The Real McCoy Rum Tasting @ Bobby Fitzpatrick, West Hampstead

Bobby Fitzpatrick lounges over two floors of 70s nostalgia and low lighting – and the upper floor hosts a small choice of bar seats and a mini kitchen space (not just the kitchen for their pizzas, but like, a 70s kitchen. You’ll see what I mean) where a range of The Real McCoy Rums were presented for tasting in the company of UK Real McCoy Ambassador, Gergo Murath.

bobby

Onto the rums!

The 3, 5 and 12 year rums are named after Bill McCoy, pioneer rum runner of the Prohibition, who’d park his boat bar stocked with Caribbean rum 3 miles off-shore in international water – lauded for serving his alcohol without toxic additives like turpentine, which illegal alcohol was often cut with in during the dry days. These Barbados rums are aged in charred Bourbon casks.

 

The Real McCoy 3 Year Old White Rum / Bourbon Barrels

 

Citrus and floral wafts in with the youngest of the rums, the 3 year, along with the expected vanilla. My favourite of the three, the light straw coloured rum is smooth, woody and spiced with nutmeg and rich with caramel, almond and coconut. A long, warm length follows.

Light, strong, confident – fantastic for cocktails.

 

 

 

The Real McCoy 5 Year Old Rum / Bourbon Barrels

 

 

The sweet, fruity nose really stands out in the 5 year, and is much more familiar to the rum drinker. The oak and caramel palate is strong with the added kick of cinnamon. The length brings both the coconut we know and love from the 3 year as well as the welcome surprise of smoky tobacco.

 

 

 

The Real McCoy 12 Year Old Rum / Bourbon Barrels

 

Finally, the 12 year brings in an astonishingly smooth texture, and a chocolate nose with oaky sweetness.

Definitely for the discerning sweet tooth, take time to appreciate the rolling complexity of flavours, the buttery sweetness now presents a woody, spicy spark, with the sharpness of orange and tobacco. A lightly smoky finish with the slightest hint of pepper brings an end to the tasting.

 

 

And we were lucky enough to try the cocktail special at Bobby Fitzpatrick that ranked as the most popular drink of the season!

The Gran Hotel Barbados mixes the 5yr Real McCoy Rum with apricot, pineapple and lime, for a sweet drink that is instead light and refreshing. The caramel and coconut notes take centre stage, and the apricot holds the pineapple up for a well-balanced cocktail perfect for summer.

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And if you’d rather got for something more indulgent, the Rumhattan is the sweeter alternative to its whiskey cousin, playing the part of paradoxical sweet aperitif. Deeply sweet and sweetly deep, you’ll want to take your time with this one, in comparison to the easy necking of the Gran Hotel above.

Image may contain: drink and indoor

Here at Bobby Fitzpatrick, The Real McCoy displayed their variety and versatility when it comes to producing this popular molasses spirit. With a pour for every occasion from light daytime sips to late night indulgent pours, serves can also come straight from a balloon glass with a cigar in the winter.

An excellent range of rums from the House of McCoy.

 

 

Thanks to,

The Real McCoy Rum

http://www.realmccoyspirits.com/

and,

Bobby Fitzpatrick

273 West End Lane, West Hampstead
London NW6 1QS

https://www.bobbyf.co.uk/

 

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New Release! Fortaleza Still Strength Blanco

After two years of waiting – it’s finally here!

Fortaleza stands among the Hoodooist’s favourite tequilas available in the UK, and with good reason. The Blanco, Reposado and Anejo revel in gorgeous flavours of pine and agave, and the Still Strength Blanco is no different – now available in the UK.

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In its purest form, what sets the Blanco Still Strength apart is it is delivered straight from the copper pot still, at 46% – compared to the Blanco at 40% – and it comes through in the flavour. Still packed in those man-blown bottles and hand-made stoppers, the bottling is classic.

Still beautifully smooth as we expect from Fortaleza, I….I actually prefer this to the Blanco.

The nose is earthy, strong notes of olive and agave, and as I’ve come to expect from the distillery (at least for me) pine. It’s livelier, earthier, slightly more vegetal, with the salty-peppery kick on a velvet feel.

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The olive aroma really comes through when made into a Tequila Martini (not quite a 1942 without the bitters), for a strong kicker to wake you right up.

For the Hoodooist though, drinking it neat is the ticket.

Don’t mess with perfection.

 

New Release! by B.lo Nardini Grappa

You just haven’t tried the right one yet.

In the UK, you can expect any conversation about grappa goes the way of “I had a bad experience”. But everyone knew someone who said that about tequila or mezcal and they are dominating the cocktail scene at the moment – so when will grappa get some love?

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In my experience, grappa is best drunk neat, and B.lo Nardini‘s new range, the Selezione Bartolo Nardini, is a great place to start. The oldest running independent distillery in Italy use a blend of Merlot, Cabernet and Pinot Grigio pomaces to create the new selection: the Extrafina, and the three aged La Ramate. We tasted the new selection at the favulous Corinthia Hotel, London, led by Antonio Nardini himself.

This selection of warm, welcoming grappas are both a good place to start your grappa journey, as well as a place to end your meals – as traditional pomace brandies they work as fabulous digestivos either on their own or paired with after-dinner courses.

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Getting straight down to business, the Extrafina has a powerfully floral nose, the palate begins with a hit of spice, followed by summer fruit, almost tropical – ending with a lasting banana and maraschino and a clean finish. An excellent digestivo to cleanse the palate.

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La Ramate is where this 20 year labour of love shines: the three grappas are aged in Slavonian oak.

The Three year old Riserva has a nose of cacao and cherry, the palate is rich with wood. Much softer than the Extrafina, it is filled with butterscotch, cooked plums and peaches, enjoyable and surprisingly mature for its age. The three year is designed to be served with sharp cheeses and bitter dark chocolates.

The Seven year old Riserva stands out as my favourite of the lot! Powerful and spicy on the nose, it goes down dangerously easily. Szechuan spice and tobacco leaf dance with sour cherry to a honeyed finish, long and persistent. Adore.
The Seven year is paired well with sweeter desserts with its cocoa nuances.

Finally, the Fifteen year old Riserva is quite unlike anything I’ve had before. Intense and relentless, drier than the others but powerfully woody and rich with nutty flavour. Hints of vanilla and chocolate cut through the tobacco bitterness. I admire it’s complexity, and with its demanding and smokey flavour, it pairs well with cigars and dark chocolate.

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And there we have it! A great place to start for those who still want to get to know grappa, or those who already know her well. These new releases by Nardini are a sure-fire way to introduce you to grappa, and that 7 year Riserva will be on my own shelf soon enough.

T.T. Liquor, Shoreditch

Type of Bar: Basement, Speakeasy, Cocktail School
Damage£ – ££
Ideal for: After Work, Date, Small Groups, Tasting, Shop

The sudden appearance of TT Liquor is a welcome gift from some of the folk behind Umbrella Brewing of the amazing Discount Suit Co. and Sun Tavern!

Only a couple of hours after the sign was put up, the Hoodooist found himself amazed by the venue from the street – aged wood and metal clasps in the ground floor guard some of the fantastic products that can be surprisingly hard to acquire, like the 5% ginger beer by Umbrella Brewing that is the talk of the town.

Umbrella Brewing TT Liquor London cocktail bar

Mind, there are three floors to this venue, behind the store and upstairs are cocktail classrooms that make up what is essentially a cocktail school – this is literally my Hogwarts.

Downstairs, though, that’s where we find the bar and the ex-prison cells that make up the vaults where gin, rum, and whiskey tastings are held, including Cocktail Journeys, where several cocktails inspired by the various eras of cocktail culture are enjoyed as a flight. The cosy, candle lit surrounds are excellent for huddling over cocktails and small dishes served up at the venue.

Umbrella Brewing TT Liquor London cocktail bar

The menu is divided into eras, and are all wonderful takes on cocktails of their time. If you were to level a criticism against it, it would simply be that it seems to be a tiny bit gin heavy at times.

That’s not to say those that those cocktails that are there are not satisfying. They are gorgeous – the tequila Rosetta is one such beautiful cocktail.

Umbrella Brewing TT Liquor London cocktail bar

Blending Arette Silver tequila, Briotte Rose, lime juice, rose water and syrup, the Rosetta’s nose is distinctly Arette. Upon first sip, it is tequila heavy – so agave fans will be most pleased. If the sound of rose is intimidating, there is nothing to worry about here, as the rose is quite subtle and soft, wisping in at the end, and lightened by the lime citrus.

Next, the Dorian, in keeping with one of Umbrella’s favourite whiskeys, mixes Redbreast 12 yr with hazelnut syrup and the Fee Brothers Aztec chocolate bitters. A little bit on the sweet side and one note for myself, it is best to ask for a slightly less sweet take on this when ordering. Unless, of course, you’re really in the mood for bittersweet chocolate hazelnut!

Umbrella Brewing TT Liquor London cocktail bar

The Dorian

Next, the Sexy Kung Fu Fighter really goes for it – Jinzu gin meets kumquat, fresh bergamot juice, kaffir lime and shiso leaves, Belsazar white vermouth and syrup. A little heavy on the bergamot, a bright, lively and effervescent cocktail with hints of kaffir lime and cherry blossom from the Jinzu. An exciting and enjoyable drink.

Umbrella Brewing TT Liquor London cocktail bar

The Sexy Kung Fu Fighter

Le Chat Noir is dangerous. Hayman’s Old Tom gin, Lillet Blanc, Henry Bardouin pastis, fresh lime juice, syrup and tarragon will deceive you, and vanish in the space of seconds. A long drink that is easy to down, you will have to consciously nurse this one early on, so they don’t get thrown back late in the evening.

Reminiscent of a (much) lighter take on a Corpse Reviver No.2, Le Chat Noir manages to channel the herbal tarragon and pastis incredibly well, for a light cocktail that does not hold itself from packing a punch in the long run.

Umbrella Brewing TT Liquor London cocktail bar

Le Chat Noir

And then there is the signature.

Doing the rounds since about London Cocktail Week 2016, the home made Umbrella Brewing Ginger Beer packs a punch at 5%, with gorgeous effervescence and spice. A candied and ginger nose is followed by a palate that is uncompromisingly spicy, with hints of malty molasses sweetness, and citrus.

Beautiful.

Umbrella Brewing TT Liquor London cocktail bar

Honestly, it was great to see cocktails go back to simpler combos and try not to outdo themselves.

The only cocktail here I can say I did not take to was the Dead Ringer. Woodford Reserve, Toussaint coffee liqueur and Bob’s Peppermint bitters formed something not particularly enjoyable. But when held up to the beautiful cocktails above, who’s to care?

Do the right thing – go to TT Liquor. Get a class. Buy a bottle. Support your fabulous new local.

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

T. T. Liquor

17b Kingsland Road,
London E2 8AA

http://ttliquor.co.uk/

Angostura Rum Tasting @ Heddon St. Kitchen, Piccadilly

Gordon Ramsey’s Heddon Street Kitchen lounges over two floors of dark wood and low lighting – and the upper floor hosts a small choice of bar seats where a range of Angostura Rums were presented for tasting in the company of UK Angostura Ambassador, Sean Duprey.

Heddon Street Angostura Rum Tasting
Easily the most popular of the exports from the Trinidadian House of Angostura is their range of rum-based bitters – the classic Angostura Bitters are easily the most recognisable aromatic bitters across the globe, and one can’t imagine even the the smallest or youngest of cocktail bars functioning without a good stock of the spicy secret concoction. More surprising are the other uses of the classic bitters: from helping with hangovers when dashed on lime the morning after, to glazes and cooking – something that hadn’t even crossed my mind. Living in it’s brother’s shadow, the zesty Orange Bitters are always handy in a pinch for an Old Fashioned when out of Angostura Bitters.

Heddon Street Angostura Rum Tasting

Onto the rums!

Vanilla and banana wafts in with the youngest of the HoA range: The Angostura Reserva spends three years in white oak barrels, the rum is charcoal filtered to remove any traces of colour to produce a creamy, clear rum that is best used in cocktails with it’s unobtrusive light flavours, and that neat it has a rather sharp bite.

Classic for a Daiquiri with a dash or two of Angostura Bitters to take the edge of the citrus.

Heddon Street Angostura Rum Tasting

 

 

The Angostura 5 year brings in a bit of colour – a more demanding rum, the vanilla bursts into spices and oak, with cocoa hints in the warm finish.

You could certainly turn to sipping this rum, but personally, this is more fun for slightly more indulgent variations of the cocktails one would make for the previous Angostura Reserva.

 

 

 

Heddon Street Angostura Rum Tasting
The black treacle nose really stands out in the Angostura 7 year rum! Sweeter that the last, dark chocolate bursts in with a bang, along with coffee and dark sugar flavours. Creamy and easy to sip, a long finish of toffee and custard lingers behind.

Richer and darker makes this a fitting after dinner rum.

 

 

 

 

Heddon Street Angostura Rum Tasting

 

 

The Angostura 1919 gets its name from the burning down of the Govt Rum Bond in 1932, only to find rum from 1919 filled in its remaining charred casks.

Ages in bourbon barrels, we find spicier and more tropical flavours, including something quite cola-like, along with the vanilla and powerful ginger. Allspice and vanilla/molasses finish is long on this one!

 

 

Heddon Street Angostura Rum Tasting
The Angostura 1824 moves around a lot – spending 12 years in charred oak casks, then blended and recasked for a much smoother, richer rum than the 1919.

Lending some tobacco to the vanilla and custard flavours makes this a fantastic rum to sip with a cigar on a cold day. Coats smoothly with a little bite and some good kick, this is one enjoyable rum!

 

 

Heddon Street Angostura Rum Tasting

 

Finally, the Angostura No.1, Second Edition. The name might be a mouthful, but it’s worth it.

Each release of the Angostura No.1 spends some time in traditional American oak casks (the first 10, here) before being recasked into another cask that previously held another spirit – the second release of the No.1 is then filled into a once-used French oak Cognac cask for its final 6 years of aging – lending to it many nutty and dried fruit flavours associated with cognac. Each release will find the rum stored in a different spirits’ casks.

This is one hell of a beautiful rum. The nose is exuberant and floral, with hints of macadamia and vanilla. At first sip, the incredible smoothness of the rum coats the palate delicately, with bursts of fig and long finishes of dried fruit and vanilla.

An absolutely gorgeous limited edition drop.

Heddon cocktails

Here at Heddon Street Kitchen, Angostura displayed their incredible variety and versatility when it comes to producing this popular molasses spirit. With a pour for every occasion from light daytime sips to late night indulgent pours, serves can also come straight from a balloon glass with a cigar in the winter.

An excellent range of rums from the House of Angostura.

 

Thanks to,

Angostura Rum

http://www.angostura.com/

and,

Heddon St. Kitchen

3–9 Heddon St, Piccadilly
London W1B 4BE

https://www.gordonramsayrestaurants.com/heddon-street-kitchen/

Ice Dream Drams @ The Scotch Malt Whisky Society, Clerkenwell

SUMMER.

If the heatwave on the Central Line hasn’t cost you your faith in intelligent design, a short walk from Chancery Lane brings you to the out-of-the-way doorstep of the Scotch Malt Whisky Society.

And what better way to deal with the summer but with ice cream?

Or better yet, whisky ice creams!

Paired with more whisky.

….

Whisky.

Can you tell I’m enjoying this

Whisky Ice Cream Summer SMWS

The usually Member’s Only venue will be open to the public to sample 4 of the Ice Dream Drams and pairings during 4 Scoop Sessions on the 1st, 8th, 16th and 22nd of July 2015 at 15 quid a person!

SMWS buys casks of whisky that they place under a numbering system to keep the customers blind to distillery preferences, and for Ice Dream Drams, the whiskies are paired with ice creams by S. Luca, made with the same whiskies, as well as flavoured to either complement or contrast the dram.

Whisky Ice Cream Summer SMWS

The 64.61 ‘The Angel and the Devil’, alongside the Snowball Seduction icecream

At our Scoop Session, we began with the Cask No. 64.61, titled ‘The Angel and the Devil’. The nose is bold with coconut and vanilla, the first sip being powerfully oaky and intense on the vanilla. Hints of stewed fruits, autumnal with brown sugar and nutmeg, butterscotch – but contrasted by brighter flavours of citrus and light herbs.

A young ex-bourbon barrel, paired with a Snowball Seduction ice cream – vanilla and coconut, with 64.61 whisky. Complementing the flavours of the young whisky, it also happens to be the most subtle of the ice creams of the evening.

Whisky Ice Cream Summer SMWS
The second whisky, the 41.65 is called ‘Sweet Couscous and Argan Oil’ – a beautiful dry, spice whisky, 30 years old in an ex-bourbon hogshead cask – the Hoodooist fell in love with this one, and enjoyed it neat (and is very similar to a mezcal by Bruxo!). The nose is complex, on one hand, somewhat reminiscent of polish, on the other, the sweet fragrance surrounding beehives. The palate is powerfully spicy, and are much deeper than first expected: powerfully Moroccan with raisins, Argan oil, as well as roasted figs in honey, intense cloves, star anise. Beautiful. Paired with the Ginger Rasta ice cream with its ginger bite and chunks of ginger cake.

Whisky Ice Cream Summer SMWS

The third whisky, 117.5, is utterly beautiful, coming in from Ireland, it’s described as ‘Smouldering, Brooding and Alluring’. 22 years in an ex-sherry hogshead cask, the drier, deeper flavours of the sherry cask are notably passed into the whisky.

For the Hoodooist, the nose was powerfully warm, cocoa, cinnamon, manuka honey, sandalwood, like smouldering woods and incense, like settling into a four-poster bed. Can you tell I love this nose? Alongside sweeter flavours of toffee and vanilla, treacle and Kirsch, some lighter herbs flowered alongside the spices.

A beautiful, dry whisky. Served with the Cherry Popper, a rich fruit ice cream with cherry and dark chocolate. An absolutely wonderful pairing. Probably my favourite of the evening.

Whisky Ice Cream Summer SMWS

The heavily peated 53.223, ‘Angels & Demons’

Finally, ending with the 53.223, the ‘Angels & Demons’, 23 years, ex-bourbon barrel. You smell this one coming from a mile away. It screams Islay, a nose powerfully tarry, smoky, medicinal and iodine, with final traces of aniseed. The palate was a fascinating mix of honey and tropical fruit, as well as powerfully peated smoke and white pepper, with that similar medicinal flavour. If drunk through water, the whisky presents strong dried fruit notes, particularly apricot, and bit of honey.

Served alongside the Smoky Lavender Kiss ice cream, the lavender and Parma violets sheds the more medicinal flavours to contrast powerfully the peat, and present the fruits. An excellent combo.

Led through the course with the wonderful Sam MacDonald, exploring the whiskies and their ice cream pairings was easily accessible, and an informal, enjoyable experience – followed by relaxed conversation. Highly recommended – and 4 well aged whiskies and whisky ice creams at 15 quid seems like a pretty good deal to me!

Highly recommended to take advantage of this July! Grab a space while you can!

The Ice Dream Drams Scoop Sessions take place on 1st, 8th, 16th and 22nd of July.

Entry: £15.

The Scotch Malt Whisky Society

19 Greville Street,
London EC1N 8SQ

http://www.smws.co.uk/icedreamdramslondon

The Whisky Lounge @ Hilton London Metropole, Edgware Road

Type of Bar: Hotel, Whisky, Lounge
Damage££ – ££££ (per dram)
Ideal for: Education, Date, Small Groups, After Work

Who can turn down a good ol’ whisky tasting?

The Hilton London Metropole’s Whisky Lounge hosts a stunning 80 whiskies visitors can order by the dram, or can come as a group to try out their whisky tasting sessions (hosting 3 to 5 whiskies at a time).

A calm blue-grey colour scheme with the most gorgeous lighting constructed out of laser-cut whisky decanters make the Hilton’s Whisky Lounge the perfect venue for the event, and though opens directly to the hotel main EDG Lounge and Bar, is not as loud as one might expect. Surrounded with an excellent selection of malts watching over the guests, many an hour can be whittled away here.

Seated at a table (brought in for the tasting events) the group is presented with four of the day’s choice whiskies: A Singleton of Dufftown 12yr, a Lagavulin 16yr, Suntory Yamazaki 12 yr, and finally a Kavalan (one the Hoodooist was keen to become acquainted with).

Whisky Tasting London

Guided by our whisky sommelier, the gang is first introduced to a healthy dram of the 12yr Singleton of Dufftown. A classic Speyside, the nose is nutty, with sweet fruits (dates?), wintery; with large tears.

Flavour is malty, intensely hazelnut, a rich Arabica coffee – with the Arabica’s hints of currant and toffee. Followed by a dry medium length of oak and the trademark Singleton fruit.

Milk chocolate was selected to pair with the whisky, intensifying the hazelnut even further, adding a liqueur quality to the whisky and greatly shortening the finish – a fantastic way to end a meal.

Whisky Tasting London

The Tasting Selection

The second whisky brought to the table, the Lagavulin 16yr – an Islay classic. The small, slow moving tears indicate a thick, rich whisky, and is renowned for having the smokiest nose of the Islay whiskies – reminiscent of smoky teas and sherries.

And there is that loud sherry flavour on the palate, dry and spicy, and unashamedly peaty. A large mouth on this one, confident, with its own sweetness, too. A long peppery finish with hints of vanilla.

Going fantastically well with smoky and spiced nuts, the Lagavulin 16yr is recommended for salty dinners or as a digestif for red meats.

Whisky Tasting London

Dram and pairings

We venture away from the isles to Japan, and the ludicrously popular Suntory Yamazaki 12yr. Utterly miniscule and slow tears hint at a thick and intricate experience ahead, and on the nose an almost candied orange scent, tropical fruit, but also cloves. An incredible nose on this one.

The entry is slow, but the flavours develop and become increasingly complex, first a winter spice and floral sweetness, followed by more of the tropical fruit and almost buttery. A long woody and spicy finish. A favourite across the table for its complexity.

Whisky Tasting London

Finally, the most eagerly awaited whisky of the evening, the Taiwanese Kavalan, is young, but said to mature quickly with the sub-tropical climes of the island – focusing on tropical fruit flavours.

Small but quick tears, the nose is woody, and very fragrant and floral. The opening is harsh, coarse. Once that trial is over, though, a wonderful mango and spicy oak develops, with a long refreshing finish.

Nonetheless, the table didn’t think that the delightful finish was worth the harsh opening. The Kavalan quickly fell to the bottom of most’s lists, leaving the Suntory Yamazaki 12yr, the most popular – and with all the awards it has collected over the years, it’s hardly a surprise!

Whisky Tasting London

The Kavalan

Service was excellent and our wonderful sommelier did a fantastic job leading the group through the whiskies, providing wonderful conversation along with an educational 2 hours. A highly recommended evening out for whisky novices looking to learn! Especially with this great collection.
This was a custom tasting and would have been priced at £42.00. The Hilton London Metropole have two types of tastings: Scottish and International. Guests can choose to have a tasting of 3-5 whiskies. An outline of prices are outlined below:

Scottish 3 : £26.00
Scottish 4 : £34.50
Scottish 5 : £42.00

International 3 : £38.00
International 4 : £50.00
International 5 : £61.00

All Inc VAT, but Excl Service Charge 10% (optional).

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

The Whisky Lounge @ Hilton London Metropole

225 Edgware Road,
London W2 1JU

http://www3.hilton.com/en/hotels/united-kingdom/hilton-london-metropole-LONMETW/dining/whisky-lounge.html