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.
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”.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
As I left the house this morning, a definite chill lifted the hairs on the back of my neck. As I scrambled around in my pockets for my gloves, I pondered where the recent hint of spring had gone. Well, one product that certainly calls for warmer climes is Ballantine’s Brasil.
Inspired by George Ballantine’s love of blending whisky, the company wanted to make a spirit designed to be used in mixed drinks. After some initial experimentation, further inspiration came from Brasil, where drinkers regularly drink their whisky with lime.
Brasil starts life as a specially designed Ballantine’s whisky, which is then flavoured in the cask with Brasilian lime peels, before being combined with some vanilla extract (the real thing, none of that artificial flavouring), and just a dash of sugar syrup. The combination of strong flavours and its destined use for mixing means that Brasil is bottled at 35% ABV, making it a “spirit drink” or flavoured whisky, akin to those produced by a variety of American whiskey companies, like Jim Beam’s Black Cherry.
On its own
Somewhat intrigued by the use of natural flavourings throughout, I did sample some of the spirit on its own. The lime and vanilla come through, fresh and bold, on the nose, reminding me a little of a Whisky Ginger with a lime wedge. The same flavours came through on the palate; the citrus making for a very “bright” flavour, and the vanilla neatly balancing it out. The finish was refreshingly tart and dry.
[50ml Ballantine’s Brasil, 150ml lemonade (or lemon-lime soda) – pour into a long glass with ice – garnish with a lime wedge.]
A delightfully simple drink to make, but one that allows you to enjoy the spirit in a long, thirst-quenching drink. The lemon flavours of the soda work well with the lime tang of the spirit, as well as the fresh lime garnish. Whisky and lemonade may not be a usual combination, but, in this case it really works. On the finish there are some light spice notes, including cinnamon and vanilla, which sign the flavours off nicely and adds a pleasant and unexpected complexity.
In a similar style to the above drink, this also works well with Champagne Ginger Ale (e.g. Canada Dry or Fevertree), providing a lighter and more accessible version of the Whisky Ginger. Even without a fruit garnish, the lime sings through.
[50ml Ballantine’s Brasil, 150ml Apple Juice – pour into a long glass with ice – garnish with apple slices]
A smooth drink with tart apple upfront and then the warmth of the spirit, as well as some spicy woodiness, then vanilla and lime. I think this is improved with a dash of bitters (Angostura is fine). It also has some potential for a toddy-like hot drink, which would work well with a cinnamon stick garnish.
[50ml Ballantine’s Brasil, 25ml Elderflower Cordial, Squeeze of one lime wedge – STIR]
Lime and vanilla are, again, centre-stage in this cocktail, but it’s initially a little sweeter than some of the other drinks. About halfway through, the floral notes from the cordial really make themselves known; the sweetness also tones down a tad, before a lovely, dry finish of elderflower. This could easily have been dominated by any of its flavours, but it’s perfectly balanced – a brilliantly engineered cocktail.
Ballantine Brasil Fruit Cup
[50ml Ballantine’s Brasil, 30ml Red Vermouth, 10ml Orange Liqueur]
A tasty and refreshing drink. The vermouth adds a pleasant, herbal complexity, whilst still allowing the underlying flavours of the Ballantine’s to come through. The fresh lime adds a nice, tart finish, creating a very refreshing drink.
Girl from Ipanema
[50ml Ballantine’s Brasil, 25ml Red Vermouth, Orange Bitters – SHAKE ]
Another simple drink inspired by the classic Brasilian cocktail Rabo de Galo (although this uses cachaca and red vermouth), but despite the simple recipe, the result is a drink that is full of a whole array of flavours: some woody spice, the tart lime that goes well with the bitter herbs of the vermouth and then some sweetness, too. The orange bitters add depth and stop it from being too confectionery.
Brasil isn’t a whisky and isn’t designed to be drunk like one; it’s a refreshing cocktail ingredient, made using natural ingredients and just the right amount of sugar. It makes a whole array of tasty concoctions, which all seem to taste like more than the sum of their parts. It should maybe be avoided if you don’t like lime or vanilla, but otherwise, I’d recommend giving it a try – it feels more like sunshine’s just around the corner with one of these cocktails in your hand! My personal favourite was the Flower O’Brasil.
– Mrs. B.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
Baileys have released a number of flavoured editions over the years, the most recent being the delicious Orange Truffle, but this month sees the release of a particularly special one: Baileys Chocolat Luxe. Made with real Belgian chocolate and lots of hard work by Anthony Wilson, the son of Steve Wilson, who came up with the formulation for the Original Baileys, this version takes a step into the luxury liqueur market.
Bottled at 15.7% ABV (Original Baileys is 17% ABV), Chocolat Luxe contains over 30g of real Belgian milk chocolate per bottle, in addition to Madagascan vanilla, caramel and Irish cream. It’s worth noting, though, that this isn’t just another flavour variant of the popular cream liqueur; rather, it was created to be a “molten chocolate experience”. So let’s have a taste and see how it fares.
Tasting notes (served straight from the fridge)
Pour: Firstly, I think it’s worth noting that this even pours luxuriously. It seems more viscous than the Original Baileys, pooling almost seductively in the bottom of the glass. I don’t normally take much notice of such things, but I did with this one.
Nose: This smells exactly how I expected it to: rich, Belgian chocolate, cream, and creamy caramel. I’m particularly reminded of expensive Belgian chocolates with a soft caramel centre, or the filling of a chocolate tart. This could have been a really sickly smell, but there’s just a hint of bitterness that stops that from happening, somewhat reminiscent of dark chocolate or salted caramel.
Taste: This has a luxuriously thick texture. After a second or two, there’s then a creamy note of Belgian chocolate and a burst of caramel sweetness. The familiar, creamy notes of Baileys with a hint of vanilla then kick in, before the chocolate returns to the forefront. Hints of dark chocolate again appear around the edges, just ensuring that it isn’t too sweet or one-dimensional. I’m also reminded of the creamy, strawberry notes that I get from some poteen (like Knockeen Hills).
Finish: Lovely, Belgian chocolate and double cream. Despite the thick texture, it’s not sickly or cloying, but still has a weightiness to it – quite a fine line to walk, but all of that experimentation during the development stages has obviously paid off!
When you have something as intriguing and complex as this liqueur, mixing it can be a bit tricky; you could easily lose some of the character and texture of the product. As such, we simply opted to try a dollop in an Espresso, a sort of short Mocha, if you will.
The result is an absolutely scrumptious liqueur coffee. The creaminess of the liqueur comes through, along with some of the Belgian chocolate notes, softening the bitterness of the coffee without covering it up with sweetness. The combination of chocolate and coffee reminds me even more of dark chocolate. Indeed, even DTS (who always drinks his coffee in Espresso form without even the suggestion of milk) happily finished off this drink.
My views of the flavoured editions of Baileys are mixed, but I think they’ve chosen the right route to go down with this product, setting it apart from both the others in the range and any other cream liqueur that I’ve tasted. It’s really very masterfully done: it has delicious, genuine notes of Belgian chocolate and caramel, and the texture is the perfect combination of weighty cream and smoothness. Particularly when served straight from the fridge, this could easily replace a dessert. Needless to say, if you like Baileys and chocolate, I’d recommend giving this a try. A lot of time and effort went into creating Bailey’s Chocolat Luxe* and, in my mind, it was certainly worth it.
– Mrs. B.
Baileys Chocolat Luxe is currently available from Harvey Nichols at £16.99 for 50cl.
*Over 200 varieties of chocolate were tasted and the final formula was the 840th tried.