Tamborine Mountain Distillery – Some Presents from Down-under

Welcome to “I’m Crap Week” part two. In particularly appropriate fashion it is now over a month since “I’m Crap Week” part one. Continuing the theme of things that friends have given me to write about which I haven’t written about, I turn to a triumvirate of bottles from the Tamborine Mountain Distillery.

The distillery is in the south east corner of Queensland, about 50 km from the border with new South Wales. The area it’s named for is a plateau that itself is named for the lime trees in the area rather than the instrument. They have been going since the early 90s, when the Ward family moved to the area and found they had a bit too much fruit to eat on their own. Now Michael and Alla, along with their children Sonya and Alex, run the distillery and make an impressively large range of spirits. You can find the complete list on their website, but they’ve picked up over 200 awards for their spirits over the last decade, including silvers and bronzes at the IWSC and a more recent 3 gold medals at the World Spirits Awards.

Michael also has one of the most impressive beards I’ve seen in a while and has a similar approach to photos as me – open your mouth and look as mad as possible. It’s a good strategy. One day I hope to have as good a beard as him.

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Goodbye old friend…

Just a quick post today to wish a brief farewell to a good friend of mine – my bottle of Angostura bitters.

Despite being a big fan of aromatic bitters laden drinks over the last decade I’ve never finished a bottle. This fact stood unchallenged until this weekend, when an excellent rye Old Fashioned emptied my sun bleached bottle. I was given it back in the summer of 2000 by a friend of mine who had been staying in my house while I was in the USA for my first month of my first job out of university and it has stayed with me since, moving five times and becoming the beginning and backbone of my cocktail experimentation and love of tasty drinks. Fare thee well, old chum.

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Whither Angostura?

Partly an excuse to post a picture, shot in my ghetto studio mk2 with my new polarising filter, partly a real news story – it seems that there’s an Angostura bitters shortage on.

AngosturaI’ve recently heard tales that the company that makes Angostura had gone out of business and as such there would be no more, however it seems that is not true. At least, that’s what the company are saying. According to The Guardian they had to shut down production for a spell due to issues with finances after the company changed hands. However, it seems that shipments have started up again and there may be Angostura appearing on these fair shores again soon.

However, I was over at Vinopolis last night for a whisky tasting and ended up talking to one of the guys at The Whisky Exchange about bitters. He advised me against the Peychaud’s I’d picked up, as he reckoned it wouldn’t go well with the Rittenhouse 100 I’d grabbed at the same time (initially assuming I was going to make Sazeracs [which Peychaud’s is an ingredient of] and offering me a miniature of Absinthe to use as part of that recipe [experiments to follow when I do buy some absinthe], and then shocked that I might use it in whisky old fashioned. He let me buy some when I explained that I would probably use it in rum and brandy Old Fashioneds as well as just for general drink experimentation. I like the guys at The Whisky Exchange) and offered me Fee Brothers Old Fashioned as an alternative to Angostura, which he seemed to think were dead and gone. The Grauniad article is from last November and there is still a definite lack of Angostura on the shelves, so it may be more serious than was initially thought. The US is the main consumer (although at a measley 950k bottles you can see why most people have never bought more than one) and they seem to have supplies resuming, so hopefully the worst is over.

The bottle above has been in my possession for the last 10 years, having been left in my first post-university flat by a house guest, and despite many years of drinking bitters laden cocktails I am still barely half way through it. Long may it continue.

Update: While in Worcester this weekend for a birthday party I found a row of shiny new bottles of Angostura in Tesco. I’d like to think that this means that the shortage is now over rather than Tesco having a stash due to not selling much in Worcester. I still grabbed a bottle, just in case.