and Younger) for the fifth year in a row in Jim Murray’s Whisky Bible.

THE CHIEFTAIN RECIPE:

Glen Grant 10 year old, oat washed
Offal stock glaze
Salt and pepper air
Pickled red onion
Turnip cordial
Haggis butter crumb

The Chieftain will be available to buy in The Bon Vivant Bar, 55 Thistle St, Edinburgh EH2 1DY for one night only on 25th January 2016 priced at £9.

Rhum Clément

rhum-clement
Agricole is becoming more and more frequent within bars across the UK as bartenders are starting to embrace its sugar cane juice qualities. There are numerous brands leading the way, including Rhum Clément of Martinique, part of the French Caribbean Islands that also includes the likes of Guadeloupe and Saint-Barthélemy.

It’s Rhum Clément I’ll be focusing on here, looking back from the late 1800’s to the modern-day.

1887 is where we start with the purchase of the prestigious 43 hectare sugar plantation, Domaine de L’Acajou by a gentleman named Homère Clément, a physician and mayor of Le François. It’s here he pioneered Rhum Agricole. In 1917, Homère Clément created a distillery to fulfill the large request of alcohol during the first World War, using the fresh free-run sugarcane juice available to him.

After the death of Homère Clément in 1923, his son Charles Clément took over the business. He is credited with perfecting his family’s Rhum Agricole method and honed his craft while studying distillation at the famous Louis Pasteur School in France. It was Charles Clément who first bottled Rhum Agricole in Martinique and branded it after his father. Charles Clément was also the first to export bottles of Martinique Rhum Agricole and developed France as the first great market for Rhum Agricole outside of the Caribbean.

In 1973, Charles Clément  passed away, succeeded by his son, Georges-Louis, who was in charge of production and his two brothers Jean-José and Marcel-André, who increased the visibility of Rhum Clément throughout the Caribbean, Europe, Central and South America, and North America.

Once 1986 rolled around, Rhum Clément was sold to the Hayot family, who remained close to the Clément family in order to keep what was now one of Martinique’s great cultural assets, Habitation Clément, in Martinique hands. The Hayot family continue to this day to maintain the heritage, culture and passion of the Clément family and Rhum Clément.

In 1996, the agricultural rum of Martinique gains the Denomination of Controlled Origin (AOC), alongside the Creole home, the terrace and the dependences all classified as Listed buildings by the Ministry of Culture, a testament of Habitation Clément that had been re-vitalized previously with investment in new cellars for aging rhum, a reception for tourists, art galleries and tasting room for visitors.

So steeped into the Martinique history, but how does it all fare? Well below, I give to you my tasting notes on my experiences so far –

Rhum Clément Canne Bleue – 50%

The first mono-varietal rum in the world, resulting from the juice of one single variety of sugar cane called ‘canne bleue’.
A sweet grass note on the nose, with soft earth and subtle cane juice coming through. A good hit of the fresh-cut grass on the palate, with the natural sugars imparting nicely and its builds to a fresh, thin yet bold finish.

Rhum Clément Select Barrel – 40%

Crafted with a unique blend of rhums matured in selected oak barrels with a particularly heavy toasting selected by their cellar master.
Subtle dry oak upon the nose, with hints of orange rind and cocoa nip following. A smooth profile on the palate, with a fresher note of the orange and cocoa hitting. Subtle fresh sugar cane creeps in on the lingering finish.

Amazing tots to enjoy on their own, even the 50% stylings of the Canne Bleue is easy to sip. Of course, for a simple mix, the traditional signature serve is always a good shout –

clement-ti-punch
Ti’Punch by Clément

Glass – 

Rocks

Ingredients – 

60 ml Rhum Clément Canne Bleue
30 ml Sugar Syrup
1 wedge of Lime

Method –

Stir all ingredients over ice, squeezing in the lime wedge. Serve.

A fantastic example of Martinique rhum agricole, one that seems to offer a wide range of versatility, whether enjoyed straight, over ice or within a simple served cocktail, a bottle or two would not look out-of-place within your drinks cabinet.

© 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.