Redbreast 12 Year Old
Red Breast 12 year old was first launched in 1939 as the brand name given to the pot still whiskey supplied by Jameson to whiskey bonders. This was before bottling at the distillery became the norm in 1968. Stocks of whiskey in bonders’ stores petered out, and thus Redbreast all but disappeared until its re-launch by the distillery in the 1990s as a single pot still whiskey. This pure pot still Redbreast is a very special whiskey within the Irish Distillers fortified as it’s the only 12 year old whiskey is matured for a minimum of 12 years in sherry casks and Bourbon barrels. Like all good pot still whiskeys, it is strongly flavoured and assertive, making it a rare treat for the connoisseur.
Redbreast 12 Year Old was awarded the overall trophy for the second consecutive year in the International Wine & Spirits competition.
A pot still nose offers a very inviting combination of resin and linseed, sherry and cream soda.
The use of unmalted barley in this pot still whiskey gives it a hard edge that snaps the taste buds into life.
Long and lingering with some classy sherry rounding off a magnificent performance. This excellent whiskey is available at Number 21 off licence.
The big vodka brands (Grey Goose and Absolut, for example) are typically made from wheat. According to Kalak’s founder, Patrick Shelley, it’s all about the character of the finished product. Malted barley delivers that in spades, wheat doesn’t. Kalak is made solely from malted barley and water, and is distilled in pot stills. The same jumping off point as single malt whiskey, as it happens.The similarity with whiskey is apparent on the nose and on the tongue. If you have tried newly made whiskey, straight from the still, you will recognise Kalak.
It does not have the rawness of newly made whiskey, however, having been distilled to a purity of 96%. It takes three passes through a pot still to reach that point. A further distillation reduces impurities and improves the flavour. Finally, it is filtered through charcoal and cut with spring water to a bottling strength of 40%.
Official tasting notes:
Freshly baked brioche, vanilla and fresh fruit.
A deliciously elegant texture with hints of dark chocolate, cream and candied fruit.
A soft and glowing lingering complexity.
Kalak is 100% Irish in every respect. It’s an Irish brand, made by the fully Irish-owned West Cork Distillers, from 100% Irish malted barley. The name, too, is Irish in disguise, derived from a mythological figure, An Cailleach, whose legendary qualities and accoutrements suffuse the branding. This excellent vodka is now available at Number 21 off licence.
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Rioja is a stylish but warming red, and it goes well with all kind of roasts, steaks and chops. There’s so much more to red Rioja than it seems at first glance. The fancy labels, the gold wire, the hessian wrap, the seals on the bottle, all give the impression that each bottle is as elaborately made as the next. This, of course, is far from being the case. Others may have minimalist packaging but conceal a truly great wine. Rioja is a large region with over 300 producers; most of the wine made here is sold very young, without any oak aging, and just becomes an anonymous supermarket brand or similar. Take a look at the label: if you see the words Sin Crianza, this wine has never seen the inside of an oak barrel and therefore will lack that lovely toasty vanilla aroma we all know and love. This flavour comes from the American oak preferred by top producers here. Rioja Gran Reserva spends two years in the barrel and three more in the bottle. These older wines are paler in colour, subtler in flavour than a typical red Rioja, but linger on the palate for a long time.
Bodegas Palacio is a centenary winery located in the heart of the Rioja Alavesa. Since their foundation in 1894, they have made an important contribution to the revolution in winemaking that has taken place in La Rioja. Their founder, Don Cosme Palacio y Bermejillo, began producing his exceptional wines over 100 years ago, making the bodega one of a limited few to be selected as Bodegas Históricas de la D.O Ca Rioja.
Their wines are like a historical timeline of the region, starting with Glorioso which dates back to 1928; Glorioso Reserva and Glorioso Gran Reserva are both stunning examples of this style. Both of these wines are available at Number 21 Off-licence.
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If you want fruit-forward, ripe, red wine for a good price, look no further than Puglia. Some of the best values in Italian wine come from this sunny, dry region. Most Puglia wine is red, full-bodied and will pair well with a wide variety of foods. Producers in Puglia have focused on making great red wines and local grapes like Negroamaro, Primitivo, and Bombino Nero make for delicious drinking.
If you’re searching for a richer, fuller-bodied red with abundant weight look towards Puglian Primitivo. Primitivo tastes of dark fruit like fresh figs, blueberries and baked blackberries. There’s a distinct dried fruit-leather character to it as well. The word Primitivo doesn’t mean primitive in Italian, but actually means early ripening since these grapes accumulate a lot of sugar early in the season. The early ripening means resulting wines are big, luscious and full of fruit. However, what’s fascinating about Primitivo is that sometimes the grape bunches ripen unevenly, so green grapes will get harvested along with the ripe ones.
If this type of wine takes your fancy, then why not try Italia Primitivo, on offer at Number 21 Off Licence this week.
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The revenge of Bertha
After Gin has taken the world by storm I’ve noticed a few brewers are popping up in Ireland. One of my personal favourites to sell at the moment is a local Gin called Bertha’s revenge. Which is a Gin that uses cow’s milk in the brewing process. The gin is brewed on the far side of Cork in Ballyvolane. Everything from the bottle to the wonderful taste of this rare Gin is superb.
This is a piece from their own website on the thought and care that are put into things by the people that run the company.
We are using whey alcohol as our base spirit to make a truly unique irish gin
(most spirits are made using barley or wheat grain spirit). Milk from Irish dairy farmers is separated into curds and whey (Little Miss Muffet and her scary spider); curds go on to make cheese and the whey has traditionally been regarded as a waste product.
Special yeasts are added to the whey to convert the milk sugars into alcohol, producing a very high quality whey spirit. We are then distilling this by hand with 18 different botanicals (locally foraged and grown where possible) and our own pure natural Irish spring water to produce Bertha’s Revenge gin. We are the first artisan distillery to produce small batch milk gin from whey alcohol.
For me this is what it is to be local, this is what is to be Irish.
Kevin on twitter @parsnip78
fever tree elderflower tonic water
Fever-Tree has transformed the way in which people see tonic and in doing so, have made a huge impact on the way people perceive gin. It’s difficult to state just how big an impact they have had on drinking habits and in shifting the focus back to the origins of tonic and the importance of provenance.
Fever-Tree goes as far as the Congo, Ivory Coast, Nigeria, Tanzania and Sicily to source the best ingredients for their range of premium natural mixers. Their Tonic Water uses the highest quality quinine blended with spring water and boasts a total of eight botanical flavours which include ingredients such as marigold extracts and bitter orange. No artificial sweeteners, preservatives or flavourings are added to the mix at any stage of the production. It’s impressive.
For its latest trick, the top-shelf mixer maker is releasing flavoured tonic water. As the name implies, Fever-Tree Elderflower Tonic Water is an elderflower infused tonic water, made with Fever-Tree’s typically high-end ingredients, including cane sugar and natural quinine.
For those who find standard tonic water too bitter, this expression is just the answer. The bitter quinine is softer here, mellowed by sweet-and-sour citrus notes that run more distinctly toward grapefruit and lime zest than elderflower specifically. The finish is clean and bittersweet, refreshing as those citrus notes endure. This tonic water can be very refreshing on its own, but where it truly shines is when it’s paired with gin or vodka, especially gins like Martin Millers Gin, Tanqueray No 10 Gin and Hendrick’s Gin, which have more subtle flavours.
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