Rye from Scotland, a library of sherried whisky from The Lakes Distillery, and a ti-rum-isu from Ainsley Harriott himself all caught our attention this week.

It seems that spring might just be upon us despite the gale-force winds gusting around MoM HQ this week. We had to tie down some smaller members of staff to make sure they didn’t blow away. There’s blossom on some of the trees which reminds us, we’re celebrating Japanese week here. Nice segway, wasn’t it? So Adam delved into the history of Japan’s most famous single malt, Yamazaki, and rounded up some Japanese whisky that you need to try while Henry stirred down a refreshing Highball with Nikka Days . We also tried some non-Japanese drinks including a 10-year-old Scotch of Profound Richness, new English whisky from Wire Works, some of our own indie bottlings, and treats for those with a sweet tooth because Easter is coming. Oh, and Alex got all experimental in the kitchen with a whisky yolk sauce. Sounds crazy but also delicious.

Right, here’s what we loved this week!

Ainsley Harriot

The man, the myth, the legend: Ainsley Harriot

What Adam loved this week
Ready, steady, rum: we meet Ainsley Harriott

This week a celebration of Caribbean culture, cuisine and cocktails took place, curated by Duppy Share Rum and Ainsley Harriott. The chef and TV star teamed up with Sly Augustin, owner of Trailer Happiness, to create a Caribbean menu that included Jerk King Prawns marinated in Duppy Aged Rum paired with a refreshing Duppy Blitz, to Chicken Skewers cooked with coconut and Duppy Spiced Rum served with a creamy Duppy Colada. It’s safe to say we were spoiled with both the cuisine and company. 

Rounding things off, a Tropical Tiramisu with Duppy XO complemented by a Duppy Old Fashioned demonstrated how you can pair rum with food and be original. An Italian dessert was not what I was expecting from a Caribbean menu, but that’s the joy of broadening horizons and I will absolutely be making Ti-rum-isu in the future. The evening was a constant reminder that pairing spirits with and including them in recipes is a different way to engage with and enjoy the drinks we love. Duppy Share was an ideal partner too, a versatile, bargain offering that represents a great option for those who want to upgrade from the supermarket heroes without breaking the bank. A rum to convert sceptics. After all, if it’s good enough for my mate Ainsley…

The Lakes gets into its element

The Lakes Distillery launched Elements this week, a library of whisky that gives people a view into the journey whisky makers go on to create a new single malt whisky. A collection of seven whiskies, each demonstrates the nuances of flavour from a multitude of sherry-seasoned casks, considering how they interact with the new make spirit and the influence of the Lakes’ local climate and warehousing environment on the maturing whisky. All seven whiskies are the same new make spirit, aged in a 500-litre American oak butt in the same warehousing conditions and then bottled at 54% ABV. The only difference is the sherry seasoning of the casks, with a fino, manzanilla, amontillado, palo cortado, cream, PX, and oloroso edition.

The concept offers a fascinating insight into the impact of the flavour the cask brings and something of a map for fans to see how the Lakes builds towards that refined sherry character that’s becoming its signature. It’s also worth considering each as a blending component, if you can bring yourself to spare any of the precious liquid, and make a miniature marriage of elements you reckon will work together. I think the range is a brilliant idea and offers so many options to create an enlightening experience for whisky nerds like me. After all, why sherry bomb, when you can sherry-share the love? No, I will not be apologising for that. 

Loch Lomond: a distiller’s choice

Loch Lomond’s set-up means it can make all kinds of whisky (read more here) so we’re always intrigued to see what the distillery comes up with next. This week we were delighted to pop Loch Lomond Single Grain Distiller’s Choice onto our virtual shelves. A limited-edition bottling, it was distilled from 100% malted barley in the continuous Coffey still (meaning it’s a single grain in Scotch terms), with master blender Michael Henry creating a blend of some of the distillery’s older whiskies with younger, more vibrant liquids. It was all aged in a selection of both first-fill and second-fill American oak bourbon barrels and bottled at 48.8% ABV. Henry’s methods have paid off, for my money, there’s a rich and thick creaminess (vanilla fudge, melted chocolate) reminiscent of old grain as well as a bright, effervescent fruitiness throughout with blackcurrant, red berries, apple, coconut, and some tropical fruits in there too. 

Bruichladdich Rye whisky

Rye whisky from Scotland. It’s a thing. And there’s more to come

What Henry loved this week
Rye Scots

Normally we like to pick things that are in stock and ready to buy but I tried two things recently that are so exciting that I’m going to put them in anyway. We’ve read a lot about how some lovely Scots rye whiskies are in the pipeline, not least in this article by Ian Buxton, and now they’re here! Or almost here. First up from Bruichladdich is its Regeneration project made from 55% rye and 45% malted barley both grown on Islay. It’s aged in first-fill bourbon and virgin American oak barrels, and is just five years old but already beautifully balanced with lots of aromatic spice balanced by sweet chocolate and custard notes. It’s recognisably rye but also tastes a lot like Bruichladdich. Then there’s the long-awaited rye from the new distillery Inchdarnie in Fife is very different even though it’s a similar age as it was distilled in 2017. It’s aged entirely in new American oak and I’m pretty sure it has a much higher rye percentage because it’s massively spicy, aromatic and distinctive with a finish like Dr Pepper. In a good way. Both are hugely exciting whiskies and are likely to be massively in demand when they arrive with us. Keep an eye out on the New Arrivals page.

The Milk Punch: Haku Vodka, mango, lime, cayenne pepper, and coconut milk

The Milk Punch: Haku Vodka, mango, lime, cayenne pepper, and coconut milk

What Alex loved this week
A Pepper Party! – Spiritland

Pepper was on every part of the menu at a supper club hosted by Dr Anna Sulan Massing, a writer, academic, and presenter of Taste of Place – a brilliant podcast exploring colonialism, trade routes, and different relationships to pepper. 

The event was held at Spiritland in Kings Cross, so, naturally, the drinks were in good hands. Pepper infused the entire cocktail menu, created by Elliot Osborn, with a Martini made from Beaufort Smoked Gin, dry vermouth, and green peppercorn oil, kicking things off in a deliciously savoury fashion. The Milk Punch gave me order envy, made with Haku Vodka, mango, lime, cayenne pepper, and coconut milk, and was deceptively refreshing. Honourable mention goes to the Old Fashioned, with salted butter Highland Park, black peppercorn syrup, bitters, and burnt bread dust. It’s safe to say the whole thing got me looking at my spice cupboard in a whole new light, and got me shaking up a few new cocktails.

Jazzy Whisky

Síbín Swing is the name of the new monthly live jazz nights held at the Síbín Bar in London’s Great Scotland Yard Hotel. On the last Thursday and Friday of every month, walk on through the (sort of) secret bookcase and into the well-stocked whisky bar. Set to feature exciting whisky makers each month (the first one was The Lakes Distillery) and bespoke cocktails, it’s one for the calendar. Just remember to book in advance!