Fancy learning about the intricacies of a fine Scotch whiskey or how to make the best gin? These foodie experiences are the ultimate connoisseur shortcut.
There are various ways to becoming a buff of all things spirits; treat yourself to a tasting session, pick up some new skills in a mixology masterclass, discover home-grown artisan spirits, or perhaps go one better by creating your very own blend.
Perfect for anyone from novices to aficionados and brimming with essential know-how, you’ll soon be comparing spirits with the best of them. Grab your nosing glass, taste the tipple and stir up some fun in this corker of a class.
Whiskey masterclasses are a real treat for anyone who appreciates this fine spirit. It can be enjoyed in various forms, from introductory sessions and tastings to more involved experiences such as whisky and chocolate or sushi tasting. You can even create your own blend. Take a look at the following examples:
In a whisky blending class, learn all about what makes a great whisky and then create your very own blend. You’ll start with a base whisky and can choose from a number of regional malts to create your own special flavour. After a group tasting, you’ll receive a small bottle of your creation to take home.
Try this for size:Put your own mark on a bottle of whisky in this Whisky Blending Masterclass. Taste four hand-picked whiskies before putting together a bespoke blend. You'll even take home your blend in a mini bottle.
With the help of an expert whisky sommelier at a whisky masterclass, you’ll undergo a tutorial, demonstration and tastings at the renowned Albannach in Trafalgar Square. Try numerous whiskies such as an un-aged raw spirit, Balvenie Double Wood, Edradour, Glenlivet French Oak Finish, Laphraoig Quarter Cask, and others.
A great idea:Spend a day at Whisky School at The Whisky Lounge in London, Newcastle Upon Tyne, Manchester, or York. Learn about the drink's history and what goes into making the perfect tipple. To break up the tastings a light lunch is included.
Each experience differs but in every case, you’ll have a whisky expert or sommelier on hand to offer knowledge, information and guidance to help you get the most out of your whisky masterclass. The settings are typically relaxed and informal, and experiences are usually conducted in small groups.
If whisky leaves you feeling the burn, and you don’t know your islands from your lowland, then it’s high time you joined a whisky masterclass. Discover distillery secrets, understand the beauty of the blend and learn how to use your nose to distinguish those fine flavours. Under expert tuition you’ll enjoy a superior tasting session and by the end you’ll be quaffing like an expert. Afterwards, get the guys and gals round for a dram – they’ll be barrelled over with your new-found know-how. This varied experience is a real treat for the senses and one to savour for many years to come.
Gin, vodka, and rum
The gin industry is really enjoying a renaissance at the moment as sipping on a G&T has become trendy. Just like the king of spirits, gin, vodka, and rum experiences all generally fall into two categories: tastings and masterclasses.
In a tasting experience you'll try an assortment of spirits, each with a unique flavour profile. Your guide will explain the best way to drink your spirits - who knows, you might find out you've been doing it all wrong up to now.
Here's a suggestion:Head to an old glue factory in Bow, London, where you will find East London Liquor Company's distillery. Tour the distillery and enjoy sampling a selection of handcrafted vodka, rum, and gin.
In a masterclass, you'll go into far more depth about the history and story behind the booze. Don't miss the opportunity to tour a distillery to see your favourite drink made before your eyes. Learning about history is one thing but seeing first-hand the effort that goes into creating a fine spirit is something else entirely.
A top choice:Take a Gin Masterclass in London to uncover the story behind the alcohol nicknamed 'mother's ruin'. Taste three gins and a gin cocktail each while learning about the tipple from a professional.
Don’t know your Rum Swizzle from your Gin Fizz? Vodka Martinis and Flirtinis lost on you? Then it’s high time you joined a cocktail masterclass. From cherries and berries to lime and thyme, learn the magic of mixology and make some tasty tipples with expert tuition from the best bartenders in the business. You’ll discover the secrets of creative cocktails and how to mix your favourite flavours to make ice cool classics. Taste the goods and stir up some fun in this fascinating experience which is guaranteed to lift your ‘spirits’…
Gather the girls for a hen do with a difference in this seriously swish cocktail making experience. Fizzing with fun and brimming with essential know-how, this mixology masterclass will teach you everything you need to know about how to shake and stir, twizzle, and swirl. You’ll discover the method behind the mixing and create your own concoctions before tasting the goods. Whether you blend a Bellini or whip up a Woo Woo, this is a fun-filled experience that’s full of finesse, and the perfect tonic for a great night out.
How about this?:Get served a cocktail on arrival to the venue in Shoreditch, London, before learning how to make four different cocktails with instruction and guidance from an expert mixologist.
Distilling the Facts - What You Need To Know
- WHEN: Most experiences are run on specific days or evenings and can become quickly booked up, so remember to book your place as early as possible to avoid disappointment.
- WHERE: Experiences are dotted right across the land. Some take place in distilleries while others take place in hotels and bars.
- WHO: Know someone who considers themselves a connoisseur of fine spirits? Can they walk the walk or do they just talk the talk? If their booze collection is sizeable but their knowledge has some holes, send them on a masterclass.
- OCCASIONS: This type of experience is a relatively inexpensive birthday or Christmas gift. It's also a great Mother's Day or Father's Day option. These are also great options for sophisticated stag and hen parties.
- PRICES: Basic tasting or mixology classes start from around £20 a head. From as little as a tenner more, you can upgrade from tasting to blending. Distillery tours start at around £50 for two people. (correct at the time of writing)
- QUESTIONS: Need help? Ask questions here and I'll try to help as best I can
- TRIED THIS?: Would you recommend it? Share your thoughts here
(Photo credit to Daria-Yakovleva)