Wolfburn Whisky Tasting @ The Iron Stag, Shoreditch

Clambering down the stairs of the Iron Stag, wrestling with a scarf, gloves and enormous coat from the cold, some scotch is exactly what you’re craving.

From one of the most Northern points of the nation comes Wolfburn, non-chill filtered Highland whiskies revived by the banks of the Wolf Burn, inspired by the sea-wolf, revived after many years of inactivity.

Gareth sits us down at Hoxton’s Iron Stag, restaurant above and cosy, dark bar below. By candlelight we sip the American Oak matured single malt, the Wolfburn Northland. On the nose, lightly briny and malty, with shiny of smoke carried on the air – but still rich with fruit. The whisky opens with honey roasted nuts, leading to floral and orchard fruits with hints of raisin, ending on a finish of seductive smoke. I suppose I’m starting with my favourite of the three, a peaty yet balanced dram.

Next, for the sweeter palates, the Aurora. A combo of ex-bourbon and Oloroso Sherry casks create this smooth, almost syrupy whisky. The nose gives us pecans and cocoa, the flavour smooth and subtle in comparison to the Northland.
The signature nuttiness cascades with currant fruits and vanilla, with a sherried spice finish.

And finally, the Morven ends the evening with a peatier dram. A smoky nose if vanilla and oak precedes a palate of smoky vanilla, rich malt and honey, ending on a peppery and caramelly hint of ginger and sweetness. Beautiful.

Wolfburn is a fairly recent distillery, but their core range displays an instinct toward versatility and variety while still maintaining a core of Wolfburn flavours of nuttiness and light smoke, leaving us waiting to see what they have in store for us in future.

Till next time!


Irish Gin & Tonic Fest 2017

The best of Irish Gin and Tonic comes to London!

On 1st July Great Irish Beverages and A Drop Of Irish are hosting the closing party for this year’s Irish Gin & Tonic Fest 2017 in London.

The Irish Gin & Tonic Fest is an all Irish summertime celebration of the best gins produced in Ireland. Hundreds of bars and restaurants from across the Republic and Northern Ireland celebrate the best that Ireland has to offer the G&T between 25th June and 1st July. The organisers, Great Irish Beverages, decided that this year they’d bring some of their good cheer and lovely spirits over to London and close the festival in style!

The party will be hosted at Bootyard, home to 40FT Brewery and Cold & Blac coffee liqueur, the guys that brought you the best Paddys Day party in town earlier this year! Doors to the party open on July 1st from midday to 10pm.

Wristbands are available to buy online through DesignMyNight for £10, or on the door for £15. This will give guests access to samples of all of the gins being showcased, along with one complimentary All Irish G&T, served with Poacher’s tonic water. Delicious 40FT beer will also be available from the Tap Room.

Displaying Irish.GnT.Fest.Image.1.jpeg

Gins representing every province in Ireland will be in attendance, along with a chance to meet the people behind the brands to find more about their story and how they’re made:

  • From Ulster, the lovely Boatyard Gin. Wild bog myrtle from the family farm in Fermanagh helps to characterise Boatyard Distillery’s gorgeous organic grain gin. It has been nicknamed a “double gin” for the two distillations they implement for each bottling.
  • From Leinster, the delectable Bonac 24. The initial inspiration for this Wicklow gin actually came from time spent working in the Hamptons in NY, also known to the locals there as Bonac. Apparently, it took the Clifford family 24 times to get their gin formula right, hence the name Bonac 24.
  • From Munster, the delicious Dingle Gin. Straight outta county Kerry, with a rich spirit that is beautifully infused with eastern European spices and local flowers. Brought to you by the same folk as The Porterhouse Brewery.
  • From Connaught, the outstanding Drumshanbo Gunpowder Gin. Made in the only distillery in Leitrim, it is named after the famous Chinese green tea, it also features Irish ingredients such as dried meadowsweet which makes it a rather global spirit.

A dedicated G&T bar will be serving up Gin and Tonics throughout the day, pairing the Irish gins on show with Poacher’s Tonic, a craft Irish brand currently making waves in the tonic market. Ireland’s only producer of premium, low sugar, natural mixers, Poacher’s citrus tonic water features Florida orange and Irish rosemary, while their classic tonic water is more quinine forward with just a tiny sprinkling of Irish thyme.

Renowned Irish Chef Simon Lamont, will be cooking up some of the finest BBQ to line attendees stomachs too. Host of TV show The Lazy Chef, which saw him take to the road to highlight some of Ireland’s best kept culinary secrets, Simon now splits his time between Ireland and London, cheffing and running creative pop-ups.

So come along to the 40FT Brewery in Dalston and join us for a one night only extravaganza of Irish gins and Irish tonics! Or as we like to call it #LondonIrishGnT.


Pitch Black

“The 90-minute blind tasting will see guests sip on a pre-set selection of 5 libations.  Consisting of bubbles on arrival, 2 mouth-watering cocktails, an amuse bouche to cleanse the palate, followed by 2 aromatic wines, to be imbibed in absolute darkness.”

‘Blind tasting’ taken to its literal and logical conclusion means drinking in a subterranean room on City Road in complete darkness – have to admit, I was curious, and found myself learning a lot in the process!

Pitch Black cocktails blind tasting

The cocktails and wines will change week to week throughout its run November and December 2016, and is an excellent learning experience for drinks novices and experts alike.

Led down a stairway into a cosy room, we rest on the banquettes as the 8 of us get to know each other – but as the lights dim and eventually go dark, we find inhibitions dissolving and conversations with the others in the room enlivening.

To be fair, the drinks probably helped too.

Novices will get a chance to pay closer attention to finer details like nose, flavour, and mouthfeel, whereas experts will find themselves approaching some well known classics with a renewed appreciation for the drink.

Cocktails and wines will be served, with no hint as to what they are, as participants explore the drinks and discuss flavour and ideas. At the end of each session the drinks are revealed and explained in further detail to surprise.

A Breakfast Martini can have some surprisingly herbal flavours in the dark, and a Pisco Sour a spicier nose than one first thought. An amuse bouche to be enjoyed before moving onto the wines: a naturally sweet Riesling and a devious blend of reds, before a final glass of bubbly to enjoy.

Pitch Black does exactly what it says on the tin, and is well worth the experience. Darkness heightens not only the senses, but the social aspect of the evening, and will be educational to all participants of any level of expertise. I highly suggest you sign up for a fun evening with friends, entertaining parents, or a date, for something just a little bit different.

Tickets cost £48 per head and can be purchased at: http://pitchblackbar.com/

Tequila Fest 2o16 Preview!

Though the wide-spread drinking of tequila and the recent emergence of Mezcalerias like Agaveria El Nivel, one of the Hoodooist’s favourite openings 0f 2014, are known well enough, a connoisseurial culture of the spirit never completely blossomed in the Isles. “This is a no salt or lime zone”, stresses Festival organiser Eduardo Gomez, as we grab our tasting cups.

After last year’s major success, TequilaFest 2016 is not an event to be missed – on September 17th and 18th at the Boiler House Brick Lane!

Tequila TequilaFest Mezcal London Mexico

Hosted at Lupita, Shoreditch, the press preview brought forward a spectacular crowd to taste a large variety of tequilas & mezcals. A few fantastic discoveries in the world of agave for the Hoodooist, such as Meteoro‘s pure Espadin mezcal – it even comes with a backstory – a crater from a crashed meteor in Oaxaca became the cooking spot for this mezcal’s agave. Delightfully smooth, the Meteoro Joven is a fantastic sipping tequila. Bold, muscling in with powerful smokiness and a bright trail left behind, it lives up to it’s media campaign, #ItFellFromTheSky.

Tequila TequilaFest Mezcal London Mexico

Another of the TequilaFest newcomers to expect will be agave giant Patron with theirSilver, Reposado, Anejo and XO Cafe range – and in a few days will be unleashing their Incendio chilli-chocolate tequila onto #Drinkstagram tags everywhere.

Herencia de Plata has entered the ring as well, with their bright, peppery range, and can carry it’s weight in combat with the other stars of the show.

Tequila TequilaFest Mezcal London Mexico

Expect to see old reliables like Ocho, who have unveiled their Curado – a Blanco tequila that has been infused with agave – carrying their Blanco’s feel and kick, with a fruity wave of agave, addictive this one.

Stars of last year are back, from the smoky caramel Espadin San Cosme mezcal, to classic Altos and Siete Misterios Espadin, with that spicy, earthy smokiness and sugary dried fruit (so, so beautiful). And you certainly can’t go wrong with a Del Maguey Tommy’s Margarita.

Tequila TequilaFest Mezcal London Mexico

After the food provided by Lupita was demolished by the now slightly staggering clientele of the room, the Hoodooist realises that this year’s TequilaFest at the Boiler House Brick Lane is going to enormous in comparison to the previous year – this is an event he – and you – should certainly not miss.

Tequila TequilaFest Mezcal London Mexico

“The Tequila Fest will educate you in the customs of production and consumption and engulf you in the taste, smells, sounds and sights of true Mexico. There are few spirits with a more rich and fascinating lineage. Get to grips with the technical jargon, the process of distillation and the bounty of care that goes into every single bottle.” Also featuring blind tastings, cocktail tutorials and masterclasses, “Real tequila.”


Fortaleza Tequila Takeover @El Nivel!

Rarely seen in the UK, Fortaleza Tequila is finally making some more noise in London!

Appearing at London tequila bars El Nivel, Covent Garden and El Camion, Soho, Global Brand Ambassador Stefano Francavilla came in for a few days with several bottles of one of the highest rated tequilas in the city.

Obviously, the Hoodooist was not missing this.

Tequila Fortaleza London El Nivel Cocktails

The Fortaleza Anejo

The powerful citrus and pepper nose of the Blanco prepares you for a drink that is strong with lime and cooked agave, with hints of vanilla among the green herbaceous flavours, which – as a Stockholm-hailing friend described it – like sipping a Swedish pine sauna. A very easy going and complex blanco.

The Reposado does a face heel turn: 8 months in American Oak gives it a caramel and agave nose, with the oak’s butterscotch flavours paired with some agave, vanilla and warm (cinnamon?) flavours. A lasting spice length to this gorgeously smooth tequila.

18 months in American Oak make the Anejo a long, deliciously smooth, surprisingly sweet drop. Sweet fruity and winter spice dominate the nose, the palate is rich and sweet. Toffee and butterscotch play alongside the agave and light citrus – but over time, the sweetness of hazelnut comes bursting through, and the tequila turns to full on liquid candy. You need to take your time with this luxurious spirit.

Tequila Fortaleza London El Nivel Cocktails

And here’s the kicker: an unreleased expression stored in a just-dodgy-enough plastic container was behind the bar at El Nivel: a 46% Fortaleza Blanco, expected to release in a few months.

And I have to say, it was probably my favourite.

Nose strong with agave and lime, pepper and probably tropical fruits and aloe gives way to a spicy, herbaceous, incredibly complex Blanco that has surprisingly sweet and malty highlights.

Keep an eye out for this one, kids!


Specifically for the event, El Nivel prepared a series of cocktails: The Cocktail # 4 mixed the Fortaleza Anejo, QuiQuiRiQui mezcal, Antica Formula sweet vermouth, and Benedictine, making a drink that began with the bitter Benedictine, followed by the tobacco smokiness of the mezcal, ending on the orange zest and butterscotch sweetness of the vermouth and Anejo. Wonderful.

Tequila Fortaleza London El Nivel Cocktails

Concoction numbers 1 and 4!

Don’t you worry, readers – the Fortaleza range is here to stay. As it gains ground in London, it will probably hold more of a place as a sipping tequila than one for cocktails, but as we saw in the #4: this promises to change.

And for you tequila fans and connoisseurs, worry not: more Fortaleza Tequila can be found behind bars at El Nivel, and El Camion! So go ahead and treat yourself to some of the finest agave spirits to make it across the Atlantic.

Honestly, you’ll thank yourself for it.

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:






Ropewalk by Disappearing Dining Club, Bermondsey

Type of Bar: Bar/Restaurant, Quirky
Ideal for: Date, Small Groups, Large Groups, Food


Walking down Ropewalk off Maltby Street in the evening is a quiet walk, indeed. But, a little way down large colourful lights spelling out ‘Aloha’ beckon you into the strange and wonderful world that is the Ropewalk by Disappearing Dining Club.

Their second permanent venue in London, Disappearing Dining Club has opened a Victorian styled cocktail bar inside the LASSCO reclaimed furniture warehouse. The architectural salvage warehouse now houses not only a bar but a private dining room ready for booking from Thursday to Sunday. Dim lighting and candle flames illuminate little spaces in the darkness in the Barge Bar, with the barback from a reclaimed Victorian pub.


The Barge Bar

The salvaged decor makes the venue a veritable treasure trove, and a wonderland for antique geeks. And the romantic bar space is accompanied by a similarly seductive cocktail menu.

A short menu of seven drinks, with well chosen, specialised spirits, does tip slightly to the sweet side on all the tasted cocktails, but manage to stay well-balanced.


The Serpentine

Beginning with the Serpentine: Cognac, Szechuan pepper, sugar, bitters, Prosecco with a grapefruit twist. Expect an initial flourish of the cognac dry fruit, followed by a drier bite of the Prosecco fresh fruit – followed by a slight numbing from the Szechuan pepper, a strange sensation indeed. Overall, the drink is quite balanced, and makes for a good aperitif – however, the Hoodooist believes there are better options on the menu.


The Coromandel

Ah, now this one stands out. The Coromandel brings us Suze, Soju, Chrysanthemum flower, lemon, and Prosecco. A much lighter drink, for sure, this cocktail is also more complex, and has much more going on. A light floral nose from the chrysanthemum garnish, and a palate that begins with a short punch from the Prosecco but quickly replaced by the spicy quinine kick from the Suze. The Suze mingles well with the distant stone fruit of the Soju, and of course – the bright flavours of the chrysanthemum, which dominates the finish.

I do encourage readers to try this cocktail, simply to enjoy the parade of flavours it provides the drinker.

The next two cocktails are certainly more suitable as digestifs – and both are a nod to Eastern flavours.


The Ottoman

The Ottoman mixes Rum, pomegranate shrub, yoghurt, egg white with a dusting of sumac and garnish of pomegranate seeds. A mix of sweet and tart, the yoghurt is much more similar to labneh, with its distinctive saltiness; and the sumac adds a beautiful pop of colour and tartness to the drink. The rum plays a much smaller part than the pomegranate shrub which enjoys contributing its red sweetness to the cocktail. Definitely recommended as a sweet option for drinkers without a sweet tooth, or for fans of Lassi.


The Chandan Box

Now, the Chandan Box (from the Hindi word for sandalwood), brings us Rye whiskey, Oloroso sherry, Antica Formula sweet vermouth, and a rim of sugared pure sandalwood. What a beautiful nose on this cocktail, the woody spice is absolutely gorgeous. The sharp rye bite is toned down by the complex mixture of dry fruit and orange from the vermouth, which immediately moves in to the powerful sherry flavours. It soon returns to a finish of sweet sandalwood and the Antica Formula vermouth.

Unfortunately, the Carpenter’s Cup is not as promising as the previous cocktails: Jensen’s Old Tom Gin, Punt e Mes, birch extract, tonic, cucumber, and mint provides a long, fairly tasteless, sour drink that one would avoid, particularly when the other options are so much more rewarding.


The Eisenhower Room

Now, when it comes to dining, the Eisenhower Room, built using wooden panels from old US Naval HQ in Grovesnor Square, from which President Eisenhower Private dining is available throughout the week, as are DDC-made snacks from the bar. Dining menus change with the season and are exactly what you’d expect from DDC; simple, elegant and full of flavour. On Saturday and Sunday daytimes you can bring food in from Maltby Street market. A meal will need booking in advance as the venue does not have a kitchen.

Bar snacks of curried crab on Guinness bread, or beef carpaccio wrapped around green bean and truffle salad were beautifully done, as was the first course smorgasbord of Brick Lane smoked salmon with dill pickle cucumber, simple but flavourful. Also on the smorgasbord was the powerfully flavoured beetroot cured salmon, served with lemon crème fraiche and dill. The potted duck with orange and black pepper, though gamey and rich, could not compete with its neighbours on the board.


One then wishes the main course kept the standard of the canapés and smorgasbord. Slow roasted pork belly, though cooked wonderfully, lacked a bit in flavour, but was accompanied by much more demanding pickled kale (the only way you can get the Hoodooist to enjoy kale) and salsa verde. The potato accompaniment, though, was rather watery. Nonetheless, the wine pairings were appropriate, a Sicilian Cataratto and a French Grenache/Carignan, both quite acidic, but the Hoodooist does enjoy his Sicilian.

Dessert, like the rest of the meal, was simple with fun twists: ‘eggy bread’, thick and rich, topped with spiced raspberry compote. Gorgeous. Went in for a second after!

Swallows and Amazons_Marc Sethi-9617

Conclusion? Come here for the cocktails, definitely. Complex with innovative flavours, balanced with a bit of sweetness, Ropewalk by Disappearing Dining Club is a great new cocktail destination to add to Bermondsey’s growing bar scene.


Drinks: ****
Atmosphere: *****
Service: ***


Ropewalk by Disappearing Dining Club

41 Maltby Street, Bermondsey,
London SE1 3PA


Burn’s Night with Highland Park @ Rules, Covent Garden

The Hoodooist has come to realise that no matter how much haggis he’s eaten, or whisky he’s drunk this past week, he can always go for some more.


So making my way down to London’s oldest restaurant for a Burn’s Supper among stars of the drinks industry was an invitation I was hardly going to turn down.

Swathed in red and bordered in hardwood, the Rules surrounds stretch three floors from restaurant, to upper bar, then private dining. After a warm introduction by restaurant director Ricky McMenemy, and drinks by bar manager Mike Cook (do not worry, a bar review of the Rules cocktail bar will be on soon! Especially with their updated modern menu with Cook at the helm), guests of the private dining room were given a quick look at the restaurant’s 200 year history – and what makes it not just a dining space, but an institution in the hospitality industry.

Has it got the feel of a pre-World War II political cartoon? Perhaps – but we have seen a sudden diversification in the clientele of Rules, with good reason. Subtle evolution with closely held regard of tradition make this restaurant a destination, and unique enough to hold it’s weight among the burgeoning use of mason jars and plank-for-plates in London’s food industry.

Highland Park Rules London Burns Night

Dinner begins with an addressing of the haggis, neeps, tatties, bagpipes and all, along with a dram of the Highland Park Dark Origins expression.

The perfectly spiced pudding defies the misconception that Rules is a one-trick pony with only the doughiest of English dishes. There is no surprise everyone from Betjemen to Dickens has frequented this spot. Anyone who can make the Hoodooist genuinely *enjoy* mashed potatoes is a star for all I care.

Now the Dark Origins harks to the Highland Park founder’s, Magnus Eunson, double life as beadle by day, and smuggler by night. With humorous tales – perhaps true, perhaps myth for such a character – such as masking his smuggled whisky treasures under a coffin at home in case of a raid, the expression’s palate evokes that contradiction.

A deep mahogany bronze, the dram’s nose is distinctly one of a sherried whisky (being aged in double as many sherry casks as their 12 year), with powerful roasted, dark fruit, coffee, and spice with a hint of smoke.
The palate begins with the peat we expect from a Highland Park – which slowly evolves into much sweeter flavours of cocoa, powerful spice, dried fruits and bright citrus. A long finish of smoke, and a bit of a burn – but not an unpleasant one.

Highland Park Rules London Burns Night

The main course begins with roast loin of venison on a bed of crushed celeriac, with roasted root vegetables, spiced red cabbage and a chocolate jus – just the meal that winter evenings are for.

The star on the table at the moment, though, was the golden dram of the Highland Park 18 year. This multi-award winning whisky is a star of Highland Park design – a nutty, floral aroma is quickly followed by something honeyed and almost sickly sweet.
The palate chewy and creamy, and there is that tell-tale coffee and soft, light peat. Rich with toffee and honey, the 18 year  is excruciatingly smooth, bursting with fruit and sweet smoothness. A round, long, sweet almost herbal finish to this gorgeous whisky.

Highland Park Rules London Burns Night

Can we please establish how beautifully complex and utterly gorgeous this dessert is?

Managing to be a both rich and light, a toasted oat mille-feuille with lemon, whisky, and Highland Park jelly and caramel sauce brings in sweet, sour, and smoky to the table with incredible crunch.

And finally to wash it down, the superb Highland Park Orcadian Series 1970!

Highland Park Rules London Burns Night

The Orcadian Series Vintage 1970

It is with a lot of pride that Highland Park Brand Ambassador, Mike MacKenzie, introduces this expression.

With only 1,800 bottles of this expression out there, you want to grab a taste of the Orcadian 1970 if you see it. The dark gold dram provides a sweet pineapple and honey nose – the palate is powerfully spicy, ginger, and bright sour citrus – with light vanilla notes, and at heart that powerful peat salinity and sea air. A spicy-sweet finish that goes on forever.
The more bizarre nature of this expression is its initially drying texture, until a few seconds later it does the exact opposite. Incredible.

Highland Park Rules London Burns Night

Suddenly, a pewter silver quaiche appears. An unnamed Burn’s Night cocktail containing the Highland Park Dark Origins, Amaro Montenegro, Branca Menta and orange zest is raised for a toast to our hosts – and it sums up the evening wonderfully.

The nose is light, and the mint on the nose is in fact stronger than in the cocktail (hallelujah! Such a difficult flavour, mint). A very confident, well-balanced and subtle drink. Beginning with the Dark Origins’ dark fruit and spice, the Amaro’s vanilla enters the scene, ending with a finish of orange zest and a very distant, light hint of mint. Beautiful, impressive. I hope this makes an appearance on the Rules Bar‘s permanent menu.

Highland Park Rules London Burns Night

The Highland Park 16 year

Finally, we end with something you won’t find in the shops. The Highland Park 16 year was made particularly for the duty free and travel market – and meant to be much more accessible, with milder smoke and honey that we associate with Highland Park.

The light gold dram possesses a citrus and toffee note, the palate toning down the aforementioned honey, florals and peat to an entrance level whisky. Some heather, green tea, and orange – very Speyside – more of that smoke and tea for the finish.

Highland Park Rules London Burns Night

The Norse Gods Collection

Talk about a memorable Burn’s Night! Time flew past, swift with whisky and heavy with a Burn’s Supper. The Rules team from Ricky McMenemy to Mike Cook are fabulous hosts, their food and cocktails just as spectacular, and Highland Park with Ambassador Mike Mackenzie never fail to impress.

For the perfect transition from winter to spring, Highland Park is an excellent dram for the smoke and spice for winter, and honeyed florals for the promise of spring.

Slàinte mhath!