August: Maker’s Mark at LAB

This post has been written by one of our members – Sarah Belizaire-Butler who runs the blog Eats, Drinks & Sleeps. She describes good food and drink as “the cornerstone of my universe” and we couldn’t agree more! In August Sarah attended our Maker’s Mark event at LAB in Soho. Her thoughts are below:   I have my Spirits WSET Diploma exam in a couple of months and so have signed myself up for a raft of Spirits tastings to help get up to speed. First up on my list was the Bourbon evening at LAB (London Academy of Bartenders) with the London Cocktail Society on Bank Holiday Monday. London Cocktail Society is a great collection of cocktail fiends. The group is free to join and every month members are invited to exclusive tastings, cool cocktail bars or distillery visits. The bourbon evening was hosted by Maker’s Mark brand ambassador, and Kentucky girl with an authentic Southern drawl, Jane Conner. Maker’s Mark only has one whisky in the UK market and so instead of showing a range of different whiskies we wouldn’t be able to buy, Jane took us through a maturation tasting of Maker’s Mark, comparing and contrasting White Dog, Under Mature, Fully Mature and Over Mature examples of Maker’s Mark. First Jane set the scene with a potted history of Bourbon and Maker’s Mark. Bourbon was first created out of luck and necessity. In order to develop Kentucky in the 1770s, the ‘Corn Patch and Cabin Rights’ law was passed, it encouraged settlers to plant a corn patch and build a cabin in order to lay claim to 400 acres of land. A pretty good deal. Corn is a bulky produce and due to the incentives to plant corn there was plenty of excess, excess which the Scottish, Irish and German immigrants knew they could distil into whisky. Kentucky was an ideal place to produce whisky due to its plentiful supply of both corn, and water – gallons of which is used as part of the distillation process. Kentucky was blessed with an iron-free water supply that was filtered through limestone soils. Water with a high iron content would have had the unfortunate result of turning the whisky black – worth checking if you are in a hard water area or not before you try topping up your Dad’s whisky with tap water. He will notice. The...
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August: Choosing Bourne & Hollingsworth’s pouring rum

This post has been written by one of our members – Billy Abbott who runs the excellent Billy’s Booze Blog. In August Billy attended our rum event at the Bourne & Hollingsworth. His thoughts on the event, the rum and the cocktails are below: One of the continuing themes of this blog is a sentence at the start vaguely conforming to a pattern of ‘One of the boozes I don’t know well is X and it was lovely when Y asked me along to try some for REASON Z’. So, assume that I’ve done that again with X=light rum, Y=The London Cocktail Society and REASON Z is basement bar Bourne & Hollingsworth choosing their house pouring rum, and we can then move on from this opening paragraph. Despite having heard a bit about it over the last year or so I’d still not made it over to Bourne & Hollingsworth and wasn’t entirely sure what to expect. The reviews seem rather polarised, with complaints about it getting packed leading to long waits at the bar (justified – it’s a small room with a small bar, with most of the space taken up by an open area for people to mill around in front of the bar) and that they charge too much for drinks which generally are distinguished by being served in teacups (unjustified – if you are going to a decent cocktail bar in London and are complaining about paying £7.50 for a cocktail no matter what type of receptacle it’s served in then you are probably in the wrong kind of bar. Bourne & Hollingsworth’s drinks quality certainly push it into the £7 a go bracket of London cocktail bars). It’s small and a great place, I suspect, on weekdays, but based on a Saturday night I can see it quickly turning into my idea of packed bar hell. But then again, I do hate people… The London Cocktail Society’s role was a simple one – find a discerning crowd of cocktail drinkers to come down to the bar on a Saturday night and then taste their way through the candidates for the new house pouring rum – Ron Barcelo, Flor de Caña and El Dorado. To add a bit more competitiveness to the evening we were also joined by brand ambassadors from two of the three rums, with bar boss Dino Koletsas taking on the role...
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