Mashtun and Meow: Sheffield Beer Blog: 2021

Wednesday, 20 October 2021

Lux Row Distillers

We were recently invited to take part in our first flash blog event of the year, organised by the Whisky Wire, tasting two award-winning whiskeys from Kentucky's Lux Row Distillers. Kentucky bourbon is iconic, and isn't something we've had much opportunity to drink before, so we were looking forward to sharing these whilst embarking on a rewatch of Game of Thrones. Season one, episode one, two lovely whiskeys - here we go!

Both the samples we tasted were recently awarded gold medals in the Super Premium Bourbon category at both the Luxury Masters and American Whisky Masters awards, and each retails at around £35 for a 750ml bottle. Here's what we thought of them...

Ezra Brooks 99 Kentucky Bourbon (49.5% ABV)

Described as being a "pure, oak barrel aged straight bourbon", this was held as a classic example of just what a bourbon should be at the recent awards. We found soft oak and toffee penny style caramel on the nose. The palate held a really smooth profile that hid the booziness incredibly well - so easy to drink! The gentle oak and silky caramel carried through from the aroma along with a warming apple pie character, whilst just a tickle of spice (that reminded us of all spice berries) at the back of the throat kept things interesting.

Rebel 100 Kentucky Straight Bourbon (50% ABV)

This is a wheated bourbon which is the newest addition to Lux Row's Rebel Bourbon range, bottled at a higher ABV to ramp everything up a notch. We found oodles of straw on the nose for this one, grassy and spicy with sticky dried fruits hiding behind. The flavour held a lovely rich, buttery character which was tempered by a good level of chilli-esque heat and a freshness reminiscent of sharp apple skins. Only slighter higher in alcohol than the Ezra Brooks but it makes itself felt! A long, hot, spicy-sweet finish to follow.

Overall - we really enjoyed both of these whiskeys. Two drams which really exemplify what Kentucky Bourbon is and can be, whilst simultaneously remaining interesting whiskeys. The Ezra Brooks was the more accessible, "all occasion" type of whiskey of the two, and for this reason would be the one we'd be more likely to add to our spirits cupboard - we'd love to try it in a classic Mint Julep - but we wouldn't hesitate to recommend either of them. 

With thanks to Steve at The Whisky Wire for having us!


Laura and Jim

Saturday, 2 January 2021

Beer memories: Derventio Cleopatra

Cleopatra, for me, is one of THOSE beers. One of those beers-that-got-you-into-beer, a familiar pumpclip on the bar, an ever reliable pint. I used to drink Derventio Brewery's Cleopatra during my student years in York (where, despite them being based in Derby, Derventio's beers were oddly prolific). I was an awkward fresher who much preferred sitting contemplatively in a comfortably fusty woodclad pub having a quiet sup with a couple of pals over spending a night in a dingy nightclub with a vodka and Irn Bru (yes really), freezing in a cardigan and wearing heels I couldn't walk in. And when home for the holidays popping for a pint with my dad, I'd find Cleopatra's fruity tones greeting me upon entry to the Fat Cat, an iconic Sheffield venue and one where many of my earliest beer memories were made. 

In 2014, Jim and I went to the inaugural, now legendary, Beer Central bottle share. It was a small and friendly social occasion, and the first time we were really able to chat and get to know Beer Central's proprietor, Sean. The brief for the evening was to take along a bottle of beer that you liked, and about which you had a story to tell. I took a bottle of Cleopatra, and shared the tale as related above.

And now we've heard that, sadly, Derventio Brewery have gone into liquidation, with the owners planning on taking retirement. The news was broken to me by Sean, via a gift of a bottle of that very same beer that I'd shared with him close to seven years ago.

The bottle tastes of nostalgia. The beer itself is a 5% pale ale, hopped with First Gold and with the addition of apricot (we assume flavouring). It's old school, it's easy drinking, it's kinda sweet, certainly fruity - reminiscent of the yellow fromage frais - and it's still, to me, absolutely delicious. 

A total classic, and it will be missed.

Laura x