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Irish Whiskey - Everything You Need To Know! (Part 2)

by Jake Mountain     13. February 2014 12:00

Ireland

Yesterday, I began my serialised guide to Irish Whiskey with a rundown of its turbulent history through some difficult times, becoming the most popular spirit in the world before nearly disappearing altogether in the 20th century! Fortunately, it has been on a road to recovery in the last few decades and is now thriving.

Despite this resurgence, which has made Irish Whisky the fastest growing drinks category in the world, Scotch whisky still comfortably sells 15 times more cases worldwide, and has about as many times more active distilleries too. With Scotch whisky's dominance since the 1930s, there's perhaps understandably still some confusion, even amongst whisk(e)y enthusiasts, surrounding the styles of Irish whiskey available.

Fret not, however! In this second instalment I'll be looking at each style in turn, complete with a number of yummy examples of each!

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Irish Whiskey - Everything You Need To Know! (Part 1)

by Jake Mountain     12. February 2014 12:02

Ireland

Last week Teeling Whiskey Company (who have the tagline 'The Spirit of Dublin') officially announced that they're set to bring whiskey distillation back to Dublin, something that's been in the pipeline for some time now. Jameson, meanwhile, are already looking ahead to St. Patrick's Day with a new limited edition packaging design (with the tagline 'The Spirit of Dublin' – well, they couldn't let those pesky newcomers cause anybody to forget Jameson's own Dublin roots, could they?!). These are interesting times over on the Emerald Isle, and it seems like an ideal moment to shine a massive ol' spotlight on Irish Whiskey, something I've been wanting to do for a while now.

So, what's it all about? What else is new? Herein lies all you need to know about the fastest growing spirits category in the world; from the history, to the styles of whiskey available, through to more recent developments and news. This is the tale of the rise and struggle and rise and rise and monumental collapse and hanging on in there and rise of delicious Irish whiskey!

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Master of Cocktails - Espresso Martini

by Ben Ellefsen     10. February 2014 13:18

Master of Cocktails Espresso Martini

For this week's #MasterofCocktails we're having a go at a modern classic. An Espresso Martini. Now before we begin, we're going to start by getting a few silly preconceptions out of the way...

The biggest one is probably the ingredients. If anyone says that you need a coffee liqueur to make an espresso martini, chances are they're trying to sell you some coffee liqueur. Or have been paid by a Coffee Liqueur Brand.

The thing about coffee liqueur is that it's made of coffee, and alcohol. We're using incredibly fresh coffee for this, which means you're going to get more than enough coffee punch, and won't have to sacrifice any flavour (as larger, more complex flavour molecules tend to degrade over time). We're also using dry ice today. As detailed last week, you can get this by ordering from online stores that ship frozen.

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Highland Park Freya

by Sam Smith     5. February 2014 09:53

Highland Park Valhalla Collection Freya

The sun is starting to peek through the clouds once more and there’s that glorious feeling of love in the air. Is that because Valentine’s Day is creeping closer and closer? It actually has nothing to do with Valentine’s Day at all (but you can still address all heart-shaped boxes of chocolate to Sam Smith, MoM Towers, Tunbridge Wells). No, that lovely feeling is coming from the parcel that has found its way to my desk.

Hidden beneath a shock of shredded black paper sits a fancy looking black box tied up with quite a fancy leather string bow. It's the kind of box that people can only hold really awesome or really scary stuff. You're not going to get a box that looks like this with a stapler or a bike lock or a bank statement in it. It's either amazing or devastating. A gold ring or a ring finger. A puppy or too many scorpions. Cake or death. I'm quite partial to cake, to be perfectly honest.

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Master of Cocktails - Singapore Sling

by Ben Ellefsen     3. February 2014 13:07

Master of Cocktails Singapore Sling

Another classic long drink for this week's #MasterofCocktails – this time around we're making a Singapore Sling to tie in with Chinese New Year. Definitely not a massive coincidence levered into the proceedings. Nope. Not that.

Remember, you can follow along on twitter from 6pm every Sunday before the recipe appears here on the blog the following day for your reference and general delight.

So, a bit about this cocktail - the Singapore Sling is a stalwart at Singapore's Raffles Hotel, dating back to the early 20th century. I've taken a slightly updated twist, however, heavily inspired by the superb book 'The Curious Bartender', by Tristan Stephenson. More on that shortly...

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Dramboree 2014 - Tickets on Sale Tomorrow!

by Jake Mountain     31. January 2014 10:34

Dramboree 2014 Logo

Dramboree 2014: “July 4, 5, 6 – Scotland. Whisky. Fun.”

What more could you possibly need to know?!

Well, Dramboree is a fun and informal annual whisky weekend of the very highest order, now in its second year. Taking inspiration from Maltstock, Whisky Squad’s Jason B. Standing and The Great Whisky Company’s Jonny McMillan found themselves discussing a perfect UK-based whisky weekend a couple of years ago before it dawned on them that they were the exact people to make it happen! Hey presto – Dramboree was born, and after a highly successful first outing, this year promises to be even bigger and better!

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Wizards of Whisky 2014 Winners!

by Sam Smith     29. January 2014 11:03

Wizards of Whisky 2014 Logo

For the longest time, I've had a suspicion about That Boutique-y Whisky Company being full of powerful wizards, what with the lightning-bolt shaped scars on their heads, their ability to talk to snakes (they’re very boring, all they want to do is sing songs about falling asleep) and how they’re very good at conjuring up delicious drinks. Sha-zam and abracadara!

Seeing as a number of their independently bottled marvels have just won Wizards of Whisky 2014 Awards, we think it’s pretty safe to say that they’re definitely sorcerers of the highest order, up there with Dumbledore, Gandalf and Emperor Palpatine (he shoots lightning from his hands, he totally counts as a wizard).

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Glenmorangie Companta

by Michael Orson     28. January 2014 16:09

Glenmorangie Companta

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?

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Master of Cocktails - The Highball

by Ben Ellefsen     27. January 2014 13:02

Master of Cocktails The Highball

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...

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An Alternative Burns Night with Monkey Shoulder!

by Jake Mountain     22. January 2014 14:08

Montgomery Burns

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’.

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