Author: Andrew Stark

Which drinks match cholcolate brownies..?

Gemma Crangle has been giving her advise to food blog, ‘Love Brownies’ in a Father’s Day themed post.

Explaining how to match certain drinks with the chocolate, salted caramel and shortbread of these particular brownies, Gemma offered the following recommendations;

Wine – Banyuls Bila Haut, Chapoutier 50cl  £15.50.
She said: “This red dessert wine is the perfect match to chocolate, the darker and richer the better! A rich yet clean fortified wine made from Grenache around the French Mediterranean town of Banyuls, close to the Spanish border. Rich, ripe black fruits with cocoa notes and very fine tannins.”

Whisky – Glenfarclas Springs, Speyside £45.00.
Gemma said: “The salted caramel notes on this single malt Speyside whisky, (as a result of the sherry cask ageing), beautifully mirror the same flavours in the brownie.”

Brandy – Torres 10 year old Imperial Brandy, Spain  £21.00.
Gemma said: “The warm, toasty, vanilla notes in this smooth barrel-aged brandy perfectly enhance the shortbread and salted caramel notes in the brownie.”

Read the full post at Love Brownies.

Christopher Merrett

Did You Know…? English wine.

In the Cotswold town of Winchcombe there is a plaque which marks the occasion when an Englishman probably became the first person to record the existence of a phenomenon we now take for granted – sparkling wine. It was Christopher Merrett – a scientist, physician, naturalist and metallurgist, who in 1662, first documented the existence of bubbles in an alcoholic beverage.

In a paper presented to the newly formed Royal Society, Merrett described how English winemakers had been adding sugar to wines to give them a refreshing, sparkling quality – 30 years before a certain, very famous, monk in France’s Champagne region. “It was the first time anyone had described the process or used the word “sparkling” to describe the end product”, Winchcombe historian Jean Bray has recorded. “Our wine coopers of recent times use vast quantities of sugar and molasses to all sorts of wines to make them drink brisk and sparkling and to give them spirit” Merrett wrote. The irony today, possibly, is that English sparkling wine is now the finest it has ever been, and may in time start to challenge Champagne in terms of quality as well as style.


Tullibardine Highland Whisky

Another Thursday night in Skipton, and another Whisky Tasting. (As much as we’d like to, we don’t do them EVERY Thursday by the way..)

Representing Tullibardine was honorary Yorkshireman Stephen Reah – International Sales Manager of Terroirs Distillers – the privately-held French subsidiary of Picard Vins & Spiritueux. Under the Terroir Distillers marque comes Louis Royer Cognac (which was bought from Suntory Holdings), Highland Queen blended Scotch and Muirhead’s blend – as well as Tullibardine of course.

Tullibardine, sitting in the lowland part of the Highlands is often seen and often passed – as it sits on the side of the A19 between Stirling and Perth. After this tasting however, I’m sure it will be getting some new visitors calling in.

Sovereign  – 43% abv

Their signature single malt is just five years old, however (as with the rest at this age) gives off an aroma and flavour profile which would suggest it has been matured beyond it’s young years.

Light golden in colour, this has been matured in first fill ex-bourbon barrels – something that forms the basis for the the distillery’s ‘wood finishes’. You’ll see.

It’s a floral, slightly creamy, smooth and light whisky with hints of vanilla and a slight touch of spice. A great intro to the distillery.

225 Sauternes Cask Finish – 43% abv

Take the basis of Sovereign, then finish in 225 litre Sauterness (sweet white wine) casks.

This takes up the complexity volume a touch – starting with a deeper colour, a sweeter nose and then a more tropical palate – pineapple, citrus and zesty notes too.

This is an extremely accessible whisky. I noted it as a potential new ‘every day’ dram..!

228 Burgundy Cask finish – 43% abv

Again, take the Sovereign, mature for five years in first-fill ex-bourbon then finish in 228 litre barriques which had formally held Chateau de Chassagne Montrachet Pinot Noir.

As expected, this held a deeper colour with a hint of red which threw a few people towards the Port finish direction.

However, the palate gave away a certain bitterness from the red wine tannins, with dark chocolate and red cherry flavours coming through.

The finish has the dryness and tannins again, but is warming with slight spice too.

500 Sherry Cask finish – 43% abv

Ok, so you get how it goes from now. This time, finishing took place in 500 litre Spanish sherry butts. Between these first four – there’s really something for every palate and a great set of whiskies for newbies to discover their flavour.

Unsuprisingly (but nevertheless, welcome) were the richness and spice you get from sherry. This has a distinctive nutty profile – which made sense when it was confirmed that the previous occupant of these casks was Olorosso.

Rich dried fruits (raisins), molasses, toffee. Lovely. This one got two ticks.

20 Year Old – 43% abv

This forms the part of Tullibardine’s “Fine Aged Collection” where, you guessed it, each whisky has an age statement.

The 20 yo has spent a minimum of 20 years (more like 25 we’re told) in first-fill ex-bourbon, so this is like Sovereign – and then some!

Deep gold in colour with a nose that surprisingly remains fresh after quarter of a century in oak.

The palate was rich and almost chocolatey with the hints of vanilla which you’d expect from bourbon casks.

The finish wasn’t quite as long as expected, however it was rewarding – and each visit to the glass gave something different in this respect. Lovely.

25 yo – 43% abv

An absolute minimum of 25 years in ex-sherry hogsheads – straight after a 20 yo matured in bourbon. We are spoilt.

Confusingly, my notes state 5 years in sherry and 25 in bourbon – however, the night was getting on at this point.

Much richer nose than the 20 with a rich and lively palate. What was surprising about this, and the 20, was how delicate they were considering their maturity.

The Murray – 46% abv

The Murray comes from another range – the Marquess Collection.

This one, from 2006 (other Murray’s exist from 2004, 2005 or are finished with Marsala Casks, Chateauneuf0fu-Pape barriques..) has a slight pink tinge to it with an oaky nose with spicy aromas which suggested fortified wine…-  which it gets due to its finishing in the aforementioned Marsala casks.

This is a rich whisky and gives a fuller mouthfeel than some of the previous drams.