Work is starting to get busy and I’ve not got a lot of time to write long blog posts at the moment, so here’s some more random ‘short’ snippets on booze that I’ve managed to throw down my throat recently. In other news the blog was three years old last Friday. Which is quite scary.
After a couple of months with this blog not mentioning anything from the stable of William Grant and Sons I’ve been dragged back into the fold by this month’s Whisky Squad. After I met up with Grant’s brand ambassador Ludo Ducrocq a couple of months back, he and Squad boss Jason exchanged a few emails and with a sprinkling of organisational magic by scheduling guru Becky he was booked in to lead the September session at Albannach – he had some ideas that needed a bit more space than we usually have at The Gunmakers. Rather than repeat the walk through the range of Grant’s blended whiskies, as we had done with him already, he decided to go for a rather special tasting: a deconstruction of Grant’s 25 year old.
Ludo Ducrocq is a worryingly busy man. As global brand ambassador for William Grant and Sons‘s range of blended whiskies he seems to spend a lot of time on the road – last week London, this week Monaco, next week China, the week after somewhere else that only his Blackberry knows. After having a chat with Becky, the ninja behind the @grantswhisky Twitter account, we started trying to sort out a time when I might meet up with Ludo – he ends up eating out a lot while travelling and tries to find people to help him punish his expense account rather than sitting in a restaurant on his own. After a number of false starts we managed to book a night a mere two months in advance – last Tuesday. After a couple of changes in plans we ended up arranging to meet in Albannach by Leicester Square, along with Jason and Darren of Whisky Squad fame.
While I have a fondness for doing random booze related experiments (some of which I should probably get round to writing up) I have generally avoided whisky. Partly this is because using almost flavourless vodka to extract flavours from things is easier, but it’s also because I generally don’t have suitable whisky in the house – for suitable read ‘cheap’ and ‘unremarkable’. Cheap because I don’t want to waste good whisky on an unsuccessful experiment and unremarkable because whisky varies so much in flavour that finding a suitable one to mix up with things, whether it’s cocktails or infusions, is Hard. However, a while back Whisky Guy Darren told me of one that was pretty much certain to appeal to me and worth a punt as my first whisky experiment – Butter Washed Whisky.
The recipe for this one is theoretically quite simple – melt some butter, pour it into some whisky, leave it for a bit and filter out the remaining solids. It’s not quite so simple in reality though. After adding the butter I shook up my jar to emulsify the mix and left it to settle. When it looked like it wasn’t going to settle any more I put it in the fridge to chill and the next morning scooped out the now solid layer of butter on top before pouring the remaining liquid through some coffee filters. This produced a gloriously golden liquid, much more yellow than the original whisky – Grants Ale Cask Reserve (the whisky that kicked off the creation of Innis & Gunn) – and completely clear.
I used about 50g of butter for 200ml of whisky and had a good amount of it settle out, so I suspect that I could use a bit less. However, I will probably still use the same amount next time as the butter was infused with the flavour of whisky and mixed with a bit of sugar made a rather tasty alternative to brandy butter to accompany my Christmas mince pies.
On the nose it was really buttery, matching the spiciness of the whisky to make a rich spongecakey mix. It goes a similar way with the taste, with any sharp edges to the whisky rounded off by the buttery flavour, more sweetness coming though and woodiness on the finish softened. While quite nice on its own it’s not quite something that I’d drink neat – it still has a roughness to it that I’m not fond of. However, I’ve been playing around with apple juice as a mixer for whisky and found that it worked rather well here – 3 parts apple juice to 2 parts butter washed whisky combined the butter and spice of the whisky with the appliness of the juice to produce something rather like apple pie in a glass.
Whisky experiment #1 – success!
Grants Ale Cask Reserve
Blended scotch whisky, 40%. ~£15 from Master of Malt.