Friday, May 29, 2009

Jim Beam has launched Red Stag and is billing it as "a different breed of bourbon". It's infused with black cherry and is going down very well in the blogosphere:

Seen through the glass praises it for being

"impressively authentic" and potentially "wicked tasty". He also recognises its potential as the base of "cocktails and recipes".

Liquor Snob is also a fan, which is to be expected given their longstanding affair with Jim over Jack.

"We think it's safe to say you won't be disappointed, and if you are - send us whatever's left in your bottle... Don't tell the folks at Beam this, but we'd happily pay more than $18 for a bottle of Red Stag."

On Huffington Post they reference some very positive feedback from Chuck Chowdrey, an American whiskey writer:

"I think the quality of the infusion, the depth of the flavors is pretty sophisticated," he said. "It doesn't taste like they threw some flavor house cherry flavor in there."

To support the full launch, Red Stag is being promoted via a collaboration with Kid Rock who has been a lifelong Jim Beam fan. For more information click here.

Ever since I first read about The Tasting Sessions, via Londonist’s report on their Generation XO cognac event, where they showcased Courvoisier Initiale, I was hooked. So when the chance to participate in an unusual whisky tasting in a speakeasy popped up, I got rather excited.

The idea behind The Tasting Sessions, is to find surprising and interesting ways of experiencing wine and spirits tastings. They are always held in cool venues and find a way of being different but in a way that sets off the liquid being tasted. Their speakers tend to be very entertaining and the diverse crowd is full of people you’d like to spend the evening talking to. Their model is to showcase top class, unusual drinks in an interesting manner.

To get into the event you had to utter the password before you were let into the illicit speakeasy called Barts on Sloane Avenue. It proved to be a brilliant venue as you’ll see from the photos below.

Before the official tasting kicked off we tucked into some awesome whisky cocktails such as a stunning Manhattan and a Whisky Sour. Whatever ice needed braking, was smashed by the time the tasting officially started!

We were guided through a flight of 6 whiskies by Jen Dickson from The Whisky Exchange with each dram being paired with a cheese by La Fromagerie’s Jon Schofield. For each whisky we were encouraged to position it on a tasting map which helped to give us a frame of reference.

We started with Clynelish 14 year old which had a salt and pepper finish that meant it paired very nicely with some strong Tobermory cheddar from the Isle of Mull. Whilst the cheese matched well, it was the salty, caramely chocolates that appeared that stole the show.

My favourite whiskey came next. Stranahans from Colorado is an American single malt whisky which makes it very unusual. It contrasted strongly with the Clyenlish and had a mellow, vanilla note running through it. I’d love to have a bottle to tuck into whilst writing. The Doddington cheese is well known for its caramel flavours and nutty characteristics which brought out the almost desert like quality of the whiskey.

An Irish whiskey from Connemara emerged next with a puff of smoke that gave away it’s peaty charms. It matched well with a cheese from the Basque region called Zelu Korlaria.

Ever since seeing Lost in Translation, I’ve wanted to learn more about Japanese whisky. The Nikka Yoichi 10 year old was well balanced and, in my mind, quite delicate. Whilst I liked the whisky, the star was the Ami de Chambertin soft cheese washed in brandy from Burgundy which I am ashamed to say I had several helpings of!

Then we were subjected to the humiliation of a blind tasting where a peppery, slightly banana-ry spirit was showcased which blew the tasting apart. It was paired with a lemony, salty soft goat’s cheese which should have rung a few alarm bells as the “whisky” turned out to be El Tesoro Paradiso tequila. The idea was to show that top quality, aged tequilas can be sipped and enjoyed just like a whisky. I’m hoping Angella and Hayley think about hosting a tequila tasting soon as this is a really interesting area.

We finished on a stratospheric high with a glass of Port Ellen 1978 8th Release which is extremely rare and more importantly delicious. My palette by this point was pretty overwhelmed, so all I can say (rather hopelessly) is that it was very complex. Which meant it had to be matched with a pair of cheeses, making it the John Prescott of the whisky world – Two Cheese Port Ellen. The parmesan crumbled and gave a salty, granular edge whilst a Bleu d’Avergne added a creamyness and salty tang.

Hats off to Hayley and Angella. The whole event was brilliant from start to finish. Jon and Jen were both cracking experts and made the complicated world of whisky and cheese seem fun and accessible.

Barts is a tremendous venue and added to the illicit mystique of the night. I’m just upset I didn’t make the most of the dressing up box – given that I had a marmalade stain on my shirt the gorilla outfit would have been a huge improvement!

I’m now waiting on tenterhooks to see what The Tasting Sessions dreams up next. We should think about working with Hayley and Angella to showcase some of our drinks in their events as they have yet to do a rum, tequila or bourbon event.

All photos are courtesy of Nathan McDonald

Thursday, May 21, 2009

If you were to let Selfridges include your brand in their centenary celebrations, you’d better be pretty sure that your branding can stand up to the test.

With the brief being “we’ll turn your product Selfridges yellow – with maybe a bit of black”, the challenge would be fairly daunting for brands that rely on a plethora of “brand assets”. However, if you’ve decided that simplicity is key for brand recognition, you’re in with a chance of adding your name to an unfortunately short list of successful world iconic brands.

Here’s a few that made the grade.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Central London hotspot Sketch was the destination for Smirnoff Black's Modern Gentleman's Masterclass.

The evening was based arounds a trio of pursuits followed by those of a chivalrous disposition. However, the tailors and barbers were merely a sideshow to the vodka based mixology.

Tristan Stephenson, Smirnoff Black's brand ambassador served a 'Spring Molecule' that contained, amongst other things, basil caviar. The caviar is produced through sphererification a technique popularised by Albert and Ferran Adria at El Bulli. A good time had by all, and as we all know, the Black is better than the Red.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Hennessy have launched a new cognac for the first time in decades. It is designed for mixing, not unlike Courvoisier Exclusif which has been around for a few years.

Here's what Spirit Me Away said:

"For the first time in 48 years, the folks over at Hennessy are launching a new cognac to the market. Hennessy Black is the name, and they are focusing on mixability with it. Rolling out in 10 markets initially (they include Arizona, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, New York City, Ohio, Washington DC and Massachusetts), Hennessy Black is accompanied by a Swizz Beats “theme” song sure to grab it some name recognition. You can hear it and check a video at their site. I haven’t tried it yet, so here’s some more info from the press release til I have my own report."

"Hennessy Black is a new highly versatile, decidedly different cognac. This exciting new distinctively smooth blend allows consumers more ways to enjoy Hennessy and tastes great on its own or mixed. It is Hennessy’s first major new launch since Hennessy V.S. was introduced in 1961. Hennessy Black offers an intriguing new choice for social occasions and will aim to take Hennessy beyond the cognac category to be the premium mixed spirit of choice. Its consumption versatility will be supported through the creation of a new drinking ritual as it is perfect for enjoying up (shot) or down (mixed drink).

Packaged in a sleek, bold black bottle, Hennessy Black is a versatile blend of 35 to 45 unique, pale and gold colored eaux-de-vie selected for their elegant floral characteristics. These are subsequently aged in French oak barrels previously used by Hennessy for at least five years. Hennessy Black has a more gentle wood influence. The result is a different expression of Hennessy Cognac: lighter and fresher with scents of jasmine, daffodils and orange flowers that are delicately mixed with hints of citrus, honey, and fresh grapes to create a distinctively smooth cognac with surprising finesse balance, floral notes

Hennessy Black comes to market with a variety of mixed drink recipes that highlight its mixability and sophisticated flavor and can be served as simple, easy to make drinks or enhanced shot options, with ice or without. They include; HENNESSY BLACK Ice, neat with a dash of lemon juice and simple sugar with a sugar-dipped lemon slice; HENNESSY BLACK Bull, coffee liqueur and cola served as a layered shot or long over ice; HENNESSY BLACK Spice, with fresh ginger, a dash of simple syrup, lemon juice; and HENNESSY BLACK Royale, with champagne, a dash of lemon juice and simple syrup."

Visit the Hennessy Black site here.

A limited edition range of Grey Goose bottles by Jacques Garcia for the Cannes Film Festival.

From Vodka and Co.

For more information and images visit Popsop

Found on Liqurious "but from Roots Run Deep originally.

"Educated Guess Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon is the winery’s first release and our flagship wine. The name “Educated Guess” came about during a lively, second bottle of wine conversation about winemaking styles, vineyard sites, and the progressive escalation of wine prices without comparable increases in quality. The discussion then proceeded to the “art vs. science” aspect of winemaking and after a few more glasses of wine…“Educated Guess” was born!!!

So ask yourself this question: Have you ever found yourself in a wine shop or restaurant perusing the wines and wondering…how do I choose the best wine for the money? You may admire a label, recognize a name, or recall a great review…in essence you’re making an “Educated Guess.” This is exactly what goes on in the vineyards and wineries around the world. Should we pick the grapes now or wait? How long should we barrel age our wine? Should we use French or American Oak, or both?

We use our knowledge, intuition, and years of experience to make the best possible decisions; however at the end of the day it still remains an “Educated Guess.” At Roots Run Deep we have done all of the Guesswork for you, and produced the richest, ripest, and most complex wines you can buy for the money. So when you won’t settle for less, “Buy Educated Guess.”

Oh, and everyone wants to know about our unique label. Our label was designed to tell the story of how you can make an educated guess in winemaking, not to give you nightmares about your high school chemistry class. It shows you actual winemaking formulas that are either induced or naturally occur during a specific winemaking process. For those of you who aren’t chemists and want to know more about what the 5 formula strings on the label mean, please email us and we will happily send you more information. For the rest of you, drink up and enjoy!!!"

I love this. It's a wine with an idea behind it. And that's rare. I'd love a bottle of this. It looks so fun.

Found on Liqurious but originally on Kyouei design

"it is a glass for drinking a lot.

a device consists of a bulb shaped container with the glass below.
when the amount in the glass decreases, a constant amount is poured from the tank into the glass.

never overflowing from the glass because of air pressure and water pressure."

Sheer genius. They also do very cool stuff with red wax which could be fun for Maker's Mark.

From Just Drinks:

"The Licensing Company North America has launched a chocolate collection of Beam Global Spirits and Wine's Courvoisier Cognac brand in the US.

Beam previewed the chocolate truffle range - a collaboration with chocolate maker Bissinger's - at the Fancy Food Show, in San Francisco earlier this month.

The truffles combine a version of Courvoisier's XO blend with 55% dark chocolate and are presented in a black box bearing the gold Courvoisier crest.

Courvoisier truffles are available through the Bissinger network of stores in the US as well as from its website, and selected retailers globally."

According to Bissinger's

"Napoleon would have loved this harmonious, yet complex blend of Courvoisier and dark chocolate. Smooth, intense couverture is accented with aromatic fine cognac. The long finish is highlighted by the characteristic Courvoisier warmth, integrated with lingering chocolate notes."

You can get your hands on these chocolates here.


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