Dalmore 18 – Manners Maketh Whisky

Manners make a man.  This is what the British writer William Horman wrote in his book Vulgaria in 1519 – a compendium of quotes and proverbs from his day.  In the archaic original, “manners maketh man“, the aphorism may seem overtly polite and outdated, but its meaning is as simple as it is contemporary.  He says that courtesy, upbringing and good manners are essential to living in society.  ‘Man’ here, is in the broader sense – it means all mankind.

All this is by-the-by though, the important thing is that Horman’s quote, which is actually not his but Colin Firth’s catchphrase in Kingsman.  The film, directed by Matthew Vaughn in 2014 is a parody, and tribute at the same time, to all the spy films – in particular to James Bond.  Just like the 007 films, this one is fitted out with tailored suits, explosions and megalomaniac villains.  It’s often even better than a Bond film.  The controversial long sequence shot in a church, for example, is absolutely incredible.  Samuel L. Jackson’s cross between Mark Zuckerberg and Elon Musk beats any Blofeld hands down.

More importantly, however, there’s whisky.  James Bond is to Macallan what Kingsman is to Dalmore.  More specifically, Dalmore Sinclair 62.  In one of the scenes of the film, the precious liquid is actually mentioned by one a secret agent about to be sliced in two.  “1962 Dalmore. It’d be a sin to spill any. Don’t you think?”  This Dog couldn’t agree more.  Dalmore Sinclair had, for some time, held the record for the most expensive whisky ever sold.  It is extremely precious, worth more than one hundred thousand pounds today.

Really astonishing, motherfucker.

 

The choice of whisky is beyond reproach.  After all, Dalmore is known for producing some of Scotland’s finest single malts.  It is the work of Richard Paterson, who until recently captained the distillery production process as master blender.  Richard, better known as “The Nose” is a legend in the whisky world.  His sense of smell is so trained and accurate that his nose is insured by Lloyd’s Bank for 2.5 million pounds.

In Brazil, Dalmore is imported by Casa Flora and has three expressions with age statements – 12, 15 and 18 years old.  The latter is the subject of this post.  Dalmore 18 is matured in American oak barrels for 14 years and then transferred to spend three years in Matusalem sherry barrels.  Finally, it spends another year in European oak barrels, previously used for sherry and bottled with an alcohol content of 43%.  So far so good.  The description seems perfect.  However, those with a greater understanding of grapes will notice something curious: Matusalem.

Most whiskies finalised in sherry barrels use oloroso or Pedro Ximenes varieties, little is said about Matusalem.  Matusalem is, in fact, a sweet oloroso known as Oloroso Dulce.  On average it is 30 years old and its base is a blend of Oloroso and Pedro Ximenes.  The initial maturation of the wine occurs in the barrels later used by Dalmore.  It is then transferred to soleras, where is spends another couple of decades until being bottled.

Mature sophistication.

Dalmore whiskies are traditionally single malts with a clear vinous tendency.  Even the distillery’s younger blends exude this characteristic.  Yet it is in Dalmore 18 that, in this Dog’s opinion, the whisky finds true maturity.  The sweetness and malt flavour are replaced by something more elegant – a dry taste, perfectly balanced with the sweet, fruity fortified wine.

The oily character of Dalmore is due to the shape of the stills.  Those used in the first distillation are short with flattened necks.  Those for the second distillation have a type of water reservoir – water jacket – around their necks, filled with cold water.  This causes the lighter molecules to condense, so only the denser part of the distillate passes.

If you love whiskies with the aroma and flavour of fortified wine, or like to combine whisky with a cigar, Dalmore 18-year-old will be your long-term companion – elegance, balance and personality.  If William Horman is right and manners really make the man, then Dalmore 18 is a true gentleman.

DALMORE 18 ANOS

Type: 18-year-old single malt

Distillery: Dalmore

Region: Highlands

ABV: 43%

Tasting notes:

Aroma: dried fruits, cinnamon, fortified wine.

Flavour: fruit syrup, raisins, panettone.  Fortified wine.  Long and winey finish.  Oily.

With water: the flavour of the spices becomes less apparent and the wine stronger.

Price: around R$ 800,00 (eight hundred reais)

 

Ardbeg Kelpie

My daughter is studying Brazilian folklore at school.  Yesterday, she came to tell me that her favourite folk character is the (one-legged) little menace, Saci Perere.  It makes sense, since she doesn’t sit still and can be quite a little rascal.  Then she asked me who my favourite was, and in order not to give an uninteresting, generic answer and also to teach her something new, I decided to do some research.  I ran straight to Google.

Isn’t our folklore rich!?  As well as the pink dolphin, Curupira (a dwarf-like little man, whose feet are turned backwards), werewolf, mule and Saci, there are a plethora of fantastic creatures I never could have imagined existed.  One of them is Pisadeira, who (as her name in Portuguese implies) is an old woman who steps on people’s tummies while they sleep and causes shortness of breath.  She does this especially when people eat too much at night.  I think Pisadeira had her work cut for her with me when I was a kid.

But it’s not only Brazil that has folkloric creatures of course.  All countries have them and Scotland is no exception.  There, one of the best known is the Kelpie.  The Kelpie is a spirit that changes shape and lives in the Scottish lakes.  Usually, it takes the shape of a horse but it can be a person too, to lure people to the waters.  It is the Scottish equivalent of the pink dolphin, but a little less selective, as (rather than only girls) anyone will do.

It was this legend that gave rise to the new limited edition of Ardberg, named after the demonic equine – Ardberg Kelpie.  This suggests a strong maritime and saline influence.  It was released in two versions to commemorate Ardberg Day of 2017.  One contained 46 percent alcohol and the other, exclusive to the Ardberg Committee, 51.7 percent.

Ardbeg Kelpie is matured in Virgin Black Sea oak casks.  According to press material, Bill Lumsden, Director of the Distillery and Ardberg stock, “in his continuing search for intriguing casks, was inspired by the depth of flavour imparted by the Black Sea casks. Grown and seasoned in the Adyghe Republic, which leads down to the Black Sea coast, these casks impart incredibly deep flavours.”  Whatever the Adyghe Republic and deep may mean…

It exists!

According to the distillery, “Its powerful aromas of oily peat, salty seaweed and tarry rope have been produced by virgin oak casks from the Black Sea, intermingled with the hallmark Ardberg flavour.  Waves of spicy black pepper give way to a delectable tide of bacon and dark chocolate.  Incredibly deep.”  That intriguing ‘depth’ once again.

This Dog had the opportunity to sample Ardbeg Kelpie on his visit to the distillery in August 2017.  Although he had no idea what Ardberg called deep, he found the whisky very interesting.  Kelpie has a very pronounced saline note, which marries perfectly with the peaty, citrus character of the distillery.  That might be why the distillery advertises it as deep.

You must have already guessed that this mythological creature will not be marketed in Brazil.  Despite the recent launches and even expansion of the distillery’s permanent portfolio with Ardberg An Oa, nothing will change.  Here in our tropical country, the only expression from the distillery available remains the Ardberg Ten.  It’s a pity.  Perhaps LVMH, which owns the distillery, prefers to focus on products with lower added value, such as Proseccos, to meet the repressed demands of a demanding, but nonetheless niche, market.

However, if you do come across this water horse, you have to try it.  It really has a legendary flavour.  Oh, by the way, my favourite mythical creature from Brazilian folklore is the fire serpent, Boitatá.  But this – like that alleged ‘deep’ taste – is neither here nor there.

ARDBEG KELPIE

Tipo: Single, no age statement (NAS)

Distillery: Ardbeg

Region: Islay

ABV: 46%

Tasting notes:

Aroma: peated, with seaweed and a certain subliminal herbal scent.

Flavour: peated, with charcoal, white pepper and sweet caramel.  The finish is almost reminiscent of barbecued meat.  It’s interesting that the taste is not as herbal ad the aroma.

Availability: only international shops.

 

Wild Turkey 101 – Birds

Ah, the White-headed eagle – a beautiful, strong and fierce animal, at the top of the food chain, feared and respected by all.  No wonder it was chosen to represent the United States of America, the greatest military power in the world and a country completely obsessed with power.

Even before this though, the eagle, along with other different sized birds of prey, was used as a symbol of strength.  The Eastern Roman Empire had a two-headed eagle as its emblem, which was later adopted by Ivan III of Russia.  In the Middle East, the Eagle of Saladin became Palestine and Iraq’s coat of arms.  In Egypt, the falcon was the anthropo-zoomorphic representation of Horus.

However, it’s not just nations that adopted this imposing bird of prey as their animal symbol.  Many companies and organisations have also done so.  American Eagle Outfitters is one example, Eagle Pharmaceuticals is another – and of course, we can’t forget the bourbon whiskey Eagle Rare.  It couldn’t be more apt.  We are naturally drawn to associating this animal with power and strength, values well sought after by corporations.

A much less obvious choice, however, is the wild turkey.  The wild turkey is a big bird, a bit clumsy, a bit ugly and bit beautiful, but very tacky.  It is an animal whose greatest talents lie, well, on a plate.  Finally, its name has ambiguous connotations in Portuguese (for a male body part) – in any case, almost everyone would far sooner relate a turkey to trimmings and stuffing than a symbol of power.

Status

It turns out that the world of whisky seems to have a strange obsession with turkeys.  I’m not talking about anything Freudian here – I mean symbolism.  In Scotland, you have the famous Famous Grouse (right, I know it’s just a distant relative).  In the land of the White-headed eagle, there is Wild Turkey, one of the best-known brands of American whisky and now owned by the Campari Group.

You might be wondering why someone decided to call their whisky Wild Turkey.  Well, the story of Wild Turkey begins in 1981 when a gentleman named Thomas Ripy built the Old Hickory Distillery in the town of Tyrone, Kentucky.  The distillery operated until the time of the Prohibition Law, when it closed its doors.  With the fall of prohibition, the Ripy family began producing whisky again and selling to large shops, but still, for the moment, no mention of a turkey.

Enter Thomas McCarthy, president of Austin Nichol’s, a leading shop in the 1940s that sold the bourbon produced by Old Hickory.  Legend has it that Thomas and some friends once took some bottles to a wild turkey hunt.  His comrades liked the whisky so much they started asking him for “that turkey bottle”.  The name caught on and was eventually adopted by the distillery.  The expression chosen by Thomas and adored by his friends was precisely, to be more precise, Wild Turkey 101 – the subject of this tasting.

Wild Turkey 101 is perhaps the most well-known whisky in the brand’s portfolio to this day.  Its alcohol content is 50% – very high for a Bourbon in its price range – and it is made from 75% corn, 13% rye and 12% malted barley.  It is matured in virgin, charred American Oak barrels.  The charring – level four – incidentally, is the most intense possible.  The whisky comes out of the barrels with a similar alcohol content to that when it is bottled (54.5%).  Although it cannot be considered barrel proof (completely undiluted) Wild Turkey 101 comes very close.

Despite the fowl on the label, Wild Turkey underwent a recent overhaul.  The brand updated its visual identity and Matthey McConaughey became creative director.  The actor even directed some short films for it.  The strategy resembles that of Jim Beam, who hired Mila Kunis as the face of the brand.  In this case though, it didn’t make much difference to the brand or to Mila, except for the fact that there is a lascivious satisfaction in watching her drink bourbon.

Hmmmmmm, no. It really only works with Mila.

Wild Turkey 101 tastes sweet and spicy at the same time, with caramel and honey.  The finish is medium, dry and also spicy.  The alcohol is a bit aggressive – but a lot less than one might expect from a whisky of this strength and price.  It is a Bourbon whisky that can be drunk neat or in cocktails, where its high alcohol content is a welcome addition!

If you like high-octane, bourbon whiskies, or if you’re looking for something with a versatile flavour to use in cocktails, Wild Turkey 101 Bourbon is an excellent option.  It may not be as imposing as certain eagles out there, but it’s a turkey that has tradition, quality and a competitive price.  A turkey that is capable of fighting with the most formidable birds of prey.

WILD TURKEY 101 BOURBON

Type: Bourbon Whiskey

Brand: Wild Turkey

Region: N/A

ABV: 50,5%

Tasting Notes:

Aroma: Caramel, brown sugar, sweet hazelnut.

Flavour: Caramel and honey, brown sugar with a certain sweet fruitiness.  A long and spicy finish, with relatively apparent, but not too aggressive alcohol content.

With Water: Water slightly reduces the spiciness.

Whiskey Sour – Dogstail

Today, on the way to work, my car told me it was up for a service.  The electronic dumping control – or something like that – wasn’t working.  When I got to work, I called the garage while I made a coffee with a new machine.  Just as I was adjusting the temperature and selecting whether my coffee was long, normal or ristretto, the garage answered and I got confused.  I ended up with a scolding hot coffee.  I booked the car in hurriedly and, feeling irritated, went to the cafeteria.  I ordered a coffee and a typical Brazilian chocolate – brigadeiro.  Then the cashier asked me which brigadeiro I wanted.  “I don’t know, aren’t they all the same?” I answered.  “No, now we have a selection of more than ten different flavoured ones, there’s peanut, Belgian chocolate, pistachio, dulce de leche, coffee…

You know, I don’t miss disaffection, but on that day, I just wanted a bit of simplicity.  An espresso, a traditional brigadeiro and a car that can’t talk and doesn’t pull parts with odd names out of its metaphorical, electronic hat.  I know, however, that this is the way things are going in today’s society.  They start simple, but as time goes by become more complicated.  It is not only true of coffees, cars and chocolates, the Whiskey Sour is a very clear example in the world of cocktails.

The first recipe ever written for a Whiskey Sour was in the book The Bartender’s Guide, by Jerry Thomas.  With the simple grace of everything that is beginning to take shape, it only contained three things: simple syrup, the juice of half a lemon and a glass of bourbon and rye whisky.  Over time though, the drink became more sophisticated – or rather more complicated – gaining versions.  Cherry sauce, lemon rind, sparkling water…  The addition of these elements actually had one clear function: to stand out from the crowd.  They were ways of getting away from the ordinary and creating an identity.  That’s what everyone wants nowadays.

Whiskey Sour

But the most controversial thing added to Whiskey Sour was, without shadow of a doubt, egg-white.  This, which many now claim is characteristic of the cocktail, only figured in its recipe almost a century later and to this day is much debated.  For example, the version of the cocktail illustrated in Joy of Mixology by Gary Regan (2003) doesn’t contain egg-white and The Essential Cocktail by Dale DeGroff (2008) says it is optional.  The egg-white doesn’t alter the taste of the cocktail, but it improves its texture.

The controversy over the egg-white has nothing to do with the originality of the recipe, but with health.  Raw egg can cause salmonella, an unpleasant strain of bacteria that causes vomiting, diarrhoea and all kinds of gastro-eschatological symptoms.  In some cases, salmonella can be fatal.  It turns out however, that we are pretty resilient creatures and – provided a bar respects hygiene standards – the risk of salmonella is very small for most of us.  It’s only relevant if you’re in poor health or for children.  Incidentally, let me add, if you are very ill or if you’re a child – don’t drink cocktails.  With or without raw eggs.

Originally, Whiskey Sour was made with rye whisky as the base spirit.  The choice was not for the flavour or aroma, but because it was the easiest product to get when it was created.  A creation which is associated with that of Gimlet and Grog.  At that time, many sailors on long sea voyages suffered from scurvy, caused by a lack of vitamin C in the body.  Since there were no dietary supplements back then, the best solution was to eat fruit.  Fruit however, can go off.  Alcohol therefore acted as a preservative, while the sugar made the blend more palatable.  Incredibly, and wonderfully – in my opinion – one complemented the other in flavour too and so the panacea became a success.  The British navy invented the Gimlet (with gin) and Grog (with rum), while the Americans used rye whisky and came up with the beloved cocktail that is the theme of this post.

So, without further ado, my dear readers, here is the recipe of one of the most famous cocktails of all time.  Please note, that the recipe below is not the classic one.  It is however, in the opinion of this canine, the one that perfects the drink’s simplicity.  No frugalities, coffees, chocolates or talking cars.  Just a little bit of egg-white, sugar syrup, whisky and lemon.

WHISKEY SOUR

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 measures bourbon whisky
  • 1 measure lemon juice
  • 3/4 measure of sugar syrup (1:1) – (learn how to make it here)
  • 1 dessert spoon egg-white
  • ice
  • tumbler
  • cocktail shaker

 

PREPARATION

  1. Put the bourbon, lemon juice, sugar syrup and egg-white in a cocktail shaker. Shake well.  This is called a dry shake – the idea is to make the foam characteristic of egg-white.
Don’t confuse with the harlem shake.
  1. Open the shaker carefully and add ice. Shake well.
  2. Pour the contents into a tumbler, with some ice cubes – or preferably one big ice cube.
  3. Enjoy and drink to simplicity.

 

Compass Box Three Year Old Deluxe

January is the month of my birthday.  I turned thirty-three, with the liver of a sixty-something year old.  And I realised something: My last thirty years were no way near as important as my first three.

I notice this in my daughter, the little pup.  My puppy is three years old, with social skills I didn’t master until I was twenty.  I don’t know if it’s because she’s an incredibly sociable creature, or if I’m completely socially inept.  She can talk to anyone, question, lie, make small talk and order cheese bread at the bakery in an extremely charming way – and she’s learnt it all in three years.

Of course, some things are still complicated.  My pup has certain difficulties understanding abstract subjects and isn’t very convincing in elaborate arguments.  For example, when she tries to convince me that she can eat chocolates twice a day, she’s unsuccessful and get’s aggressive.  Watching her development, however, I come to a, maybe optimistic, conclusion: That we are who we are from the age of three.  The rest is just refinement – trim the sharpest edges and learn about a whole load of things we’ll never use, like ions, neutrons, endothermic and exothermic animals and the Mesozoic era.

In the whisky world, the same is true.  The minimum age that a whisky can be considered a whisky, according to the rules laid down by the Scotch Whisky Association, is three.  Time makes it less aggressive.  In most cases, the pungency of youth is exchanged for the complexity brought on by the years in the barrel.  The exception, of course, is Compass Box Three Year Old Deluxe, which despite the minimum age on the label, conveys the maturity of a Balzac-woman.

Compass Box Three Year Old Deluxe is a blended malt produced by Compass Box Whisky Co., a boutique of premium blended whiskies founded by the businessman, John Glaser.  Since its foundation, Compass Box has had an iconoclastic position in the whisky world.  Many of its releases were made to provoke or challenge the dogma imposed by the Scotch Whisky Association.  An example is when they decided to produce a whisky with Oak chips – something which is forbidden – or a whisky comprising only two components: a single malt and a grain whisky.

John, thinking about how to wind up the SWA.

Perhaps Compass Box’s most blatant provocation to this day is the Three Year Old Deluxe.  It is composed of 0.4% a Clynelish of just three years old, 90.3% Clynelish and 9.3% Talisker – both of which are much more mature.  Nevertheless, a whisky of a very reasonable average age.  Due to SWA regulations, however, that age cannot be declared.  It must be stated as a three-year-old whisky.  As I said, the age on the whisky label must be that of its youngest component – in this case, the three-year-old Clynelish.

Three Year Old Deluxe is actually the result of a campaign by Compass Box Whisky Co. for more transparency in the whisky world.  It encouraged other producers to join and had a petition for consumers.  In less than a day, three thousand people had signed this petition and renowned brands had joined the campaign.  One of them was Bruichladdich, Islay’s famous distillery, known for its progressive positions.

However, in the end, the SWA remained resilient and Compass Box had to find a middle ground.  According to Glaser, “For various reasons (including, believe it or not, Brexit) it is unlikely that any satisfactory change in EU or UK laws will be achieved in the short-term, but that does not mean we cannot continue doing what we have always done and blend whiskies of different ages to create complexity and balance. And with that in mind, we are proud to introduce you to our newest Limited Edition Scotch whisky; 3 Year-Old Deluxe.

He continues, “a whisky composed of just under 1% three-year-old malt whisky, a little over 90% malt whisky of an unstated age from the same distillery and 9% peaty malt whisky, distilled on the Isle of Skye.  Regulations permit us only to share details of the age of the youngest component!  No matter.  For it is this three-year-old component that we think is truly special aged by us.”

Tongues out to the SWA

Despite the somewhat conformist tone of the text, Three Year Old Deluxe is really the proverbial slap in the face pf the SWA with a velvet glove.  There is a certain hypocrisy in Glaser’s (more or less) resigned words.  The proportion of young malt is too small to make any relevant difference to the flavour of the blend and both he and the SWA know that.  The whisky is therefore a highly elaborate provocation and an absolutely incredible one.  The Three Year Old Deluxe is reminiscent of a late Brora.  Lightly peated with a touch of wax, honey and incredibly fruity.

However, this Dog has a suspicion, a very controversial suspicion – but not as controversial as producing a whisky costing more than £100 and labelling it a three-year-old.  It’s just that it seems to me that Three Year Old Deluxe was made not to be drunk.  All of the packaging demonstrates this, from the gold wax used to seal the cork to the transparent acrylic case.  Everything contributes to the suspicion that what Glaser intended, when he shoved the SWA while disguising it as a pat on their backs, was that Compass Box Three Year Old Deluxe would become a collectors’ item.

That’s exactly what happened.  Since its launch in 2014, the price has more than doubled. And you can well believe, because this Dog has experienced this difficulty itself. It’s pretty hard to find a bottle.  Regardless of our age, one thing never changes and that’s our appreciation of a good story – and Compass Box Three Year Old Deluxe is one of the best.

COMPASS BOX THREE YEAR OLD DELUXE

Type: Blended Malt with an age statement (that’s the point) – 3 years

Brand: Compass Box Whisky Co.

Region: N/A

ABV: 49.2%

Tasting notes:

Aroma: woody and floral, lightly peated.

Flavour: Dry and fruity, citrus with apple and spices.  The smokiness, which is long and dry, comes out only at the end.

Availability: only in international shops.

 

Whiskey Mule

When I was a child I didn’t really care about the latest fad.  I never touched a tazo and I never collected Coca-Cola bottles.  But one thing always got me – Kinder Surprise.  Looking back realistically, perhaps I didn’t even like the chocolate that much.  What I really wanted was the surprise.  Although that’s funny, because if I had found the surprise without its delicious, traditional casing, I probably wouldn’t have been interested in it either.

The genius of the Kinder Egg is the combination of those elements.  The two things together – coupled with the expectation of what’s inside the capsule make it irresistible to any child, whether three or sixty years old.  No one can be indifferent and resist showing the slightest curiosity when opening a Kinder Egg.  It is the perfect blend of gastronomic obsession and accumulating greed.

With cocktails, the Moscow Mule, the traditional version of the Whisky Mule (subject of this post), is very similar.  The Moscow Mule is a mix of three elements to which no one paid attention, but which together form one of the most famous cocktails in the world.

Its history begins in the 30s, with a man named John Martin, President of G.F. Heublein & Brothers, a food import and export company.  Martin had bought a small Canadian vodka distillery that just may have heard of: Smirnoff.  His plan was to popularise the spirit in the USA.  The problem was that those were rather hard times for anything related to Russia.  The USA was fighting communism and drinking vodka was seen as an undeniably Bolchevik habit – kind of like eating little children, sodomizing people on the street and everything else that Americans thought Russian, homicidal, barbarian communists were doing.

Over a decade later, Martin was frustrated and exhausted.  He had commented to his friend Jack Morgan, owner of the Cock ‘n Bull Bar in Los Angeles, about his difficulty in selling the drink.  In turn, Jack explained that he was having similar problems with his handmade ginger beer, which he produced so lovingly.  A third person who was also in the bar – and who has never been identified – complained that he had hundreds of copper mugs that weren’t easy to sell either.

 

hard times.

Jack and Martin, therefore did what every drunk in a bar would do.  They put the three things together.  This is how they came up with a cocktail that contained vodka, ginger beer and lemon and was served in an elegant copper mug.  A huge advertising campaign was organized and included the likes of the celebrities Woody Allen and Monique Van Vooren.  The creation was named Moscow Mule, referring to the vodka and the intensity of the ginger flavour that had the kick of a mule.  The cocktail was an instant success, and to this day is recognised for its characteristic copper cup.

The Whisky Mule, on the other hand, is the improved version of the cocktail.  This time, improved not only because it contains whisky instead of vodka, but because it replaces ginger beer with an incredible lime and cardamom foam, originally created by bartender Marcelo Serrano, and later adapted for the Whisky Mule by another talented bartender.  This, in the Dog’s opinion, is one of the most unbelievable emulsions in the world and he isn’t in the habit of categorising and classifying emulsions.  It’s like Dave Wondrich once said, “vodka is like the boneless chicken breast of mixology – it’s all about the sauce.”  In this case, not only the sauce was improved, the chicken was replaced with bourbon.

Making a Whisky Mule isn’t exactly simple.  The problem is not really the cocktail, but the ginger foam.  For best results you need a whipping siphon, a not so safe tool and both specific and a little expensive.  It is possible however, to make the foam in a blender.  So, for each cocktail it needs to be prepared again.  Be that as it may, and without further ado, here is the recipe of the improved version of one of the most iconic cocktails of all time: The Whisky Mule:

WHISKEY MULE

INGREDIENTS

  • 30 ml of Tahiti lemon juice
  • 50 ml of bourbon
  • 15 ml of sugar syrup
  • Ginger foam with cardamom*
  • Nutmeg
  • Mint leaf to finish

 

PREPARATION

  1. Mix the syrup, Bourbon and lemon juice in a cocktail shaker.
  2. Pour the contents into a copper mug (OK, that’s kind of specific, you can use any mug or even a tumbler, I’ll let you off).
  3. Top it off with the ginger foam with cardamom.
  4. Grate nutmeg on top of the foam.

*For the foam:

  1. Peel 100 grams of fresh ginger.
  2. In the blender, mix up 100ml of water, 200ml of lemon juice and 100ml of sugar syrup, ginger and 3 cardamom pods on a high setting.
  3. Strain into another container and then return the liquid to the blender.
  4. Add a tea spoon of xanthan gum.
  5. Mix again and allow to cool in a refrigerator.
  6. If you have a whipping siphon, place the emulsion in the siphon ready to use when you make the cocktail.  Shake well before serving.

 

Dewar’s 25 YO – About Time

I’ve been thinking a lot about time. Not the portuguese perfect homonym for weather. because everybody knows that this weather is crazy, and sometimes it’s cold in the morning, it’s hot in the afternoon and it rains at night, and we go out with a wardrobe of something we will not even use. I do not mean this “time“.

I refer to the passage of seconds, minutes, hours, days, months and years. That time, theme of the famous refutation of Borges. The essence of which we are made, the river that robs me, the tiger that devours me, the fourth dimension.

Such time is interesting. It destroys. Nothing is permanent. The passage of time brings disorder, chaos, decay and degradation. Allow enough time for something, that it will always collapse and cease to exist. But it’s not all drama. Time, for us, also has a healing face. The nostalgia. Nostalgia trims the pointy edges of memory, and highlights what had once been good. Our memory tends to lessen suffering and rekindle happiness. Must be some form of protection.

And it is not only with our memory that time has this function – how can I define it – cosmetic. With the whisky too. The maturation of whiskies in barrels does exactly what time does with the memory, turning it into nostalgia. And this is the fascination that very matured whiskeys exert. A promise of lightness, delicacy, and delight. And that’s exactly what Dewar’s 25 years, the oldest expression of the brand’s permanent portfolio, offers.

According to Dewar’s: “Dewar’s 25 is a blended scotch premium whiskey, launched in September 2017. The new addition to the Dewar’s portfolio will succeed Dewar’s Signature (no-age statement) as a part of Dewar’s dedication and commitment to age statements across its premium range of blended Scotch whiskies.

A meticulous search of the cask inventory revealed an intriguing array of fine aged malt and grain Scotch whiskies aged 25 years and older. Each cask was individually sampled and assessed by Master Blender, Stephanie MacLeod before being chosen. Once MacLeod was satisfied that she had a perfectly balanced flavour profile in the DEWAR’S House Style, the specially selected casks were blended together and then filled into oak casks for an additional period of maturation, a process pioneered by DEWAR’s, known as double-ageing, to add more depth and enriched smoothness.

Stephanie Macleod

But there is an important detail about the finishing process – or rather, extra maturation – of Dewar’s 25, so celebrated by the brand. The barrels used for this last stage were previously used by the single malt Royal Brackla, which is also part of the recipe of Dewar’s 25 years. In more confusing words, it is a blend, which uses a single malt which is part of its recipe, and that it spends some more time in the barrels of that same single malt. A gorgeous single malt – this dog’s favorite within the Dewar’s portfolio.

There does not seem to be much logic behind this finalization. After all, the drink that was in the barrel is the same one that makes up the blend. But there are nuances in this story. The barrels used for finishing are not necessarily the same ones that were used for the blend. In addition, this extra maturation time, after the whisky is blended, makes its parts more harmonic – it’s like leaving the pizza in the refrigerator to eat the other day. It becomes more tasty – this is another benefit of time.

This Dog had the pleasure of sampling Dewar’s 25 years in a tasting he presented, some time ago during a brand event in Brazil. At the opportunity, Dewar’s 25 was chosen as the public’s favorite, closely followed by his younger brother, the 18-year-old Dewar. And although he has not tasted whiskey for some time while writing this proof, the impressions – and notes – have lasted. Good things usually stay even more vividly recorded.

Now that is a backdrop.

The 25 year old Dewar is a rather delicate and fruity but very complex whisky, with peaches, apple and caramel. The finish in the palate is long and vinic. It is a delicious blend, but it requires some attention – and perhaps time – to be appreciated (usually good impressions endure). A more rushed drinker, or a lover of the intensity that some single malts offer, could fall into the fallacy of considering it a simple whiskey. Simply because of the smoothness and balance of its characteristics.

The exact composition of Dewar’s 25 years is a secret. However, like every Dewar line, we can assume that most of them carry the malts belonging to the Bacardi group. They are: Aberfeldy, Craigellachie, The Deveron (produced at the Macduff distillery), Aultmore and the aforementioned Royal Brackla, and, of course, grain whiskey. As you know, because you read the Bottled Dog, all these components must be matured for at least twenty-five years. Without prejudice to having even older whiskeys in the mix.

If you’re looking for a premium blended whiskey that will please most palates but still offer incredible complexity, Dewar’s 25 years is a natural choice. It is a blend to be savoured with calm and time, and a perfect companion for any reflection. Even over time. Because even though it may bring deterioration, it is also capable, with the aid of talent, of producing extraditionary things. Like Dewar’s 25 years.

DEWAR’S 25 YEARS OLD

Type: Blended Whiskey with age defined – 25 years

Brand: Dewar’s

Region: N / A

ABV: 40%

Tasting Notes:

Aroma: fruity aroma, with apple. Fortified wine.

Taste: Light and extremely delicate. Very balanced, with fruit, apple and peach. The finish is long and tends to fortified wine.

With water: The water makes the whiskey even more delicate, and highlights the fruity note. However, this Dog recommends to appreciate this pure here.

Price: R $ 1,100.00 (one thousand and one hundred reais).

Backer 3 Lobos Single Malt – Promises

When I was born, my dad had a gold Puma car.  From my earliest, tender childhood years I loved that car.  My dad probably did too, because he kept it for a good five years after I was born.  The problem was that the car only had two seats and I was only a child, I wasn’t allowed to sit in the front seat.  This, of course, didn’t stop my dad from putting me on the hard ledge behind the passenger seat to take me for a spin around the block.

In the eighties, seat belts and common sense were optional.  The laws of physics probably were too, because as I grew, it became more and more difficult to fit into that fascinating but uncomfortable space.  When I was five my spinal cord fitted round the harrowing curve of the back windscreen and the muffled bumps of my head on the roof of the car kept time with the terribly uneven road surface.

 

Safe for children from the 80s

To tell the truth, it wasn’t only the back seat that was missing in the Puma.  It was a Spartan car, though very well made.  When my dad finally traded it for a Monza, in which I could comfortably stretch out on the backseat – I was genuinely disappointed.  The Puma wasn’t just a car, it was our pride and joy.  The most successful Brazilian sportscar, although not the first – a promise from our national car industry that, despite some commendable efforts like the Lobini and Vorax, was never fulfilled.

Perhaps a similar promise has just been made in the whisky world.  The Backer Brewery from Minas Gerais state has launched a single malt.  Three Lobos (Three Wolves) Whiskey Single Malt, which is also known as Experience.  Despite being written with an “e”, the whisky is produced according to Scottish tradition, with malted barley – the same used in some Backer beers – and in copper stills.  Moreover, these stills, have been especially made for the distillery and closely resemble their Scottish counterparts.

 Backer stills (photo: Gustavo Andrade)

The Backer Brewery was founded in 1999 by the Lebbos brothers, near Serra do Curral, in Minas Gerais state.  The brewery currently has its own bar, called Templo Cervejeiro – in Belo Horizonte with an extensive portfolio of beers.  Among them is Bravo American Imperial Porter, aged in Amburana barrels and one of this dog’s favourites.  The brand has also launched, along with its whisky, a gin, which has a typical beer ingredient – hops.

It’s pretty daring for Backer to choose this moment to try a sector we don’t know very well yet and I’m sure it’s going to work out well.  We’re not just making spirits.  We are producing distillates that contain ingredients used in breweries.  That is the main point.  Our single malt has its own characteristics because it is distilled in copper stills and made from brewer’s yeast,” explains Paula Lebbos, Director of Backer.

Aging of the Three Lobos Single Malt took place in ex-Jim Beam  american oak barrels for over five years.  For the first batch, just over five thousand bottles were produced and put on sale on the Backer website for R$180.00 (one hundred and eighty Brazilian reais).  If you visit the distillery – which is in Templo Cervejeiro – you can also try the new-make-spirit, which gave rise to the whisky.

Templo (photo: Gustavo Andrade)

For this dog, the Three Lobos Single Malt resembles a young single malt from Speyside or the Highlands.  The aroma is fruity and sweetened with vanilla.  The flavour is reminiscent of fruit compote, with caramel, cinnamon and a spicy grain finish.  The alcohol is relatively well integrated for a whisky of its age, although it is pronounced, especially in the aroma.

It’s easy to see the dedication of everyone involved in the production of Three Lobos Single Malt Whiskey.  From the packaging to the attractive visual identity of the bottle.  Sensorially, it’s a young, balanced whisky.  Above all, however, it is an extraordinary start for a distillery in a country with virtually no tradition in whisky production.  It’s just like our dear Puma – a promise.

A promise that in this dog’s opinion is almost fulfilled.

BACKER TRES LOBOS SINGLE MALT

Type: Single Malt

Distillery: Backer

Country: Brazil

ABV: 40%

Tasting notes:

Aroma: fruity, with vanilla and caramel.  Almost like a bourbon.  A little alcoholic.

Flavour: Fruity start, with pear and fruit compote.  A little cinnamon.  Sweet finish with vanilla.  Relatively well-integrated alcohol.

Price: R$ 180,00 (one hundred and eighty reais) from the Official Backer Shop.

 

*details of the tasting of this whisky were provided by a source involved in its production.  The Dog did however, have complete editorial licence over the content of this post.

Drops – Laphroaig 10YO Cask Strength

Once I mentioned the Ariel Atom, a car that can hardly be considered a car.  There is no radio, no windscreen, certainly no air-conditioning, no roof, no doors and don’t even think about a boot.  The Ariel Atom reminds of a funny Brazilian children’s song about a house that has nothing.  Like the house in this song, the Ariel Atom doesn’t even have a pot to pee in – but it actually should have, because it scares you that much.  The Atom has a steering wheel, a strong engine and the power to rip the skin off your face, Ghost Rider-style, when you put your foot to the floor.

The Atom does 0-60 in less than three seconds.  It is very fast.  However, seeing as for some madmen this didn’t seem to be enough, the company decided it would make an even more powerful car.  The Atom 500, with a V8 engine and 507 horsepower, capable of thrusting the car from one to sixty miles per hour in 2.3 seconds.  Ariel made it even lighter to counterbalance the block material and added aerofoils to increase downforce.  The looks just like a toy – a fast and completely insane toy.

In the whisky world, the perfect parallel to the Ariel Atom might just be Laphroaig 10 years Cask Strength.  It is a souped up version of a far-from-delicate whisky.  The traditional version – Laphroaig 10 – is peated and medicinal, with a taste of iodine and leather.  Sensorially speaking, it’s not altogether the most accessible whisky.  But seeing as many see the challenge of drinking it as pretty easy, the distillery also has a limited edition: Laphroaig 10 Year Old Cask Strength.  It is the same, smoky monster but with an alcohol content in excess of 55%, instead of 40%.

Cask Strength

Laphroaig 10 Year Old Cask Strength is an annual limited edition.  Every year a new batch is released.  Each one of them is the result of mixing barrels with a minimum 10-year maturation – maturation that takes place mainly in American oak barrels previously containing bourbon whisky.  In the specific case of Laphroaig, the vast majority of this type of barrel come from Maker’s Mark, the famous whisky producer in the United States.  The whisky is not diluted before being bottled, therefore the alcohol content varies from one batch to another.  The whisky in the photo is from batch 007, released in 2015 and its strength is 56.3%.

Laphroaig has already been extensively reviewed in our portuguese version of this Blog.  As you may or may not know, it’s smoked because of the malted barley drying process, which uses a peat-fuelled fire.  It was founded in 1815, by brothers Donald and Alexander Johnston, and celebrated its fiftieth anniversary in 2015.  It currently belongs to Beam-Suntory along with Maker’s Mark, Bowmore, Auchentoshan, and, of course the Japanese whiskies Hibiki, Hakushu and Yamazaki.

As you’ve probably already assumed, Laphroaig 10 Year Old Cask Strength is not available in Brazil.  To tell you the truth, it’s barely available in the world.  Laphroaig is one of the most beloved distilleries in Scotland and its special editions are particularly sought after.  It is possible however, if you’re lucky, to find some bottles in European or American shops, or even directly on the distillery website.  But if all this seems a bit too much for you, look for the original Laphroaig 10 Year Old on sale in Brazil for around R$ 350,00.  It’s not exactly a bargain, but if I you ask me, I’d run faster than an Atom to buy one.

LAPHROAIG 10 YEAR OLD CASK STRENGTH BATCH 007

Type: Single Malt – 10-year-old.

Distillery: Laphroaig

Region: Islay

ABV: 56.3%

Tasting notes:

Aroma: peated and smoky.  Very spicy with iodine.

Flavour: smoky and dry, salty and medicinal at first with a progressively peated finish.

With water: Adding water makes the whisky sweeter, less spicy and intensifies the iodine and medicinal tones.

Availability: Only international shops.

 

Springbank 15 – Drops

If you like cars, you must have heard of the Nissan GTR.  The Nissan GTR is the heir of Skyline, a super-sporty Japanese car although produced by the Prince Motor Company.  In 2009, the GTR entered the Guinness Book of Records for having the fastest acceleration from 0-60mph for a four-seater.  This however, isn’t so important.  What is, is that the GTR (and its parent, the Skyline) is one of the most sought-after and talked-about cars by any auto-geek.

It might be because the car has starred in some video game, or gained fame by outdoing much more expensive cars when it comes to performance.  If you dare speak badly about the GTR to an enthusiast, you’ll be in dire straits.  The GTR is the automotive version of that joke about a lonely guy in the desert that starts to prepare a Dry Martini.  Out of the blue, someone would appear to tell him he used too much – or too little – vermouth.  If, one day, you’re feeling terribly lonely, just start proclaiming, ‘the Porsche Carrera is better than the GTR’.  I’m pretty sure someone will just pop out of a drain or your closet to tell you otherwise.

In the world of whisky, Springbank is the Nissan GTR.  A very good single malt, whose fame makes it more than impeccable.  Springbank has cult status among enthusiasts and its limited editions practically make shelves almost immediately after being released.

This kind of success rarely has one single reason.  This Dog, however, believes that it is down to two.  The first, the indisputable quality and regularity of the new releases.  Although not all of them are extraordinary, it is practically impossible to find a bad one.  Secondly, Springbank is one of the only independent distilleries in the whole of Scotland, as well as being one of the few that runs the entire production process – from malting to bottling – entirely on-site.  There is something romantic about knowing that the malt is produced in an artisanal way, in an increasingly automated world dominated by large conglomerates.

Springbank is one of the only distilleries in Campbeltown, a city that had long been considered the whisky capital of the world.  The region, which had thirty-four distilleries during the fifties, now only has three.  The other two are Glengyle and Glen Scotia.

Campbeltown

Despite its artisanal appearance, the distillery has a good variety of whiskies.  There are three distinct lines.  The first homonymous – Springbank, the subject of this post – is lightly peated.  The second, Hazelburn, is triple distilled and also unpeated, producing to a light, sweet whisky.  The third – called Longrow – is the opposite of the second.  It is a substantially peated, and relatively oily whisky.

Sprinkbank 15 is, above all, extremely balanced.  It is a complex, oily, fruity and slightly peated whisky with a chocolate and woody finish.  It is unquestionably good.  However, in this canine’s opinion, it’s nothing that will change alcoholic paradigms forever or spoil the experience of drinking anything that does not come from the same distillery.  It is a fair malt, above average and produced with great care.  Yet, just like the GTR, it is far from imposing on other excellent malts.

Be that as it may, Sprinkbank 15 years, or, to tell the truth, any Springbank, is a necessary tipple for any whisky enthusiast.  It is wonderful proof of how traditional production methods of a secular drink such as whisky still have their place in today’s market.  In short, it is a malt that emanates admiration and respect, even if most days you prefer Porsches.

SPRINGBANK 15 YEARS

Type: Single Malt 15 years old

Distillery: Springbank

Region: Campbeltown

ABV: 46%

Tasting notes:

Aroma: Slightly smoked.  Fruity with raisins and nuts.

Flavour:  Dried fruits, prunes.  A lightly smoked and long finish.  Oily and quite complex.

Available: only international shops.