Thursday, 29 December 2011
Saturday, 24 December 2011
Yamazaki - 18 year old - 43%
Nose: Instantly open on the nose, this bears all the hall marks of a classic Japanese whisky. Mossy, musty, rich sherry, dark orange marmalade, with loads of polished rosewood and big spice.
Finish: Lingering spice, bulging dried fruit, sherbet and more sweetness. Very lengthy and enjoyable.
Nose: Everything you want in a sherried whisky, inc well balanced. Rich rose scented candles, heavily polished oak table, old leather shoes, second hand book stores and... Christmas pudding, freshly lit.
Palate: Rich, oily and full of flavour. This hits BIG: burnt sugars, candied orange slices and cloves. Stewed red fruits.
Finish: Sweet and dry with hints of black cherry.
Overall: Just a top, top whisky. Single cask, 56.2% abv, full term PX and £55. Amazing value for a stunning whisky.
Joel & I wish you all the most merry, peaceful and relaxing of Christmas holidays. And wherever you happen to be and whatever your choice of whisky, pour a large one and share a festive toast!
Friday, 23 December 2011
Our penultimate festive dram comes on a very wintery day (well it is here in the Midlands)
Wednesday, 21 December 2011
Tuesday, 20 December 2011
We love to throw flavours and ideas around in the lab (or the 'kitchen' as it is known in most houses) and this Christmas has been no exception. Inspired by possibly the best Mint Julep we've ever had during the Caskstrength Christmas lunch at the JW Steakhouse on Park Lane, we set about concocting a Christmas Cake-inspired julep of our own...
After playing around with different ingredients, we came up with the following recipe, involving a specially made Christmas sugar syrup made thus:
Christmas Sugar Syrup: 2 parts boiling water to 1 part demerara sugar. I made around one litre of this. Stir and once the sugar is dissolved, throw in a few hand fulls of mixed dried fruit (my bag cost around 60p from Morrisons), a cinnamon stick, a shake of nutmeg and a dash of almond flavouring. Leave to cool overnight and strain in to a jug or bottle. This gloopy, dark syrup should taste (and smell) of liquid Christmas cake.
Take a julep cup from the freezer and fill with crushed ice. Add two parts Christmas sugar syrup, one part Ballantines Christmas Reserve, a cap of Monin Pain d'Epices Gingerbread Syrup and stir five times. Top with a dash of angostura bitters, a dusting of cinnamon and some orange zest, or if you're feeling particularly fruity, some orange slices. The perfect Christmas cooler.
And if that's not enough festive flavour, we invited London bar owner Fredrik Olsson of Kosmopol around to the Caskstrength bar to show us a few of his festive cocktail creations, using Ballantine's Christmas Reserve. take a gander at the video below for some rocking' (around the Christmas tree) creations.
Monday, 19 December 2011
Once warm and dry again, we were recommended Green Spot by the barman and totally fell for its smooth flavour. Some whiskies can be too peaty and smoky, but this whiskey is really versatile & just seems to go with everything. We will be enjoying it with our mince pies - we're not big on sherry - and look forward to sharing it with friends on those cold evenings!
We stocked up on Green Spot at the airport before flying home, and it was a good job too, as it's quite tricky to find over here. Any donations would be most welcome!'
The Staves - Emily, Jessica & Camilla
Sunday, 18 December 2011
Ardbeg Alligator – Committee release – 51.2%
Nose: Immediate spicy/ fruity notes, with rolled oak shavings, BBQ charcoal, stewed apples, white pepper and hints of strong tea and fresh bourbon. With a dash of water the whisky really comes alive with wonderful rich vanilla tones, chocolate orange notes and hints of copper.
Palate: Big, resonant and dry, leading into more of the chocolate orange notes, sweet vanilla, hints of Five Spice and more stewed apple. Then the smoke arrives, soft, aromatic and gentle at first, giving this a superb complexity.
Finish: The sweet vanilla develops alongside the soft smoke for a very lengthy and pleasing finish.
Saturday, 17 December 2011
Palate: Sweet, with more of the malted cereal, a dusting of icing Sugar, hint of salt, marzipan, stewed apples and a deft hint of spice.
Finish: A hint of drying wood, leading into creamy coconut notes, crisp green apples and a a re-emergence of the gooseberry.
Palate: The Vanilla custard dominates the palate, with a little fanfare of orchard fruit arriving shortly after the hit of smooth creaminess. Coconut and sliced apples also appear as the palate dries.
Finish: Clean and short, with a tart fruit note.
Our next whisky will be chosen by a brilliantly-bearded titan of the whisky world. No prizes for guessing who.
Friday, 16 December 2011
Wednesday, 14 December 2011
Monday, 12 December 2011
With a little under two weeks to go, we hope you're well and truly in the middle of your Christmas shopping. Or at the very least, resigned to the fact that probably 80% of the general public are going to leave it until the last minute, which seems to work equally as well as being organised.
The 18 year old will be my chosen festive dram as it's a dram to share. I believe it's elegant smoky/ honey aroma could instigate affectionate glances between the most hostile of in-laws. Those heather blossom and cinnamon flavours are a proven cure for unmanageable credit card bills and with that rich chewy peatiness you know will always be there for you!
Palate: More of the lingering heather honey, brown sugar, some sweet dessert wine character, cinnamon/ nutmeg spices and a back bone of malty cereal, with an under pinning of peat. The mouth feel is luxurious and rich tasting.
Finish: Longer peppery notes start to emerge (like mild cracked black pepper), but the finish is still sweet and developed, with no real over oakiness to report. Sensational.
Friday, 9 December 2011
Well, here we are again. Our little Christmas Dram Suggestion Cabinet is beginning to fill up nicely and we've received some absolutely brilliant tips from friends and whisky lovers the world over. Thanks so far to Charley Boorman and Jeremy Gara from Arcade Fire for theirs - keep an eye out over the next ten days for more absolute crackers too.
Thursday, 8 December 2011
Following on from Charley Boorman's fab suggestion of Talisker 10 year old as his choice of festive dram, our 2nd dram of Christmas comes from Canadian alternative music legends Arcade Fire. The band have enjoyed an incredible 18 months with their Grammy and Brit Award winning album 'The Suburbs' and we were fortunate enough to work with them on a whisky project in conjunction with their sell out Hyde Park show, earlier this year.
Nose: Sweet peat, stewed apple, mixed with a very dry and fruity thick sherry note, courtesy of the Pedro Ximinez casks it is finished in. Very complex and refined.
Palate: Demerera sugar, some hickory wood smoke notes, creamy fudge, some milky cereal and more stewed apple with raisins. Really festive and simply delicious.
Finish: The smoke lingers alongside the dried fruits/raisins. Warming and mouth filling.