News just in: We've brokered a deal with Santa's top reindeer breeder to provide our elves with the fastest mode of transport in all the land. Thanks to our new herd of reindeer (and a sleigh we found in a garage) we’re able to extend our final order deadline for Christmas Eve delivery to the UK mainland until midday on Sunday 23rd December!
Call us insane if you please, but if you’re the kind of person who buys your Xmas presents when you get that flash of inspiration at the very last minute, you can still buy your gifts from us until midday this coming Sunday.
Pop over to our Christmas gift page to find those final stocking fillers or gifts for relatives you may have forgotten about (we won’t tell).
If you still need to grab wine to accompany Christmas dinner or even whisky and brandy to cap the day off with – order now to be in time for the night before Christmas.
Have a great holiday!
The London Distillery Company has just released their first product – the TESTBED1 Gin Set. A pack of four gins made to four different recipes which demonstrate the development process undertaken to create a new London Dry Gin.
The London Distillery Company was founded in 2011 by Darren Rook, who was then joined by Production Manager Andrew Macleod Smith in May 2012. Most excitingly, they will also be producing their very own whisky, making them the first distillery in London to do so in 100 years. Whilst we’re eagerly awaiting this, they've embarked on the TESTBED Gin project to keep us thoroughly entertained.
It seems most countries have a national drink – these are the kind of bottles that are bought on holiday and go dusty in the cupboard only to be pulled out for drinking games at parties years later. One of the most iconic national drinks of all time is of course Tequila.
Tequila, as we all know, has a bad reputation as being that party drink, that led to that night, and many have avoided exploring this infamous spirit unless forced to by a friend who is swaying on the spot with a party hat on his head screaming, "SHOT!". However, if this is the case, Tequila's rustic cousin Mezcal should pique your interest. "What is a Mezcal?" I hear you ask. Well take a seat and I will tell you a story.
Chivas Brothers have recently launched a new global educational campaign entitled ‘Great Things Take Time’.
To declare such a grand concept – Chivas treated us to a delicious lunch, courtesy of Mark Hix, at Brown’s Hotel to explain why age is important – undoubtedly because they have a lot of old whisky that needs selling, and selling is what we do. I am always happy to listen so I settled down to be wooed by these giants of blending.
According to their research only 10% of whisky consumers understand what the age statement on a bottle of whisky means, and 94% of people believe an age statement is an indicator of quality. This is understandable; it’s not immediately apparent, or indeed, at all apparent on the bottle that the age statement refers to the youngest whisky inside. Plus, it’s easy to see why older whisky should be better; older whisky is more expensive, if it’s more expensive surely it should be of a higher quality – that’s a fair assumption to make. However, this got me thinking as we tasted our way through the Chivas range with Master Blender Colin Scott: does age matter?
We were then ferried to the grotto of antiquities that is the Victoria & Albert Museum to watch a debate addressing the question whether age matters or not take place. The debate took place between historian Bettany Hughes and Peter Aspden from the Financial Times, however their inclination to agree with one another lended a bias to the argument that age does matter (remember old whisky is at stake here). Despite this what they had to say was interesting.
If you really want to understand a whisky, you need to visit the distillery where it's made and meet the people that make it. This has never been more appropriate than of the legendary Highland Park Distillery, whose whisky is inspired by the rugged terrain of the Orkney Islands that once played home to the Viking invaders. So, we decided to team up with these Orcadian distillers to arrange a little competition for you – with an absolutely massive prize.
If you purchase a bottle of the esteemed Highland Park Single Malt Whisky before five hundred bottles have been sold or before the 15th December – depending on which comes first – you could win a spectacular two-day trip up to the Orkney Islands to visit their famous distillery.
If there was ever a word so god damn awful it’s guaranteed to send a shudder down your spine it is the dreaded p-word – prohibition *a wolf howls in the background and you get the feeling you are being followed by a man with an axe*.
This was the boozeless condition that afflicted the United States of America for thirteen parched years thanks to the tireless campaigning of the American Temperance Movement.
The Movement advocated the ‘Noble Experiment’ to save society from the horrors of alcohol abuse throughout the 19th and 20th centuries and they succeeded in 1920 with the 18th Amendment to the Constitution and the Volstead Act which completely banned the sale of alcohol in the U.S.A.
This led to a decade and three years of corruption and violence across America as mobsters and moonshiners sought to bring alcohol illicitly to the understandably thirsty public before the Amendment was finally repealed in 1933.
It’s that time of year again - the weather has given up the pretence of caring, the trees are shedding their leaves like a sinking ship sheds ballast, and the sun can’t summon the energy to stay in the sky for longer than is absolutely necessary. Thankfully all is not lost as Diageo are about to release their much anticipated Special Releases Range.
Diageo is a multi-national drinks company that owns twenty-eight working distilleries and the remaining stock of a number of closed ones, and every year they release a selection of limited releases from some of these distilleries.
With such a large portfolio to draw from these whiskies tend to be the cream of the crop and get us whisky geeks slathering at their merest mention [go on, find a whisky geek and mention it, watch it slather…].
So this evening we all trooped to London to taste these high-demand whiskies in the warm and, more importantly, dry confines of The Deck at the National Theatre. Last time I was in this theatre I watched Benedict Cumberbatch (that guy off of Sherlock) prance around the stage as Frankenstein’s monster with nothing but his self-esteem to cover his modesty. This time I came armed with a notebook and pen - ready to record my experience of facing this enormous tackle of whisky.
Today Bowmore made a monumental announcement that they are releasing the oldest Islay Single Malt ever produced, ever…
Bowmore is the oldest distillery on Islay and is famous for producing extraordinary bottlings such as the Black Bowmore and the White Bowmore, as well as their better known (and more affordable) Bowmore 12 Year Old and Bowmore 18 Year Old. In addition to these they have also produced the tasty sherry cask Bowmore Darkest and the stormy cask strength bottling of the Bowmore Tempest.
This, however, is the Bowmore 1957, which was bottled in 2011 after 54 years of cask ageing. In 1995 a number of casks of Bowmore were bottled, but one cask was kept in the legendary Bowmore No. 1 Vaults, the oldest maturation warehouse on the island. This cask has been monitored every six months until it was deemed to have reached perfection.
The bottles have been beautifully hand-blown and sculpted into the shape of the waves that pound the walls of No. 1 Vault by renowned glass artists Brodie Nairn and Nichola Burns. The glass has also been flecked with platinum to create a shimmering sea-like effect.
Ask most people what their first experience of whisky was and you will be greeted with a shudder, the questionee’s face will turn a charming tinge of green and they’ll reply, “A cheap blend out of my dad’s drinks cabinet, frankly it tasted vile and it made me do things I’d really rather not talk about here.” Fair enough. We all have to start somewhere.
However, this common experience of blended whisky —plus the ready availability of the stuff on the shelf at the supermarket—has led to blends getting a reputation on a par with that of Hollywood diva Lindsay Lohan, some say worse... This has propagated the fallacy that ‘single malt is good, blended whisky is bad’ which is repeated like Animal Farm’s ‘four legs good, two legs bad’ mantra until everyone is bored and has moved on to the Tequila and lime. However, I am here to put the case forward for blended whisky and then, through bravely/foolishly attempting it myself, I will try and give you some tips on how to create your very own blend!