Sour beer heaven
Writing before Christmas on the joys of sour beer, and the importance of Belgium in their survival and revival, inspired me to top up my reserves. Earlier research had led me to Belgiuminabox.com, an online retailer based in Antwerp. The experience was a memorable one, the drinking likely to be even more so.
Run by beer aficionado Kurt Verblest, Belgiuminabox offers a near unassailable selection of Belgian classics and rarities at prices rarely seen this side of the English Channel, if they ever appear at all, and with the inclination and ability to ship worldwide.
Pre-1977 Ardbegs are pretty rare nowadays
My final entry in this rather random series of posts (and only a couple of weeks after 12th night!) is a 1974 half bottle of Ardbeg 23 Vintage 1974, 23 Years Old, cas nos. 606-609 (43% ABV) from independent bottler Signatory (nowadays owner of Edradour).
I acquired this probably 13 or 14 years ago from the Aladdin’s cave that is J. Wadsworth in St. Ives, Cambridgeshire. This was a time when I’d recently discovered Ardbeg and interesting older bottlings – especially from pre-1977 when Ardbeg had its own floor maltings – were becoming scarce.
Octomore, and more, and more
With Christmas duties and the inevitable post festive lurgy out of the way it’s finally on to number eleven and an excuse to uncork another of my stash. This time the peatiest whisky in the world, namely Islay distillery Bruichladdich’s Octomore. Or more specifically Octomore 4.2 Comus (61% ABV), with final maturation in a cask that previously held rich, sweet, Botrytis-enriched Sauternes wine.
You wait three years then two come at once!
From my oldest whisky to my newest. Thursday December 5th marked the commercial debut of the first two whiskies from Southwold, Suffolk-based Adnams Copper House Distillery, the third English distillery to successfully bring its own whisky to market since the revival in making uisge beatha south of the border. (Adnams follows St. George’s Distillery in Norfolk’s English Whisky Company and the “Hicks & Healey” cooperation between St. Austell Brewery and Healey’s Cyder Farm in Cornwall.)
1855 Reserve was my gateway whiskey
Right, back to the whiskies. My eighth dram of Christmas is Wild Turkey 1855 Reserve (54.4% ABV).
Bison present and correct but no grass in sight
Drams six and seven come as a pair, hailing as they do from the same distillery. But again I’m eschewing whiskies for something else. This time vodkas, namely Żubrówka Biala and Żubrówka Palona.
There’s not much information in English on these vodkas, unfortunately. Neither is widely available in the UK as yet (although look here), although they can be picked up in duty free at Polish airports. Which is where these came from, care of friends who regularly visit the country.
Paradise in a bottle
It’s dram number five and another trip to the back of the cupboard is in order. This time, it’s that equally revered and reviled of spirits: tequila. But this one’s not any old rough agave spirit. This is one of the brands that kicked off the current vogue for quality tequila, El Tesoro Paradiso (40%).