Manchester saw an invasion earlier this week as over 20 bartenders, drinks experts and the management team of Drinking Classes arrived to set the world, or at least the corner of Manchester we had chosen, to rights. Drinking Classes, the name taken for the quotation from Oscar Wilde “Work is the curse of the drinking classes” is the big brother of Dramatic Whisky covering gin, vodka, rum, tequila, wine and other spirit and liqueur tasting events around the UK. Each class is headed up by knowledgeable presenters working independently of brands to deliver an entertaining and informative event. Dramatic Whisky was to be first up from the gathered experts as we trained our newest batch of guys and girls.
We were very honoured to be invited to Bar Wizards Lounge in Littleborough just outside Manchester which would become our base for the next three days. Run by Neil Lowrey and Neil Garner (don’t Google them, they get embarrassed easily) the guys set out to impress with strong coffee and bacon rolls on day one. It was only going to get better from here on in. The bar is set in the centre of a village a short train journey out of Manchester on the northern edge of the Peak District. A detached Georgian building of certain grandeur set back from the road, elevated amidst the more average looking buildings that surround it. One would be forgiven to think there was not much more to it that your average boozer but how wrong you would be. Firstly, the knowledge of spirits behind the bar is in line with the amazing selection- especially whisky and tequilla. Unusual bottling, rare finds and all of the highest standard.
In particular there seemed to be a plethora of Japanese and Taiwanese offerings- as always I had my trusty sample bottles on hand so reviews will be popping up elsewhere on the blog soon! After the initial introduction and a live Dramatic Whisky tasting an excellent lunch was served to us with a Scottish twist on all the four course utilising whisky wherever possible. Not only were the whiskies chosen spot on for each course, but the presentation and flavours from the food itself was outstanding- remember, this is, from all appearances, a bar in the middle of a village run by two ex flair bartenders! The Kavalan single malt used in the whisky sauce which accompanied a small breaded disk of Black Pudding and haggis, followed by smoked salmon and a dram of Yamazaki Puncheon. The meal continued with slow braised shoulder of beef finished with a fresh fruit meringue, Eton Mess style and a deep fried Mars Bar on the side. First time for most trying this so very Scottish delight, and not a single one was left behind.
480ltr cask allowing slow maturation and less colour.
No- Age but 8-11 yr old most probably
Colour: Light straw
Nose: At first, quite lively and forceful which is not that much of a surprise considering the ABV and cask. But give it time and big hits of caramel and vanilla come bounding out, followed closely buy baked fruits of the forest and crumble with creamy vanilla custard. Toffee apple on an oak stick twists through the background.
Palate: At natural strength, the alcohol certainly makes itself know- but once over this it opens up to deliver pretty much what it promised on the nose.
Finish: Its powerful and at first dry spice becomes soft cream covered fruits and lingers.
The buzz in the room, not only from the service and quality of the food, but the excitement of the Drinking Classes programme about to be rolled out was palpable. As I looked around, every place at the table was seated with some expert or other in their chosen drinks field. It would be a fun filled couple of days with a refreshments stop on Wednesday night at The Liars Club which continued the fabulous welcome Manchester had given us into the very small hours even although there were several days of training ahead….but this is training right?
After the three days of “intense” training it was time to return to London and put all the knowledge into action but not before I took a little look over the bar bar to sneak a few samples to review. Hopefully I will get them up over the next few days.