We’ve been sent some special boozes for this round-up, including some Irish drinks which were timed to be enjoyed on St Patrick’s day. Two of these were crafted from the humble spud. We’ve also got some great limited edition beers with unusual brewing ingredients and whiskies from the Glen Scotia distillery – one of which will set you back close to £4,000…
Rooster’s Outlaw Project Limited Edition Beers
Back in the early 1990s Rooster’s was one of the first British breweries to cotton on to the fact that America was doing good things with barley and hops, placing the Yorkshire business at the forefront of the UK craft ale scene with some consistently excellent beers. And the team is still innovating, as evidenced by six new small-batch beers (five of which are available in cans) from its new pilot brewery.
Badged under the ‘Outlaw Project’ sub-brand the range includes two sessionable ales – Slow & Low, a 3.1% lime and ginger Berliner Weisse and Go Backer, a 3.6% Vermont IPA choc-full of crisp and crunchy citrus peel flavours. Alongside this pair are some heftier brews that creep up in strength to Loud Noises, a 7.8% double IPA.
Fans of multiple adjuncts will be delighted with Scoundrel, a 7.4% pastry stout brewed with almonds, glacé cherries, sultanas and other fruits and spices. The big list of ingredients adds some muscularity to the flavour alongside the sweet and creamy toasty toasty malts, making it a silky smooth, rich brew that’s full of character. One 500ml can of that is more than enough for our ever decreasing stamina, but we would be more than happy loading up on the outstanding Vermont IPA for a much longer session…
Glen Scotia Single Malt Whiskies
We recently filed our first pieces of copy for men’s lifestyle magazine Esquire, with Rich running the rule over beer subscription services and Nick producing a comprehensive guide to Scotland’s Single Malt Whisky. As the average Esquire reader carries a fatter wallet than most, we got to try some of the more expensive whiskies currently available, including some from distilleries we had not previously encountered.
Among these was Cambletown’s Glen Scotia who introduced us to their core whiskies, ranging from 12 to 25 years old, and a small sample of their oldest whisky to date – a luxuriously oily and fruity 45 year old bottling released towards the end of 2019. If you want one of the 100 bottles available then it will set you back the best part of £4,000, but for the Esquire readership we suggested something much cheaper – Victoriana (51.5%), a snip at around the £70 mark. This outstanding bottle of booze is a recreation of a style that would’ve been popular in Victorian times and it’s a meaty mouthful, again with an oily texture and sweet, nutty flavours.
We didn’t have to pick a ‘best buy’ for our Esquire feature but, if asked, it would’ve been a strong contender, and it’s currently the emptiest bottle of all those we were sent to review – even Nick’s mum syphoned off a hip-flask full for a weekend in Weymouth celebrating her 71st birthday. Hopefully the Esquire readership is equally impressed.
The Muff Liquor Company Potato Gin & Vodka (40%)
Another commission saw us recommending unusual drinks to sup on St Patrick’s Day for the readers of Reader’s Digest to digest. We were hoping that Ireland would throw up something made from the nation’s favourite vegetable – potatoes – and just before deadline we were alerted to the Muff Liquor Company who provided us with a brace of miniature bottles.
A six-time distillation of Irish spuds has produced both a vodka and a gin that have a much more sophisticated taste than you might imagine. It’s perhaps inevitable that the vodka is described as ‘earthy’, given that it begins life below ground, but it’s also creamily smooth and possesses a good boozy punch to it. The gin is very much juniper forward, with that punchiness again evident and well suited to the bitter tang of the berries. It’s quite a simple gin, given a touch of freshness with mandarin orange, but the flavours and texture carry through exceptionally well when mixed with tonic.
Connemara Peated Single Malt Irish Whiskey, 40%
Technically, this doesn’t meet our ‘new booze’ criteria: it has been around for a while and is a booze we’ve had before. But we were sent a bottle to enjoy on St Patrick’s Day, so that’s exactly what we will do for an evening of self isolation.
Connemara has some of the sweet and fresh grassy characteristics that are familiar to many Irish whiskeys, but they come with a hint of peat (it’s Ireland’s only peated single malt), a speck of vanilla and a drier thread of oak. The smokiness is much more subtle than most of Scotland’s famous peaty drams, making it much more approachable for smoke-shy folk. If you’re looking for an Irish whiskey with a difference, or a stepping stone to a more powerfully peated purchase, then Connemara is a great value choice.