Thursday, September 18, 2014

Fashion & Whisky - Chivas Meets Palazzo Versace

Chivas meets Palazzo Versace
"All things happen in Sydney" some say when it comes to products and launches for whisky in Australia. I am happy to say for our north of the border members and guests that the Palazzo Versace fashion-branded hotel on the Gold Coast will be hosting exclusive Chivas Regal Tasting Dinner. With the Milan fashion week starting today it is timely that we should be finding out about this now.

This exclusive event aims to deliver a four course set tasting dinner. Through the evening guests will be tasting the: Chivas 12yo; Chivas 18yo; Chivas 25yo; Chivas Extra (just released this month nation-wide). Event host, Pernod Ricard brand ambasador and all round nice guy, Ben Davidson will be taking guests on a sensory Chivas Regal experience. Having been guest to many an evening swayed by Ben's crooner tone complimented by his extensive knowledge of all things spirited I can say you will be contented head to toe by the end of the night.

Bookings are essential and places are strictly limited. This event booking can be made directly at the Palazzo Versace website.

Date: Monday 20th October 2014
Price: $99 per person a four course dinner with Chivas Regal
Time: From 6.00pm
Venue: Vie Bar + Restaurant, Palazzo Versace

So for any club members or guests wanting a taste of the new Chivas Regal Extra and want something more this may be the perfect night for it. I know if I was living in Brisbane or the Gold Coast I would be on this in a heart beat.

The Baron

Information quoted in this post has been provided to us as an official media release by Palazzo Versace.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Short Of The Mark - The Glenlivet Exotic Limited Edition

The Glenlivet Guardians Chapter Limited Edition
Last year saw the world wide tasting of the Glenlivet Guardians Chapter Limited Edition whiskies with a official world launch here in Sydney, Australia. Effectively The Glenlivet created 3 new expressions and invited members of the Guardians Chapter and public to vote on which one would make the final release. These expressions were titled: Classic; Revival; Exotic. There could be only one. Fellow club member The Alchemist and myself were invited to attend the first public tasting of a selection of whiskies. Our experiences on the night were not fantastic as the food was poorly matched (though delicious in its own right) and the tasting was held after our pallets were tainted considerably by the meal. Find out more about that experience on the post: And here's the rub – The Glenlivet Guardians Chapter Launch. Let's not dwell on that experience anymore than we have to.

The winner chosen via crowd-sourced votes was to be The Exotic. A richly coloured whisky that saw maturation in hogsheads, american oak and Spanish ex-sherry butts If you would like to purchase this limited release it can now be found at your local Vintage Cellars at a price of $99 AU though its original RRP was $114.99 AU. The bottle won't be hard to miss on the shelves as it sports a distinctive baby blue packaged with supporting cork seal and badging. It is noted that The Glenlivet Master Distiller, Alan Winchester, developed these expressions as a way of challenging consumers to 'provoke debate' over which whisky should make its market as an official release.

Recently our club was supplied a sample bottle of the chosen release to once again try in isolation so it made an appearance at the most recent D.T.W.C. tasting night. Unfortunately little interest was to be drawn from the bottle after tasting confirming my own suspicions relating to its success.

Before delivering my own notes a personal disclaimer is appropriate. I love The Glenlivet and all expressions I have encountered from the distillery. The Glenlivet 12yo is a staple in my whisky shelf while at any other time a genuine appreciation of all releases by the distillery is solid. That is until now. I did not vote for this release finding it spicy and over sherried. I have lived in hope against all odds it was my palate that had let me down on the night. I was wrong.

The Glenlivet Exotic
The Glenlivet Guardians Chapter Exotic Limited Edition
Distiller: The Glenlivet
Location / Region: Speyside, Scotland
Alcohol / ABV: 48.7%

Nose: Burnt honey, boiled  lollies, apricots, rasins, heaped oranges and wood spice. A good deal of heat effects the nose but it holds a lot of depth.

Taste: Soft and cushioning at first before a raging fire of hot and spicy citrus braces the tongue and upper pallet leaving little for the tastes buds to work on. I really fail to pull any flavour out of what was on the nose except a sting orange peal zestiness.

Finish: Long and dry becoming metallic and coppery. Bitterness then builds on the tastes buds while a heat is fuelled in the gut.

Honestly I don't get it. I really don't get how this was chosen by so many to be released. It is a polar opposite to what I have always found The Glenlivet to be. Crowd sourcing has some fundamentally clear failures which can all be defined in this release. Luckily this is a limited edition and won’t see a lot of shelf play. I really hoped I could have secured some samples of the other two whiskies that were tasted inline with this. My choice on the night was the Revival. I felt The Revival was much more inline with The Glenlivet. It sported a young, feisty vibrancy but still one could say "Yes that is The Glenlivet". I won’t be surprised to find The Revival being reserved for a limited release under a different guise at some stage in the near future.

For me when I want to grab a bottle of Glenlivet this will fall at the bottom of my list. The Glenlivet make some absolute cracker whiskies. They have a place. They have a profile. The have a proven history. Unfortunately this whisky fell terrible short of the mark. If I was to give a dram then it would be 3.5 out of 7. I think this whisky is flawed primarily due to concept marketing. In my opinion let us leave these release decisions up to the Master Distiller's as that is what they are there for.

The Baron

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Here It Comes - Chivas Regal Extra

Chivas Regal Extra
I know some of you members are happy Chivas Regal appreciators. I for one will take a bottle of Chives Regal 12yo, 18yo or 25yo any day. Now for the first time in 10 years Chivas Regal will be release a new expression titled: Chivas Regal Extra.

Chivas self classifies as a Premium Blended Whisky so it will be no surprise this new release is seen by Chivas Regal as “one of the richest, most generous offerings this category has presented”. Yes sherry casks are making an appearance if you have not already suspected by the burgundy packaging.

With little more to go on the official line on the Chivas Regal Extra is as quoted:
For the discerning gentleman looking for more, Chivas Regal Extra offers you the reassurance any new Chivas Regal brings - the signature richness and warmth of Chivas Regal, with additional layers of subtle spice. Fruity and sweet on the nose, its enchanting aroma of ripe pears and melon, creamy toffee and milk chocolate, balanced with cinnamon and a hint of ginger is crafted to truly excite the senses. The resulting taste is an alluring combination of sweet ripe pears in syrup and vanilla caramel, well balanced with the subtle warmth of cinnamon sweets and almonds in the background.
Chivas Regal Extra the complete package
When will we see it in Australia? Well as we are a country near the beginning of the international date line the pay off is we once again will host an official product launch world wide in September 2014.  As part of the pre-launch industry and consumers alike can sample the new Chivas Regal Extra at participating bars. Order any Chivas Regal straight or mixed, then ensure your ask “for something extra” and receive a complimentary sample of Chivas Regal Extra. This pre-launch offer is available as of today 4th Sep 2014. The Participating bars are:

NSW – Palmer & Co, Grain, The Barbershop, Eau de Vie, Coal & Cedar (Newcastle), The Roadhouse (Byron Bay)
VIC – Eau de Vie, Cookie, The Toff in Town, Whisky & Alement
QLD – Cobbler Bar, Gresham, The Bowery
SA – The Botanic, Collin’s Bar
WA – Bar Lafayette, The Classroom
ACT – Molly’s

With a RRP of $73 this price tag is going to demand careful scrutiny to ensure it is living up to expectations. We will see the product widely available on shelves from the 22nd of September 2014. I am personally looking forward to what this expression as to offer.

The Baron

Information quoted in this post has been provided to us as an official media release by Cav Con on behalf of  Chivas Regal.

Monday, September 1, 2014

SMWS event - An Evening With Jim McEwan

Jim McEwan - image courtesy of Bruichladdich website

A quick note that the famed Jim McEwan of Bruichladdich will be out in Australia through mid Sep into October. If your into Bruichladdich and want to meet the maker check out the Scotch Malt Whisky Society event: An Evening With Jim McEwan.

Open to the public and society members tickets can be purchased at the SMWS website. Tickets are priced at: Society Members - $60; Guests - $95.

SMWS of course is a nation wide society so events will be held at the following locations:
Sydney -  Wed 1ST Oct - 7.00PM Royal Automobile Club, 89 Macquarie Street, Sydney

Brisbane - Fri 3RD Oct - 7.00PM The Brisbane Club, 241 Adelaide Street, Brisbane

Melbourne - Tue 7th Oct - 7.00PM RACV, 501 Bourke Street, Melbourne

Bruichladdich whiskies have made many appearances at our club meetings so for me I am all over this. Maybe see you there?

The Baron

This is a non-sponsord promotion. For any further details please defer to the SMWS website.

Friday, August 29, 2014

It is that time again - Laphroaig Live 2014

Laphroaig Live 2014 Stockholm
Yes it is that time of year again where Laphroaig Live happens somewhere in this world. For some members including myself we were lucky enough to attend the Sydney Live event back in 2011. It was fantastic to say the least. If you want to know more read about our experiences attending the event held in Sydney: Colour me Laphroaig – Laphroaig Live Sydney 2011.

In short, for those that don't know, Laphroaig Live is a live broadcast event put on by Laphroaig for all to enjoy. Initially created as a binding agent for the FOL (Friends Of Laphroaig) it is now recognised as one of the big dates in the world whisky calendar. Laphroaig Distillery Manager John Campbell heads up a select panel of guests to discuss, nose, and taste various Laphroaig whiskies new and old. Hosted in front of a live audience and backed up by a live webcast, Laphroaig fans can chime in to ask questions during the tastings sessions and or taste along with the panel (if your lucky enough to have those bottling's on hand) for a full experience (that is if your not lucky enough to be one of the chosen few audience).

This years live broadcast event will be held in Stockholm, Sweden at 8.00PM on the 24th September. Why Stockholm? According to official press material Laphroaig is no.1 selling single malt in Sweden. Not a bad warp at all. To be hosted at the Rökeriet restaurant (I have no idea about this place mind you) a paring of 4 Laphroaig whiskies are to go with a smörgåsbord of smoked Elk, Reindeer, Baltic Salmon - all smoked over Laphroaig infused wood. Nice!

The current line up of whiskies tasted by the panel is: Laphroaig Select (just released this year); Laphroaig Cairdeas 2014 (the yearly bottling for FOL); Laphroaig 12yo Special; and either the Laphroaig 18yo (replacement for the legendary 15yo) or Laphroaig 10yo depending on votes prior to the night. My vote is on the 18yo for sure.

If your not a FOL and don't get the emails then keep and eye on the Laphroaig Live page for webcast details. We here at D.T.W.C. will endeavour to keep fellow members and visitors informed but the best method is always to become a FOL member and watch your emails.

Laphroaig Live Stockholm bring it on.

The Baron

This is a non-sponsord promotion. For any further details please defer to the Laphroaig Live website.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

The Art of Giving - Suntory Whisky and Akira Isogawa

Akira Isogawa and his furoshiki creation
Suntory Whisky is making inroads into Australia in a big way and I am personally ever so grateful Japanese whisky is easily now so accessible. The reality is though Japanese whisky and Suntory have always been there and have for a log long time always made great whisky. Unfortunately it is just not something we could get out hands easily. If you have not explored Japanese whisky yet then get your head out of the sand and do so as I don’t think you will be disappointed. It is just a pity genuine Japanese beer has not seen the same expansion. That is ‘real’ Japanese beer brewed in Japan and not that other stuff brewed under licence.

Earlier this year The Proxy and myself were invited to share in the launch of Suntory Whisky on a national scale here in Australia. Launched at NSW Art Gallery it was a night not to be missed and wrote about that experience in: Bringing The Swagger Back - Suntory Launches into Australia. On that evening I was nearly in heaven. Nearly because if I got any closer I would have been dead. The whisky was great, the people were cool, and the food was excellent. As part of the night we had an exciting tasting experience, led by Mike Miyamoto, Suntory Global Brand Ambassador. Laid out before us during the tasting was a fine selection of Suntory whiskies while standing and dramming directly across from me was the dapper fashion designer Akira Isogawa. Unfortunately with the height of the table and the noise of excitement in the room it was pretty much impossible to have a few words. Curse you Time For Whisky for choosing the spot nest to him!

The placement of Akira Isogawa is not completely obscure to the point and no I am not name dropping for the sake of it. The House Of Suntory now continues to celebrate its position in Australia hosting a collaboration with no other than Akira Isogawa. This collaboration has seen Akira fashion a very limited edition luxury furoshiki bottle wrap just for Suntory Whisky. Furoshiki is a traditional Japanese linen wrapping very often used when giving wine, whisky, or sake bottles and or other personal gifts throughout modern Japan. Originally used for wrapping and transporting personal items the use of the furoshiki for gift giving goes back countless generations. This particular limited edition Akira Suntory furoshiki will be available mid August 2014 leading into Father’s Day with a  further availability coming into Christmas. This limited edition furoshiki wrap will be available as a gift with a purchase of either the: Yamazaki 12 years old; Hakushu 12 years old; or Hibiki 17 years old. Only available through listed retailers and with only 300 available these truly are limited. It will not cost you anything extra for the furoshiki as part of the bottle purchase but I would inset you hasten your ambitions in grabbing one.

Akira is noted as drawing upon his own upbringing as inspiration while paying homage to the importance that water plays in the creation of Suntory whisky by creating a unique scarf that signifies the passage of water in nature.

“I remember my father drinking Suntory Whisky when I was growing up in Osaka. My partnership with Suntory Whisky goes beyond fashion; it is celebrating a part of Japanese culture.”
If you are of course keen to grab one for yourself or as a gift here is the current list of the exclusive retailers Australia wide:

New South Wales: Oak BarrelWorld of Whisky.

Queensland: Cru Bar + Cellar.

Victoria: Nick’s Wine MerchantsThe Wigs Cellar;  Sea Breeze Cellars.

South Australia: Fassina Liquor MerchantsParafield Airport Liquor Store.

So if your anything like me the first thing you going to do is unwrap the bottle, even if it is for a gift, and then wonder how to put it back together again. Rest assured we won't leave you in the lurch and have you rewrap the furoshiki  like a Mr Gumby handkerchief from Monty Python. This is the need to know on how to wrap the Suntory Whisky limited edition furoshiki:

Step 1.

Step 1. Spread the furoshiki in a diamond shape and lay the bottle slightly above the centre. Fold the furoshiki from corner a and then from corner b to cover the bottle.
Step 2.

Step 2. Hold the right and left ends of the furoshiki (corners c and d) in your hands, and pull them to the front side.
Step 3.

3. Wrap the bottle by crossing the two ends held in your hands and bringing them to the back side.
Step 4.
4. Make a knot at the position of your choice.

I for one don’t want to miss out so the hunt is already on. Good luck in your quest and wear your furoshiki with pride.

The Baron

Information quoted in this post has been provided to us as an official media release by ICON International Communications on behalf of Suntory Whisky. This is a non-sponsord promotion. For any further details please defer to the Suntory Australia website.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Johnnie Walker Blue Label - A Gentleman's Wager

'The Gentleman's Wager'
I like Jude Law. I like what is does on screen. I like his panache, his style, his swagger. You may have a different opinion and that is fine. For me, ever since I recognised him as a standout in film for the first time in the late 90's movie Gattaca (also one of my sit back whisky movies), I have enjoyed the work he has done. Needless to say seeing him feature in 'The Gentleman's Wager' makes it hard for me to ignore the shear enjoyment of it. You may also recognise the face, if not the accent, of Giancarlo Giannini an man of extensive acting experience and swagger of equal measure. A team up made in heaven.
The story of a man on a quest for a rare experience; ‘The Gentleman’s Wager’ tells the story of a wager between two men which results in a truly rare experience as part of their quest for personal progress. Filmed in the British Virgin Islands and London, the beautifully shot film sees Law in the role of a man who, despite having it all, proposes a wager as an opportunity to challenge himself to create an original performance in order to win a money-can’t-buy experience.
So without further ramblings sit back and enjoy 'The Gentleman's Wager'.

If this does not make you want to hang out in a dance hall drinking Johnnie Walker Blue Label I am not sure what will. Maybe a loaded bank account will do it too...

The Baron

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

A Whisky Consumers View - Tasting Jacob's Creek Double Barrel

Jacob’s Creek Double Barrel Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon 2012
We hear a lot about finishing whisky in wine barrels but we don’t hear a lot about finishing wine in whisky barrels. Jacob's Creek, one of Australia’s largest wine producers has taken this step into a rather uncharted realm. I am guessing this is not the first attempt but it is certainly one of the more recent and the marketing surrounding it is lending itself more to hype than what true virtues the whisky barrels have imparted. Still I think it is worth noting in a review here as I know there is many a keen wine buffs in our midst.

Jacob's Creek is part of the Pernod Ricard conglomerate. It would seem only natural in having access to so many spirit and wine brands it is worth mixing things up a little. Enter the Jacob's Creek Double Barrel. Australian wine aged in oak then finished in either Scottish or Irish whisky barrels. At the time of writing this there has been 2 particular releases of the Double Barrel: Jacob’s Creek Double Barrel Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon 2012; Jacob’s Creek Double Barrel Barossa Shiraz 2012. I have only been able to taste the Cabernet Sauvignon to date and so current thoughts will be reflected below. Recently I wrote about the release of the Double Barrel range: Wine finished in whisky barrels - Jacob's Creek Double Barrel.

Before I go on I would like to say, as in my previous post, I did try to make contact with the PR responsible for the release materials and then also with Jacobs Creek directly but was delivered no responses. That may not be a bad thing though as going in blind is always good in my books. It just would have been nicer to discover more about the barrels themselves and what drove the making of this wine in the first place. What can be said is that the wine has seen wood prior to finishing and these finishing barrels are classified as ‘aged’ barrels. Aged can be assumed to mean old barrels at the end of their useful life for whisky production. Having been refilled many times with whisky generally speaking a barrel will see 3 or 4 refills at most. There is no clear indication though how many times these barrels have used prior to finishing this wine. As we know though with the oak exhausted evaporation is intense for whisky so there will be a lot of spirit still pushed into the wood. I am guessing it is more the spirt that gives the influence and not the wood itself. Talking of spirit saturation, this is a note it seems the wine writers are tending to miss in the detail.

Jacob’s Creek Double Barrel Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon 2012
Double Barrel Cabernet Sauvignon
Producer: Jacob's Creek
Region: Coonawarra, South Australia
Alcohol: 14.5%
Barrel Finish Type: Irish Whiskey (Distillery unknown)
Year: 2012

Colour is near opaque with a claret halo at the edges. Its a young one no doubt about it and you don't need to read the label to know it.

On nosing there is immediate tomato vine wavering to spicy tomato sauce and a bit of mint. Think of when you have just eaten a meat pie with sauce and you have had residue on your fingers and lips. That is the tomato spice effect I am talking about. A little chalky, sweet fresh grape juice, and the tell tale signs of american white oak. Is the oak coming from the whisky barrels or the oak ageing prior?

Taste is slight across lips and tongue before settling all in the mid palate. A warming spice prickle grows towards the upper back palate then the chalk tannis begins to dry the sides of the tongue while a oak sweetness lingers almost fighting with the spice. After a while the sweetness eventually overtakes everything but not is a sticky sugar way. I need food to cut this and create an interval between the sips.

Finish is clear but a bit tart and rough. The green tomato vine just keeps on going and going and going. I want it to end. A nose of sour socks builds after the last sip.

Straight up this wine is over priced. At $22AU I think there is much better wines out there for that price. It is not a bad wine, and holds a fair level of developed complexity but as you are probably guessing what has the finishing barrels done for it? I have failed to pick it. I can understand the difficulties of experimenting with casks like this and the failures that went with it. You are paying for the unique experience more so than the enrichment of the product.

Don't buy this expecting strong whisky influence because it just is not that kind of thing. Certainly there could be good things to come from this. If I was to give a dram 4 out of 7. Different wines have different effects on wood so maybe a Cabernet Sauvignon is not the wine type that reaches in and pulls the rabbit out of the hat. I am hoping to taste the Double Barrel Barossa Shiraz 2012 soon.

The Baron

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Wine finished in whisky barrels - Jacob's Creek Double Barrel

Double Barrel label with the new Jacob's Creek branding
1st of July 2014 has seen a product hit the market here in Aus that has pretty much flown under the whisky radar. Did someone forget that whisky drinkers actually do drink wine as well? When the mention of whisky barrel and wine was mentioned my ears pricked up. Enter the the Jacob’s Creek Double Barrel range.

Jacobs Creek, subsidiary to Pernod Ricard Australia, has release 2 wines, a Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon finished in ‘aged’ whisky barrels. Aged will generally mean no much flavour. Asking around the local whisky social community virtually no one I know has heard of this. A bit of searching reveals many drinks channels got the pickup but never made it has not made it much further out. Does this reveal that these are sleepers just waiting to be discovered by the unsuspecting public, or creepers slipped in quietly because they just aren't ready yet?

The Jacob’s Creek Double Barrel range comprises of:
Jacob’s Creek Double Barrel Barossa Shiraz 2012
Jacob’s Creek Double Barrel Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon 2012

In short these whisky barrels are sourced from both Scotch and Irish distilleries obviously coming form the Penrod Ricard stables. That is a pretty wide range of distillers at that so no guessing which distilleries they are except maybe Jameson for the Irish. It is a real pity that they are not using Australian whisky barrels but then this is the first release so I hope a good deal of experimentation and support to our local whisky market is going to happen.

Some official words from the PR release we found:
JACOB’S CREEK™ pushes new boundaries with the launch of Double Barrel –
a range of premium red wines finished in whisk(e)y barrels. 
JACOB’S CREEK, the iconic Australian wine brand, is pushing the boundaries of modern winemaking with the launch of JACOB’S CREEK Double Barrel – a range of premium red wines finished in whisk(e)y barrels. 
Driven by a culture of wine innovation and a desire to craft a unique new wine style, the winemakers at JACOB’S CREEK sourced aged barrels that had cradled premium whiskies for up to 20 years, and started experimenting. 
“We started with high quality fruit from selected Barossa and Coonawarra vineyards, from which we crafted premium red wine. We then matured the parcels traditionally in French and American oak barrels, before finishing 100% of the matured wine in old whisk(e)y barrels.”
For the official PR release material these quotes were sourced from find it here.

OK so you get the idea of what is going on here. Is it hype or is it truly a revelation? Clearly not the first time this has been done but certainly the first time I have seen such a high profile wine maker take the chance here in Australia. Through a friend we managed to secure 1 bottle of the Double Barrel Cabernet Sauvignon from our local Dan Murphy’s priced at $23. Expect a review soon on our thoughts about this bottle.

The Baron

This is a non-sponsord promotion. For any further details please defer to the Jacob's Creek website.

Monday, August 4, 2014

The Good Get Got - Balvenie 14yo Caribbean Cask Sydney Launch

The many Buntin's and The Balvenie
Yesterday evening, Monday 28th July, now in retrospect, was a good night. Here in Sydney, Australia we saw the public launch of The Balvenie 14 Year Old Caribbean Cask. Without a doubt this is one of the more excitable Balvenie's I have seen in some time and holds up to the standard expected of this brand. I must confess at this point I actually got to try it a few months back on a unofficial level and was remarkably impressed with it, so knowing this evening was on the cards certainly made for additional anticipation. William Grant & Sons know how to look after there brands and The Balvenie sees that care and attention at launches like this.

The Parke Davis
This particular launch was held at The Cuban Place aka Parke Davis (P.D.) on 125 York Street Sydney City. I don't know why it was called The Cuban Place, maybe I should have asked.Like many of Sydney's small bars you really are not even going to know this one is there unless someone tells you. Well here is the telling. The P.D. is clean and spacious with a darkened ambience not suited to improvised photography (curse you Whisky Ledger and your 1.4 canon lens). The the food is great and the mood swinging, especially when there is a steel drum bad beating out some tunes just off left of entry. Descending the stairs on your way into the basement bar your path is lit by a rather impressive bulb lit P.D. sign. I had to stand and marvel at for a time. The galley style bar runs the length of the right hand wall allowing for easy movement in and around the bars public spaces. Nooks can be found to gather and chat whilst an entire anti chamber running off to the left delivers are much more casual sit down experience to enjoy. Personally I was not getting too far away form the cocktails and bottles of The Balvenie rocking' the bar top.

Many a familiar face could be seen in and around the room and it was clear this was a crowd selected for the celberation of all things Balvenie and not your duck out of water PR scrum. No Balvenie would be the same without the man of hour, master of ceremony, Whisky Specialist for William Grant and Sons Australia, James Buntin. Also going by the name The Whisky Ambassador you know anytime this man is on the stage or even near an event with a sniff of whisky in the air your up for a good time. It came as a bit of a sad moment though when James announced he is moving back to the motherland to become the UK’s brand ambassador for The Balvenie. We can hold Sam Simons, the Global Brand Ambasador for The Balvenie aka Dr Whisky responsible for this poaching but we know he is staying in the company so only good things can come. On questioning Sam (that night over twitter) about this devious plot his response was simple “Haha... indeed. The good get got. We're happy”. In saying that I think James was more proud of the car he gets to drive than the step up and move back to the UK.

Mark Little photo bombing again
Serving at the bar was: The Balvenie 12yo Doublewood; The Balvenie 14yo Caribbean Cask (on display at first and for dramming later in the evening); The Balvenie 17yo Doublewood; The Balvenie 21yo Portwood (on special request). If you were not up for straight Balvenie (lord knows why) then there were 2 cocktails being served throughout the evening. These cocktail’s created by Dick Blanchard, used combined The Balvenie 12yo Doublewood with various other ingredients into either a sophisticated take on the Dark & Stormy, and or why not go for The Balvenie Beachcomber. Now I use the term created a bit loosely as Dick mentioned one too many times throughout the evening that he did not really remember creating them let alone if they were going to taste any good. Well lucky for him they turned out just cracking.

Steel drums, whisky, and chow
A steel drum band was playing in the corner making the most of the limited space available while creating a very amazing sound as it reverberated throughout the brick walled spaces. The theme of the night of was all about artisan craftsmanship so as expected a presentation was later delivered by one of the few steel drum builders in Australia, Charles Moller, on the history and specialised techniques required to build a steel drum. Never to be a night without a laugh several times when Mr Buntin made the link between the Caribbean rum casks and artisan craftsmanship ie. the steel drum construction, Charles would interject and insist the steel drums came from Trinidad, NOT Cuba. You just could not plan for something so humours. I distinctly remember someone to my right shout "tough crowd" causing a good old laugh at our presenters expense.

Cocktails and presentations
Amongst the drams came James’s presentation and short that normal tasting of The Balvenie 14yo Caribbean Cask. Well we did get to the part about the whisky and some of the story behind it then at some point James we skipped any official level of tasting for us whisky nerds and concluded with a one off bottoms up. But, but, but… what about my notes. Bugger this I thought. In dash I confirmed with fellow partakers I did not somehow miss the sordid details of the tasting and so I pulled James aside for a quick one on one to hastily draft up some extra details. I am sure he just took the time to come over to hit on my wife (again) but what can you say to a man with a beard like that? Word is Master Blender David Stewart has first sourced the barrels before creating a blend of several rums (David is a bit of a rum fiend when not blending whisky according to James) to then go into the barrels and season the wood for an undisclosed time. Later the rum is removed to make way for the already aged 14yo Balvenie to be finished in these barrels for an additional undisclosed amount of time. To me the profile is really delicious with a taste that was exceptionally west and smooth. Honey cream nose with a peanut spice scent. Taste of white sugar, honey, caramel oaks and a lingering spice followed by a long warming finish. I will leave a more detailed analysis for a separate post.

Closure to the night saw my 2 finger thick dram of The Balvenie 21yo tipped down the sink by the over eager bar staff while I was in converse. A tragedy in itself I was consoled by a couple more drams of the 14yo. We should be seeing The Balvenie 14 Year Old Caribbean Cask in stores very soon if not by the time this post is live so I certainly implore you to take a leap of faith and by it before you try as it is an delicious single malt. As Sam says “the good get got” and I certainly will be getting some of this sweet booty.

Thanks to The Balevnie, William Grant & Sons, and Weber Shandwick for the opportunity. Hope to see you again soon.

The Baron

D.T.W.C. was invited as a guest this event. All views and opinions are our own unless otherwise stated.