Celebrate #NationalMartiniDay with one of our favorite cocktails created by the mixology team from The Winebow Group!
We visited Ardbeg first, and got an incredibly in-depth tour from distillery manager Mickey Heads. Our first impression was how shockingly small the operation is, at least in comparison to their marketing budget. Ardbeg only operates a single pair of stills. To put that in perspective Glenlivet has 28 pairs.
After a long drive across the lowlands and down the Campbeltown peninsula we arrived in the town of Campbeltown. Once the mecca of Scotch whisky with over 35 distilleries in the town, the number has dwindled down to just 3. Two of them are owned by the Wright family, Springbank and Glengyle. Founded in 1828, the Springbank distillery is a special place for Scotch lovers.
Family owned since 1895, G&M is one of Scotland’s oldest independent bottlers. They’re also a wine, spirits and beer wholesaler. Their operation is very large, spanning several acres. We got a chance to see one of their warehouses and it was a sight to behold. They use a tall, racked warehouse as opposed to the short, dank dunnage warehouses. There are some real gems in their warehouses and they have some of the oldest casks in the business. In fact, they’ve bottled the oldest single malt ever bottled, a 70-year-old Mortlach. We had the privilege of tasting two different Macallan casks from 1940 while we were there. They were both surprisingly vibrant and fresh when we expected woody and tired. We’ve got plenty of G&M cask samples we’re tasting through and considering and will update our picks in an upcoming post.
Sherry has long had an unfair reputation. Dismissed as the stuffy drink of choice for aging British aristocrats, or sickly sweet jug wine more suited to cooking than drinking. Fortunately the variety and quality of sherry is being rediscovered. Sommeliers and bartenders are putting it back on menus and serving up classic, sherry-based cocktails from more than a century ago. This cocktail takes its name from the musical “Adonis,” one of the first Broadway hits back in 1884. Easy to prepare and lower in alcohol than most cocktails, it’s a fine way to begin an evening, or end one. I’ve seen some recipes that call for fino sherry, but I prefer to use oloroso or amontillado, such as the ones from Lustau. The richer, rounder flavors of these sherries pair well with a more full-bodied sweet vermouth like Carpano Antica. Orange bitters are key as the citrus pulls it all together.
As more releases from the Orphan Barrel line of bourbons keep coming, their consistent value pricing continues to surprise us. In all honesty, the prices of theses bourbons are surprisingly low considering the age of the barrels and current demand for mature bourbons. Finding this much juice at such an advanced age really is an oddity in this boom portion of the space-time bourbon continuum. As with the previous releases, grab them while you can. They will most certainly disappear at a quick pace.
The Whiskey Hotline is currently on sabbatical on Islay, but the line between work and play is always blurred. We visited a few of our favorite distilleries in between eating haggis burgers, haggis pizza, haggis nachos and black pudding and managed to get an advance tasting on some upcoming releases you’ll want to keep an eye out for. These are all currently on the water and we expect to have them within a month or so. We’ll be sure to let you know here as soon as they arrive.
We can’t get this creamsicle-like cocktail off our brains. Perfect for that springtime happy hour or served as a batched cocktail for your next shindig. Don’t forget to mix this Jazzy Hour up on April 19th for National Amaretto Day!
OK, maybe we haven’t had ideal Spring weather yet, but that just makes us look for our favorite Spring drinks all the more. Gin is near the top of that list. If you’ve been in the stores recently, you likely have noticed a flood of new gins. Here is a highlight of a few of the most interesting new entries to this booming category:
This cheeky cocktail is sour and bitter with a sweet finish. It reminds us of a melted Popsicle on a hot summer day. Bartender Angie selected the gin for its key lime and juniper flavors. It’s distilled locally in the heart of Chicago at CH Distillery on Randolph Street, just less than two miles from both our Downtown and South Loop locations.
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