Spirit

Fair enough.

FAIR.Bottle

Grab your fixie, sling your pug in your backpack and pedal uphill to your nearest bottle store Bondi Hipsters.

You can buy vodka made from nature’s ancient grain superfood, Quinoa.

Double bonus if you’re still claiming to be somewhere on the celiac scale too, this bad boy is gluten-free to boot.

Seriously though, the liquid is worthy of your lips and the story really does stack up.

The Fair story starts some nine years ago, before the breakfast du jour was an organic quinoa porridge with roof foraged honey and house cultured yoghurt.

Nine years ago breakfast sophistication was a Four’n’Twenty and a strawberry Oak for most Australians. The Frenchman behind Fair Spirits choose quinoa not for its achingly contemporary credentials but because it was the only grain available in sufficient volume that actually provided a reasonable return 1200-sum small landowners who farm the grain.

The liquid comes from an Armagnac still and the taste has real depth because of it. Bigger mouthfeel and flavour than you’d reasonably expect from a vodka, delicious.

Most of the distribution is in the smaller independents, but keep an eye out for this tasty vodka and it’s beautiful packaging.

Get in touch with the Australian distributor if you’re looking for a deal. Gregoire Bertaud is a cool dude.

If you’re looking to design a cocktail steeped in hipster madness, they also do a Goji liqueur.

Totes amaze.

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Spirit

Yes to Scottish Independence

A while back I had the pleasure of spending a couple of hours with Iain Macmillan, master distiller at Tobermory and Ledaig, amongst a handful of other independent distilleries producing unchill filtered treasures off the West coast.

He was a smart and hilarious companion, and thoroughly (hopefully) eclipses my many ums in these four videos for Dan Murphy.

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The Illuminati exist, and they’re buying up all the really good whisky

Diamond Jubilee Sample

Jonathan Driver, the erudite global ambassador for all things both Blue and Johnnie Walker is in Sydney town again this week, with a $200,000 bottle of whisky in his rollaboard.

Driver has both the responsibility and privilege of being the public and private face of Johnnie Walker Blue Label, and the expressions above that. It’s the stories from the pinnacle of planet blue that caught my attention while sharing a table with the man himself and a curated culinary experience from #baxterchef.

“There is a world that is invisible, that exists behind closed doors that normal people just don’t have access to.” Driver expounds “You’ve got to bring something like this (Johnnie Walker Diamond Jubliee,) it is the price of admission.”

The Diamond Jubilee project has opened plenty of cloistered doors for him around the world these past few months. If you’re lucky enough to be spending time with him, make sure you ask about a man with a penchant for rock hard food, and the wisdom of informing at elast a few close friends of your whereabouts while moving in the most rarefied circles.

 

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This Bourbon’s just not kosher.

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Launched just in time for Australian Bacon Week, I present to you, drinkers of the world, Smoked Bacon Bourbon.

The first of a series of releases from the Experimental Spirits Company, Smoked Bacon Bourbon packs the rendered goodness of 35o grams of the finest Australian cured and smoked pig into each bottle.

The Experimental Spirits Company  brings a measure of something special to the local spirits market here in Australia. The concept hinges on the application of studied, refined and perfected technique to create something unique, rather than the distillation of the spirit itself. I think I know which bourbon they’ve made use of in this release, but I’ll let you have the pleasure of guessing as well.

This porcine release is a really excellent example of a technique called fat washing. Borrowed from the perfumers tradition, the technique takes advantage of the unique molecular structure that ethyl alcohol possesses, with allows it to connect with both water soluble flavours (the more standard infusion) and fat soluble flavours. I’ll write in more detail soon about the process, but suffice to say it is a tricky beast to get perfectly right.

The liquid in the bottle is a perfect balance between the flavours of bourbon and bacon. It is beautifully filtered and lovingly packaged. Hand labeled and wax sealed in Sven’s kitchen, this really is a bottle full of love.

It really shines in a manhattan, or simply in a glass of its own. Delicious.

The Pozible campaign launched today. You can support it here to get a bottle of your own for A$70 if you’re quick, or A$80 if you’re not. In true crowdfunding fashion there are a bunch of excellent rewards if you want a truly unique experience or the simple pleasure of buying Jacob Briars a magnum of bacon whiskey.

The next cab off the rank for the ESC will be the salted coconut spiced rum that forms the soul of the coco-banana old fashioned the team at Eau de Vie released last year.

Check out my man Sven in the video below too.

Pozible Campaign Video. Smoked Bacon Bourbon by Experimental Spirits Co. from Sven Almenning on Vimeo.

 

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Ledaig. Aged 10 years.

ledaig

 

More than 200 years before whisky was first distilled on the Isle of Mull, San Juan De Sicilia exploded off the coast of the hebridean island.

The ship was rumoured to be the treasure laden flagship of the Spanish Armada’s Levant  Squadron. Under the terms of this legend, gold spilled from the ship and spread across the bay.

Countless expeditions have found nothing more than the wreckage of a press-ganged merchantman and not a skerrick of shining gold. The colours seem to have run across the bay and settled in the stills of the Tobermory Distillery over time.

The whisky is a non-chill filtered expression not a million miles away from what most people will consider Islay’s style. Further investigations will show that this is peat of a different ilk. The smoke is sweet, and beautifully balanced. In the mouth you’ll find it oily, salty, spicy and sweet. There’s fruit but not like the Tobermory 15.

Over ice or with a drop you’ll get a much longer and smoother experience.

$80 will get you a bottle of the true golden treasure of Mull. I highly recommend you do.

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Mezcal Amores

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First things first.

This is a bright and smooth 100% Espadin Agave Mezcal. It’s currently the number 3 selling brand domestic brand there.

Bottled at 37%, the fire many associate with agave is restrained, but the earthy creaminess follows through in abundance. Pure, smooth, smoky goodness.

I defy anyone to drink it and not fall in love.

That alone should be enough for you to want to seek out this nectar and devour it, but the story, in Australia gets even better.

The guy that is importing Mezcal Amores (and Los Azulejos Tequila) is quite simply, one of the good guys. A young Mexican, Jorge Cervantes is passionate about his country and the products to be found there. He’s also committed to working with companies that remain locally owned, to the benefit of the economy. Forget your fair trade coffee and chocolate, this is social justice you can really feel good about.

He is Mextrade, and you should invite him to your bar, try his great products, implore him to break out the gusano and enjoy the company of a guy who is doing it for love and money.

Sydney bartenders should get on board the contest Jorge has put up on Facebook. A trip to Oaxaca with all the trimmings is up for grabs for someone who falls in love with Amores and creates a new cocktail.

Jorge, salud.

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Old Pulteney 21yr Old

Old Pulteney 21yr Old Single Malt Scotch Whisky

Today was marked by a rare pleasure, the chance to taste a range of whisky from a place called Wick in the far north of Scotland. Called the Maritime Malt, the marque is a big supporter of seaborne adventure and Sydneysiders will see their 70 foot clipper clear the heads and turn right for Hobart this Boxing Day. I’ll admit I hadn’t heard it mentioned much before today.

Jim Murray scored the Old Pulteney 97.5, a score that has never been exceed and only a handful of other crafted whisk(e)y has made the grade. Now, I’m not entirely sure you can fully trust the palate of a single individual, even one as experienced and indeed descriptive as Mr. Murray, but here he makes a fine point.

Anyway, the liquid.

In your glass you get an oddly darker whisky than the 30yr old from the same distillery. It is an excellent whisky to smell; complexity and fineness of flavour that will have even the most ebullient of whisky describers searching for a thesaurus and flavour map. All the Old Pulteney drams have a enchanting seaside flavour to them, a salty backbone that spice, sugar and malt cling to on a seemingly everlasting slide to a delightfully distant finish in this expression over all the others.

The 21 is rested in a Fino cask, and the dry nuttiness it lends takes this from a fine drop to a truly memorable one for me.

Often described as the most Northerly Distillery in the UK, Old Pulteney actually has lost this distinction with the restoration of distilling at the Wolfburn still in Thurso at the start of 2013. Thurso is only another 20km towards Father Christmas from the stills in Wick, but there’s not much of Scotland left for a leapfrog attempt.

Freed from their unique geographical burden, their still is a unicorn. It has both no head nor swan neck, a legacy from their initial delivery to the site many moons ago. The stills that were delivered to the site were too tall for the stillhouse, and obviously keen to get on with the making of some truly excellent whisky, the executive decision was taken to cut them down to size. The result is called by many a smugglers still, a throwback to the delightful history of whisky, freedom and sticking it to the ruling classes. They also use a 90 meter long set of pipes to cool the spirit, a practice left in the past by most, but you cannot argue with the result of a worm tub finish.

This is the perfect whisky to buy your dad or know-it-all best friends who insists their brand is the pinnacle.

Not cheap at $200 from Nicks, but worth every penny and you’ll get free delivery at that price. For those of you unwilling top trust this special liquid to the hands of Australia Post, you can also find a bottle at the Oak Barrel, World of Whisky, Camperdown Cellers on Parramatta Rd and Liquor on Oxford here in Sydney.

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