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Highland Park Dark Origins

by Jake Mountain     2. July 2014 10:04

Highland Park Dark Origins

When we received an invite to the launch of a new core Highland Park expression, we were naturally quite excited. The invite said that we were to be taken into the darkness for a whisky “dark by nature and character”. Having recently released our own Darkness! range we had a pretty good idea what this meant. (Hint: yummy Sherry!)

What amused us about the invite, however, was that there was a hooded chap printed in the background that looked suspiciously like the protagonist from the ’90s computer game ‘Thief: The Dark Project’ (emphasis added). Apparently it’s actually supposed to be Magnus Eunson, the butcher/church official by day, legendary whisky smuggler/illicit distiller by night of Highland Park foundation myth (dating back to 1798). Indeed, whilst other whiskies may have adopted the dark, we’re told that the Orkney single malt was very much born in it. BaneCat would be suitably impressed.

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The Affinity Cocktail & Handmade Cocktail Company 2014 Releases

by Jake Mountain     18. June 2014 14:19

The Affinity Cocktail

Cocktails galore! Not just on the blog though – these ones below will come right to your door. Not only are we bringing you Bramble Bar’s signature Affinity Cocktail as of today, but we also recently launched the 2014 vintage releases from The Handmade Cocktail Company. The latter including new additions as well as totally re-specced versions that have been improved significantly with even finer ingredients (no mean feat). These are exciting, tasty times, my friends.

First things first – Bramble Bar in Edinburgh. It’s awesome. For a while now they’ve been creating barrel-aged and bottle-aged Affinity Cocktails, which they serve at the bar in individual bottles for you to pour out yourself. (They’re pre-chilled and don’t require dilution.) We’re rather partial to a couple whenever we visit - it’s a perfect mix of Speyside single malt whisky and top quality vermouths (technically a red quinquina and a dry vermouth).

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Feis Ile 2014, Tales From The Isle - Ardbeg Day

by Jake Mountain     1. June 2014 16:38

Tales From The Isle Ardbeg Feis Ile

Greetings traveller,

In this final issue of Tales From The Isle everybody was very much in the mood for the upcoming football extravaganza. You must know about the huge sports competition that's now upon us and that everybody has been talking about all around the world - that's right, it's the The Ultimate Ardbeg Distillery Swamp Football Tournament!

Ardbeg Day is celebrated all over the world, not least at the distillery on Islay as part of Fèis Ìle. It's also fair to say that when Ardbeg do something, they do it properly, so there's an awful lot to tell you about here. I'd packed my yellow and blue havaianas and a Brazuca football, but there's always still time for a beastie or two as well...

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Feis Ile 2014, Tales From The Isle - Bowmore Day & Gartbreck

by Jake Mountain     29. May 2014 15:00

Tales From The Isle Bowmore Feis Ile

Greetings traveller,

In today's Tales From The Isle I'd planned to bring you the story of the devil's final visit to Bowmore in some detail, but an action-packed day at Fèis Ìle means that this issue has rather taken on a life of its own! The story is still worth telling, however, if only in brief. The famous round church in Bowmore, constructed ten years before the distillery was established, is said to be round so that the devil had no corners to hide in. According to legend, the architectural trap worked so well that when he did finally pop by in 1837 he was instantly spotted and pursued down the road by an angry Christian mob. Entering the distillery buildings, he made his escape by hiding within a cask of whisky that was being loaded onto the Maid of Islay for transport to the mainland. It's said that he never dared to return.

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Feis Ile 2014, Tales From The Isle - Bruichladdich Day

by Jake Mountain     26. May 2014 10:48

Tales From The Isle Bruichladdich Feis Ile

Greetings traveller,

In this issue of Tales From The Isle we travel to Bruichladdich over on the Rinns of Islay. This was good news for us as we're actually staying on the Rinns, although we still managed to arrive late for the Octomore Discovery tasting with Jim McEwan. Oops. Bruichladdich day is also one of Fèis Ìle's most fun distillery days - watch your step though, for it takes place on the site of some dark happenings and black arts.

Indeed, this is place where things are taken right to the edge and are often shrouded in a Scotch mist of secrecy...

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New Product Range: DARKNESS! Single Malt Whiskies

by Ben Ellefsen     9. May 2014 08:21

DARKNESS! Single Malt Whiskies

Doesn’t really take a huge deal of explanation, this one, does it?

What we’ve gone and done is take a range of delicious single malts, and finished them for a touch over 3 months in specially commissioned, 50 litre, First-Fill Sherry casks.

Traditionally known as ‘Octave Casks’, these smaller-than-average maturation vessels give a significantly greater surface area to volume ratio, meaning more cask-influence, and more of that superb rich, Christmas-cakey deliciousness that we all know and love from heavily-sherried whiskies.

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The Glenlivet Nàdurra Oloroso

by Jake Mountain     24. April 2014 16:22

The Glenlivet Nadurra Oloroso

The Glenlivet is one of most popular single malts in the world, selling around 11 million bottles a year (they’re second only to Glenfiddich in terms of overall sales) and is owned by Chivas Brothers (i.e. Pernod Ricard). It is perhaps because of these facts that Nàdurra was such a welcome addition back in 2006 – here was a very big player willing to extoll the virtues of bottling whisky at cask strength without using chill filtration, or adding caramel (Nàdurra being the Gaelic for ‘natural’). It was also (and still is) matured exclusively in first-fill Bourbon barrels, with the batch number displayed on the bottle. The fact that it was/is a great whisky helped too, of course.

Fast forward to 2014 and The Glenlivet are giving the Nàdurra range a bit of a shake up with new permanent editions. Why only release a bourbon cask edition when they’re filling spirit into other cask types? And so, last night, I came to be in front of a glass of The Glenlivet Nàdurra Oloroso, matured exclusively in first-fill Oloroso Sherry casks from Jerez. This first batch is bottled at 48% and will be available exclusively in travel retail (just as the first ever Nàdurra was back in 2005), but the real cask strength deal should be available around September/October time. Suffice to say we’ll be stocking it as soon as we can! Excluding the Rare Single Cask Editions (which were second-fill), this will be the first exclusively Sherry cask matured Glenlivet “in living memory”. And it’s a Nàdurra. If you’re thinking “that’s pretty fucking cool” right about now, then you, Sir, are correct.

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Gin, Sin & 5 Soaking Barrels!

by Jake Mountain     19. March 2014 11:00

Gin, Sin & 5 Soaking Barrels

On 16th March five top London bartenders faced off in a fantastic cask-aged gin cocktail competition, which may also have been the best named event of all time!

Maverick Drinks had armed each bartender with a different gin that had been aged or rested in casks, all from their awesome portfolio. Following a preview tasting where this fascinating crossover category was discussed, it was time for the #ginsin main event held at Megaro Bar. The winner would be chosen by 7 'tasters' (they're the fun version of judges) and would subsequently win the opportunity to create their very own cask-aged gin, which will have their name and even their face on it if they really want. (The latter, it was said at the time, may actually depend on who wins...) There should also soon be a Gin, Sin & 5 Soaking Barrels Tasting Set from Drinks by the Dram we hear, so you'll be able to sample all of these eminently mixable aged gins for yourself...

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Adnams Release Their First Ever Whiskies!

by Jake Mountain     5. December 2013 15:47

Adnam's Single Malt and Triple Grain whiskies

When asked if I fancied a trip to Southwold I didn’t have to do a lot of thinking. A chance to visit a lovely coastal town, get some fresh, sea air in my lungs, escape the madness of the festive season AND visit the fantastic Adnams distillery to taste two brand new English whiskies?!

Um, yes. I think I can probably manage that, at a push. So off I went to Waveney to meet up with Jonathan Adnams, Chairman and fourth-generation brewer, and Head Distiller John McCarthy for a bit of a shimmy around the distillery and to taste two new, unique whiskies prior to their release.

The first ever Adnams whiskies. Ever.

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Master of Cocktails - The Improved (New) Holland Gin Cocktail

by Ben Ellefsen     25. November 2013 17:28

Master of Cocktails Improved New Holland Gin Cocktail

Right then chaps, this week’s #MasterofCocktails recipe is The Improved (New) Holland Gin Cocktail. Despite what you may be thinking, this is one that whisky fans will really enjoy. We're using some top notch American ingredients here too, including the New York Distilling Company’s fantastic Chief Gowanus New-Netherland Gin as well as some Cask-Aged Whisky Bitters.

Brooklyn, you see, used to be a Dutch colony. Yep. And this gin we're using is a Holland gin (i.e. a genever), and it was made to a 19 century American recipe with the help of David Wondrich, using the New York Distilling Company's unaged, double-distilled rye whiskey. Moreover, it's bloody fantastic.


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