We found some real gems at Whisky Live (including a gin) and the South Africa Young Blood wine tasting, among others…
Claiming to be the first artisinal gin from Ireland, Dingle’s botanicals include rowan berry, fuschia, bog myrtle and heather. It kicks off with a clear juniper note on top of a distinctly floral bed of fuschia and chervil. A pleasing fruity finish with hints of oranges. 42.5% abv
Glenlivet 1973 Berry Brothers Bottling
The Berry Brothers table proffered a veritable range of own-label bottlings, as usual, and this single cask Glenlivet caught Imbibe’s attention. A delicious nose of apple crumble, cinnamon and Carnation evaporated milk eventually morphed into distinct flambéed banana tones when warmed in the glass. The palate was surprisingly dry and spicy, given the aromas. Citrusy notes of lemon and orange mix with sweet vanilla flavours, shortbread, oak and white pepper, leading onto a dry almost cereal-like finish. 47.6% abv
Kavalan Solist Vinho Barrique Cask Strength
This Taiwanese distillery was getting plenty of interest at the show, and their more premium bottlings deserved the attention. We couldn’t get an age statement out of them for this whisky, but it was rich and unctuous – caramelised orange, cooked soft red fruits, hints of exotic spices – cinnamon and sandalwood. A mouth-coating treat with a long finish. 58.4% abv
Balcones Tasting Event
It’s hard to believe that this renegade boutique Texan whisky distillery is already five years old, but there it goes. President and master distiller Chip Tate was recently in London and led a tasting through the range, including two new bottlings to celebrate their fifth anniversary.
First up was Brimstone Resurrection (67.4% abv), a serendipitous outcome from an intern’s mistake at the distillery, where all the solids from the mash ended up in one still and got burnt. Tate almost scrapped the distilled results, then decided to try ageing it in barrels. The results are, unsurprisingly, very smoky, with bacon crisps, smoked almonds, charred pine forests and sweet caramel combining into one chewy dram with a long, long finish.
A single-barrel of Texas Straight Bourbon (62.4% abv) experiment is the second offering. Made from 100% corn, this whisky boasts a spicy, almost rye character wrapped in a whisper of smoke. Sweet toffee, orange and honey flavours combine with a smattering of spicy white pepper.
They’re very interesting whiskies indeed. As Tate says, ‘We try to offer something that’s classically approached yet innovative.’
Wines of South Africa Young Blood Tasting
There were plenty of highlights at this tasting of the Cape’s young talent (35 and under). Howard Booysen Riesling 2010 (Berkmann Wine Cellars) showed some great varietal typicity, with some light petrol notes. Rich stone fruit was held together by a core of acidity, finished off with some orange-pith bitterness. Not cheap, though, with an RRP of £23.99. Boer & Britt’s Sauvignon Blanc Gezina 2010 (Hallgarten Druitt), complete with quirky label, opened with quite a savoury, almost-meaty, herbal hit, leading into some crisp apple on the bright, fresh palate. Great value. In the red department, Crystallum Cuvee Cinema Pinot Noir 2012 (Liberty Wines) opened with a soft, savoury nose, with some great dried red fruit and sour cherry flavours on the palate. Journey’s End Cape Doctor Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 (Bibendum) did exactly as expected, with dark fruit, sweet spice and a slight leather note on the nose. Blackcurrant and plum fruit were nicely wrapped together with some big tannins on the palate – a serious, yet approachable wine.
Legacy by Angostura
Angostura master distiller was in London to introduce the most expensive rum in the world, at a cool $25,000 per 50cl Asprey decanter. The rum itself was quite excellent – on the sweet side of the spectrum, unctuous even, but with some powdery cinnamon and cocoa notes as well, and finishing quite clean, with a nutty, almost-bitter note, along with a pleasant raisin/prune note too. The bottle’s not too shabby either.