We went to CASK Showcase and these are our rum, whisky, champagne and vodka Best Buys

El Dorado rum at CASK showcase

El Dorado rum and Mars Japanese whisky were just two of many highlights at the recent CASK Showcase drinks trade expo. This year’s booze business bash, held at London’s Mondrian Hotel, provided a unique opportunity to meet and speak to brand founders, and spot premium spirits worth shopping for.

High on our Best Buy recommendations list is the El Dorado Special Reserve 15 Year Old demerara rum. This exquisitely blended spirit offers coffee and orange on the nose, and roasted pineapple and banana on the palate. It’s sublime.

We also became just a little bit obsessed with Mars Whisky. This small Japanese whisky specialist runs two distilleries, one in mountainous Shinshu and the other at a lower altitude in the south, and has three ageing cellars across Japan. The result is a varied portfolio of fascinating, disparate whiskies, with flavours and characteristics influenced by climate and location. If you’ve not sampled its drams before, they demand investigation.

If tequila is more your style, be sure to track down premium Mexican tequila brand Ocho.

We also became just a little bit obsessed with Mars Whisky. This small Japanese whisky specialist runs two distilleries, one in mountainous Shinshu and the other at a lower altitude in the south…

If you’re shopping for a crisp and refreshing champagne, one that will pair effortlessly with fish and fowl, make a beeline for the Besserat de Bellefon 2008. This Elegance offering exclusively uses grapes from seven surrounding villages – six Grand Cru and one Premier Cru.

The cuvée favoured by Besserat de Bellefon uses less liqueur de tirage at the moment of bottling to ensure a lighter effervescence, and smooth, creamy foam when poured. Toasty and nutty on the palate, it could well be your next sparkling obsession.

Want to make the ultimate style statement? Splurge on some Crystal Head vodka. The iconic skull bottle contains a spirit made from Canadian corn, and is glass-smooth and sweet.

At the CASK event, artist Philip Loynes (above) was busy creating incredibly intricate, customised Crystal Skull bottles. Perfect for gifting!

In addition, masterclasses were held by industry experts throughout the day.

Jesse Estes, Global Ocho Ambassador and Melanie Symonds Founder of Quiquiriqui and London Mezcal Week examined the current agave boom, and if you’ve ever wondered what makes a perfect martini, the Martini masterclass featuring multi awarded bar owner Joe Schofield, and drinks journalist Alice Lascelles, had all the answers.

“When it comes to olives, only ever use one or three,” said Lascelles. “Never three!” We felt suitably chided.

The Rum Giants masterclass with Ian Burell, Global Rum Ambassador and Simon Webster of The Island Rum Company set about demystifying the art of Cuban ‘ron’ making. 

“What makes a base?” Burrell asked rhetorically, as we took notes.

“Aguardiente is typically aged in barrels of white oak, either American ex-bourbon, or new casks, for two years. This is what a distillery’s master rum blender calls the ‘madre’. This mother spirit is then blended with cane spirit, and the resulting blend then recasked for additional maturation. Depending on the maturation scheme, the madre can be blended with cane spirit several times and recasked each time. The blended spirit is called a base,” explained Burell. 

We nodded sagely and then went hunting for more samples.

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About Steve May

Creator of Home Cinema Choice magazine, and editor of The Luxe Review, Steve muses and reviews for Trusted Reviews, T3, Yahoo UK, Home Cinema Choice, Games Radar, Ideal Home, Louder Sounds, Channel News and Boat International. He’s also the editor of professional home cinema website Inside CI. He's on Twitter and Instagram as @SteveMay_UK

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