We tasted some fine alcohol beverages this week including some ravishing Cognac and a versatile Canadian whisky while converting people to the joys of Redbreast. Again. Oh and we met Stanley Tucci. No biggie. This is what we loved this week.
It’s been another busy week for Master of Malt’s intrepid content team, sniffing out high-quality boozes and then turning those experiences into words. We started on Monday with a look at great Japanese drinks to try ahead of next week which is devoted to all kinds of deliciousness from Japan. Then it was the return of one of the most popular events in the whiskey lovers’ calendar – the launch of the latest Buffalo Trace Antique Collection. Our New Arrival of the Week was a collection of innovative blended whiskies from Loch Lomond called Noble Rebel and Ben was back with a very sexy bottle called Infinity. For those of us suffering from the cost of whisky crisis, Adam was at hand with ten bargains, and our Cocktail of the Week was a modern classic created by former Savoy head bartender Erik Lorincz, the Green Park.
Right, here’s what we loved this week!
What Henry loved this week
Canadian whisky from the booze brother himself
Signal Hill is another example of how Canadian whisky really punches above its weight. This is from Dan Aykroyd’s spirits group which includes Crystal Head vodka. It was put together in conjunction with a former master blender at Canadian giant Hiram Walker Michael Booth. He clearly has access to some lovely whiskies as this corn and malt blend is rich, sweet and delicious with a dried fruit and walnut finish that suggests there’s something sherry-ish going on in there somewhere. Basically, you are getting a lot of mature whiskies for your money with a flavour that’s sort of bourbon meets luxury Scotch blend. This is a great mixing whisky for Manhattans, Whisky Sours etc but I think it’ll taste best with a little ice when an old friend comes over. I can’t see a bottle lasting long in our house.
Spanish brandy with a French accent
There’s definitely a brandy theme to this week’s newsletter. It was fascinating trying through the range from Spanish brand Torres at the Cask Liquid Marketing trade show in London this week. One, in particular, stood out because rather than being made from Catalan varieties, Torres 20 year Old Hors d’ Age is made from ugni blanc, the Cognac grape. It’s also double-distilled and aged in French oak. The result has the delicacy, fruit, and perfume of a high-quality Cognac but perhaps a little richer. Superb stuff. The rest of the range is more typically Spanish and well worth trying especially the top-of-the-range Jaime I.
For most of us, Chartreuse means yellow or green, but the monastic distillery produces a range of different liqueurs including special editions made in conjunction with sommeliers. The thing that caught my tastebuds was La Gentiane Apéritif Des Pères Chartreux – this has something of the classic Chartreuse flavour but with the gentian bitterness ramped up and the alcohol levels down to create something not dissimilar to Suze. I am dreaming about trying this in a White Negroni with some top-quality gin and vermouth.
What Adam loved this week
More marvellous Cognac
I didn’t really have the room to talk about all the Cognac I enjoyed at this year’s Cognac Show last week so I’m going to round things up here. It’s clear there’s a lot of new things going on in the region at the moment.
Leopold Gourmel, for example, is creating Cognacs with flavour at the core of its message. The brand uses untoasted casks used to enhance the terroir of the spirit over barrel influence or age. Léopold Gourmel Age du Fruit 10 Carats Cognac is… fruity, as you would imagine, full of apricots, citrus peel, orchard fruit, and honey. By contrast, at the Bache Gabrielsen stands was American Oak. It makes for a good intro to Cognac for whiskey fans, thanks to its finish in new American Tennessee oak barrels for six months, bringing all this creamy vanilla and coconut as well as oily toasted nuts.
Delamain Pale & Dry XO, meanwhile, is all about the light and fun style of Cognac with a fragrant and fruity profile that’s backed by plenty of vanilla. I was told to pop it in the freezer and the oiliness comes out and the aroma intensifies. ABK6 Cognac also has a modern approach for the youthful market, with its VSOP presenting as a buttery croissant with marmalade along with plenty of perfumed, spicy notes. The XO Renaissance is an option for those who like the finer things in life, rich with tobacco, candied fruit, and warming spice.
Don’t forget, we’ve got a whole month dedicated to the spirit coming in April, so fans of Cognac keep your eyes peeled.
What Jake loved this week
Still potty for single pot still
I got chatting about spirits with somebody at a wedding recently who described a little about the Cognac and wine they liked, but how they didn’t seem to be able to get into whisky. I suggested they may simply not have tried the right one as there’s a whole world to explore, but clearly, more than words would be required. Finding myself at the hotel bar shortly afterwards, I began scanning a small but decent range of choices. Then I saw it. Redbreast Lustau Edition. Confident this would tick some boxes, sure enough, moments later I was being heralded as a genius and whisk(e)y had a new fan. “Oh, he’s good!” In truth, as ever with these things, I was mostly relieved! And the credit goes to those clever folks at Midleton distillery in Cork.
Those who know me, know that I adore a single pot still Irish whiskey, and especially a Redbreast. You may know the Dave Broom quote “If the ship was going down within sight of a desert island, my flailing left hand would make a grab for a bottle of Redbreast.” I couldn’t agree more. This week we featured the Lustau Edition in our Pour & Sip whisky subscription box, and I was reminded of the wedding and delighted to see it being shared further. Oily unmalted and malted barley goodness, American and European oak maturation, a year-long finish in first-fill oloroso casks from the celebrated Bodegas Lustau, and under £50… Perhaps some people reading along will also be tempted to try this fantastic Irish whiskey too?
What Alex Loved this week
Tucci, Tiny 10s, and Tanqueray
At one of the more enviable staff bars (a rooftop situation off of Oxford Street, with an actual bar) the partnership between Tanqueray and Stanley Tucci was celebrated with a cocktail hour hosted by The Devil Wears Prada star. Tiny 10s were on the menu; a refreshing spritz-esque drink that got me all excited for summer, with grapefruit syrup, No. 10 gin, and prosecco. As an unashamed fangirl of Tucci’s Searching for Italy series, chatting gin, rice, and risotto with the lovely man himself is going straight to this year’s highlights.