In a quiet residential neighbourhood in Tasmania’s charming capital city, you’ll find Casey Overeem’s house, and next to it, his garage.
Got yourself a good garage have you? Bought some nice workbenches have you? Maybe a pressure washer? Built yourself a little toolrack?
Well this chap’s got a whisky distillery in his garage, and that whisky distillery is none other than Tasmania’s critically acclaimed Old Hobart.
I like a bit of Irish whiskey me. That's why I made a point of writing a big ol' three-part blog post about it earlier in the year. So, bearing that in mind, when I received an invitation to attend the Irish Whiskey Academy at Midleton distillery over in County Cork I didn't really need to think about it for too long. The Academy opened in February 2013 and along with a new still house and archive became a focus for the Irish Distillers' Housewarming celebrations last year.
The Academy is a state of the art training facility whose courses have been attended by many of the leading whisk(e)y writers, journalists and bartenders. There's a nice Dave Broom quote on their site that sums it up quite nicely: "I can honestly say that this is the finest training facility I have ever been in, and some of the finest training I have ever had". That.
Right then ladies and gentlemen. Time for week's #MasterofCocktails, featuring a Brandy Crusta recipe - a real life classic. This is a smashing drink, first brought to my attention by the superb @AdamsBitters.
Before we get started, here are 2 tips on the Brandy Crusta:
1) Drink more of them.
2) Don't order one in a bar where it's not on the menu.
Got it? Good. The key to this drink is the garnish, which we will be preparing a couple of hours in advance before actually putting the drink together.
We sent our man in Havana on a fact-hunting mission to Tasmania. Facing all manner of perils, from killer ants to the ferocious Tasmanian devil, he went boldly to every distillery on the island. In this series, we’ll detail his findings and give you everything you need to know about Tasmanian whisky, starting things off with Sullivans Cove from the aptly named Tasmania Distillery – recent winner of the World’s Best Single Malt at the 2014 World Whiskies Awards.
Located at the southeast of the island, Sullivans Cove is where the British first established the settlement which would one day become Tasmania’s capital, Hobart. Starting out as a penal colony, one can only imagine what the inhabitants got up to. By 1824 there were sixteen legal distilleries, and a metric slew of illicit stills. In short, it was party-time in Tasmania. I’d even speculate the residents used the word party as a verb. History hasn’t recorded whether or not this is true.
Right then cocktail fans. Time for this week's #MasterofCocktails extravaganza. This time, we're making a Banana Daiquiri recipe. Course we are.
This is a rather prep-heavy drink, and with most of it we will be able put it together a day or so in advance. Following that, all we'll need to do is remove it from the freezer, give it a quick blitz with a stick blender, tip into a glass and garnish. But first, let's have a look at the homework we will have done beforehand.
This week's drink (a day later than usual due to the bank holiday) is a twist on a Palmetto recipe, using the amazing Rumbullion! XO along with a couple of superb vermouths, and Bitter Bastards Black Truffle Bitters. The Black truffle notes add a superb, almost ethereal balance to the drink that makes it probably my favourite creation of the last few months.
It's a simple drink to make, which I'm sure will be welcome after last week's (and next week's) more prep-heavy drinks.
WIN a place on the panel to choose which cask gets bottled as well as receiving a special personalised bottle of the resulting limited edition release!
A proper competition this, for all you malt fans out there. The marvellous folk at the Old Hobart distillery in Tasmania are wonderful whisky makers, but are sometimes a little indecisive. Alongside his truly excellent Sherry and port cask releases, Head Distiller and distillery owner Casey Overeem has - for the first time - filled a small number of specially re-sized bourbon casks with his wonderful single malt! The trouble is they all taste superb, so he's having a little trouble to decide which one to release first in the UK... that's where you come in.
Back in the 1950s, when George Grant's daddy was quite literally still in nappies, George's grandfather was busy laying down stock for the future and to this day the family-run independent distillery and its followers have been reaping the rewards of this policy with some incredible releases.
In 2007 they launched The Family Casks range showcasing some of the best single casks in their warehouses with vintages ranging from 1952 (!) to 1994 on release. Glenfarclas' envious inventory of maturing stock then saw them able to add a 40 Year Old to their core range in 2010. How many distilleries can boast that?
Following a couple of 1953 vintage releases over the last couple of years taken from casks that were the very oldest in the inventory (like this and this), the inevitable has now happened. Glenfarclas have released an official 60 Year Old bottling for the first time ever.
Right then campers. Time for this week's #MasterofCocktails. This week it's a Gimlet recipe, one of those that's super-simple if you do a bit of prep. We're going to be venturing into slightly more prep-heavy territory soon, so this one's a decent bit of practice. As ever, we'll be publishing all the directions in advance (in the case of prep) here and on the Master of Malt twitter, along with the cocktail recipes so you can either make it along with us, or come back to the drink at a later date.
As such, we'll be making our Gimlet using homemade Lime Cordial. You could make this drink with shop-bought, but honestly? It's just not worth wasting good gin on. The lime cordial only takes minutes to make, and lasts for weeks in the fridge.
Ah, Dramboree. A truly fantastic event, and one that’s difficult to convey in all its glory within a blog post. (One of the many reasons it’s taken me a little while to get round to this write-up.) For those who don’t know, Dramboree is a whisky weekend held in Scotland in early July that’s simply getting better and better with age. Next year it will be three years old. The requisite age for it to be referred to as the real deal? Well, based on the taste we had this time around, we think it's getting pretty close to perfect already.
The second ever Dramboree was attended by 64 people (that’s about double the number from the first year), most of which first descended upon Glasgow in order to hop aboard the Dramboree coach for
a magical mystery tour the hour or so long journey to the shores of stunning Loch Lomond.