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Wednesday, June 8, 2016
Mixing Spirits. Three Sisters
Vodka - Gin - Tonic
Our three featured bottles come from neighbouring counties: Kilkenny, Waterford and Wexford, the three sisters.
Highbank Orchards Organic Kilkenny Apple Vodka, 40%, €30.50 (35cl)
If you’re used to vodka with little more than 40% abv going for it, you’re going to be surprised by this with its aromas and flavours of the autumnal orchard, an organic one at that.
The base spirit is made from their own apples and the vodka itself “lends a wonderful apple flavor to cocktails”. Use this in cocktails instead of your regular vodka and wait for the accolades.
This is 100% organic, single estate (grown, distilled and bottled at Highbank) and, yes, it is normal strength at 40%. Haven't got to the cocktail stage yet - waiting for a recipe specific to the product! - but I certainly enjoyed mixing it with Poacher’s Tonic, an excellent new Irish product.
The Highbank vodka comes in two sizes: 35cl at €30.50 and 50cl at €55.00.
Blackwater No. 5 Small Batch Irish Gin, 41.5%, €30.00 (50cl) Bradley’s
In quite a short time, Peter Mulryan Blackwater Gin No. 5 has become one of the most popular of the small batch gins now available in ireland. This London Dry Gin is not the only one that Blackwater produce and their latest, a strawberry one, was launched at the recent Wexford Food Festival.
Twelve botanicals are used in the process, including Coriander which goes “citrus-y” in the mix. Considering that citrus (dried skins) and bitter orange (also dried skins) are also used you could see why he advised against using a lemon in your gin. Lime would be a better choice. Juniper (the oil is extracted and used) is perhaps the best known element, having been traditionally used to make gin, and indeed provides the dominant flavour.
The No. 5 quickly gained loyal fans and Peter, from Conna in East Cork, was on his way. The gin is crisp and elegant with great flavour. They say “ it’s year round summer in a glass” and “liquid sunshine for the soul”. Add in quinine (via your tonic) and you have a most pleasant way of taking your medicine. Well the G & T was one method the British used to counter malaria!
Poacher’s Premium Irish Tonic Water, 20cl, Bradley’s
Now that we’ve highlighted two brilliant Irish spirits (from two producers who have even more on their lists), we’d better guide you in the direction of a good tonic. And just in time, comes this excellent Poacher’s from County Wexford. It is based on a “rich spring water: that has “been pilfered and poached since 1825”.
Taste it on its own and you'll immediately see the concentrated quality. Put it up against a 39 cent can, Freeway Indian Tonic Water from Lidl, and you’ll know why you will pay more for Poacher’s which is in a different class entirely.
Mixing cheaper tonic with premium products is a waste of time, a waste of good Irish gin and vodka and a waste of money. I mixed myself two gins, one of each. As an amateur it took me a while to spot the difference but you certainly notice it on the finish. With Poacher's, the finish (when you swallow) lingers and lingers but the other one kills it there and then. The longer the flavour lasts is a sign of quality in both food and drink. Much longer, much better with Poacher’s. Go for it!
The full list of ingredients for Poacher’s is: Carbonated irish spring water, sugar beets, Irish rosemary, Florida orange, natural flavours and natural quinine.
The full list of ingredients for Freeway is: Carbonated water, sugar. Acid: Citric Acid; Natural Flavouring, Flavouring (Quinine).
Friday, December 9, 2011
PARADISE IN NORTH MAIN STREET
Hennessy’s in Cognac have a room that they call Paradise as it contains much of their very old brandies. I reckon the title could easily be applied to Bradley’s Off License in North Main Street. Here, they stock virtually every drink you can call for and, besides, are great supporters of the local craft brewing movement.
Take cider for instance. They are one of the few, if not the only store, to stock the relatively new Stonewell Cider which has taken off very well indeed. The Stonewell is made by Daniel Emerson in Novohal and now has a rival from Mallow, from William O’Callaghan of Longueville House.
I’ll let apple expert Con Traas, owner of the Cahir Apple Farm, talk on the subject he knows so well. “Both make excellent ciders. William’s is full of traditional cider apples, which makes it a real West Country type cider, as it would be known in the UK. Daniel’s is less tannic, but also excellent. If you get the chance to try either, I would highly recommend them.”
And if it is beer that you’re after, then Bradley’s is the place. There is a wall of beer here, over one hundred craft beers from these islands and further afield, including local notables such as Eight Degrees Brewing and Dungarvan Brewing and sometimes including the limited run specials (such as that fantastic Shandon Century Extra Stout) from the Franciscan Well just across the river.
All kinds of wines on sale here also and you are sure to find something you like. Maybe the NV Innocent Bystander Pink Moscato, the low alcohol wine that is taking Australia by storm. If you fancy a sherry, I can recommend the Lustau range, everything from Amontillado to Oloroso to PX.
And then there are the spirits. No, the place is not haunted, though it was established in 1850. I was in there recently, looking for a gin. I was shown quite a few but, in the end, settled for Bombay Sapphire, my old reliable.
And here’s a neat one. After purchasing the gin, I was presented with a tonic, made especially for gin and containing some of the same botanicals as the spirit. The jury is out as far as I am concerned but if you want to try it, it is called Fentiman’s, available in Bradley’s. Of course!
There is something of a study on the best tonic for gin here.