I've always been intrigued by spirits and often leaned towards a little night cap after the odd beer or two on a night out. To be honest you can't go wrong with a 'Boiler Maker' cocktail which is pretty much just a beer and whisk(e)y shot on the side - it's my favourite kind of cocktail! No waiting and a big enjoyable double hit of the undiluted good stuff in its purest form. Perfect after a long, hard day at work.
Mezcal, the distilled alcoholic spirit made from the agave plant native to Mexico, is a new found fascination. It's often produced in the state of Oaxaca in southern Mexico, though can be produced in six other states too. There are several different types of agave used in its production (except the Blue Webber agave variety which is used for tequila). Tequila is really a sub-style of Mezcal, much like a regional produced drink such as Champagne or Cognac. The agaves are cooked over wood in big dug out pits wrapped up in agave leaves. Here you begin to have sugars caramelised and a delicious smoky flavour develops. This Serious Eats guide is pretty good for an overview (I always like a good Serious Eats peruse!). All our mezcals are 100% agave.
Montelobos: 70cl 43.2%
Using 100% organic certified Agave Espadin, this William Grant and Sons entry to the market delivers a smoky experience and sweet roasted Agave licks all at a reasonable pricing for the category. It often takes the agave plant ten years to reach the maturity required before harvesting!
Ilegal Mezcal: Joven 50cl 40%
Ilegal Mezcal started in around 2006 by John Rexer owner of Cafe No Se in Antigua, Guatemala (a dive bar with its own secret mezcal room) and has a stranger than reality story behind it! The name hints at its early trade beginnings lets say... This joven, or young, mezcal has the Espadin agave flavour at the fore with hints of pepper and apple.
Try making one of their signature cocktails at home - La Paloma.
Ingredients: 2oz Ilegal Joven, 0.5oz Lime Juice, 2oz Grapefruit Juice, Top with Club Soda
Prep: Salt rim of Collins glass, add ice, pour ingredients in order as above.
Part of me wonders whether you could top with a tasty grapefruit IPA instead of club soda in the La Paloma? Looking forward to trying a few ideas in in 2017!
Del Maguey: Vida 70cl
Del Maguey Single Village Mezcals are widely renowned and respected internationally. Mezcal is mostly distilled in the Oaxaca region of Mexico and to often strict adherence to 500 year old tradition using maguey (agave) hearts and 10% pure water in the fermentation process. Village distillers run for generation in the same families (of the indigenous Indian population of Mexico) and have kept the processes alive. Vida is a quality single village mezcal at an entry-level pricing. With hints of honey, vanilla and roast agave on the nose, this finishes with fruity and sandalwood combinations on the palate. Ron Cooper founded the company in 1995 and is often cited as revitalising the global interest in mezcal. Watch their slideshow on the process HERE.
Ken Price's artwork adorn's the green bottles, making Del Maguey eye-catching and unique.
It's difficult as a newbie to whisk(e)y and bourbon to know where to start!!?! But it's an area I'm endeavouring to learn more about (Jules). I recently watched this BBC documentary and it wholly inspired me on the whisky journey. As we've started with a small select range, we decided to travel the World and picked out Teeling from Ireland, Mitcher's US straight rye whiskey, Benromach organic whisky and Sheep Dip Scotish whiskys and of course we had to go with the superb Blanton's single-barrel bourbon. We will be rotating this range as new discoveries come along.
Gin is having such a boom and resurgence at the moment, much like craft beer and it's exciting to see all the independent distillers and producers popping up over the UK. Our range will be constantly evolving here, but we will always try to stock a good choice at anyone time. Not only do we stock local gins such as Sheffield Dry Gin (and soon to be added Sir Robin of Locksley), but we've looked across the country for interesting ingredient led varieties. Macclesfield based Forest Gin comes in a beautiful Staffordshire made ceramic bottle and the family use locally foraged ingredients such as wild bilberries and Peak District moss to make this award-winning gin.
Head to our online shop to discover more... HERE