Mashtun and Meow: Sheffield Beer Blog: April 2014

Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Whisky Review: Ardmore

The Ardmore traditional cask is one of our favourite whiskies: an all round wonderful whisky that sings with peaty notes. As it is a whisky without an age statement, it will likely put off some of the 'purists', but it has been aged in quarter casks, thus tasting older and more refined than it possibly should do. For a whisky of 46% you get a boldness in body that frankly stands above its cost in terms of value for money.

It has a sticky, almost honey nose with a rich oaky sweetness akin to apple crumble, which is followed through with strong peaty notes as the dram opens up. The lovely caramel eye sparkles through the glass.

The taste is initially oaty, with a chew of barley, and the stewed apple aroma remains present in the flavour too. It continues to grow in bold peatedness throughout the mouth, which develops on the palate with spice and hints of cinnamon and vanilla towards the end.
Ardmore Heel Slain 

The finish is not particularly long but does linger for a while, with the spice continuing and the smoke pleasantly holding its own.

Not overly complex, it's a good one to reach for when you're not sure what kind of whisky you fancy. We always try and have a bottle of this whisky in and due to its cost (around £30) it is easy to keep a supply running.



Sunday, 27 April 2014

Whisky Reviews: The Beginning

When it comes comes to whisky reviews, we at Mashtun and Meow have not really embraced the writing down of our drams. Whilst there are a few reviews of tastings, we don't tend to comment on our own supply. This will begin to change, but instead of launching in at first tasting, we will go down the route of Last Dram Reviews. This way we will let you know what the whisky was like to live with, whether it was worth the money we spent on the bottle, and if it was exciting from the first nose to the last swallow.

The experience of drinking a whisky isn't solely about the contents of the Glencairn, it's as much the situation, the company and the location.

My first ever dram was a Glenmorangie 10 year old, in my late teens, enjoyed with my mum as she told a story of Scottish hospitality on a trip we took as a family to Mull for a week of walking and otters: in a B&B the night before the 2 hour boat trip from Oban to Tobermory, my parents sat in the bar (with me asleep upstairs behind a door that didn't shut, due to a large crumple of carpet caused by a combination of badly fitted carpet and a poorly planed door). In the bar, they were confronted by a couple on a dirty weekend, with a chap so in lust he felt compelled to buy the clientele (mum and dad) a drink. Sadly this happened to be a Rusty Nail (2 parts whisky and 1 part Drambuie)... a beverage that Mr Mashtun Snr. cannot abide. In response to the drinks being presented to the pair my mother (whom i take after whole heartedly) supped the drinks pretty sharpish to save my poor father, but each time my mum was caught dram handed, and thus another was bought for dad. After my mum had hammered away a few Rusty Nails too many, she had to plead with Mr M. Snr. to finally imbibe the sticky drink in front of his new friend. The next morning, the boat to the beautiful island of Mull had a few very poorly passengers (and not solely on account of our atrocious sealegs!). I'd like to add that my very first dram was happily Drambuie-free.

Drinking wash at Laphroaig.
A whisky does not always give you everything at first impressions: cover judging doesn't work with music or films, so why should it work with the craft of whisky? Taking a minute or two, or a month or three, to drink and consult a dram is for me what is great about whisky.

So, with our continuing acquisition and consumption of all varieties of whisky from single malts to blends to bourbons, we will endeavour to write our humble opinions in an aid to partially inform and hopefully entertain.

As ever,



Saturday, 26 April 2014

Bakewell Food Festival

Always on the lookout for a local event to pop along to, an unexpectedly sunny Saturday resulted in an impromptu trip to Bakewell Food Festival today, and a real treat it was too!
The whole town completely embraced the foodie mood, and there was a true celebratory feel in the streets, with around 80 stalls showcasing a vast array of local produce. 

We decided to try Union Spanish-Italian street food for lunch, as their "Boccas" were something we had never come across before: Italian flatbread with choices of fillings including grilled mackerel, serrano ham and manchego cheese, and paprika-marinated chicken. They were served stuffed with lovely peppery rocket and topped with a balsamic glaze which brought the whole thing together in a burst of flavour. Lovely.
L - serrano ham and manchego
R - Spanish chicken
A quick stop-off in Chatsworth farm shop on the way home too, and we were definitely well stocked with delicious treats!
Note the traditional Bakewell pudding in the bottom left photo!
One of our favourites of the stalls we came across was The Sunflower Bakery, making a selection of traditional loaves alongside more unusual options such as Russian Borodinsky bread, a type of sourdough made with dark rye. We selected the Dragon loaf, made with fresh chilli.

It's great to see so much fantastic fresh produce on offer, we can't wait to dive in!


L & J

Thursday, 17 April 2014

Smoke in the Water

Ah, another day, another whisky tasting. This was our second StarmoreBoss experience, and not only was it focused around our favourite peaty whiskies (hence the "Smoke in the Water" title), but it just so happened to be hosted in our lovely local, The Sheaf View. Hideously convenient!

The five whiskies selected for the occasion were all from Scotland, but not all from quite the areas you might expect. Proceedings were presided over by the super knowledgeable and all round top bloke Jeff, as was our previous StarmoreBoss tasting (which you can read all about here), and followed the format of sampling the whiskies to get a good unbiased opinion before discovering what kind of a dram was in your glass.

1. We started the evening with whiffs of apples, pears, and a fresh piny palate. This whisky held quite a sweet smoke and was not overly peaty but still had that familiar warmth. As expected of the first dram of the night, this was the lightest of the bunch which made it not as popular with the peat purists in the room (although saying that, it's whopping 50% abv packed a punch!) This was revealed to be (somewhat unusually) a Speyside whisky - Old Ballantruan 'The Peated Malt' from Tomintoul distillery. It had a very long lingering finish given the strength, which took us nicely on to the next dram of the night.

2. We could tell straight away that this dram had a higher ppm rating but less abv than the first, as it felt harsher on the nose but smoother on the palate. Key flavours we pulled out were raw rolling tobacco, and brambles, and the taste continually opened up as you drank it. This had quite a short finish but the lingering notes reminded us both of the sea. This whisky turned out to be the Islay Ileach Peaty which had been the final whisky chosen at the previous StarmoreBoss tasting, so it was particularly interesting to have it under a different context as a more entry-level flavour. We were actually on Islay this time two years ago on our honeymoon, so we had a nice little reminisce over our dram.
Best enjoyed in an Islay garden!
3. Ah here it is, that unmistakeable seaweedy aroma! As well as this there was a fruitier smell of raisins, a bit Christmas Pudding-esque. The flavour was of burnt honey which tingled on the lips, and was surprisingly sweet to say this is a whisky which is peated to 50ppm. This dram came from the Campeltown distillery of Springbank - Longrow Heavily Peated. Springbank has a great story and every task involved in the production of their whisky is done at the distillery itself. We'd recommend this to anyone who enjoys Islay whiskies but is looking for something a little lighter. 

4. In a nutshell, this one smelled like leather and tasted like a firework. Spiced rich undertones were complemented by fruitier top notes and a long warming finish. This was the Benromach Peat Smoke, which was the peatiest of the night at 67ppm (and not something you usually get from a Speyside distillery). Benromach has produced some fantastic whiskies (their Sassicaia Wood Finish being Laura's all-time favourite), and this definitely met with our expectations. 

5. Ridiculously smoky! Our final dram had a nose like an antique piece of furniture and a taste like sipping on a BBQ. The hickory flavour was very woody and with a surprisingly short finish. We guessed straight away that this originated from Islay, and we were correct, this being the Caol Isla 1999 Connoisseurs Choice, bottled by Gordon & MacPhail. The overwhelming smokiness meant that this was most definitely a worthy way to end the night.

All the whiskies we sampled were reasonably priced to buy by the bottle, so the event was ideal for anyone looking for a new favourite. Coupled with a few very nice hoppy beers and one of the Sheaf's famous pork pies, I think it's fair to say it was a great evening, and we headed home humming along to Deep Purple.


Laura and Jim 

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

The Wick At Both Ends: Spring/Summer Menu Launch

After our move back to Sheffield 18 months ago, we discovered a few places we'd never been to before which made us fall right back in love with our hometown. The Wick At Both Ends is certainly one of these, with a great seasonal menu (featuring an array of locally-sourced ingredients), artisan drinks and a Sunday roast dinner to rival your mum's, so when we were invited to sample the new menu we couldn't wait to book a table.

We started our evening as all good evenings should begin - with a cocktail. I strayed from my usual favourite, the Hansel (gin, raspberries, rhubarb liqueur and gingerbread syrup) and went for a Clover Club. Similar to the Hansel in that it had gin (Portobello), and raspberry, this classic drink also featured vermouth and an egg white. Egg in a cocktail is something I used to shy away from, but took the plunge to discover it adds a beautiful frothiness that makes the drink feel like a proper treat. A massive hit of fresh raspberries gave a pleasant tang. Jim selected the famous whiskey sour, which was made with Bailie Nicol Jarvie and citrus, which was slightly too long a drink for his usual taste but still whet the appetite for the meal to come.

For starter we shared the potted crayfish with soda bread, which was a good unusual appetiser. The butter to crayfish ratio could have been adjusted a little to give more of a seafood hit, but it was nonetheless very tasty, and the warm soda bread was delicious. 

My roast haddock main course was well cooked, and came served with new potatoes and a fennel and cucumber salad. The freshness of the crunchy aniseedy fennel worked really well with the fish, and the whole thing was doused in a lovely green watercress sauce. The dish just sang of spring.

The star dish of the meal was Jim's choice of lamb rump. This came to the table deliciously pink, sat on a little cushion of rosemary and mint rosti. The flavour of this was more rosemary than mint, but this was no bad thing, and ensured it married beautifully with the lamb. Carrots and redcurrant jus completed the dish, with a few jewelled nuggets of sour redcurrant which added a real burst of flavour. Lovely.
To finish, we indulged ourselves and shared a cheeseboard. This consisted of Y-Fenni mustard and ale, with a creamy heat of mustard definitely making itself apparent, Cropwell Bishop Stilton, and a delicious soft goats cheese. Alongside the cheese was a homemade caramelised red onion chutney and some nice little crackers. The only downside was we only got one grape, which isn't a fruit that is easy to share!
The meal was washed down with a couple of pints of Hop Studio Citra, one of two cask ales on the bar (the other being the solid local favourite, Abbeydale Deception).

I've noticed on twitter that the chef is already dabbling in some new dishes for the next seasonal change, but I do hope he takes a step back and savours those he's already created - the food at the Wick is a triumph in the world of "pub grub" and it's for this reason that we will return again and again.


Laura x