Cocktails with… Jameson Select Reserve Black Barrel

It’s St. Patrick’s Day today and we thought we’d resist temptation (however strong it may be) to write an article full of green concoctions to focus instead on making excellent drinks with an excellent whiskey. Namely, Jameson Select Reserve Black Barrel. The Black Barrel is, like Classic Jamesons, a mix of pot and grain whisky and is triple distilled. However, the grain whisky that is used is made to a particular specification and is only distilled once a year. The ex-bourbon barrels used for aging are charred before leaving Kentucky and ex-sherry barrels are used, too.

JamesonBlackFINAL

On its own
Nose: Light oats and syrup, but not too sweet, and a little banoffee, but – again – this isn’t at all overpowering. On top, more savoury oatcake notes and just a hint of cornflakes.
Taste: Smooth, but with a good profile. Salted caramel and fresh grain, with hints of spice and smoke here and there. Pleasant, clean, warm wood notes follow.
Finish: Flapjack and a return of the light banoffee from the nose, plus notes of unripe banana and a little green “stalkiness”.

Whiskey Ginger
This has a wonderful rich flavour – an excellent example of how a Whiskey Ginger doesn’t have to be lightweight. The whiskey works with the ginger to produce a drink with notes of rich, bold, polished wood and a combination of fresh ginger and cola (it reminds me a bit of Fentiman’s Curiosity Cola, of which I’m a fan). There’s also some spice and a hint of orange, before vanilla and a dry, woody smokiness.

Rob Roy
Delicious fruit cake notes on the nose: rich currant and raisin, and the tartness of tbe vermouth comes through nicely. To taste, this is also rich and fruity. The whiskey lets the other ingredients show through, before appearing strongly on the finish, which is of genuine, dry wood.

Old Fashioned
I got light hints of bubblegum on the nose of this drink, which were actually quite nice. The cocktail itself is sweet and warming, with richer wood notes than in the Rob Roy. There’s an interesting combination of sweet berry and pepper spice, plus vanilla, and – again – a touch of cola. The finish is cleaner and dry, with greener wood notes.

Michael Collins
This is a Tom Collins made using Irish whiskey and this particular example is refreshing with some lovely, creamy vanilla notes and some smoky wood, too. The lemon really comes through on the finish, reminiscent of lemon meringue pie with a touch of key lime; add a touch of spiced bitters and you’d be there. Accessible and fresh.

Whisky Soda
Unlike when tasted neat, with soda, far more of the mellow, creamy wood and vanilla notes come through, with less of that smoky woodiness. This is a very accessible drink, with sweet, creamy notes followed by a refreshing, dry, woody finish.

In Conclusion
Jameson’s Select Reserve is a great Irish whiskey that’s full of flavour and works equally well on its own and in cocktails. My favourite of the serves that we tried, however, surprised me: the warm and complex Whiskey Ginger really stood out.

Cocktails with… Strane Uncut Gin – 75.3%ABV – World’s Strongest Gin

As a writer on gin, I am often asked one of two questions: “What is your favourite gin?” and “Have you considered making your own gin?”.

The answer to the second one is no and the reason is that I like being independent and able to chat to distillers without them worrying about disclosing commercial sensitivities to a competitor. But, if I were to make a gin, I think it would be one that was really strong – beyond the Navy Strength of 57.1% ABV. As a spirit that is often mixed, I believe that a strong gin has unique mixing potential.

Strane Uncut Gin 75.3 FINAL

Fortunately, Swedish distillers Smögen Whisky AB have done the hard work for me, having released their Uncut Gin in the UK: a gin that is bottled at 75.3% ABV. This exceeds the ABV of any other commercial gin, with the closest unaged comparisons being Blackwoods 60 and Finsbury 60 (both 60.0% ABV) and the aged Alembics Caribbean Cask (65.6% ABV).

The Smögen Whisky AB distillery is located in Hunnebostrand. In addition to the Uncut Gin, they make Strane Merchant and Strane Navy Strength. The idea for the Uncut comes from the fact that their gins are made from a blend of three separate botanical distillations, which are blended together before proofing (i.e. undiluted). The resulting liquid was described by distiller Pär Caldenby as, “ too good to hold back” and so limited quantities are bottled at the uncut, off-the-still strength.

On its own
Nose: Lemony citrus upfront, with some juniper pine notes that are well-integrated with hints of spice and herbal notes, with just a touch of menthol and plump juniper berries.
Taste: Despite its high ABV, the spirit is surprisingly shippable: there is citrus up-front, followed by some woody spice, orange peel, vanilla, and a hint of coconut. The finish is a little perfumed with orange blossom and freshly-cracked coriander seed, mixed in with a little resinous spruce, light menthol pepper, and pine blossom.

If you did want to drink this neat, then I’d suggest a single serving of a half oz measure served in a mini Glencairn glass – lovely.

Frozen
This serve adds viscosity and intensity; it has very strong flavours. It’s excellent served this way, but one downside is that it probably makes the spirit very smooth and easy to drink and so, in some ways, makes it harder to savour than when you sip it at room temperature (when it’s easier to take your time over it).

Gin & Tonic
A strong Gin & Tonic in terms of alcohol, but especially in terms of flavour: it is strong and piney, with citrus and coriander notes, too. A bold, but straightforward Gin & Tonic that makes an excellent choice for the first drink of the evening. Textbook.

Martini
Probably the most powerful Martini that I have ever had. It really packs a punch, but isn’t hot and does not burn. It’s so packed full of flavour: juniper, angelica, coriander, citrus, spice, herbal and floral notes – all the key flavours associated with gin are here and integrated very well together. Superb.

Negroni
As you would expect, Uncut produces a bold and flavoursome Negroni; a cocktail that delivers some powerful flavours and is not for the faint hearted. As a lover of the Negroni, I think this is super: it is piney and juicy, plump with fruity notes and some deeper, herbal flavours, before the anticipated bitter finish. Watch out, though, this is very easy to drink, so I would suggest having one delicious (but small) serving.

Gin Soda
Very, very crisp and leafy with hint of cucumber peel, coriander, and fresh citrus, followed by some pine and floral notes. This is a lovely way to enjoy the gin, because you can lengthen it significantly without losing any of the gin’s character. It works well at a 5:1, 6:1, 7:1, or even up to a 10:1 ratio of gin to soda water.

In Conclusion
Strane Uncut is certainly a unique gin and one I would recommend trying; not only is it an experience, but it tastes very good, too.

Strane Uncut Gin is available for around £59 for 50cl from Master of Malt.

Cocktails with… Jack Daniels No.27 Gold

Both of us here at SummerFruitCup HQ are big fans of travel retail exclusives and our article covering a range of Jack Daniels products is one of the most popular on the site, so when I saw Jack Daniels Gold No. 27 at Duty Free at San Francisco Airport recently, my interest was piqued. When I saw that it wasn’t just a new bottle or different ABV, I decided to pick up a bottle.

Jack Daniels Gold No. 27 is a double barrelled, double mellowed whiskey, which is then finished in maple barrels and bottled at 40% ABV. Double mellowed refers to the fact that the spirit is mellowed through a column of charcoal both before and after aging (Gentleman Jack is also double mellowed).

Jack Daniels No27 Gold Whisky FINAL

On its own
Nose: Fresh, creamy creme brulee topped with caramelised light brown sugar, backed up by the richness of a brandy.
Taste: Very sippable, with a pleasant warmth to it. The texture is creamy – almost like melted ice-cream – with vibrant grain notes and flashes of fresh oak, before fleeting, slightly more bitter wood notes.
Finish: Relatively long and pleasant, with notes of oak and vanilla, and hints of maple and perfectly ripe banana.

With Soda
Defiantly dry on the palate, but also smooth, light, and refreshing. There’s a complexity at the end in the form of a maple sweetness, which makes this slightly sweeter than other Whiskey Sodas (maybe a good choice if you usually like your whisky with ginger). It’s also creamy in texture and would be excellent with a meal, especially during the warmer months.

Old Fashioned
Top notch: banoffee on the nose, with lively notes of roasted banana, creamy toffee, and some grain notes afterwards. These flavours follow onto the palate, which is smooth and creamy, with a good warmth to it. The finish is much dryer, with more, but more subtle notes of roasted banana.

Rob Roy
Straight forward, but full of flavour, with a pleasant, fruity tang from the vermouth. There’s a dry, lingering, slightly musty, sherry-like finish with woody overtones. Not at all sweet, but rich and punchy.

Whiskey Ginger
Another rich cocktail, but with a light texture. Easy to drink at any time of day, with notes of creamy fudge, maple syrup, a woody sappiness, ginger, and vibrant lemon that arrives on the palate with a burst of freshness, before a return to dryer banoffee notes.

In Conclusion
Gold No. 27 is a welcome, if slightly expensive, addition to the Jack Daniels family. Its smooth, banoffee notes are well balanced with vanilla oak and it works equally well on its own or in mixed drinks, where it adds flavour without overpowering or overcomplicating things. Our bottle disappeared very quickly, indeed, and I was particularly impressed with the Old Fashioned and Whiskey Ginger.
– Mrs. B.

Jack Daniels Gold No. 27 is a travel retail exclusive, available in certain duty free shops in airports across the world and priced around £65.

Cocktails with… Cotswolds Gin

2014 was a bumper year for the opening of craft distilleries in the UK, but one that made quite a splash when it opened and continues to be talked about today is the Cotswold Distillery in Shipston-on-Stour, Warwickshire.

Cotswolds Gin BOTTLE

The distillery is in a picturesque setting and shows that the concept of “destination distilling” has really arrived in the UK.* They currently make a gin, are putting new-make spirit in barrels for whisky, and are planning a range of distillery exclusives. Today, I’m taking a look at their gin.

On its own
A bold dry gin, with juniper up-front followed by an interwoven mix of citrus and coriander. This adds a fresh zest and floral spiciness to the middle of the gin. The spiciness from the coriander then leads to some deeper notes of menthol pepper and hints of hedgerow berries, all mixed in with a floral flourish. The finish is crisp, dry pine and lavender. This is a flavoursome spirit with a clean and smooth base thats leaves you with a gentle glow.

From the Freezer
The gin changes in two ways when served from the freezer: it is both much more viscous and has louched. The flavours seem to be more focused towards the dry juniper, angelica, and coriander notes, and the more floral and herbal elements, such as bay leaf and lavender, are suppressed a little bit. The finish is very long and dry, with a hint of menthol pepper that’s reminiscent of cubeb or grains of paradise.

Cotyswolds Louche

Cloudy Gin & Tonic
A pleasantly ethereal looking drink, with wisps of clouds in the liquid that are well complemented by the pink grapefruit and green bay leaf. As a drink, this is a very cooling concoction, with the various botanical aspects of the gin coming through well in an array of herbal and floral notes. The final impression is one of dry, fresh and crisp juniper and citrus.

Cotswolds Gin GINTONIC

Martini (Diamond)
Poured straight from the freezer into a vermouth-rinsed glass, this is visually quite attractive: it is viscous and almost white, like liquid ice. To taste, it is very dry, with fragrant notes and an intriguing piney mix of juniper and lavender, as well as a little citrus and some menthol notes towards the end.

Martini (stirred)
A clean Martini: smooth and soft to start, then the alcohol gradually builds, which gives you that wake-up lift that makes Martinis a great first-of-the-evening drink. This cocktail is more subtle than that made using the diamond method and more of the herbal and floral notes come through.

Cotswolds Gin DIAMOND MARTINI

Gin & Soda
Like the Gin & Tonic, this louches (goes cloudy), but, as we’ve already established, this doesn’t matter. I used a 1:5 ratio of gin to soda, so it’s quite a light drink, coming in at about 7% ABV. This makes it a lovely cooler for a sunny summer’s afternoon. Because of the intensity of the botanicals flavours, the gin is not washed out and you can still appreciate its character.

Negroni
Dry, bitter and relatively tart, Any sweetness comes from an interesting dark marmalade note. This makes for a very intense Negroni and the gin stands up well to the other bold flavours. Whilst I really like this drink, I would recommend it to the advanced Negroni drinker – someone that really likes a jolt from their red drink.

In Conclusion
I’ve enjoyed mixing with Cotswolds Gin, with its bold flavours. I think it is good that the distillery embraces the fact that it louches; this actually leads to some additional inspiration and creativity when mixing. My favourite drink was the Gin & Soda, as few gins can make one that has so much flavour.

Hven Seven Stars No.3 Phecda Organic Single Malt Whisky

Hven is a family run distillery on a small island of the same name in the Strait between Denmark and Sweden. DTS reviewed their Organic Gin here, but today I’m taking a look at one of their single malt whiskies: Seven Stars No.3: Phecda. It is the third in a limited edition series; one whisky is being released each year until 2019, each of which is named after one of the seven stars in the constellation Ursa Major (the Plough). Phecda follows Dubhe and Merak.

Hven Seven Stars No3 FINAL

The whisky is bottled at the distillery at 45% ABV and is certified organic. Let’s see what it tastes like.

On its own
Nose: Meaty smokiness on top, with a rich note of ginger underneath – fresh gingerbread and salty seat air. With a bit of warmth and time in the glass, notes of honey and fruity vermouth come through.
Taste: Wonderfully smooth. The start is light and silky, followed by a flash of warmth and honey sweetness. Dry flavours then unfold in the form of complex notes of chilli spice, slightly bitter tobacco, and a light nuttiness.
Finish: A soft woodiness on top, with dry, complex notes of bonfire smoke underneath.

Rob Roy
Smooth and well-integrated, with flavours of smoke and berry fruitiness (cranberry and raspberry), followed by cola, a hint of dark chocolate, dry biscuit, and sherry-soaked wood. The finish is dry, smokey, and woody with touches of berry sweetness and a more green, herbal note.

Old Fashioned
Absolutely delicious. Rich Pedro Ximinez spice, berries, and grape and a strong, bonfire smokiness. A complex, but beautiful array of spice, sweet dark sugar, a little fruit cake, and a dash of cherry, but with a the savoury freshness of a red bell pepper. This fades into woody liquorice notes with hints of cream sherry and creamy, dark coffee.

Whisky & Soda
A refreshing and complex drink. The soda water lengthens and cools the spirit without masking its complexity. Smooth, sweet notes are followed by deeper, more resinous and lightly smokey wood notes, which are kept bright by the mixer’s effervescence.

In Conclusion
I think the concept behind the Seven Star whiskies is a brilliant one and No.3 Phecda is wonderful whisky: not too heavy, but with a full flavour profile that develops over time. It also works exceptionally well in all of the cocktails that we tried, although the Old Fashioned stood out in particular.

- Mrs. B.

Cocktails with… Mombasa Club Gin

There are a number of gins that are produced in the UK, but are then directly transported and so are not available for purchase in their country of origin. Mombasa Club is one such gin, which is produced by Thames Distillers and is exported to Spain.

Mombasa Club is bottled at 41.5% ABV .

There is also a Mombasa Club Reserve, which is bottled at 43.5%ABV.

photo

Mombasa Club Gin – thanks to Nicholas for the picture

 

On its own
Nose: Bright juniper and spice, with cumin and dry cinnamon.
Taste: This is a spiced gin, but not one that is too intense or deviates too far from gin’s classic style. A well-rounded spirit with dry notes of juniper, angelica, and a little citrus coriander.

Gin & Tonic
A lovely Gin & Tonic: refreshing, airy, and rather classic, but with dry spice in background; in particular, cumin and ginger.

Martini
Delightfully clean and smooth, with notes of juniper, citrus, and a pleasant spiced element. Again, ginger, cinnamon, and cumin come through; subtle, but notable.

Negroni
This makes for a cocktail with a good, strong flavour. It is dry, but has a little, subtle spice to it, which is followed by a powerful finish. There’s a fair bit of bitterness, but it’s accompanied by a pleasant freshness.

In Conclusion
Mombasa is a full and spicy gin that adds great character to the drinks that is mixed in, as well as a smooth freshness. My favourite drink was the Gin & Tonic.

Cocktails with… Lakes Distillery Gin – distilled in the Lake District

There are a number of gins that draw inspiration and affinity from the Lake District but are, sadly, not actually made there. After all, when it comes to gin, it is where the botanicals are distilled that defines where a gin is from.

The Lakes Distillery is based in Bassenthwaite Lake, Cumbria and they currently sell a vodka, a gin, and a blended whisky. Whisky production has begun on site and we’ll see what that’s like after a few years of maturation.

Lakes Gin FINAL

The Lakes Gin is bottled at 43.7%ABV and its botanicals include: juniper, bilberry, heather, and meadowsweet. The distillate is proofed to bottling strength using water from the River Derwent.

The Taste

Own
Nose: Good, solid botanical notes: juniper, coriander, angelica and citrus, with a little herbal note at the end.
Taste: Thick in texture, this has a very classic flavour profile, although with a smoother and more integrated flavour than many. Whilst the juniper is still prominent, the flavours are fresher and less sappy, making the spirit more accessible.

Gin & Tonic with Fever-Tree
A light and citrusy Gin & Tonic, best served with plenty of ice. Straight-forward and easy to sip, this is thirst-quenching and refreshing.

Martini
This gin makes a smooth and clean Martini with hints of spice, juniper, and angelica. It works particularly well with a lemon twist and has something of the purity of a Vodka Martini, only with the complex flavour of gin botanicals.

Negroni
This is a silky smooth Negroni with some light vanilla and spice. There’s also a gentle bitterness at the end, but, overall, the drink is unusually clean and smooth. Very accessible to the Negroni newbie.

In Conclusion
It’s great to finally have a gin that has been produced in the Lake District and, given how popular the area is to visitors, I’m sure the business will do well. The gin works well in many mixed drinks and will appeal to the new and established gin drinker alike. It’s been a long time waiting for an authentic Lake District gin, but it was well worth the wait.