Walking around the chilly streets of Glasgow in winter there are many tempting bars and restaurants beckoning you in with their warm, tempting food and appetising cocktails on offer. One such establishment which has been high on the list to try at The Gentleman Select is The Spiritualist Bar & Restaurant in which this month, I was very lucky to pop in and see the exquisite venue for myself.
In the past St Andrews was always a place I visited to play golf and why not, it is the home of golf after all with its incredible links courses presenting so many challenges. What I also love about the place is the narrow, cobbled little streets leading to quaint little pubs for drowning your sorrows after several wayward tee-shots during the day! Most recently however I visited St Andrews for a different reason. It was to check out the newly refurbished The Saint Bar & Kitchen, the ideal place to see what culinary delights this picturesque Scottish seaside town has to offer.
I think one of my favourite things, aside from clothing and a little bit of sunshine, is some really good food and drink. There are some great options out there at the minute with new spots opening almost daily. Here at The Gentleman Select, its always fun suggesting restaurants and bars to try and recently I was lucky enough to visit one such place I would thoroughly recommend, The Printing Press Bar & Kitchen in Edinburgh.
Whisky is a creation loved the world over. Drank by famous figures of the past such as Sir Winston Churchill to Katharine Hepburn, toasted to celebrate a marriage or quaffed at the weekend to down ones sorrows, it truly is a legendary drink. Whats fascinating still is the length of time it has been around, 1790 in the case of Balblair, the oldest working whisky distillery in the Scottish Highlands. With this in mind then it was only right that I delve a little deeper, not that I took a great deal of convincing, into one of their most special creations of late, the 3rd release of their 1991 vintage Single Malt Scotch Whisky.
Summer is now in full bloom and revellers up and down the country are looking for bars and beer gardens to sit in with various refreshing drinks and cocktails to compliment. Delightfully, I was lucky enough this past weekend to check out the perfect summer accompaniment, a little hint of Mexico in the form of the “Patrón The Summer” Cocktail tour.
The traditional image of Scotch as a sophisticated gentleman’s drink, perfectly embodied by James Bond in Die Another Day, while very appealing, can also be a little intimidating. With more than 100 malt distilleries in Scotland, all producing a range of different whiskies, where do you start?
Malt whisky can achieve a huge range of flavours, and some of these are more approachable than others. Certain light whiskies aged in old oak can achieve the delicacy of cognac, while conversely the current fashion for using virgin oak produces malts which any bourbon drinker would enjoy. Whiskies made using peat-smoked malt are too strong for many people, although those who do drink them often seem to be a little fanatical about their preferred dram.
A dram, by the way, just means an unspecified measure of whisky, and if you have a dram in your hand then, well, you’re dramming!
Starting at the light end of the spectrum, a very easy-going, soft whisky is anCnoc 12 Year Old. The honey-sweet palate and gentle oak spice make it a perfect beginners dram. If you like your drinks mixed, then this one pairs very nicely with ginger beer.
And there goes Scotch Myth #1 – never mix your whisky. Although Scotch is a tricky ingredient to use in mixed drinks, there are a few tried and tested combinations. This is one of them.
In a similar light style, but with a more complex palate (and definitely not for mixing) try the Glenmorangie Tùsail. This limited edition is made with Maris Otter barley, a heritage variety not used for whisky since the 1970s, and it offers flavours from a different age.
For something richer, but still very approachable, thanks to the traditional sherry barrel maturation, try GlenDronach 12 Year Old. It’s a full-bodied, fruity malt, with a long sherry-oak finish, and a definite crowd pleaser.
Glen Garioch Virgin Oak has been matured exclusively in fresh American White Oak casks. Most scotch, by contrast, is matured in reused barrels. The result is an intensely spicy dram, with a ton of sweet vanilla. Bourbon drinkers, this one’s for you.
Moving onto the smokier styles, try starting with something which has seen just a little peat. The Springbank 10 Year Old, from Campbeltown, is a full bodied, complex dram, with nutty malt notes, sherry-oak, and just a little salty smoke.
If you want to experience the full power of a heavily peated whisky, then Lagavulin 16 Year Old does the job. It’s thick, oily, chewy, earthy, and has a pungent peat-reek that stays with you long after you’ve finished your dram.
This selection barely scratches the surface of Scotch – but that’s part of the fascination. There are so many malts, and so many different flavours to be found, that you can spend a lifetime exploring them. And if, along the way, you acquire the worldly air of someone who knows their whisky, well then, share your knowledge – and a dram – with the next generation of whisky beginners.
Find all of the above and more online at www.thegoodspiritsco.com