Dramboree 2014: “July 4, 5, 6 – Scotland. Whisky. Fun.”
What more could you possibly need to know?!
Well, Dramboree is a fun and informal annual whisky weekend of the very highest order, now in its second year. Taking inspiration from Maltstock, Whisky Squad’s Jason B. Standing and The Great Whisky Company’s Jonny McMillan found themselves discussing a perfect UK-based whisky weekend a couple of years ago before it dawned on them that they were the exact people to make it happen! Hey presto – Dramboree was born, and after a highly successful first outing, this year promises to be even bigger and better!
For the longest time, I've had a suspicion about That Boutique-y Whisky Company being full of powerful wizards, what with the lightning-bolt shaped scars on their heads, their ability to talk to snakes (they’re very boring, all they want to do is sing songs about falling asleep) and how they’re very good at conjuring up delicious drinks. Sha-zam and abracadara!
Seeing as a number of their independently bottled marvels have just won Wizards of Whisky 2014 Awards, we think it’s pretty safe to say that they’re definitely sorcerers of the highest order, up there with Dumbledore, Gandalf and Emperor Palpatine (he shoots lightning from his hands, he totally counts as a wizard).
Glenmorangie’s Private Edition range really took the spotlight this year when Jim Murray named the 19 year old, Ealanta, World Whisky of the Year 2014. Jim claimed Ealanta stole the show “because it went out and did something very different: not only did it blow [him] away with its deftness, beauty and elegance, but it gave an aroma and taste profile completely new to [him] in over 30 years of tasting whisky”. High praise indeed.
Soon after, Glenmorangie’s Director of Distilling, Dr Bill Lumsden, faced the unenviable challenge of creating a follow-up. After such a coveted title, any successor malt would surely pale in comparison, or at least one might think. We were expecting intensity of flavour, perhaps a big dose of sherry this time? Well, rather that playing it safe, Bill took the somewhat risky decision of releasing a red wine finish – something we’ve seen a lot of over the years, but very rarely done well. In fact, put bluntly, most of the time red wine ruins whisky. I won’t name names*, but we’ve all had an “experimental” whisky buggered up by overdosing with wine casks that have perhaps unnecessary pedigree (aside from marketing purposes, why anyone feels the need to finish in First Growth casks is beyond my understanding!). So – how would Bill’s latest fare?
For this week's #MasterofCocktails, we're making a Highball. Incredibly refreshing, and probably in my all-time top three aperitifs. Well, top 5 anyway... (Martini, Negroni, Campari-Soda...) Yep. Top 5.
Now, whilst this may seem a very straight-forward cocktail (and in many ways is), it's all in the balance and execution. I had one of my favourites a couple of weeks ago at Bincho (a Japanese Restaurant with its own ‘whisky joint’ in the basement), where they paired Hakushu 12 with Fresh Mint.
We're going to use Lemon Peel as the 'garnish' in our drink, but we want it to be very, very subtle. More on that later...
On Monday night I attended a Burns Supper with a difference, courtesy of the Monkey Shoulder Social Club. There was haggis, of course, and Scotch whisky too, but rather than Scotland’s favourite son taking centre stage, the star of this particular show was one Charles Montgomery Plantagenet Schicklgruber Burns, Sr. Oh, yes.
Monkey Shoulder, as I'm sure many of you will know, is a fantastic blended malt from William Grant that's made with whiskies from their three Dufftown distilleries: Glenfiddich, Balvenie and Kininvie.
The theme for the evening had been hiding in plain sight for some time as guests entered to win tickets to ‘A Celebrations of Mr Burns’, accompanied by a picture of Rabbie in a pair of shades that had apparently been enough to throw many off the scent. Upon arrival at The Caledonian Club, everything seemed perfectly above board... although... did I spot Groundskeeper Willy on my way up the street?.. Probably nothing, let’s just enjoy this Monkey Shoulder whisky punch (created by Roman Foltan of the Artesian Bar) in the library and speak to a couple of these nice people from the ‘Dufftown Burns Appreciation Society’.
Alternate Title: “If it’s not perfect, what’s the fucking point?”
My name is Ben. I like it when things are done properly*. This post, therefore, has been quite a while in the making.
It turns out making clear ice is hard. Very hard in fact. There’s a very good reason that companies like this exist. In fact, if you’re based in, or near, London – you should probably just stop reading this, man up, buy yourself a chest freezer to house some of their wares, and give them a call.
If like me though, you’re out of their delivery range, you’re going to need to make your own**.
Luckily, every single one of you has the requisite equipment for this, so there really aren’t any excuses. You can make big, clear ice with zero investment. Sounds like I’m trying to get you to buy a timeshare. I’m not. Promise.
Well that was quite a Christmas.
In fact it’s been so busy that 4 new releases have passed us by with nary a mention. Changing that, now I am here with the writing about things. Yes.
Without further ado, onto the explanations behind the crazy stuff that’s fallen out of my head and onto paper.
First up this time, we’ve got an absolute belter of an Islay Whisky, from Kilchoman.
As promised, we made another low(ish) alcohol drink this week for #MasterofCocktails that’s fantastic in its own right. This one's called The Adonis and it's a real flavour-packed treat!
It's taken from ‘The Art of The Shim: Low-Alcohol Cocktails to Keep You Level’ by Dinah Sanders, a superb compendium of yummy low(er) alcohol cocktails. Well worth a look.
Without further ado, here are the ingredients:
What time is it? There are countless pop-culture references I could make in response to that question, including Beastie Boys lyrics, video game quotes and good old-fashioned internet memes (see below), but I think I’ll just be super sensible today and say it’s Competition time!!!
You might think that making up a new time of the day to go along with 'lunch time' and 'dinner time' (which is much more sinister if you grew up playing 'What's The Time Mr. Wolf?') isn't very sensible, but you can't argue with winning awesome prizes, can you?
An unbelievably simple recipe today, but genuinely one of my all-time favourites. That's right – today we're making an Amaretto Sour.
Now before we get started, there are, of course, many ways to make this drink. You can serve it up, or on the rocks. You can include egg-white for additional body, and you can even bang in some bitters for additional complexity. The picture below is an example of an 'up' drink courtesy of 'The Art of the Shim', a superb book that I'll come back to at the end.
We're keeping it as simple as you like for this #MasterofCocktails version, however, which means you'll require just 2 ingredients: Lemon and Amaretto...