Teeling Whiskey Distillery Visit

Teeling Whiskey Distillery 26th and 27th July 2016

Recently I was very lucky to be invited on a trip to Dublin to visit the Teeling Whiskey Distillery with Marussia Beverages UK (Teeling’s UK agents). I have been selling Teeling Irish Whiskey at Fareham Wine Cellar since it launched in the UK and, of course, I jumped at the chance to learn more.

A Little History

Teeling Distillery is the first new Irish Whiskey Distillery to be opened in the city of Dublin for over 125 years. It is located in an ancient market square, not far from the city centre, called Newmarket, in an area called The Liberties. The Liberties is an historic neighbourhood in the southwest of the inner city that, at one point, was home to 37 whiskey distilleries.  It was known as The Golden Triangle, a hub of distilling, milling, malting and brewing. In the 1800s famous names like Guinness, Powers, Jameson and Millar could all be found there within a 1 mile radius.

Teeling is a family-owned distillery. The family have been involved in Irish Whiskey production twice through the years and claim that Irish Whiskey has always been in their genes. Walter Teeling started a small craft distillery in The Liberties in 1782, which was handed to his son John in 1791 and remained in the family until it was taken over by The Marrowbone Lane Distillery, one of the largest and most famous 19th century distilleries. After a break from the whiskey business for many years, the family returned to Irish Whiskey in 1985 when John Teeling bought a former state potato schnapps distillery. By 1987 John Teeling had converted the distillery to have two column stills and the Cooley Distillery was born. As owners of the Cooley Distillery the Teeling family were responsible for such Irish Whiskey brands as Kilbeggan, Connemara, Tyrconnell and Greenore. The Cooley Distillery was immensely successful and was eventually sold to the spirits giant Jim Beam Inc. in 2012. The proceeds of this sale (and a supply of Irish whiskey) allowed the family to start again under the Teeling Whiskey name and John Teeling’s sons, the latest generation, Jack and Stephen, now run the family business.

Teeling Whiskey Distillery

Teeling Whiskey Distillery Visit 2016

The new, state of the art distillery was completed in 2015 and the first spirit to be distilled in Dublin since 1976 came off the stills in March / April 2015. The distillery has 4 giant grain silos, 6 fermenters (4 stainless steel and 2 wooden) and 3 copper pot stills. The three stills are made by Frilli from near Siena in Italy. There is a 15,000 litre wash still, a 10,000 litre intermediate still and a 9,000 litre spirit still which are named Alison, Natalie and Rebecca respectively. Like most Irish Whiskey, all Teeling Whiskey is triple distilled. It is bottled at 46% and non-chill filtered. Perhaps where Teeling are at their most innovative, however, is with their choice of barrels for finishing (a bit like their stablemates at Marussia Beverages UK, Compass Box Whisky and Foursquare’s Exceptional Cask Selection Rums). More of that below.

Pot Stills at Teeling Whiskey Distillery

Teeling’s barrel ageing warehouse is located an hour and a half’s drive away at Greenore in County Louth not far from the mouth of Carlingford Lough. When the whisky is put into barrel at the distillery it is let down (it comes off the stills at about 82 to 83% ABV) to 66% ABV with water drawn from Teeling’s own well which is on site at the distillery. It was the quality of the water from the aquifer under The Golden Triangle that drew many distilleries, as well as breweries, to the area all those years ago. The water is considered, by Teeling, to be superior to any other water in the region. One thing I did not find out, was where the whiskey from the Dublin stills will ultimately be bottled, but I guess Teeling have a couple of years to sort that out – the minimum ageing for Irish Whiskey is three years in oak barrels. So for now future bottlings of the first batches of Dublin whiskey are quietly ageing away at the warehouse where the “Angel’s Share” (the amount of alcohol which evaporates from the casks during maturation) is about 5% in the first year and 1 to 2% in subsequent years.

The current Teeling Whiskies (which are sourced from various distilleries including stock from the Cooley deal) are finished in various different barrels, their Single Grain is finished in red wine casks, their Blend in rum casks and their Single Malt in a mixture of casks. As well as the recently released Revival that was finished in Calvados cask, they have also been experimenting with White Port, Madeira, Stout, Amarone, Merlot, Chateauneuf du Pape and Sauternes finishes.

Teeling Whiskey Tasting

Teeling Whiskey Tasting

The Alchemy Room at Teeling Distillery, 26th July 2016

With Alex Chasko – Master Distiller, Blender and Pot Still Enthusiast – and Jack Teeling.

Teeling The Spirit of Dublin Poitin 52.5%

This replaces the old bottling of Teeling Poitin that we currently sell in the UK. It is quite an historic spirit, the first spirit to be distilled in Dublin for 40 years. Made from 50% malted and 50% unmalted barley.

It is a bright and clear spirit. The nose is grainy with a touch of citrus fruit and plenty of cereal notes. There are aromas of cream, corn barley and a touch of red berry fruit.  The palate shows flavours of red berries and red apples with a hint of spiciness. There is not too much burn, instead it has a pretty clean, warming finish. Best served neat, over ice or as a long drink with tonic and ice and a citrus (maybe apple) garnish.

Teeling Single Grain Irish Whiskey 46%

This is bottled at around 6 years old and the spirit came from a Coffey still at the Cooley Distillery (it will be a few years before Teeling have their own whiskey distilled in Dublin). This batch was aged in ex California Cabernet Sauvignon cask which add red berry fruits to the natural sweeter grain whiskey.

This has a  good golden colour with red / brown tinge. There are aromas of cherry, red berry fruits and baking spices. The palate is woody with hints of toffee, fudge, spices (cinnamon) and a touch of tannin. Soft and dry finish with a touch of warmth. Someone else in the group described this as an Irish Bourbon!

Teeling Blended Irish Whiskey 46%

This is blended from a small selection of whiskey that has been finished in rum barrels for 4 to 6 months. The barrels are sourced from Peru, Central America and Canada and Teeling look for casks that have held fruitier, more floral styles of rums. This is a blend of grain and malt whiskey, the malt included 2006 and 1999 vintages.

It has a golden, amber colour. The nose was a little dumb but opened up with a dash of water. There are aromas of rum and raisin, hints of spice, tropical fruit notes and a hint of banana. The palate is soft and round with hints of rum, more raisin, a touch of sweetness and a hint of spice and coconut.

Teeling Single Malt Irish Whiskey 46%

This is a single malt whiskey with some of the whiskies up to 16 or 18 years old. It is finished in a selection of 5 different casks: White Burgundy, Port, Madeira, Californian Cabernet Sauvignon and Sherry. Characters from all these can be detected in the whiskey. It has won world’s best Irish Whiskey “2 or 3 times”.

It is a good, dark golden colour. The nose has hints of tropical fruit and marmalade with melon and lychee aromas (White Burgundy influence). There are also aromas of wood, Christmas spices, toffee and a touch of red fruit. The palate has flavours of raisin, toffee and caramel although the finish is quite drying.

Teeling Revival 2nd Edition 46%

This is part of the limited edition Revival range. It is a 13 Year Old Single Malt aged for 18 months in ex-Calvados cask. Apparently Calvados casks are very hard to get hold of.

This is a dark golden colour. The nose has aromas of apples and fresh lifted aromas. There are also hints of caramel, tarte tatin, foral notes and a hint of banana. The palate is soft and mellow with baked apples, red apples, cinnamon and pasty flavours. I would only recommend this if you like Calvados. The Calvados influence is very strong in this, it is almost like a Calvados / Whiskey cross.

Teeling 24 Year Old Single Malt Whiskey 46%

This was distilled in September 1991 and given a 3 and a half year Sauternes cask finish. Released in September 2016.

This was a good, golden colour. There is a faint hint of peatiness (around 5ppm phenols) with some sherry, yeasty character. The is a slight hint of oily / diesel character and hints of fruit, particularly apricot. The palate is very soft, smooth and mellow with a hint of smoke and confit apricots. Very big finish.

Teeling 26 Year Old Rum Cask 57%

Just a single cask bottled, aged in rum cask for 25 years and only available at the distillery. From a very well-known Irish Whiskey distiller.

This has a lovely, dark golden colour. The nose has aromas of sweet, spicy sherry notes with dried fruit, leather and rancio notes reminiscent of an old Armagnac or Cognac. The palate is powerful and sweet. There is a lot of rum character, honey, raisin and baking spices. A really big and powerful whiskey with an excellent long and lingering finish. Superb.

A big thank you to our hosts, the Teeling Family, Kevin Hurley and Feargal McGuinness from Teeling who shepherded us around, fed and watered us continuously for two days. It is fantastic to see a new distillery, with a new outlook and I am sure they are only going to grow from strength to strength from here as more of their own whiskey bottling come online. It was also great to meet up with other merchants, bar owners and restaurateurs, it was diverse group and a lot of fun. It was also good put some face to names: Gordon Hughes, Chris Pollard, Craig MacDonald and Rachel McLaren of Marussia Beverages UK. Thanks to my Scott Paine of Marussia for my invitation.

In case you are wondering what the DUWK is doing in the photographs below, we did a tour of Dublin wearing viking helmets in it on the second day! There are pictures somewhere.

Williams Chase Gin

Williams Chase GB Extra Dry Gin vs. Williams Chase Elegant Gin

Recently I had a conversation with a customer about the various merits of the two gins from Chase Distillery and, I have to admit, it was a very long time since I had tried either of them. When I mentioned this to Fred Barton at Chase, he very kindly sent me some samples of both gins (and some of their other products) so I could refresh my taste buds! My tasting notes are towards the bottom of this post.

Willams Chase Elegant and Williams Chase GB Extra Dry Gin Samples

What are the main differences between Williams Chase GB Extra Dry Gin and Williams Chase Elegant Gin?

I have broken this down into three key areas, the botanicals, the base spirit and the alcohol by volume. I am sure there are other key differences but, to me, these seem like the main three. However like most things it is all about the balance of these three key areas as well as other more technical factors (temperature of distillation, for example).

The Botanicals

The botanicals are the most obvious thing for most people. Gin is basically a vodka (or neutral spirit of some sort) which is flavoured with a selection of botanicals (fruits, barks, seeds, spices, plants, roots etc.). These give different gins their unique aromas and flavours.

Williams Chase GB Extra Dry Gin Williams Chase Elegant Gin
Juniper (buds and berries)
















Fuggles Hops


Bramley Apple

+ 37 secret wild foraged botanicals from Chase’s River Meadow

If you compare the two sets of botanicals, although the two gins share some key botanicals, I think most would agree that the GB Extra Dry Gin botanicals err to the more spicy side of things whilst the Elegant Gin botanicals tend more towards the floral and aromatic end (hops, elderflower, apple etc.). Naturally, the expression of these two different sets of botanicals give the two gins their two different distinctive styles.

The Base Spirit

The base spirit for gin is quite important, it can produce different styles of gin. Most gin producers use a neutral grain spirit as the base to which the botanical flavourings are added. However, other base spirits that can be used. For example, Chilgrove Gin and G’Vine both use a neutral grape spirit base which is said to produce a lighter style of gin.

The two Williams Chase Gins use two different spirit bases. Most distilleries will buy in a base spirit but at Chase they actually distill the two different spirits from scratch.

Williams GB – made from a potato-based spirit base, which is essentially Chase Original Vodka. The potato base is smooth with a creamy texture and mouthfeel and a soft and round style.

Williams Elegant – made from an apple-based spirit base, which is basically Chase Naked Vodka. The apple base spirit is distilled 5 times for a pure, fine spirit. It is lighter and crisper in style with a citric character.

The Alcohol By Volume (ABV)

The alcohol by volume (ABV) also plays a key part, not only in how it affects the flavours and aromas, but also texturally. Two spirit bottled at different cask strengths will taste and feel quite different in the mouth.

As will all things, the best ABV is a trade off. Too low (and gin has to be 37.5% ABV by law in the UK) and the gin might be rather watery and insipid. Too high and one will get too much fiery, warming, burn from the spirit which could be quite unenjoyable. A lower ABV spirit will feel lighter in the mouth whereas a higher ABV spirit will seem a bit heavier and a little more viscous.

Alcohol is basically a carrier for flavour (in this case the essentials oils and aromatic compounds in the botanicals). You could think of it as the higher ABV spirit being able to absorb and “hold” more flavours and aromas than a lower ABV spirit. When you dilute a gin with tonic water the gin releases some of these aromatic compounds thus helping to deliver the aromas and the flavours to the consumer. It is similar to how a few drops of water added to a good single malt whisky will help release aromas and “open up” the flavours of the whisky.

Williams Chase Elegant Gin, which is bottled at a high 48% ABV, certainly feels rounder and richer than the Williams GB Extra Dry Gin, bottled at 40%, which feels much lighter and cleaner in the mouth. The Elegant Gin has many more botanicals (and more complexity) than the GB Extra Dry Gin which fits in with the idea of a higher ABV spirit being able to “hold on” to more aromas and flavours.

Willams Chase Elegant and Williams Chase GB Extra Dry Gin

Williams Chase GB Extra Dry Gin Tasting Notes

Williams GB Extra Dry Gin has aromas of dry juniper. There is a big hit of ginger with hints of spice (nutmeg and cinnamon) and zesty lemon citrus. There is also a sweet baked goods note (I can’t work out what!) and light vanilla aromas. It is quite full in the mouth, there are more juniper flavours followed by the spice components leading to a nice warming, peppery, ginger kick. The palate has a slightly creamy mouthfeel and finish is good, clean, crisp and very dry. A very good well-balanced gin.

Serve – gin and tonic garnished with lemon and slice of ginger.

Williams Chase Elegant Gin Tasting Notes

Williams Chase Elegant Gin has a complex fruity, nose. There are spicy notes, dominated by coriander, apple, floral, hoppy notes and a slight smoky character. On the palate there are more green fruit and fresh apple notes with orange / lemon citrus notes coming though quite strongly. There are also some vanilla and faint burnt sugar notes. On the very end of the palate there are floral, almost rose petal notes with a hint of herbaceousness. It finishes with warming spicy notes and a slight peppery burn at the back of the throat. A full-bodied, complex gin with very long, lingering finish.

Serve – in a gin and tonic or a Dry Martini, both garnished with a slice of apple.

There are plenty of cocktails at the Williams Chase Website.


Hampshire Sparkling Wine Tasting

7.30 pm Wednesday 13th July 2016

On the terrace @ Lysses House Hotel

51 High Street, Fareham, PO16 7BQ

Please book tickets in advance with Lysses House Hotel T: 01329 822622

Tickets £12.50 per person, in advance only, from Lysses House Hotel

Numbers are quite limited.

Hampshire Sparkling Wine & Canapes

As part of the inaugural Hampshire Wine Week, which culminates with the Vineyards of Hampshire Festival at Hattingley Valley on July 17th, Fareham Wine Cellar, in conjuction with Hambledon Vineyard and Cottonworth Wines, are hosting a Hampshire Sparkling Wine Tasting at Lysses House Hotel on 13th July 2016.

We will be showing local sparkling wines from Hambledon Vineyard and Cottonworth and Chef Clive Wright from Lysses House Hotel will be providing a selection of canapes.

This will be an informal tasting on the outside terrace at Lysses House Hotel weather permitting (we can decamp inside if necessary).

Hambledon Vineyard

We are very lucky that some of the best English, and indeed, Hampshire Sparkling Wine producers seem to be on our doorstep. Most of our customers will be aware of Hambledon Vineyard and their wines as we have been championing them since they launched their first sparkling wines in 2014. You can read more about Hambledon Vineyard here and about the wine tasting in December 2015 in which they beat some rather big names.

Steve Lowrie, who works in both the vineyard and in sales, will be showing two white sparkling wines from Hambledon Vineyard, their Classic Cuvee and their Premiere Cuvee.

Cottonworth Wines

Cottonworth, who are based in the Test Valley to the north of Stockbridge, are relative new-comers to Fareham Wine Cellar. but they planted their first vines in 2005 and how been producing Hampshire Sparkling Wine and steadily expanding since then. They eventually outgrew their winery and the wine is now made at Hattingley Valley’s nearby state of the art winery.

They produce an excellent Classic Cuvee Brut and a Sparkling Rose which we will be showing at this tasting. Read more about Cottonworth here. These will be presented by Laurent Bergman who works for their agents in the UK, Berkmann Wine Cellars.


Edit: 14/07/16

A Few Thoughts and Some Photographs

First of all, a big thank you to Laurent and Steve for a very informative evening and for showing us some fantastic Hampshire Sparkling Wines from Cottonworth and Hambledon Vineyard respectively. Thank you to Chef Clive Wright of Lysses House Hotel for some fantastic savoury, and sweet, canapés which were a great match for the wines. We were very lucky with the weather, it did look as if we would have to go inside at one point, but the rain held off.

It was very interesting to see people’s reactions and speak to them about their favourite wines. Everyone seemed genuinely interested and impressed by the wines. There seemed to be a bit of a spread of favourites. There was no scientific survey done but, it seemed to me, that the favourite of the evening was the Hambledon Vineyard Classic Cuvee. Some preferred the slightly more fruity and floral notes of the Hambledon Classic Cuvee whilst some people preferred the slighty leaner more racy style of the Cottonworth Brut. My favourite was probably the Hambledon Premier Cuvee. It is a much more serious wine with a bit more weight and good, yeasty, autolytic character, mainly due to 37 months on the lees. It does, of course come with a much higher price tag, a fair reminder of the old adage that “you get what you pay for”. We served the Cottonworth Sparkling Rosé Brut with a couple of sweet canapés and it was a great match for the strawberry and cream canapé that was served. The Cottonworth Rosé has a very delicate, very pale pink colour and is a fantastic dry and refreshing sparkling wine. I’ll say it again, we are lucky to have two such quality Hampshire Sparkling Wine producers on our doorstep.


Fareham Wine Cellar Portfolio Wine Tasting 2016

Fareham Wine Cellar is celebrating its 25th anniversary in 2016 and, rather fortunately, this coincides with our biennial Fareham Wine Cellar Portfolio Wine Tasting!

All of our key wine and spirit suppliers will be in attendance and there will be well over 150+ wines and spirits available for tasting.

Fareham Wine Cellar Portfolio Wine Tasting 2016

Wednesday 19th October 2016

2pm until 7.30pm

@ Lysses House Hotel
51 High Street, Fareham PO16 7BQ

Tickets £12.50 per person – now available from Fareham Wine Cellar

In advance only.

If you are feeling a bit hungry after trying all these wines, Chef Clive Wright from Lysses House Hotel has prepared a special menu for anyone who want to have a meal afterwards. You will find the menu at the bottom of this post.

If you wish to book a table in the restaurant afterwards, please do so with Lysses House Hotel T: 01329 822622


Our Portfolio Wine Tasting is a great opportunity to try all sorts of wines and spirits as well as meet some of the winemakers and producers that we work closely with.

List of Exhibitors (confirmed as of 28/08/16).

Awin Barrett Siegel – Andrea Bulcock will be in attendance and showing wines from Jordan Estate (South Africa), Simon Hackett’s fantastic wines from Australia and Dr Loosen amongst others.

Berkmann Wine Cellar – Laurent Bergmann will be showing wines from Lapostolle Chile, a selection of Italian wines and Cottonworth Hampshire Sparkling Wines. Laurent will also be joined Hugh Liddell from Cottonworth Wines.

Bodegas UrbinaPedro Urbina of Bodegas Urbina will be in attendance with his UK agents, Burridges (see below) – superb, family-owned, traditional Riojas.

Burridges of Arlington StreetTeresa Burridge will be in attendance, their family-owned business is a specialist Spanish Wine importers. As well as Pedro Urbina’s wines, they will be showing some other fantastic Spanish wines from various wine regions.

Cellar Trends LtdIan Robinson from Cellar Trends will also be in attendence and will be showing various spirits including Pussers and Botran Rum, Beluga Vodka, Douglas Laing whiskies, Japanese whiskies from Akashi and Togouchi. Ian will also have some new spiced rum from Bumbu, London No 1 Gin and Casamigos Reposado (George Clooney’s tequila).

Chateau Caroline and Chateau Lestage – Caroline Chanfreau-Philippon owns and manages two fantastic Chateaux in Bordeaux with her brother Jean Chanfreau-Fonréaud. Caroline will be showing wines from their two estates, Chateau Caroline in Moulis and Chateau Lestage in Listrac.

Domaine Jones – owner and winemaker Katie Jones will be showing some of her fantastic southern French red and white wines.

Eaux de Vie (Marussia Beverages) – Scott Paine will be showing a range excellent spirits from small, artisanal producers including Teeling Irish Whiskey, Compass Box Whisky, Swedish whisky from Mackmyra, rums from Doorlys and Mezan, Fifty Pounds Gin as well as Cognac, Armagnac and a few other bits and pieces!

Hambledon Vineyard – Hambledon Vineyard will be presenting some of Hampshire’s finest sparkling wines including their Classic Cuvée, Premiere Cuvée and, hopefully by then, their new Rosé.

Hatch Mansfield – James Wilson of Hatch represents wineries including Champagne Taittinger, Louis Jadot, Siefried and Esk Valley from New Zealand, Robert Oatley Vineyards, Caliterra and Errazuriz.

Jean Baptiste Audy – Nadège Sabras represents, Bordeaux negociant and Chateau owner, J B Audy in the UK. She will be showing a range of their wines including Chateau de Courlat, Chateau La Rose de Palenne, Chateau David Beaulieu and Chateau La Croix de Duc amongst others.

John E Fells –  Matthew Nutt will be showing wines from Torres Spain, Miguel Torres, La Crema, Symington Family wines and Ports (including Graham 1997 Vintage Port), Te Mata and many more. He will also be showing Champagne Henriot.

Louis Latour Agenices – Guy Nightingale will be showing not just Louis Latour wines but also wines from Champagne Gosset, Wakefield Wines, some fantastic new wines from Seresin Estate in New Zealand and Cognac Frapin.

Moet Hennessy UK – Derek Langton will be showing various wines and spirits owned by Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessy (LVMH) including Terrazas de los Andes, Cape Mentelle, Glenmorangie, Ardbeg, Numanthia, Veuve Cliquot, Moet Chandon, Ruinart and Cloudy Bay, including the new 2016 Sauvignon Blanc if it arrives in time.

Orion Wines – Elena Ciurletti is the export manager for Orion wines and she will be presenting a range of Italian wines from across Italy including Tannu, Zensa, Castello della Rosa and Pehhcora.

Raymond Reynolds Ltd – Raymond Reynolds is the premier importer of Portuguese wines into the UK and will be showing some excellent Portuguese wines, Ports and Madeira (including Niepoort and Barbeito).


Lysses Dinner Menu

Wednesday 19th October 2016

£27.95 per person

Please book with Lysses House Hotel

To Start

Roasted butternut squash soup served with crispy croutons

A red onion and mushroom tartlet glazed with  lightly smoked cheese
served warm with a selection of lettuce leaves

Niçoise salad with tuna pan fried until pink finished with an olive oil dressing

To Follow

A leek, mushroom and ricotta cheese strudel served with a
lemon and dill butter sauce

Pan fried fillet of salmon set on base of cauliflower purée, red onion
confit and dauphinoise potatoes finished with a chive and white wine sauce

Lamb rump cooked until pink served with potato rosti, roasted shallots, red
and yellow pepper finished with a rich red wine sauce

Served with a selection of freshly cooked vegetables

To Finish

A dark chocolate tart with a layer of butterscotch served
with a whirl of whipped cream and raspberry sauce

A choux ring crammed with passion fruit curd, whipped cream and strawberries

A raspberry and whiskey flavoured crème brulee topped
with brown sugar and glazed under a hot grill

A selection of cheese and biscuits

Coffee and Petit Fours

If you have an allergy or special dietary requirement
please speak to a member of staff before placing your order.

Cottonworth Wines

Cottonworth Wines is an English Sparkling Wine (Hampshire Sparkling Wine to be precise) producer located in the Test Valley in Hampshire. Cottonworth itself is a small village situated between the towns of Andover and Stockbridge and the vineyards are on the outskirts of the village. Cottonworth is owned by the Liddell family who have been farming the land for five generations first as a mixed farm, more recently as a crayfish farm and now as an arable farm and vineyards.

Hugh Liddell is the winemaker at Cottonworth Wines who spent two years learning about all apsects of wine-making whilst working and studying wine in Burgundy. As an aside, when the family sold some 93 acres of land (to another English sparkling wine producer) they were able to invest in vineyards in Chassagne Montrachet and St Aubin 1er Cru . These are also sold under the Cottonworth label. Hugh started off in the wine trade in retail and as a broker and was instrumental in planting the first vines on the family farm. He has also worked vintages in New Zealand and South Africa as well as studying Viticulture and Oenology at Plumpton College.

The first vineyards at Cottonworth were planted in 2005 and comprised of two acres of German and French grape varieties. Of course, the English wine landscape has changed quite rapidly since 2005 and most quality wine producers have realised the potential of English Sparkling Wine. The onus has now moved to planting the main sparkling wine grape varieties of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier rather than Germanic varieties. In 2012 Cottonworth planted a further 10 acres of vineyards with these three grape varieties. Two thirds of this was Pinot Noir which adds fruit and body to the final cuvee, as well as colour to the Sparkling Rosé. The vines are planted on half way up a south facing slope (at around 40 to 70 metres above sea level) which means they avoid the cold air that accumulates at the bottom. The vines at Meonhill Wines on Old Winchester Hill near Droxford are planted in a similar manner which was described to me as “air-drainage”, which means the cold air rolls down the slopes and sits below the level of the vineyard thus helping to prevent frost in the vineyards.

The vineyards at Cottonworth are planted on soils 40cm deep over pure chalk and are of poor quality, which means the vines work hard to send their roots far down in the chalk. This allows for a certain expression of purity and minerality in the final wine.The soils are also well-draining but retain enough water to keep the vines healthy. There are three different types of soil in the vineyards – very chalky, chalky and not chalky. These are best suited to Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier respectively.

As wine production at Cottonworth increased, they soon outgrew their own, tiny wine-making facilities (in the old dairy) and therefore joined forces with another Hampshire Sparkling Wine producer, Hattingley Valley Wines. Hattingley Valley Wines is located at Lower Wield near Arlesford, some 20 miles away, and have a modern, state-of-the-art winery and, more importantly, excess capacity. Cottonworth Wines are now made at at Hattingley Valley winery. The wines are made using the Methode Traditionelle i.e. the wine undergoes a second fermentation in the bottle to introduce the fizz in exactly the same way as Champagne, and most quality sparkling wine, is produced. Grapes are gently basket-pressed and the wine is fermented in a combination of temperature controlled stainless steel and oak barriques. After fermentation the wine is blended and bottle for the second fermentation in the bottle. It is at this stage that the red Pinot Noir component is added for the Sparkling Rosé. The wine is aged for several years on the lees prior to disgorgement.

Cottonworth makes two sparkling wines, a Classic Cuvée and a Rosé. I had always tried their wines at the annual Vineyards of Hampshire Wine Tasting and they were always very impressive. It is great to be able to stock these fantastic wines and I was very pleased to see that they have a very smart new presentation for 2016 too.


Cottonworth Classic Cuvée is a classic sparkling wine blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier. It has a pale golden colour and is a floral, aromatic wine with hints of brioche, bready notes and some citrus / lemon notes on the the nose. It has a good mousse and is fresh and clean on the palate with good, chalky minerality. It has a clean, dry and persistent finish. Dosage 7g/L.

Cottonworth Sparkling Rosé is also a blend of Pinot noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Meunier but with a higher proportion of Pinot Noir than the Classic Cuvée. It is a very pale pink colour and a very fine bead. The nose has aromas of red summer fruits (strawberry, cherry) and hint of apple. There are more red fruit flavours on the palate with good minerality and acidity. An excellent clean and fresh Rosé with a refreshing finish. Dosage 8g/L.

Visit the Cottonworth Wines website.

Edit 02/06/16 – Good to see that Cottonworth Classic Cuvee came second in the Judgement of Hampshire. Hambledon Classis Cuvee came first beating four very famous Champagnes in the process!

Pussers and Botran Rum Masterclass

Wednesday 18th May 2016

7.30pm at Lysses House Hotel

A tutored Rum Masterclass and Rum tasting with Pusser’s Rum Brand Advocate George Phillips and Ian Robinson of Cellar Trends Ltd.

Cellar Trends are the UK agents for Pusser’s Rum and Botran Rum in the UK and we were very luck to have the opportunity to hold a Rum Masterclass and Tasting which included a tasting of all 4 Pussers and all 3 Botran Rums available in the UK.

Pussers Botran Tasting Sheet

Pussers and Botran Rum Tasting (8)
Pussers Rum Brand Advocate George Phillips

Pussers Rum

George Phillips, as Pusser’s Brand Advocate, was in charge of the first part of the evening and proved to be very entertaining, interactive and be good at throwing chocolates around (if one answered a questions correctly!). I did not make copious notes as I have already written about Pussers Rums and there is more information about the various rums at these links – Pussers Rum Spiced, Pussers Gunpowder Proof 54.5% and Pussers Rum Blue Label 40% – but I did make some notes of interest.

Pussers and Botran Rum Tasting (7)

  1. We learned about the “Duppy Share”. As spirits are quietly ageing away in barrel quite a lot is lost to evaporation. Pussers Rum is aged in the British Virgin Islands in the tropics. As one can imagine, the rate of evaporation of rum ageing barrel in the hot, tropics is much higher than an equivalent barrel of Scotch Whisky aged in the Scottish Highland. The amount of spirit lost to evaporation is known as as “The Angel’s Share” in Scotland and elsewhere. In the Carribean it is known as “The Duppy Share”. Duppy is a Jamaican Patois word for the ghosts or spirits that are said to live near the base of cotton trees and have a taste for rum. They are said to visit rum barrels and steal the best part of the rum.
  2. The rate of spirit lost to evaporation is around 2% per year in Scotland and Cognac, in the Carribean is around 10%. Thus, when all the evaporation is taken into account, one single bottle of Pusser’s superb 15 year old rum is produced from the equivalent of 8 bottles of the Pussers Blue Label.
  3. Pussers 15 Year Old is a small batch straight 15 Year Old Rum i.e. it is made unblended from only 15 year old rum, nothing older and nothing younger.
  4. Pusser Rum Spiced, bottled at 35% abv. is not technically allowed to be called a Rum in the UK. In the UK a rum has to be 37.5% or over. This will soon be rectified and Pusser will be bottling their Spiced Rum at a higher abv. for the UK market. It still remains one of my favourite Spice Rums. It is made in a very natural way and is not as sweet as many of the dark and treacle-y spiced rums available. It is made by macerating natural spices etc. (including, and this is a guess, cloves, cinammon, nutmeg, vanilla and ginger) in a young Barbados rum for up to 14 days prior to filtering and bottling.
  5. Pussers Rum Overproof Green Label bottled at 75% abv and which is currently only available in Germany may get a limited release in the UK in due course.

Pussers and Botran Rum Tasting (4)

Botran Rum

After a quick break, Ian Robinson took over for the second part of the evening to tell us all about Botran Rum from Guatemala. Unlike Pussers Rum, which is made from molasses, Botran Rum is made from virgin sugar cane spirit. This combined with a complicated barrel ageing process, which Ian did a valiant job of explaining, produces a very different style of rum.

  1. Guatemalan Rum has its own Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) which is both a designation of quality and geographical limitation. It means than certain processes, fermentation, distillation, ageing in the solera system etc. have to be adhered to.
  2. Unlike more tropical Caribbean rums, Botran Rums are aged in a cooler, high altitude mountainous region. This means that the rate of evaporation is slower and allows the rum to mellow of a number of years. This gives the rums a different taste profile. This would not be properly feasible (or economic) in hotter rum producing countries.
  3. The Solera ageing system, initially developed in Jerez for Sherry production, is a complex system of fractional ageing. To simplify, if one imagines 3 layers of barrels with the oldest rum in the bottom and the newest rum at the top. The oldest rum is drawn off at the bottom and is continually replaced with new rum from the barrels above, which is in turn topped up from the top layer above that . The top layer of barrels is topped up with youngest rums. This is a very simplified idea of the Botran Solera process. There are different off-shoots of the solera and re-blending of the rum along the way.
  4. Because Rum is continually mixed in the solera, Botran cannot put the age of the rum on their labels. The labels state that the rums are Solera 12 or Solera 18. This is a rough average of the age of the rums in these bottlings. There will be rums older and younger than 12 or 18 year old in the Solera 12 or Solera 18 respectively.
  5. The oak barrels used for ageing Botran Rum in this solera system is a mix of four different types of barrel – fresh and charred ex-Bourbon Whiskey Cask, ex-Sherry casks and ex-Port casks – I think I am right in saying they are the only Rum producer who use four different cask types.
  6. Botran Reserva Blanca is a three year old rum that has the colour filtered out of it using charcoal filters. As it is aged for 3 years in American white oak barrels it has a lot more character, as well as being mellower and smoother than cheap white rums. I think this was the biggest surprise for people who attended the tasting.
  7. Ron Zacapa is also made at the Botran distillery!

Once again, a big thank you to George Phillips and Ian Robinson for a thoroughly enjoyable and informative evening. Roll on the next one.

Williams Chase Rose 2015

We have just taken delivery of the new vintage of Williams Chase Rosé, the 2015. I think this is the third vintage for this rosé wine in the strikingly square-shouldered bottle closed with the glass Vinolok closure. I really like the Vinolok closure I am not sure why more producers don’t use it for their white and rosé wines that should be drunk young. It was trendy in the 1990s, particularly in Austrian Gruner Veltliner wines, but I don’t know of any other producers, other than Chase, using Vinolok at the moment. There must be some!

Each vintage of Williams Chases Rosé has been a bit different from the previous, and the 2015 is no exception, this is in part due to a change in the INAO (Institut National des Appellations d’Origine) Appellation rules for Luberon Appellation d’origine controlee (AOC) and Appellation d’origine protégée (AOP). In March 2014 the INAO rules were updated to allow Luberon Rosé to be made with up to 20% wine from white grapes, something that their neighbours in Cotes de Provence are allowed to do to. Therefore Luberon Rosé can be made from the red grape varieties Grenache, Syrah, Cinsault and Carignan with up to 20% comprised of white grape varieties Ugni Blanc, Clairette, Grenache Blanc, Vermentino, Bourboulenc, Marsanne and Roussanne.

Williams Chase Rose 2015

Williams Chase Rose 2015

Williams Chase Rose 2015 is made from a blend of Grenache, Syrah, Cinsault and, now, Vermentino. The wine is made at the family’s property Chateau Constantin just north of Aix-en-Provence. It is aged on its lees with regularly lees stirring which lends a certain creaminess and complexity to the wine. The addition of vermentino certainly lightens the wine, in fact this is one of the palest rosé wines I have come across. There is a picture of a bottle of the 2014 vintage next to the 2015 vintage for comparison below (2014 on left, 2015 on the right). For me the the vermentino brings lots more peach and apricot character to the wine which wasn’t in the previous vintages. I do wonder about the colour being a little light. A lot of consumers perceive the palest rosé wines as being the most austere and dry, which is not the case here.

Tasting Notes

Williams Chase Rose 2015 is a very pale, delicate clam shell pink with just a hints of orange colour. The nose aromatic with white peach and apricot being the most dominant aromas. However, delve a little deeper and there are ripe red berry fruit (strawberry), floral and blossom notes. There are also hints of herbaceousness and a touch of wet stone minerality. The palate is clean and pure with a good viscous mouthfeel. There are flavours of more ripe, red berry fruits, floral character, red apples and a hint of grapefruit zest. As the wine warms up the palate became more expansive and with developing creamy flavours from the lees ageing. The finish is dry, but not bone dry, there is a touch of natural sweetness. Very good, clean and refreshing rosé. Don’t serve too cold! Perhaps take it out of the refrigerator 20 minutes or so before drinking, you will find the wine so much better for it. 29/04/16


Caermory Single Malt Scotch Whisky

As I am sure all whisky aficionados know, there is only one Scotch Whisky distillery located on Isle of Mull and that is Tobermory. The distillery was established in 1798 and is one of the oldest commercial whisky distilleries in the world. They make two different brands of whisky, Tobermory and a peated whisky called Ledaig. Why I am telling you this? Well, put simply, Caermory Whisky is a third part bottling of Tobermory, with a rather interesting origin.

Caermory Whisky is the only whisky made under a Business Expansion Scheme (BES), namely The Tobermory Malt Scotch Whisky BES – The Spirit of 1992 PLC. This BES, like many others offered at the time, offered investors full marginal tax relief on their investment provided the money was kept in the company for five years. Business Expansion Scheme expansions schemes were scrapped by the Chancellor the following year and replaced with the Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS) in 1994. At the time, this must have been a very good deal, a great chance to invest in a tax-free dram. Under this BES, The Spirit of 1992 Plc. produced some 150,000 litres of spirit, the company was eventually wound up and the investors made a handsome tax free profit. However some of the whisky was acquired by private individuals, with the aim of releasing it at a much later date, one of whom, Derek Hewson, created Caermory Whisky.

Caermory 21 Year Old Single Malt Scotch Whisky

The goal of this small whisky company is to release a series of very limited, single cask bottlings of this rare Isle of Mull whisky and to showcase what the very best whisky from the Isle of Mull can be like. There are plans, amongst other things for a 25 year old bottling. The BES batch of whisky was distilled in 1992 and has been quietly maturing in ex-Bourbon American oak barrels since then. The current release, the Caermory 21 Year Old Single Malt Scotch Whisky is from cask #238. This bottling is bottled at a cask strength of 48.2% abv. It takes its name from the old Welsh for stronghold, fortress or citadel and the ending of Tobermory. No such place exists, but it sounds pretty good!

Available at Fareham Wine Cellar.

Caermory 21 Year Old Tasting Notes

Good, clear, light golden colour. The nose has good fruity and woody aromas. There are hints of lifted lemon / citrus, some floral (perhaps geranium) and minty notes. There is also a touch of green apple aroma. Alongside these fresher aromas there are also some creamy, vanilla notes with a hint of milk chocolate. There is also a note that reminds me of new rope or cereal (bran or malt). The palate is viscous with a good mouthfeel. It is fruity with baked fruit and slightly nutty flavours. It has a sweet attack and is very soft and smooth with spicy, clove flavours. The finish is clean and pure with a touch of sweetness, a final flourish of grassy notes and a good length. A drop of water reveals more fruity, baked fruit aromas, peach, orange and leathery notes. This is a very clean and pure, rich whisky with good mature character but with very elegant freshness. Very good value for money for a 21 year old from the Isle of Mull.

Read more about the Caermory Whisky story at their website.

Taylors 1966 Single Harvest Port

Taylors 1966 Very Old Single Harvest Port is the third release in a series of limited edition Tawny Ports released by Taylors when they are 50 years old.

Taylor’s Port is arguably one of the most famous Port Houses and they have one of the largest holdings of very old cask aged Ports in the Douro. A lot of these old Ports are single vintage Ports aged in seasoned oak casks, i.e single vintage Tawny Ports or Colheita. Taylor’s first started releasing some of these older Tawny Port at 50 years old in 2014 with the 1964 Vintage.

This year, 2016, Taylor’s have released the Taylors 1966 Very Old Single Harvest Port. This limited edition will make a superb 50th birthday or 50th anniversary present in 2016. The great thing about this Port is that for a 50 year old beverage that is still going to be okay to drink (most wines at this age have had it) it is very good value for money. Compare this with the price of a 50 year old whisky, you will be surprised.

Available at Fareham Wine Cellar.

Taylors 1966 Very Old Single Harvest Port

Taylors 1966 Very Old Single Harvest Port Limited Edition

This 50 year old Port is made from grapes harvested and vinified in 1966 and since then the Port has spent many years quietly aging away in oak casks in the Taylor’s cellars at Vilanova de Gaia. It is this prolonged period of oak ageing that gives this Port its characteristic amber / tawny colour, smooth palate, complex, mellow flavours, rich aromas of dried fruits, nutty character and caramel nuances. This Port was only bottled recently (most likely in late 2015 / early 2016) and not need decanting (it was filtered at bottling). It is absolutely ready to drink now. Each bottle is presented in a classic frosted Taylor’s Port bottle, in a high quality beech wood box and there are only a very limited number of bottles available worldwide.

Taylor’s Managing Director, Adrian Bridge, comments “A 50th birthday or anniversary is a landmark occasion. Taylor’s Single Harvest Ports offer a unique opportunity to celebrate with an extraordinary 50 year old wine in perfect condition.”

Tasting Notes from Taylor’s website,

“Medium golden mahogany, with a hint of olive green on the meniscus. The nose is complex with aromas of walnut, macadamia, brown sugar and a warm spicy background of molasses and caramel. The palate is smooth and honeyed, with rich spice, figs, mocha and confit apricot. The acidity is marked and the finish long with beautiful balance.”

96 Points – Wine Spectator
95 Points – Wine & Spirits
95 Points – Wine Enthusiast
94 Points – Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate

Conker Gin, Dorset’s First Gin

Dorset’s First Gin! Conker Gin, or Conker Spirit Dorset Dry Gin, to give it its full name, is distilled and bottled at the Conker Spirit Distillery, which is located in an old Victorian laundry, in Southbourne, Bournemouth and lays claim to being Dorset’s first gin.

The company was founded in 2014 by self-proclaimed Head Conkerer Rupert Holloway. Rupert had grown weary of his 9 to 5 job working as a chartered surveyor in Southampton and had also come to the conclusion that there was never any decent gin to drink in local pubs or eateries. He also noticed that, whilst Dorset has plenty of local beers, wines and other Dorset specialities, there was a Dorset Gin -shaped gap in the market. Rupert is a self-taught distiller and, after 6 months research, blending different botanicals and testing (drinking!) he finally came up with the final recipe that make Conker Gin a unique Dorset Dry Gin.

This is a truly hand-crafted, small batch gin made in batches of only 60 bottles at a time. The base spirit for the gin is made from British wheat and this is then re-distilled in the presence of the botanicals in a small, 30 litre, Portuguese-made, copper Alembic pot still. It is of course the type of base spirit and the blend of botanicals that combine to produce the unique character of any gin.

Conker Gin

Conker Gin Bottles

Conker Gin is now available at Fareham Wine Cellar.

Conker gin is based on a classic dry gin recipe and is made from 10 botanicals. There are some botanicals that are fairly standard to most gins including juniper (a requirement for it to be a gin), seville orange peel, angelica root and coriander seed. Some of the other botanicals are a little bit more unusual and include dried elderberries, lime peel, dried marsh samphire and gorse flowers. The gorse flowers are very much a local product. The bright yellow gorse flowers are foraged from The New Forest in March and April and then dried. When fresh gorse flowers have a coconut character but when dried they have chamomile, sweet nectar character which they bring to the gin.

After re-distillation with the botanicals, the gin is left to sit for 2 weeks, this period allows the gin to mellow, something that not gin goes through, prior to the addition of natural New Forest Spring water to bring the ABV down to 40% for bottling. All of this, bottling and labelling included, is done by hand.

The packaging is very smart and I don’t think I have seen the bottle shape before. The labelling is very clear and the copper-coloured screw top cleverly reminds one of the copper colours of the traditional Alembic stills whilst the yellow bottom label must almost definitely be “gorse yellow”. It took me a little while for me to realise that the “C” of Conker Gin is a conker in string too. Brilliant branding ideas.

Conker Gin Tasting Notes

A clear, colourless gin. The nose is very fragrant and perfumed. There are aromas of pine and juniper with definite citrus / lime notes. There are also floral and spicy, peppery hints. On the palate I detect orange flavours, more lime, blossom, honeysuckle, some savoury character (coriander) and nutty, woody notes which lead to the medium-length, dry finish.

This is a bright, smooth and refreshing gin that would be great to drink neat or over ice. If served in a gin and tonic I would most definitely garnish with a sprig of fresh gorse flowers. Of course, if your local supermarket doesn’t have any gorse flower then my second choice would be lime zest! I think this will complement the lime notes in the gin very well.

Whilst looking for information about Conker Gin, I also found this fantastic looking Cool Camomile and Conker Gin Cocktail at the Dorset Tea Website. There is also more information at the Conker Spirit website.