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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.

 

Balblair

Balblair
It’s fascinating to experience a brand of whisky that offers a whole host of expressions that are not to the norm. Vintages can be seen as an exclusive way to release something special, whether it corresponds with a certain milestone year, or a particular one-off style that’s never to be seen again. Indeed these sort of expressions become highly sought-after, and are rarely seen on a shelf within your favourite whisky haunt.

Balblair have seemed to buck the trend on this.

They only create vintages that are ‘timed to perfection’, and have done since 1790. No 12-year-old in sight. No 18-year-old to speak of. But a 1999 vintage? No problem.

But why this way? Lets take a look.

The Balblair Distillery was established back in 1790 in Dornoch Firthby by a local man, John Ross (although the first known records date from 1749) and was soon joined by his son Andrew. Eventually, the sons and grandsons of John Ross operated the Balblair farm and distillery until the last years of the 19th century until the sale of Balblair Distillery to Alexander Cowan in 1894. Cowan brings Balblair into the 20th Century by building the present offices, still house, mash house, kiln and barns.

After the launch of the Highland Railway Company rail line between Inverness and Ardgay in 1862, Balblair started to take advantage of its use and moved the distillery half a mile north to its current location in 1895. Unfortunately, due to the tough economic times, Balblair Distillery shut in 1911, with the last drop of whisky leaving the warehouse in 1932.

Despite a brief use of the building by the army, 1948 saw Robert James “Bertie” Cumming, a solicitor from Banff, purchase the distillery for £48,000, with production resuming just a year later and expanding with extra warehouses and the first steam boiler in 1964. In 1970 though, Cummings sold the Balblair Distillery to Hiram Walker, the company that later becomes Allied Distillers. This era saw the renovation of the distillery throughout the 1980’s until its sale to Inver House Distillers in 1996.

It was in 2007 that Balblair opted for the bold move to only release Balblair as a Vintage Whisky, with the first vintages released being 1997, 1989 and 1979 in March 2007. It’s said that “Each Balblair Vintage captures the essence of its year in a bottle. They’re only ever selected at the absolute peak of perfection. Handpicked, to represent the very best our Distillery has to offer”.

I’ve been lucky enough to enjoy some of the Balblair Vintages, so below, I give to you my tasting notes –

Balbair 1975 – 46%

Fresh citrus and coconut notes on the nose. Sweet and spicy on the palate with honey and fruits on the finish. Warming.

Balbair 1989 – 46%

Apple and raisin notes on the nose and then combines with spice flavours on the palate. A long, rich offering with raisin dominating throughout.

Balblair 1991 – 43%

Bold and fresh notes of honey and butter, with subtle cherry finding its way through. Soft green fruits on the palate creating a very dry, almost ash driven finish.

Balblair 1997 – 46%

Tropical fruits on the nose with apples, honey and vanilla coming through.  A hit of sweetness on the palate, but spice soon follows that creates a long, long finish.

Balblair 1999 – 46%

The second release of the 1999 that replaces the award-winning second release of the 1997 Vintage.
Honey and leather notes on the nose, with subtle hints of lavender coming through. Sharp lemon skin upon the palate, staying at the front of the mouth whilst the rest enjoys smooth vanilla and honey mixed with waves of bold spice. Long finish.

Balbair 2002 – 46%

Floral fruits on the nose with hints of vanilla and toffee following, A good mix of spice and sweetness on the palate with orange and lemons dominating.

 

 

Balblair 2004 – 46%

Bourbon matured. Light nose with no distinctive aromas coming through. Slight malt honey on the odd occasion. Dry orange with light, sweet hints available. A short and very dry finish.

Some fantastic whisky expressions here, and as you’d imagine, not the range that you would start to mix up a cocktail with. The odd drop of water would open up a few of the above, but personal rule is to enjoy it as it comes, and the Balblair range, currently, do not disappoint. A couple for the drinks cabinet won’t go amiss.

© 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.

Windspiel

Windspiel
German efficiency is world-renowned within the engineering world, but the last few years has seen it up its game when dabbling into the wider world of spirits, including that of gin. Monkey 47 set the benchmark for the German style of gin, and Windspiel have decided to come across and raise it further, dabbling itself into the potato side of the spirit.

Friends Sandra Wimmeler, Denis Lönnendonker and Tobias Schwoll bought in 2008 the Weilerhof farm in Berlingen, itself within the Volcanic Eifel region of western Germany, where Tobias, with a background in agriculture and a desire to become a farmer, immediately took to tending to the land. The team initially grew Elephant Grass before moving onto potatoes and it was while feasting over the latter one evening, gin in hand, that they apparently hit upon the idea of making a spirit out of their growing supply.

With the likes of Chase Distillery proving that potatoes are a great base for a spirit, the resulting two years had the team craft and develop alongside master distiller Holger Bolchers, who creates the raw alcohol in his home town in Northern Germany.

But how is it all created?

The first step taken is the harvested potatoes by Tobias, which are then sent to Holger, who grinds them up and mixes them with drinking water. The mash (the alcohol producing mash, not the food) is then gently heated to trigger the conversion to sugar, then cooled and mixed with yeast to stimulate the conversion to alcohol. The resulting liquid is distilled twice in a large continuous still to raise the ABV and to purify the spirit. The neutral spirit is further finished in a small 150lt still to add a final dose of smoothness.

To create the gin itself, each botanical element (including juniper, lemon zest, coriander, lavender blossom, ginger and cinnamon) is added to the spirit separately and then distilled as individual components. After a few weeks of resting, the team blend these distillates together, before adding further spirit and cutting to bottling strength, producing around 800 bottles per run.

And the name itself? Here’s an extract from the Windspiel website to explain;

“. . . . . the four friends remembered a visit to a woman in the neighbouring village. At that time, they were new to the village and everyone wanted to know who these four newcomers were. Sandra, Denis, Rebecca and Tobias did not want to be impolite and were happy to take up her invitation. She told them plenty about the surrounding area, about old Mr Weiler who used to own the farm, and the later it got, the further back she went in German history. Eventually, when it was getting quite late, the lady began talking about King Frederick the Great of Prussia. According to her, he was supposed to have met Leopold Joseph Graf von Daun in 1757 and talked about the Eifel „Tartoffel“ or potato. Frederick the Great was very impressed. So impressed that he had the idea of conjuring up something special from this fine tuber – creating an exquisite liquor would have been the crowning achievement of his life‘s work. Unfortunately, it didn‘t turn out that way. As they thought about this story, the four friends simply had to laugh. But still, what if it were true? They wanted to establish the facts and researched everything they could find on Frederick the Great. The dog lover, Sandra, was particularly enthusiastic about his passion for greyhounds. He even wanted to be buried with them. Her enthusiasm was contagious and quickly spread to the others and this is how they linked one passion with another. They called their exquisite liquor: Windspiel Premium Dry Gin. Dedicated to Frederick the Great, who discovered the potato in Germany and his second great passion: the greyhound, or in German „Windspiel”.

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

Windspiel – 47%

Fresh, subtle notes of lemon, lavender and coriander upon the nose, following onto the palate nicely as it coasts alongside the smooth potato spirit. A slight earth note, with waxy lemon peel, juniper and bark, finishing with a lingering spice freshness.

A stunning gin to drink neat or over ice, and at 47% abv, can stand up to a simple gin and tonic;

Windspiel

Highly recommended for your drinks cabinet at home, both as a talking point amongst the gin category, and the base within its own branded gin and tonic!

© 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.

 

Old Rip Van Winkle

Pappy
A rare occurrence happened recently, where an exclusive tasting event of the Old Rip Van Winkle range, or Pappy Van Winkle as it’s more commonly known within the bar trade, came to Manchester.

Your’s truly managed to bag himself a seat at the table with 4th Generation Preston Van Winkle.

Lets dive in and check out why Old Rip Van Winkle became one of the most sought after American Whiskies.

Julian “Pappy” Van Winkle began working at W.L. Weller & Sons as a travelling whisky salesman during the latter half of the nineteenth century, before ending up as the President of Stitzel-Weller Distillery after acquiring with Alex Farnsley W.L. Weller and the A Ph Stitzel Distillery (producing Old Fitzgerald and W L Weller amongst others). Pappy’s son, Julian Jr., operated the distillery from 1964 until the family sold it in 1972, resulting in the formation of J.P. Van Winkle and Son that specialised in commemorative bourbon decanters and bottling. Julian Van Winkle Jr also created a new brand in the pre-Prohibition style, using whiskey stocks he had wisely kept by from the previous distillery. Eventually, he created the Old Rip Van Winkle label as a side venture in case his son, Julian III, wanted to come into the business.

Julian III did take over in 1981 after his father passed away, and despite a lull in bourbon business,  Julian purchased the Old Hoffman Distillery in Lawrenceburg, Kentucky, for barrel storage and bottling purposes. Julian III’s son, Preston, finished his college degree and joined his dad in the distillery in 2001, doubling the size of the sales team at The Old Rip Van Winkle Distillery after realising his passion at the 1999 Kentucky Bourbon Festival.

Buffalo Trace bought the W.L. Weller label in 1999 and had been making the bourbon with nearly the same recipe as Pappy’s, resulting in an approach to Julian III, something which he wasn’t initially interested in. It wasn’t until May 2002 that a deal was reached and Buffalo Trace started to produce the Van Winkle bourbons, using Pappy’s exact recipe.

All of the bourbon sold under the Van Winkle label is distilled from a mashbill with no rye; rather, they use wheat instead.

Pappy 2
Preston Van Winkle

So with this knowledge, lets take a look at the range –

Old Rip Van Winkle 10yr – 53.5%

Bottled as close to barrel proof as possible, with a splash of Kentucky limestone well-water.
Rich, bold butterscotch aromas on the nose, mixed with caramel, dark cocoa and a slight dry corn note. Subtly sharp upon the palate, offering a warmth with butter, cream soda and a lingering corn, spice and dry raisin.

Van Winkle Special Reserve 12yr – 45.2%

Soft caramel and subtle butterscotch on the nose, with hints of straw and olive oil coming through. A balanced texture, with light honey offering up a natural sweet profile. Long finish with corn and caramel combining for an oily texture.

Pappy Van Winkle’s Family Reserve 15yr – 53.5%

Crafted according to the exclusive family wheated recipe.
Banana leaf and mellow corn arrives on the nose, followed by a subtle Pedro Ximénez note. Soft sharpness on the palate, with lemon peel and a subtle stemmed cherry profile arriving for the short, thin finish.

Pappy Van Winkle’s Family Reserve 20yr – 45.2%

Hazelnut, caramel and chocolate hazelnut offer up a dry oak finish on the nose. Subtle hazelnut though on the palate, resulting in a dry, light oak with butter thickening up the texture into an oily, long finish.

Pappy Van Winkle’s Family Reserve 23yr – 47.8%

Soft notes of light butter, caramel and oak upon the nose. Subtle sweetness provided on the palate, with dry oak, straw and honey offering up a long, grass fresh finish.

A stunning range of American Whiskey, and highly sought-after for their sipping qualities. If you can find one, grab a bottle for your drinks cabinet, open, sip and enjoy.

© 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.

 

Barceló

Barcelo
Barceló, hailing from the Dominican Republic, has a slightly unique trait in that it’s the only Dominican Rum to be manufactured directly from sugar cane juice.

A good start, but how did all it come to this?

In 1929, Julián Barceló arrived from Spain to Santo Domingo and founded Barceló & Co. where soon after he began producing one of his first rums and selling it throughout the country. After experiencing the local brands on the market, he decided to create and release in 1950 the Ron Barceló brand, and with it the Barceló Blanco and Dorado, (white and gold rums respectively), followed about 20 years later with the Ron Barceló Añejo (a mature rum).

In 1974, Don Julián Barceló handed over the reins of the business to his nephew Miguel Barceló and 6 years later, in 1980 Ron Barceló Imperial was born, becoming the most internationally awarded Dominican rum.

Following this in the 1990’s, Barceló & Co. gave a group of Spanish businessmen, themselves enjoying a long history of producing wines and spirits, the rights to export Ron Barceló. These entrepreneurs founded Ron Barceló SRL. and by 2006, had sold into 25 international markets, resulting in Ron Barceló SRL. taking over Ron Barceló completely, with the third generation Barceló’s, namely the Barceló Díaz and Garcia families, remaining on the Board of Directors and completed with a package redesign on the Ron Barceló Imperial, Gran Añejo and Añejo.

Currently, Barceló is available in over 50 countries worldwide and enjoys being the 4th largest exporter of rum in the world.

Barceló also comply with the ‘Ron Dominicano – Designation of Origin’, meaning rum producers must harvest the sugar cane, ferment, distill and age the alcohol in oak barrels for a minimum of one year, all within the Dominican Republic.

So how is the range produced? Lets take a look –

Once harvested, the sugar cane is unloaded from wagons by crane and then cut into small chunks, resulting in an easier process once it goes through the next stage, the milling. This extracts the juice from the sugar cane itself by compressing the chunks. It then heads to be fermented, which is the chemical process performed by yeast where the sugar cane transforms into predominantly ethanol and carbon dioxide, resulting in wort at around 7-8% proof that is then stored in tanks before heading to distillation.

The wort enters a column still where the vinasse and the low-grade alcohol (phlegm) are separated. The vinasse is used for fertiliser within the cane fields, and the phlegm passes through 3 more column stills where hidroselection, demethylation and rectification occur, finishing with a proof up to 95% alcohol with a balanced congener content. The resulting liquid is then stored within toasted American white oak barrels for at least one year.

All of Barceló’s rums are made by carefully selecting the lots of barrels that have completed the pre-established ageing process. These are emptied and blended in stainless steel tanks by the rum masters, before being bottled and labelled.

So, how do they fare? Well below, I give to you my tasting notes on my experiences so far –

Barceló Imperial – 38%

Aged for between 8 and 10 years. Heavy hints of toffee on the nose, with some intermittent hits of spice to compliment whilst on the palate, a smooth texture with a slight sweetness of vanilla and caramel. The flavours of dry fruits is also detected, although the caramel and vanilla are the dominant forces. Finishes well with a lingering after-taste of caramel.

Barceló Imperial Premium Blend – 43%

A limited edition bottling of Barceló, created in celebration of 30 years production. Every year since 1980, Miguel Barceló has set aside private reserves of his rum for two extra years of ageing, and has used these to create their Imperial Premium Blend.
Slight dry raisin upon the nose, with an orange and seasoned wood note coming through. A slight kick of butter on the palate, resulting in a ‘side-dry tongue’ that kicks up with walnut, orange rind and fresh stemmed cherry. Very long on the finish with black walnut present.

And the Barceló perfect serve?

Barceló Piña colada
Barceló Piña Colada

Glass – 

Highball

Ingredients – 

75 ml Barceló Platinum
3 tbsp Coconut Milk
3 tbsp Chopped Pineapple

Method –

Place all ingredients into blender add 2 handfuls of crushed ice and mix at high speed for 30 seconds, strain into cocktail glass.

A great choice of rums here from the Dominican Republic, with the sipping styles of the Imperial and Imperial Premium Blend highlights so far. Perfect to have one of two 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.

 

 

Double Dutch

doube-dutch
The use of mixers has always been defined towards the likes of a gin and tonic, rum and coke or whisky and ginger, but the names and styles of such have pretty much stayed the same over the years. Lately though, numerous tonic brands have been released of a variety of flavours, then ultimately branching out into bitter lemon and cola, ginger and lemonade expressions.

Not Double Dutch though.

Released in 2014, Joyce and Raissa de Haas originate from the Netherlands, but became frustrated with the lack of soda options to go alongside the growth of spirits. After a year of research, the inspiration of food pairing ultimately grew to the brand of Double Dutch.

Releasing two flavoured soda expressions to the market, Pomegranate & Basil and Watermelon & Cucumber, it brought interest in not only the flavours chosen, but the fact that they deviated away from flavoured tonics and exploited the lesser used soda market. With this, flavour pairings became a favourite as the likes of the Pomegranate & Basil started to match with golden rum and tequila, with the Cucumber and Watermelon a favourite with salad dishes.

With another favourite option of having two soda expressions that are also easy to drink on its own, a call was made to carry on the smooth and natural profile of each into the tonic market, ultimately resulting in the release of an Indian Tonic expression, as well as a Slimline Tonic in 2015. All are low in calorie, winning over the likes of Richard Branson and his Virgin Foodpreneur Start Up in 2015 to help fund the growth of the brand.

With each bottle made without any artificial flavourings, colouring or preservatives, instead opting for natural ingredients blended with spring water from the North of England, the Double Dutch range kept expanding with the addition of their first flavoured tonic, Cranberry, released late 2016 in collaboration with Maison Hennessy Cognac.

So how do they fare? Well below are my tasting notes on the range so far –

Double Dutch Pomegranate & Basil – 0%

Red arils from the pomegranate fruits are used within. Subtle pomegranate comes through on the nose, followed by the earthy notes of the basil. Well-balanced between the two flavours on the palate, resulting in a slightly dry, basil aroma finish.

Double Dutch Cucumber & Watermelon – 0%

Fresh watermelon shines through on the nose, followed by an underlining cucumber note. A reverse of roles on the palate though as the fresh cucumber  pulls through the watermelon, although the bold finish brings the melon back for a lingering finish.

Double Dutch Indian Tonic – 0%

Made with quinine, juniper and grapefruit. The zest of grapefruit is apparent on the nose, followed by the earthy notes of juniper. Smooth on the palate, with gentle hits of the juniper coming through, surrounded by the aromas of the grapefruit and subtle quinine.

Double Dutch Slimline Tonic – 0%

With 60% fewer calories and sugar than the Indian Tonic. Soft, subtle notes of the grapefruit come though on the nose. The smooth kicks of light juniper hit the palate, offering a lingering quinine finish that’s slightly dry.

Double Dutch Cranberry Tonic – 0%

Fresh, ripe cranberry notes on the nose, with hints of stemmed ginger following. Smooth on the palate, with the cranberry offering up fresh bursts, followed by subtle warm ginger to create a lingering, slightly dry finish.

A great range to experience over ice, or the girls recommend it with one of their favourite gin brands –

double-dutch-and-three-rivers

Double Dutch and Three Rivers

Glass – 

Rocks

Ingredients – 

50 ml Manchester Three Rivers Gin
Top with Double Dutch Indian Tonic

Method – 

Fill a rocks glass with cubed ice and add the ingredients. Garnish with a stemmed cherry.

A refreshing change for your fridge, and with their versatility, one to play around with for sure. Pick some up for the 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.

 

Poetic License

poetic-license
One of the main brands to cause a stir over the last 12 months originates from the North East of England, Sunderland to be exact, the home of Poetic License Distillery.

Started up by Mark Hird, a figurehead of the leisure trade for 20 years, the seeds were sown back in 2012 when Mark saw the opportunity in growing a business that could reach both the local and national community, opening a microbrewery in 2012 and naming it Sonnet 43, after the famous poem of Elizabeth Barrett Browning who was born a stone’s throw from the brewery site.

Knowing the rise of micro distilling after visiting distilleries in South Africa, he looked to Luke Smith, a man who had started his career at Sonnet 43 brewery, to help him plan and operate a new distillery. After several experiments and distilling courses, on January 4th 2015 the project became official and Luke moved to begin working within the Roker Hotel (now known as Poetic License Distillery Bar and Soul Food), one of Mark’s venues, as a full time gin distiller and using a 5 litre still to produce trial recipes.

It took 7 months to create a London Dry Gin as well as a rough Old Tom Gin within Gracie, the fist copper still to be sourced from China. The 500 litre hybrid allows the use of her as both a pot still and a column still. For their gin, hand-crushed botanicals are macerated for 24 hours and then boiled to gently and gradually release their flavours, whilst the vodka, using British wheat as the spirit base, is distilled 7 times.

This feature though won’t be focusing on their Northern Dry, Old Tom or Graceful Vodka, but their new Fireside Gin, the distillery’s limited edition gin available for autumn/ winter that focuses on ‘Mulled Winter Fruit and Juniper’. It is their second seasonal and comes following the success of their first – Picnic Gin, a strawberries and cream flavoured gin which was available throughout the summer of 2016.

poetic-license-fireside-gin-and-tonic
Poetic License Fireside
– 40.1%

Subtle saffron and orris come through on the nose, followed by clove and nutmeg scents. Mulled flavours of clementine, stemmed cherry and cranberry are present on the palate, with soft cinnamon and orange peel bringing a warm finish to the table.

A great gin to serve straight over ice in front of the fire, but one of these will still work well for a refreshing mulled long drink, with the team suggesting “to be enjoyed while cosying up around glowing amber warmth of the fireplace. Pour over large chunks of ice with premium tonic and garnish with cranberries.”

Be rude not to add this to your drinks cabinet now, and these cold nights don’t seem to be easing up anytime soon!

© 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.