Spirit Tasting with Drinks Enthusiast

So, you want to hear about the newest, coolest and tastiest spirits around? Well, you’ve come to the right place.

What follows are some brief tasting notes and cocktail suggestions passed on to myself from the ever-knowledgeable Drinks Enthusiast, Dave Marsland fresh from Fusion bar at the Manchester 235 Casino.

New Kids on the Block

First up was Snow Queen Vodka, which is made from organic wheat from the mountains of Kazakhstan.  The five-time filtered premium vodka is a competition winner and has shot to the top of the vodka world in recent years.

With a strong but subtle flavour, it’s great for cocktails but due to the long filtration period also makes a fine, smooth tipple all by itself, boasting a dry and creamy texture with a subtle finish.

You can buy Snow Queen here or in Manchester’s Harvey Nicholls or Selfridges, it is also readily available in the best cocktail bars in Manchester. Follow Snow Queen Vodka on Twitter.

Dave’s cocktail of choice was the Snow Queen Godfather:

Glass – Highball

Ingredients –
50ml Snow Queen
25ml Amaretto
15ml Grenadine
Dash of soda water
2 wedges of lime

Method – Shake all ingredients together and pour into a highball glass over ice. Add a dash of soda and garnish with limes.

Dave shaking things up Snow Queen style

Italy’s very first vodka was next as we sampled the elegant Roberto Cavalli vodka dubbed ‘fashion on the rocks’. You may have heard of the Cavalli brand before; Roberto, a fashion designer from Florence is famed for creating the sand-blast effect on jeans. One to remember for future pub quizzes…

The vodka itself has a lighter texture than the Snow Queen but, perhaps paradoxically, is more robust and intense on the tongue. It definitely gets your attention from the first sip.

It has been distilled four times in a column still (for two weeks each time) ensuring only the finest and highest quality alcohol makes it to the bottle.

You can buy Cavalli Vodka here or in Selfridges and Harvey Nicholls. Follow Roberto Cavalli on Twitter.

The cocktail for this was the sweet and sharp Cavalli Tiger:

Glass – Martini

Ingredients –
50ml Roberto Cavalli
30ml passion fruit pulp
20ml pineapple juice
5ml Grenadine
5ml Cointreau

Method – Shake all ingredients over ice and strain into chilled Martini glass. Garnish with half passion fruit.

A couple of Cavalli Tigers! Rawr!

Next up we were treated to not one, but TWO gins from G’Vine. These gins originate from the France and given that both varieties are made with the exact same ingredients, they taste completely different.

The ingredients are just found in differing quantities in each of the gins yet, both provide a luxurious floral finish. The Floraison is, no surprise, the more floral and ‘delicate’ variety and the Nouasion has more traditional gin flavour, a juniper kick complimented by a wonderful nutmeg and cardamom hit.

Due to the Floraison’s wonderful aromatic citrus, coriander and ginger notes, I would definitely recommend this to folks who are unsure whether they like gin or not. After this, they will.

You can purchase both bottles here and I believe they also stock them in Socio Rehab. Follow G’Vine on Twitter.

The cocktail of choice was made with the Nouasion bottle and is a G’Vine Basil Smash:

Glass – Rocks

Ingredients –
60ml G’Vine Nouaison
Half a lemon, cut in triangles
25ml sugar syrup
Handful of basil

Method – Muddle the lemon triangles with the basil. Add the rest of the ingredients and shake. Double-strain into a crushed ice-filled rocks glass. Garnish with basil leaf.

G’Vine gin

Next on the list of delights was the elusively named June Liqueur which is a speciality grape liquor produced by the lovely G’Vine folk. It’s made using three different types of French grapes; Ugi, Chardonnay and Merlot.

It has an extremely sweet and earthy flavour with strong hints of lavender which gives it a whole host of potential for mixing or simply sipping over ice on those summer’s afternoons (which now seem to be a distance memory for us in the UK).

Not to pick a favourite or show any biased but I really suggest that you try this stuff. It’s not like anything I’d had before and generally not being a fan of sweet drinks myself, I think this one has the ability to surprise a lot of people who may misjudge it at first.

You can buy June Liqueur online here but it has yet to be seen in any bars in Manchester so let’s get spreading the word and bring June to our streets all year round. Follow June Liqueur on Twitter.

My favourite cocktail of the night, Dave’s take on the classic, The Floral Martini:

Glass – Martini

Ingredients –
15ml June
45ml G’Vine Flouraison
15ml Dry Vermouth
3 dashes Orange Bitters

Method – Stir all ingredients with ice and then strain into chilled Martini glass

June Liqueur: A real treat that comes recommended

Last up, was THREE tequilas… by this time we were fairly well-oiled so three tequilas induced a deep breath from those around the table. Excellia Tequila boasts 100% Algave tequila aged in Grand Cru casks, each bottle has been aged a year longer than the last.

So, aged for one year is the Blanco which is clear, at two years we have the Reposado which has a light tint and gold Añejo (Spanish for ‘aged’) has been aged for three years.

The Blanco is not as light as its clear look would have you believe, instead it’s spicey notes and black pepper flavours warm the palate straight away. The Reposado actually sits as a more mellow drink with floral notes and probably makes for one of the best ‘sipping’ tequilas I’ve ever tasted, with rum-like qualities in that respect.

Following from this the Añejo provides a cleaner, sweeter taste with hints of raisin which lasts on the tongue. Follow Excellia Tequila on Twitter.

Excellia Tequila is brand spanking new and will be available here from September 27.

Final cocktail of the evening was the Rude Cosmopolitan:

Rude Cosmopolitan

Glass – Martini

Ingredients –
30ml Excellia
30ml Cointreau
45ml Cranberry juice
15ml fresh lime juice

Method – Shake ingredients with ice. Double strain into a Martini glass. Garnish with orange zest.

Excellia Tequila – Reposado, Añejo and Blanco

Hopefully you are now inspired to order some new drinks and have an experiment with these flavours, if you need anymore information then get in touch with myself or Dave.

I can tell you that by the end of the night we were certainly feeling experimental and below is a very special recipe which will probably never be recreated again but you’re more than welcome attempt to make out the masterpiece (- it was very nice).

Impromptu creation notes

Finally, a big thank you to Mr Marsland for having us for the night. If you want more information and insights into the modern world of drinks check out his website: http://drinksenthusiast.wordpress.com/2012/06/26/innis-gunn-tasting-notes/

We were in the very capable hands of Dave Marsland all evening


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