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Category Archives: Scotch

The Whisky Brigade

Last night I went to my first Whisky Brigade at Jack Rose Dining Saloon. A number of great whiskys were presented for the sampling, some known and some untasted by me so far.

Among the list were The Glenrothes out of Speyside: Select Reserve, 1985, 1994, and 1998 vintages; all of which took home awards from the San Francisco Wine and Spirits Competition. Of these I tried the vintages, the select reserve ran out too quickly, unfortunately. The favorite of mine was the 1998 with its smooth lush fruit notes and heaviness. This whisky has a definite spice to it, maybe light cardamom, and middling cinnamon, with vanilla smoothing out the sharpness that comes from this.

The other vintages are definitely more drinkable, I could probably only have a couple glasses of this, but I do like the bold character of this one. The 1998 is not something that I would drink with a meal, but something I would have for dessert, I think that it could easily overpower almost any meal. It is an interesting new addition to my notebook.

Longshanks’ Revenge

With fall coming and the first bit of chill weather in the District I figured I ought to put out a cocktail with some warmer notes:

  • 1.5 Chamomile infused Famous Grouse
  • .75 Cayenne-Thyme Syrup
  • .5 Fernet Branca
  • .5 Dry Vermouth

Build in an ice filled old fashioned glass and stir lightly or turn once in a shaker.

I have a terrible time naming drinks. My chef named this one after Edward I of England (Longshanks) and his victory over William Wallace of Scotland way back around the turn of the 14th century. After thinking about it for a bit and reading up on my history I realized it makes a lot of sense: the alliance between the French and the Scots is represented in the vermouth and Scotch, issues with the Vatican are tossed in with the Fernet Branca, and the general political and military strife can be seen as the Cayenne-thyme syrup, adding heat over time. Thank you, Eric.

A note on the Scotch: take a 750 of the Grouse (it would be a shame to use anything that one would happily sip) and add a dozen chamomile tea bags, let it sit for a half hour and remove the tea. Voila, you now have a bottle of chamomile infused Scotch and you’ve done something useful with that bottle of Famous Grouse that has been collecting dust. 

The Bastard Child

This is a spiced and smoked variation of the Ginger Rogers, not meant for the weak at heart, those who order whiskey sours, or who can’t handle a bit of fire. Laphroaig 10 year is the backbone of this particular cocktail. If you are a Scotch drinker you’ll know that this is an intensely peaty, smokey distillate, and if you mix drinks, an interesting spirit to work with:

  • 1.5 Laphroaig 10 year
  • .5 ginger coriander syrup
  • .25 Cointreau
  • dash Lemon bitters
  • sliver of orange rind

Chill a coupe or cocktail glass, toss the Scotch, syrup, and Cointreau into an ice filled shaker, shake until there are ice chips. Wash your glass with lemon bitters, making sure to only barely coat the inside as too much of a strong bitters, like lemon, will overpower and unbalance this cocktail. Strain, making sure to get the ice chips floating, burn the orange peel and rub around the rim of the glass, then drop it into the cocktail.

The ginger coriander syrup needs to be a thin one so that you get the flavors without sweetening the cocktail too much: 3.5 cups sugar to a half gallon water, with an ounce of chopped ginger and 4 tablespoons of whole coriander on a boil for 15-20 minutes will produce a good product. Add the sugar at the end of the process so that more of the coriander and ginger flavor can steep into the liquid.

Any thoughts on this? Would you use a different scotch, a different coriander ginger ratio for the syrup, or a different bitters?

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