Bloodshot Tasting Notes

Bloodshot

There are spirits out there who have defined their own category within a category. Bloodshot has become the latest to add themselves to this trend, the trend being a vodka flavour to help create a certain cocktail. Absolut did it with their Absolut Pepper, Belvedere released Belvedere Bloody Mary and now Bloodshot have come into the frame with a vodka spirit created solely to enjoy a Blood Mary ‘the right way’.

Bloodshot is a British invention, masterminded by Mark Douglas Hill who himself is a life-long Bloody Mary & Bullshot drinker. With a background of a development chef and food and drinks waiter, it seemed only right to use his skills to create a product that can perfect his favourite tipple.

The first bottles of Bloodshot were produced at home in Mark’s Notting Hill development kitchen in 2009, with two years passing to perfect the recipe until it had its first bottling in June 2011. Launched initially in Selfridges, it is now available on three continents only one year later.

Bloodshot has been defined as ‘one of the world’s most complex spirits to produce’ involving three intricate production processes, over twenty ingredients, two stills, four maceration vats, one master distiller, one master wine-maker and absolutely no artificial additives. The first production process is the distillation of English wheat into what they think is the finest Vodka in the world.  The primary distillation is in the UK’s tallest tower still.  This continuously rectfies the fermented grain through 43 rectification plates into a spirit of un-rivalled purity. They then run the wheat spirit through Angela, a 108 year old heritage copper pot still.

In a process similar to Gin production, a maceration of a carefully balanced blend of spices, aromatics and botanicals is combined with the distilled wheat Vodka. Although a closely guarded secret, it does include smoky chipotle chillies from Mexico, cracked black pepper from Kerala, Spanish lemon peel, German horseradish root, Hungarian coriander seed, hot cayenne pepper from Lousiana and celery seed. All these flavours are extracted for 36 hours to create a complex flavour that is then filtered and moved to the blending vats.

The final stage is the blending process which marries the spice infused spirit with lemon and lime, the savoury Worcestershire Sauce and the finish of award-winning Port, shipped direct from the Douro Valley. The blended Bloodshot is left to mature, mellow and fuse for a further three weeks before a four step filtration process finally reveals the deep red finish.

Bloodshot is bottled & labelled on-site and only then is ready to leave its rural Sussex birthplace in Windfall Wood.

So a rather interesting back-story, but the question is, how does it fare?

Bloodshot
Bloodshot

Bloodshot – 29.9%

A strong aroma of Worcester sauce hits the nose first, but mellows rather quickly into a smooth, pepper sense. A huge hit on the palate that awakens all the senses! Very concentrated in flavour with a powerful punch of pepper, citrus and spices. Creates a long, lasting experience that slowly mellows.

Now there’s only really one cocktail something like this can go with –

Bloodshot Mary

Glass –

Highball

Ingredients –

50ml Bloodshot
200ml tomato juice

Method –

Mix Bloodshot with tomato juice and serve with ice, lemon and your preferred garnish (celery is the usual serve, however grated pepper can be used too).

A rather surprising spirit here, and not one for the faint-hearted. It’s also recommended to be served as a shot, with beef consume and tomato juice or just over ice. With these flavoured spirits though, don’t let them put you off. I always recommend to give these brands a try, and if you don’t like it, try it in its original purpose which in this case is a Bloody Mary. Bartenders love customers trying new drinks, and this one should be hitting many a bar in the very near future.

Check out the rest of the photos, taken at The Circle 360, via my Facebook page.

© David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog/sites author and owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Virgin Gorda Tasting Notes

virgin gorda

What do you think of if I said the word blended? Whisky maybe? How about rum? You might ponder at this one, rum production isn’t as widely known compared to whisky so you could easily say yes to this without realising. Virgin Gorda is one of the first mainstream rums to be blended from three different islands – Barbados, Trinidad and Jamaica, and is said to explore the most sensual side of the Caribbean.

Virgin Gorda is categorised as a golden rum, produced by distilling fermented sugar cane in the traditional pot still method, then spending an average age of seven years in old, American oak Bourbon barrels. Within these barrels includes 20% of 8yr rum. A factor taken with pride that sets Virgin Gorda from others is the 100% natural state – no colour, flavour or aroma additives are used and instead seek out the essences of Trinidad freshness and vanilla, Jamaican body of molasses and a woody aged characteristic from Barbados.

Virgin Gorda is a tribute to the explorers of all time, in particular Christopher Columbus. During his second voyage to Americas in 1493, he became amazed with the beauty of the third largest island in The Virgin Islands, promptly naming it ‘Virgen Gorda’. Todays spelling comes after The Virgin Islands came under British rule.

So with a slightly patriotic edge to this rum, how does it fare?

Virgin Gorda – 40%

Intense vanilla and toffee dominate the nose with a freshness flowing through. A long offering of toffee warms the palate up with vanilla following to a sweet end.

With three Caribbean islands represented, it’s only apt that you should try the following –

Virgin Caribbean Heat

Glass –

Rocks

Ingredients –

60ml Virgin Gorda
30ml Amaretto
Cranberry Juice
Maraschino Cherries
Orange Slice

Method –

Shake the Virgin Gorda and Amaretto in a ice-filled cocktail shaker, pour into a rocks glass with ice and fill with cranberry juice. Garnish with Maraschino cherries and a slice of orange.

Could it become any more refreshing? Virgin Gorda will be a highlight in any night, and is becoming increasingly popular for both bartenders and consumers. Don’t be surprised if you happen to see this blended rum on many a bar – it’s some damn fine Caribbean stuff.

Check out the rest of the photos, taken at The Circle 360, via my Facebook page.

© David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog/sites author and owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Isla Ñ Tasting Notes

Isla Ñ

Isla Ñ Rum is a new breed of rums coming from countries you don’t usually expect this Caribbean based category to originate from. Isla Ñ is created and produced in Tucuman, a subtropical sugar-producing area in the northern region of Argentina. The brand was founded to re-create old-time distilling techniques with world-class raw materials. Appropriate then that Tucuman is in the heart of  the sugar producing area in Argentina.

The distillery has been designed to produce rum in a very slow and defined process to create a higher quality rum where they can control and choose the perfect rum. Isla Ñ also use traditional copper stills instead of the usual stainless steel that the larger distilleries use. The copper is said to give the rum a ‘discernible better flavour’, despite being more expensive and difficult to maintain.

Isla Ñ is produced in batch distilling, maturing the heart of the cut in fresh, new French oak barrels.

There are currently two expressions out in the UK, so below I give to you my tasting notes –

isla nisla Ñ White – 40%

Lots of powerful aromas of vanilla on the nose, but does smooth off as it reaches the palate. Vanilla is the dominant flavour with a surprisingly long offering of bittersweet coconut.

isla Ñ Gold Reserve – 40%

Mix of toffee and fudge on the nose that does smooth out nicely near the end. A slight burn on the tongue to begin with and has a thin water texture to it. Honey flavours appear but it’s a rather short offering.

isla Ñ Dulce de Leche Liqueur – 15%

Bringing rum and Dulche de Leche together by simmering milk, sugar and vanilla then blending with isla Ñ gold. Rich on the nose with plenty of cream and coconut aromas coming through. Velvet smooth on the palate with citrus rum coming through slowly. Coconut makes an appearance with over-proof rum notes dicing a little. Short.

A little different to your average rums, but how would it compare in a cocktail?

A Lady With No Name
A Lady With No Name

A Lady With No Name

Glass –

Martini

Ingredients –

40 ml isla Ñ Gold Reserve
12.5 ml Liquor 43
1 1/2 teaspoon brown sugar
5 Cardamon pods

Method –

Dissolve the sugar in a small amount (15ml) of Isla Ñ Gold Reserve. Add ice to mixing glass then add the rest of the ingredients. Stir, sieve and serve straight up with a zest of orange.

Not a bad idea for a cocktail. Possibly one to look out for when Isla Ñ starts to hit the back bars of your favourite cocktail venue. Give it a go!

Check out more photos, taken at The Circle 360, via my Facebook page.

© David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog/sites author and owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Grey Goose Presents . . . Grey Goose Le Fizz Gift Box for Christmas

Grey Goose Le Fizz Gift Pack

GREY GOOSE® presents GREY GOOSE Le Fizz Gift Box for Christmas

GREY GOOSE, the World’s Best Tasting vodka, presents the perfect Christmas gift for discerning vodka drinkers – the GREY GOOSE Le Fizz Gift Box.

The GREY GOOSE Le Fizz Gift Box contains a 70cl bottle of GREY GOOSE vodka, two beautifully designed crystal GREY GOOSE Le Fizz flutes with a frosted finish and lone goose detail and the recipe for making a GREY GOOSE Le Fizz, the ultimate celebratory cocktail.

GREY GOOSE Le Fizz is an elegant and refreshing combination of GREY GOOSE vodka, fresh lime juice and elderflower, served in a flute topped with chilled soda. A cocktail guaranteed to add a touch of sparkle this Christmas.

GREY GOOSE Le Fizz Gift Pack is available to buy from Selfridges in London, Birmingham, Manchester and online for £65.00.

 

GREY GOOSE Le Fizz Recipe

GREY GOOSE’s signature cocktail is an elegant and refreshing combination of GREY GOOSE vodka, fresh lime juice and elderflower, topped with chilled soda water.

35ml GREY GOOSE vodka
15ml bottlegreen elderflower cordial
15ml Freshly squeezed lime juice
Top up with ice-cold soda water

Method

Shake and double strain into a flute and top up with ice-cold soda water

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Bulldog

Bulldog

There’s always a quirky spirit to find these days, especially if your browsing the shelves either in your bar, supermarket or online. But what would you say to a bottle that had a spiked collar neck and has the word ‘Bulldog’ in striking letters? Would you think it was a hard-hitting spirit with a bite of attitude? Would you believe me if I said this were to be a gin? Not your usual quaint, relaxing sort of branding, or indeed tipple, and definitely goes against the norm of the less ruthless category in the market. Bulldog gin though is redefining the barriers of people’s perceptions.

G&J Distillers Copper Pot Stills Used For Bulldog
G&J Distillers Copper Pot Stills Used For Bulldog

Created by former investment manager and gin and tonic lover, Mr Anshuman Vohra used his experiences of travelling around the globe and combined with them with the expertise of G&J Distillers, based in Warrington, to source 12 botanicals from 8 different countries to create a ‘smooth and harmonious flavour’, something that he apparently felt lacked in other gins. With a bottle that was designed to strike the bold philosophy behind the brand, and a name taken from Sir Winston Churchill and the British ‘Bulldog spirit’ that he was known for, Bulldog has been striving since its humble beginning back in 2007 to being distributed all over the world, and most recently hitting the shores of the USA.

But what makes Bulldog  command the attention of gin lovers?

Lavender Botanical
Lavender Botanical

As mentioned, Bulldog has a blend of 12 botanicals, a mix of traditional, and rather exotic ingredients, including Chinese dragon eye, Turkish white poppy seeds, Asian lotus leaves, Italian juniper, Moroccan coriander, German angelica, Spanish lemon, Chinese liquorice, Italian orris, Spanish almonds, Asian cassia and French lavender. The gin is distilled four times within copper pot stills, combined with Norfolk wheat from East Anglia and fresh water from Wales. This creates a consistent gin which is also certified Kosher and vegan-friendly.

So with a rather well-travelled creation, below I give to you my tasting notes –

Bulldog – 40%

Very smooth on the nose with a clean aroma and hint of citrus near the end. Rather soft on the palate with a good mix of juniper, coriander and lemon coming through. A lasting offering that becomes a little dry at the end.

Despite the exotic botanicals, below is a more British creation for you to try –

London Light
London Light

London Light

Glass –

Highball

Ingredients –

60 ml Bulldog
15 ml Grapefruit juice
30 ml Pomegranate juice
Soda

Method –

Combine Bulldog, grapefruit and pomegranate juice in a shaker filled with ice. Top with soda and garnish with a strawberry slice.

So although seen as a rough and ready gin, its exotic combination of botanicals and the spirit of Sir Winston Churchill sees Bulldog gin as a welcomed newcomer who has seen its place in bars, and your drink cabinet, well deserved. I’ve been lucky enough to spend the day with Bulldog gin in the last couple of weeks, and featured within their tour of the G&J Distillers distillery to see first hand how the brand is created. From seeing the stills in action to the intricate machinery used for the packaging, it really does put it all into perspective. If you’re not 100% sure on experiencing Bulldog, check it out first hand. Once you see the level of work that goes into something so simple to create, it can shed a new light onto this dark bottle.

Enjoy.

More photos from my Bulldog Distillery trip can be found 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.

 

Limited Edition Gift Box From Buffalo Trace Bourbon This Christmas

Award–‐winning Buffalo Trace Kentucky Straight Bourbon, recognised as a piece of liquid history, is now launching an exclusive limited edition gift box this Christmas for drink connoisseurs and bourbon fans alike. Available at £40 in Harvey Nichols and packaged in a handcrafted wooden box, discover the 220 year history and 8 step crafting process of Buffalo Trace that ensures its uncompromising and complex palate of spice with notes of leather, tobacco and smokiness. The gift box opens to reveal a bottle of Buffalo Trace coupled with a traditional Julep cup perfect to serve a frosted Mint Julep cocktail this winter.

LIMITED EDITION GIFT| £40

On the banks of the famous Kentucky River where the buffalo crossed on their ancient westward migratory route, Buffalo Trace is distilled, aged and bottled at the most award–‐winning distillery in the world. With only 70 sets in production, the Buffalo Trace Gift Box details the 8 steps, from milling to filtration, of the time–‐honoured craft unique to bourbon. Beginning with the finest Kentucky and Indiana corn, selected rye and superior malted barley, the Master Blender handpicks a small number of the best casks, maturing for 8-12 years in charred oak barrels, to create a blend of finely crafted small batch bourbon, Buffalo Trace. The classic stainless steel cup that sits handsomely alongside the Super–‐premium bourbonrepresents a traditional Kentucky cocktail, the Mint Julep that originated in the southern United States. The tasting profile of Buffalo Trace, with its signature aromas of vanilla, mint and molasses, perfectly complements the four key ingredients of the Mint Julep serve, mint leaves, bourbon, sugar and water.

THE BUFFALO TRACE MINT JULEP

The Mint Julep is traditionally served in a stainless steel cup and piled high with crushed ice. Hold by the bottom to allow frost to form on the outside of the cup.

Ingredients:

50ml Buffalo Trace

12.5ml Sugar syrup

4 Fresh mint leaves

Crushed ice

 

Method:

1. In the Julep cup, lightly muddle the mint leaves with the sugar syrup

2. Fill with crushed ice + add the Buffalo Trace

3. Top with more crushed ice + garnish wit a sprig of fresh mint

Elements 8 Tasting Notes

Elements 8

The spiced rum category has always been dominated by the likes of Sailor Jerry and Morgan’s Spiced, but recently its been added to with Bacardi Oakheart, Kraken and Lambs Spiced all making their case to be the number one. But a major player has come into the reckoning – Elements 8. This unique brand has a three strong range of super premium rums as a result of eight individual elements that add distinct characteristics to each blend. It is also distilled and aged in the oldest distillery in St. Lucia with over 120 years of rum making experience. But what are these eight elements that make this brand stand out?

1. Terroir – The Windward island of St. Lucia with its tropical climate and volcanic formations provides the ideal conditions to transform cane into rum.

2. Cane – After primary selection of premium grade cane, it is ripened to perfection, harvested and milled to extract the rich and sweet molasses.

3. Water – Virgin rainforest provide a natural source of pure and pristine tropical water.

4. Fermentation – Three unique strains of yeast are combined with the molasses and purified water, each yeast strain imparting their own complex flavour characteristics.

5. Distillation – Four stills, including an innovative Kentucky Bourbon Vendome Pot Still, impart complexity and flavour. Only the ‘heart’ of the distillate is ever used.

6. Tropical Aging – Aged in #1 select, lightly charred American oak bourbon barrels. A tropical aged rum shares the characteristics of one aged for at least twice as long in a cooler climate.

7. Blending – The Master Blender expertly combines over ten hand-selected single rums.

8. Filtration – A light filtration process is applied to remove any residual impurities, naturally enhancing the purity and maintaining flavour.

What I have been lucky enough to try is their Elements 8 ‘barrel infused’ rum. This spiced rum is a complex hand blend of pot and column still rums, that have been infused with 10 fruits and spices added to the Bourbon barrel during the tropical ageing process that lasts for two years. The 10 herbs and spices (cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, ginger, star anise, vanilla, lemon, orange, coconut and honey) are macerated in the aged rum barrel for 2 weeks. As the spices soak in the rum their flavour is naturally infused and extracted. This process is akin to different barrel finishes seen in the whisky world where blends are finished in sherry, port and Madeira casks for example.

So with an ageing process of two years, how does Elements 8 Spiced fair? Well below I give to you my tasting notes –

Elements 8 Spiced – 40%

Lots of light floral spices on the nose with a slight hit of vanilla and aniseed type flavours mixing in near the end. Rather light on the palate, with a good burst of spice to begin with. A rather long flavour of cinnamon spice and vanilla, with a soft warming sensation to finish.

And how about the rest of the range? –

Elements 8 Gold – 40%

Very floral and smooth on the nose with hints of vanilla and a little spice near the end. Again rather smooth on the palate with no expected kick on the back of the throat. Quite sweet with a dry nut flavour coming through. Long.

Elements 8 Platinum – 40%

Soft, fresh nose with subtle citrus aromas coming through. Dry fruit flavours on the palate with a sharp vanilla and banana mix following. Mellows near the end for a lingering finish that is slightly dry.

Elements 8 Cacao – 40%

Launched in 2013, this is infused with criolo cacao beans. Heavily toasted wood and cocoa bean on the nose with a sweet scent of dark chocolate coming through. Bold flavours of roasted cocoa with lingering smoke and malt dark chocolate on the palate. Smooth with a long finish. Almost as if you’re eating chocolate.

So a fantastic Gold rum, a sipping Platinum to rival some of the best, a unique and surprising Cacao and Spiced that could give the others a run for its money. Especially with a cocktail like this –

Elements Eight – Dark and Spicy

Dark and Spicy

Glass –

Highball

Ingredients –

50 ml Elements 8 Spiced
20 ml Fresh lime juice
10 ml Sugar syrup
5 Mint leaves
Top with ginger beer

Method –

Build all ingredients, except ginger beer, over crushed ice and churn. Top with crushed ice and ginger beer. Garnish with mint, cinnamon stick and lemon wedge.

Creator Carl Stephenson is onto a winner here, with Elements 8 Spiced popping up on back bars all over the country alongside its Platinum, Gold and newbie Cacao. It’s also been winning awards too, with the spiced picking up the highest score and voted ‘best tasting spiced rum’ in the UK market by Imbibe in 2010. Its long slender square bottle is an eye catcher, as is the spirit inside, and well worth a try if you fancy something smooth to drink.

© David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast 2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog/sites author and owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Amarula Tasting Notes

Amarula

Amarula is a cream liqueur from South Africa and uses the unique fruit of the Marula tree. Marula is an exotic fruit found only on the sub-Saharan plains of Africa, where it grows in the wild for just a few weeks of the year.

Harvesting of the fruit, ripened under the African sun, happens at the height of the African summer, from mid-January to mid-March. Many of these wild-growing trees, indigenous to sub-Saharan Africa, are found in the sub-tropical region of Phalaborwa in Limpopo Province.
When the fruit falls to the ground it is collected by the women of the local rural communities before being delivered to the Amarula production plant in Phalaborwa.

At the plant, each fruit is individually checked to ensure it is fully ripened and free of blemishes before the flesh is crushed with the skins. In a de-stoning tank, rotating blades separate the flesh from the hard seeds or nuts. The fruit pulp is pumped into cooling tanks, where it is kept at a consistent temperature below 6 degrees centigrade to prevent uncontrolled fermentation. The marula pulp is then transported to the cellars in Stellenbosch where it is fermented under conditions similar to wine making. After fermentation, the marula wine is distilled twice, first in column stills and then in copper pot stills, to create a young marula distillate. It is essential that the fresh marula wine is distilled as quickly as possible to retain the fresh fruity flavours. During the second distillation the marula flavours are further concentrated. One distilled, the spirit is aged slowly in wood, spending two years in small oak barrels. Fresh dairy cream is then blended with the Amarula.

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

Amarula – 17%

On the nose, a very light aroma of the exotic Marula fruit makes its way through, with the taste almost bursting as it hits your palate. A sweet tang to it, it covers your palate nicely and gives off a slow release of Marula that lasts.

A great fruit cream liqueur to enjoy over ice after a meal, or ask your bartender for one of these –

Dusky Decadence
Dusky Decadence

Dusky Decadence

Glass – 

Highball

Ingredients – 

160 ml Amarula Cream
2 Tbs crushed brownie or (Chocolate biscuits)
2 Tsp Hazelnut liqueur
2 Tsp Orange liqueur
30 ml Peppermint Liqueur
Pinch of cinnamon
Chocolate shavings to garnish
Fresh ginger to garnish

Method – 

Add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker or blender. Close, shake or blend for 30 seconds, pour over ice cubes into a hi-ball glass and add crushed ice as a top layer. Garnish with wedge of cookie or with chocolate shavings and fresh ginger.

A great cocktail to enjoy not only all year round, but with one of these –

Amarula Bread and Butter Pudding

Ingredients – 

Bread and Butter Pudding
Bread and Butter Pudding

500 ml Milk
375 ml double cream
5 ml vanilla essence
40 g butter, melted
6 large eggs
200 g castor sugar
125 ml Amarula Cream
6 small soft bread rolls
25 g sultanas, soaked in water and drained
100 g apricot glaze, warm

Method – 

In a pan, bring the milk, cream and vanilla essence to the boil. Use a little of the butter to grease a large oval pie dish. In a bowl, whisk the eggs and castor sugar until pale. Gradually add the milk-cream mixture, stirring. Add the Amarula Cream and strain through a fine sieve. Cut the bread rolls into thin slices and butter them. Arrange in the pie dish and sprinkle over the sultanas. Pour the Amarula mixture over the bread. The bread will float to the top. Place the dish in a bain-marie on top of folded newspaper and pour in hot water to come halfway up the sides of the dish. Bake in a preheated oven, 160.

You have to love such a versatile liqueur! Ever since its release back in 1983, its been a staple for both bars and kitchens world wide. Which means only one thing, your missing out.

© David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast 2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog/sites author and owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.