1826 Handcrafted Cocktails: Smoky French Martini

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Whisky as a cocktail ingredient is nothing new but mixologists all over the world are becoming more and more aware of the diverse range of flavours available and the benefits it can bring to a cocktail menu. It’s great to see, though there still seems to be an attitude among some whisky drinkers that mixing the spirit in any way is a form of sacrilege. There’s nothing wrong with preferring to drink your whisky on its own, of course. That’s how I usually have it myself but if, like me. you’ve got a few bottles kicking about, why not get creative. I certainly wouldn’t want to restrict myself to only drinking neat spirits for the rest of my life. Sometimes I want something long and refreshing or even warm and comforting – winter wouldn’t be the same in our house without the humble toddy.

The truth is, whisky works wonderfully well in cocktails so next time you’re looking for a cold refreshing drink, don’t pour a gin and tonic or open a beer. Make something with whisky, instead. And if you can’t be bothered with the faff of making your own? You can even buy pre-mixed cocktails where all the hard work has been done for you.

1826 Handcrafted Cocktails is a range of 500ml bottlings that cater for that very market. The range is bottled by Thomas Lowndes & Co, a company based on the import and export business founded by Thomas Lowndes on the London docks in 1826. Lowndes & Co started with Jamaican Rum and Dutch Gin but was soon capitalising on the growing cocktail market by importing spirits from all over the world.

Thomas Lowndes & Co became part of Edrington-Beam Suntory UK in 2015. The move gave access to a massive portfolio of products, some of which now form the base of the 1826 recipes. The range launched with four titles: an Old Fashioned and a Mint Julep, each made with Maker’s Mark, a Cognac Espresso Martini made with Courvoissier and a Smoky French Martini made with Laphroaig Islay single malt Scotch whisky. A 500ml bottle of the Laphroaig martini will set you back around £25. Simply shake over ice and pour into a chilled martini glass, garnish with a raspberry and you’re ready to go.

For the record, I didn’t buy this bottle. It was passed to me by a member of my family. I confess I hadn’t heard about the range before but it struck me as a great idea. The only question is, is it actually any good?

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Thoughts: The serving suggestion mentioned using raspberry as a garnish but since I didn’t have any, I dropped a couple of frozen strawberries in the glass. I have to say, the result was rather delicious.

In terms of tasting notes, there was a lot of fresh berries and citrus complimented by caramel and vanilla with a definite blast of that infamous peat reek. The smoke was well integrated though and didn’t overpower the drink. There’s also some subtle oaky notes. For my palate it all worked very well and made for a delicious, refreshing sip.

A 500ml bottle will set you back £25. The suggested serve is 100ml which means you get five drinks for your £25. I’ve never bought a bottle of pre-mixed cocktail before so I’ve no idea what sort of price they usually command. It certainly isn’t expensive but does 5 drinks for £25 not seem a wee bit steep for home drinking? Wouldn’t you be better off picking up a bottle of Laphroaig and a bottle of Vermouth for say, £40 and mixing up a dozen drinks yourself? Isn’t the mixing and the making all part of the fun of home cocktails?

Would your own creation be of similar quality though? I can see the appeal in the hassle-free aspect of this. You could rock up to any Christmas party with a bottle and voila, instant martinis. Just add ice.

It’s an interesting idea and one I could see myself revisiting. After all, there’s nothing wrong with having a simple option when you fancy a delicious cocktail at home.

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You can buy the 1826 Smoky French Martini from Master of Malt. Click here to be taken directly to it. Please be aware that this is an affiliate link and I can be paid a small commission on any purchases you make.

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For more on 1826 Handcrafted Cocktails visit here.

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