Fine and Traditional Absinthes from Alexander Hadleigh

13 November 2009 11:55 am | Posted by siteadmin


Absinthe takes its name from Artemisia absinthium, the botanical name for the bitter wormwood , known in french as “Grande absinthe”. This ingredient of the liquor absinthe also contains the molecule thujone, which supposedly accounts for its alleged mind altering properties. Wormwood infusions had been known as a medicine as far back as Greek times however it was not until around 1792 that the alcohol elixir was supposedly created. Pierre Ordinaire, a French Doctor living in Switzerland, distilled the wormwood plant in alcohol with anise, hyssop, lemon balm and other local herbs. According to popular legend,Ordinaire actually obtained his recipe from the local Henriod sisters, who had been making an ” elixir d’absynthe” to treat illnesses for years. The tonic, quite powerful at around 72% alcohol, was locally heralded as a medical cure-all. The recipe was in turn passed on to a Major Dubied, whose son-in -law was Henri-Louis Pernod. What ever the truth behind its origins, absinthe stopped being a local curiosity and started on its route to becoming an international phenomenon in 1797 with the foundation of their new distillery in Couvet, Switzerland. In 1805, the famous Pernod Fils distillery expanded and opened in Pontarlier, France to avoid customs taxes between Switzerland and France. By 1905, there were hundreds of distilleries in all corners of France producing absinthe, with over 40 distilleries operating across the Swiss border in the French Jura region, 22 of which were located within the town of Pontarlier, itself producing 7,000,000 litres a year from 151 stills. The success of the highly regarded Pontarlier brands brought many imitators and profiteers soon introduced cheaper, adulterated and even poisonous imitations onto the market that were in turn partially responsible for the reputation that absinthe gained for causing delirium and madness in those who drank it.

Originally, absinthe gained its popularity from its use in North Africa during the French campaignes of the 1840’s as a disease preventative and water purifier. The French soldiers brought their taste for the herbal beverage back to the cafes of Paris. Here it became a fashionable drink of the bourgeoisie, so much so that the time between 5.00pm and 7.00pm became known as “l’heure verte” (the Green Hour), and absinthe soon became the most popular aperitif in France. From the mid 19th Century onwards absinthe became associated with bohemian Paris and featured frequently in the paintings of such artists as Manet, Van Gogh and Picasso. When they were not painting it, they were drinking it in large quantities, joined by contempory poets such as Baudelaire, Rimbaud and Verlaine – who practically made a career out of it. Absinthe production grew so much that it became cheaper than wine. Between 1876 and 1900 the annual consumption in France had rocketed from 1,000,000 litres to 21,000,000 litres. It is no exaggeration to compare the impact of banning absinthe to the effect that the banning of Scotch Whisky would have on Scotland.

So, if absinthe was so popular, why was it banned? there were a number of reasons. It got caught up in the temperance movement that was sweeping Europe at the beginning of the 20th Century and became the scapegoat for all alcohol; findings were published shwing that thujone was a neurtoxin in extremely large quantities (albiet more than was found in even 150 glasses of absinthe) which caused convulsions and death in laboratory animals. Pressure also came from the wine producers who saw its popularity as a threat to their sales, which had been badly hit by the spread of the phylloxera louse that destroyed most of France’s vineyards by 1890. Another nail was driven in the coffin with the lurid ‘Absinthe Murder’ which took place in Switzerland in 1905 when one monsieur Lanfray shot his entire family after drinking absinthe. The fact that he had also consumed several litres of wine and a considerable amount of brandy was overlooked by the prohibitionists and by 1910 absinthe was banned in Switzerland. The constant bad press came from across the Atlantic and an anti-absinthe novel titled “Wormwood, a drama of Paris” penned by Marie Corelli ( who would be considered the Belle Epoque Danielle Steele) caused a furor in the United States. Absinthe was mostly consumed in ‘cosmopolitan’ cities like San Francisco, New Orleans, Chicago and New York and the scandalous stories that spread across the American heartland prompted its banning nationwide in 1912. Finally , in 1915, absinthe was banned in France, but it took a military order to do it.

Contrary to popular belief, absinthe was never banned in the United Kingdom, Spain or Portugal.


Some of our collection of Absinthe for you to savoir

    Absinthe Brevans, Matter-Luginbuhl, Switzerland absinthe-brevans3

 absinthe-clandestine1 Absinthe Clandestine, Claude Alain Bugnon, Switzerland  


absinthe-coquetteAbsinthe La Coquette, Paul Devoille, France  

 spir13Absinthe La Fee Bohemian, Czech Republic


Absinthe Montmarte, Fischer, Austria 


 Absinthe NV, La Fee, France 










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Food and Wine Pairing—Pork

10 November 2009 4:52 pm | Posted by siteadmin

(continuation from blog “Food and Wine pairing” dated 13th August 2009)

INTRODUCTION:—–this blog and the many more following will examine the pleasurable and often complex relationship between good food and wine, with the ultimate aim to assist our many discerning customers evolve the convivial bonding of good food and wine.

FOOD BEING FEATURED:—–PORK DISHES, including  ROAST PORK, GRILLED PORK CHOPS, SUCKLING PIG, PORK MEDALLIONS and PORK FILLET.  ( Veal or rabbit dishes would also be a good alternative )

 CHALLENGES:—–simply cooked pork is not too difficult to find friends and partners. Similar to chicken you can match most of your personal preferences with the above dishes except sweet or medium sweet wine. Pork also goes well with sparkling wine, especially red made from Shiraz/Syrah or Malbec.

RECOMMENDATIONS:—–Pork has an endearment towards big rich white wines such as Chateauneuf-du-Pape or Cotes du Rhone Villages. The strength, richness, depth of flavour and aromas of these desirable wines  provide a classic match for most pork dishes. If you are a committed red wine fan then try a Californian Syrah with its spicy black cherry fruit, this distinctive grape variety is also a perfect match for pork, hot or cold. An alternative red would be an Australian Merlot from Wakefield with its subtle flavours and softness to match both the white meat of pork and also the rich crispy crackling of oven roast pork.

MAIN DIRECTORY:—–click on The Marriage of Food and Wine to access our quick search facility to locate hundreds of other food/wine/food pairing options, including hors-d’oeuvres, starters, soups, main courses and deserts. Also Great Friends-Cheese and Wine for cheese and wine pairing.


NEXT ARTICLE:—–Beef dishes, including roast beef, grilled sirloin steak, grilled T bone steak, grilled rump steak, grilled fillet steak, grilled rib eye steak, beef en crout and big beefy stews.



Graham D


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Great Armagnac — Domaine Boingneres

21 August 2009 3:49 pm | Posted by siteadmin

Originally founded in 1807 by Jean Boingneres it has for six generations steadfastly maintained the often difficult path of never producing anything but the best armagnacs.

However, it was not until 1953 that the style of armagnacs began to change forever as Leon Lafitte took over the estate when his father-in-law died. He first expanded the vineyard area and second sold bottle stock directly to all the famous restaurants in France, where Boingneres reputation soon became second to none.

He later replanted the vineyards with his favourite grape varieties, principally folle blanche with some ugni blanc and colombard, for which he coined the phrase “Cepages Nobles”. He then built a new press house and ageing cellar and in 1975 a new still was purpose built by Ster to give the greatest extraction of flavour from the wines.

Today Martine Laffite carries on the Boingneres tradition of excellence. The Boingneres armagnacs are distilled to 52% (allowing the maximum of congeners to pass over into the spirit) and then aged in a very specific manner. Half of the new spirit is put into new charred casks of local oak — up to 15 casks per year — and aged for two years, before it is transferred to older wood. The other half goes into two year- old barrels where it remains until required for blending and bottling. No blending of vintages is done after the sixth year and the seperate varieties are carefully watched until Martine Laffite decides which proportion to blend together, or if the spirits should remain separate.

The Laffite family considers armagnac the noblest of products, a masterpiece. Perfection is the family’s everyday quest and this starts with the inimitable terroir of the domaine. The estate is situated in the commune of Le Freche, where the soil, a narrow strip of land only 25km by 8km, is dotted with springs and sheltered by the landes Forest. This small piece of the Bas Armagnac has soil of particular lightness, a siliceous clay mixed with sand and iron elements where only the finest brandies are produced.





 Armagnac Ugni Blanc 1976

Produced from Ugni Blanc grapes which give a
 very fine type of spirit. Distilled using a Sier still
which captures all the fine aromas of the wine.
Careful aging begins with half the spirit in new
wood then in older wood, the other half in two
year old barrels until blending and bottling.
Once the Armagnac has been bottled , it stops
aging, hence the importance of the bottling
date on a vintage Armagnac.

 Armagnac Cepages Nobles 1985

Produced from Jean Boingneres favourite grape
varieties mainly Folle Blanche with some Colombard
and Ugni Blanc . Powerful dried fruit flavours with
rich spicy depth and an  amazing length on the finish ,
lots of complexity and balance.   




Armagnac Folle Blanche 1984

Vanilla, spice with citrus touches and violets on the
nose, a softer influence of the Folle Blanche grape comes
through with lighter spicier fruits, some  preserved plum
and a touch of candied orange peel. Elegant long finish
with a little fire




Armagnac Domaine Boingneres

Produced from Cepages Nobles-Folle Blanche,
Ugni Blanc and Colombard, this big flavoured  
armagnac has been specially crafted, aged and
blended for the greatest extraction of fine fruity








One can be taken aback by the strength and intensity of an unreduced Armagnac, particulary when relatively young (less than 15 years old) unless it is tasted in a specific way.

In order to appreciate its fullness and finesse, I recommend that after pouring a small quantity into a suitable glass , you wait a few minutes, aerating the liquid in the glass, then you should nose it gently to take in  the complexity of its bouquet.

Then moisten your tongue with a few drops and “chew” on them with your mouth closed so as to line the tastebuds before you swallow.

Armagnac will give as much pleasure to the nose as to the palate. It should be nosed proportionately much more than drunk and the final pleasure is always to smell the empty glass, so so satisfactory.

This is how you will get to know a Bas-Armagnac: its cleanness, its finesse, its many flavours (prune, violet and quince among others). Its lenth on the palate, its elegance, in short its class and breeding. 





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Food and Wine Pairing—Medium Style Curry

13 August 2009 4:25 pm | Posted by siteadmin

(continuation from blog  “ Food and Wine pairing”  dated 17th  June  2009)

INTRODUCTION:—–this blog and the many more following will examine the pleasurable and often complex relationship between good food and wine, with the ultimate aim to assist our many discerning customers evolve the convivial bonding of good food and wine.

FOOD BEING FEATURED:—–MEDIUM STYLE CURRIES, including  CHICKEN, LAMB, PRAWN and VEGETABLE.  ( Thai or Chinese curries with similar ingredients would also be a good alternative )

CHALLENGES:—–We all know that matching wines with Asian cooking can be a difficult challenge and matching wines with curries even more difficult. With mild and fragrant curries like Korma, Biryani or Kashmiri dishes and curries with fruit like pineapple or mango, these can be a little easier to match than with hot curries like Madras and Vindaloo or astringent sauces made from tamarind or too strong in fenugreek and ginger.

RECOMMENDATIONS:—–wines with strong and distinct flavours or wines with fruity acidity will provide the best matches for the above mentioned dishes. A good tip to help you enjoy wine during an asian meal, is to take a sip of water to refresh the palate each time before you take a sip of wine.

Red wines from the Loire made from the Cabernet Franc grape such as Saumur-Champigny have the ideal fruit and acidity balance for mild curries. With this combination you will enjoy both the meal and the wine.

A white wine renoun for matching Asian cooking is the wine named after its grape variety Gewurztraminer. Gewurztraminer’s from the New World such as Segu from Chile have a little more acidity and body over the Alsace versions of this grape and can even put up a good with some of the hotter curries.

Other white wines to be considered are those produced in the Languedoc region of France. Wines like a well chilled Picpoul de Pinet  are perfectly happy with spicy dishes, again it’s the fruit and high acidity that comes through and softens the impact of curries and strongly flavoured dishes.

MAIN DIRECTORY:—–click on The Marriage of Food and Wine to access our quick search facility to locate hundreds of other food/wine/food pairing options, including hors-d’oeuvres, starters, soups, main courses and desserts. Also Great Friends-Cheese and Wine for cheese and wine pairing.


NEXT ARTICLE:—–Pork dishes, including roast pork, grilled pork chops,  suckling pig, pork fillet and medallions of pork.


Graham D

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Whispering Angel – Cotes de Provence Rose

18 June 2009 9:07 am | Posted by siteadmin

Are there Angels in Provence   ???

Yes most definitely yes,  a certain alluring and bewitching corner of  Provence has thousands of Angels, angelall pink with shimmering and enriching qualities. So captivating and ideal are the conditions in this magical corner of South East France that these celestial Angels secretly keep reproducing around the same time each year when the warm, misty, quiet mornings of autumn prevail. Although these Angels from Provence can be mysterious, enchanting and unquestionably unique, they are generally accessible to us Homo Sapiens, but like all known Angels in limited quantities only.

 Some say Angels are divine messengers from heaven and portray paragons of virtue. Our Angels are certainly divine, heavenly, full of virtue and contain the purity of inner beings. Our special Angel is the “Whispering Angel” from Chateau d’ Esclans  nestling on the outskirts of the charming village of La Motte, not too far from the well known coastal town of St. Tropez in Provence. “Whispering Angels”are born out of old grenache vines and live in the splendour of one of  the most beautiful chateauxdesclans-chateau in the whole of France, these Angels lead a great life which can now be shared with you.

“Whispering Angel” is part of a kindred family with a distinguished hierarchy and substantial pedigree. This family is made up of the Finest Rose Wines in the World, Rose Wines of such class they need to be tasted to be believed. “Whispering Angel” belongs to a family desclans-bottle-glass(excuse the gender) made up of  the mother, the grandmother and the great grandmother as follows:

     Chateau d’Esclans,  Whispering Angel,  is the beautiful baby

     Chateau d’Esclans,  Esclans,   is the gorgeous mother

     Chateau d’Esclans,   Les Clans,  is the gracious grandmother

     Chateau d’Esclans,  Garrus,  is the resplendent great grandmother

How do we describe these extraordinary wines which grace the tables of many of the worlds finest Hotels and Restaurants, maybe first we should highlight the exceptional people behind this remarkable estate. It’s a huge challenge to turn a wine grouping like rose whose reputation as a good quaffing wine is ok, but not great, into a wine of substance that can now sit comfortably at the same table with great red and white wines like those from Bordeaux and Burgundy. This challenge was taken up by Sacha Lichine the owner of Chateau d’ Esclans and the son of the distinguished wine writer and past owner of Chateau Prieure Lichine in Margaux, Alexis Lichine.

Sacha is the driving force behind this accomplished enterprise, his intense sacha1belief that rose wines could be propelled high up in the league of fine wine is equally matched by the investment he has committed and the astute move to persuade Patrick Leon out of retirement to take the lead as head winemaker. Patrick Leon  one of the worlds leading winemakers has leon1ptbeen a family friend for many decades and was before his original retirement the chief winemaker at Chateau Mouton-Rothschild and one of Patrick’s many claims to fame was his lead role with Robert Mondavi in developing Opus One at the Napa Valley winery in California, now one of the worlds greatest wines. With a great believer and a great winemaker success was inevitable.

If we can get a little technical and discuss the actual wines and bearing in mind the significant variation in costs, then the inevitable question that comes to mind is what is the difference between Chateau d’Esclans and other Provence roses and what are the differences between Chateau d’Esclans’s own four roses.

 desclans-vineyardsIts important we highlight the main differences between Chateau d’Esclans and other top Provence estates. First the Chateau predominatly uses Grenache from vines up to eighty years old for all of the four roses they produce and using this grape variety is unique in its own right.

 Secondly they adopted a unique process to Provence whereby  85 to 90 percent of all four roses are made from “free run juice” and limited very light and soft pneumatic pressings of between 0 to 2 bar for the remainder of the process.

The third major initiative is the meticulous and lengthy process of temperature control which starts with early morning harvesting with ice packs in each of the pickers basket, the grapes are then chilled before a short maceration process, then the juice is free run via gravity and the grapes own natural weight before a very limited and light pressing. The cooling process continues in the fermenting halls via refrigerated steel vats and yet another unique system for the wines stored in burgundy barrels, desclans-barrels-2these barrels have cooling tubes located through the centre which manages a slow fermentation over 3 to 4 months which in turn produces special wines of great taste, complexity and fragrant aromas unlike no other Rose Wines in the World.

The select processes and creativity mentioned above are not only very uncommon in wine making, but very time consuming and costly and only by tasting the wines can one realize the significant difference between the rose wines of Chateau d’Esclans and other best in class growers. Skill, effort and commitment  always reward in the end.

The following provides more detail regarding the individual wines:

Chateau d’Esclans Whispering Angel—the grapes are selected from the south exposure of the vineyard. The grape varieties utilized are Grenache, Syrah, Cinsault, Mourvedre and Rolle (Vermentino). Maceration is at 10-12 C to extract maximum aromas. The assemblage has been made without barrel fermentation to keep the freshness and all the fruit flavours. This is a beautiful wine, delicately scented with lovely flavours and enchanting aromatics. Soft and round it displays layers of exotic and seductive fruit.

Chateau d’EsclansEsclans—the grapes are selected from the best sections of the chateau, mainly from a south east exposure. 80 year old Grenache provides 39% of the juice, the balance of the Grenache being selected from 30 to 40 year old vines, some Rolle (Vermentino) is utilized to provide balance to the blend. The grapes are sorted manually three times with maceration following at 10 to 12 C to extract maximum aromas. The wine is partly vinified in demi-muids (500 to 600 litres barrels). The bottle bouquet of this class rose wine is powerful with an abundance of honey and melon sweet- smelling fruit. The underlying wine has an inner core of sumptuous and well proportioned fruit and acidity and a just fabulous finish.

Chateau d’Esclans,   Les Clans—the grapes are selected from the best south east parts of the vineyard. Grenache is the primary grape variety with 45% harvested from 80 year old vines. A little Rolle (Vermentino) being included to balance the blend. The grapes are tasted and bunches individually selected all by hand in the vineyard early morning before moving on to the winery. Maceration takes place at 10 to 12 C to extract maximum aromas and then only free run juice is selected before pressing. Vinification is exclusively in demi-muids (500 and 600 litres barrels) for 7 months with burgundian style batonnage. This remarkable wine will age well for up to 5 years. A gorgeously complex wine with exceptional richness. This rose wine exhibits huge amounts of fragrance, admirable levels of concentrated fruit with a lovely long lasting fresh finish.

Chateau d’EsclansGarrus—the grapes are selected from the best south east parts of the vineyard and harvested at optimum maturity. Grenache is the primary grape variety with 48% harvested from 80 year old vines. A little Rolle (Vermentino) being included to balance the blend. The grapes are tasted and bunches individually selected all by hand in the vineyard early morning before moving on to the winery. Maceration takes place at 10 to 12 C to extract maximum aromas and then only free run juice is selected before pressing. Vinification is exclusively in demi-muids (500 and 600 litres barrels) for 8 months with burgundian style batonnage. This top cuvee will age well for up to 5 years. Yes, stunningly opulent and sensationally concentrated, yet very cultured, this monumental rose has such intense flavours which release magnificent and compelling quotas of fruit as the wine leisurely cascades over the palate, with a gorgeous finish that  lasts for ever and ever.

Remember— Agnetha, Anni-Frid, Benny and Bjorn all believed in Angels



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Food and Wine Pairing—Chicken

17 June 2009 9:27 am | Posted by siteadmin

(continuation from blog  “ Food and Wine pairing”  dated  2nd June  2009)

INTRODUCTION:—–this blog and the many more following will examine the pleasurable and often complex relationship between good food and wine, with the ultimate aim to assist our many discerning customers evolve the convivial bonding of good food and wine.

FOOD BEING FEATURED:—–CHICKEN, including ROAST CHICKEN, DEEP FRIED CHICKEN and GRILLED or BARBECUED CHICKEN.  ( roast or grilled guinea fowl would also be a good alternative )

CHALLENGES:—–chicken plainly cooked or grilled without strong herbs or spices is the perfect white meat to match most red, white or rose wines ( not sweet wines ). In fact these dishes are so wine friendly you can feel most confident in selecting one of your own favourite wines and to fully enjoy the pairing.

RECOMMENDATIONS:—–my favourites for matching chicken dishes are many and the following three come highly recommended. First would be a light fruity red from the Beaujolais Cru region, a Julienas from Domaine de la Vieille Tour Ronde,  there would be perfect harmony between the light, long lasting subtle flavours of the gamay grape with all the chicken dishes mentioned above.

My second selection would be a stunning roses from Provence in the South of France, Whispering Angel from Chateau d’Esclans. A little expensive for a rose you may well say, but roses from Chateau d’Esclans are in a class of their own and will turn a simple chicken dish into a banquet fit for kings.

For my third choice I have selected a New World white wine from Monterey California, a Hayes Ranch Pinot Grigio. This light buttery wine is much softer than its Italian cousin and has a long, lingering fruit driven aftertaste that goes very well with most chicken dishes hot or cold.

MAIN DIRECTORY:—–click on  to access our quick search facility to locate hundreds of other food/wine/food pairing options, including hors-d’oeuvres, starters, soups, main courses and deserts. Also for cheese and wine pairing.


NEXT ARTICLE:—–Medium style curry, including chicken, lamb, prawn and vegetable.


Graham D

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Follow up from previous cheese and wine blog, dated 11 May 2009

16 June 2009 12:54 pm | Posted by siteadmin

Following my previous article  please find some more  interesting  information to help our many customers and followers enjoy the matching of  quality cheese and wine. The main purpose of this article is to highlight generic groups of wines and to match them to their most suited cheese types.

It should be noted that the balance of flavours is paramount and the following table is only intended as helpful suggestions, but please do experiment and I am sure you, your family and friends will not only succeed in matching good cheese and wines to suit yourselves, but you will certainly enjoy the process of seeking natural partners.

RED RHONE———HARD and BLUE types such as traditional Single and Double Gloucester or Dorset Blue Viney.

RED PIEDMONT———SEMI  HARD types like Farmhouse Mature Cheddar or Cheshire

RED TUSCANY———HARD and SEMI HARD types such as Parmagiano Reggiano or Lanchashire

RED BORDEAUX———SOFT and BLUE types such as Bresse Blue or Munster

RED BEAUJOLAIS———SOFT CREAMY types such as Reblochon or Wensleydale

RED BURGUNDY———HARD or BLUE types such as Jarlsberg or Blue Stilton

RED NEW WORLD———HARD and SEMI HARD types such as Cheddar, Gruyere and Jarlsberg

RED RIOJA & RIBERA———HARD types such as Manchego or Orkney Smoked Cheddar

WHITE BORDEAUX (DRY)———GOAT and SOFT types such as Ireland’s Mine-Gabhar Goat’s Cheese and Valencay

WHITE BURGUNDY———HARD types such as Cheddar and Red Liecester

NEW WORLD SAUVIGNON BLANC———GOAT and HARD types such as Cheshire and Lairobell

NEW WORLD CHARDONNAY———HARD and SOFT types such as Reblochon or Mozzarella di Buffalo Campara

DRY ALSACE AND RIESLING——— SOFT and HARD types such as Emmenthal or Rind Wrapped Farmhouse Cheddar

ROSE———SOFT and INTENSE types such as Blue Cheshire and Gournay Affine

CHAMPAGNE & SPARKLING——— SOFT and FIRM types such as Brie, Camembert and Saint Paulin

DESSERT & LATE HARVEST WINES———SOFT, BLUE and INTENSE types such as Roquefort or Pont L’Eveque

RICH & SWEET SHERRY ———BLUE or INTENSE types such as St Agur, Gorganzola and Wensleydale Blue

DRY SHERRY———HARD and INTENSE types such as Goats Cheese, Cheddar matured for at least six months and Manchego

PORT——— BLUE or INTENSE types as St Agur, Stilton and Cashel Blue

MADEIRA———HARD and SEMI HARD types such as Gruyere and Derby

MARSALA———BLUE and INTENSE types such as Oak Smoked Cheddar and Roquefort


Go to and review the many other cheeses with their matching wines.



 Watch out soon for our 3rd article on cheese and wine pairing.




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Fine Whiskies from Bruichladdich

15 June 2009 2:45 pm | Posted by siteadmin

There are a huge range of malt whiskies on the market these days, and one of the notable aspects of this, is the diverse range of styles of whisky, dependent upon location and production. Within this, many distilleries develop, along with their traditional styles many experimental casks and bottlings, thus consistently challenging our taste buds, and perceptions of whisky as a whole. One of the distilleries at the forefront of such experimentation is Bruichladdich, who produce an excellent standard range alongside many limited bottlings of very differing whiskies.

The Bruichladdich distillery began in 1881 and produced traditional Islay style whiskies until 1994 when, due to various buy outs, the distillery was closed. This remained the case until 2000, when a group of investors purchased the distillery, renovated and updated the place and reopened in 2001. The new owners pride themselves on Bruichladdich being Scotland’s ‘purest malt,’ free from chill filtration, colouring and homogenisation. Due to the nature of Bruichladdich’s production and experimentation some of the whiskies in this blog are very limited, but were all available at the time of writing.

For an excellent introduction to this distillery’s offerings, the Bruichladdich Waves 7 Years Old Single Malt Scotch Whisky, is bursting with cranberry, vanilla, raisin and peat smoke and is an exquisite round Islay style but with a soft mouthfeel.

 Bruichladdich Second Edition 12 Years Old Single Malt Scotch Whisky is matured in bourbon casks which give this malt a strong creamy vanilla tang. This is a light style of Islay though and as such works well as an aperitif.

A couple of further aged bottlings which are excellent include the Bruichladdich Second Edition 15 Years Old Single Malt Scotch Whisky, which has a delicate coastal nose, with hints of apricots, followed up on the palate by marmalade and pepper. This is a restrained Islay, and an elegant offering from the range. The Bruichladdich Single Malt Scotch Whisky 20 Years Old, likewise has an elegance and youthfulness which defies its age, but has a more buttery palate and a concentrated yet distant hint of smoke, a most luxurious and succulent malt.

For those who prefer a richer, rounder style of malt, try the Bruichladdich Single Malt Scotch Whisky 18 Years Old.  This fantastic dram is aged in bourbon casks for 18 years before further ageing in auslese and pinot noir casks, resulting in a remarkably fruity and complex whisky with a hint of sweetness balancing the gentle smoke.

Bruichladdich Infinity Single Malt Scotch Whisky is a crisp yet fruity style with smooth pear notes intermingled with smoke and vanilla. This is a blended malt from the distillery and perhaps has a more typical Islay style due to the pronounced peat.

Of very limited quantities, the Bruichladdich Single Malt Scotch Whisky 16 Years Old Cuvee  Margaux  is a bourbon aged malt which is then introduced to further ageing in Chateau Margaux casks. Part of the ‘Bordeaux first growth’ series this is lightly peated with vanilla tones and a wine fruit character.

The highest echelon in the Bruichladdich range is the ‘legacy series,’ highly limited  malts which date from the pre 2000 purchase of the distillery. These are of course no longer in production and most of them are now sold out. The whiskies are presented in beautiful tins depicting paintings by the artist Frances Mcdonald. Two special examples of these are the Bruichladdich Single Malt Scotch Whisky 32 Years Old Legacy Series Four, which is sublimely soft sweet and fruity with an integration of honey and almonds, and a pleasing oak backbone. There were just 900 bottles of this made.

 Bruichladdich Single Malt Scotch Whisky , Legacy Series Six 34 Years Old is a marriage of casks dating from 1965, 1970 and 1970, and is an incredibly mellow dram with hints of cinnamon spice, vanilla and mint, and is a collectors dream. This is the last of the legacy series and there were 1700 bottles made.

Other limited Bruichladdich bottlings include the impressive Bruichladdich Redder Still Single Malt Scotch Whisky. This is a 22 year old malt aged in bourbon casks before enhancement in Chateau Lafleur Pomerol casks. Smooth and silky with hints of red fruit and vanilla, with a lovely malted barley finish, this malt is recommended with a drop of spring water (it is cask strength at 50.5%), to really expose the layers of nuanced character.

For those who would like to sample a real pile driver from the distillery, try to get your hands on the powerful Bruichladdich Port Charlotte PC6 Single Malt Scotch Whisky, which is packed with smouldering peat, bonfire smoke and sweet citrus.  This is simply an awesome expression of what Islay malt is all about, but retains the innovative character that this brilliant distillery prides itself on.

Any of these malts will give whisky connoisseurs great pleasure, and due to the continual developments of the distillery, and the diversity of the products on offer, I would strongly recommend regular visits to the Alexander Hadleigh website, to ensure one does not miss out on new and limited bottlings when they are released.











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Food and Wine Pairing—Lamb

2 June 2009 10:54 am | Posted by siteadmin

(continuation from blog  “ Food and Wine pairing ”  dated 29th May 2009)


INTRODUCTION:—–this blog and the many more following will examine the pleasurable and often complex relationship between good food and wine, with the ultimate aim to assist our many discerning customers evolve the convivial bonding of good food and wine.

FOOD BEING FEATURED:—–ROAST LAMB, GRILLED LAMB CHOPS, SHOULDER and NECK of LAMB DISHES  and LAMB KEBABS.  ( roast or grilled kid would also be a good alternative )

CHALLENGES:—–not too difficult with simply cooked red meats like lamb, although certain cuts of lamb can have a slightly more fattier taste when compared to beef or venison, bearing this comment in mind I would suggest fairly big red wines with a little cutting edge to match cuts like neck or shoulder. If we are considering the leaner cuts of meat  like roast leg of lamb, grilled leg of lamb steaks or chops then softer reds come into play with a lot more confidence.

RECOMMENDATIONS:—–New World Merlots such as Kono Merlot from New Zealand or Wakefield Merlot from Australia go beautifully with the leaner cuts of lamb grilled or roasted. The merlot combination has to be one of the best, although a merlot blended with a little cabernet sauvignon can also do the trick.

With shoulder or neck of lamb and lamb kebabs I would recommend trying the luscious fruity red  Domaine de Madame from the scenic  Costieres de Nimes in the South of France, or even a full bodied White Chateauneuf-du-Pape like Domaine Saint Benoit. Both wines effortlessly  compliment the hardy dishes in question.

If you are planning a big hearty lamb stew or casserole then try a not too expensive Cabernet Sauvignon like Chateau Haut Pougnan from Bordeaux or a Wente Cabernet Sauvignon from San Francisco Bay. Like all cabernet sauvignon wines they possess the extra tannin required to match the richness of these fine traditional lamb dishes.


MAIN DIRECTORY:—-click on  to access our quick search facility to locate hundreds of other food/wine/food pairing options, including hors-d’oeuvres, starters, soups, main courses and deserts. Also for cheese and wine pairing.


NEXT ARTICLE:—–Chicken  including roast chicken, deep fried chicken and grilled or barbecued chicken.


Graham D

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Genever Gin – the original gin

30 May 2009 8:36 am | Posted by siteadmin

We all love a nice G’n’T, and have become accustomed to the London style gin which has been immensely popular in this country for a hundred and fifty years or so now. Dry, clean and slightly aromatic, this wonderful spirit is vastly different to the drink it historically evolved from, the Dutch drink Genever, which was named after one of the constituents of the drink, the juniper berry. It was originally perceived to be a medicine (I wish my doctor would prescribe a bottle or two) when it was first created, however in the 17th century it soon became popular with British soldiers fighting in the ‘thirty years war’, who then introduced their ‘Dutch Courage’ to these shores. It soon took off in popularity in Britain, resulting in the encouragement of home production of ‘gin’ (as the name was shortened to) during the reign of William and Mary. The style was still sweet and rich, similar to the Genever of Holland.

This, however caused something of a ‘gin epidemic’ as the drink was cheap to manufacture and therefore to sell, and it is argued was safer to drink than London water! Therefore the drink became rampant, particularly amongst the poor resulting in a constantly drunken London, day and night (what’s changed). When the government tried to tackle the problem, creating new laws to make the cost of gin much more expensive, riots broke out. Eventually in the 1870’s the drink had been modified into the dry style which we know today, and gin became respectable again.

As a consequence of this, the original Dutch Genever became an unusual and rare drink on the British market, and that remains the case today, although there are some exceptional offerings out there, made in traditional styles, with historical packaging that are great examples of the original gin style.

The A van Weiss distillery has been operating since 1872 and is said to be the last remaining authentic distillery in Amsterdam. They pride themselves on generating their Genever from traditional recipes with an attention to detail in terms of the botanicals used to create balanced spirits.

A van Weiss still create two styles of genever, old and young. These are not a reference to the age of the gin, but rather refer to the method used in the creation of the spirit. Old Genever is made using traditional methods based on recipes from before 1900. This method involves fermenting the wheat and then distilling it three times to create a ‘korenwijn’ (malt wine). Herbs (botanicals) and juniper berries are then added to this malt wine, and it is then distilled a fourth time. This product can then be released young, or can be aged in oak barrels sometimes for up to twenty years. Old Genever tends to be quite sweet and aromatic and has a straw like colour.

The Amsterdamsche Old Genever Gin , is a great example of this style, distilled twice and using a combination of 100 malt wine and herbs, it has a pale yellow hue due to being aged in oak for six months. Soft and elegant but with a voluptuous palate, this is perfect drunk chilled straight from the fridge.

For a more serious Genever, Roggenaer Special Reserve Gin 15 Years , this gin is full of herby presence with a generous rye character balanced off with soft citrus notes. Gentle and refined this is a rare, yet great example of the A van Weiss distillery’s work.

Young Genever is made using methods that are post 1900, and involve directly fermenting and distilling the wheats until they are 96% alcohol, before adding the botanicals. This style is what is commonly known as gin and is much drier and cleaner, with a lighter body. This style is more associated with the ‘London’ style gins, but a good example from Holland would be the, Jonge Wees Geneva Gin , which is a light, smooth and slightly sweet spirit with an obvious juniper berry flavour.

For a contemporary style of Genever, in both production and packaging, try from another distillery, the stylish Dutch Zuidam Genever Gin , which is sweet, full bodied and aromatic, and delicious chilled from the freezer. Produced from two generations of master distillers, this Genever oozes modernity, but maintains a nod to the historical context of the drink. This excellent producer have also developed Zuidam Dry Gin ,  which is a small batch similar to a London style gin, creating a zippy balance of citrus and herbs, with a delightful slightly aromatic harmony.

Try Genever Gin with friends and seek their opinion on the differences.







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