Whilst visiting Buenos Aires, I was very fortunate to be able to reserve a table each at Tegui (86th Best) and at Don Julio Parrilla (34th Best) on the World’s 50 Best Restaurant List. The two Argentinian restaurants swopped rankings this year, Don Julio having previously played second fiddle to Tegui, and the steak specialist restaurant jumped an incredible twenty one places to make it into the World’s 50 Best List, whilst Tegui dropped 31 places. My Tegui Review is on my Blog, and explains why the restaurant lost its standing this year. Continue reading →
Yesterday I visited the Carrol Boyes head office in Paarden Eiland, and was shown around its extensive and impressive Showroom, and Chocolate and Sugar Confectionery production facility by its CEO Craig Ludwig. Continue reading →
* AirBnB is increasing in popularity, and becoming a greater threat to hotels, especially as it is accepting hotel room listings at its attractive 3% commission compared to the norm of 15-25%, and because the guests are verified, reports MarketWatch!
* Reports speculate that the Formula One could be held in Cape Town Continue reading →
* The DA Shadow Minister of Tourism James Vos will lodge a complaint against Tourism Minister Derek Hanekom to the Tourism Portfolio Committee, for not calling a review of the controversial Immigration Regulations, having previously said that he would review them. Last week the Minister said: ‘we need to review the regulations to find the right balance, …, hurting South Africa‘.
* Internationally the accommodation sector is bemoaning the impact of Airbnb, for its ‘illegal’ advantage of lower costs, and operating illegally, short-term rental being prohibited in many American city centres, and the accommodation not complying with insurance, fire, and disability access regulations which apply to the formal Continue reading →
* SA Tourism will spend R100 million to market our country domestically, Tourism Minister Derek Hanekom has announced. The domestic campaign ‘Nothing’s more fun than a Sho’t Left’ communicate that local travel is fun and economical. Local tourists spent R24 billion last year. The goal is to have 18 million domestic tourists by 2020.
* Globally spirit sales barely grew in 2013, after a growth of 6,5% between 2007 – 2011. Vodka is the largest selling spirit category, at 496 million cases. Whisky/whiskey sales grew the fastest, and stand at 361 million cases. Rum sales were 146 million, a decrease on the year prior. Whilst the largest market for spirits is Asia, at 1,9 billion cases, growth was minimal.
* More than 70 World Design Capital 2014 projects are on display in the Civic Centre as the project reaches its halfway mark, reports the Cape Times. The projects on display include the MyCiTi Bus, Green Point Urban Park, and the Buitengracht Pedestrian Bridge. There is no entrance fee to view the display, which runs until the end of this year.
* M-Net’s channel location will change on 5 August, as Cape TV will be broadcasting from it. Multichoice is paying for installers to visit each affected Cape Town subscriber for the decoder to be adjusted, at its expense.
* If membership of FEDHASA Cape is an indicator, then the hospitality business is going through tough times, their membership numbers declining due to businesses closing down or changing ownership, reports Travel News Weekly?
* South Africa loves its Scotch, having imported R1,7 billion of whisky, reports the Financial Mail.
* Are Celebrity wines worth their endorsement? James Molesworth rates the wines of Ernie Els, Brangelina, Sting, and other celebs on THV. Continue reading →
I spent a most enjoyable afternoon yesterday as the guest of Liquidity, marketers and distributors of Compass Box Whisky Co, at the Bascule Whisky and Wine Bar at the Cape Grace Hotel, in a small group of such esteemed bloggers and writers as Neil Pendock, Siraj Savage (Life is Savage), Dan Nash (Bangers & Nash), Anel Grobler (Spit or Swallow), Paul Snodgrass (Heart FM), and Shayne Dowling (publisher of Whisky). The whisky tasting and blending competition, led by Liquidity’s Emil den Dulk, was a run-up to the Whisky Live Festival, which takes place in the Cape Town International Convention Centre from tomorrow until Friday, and in Johannesburg from 9 – 11 November.
I felt out of my depth initially, rarely drinking whisky, but gained a lot of interesting information, and learnt a lot about the whisky company I had never heard of before, and its unusual take on whisky blending. Its owner John Glaser has a wine-making background, and he has used the principles of wine-making and blending in the making of the whiskies at Compass Box too, striving for complexity and balance. Starting the company in 2000, having headed marketing at Johnnie Walker, Glaser tried to address whisky conventions, such as drinking it with or without ice, that it is a drink only for older persons, and that it can only be drunk at certain times of the day. Glaser wanted drinkers of his brands to enjoy whisky in whichever way they want to drink it, at whatever time of the day, and to appeal more broadly, especially to younger drinkers. He worked with a bar in London, called Milk & Honey, and they developed a number of cocktails, pushing the mixability of whisky. Glaser developed a reputation, by asking questions of whisky making, questioning the current ‘traditions’ which are so different to original whisky-making. He asked, for example, why caramel colouring is added to whisky. He asked why sherry casks are used for ageing. He questioned why new oak is not used. The company has gone back to the traditional and artisanal roots of whisky-making. The first blend of the Compass Box was called The Hedonism. The company’s original The Spice Tree blend was banned by the Scottish Whisky Council, but is now commercially available. The company name comes from the care and precision that goes into the making of ships’ compass boxes, which Glaser wants to reflect in the making of his products too. They add no caramel colouring and do not use chill filtration.
We not only tasted four Compass Box Whisky Co products, but were also served four food items, paired to each whisky by the Cape Grace sommelier George Novitskas. Great King Street is the entry level whisky, consisting of a blend of 50 % grain whisky, and 50 % malt whisky, of which half each of the latter was aged in American bourbon oak, and in new French oak. It derives its name from the address of the company. This whisky costs about R280, and is an everyday, easy-drinking whisky, with hints of toasty oak, vanilla and spice. It has just been launched in South Africa. It was paired with a roast lamb and sun-dried tomato crostini, a good marriage.
Oak Cross is aged in American bourbon barrels, with new French oak barrel heads, giving the whisky more complexity, and an aroma of spiciness and nuttiness, with clove, toffee and ginger notes. We tried it neat, and then with a few drops of water added, making it softer and creamier. It costs R400. It was paired with a goat’s cheese and onion marmalade vol au vent. The Spice Tree costs R450, and is darker in colour, coming from the barrelheads being charred more heavily, and having been aged for 12 – 14 years. It is more complex. It has aromas of clove, ginger, cinnamon and vanilla. It was paired with beef fillet and a bearnaise sauce, and Shayne thought that the pairing was equally successful with the vol au vent we had with the Oak Tree.
The Peat Monster is an acquired taste, being the only whisky in the range that contains peat, giving it a ‘burnt braai’ or ‘dirty ashtray’ taste. It has sweetness, richness, and due to the burnt taste, it is not popular amongst women whisky drinkers. It is heavier, and not something one can drink all night. This is the company’s biggest seller, and costs R450. We felt that the smoked salmon paired with this whisky was too light in taste for the dominant whisky taste.
The intimidating but fun part of the afternoon was blending our own whisky in teams of two, and I was lucky to have Shayne as my ‘blending master‘. We were giving measuring cups and pipettes, and four ingredients. We chose to make a blend of 50 % Heavy toasted French oak malt, 20 % Highland malt American oak, 10% Lowland grain, and 20 % water, not adding any peated malt, and chose the name ‘French Toast’ for it. But it was the ‘Equilibrium’ blend by Neil Pendock and Siraj Savage that the judges chose as the winner, having a long finish and a good nose, the judges said. The blending exercise was a good way to get one involved with the product, and to understand the blending decisions of whisky-makers in general, and of Compass Box Wine Co in particular.
Compass Box Whisky Co is inviting attendees to enjoy a whisky blending at the Whisky Live Festival. Bookings can be made at Tel (021) 905-9066.
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter:@WhaleCottage