Burns Night – What To drink with Haggis, Neeps and Tatties – with Drambuie

Today is Burns Night, but apart from the obvious dram of neat Scotch, what other drinks can you enjoy before, during and after your Burns Night dinner?

BEFORE DINNER

Burns Night Cocktail Drambuie Rusty Robby BurnsRUSTY ROBBY BURNS

This is inspired by The Bobby Burns from J.R. Sheridan’s cocktail bible, ‘How to Mix Fancy Drinks’, first published in 1901. It’s also something of a hybrid of a Rusty Nail and a Rob Roy.

15ml Drambuie
30ml Dewar’s Blended Scotch Whisky
15ml Sweet Vermouth
2 dashes Angostura Bitters
Method: Stir well with ice and strain into a cocktail glass.

Rich, herbal flavours from the outset, with some lighter wood notes and sweet vanilla from the whisky, too. There’s also a refreshing burst of almost bitter, but rich fruitiness from the vermouth. Dry spice notes, including powdered cinnamon and cloves, lead to a medium-long finish of wood.

DURING DINNER

Burns Night Cocktail Drambuie Highball DrinkDrambuie Highball

10ml Drambuie
15ml Lemon Juice
25ml Dewar’s Blended Scotch Whisky
150ml Ginger Ale
Method: Build in a highball glass with ice.

Vibrant and full of flavour, with notes of lemon sherbert that are followed by a slightly more bitter note of fresh lemon juice and herbs sweetened with honey. The Scotch comes through towards the end, with a light, but distinct woodiness and dry vanilla. The lemon reappears on the finish, and is refreshingly dry.

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AFTER DINNER

Burns Night Cocktail Drambuie Old Fashioned DrinkA Dram Old Fashioned

10ml Drambuie
3 dashes Aromatic Bitters (Angostura)
50ml Dewar Scotch
Method: Stir and strain.

This is a slight variation on an Old Fashioned, with the sugar cube being replaced by the sweetness of the Drambuie, which also adds some complex herbal notes that complement the bitterness. The flavours of the Scotch come through, too, and are accented by the other ingredients. A pleasant drink to finish the meal off with.

 

 

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Jack Daniel’s Sinatra Select

JackDanielsSinatraSelectTitle

JackDanielsSinatraSelect

There is much evidence that Frank Sinatra enjoyed Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey. In tribute to the charismatic entertainer, the folks at Jack Daniel Distillery decided to make a special bottling of the singer’s favourite tipple. The legend goes that he was even buried with a bottle of Jack.

Sinatra Select is essentially the classic Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whisky, only bottled at 45% ABV (or 90 proof) rather than 40% ABV – the higher proof that the whiskey would have been at when Frank was drinking it pre-1987. It was also aged in “Sinatra Barrels”, which were handcrafted especially and had a series of deep grooves on the inside, resulting in greater surface area for the whiskey to come into contact with.

It comes in a special box, incorporating neat elements of Sinatra’s persona: the fedora icon and the use of orange, which was said to be Frank’s favourite colour (and is also particularly striking alongside the black of the label and rich, amber-gold of the spirit). There’s also a booklet giving a bit of history on Sinatra and the whiskey. But what does it taste like?

Jack Daniels Sinatra Special edition 45%

Jack Daniels Sinatra Select at the Savoy (note the Special Savoy Silver Select; more on that next time)

Jack Daniel’s Sinatra Select (45% ABV)

Nose: Soft, warm spice, like cinnamon mixed with the sweetness of chocolate. Hints of unripe banana and caramel, wrapped up with creamy vanilla. Young wood that’s been sitting around for a little while and has got a bit dusty; reminiscent of barrel houses. Finally, there’s a slight, bright note at the end of peppermint cream.

Taste: A particularly short flavour profile that starts out with genuine caramel flavour that turns into more of a toffee note, before more bitter, woody notes. There’s a prominent, very distinctive note of musky wood that dominates the middle of the palate. On top, there are notes of liquorice, dark chocolate, and a bitter, organic stalkiness.

Finish: Unripe banana and creamy vanilla, with a pleasant warmth, before slightly bitter liquorice root and light tannins.

In Conclusion

This is, by far, my favourite variety of Jack Daniel’s whiskey. It works incredibly well neat in a glass, with a bold, interesting flavour that’s full of confectionery notes that are neatly rounded off with a dry, lightly bitter finish and a very pleasant warmth. Given the limited supply available and higher-than-usual price tag (currently around £150 for a litre at The Whisky Exchange), it might not be for everyone, but if you get the chance to give it a try, even if you’re not into the sentiment around the tribute, I’d highly recommend it.

– Mrs. B.

For more Jack Daniels Hi-jinx check out our big Jack daniels Tasting –  Mrs. B Meets Jack Daniels, The White Rabbit Saloon and our upcoming article on Jack Daniels, Sinatra and The Savoy.

Jim Beam Maple and Jim Beam Hardcore Cider

As the nights draw in, my mind turns to the comforting and warming drinks and liqueurs that I can pour to stay cosy in the evenings. Whisky liqueurs are typically a good choice for this sort of thing, so I was pleased to receive two samples of Jim Beam’s latest offerings from our friend, Seva, in NJ.

Jim Beam already have a cavalcade of whiskey liqueurs and flavoured whiskies, such as Red Stag Black Cherry, Red Stag Honey Tea, Jim Beam Honey, and Jim Beam Winter Punch.
Jim Beam Maple Bottle Flavored WhiskyJim Beam Maple (35% ABV)

The first sample to try today is Jim Beam Maple, a bourbon that has been infused with natural flavours and is bottled at 35% ABV.

Nose: Initially, a powerful burst of thick, sticky maple syrup, followed by darker notes of molasses, dark rum, a little Pedro Ximenez and sweet coffee. Finally, there are some liquorice at the end.
Taste: A lovely, strong smooth flavour of genuine maple syrup. Very sweet without being heavy or sticky in texture. This is reminiscent of American style pancakes and syrup, backed up by vanilla and dark caramel. The mouthfeel is of a bourbon, but the flavour is really dominated by the rich, sappy maple. The same flavour continues on the finish, only with less of the sweetness, which means that it is lasting, but not cloying.

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Jim Bam Red Stag Hardcore Cider BottleJim Beam Red Stag Hardcore Cider (40% ABV)

Our second flavoured bourbon is Hardcore Cider, which is infused with cider and natural flavours. It joins the previous Red Stag varieties of Black Cherry, Spiced and Honey Tea.

Nose: Another strong nose, this time of very sweet apple, like Applejack sweets here in the UK (the apple variety of Fruit Salad or Blackjack chewy sweets). It’s vibrant, but rather artificial in its sugary sweetness, although after a while you can also pick up notes of pear and vanilla.
Taste: Silky smooth in texture, almost syrupy, but not as heavy. The initial flavour is very sweet and a tad richer than expected, with confectionery notes of apple, vanilla and hints of other fruits like banana and papaya. The finish is lightly warming and sweet, mainly consisting of vanilla and sweet apple.
In Conclusion

Once again, Jim Beam have produced two very flavourful varieties of their bourbon, each with very distinctive flavour profiles. The Maple was easily my favourite, with a rich, genuine flavour that fits in perfectly next to Jim Beam’s other varieties. I think it will work particularly well in warming, seasonal drinks and am eager to try it in a toddy; I’ll report back on how this goes shortly.

I think the Red Stag Hardcore Cider works less well, especially on its own, where it seems less “hardcore” and more like an apple liqueur. Then again, maybe I am biased because of the dry cider that DT favours! That said, I’m sure that it, too, could be used well in mixed drinks like toddies, especially alongside an extra drop or two of bourbon and some bitters to balance out some of the sweetness.

Well, if I wasn’t craving a toddy before, I am now…

– Mrs. B.

Follow Jim Beam on Twitter @jimbeamuk

Your chance to visit the Jim Beam Stillhouse – in London!

On 21 and 22 November 2013, Jim Beam will transport bourbon-loving Londoners over the rolling hills of Kentucky and into the world-class Jim Beam Stillhouse which will stand, for two nights only, in The Old Truman Brewery on Brick Lane, London.

Visitors will then travel through tunnels deep into the Stillhouse for an intriguing glimpse into the Distillation and Ageing Room, bringing them closer to the bourbon-making process. Immersive theatre will bring to life the unique proprietary process used to create Jim Beam’s most intense member of the family, Devil’s Cut, whilst guests revel in a taste of the extraordinary new bourbon.A flavour explosion awaits in The Mixology Room where bartenders will serve up a playful cocktail experience. Here guests can enjoy the infused flavours of Red Stag by Jim Beam and Jim Beam Honey.

The journey will culminate with the unique opportunity for guests to make their mark on Jim Beam’s history, before being brought back out onto the bustling streets of Shoreditch, by signing their name on an authentic American oak barrel, which will be taken back to the distillery in Kentucky, filled and aged. All Stillhouse attendees will then receive a bottle of Jim Beam White from the special barrel four years later.

 The price of tickets is £5 (plus booking fee) and spaces are limited. Available through Eventbrite

When: Thursday 21 November, from 6pm – 10pm
Friday 22 November, from 6pm – 10pm

Where: The Boiler House at the Old Truman Brewery
91 Brick Lane, London E1 6QL

Bookings: Book your time session at https://jimbeamstillhouse.eventbrite.com

Whispers of Whisk(e)y #35 – Maple Whisky Liqueur

Today’s whiskey liqueur is made by the Tunbridge Wells Liqueur Co., a sub-brand of Master of Malt, who, in addition to having an award-winning online retail site (where you can buy wonderful 30ml samples of whiskies), have an impressive array of their own products, ranging from handmade cocktails to Bathtub Gin.

 

The liqueur (bottled at 29.9% ABV) combines Kentucky Bourbon and fine Canadian maple syrup, with the aim of producing a tasty liqueur encompassing the benefits of each. Here are my thoughts.

WOW35 - MapleWhisky Liqueur

On its own

Nose: Initially, familiar notes of bourbon are aplenty, only sweeter and richer. Then, all of a sudden, unexpected notes of spice kick in, accompanied by cloves and black liquorice. After a little warming, rich, thick maple syrup notes are evident, with hints of cherry, but at no point do they take over – the bourbon and spice are always there, making for an interesting and three-dimensional nose.

Taste: A smooth sweetness to start, along with more complex notes of liquorice, treacle, and lightly spiced oak. The viscosity and distinct flavour of syrup then come into play, but those woody notes of liquorice continue to neatly balance this out, stopping it from becoming overly-sugary.

Finish: Vanilla and maple syrup with the dryness of liquorice root. At the very end, a faint hint of tart fruit, like cherries or blackcurrants.

 

Over ice

Nose: Much sweeter and lighter, with more maple and a faint, herbal edge.

Taste: Again, this is more smooth and less viscous, making it much more refreshing and a perfect serve for summer. Lighter on the palate, it seems more dessert-like, reminding me of pancakes with maple syrup and slightly melted vanilla ice-cream. After a few sips, the richer, spiced notes build up so that you get some of the more dry, complex flavours of liquorice and dark chocolate.

From the freezer

Served at an impressive -1 degrees Celsius, this is more viscous, complex and bold, with a good deal more of the maple coming through. There are also strong notes of treacle, liquorice and just a hint of cloves. More than in any of the other serves, there’s also a notable warmth to the finish, which is of cinnamon, oak and treacle. Delicious!

In a toddy

(50ml Maple Whiskey Liqueur, 25ml lemon juice, 75ml hot water)

A lemon freshness to start, which gradually develops into a creamy vanilla note that continues throughout. There’s a short burst of maple sweetness, before dryer, lightly spiced oak. Finally, the fresh notes of lemon returns. The finish is of lemon sherbets, cinnamon, the flavour – but not the sweetness – of maple syrup, and creamy vanilla. This blurs into a final, lingering note of  lemon, making it somewhat reminiscent of a smooth lemon cheesecake.

In Conclusion

This is delicious: a superb pairing of smooth, but intense notes of maple syrup and classic bourbon flavours. It’s not too sweet and is just complex enough to be interesting, without being fussy. Not only that, but I could drink it at any time of year in any one of the serves that I tried today; my favourite was straight from the freezer. Very good, indeed.

 

– Mrs. B.

 

You can buy Maple Whiskey Liqueur from Master of Malt at £27.95 for 50cl.

 

New Whisky from Paul John – Brilliance and Edited

Back in October of last year, I was honoured to attend a launch party for Paul John Single Cask Whisky from India. With positive reviews abound, the company set about continuing their plans to introduce the international markets to new whisky; the evidence being in the newest additions to their range: two single malts, entitled Brilliance and Edited. These two whiskies are set to be permanent bottlings for the Paul John Distillery.

Both are distilled in Goa using copper-pot stills, are aged in ex-Bourbon barrels, and are bottled at 46% ABV. The primary difference between the two is that Brilliance is made from unpeated malted barley, whereas Edited is made from a combination of unpeated and peated malted barley. All of the barley is also from India and this, combined with the extreme climate (temperatures can reach over 40°C), makes these whiskies distinctive in more ways than one. Here’s what I thought.

Brilliance  WHITE C

Paul John Brilliance (46% ABV)

Nose: Soft and sweet, but there’s also something unusually refreshing and “bright” about this, reminding me strongly of a Mint Julep made with fresh mint and a really good Bourbon. There’s smooth vanilla and light wood, plus a hint of cocoa paste, a little coconut, papaya and pineapple, like you’d find in muesli (these notes are similar to some of those in the Single Cask).

Taste: Quite powerful from the outset, with the same tropical flavours (dried pineapple, in particular) that I found on the nose coming through both on the palate and in the finish. In the middle, there are also some slightly bitter (but not in a bad way), raw wood notes that are accompanied by a strong warmth.

Finish: Light tannins, a little bit of dried banana chips and vanilla.

EDITED copy

Paul John Edited (46% ABV)

Nose: Very light smoke and faint hints of peat, along with wood varnish and liquorice allsorts. Despite the lightness of the smoke, this is a good, strong nose. After a little warming, I also got some notes of sweet spice and sherry.

Taste: In contrast to Brilliance, this had more of a gradual, building warmth and spicy texture. It also seems sweeter and has more weight to it, with darker wood notes, liquorice and cinnamon.

Finish: Roasted banana and cream, a tiny touch of sweet spice, including a hint of nutmeg, and vanilla.

In Conclusion

Both of these whiskies have unique, but different profiles. I loved being able to taste them without any expectations, because they seem both familiar – they have many of the quality wood notes that you’d recognise from Scotch whisky – and yet, at the same time, refreshingly different. I’m a big fan, in particular, of the bright, tropical notes of Brilliance, which are perfectly balanced by the warmth behind them. Then again, the light peat and liquorice notes within Edited also drew me in. The lovely finishes of both makes it exceptionally difficult for me to choose a favourite between the two, although I think Brilliance has it, very slightly. Unless you only like heavy, smoky whiskies, I’d definitely recommend trying these if you get the chance.

– Mrs. B.

Cocktails with… Courvoisier VSOP

Back in August of last year, I experienced my first Cognac tasting. Today, I want to take a look at Courvoisier VSOP. This is the next step up from their VS, which I tried last time, and is a blend of Cognacs between four and ten years old. In addition, the term “Fine Champagne” on the bottle indicates that at least half of the crus used to make it are from the Grande Champagne region specifically.

The label is decked out in a rather fine, decadent blue, and may be familiar to some as the bottle proudly presented on the desk of Ralph Fiennes’ character, Mallory, in the latest James Bond film, Skyfall. He and M discuss weighty matters over a glass; and, given how much I enjoyed M’s whisky choices from that film, I’m looking forward to trying this.

Courvoisier VSOP Cognac

On its own
Nose: Vibrant, sharp grape to start, like a very good, dry sherry, but, after a while, this softens. Additional notes of caramelised apple, like a sticky, freshly-made toffee apple, then come into play.
Taste: Smooth, but full of flavour, with dry grape at the start quickly opening up with lots of lighter floral notes, reminding me of summer days in the garden; hints of rose, with a slight leafiness and the subtle sweetness of apricot jam. A light finish of white wine, dried apricots and vanilla. A light, pleasant warmth on the finish.

Sidecar
Rich and complex start, with lots of apricot and white grape, but mixed in with a richness that you’d get from red grape,  raspberries and blackberries. A more complex, warming finish, with vanilla, oak and a fresh note of sherbety lemon that lifts the drink.

Sazerac
Lovely, inescapable sweet anise notes on the nose. Pleasantly not too sweet to taste, though, with a far more subtle note of soft liquorice to start, followed by a measured, but surprisingly flavourful interplay between the notes of the anise and rich, sweet fruit. Quite short overall, but an intense drink; perfect for mid-evening.

In Conclusion
Without a doubt, Courvoisier VSOP is currently my favourite Cognac. I love the combination of the subtlety of the start and the rich, but measured fruit notes afterwards (especially the apricot on the finish – lovely!). I  was also impressed at how it worked in cocktails, in particular the Sazerac. I think my favourite way to drink it is on it’s own, though; this may just be the Cognac that persuades me to drink it on a regular basis!
– Mrs. B.

Caskstrength and Carry On (Cutty Sark)- A Review

Earlier on in the month, DTS & I celebrated our fifth wedding anniversary. This is, traditionally, the year for gifts along the theme of wood. We knew that finding one another gifts wouldn’t be a problem; as a matter of fact, my sole concern was that we would accidentally buy one another the exact same present, but, fortunately for me, DTS took the theme a little less literally than I did, focusing on gifts that had been aged in wood.

WhiskyGifts

Ah, he knows me so well. A bottle of whisky and a book about whisky. Excellent! Both are additionally a bit special in that they’re collaborative works by our good friend, Neil Ridley.

The book, written by Neil and Gavin D. Smith, is a superb introduction to all forms of whisky and I highly recommend it if you’ve not got a copy already. There are some nifty diagrams of distilleries and an excellent telling of the story of the spirit. I loved the tone and message of the book, which encourages others to try, explore and share whisky; exactly what it’s there for!

But onto the whisky part of my present: a special edition of Cutty Sark Whisky produced by Neil and Joel of Caskstrength.com as a part of their enviable endeavour to produce an ‘A to Z’ of whisky bottlings (the ‘C’, obviously). Overseen by Cutty Sark Master Blender Kirsteen Campbell, they blended this whisky in time to release to coincide with the brand’s 90th anniversary and is, appropriately, 90 proof, or 51.4% ABV.

CuttySarkCaskStrength

On its own
Nose: Lemon shortbread, fading towards a light, non-peaty smoke. An interesting combination of bright citrus notes and heavy butter to start, with hints of oat biscuits and that light smoke towards the end.
Taste: Incredibly buttery to start: rich and ever so slightly oily, with notes of dry oatcake, vanilla, and oak. The finish is clean and light, despite the alcoholic strength coming through with some some substantial warmth, and has a subtle, woody dryness to it. Hints of banoffee at the very end.

Rob Roy
The vanilla, lemon and richness of the whisky combine perfectly with the spice and fresh tartness of the vermouth to produce a smooth, tasty drink with all of these flavours and a pleasantly lingering finish of walnut, hazelnut and creamy milk chocolate. Delicious!

Old Fashioned
Warming and, again, slightly spicy, with a distinct note of banana and toffee on the nose. There’s vanilla and light wood to start, followed by rich citrus (think lemon curd, rather than juice), and a strong finish of salted toffee or caramel with an oily nuttiness and intriguing hint of spicy celery.

Whisky Ginger
A very smooth, almost creamy, start with more vanilla than ginger, followed by an intriguingly dry and creamy finish that is quite short, with hints of sharp, but creamy lemon (again, think lemon curd).

In Conclusion
All-in-all, this is an interesting, rich and flavourful whisky. Straight, it was a little too confectionery and heavy on the citrus for me, but it really comes into its own in cocktails. The Whisky Ginger was different in the strength of its creamy, vanilla notes and both the Rob Roy and the Old Fashioned were delightful, harmonious combinations of vanilla, spice and lemon. The clear favourite for me, though, was the Rob Roy.

– Mrs. B.

Caskstrength and Carry On (Cutty Sark) is available for around £35 for 70cl from Master of Malt