Glenmorangie’s Private Edition range really took the spotlight this year when Jim Murray named the 19 year old, Ealanta, World Whisky of the Year 2014. Jim claimed Ealanta stole the show “because it went out and did something very different: not only did it blow [him] away with its deftness, beauty and elegance, but it gave an aroma and taste profile completely new to [him] in over 30 years of tasting whisky”. High praise indeed.
Soon after, Glenmorangie’s Director of Distilling, Dr Bill Lumsden, faced the unenviable challenge of creating a follow-up. After such a coveted title, any successor malt would surely pale in comparison, or at least one might think. We were expecting intensity of flavour, perhaps a big dose of sherry this time? Well, rather that playing it safe, Bill took the somewhat risky decision of releasing a red wine finish – something we’ve seen a lot of over the years, but very rarely done well. In fact, put bluntly, most of the time red wine ruins whisky. I won’t name names*, but we’ve all had an “experimental” whisky buggered up by overdosing with wine casks that have perhaps unnecessary pedigree (aside from marketing purposes, why anyone feels the need to finish in First Growth casks is beyond my understanding!). So – how would Bill’s latest fare?
For this week's #MasterofCocktails, we're making a Highball. Incredibly refreshing, and probably in my all-time top three aperitifs. Well, top 5 anyway... (Martini, Negroni, Campari-Soda...) Yep. Top 5.
Now, whilst this may seem a very straight-forward cocktail (and in many ways is), it's all in the balance and execution. I had one of my favourites a couple of weeks ago at Bincho (a Japanese Restaurant with its own ‘whisky joint’ in the basement), where they paired Hakushu 12 with Fresh Mint.
We're going to use Lemon Peel as the 'garnish' in our drink, but we want it to be very, very subtle. More on that later...
On Monday night I attended a Burns Supper with a difference, courtesy of the Monkey Shoulder Social Club. There was haggis, of course, and Scotch whisky too, but rather than Scotland’s favourite son taking centre stage, the star of this particular show was one Charles Montgomery Plantagenet Schicklgruber Burns, Sr. Oh, yes.
Monkey Shoulder, as I'm sure many of you will know, is a fantastic blended malt from William Grant that's made with whiskies from their three Dufftown distilleries: Glenfiddich, Balvenie and Kininvie.
The theme for the evening had been hiding in plain sight for some time as guests entered to win tickets to ‘A Celebrations of Mr Burns’, accompanied by a picture of Rabbie in a pair of shades that had apparently been enough to throw many off the scent. Upon arrival at The Caledonian Club, everything seemed perfectly above board... although... did I spot Groundskeeper Willy on my way up the street?.. Probably nothing, let’s just enjoy this Monkey Shoulder whisky punch (created by Roman Foltan of the Artesian Bar) in the library and speak to a couple of these nice people from the ‘Dufftown Burns Appreciation Society’.
Alternate Title: “If it’s not perfect, what’s the fucking point?”
My name is Ben. I like it when things are done properly*. This post, therefore, has been quite a while in the making.
It turns out making clear ice is hard. Very hard in fact. There’s a very good reason that companies like this exist. In fact, if you’re based in, or near, London – you should probably just stop reading this, man up, buy yourself a chest freezer to house some of their wares, and give them a call.
If like me though, you’re out of their delivery range, you’re going to need to make your own**.
Luckily, every single one of you has the requisite equipment for this, so there really aren’t any excuses. You can make big, clear ice with zero investment. Sounds like I’m trying to get you to buy a timeshare. I’m not. Promise.
Well that was quite a Christmas.
In fact it’s been so busy that 4 new releases have passed us by with nary a mention. Changing that, now I am here with the writing about things. Yes.
Without further ado, onto the explanations behind the crazy stuff that’s fallen out of my head and onto paper.
First up this time, we’ve got an absolute belter of an Islay Whisky, from Kilchoman.
As promised, we made another low(ish) alcohol drink this week for #MasterofCocktails that’s fantastic in its own right. This one's called The Adonis and it's a real flavour-packed treat!
It's taken from ‘The Art of The Shim: Low-Alcohol Cocktails to Keep You Level’ by Dinah Sanders, a superb compendium of yummy low(er) alcohol cocktails. Well worth a look.
Without further ado, here are the ingredients:
What time is it? There are countless pop-culture references I could make in response to that question, including Beastie Boys lyrics, video game quotes and good old-fashioned internet memes (see below), but I think I’ll just be super sensible today and say it’s Competition time!!!
You might think that making up a new time of the day to go along with 'lunch time' and 'dinner time' (which is much more sinister if you grew up playing 'What's The Time Mr. Wolf?') isn't very sensible, but you can't argue with winning awesome prizes, can you?
An unbelievably simple recipe today, but genuinely one of my all-time favourites. That's right – today we're making an Amaretto Sour.
Now before we get started, there are, of course, many ways to make this drink. You can serve it up, or on the rocks. You can include egg-white for additional body, and you can even bang in some bitters for additional complexity. The picture below is an example of an 'up' drink courtesy of 'The Art of the Shim', a superb book that I'll come back to at the end.
We're keeping it as simple as you like for this #MasterofCocktails version, however, which means you'll require just 2 ingredients: Lemon and Amaretto...
Ah, Maltstock! 2013 marked Master of Malt’s 4th visit to the “relaxed whisky weekend”, although of the four people who went, three of us were, in fact, Maltstock virgins! That Boutique-y Whisky Company have also now released their second batch of Highland Park single malt Scotch whisky, complete with Maltstock label – more on that towards the end!
As mentioned above, Cat (now Maverick Drinks’ Brand Communications Manager), was the only one of us who had travelled to Maltstock before (making the local newspapers in the process), the rest of the team was made up by her Maverick minion Teesh,
Sam Alexandra (who is MoM’s marketing maestro), and yours truly!
Back in December I visited the Worship Street Whistling Shop for a very special, two hour long ‘multi-sensory experience’: the final Diageo Whisky Theatre of the year. The project is the work of irrepressible Diageo brand ambassador Colin Dunn and the Fluid Movement duo of Tristan Stephenson and Tom Aske who have presented similar experiences in the past, for example with rum, but the mention of whisky certainly caught our attention immediately! I believe Tristan also has a whisky book coming out this year too – one to watch out for.
There is (just) room for nine people but I was joined by a fab four of Gin Monkey, Imbibe’s Laura Foster (recent winner of the Alan Lodge Young International Spirits Writer of the Year), Siobhan Payne from Difford’s Guide and London Cocktail Week and Alex Kratena off of The Artesian (named The World’s Best Bar for the second year running in 2013).