So. We launched our Navy Strength Bathtub Gin about a month or so ago, and it’s already doing really rather well. It’s kind of a given that we had to follow this up with a Navy Strength version of the incredibly popular vanilla-and-christmas-spices-laden spiced rum – Rumbullion! It’s almost* like there’s some sort of planning going on.
For the Navy Strength version of Rumbullion, we’ve taken the same basic recipe, and simply scaled up the vanilla, sugar and spice content in line with the ABV (ie – it’s not intentionally spicier and punchier, like the Bathtub is). The reason for this is pretty straight-forward – Rumbullion! is already a pretty aggressively spiced little number as it is, and the Navy Strength version was more than capable of standing up to the initial ABV at the same proportional concentration.
Incidentally - if you’ve not tried the Navy Strength Bathtub Gin yet – it’s sort of like being kicked in the face by a Gin-Soaked Santa Claus. Really quite fantastic, and absolutely laden with Christmas spices - it don’t ‘alf pack a punch.
So – a few weeks back you may remember we launched a couple of ‘experimental’ cocktails - the Hanky Panky and the Boulevardier. The good news on this front is that the Hanky Panky has rapidly earned itself a promotion to the exalted ranks of the main series of the Handmade Cocktail company’s core offering, such was its popularity. I’ve just got to do a bit more mucking about with it (I’ve been experimenting with some of the fresh oak barrels we’ve recently acquired, and it takes exceptionally well to a bit of this – so it’s going to get some oak influence methinks) and with any luck it’ll be out before Christmas.
If there was ever a word so god damn awful it’s guaranteed to send a shudder down your spine it is the dreaded p-word – prohibition *a wolf howls in the background and you get the feeling you are being followed by a man with an axe*.
This was the boozeless condition that afflicted the United States of America for thirteen parched years thanks to the tireless campaigning of the American Temperance Movement.
The Movement advocated the ‘Noble Experiment’ to save society from the horrors of alcohol abuse throughout the 19th and 20th centuries and they succeeded in 1920 with the 18th Amendment to the Constitution and the Volstead Act which completely banned the sale of alcohol in the U.S.A.
This led to a decade and three years of corruption and violence across America as mobsters and moonshiners sought to bring alcohol illicitly to the understandably thirsty public before the Amendment was finally repealed in 1933.
Well, it had to happen didn’t it?
There were absolutely bound to be some people so warped, so twisted, that the 100,000 Scovilles Naga Chilli Vodka we launched at the beginning of the year wasn’t hot enough for them. Words fail me.
Capsaicin (the active compound that provides chillies’ heat) is said to be addictive (it causes the release of dopamine amongst other brain-chemistry-related treats), and this doubtless goes some way towards explaining the mindset of this small but vocal minority of nut-jobs.
It’s probably worth pointing out a few of the people for whom it emphatically was hot enough; Philip Schofield for one:
It’s that time of year again - the weather has given up the pretence of caring, the trees are shedding their leaves like a sinking ship sheds ballast, and the sun can’t summon the energy to stay in the sky for longer than is absolutely necessary. Thankfully all is not lost as Diageo are about to release their much anticipated Special Releases Range.
Diageo is a multi-national drinks company that owns twenty-eight working distilleries and the remaining stock of a number of closed ones, and every year they release a selection of limited releases from some of these distilleries.
With such a large portfolio to draw from these whiskies tend to be the cream of the crop and get us whisky geeks slathering at their merest mention [go on, find a whisky geek and mention it, watch it slather…].
So this evening we all trooped to London to taste these high-demand whiskies in the warm and, more importantly, dry confines of The Deck at the National Theatre. Last time I was in this theatre I watched Benedict Cumberbatch (that guy off of Sherlock) prance around the stage as Frankenstein’s monster with nothing but his self-esteem to cover his modesty. This time I came armed with a notebook and pen - ready to record my experience of facing this enormous tackle of whisky.
It’s been a while coming, this one.
Since the launch of our original Bathtub Gin almost exactly one year ago, we’ve sold a huge number of bottles worldwide, and it’s fair to say that the critical reception has been pretty darned fantastic.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with the concept, Bathtub Gin is a compounded gin made from botanicals, as opposed to essences, meaning that the flavour is derived from soaking the botanicals in the spirit (and not then re-distilling it). As far as we know, this is the only gin in the world to employ this slightly curious method of manufacture – the result of which is a clean, fresh-tasting gin with a very slight natural tint to it. As those of you who’ve tried ‘normal’ Bathtub will know, the image below (of the Navy Strength Gin) is substantially darker in hue, due to its production method. More on this below.
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.
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...
You remember our friends from Caskstrength.net? Bespectacled, dapper sort of chaps? They’re into whisky and Alan Partridge, do some events…?
Anyway, they’ve gone and teamed up with BenRiach to put together one of them there special bottlings, they have. And between you and me, it is a delight. Not just because it comes with a rockin’ cotton tote bag (well, only the first 50 bottles, mind you), not just because it has a pink label (I am a sucker for pink) [ed: don't you mean red?], and not just because it spent four years in a PX cask (I am a major sucker for PX). It is delightful because it was hand-selected by Joel and Neil themselves, only 296 bottles are to be released, and you can only buy it from us. What an expression of a beautiful friendship…or, marriage? 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...