Whatever the time of day, mood you’re in, of just simply on a whim, there’s probably a cocktail for every occasion.
Mixologists are always experimenting with their ingredients to come up with the next trend, and one of the more recent mode du jour is for spirits to be infused with animal fats such as bacon.
I’ve had bourbon infused with the flavoursome rasher which often leaves a distinctly smokey aftertaste. As well as an almost entirely carnivorous food menu, Meat Bar in Glasgow’s city centre goes a few steps further.
Meat cocktails. Included in their swine inspired twist on popular concoctions is a Meatojito, using aged rum infused with pork ribs and a pork rib garnish; and the Suckling Sour, a take on a whisky sour with bacon infused bourbon and a crispy bacon decoration perched on the rim of the glass.
This time I went for the Suckling Sour, which was a very well made cocktail with just a subtle hint of smokiness in the bourbon, of course eating the apple and bacon garnishes was a no brainer.
You should try one of these at least once, they really do work, however we’ll have to wait to see if the novelty wears off.
If you’ve had your ear even close to the whisky news grapevine you’ll know all about Mackinlay’s Rare Old Highland Malt Whisky, and the bottles discovered in the Antarctic in 2007.
A couple of years ago Whyte and Mackay (owners of the brand) recreated the contents of that bottle as a limited release replica. The end result was a pretty decent dram.
Recently I tasted an older version of Mackinlay’s, bottled in the 1960s.
The nose was very soft, if a bit faded by age. It smelled like cold coffee in a damp dunnage warehouse, slightly sulphurous, cinnamon and a distant whiff of christmas pudding.
The palate felt like it had flattened with age, a dusty chocolate orange, a tiny hint of creamy caramel, and sea spray on a concrete dock.
Overall, interesting but not really one for drinking, although a win on the curiosity stakes.
Whisky and food pairing, well executed, is a match made in heaven – or in this case SMWS Edinburgh.
At the Queen Street premises of the Scotch Malt Whisky Society we were introduced to stars of Scottish cuisine and whisky making with chef Mark Greenaway and Morrison Bowmore’s Master Blender Rachel Barrie.
Mark spoke first and briefly (straight from the kitchen in his whites and apron) about next month’s #EdinWhiskyFest where he and Rachel will be running a whisky and food masterclass, touching very briefly on the culinary wizardry we might expect. No sooner had he arrived, he was gone again back to his kitchen.
Rachel then took the floor and led us through a tasting of the some of the Morrison Bowmore range with a food pairing – Auchentoshan Three Wood with 70% dark chocolate, Glen Garioch 12 year old with Comté cheese, and Bowmore 12 year old with smoked salmon.
These were what you might call classic pairings, but Rachel insisted that at the Whisky Lounge in April that the pairings would be a real eye-opener – there was mention of grass, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it was served turf and all.
If you haven’t had whisky and cheese before give it a go, I’m especially fond of a sharp creamy blue cheese with a pungent Islay, seriously, do it…
The Society’s own chef put together a few pairing combinations which were really excellent, hardly surprising given the booze cupboard at the kitchen’s disposal.
What we had:
- “Dappled smoke, meringues and macaroons” (Cask No. 4.173) with smoked haddock tartare on rye toast
- “Rabbit in soured cream sauce” (Cask No. 41.56) with Ballontine of rabbit with compressed apple and celery radish
“Tantalisingly sweet and savoury” (Cask No. 78.40) with Rare venison loin with beetroot, creme fraiche and prune compote
- “Rite of passage” (Cask No. 127.31) with Strathdon Blue & leek fritter with walnuts
- “Sumptuous breakfast dram” (Cask No. 35.86) with Treacle ginger orange fudge with whisky soaked raisins
Exciting drams and excellent food, you’ve got a near perfect evening right there.
More info about The Whisky Lounge.
The secret of a good tasting is that air of enchantment, the stories, the quirks, and the provenance.
I can’t think of a better location than Channings Hotel, the former Edinburgh home of Sir Ernest Shackleton for a tasting that includes Mackinlay’s Rare Old Highland Malt, the whisky painstakingly recreated from samples of the bottles the explorer abandoned in the Antarctic, frozen in the ice for nearly 100 years.
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The windows don’t cast a great deal natural light in here, but that’s okay, the gloom is comforting, especially if you’re hiding from the temperamental Edinburgh weather. If you hide yourself in a corner somewhere, you can almost imagine yourself in a 1930s speakeasy at the height of prohibition in the USA, but way more slick, and well, nothing like a speakeasy in fact.
Well, I woke up this morning… Yes, it sounds like the start of a morose blues tune, but in fact it’s World Whisky Day.
27th March 2012 (exactly 70 years since the birth of whisky writer Michael Jackson) has been spreading across the world as the date for a celebration of all things malty.
My first proper tasting in Edinburgh at the Tolbooth Tavern on the Royal Mile, courtesy of Cadenhead.
It’s not for whisky nazis I’m reminded; it’s for open minded lovers of a good dram, where all are equal and (apart from maybe wrongly identifying a blind sample) there is no wrong answer. My kind of people.
Whisky aficionados and amateurs alike, everybody loves a good master class. Even the most experienced and geeky of us sometimes find the geographical journey through Scotch a bit like the drive to work – it’s all a bit hazy, with no specific memory.
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In my glass, and in my imagination, I’m back over to the Isle of Jura; it’s getting dark and a blast of icy wind howls across the landscape.
Like I say, I’m only imagining it, and with a dram of Jura 1976 ‘Feith A’ Chaorainn’ I can’t imagine even the worst that Mother Nature can throw at me would be even slightly annoying.