Our latest instalment of the best booze we’ve been sent or stumbled across sees us gearing up for St Patrick’s Day (please note: the photo of Rich swigging whiskey in his Emerald green leprechaun outfit and floppy felt Guinness hat has been deemed unsuitable for this website)
Glendalough Rose Gin, 37.5%
Our booze table has been creaking of late, thanks in part to the enormous amount of Irish whiskey samples left over from Nick’s latest iBuys feature, their golden, glassy cylinders bedecking the surface like a kitchen-based Giants Causeway. But it’s not just whiskey that’s been passing our lips this month – we’ve also been busying ourselves sampling other Irish boozes, one of the highlights being this pink gin that made the journey with its malty mates, over the Irish sea and into our grubby, soil-stained mitts.
It hails from the Glendalough distillery, based on their wild gin recipe, but redistilled with fruit, flowers, spices and no less than three different varieties of rose petal; the Damsak rose, the Heritage rose and wild rose, the latter having been harvested in the Wicklow mountains by expert forager Geraldine Kavanagh http://www.wicklowwildfoods.com/ who advises and provides the distillery with fine local botanicals.
As you’d expect from a rose-infused booze, it’s wonderfully fragrant with a subtle pink tint.
It’s a decent neat sipper but it really comes alive with tonic, tasting fresh, sweet and spicy with a subtle hint of turkish delight. A good, alternative Guinness chaser to accompany this years St Patrick’s Day shenanigans, we reckon.
Get it here from Masters of Malt
Honest Brew Mixed Case of Irish Beer
For the past few years online beer retailer Honest Brew has been one of the best places to buy Irish craft ales, so their six beer mixed case is likely to fly off the shelves this St Patrick’s Day. We were sent a box to try out and, apart from White Hag’s delicious chocolatey White Sow Nitro Milk Stout, the goods were new to us. The five other beers came from Boundary, Kinnegar, O’Brother and a brace from Whiplash, and it was the latter’s Rollover Session IPA (3.8%) that was first to be sampled after reacquainting ourselves with the White Sow.
It has all the cloudiness of a New England IPA but falls nicely short of the fruity hop overload you’ll get elsewhere that suits its lower level of alcohol. The hops’ pine flavours match the pineapple and mango fruits for impact (we like piney hops) which we think is an especially good thing for session IPAs and their less malty, thinner, drier bodies. We’re impressed: it’s a modern beer with all the flavours and textures supporting each other and it can only add to Ireland’s growing reputation for producing outstanding new breweries. Two beers down, four to go, which we’ll save for St Patrick’s Day.
Head over to Honest Brew for an Irish beer six pack
M&S Ilkley Brewery Oatmeal Stout, 4.9%
Marks and Spencer has been selling decent beer for a long time, which is good news for Nick who counts his local branch as his closest supermarket. And despite the recent addition of two excellent bottle shops in town he still buys most of his beer from M&S. A few weeks ago his wife came home clutching a previously untried bottle of Oatmeal Stout, from one of our favourite breweries, Ilkley, trumpeting “why pay £4.50 for a can when you can get this for £2.50.”
It’s another excellent member of the M&S own-label range, a thick black brew that has a bit of up front sweetness and drys out with a touch of bitterness and a slightly fruity rasp. A full flavoured beer with a simple, light touch and a wallet-pleasing price. It’s not Irish but if you’re looking for a stout for St Patrick’s Day then give it a go.
Spirit of Hven Organic Single Malt 7 Stars No 6:2 Alcor, 45%
We were recently introduced to the Spirit distillery of Hven by our booze-peddling chums Amathus Drinks while researching for a piece on world whisky. The distillery, based on the Swedish island of Hven, has an impressive line up of spirits with their experimental, limited edition single malt whiskies being of a notably high standard.
This release was distilled from a mash bill that includes lager malt, peated malt and chocolate malt before being matured in four different American and European oak casks. It has a distinctive peatiness running through the dried fruit flavours, taking in toasty notes of chocolate and coffee, with a sweet oak finish that’s longer than the whisky’s name. A great piece of modern Scandinavian drinks making.
Get your hands on some at Amathus
J&B Rare Whisky, 40%
J&B Rare isn’t exactly a new whisky (it was first produced in the 1930s) but it’s currently going through a marketing push in the UK that will see it pitched at a female audience, with a ‘Mother’s Day Cocktail’ being one of the tricks rolled out this month (see recipe below). We thought this a good enough excuse to reacquaint ourselves with Justerini & Brooks’ classic blend that, apparently, is the fifth best selling blended Scotch in the world and number one in Southern Europe.
Blended from 42 different whiskies it’s actually quite a classy drink, possessing light touches of sweet fruits, oaky tannins and creamy toffee with a clean and zesty citrus freshness. A great entry level whisky that can be sipped neat and is ideally suited to cocktail making – if you don’t fancy the effort for the Mother’s Day then we would suggest it goes well with coke and ice.
Cocktail recipe: A Rare Discovery – designed by Drake & Morgan:
10ml Kamm and Sons British Aperitif Bitters
40ml J&B Rare
20ml Peach Puree
10ml Elderflower cordial
15ml Lemon Juice
Mix them all together, pour into your loveliest glass, add ice and give to your mum with a bunch of flowers.