So – cocktail bitters then. The salt, pepper, Worcestershire Sauce and Encona of the Cocktail world. Cocktail seasoning if you will.
This new, and tremendously exciting launch sees the phasing-out of the Master of Malt bitters range in favour of this new, improved and super-exciting range of cocktail ingredients. Why the change though?
Sit down children, and I shall tell you a story all about standardisation, Rapid-Maceration, the effects of Gravity on particle-suspension, oil-solubility and swearing:
It’s all go over here at the moment and having recently launched the Reference Series, there is another exciting project or two just on the horizon, not to mention some much-anticipated new releases from That Boutique-y Whisky Company*. With all this going on it’s fallen to me to tell you a little about yet another exciting release – our shiny, new 10 year old blend!
Some people still get their knickers in a bit of a twist about blended whisky, persisting with some kind of Orwellian mantra of “single malt good, blended whisky bad”, but blends can be absolutely marvellous, and many are. Indeed, we’ve been encouraging you all to try your hand at creating your own with our Home Blending Kits and Blend Your Own Whisky service for a long time now, and I covered the subject on the blog last year when I had a go myself. (Don't worry, I had nothing to do with this new blend!)
What are you doing on May 16th to May 18th? If you’ve got plans, cancel them. If you don’t have plans, make some and then cancel them, because the wonderful folks from The Whisky Lounge are putting on The London Whisky Weekender, a weekend-long celebration of whisky from around the world, and you definitely don’t want to miss it.
The Whisky Lounge are good peoples. They’re devoted to educating, entertaining and generally making the world of whisky not feel like an impenetrable wall of arduous lexicon that you need to attack with a shining silver sword to get any joy from. With a mission statement of “Turn Everyone on to Whisky”, we couldn’t think of a better bunch to put together a whisky festival in the country’s capital.
Ah, David Beckham. What a fine figure of a man. And now one who’s set to join the whisky industry as the face of Haig Club single grain whisky (from Cameronbridge distillery) as well as becoming actively involved in the marketing of the brand along with his manager Simon ‘Spice Girls’ Fuller. A couple of stories here then – massive celebrity endorsement of a Scotch whisky, and the planned launch of another single grain following William Grant & Sons’ Girvan Patent Still.
You may have seen the Girvan range launch at the end of last year – it’s the first single grain from William Grant, or the first official bottling from Girvan, or the first bottling “under the emblem” of the Girvan still... or something.
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.
It’s fair to say that this project has been a while in the making*, but hopefully it’s been worth it. It’s a bit of a two-sided coin, this – one side of it is that there are 3 whiskies here that are utterly delicious and will be super-appealing to everyone. The other side is incredibly obsessive, probably super-geeky, and almost certainly not for everyone. If you’re still reading at this point, well done. You’ve passed the test, and you can be in our club.
I’ll explain the inspiration, before going into the mechanics and the way it’s going to unfold over the coming months and years. It’s a journey, and one which I hope you’ll all come on with us. Actually, I’ve just been sick in my mouth a bit because of how marketinggy that sounds. I’ll re-phrase. It’s a cool thing, and it will become cooler still over time. That.
The Singleton of Dufftown recently launched two new NAS expressions. You may have seen them, they’re the ones named after
hot rod car paints fishing flies (in keeping with the Singleton logo): Tailfire and Sunray. The colours correspond to the flavour profiles of the whiskies, which makes it a little easier for folk who may otherwise find choosing from a shelf of single malts a daunting proposition.
The new releases are set to be celebrated at The Singleton Whisky Night Market on Thursday May 15th (18:30-22:30) down at Southbank, where they will be paired with specially made chocolates (Cocomaya), cheeses (Pong), and whisky marshmallows (The Marshmallowists) alongside theatrical presentations (no doubt involving the one and only Colin Dunn), comedy (Tom Sandham* off of Thinking Drinkers), some top grub (Forza Win and Mark Hix) and whisky cocktails from the excellent Andrea Montague (of Callooh Callay fame, now Diageo’s in-house ‘malt mixologist’).
So – it’s that time of year again isn’t it? I checked my calendar the other day, and realised it’s 6 weeks until Feis Ile. 6 weeks. I’ve got no idea who’s stealing all the time, but as whoever it is takes with one hand, they surely give with the other – we’re only 7 weeks away from the release of this year’s Ardbeg Day special edition.
This year’s offering is called ‘Auriverdes’ – a portmanteau of the latin ‘Aurum’ (Gold) and Portuguese ‘Verdes’ (Green) – Gold for the colour of the whisky, and Green for the iconic green* bottle in which Ardbeg is presented.
Why Portuguese, I hear you ask? Well apparently there’s some sort of kickball tourney on later this year in Brazil? Not really my sort of thing, but I’m sure Jake will use it as an excuse to bore the crap out of you / keep you entertained (delete per your preference).
As I’m sure you all remember, about 3 months ago I told you all how to make beautiful clear ice for your cocktails.
Today, I’m going to show you an easier way. You know how much we all like things that are easy, right?
It started when a chap called Dan Skinner* posted an innocent comment at the end of the post mentioned above, saying that there were some guys in the USA making directional freezing equipment.
Imagine a world where you could taste any whisky you wanted, instantly, for free, and in the comfort of your own multi-million-pound caravan-home or luxury yachts-vessel. And just picture yourself, if you will, browsing an immense digital library with fine single malts flashing majestically before your very eyes like that bit in Minority Report.
The time is 9pm, the day is today, and you’re sitting in a wingback chesterfield armchair. It’s slightly old – still maintains its shape, but the burgundy leather has become softer and more forgiving. In essence, you’re the mayor of comfort city. It’s liquor o’clock, and Mrs Hammersworth, the nice lady who looks after you, is strapping a slightly cumbersome though thoroughly modern-looking headset onto your face. The device, pictured below, is the groundbreaking “Joculus Snift” – a unique multi-sensory media experience which stimulates four of the five senses with state-of-the-art (SOTA) technology.