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bars ¡ drink
The big news from America is rye whiskey,
with delicious examples coming from brands
such as High West and Redemption. Perhaps
the most telling sign that rye is where it's at
is releases by big-name distillers such as Jim
Beam, Woodford Reserve and Wild Turkey.
"The bar industry has led this adoption
of rye," says Michael Vachon, head of brand
development at Maverick Drinks, a company
that specialises in supplying smaller craft
spirits, such as Smooth Ambler, to the UK.
"The cocktail scene has driven this growth -
many classic cocktails, such as Manhattans
and Sazeracs, call for rye," he explains.
But what exactly is rye whiskey? American
whiskeys are made from a blend of grains
(corn, rye, barley and wheat), in di erent
proportions. When you buy a bottle stating
'rye' on the label, you're guaranteed that at
least 51% of the liquid inside comes from that
grain, though others will have gone into the
recipe as well. Rye imparts a spicy, peppery
avour to the whiskey.
TWO TO TRY:
Wild Turkey Rye (40.5% abv)
This new release from Wild Turkey delivers
great bang for your buck. A nutty caramel
David Beckham has a lot to answer for. From
inspiring men to wear sarongs in the 90s, to
his questionable cornrows in the noughties,
the former footballer has never been afraid to
try something new in the name of fashion.
Since hanging up his boots, he's turned his
attention to whisky; speci cally, the neglected
category of grain whisky. His release of Haig
Club (in association with Diageo) last year has
reinvigorated this underappreciated style.
Grain whisky is a style made up from grains
other than barley, such as wheat, corn, or rye
(though in Scotland, some barley has to be
used as well). It's made in large continuous
avour up front gives way to orange and
Chinese ve spice, and a drying rye-bread
character on the nish.
FEW Rye Whiskey (46.5% abv)
Made just outside Chicago, this is a true
avour journey, starting with caramel and
chocolate-covered peanuts, before spicy
white and black pepper kicks in. A cooling
menthol-like breeze wafts in on the end.
£54.75, the whiskyexchange.com
stills, which results in a spirit of higher alcohol
volume than single malts, so the avour of
grain whisky is usually lighter. It's also used as
the basis of blended whisky to help bring all
the single malts together. "Because it's made
at scale it's harder to make than single malt
whisky," says Morgan.
Before Haig Club launched, The Girvan
Patent Still had also hit the grain whisky
scene, albeit at a more exclusive price point.
Put expectations to one side: grain whisky is a
completely di erent beast to single malt.
TWO TO TRY:
Haig Club (40% abv)
An easy-drinking, gentle dram that would act
as a good gateway for someone scared of the
whisky category. With creamy, sweet vanilla
and to ee notes, it's a versatile drop. Sip it
neat, over ice or try mixing with it.
The Girvan Patent Still 30 Year Old
A good example of an aged grain whisky.
To ee and custard combine with vanilla,
lemon and a touch of pastry before a gentle
spicy pepper kick on the nish.
BEST WHISKY BARS
The Blues Kitchen Shoreditch
For fans of American whiskey.
134-146 Curtain Road, EC2A 3AR; 020 7729 7216
Bull in a China Shop
For fans of Japanese whisky.
196 Shoreditch High Street, E1 6LG; 020 7539 9299
The Sun Tavern
For fans of Irish whiskey.
441 Bethnal Green Road, E2 0AN; 020 7739 4097
The Vault, Milroy's of Soho
For fans of all whiskies.
3 Greek Street, W1D 4NX; 020 7734 2277
The Whisky Bar at the Athenaeum Hotel
Another globe-spanning bar, but with a great
selection of Scotch.
116 Piccadilly, W1J 7BJ; 020 7499 3464