Smokes and Tipples @ Hotel Xenia, South Kensington

The Hotel Xenia is back with their Smokes and Tipples tasting sessions! Sessions that bring together cigars paired with whiskies from their excellent humidor collection to their heated outdoor Living Wall Bar and Herb Garden.

Hosted by Hunters and Frankau, the UK’s official Cuban cigar importers, visitors will be presented with the cigar of choice along with a selection of whiskies to pair.


Escorted down the stairway with a glass of Prosecco, the living wall is a comfy, if small and cosy space. With music soft in the distance (thankfully, cigars and whiskey are for conversations), each visitor receives their own non-sulphur wooden matches and guillotine. If necessary, do ask staff to turn up the heating, it can get unseasonably cold in London this winter!

Cigars B&W

For a preview of what is to come at the Smokes and Tipples sessions at the Xenia, the Hoodooist was presented with a Petit Edmundo from the Casa de Montecristo. A short Robusto, the Edmundo is a 52 ring gauge (*whistle*) that would normally be recommended to more seasoned smokers, due to thickness and complexity.

Initially spicy, and rather vague in flavour (primarily tobacco, occasionally a red fruit), midway, flavours of bitter chocolate (which initially seemed like espresso) and something peppery. Excellent burn and self-correction, a great cigar to introduce.

Paired was the Glenfiddich 12yr, a typically Speyside whisky with its spicy-floral flavour to complement the Petit Edmundo. The sweet-ish finish goes fantastically with the after-taste of the Edmundo.


All in all, a pleasant experience to bring a friend or two along and relax with, with excellent service and masterclass by speakers and representatives of Hunters and Frankau to walk you through the entire session.

Smokes and Tipples

The next Smokes and Tipples event will run on the 12th of March 2015, with tickets going at £30.00.
To book, contact or call 0207 442 42 42.
Hotel Xenia

160 Cromwell Road, South Kensington,
London SW5 0TL

SCOTCH Pop up 2015 @ Brown’s Hotel, Mayfair

Happy Burns Night all! To celebrate, we thought of the perfect place to celebrate this Sunday, and hey, if you’d rather have a cosy night in, we’ve thrown in a couple of whiskey 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

Scotch dram

Running till the 8th of February 2015, 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.

For reference: Glenmorangie stills are as tall as giraffes.

For reference: Glenmorangie stills are as tall as giraffes.

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 Tùsail. Attempting to keep the same mash and method of the Original, the Tùsail differs from the Original by using Maris Otter barley – used only by a select few considering the difficulty and cost of production compared to commercial barley. But boy, is it worth it. A spectacular amber harvest gold; the nose is much sweeter, almost toffee, maltier and earthier. A deeper flavour, the toffee and barley come through rather prominently, something spicy and nostalgic (I may have gotten some dark chocolate too), an intensely winter scotch. Absolutely beautiful, the Hoodooist is in awe of the Tùsail.

Featuring Oswald the Otter!

Featuring Oswald the Otter!

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 Spey Trip

The Spey Trip

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: **** – *****
Atmosphere: ****
Service: *****

Brown’s Hotel

33 Albemarle Street, Mayfair
London, W1S 4BP


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.

The Haig Clubman

The Haig Clubman

Haig Clubman
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!

The Apple Mint Julep

The Apple Mint Julep

Apple Mint Julep
A light cocktail with a fruitful flavour and a hint of mint is perfect for a refreshing serve this
Burns Night.

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!