Sweet something’s…

Well things might become a little bit more exciting on the fudge front very soon, and all I can say is “watch this space”.

And you know what? I think it’s brilliant. It’s making me smile, and let’s face it, that’s not a bad thing.
From the humble “could I make that?”, through to my food handling and hygiene certificate, deciding on what packaging to use and all the the fun and interesting work in between. It’s giving me focus. The feedback is phenomenal and yes it really does make me happy!

So anyway. Just an update and I guess a huge and lovely thanks to those who have said they believe in me, because you have been there for the journey too.

Sarah x

 

MAJOR MILESTONE FOR SCOTLAND’S GREENEST DISTILLERY AS ARDNAMURCHAN SPIRIT COMES OF AGE

Scotland’s greenest distillery has reached a major milestone as the first of its maturing spirit officially becomes whisky today, exactly three years after the Ardnamurchan Distillery laid down the first cask of its award-winning spirit.With strict regulations stipulating that spirit has to mature in oak casks for a minimum of three years in Scotland before it can be called Scotch whisky, today marks a landmark moment for the young distillery, opened by HRH The Princess Royal in 2014.

Adelphi Ltd, parent company to Ardnamurchan says there are already strong mounting expectations for its whisky given the quality of its young spirit, which has already won awards and raised eyebrows after it was released to widespread acclaim last year.

The Ardnamurchan Spirit 2016 AD was sold out four times over and only a few months on from its release, prices at auction have already been reaching well above the original retail price. The bottle itself, has also won awards on a national level, coming first place in the Packaging and Design category at the Scottish Design Awards in May this year.

Alex Bruce, Managing Director of Adelphi and The Ardnamurchan Distillery said: ‘This is a hugely important milestone for Ardnamurchan. We have been overwhelmed by the support for the distillery from all over the world, and this is a testament to the great team we have working with us, and their absolute attention to quality. The 500 litre ex-Sherry butt no. 1, filled on the 1st August 2014, is now surrounded by a full warehouse of sister casks, all enjoying the superb west coast maturation climate.”

The Ardnamurchan Distillery is leading the way in the new wave of distilleries opening up across Scotland, especially owing to its green credentials and emphasis on provenance and traceability of its spirit. It is one of the first to be wholly reliant on local renewable energy, using woodchip for heat and hydro-generated electricity.

Since opening, the distillery has become a local landmark in the area with visitors praising the distillery visitor centre and its tours. The surge in visitor numbers have been particularly noticeable this year in the run up to the summer months, with figures already 20% up on last year and these numbers are only expected to increase, especially with the upcoming release of the Ardnamurchan Distillery’s 2nd bottling of mature spirit due to be on the shelves in September.

However if whisky lovers are hoping for a taste of the Ardnamurchan whisky any time soon, they might be disappointed. Adelphi has said it won’t be releasing its whisky until its aged a minimum of seven years, meaning a release date of 2021.

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Gin. To love or not to love?

Well that’s certainly a question that I’ve been considering of late. Do I like gin? Or possibly it should be, do I like the new breed of gin? Maybe?

I imagine if someone had asked you a few years back if you fancied one, then it probably would have been Gordon’s Gin.

However, these days I’ve seen my local shop going from perhaps stocking half a dozen varieties to now having a “wall of gin”. And I have to say it’s big! I’ve tried a few varieties at festivals – but perhaps not alongside whiskies (induced squiffiness) but I have tried them. I like the fresh lighter ones that’s for sure, nothing too heavily flavoured. Edinburgh Gin have a delicious elderflower one. I’ve tried El:gin who do a gin with berries – the “Moray Berry”, bright and cheery and I dare say over ice would be a good summers drink. I’ve also sampled Darnley’s Gin, the Original and the Spiced were good. Not overly scented or flavoured. Last weekend I tried Eden Mill Oak Gin, and I do like the taste of oak / wood so that’s a plus!

What I think this shows is that there is obviously a call for these new spirits, and as new distillleries have started to produce them while their first whisky comes of age then I think it’s time to see what else appears. At the end of the day it’s for us to remain “old school” and stick to what we know best or perhaps to have a tentative sip of something new… not being an avid gin drinker if I see something that takes my fancy I’ll have a sip. I’m sure there’s a little something for all palates. Especially if you fancy a bit of gin fudge…

Syndicate 58/6 Small Batch Release Blended Scotch Whisky

I was recently asked if I would like to try a sample of the Syndicate 58/6 which is a blended whisky, this is quite the award winner having won gold at the IWSC in 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015. So what is the Syndicate 58/6? It is a blend which contains 18 single malt whiskies and 4 single grain whiskies. The quality has been maintained over the 12 years by operating a “Solera” system*, when the additional 12 year old whiskies are added, they are rebounded with the older stock. Therefore this been still contains small quantities of the original 1958 blend. I was sent this sample by Douglas Laing, ooh! and some chocolates – can’t forget them.

The blend has also been “married” and finally matured for up to 2 years in 4 year old Oloroso sherry casks.

*Solera is a process for ageing liquids such as whisky, by fractional blending in such a way that the finished product is a mixture of ages, with the average age gradually increasing as the process continues over many years. The purpose of this labor-intensive process is the maintenance of a reliable style and quality of the beverage over time…

The nose is sweet and you do get the warm hint of sherry, caramel and dark muscovado sugar. Soft hints of vanilla, honey and orchard fruits and also some orange. Delicate spices come through on the nose too. The palate delivers a very smooth mouth feel, yet it is rich and flavourful, caramel and apple come through. I did try a sip with the flipping brilliant sherry finished (Scotch whisky) dark chocolate truffle and they were fab together. The finish is lovely on this whisky, an easy drinker.

Thanks for the opportunity to try this Douglas Laing.

Sarah

 

Heaven Hill UK Tweet Tasting

On the 4th July myself and a host of other tweeters joined together for an evening of bourbon from Heaven Hill UK. hmm just realised the # I used read #HeaveHillUK…D’oh missing the N!

First to sample was Evan Williams Extra Aged, the nose gave rich sweet honey and caramel yet slightly minty, probably like Pacers if you’re of that generation?! Sweet hint of vanilla and a dash of oak and banana. Palate is quite punchy, caramel, burnt sugar and that minty-ness remains with some spices too. Dry and bitter finish.

Next to try was the Old Fitzgerald Larceny, toffee and fresh baked bread, caramel, vanilla and soft sugar. A touch of cinnamon. On the palate, sweet and a tad doughy a little peppery and some wood too, quite dry on the finish.

Now to the Bernheim Original. Honey and freshly made buttered popcorn / buttered white toast. Sweetex. Sweet and inviting on the nose with a touch of vanilla and a drizzle of honey and maybe a little fudge (it worked well in fudge too.)  Lovely palate sweet and caramel / toffee coming through.

And last but not least the Rittenhouse. The nose delivers honey and a touch of oak, slightly fresh note too. Palate spicy and sweet and a bit tingly. Some delicious bitterness though.

My favourites on the evening were Larceny and the Bernheim. Having just sat with them again, I dare say I enjoyed the Rittenhouse too.

Thanks to Steve, and Heaven Hill UK for the chance to take part and for the samples.

Sarah

 

 

 

Sibling Rivalry – The Dram Team

Sibling Rivalry it’s all part of family life eh? Well on this particular evening it was a battle of ages between these six drams, we were about to sample Glen Moray, Old Pulteney and Glenfarclas siblings. So who would come out as favourite? The elder or the younger? Well I guess there was really only one way to find out, sample them.

First up are the 12 and 15 year old expressions from Glen Moray from their Elgin Heritage range.

The 12 year old nose, lovey soft floral fragrance yet has a depth to it too. Just drawing you in for another sniff. Lovely toffee, vanilla and a bit of milk chocolate. Definitely a freshness to it. Now the 15 year old, lovely and fresh too but with some delicious spice and a note of frangipane and toffee and a delicious hint of oak. Going back to the 12 again and there is a thick creamy custard note (it’s been sitting a while now.) The palate on this delightfully light and fruity with that vanilla and it’s quite lightly spiced too. The 15 is that bit thicker on the palate with a sweetness and lovely spice again. Both are wonderful but I think the 15 just pips it to the post. Just.

Now to the Old Pulteney twosome. The 12 year old at 40%, and the 17 year old at 46%. I do like the Old Pulteney so it is nice to try them again.

The 12 year old on the nose is lovely and fresh like line dried linen with a sea breeze, a slight hint of fresh orange rind with vanilla and a pinch of salt and a the scent of oak.

And the 17 year old? A more robust nose and briny with it. Warm leather and a slight tanginess accompanies a bar of Mr. Toms – so that’s nuts in sugar and it smells delicious! I think there is a bit of a pine freshness there also. The palate of the 12 year old is slightly dry with a hint of vanilla and a bit of cream, soft whipped with a drop of this in it would be fab. Theres a slight spicy caramel to it but it’s sweet. The 17 year old is smoother on the palate, that nuttiness remains albeit lightly, and again it is sweet and fruity and really delicious with a long finish that just has you savouring the whisky.

Lastly we moved on to the Glenfarclas and the 10 year old and the 25 year old.

Up first is the 10 year old and the nose is quite buttery and a bit malty too. Toffee entices you a little with light spices and a little cream and honey, and the 25 year old? A richer nose on this one, the sherry really coming to the fore, Christmas pudding and bitter rind and really quite full on the nose. The 10 year old palate is light yet sweet with some cinnamon dancing on the tongue with lovely vanilla and the maltiness is there also. Against the lovely sherry on the 25 year old which really draws you in, some bitterness from dark chocolate yet rather yummy. Yes there is a difference in them but they both have their own merit, whether 10 years or 25 years old.

I based my thoughts on the Glenfarclas 15 year old that I really do enjoy.

A lovely selection of drams from some of my favourite distilleries. So thanks guys for another interesting box of delights!

And to all those who took part on the night – hello!

Sarah

 

 

Dramboree 5 – I blame Jon and The Dram Team

Hopefully the title had you thinking “huh?”

I’ve called it what I did as they were the main influence in my deciding to buy a ticket and go. Well we all like a giggle don’t we? Or should I say “we all love trying new whiskies, don’t we?”

Maybe it should be “a lost weekend in a hostel in Aviemore?”…

So I was packed with my bottle for the table and my fudge for willing mouths, and I was Edinburgh bound… eventually. Signalling delays had meant I had missed the first train but as I had planned ahead there was plenty of time to get there. I decided to have my first dram of the day while we approached Inverkeithing and as my stash was packed in my case I decided to see what they had on board. Not a lot it seemed. The Auganocean (guess) didn’t fit the bill so I decided on a wee old favourite the Highland Park 12 year old. Upon arrival in Edinburgh and ignoring a tweet about “batten down the hatches Edinburgh” I attempted to meet up with Jon and Tom. Bonus was I also met Chris and Jamie from The Dram Team and lovely Amy Seton too. So we set off for one of the Robert Graham’s shops before a brief visit to look in the cage at Cadenhead’s. Brief note, always accept the proffered magazine and don’t respond with “obviously they’re popular” at the large pile. Still my cheekiness and a smile got me off with a laugh.

Shortly after we headed for the coach station to gather the troops of whisky brethren together. I was kindly offered the job of driving the coach, however being two drams in I gladly declined the offer. So all aboard the bus and we were Aviemore bound. Woo hoo!

Back of the bus banter was refreshing and I soon found myself at ease… and the array of delicious drams most definitely helped the miles just disappear, GlenDronach 2002 Batch 8 PX Sherry Puncheon, and then another Batch 8 the 1992 cask #145 Oloroso Sherry Butt. A brief comfort break in Pitlochry and we were on the last run to Aviemore as we headed through the Drumochter Pass and past Dalwhinnie Distillery. We soon found ourselves at the hostel and cases put away and bottles on the table it was a chance to mingle…a few faces I already knew and a few who knew my face and some new faces to know too. So I think the rest of the evening went a little like this…a whisky tasting and receiving our Dramboree 5 glasses and badges to identify who we were. Then later we all introduced the bottle we brought along. These could be something you’ve wanted to try because they are nice or totally evil drams… I brought Douglas Laing Old Particular Glenrothes 12 YO. We all set about tasting things we fancied, I tried the Glen Moray Peated Port cask finish which was rather lovely and it also brought me a lot of humour on Twitter… If you saw the tweet you’ll know what I mean 🙂 Compass Box Morpheus delighted my palate as did Dickel on the second dram. I tried some lovely SMWS whiskies too, 35.52 Lush, divine and exotic and 73.84 Tug of war in a meadow, I guess these were to build up a friendship with my palate again after subjecting it to Fujikai. If you haven’t “been” there then do give it a try… If I’d ever got close to a post game rugby players sweaty cup then I imagine my initial scent sensation would be “Fujikai”. However, I nosed it, I sipped it and believe that my face said it all as I took one for England and swallowed. It was interesting to see some extremely old looking bottle of Haig’s and I’m still not sure where they had been hiding. I gravitated to the lounge for the lost souls…humorous banter and some music and a chance to swap stories of who we are and what we like, the added bonus was the question “I’m going back to the table, anyone want anything?” to which I handed over my glass with a “surprise me”. All good and most welcoming as it was someone else’s choice.

I think I went to bed at 1:30am.

Saturday was an earlyish start and after brekky a walk down to Loch Morlich, love this area of Scotland. A fresh morning and the beautiful views to just lose yourself in for a moment or two. Breathtaking! We then all met up for a blind tasting with the whisky guv’nor and the Science of Peat with Mark and Kate from the Manchester Pyromaniacs manchesterpyromaniacs.blogspot.co.uk a fun and interesting look into heated whiskies including a blind tasting, and I managed to guess one to, the Laphroaig and won a fab Boutique-y Whisky canvas of the Back to the Future Sale label of the Williamson 6 YO Batch 1 bottle. A welcome addition to my other framed cards at home.

After a quick wee dram (as you do) it was time to leave now gloriously sunny Aviemore and head to Forres, en route passing by a whole host of distilleries and had we stopped I’m sure a lot of money would have been spent. But first a stopping Rothes for lunch and the best flipping fish ‘n’ chips I have had in years. Fun and capers in the park with the human fish and then onward to The Benromach distillery. A whistlestop tour of this lovely distillery and an ambush on the distillery shop and we were all aboard the coach back to the hostel for a BBQ. So full of meat and and a happy day behind us it was time to mingle and share a dram or two or… well what ever you liked really. Prize giving for the best bottle and the worst and thanks applauded for a wonderful weekend it was time to wind down in the lounge for the lost souls and share a few giggles. One day I might explain why when asked what biscuit I’d be resulted in me saying “I can’t say (laughing), before sheltering my face behind a cushion”. Then it was time for bed as tomorrow we are heading home.

I guess that all that’s left to say is thanks. Thanks for suggesting I go, thanks for eating and enjoying my fudge, thanks for the banter and giggles but mostly and more importantly thanks to those that run these weekends – Jason B Standing, Jonny M.

Thanks to all those that made this fun!

Sarah