Spiritual Guide: Sazerac

A new guide for spiritual enlightenment by the pious team at Glengarry. Join us monthly as we explore everything spirit related. View the full issue online here.

Cocktails: Sazerac

According to popular myth, an 1830’s apothecary was once owned by a man named Antoine Amedie Peychaud, in New Orleans. He made his own bitters, which he used in the toddies he famously treated his friends to. Peychaud portioned the liquor using a double sided egg cup or “coquetier.” Does that word sound familiar? Sound anything like the word “cocktail”, which nowadays is so very, very popular? It’s a nifty origin story, although the word cocktail was recorded in print as early as 1803. Still, makes for a great trivial-swill-fact.

Another legend states that proprietor of the “Merchants Exchange Coffee house”, Aaron Bird, began serving the Sazerac cocktail and changed the name of his premise to The Sazerac Coffee house after the company had been importing “Sazerac-de-Forge et Fils” Cognac for several years. The mix consisted of Sazerac cognac, absinthe, bitters and sugar. These rudimentary mixes of spirits were the first cocktail, mixing Peychaud’s own bitters and thus it was known simply as the Sazerac, eventually bottled and marketed under the Sazerac Company of New Orleans. Over time the cognac incorporated “Herbsaint”, a French style pastis when absinthe was outlawed. A phylloxera epidemic ravaged the French vineyards, and the cognac was replaced with American Rye Whiskey. Now the Sazerac is still remembered fondly as the original cocktail to go by such a title, and is still the official cocktail of New Orleans.

Over time as cocktails became more fanciful, it became commonplace for those who wanted the simpler concoctions to ask for their cocktail to be made the “old fashioned” way. The Old Fashioned has become a cocktail in its own right, with a similar makeup of whiskey, sugar, bitters, and a fruit garnish. So, whether you believe we owe the Sazerac to Peychaud and his coquetier pours, or Bird and his creation of the brand, it’s a good yarn to have over a cold cocktail.

Chesney McDonald

Malt Club: Glenglassaugh and BenRiach New Arrivals

On Thursday 12th of April, Kenny Ariaens presented his first Malt Club; Glenglassaugh and BenRiach New Arrivals. Kenny is the Spirit Ambassodor at Hancocks Wine, Spirit and Beer Merchants Limited. He has recently been over in Scotland visiting these great whisky distilleries; we thought there would be no better person to host this night. Kenny’s style of presenting effortlessly fitted our Malt Club regulars (like how well the Glenglassaugh Peated Port Wood Finish matched alongside our Mahoe Blue cheese); someone who can create an open atmosphere embracing our “Lloyds” and “Craigs” as well as the new comers. We tasted our way through 4 whiskies from each distillery, exploring their use of different wood finishes. Some favourable mentions of the night: Glenglassaugh Revival, Glenglassaugh Peated Port Wood Finish, Glenglassaugh Pedro Ximenez Wood Finish, BenRiach 22-Year-old PT. PX Albariza and BenRiach 21-Year-old.

Spiritual Guide: Scapegrace

A new guide for spiritual enlightenment by the pious team at Glengarry. Join us monthly as we explore everything spirit related. View the full issue online here.

New Things: Scapegrace

Scapegrace: a rogue by any other name

Ah, the perennial problem of starting up some courageous and visionary enterprise from the arse-end of the world (that’s us), coming up with a nifty name, turning it into a roaring success that insists on going global, only to discover that some northern hemisphere titan has taken commercial offence at your presumption over monikers, and is prepared to sue the pants off you if you don’t change your name.

Come on down, Rogue Society. You know: that handcrafted Kiwi small batch artisan gin that everybody loves. The one with the great name. Enter, stage left-field, large American brewery, Rogue Ales. The brainchild of three Nike executives, so right there is your ‘brand-as-holy-grail’ fixation.

Whatever. A number of people in the northern hemisphere are rumoured to be unable to distinguish between a bottle of premium New Zealand dry gin and a bottle of American beer. Oh dear. To avoid a complete global catastrophe, Rogue Society have generously changed their name to Scapegrace. Which is a more obscure, but arguably classier name for a rogue; so take that, American beer. But what should not get lost in all of this: Scapegrace? It’s the same brilliantly beautiful gin. End of story.

Graeme Gash

East Imperial Gin Jubilee – Masterclass Tasting

On Wednesday evening we enjoyed a fantastic and unusual tasting, hosted by Tony Burt and Mikey Ball from East Imperial. They are a NZ company producing some of the world’s finest and most authentic Tonic Waters.

Tony and his business partner Kevin, first came up with the idea after their regular premium Gin buying trips to Glengarry Parnell. They realised what was really missing was a premium Tonic water to go alongside. They started with an authentic 1903 Tonic recipe from Kevin’s family, and began sourcing the best Quinine from the original Dutch plantations in Java. All the tonics have totally natural flavours from ingredients sourced across Asia.

In front of us on the table, were 4 different Tonic waters and a Ginger Beer (in their specially designed 150ml bottles), alongside 5 fantastic Gins. The tasting consisted of first trying the tonic on its own, then the Gin. Each of the Gin Producers were there to explain their philosophy, production and style. We then combined the two along with a garnish, for the ultimate G&T experience. These final combinations were designed by mixologist Mikey Ball and really elevated both products.

The matches were:
East Imperial Old World Tonic with Blush Rhubarb Gin and a piece of ginger.
East Imperial Burma Tonic with Hidden World Floral Gin and a lime wedge.
East Imperial Yuzu Tonic with Sacred Springs Gin and an orange slice.
East Imperial Grapefruit Tonic with Scapegrace Gold Gin and a slice of grapefruit.
East Imperial Mombassa Ginger Beer with The Botanist Gin and spearmint leaves.

Malt-teasers

During DramFest 2018 we saw several distilleries taking the opportunity to release new and exciting expressions to the hard-core whisky lovers who attended. Three such malts caught my attention, mostly due to their individual uniqueness as well as their stunning expressive natures.

Teeling Brabazon Series 2 Port Cask

The eagerly awaited second release in the Brabazon Series, this time highlighting the influence of Port casks. With Ruby, Tawny and White Port casks all used in the maturation process, each providing vastly differing characters. The Tawny Port brings a rich nuttiness with dark chocolate and spice, the Ruby Port a clean ripe fruit and candied apple, whilst the White Port lightens the palate with citrus notes of Orange alongside peach and plum.

Teeling Revival Volume IV 15 Years Old Muscat Cask Finish

Volume IV and the penultimate release in the Revival Series celebrating the opening of the Teeling Distillery in Dublin, and with it the reawakening of the rich history of whiskey in Ireland and Dublin specifically. This Single Malt was aged for 14 years in ex-bourbon barrels before resting for a further 12 months in ex-Muscat casks.  2017’s “Best Irish Whiskey of the Year”, the malt delivers peach, pineapple and mandarin with a hint of Chantilly cream.

The GlenDronach Peated Port Wood

A somewhat unusual release from the team at GlenDronach, but one that I am certainly glad they have produced! The rich and ripe fruits and berries from the Port Pipes layers perfectly over the smokiness of the peated malt. I’ve previously described this malt as reminiscent of homemade smoked plum barbeque sauce, with the rich smoke, sweet malt and ripe berries combine for a stunning malt that sits outside the sherried expressions associated with GlenDronach.

It is the exciting malts like these three that keep me coming back for more. We are now seeing the foresight and creative outlook of the distillers, with choices made a decade or more ago only now coming to fruition.

Tonci Jakicevich

DramFest 2018

On Friday 2nd of March, Jak, Aroha and myself made our way to Christchurch for the 2018 edition of DramFest. Our first evening in the garden city started … in the Botanical Gardens … with a rousing game of Whisky Quiz with the traveling whisky experts.

Held every second year, DramFest has fast become New Zealand’s (and possibly the Southern Hemisphere’s) premier whisky festival, attracting the highest calibre of brand ambassadors, master distillers, blenders and journalists. Taking place over two days in Christchurch’s Horncastle Arena, the event plays host to over 1000 avid whisky lovers each day, giving them direct access to the producers and ambassadors of their favourite elixirs.

This year included a special guest spirit, Rum! With Mount Gay, Diplomatico, Plantation and the Scottish Independent bottlings of Kill Devil sitting alongside the mainstay spirit category of Whisky (and Whiskey) produced in Scotland, Ireland, USA, Japan, India and New Zealand. The rich, sweet and aromatic spirit sits well alongside the whiskies, as the spirit starts to get taken more seriously we are seeing seriously special releases entering the market.

Whilst the prime reason for our journey south was to represent a brand we here at Glengarry proudly import ourselves, Wemyss, a producer best known for their top-notch Single Cask releases and now making waves with their great quality but also vastly affordable blended malts (previously known as Vatted Malts) range, we took advantage of the opportunity and explored the vast range of products on show. Our malts on show were:

  • Wemyss ‘The Hive’ 12 Year Old Blended Malt: This is a blended malt made using the Malt Whisky from 16 distilleries across the Lowland, Highland and Speyside regions. To get the desired honey and floral notes of ‘The Hive’ Wemyss use a majority of Speyside malts.
  • Wemyss Single Cask ‘Frost Molasses Tart’ Invergordon 1988: A ‘Single Grain’, rather than a ‘Single Malt’, this single cask bottling was possibly the best malt on offer at the show, and we had many repeat customers telling us so. The malt was divine, with a rich molasses vein running through the centre with hints of spice and roasted almonds.

DramFest is a great opportunity to try the new and exciting expressions from many of your favourite producers. Cardrona Distillery had several intriguing items including; a Gin aged for 6-months in an ex-bourbon cask, and two sneak peaks at their Single Malt spirit. Not yet old enough to be called a whisky, these two expressions were aged for 2 years, one in ex-bourbon the other in ex-sherry casks and served at a whopping 66% alcohol.

The two five-hour long sessions were over far too quickly, with many drams left unsampled and waiting for my visit in two years time! Until then, join us at one of our Monthly Malt Clubs and experience the rich fabric and stories that whisky and its producers provide!

Tonci Jakicevich

The Whisky Adventure Part V: Tonci’s tour of distilleries in Scotland and Ireland

Glengarry Wines‘ Operations Manager, Tonci Jakicevich, was lucky to participate in a tour of distilleries in Scotland and Ireland during February. Here Tonci recounts his experiences of Glenglassaugh, BenRiach, GlenDronach, The Speyside Cooperage, and Slane in a five part series.

Slane

Upon arrival into Dublin we were quickly whisked north to Slane on what is touted the straightest road in Ireland, built to give King George IV the quickest route (no pun intended) to his mistress the Marchioness of Conyngham of Slane. Our accommodation for the night was the Conyngham Arms Hotel, three doors down from the jovial Boyles Pub, host to the talented Wednesday Gang, a session band that returned on a Thursday for our group especially. Boyles was an absolute classic of an Irish pub, where the bell for “Last Call” didn’t really mean anything except “You want another round yet?”

After the loud and joyous night in Boyles, our group was a little ginger the next morning as we made our way to Slane Castle, the stables of which now house the state-of-the-art and incredibly energy savvy Slane Distillery. Our tour guide was Alex Conyngham, an Earl and son of the 8th Marquess of Slane Henry Conyngham.

The distillery is not yet fully operational, although they hoped to be up and running a week or two following our visit. The Conyngham family have merged projects of rebuilding and renovating the original stables complex and the developing a new source of income for the Conyngham Estate at Slane Castle, with the commissioning of their new distillery, done in partnership with Brown-Forman. Using the heritage listed complex has added a complexity to this project, and influenced the design of the system including the shape of the three stills, which are narrow and deeper than commonly seen. The swan-necks of the stills are pushed through the walls of the building, with the condensing units outside due to the buildings limited internal space.

Slane currently has only one expression on the market, made using a mixture of Grain and Malt whiskies purchased at various stages of maturation. These whiskies were then blended to create the base which was then vatted into three forms of cask; Virgin American Oak barrels (made with a medium char and heavy toast), Ex-Bourbon & Tennessee Whiskey Barrels, and Olorosso Sherry Puncheons. A unique offering, this whiskey is bursting with ripe orchard fruits, caramel and butterscotch with brown sugar and spice. Well suited to being enjoyed neat or on ice, this whiskey also provides a good base for many classic cocktails including the Irish Coffee.

Slane has long been famous for the music festivals hosted on the grounds, making full use of the natural amphitheatre at the base of the castle itself. Since 1981, the famous acts to play have include Thin Lizzy, The Foo Fighters, U2, Madonna, Bruce Springsteen and Oasis.

Although production has yet to begin, I look forward eagerly to trying the Slane Whiskeys as they plan to produce a wide range including Single Grain, Single Malt and the Irish specialty of Single Pot Still Whiskey made using a large portion of un-malted barley. This is a style of whiskey the Irish developed to avoid taxes on malted barley, but resulted in a unique flavour profile.

A tour of Slane Castle proper only served to highlight the unique footprint that the Conyngham family have left on their country, a rich tapestry of stories and history that will only be emboldened with their latest project.

Slane Hill, which rises above the town itself, is the site St Patrick lit the first Paschal fire, a sign of Christianity and the start of the annual celebration St Paddy’s Day. A visit and cheeky dram on the hill was consumed before we made our way back to Dublin. Two nights of pub and bar visits, taking in the Friday and Saturday nights of Dublin then a repeat of our 36-hour odyssey home.

With the whisky (or whiskey) adventure now complete, I’m left with a raft of lasting memories highlighting the rich history behind Uisge Beatha, the characters that carry forward the traditions or look to lay the foundations for new traditions. Until next time, Slainte!

Tonci Jakicevich

The Whisky Adventure Part IV: Tonci’s tour of distilleries in Scotland and Ireland

Glengarry Wines‘ Operations Manager, Tonci Jakicevich, was lucky to participate in a tour of distilleries in Scotland and Ireland during February. Here Tonci recounts his experiences of Glenglassaugh, BenRiach, GlenDronach, The Speyside Cooperage, and Slane in a five part series.

The Speyside Cooperage

With our tour of the GlenDronach facilities complete, we again jumped in our convoy of mini-vans heading towards the Speyside Cooperage in Craigellachie for a tour and demonstration. Good quality casks can have a lifetime of 60+ years, although that level of longevity often requires careful maintenance often done by the specialised team of Coopers at the Speyside Cooperage. Paid by the completed barrels, not by the hour, watching the team work is tiring in itself. Barrels are examined for faults, stripped down and the guilty staves replaced using the same age and style of oak. It is an impressive process to watch, and the Coopers have a 4 year apprenticeship to learn their trade.

With the tour of the Cooperage, and the pre-requisite crawl through small town pubs our short stay in Scotland was drawing to a close. We now make our way to Ireland, where Whiskey is spelt with an ‘E’ and is said to have been invented!

Tonci Jakicevich

The Whisky Adventure Part III: Tonci’s tour of distilleries in Scotland and Ireland

Glengarry Wines‘ Operations Manager, Tonci Jakicevich, was lucky to participate in a tour of distilleries in Scotland and Ireland during February. Here Tonci recounts his experiences of Glenglassaugh, BenRiach, GlenDronach, The Speyside Cooperage, and Slane in a five part series.

GlenDronach

As mentioned earlier, our home during our short stay in Scotland was the Glen House, which shares the grounds and pre-dates the building of the GlenDronach distillery. Located in a Glen (valley) alongside the Dronach Burn (river), the GlenDronach distillery was built in 1826 making it the elder-statesman of the three distilleries in the BenRiach Distilling Company. Much of the equipment and processes remain unchanged, although production was increased in the 1960s with the addition of a second set of stills. Amazingly, at the time the decision was made to have an exact replica of their original spirits safe made to ensure cohesion and to continue the traditions.

The washbacks at GlenDronach are all traditional timber, however they are made using Scottish Spruce instead of the usual Douglas Fir (also known as Oregon Pine). The Under Back is also an usual beauty, of cast iron and copper.

Maturation at GlenDronach is almost exclusively done in Sherry Butts and Puncheons, which provides the rich, round and spicy character that the brand has long been known for. There is however a small selection of unique finishing’s, found amongst the rare and much sought after ‘Batch Releases’.

The Manager’s Cask available for Hand Filling at the distilleries visitor centre during our stay was a 1st Fill Olorosso Sherry Butt, filled on the 12th February 1993. Considering this is 1 day (and 3 years) after my own birth I had little choice but purchase one myself. Sampling of the malt was graciously accepted, as I hope to keep this bottle as part of my collection, and the dark mahogany liquid did not disappoint! The nose indicated the heavy sherry influence, with dark dried fruits, heavy roasted nuts and a hint of bitter chocolate and coffee. The palate was rich and bold, with bitter chocolate, muscovado sugar and prunes. The finish was long, but lifted by the warmth of its cask strength.

Our tasting featured two unique GlenDronach malts, first was a 1992 Single Cask 25 Year Old. This shared much in common with the Manager’s Casks, with a depth of colour hinting at 2nd if not 1st fill sherry cask maturation. It was again sherry influenced, with dried apricot and prunes on toffee oat cakes.

Our second malt was a more unusual offering from the GlenDronach stables, a peated malt that was finished in Port Pipes. With a stunning red hue in the glass, the peat smoke stood between whiffs of red berries and plum. On the palate this malt instantly conjured up memories of the Plum Barbecue sauce my father has always basted his Pork Ribs with. The smoke, layered with the rich and sweet plum and a hint of spice. A vibrant red fruit note towards the finish to cleanse the palate, ready for another sip.

Tonci Jakicevich

The Whisky Adventure Part II: Tonci’s tour of distilleries in Scotland and Ireland

Glengarry Wines‘ Operations Manager, Tonci Jakicevich, was lucky to participate in a tour of distilleries in Scotland and Ireland during February. Here Tonci recounts his experiences of Glenglassaugh, BenRiach, GlenDronach, The Speyside Cooperage, and Slane in a five part series.

BenRiach

Following a delicious lunch served with a ‘pint of heavy’ at the Station Hotel in Portsoy, our convoy of mini-vans crossed the River Spey to the BenRiach distillery in the ‘heart of Speyside’. Built in 1898, only 2 years before the 1900 ‘Pattinson Crash’, BenRiach was only open a short number of years before closing, remaining so for 65 years.

“Warehouse 13”, BenRiach’s ‘Area51’, has long been home to an amazing array of malts aging in unique and wonderful cask selections. During our visit, Callum the warehouse manager at BenRiach took us through the barrel house selecting two such casks for us to sample. Our first dram was stilled in 1976 before entering the 3rd fill Sherry Butt in which it still sits. Tasted at cask strength (unknown, but expected to be in the high 40’s) and at warehouse temperatures (a cool 3-4c.) the whisky needed warming in the hands for the nose to truly open up, but once it did WOW! Honeyed fruit, roasted nuts and spice were layered over hints of barley and oak. The palate was rich, round and mouth filling, with apricot jam and roasted almonds and walnuts. Our second cask sampling was just as special, distilled in 1988, it has had an extended maturation of 10 years in a Tokay wine cask. A deep amber in the glass, this dram was all honey and spice with a hint of orange peel and candied ginger. It hinted at bees wax and citrus towards the long, lingering finish.

Our day was completed with a trip to Elgin, where we were thrown onto the ice and given lessons in Curling. With the Winter Olympics in full swing, the whole group threw themselves at this challenge whole-heartedly.

Tonci Jakicevich