With so much going on over the Leeds Loves Food festival this year, we decided to celebrate in our own Yelpy way. On Wednesday the 29th May we partnered with Gerry's to run the world whisky mystery, inviting along 10 lucky Yelpers for a free spot. And the on the 31st of May we held a Yelp exclusive whisky mystery, with a special twist at the end – a Yelper in-house cocktail making competition!
Upon arrival into the world of select sips that is Gerry's, folks ascended the stairs to their tiny tasting room, and took a seat – each spot being issued with a Scottish flag, to wave upon spotting the Scotch, a tasting tips card, and a Yelp poncho. (It's summer, but it's still Leeds!)
The format was simple, even if the sips were not, and the challenge was set for the folks in attendance: seven world whisky samples, all single malts, and only one Scotch – could anyone suss it out in amongst the rogues? It was certainly a mouthful of fun trying…
With each whisky being decanted into a uniform bottle, labelled one through to seven, the proceedings began. The first point to note was the variation of colour to each of the whiskies, but whether that would help folks in their quest or not was to be discovered. Once everyone had their first sample handed over, Holly had everyone take note of the aromas, the legs, the colour and finally the taste.
Once the first sips sank in everyone had a chance to call out some flavours. Holly explained that there is no right and wrong with these notes, as taste and smell can be a very individual thing. The olfactory sense relates on a personal note – some strongly remember smells of wood, growing up near a pine forest for example, whilst others might recall something different. This was good to note, given the variety of flavours and scents being called out!
Whilst everyone got into the next few samples, and tried to ascertain where in the world they might be from, a brief overview of whiskies were given: Malt whisky is from malted barley, and single malt comes from one distillery, where as blends are barley and other grains. Bourbon must be over 51% corn. The more distilled it is, the smoother, more fuller in taste, the longer it takes, and the more reduced the amount of liquid left. Barrels, time, temperature, location, and water also factor in a lot in the variation of taste!
The more samples supped, the more creative the tasting notes became, with all sorts of interesting ingredients being called out. No one was fully confident to yet plant their flag, a few murmers were offered towards number four and number five, but folks were holding out until the end before staking a claim! With limited knowledge being given for the whiskies, lest it give the game away, there was nothing but instinct, taste, smell and a touch of luck to reveal the rogue Scotch…
And finally, once all samples were had, the moment of truth arrived. Everyone raised their flags in turn, pitching a bet on each different whisky. During our finalé event, the whiskies were ordered thusly:
1) Wasamunds Single Malt, American, The Copper Fox Distillery
2) Mackmyra Bruks, Swedish, The Mackmyra Distillery
3) Nikka All Malt, Japanese, Yoichi and Miyagikyou Distilleries
4) Hammerhead 1989, Czech, Prádlo Distillery
5) Millstone 8yr American, Dutch, Zudaim Distillery
6) The Wild Geese Single Malt, Irish, Cooley Distillery
7) The Macallan Gold 1824 Series, Scotch, The Macallan Distillery
Everyone had different theories and tasting notes to back up their pick, but only a few flew the right flag! On Friday, our winners were Chris A and Tori W. (But really, the fun was in the taking part.) And just when everyone thought it was safe to settle, the final challenge of the night was upon them – an epic cocktail making competition, with Single Malt's siblin, bourbon!
Each Yelper was placed into a team, comprising five teams, whose mission it was to make up a bourbon cocktail using their secret ingredients. Everyone had brought along something special to add into the mix, alongside a myriad of ingredients available on the night, including limes, strawberries, ginger ale, mint, bitters, various juices and more. Everyone quickly got stuck in, each being handed a jug with a splash of bourbon, and a table of treats to chuck in.
After 20 minutes, the cocktails were done, and lined up for judging by the lovely Holly. Each team had created a unique cocktail, taking on different ingredients, but there could be only one winner! Of the newly created drinks on offer, the cocktails were dubbed thusly:
Vanilla Strawberry Surprise, by The Alcopops – Laura J, Tori W, Cathy E, David H
Ginger Spice, by LS2 – Rees A, Julie S, Matthew K, Elise
Work In Progress, by Clueless – Ade F, Azad D, Goff I, Matt W
Chillmon, by Chillimon – April K, Dave W, Graham S
Having A Great Lime, by Team Oestrogen – Jade C, Claire R, Ruth P and Chris A
As Holly tasted the tipples, people's top tips of the night were shared, for the whiskies supped earlier. A lucky few won prizes for their wordsmithing, and highlights included:
– The Blonde Assasin
– There Must Be A Raisin For It!
– Like dancing with fairies in a meadow
– Build Me Up Buttercup
– Yay Whisky!
– Sweet sweet tarmac*
*That was for the Scotch…
And then the winners were announced. Whilst all concoctions had a certain something, being delectable and delicious all things considered, the winner for balance and taste was Chillimon – a lemon curd, chilli, and lemon concontion laced with bourbon! (And hit up April K, Dave W or Graham S for the recipe, if you're tempted!)
After that, there was nothing more to do but drink up the drinks, taste each others creations, and pile in next door to Sela bar to see the night out. Another incredible evening of Yelping came to a close, where folks learned about the world of whisky, made new friends, and had a whole load of fun to boot. What did we learn? That Gerry's is a house of excellent alcohol, and boozy knowledge, that Yelpers leave the best tips for whisky, and that with a random mix of flavours anyone can create an awesome bourbon cocktail. At least, where taste is in the mouth of the drinker is concerned…
Until next time, I'll see you on Yelp folks!
Want to join in the fun? Get your Yelp on and get involved!