If your not yet aware Admans Brewery in Southwold recently installed a decent sized distilling set up from Germany's oldest still manufactures Christian CARL. Sited at the brewery in an old brewhouse, which was aptly titled the "Copper House", they now have the capcity to distill 1000litres of beer an hour!
Adnams have a great range of spirits, which included casks of young malt spirit laid down in their Brewing Museum to be released as English single malt whisky in the near future. However, they haven't stopped there and in May plan to release the Spirit of Broadside.
A mini whisky production recap
For those of you who might not be too familiar with whisky production (be it Scotch, American, Japanese, etc...) the basic premise is that you take a un-hopped beer at 7-9%abv and you heat it up in a large copper kettle (called a pot still) for a normal minimum of two times until you have ethanol at around 60-70%abv. This is then aged in oak casks for at least 3 year.
So I'm sure you've guessed what head distiller John McArthur at Adnams done?
Adnams basically make a great beer called Broadside which John has distilled. Now, because of the hops present this could never be called whisky, it's an eau de vie of sorts.
Back last year I tried the unaged spirit and it was great straight off the still, the depth of flavour was amazing and I keenly awaited another oportunity to try the spirit once aged.
John said recently "It's amazing what you can do with wood as a distiller, we're testing spirit in new french oak and have introduced American oak hogsheads too...". I personally have to agree and the Spirit of Broadside is testement to that! It's due into the shops in May and would recommend it to anyone looking for a spirit that challanges the misconseption that hop spirits would never distill well.
Product: Spirit of Broadside
Distillation: Date: January 2011
Spirit Type: Eau de Vie
Cask type: New European Oak
The nose has a healthy amount of ginger and Asian spice (cinnamon, cloves, star anise). This progress to hot salted butter, custard apples and fresh cut sandal wood. Pine sap, eucalyptus and menthol linger in there too, however, this seems to always end on a light bready metallic note with slightest whiff of fennel seeds and liquorice root.
The initial sip is akin to drinking a mildly spicy ginger beer! That spice element is on the palate from the outset shifting to the back and sides as a fizzy tingle.
There is a slight meaty edge of Sunday lunch, but the wood from the new oak is present and at first seems to dominate the flavour. However, once you have a couple of sips that sappy wood element subdues and digestive biscuit coated in butter comes out to play. The flavours that follow are herbacious and chewy.
A tin cup element hides in the back, but can see it mixing as a sours cocktail.
The finish is medium in length and enjoyable. Would recommend drinking with friends in a convivial atmosphere and a pint in hand.