I’m sure you’ll all remember the frankly fantastic couple of bottlings launched by the irrepressible duo from Caskstrength Neil and Joel in the past year or so?
First up was an Arran – a delight of a whisky with a frankly absurdly low outturn of only 92 bottles. This astonishing bottling rapidly sold out, and is now changing hands for hundreds of pounds on auction sites.
Second was an astonishing Benriach, matured for an impressive 16 years, and finished for 4 of those years in a Pedro Ximenez cask. This too, sold out in incredibly short order.
After ‘A’ for Arran, and ‘B’ for Benriach, must come ‘C’.
So – a few weeks back you may remember we launched a couple of ‘experimental’ cocktails – the Hanky Panky and the Boulevardier. The good news on this front is that the Hanky Panky has rapidly earned itself a promotion to the exalted ranks of the main series of the Handmade Cocktail company’s core offering, such was its popularity. I’ve just got to do a bit more mucking about with it (I’ve been experimenting with some of the fresh oak barrels we’ve recently acquired, and it takes exceptionally well to a bit of this – so it’s going to get some oak influence methinks) and with any luck it’ll be out before Christmas.
Categories : Cocktails
Ask most people what their first experience of whisky was and you will be greeted with a shudder, the questionee’s face will turn a charming tinge of green and they’ll reply, “A cheap blend out of my dad’s drinks cabinet, frankly it tasted vile and it made me do things I’d really rather not talk about here.” Fair enough. We all have to start somewhere.
However, this common experience of blended whisky —plus the ready availability of the stuff on the shelf at the supermarket—has led to blends getting a reputation on a par with that of Hollywood diva Lindsay Lohan, some say worse… This has propagated the fallacy that ‘single malt is good, blended whisky is bad’ which is repeated like Animal Farm’s ‘four legs good, two legs bad’ mantra until everyone is bored and has moved on to the Tequila and lime. However, I am here to put the case forward for blended whisky and then, through bravely/foolishly attempting it myself, I will try and give you some tips on how to create your very own blend!
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.
Having survived the wilds of Edinburgh and a skin-of-our-teeth race for the last ferry to Islay from Kennacraig, we found ourselves settled in to our exquisite cottage on Islay quite nicely. A little too nicely.
We began the day with rare and glorious sunshine, savoury crepes for breakfast, and the promise of an exceptionally brilliant day. After a bit of admin work (you can’t keep a nerd from his computer), we were on our way in the trusty Malt Mobile—now sullied with the carcasses of many an insect— to the Bruichladdich open day.
So – it’s that time of year again – Feis Ile, the Islay Whisky festival, time.
We went along for the first time last year, and despite several fates befalling us which wouldn’t have seemed out of place in the bible*, it was an absolutely awesome holiday strictly work-related event.
As a result, we’ve decided to go back again this year, en-masse for the full 8 days of the festval, starting next Saturday (26th May) and ending the Saturday after.
I’m a big fan of Compass Box whiskies, particularly Flaming Heart and Spice Tree, so the chance to blend my own concoction under the expert tutelage of John Glaser was like offering chateaubriand to a starving dog.
You may have noticed we’re also running a competition to win several bottles of Compass Box, and giving away a free dram with each bottle bought, so it was good to go up and sample some of the company’s whiskies and meet the team at their office in Chiswick. More…
If you haven’t yet discovered Compass Box whisky it’s high time you did because the company produces some of the best Scotch blends on the market today.
And this month, the raptor-retinaed among you will have noticed we are running a really rather brilliant competition, and all you have to do is buy a bottle of Compass Box to enter!
The prize is superb – a bottle of the original, illegal Spice Tree, plus two very different whiskies from the company’s intriguing Canto Cask Range; Canto Cask 48 and Canto Cask 20 to be exact.
And even if you don’t win, every bottle of Compass Box you buy will be accompanied by a free dram of another Compass Box whisky. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m just off to buy a bottle of Flaming Heart and… what’s that? I’m not allowed to enter?
Ok, unfair as that seems (there are only 250 chances after all) instead I’ll tell you a bit about Compass Box.
The company launched in 2000, the vision of American blender John Glaser, ex-marketing director at Johnnie Walker.
John started his career in the wine trade where blended products are celebrated as much as their single varietal cousins. With whisky however it was, and to an extent still is, single malts that get all the glory. More…
A rather interesting package came in the post yesterday.
Now, we’ve seen several new expressions from The Famous Grouse in recent years – from the rather deliciously smoky Black Grouse, to the silky smooth grain whisky, the Snow Grouse and more recently the unbelievably popular Naked Grouse, which also won a prestigious world whiskies design award for the really rather beautiful bottle.
This, however, is the first time that another avian has been brought into the flock (sorry). More…