Friday, July 29, 2011

The Whisky Trail

After the success of The Rum Trail in February we jumped at the chance of a follow up Whisky Trail.  I was mainly after education again.  I know little, if anything, about Whisky and it's not exactly my favourite tipple.

The deal was 5 tastings of Malt Whisky, 5 cocktails made from these whiskies, a bit of North of the Border grub and to learn more about the drink.

In the first bar, Apotheca, we were given a map of Scotland with the distilleries whose wares we were trying marked on.  We were told how whisky is made.  I can't believe I had no idea at all how this happened.  Maybe I thought it was done by fairies.

We were then told we'd be tasting both single and blended malts.  To dispense with the myth that a blended whisky could not be as good as a single malt.  We also discussed the effect of adding water to a whisky.

Our first drink was an 18 year old Chivas Regal blend, with a minimum of 20 single malts comprising the blend.  We tasted with and without water.  This is one of the nicer whiskies I've come across in my rather sheltered life.  The cocktail was a 'Little Tart', 12 year old Chivas, Sloe Gin, Apple Juice, Lemon Juice and a dash of 5 Spice.  Similar to a Whisky Sour apparently.  I must say it was gorgeous, to my uneducated palate it was much more preferable to add the above ingredients :-)  The food match was pear and rocket wrapped in Parma ham.

Next stop was Socio Rehab.  Here an 18yr old Glenlivet.  Apparently the 'Single Malt that started it all.'  This was similar to the last in that it was very whisky-like for me.  It was food matched with chocolate, I didn't get anything from that really but my husband said it was great for him. The cocktail was a Blood and Sand, named for Rudolph Valentino.  Comprising of the Whisky, Red Vermouth, Dutch Cherry Liquer and freshly squeezed Orange Juice.  While not my favourite cocktail it went together very well.  Not something I would have expected from the ingredient list!

Over to Obsidian next.  Here we got to try a peaty one, Highland Park, 18 yr old whisky.  Apparently from the world's Northernmost distillery.  This was nice, for a whicky.  (By this point I was beginning to realise that whisky is gonna be my nightcap on a not too regular basis.)  Served with a Smoked Mackerel salad.  The cocktail was The Grape and the Grain.  The horror!  We've been told never to mix the two ;-)  Whisky, Chardonnay, Lemonade, Vanilla Syrup and 8 Red Grapes.  A nice short cocktail but I don't think I'll be recreating it.

Corridor was our next destination in the Batmobile Minibus.  This was the trying of Ardbeg.  Described as a Peat Monster.  This was my least favourite of all the whiskies we tasted that night.  It had a harsh, too peaty taste for me.  The Blue Cheese was nice though.  The cocktail was a Flip and I can't quite recall what was in it, sorry :-(

We paused for a bite to eat at Taps.  We had some lovely, Haggis, Neeps and Tatties.  That did a grand job at lining our stomachs a little more.  All accompanied by a Whisky and Soda.

Final call was upstairs at Epernay.  Here we were tasting a 12 yr old Aberfeldy.  I'm sorry but my memory is foggy about what I thought of that one.  As it is of the name of the cocktail.  It did have Campari in it though.  We were also given more information on the world of whisky.  The guys that run these tours really know their stuff. To end the night we tasted a Drambuie 15, A whisky liquer much superior to the original Drambuie apparently.  It was quite nice.  I think I find the liquer version easier to drink.

These Spirit Trails are some of the best nights out you can have in Manchester.  If you're interested have a look at their website  They're also on Facebook and Twitter @TheLiquorists @McrSpiritTrails  They do much more than just these tours.  A great addition to Manchester's social scene :-)

I came out of the Rum Trail realising I didn't dislike rum at all.  I quite liked a lot of them.  Whisky is never going to be my favourite drink but one that I'll share a dram of from time to time now I know which I prefer.

Roll on the next one!


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