Those of you who’ve been paying attention may remember that back in February of this year, we ran a little competition – the purpose of which was to get you lot to guess the ingredients in a yummy new cocktail we’d invented. The winner of this competition then went on to name the cocktail (I won’t reveal it, as it’s going to be launched in full 70cl glory at some time in the next month or so).
In order to facilitate this competition, we made samples of the cocktail available in cute little 20cl versions of the standard bottle used for The Handmade Cocktail Company’s wares.
The more observant amongst you may remember that the little 20cl bottle was labelled as part of the ‘experimental series’? Well – today we’re revealing the purpose behind that ‘experimental’ moniker.
That Boutique-y Whisky Company's first four releases
Those of you who inhabit the twittersphere may have noticed that we’ve copped a bit of flak recently from the hardcore whisky community out there. The reason? Well – we keep releasing products (steady yourself dear reader) other than whisky.
Gin, Absinthe, Summer Fruit Cups and the like are all well and good, but, well, they’re not whisky. So – in a twin-pronged attack designed to 1) make my life easier whenever I meet ‘whisky people’, and 2) do something almost unspeakably cool – we’re launching a whole brand-spanking new independent bottling label.
So. Our in-house genius / inventor / mentalist – Professor Cornelius Ampleforth – has once again found time to ‘dick about’ with botanicals, and the new and exciting rotary evaporation still he was bought for Christmas.
This time – he’s set his sights on Absinthe – perhaps one of the most misunderstood and unfairly maligned spirits in the world. Sit down children, and I shall tell you a story about times past.
Absinthe takes its name from the plant which forms the core of its botanical ingredients – Artemisia Absinthium (‘Wormwood’ to you and me). In the early part of the 20th Century, many countries around the world banned Absinthe as it was thought that the Wormwood contained therein caused a frankly marvellous range of symptoms and disorders. From Epilepsy to Tuberculosis, but most prominently and famously – ‘Madness’. More...
So – Summer’s here. Sort of. From time-to-time. When it’s not flooding or what-have-you.
With this in mind, Professor Cornelius Ampleforth has turned his attention to perhaps the most quintessentially British drink that there is – the Summer Fruit Cup.
Now – it’s worth noting that there are several other cups on the market, from the Ubiquitous Pimm’s, through several distillers’ own recipes (Chase is rather good – coming soon – watch this space) to the really rather excellent Sipsmith. There was one thing that the Professor had deemed to be missing from all of these concoctions though – pure, distilled Madness*. More...
Maple Syrup? Gooood.
Rye-Heavy, 9yo Bourbon? Goooooooood.
This is (at this stage) just a rumour.
But there are rumours, and there are rumours. I’d be inclined to say that I’m probably over 90% that this is happening.
I’ve now heard sufficient rumblings about it to make me comfortable in simply repeating what I can already find online (including a rather marvellous entry from the state of Florida that’s clearly more focused on freedom of information than Ardbeg’s Brand agency).
Okay – this is a big one.
Those of you who follow me on twitter may have seen a few somewhat maniacal tweets surrounding the equipment we recently purchased (a rotary vacuum still, complete with recirculating chiller), and today, with great pride, I can formally reveal what I’ve been slaving over for the last few months, and the reasoning behind it.
You see – I love gin, me. By jebus it’s a fantastic drink. What’s been bugging me for a while about the gin category as a whole, though, is that there’s not been any attempt to delve a bit deeper into its main ingredient – Juniper.
Well, he’s been at it again.
We try to rein him in from time to time, but the man just won’t listen. After his last couple of excursions into the world of gin - a Sloe Gin made with half a pound of sloes per bottle, and an Old Tom which I’m reasonably sure he made just because he likes drinking Martinezzes (Martinez? Martinezs? Martiniz?), he’s been at it again with this, a cask-aged offering made using the superb Bathtub Gin as the base.
The Professor has acquired a stock of Octave casks (only 50 litres capacity as opposed to the more usual 250 litre hogshead) which have been previously used to store whisky (and prior to that, either Sherry, or Bourbon) for his newest creation. This means that in comparison to other cask-aged gins, there is a significantly higher surface area to volume ratio (roughly double as I’m sure you’ve all worked out by now). This, in turn, means that the gin will interact with the cask faster, making the 6-months-ish that the gin spends in cask lends a fantastic amount of flavour to the gin.
The casks used to store and mature the Gin are used a maximum of twice, before being retired and used as garden furniture / plant pots / props in a massive game of real-life Donkey Kong I’m planning for the warehouse staff in a couple of weeks. Not the last one. Definitely not that.
So – it’s that time of year again - Feis Ile time.
We went along for the first time last year, and despite several fates befalling us which wouldn’t have seemed out of place in the bible*, it was an absolutely awesome holiday strictly work-related event.
As a result, we’ve decided to go back again this year, en-masse for the full 8 days of the festval, starting next Saturday (26th May) and ending the Saturday after.More...
Okay, so here’s the thing – I’ve got a reasonably good idea. It’s a secret for now, but won’t be for much longer – in fact to those of you with reasonably astute imaginations, the cat’s probably out of the bag already. The idea hinges on being able to find sources of Juniper which are specific to one particular location, and to be honest I’m drawing a little bit of a blank.
Now it’s worth pointing out that as I type this post, I have a rotavap going behind me, I’m planning the details of a trip to Islay, ordering some Vinyl Graphics for our car (more on that later), working out the final details of a business trip to Poland, planning for a visit to the Tanqueray distillery next week, sorting out tastings for the lovely folk at Selfridges and Harvey Nichols, finalising a gin for The Spectator, and there was one more thing as well… oh yes – ‘running a whisky business’. So – it’s probably fair to say that perhaps I’ve not gone as far as I can down the road of investigating each and every producer in the world, or contacting every friendly distiller to try and prise out of them the details of from whence their juniper came, but I’ve had ‘a bit of a crack’.
This, dear readers is where you, and the bounty come in. More...