Thursday, December 24, 2015
Sprited Sermons, 24th November
You get a lot of bang for your buck at these Spirited Sermons – and I mean that both in terms of drink but also activity and education. Every fortnight they pick a spirit and a specialty brand and for £25 you can learn about the origins of that brand, have a chance to make (and then drink) a cocktail using that brand, and also get a tasting session if that spirit.
The one I went to was a Japanese whiskey sermon looking at the Nikka brand. We were given the backstory of the founder and, after already having had two of the three cocktails included in the price, we had tasters of the four types of whiskey they make, starting with grain and moving to the pure malts. Apparently Masataka Taketsuru was determined to make real whiskey, not a Japanese bastardisation of it (basically coloured sake) and had travelled all the way to Scotland, almost 100 years ago, to learn how to do it right. His creativity was stifled somewhat when he went back and tried to put his knowledge to work at Settsu Shuzo. So eventually he left to found his own distillery. All of the whiskeys (apart from the grain) we drank were blended – originally looked down on by whiskey aficionados, it is now being appreciated for the complexity it can offer. We sipped, and allowed the first taste to singe our tongues while they accustomed to the strong liquor. The second sip was smooth as you like and each whiskey tasted more delicious than the last. Portions were very generous.
By the time it came to making a cocktail, I had drunk ALL the whiskey (through the ingenious move of taking along a friend who didn’t really like it) so even though I’ve had a few cocktail making sessions in the past I chose to make an easy one that didn’t involve anything but stirring. That was a little sweet for my liking, having green tea as an ingredient but still drinkable. My friend and I still had one more cocktail on the list to make up our full complement so we retired to our table cluttered with about five different cocktails to finish them off at a leisurely pace.