Okay – this is a big one.
Those of you who follow me on twitter may have seen a few somewhat maniacal tweets surrounding the equipment we recently purchased (a rotary vacuum still, complete with recirculating chiller), and today, with great pride, I can formally reveal what I’ve been slaving over for the last few months, and the reasoning behind it.
You see – I love gin, me. By jebus it’s a fantastic drink. What’s been bugging me for a while about the gin category as a whole, though, is that there’s not been any attempt to delve a bit deeper into its main ingredient – Juniper.
Have you ever heard the phrase, “It gets better with age”? Well, to this Macallan says, “Age ain’t nothin’ but a number” as they announce a new range of single malt Scotch whiskies to replace the well-known Macallan Fine Oak and Macallan Sherry Oak ranges that consumers have come to know. Their intent? To release three no-age statement expressions over the next calendar year.
This is bad news for people who believe age statement indicates quality and justifies price. But it could be great news for people who know that just because a whisky is old doesn’t make it good—or even mature.
Well, he’s been at it again.
We try to rein him in from time to time, but the man just won’t listen. After his last couple of excursions into the world of gin - a Sloe Gin made with half a pound of sloes per bottle, and an Old Tom which I’m reasonably sure he made just because he likes drinking Martinezzes (Martinez? Martinezs? Martiniz?), he’s been at it again with this, a cask-aged offering made using the superb Bathtub Gin as the base.
The Professor has acquired a stock of Octave casks (only 50 litres capacity as opposed to the more usual 250 litre hogshead) which have been previously used to store whisky (and prior to that, either Sherry, or Bourbon) for his newest creation. This means that in comparison to other cask-aged gins, there is a significantly higher surface area to volume ratio (roughly double as I’m sure you’ve all worked out by now). This, in turn, means that the gin will interact with the cask faster, making the 6-months-ish that the gin spends in cask lends a fantastic amount of flavour to the gin.
The casks used to store and mature the Gin are used a maximum of twice, before being retired and used as garden furniture / plant pots / props in a massive game of real-life Donkey Kong I’m planning for the warehouse staff in a couple of weeks. Not the last one. Definitely not that.
We’ve been back for a couple of weeks now and we’re slowly beginning to feel human again after the rigours of our ten days on Islay.
This year’s Feis Ile was quite an experience, from the fabulous food at the Lagavulin dinner to partying with the Balvenie boys, Cask Strength, et al in our very own hot tub.
Since we’ve been back, we’ve also been enjoying the entries to our competition, some of which I have peppered throughout this post.
In proper Indiana Jones-style, the lads at Grant’s have uncovered an ancient text (not the Book of the Dead) explaining exactly what William Grant had at his disposal in 1912 to create Stand Fast. Not to be outdone, they have taken it upon themselves to recreate Stand Fast—as much to a T as possible—exactly one hundred years later, to the day.
Blending has been a treasured and almost mystical art form for centuries, with master blenders handing down recipes verbally to apprentices like secretive sorcerers imparting wisdom to only their most promising pupils. With only six master blenders in its 135-year history, Grant’s hasn’t had too many sorcerers sharing information. So, the discovery of a whisky book is a magical one, indeed.
We've lost Gareth. Poor chap had to leave on a jet plane early this morning and miss this day of wonderful days…drumroll please…
Ardbeg Day! Yes, my malty children, it was the day of Ardbeg, and after a long and luxurious lie in, we were fed a lovely fry up by Mr Ben and then lickety-split, back in the Malt Mobile to rush across the island and not miss all the festivities.
For on this day, Ardbeg held their very own Islay-lympics complete with discus throwing and sheep tossing. We began the day with a nip of the Feis Ile special bottling from Ardbeg, the aptly named: Arbeg Day (Release the Peat!).
Onward Malting solidiers! Marching as to…more drams. So many drams… We’ve done it again, we have! Had the bespectacled lads over from Cask Strength last night for ribs and more ribs. Ridley wasted no time in donning a dressing gown and topped off this debonair look with a martini. We soon all followed suit (swimsuit, that is).
Mr Ellefsen had once again outdone himself on the food and drinks front, so when my alarm sounded at 6 this morning, I was not a happy camper. Alas, we had to depart the beautiful and luxurious Al Linnean cottage by 10 AM, so an early start to pack, clean, and load the car was a necessity.
Thursday was Jura Day. It started far too early for any of our liking, and lack of sleep is beginning to play heavily on people’s sanity; that and the midges.
We left in a hurry to catch the ferry at 8.30am, at the other side of the Island. You know, over there.
It is not a long journey. In fact we reached Jura in about 4 and-a-half minutes, the malt mobile rolling off the boat and onto the rugged shore.Force of habit made us reach for the sat nav, to aid us in our navigation of the Island’s one, single track road. We were going the right way.