Good quality bourbon whiskey is rarely available in India so when I had the opportunity to get my hands on a bottle of Evan William’s Single Barrel bourbon whiskey I could not let it go. When my aunt was flying in from Toronto, Canada and she offered to bring me a few bottles of whiskey one of my chosen whiskies was the Evan William’s Single Barrel.
So, what is single barrel whiskey? Single barrel whisky is a premium category of whiskey in which each bottle originates from an individual barrel, instead of whiskies from various barrels being blended to achieve uniformity of colour and taste. The whiskey from each ageing barrel is bottled separately. Usually each bottle comes with a distinct tag or label mentioning the barrel number and in most cases the dates for the commencing and conclusion of ageing. Since no single barrel can be the same it is thought that each barrel contributes some distinct characteristics to the final whiskey hence rendering the bottled content of each barrel as unique.
Evan Williams, a Kentucky straight bourbon whiskey, is distilled at the Heaven Hill distillery in Louisville, Kentucky but bottled in Bardstown, Kentucky by the same company. Evan Williams is one of the largest selling brands of Kentucky straight bourbon whiskies recognised as one of the world’s best selling whiskey brands.
Evan Williams Single Barrel Vintage Bourbon, a multiple Whiskey of the Year award winner is bottled after select barrels meet their high standards and sealed with a black wax dip. As is the usual norm, the bourbon is vintage dated i.e. each bottle is bears the date it was put into oak barrels, the year it was bottled and the exact serial number of the single barrel that the bourbon was bottled from.
According to the tag the bottle I had went in oak in 2009 and was bottled in 2017. Here is my take on it.
Colour: Bright golden amber.
Nose: Burnt or charred oak with abundance of caramel.
Body: A rich full bodied whiskey.
Palate: Spicy with hints of fruity citrus notes. Luxuriously sweet.
Finish: Warming oaky finish lingers on.
Pairing: I enjoyed paring my Evan Williams Single Barrel Vintage Bourbon with a quality 70% dark chocolate. The chocolate seemed to enhance the sweetness and richness of the whiskey
One of my personal favourite whiskies is the Lagavulin 16. The distillery itself is situated in its name sake village of Lagavulin on the island of Islay, Scotland. The distillery is known widely for its 16 year old expression with an ABV of 43%, despite having a 12-year-old cask strength variety, a distiller’s edition finished in Pedro Ximénez casks, a 25 year old and a 30 year old expression. Lagavulin is produced by United Distillers & Vintners, which has been owned by Diageo since the early 2000’s. It is marketed under their Classic Malts umbrella. As a result of this Lagavulin 16 can be seen alongside Glenkinchie 12 from the Lowlands, Talkiser 10 from the Isle of Skye, Cragganmore 12 from Speyside, Dalwhinnie 15 from the Highland and Oban 14 also from westren Highland.
Lagavulin 16 from Islay
Like most other whiskies to come out of Islay the Lagavulin 16 too is renowned for its deep smoky flavour. However, it must be acknowledged that due to its distinct sources of water and peat the whisky distilled by Lagavulin is markedly different from its equally well known Islay counterpart distillery Laphroaig. Here is my take on it.
Colour: A deep amber gold.
Nose: Intense smoke followed by notes of sea.
Body: Full bodied and rich.
Palate: Bold flavours of peat-y smoke, rich and gentle sweetness which makes way for sea salt and oak.
Finish: Deep peat and smoke linger on for a quite a long while after which a bit of salty seaweed settles in.
Pairing: I enjoyed pairing Lagavulin 16 with pungent and creamy Danablu (blue cheese from Denmark). The peat and smoke work really well with the sharp pungency of the blue cheese.
One of my favourite things to cook is a meatloaf. Cooking a meatloaf comes with a few advantages. Firstly, it is really easy to cook. You just have to acquire and arrange all the ingredients in an orderly fashion, mix them together and cook it in the oven for the right time at the right temperature. Secondly, it can be extremely flexible, meaning that it can be cooked with any kind of meat you like, with any topping or sauce of your choice. Lastly, it is hassle free because most of the cooking takes place in the oven. So if you have guests to entertain or other things to do at home you can easily pop it in the oven, go about doing your stuff and by dinner time a delicious meal will be ready.
My favourite version of the meatloaf is the one I cook with finely minced pork topped with a sweet and tangy homemade tomato sauce. As I mentioned before cooking a meatloaf offers a great deal of flexibility. It can be made with minced beef, pork, lamb or even a combination of multiple meats. However, the only important thing to note is that you should get your butcher to make the mince meat in a ratio of 80:20 i.e. 80% lean meat and 20% fat. This will ensure your meatloaf remains moist, juicy and flavourful. If your mince meat comprises of too little fat it could end up as a very dry end product. Feel free to experiment with the toppings. One of the most convenient and popular toppings is plain tomato ketchup. If you’re feeling indulgent you can even use bacon. You may also opt out of a topping and make a sauce instead which maybe tomato based, mushroom based or even a homemade barbeque sauce. Here’s my favourite recipe:
For the meatloaf.
1. Pork mince at a lean meat to fat ratio of 80:20 – 1 kg.
2. Eggs – 2.
3. Milk – 1/2 cup.
4. Fine breadcrumbs – 1 cup.
5. Garlic cloves chopped into fine pieces – 6 – 8 cloves.
6. Fresh parsley chopped.
7. Salt and pepper to taste.
For the topping.
1. Fresh and ripe medium sized tomatoes – 5, peeled and chopped into pieces.
2. Fresh garlic paste – 2 tablespoon.
3. Onion – 1 medium sized.
4. Chilli flakes – To taste.
5. Salt, pepper and sugar – To taste.
1. Spread the mince meat on a large container making a crater in the middle.
2. Break the two eggs into the crater and mix it in evenly.
3. Next add the milk and breadcrumbs. Mix evenly. The eggs and breadcrumbs will help keep the loaf nice and firm which will help it to hold its shape.
4. Then add the garlic and chopped parsley and ensure that they are well spread out throughout the minced meat.
5. Finally add the seasoning. Be sure to taste a bit of the mixture so that it does not turn out to be under seasoned when cooked.
6. Mould the meat in the shape of a long loaf of bread in a baking tray.
7. In a preheated oven bake the loaf at a temperature of 180 deg. celcius for 30 mins.
1. In a saucepan take about 1 tablespoons of olive oil.
2. Chop up the onion. On low heat begin to brown the chopped onion. Make sure the heat in low during the entire process. This will allow the onion to caramelise and the sugars of the onion to break down. But do not allow the onion to turn black which would mean that it has been burnt.
3. Remove the onion and allow it to cool down. Once it has cooled down blitz it up into a fine paste in grinder.
4.In the same saucepan take a tablespoon of olive oil. Add the garlic paste.
5. Once the garlic is a little cooked add in the tomato.
6. As soon as the tomatoes take on a saucy consistency add in the brown onion paste. This will add a nice char-y sweetness to the topping.
7. Add the seasoning and a pinch or two of sugar. Let the mixture reduce to a thick sauce. Check for seasoning and finally add the chilli flakes.
1. Once the meatloaf has finished baking bring it out carefully. At this point you can stick a knife into the middle to check if it has cooked through. If it goes in smoothly and comes out clean you’ll know the meatloaf is done.
2. Carefully spread the thick sauce evenly on the top surface of the meatloaf.
3. Put the meatloaf back into the oven for ten minutes on broiler mode and turn up the heat to 200 degree Celcius.
4. After ten minutes the sauce will have become a charred, sticky, sweet and spicy topping.
5. Let the meatloaf cool down a bit and then begin slicing.
6. Enjoy your meatloaf by itself or with veggies on the side for a wholesome meal.