• New Booze Round-up #19: British rum special!

    We’ve been commenting on how rum is on the up for a while and this year the curve seems to be arcing steeper, at least if the volume of rum-release emails we’re receiving is anything to go by. And they’re not all coming in from the Caribbean. For this edition of our New Booze Round-up we’re featuring three rums, each with the unusual distinction of being made in Britain…

    Bottle of pineapple rum

    Dead Man’s Fingers Pineapple Rum, 37.5%

    Rum’s attempts to be the new gin are evidenced in the huge variety of flavoured rums arriving on the market. In our experience, apart from myriad spiced rums, there is only one flavour that works consistently well: coconut. But we’re also beginning to believe that pineapple could be a best flavour contender, with Dead Man’s Fingers being the latest to give it a go.

    The Dead Man’s Fingers team hail from a crab shack in St Ives, Cornwall (Dead Man’s Fingers are the fingery gills in a crab) but distill their spirit in Bristol. Roasted, caramelised pineapple has been added to this rum, but it’s not as sweet or in-your-face-pineapple as you might imagine. Instead there’s a light pineapple flavour with a few sharp notes and a burnt toffee background that demands to be mixed with something fizzy and lots of ice. Lemonade, ginger beer or one of those tropical flavoured soft drinks that were massively big in the 1980s. Just make it cold and make it long for some terrific hot weather supping.

    BUY

    +++++

    Bottle of Silk Road rum

    Silk Road White Spiced Rum, 42%

    There’s a lot that’s unusual about this rum. It’s made in London. It’s a spiced white rum. And the six botanicals featured are vapour infused. Like most young white rums it’s best used as a cocktail mixer – sup it neat and the burst of alcohol will jab at your jaw before the spices deliver a knock-out punch. But calm the fire and you’ll notice it’s a much smoother sip, carrying those botanicals through to whatever drink you team it with, spicing up the flavours a treat.

    To make it sound even more unusual, we thought it worked well with tonic as a less bitter alternative to gin. And best of all was with flavoured tonics. Where these soft drinks can often kill the subtle flavours of gin, they mixed extremely well with the spices, allowing you to appreciate the flavours of the tonic as well as those of the rum. If you’re a cocktail experimenter then this rum is definitely one for you.

    BUY

    +++++

    Bottle of mainbrace spliced rum

    Mainbrace Rum, 40%

    Here’s another new rum with a Cornish connection, but to say it hasn’t come in from the Caribbean would be a bit of a lie. It’s a blended rum, dreamt up at The Ferry Boat Inn on the Helford Passage.* The spirits making it into the bottle are two to five year old golden rums from Guyana and an unaged Rhum** Agricole from Martinique.

    Rhum Agricoles are less well known in the UK but are the main type of rum in French speaking parts of the Caribbean. Unlike most rums that are distilled from molasses, Agricoles use sugar cane as their source and the resulting booze has a fresh and grassy flavour to it (perhaps unsurprising as sugar cane is a type of tropical grass).

    The folk at Mainbrace think this is the first such commercial blend*** of these two rum types and the resulting spirit is certainly different to others you’ll find in the UK. It has a good aged-rum aroma to it with sweet toffee to the fore, while those grassy notes lend the flavour a lighter edge and a dryness to the finish. It’s an excellent neat-sipper – not too challenging for those not used to sipping rum neat – and we are certain it will work well in your rum cocktail favourites, with a splash of fiery ginger being our preferred partner.

    BUY

    *Nick caught his first ever fish on the Helford river, over 40 years ago. A rock wrasse. He was way too young to be drinking so has now celebrated the occasion by raising a rum-toast to the mighty river and all who fish on it. (To see how stunning it is take a look at the pictures on the Mainbrace website)

    **French for ‘rum’

    ***Or ‘splicing’ as they call it, hence ‘splice the mainbrace’

    The post New Booze Round-up #19: British rum special! appeared first on Two Thirsty Gardeners.


    Source: Two Thirsty Gardeners

  • The best place in the garden for a bench (featuring the Turnberry Flat-Arm)

    A few years ago Rich got hold of an ace new bench from Sloane & Sons. His Westminster is a marvelous piece of craftsmanship and he has been bragging about it ever since, suggesting meetings round his house are held outside (even in winter) just so I’m forced to sit on the bench and admire its sturdy features.

    Last week we were chatting with the good folk at Sloane & Sons discussing how, with the country in lockdown, and gardens being busier than ever, those Westminster benches have been flying out of the warehouse.* During the conversation I casually mentioned that my own garden was currently bereft of benches** and, quick as a flash, they offered to rectify the situation with a handsome flat arm Turnberry teak bench.

    In return for this generosity I have agreed to write about the bench’s exquisite qualities while providing some insight into where the best place to position it might be…

    Where to place a garden bench

    Considerations

    Anyone unpacking a new bench might be inclined to simply plonk it where there’s some convenient space. But seeing as you’re going to spend a fair bit of time relaxing on your new piece of furniture it pays to give due consideration to where it might fit best, re-landscaping that area if necessary. When casting an eye across my own garden these are the questions that I worked my way through

    Do I want to maximise sun or shade?

    Which direction should the bench face?

    Should it be close to the house (for convenience) or as far away as possible (for escape)?

    What should the neighbouring planting scheme consist of?

    What surface should it sit on?

    My solution

    My garden is North East facing, so during the afternoon and evening the sunniest spot is at the end furthest away from the house. This is where my neighbours have their bench and they can be seen reclining on it, glasses of booze in hand, on most sunny evenings. However, the far end of my garden is currently a mess and I prefer a bench closer to the house.

    Besides giving me a shorter journey from beer fridge to furniture it also allows me to keep a better eye on dogs and children running in and out of the house. In design terms, a bench that is visible from inside the house can also create the illusion of the garden being an extension of the home, encouraging more frequent use of the outdoor space.

    Because most of my bench dwelling will be during the heat of the midday sun, some shade will be quite useful, so I’ve placed the bench among tall plants for a dappled light effect. It’s surrounded by rose and honeysuckle, giving me some floral fragrance while I relax, and there’s room either side for pots of further scented specimens (I will soon choose between lavender and rosemary).

    As it’s by the border it faces out across the lawn, giving me a good view of the garden (and my lager-swigging neighbours). I have a slate chipping surface, which allows it nestle down solidly while providing a dryer base than the lawn, which will help protect it from damp. I may be missing out on that evening sun but in situ it looks splendid.

    Turnberry 2 seater teak bench
    There’s comfort in those curves, while the view from the conservatory makes the garden feel like an extension of the house

    The bench

    Turnberry Flat Arm 2-Seater Teak Bench

    The main difference between my Turnberry bench and Rich’s Westminster is in its curves. Where Rich’s is all straight lines, my Turnberry flows with a graceful sophistication. A gentle arch across the top, and curved slats to lean against, provide excellent support and comfort for post-digging backs, while the smooth curvature of the arms is ideal for leaning on. Like Rich’s Westminster, the arms are flat, but mine widen at the front to create an ample platform on which to rest a mug or pint pot.

    The bench arrives as a flatpack, but assembly is easy – the back, base and arms are already made up so it’s just a case of fixing them together with the narrow strip of wood at the front. Simply hammer in a handful of wooden dowels and a screw in a couple of screws (the screws are underneath so won’t be visible) and you’ll have a perfectly sturdy bench that’s ready to take the strain.

    From now on, meetings are round my house.

    Wooden dowels and solid joints make the bench sturdy and avoid unsightly screws, while that curvy arm is crying out for the addition of a pint glass
    Wooden dowels and strong joints provide sturdiness while avoiding unsightly screws… and that curvy arm is crying out for the addition of a pint glass

    +++++

    If you want a Turnberry teak bench to rest upon the click here

    *Rich claims his bragging on this website is partly responsible

    **I had an old, narrow bench (converted from a shoe rack) which finally succumbed to rot last winter

    The post The best place in the garden for a bench (featuring the Turnberry Flat-Arm) appeared first on Two Thirsty Gardeners.


    Source: Two Thirsty Gardeners

  • New Booze Round-up #18: Special releases from Laphroaig, Ledaig, Glenburgie and Worthy Park Rum

    Behold! This latest edition of our New Booze Round-up is a Whisky Exchange Special!

    A few weeks ago were recently sent four small sample bottles containing new releases from The Whisky Exchange. Each one of them is a little bit special. So special that we’ve decided to feature them in a new booze round-up all of their own. 

    If you’ve yet to explore the treasures on offer at The Whisky Exchange then you’re in for a treat because it’s one of the best-stocked booze retailers around. Besides housing one of the biggest ranges of whiskies and other spirits you will find anywhere, they also sell exclusive boozes that are bottled under their own label. They’re staffed by drinks experts who share a lot of their knowledge (check out the highly informative features on their website) and we regularly tap into their expertise when researching spirits for features. 

    The four samples we received are all exclusive releases – three Single Malt Scottish Whiskies and a Jamaican Rum – so if you’re looking for a taste of something rare then read on…

    +++++

    Laphroaig 1998, 21 years old, 54.4%

    Anyone who likes a peaty dram sloshing around in their glassware should be familiar with Islay’s Laphroaig distillery. Its whisky has a distinctive smoke and antiseptic tang that can put off some folk for life, but those who develop a taste for such a combination will lap up each new release with gusto.*

    This 21 year old suntanned spirit has a typically strong whiff of smoke and leather with that medicinal TCP quality also creeping into the frame. It’s a drink that has bags of flavour, with heavily roasted meat bones, sea spray, cherry pie and Unami all in the mix. There’s a minty tingle to the smooth oak finish and, even when it’s long since gone, those peaty characteristics keep on chugging away.

    Buy £325

    +++++

    Ledaig 2005, 13 year old, 57.4%

    Ledaig is made at the Island of Mull’s Tobermory distillery but, unlike Tobermoray releases, the whisky is infused with the flavours of peated malt. In trying to describe whiskies, several comparisons crop up that sound far from flattering: TCP (see above) is one of them and, in this instance, one of the key words you might find used is ‘damp.’ We’re going to take this cruel comparison even further and suggest the dampness is akin to steamy compost. And we’re also going to throw in burnt flavours to the flavour-association game: burnt oil and a fruit and chocolate cake that has spent way too much time in the oven.

    On more positive sounding territory we’ll also add some sherry sweetness and the kind of sugary hit you might detect when chewing on a licorice stick. In reality – as with most tasting notes – the similarity to these flavours is a personal perception: overall it’s an outstanding peaty whisky.

    Buy £94.95

    +++++

    Glenburgie 1998, 21 year old, 55.4%

    You won’t see many bottles of Glenburgie Single Malt Whisky in the shops because the majority of the distillery’s output is destined for blends produced by owners the Chivas Brothers. In fact, this is a first tasting of Glenburgie whisky for us.

    The initial supping of this pale dram was at the end of a tasting evening and our notes are verging on the indecipherable. We think they read “bitter lemon sweets, creme brulee and chewed toothpick.” A subsequent tasting does confirm that suckable citrussy sweets can be detected and there is the kind of creamy, crunchy, flame-grilled-sugar flavour that might sit on the top of a creme brulee. As for the toothpick, we suspect that refers to a mature, woody finish alongside which some of the fresher fruit flavours remain.

    Buy £120

    +++++

    Worthy Park Rum 2007, 12 year old, 58%

    Worthy Park is a Jamaican estate with a distillery and sugar plantation, the ideal combination for the production of rum. This bronzed molasses rum was aged for 12 years (9 years in the Caribbean and 3 in Europe) before being bottled by Thompson Brothers exclusively for The Whisky Exchange.

    It’s the kind of spirit that engulfs your senses with every sip, the gingery oak tugging away at the cheeks while the smooth, syruppy, tinned fruit and caramel flavours ease into every pore. It’s a rum that is drenched in Jamaican sunshine, giving you a tropical warmth and happy glow that will last through even the coolest of British evenings.

    Buy £64.95

    +++++

    Note: Prices are correct at time of publication

    *Looks like this one has sold out. Already

    The post New Booze Round-up #18: Special releases from Laphroaig, Ledaig, Glenburgie and Worthy Park Rum appeared first on Two Thirsty Gardeners.


    Source: Two Thirsty Gardeners

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