Sound the new regular column klaxon because we’ve got a new regular column! It’s called ‘What we loved this week’ and as you might have guessed it’s a round-up of the most delicious things which we’ve tried recently. These might be new releases or old classics which we have rediscovered.
But before we dive into our week in booze. Here’s a quick round-up of what we had on the blog. We started the week with a budget-blended whisky with a fascinating history, John Barr. Then we wheeled out Ben Ellefsen to tell us about a new cask strength Wormtub 12 year old and another batch of MoM exclusives. Cocktail of the Week was the fearsomely boozy Long Island Iced Tea. We also took a look at the final three regions of Scotland, Islay, Campbeltown, and the Lowlands, and a reminder that you could win a trip to your favourite region in our latest competition. And finally, Jess tasted Redbreast 21 Year Old as well as a floral gin from Hendrick’s and even Amrut Triparva, while Adam rounded up some cracking cult whiskies.
Now it’s on to what we loved this week. The first-ever. We hope you enjoy it and do let us know what you’ve been drinking recently.
What Henry loved this week
Terrific Tobermory, lovely Ledaig
I was fortunate enough to attend an event with Brendan McCarron and Julieann Fernandez from Distell, the company that owns Tobermory, Bunnahabhain, and Deanston. The occasion was the launch of the 24-year-old Hebridean Series whisky and the unveiling of wildlife photographer Gordon Buchanan as Tobermory’s new brand ambassador. Buchanan is not only a whisky lover, Mull native, and all-round good egg, but he’s also the brother of whisky legend Stuart Buchanan. Anyway, we’ll cover the 25-year-old when it comes in but just wanted to say holy moly the 18-year-old Ledaig (pronounced as Brendan reminded us ‘lay chick’) is good: smoked meat, fruit, sweet sherry, and smoke all in perfect balance. And half the price of certain other 18-year-old smoky whiskies that are out there.
Don’t forget Jensen’s Gin
Founded by Dane Christian Jensen in Bermondsey, south London, Jensen’s Gin has been going since 2004, and it was one of the first distilleries to revive a sweeter-tasting Old Tom gin. Yet despite being ahead of the pack, production is tiny and the brand isn’t particularly well known. This is something that the team is hoping to change soon. Tasting through the range, the quality is definitely there, especially in the form of the punchy (but not sweet, there’s no sugar in here) Old Tom Gin. It makes a mighty Negroni. Even more exciting are the forthcoming fruit gins, also made with no added sugar, including Sicilian Orange Gin (coming soon to Master of Malt) that tastes like how I want limoncello to taste rather than of floor cleaner.
D’you know Janneau?
My final stop was at the Fells tasting where they had a range of delicious Armagnacs from Janneau on tasting. Everything from the cocktail-ready VS and VSOP bottles to the rich XO and up to the extraordinary vintage releases were superb, and great value as well. I know we’re always banging on about this but it’s worth getting to know Armagnac and Janneau is a great place to start.
What Adam loved this week
Kingsbarns Doocot nestles in for the long run
First, there was Kingsbarns Dream to Dram. Now, there’s Kingsbarns Doocot. The Lowland distillery’s first single malt was released in 2019 and set the tone with its light and floral style. This week, the next stage in that evolution launched: Doocot. It will eventually replace DtD (sob) and is named after a traditional nesting shelter for doves and pigeons. There’s a 200-year-old example at the distillery which now is home to the first cask of whisky ever filled at the Lowland distillery.
Doocot very much embodies the signature Kingsbarns style, but with additional time in cask to develop those delicate tropical fruits and floral notes. Made from whisky matured in 90% bourbon barrel and 10% STR (shaved, toasted, and re-charred) casks, the addition of STR is very well done, a measured pinch of seasoning that lets the bourbon cask do its thing and showcases all that distillery character. Doocot has kept the Kingsbarns code, this is light, sweet, and creamy with heaps of tropical fruit, vanilla, and a lovely sour tang reminiscent of rhubarb or raspberries. Give it time and let it shine. Doocot arrives on our shelves on Monday, so keep your eyes peeled.
Pleasantly In Perpetuity
While we wait for the new £13.5m Port of Leith to open this summer, the brand has distracted our dreams of vertical distilleries with a whisky release called Perpetuity. It’s inspired by the way people create infinity bottles. You know that thing you do at home where you pour various whiskies into one bottle or decanter to create a little homemade blend. Well, PoL has taken that up a notch with Perpetuity. Basically, the distillery now has a constantly evolving vat of single malt and single grain whiskies from Highland, Speyside, and Lowland distilleries, from which it will bottle batches of Perpetuity. Batch 1 features a strong selection of distilleries I love like Deanston and Glentauchers. So it’s no surprise I was impressed with this blend. Think the kind of slightly dusty, caramel, vanilla sweetness you get from grain whisky (from North British, no less) paired with orchard fruit and a little waxy orange peel on the nose, with toffee popcorn, stone fruits, lemon, and a drying aromatic touch of ginger on the palate.
Little red delights
Scarfes Bar at the Rosewood London is always a good spot for a whisky and/or cocktail but this week it played host to its Parisian pals at Little Red Door. The bar was previewing its new menu, made in collaboration with local farmers including one couple who gave the bar the spoils of their last harvest before retiring. The menu keeps the bar’s mantra of simple names, complex creations and really shines a light on the signature seasonal ingredient in each serve. I tried the light, bright, and leafy Holy Basil made with Fords Gin, apple wine, and a holy basil liqueur the LRD team whipped up, as well as the smashing Walnut. My personal favourite of the new menu, the Walnut is rich, deep, and just the right amount of boozy thanks to a blend of LRD’s green walnut wine, SAB’s Marc de Bourgogne, and Woodford Reserve. People often say our bar recommendations are too London-centric (we are based in Kent, in fairness) so we’re only too pleased to recommend a spot in Paris for you to check out.
What Alex loved this week
Mambo No.6 (A Little Bit of Lakes…)
Exciting times at The Lakes Distillery as the penultimate sixth edition of its Whiskymaker’s Reserve dropped this week. Fans of the classic, sherry-forward signature of this English whisky will be very pleased, with this edition also bringing plenty of woody spices and subtle floral notes along. It comes at an interesting point in time too, with Sarah Burgess taking up the role of whisky maker and Dhavall Gandhi transitioning to consulting ventures. I think we’re all curious to see how the Lakes style develops with these two powerhouses behind it.
Rugby (sort of) and Italian whisky
I was going to start this section with a witty pun, but it’s probably telling when you have to google ‘rugby puns’ and then have to google why it’s funny. But anyway, my friend is into rugby and has been wanting a Six Nations whisky collection. Luckily, I’m more into my whisky and thought I’d try to put together a selection. There’s a whole scrum (there we go) of Scottish, Welsh, English, Irish, and French whiskies to choose from, but Italian whiskies are surprisingly few and far between, although that is changing. A future topic to tackle, but for now, how lucky was I that this PUNI 4 Year Old joined the Master of Malt Exclusives. Six Nations whisky collection complete.
Can I call myself a Master of Margaritas because I went to the ultimate Margarita masterclass? That’s how it works right? Olmeca Altos and Pernod Ricard’s House of Tequila hosted Julio Bermejo, creator of the Tommy’s Margarita, to teach a few of us how it’s done. As much as I love a classic Margarita, dropping the Cointreau like you do in a Tommy’s just gives the Tequila that bit more room to shine, and it’s ridiculously simple to make, so I’ve been loving one of these after work this week.