Mad joke skillzzzz

April 15th, 2012

There are many different creative avenues that I always wanted to explore.
Thankfully, my chosen profession allows me a lot of creative output, and crucially, a bridge between my creative and scientific interests.
Music took next precedence, then drawing and associated visual arts, film a distant cousin.

Comedy, I always considered an inaccessible artform. Sure, I always admired wit, but it was never what I considered my forte. Well, who???da thunk it

Many thanks to mr furse, a very old and witty friend (not thusly exemplified), and also the wonderful folk at master of malt, for now I can tick comedy off my list of creative accomplishments. I should???ve really shared this with alex, but 15ml is really a tiny volume to share???

Nonetheless, a wonderful sample to behold. Great packaging for a sample, and a wonderful snapshot of history.


Surprisingly light. Alluring gold, but not begetting its age.


Tantalising mix of old and new. It???s big, but it???s also restrained. An amazing contradiction. Not huge extraction, but a perfect elucidation of an alternative ageing; Not all about wood. This has breathed so much more than I can imagine.

Peaches, caramelised ginger, jasmine, chinese spices- a bit char sui. Tarte tatin, something slightly metallic. A bit of burnt toast.


Fruit explosion, then spice, a massive outro. Gentle spice, not heavy on oak. Very gentle and a great rollercoaster. Fruits and spices battling for centre position.


Becomes chewy, but not heavily tannic or dry. The fruit interplays wonderfully.

Very interesting to try, but wow, that???s a pricey dram!

Thank you!

March 4th, 2012

Many thanks to everyone for their votes and support. At the recent Imbibe Awards, I was very happy to be awarded the ‘Hot Stuff’ category. Of course, this made reference to my dashing good looks, but was also to reward the work I’ve been doing in the last wee while. The award was to celebrate the work of those under 30 doing innovative and exciting things in their field. It’s an honour that the award was bestowed on me.

Thanks again!

Malt Advocate Awards

February 13th, 2012

It’s always nice to see recognition. This is especially the case when the recipient is someone who has deserved the limelight for a while, or just deserves more people to sit up and take notice. Of course, this is skewed by opinion and prejudice, but I’m very happy with the outcome of this year’s Whisky Advocate awards.

In particular, five brands that I have been a huge fan, and champion of for several years have picked up awards. It’s great to see that these have received a tip of the hat that may perhaps push them to audiences that may not have stumbled upon them otherwise.

In particular, I was very pleased to see the following:

Best Japanese Whisky- Chichibu the First. Having been a supporter of Japanese whisky for many years now, it was great to see the newest distillery’s work reach maturity. It showed amazing promise in its youth, but as it has reached 3 years old, and a legal ‘whisky’, it shines like something way beyond its years. I was honoured to host Akuto San in the Whistling Shop and to pass on my best for the coming years. The quality of the produce from his old family distillery- Hanyu is first rate, and it’s great to see this dedication and quality pass into new territory.

Best New World Whisky- Amrut Two Continents. Something I’ve promoted before here, and something I’m glad to do again. Wonderful innovation, and stunning quality. I’ve been championing Amrut in the bar for a while now, and at first it received the same stigma as when I was doing the same for Japanese whiskies all those years ago. The response is the same though- bar the most stubborn, you can’t help but be won over by the quality.

Best Blended Malt- Compass Box, Great King Street. John and co. down at Compass Box fuse everything I love about whisky; Heritage, care, passion, innovation and great attention towards quality liquid. This new blend is a joy. It is an amazing ally within the bar- be it straight or in cocktails, and is a very welcome weapon to overcome that other stigma- that of blended whiskies.

Best Islay- Bruichladdich, Laddie 10. When I went to Islay last I had the fortune to sit with an afternoon with Mark Reynier. Not only was this a wonderful and stimulating discussion as to the position of modern day Scotch, it was an unrivalled opportunity to taste the intricacies of years worth of pioneering innovation. Truly inspiring and bolstering. It’s great to see that care and attention reach something they can truly put their own stamp on- this is 100% produce of their own regime (without older stocks)

Best Cambeltown- Springbank 18. A bottling I haven’t been fortunate enough to sample, but a favourite distillery. Mad and individual, with absolutely stunning, life-affirming drams being produced. The very kind Sukhinder at the Whisky Exchange set me up for financial ruin having sat with him for an evening drinking Springbank from the 60s. It continues to excite me, and a must stock in terms of either a home or bar range of whiskies.

Of course, congrats to the other winners too, but these guys are special to me.??

Remy VSOP Launch

February 2nd, 2012

I was very fortunate to be invited to the preview of the new Cognac from the Remy Martin House. Remy specialise in Fine Cognac- utilising eau de vies from the top two growing areas – Petite, and Grand Cru. They recently have relaunched their VSOP and we were invited to a private dinner hosted by Chef Massimo at his private dining room at the Corinthian Hotel.

The food pairing was excellent- a wonderful starter of salmon sashimi- a particularly fatty, but firm cut resembling ‘toro’ tuna with tart rhubarb, and a mousse of fois gras with chestnut ice cream- was a suitably indulgent beginning.

The new VSOP blend is further rested in very old casks, and I was fortunate to sit next to Baptiste – deputy Cellar Master- to quiz him on the motivation for this. ??He diverged details of the extra oxidation (as in older Scotches in knackered casks) and how they have created a blend that showcases a fruity, more feminine style of Cognac. This is a style I tend to prefer best- the leathery, tobacco’d ‘masculine’ styles are a bit dry for my tastes. The fruitier notes also lend themselves better to mixing too. Without a working memory of the old style, it was good to do a pepsi challenge, and indeed the change is understandable and noticeable.

Also, as discovered in the Bassoon bar afterwards- it makes a great Sazerac!

Sanchez Daiquiri

January 27th, 2012

So, what did I make to win? I made a daiquiri!

I wanted to make a drink that mimicked the innovation the Cantineros were doing with in the heyday of the classic cocktail- making innovative combinations with simple ingredients- and creating something restrained yet sublime. I also wanted something that reflected my bartending style and showed off the rum. What more so than a daiquiri?!

To play homage to the skill of the Maestro de Havana Club and their wonderful, and highly highly complicated blending process, I used a combination ??of Havana Club 3 yo and the 7 yo. I also stayed true to the classic daiquiri using simply rum, lime and sugar.

However my reflection came from the use of modern techniques to create simple things- so I used the rotovap. This had the advantage of removing any heat damage, but a different twist could be recreated using the hob.

I took a Havana 7 Daiquiri (albeit stretched in proportions) and distilled it, but what I kept was the heavy end- ??a syrupy concentrate of the wood, acid and sweet side. A daiquiri honey. This was simply stirred down with a the Havana 3 to create a strange opening of the rum. Sweet, with all the notes of the rum opened out, with strangely, a tannic sour finish. I loved it, thankfully the judges did too!

And the name- well there are many drinks named after people- particularly Daiquiri variants. This drink was a Cuban classic to be enjoyed in the British weather- it’s richer and heavier; of course a shaken daiquiri is hard to beat under the sun- as I imagine it is in Cuba, but the British summer… So, what’s the Cuban-British bridge I know? My old bar manager, and of course the face of Havana Club- Meimi Sanchez. A bit kiss ass maybe!- but it was genuine reasoning.

The Sanchez Daiquiri

50 ml Havana Club 3 a??os

5ml Daiquiri Honey

Stir, double strain into a small cocktail glass, garnish with a mint leaf.