Whisky cocktails

Its been a while since I've had a chance to participate in one of Steve @TheWhiskyWire's organised TweetTastings (and even longer since I've written one up!); so I jumped at the chance when the opportunity arose. Even better was that this time the tasting would include three cocktails by White Lyan (2014 best newcomer cocktail bar in world) which means Daisy would also be able to join in.

 We kicked off with with Cutty Sark 33y/o blend (a limited whisky available for the princely sum of £650 a bottle). On the nose its a lot of caramel and butterscotch which would be off-putting in a beer (a sign of diacetyl, usually indicating the beer wasn't given long enough in the fermenter) but in a whisky indicates time spent in bourbon barrels. I described it last night as "woody Werthers Originals". Alongside that is obviously lashings of vanilla (another bourbon wood - American Oak - characteristic), the furniture polish that often crops up in a venerable dram like this and an underlying stewed pears sweetness likely from esters in one (or more) of the component parts, of which there are almost 50 from 9 distilleries!
As it opens up on the nose I got a touch of cola and fruity rosso vermouth, which carries on into the taste quite sweet too, vanilla first and foremost, then caramel and then some whisky warmth. Its truly a lovely blend toasted marshmallow jelly belly bean and butterscotch all appear as it develops in the mouth finishing really smoothly. Even Daisy didn't struggle to drink it, though still to boozy as a neat spirit for her.

After clearing our palates we moved on to the first of three cocktails produced by White Lyan. White Lyan batch up all of their cocktails themselves, which ensures consistency and speed of service on busy evenings in the bar, they also sell some of their most popular tipples through Selfridge's. We were instructed to chill our glasses but refrain from using ice. They don't use ice in any of their drinks, instead using technical wizardry to get all of their drinks to the correct dilution ratio. Their brief was Art Deco inspired cocktails; so they've dug deep into the recipe books and came out with three drinks, all with White Lyan twist of course!

Our first drink is an Artist's Special made with Olorosso sherry, an interpretation of lemon juice and of course Cutty Sark whisky. It offers up sweet red apple e & caramel on the nose but to drink its all about the sherry, rich fruitcake and raisins a plenty.  I'd perhaps have liked the balance more towards the sour side and the sherry dominates over the whisky but its certainly easy drinking finishing with a rich sherried note.

Cocktail #2 is called Seelbach, named for the hotel where it was created in 1917. We had to add our own soda water to a blend of whisky, bitters, distilled champagne and triple sec. I was pretty chuffed to pick up that both Angostura and Peychaud's had been used, though scaled back from the original 7 dashes of each! On the nose there's the rich orangey triple sec plus whisky vanilla notes giving something reminiscent of Campari. Its bubbley, warming and a fruity orange, clove and nutmeg to taste reminiscent of some Caribbean rum punches  or even mulled Gluhwein. A refreshing cocktail that I'll certainly look to replicate in the future.

An Old Fashioned is a classic drink that everyone should have in their repertoire, but this being a White Lyan tasting its obviously been mixed around a bit. Instead of simple syrup the whisky is washed through beeswax, picking up some honey sweetness and also removing some of the larger aroma/ flavour compounds smoothing out the edges to give a rich and luxurious finish. They also added gold flakes - just because they can I guess! What we're left with is the obviously named Beeswax Old Fashioned which really does smell of beeswax candles but also hints at cheese rinds. Taste wise its a little on the sweet side but it really does allow the complexity of the whisky to shine through.

We enjoyed all three cocktails; though the Seelbach was our joint favourite. Would certainly urge you to try recreating these at home! And if you're feeling flush; the whisky is certainly very nice but a little steep for our budget. Its been great to get the opportunity to try these and we're now determined to visit White Lyan on our next trip to London. Massive thanks as  usual to Steve for organising the whole thing and Cutty Sark and White Lyan for providing the drinks and tasting company, Slainté!

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