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

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

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