Drinks with Al: orange gin, spirit thieves & old colleagues

Last year I was yearning to do a podcast called “Drinks with Al” … or something like that, I hadn’t really finessed the name.

I had a lovely chat to a former colleague who podcasts and got excited about the idea, despite having zero experience in the area – other than being a champion talker – and never having listened to more than a few minutes of one.

But, you know, it’s the hot new thing.

Sadly, I don’t have the time or skills for it right now, so I thought I’d start having a little drinks chatter with you on weekends instead. I’m still trying to chug along with Drinks Digest, even though juggling it with a day job is nearly finishing my sanity off.

But, hey, if it was easy, everyone would do it.

Here goes with my first weekly booze blather:

I was so excited to get the press release for Gordon’s Mediterranean Orange Distilled Gin this week, which has just launched in Australia.

Gordon’s describes it as a zesty, juicy gin, featuring Mediterranean orange notes that complement the spirit’s signature juniper taste.

I’m not a purist and quite enjoy a flavoured gin – I love the Gordon’s Sicilian Lemon Distilled Gin – so I can’t wait to taste test this new addition to the family.

A four-pack of the RTDs arrived on my doorstep last night … stand by for the verdict once they’ve chilled nicely.

Read more here

In a previous life I worked at ACP Publishing for 20 years, so I’ve been following the dramas unfolding at Crown with interest.

James Packer’s private company, Consolidated Press Holdings (CPH) cut all ties with the Crown board earlier this week, as the gaming giant fights to obtain a casino licence for its $2.2billion Sydney Barangaroo complex.

The moves followed the release of a NSW Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority report that said Crown was not suitable to hold a gaming licence in NSW. It said Packer’s influence over the casino operator had “disastrous consequences for the company”.

Numerous board members and executives have resigned as a result of the report, with more predicted to follow.

I was surprised by how miserable James looks these days, so old and grim. I remember flying to the Packer property in Scone many years ago with a young James for a weekend conference. He was dating Erica Baxter and they looked so genuinely happy together. It’s been a pretty crazy ride since then – his Scientology phase with Tom Cruise, the public punch up with his mate David Gyngell and his engagement to Mariah Carey being prime examples. It’s a remind that money can’t buy happiness.

Read more here

Speaking of my ACP days, I’m a member of a private group of ex-employees and a message popped up last week from a woman who’s opened a brewery.

Former Cosmo staffer Harriet McCready (that’s her in the pic above) wrote that she “took the logical next step and opened up a brewery” with her husband when the magazine folded. She was hoping to get some publicity after the brewery was named No.1 in Australia.

Mountain Culture Beer Co has gone from a start-up to Australia’s number one brewpub and brewery in just 16 months.

The brewery, based in Katoomba, NSW, has received more than 22,000 ratings on Untappd (a geosocial networking service with more than nine million users globally), pushing it into the top spot with a score of 4.05 out of 5, the highest in Australia.

Be Kind Rewind, the brewery’s double dry hopped IPA, is currently the number one beer in Australia across all categories and styles of beer, with a score of 4.39 out of 5.

Mountain Culture has also nabbing the No.10 spot in the world for Best New Brewer in the ratebeer.com global Best Awards for 2020. It was the only brewery in the Southern Hemisphere to make it onto the list.

I’m really looking forward to visiting the McCreadys’ brewpub in Katoomba at some stage in 2021.

Read more here

I sent my Whisky Editor DD to a virtual whisky tasting this week to launch a new partnership between online retailer The Whisky List and Tasmanian bottler Spirit Thief.

Spirit Thief is based just outside of Hobart, Tasmania, and its new “Exploration Series” features six whiskies each designed to showcase the unique effects of maturing whisky using non-traditional ex-red wine casks.

As an independent bottler – one of around 300 in the world – Spirit Thief is free to acquire and collaborate with multiple distilleries and partners. Self-described “gypsy distiller” Brett Steel, who is the Founder and Master Blender led Drinks Digest through a tasting of five whiskies from the Exploration Series.

DD’s favourite was the beautifully perfumed French Oak Grenache, using Shene double distilled whisky, while the most unusual was the Coastal Peated French Oak Cabernet, Belgrove Distillery which Brett described as a “divisive … funky …wildcard” and is the only whisky in our experience to have tasting notes of “peanut brittle”.

It gives me a little shiver of delight when I look at him on the screen!

Read more about Spirit Thief here

Have you seen the hilarious ad that Ryan Reynolds, P. Diddy and David Beckham have filmed to raise awareness for the plight of bartenders in the US and UK, who are struggling financially due to COVID-19 restrictions?

Reynolds is the ambassador for Aviation Gin, P.Diddy for Deleon Tequila and Beckham for Haig Club Whisky.

Reynolds says in the ad: “For the last 10 months, Diddy, David and me, Ryan Reynolds have been hard at work on an industry first.

“A daring combination of Deleon Tequila, Haig Whisky, Aviation American Gin, and natural flavours found in both Tampa Bay and Kasas City, made to be the one cocktail everyone can enjoy.”

All three of the men take a sip of the drink, with P Diddy cheersing before by saying: “Here’s to you guys.”However, they all spit out the drink. Reynolds then swears and says: “dammit, that’s so f***ing gross.”

Diddy adds: “Ryan, this tastes like ass feet” while David said: “Ryan this is not gonna work.”

It then fades away with a title screen reading: “This is why we need mixologists.”

Diageo, the parent company for Aviation American Gin, DeLeón Tequila and Haig Club Whiskey, is donating US$1million to Another Round, Another Rally’s Bartender’s Benevolent Fund and Drinks Trust UK to support the bartending community.

Click here to watch the ad.

And finally, I was fascinated to read The Bacardi Cocktail Trends Report 2021, which revealed how recent cultural shifts have re-shaped the beverage industry, why we’re craving spice and bitters, which cocktails recipes are on the rise, and how we’re imbibing more mindfully.

Bacardi reckons a desire for extremes will dictate our drink choices in 2021, with sensorial experiences that range from the striking heat of chilli through to super-sweet, sour, bitter and smoked flavour profiles.

Beverage company Flavorman agrees and reckons drinks that burn, cool, tingle and comfort will be in high demand in 2021.

“Bitter taste profiles will continue to be popular due to our palates becoming accustomed to healthier foods such as kale, which is at the more bitter end of the flavor scale,” Bacardi said.

As reported in the McCormick Flavor Forecast, heat will also be key, with cocktails such as the chilitini, French chili 75, chili whiskey sour, chili libre, and chili bloody mary.

“More people are pushing the boundaries of experimentation with cocktails like the chili whisky sour and turmeric-infused gin and ginger cocktails, suggesting the emergence of gustatory thrill-seeking,” Bacardi reported.

“Cocktails will become a way to travel the world, as restrictions drive consumers to seek new ways of experiencing international tastes and cultures,” Bacardi noted. “Drinks will offer escapism through flavour and will offer moments of everyday luxury.”

Click here to read more

And if you know anyone in the drinks game, send them to Drinks Digest for a stickybeak – I’d love the support. Cheers!

One thought on “Drinks with Al: orange gin, spirit thieves & old colleagues

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  1. I am seriously excited to think u r contemplating a podcast… Not that I will drink anything, unfortunately… But reading your blog daily is just like back in school holidays in the 80s, waiting for a letter, that will invariably start with a ‘u haven’t written back…’
    This will b like that on steroids!

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