Artisanal Cachaça: The Versatility of Germana, by David T Smith

With the closing of London’s Olympic Season for 2012, my thoughts turned to the host of the 2016 Games and the 2014 Football World Cup, Brazil. With the sporting world’s eyes on this South American powerhouse, no doubt interests will also increase for their national spirit, Cachaça.

Anyone who is familiar with the drinks industry will know that Gin, Cognac, Rum and, now, Tequila have all grown in popularity, but, for many, Cachaça still remains an unfamiliar spirit.

An introduction to what Cachaça is can be found here on the Amathus site and so, to avoid repetition, let’s move on to looking at one brand in more detail.

Germana is made by Uniagro, but was first made by the Caetano family on their Vista Alegra ranch in 1912; the family still retain some ownership today. The name “Germana” means something that is genuine, pure, without mixing. It was also the name of a mystical nun who used Cachaça in medicinal preparations.

Germana is an artisanal Cachaça, made without the addition of sugar or chemicals and from spirit that is distilled in copper pot stills. They also use natural fermentation (using the cornmeal-fed yeast in the sugar cane) for their mash.

Today, we are looking at their Unaged Cachaça (40%ABV), but Germana also make Cachaça that has been aged for 2 years and 10 years, as well as a Single Barrel and a Heritage bottling. Some of the bottles are wrapped in dried banana leaves, which is hark back to a tradition started a century ago to protect the bottles as they were transported.

On its own
Nose: Very fruity: figs, raisins; lots of jammy fruit. Also, a touch of spice.
Taste: Quite thick in texture, this is also rather rum-like, with flavours of dark treacle and raisins. It reminds me somewhat of Pusser’s or Wood’s Rum. The finish was clean, woody and dry.

Caipirinha
Cooling and clean, with some hints of smoked ham and anise. Simple, but effective and with character, this is very easy to enjoy, having some depth but not being overly-complex.

But there is more to the spirit than these two drinks and it is not just a beverage for the hot months; to illustrate this, I have used the unaged Germana in four seasonal cocktails.

Spring – Marmalade Sour
[30ml Cachaça. 10ml Lemon Juice, 1tsp Marmalade, 2 Dashes Orange Bitters – SHAKE]
This is a variation on Harry Craddock’s Marmalade Cocktail.
This drink is superb. I like gin, but I actually prefer this drink with Cachaça. The sweet, juicy elements of the Cachaça complements the rich, bitter-sweetness of the marmalade, with the lemon juice bringing balance to the drink. Delicious.

Summer – Woody Woodpecker
[40ml Cachaça, 15ml Orange Juice, 10ml Galliano – SHAKE]
OK, so this is not exactly the epitome of Brazilian tradition, but it’s a variation on a drink that many will be familiar with, the Harvey Wallbanger.
The drink is smooth and clean, but surprisingly sweet, making it more well-suited to a post- rather than pre-dinner drink. The sweet Galliano brings out the sweet, fruity flavours of the Germana. For a tarter drink, add 10ml of lemon juice.

Autumn – Rabo de Galo
[30ml Cachaça, 10ml Red Vermouth – SHAKE]
A traditional Brazilian cocktail, this is simple, but packed full of flavour. Warming, with the herbal notes, this is well-suited as an aperitif to stimulate the appetite. Very tasty.

Winter – Quentão
A traditional drink for the Brazilian Winter; a sort of mulled Cachaça. I used a mix of Cachaça, sugar, water, ginger, cloves and other spices, along with citrus peel, which I heated in a saucepan and then served in heatproof glasses.
The spicy ginger and christmas spices complement the juicy and jammy notes of the Cachaça, making for a cosy, warming and comforting drink – perfect for keeping the chills at bay.

After exploring Germana Cachaça a little more, I am impressed with its versatility, being easy to use in a whole range of cocktails, from summer coolers to winter warmers. My favourite was the Marmalade Sour, although I am quite fond of drinking Germana on its own.

 

By
David T Smith
Summer Fruit Cup
david@summerfruitcup.com
http://www.summerfruitcup.com
07759 419997

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The World’s Most Awarded Rum – Flor de Cana! By Clare Corlett

As a keen rum fan I had been looking forward to this event all summer. As it came up to 3pm, the crowds were assembling and the anticipation was mounting. Marc Catalán, brand ambassador for Flor de Caña, introduced himself and we were off…


It was instantly apparent that Marc was passionate about rum and, more specifically, this unique rum from Nicaragua, Flor de Caña (“Flower of the Cane”). He explained that, to date, it remains the World’s most awarded rum in the market and is currently the leading brand in Central America, as well as a growing position in the UK and emerging markets. Flor de Caña is owned by the Pellas family, an Italian family based in Chichigalpa, and the rum is produced solely from their sugar mill in San Antonio, and has been for 122 years. What is remarkable and extremely uncommon is that they own this sugar mill, and do not import from outside – which means that they have complete control over the entire process, and in terms of what this means to the resulting quality… well, the rums speak for themselves!

Before I go on to tell you about the different samples, I will just take a moment to talk about the slow-ageing process that takes place. What this means, essentially, is that everything is matured and aged naturally. There is no chemicals or additives – not even caramel – added to adjust colour and there is no blending of ages to alter taste. It is this natural ageing and patience that creates the smooth, silky textures and pure flavours in all of their rums.

Extra Dry White 4yr
This is the only 4yr white rum on the market! Crystal clear in appearance, (achieved through filtration with charcoal) it is extremely light-bodied with a delicious exotic taste of coconut and subtle hints of vanilla. Smooth enough to enjoy alone but also a great base for some tasty cocktails.

Gold 4yr
In essence, this is the same as the Extra Dry without the charcoal filtration. In reality, this transpires into a smooth tasting and more vanilla dominating taste, with that coconut profile making a more subtle appearance. Very silky texture.

Grand Reserve 7yr
A clear mahogany coloured rum, perfectly balanced and it said to make the “perfect rum and coke”! Defined vanilla and dark chocolate flavours and a wonderfully smooth finish that lingers in your mouth.

Centenario 12yr
Moving more into the realms liking to a fine brandy – this would be for those partial to a neat tipple topped with ice or water.. It is reddish-amber in colour and a semi-sweet, chocolate aroma with notes of caramel and nougat. These follow through onto the palate with some wooden characters from the 12 years ageing in barrels.

Centenario 18yr
Of every barrel roughly 80% of the original contents is lost by evaporation through these 18 years. This gives you an idea of the fine quality, concentration and finesse of what we are about to taste… pure amber with notes of almonds and chocolate. This is a melt-in-your-mouth, silky rum, oozing with finesse and sophistication. A rum worthy of no contact than that of from glass to mouth…

Floridita & Meza Food

Along with these great rums were some light bites provided by Floridita and Carom @ Meza. These were devine. There were mini lamb samosas… lobster pastries… pork belly… tasty doritos… and finished off with an amazing strawberry sorbet and puree. Just recalling these makes my mouth water. Check out the photo if you don’t believe me! Yumm…. (see below for website information).

To end a great tasting of rums and Cuban and Indian infused delicacies, came some cocktail ideas of what can be done with Flor de Caña. For a list of ideas please see here

Clare Corlett
Amathus Drinks

With special thanks to Floridita and Meza for the fabulous food and venue for the afternoon tasting!!

Eaux de Vie “Water of Life” Master Class with Philippe & Nathalie Traber

We were delighted to welcome our great friends Philippe and his wife Nathalie Traber for an evening of tasting the fantastic French spirit, Eau-de-vie, from the brilliant producer Mette. For those of you who are not fully aware of what Eau-de-vie is, it is translated into English as ‘the water of life’. By using only the purest of fruit (the producer is so fanatical about the quality of their ingredients that some are grown as far away as Madagascar!) for their distillation, the brandy is so pure and flavourful that it is becoming internationally recognised and are enjoyed all around Europe.

Founded in 1985 by Philippe’s godfather J-P Mette, J-P taught Philippe everything about distilling; from sourcing the finest ingredients to distilling the pure spirit. Philippe, along with his wife Nathalie, bought the estate in 1998. After the ingredients are distilled, through experience and a little bit of trial and error, the fruits are left to macerate from anywhere between 5 days and 6 weeks (it all depends on the sugar levels in the fruits). They now produce around 100 different flavours, and tonight we were lucky enough to sample a small selection of their range. What became apparent as the evening went on was the level of commitment by Philippe when creating his eaux-de-vie, and it’s a quality that has to be admired!

We tasted seven different bottles that Philippe had bought with him from France, all of which (and many more) are available to buy through Amathus Drinks.

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Mette Master Class
Mette Master Class

Eau-de-vie Poire Williams

The pears are picked in the Rhone valley and then sorted at the distillery so that only the purest and finest pears are used. Left for six years to age, the spirit has a pure and elegant note of pears but with a creamy backdrop on the palette. The length of flavour is sublime and like a good book, leaves you wanting more.

Eau-de-vie de Vieille Mirabelle

Aged for 12 years using the finest apricots. Floral notes on the nose then divulged into rich and intense apricots on the palette that then finishes with a soft and creamy flavour. Why not try using this in a Mirabelle martini?

Eau-de-vie Framboise Sauvage

The wild raspberries are sourced from France and Romania and aged for 6 years. The instant notes of raspberries arise from the glass, but deliver an almost dried plum like flavour in the mouth that develops in a spicy finish.

Eau-de-vie Marc de Gewurztraminer Vendanges Tardives 1990

Agds for a whopping 22 years and sourced using Mette’s own grapes. The flavour is like a fireball, a big whack of white peach and flowers that then slowly peters out into a sweet and delectable finish.

Eau-de-vie d’Alisier

Sourced from the forest of Vosges, it is ages from 8 years. A rich and slightly sweet taste of marzipan then develops into a rich flavour of almonds.

Spiritueux de Cacao

Using the finest cacao that is sourced all the way from Madagascar! A spicy flavour that oozes dark chocolate and cacao in the glass.

Spiritueux de Gingembre

The ginger is grown in China and Thailand and is left to macerate for 8 weeks. An engulfing flavour of ginger but with a hint of lemongrass in the finish. A perfect digestive after a large meal or why not try flambéing over prawns?

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Amathus Soho

113-117 Wardour Street
London
W1F 0UN

Zeer Oude Genever; Versatility and Style

In previous articles, I have written about both Van Wees’ Angostura Bitters and their excellent Three Corners Dry Gin. Today, I will look at another of their products, Zeer Oude Genever.

The forefather of London Dry Gin, Genever comes in a few varieties:

Oude (Old)
This name isn’t a reference to the age of the spirit, but rather to the “old” method in which it is made. It must contain a minimum of 15% Maltwine, no more than 20g of sugar per litre, and at be bottled at or above 35%ABV.

Jonge (Young)
This is made using a newer method of production that became popular in the 1950s in response to demand for a more mixable spirit with a lighter character. This can contain no more than 15% maltwine and no more than 10g sugar per litre. It must be bottled at at least 35%ABV.

Korenwijn (Cornwine)
The third variety, this must contain 51% maltwine and be bottled at at least 38%ABV. It can also contain no more than 20g of sugar per litre.

Van Wees Zeer Oude Genever
Van Wees Zeer Oude Genever

A.V. Wees Zeer Oude Genever is in the first of these styles. In addition to being made in the old style, it is also aged for at least one year in oak casks (hence Zeer (“Very”) Old).

The Taste

Neat
Nose: Dry spice, oak, juniper and toasted bread.
Taste: Initially smooth, with a building warmth. Oaky wood, vanilla and bread follow, with juniper on the finish. An interesting cross between whiskey and gin.
After tasting, it seemed to have the warmth and body of a brown spirit with the mixability of a white; as such, I decided to try it in a variety of classic cocktails.

Manhattan
Quite pleasant and smooth, this seemed to be a cross between a Manhattan and a Martinez; the missing link between these cocktails. The dry juniper notes are followed by sweet oak and vanilla. There are some herbal hints and a touch of citrus on the finish.

Sazerac
This Sazerac had a great combination of oaky vanilla and anise flavours. Warming and woody, it was also very comforting. Unusual, but excellent.

Negroni
This was quite bitter, but also seemed more rounded than most Negronis, with a slight woodiness to it and a touch of anise. Overall, I think that a good balance was reached between the sweet and bitter flavours. Very good indeed.

Moscow Mule
A twist on the vodka classic. It had the same refreshing chill and citrus of the traditional drink, but with added vanilla notes and a woody, malty finish.

Yellow Gin
Yellow Gin was a variety of gin that had been matured in wood to add a light straw colour and an oaky flavour. Despite its popularity in the middle of the last century, it is now harder to come by. One suggested substitute is a mix of Dry Gin and Genever, so I decided to try it.

25ml Van Wees Three Corners Dry Gin
25ml Van Wees Zeer Oude Genever
(Stir without ice)

Comparing this to some Yellow Gins I have tried, I can see the similarities, although this was a lot richer in flavour, being more woody and malty. If you’re looking for something different when making gin-based drinks such as a Martini or Gin & Tonic, this mix could be really useful.

In Conclusion
Trying these drinks really illustrates the versatility of Genever as a cocktail ingredient and, with the increased interest in aged spirits, even extending to aged gins and vodkas, I think the interest in Genever will continue to grow. Hopefully some more great cocktails will be created, too!

by David T Smith

Summer Fruit Cup
david@summerfruitcup.com
www.summerfruitcup.com
07759 419997

Mine is a Northern Gold please! From Jacqueline & Kell Skött

Over Christmas we drank quite a bit of Cava and quite a lot of Nordguld Aquavit and Kell came up with the idea of combining the two and it make s a pretty delicious cocktail.

Aalborg Nordguld Champagne Cocktail
Aalborg Nordguld Champagne Cocktail

Northern Gold Cocktail

Ingredients:

Champagne or good quality Brut Cava
Nordguld Aquavit
Angostura Bitters
White sugar cubes

Method:

Chill Champagne glasses in the fridge or by swilling around a couple of crushed ice cubes and drying quickly.
Soak the sugar cubes (one per glass) in a few drops of Angostura Bitters and drop in to the Champagne glass.
Pour in 15ml Nordguld Aquavit.
Top with Champagne and serve immediately.
Enjoy!

Aalborg Nordguld is a very special aquavit with a unique taste. It is the world’s only aquavit distilled with amber – the Gold of the North.

The amber oils used during distilling give body, a touch of resin and pine and a hint of citrus to the taste. In addition to this, Aalborg Nordguld is made from classic aquavit spices and fennel and is then matured in Spanish sherry casks to get its smooth and harmonious finish.

By Jacqueline Skött, Kell Skött Haircare

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Nordguld Aquavit is available from us at Amathus Drinks

Marolo Chinato: an indispensable ingredient

Marolo Chinato
Marolo Chinato

I’ve recently undertaken a relatively extensive Red Vermouth Tasting and one of the products I came across whilst researching this was Marolo Chinato. This is not strictly vermouth but a product with very similar characteristics and so I thought I’d try it out in some classic red vermouth cocktails.

What is Chinato?
Chinato is wine that has been steeped with cinchona bark and flavoured with a variety of other roots, fruits, herbs and spices. It is typically served as a digestif.

Marolo was started in 1977 by Paolo Marolo, with the aim of taking a rustic, local product and transforming it into a distilled art. The Chinato is made at the Santa Teresa Distillery using two “Bain Marie” (water bath) stills, one filled with white pomace and the other with red. The product is infused with cinchona bark and a variety of other rinds and herbs, such as gentian, cinnamon, rhubarb, clove and coriander. Finally, the Chinato is aged in acacia and oak barrels before bottling. Marolo also make a range of aged and non-aged Grappa.

Marolo Chinato

[Served neat at room temperature]
A very dark red, in a similar way to red vermouth, but this has an even deeper colour.
Nose:
Taste: Hints of cinnamon and thyme initially, with some sweetness; this is followed by a more bitter edge. Overall, the drink was complex and herbal, with a similar lasting finish to tonic water.

With Chocolate
I’ve noticed that quite a few Italian winemakers have started to talk about pairing their wines with chocolate and so I decided to try it with the Chinato. I would suggest using dark chocolate, between 60-75% cocoa. The dark, clean bitterness of the chocolate goes well the rich complexity of the Chinato; a very good match.

Negroni
[25ml Dry Gin, 25ml Chinato, 25ml Campari; Add ingredients to a tumbler add ice and stir]
This was a superb shade of dark crimson and a wonderfully smooth drink. The flavour of the gin came through first, then the deep, herbal warmth from the Chinato, before the final bitter finish from the Campari; at the very end there was a sweet lift that neatly rounds off the drink.

Manhattan
[50ml Rye Whiskey, 25ml Chinato, 2 Dashes Angostura Bitters; Stir with ice, strain & serve in a cocktail glass]
This was less sweet than most Manhattans, so would be a good option if you prefer your cocktails on the dry side. There were dry, herbal notes throughout, with a very long, warm finish. If you’d like the drink a little sweeter, I would suggest adding a Maraschino Cherry. Really rather good.

Martinez
[25ml Gin, 25ml Chinato, 2 Dashes Angostura Bitters, 2 Dashes Triple Sec; Stir with ice, strain & serve in a cocktail glass]
The juniper of the gin is a good match for the bitter cinchona and gentian of the Chinato. (This is not too much of a surprise as it is cinchona that makes tonic water bitter and we know how well that mixes with gin)
It was a similar recipe to the Manhattan and the dry herbal notes were there. However, the drink was less woody and less smoky; these characteristics were replaced by the clean smoothness of the gin.

Fruit Cup
[20ml Gin, 15ml Chinato, 15ml Ginger Wine; Add ingredients to a tall glass, add ice, fruit garnish and 150ml of lemonade or ginger ale]
Like a refreshing fruit cup, but more herbally intense and rather complex, with a touch of bitterness at the end. I think this is a great way to enjoy the Chinato and a long drink is a nice summery alternative to a Manhattan.

Rob Roy
[50ml Scotch Whisky, 25ml Chinato, 2 Dashes Angostura; Stir with ice, strain & serve in a cocktail glass]
This cocktail is essentially a Manhattan made using Scotch instead of Rye, so your choice of whisky can really change the drink. In order to try something that was a contrast to rye whisky, I decided to go for a smoky Islay.
If you like peaty whisky, then I think this will be a good cocktail for you: the intense smokiness of the whisky was still prevalent, but this was intertwined with the bitter herbal elements of the Chinato, making it a drink that was absolutely packed with flavour.

Swiss Family
[30ml Chinato, 5ml Pastis, 2 Dashes Angostura; Stir with ice, strain & serve in a cocktail glass]
The strong anise from the pastis complements the herbal aspect of the Chinato in this cocktail; it tasted like a complex, full-bodied cocktail, even though it was just Marolo mixed with Pernod. Excellent!

For anyone who is interested in the early days of cocktails and vintage drinks, red vermouth is an indispensable ingredient, whether it’s in the Classic Manhattan or in the ancestor to the Martini, The Martinez. But in sticking with the tried and tested brands of vermouth, you can easily overlook some alternatives that, whilst not strictly vermouth, can produce a similar effect whilst also adding a little something extra to your mixing; Marolo Chinato is certainly one of these.

By David T. Smith

Summer Fruit Cup

david@summerfuitcup.com

www.summerfruitcup.com