Archive | July, 2014

Mortlach Whisky – A Rebirth

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Mortlach Whisky – A Rebirth

Posted on 25 July 2014 by Chris Ford

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A few weeks ago I was kindly invited to a tasting of three new expressions from the Mortlach distillery.

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I’m in no way a Whisky expert (in fact far from it) so it was wonderful to be guided through the tasting by Georgie Bell Morlachs global ambassador.

I have always been a casual whisky drinker, and have been to these sorts of tasting before and while always enjoyed the whisky I can honestly say this is the first time my eyes have been truly opened to the world of whisky and what it has to offer. It obviously helps when you are guided by someone so knowledgeable as Georgie but even that aside the expressions really spoke for themselves, my palate was overwhelmed by new flavours exciting and moreish, not something I experience often with whisky.

Powerful and unique in flavour, Mortlach is a ‘best-kept secret’ among those in the whisky-know, with previous limited quantities on-sale being snapped up quickly by enthusiasts. The Beast of Dufftown will be unleashed in the UK this summer in four new expressions: Rare Old; Special Strength; 18-Year Old; and 25-Year Old.

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Commenting on the launch, Scotch Whisky expert Georgie Bell said:

“The richness and authenticity of Mortlach’s heritage is what, along with its extraordinarily distinct flavour, really sets it apart. It embodies the brave vision of its entrepreneurial owners, the Scottish civil engineer George Cowie and his son Dr. Alexander Cowie. They, like other likeminded Victorian ‘makers’ of that golden age, are responsible for creating the unique and astonishingly complex distillation process described as ‘2.81 Distilled’.

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Mortlach have provided some tasting votes for the range which I found very helpfull when revisiting these at home last weekend :

Rare Old:
Availability: Domestic Markets
Strength: 43.4% ABV
Appearance: Clear, bright amber
Tasting Notes: A complex and bold Mortlach with the exquisite balance of sweetness and dryness for which the distillery is renowned. A superbly structured and well-balanced whisky in which stylish fruit and floral notes on the nose introduce a rich, complex, energetic palate and a pleasantly drying finish.

Special Strength:
Availability: Global Travel Exclusive
Strength: 49% ABV
Appearance: Clear, bright amber, Moderate beading.
Tasting Notes: A big, friendly and warming special strength Mortlach, best enjoyed straight, which is at once complex and delicious. Very grown up, with a complicated yet harmonious mix of young vanilla and mature oak underscored by roasted aromatics and a long and deeply affecting finish.

18 Year Old:
Availability: All Markets and Global Travel
Strength: 43.4% ABV
Appearance: Clear, bright amber. Elegant beading.
Tasting Notes: A very compelling, moreish and appetising Mortlach for those who like their whiskies robust; best enjoyed straight. Astonishingly complex throughout and characterised by a fine interplay of meaty notes, malty sweetness and balancing acidity.

25 Year Old:
Availability: All Markets and Global Travel
Strength: 43.4% ABV
Appearance: Clear, bright amber. Good viscosity.
Tasting Notes: A multi-faceted Mortlach that is all full-strength, full-on impact, with an intriguing mix of elegance and power. Complex throughout and very moreish: a big and chewy dram with high complexity, mixing roasting spices and an almost animal intensity with dense layers of decadent sweetness.

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The RRP for the range is £55 for Rare Old, £180 for Mortlach 18 Year Old, £600 for Mortlach 25 Year Old Available from Alexanderandjames.com and thewhiskyexchange.com and £75 for Special Strength, which will be a travel retail exclusive.

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WORMWOOD SCRUBS:  THE INSIDE STORY

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WORMWOOD SCRUBS: THE INSIDE STORY

Posted on 24 July 2014 by Chris Ford

“No one knows what really goes on inside a prison unless they are invited through its iron doors…”

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Award-winning journalist and author Angela Levin takes a look inside Wormwood Scrubs, the UK’s most notorious prison opening up this secret, extraordinary world as never before – at a time when the prison is on a knife-edge.

From Angela’s unique position of Chairman of the Independent Monitoring Board – the prison’s watchdog body – she had keys to all parts of the prison and access to all its inmates, officers and governors. She witnessed firsthand the lives of the prisoners – including the mentally ill, the addicts, foreign nationals and recidivists who cannot cope in the outside world. She has listened to the concerns and fears of the prison officers at a time when violence against them is increasing and the prison is struggling to cope with massive cuts. Angela highlights the faults in the system and recommends some essential reforms.

Wormwood Scrubs: The Inside Story is an important and revelatory book that will shock, disgust and amaze all who read it. The book is available from www.amazon.co.uk as an e-book (£3.99) and paperback (£9.99) Now.

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Pilsner Urquell Brew Off – The Results

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Pilsner Urquell Brew Off – The Results

Posted on 23 July 2014 by Chris Ford

So a few weeks back I told you about the amazing day we had with Pilsner Urquell brewing our own take on a Pilsner.

Alot of effort was put into the brew by all teams, and expectations were high when we arrived at the White Horse in Parsons Green for the tasting.

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All the beers were of a high standard and Id be happy to drink any of them, some I enjoyed more than others our beer was the only one that was very un Pilsner like, on the day I think it was a case of two many cooks but we all had ideas and the decisions made all seemed valid, what we ended up with was a sweet dark beer that was lovely and a massive hit with the pubs patrons as well as our team but sadly wasn’t very Pilsner like, yes we had missed the point and not made a pilsner as judge and beer expert Mark Dredge explained to me after the results. But hey I like being a rebel and we still managed a very respectable third place which Im more than happy with….

Would I do things differently given the chance? well yes but I think on the day the best pilsner won and that was ‘Soundbite’ by The Strong Room bar team, welldone lads it was a cracker.

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Welldone team ‘Another Fine Mash’ and a BIG thank you to Pilsner Urquell for giving us the oppertunity, sadly you wont be able to try our beer but you can try the excellent ‘Soundbite’ which will be part of the White Horses beer festival later in the year.

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Beefeater 24 – QUINTESSENTIALLY BRITISH EDITION

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Beefeater 24 – QUINTESSENTIALLY BRITISH EDITION

Posted on 22 July 2014 by Chris Ford

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Beefeater 24 has unveiled the winning design of its 2012 Beefeater Inspired competition: an ode to Distinguished British Country Chic, by illustrator Glenn Hin. The multi dimensional, limited edition collectible, showcasing the design, can be purchased from only one outlet worldwide www.beefeaterdistillery.com.
However, a vignette can be downloaded online now from www.beefeatergin.com/24 by all to use as a special party invitation or thank you card this summer.

Below is a recipe for a delicious new take on the Long Island Iced tea: Beefeater 24 Gin & Tea.

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Beefeater 24 Gin and Tea

Beefeater 24 with home-made lemon iced tea.
Long & refreshing
Gin & Tea together in a glass
How English can you get!
Ingredients

Beefeater 24 50ml,
Chilled English Breakfast Tea 75ml
Sugar syrup 10ml
Lemon wedge
Method

Pour all ingredients into a high ball glass over cubed ice.
Squeeze lemon wedge into glass & discard
Stir and garnish with a lemon wheel.

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Boursin Cheese Burgers!

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Boursin Cheese Burgers!

Posted on 21 July 2014 by Chris Ford

Boursin the French soft cheese brand have teamed up with chef Marcus Bean to come up with a few dishes using Boursin to add some flavour, I thought I would give his burger recipe here Marcus explains it much better than I can!

I’m a bit hit and miss with recipes, they often go disastrously wrong with me but I was quite suprised how well this one turned out.

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As you can see the Cheese hasn’t leaked out of the burger,having tried to put cheese in a burger before I have found this always happens so I was already quite happy with the Boursin, but next was taste and it was amazing! well done Mr Bean! the mushrooms and cheese work so well with the beef and its quite possibly the best burger Ive ever had, let alone made myself (Ive eaten alot of burgers!)

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Try this , and try this now! you will impress

Worth noting is the cheese comes in individual little foil wrapped portions which I found much easier to deal with and clean in the fridge.

If you are interested here some links to a few more dishea Marcus has come up with using Boursin :

Chicken Supreme Stuffed with Fresh Figs and Boursin Garlic & Herb, Wrapped in Prosciutto Ham

Rump Of Lamb With Garlic & Herb, Mint and Caper Crust, Sauté Potatoes & Wilted Spinach

Smoked Salmon & Tiger Prawn Linguine with a Boursin Garlic & Herb Sauce

Garlic & Herb Gnocchi with Tomato & Vegetable Ratatouille

Rib eye steak with Boursin Black Pepper portion, served with spinach and pine nut rice

Boursin can be picked up in most supermarkets and comes in several flavours including my favorite Garlic

Garlic & Herbs

www.boursin.com/en_gb

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Ian Poulter Trick Shot

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Ian Poulter Trick Shot

Posted on 17 July 2014 by Chris Ford

Thought Id share this cool video of British golfer Ian Poulter as he attempts to skim the head of a beer from a Stella Artois Chalice. Captured using a Phantom Flex slow motion camera the results are visually stunning.

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Review – BlinkBox

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Review – BlinkBox

Posted on 15 July 2014 by Eddie

I was excited to get the opportunity to use Blinkbox the online service to see how it compared to the more well known services, which I currently use.

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I mainly tried this service streaming through my PS3 so this review is based on that system. Downloading the program was simple and the system was easy to navigate with the films streaming smoothly. As with the other systems and DVDs, the film can be paused, rewound and if you need to stop it, you can still watch it for 48 hours from the time rented. Unfortunately to due exam revision I only got to watch a couple of movies, these being the Wolf of Wall St and The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. While browsing the movies there were plenty of new releases including all of Game Of Thrones, the Lego Movie and as well as the classics; which all have synopses, allowing you to have the arguments over if you want to watch the chick flick or the action film.

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One thing that I like about this service is that there isn’t a credit card attached to the system to autobill so you can keep your spending under control. My girlfriend had a problem last week when she accidently paid £21.99 for a very old TV series from another on line service by accidentally pressing the wrong button, there was no “are you sure” screen, blink box on the other hand gives an agreement/confirmation screen when you buy or rent a film, which is preferable as far as I am concerned.

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This service can be topped up with either a credit card or by buying top up cards in Tesco. These top up cards are sometimes branded with images of new releases which would make a nice gift if you are thinking of buying a DVD, this would allow them to download them. This would also prevent duplicate gifts as the top up card can be used to purchase other films and not committed to the one film.

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The important bit is how is it to actually watch films? Well, they work well, I had no problems with buffering or the sound going out of sync with the picture on either the PS3 or my laptop connected through my mobile phone. The picture quality didn’t appear to be HD through my laptop, but was perfectly adequate to watch it and it may have been turned down due to the low bandwidth of the mobile network (I don’t know this for a fact). Through the PS3 they looked very good again with no complaints against the picture quality on a 32inch screen only a few feet in front of the sofa. In summary: I was impressed with the service (as is my girlfriend who thinks it’s nice and simple)we will be using them again especially to get my hands on new releases when I can’t be bothered to go to the cinema or to the shops to buy on DVD.

www.blinkbox.com

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Woodford Reserve and ‘The Old Fashioned’

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Woodford Reserve and ‘The Old Fashioned’

Posted on 14 July 2014 by Chris Ford

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Recently the makers of Woodford Reserve, the Kentucky original bourbon asked me if I wanted to take part in a contest to modernise the classic American cocktail The Old Fashioned.
I love a challenge especially one involving Whiskey so I excepted, although I soon found out messing with a classic isn’t always advisable, but after much painstaking ‘research’ I have come up with two modern twists on the classic cocktail ‘The Old Fashioned’.

First of all this is the Original Drink

Woodford Reserve Old Fashioned

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Glass: Rocks/Old Fashioned
Ice: Cubed
Method: Stir
Garnish: Orange Twist
Ingredients: 50ml Woodford Reserve
15ml sugar syrup
3 dashes of angostura bitters
Method: Add the sugar syrup to the glass with the bitters. Add roughly 1/3 of the Woodford Reserve with 3 ice cubes and stir. Keep repeating until the Woodford Reserve is finished. Garnish and serve

Now for my modern versions.
I figured theres only two things I can change, the bitters or the sugar:

The Canadian Old Fashioned

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Glass: Rocks/Old Fashioned
Ice: Cubed
Method: Stir
Garnish: Pecans
Ingredients: 50ml Woodford Reserve
15ml Maple Syrup
3 dashes of angostura bitters
Method: Add the maple syrup to the glass with the bitters. Add roughly 1/3 of the Woodford Reserve with 3 ice cubes and stir. Keep repeating until the Woodford Reserve is finished. Garnish and serve
The wonderful flavours from the Woodford Reserve really compliment the maple syrup without being overpowered, this really worked very well.

And my second attempt:

Cherry Old Fashioned

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Glass: Rocks/Old Fashioned
Ice: Cubed
Method: Stir
Garnish: Two Fresh Cherries
Ingredients: 50ml Woodford Reserve
15ml sugar syrup
3 dashes of Fee Brothers Cherry bitters
Method: Add the sugar syrup to the glass with the bitters. Add roughly 1/3 of the Woodford Reserve with 3 ice cubes and stir. Keep repeating until the Woodford Reserve is finished. Garnish and serve.
I love all things Cherry and the sutble change from traditional orange bitters to Cherry again worked very well alongside the Woodford Reserve, I may have a new career as a bartender ahead of me!

So are either of these good enough to win against the other blogs competing? I will be sure to keep you updated.
In the meantime you can buy Woodford Reserve (which is amazing on its own) from Waitrose, Ocado, Tesco, Asda and other specialist stockists.

Cheers!

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Review – The Stag

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Review – The Stag

Posted on 14 July 2014 by Chris Ford

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What can I say about The Stag. A Irish weekend stag party goes awry with some truly funny moments

Fionnan is marrying Ruth , he’s busy organising the wedding (he has planned everything down to the flowers )when he’s strong armed into a Stag weekend by his best man Davin (who in turn is strong armed by Ruth ) He has planned a weekend in the mountains camping joined by friends Simon and gay couple Big Kevin and Little kevin.

Enter The Machine (Ruth’s obnoxious and crazy brother ) whose antics cause some very funny moments .
Put together homophobia , slapstick humour , naked shenanigans and the best man still carrying a torch for the bride and you can’t help being charmed by this gang of hopeless characters

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Is this a love story , a story of Irish ruggedness turned on it’s head or a story of U2 hatred ( you will have to watch it) I think everyone will take something different away from this well made funny film. Don’t expect the hangover , but do expect to walk away with a smile on your face

The Stag is available to download now, and will be released on DVD and Blu-ray on Monday 21st July from Arrow Films you can pre-order from Amazon here.

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The Pilsner Brew Off With Pilsner Urquell

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The Pilsner Brew Off With Pilsner Urquell

Posted on 08 July 2014 by Chris Ford

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Have you ever done one of those things you always dreamed of? One of those bucket list moments of your life? Well a few weeks ago myself and fellow Gentlemens Goods writer Dave did exactly that.. we brewed our own beer and yes I’m still grinning wildly about it!
Pilsner Urquell the original and best Czech pilsner brand invited us for the day to learn all about the brewing process from start to finish this was explained to us my Pilsner’s head brewer Václav Berka.
Once we knew our Malt from our Hops we were split into six teams, me and Dave in the writers team and the others consisting of London pubs that serve the wonderful Pilsner Urquell.

Our Task? We had to create our own Pilsner, we were given the classic recipe but had to decide ourselves what spin we would put on our brew.
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We each explained the sort of beers we like and it seemed half the group liked a hoppier beer with a few saying they liked some of the darker brews – our answer? Let’s make a hoppy dark pilsner!
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Once the beer making process was on it way we brainstormed ideas for our beers name before finally settling on ‘Another Fine Mash’
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We then worked with a designer to come up with a label design as you can see its gone through several generations.
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And here’s the finished brew, as you can see we seem to have achieved our aim of a dark brew, but will it be a hoppy Pilsner?
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Well I don’t know as I haven’t tried it myself but if you want to find out at the same time as me please head down to the judging event on July 15h where you can sample all six beers and vote for your favourite, the winner will be produced on a larger scale for a beer festival later in the year.

If you are curious this is the final recipe we came up with

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The final six brews below
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The Brew Off Event will take place at The White Horse Parsons Green, London from 6ish, all are welcome (as long as you vote for us!!!!) see you there!

Big thanks to Pilsner Urquell who are genuinely one of my favourite beers out there and have been ever since I first tried it in Prague many years ago, if you haven’t tried their wonderful pilsner then please go now and do it!

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