Mashtun and Meow: Sheffield Beer Blog: Starmore Boss
Showing posts with label Starmore Boss. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Starmore Boss. Show all posts

Sunday, 2 September 2018

Arran Whisky Tasting at The Rutland Arms

It was the height of the summer heatwave when the sweltering upstairs room of the Rutland Arms played host to David from the Isle of Arran Distillery and Sam from Indie Brands, a distributor focusing on a portfolio of spirits and cocktail producers from around the world, in an evening organised by our favourite spirits shop Starmore Boss.

We opened with the flagship release, the Arran 10 year old, while we were shown a short video about the distillery, based near the village of Lochranza on the north tip of  the Isle of Arran (We visited in 2015). The whisky itself has a smooth sweetness with heaps of vanilla and a little touch of white chocolate, that continues across the palate with apples and custard. The bourbon influence is massive, and we all agreed this was a great way to open the evening and an excellent choice for those not already familiar with the distillery to get a clear idea of its character from the off.

The next dram was a big step in age to the 18 year old release, which is delightfully refined. Finished in sherry casks to help round the flavours and add a wonderful punch of sticky dried fruits, raisins, prunes and a little cherry, bolstering the overall profile which holds a delicious dark chocolate character. The whole thing comes together in a way very much reminiscent of Rocky Road.

The brand new release Brodick Bay followed, the oldest of the evening at 20 years old and one of the most accomplished. The distillery itself being only 23 years old, to have the quality of spirit to release a drink as defined as this one is a monumental feat. This particular release is limited to 9000 bottles and bottled at cask strength of 49.8%. It has been aged for 8 years in ex-bourbon Buffalo Trace casks and sherry hogsheads before being blended and finished in Oloroso sherry casks. The palate holds plenty of dry sherry, but still loads of dried stone fruits, a little touch of spice and perhaps a little cinnamon. The wood character is clear and bold and really transfers a lot of the quality of the wood into the enjoyment of the spirit.

The Amarone is a whisky we've drunk before in the distillery, so there are more detailled notes here. It was interesting to drink this in such a different context, from the cooling winds of the Irish Sea to the sticky stillness of summer time UK '18. This was cleverly paired with a chunk of dark chocolate also made on Arran. The addition of a rich, bitter flavour really opened up some of the finer points of the dram and enhanced the sweeter underrepresented aspects of the whisky, simply wonderful.

The final whisky of the night was Machrie Moor, a NAS peated whisky, that is perfect for those unsure of their peat reek limits - soft and rounded with just a little sweetness, not too much in the way of high alcohols, merely a warmth that comes from its slightly younger age. A very accessible dram.

What really excites us about Arran is the ongoing construction of their second distillery, in which they will focus on producing only peated malt throughout. Although it's going to be a few years in the making, it's definitely one we'll be keeping an eye on and we're looking forward to following their progress.

A big thanks to the Arran team for a well curated selection of drams, to Jeff from Starmore Boss for organising the evening and inviting us along, and to the Rutland for always being top notch hosts.


Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Sherry and Tapas Night

Neither of us would pretend to be experts in the world of sherry. In fact, up until last week we knew absolutely nothing about it past Harvey's Bristol Cream - except that we're both particularly partial to a sherry-cask whisky. So when we discovered that the lovely folks at Starmore Boss would be hosting an introduction to sherry, with tapas-style treats from the Rutland Arms, in the name of education we thought it would only be right to attend.

We took our places at this sold-out event in the upstairs room of the Rutland Arms amongst the familiar faces of plenty of Sheffield folk: a healthy mixture of shop owners, bloggers, and other food and drink enthusiasts. We were presented with a pair of glasses, an array of six sherries and selection of meats and bruschetta, and away we went.

1. Fino En Rama by Fernando de Castilla - We were told that this fino, meaning dry, is a great appetiser as the flavour enlivens the palate ready for food. With a nose of sweet prunes, dried raisins and nutty marzipan, the sweetness didn't continue through to the taste and it was on the palate that that this sherry really became a 'fino'. A saltiness licked around the mouth with a really light charred note that matched perfectly with the accompanied Palma ham. The olives too went spectacularly as they added delightfully to the almost briny nature of the drink.

2. Las Medallas Manzanilla De Argueso - Next was another pale sherry, this time smelling of a cliff-top coastal walk with a fresh sea air, coupled with a floral meadow-esque character. On the tongue the richness grew with a lovely long finish. Again, when coupled with the cured meat the flavours sung, but when we ate it with the (absolutely delicious) fresh sardines, the oily nature of the fish added texture to our Manzanilla and enlivened the drink no end.

3. Tio Diego Amontillado by Valdespino - The third drink was a lot sweeter than the first two, with flavours of bushels of apples enhanced with toffee, but through the nose came a spiced, almost Calvados character. This was coupled with a robust oakiness, due to it being aged for a longer time than the previous drinks (a total of 12 years). We were also presented at this point with a course of Patatas Bravas in the Rutland's signature spiced tomato sauce (of Rutty Butty fame), and hot chorizo.

4. Antique Oloroso by Fernando de Castilla - This was the oldest sherry of the evening, aged for around 16-18 years, which became very apparent on the nose as the oaky nature was even clearer than in the Amonillado. Between us, we felt the drink was more familiar as it smelt more like a whisky, due to Oloroso casks often being the main variety of sherry butt used in the maturation and finishing of whisky. The sweetness built on the palate beautifully and due to its complexity left great depths of flavour on the tongue, for a long while after swallowing the unfiltered nectar. When eaten with the spicy chorizo the sherry softened the heat to a lovely palatable warmth.

5. Palo Cortado by Emilio Lustau - The dark amber colour of this sherry released dried fruits of dates and apricots across the tongue, and light tannins from its time in the oak. The flavour was a little drier than the nose, with crisp citrus and nuts, which once again matched deliciously well with the almost completely devoured food left on in front of us.

6. Pedro Ximenez by Cardinal Cisneros - The final glass of the night was filled with one of our favourite sherry casks (for whisky). The sherry itself was dark and sticky, richly sweet and very indulgent. Smelling of dried figs and raisins that transferred delightfully to the palate and sang of festive spice, plums and yet more figs, this would be the perfect drink for a cosy night in - think we'll be getting a bottle in for Christmas. Definitely a dessert of a drink.

This event was the first we attended which was hosted by Barry Starmore, the other half of Starmore Boss to Jeff, who has presented such events as Smoke on The Water and Whisky Tasting. These two really know their stuff and their passion shines through every time. The evening was definitely an eye opener to an arena of drink that we have not been party to in the past. But we will now surely be looking to dip further into this varied world of fortified wines and certainly be eating more tapas.