Drinking in Edinburgh: An #EBBC13 roundup

First beers of the weekend in the
Red Squirrel, which became a regular haunt
Last weekend was spent at the beer bloggers conference in Edinburgh. We had all manner of interesting sessions to attend and certainly no shortage of beer. (I tried 65 new beers over the three days!) But it wasn't just a chance to score free beer, there was also some serious ideas sharing going on too.A number of people have posted some of their thoughts, here are some of my own  
(and I'll try not to make it seem like a beer diary!*).

Robert and Craig consider which beer is best in the Bow Bar
One of the highlights of such an event for me is to be able to meet up with friends old and new and "talk shop". We're in a room where everyone understands the language of beer, to such an extent that we're no longer really aware that there is a fair amount of jargon used in beer writing. Susanne reminded us that we need to be mindful that our audience aren't all beer geeks like the rest of us and that we should reflect that in our writing. Perhaps one of the reasons wine has grown its market share so rapidly is that despite being a highly technical subject, none of that is put on the bottle, whereas therecan be a tendency for "craft beer to sound like a chemistry experiment" (Garret Oliver) with IBUs, EBCs, etc. 

Matt from Pilgrim and Progress and Beer Norway's Christer
discussing the finer points of beer rating at Stewart's
But at the same time, we shouldn't talk down to our audience. In all likelihood they know more than us, certainly their palate could be more experienced than ours. Try to find the similarities between beer and other beverages to give people a reference point. Never assume that a beer is "too much" for someone as we have "no idea what they can handle" (Garret Oliver outlining how he'll take whatever beers he fancies to a beer tasting because unless someone has a chance to try something, how do we know whether they like it or not?)

JohnMartin presents...The Shilling System
We also had a great session on the history of Scottish beer from John Martin (Scottish Brewing Archive Association), especially they fairly confusing shilling system and discussions in similarities between Scottish beer and continental brewing styles among other juicy tidbits. Who knew that the first lager brewer in the UK was John Muir in Scotland? Tax protests aren't a new thing either; long before the beer duty escalator the treaty of the union was delayed due to the English trying to impose a malt tax on the Scots and later 9 people died in the riots that ensued following a rise in malt duty.

The Shilling System Today
Designation Name Strength
60/- Light <3.5 Belhaven
70/- Heavy 3.5-4.0 Tinpot
80/- Export 4.0-5.5 Stewart
90/- Wee Heavy >5.5 Luckie

Wouldn't mind a fireplace like this
at home - Edinburgh council chambers
Edinburgh has some fantastic buildings both old - from the vaulted ceilings of our conference venue, the Ghillie Dhu and the wood panelled interior of the old council chambers to the brand spanking new Stewart's brewery that we had a chance to visit on the Friday night. Our hosts Jo and Steve Stewart's enthusiasm really reflects their position in the vanguard in the newly emerging Scottish craft brewing sector. I see new breweries opening up on an almost weekly basis...now if only Northern Ireland could get a few new breweries open up...

Reuben enjoying a Brodies in Cask and Barrel Southside.
Pubs too are not in short supply. I'd been in a number during last year's Edinburgh Independents Beer Festival but the shabby chic of theHanging Bat and the old school polished wood and mirrors plus half island bar of the Cask and Barrel southside were particular highlights this year. See Robert's Beer Lens blog for some better (i.e. not taken on a phone!) examples.

As an aside, Edinburgh seems to be trying to compete for the most unusual toilet accessories. The Hanging Bat has half keg sinks and the urinals in the Ghillie Dhu... well see for yourself (right).

Mr Oliver enjoying a self-poured Pilsner
Some tips for reaching a wider audience include using Pinterest and Instagram as a lot of people are visually stimulated. We need to write for our audiences but first and foremost we should make ourselves happy. I'll leave you with another Garret Oliver quote "if you aren't making people happy you're doing everything wrong and for all the wrong reasons". Something to bear in mind whether a brewer or a blogger.

Massive thanks to everyone who presented sessions, donated beer, organised food or muled beer for me over the weekend, much appreciated. Fab work once again from the conference organisers, for another conference summary you could do worse than zephyr adventure's own thoughts on the weekend.

*I may post a roundup of the very enjoyable pre-conference pub crawl pub amble and evening activties if I feel like it, though I didn't really take many pictures, ratebeer tells of the many fantastic beers enjoyed anyway.


Topping Out with Edinburgh's Newest Brewery

Edinburgh used to be one of the biggest brewing cities in the country, but over the years this has been whittled away by fires, mergers, closures and bankruptcies. Today there are only a handful remianing but last week's Edinburgh Independents Beer Festival saw the launch of a new concern at Cloisters.

If you've never been to Cloisters then you must make it a priority, a pub in a converted church replete with spiral staircase with a range of cask beers from Scotland and further afield. An ideal location to host a brewery launch...except on the hottest ever day in Scotland. Arriving the next day the staff are still shattered from the night before but still take the time to chat to us and text the next bar on our route to find out what's on - now that's service.

For the launch seems to have been well attended for Top Out* with standing room only, but myself and Reuben popped in the next day to sample the two cask beers. I was immediately attracted by the stand out oversized pump clips shouting at me with their elegant design. I listened and bought a half of each.

Staple Pale Ale (4%) was first up a decent session quaffer with apricots on the nose, sweet with mangoes and a hint of butterscotch that doesn't detract from the overall beer and a dry finish that leaves the tongue gasping for more.

Even better is the Smoked porter weighing in at 5.6%, the level of which is spot on, with arich bacon savoury character on the nose, reappearing again in the finish as a dry umami note cavorting with chocolate, oak and roast barley. It finishes fairly dry, but with enough residual sweetness to balance. This would be fantastic with all kinds of food.

After an afternoon visiting some other pubs, we split a bottle of Dark Abbey, the 8.9% bruiser of a Belgian strong ale. However this is unlike any dubbel inspired ale I've ever tried (I actually liked it for starters!) Rich coffee and yeast esters dance on the nose. Its a hazy ruby brown with rich, demerara, plum sweetness,finishing with what seems to be a trademark dryness- possibly a more voracious yeast strain eating up as much sugar as possible. At £6 a bottle its more expensive than some comparable Belgian's but I enjoyed it much more.

With these beers Edinburgh goes some way to regaining the status it once enjoyed.

Top Out

*Top Out are based out in Loanhead as are Edinburgh Stalwarts Stewart - 9 years old this year (whose new premises we had the good fortune to visit during the beer blogger's conference).


Brewery Speed Dating

Live beer blogging sees brewers given 5 minutes to share their beers with bloggers whilst they review them, beery speed dating if you will. There are no beer reviews here. Plenty of the 70-odd people in the room will be blogging their thoughts on the beer; some already have (and if you're really desperate to find out my thoughts check ratebeer). Something Susanna from Drink Britain said during her presentation struck a chord: you have to find a different angle to keep people's attention past the first paragraph. So I'm going to look at some of the people & stories behind the beer as after all "beer is people" as Garret Oliver reminded us.

One-off Oloroso
Innis & Gunn is a beer for the 21st century, turning a waste product that would end up down the drain into a successful brand with plenty of extensions to keep it going. We were treated to an Oloroso (great article from Drinks Advice here) aged variant, with the base beer designed to match the character expected from the barrel. There is also a bourbon barrel aged beer brewed with rye crystal to be released later in the year and a re-release of the successful Irish whiskey aged stout next St Patrick's Day.

A surfing hop-bine, what else
Surfing Hop from Toccalmatto is a double IPA done differently. Dry-hopping is usually performed in cold conditioning (Temperature below <5°C) but Bruno dry-hops this beer at 23°C for 15 days which gives it a completely different flavour profile. Would love to do a side by side comparison.

Ken of Inveralmond pouring Blackfriars
Ken of Inveralmond describing his beer in 5 words said "gorgeous, delicious, scrumptious, amazing beer". Named for the abbey King James I was assassinated in its not often available in the UK with most of it ending up in Scandinavia. Perhaps it competes favourably with Baltic Porters. It apparently works best with dark meats and bizarrely blueberries, one that needs trying to be believed perhaps.

Beer and chocolate,
almost as good as beer and cheese
Harviestoun brought a pre-release of their 30th anniversary special aged in first-fill sherry casks. A completely different use of sherry butts to the above example. We were lucky enough to hear a talk from head brewer Stuart McCail on the process of aging beer in whiskycasks, summed up very well in Hot Rum Cow by Rich of the Beer Cast. The beer worked fantastically with the 72% Madagascan chocolate from the Chocolate tree (not just cheese that pairs well...)

The original golden ale
This next beer is a triumph of brewer over marketing department - a beer in brown glass; so different is it that the Bottle Shop have actually chosen to stock it. Brilliant Ale is brewed from an original recipe predating the recent "advent" of golden ale by some 150 years shows that nothing is truly new in brewing.

Summer quencher
The best news from WEST's Ruth Oliver is that now third pints are available at the brewery in Teku glasses no less to allow the beers to be tasted properly. There's an expansion in brewing capacity is planned; so potentially more of their beers could be bottled and hit the shelves.

Liquid chocolate pudding - with chili kick!
The Mayan is a beery version of the Aztec hot chocolate given out on tours of the Cadbury's factory. Its good to catch up with brewer Luke again, who lugged the beers up on the train. The experimental range has been so successful that some of the beers are now being aged in whisky hogsheads, including the fantastic Siberia Saison.

Sppok-tacular special
The second annual release from Badger (available direct) is named for a Dog of the Damned who eats the souls of its victims, taking their eyes as part of its cost...how gruesome. Luckily the beer is less demonic but has lead me to discover the Dark Dorest website, which will steal many hours from my life.. the dog has claimed another victim it seems...

Traditional masterpiece
We finish the frenzied session with a bewer that has earnt the contemplation time that the final spot allows, Traquair Jacobite. Some lucky so-and-sos were allowed to stay over at Traquair House and the lady Catherine Maxwell is a lovely Brewster who certainly knows her stuff.

A big thanks to all the breweries for providing samples and everyone who spent time talking to us nosy bloggers about them!

More posts looking at EBBC from a different angle still to come!


More facial hair

As promised, here are my thoughts on some more Weird Beard Brews following a post earlier this month. Four saisons and an IPA.

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Saison 14 gives everything I look for in a saison, Belgian nose of honeyed yeast esters, big wheaty spicy body and a little funkiness in the finish. It made an excellent dry pre-dinner aperitif and one i will be visiting again. On a par with their Black Perle and fighting for top place with Fade to Black.

 photo P1010015-1.jpgThe same can't be said of Saison 42 (a hitchiker's guide to the galaxy reference and a collaboration with new Swedish micro Sad Robot) which is rather flat and tasteless. It finishes fairly sweet and heavy too, maybe it has a lower proportion of wheat in it?

 photo P1010014-1.jpgIts quirkier brother 42e is more like it, primed with elderflower cordial in the bottle it has a wild feel to it. There's some heavy candy sugar towards the end but it sings with a floral elderflower refrain that demands another glug.

Collaboration is the name of the game as the next saison is also a colabeeration with Andy (@tabamatu) or more rightly a scale up of one of his many successful home brews. Cheers Andy for lugging this up to Edinburgh for me! A great showcase for the gooseberry side of the Nelson sauvin hop, though perhaps a little too high in alcohol for my liking. Well made and pretty well balanced, seek it out if Nelson Saison your thing!

 photo P1010006-1.jpgFinally Hit the Lights is the IPA Miss the Lights was planned to be. I certainly preferred it to the earlier iteration. Well balanced with red berries and sage/ lemon balm in the aroma. It drinks well, with more of those red berries, though is a little to hefty to make it sessionable.

Weird Beard has two other brews that I've not yet had the chance to try and narrowly missed out on trying at EBBC13 this weekend! Ah well, you can't try it all. More on EC13 later this week (when I have my notes and thoughts in order!) 


Breakfast beers

 photo P2160004_zpsd5296c2f.jpgToday sees the start of a very beery weekend at the Beer Blogger's Conference in Edinburgh and after a pre-conference pub crawl last night I need a pick me up - time for a coffee beer! I'm a big fan of coffee in beer as I'm sure you're all aware by now, given my past posts!Post title a nod to Tyson who has somehow managed to write 1000 posts on his blog, good work sir!

 photo P2160008_zps0ff50919.jpgTap East's attempt up first. Rich fruity coffee with dry smokiness underneath. Quite fruity to start, with a long coffee finish. Light in body and carbonation, deep chestnut. Pretty enjoyable. I've been fairly impressed by Tap East, time for a visit I'm thinking.

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Thornbridge's collaboration with Mountain Goat punningly called Thorny Goat starts off well with rich almost meaty coffee and cocoa on the nose a pillowy tan head. In the mouth the carbonation is light and body fairly heavy with lots of residual sweetness, a touch of cardboard and ashen coffee in finish. Drinkable for the strength but not the best mocha beer I’ve had and at the bottom end of what Thornbridge can do Simon seems to have enjoyed it.


Vienese Beers

Whilst I'm drinking in one of my favourite capital cities (Edinburgh - I should be just getting served inthe Bow Bar right now if all is according to plan) I thought i'd post up my trip to Vienna a few months ago (been parked half-finished in my drafts since then...). Primarily a work trip, there was ample time in the evenings for a beer or two in Vienna's many brew pubs.

Siebenstern (7-stern) in the city centre is a cavernous drinking grotto, with a large island bar serving a variety of its own brewed beers. Among such novelties as a heady hemp beer and pointlessly spicy chilli hells there's a fairly decent marzen, dunkel and some fantastic rauch beers. Rauchbeer Extreme was particularly good, with lots of smoke, but not overpoweringly so, dried fruit and malt flavours allowed to come through in behind.

Photos of Centimeter II, Vienna
Centimeter II is courtesy of TripAdvisor
Near to that is Centimeter II, not a brew pub but it has a good range of beers on draught and a "picture"menu for those of you (myself included) who doesn't know all that much German. Be warned the ribs are mammoth and come with about a kilo of roast potatoes, no lie!

Next up was Wieden Brau a shiny brewpub bedecked backstreet boozer where four riffs on traditional German styles were obtained. I particularly enjoyed the dry-hopped fastenbock beer, full of fresh grapefruit juice from the use of cascade hops.
Helles, Dunkles, Marzen, FastenBock
This may be old hat in the UK, but after a week of samey malt led bocks this was a breath of fresh air. The marzen was also enjoyable, bready malts and nettley hops, perhaps the first I've enjoyed in that style.

The final brew pub visited on this occasion was 1516. Owned by an English ex-pat this is where i tried some of the zanier brews of the week. They also do a good line in food, though you have to navigate the smoky downstairs section to getupstairs for a decent table. Maybe worth booking ahead as we had to wait a while for a table.

weisse, oatmeal stout, IPA, amarillo smoke and oak aged DIPA

Victory Hop Devil IPA was an enjoyable recreation of that famous US brew. However Amarillo smoke was perhaps the zaniest brew and most enjoyable all week. Hazy dark brown with enticing smoked meat and chocolate coupled with tangerine on the nose. First flavour is herbal hops followed by a big punchy citrus spike and the smooth mouth feel with smoky chocolate, followed by a bitter finish.

Their barrel aged DIPA was a little too OTT for me, the butterscotch overpowering the hop hit, but it was certainly a brave experiment in a fairly conservative country.

There are plenty of other brewpubs in Vienna that I didn't have time for, they remain for another visit. For a good map of what's available, use Ratebeer's places mapping function.


A pairing fit for the gods (#CABPOM July2013)

I've stopped writing monthly cheese and beer posts, but every now and again a pairing comes along that I have to share. I'd already intended to blog about the beer, but feeling peckish I decided tohave some cheese with it and this magic match was born. 

The beer, Wild Beer's Ninkasi, by itself is one of the best I've had this year if not ever, even the champagne style bottle replete with white wax seal is a thing of beauty. Named for a Sumerian goddess of beer* this beer is certainly fit for the gods. Loosely a saison in style, but trying to categorise such a beer wouldn't really do it justice and no other beers I can think of blend both barley and apple to such aplomb (a nod to Wild's location in deepest scrumpyland). It pours a resplendent hazy amber with towering fluffy off-white head and a hefty 9%. The New Zealand hops are immediately apparent on the nose with the zippy gooseberries of sauvingnon blanc (Nelson sauvin hops) right to the fore with dusty yeast esters in behind. The spritzy light carbonation makes this a really celebratory beer. It in no way shows its strength, with a medium body, some tart citrus notes plenty more antipodean hoppiness and a complex yeast ester dry refrain.

 photo P1010005-3.jpgTaleggio is one of my all time favourite cheeses and introduced to me by my good friend Ben when we had our semi-regular cheese and beer sessions whilst at university. (Ben worked on the Waitrose cheese counter; he's probably ultimately responsible for me writing these posts; so blame him!) I was pleased to find the local Asda has started stocking Tallegio at the very reasonable price of £2, so its now in my fridge more often than not. Yes, the unpasteurised version is more complex but you takes what you can get. Even before I'd swallowed my first gulp of beer I knew that the pairing was likely to be a winner.

The fruity notes of the cheese play very well with the juicy apples in the beer, they come to the fore a lot more when paired with cheese. As usual the carbonation plays a scrubbing role to refresh the palate. The slightly wild edge to the cheese plays well with equally wild saison yeast.

Try both the beer and the cheese, together if you can, but both stand up fabulously well on their own. I'm considering buying more bottles of Ninkasi to lay down...

Wild Beer Co

* CAMRA got in trouble for a giant Ninkasi poster a while back but perhaps not quite as much as with naturale a few years before...


Dropped from the sky

Scotland is awash with new breweries at the moment, all doing their own thing. Fallen is no exception, starting in 2012 and currently brewed at Traditional Scottish Ales facility they managed to achieve best new Scottish brewery on Ratebeer last year. I bagged a selection of their beers from Alesela (bought with my hard earned of course); here's my thinkings.

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Clean, easily differentiated labelling helps the beers to stand out on the now crowded Scottish beer shop shelves.

 photo P1010085.jpgThe blonde ale is the golden girl of the bunch. Very lager-like and that's no bad thing. It manages to do exactly what the label suggests. Pours deep gold with fluffy white head. Nettle like Saaz hops and malt sweetness, pleasing bitterness tempered by malt, medium body and carbonation, some citrus hops ,and dry moreish finish.

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Dragonfly is the 4.8% amber ale. Pours hazy midbrown with fluffy off white head. Aroma of citrus pith and mango. Medium carbonation and body, initial sweetness then sharp citrus, dry digestive biscuit and caramel malts and an astringent finish.

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Grapevine is outside of the session range at 5.4% but drinks much lower in strength. Burnished gold with slight fluffy white head. Lemon custard and lychee on the nose. Shortcake malt, dry citrus pith finish which is rather moreish. Despite its abv it’d make a good one for a few pints as it develops well down the glass.

I also had a chance to try their smoked porter, Blackhouse (5%) on keg at Holyrood 9A a while back. it poured dark ruby brown, but with no head I worried it may be flat. Savoury bacon nose and touch of chocolate. Very dry, chocolate malt, roast barley, no astringency, light body but I needn't have worried as carbonation was certainly in attendance. Certainly my favourite in their range; but I reckon all of the other beers would taste fab cask conditioned.


Session #77 IPA- what's the deal?

What's the deal indeed...I'm not sure there is one. Justin seems to think so. He's made it into this month's session* topic. As with all beer styles its a continuously shifting entity that changes with the advent of new brewing techniques and different hop flavours. It is one of the more wide ranging categories ranging from the oxymoronic black IPA to the wheat heavy white IPA. Yes you could argue that they're a subset of hoppy porters and wheat beers but that's missing the point, the brewer set out to brew a beer with the hop complexity of an IPA...in taste they're largely still IPAs but they're not IPAs because they're not pale...

One new "style" that doesn't seem right is "session IPA" because IPA doesn't imply strength necessarily ; just look at some of the longer running UK examples (though the fact that these aren't hop-forward doesn't stop them being called IPAs either). Sessionability means different things to different people, I like Boak and Bailey's ideas.

IPA is no longer a tightly defined style, but I think we as drinkers benefit from that. Who wants every beer to taste largely the same? Of almost 1700 beers sampled in the past 2 years (and countless more before that of course) 242 were members of the IPA family, (that's 14% fact fans) and a whole range of beers from top 10s right down to down the sink duffers. And new beers continue to surprise me all the time. What I'm trying to say is what the beer is called shouldn't matter, its what's inside the bottle that counts. The name IPA just gives people an idea of roughly what might be inside the bottle. Its so popular because its not just a single beer style any more.

*If you don't know what The Session is you must have been asleep for the last five years. Details over at the Brookston Bulletin. Yes, I'm a little late this month...it crept up on me. I've not posted a response for a while, largely because the topics have been uninspiring (no offence to the hosts!) but this month's got my words flowing again so cheers Justin!


Beardy Weirdies

Nope, I'm not referring to that much stereotyped bunch of beer lovers CAMRA but the new London Brewery, Weird Beard, run by a couple of hirsute gentlemen, Gregg Irwin and Bryan Spooner.

I picked up a selection of their beers via Ales By Mail after hearing a lot of positives about them, plus I enjoyed some beers with fellow blogger Gregg at last year's Beer Bloggers Conference. Reviews after the pic.

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 photo P1010003-2.jpgIn order of consumption then, I began the evening with Black Perle, a "coffee milk stout" or latte stout if you will. Truly sessionable at 3.7% I was most impressed with thisl ittle number which was at once both a coffee and a milk stout. with rich smoky fruit roast coffee aromas and full bodied lactose milk sweetness, finishing with the ashen roast of a good espresso coffee. This beer would be equally good as an after dinner treat or a breakfast beer pick me up.

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Miss the Lights is a one off IPA, which reading between the lines of  the blurb seems to have been a trial brew that didn't quite hit the mark (to be superseded by hit the lights). Its a more challenging beer with plenty of herbal noble hop notes and a meaty yeast flavour hanging around in the background.

 photo P1010007-1.jpgNext up Fade to Black, in one of my favourite styles, Black IPA. This one hits the style bang on, with a delicious orangey (Simcoe?) nose and some slight chocolate notes. I should have drunk it fresher as the hop flavours are starting to fade from the flavour, though still scrumptious and at 6.3%  at the higher end of the scale for BIPAs.

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Following on from that was "a boring brown beer" a single hopped Chinook effort. Another that just wasn't quite as hop forward as I'd have liked at 7.2% the malt backbone was just a little overpowering, though never cloying. Look forward to trying the refinements in future single hop releases.

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I finished up the evening's drinking with the 7.3% monster that is Five O'clock Shadow. The nose was promising, all pineapple esters but I wasn't keen on flavour at first, finding the malt obscured some of the delicate hop flavours, but after allowing it to breathe a little, the tropical hops, tangerine pith and mango were allowed to shine through to give a hybrid of US and UK style IPAs. Fairly bitter, almost quinine like finish.

If Five O'Clock shadow was a monster then Holy Hoppin' Hell is a titan, with bells on. Weighing in at a hefty 8.5% it pours a hazy dark amber brown with a perfumed citrus and mango nose. Full bodied, sweet, low carbonation. Peach, passion fruit, mango, heavy booze, some spicey notes and a long fruity finish. This is another that would benefit from being fresh on keg, though as a UK DIPA (something we haven't many of) it brings a different perspective.

For me the Black Perle stole the show, at once drinkable and complex and I look forward to trying a cask version of this sometime soon. Fade to Black was a close runner up, being an excellent example of a black IPA. The pale ales are well on the road to greatness but didn't quite hit the spot for me on this occasion. I've got a gaggle of saisons en route; so there could be a future post in the pipeline.

@dredpenguin (Gregg)


Liquid Americana Whisky tasting

My third whisky tweet tasting experience was something a little different from the previous two: not only were the 5 samples on offer American in origin, they were also unknowns. I don't know much about American whisky anyway; so the evening was a great learning experience. Whiskys were provided by Arkwrights and as ever compèred by taster supremo Steve,cheers guys! Review after the group shot.

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First up was a weighty perfumey jasmine rice and coconut milk number that was quite boozy with an interesting Parma Violets finish. it tasted like a fiery sweet potato until doused with a splash of water, allowing spicy wood, mashing barley and vanilla to come to the fore. I wasn't all too impressed but suggested it as a cocktail base, which got some nods of approval. Turns out this one is a bourbon, Elijah Craig 12 y/o, available for a reasonable £31.50.

Moving on swiftly we reached an elevenses whisky, spicy Seville marmalade on wheaten bread. It tasted completely different - BBQ'd pineapple with black pepper, heavy on the char and an oily textured finish with oriental spiced nuts. This whisky is another bourbon and the priciest at £54 - Noah's Mill.

Third up was actually my favourite of the evening, much gentler on the nose with strawberries, turkish delight and candied angelica. Lighter in body and finishing sweet, this is the only one that didn't need the additional water. A novelty this one being a wheat whisky it turns out, Bernheim original £52.25 though I probably wouldn't splash out for the bottle when a Speyside would do it for cheaper.

A bargain at £23.50!

The penultimate whisky offered up a smorgasbord of healthy fruits including satsuma, peaches and blueberries, liberally drizzled with honey. Towards the back was a brooding slightly smoky meaty note. In the mouth was coriander seed, cardboard, oak smoked ham and a lot of cereal...so much so that I guessed this was a grain whisky...wrong again! Rye this time, Pikesville to be precise and at a bargainous £23.50 I'm considering picking up a bottle to work through the various rye cocktail recipes I'm dying to try.

We finished up with a whisky of intriguing nose, peppermint, turps and almonds finishing quite fiery with a whack of booze. After adding a touch of water geraniums and orange flower water became apparent on the nose, very full in body though perhaps lacking in subtlety of flavour. This was High West Double Rye, so called as it is a blend of two straight rye whiskys.

So an interesting experience, but helped to confirm my suspicions that I am a Scotch malt man rather than a whiskey man. Thanks to Arkwrights for providing the samples, if you fancy trying them at home they're available through Arkwrights for £16.75, that's less than £3.40 a double stats fans! Follow the nights' shenanigans on #LiquidAmericana.