Fair enough.


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.


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.


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.



This Bourbon’s just not kosher.


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.



Ledaig. Aged 10 years.



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.


Mezcal Amores



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.


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.


No. 3 London Dry Gin

No 3 London Dry Gin 750ml HR

Packing wise, this gin is a winner from the start. Packaged in a fine white box, beautifully printed, I’ve got a feeling of anticipation usually reserved for the premium end of the whisky and cognac spectrum. The bottle slides out, hand wrapped in a custom printed tissue map of the home of Berry Bros. & Rudd wine merchants. The bottle itself is adorned with the key to the premises at No. 3 St. James Street and closed with a great piece of lead foiling stamped the the merchants Royal Warrant.

Uncorking the bottle you get a massive hit of juniper. The theme of threes is more than just packaging. Three fruits; juniper, grapefruit and orange lie down perfectly with three spices; angelica, coriander and cardamom. Designed as the last word in Gin for a Dry Martini by a man with a doctorate in distillation, the liquid certainly doesn’t disappoint.

46% abv makes it a pleasure in a G&T, particularly when you pair things up with a quality Quina Fina tonic and a decent squeeze of lemon. The juniper is a standout in a super Dry Martini, and I liked a 5:1 ratio with Dolin that I’ve just sucked down too.

This is the perfect gin to supercharge your Gin classics for the holidays. The spirit of cricket might have taken a beating these last few days in Australia but you shouldn’t think that everything English has gone past date. London Dry Gin defines a style as old as modern drinking for a reason, as a category it is great and this is its epitome.

Brandwise, this is a beautifully conceived and executed example. The story is inextricably welded to an authentic history. The paper hand wrapping of each bottle, like the proprietors have been turning out of St. James St more than 300 years. The spirit is distilled in the copper pots in Schiedam, Holland, where the original gin the British stole improved upon came from.

$80 a bottle from Nicks. Not the cheapest of juniper liquids in this country but a delightful change up to the citrus driven English and more floral craft gins on the market.

An excellent gift or treat to any lover of Mother’s Ruin.


Bunnahabhain 12yr old.

Bunnahabhain 12yr oldThere’s one thing better than the completely awesome way this whisky spells its name, and that’s the way it tastes.

Nestled at the end of a long road in Islay, the Bunnahabhain Distillery has roots going back to 1881. Putting it in perspective, the Northern Territory was part of South Australia in 1881 and there were just 2.25 million people living in the lucky country.

An Islay providence makes some sippers turn up their nose. The heavily peated expressions from the southern shore: Caol Ila, Lagavulin and Laphroaig tend to define the style. The whisky that comes from the mouth of the Margadale river is different. Delightfully brassy amber in colour, the peat is sweet in this one, with the restrained seaside smells Islay has made so famous. Nutty caramels and sultanas with vanilla. Sherry, cocoa and salt on the finish.

The 46.3% abv gives a bright mouth feel that will bring me back to it again. Tastes a lot like it has spent some time in a Sherry cask. Probably won’t charm the Islay purists, but I think it’s a fine way to finish the day (or start a new one)

$89.99 from Nicks. Delivered to your door anywhere in Australia, free if you’ve spent $200.


Glen Grant 10yr Old


This is a good entry to the world of single malts, while you’ll have to put up with a rougher mouth feel than you’d find in a blend of the same price, there is more interest on the palate and the finish.

Hazelnuts and stonefruit, with the creamy vanilla that comes from a rest in ex-Bourbon casks. This is a tasty standard for your shelf or drinking cabinet.

In perhaps the best piece of marketing outreach I’ve seen thus far, the box came with a note mentioning the distillery edition. A cask strength bottling available only to those willing to make the long trek up to Spey. A tantalising reward, worthy of such a long road, in the imagining at least.

The 16 yr old is worth tracking down, they’ve a bottle hiding behind the bar at the Baxter Inn here in Sydney.

A gateway whisky in price as well, five cents back from $40 here.


Four Pillars Gin


Four Pillars Gin launched last night in Sydney, a few days after bottles of the 1st batch began to drop into the mailboxes of Pozible funders around the country.

An obvious passion project between two lovers of the juniper spirit, it is a worthy addition to the current crop of homegrown spirits producers starting their journey around the country. They’ve made their home on the edge of the wine producing Yarra Valley in Victoria, sourcing water and a measure of inspiration from their locale.

Distilled to epitomise a modern style of Australian gin, juniper and citrus take a back seat to more subtle cardamom, star anise, coriander seed and cinnamon. Australian botanicals, namely the Tasmanian pepperberry leaf and lemon myrtle also make an appearance. Lovers of a London Dry will be disappointed with the lack of up front in this gin, but you’d be wrong to assume that a lack of juniper dominance signals a lack of complexity in the taste. There are classic matches, with orange, cardamom and cinnamon passing over the palate in an elegant fashion.

This gin is softer than the English batting line up. It will provide an elegant stage for the country’s bartenders to experiment with and will bring many Australians claiming not to be gin drinkers into the fold. The toned down citrus notes come alive when a squeeze is added to your gin and tonic. In a martini it can get lost a little in the vermouth, but I’m hanging out for a homegrown Australian version with Four Pillars and the Regal Rouge. It is good in a negroni, settling down into a unique, if slightly floral take on the drink.


It’s an elegantly designed package, with foiling on the label and and individual batch numbering beneath the foil closure and cork. The copper foiling is a well planned allusion and story starter for the center of the brands universe, a gorgeous Carl still named Wilma. Copper is a key brand element again in the extremely covetable cocktail shakers the team have produced for launch.


With only 420 bottles in each release, this is unashamedly small batch and craft in every imaginable way. There are plans afoot too for a barrel aged Old Tom, calling on the local vineyards for some ancient aging stock, whispers of a fresh take on Sloe and a series of seasonal releases based on local botanicals, like the unbelievably delicious native finger lime. Plenty then to get excited and keep an eye out for.

You should buy a bottle to enjoy over the Christmas period, it’s a local passionate project that will be the perfect foil for long, lazy afternoons watching the Australians school the English on something they took to the world. Something of a metaphor for the ambition of this gin.

Look for this on the back bars of anyplace small, or at Camperdown Cellars Parramatta rd, Elizabeth Bay Cellars, Salt meats Cheese in Sydney. Trade distribution again through the team at Vanguard. RRP in the high sixties.


Facundo Profundo

facundobacardiThe sugar spirit supremos amongst you will have already caught this news, but a few in the lucky country may have missed that Bacardi chose to memorialise the transition of two of their ambassadorial sons, Jeremy Shipley and Martin Newell, with a spectacularly distilled and designed set of rums.

The fame and following of these two special individuals notwithstanding, the line was commissioned for the Cataln progeny of bricklayers, one Don Facundo Bacardi Massó. Escaping from Stiges to Cuba, Facundo established and grew the Bacardi brand from obscurity to lay the foundations of one of the most recognisable alcoholic products on earth. It’s a nice piece of symmetry too, that the current controller of the company also bears the name Facundo Bacardi.

What they’ve bought to market are a suite of four rums, set to elevate the category and help brand loyalists ladder up into the lofty heights now on offer.

Details are a touch thin, as they’re not on offer yet in Australia and I won’t speak to taste until I’ve had lips on the product myself, prices are RRP in US dollars, expect to pay more if they come to Australia.

Here’s what I’ve been able to glean. Neo ($45) is an up-to-eight year old white rum, more oak and complexity than the Bacardi you’re used to. Next is Eximo ($60) an American Oak finished rum with an up to 10 years age claim. Exquisito ($90 steps things up again with 7-23 year old rums blended and finished in sherry casks. At the top of the mountain is Paraiso ($250) 23 yr old rums from the family reserve, blended and finished in ex-Cognac barrels.

They do sound delicious. I hope we get some downunder soon.


Monkey Shoulder

monkey-shoulderYou will have had a blended scotch before, but fewer will have run into a blended malt. Purists will be quick to point out that every malt not marked Single Cask is, in fact, a blend but Monkey Shoulder were one of the first to the party in marketing it as such. At around $40 a bottle, it is a worthy addition to my Spirits of Christmas recommendations and an attractive entry point for a present for a friend or relative that likes a scotch.

What you get in the bottle is a blend of three William Grant’s Speyside malts. There is reference online to them being Glenfiddich, Balvenie and Kininvie but given they’re released in batches of 27 casks and there is no statement other than dufftown provenance it might be that, but could also be different.

The flavour is smooth and rich, characteristic of its ex-Bourbon cask resting. There’s complexity there if you’re really willing to go looking for it amongst the creamy, buttery middle. The finish is quite impressive given the price point and you’ll also be well rewarded chucking this round in any whisky cocktail, with a more complex than a blend but more rounded than a malt kind of result ending up in the glass.

The bottle looks great, with the metal monkeys perched on the shoulder and that weighty base.

The liquid gets its name from a condition afflicting the men of the malt house. A lifetimes toil shoveling grain can leave you with a mightly painful arm, neck and the joints between, called the Monkey Shoulder.

Pick a bottle up online here.


Ron does not mean Rum (this time, it means Scotchy Scotch)

run-burgundy-scotchy-scotch-xlThis just in, the biggest news in drinking this year.

Riveria Imports in the States has released Ron Burgundy Scotchy Scotch Scotch: Great Odin’s Raven Special Reserve, just ahead of the film’s theatrical release this month.

It is bound to be bold, brash and occasionally inappropriate. Luxuriant to the touch, with the scent of rich mahogany.

While the movie might be comedy it appears that the product isn’t (at least entirely.) From the Press Release:

Ron Burgundy Blended Scotch Whisky is not a novelty —it is a fine Scotch product more than comparable in quality to other blended Scotches at its price point. It is crafted and bottled in Scotland from a 60% malt and 40% grain blend by Old St. Andrews Distillery, featuring whiskies from Speyside, Highlands and Islay. Not just for Anchorman fans, Ron Burgundy Blended Scotch Whisky is produced for budding Scotch connoisseurs and traditional Scotch enthusiasts alike. 

Ron Burgundy Blended Scotch Whisky sells for approximately $25.00 a bottle and is available in 750 ml size only.

Stay classy.



A Vodka for Rum Drinks

Ciroc Coco

This is the first of my Christmas Spirits buying guide for 2013.

When you love the flavour, finish and variety of distilled spirits as much as I do, there is no response more annoying than “I won’t drink anything but vodka.”

If you don’t like the taste of alcohol, you should probably be looking for a different drug.

This Christmas though,  there’s hope. Think of Ciroc Coco as a gateway to the world where the taste of booze is an integral part of the overall experience. This towering white hued bottle will open up a world of Tiki drinks, releasing your alcoholic handbrake and sending your careening down the hill to Hunter S Thompson country.

I can almost hear the battle hardened whisk(e)y lovers out there scoffing at my prose but there’s joy in these Frenchman’s tears for you as well. Think of this as liquid childhood, a chance to hark back to a world when you didn’t know or care what a mash bill was, or the relative merits of Quercus alba over anything else that grows in Europe. I dare you to drink some and not grin a little.

This is no whipped Cream flavoured number, the Coco is fresh and clean, plus the abv is pared back to a just 35% and that means this is the sort of fun that you can just throw back and start getting involved with.

Ciroc Coconut

Expect to part with about $70 for a bottle.


Stolen Coffee and Cigarettes

Stolen Rum Coffee and CigarettesThe world’s most rock and roll rum brand just turned the volume up to 11.

On the back of their illegal muling operation that saw bottles of SX9 crossing the Tasman from regional airports, the team from New Zealand are breaking the law all over again.

In Australia, expect an adulterated product. The offending label ships with built in censorship to get around the ban on the word cigarettes in any retail environment here. The abv too will  come down to 37.5%. You could be forgiven for thinking that this is just to preempt the alcohol fueled violence that seems to trouble the majority of young Australians, but in reality it will mean a break in tax and duty which means this tasty looking bottle will be there or thereabouts in terms of competitively priced spirits, a couple of red bills should see a bottle tucked safely in the back of your moped.

Out of the bottle, the liquid is good.  A nose of cakey spices, the morning brew and the guy on the next table smoking full-tar Marlboro Reds. When it hits your tounge you get a smooth feel with a smoky finish, less than scotch lovers will want but more than many will have experienced. The roasted coffee rolls into and amplifies the characteristics of the Trinidad and Tobago spirit. Hints of leather, chocolate, trade spices and sugarcane sweetness. A lingering finish that reminds me of waking up on New years Day after too many cigarettes and not enough restraint the night before.

This is by no means a liqour of dressed up finery. It sits moodily in the corner, ready for anything and waiting for no one.

Build it up with too much ice, not enough coke and a squeeze of lime. Luxuriate with it up in a Manhattan if you must, or let things get all bitter and twisted:

Lou Reed’s Last Dance
60 mls Stolen Coffee and cigarettes
15mls Fernet Branca
15mls Quick Brown Fox Coffee Liqueur

Stir over ice and strain. Put “Vicious” on the gramophone and sink into it.


Bundaberg 125th Anniversary Release

b125Far to say this is an iconic release from an iconic Australian brand.

It appears that around 1978, some rum was made and somehow was held onto for long enough for it to become part of this fine mix of Queensland’s national drink. It’s no mean feat aging a spirit for 35 years, especially in a climate like the one that hangs like steamy velvet around the distillery in Bundaberg.

Old rum is often pretty ripe, and the liquid here doesn’t fall into that trap. Fans of the brand will still find the signature flavour profile, even as the age has shaved the edges off. Caramel, on the edge of being burnt, skirts the edges of the longest finishing Bundaberg I’ve ever put to my lips.

1,888 700 ml bottles have been produced. Each is numbered and comes in the fine walnut box pictured above. The copper rectangle beneath the liquid is an ingot from the melted down remains of one of the old Bundaberg stills, one that would have made some of the rums present in the bottle. You also get two engraved crystal tumblers, just to remind you that the liquid was made to be shared.

Quality finishes don’t come cheap. $1250 would buy a lot of O.P.

If that seems like a stretch your can get your hands on 125mls for $125, but you’ll have to front the bondhouse in Bundaberg to get it. Best slide behind the wheel of your HJ and get up there, as there are only 3000 available. (#1309 is already in my cabinet)


The New Blue

1421596_495936597171695_610339872_nCheck out the new West Winds bottlle! Gorgeous colour and the thicker base takes it a step away from the first edition wine bottle, while retaining that connection to the Margaret River wine region it calls home.

Like the cheeky treatment in this poster too. Possibly the most relevant Bombay has been in some time.

What do you think?



Cool little start of a campaign breaking in Australia for Ketel One.  The video content is supported by OOH placements on bus shelters. Brands have been treating bartenders like heroes for a while now, but this really steps it up a notch.

Great call using Max Greco for one of the first vids too. He is awesome.

You can see some more videos here, and I’d guess there’s more to come.


On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me….

Premium-Ginvent-XLarge Premium-Whisky-Advent-XLarge

Check out this for a fantastic Christmas gift idea.

24 little bottles of joy to celebrate your way through to Christmas, or hold back and drink yourself agog in an avalanche of Christmas cheer.

As for what is in the box, the premium whisky is not defined but given what they have available you should expect it to be quite the bundle of joy.

The standard whisky is choc full of non standard whiskies;  Yamazaki 12 Year Old, Grants 25 Year Old, Evan Williams Single Barrel, Mackmyra Brukswhisky, Bowmore 15 Year Old, Scapa 16 Year Old, Glencadam 21 Year Old, Blue Hanger 9th Release, Tomintoul 14 Year Old, Dalmore 18 Year Old, Auchentoshan Three Wood, Chivas Regal 18 Year Old, Yellow Spot 12 Year Old, Talisker Port Ruighe, Nikka Whisky From The Barrel, Balcones Texas Single Malt, Glen Garioch 12 Year Old, Johnnie Walker Platinum, Balvenie 17 Year Old Doublewood, Smooth Ambler 7 Year Old Bourbon, Glenfiddich 15 Year Old Distillery Edition, Balvenie Carribean Cask, The Glenlivet Nadurra and Glenfarclas 40 Year Old.

The craft gin packs in many you won’t have tried on these Australain shores; Masons Dry Yorkshire Gin, Smooth Ambler Greenbrier Gin, Saffron Gin, Herno Gin, Greenhook Ginsmiths Dry Gin, Two Birds London Dry Gin, Professor Cornelius Ampleforth’s Cask-Aged Gin Navy-Strength, Dr. J’s Dry Cambridgeshire Gin, City of London Dry Gin, Bathtub Gin, Langtons No.1 Gin, Cream Gin, Blackdown Sussex Dry Gin, Tarquin’s Handcrafted Cornish Gin, St. George Dry Rye Gin, Cold River Gin, Monkey 47 Dry Gin, FEW American Gin, Geranium London Dry Gin, Dorothy Parker – American Gin, Death’s Door Gin, Filliers Dry Gin 28, Sipsmith London Dry Gin and Breuckelen Glorious Gin

The standard gin box should ensure your mother’s ruin; Colonel Fox’s London Dry Gin, Tanqueray No. Ten, Sloane’s Dry Gin, Gin Mare, Perry’s Tot – Navy Strength Gin, Sacred Gin, Hendrick’s Gin, St. George Terroir Gin, Langley’s No.8 Distilled London Gin, Origin – Arezzo, Italy, Whitley Neill Handcrafted Dry Gin, Boxer Gin, Martin Miller’s, Citadelle Gin, Pinkster Gin, Hayman’s Old Tom Gin, Darnley’s View Gin, No.3 Gin, Warner Edwards Harrington Dry Gin, Junipero Gin, Dodd’s Gin (The London Distillery Company), Spirit of Hven Organic Gin, Zuidam Dutch Courage, Professor Cornelius Ampleforth’s Old Tom Gin,

Buy one for yourself at Masters of Malt. The premium whisky will set you back $421, the craft gin $185, the standard whisky $253 and the standard gin $168


Wild Turkey Forgiven

wildturkey_forgiven750ml__14322.1378485158.1280.1280The latest expansion from Wild Turkey blends their two iconic styles, Bourbon and Rye American whiskies, into one quite near perfect drinking package.

An apparent accident, Forgiven came out of the accidental combination of 6 year old Bourbon (the youngest age in any of the Wild Turkey range) and 4 year old high proof Rye. The mash bill leans heavily (78% to 22%) toward the Bourbon, but the higher proof of the Rye, combined with its youthful vigour, delivers an extremely pleasant balance of creamy vanilla and oak at the opening and a spicy cloves and cinnamon at the close. Perfect on its own in a glass, or on a rock. Intoxicating in a Manhattan.

The liquid comes in a reappropriated Rare bottle, adding nice weight and a real premium feel.

It smells and tastes a lot like Christmas, and you could do worse than pick up one of the limited edition for around $90 to savour over the holidays.

Get amongst.



Australia votes: The Guardians’ Chapter

Tuesday saw possibly the most perfect whisky event ever conceived play out upstairs at Tetsuya’s. More to come about whisky and food matching brilliance, but I wanted to talk about the most enjoyable vote taking place in Australia this September

The climax was the opportunity to taste and vote for the selection of the next limited edition release from the world second largest whisky brand by volume. 2,500 bottles will be brought to market based on the votes of the brand passionate around the world.


First up was the Revival. A light colour, the result of ex-Bourbon casks and I suspect the least time out of the three in the wood. Nose and palate are spectacular in their alignment, it’s all vanilla, honey and creme brulee. slightly all up front with less going on in the finish.


Second was the Classic. Closest in style to the Glenlivet you’re used to. A fair whack of time in Spanish and American oak delivers a bigger taste, cinnamon and dried fruits. This is the one that got my vote, a gorgeous well rounded liquid that was true to the brand but a welcome twist too.


Lucky last was the Exotic. Finishing in ex-Sherry butts gives this the sort of pleasant wonkiness you find in weeks old Christmas cake. Kind of incredible to smell, but I found it a little disappointing in the finish. This drop won the popular vote on the night. No word yet on the outcome after preferences are taken into account, but it was a margin of two in a room of forty.

Each of the expressions are bottled at a pleasantly hefty 48.7% abv and soften to open up with a few drops of water. Look out for it if you like your whisky of rare quality and full of story.

You can try these delicious whiskies too, by purchasing a ticket through Vintage Cellars

20th and 21st September – Sir Stamford Hotel, Sydney
22nd and 23rd September – The Woolshed, Melbourne
25th September – Port Office Hotel, Brisbane
26th September – Sosta Argentinian Kitchen, Adelaide
27th September- Grosvenor Hotel, Perth
1st October- Char Restaurant, Darwin

To get in on this sort of action in the future, you should sign up to be a Guardian. http://www.theglenlivet.com/guardians


Is your Dad a Gentleman?


Stuck for a gift for your old man or husband next week? You could do worse than a personally engraved bottle of Gentleman Jack.

There is a Facebook app over on the Australian page, you can buy a bottle and have it engraved with three lines of 18 characters each. https://www.facebook.com/JackDanielsAustralia/app_144680005735646?ref=ts

You’ve got till sunday, so get in while the getting is good.



Ardbeg_ArdbogIt’s peat and sweet. The 2013 Ardbeg special edition hit the lips of the faithful around the world last month.

Every year, the brand brings together the committee, a self selected group of Ardbeggians who love the brand and the chance to wear tweed. There are games and merch aplenty, but none of it feels forced. The food is hearty and plentiful and the whisky flows like water. It is one of the best brand experiences I’ve had in my life.

I was lucky enough to get my hands on a bottle of this truly excellent drop. It has an unusual colour, what one might expect if you took wet peat from the bog and squeezed it. Clear, but from somewhere near where amber borders red.  On the nose the smoke is restrained but present, a more approachable but still definitive Islay experience. Salt and peppery spice in the mouth, lemons moving from tart juice to oily peel in a lingering finish, sweet all round with enough peat for the die-hards. I love it.

Make sure you join the committee for an invite to Ardbeg Day next year and a chance to sip away on the next committee release.

You can pick up a bottle of Ardbog from Dan’s for about $160


Got a cheeky five and a half grand handy?

AE 50 YO - Product Shot (2) copy


It’s a blend and every drop predates Jamaican independence. Managaging a spirit for 50 Years in the heat of the Caribbean is not nearly as easy as it is in Scotland, and even there it’s touch and go with half your spirit given up as manna to heaven.

Only 800 bottles exist, 15 are headed for our shore. If you buy a bottle let me know and I’ll be sure to pop round with a basket of muffins. Dan Murphy’s will be flogging it online by the sounds.


Kilchoman Machir Bay

Machir-Bay-2013I’ve been meaning to write about this since it crossed my desk a couple weeks back.

I’ve been quite taken with the liquid, and as I’ve dug a little deeper, the story behind it is great too.

Kilchoman is a young distillery, built in 2005 by an established single cask bottler, Anthony Wills.

His idea was to take whisky back to its roots in Scottish farmhouses and by opening the first new distillery on Islay for 124 years, he’s done just that. Rockside Farm grows around 30% of the distillery’s grain, which is malted, peat dried and mashed on the property. The remaining grain comes from the maltings in Port Ellen, making this a truly 100% Islay expression.

Machir Bay is their standard bottling, and exists as a 2012 and 2013 vintage. The idea being to pick up fans and allow them to see the change in the spirit as it, along with the distillery itself gets older.

Aged for 4 or 5 years in ex-Buffalo Trace Bourbon Whisky, with the 4 year old barrels being finished for a month in Oloroso butts from Miguel Martin in Jerez. The whole process, from field to bottle, takes place at the farm which gives the liquid a delightful sense of place.

They’ve a touch over 3,000 cask maturing as we speak, and a annual production of 100,000 litres leaves them languishing near the bottom of the table in terms of output in today’s whisky world.

What you get is a delightfully smooth golden liquid that flows from the bottle like there is a hole in the bottom. There’s smoke on the nose, but it is more restrained than many of it’s island bretheren.

The peat is balanced with floral notes too. In your mouth there’s sweetness, spice and smoke, finishing out over a fair distance.

If it tastes this good as a 4-5 year old, I am looking forward to tasting it at 10, 12 and beyond.

The 2012 won a pile of awards, and the 2013 is getting better reviews, so expect to see it pick up medals to match it’s gorgeous colour as the year rolls on.

$144 from the World of Whisky in Sydney.

There is also a 10,000 bottle special edition called Loch Gorm that delivers a more smoky and medicinal side to this fledgling brand. Definitely one to look out for.

Giveaway, Spirit

Καλό Πάσχα! Ouzo 12 Giveaway

ouzo-12-husband-small-73097It’s Greek Easter on the 5th of May and the fine folks at Campari have given me two bottles of Ouzo 12 to give away to help you celebrate.

A bottle each will go to the two best comments on this post. I love the old Ouzo 12 ads, so give me your favourite line from one or create your own.

Terms and Conditions:

  1. You’ll need to live in Sydney or have a mule to carry the bottle from where I am to where you are should you win.
  2. I’ll decide in the comments string of this post on May 2, so you can pick it up from me on May 3 for the weekend.
  3. If no one comments I’ll drink both bottles myself.
  4. I’ll decide who wins, my decision will be final but exceptionally funny expressions of disappointment might change that.
  5. Rules subject to change for no reason whatsoever



Get Writing



It’s seems like an eternity since I’ve managed to carve off a few minutes to craft a post  worthy of your attention. Luckily, the fine folks at Island2Island have sent me a welcome gift that has shaken the cobwebs and broken a months old writer’s block.

The front label carries a lyric from the obscure Dierks Bentley, a country musician out of Nashville, Tennesee. The marketing materials reference Joyce and the golden age of writers in Dublin as the inspiration for the liquid.

It’s on opening the bottle however that you get something special. A crafted blend of pot still and single malt whiskey from the hand and nose of Bernard Walsh, who also crafted the Irishman. For those of you who care, pure pot still is the result of both a malted and unmalted barley mash run through a pot still. It’s rumored not to have been chill filtered and does carry the slightest hazy hint in Sydney’s warmish weather today.

What you get is a lovely honeyed balance, a full but easy drinking profile that easily evokes the cold nights and broken dreams of Joyce’s Ireland. It is delicious and I think it won’t last long in my hands.

Dan’s don’t have it. The Oak Barrel don’t have it. I is delicious and you want. I’ll find out how you can get a bottle and post it up shortly.

Those of you in the trade, contact island2island direct.

They also have a 52% cask strength available. I bet that it’s delicious.



Del Maguey Tobala Mezcal

Honestly lifted from http://myamericandram.wordpress.com/2011/06/30/del-maguey-tasting/ High res pictures of Tobala are hard to find.

A belated post this one. A friend and erstwhile professor slipped a bottle of this rare and delicious liquid in as a wedding present when the love of my life and I tied the knot, some six months past.

It takes about eight tobala pina to equal a single azul or espadin pina. The tobala hearts will be buried over hot stones and left for 30 days, instead of the regular 5. Once they’re exhumed, the hearts will rest in a shady spot under a tree absorbing microbes from the air. Think of this then, as sourdough fermentation.

After around a week, the hearts will be crushed and fermented aerobically in an open vat, with around 10% village water added by volume.

Once it leaves the still it is perhaps the most complex thing that hasn’t seen the inside of a barrel available anywhere on earth. Fruity, smoky, peppery and spicy. Some folks even say they get a floral hint, from the roses that grow near the fermentation tank.

Honestly stolen from http://mezcalistas.com/a-tobala-grows-in-the-mission/ a tobala that has escaped the high country and made it to San Fransisco

Tobala is a special little plant. The roots secrete a mad little enzyme that is powerful enough to dissolve granite. Often when it is taken out of the ground there are pieces of rock fused to the root structure. Some would even say that the minerality in the flavour profile owes something to this ability to dissolve a rock that we have used for benchtops or even temples.

The plant grows wild in a tropical microclimate over 8,200 ft. So that’s almost 1000 ft higher than any point in the lucky country.

It’s like a truffle. It grows in shade, only under the branches of an oak tree.

It really is a must try if you come across it.


Legacy by Angostura

Is the bottle in middle the world’s most expensive bottle of rum?

It is certainly pretty special by any account.

A select blend of seven of the brand’s most special and rare liquids have been bottled to celebrate 50 years on Trinidad’s independence. They have been aged in once used American Oak ex-Bourbon casks at the Angostura facility in Trinidad. The youngest rum has been aged a minimum of seventeen years. It all sounds rather tasty really.

The product of a six year experiment in blending, the Legacy arrives in a quite incredible decanter, made by Asprey, the Prince of Wales’ jeweller.

There are only 20 bottles available around the world, and only one available in the lucky country, it will be auctioned and the expected price will be in excess of $25,000

If I’ve piqued your interest, the online auction will be held by Langton’s, Australia’s leading liquor auctioneers from Friday 29 June and closing on Friday 13 July at 6pm.

I’m going to get a taste of this apparently, so look out for a second post covering what exactly a $1000+ tot of rum tastes like.


The Devil’s Cut

Anyone who has been lucky enough to visit a hallowed hall where whisk(e)y is subjected to that most wondrous process, the application of age, will have undoubtedly heard of the “angel’s share”.

The coined phrase refers to the amount of liquid that evaporates over the course of the years. This lost liquid, the distiller’s lament, has been an accepted cost for character, tannins, vanillins and the other tasty treats that vodka just simply doesn’t have.

Jim Beam have attempted to turn the tables with Devil’s Cut. Using a special process that they’ve been kind enough not to document, they’ve managed to extract some of the lost liquid that has hidden out in the barrel’s wood. They’ve then blended that with a 6 year old aged bourbon from the warehouse, putting it squarely between the white and green label expressions.

The result is a characterful, almost smoky expression. The colour is deep and dark and looks wonderful in a glass.

It carries a high proof for a non-bond bottled American whisky, at 90 proof (45%abv) it’s the highest standard bottling you’ll lay your hands on.

At $45 from Dan Murphy’s, it’s well worth adding to your shelf.