Rock around the croc
Cuba’s luxury Eminente brand is a relative newcomer to the world of rum, launching just three years ago. Its distinctive crocodile-skin glass bottles are inspired by Cuban crocodiles, synonymous with the island’s national identity; locals think Cuba is shaped like a crocodile, earning it the nickname Isla del Cocodrilo. The latest release, 10-year-old Eminente Gran Reserva Edition No1 (Alc 43.5%), is a follow-up to Eminente Ambar Claro (three years old) and Eminente Reserva (seven years old).
Made by César Marti, the youngest Cuban Maestro Ronero, Eminente rums are notable for the high percentage of aguardiente [‘eau-de-vie’ distilled spirit, in this case from Cuban sugar cane] in their blends. Cuban rums must contain a minimum of 7% aguardiente; Eminente Gran Reserva contains 80%, blended with light rum. The final blend is finished for three months in French oak. Aromas of roasted pineapple, butterscotch, lemon tart, ginger cake, fresh citrus. The spicy palate has notes of dark chocolate, dried orange peel, toasted coconut and ripe mango, alongside fresh grassy and woody notes. Enjoy it neat over ice. £74.25/70cl Master of Malt, The Whisky Exchange.
What is… chill filtration?
A term that you may notice on whisky bottles, ‘chill-filtered’ refers to the process of cooling a barrel-matured spirit to between -10°C and 4°C, then filtering it to remove certain molecular compounds. These compounds, such as fatty esters, can make a whisky cloudy when ice or cold water is added. As well as improving the clarity of chilled whisky, fans of chill-filtration claim that it enhances the final flavour; though opponents of the technique argue it can negatively impact both taste and mouthfeel. However, blind tastings have shown there is little difference in scores for chill-filtered and non-chill-filtered whiskies.
What to drink now… Negroni Sbagliato
While the Negroni (Campari, gin and vermouth) was likely invented around 1919, the Negroni Sbagliato is a more modern affair. Sbagliato translates as ‘mistaken’ or ‘wrong’ and the story goes that Mirko Stocchetto of Bar Basso in Milan accidentally grabbed a bottle of spumante instead of gin while mixing a Negroni in the early 1970s. But Mirko’s son Maurizio, who still runs Basso, claims the recipe was developed deliberately to appeal to the increasing number of female drinkers visiting the bar. Either way, this lighter take on a Negroni found new fans when it went viral on TikTok last year, and it’s a great festive sparkling cocktail. Use Four Pillars Spiced Negroni Gin (Alc 41.8%, £37.81-£44.49/70cl Amazon, Proof Drinks, The Good Spirits Co, The Whisky Exchange, Urban Bar), an Australian spirit with Tasmanian pepperberry, cinnamon and ginger botanicals.
Ingredients: 30ml Campari, 30ml sweet vermouth, 60ml Italian sparkling wine
Garnish: Orange wheel
Method: Pour all ingredients into an ice-filled glass. Stir briefly, then garnish