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.
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%).
At number four is something rather special to me. And generally just rather special. A quarter bottle of cask strength Talisker bottled by William Cadenhead and bought by moi from their old Covent Garden shop back in about 1988.
I didn’t really start this 12 Drams of Christmas series as anything but an excuse to raid my spirits cabinet and compose some short (but much needed) blog entries. However, it’s also providing an incentive to crack open some interesting bottles I’ve picked up over time that I hadn’t previously got around to sampling.
Number three in the countdown (or is that countup?) is one such specimen: Wiser’s 18 Years Old (40%), picked up at Toronto airport duty free a couple of years back on one of my occasional business trips to Canada. Not readily available in the UK, I’d read enough of Wiser’s 18 to know I should pick one up if I saw one. Not only was it a bit of a bargain for an 18 year old whisky – by today’s standards at any rate – it also turns out to be a cracking dram.
Number two in my Christmas rundown, and probably no surprise after my last post, is Mighty Oak’s Wilde Spirit (40%). For those coming here without reading that entry first, Wilde Spirit is distilled from the Maldon, Essex-based Mighty Oak Brewery’s Oscar Wilde mild (3.7%) beer at the English Spirit Distillery in Cambridgeshire, after which it appears to receive a dose of rapid wood ageing gaining an attractive honeyish sheen on the way.
The last day of November took me to Essex brewer Mighty Oak’s annual free beer open day at its brewery in Maldon, to the east of Chelmsford. The event provides a showcase for the brewery’s wares – including selected barrels of its regular brews and an extensive lineup of seasonal specials – designed to create good will and to help secure take out orders of 36 pint pins and 18 pint mini pins for Christmas.
Both looked to be well on the way to selling out by the time I left, so the effort was clearly a worthwhile one. I didn’t myself end up walking away with an order for Bingle Jells, Rockin’ Reindeer or one of the seven other Christmas ales on offer (I’m not convinced that Yellow Snow was an obvious draw, though the beer itself was more than decent). What I did walk away with was rather more unexpected. Continue reading “Mighty Oak: Free Beer and the Spirit of Oscar Wilde (Mild)”
Inspired by Master of Malt’s Whisky Advent Calendar, and my friends at Whisky Squad’s homemade version, I thought I’d use the festive season as an excuse to dip into my own spirits cabinet each day. As I’ve left it a bit late to cover the full 24 days, I thought I’d use the Twelve Days of Christmas as a more achievable target, although in truth I’ve already blown that too. Still, better start late than never. Plus I get two drams on a couple of days.
As a reasonably established member of Whisky Squad I recently took up the offer of a Saturday “field trip” to The London Distillery Company (or TLDC for short) in Battersea. The first whisky distillery in London for over a hundred years – the former Lea Valley Distillery, in Stratford, east London apparently ceased making the spirit in 1905 – is the brainchild of Scotch Malt Whisky Society and Glenmorangie alumnus Darren Rook and investor (and former microbrewery owner) Nick Taylor.
I’d previously met Rook at last October’s TWE Whisky Show when TLDC was still little more than a business plan and was intrigued to see how far the project had progressed. Situated in a former dairy in a remote corner of Battersea, next to Ransome’s Dock, TLDC now boast two stills (Christina the gin still and Matilda the whisky still) and four mash tuns and washbacks (two of each I think). There’s also room for a dedicated spirit still (Matilda will serve as both wash and spirit still for the time being), some limited barrel storage (the rest will be kept in a bonded warehouse somewhere in London) and desks made from wood reclaimed during the dairy conversion.
Cider may be experiencing its greatest period of popularity for many a decade but the foundation of that success owes little to traditionally made products. Rather it’s been the products of marketing departments – and countries not typically regarded as cider lands – that have led to the explosion of cider consumption (my guess is that genuine interest in these products is rather lacking among their drinkers, however). I don’t need to name names as you’ll know which brands I mean.
Apologies for the recent blogging hiatus here at Alt-Tipple Towers. The back end of 2012 turned out to be bit fraught for a variety of reasons and so this already delayed post was pushed back further and further. Still, its emphasis on the products of new wave world and micro whisky distillers (a topic I’m very keen on) meant I felt it was worth resuscitating despite being started last October. So here we go.
Unexpected good fortune in early October 2012 saw me in attendance at The Whisky Exchange Whisky Show at Vinopolis wine complex near London’s South Bank and what a superb day out it was.
A barely remembered entry of my name and email address into an online raffle on the Whisky Marketplace price-comparison website won me two Sunday tickets, worth a cool £99 each, to the capital’s biggest whisky event. With my whisky-loving friend Cliff in tow I headed to London Bridge and joined the queue heading in at noon.