New Release! : The Laphroaig Lore

“The Laphroaig Lore is the story of Laphroaig itself. It’s a massive whisky, as bold as it is deep, and one that I sincerely hope does justice to the many generations of Laphroaig distillery managers. It’s our story, bottled, the richest of the rich”.

Distillery manager, John Campbell, whose brainchild the Lore is, explains how each manager over 200 years has provided something new to the Laphroaig legacy, and how each’s culminates into the latest Lore expression.

New Release Laphroaig Lore Islay Scotch Whisky John Campbell

The Goring, London’s last family owned luxury hotel, hosted the launch the day before the 48% abv single malt went onto the market as one of the latest of one of the best-selling Islay distilleries, and one of the most expensive NAS whiskies out there.

Now Laphroaig can state there is a list of whiskies ages 7 to 21 that make up the Lore, but not in what amounts, so buyer skepticism is understandable and encouraged for a bottle hitting nearly 80 GBP. So let’s get down to business.

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The nose has a lot going on. On one hand, sweet, and oily. Chestnuts, baked fruit, vanilla. On the other, classic Laphroaig notes of smoke, peat, TCP and some ash – a grassy and salty hint.

New Release Laphroaig Lore Islay Scotch Whisky

The palate confirms what Laphroaig is selling – the Lore is a wonderfully rich whisky. Rich in depth, and range of flavour – a procession of them. Initially floral, spicy, light – before the peat muscles in, with a cape of smoke, charcoal, leather, ash, a flourish of stewed fruit in toffee and dark chocolate – then suddenly, a burst of chilli and salty minerality. A brine breeze before the finish.

The finish is twofold. First, very short, and very dry. Settling onto a mellow, sweet and earthy length. Over time, the flavours mellow and calm, customary of younger whiskies.

Similarly, (the bourbon refill barrels included), this whisky has one hell of a bite. Water is needed. The burn is one feature the Hoodooist could’ve done without, especially in such an enjoyable whisky.

New Release Laphroaig Lore Islay Scotch Whisky

Honestly? I enjoyed this whisky, and if you enjoy the An Cuan Mor, I suspect you’ll enjoy the Laphroaig Lore. Both have hefty pricetags, so it’s up to you to decide – if you’re willing to shell out on one, chances are you are for the other.

Time to set the controversy aside now that it’s here.

New Release Laphroaig Lore Islay Scotch Whisky John Campbell

Campbell comments: “Over the generations, distillery managers like me have made their own contributions to the quality and character of Laphroaig. From the founding of Laphroaig, these custodians have each made their own mark, whether it was drying the malting barley at lower temperatures than most, using two sizes of spirit still, pioneering the use of ex-Bourbon barrels, or reintroducing the quarter cask to Scotch whisky-making. Each of these decisions have made Laphroaig the unique, premium whisky it is today. We make the whisky we make because of what has been passed on down to us”.

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The Spirit of Sharing Tasting, @ The Embassy of Ireland

Some of you might still be reeling from the craziness of this year’s St. Paddy’s Day (ouch Sun Tavern, ouch Whisky Live), but whether or not you’re still wearing (feeling) green (or still pretending to be Irish), this year’s explosion of Irish whiskeys and poitins onto the London cocktail scene is making some of the Scots lowkey panic.

As for the English whisky distilleries..Well. Um.

Anyway.

We now enter the ballroom of the Irish Embassy, South Ken, where the Bord Bia Irish food board and brought in some of the biggest, and growing, names in Irish spirits to taste, in the company of award winning drinks writer Dominic Roskrow, and Charlie McCarthy of Tullamore Dew and All About the Cocktail fame!

Ireland Irish London Spirit of Sharing Stout Cocktails Whiskey Poitin

Let’s have a stroll and look at some of the outstanding spirits we have on show today!

Before the whiskey classics, let’s get on to whiskey’s ancient ancestor and fairly recent and exciting on the London scene – the potent Poitin has been released after its four century long ban from 1997.

Ireland Irish London Spirit of Sharing Stout Cocktails Whiskey Poitin

Bán Poitín!

Introduced in 2013, Bán Poitín by Dave Mulligan and Cara Humphreys has dominated the UK Poitin market, and are staples at The Sun Tavern, and Discount Suit Co. An industry darling, and rightfully so: the sugarbeet and barley spirit is strongly malty, slightly sweet, and goes down wonderfully with a stout.

Ireland Irish London Spirit of Sharing Stout Cocktails Whiskey Poitin

The Glendalough Sherry Cask Poitin – Picture courtesy of: http://www.glendaloughdistillery.com

Stored in virgin Irish Oak, the Glendalough Poitin range provides variety.

The standard Glendalough Poitin comes with a similar bread palate, with pepper and oak, with a subtle creaminess. The (wonderful!) Sherry Cask Finished Poitin has a beautiful nose of orange and spicy sweetness, a toasty palate of fruit and spice, and long sherry finish. Finally, the Mountain Strength is bold with barley, fruit and oak. Spectacular stuff.

Ireland Irish London Spirit of Sharing Stout Cocktails Whiskey Poitin

Bertha’s Revenge! Picture courtesy of: http://ballyvolanespirits.ie/

How about something a little different? We’re seeing a lot of gin from Ireland, and one of the more intriguing ones is Bertha’s Revenge, a milk gin by Ballyvolane House. A beautifully creamy mouthfeel on sweet almond and spicy cardamom and cloves, followed by a lip-smackingly dry citrus finish. It’s been a while since gin got the Hoodooist’s attention – and Bertha certainly did.

Ireland Irish London Spirit of Sharing Stout Cocktails Whiskey Poitin

Kerrygold Irish Cream! Picture courtesy of: http://kerrygoldirishcream.com/

Let’s look at the lighter stuff: We can’t do Ireland without Irish Cream, and classic Kerrygold doesn’t overwhelm you with sweetness compared to many.

Ireland Irish London Spirit of Sharing Stout Cocktails Whiskey Poitin

The fun Flaming Pig!

And the gloves were off with the liqueurs. The Flaming Pig spiced whiskey liqueur is melded with cinnamon, black pepper and cloves, ready for a ludicrously silly drinking game. Initial sweet whiskey flavours are immediately followed by powerful spice to set you off.

Ireland Irish London Spirit of Sharing Stout Cocktails Whiskey Poitin

Highbank Irish Orchard Liqueur Brandey – Picture Courtesy of: https://highbankorchards.com/

Made from organic apples, the Highbank Orchard Liqueur Brandey is fantastic after lunch on the riverside, filled with bright apple, ginger and cinnamon flavours.

Ireland Irish London Spirit of Sharing Stout Cocktails Whiskey Poitin

Clever Man’s Ejector Seat Turf Smoked Stout

The stouts came out to play: Clever Man’s Ejector Seat Turf Smoked Stout certainly changed the Hoodooist’s mind about the drink, jet black, with peaty nose. A powerfully smoked palate, coffee, and light notes of TCP, with a dry bittersweet finish – this is an Islay Whisky as a stout. Love.

And there is the White Hag’s Black Boar Stout, rich, bitter – the nose is peaty. The palate is malty and smoky, with vanilla, chocolate, treacle and oak thrown in, with a bit of bite. Nom.

 

I guess we’re on to what everyone’s waiting for! The Whiskeys are classics, good old Jameson, Teeling, and the Liberties.

Ireland Irish London Spirit of Sharing Stout Cocktails Whiskey Poitin

The Jameson Range!

The Jameson family is all out tonight!

We all know the sweet, Madeira and marmalade flavours of the Jameson Irish Whiskey classic. The Crested 10 is a potent mix of grain, pot still, and sherry casks: full and rich, smooth and light before swelling into spice, red fruit and chocolate, over a toasted sherry notes. The Select Reserve Black Barrel aka Small Batch, focuses more on grain and pot still, with double charred barrels. Creamy, and thick. Warm winter flavours of dates, overripe fruit, cinnamon and orange zest are followed by a lengthy finish of nutmeg and cinnamon. The most recent addition, the Caskmates, is given a stout finish – the fruits and chocolate of Jameson is now coupled with hoppy maltiness for a fabulous modern whiskey.

Probably the star of the family, the award-winning Redbreast 12 is rich and nutty, with marzipan and almond – a long sherried finish is spicy and sweet. A gorgeous whiskey worth shelling out on.

Ireland Irish London Spirit of Sharing Stout Cocktails Whiskey Poitin

The blurry Teeling Trio

Of course Teeling is here!

We know the Single Malt: Light, peppery, cinnamon – peppered with floral notes. The Single Grain is more adventurous: Be ready for cereal flavours with spice and treacle, custard plays around here too. A spry spirit, that. Finally, the gorgeous Small Batch: rich with floral notes, spiced with cinnamon and other herbs, a creamy creme brulee at the end. Wonderful and flamboyant.

Ireland Irish London Spirit of Sharing Stout Cocktails Whiskey Poitin

The Dublin Liberties Oak Devil – Picture courtesy of: http://www.marblehead.uk.com/

They say an oak-carved devil stood over the gates of a place nicknamed Hell in the Liberties of Dublin. They also say that oak was soon used for whiskey barrels – explaining the name of The Dublin Liberties‘s whiskey: Oak Devil. Expect a lot of caramel, spice and pepper, followed by warm winter notes of Christmas. Love this little tipple.

Ireland Irish London Spirit of Sharing Stout Cocktails Whiskey Poitin

Charlie McCarthy’s customised cocktail

Let’s end the night with Charlie McCarthy’s gorgeous customised cocktail! A mix of Tullamore Dew whiskey, PX sherry, chilli tincture and whiskey barrel aged bitters: a sweet, deep, spicy and rich concoction made the perfect nightcap.

Night, all – and dream of what Ireland has to offer us in the coming year!

Cocktails in the City 2016!

For it’s third year in a row, Cocktails in the City came in for the weekend 10th-12th March and knock out 1000s of cocktails for thirsty Londoners, this time at the majestic One Mayfair (Hogwarts with alcohol, basically) – Last year’s CitC Summer Edition brought 25 bars representing several spirit brands together under the sunny skies at Bedford Square Gardens where 2,000 Londoners came down over 2 days to try a whopping 7,724 cocktails!

Cocktails in the city london 2016

Bars and a representing brand set up stalls where bartenders presented the brand in a cocktail of their devising to the public for judging, with scores gathered at the end of the weekend judging best cocktails, and best stalls – let’s give a hand to last year’s winners: Best Cocktail by Coq d’Argent, and best stand by Loves Company!

Now, let’s have a look at the best of the 2016!

Cocktails in the city london 2016

First up, the Looking Glass Cocktail Club, Shoreditch – harking back to Maker’s Mark’s history as breadmakers, this cocktail is inspired by Italy’s sweet panettone bread loaf and it’s potent almond flavour.

The Maker’s Baker cocktail mixes Maker’s Mark whiskey, cider reduction with winter spice, Americano vermouth, ‘Liquid Panettone’, and Sinner Bitters. A sweet wintery Manhattan with heavy mix of cinnamon, nutmeg and spices, with lingering almond certainly took centre stage with it’s innovative homemade creations of ‘liquid panettone’ and spiced cider reduction.

Other cocktails presented by LGCC included the Honey Loaf, and Fig Muffin – each an excellent rendition on the baker/distiller theme.

Cocktails in the city london 2016

Another whisky contender that stole some attention was the Golden Square by last year’s winners, Coq d’Argent, and Johnnie Walker Gold Reserve.

Mixing the scotch with Earl Grey syrup, fresh lemon juice, Old Time Bitters, bitter orange marmalade, topped up with Lachamte Hideyoshi sparkling sake, garnished with orange zest and edible orchid – the Golden Square is a light, refreshing drink, with an edge of whisky, and depth from the Earl Grey. The floral sake and marmalade is uplifting, and surprisingly soft. A well balanced drink for Spring if there ever was one.

Cocktails in the city london 2016

Another star came from the OXO Tower Bar with the Love Buzz: Patron Tequila, rose syrup, yuzu, and strawberry infused Cocchi Vermouth – silky and delicate. An initial hit of strawberry mellows to a light tequila tang and bright rose, ending with a pale citrus of yuzu.

Cocktails in the city london 2016

Whiskey Ginger brought out recent release Pogues Irish Whiskey with the Irish Rover, including H by Hine Cognac, Orange bitters, Benedictine, caster sugar and mint: a light, bright whiskey cocktail with some herbal tartness. Next door, the Hawksmoor Spitalfields Bar kicked out a much harder short whiskey and cognac cocktail with the Sunset Sazerac: Strawberry infused Maxime Trijol VSOP Cognac, Coconut washed Rittenhouse Straight Rye, gomme, Peychaud and Pineapple bitters. In the face of powerful flavours like Rittenhouse and Trijol, many of the lighter ones drifted off – but still a fabulous cocktail for Sazerac fans (even without the absinthe!)

Cocktails in the city london 2016

68 and Boston surprised with a good cocktail: the Spirit of Adventure was a well balanced drink that didn’t overdo the sherry: Burleigh’s London Dry Gin, Amontillado sherry, apricot liqueur, hibiscus syrup and lemon juice created a fruity, citrus touched cocktail with a hint of dryness than would be a crowd-pleaser.

Cocktails in the city london 2016

We can’t leave without a hand to some amazing cocktails by our international visitors!

Little Red Door Paris brought in mystery cocktails – one powerfully Laphroaig was long and refreshing, but a short, perfumey cocktail of absinthe, Islay whisky and Chartreuse was also a clear winner.

Door 74 Amsterdam was spectacular with their Old Fashioned T&T: Woodford Reserve whiskey, Pekoe Ceylon tea liqueur infused with mandarin, orange and speculaas spices, maple syrup, and whiskey barrel aged bitters – a sweet Old Fashioned with kick and no shame in being both potent and flamboyant – garnished with a caramel pancake biscuit. Nom.

Cocktails in the city london 2016

Honourable mentions include Dishoom and Lanique Rose Spirit bringing a Julepy retelling of scandal from the last Viceroy of India; while The Whip and Chase Vodka brings the Radler back into style. Reverend JW Simpson, as ever, bursts in with a double production with Sauvelle Vodka in a chaste vanilla Martini, and a sinfully spicy punch.

And that was only a small taste of what dominated in the cavernous halls of One Mayfair on 10th March! The Hoodooist still believes this is one of London’s top cocktail events of the year, and cannot wait for next.

Tickets for Cocktails in the City London, Leeds, Manchester and Edinburgh can be bought at:

http://www.cocktailsinthecity.co.uk/