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Tag: Kyro

London Cocktail Week: 10 things to look out for

We’ve rounded up some of the standout events from the upcoming London Cocktail Week (4-14 October) so you can focus your energy on enjoying its many delightful boozy offerings. What…

We’ve rounded up some of the standout events from the upcoming London Cocktail Week (4-14 October) so you can focus your energy on enjoying its many delightful boozy offerings.

What was already one of the biggest dates in the drinks industry calendar is even bigger this year. London Cocktail Week has returned and has chosen to mark its 10th anniversary by broadening its showcase of the capital’s best bars, mixologists and drinks with an extended ten-day celebration. Because what’s better than a week of cocktails? Ten days of cocktails, that’s what.

Ten years already. Where does the time go? It’s been quite the journey since DrinkUp.London’s Hannah Sharman-Cox and Siobhan Payne founded LCW (as we in the ‘biz’ call it) as a pop-up in Selfridge’s to showcase London’s cocktail scene in 2010. Great oaks from little acorns grow: there are now over 300 bars taking part, tons of quirky pop-ups making temporary homes across London, and endless masterclasses where you can improve your shaking and stirring skills. There’s even a cocktail-meets-doughnut van courtesy of Maker’s Mark and Crosstown Doughnuts, for goodness sake.

As such, many of you will be looking forward to making yourself at home in the Cocktail Village at the Old Truman Brewery, Brick Lane between 4-14 October. But, you also might be feeling slightly overwhelmed by the significant number of events on offer. That’s why we’re here to offer a helping hand by highlighting some of the most intriguing, exciting and engaging opportunities London Cocktail Week has presented for 2019.

London Cocktail Week: the events

Ten options are listed below, but before we start it’s worth noting that you will need to purchase your £10 festival pass and download the DrinkUp.London app to activate it to enjoy London Cocktail Week. This will give you access to £6 drink deals at participating bars as well as entry to the Cocktail Village, so even if you don’t have the chance to make it to the good times below, there’s still plenty to be had all around this fair capital city of ours.

Now, let’s check out some events!

London Cocktail Week

All kinds of whisky-based shenanigans are to be expected

The Whisky House take over at Black Rock

Where?: Black Rock Tavern, 9 Christopher Street, London, EC2A 2BS

When?: Friday 4 October to Saturday 12 October

What’s it all about?: The fabulous Black Rock Tavern hosts brands like Bulleit Frontier Whiskey, Talisker, Copper Dog, Johnnie Walker and Roe & Co for a series of amazing events. The blend of pop-up whisky takeovers, experiences and late-night DJs across nine days will take place within the newly furbished first floor Blending Room and ground floor Tavern at East London’s specialist whisky bar.

Why would I like this, Adam?: There’s endless whisky-based fun to be had and a 185-year old interactive cocktail ageing tree trunk. Yes, you read that right.

London Cocktail Week

An award-winning G&T in a sauna? We’re in.

Kyrö Gin Sauna

Where?: The Cocktail Village, 146 Brick Lane, London, E1 6RU

When?: Wednesday 9 October to Monday 14 October (Wed-Sat 12-11pm, Sun 12-7pm)

What’s it all about?: Kyrö Distillery conceived in a Finnish sauna by a group of friends with a shared love of rye. That’s the kind of back-story that deserves to be celebrated, and that’s exactly what this feature is all about! Plenty of rye gin and, yes, an actual sauna, will be present in the Cocktail Village once again this year, as well as an opportunity to blend your own gin in a gin-blending masterclass. Tickets for the blending workshops can be found here.

Why would I like this, Adam?: Because there’s a sauna involved, for goodness sake. Plus plenty of Kyrö’s award-winning G&Ts.

London Cocktail Week

Refreshment is guaranteed

That Boutique-y Gin Company’s Instant Refreshment Service

Where?: The Cocktail Village, 146 Brick Lane, London, E1 6RU.

When?: Wednesday 9 October to Sunday 13 October (Wed-Sat 12-11pm, Sun 12-7pm).

What’s it all about?: That Boutique-y Gin Company’s Instant Refreshment Service means one thing: lots of delicious and easily accessible cocktails. You can help yourself to the independent bottler’s range of Craft Cocktails via a brilliantly Boutique-y vending machine, which will also be available on draft.

Why would I like this, Adam?: That Boutique-y Gin Company has made it clear its dream is for every attendee of London Cocktail Week to be fully refreshed at all times. This is a noble goal, and it involves consuming delicious cocktails. Which is the whole point of the entire enterprise, people.

London Cocktail Week

Is this the death of the whisky tumbler? No, but it’s still lots of fun

The Glenlivet’s Capsule Collection

Where?: Tayér + Elementary, 152 Old St, London EC1V 9BW

When?: Friday 4 October from 4-6pm.

What’s it all about?: Ever had an edible cocktail capsule before? No? Well, here’s your chance. A partnership between co-owner of Tayēr + Elementary, Alex Kratena and Scotch whisky distillery The Glenlivet has resulted in this selection of glassless cocktails, which will attempt to redefine the way whisky is traditionally enjoyed. The edible capsules are 23ml in size, fully biodegradable and housed in a seaweed-extract casing courtesy capsule designers Notpla. Simply pop them in your mouth an enjoy three original cocktails inspired by the elements and flavours of The Glenlivet Founder’s Reserve: Citrus, Wood and Spice.

Why would I like this, Adam?: You get to eat cocktails. There’s no need for glass, ice or cocktail stirrers here.

London Cocktail Week

The ultimate Cointreau Margarita cocktail awaits

Alfred Cointreau at The K Bar in celebration of London Cocktail Week

Where?: The K Bar, 109 – 113 Queen’s Gate, South Kensington, London SW7 5LP.

When?: Thursday 10 October from 6-9pm.

What’s it all about?: A celebration of both the week and Cointreau’s 170th Anniversary, this event sees Alfred Cointreau (the clue is in the name) taking the reins behind the wonderful K Bar in Kensignton to mix up classic and twists on the iconic Margarita while telling the story of Cointreau.

Why would I like this, Adam?: You get to meet some drinks industry royalty and learn how to make the ultimate Cointreau Margarita cocktail.

London Cocktail Week

Go wild in the isles, folks!

Supermarket Sweep

Where?: London Cocktail Club Shoreditch, Unit 12, 29 Sclater Street, London, E1 6HR

When?: Wednesday 9 October to Sunday 13 October (3.30-9pm)

What’s it all about?: If you’re somebody who’s looking for any excuse to get their 90s game show vibe on, then London Cocktail Club Shoreditch’s pop-up is the one for you. Inside the re-creation of a miniature supermarket you’ll get an opportunity to make a cocktail from JJ Goodman’s book ‘Kitchen Cocktails’ and sample cocktail recipes made from everyday ingredients like angel delight to Coco Pops. Best of all, you can whizz around the aisles Supermarket Sweep-style. So, choose your teams, grab your basket and indulge in some nostalgia! To book your ticket you’ll need to email reservations@londoncocktailclub.co.uk.

Why would I like this, Adam?: You can channel your best Dale Winton impression while enjoying some unorthodox cocktails.

London Cocktail Week

Karaoke and cocktails is a good night by anybody’s estimation

The House of Suntory Masterclass & Cocktail Karaoke

Where?: Shochu Lounge, Roka Charlotte Street, 37 Charlotte Street, London, W1T 1RR

When?: Monday 7 October to Tuesday 8 October (6-11.30pm)

What’s it all about?: An evening of learning about Japanese culture while imbibing Suntory’s Roku Gin, Haku Vodka and Toki Whisky in the company of UK ambassador James Bowker sounds pretty great. But the Japanese distillery has turned a great night into an unforgettable one by also hosting ‘Cocktail Karaoke’. Simply you choose your base spirit (gin/vodka/whisky) and your favourite classic track then the team at Roka will create a Japanese riff on your song choice. How good does that sound? You can book your ticket here.

Why would I like this, Adam?: Two words: Cocktail. Karaoke.

London Cocktail Week

How often do you get to create your own whisky?

The Blend by Chivas Regal

Where?: Mac & Wild, 9A Devonshire Square, London, EC2M 4YN

When?: Monday 7 October to Thursday 10 October (various slots from 6.30pm)

What’s it all about?: A chance to create a whisky you can call your own should never be passed up. That’s exactly what Chivas Regal is offering at a special masterclass at Mac & Wild, Devonshire Square, to celebrate the launch of The Blend campaign. The guided tasting sessions will provide a window into the life of a master blender as you learn the history of Chivas Regal and how to make your own whisky highball twists with UK brand ambassador Phil Huckle. But best of all, you’ll leave this event 200ml of your very own whisky, blended from a combination of floral, citrus, fruity, creamy and smoky flavours. Book your ticket here.

Why would I like this, Adam?: You literally get to make a whisky of your own. What are you waiting for?

London Cocktail Week

Science is finally put to good use

The Essence House by the London Essence Company

Where?: 5 Great Newport Street, London, WC2H 7JB

When?: Thursday 3 October to Saturday 5 October (12-10pm)

What’s it all about?: If there’s one thing you want from London Cocktail Week, it’s amazing cocktails. Thanks to The London Essence Company you can do just that as it treats you to a bespoke cocktail, matched to your palate using real science by some of the world’s top bartenders. The Essence House, described as an “interactive journey of flavour discovery”, is an experience curated by Dr Rachel Edwards-Stuart, an expert in gastronomy and flavour perception, who will help you to get hands-on with botanicals, flavours and aromas over the course of a 45 minute session that includes that personal palate profiling experience and two cocktails (alcoholic and non-alcoholic options available). Tickets are available here.

Why would I like this, Adam?: You know you want tasty cocktails, and The London Essence Company know what you find tasty…

London Cocktail Week

Over the last century, the Negroni has stood the test of time

The Experimental Negroni Club

Where?: Henrietta Hotel, 14-15 Henrietta St, London, WC2E 8QG

When?: Friday 4 October to Sunday 13 October (12pm-close)

What’s it all about?: It’s been 100 years since the Negroni first entered our lives and we haven’t looked back. The Experimental Group, however, will actually be looking back to celebrate this illustrious history through the Experimental Negroni Club a partnership with Campari at the Henrietta Hotel. Vintage ingredients selected in partnership with the Old Spirit Company will ensure the recreation of cocktails served in the 50s, 60s, 70s and 80s and to make the perfect vintage Negroni, which will be accompanied by a light show created by Frankie Boyle (not the Scottish comedian, thankfully).

Why would I like this, Adam?: We love Negronis. You love Negronis. Go forth and toast its brilliance the only way how. With a Negroni.

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A postcard from Kyrö Distillery

Isokyrö might be tiny town, but it’s inspired one of Finland’s fastest-growing and best-known gin and whisky brands. We go back to nature with the Kyrö Distillery team. . ….

Isokyrö might be tiny town, but it’s inspired one of Finland’s fastest-growing and best-known gin and whisky brands. We go back to nature with the Kyrö Distillery team. . .

There’s something about the light in Finland. One of the most Northerly countries in Europe, the land reaches more than 1,100km north to south, from the depths of the Arctic Circle through densely-forested, gently undulating, river-carved hills and stretched-out plains, to the relative hustle of Helsinki in the south. Arrive during winter and you’ll be greeted by a haunting, pervasive dusk, even at noonday. In the summer, the sun extends its rays from 4am to the early hours. The light itself is a protagonist, telling a story and reflecting the general mood of the nation. It might be vibrant jubilance, a celebration of the luminescence itself, the land, the energy. Or it might be the need to head indoors for cosy comforts and bolt out the gloom of the day. 

When I visited Isokyrö, home of Kyrö Distillery, not far from the city of Vaasa, the light – and the mood – was vivid. It was in the middle of a heatwave, and the River Kyrö was glistening in the sun. Even the trees surrounding the train station had a luminosity about them. Or it could have been the Gin Long Drinks on the train. Regardless, come high summer Finland comes alive, even in a town of 4,500 people like Isokyrö. 

The light!

Kyrö is a brand with a near cult-like following. Its fans hail from across the world, gin and whisky lovers alike. When five whisky-loving friends started construction on the project in 2014, the ambition was to make delicious products with rye as a base. Fast-forward to today, and the distillery, a former dairy, has seen multiple expansion projects. The latest round, due for completion in October, will see capacity soar from 85,000 to 350,000  litres per annum. Most of this is dedicated to whisky production; the four-year expansion representing around 10 million investment. Not bad for an idea dreamed up in a sauna.

“Let’s say the initial inspiration came from rye whisky,” says Miika Lipiäinen, Kyrö CEO. He was one of the five (alongside Mikko Koskinen, Kalle Valkonen, Jouni Ritola and Miko Heinilä) to come up with the concept that would reshape the country’s spirits landscape. Rye is everything in Finland, he explained. It adds a sense of place, a distinct flavour, and is readily available. “We don’t need pesticides because most of the central European or Western European pests wouldn’t survive this climate,” he says matter of factly as we sit down for a tasting inside the distillery’s dedicated bar. It’s a space that’s part of both the visitor centre and the local community, hosting all kinds of events and gatherings – and even as the brand grows, this locale is at the heart. 

The Nordics and nature

We’d arrived in Isokyrö the previous afternoon, fresh off the train from Helsinki. A train network can tell you a lot about a country, and this rings especially true in Finland. The service was efficient and prompt, elegantly and ergonomically designed for ease of movement. The carriages themselves were sleek; charging points were there for those who needed, there was more than enough seating. Understatedly effective, and polished with it – yes. But there’s also a dedicated bar carriage where people chatted, laughed, made the most of their journeys. The Finns love the simple pleasure of a relaxed good time. The word ‘kalsarikännit’, or the anglicised ‘päntsdrunk’, exists for a reason (yes, drinking at home, on your own, in your undies is considered self-care).

Kyro Distillery

Kyrö Distillery is housed in a former cheese factory

Lipiäinen travelled up on the train with us, holding court in the bar carriage. As soon as we arrived, he was quick to point out the forests. Not that you could miss the dense trees that line the arrow-straight roads, the only gaps being flat, arable fields no doubt growing that all-important rye. Almost every Finn seems to feel an affinity with nature – from foraging to fishing, hiking to camping, the great outdoors is a serious pastime. And it’s one that informs the Kyrö philosophy as much as the rye base. 

“The original idea was that we need to combine two worlds; we need to combine the world of super-premium but in a Nordic way of being very unassuming, and ‘we don’t rub it in people’s faces’,” Lipiäinen explained. The other was, alongside the rye, “to use the other stuff we have in nature”. 

Arriving at Kyrö, this hybrid is immediately apparent. We’re welcomed into the distillery cottage, a beautifully-furnished (in Nordic-style chic of course, with bespoke wallpaper), cosy space, filled to the brim with nods to both Finland and the natural world. Plants, wood, light – and the inevitable sauna next door (did you know that there are two million saunas in Finland to share between five million people?). There to greet us is the perennially smiling Anniina Kumara, Kyrö’s event manager, who is preparing a feast for us in the kitchen. It immediately feels like coming home.

A convivial evening follows; Kyrö Gin Long Drinks flow, as do Napue G&Ts. Conversation is easy. Lipiäinen and UK brand ambassador George Krastev are effervescent. Suddenly it’s late; you wouldn’t know because even though it’s well after midnight the light lives on in the sky. Time for bed – there’s foraging, followed by a forest breakfast, to come in the morning. 

Foraging for botanicals at Kyro

Foraging for botanicals

Rye rye

“It was not supposed to happen, but we’re the biggest gin in Finland,” Lipiäinen says. “Not from craft gins, but all the gins. It’s very perverse!” he seems in disbelief. We’re back in the tasting room at the distillery. We’ve looked round production, met the team, and given them our foraging haul from the forest to work their magic with. Martta Ruohomaa, resident botanical expert, steered us away from anything too risky as we scavenged our way between the trees. Think: cloudberry, lingonberry, moss, raspberry leaf. The forest was generous to us.  Before long, King Stone Gin, our own limited-run creation, named after a legendary rock in the Kyrö River, is in production. While it does its thing, we take a seat and make our way through the core Kyrö range. 

“We’ve sort of jumped a category here in the sense that we started picking up wine drinkers and champagne drinkers and beer and cider drinkers,” Lipiäinen says, attributing the brand’s massive growth to its far-reaching appeal. “It got a bit out of hand.”

It’s easy to see why. The Kyrö vibe is infectious, it’s no surprise the team has drawn people into spirits from other categories. The brand is strong, the people behind it have a fervent passion for what they’re doing and why. And the production story is a compelling one, too. On the gin side, it’s all hand-foraged, local botanicals. There’s unaged gin, Napue, and cask-aged Koskue (“gin for when the weather sucks”, the advertising campaign quips. I can confirm it’s also delicious in the sunshine). But rye whisky was the first love, the passion that fuelled its ambition, and it’s just about to come into a season all of its own at Kyrö. 

Whisky maturing at Kyro

Whisky maturing at Kyrö

“We’re following the same idea as we had with the gins,” Lipiäinen explained, referencing the focus on raw materials and the six-day fermentation process. “We can leave the cut really long and leave it oily, leave it thick and preserve everything that the rye has to give us,” He continues. “So wholegrain rye, 100% malted, no enzymes, no grain mixed in and only rye.” 

We’ve seen a handful of limited-run whisky releases from the distillery, mostly matured in 200-litre casks, either virgin oak or ex-bourbon. But it’s a fine balance to strike between keeping that rye character, that sense of place, and the cask influence. “The ex-bourbon gives some really great notes but I really don’t want to go down that banana route at all,” Lipiäinen details, as we taste through some samples. 

“The profile we’re going for is big, bold, spicy. So it’s going to be very different from your bourbon, I don’t hate but I don’t have a lot of time or respect for the ryes which are essentially bourbon just, 51% rye and then the rest is really sweetcorn and then a bit of malted barley. It really needs to display what rye has to offer.”

From the samples we taste, the juggling act is paying off. Kyrö Single Malt Rye Whisky Batch 4 is especially successful, building a sense of impatience for when the new plant is up and running, and there will be far more Kyrö rye whisky to go around. 

You’re never far away from a wooden hot tub in Finland

We wrap up the tasting and head back to the cottage. A wooden hot tub has just arrived on a trailer, parked up next to the sauna. Logs are ready to fire up the wood burner to heat it. As we get set, the evening sun glimmers on the Kyrö River. It’s not long before we’re all jumping in off the little wooden jetty, plunging from the unseasonably warm sunshine into the snowmelt water, running back up the bank and into the sauna. Rinse, repeat. I’m told it’s the traditional way to pass the Isokyrö summer evenings. It’s exhilarating.  The Kyrö Gin Long Drinks are back, the sun casts long shadows, we laugh. Is there anywhere quite like this season in Finland? “Rye rye!” someone shouts, meaning ‘bottoms up’. Forget gin for when the weather’s bad; it’s just possible that Team Kyrö has bottled the very essence of summer.  

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