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.
This week on #MasterofCocktails we're making a lesser known cocktail – the 'Modern Cocktail No. 2', taken from the superb reference tome that is The Savoy Cocktail Book.
Now – it's worth remembering that Mr Harry Craddock, the author of this book, would have had access to very different ingredients to the ones we have today. For that reason, I've (hopefully lovingly) changed a few of the quantities and in one case omitted an ingredient. I'll explain as we go.
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.
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).
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.
Considering that the Knockdhu distillery was founded over 100 years ago in a land brimming with peat, they’ve certainly taken their sweet time bringing out some peated whisky in the shape of the anCnoc Peaty collection. What have they been doing with all that peat all this time? Hoarding it in case Islay ever runs out? Using it to run some very slow trains? Dirt clod fights?
In actual fact, back in 1894 when Mr. John Morrison and his cohorts first started producing whisky at the Knockdhu distillery up near Aberdeen, a location chosen for its proximity to the Great North Railway line and the abundance of barley, peat and springs of Highland water, the malted barley was indeed dried using peat-fired kilns. They were making peated whisky all the way back in the 1800s!
This week we're making a nice potent, wintry drink for #MasterofCocktails to accompany all the unseasonably warm weather we've been enjoying. D'oh!
Don't worry about that though, we're making a Boulevardier. You'll notice, ingredients-wise, that it's basically a Negroni made with whiskey instead of gin. It appeared in Harry McElhone's Barflies and Cocktails right back in 1927 after the New Yorker set up his bar in Paris and it's just an absolutely superb drink.
You put the lime in the Ballantine’s, you drink 'em both together,
Put the lime in the Ballantine’s, then you feel better,
Put the lime in the Ballantine’s, drink 'em both up,
Put the lime in the Ballantine’s, and call me in the morning…
Flavoured whisky, eh? Obviously not that though. What I should say, of course, is flavoured whisky liqueurs and whisky-based spirit drinks, eh? This one’s a little different to many, however. First of all, it’s not honey flavoured (or even cherry flavoured). Secondly, it’s essentially made by actually steeping lime peel in Scotch whisky, in the cask.
Well. This is sort of a big deal, isn't it?
I can probably count on the fingers of one hand the number of whiskies ever released that are over 60 years of age, and it's absolutely unthinkable these days that a 60yo distillery release would ever see the light of day at anything less than a five-figure price tag. Yet here we are bringing this astonishing piece of liquid history to you for a three-figure sum*.
Well rather than re-iterate, I'll refer you to my explanation of the economics behind this, here: http://www.masterofmalt.com/Blog/post/Brand-New-30-40-and-50-Year-Old-Whisky.aspx. Do please read it, as every bit of it still rings true, and it's the reason behind our ability to continue to deliver exceptional, unbelievably well-aged whiskies at price-points an order of magnitude less than some other folk.