Burns Night is almost here! To celebrate, we thought of the perfect place to celebrate this Monday, and hey, if you’d rather have a cosy night in, we’ve thrown in a couple of whisky cocktails to make at home at the end of the article!
Type of Bar: Whisky, Hotel, Pop up
Ideal for: Scotch, Date, Small Groups, Education
Running till the 29th of January 2016, the Brown’s Hotel is hosting the SCOTCH pop up in their Library room, exhibiting 40 different Scottish whiskies and couple of scotch cocktails – A tribute to their sister hotel, the Balmoral’s, SCOTCH Bar.
Whisky Ambassador, Fraser Robson, has whiskies from all over the traditional regions at his disposal: Speyside, Islay, Campbeltown, the Islands, the Highlands and Lowlands in a variety of blends, malts and vintages dating back to 1940, and what a brilliant collection it is. Running from 15 pounds a dram, up to 400 (the Glenmorangie Pride 1978), the choice of whiskies is intimidating at first, but easier to traverse through with the brilliant Mr. Robson guiding you.
Sponsored by Glenmorangie, best to start their event with the Glenmorangie Original: a demanding golden yellow, a classic whisky. Intensely citrus on the nose, the initial flavours are more flowery, with a dark citrus length.
However, more discussion revolved around the launch of this year’s Glenmorangie Private Edition: the Milsean.
Glenmorangie Director of Distilling & Whisky Creation, Dr. Bill Lumsden, gushed over the whisky, and upon tasting it, we got an idea why. The Milsean is painfully nostalgic – inspired by Dolly’s Mixtures, the whisky is even named ‘sweet things‘ in Gaelic. It’s matured in ex-bourbon casks and then extra-matured in former wine casks that once housed red wines for Portugal’s Doura Valley, re-toasted for the purpose.
What we get is a sweet whisky, rich with moreish candied fruits, with a bright nose of fruit, sugary – like sherbet, and sugar cane. The palate begins with a blast of candy, then the tartness of candied orange peel, cherries and plum – followed by a long spicy finish of borwn sugar, winter spice, and maybe a bit of fudge?
The Milsean, for the Hoodooist, is definitely a unique whisky, with a very specific purpose. Much like it’s packaging of cherry and white vertical stripes – it’s a dessert whisky – a dram or two after dinner is all you need if you aren’t sweet of tooth and don’t mind bit of a burn.
For cocktails, the first simple Orange Zest brought out the complexity of the citrus of the Glenmorangie Original with ginger ale and Angostura bitters, a simple enough drink, but a refreshing and effective one.
The second, the Spey Trip, is a fascinating drink, inherited by the SCOTCH pop up from the hotel’s resident Donovan Bar. Inspired by the Balvenie scotch it uses, and the Speyside region it hails from, the Spey Trip is constructed entirely from the scotch and its containers. The tumbler is the laser-cut bottom half of the Balvenie bottle, the platform it is served on also made from the Balvenie casks. An Old Fashioned using figs instead of sugar syrup, a spectacular drink that brings out the spicy sweetness of the Balvenie with the fig, which also appear as dried garnish (which dipped in the Old Fashioned taste incredible).
I was left torn about this drink by the end of it, since the first half was wonderfully layered and complex, but the last half became overwhelmingly sweet with the figs. And a whisky like Balvenie is a shame to lose.
The SCOTCH bar’s atmosphere is perfect for the venue, relaxed, subdued, with the occasional tartan – the Brown’s Hotel itself is a stunning building (from 1837), the interior sprawling, and couches numerous. And service is impeccable. A fantastic addition to the London whisky scene, and one I wish was permanent.
Drinks: **** – *****
33 Albemarle Street, Mayfair
London, W1S 4BP
HEY. YES. THERE IS MORE.
I mean, it *is* Burns Night tonight, and if you’re gonna stay in, might as well do it with a couple of easy to concoct cocktail at home, devised by Alexander & James.
A refreshing tasting whisky cocktail which combines gentle spice and fruitiness perfectly.
50ml Haig Club
35ml Sparkling apple soda
6 dashes ginger bitters
Built over hand-cracked ice in either a highball or tumbler, garnished with a long slice of root ginger (ideally cut with a mandolin).
But hey, say you’re more of a bourbon person (what the hell are you doing here?) but say you are, we haven’t forgotten you!
Apple Mint Julep
A light cocktail with a fruitful flavour and a hint of mint is perfect for a refreshing serve this
60ml Bulleit Bourbon
90ml apple juice
A dash or two of bitters
3-4 mint sprigs
Muddle the mint and apple juice together in a cocktail shaker. Add the Bulleit bourbon, a couple dashes of bitters and ice to the shaker. Shake well for 20 seconds and then strain into a tumbler glass filled with cubes of ice. Garnish with a mint leaf if desired
That’s all, folks! Make sure to enjoy your Burns Night with your favourite scotch – we know we will!