Barrel Aged Rusty Nail Tasting

This is another post for Edinburgh Whisky Blog where I attended a tasting of a series of Barrel Aged Rusty Nails.

I was invited to join the tasting panel for an unofficial, off-brand, barrel aged Rusty Nail experiment run by Drambuie Brand Ambassador Bruce Hamilton. The Rusty Nails were each aged for 55 days in first fill casks seasoned with one of; cabernet sauvignon, Drambuie 15 base whisky, port, bourbon, rum, and sherry. As well as this the Rusty Nails were twisted a little with Gancia Rosso, Cherry Marnier, and orange bitters.

After enduring the kind of severe soaking that only the unpredictable Edinburgh winter can provide I was primed for a warming winter beverage, or seven.

To welcome us and refresh our memories we were treated to an original Rusty Nail made according to Bruce’s recipe, packed full of liquorice, cloves, and blood orange flavours with a pleasantly warming boozy burn. From here the tasting was to proceed in silence to avoid collusion with each of the panel making their own notes to compare at the end. As well as this we were to guess the seasoning of the cask in order to avoid forming opinions before tasting.

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Bruichladdich Whisky Tasting at The Place Hotel

An invite to a Bruichladdich tasting with matching food set in the supremely decadent surroundings of ‘The Place Hotel’ on York Place is not one that can ever be declined. The bar is a dazzling array of colour, solid black granite set underneath an intense display of Swarovski crystals strung around LED bars currently set on pink. This crystalline crapulence (a fancy word for over indulgence, Ed) is taken to the next level with the addition of wallpaper detailed with shapes made from the dust left over from the polishing process at Swarovski.

The key feature of the hotel bar’s finesse is noted Edinburgh bartender Alan Fisher, previously of the Point Hotel. Given free reign of the bar Alan has built up a superb gantry with a hefty focus on non-chill filtered single malts. With these tools and an unsurpassable knowledge at his disposal Alan is able to concoct some truly stellar beverages and proves this as he starts our night with a sublime Botanist Gin Sour.

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Whisky Experience Review

This is a review of the Scotch Whisky Experience I posted for http://www.edinburghwhiskyblog.com a couple years ago. Originally posted here.

In general my whisky experience CV does not read well at all. Between pouring an entire glass full of Laphroaig when my dad invited me for a whisky at the tender age of 14 and sculling an entire bottle of Bells at an uneducated 16 there aren’t all that many highlights. However in recent years and working in one of the ten ‘Edinburgh Whisky Bars’ I have become more enlightened and developed a passion for learning the ways of this extraordinary industry. So when Chris invited me along to write a review of the revamped Scottish Whisky Experience I was pretty keen after having been on the old tour and feeling somewhat unimpressed by it.

On entering we are greeted by a glistening vision of Scotland embodied by a velvety smooth accent and vibrant red hair. As is typical of all the staff, she was exceptionally friendly and began our experience with a smile. Chris and I were ushered into the brand new barrel ride and trundled off into the dark to be enlightened by Douglas Macintyre. The barrel ride takes us directly into the process of distilling malt whisky. The spectre of Macintyre takes us into the mash tun and the difference between this and the 1990s era animatronics is massive. Sounds coming at visitors from every angle and short but very adequate explanations of each stage are certain to entrap visiting children’s attention and bringing the joy of the water of life to a whole new generation. Continue reading

Chase Vodka on a Wednesday afternoon? Sounds great!

This was a piece I wrote for Edinburgh Whisky Blog, one of the premier whisky blogs available. Originally hosted here.

Chase Vodka reviewed at Bon Vivant’s Companion by Joe; our friend, guest blogger, journalist and professional bartender

There is a refreshing trend developing in ‘premium’ spirits towards distilleries run by real people, in real places, with real cool philosophies. The days of bullshit imported neutral spirit being re-distilled with a couple of local ingredients lobbed in are long since over. This revival has most commonly been seen in the great gin uprising of the past 10 years but there exists a close circle of distillers willing to go the extra mile to apply this school of thought to creating truly artisanal vodkas.

The Chase family story is a prime example of this emphasis on the real. After five generations of farming in Herefordshire the family were declared bankrupt in the late 90s. They became a casualty of the supermarket price wars that drove farming profits into the ground. They were reborn in 2002 with the creation of Tyrell’s crisps and two years later became the first brand ever to refuse Tesco’s offer to carry their products. Continue reading