Gone are the days when the local boozer just sold budget blended whiskies and kept a bottle of single malt near the pickled eggs for weddings and wakes.
The quality of the whiskies sold in pubs has undergone a rapid transformation in the last couple of years as landlords have sought to diversify their lists to satisfy consumer demand and stay a step ahead of their high street, suburban or village competitors.
Exotic-sounding tipples from far-flung distilleries are no longer the sole preserve of snooty “connoisseurs,” connoisseurs being the whisky-world equivalent of “foodies.”
The enjoyment of exciting, premium spirits has been democratised and the latest Birmingham pub to back the movement is The Plough in Harborne.
This neighbourhood pub on the High Street is launching a new whisky menu on Monday, December 15. It promises to be a truly global affair, taking in America, Japan, New Zealand, Ireland, Sweden and, of course, Scotland – plus a lot of places in between.
The shots range from from £3.30 to £15, depending on how flush you are, or how emotional you become.
There are past winners of the World Whiskies Awards as well as hand-crafted whiskies produced in American micro-distilleries such as Copper Fox in Virginia, Corsair in Nashville, and Few in Illinois.
Yamazaki Single Malt Sherry Cask 2013, made near Kyoto, has recently been named the world’s best whisky by critic Jim Murray in his Whisky Bible 2015 and The Plough is offering 10 whiskies from Japan including the Chichibu The Floor Malted (£11 a shot), from north-west of Tokyo.
The new list has three single malts that are no longer available to buy in the UK: the Edradour 11-year-old Burgundy Cask Finish; Miltonduff Batch 1 single malt (of which only 122 bottles were produced); and Milford 15-year-old malt from New Zealand.
James Thewlis, in charge of product development at The Plough, said: “Our aim is to introduce people to new flavours and a unique experience whilst introducing some of the finest and lesser known whiskies.
“We’re passionate about working with artisan producers and we’re hugely inspired by what some of these distilleries are doing. They are producing a truly world-class product and we’re proud to showcase that at The Plough.”
The Plough stocks a range of hand-crafted spirits including a rum using sugar cane from the oldest plantation in Japan.
But the festive fun doesn’t end here. To satisfy the Christmas holiday need to stand outside in the freezing weather, the pub has also launched the Night Jar Winter Bar where revellers in thermal undies and big coats can mingle around an open fire.
There are blankets and hot water bottles for when temperatures plummet below -10C. Hot drinks include cinnamon hot chocolate served with orange liqueur, spiced pineapple juice with rum, marmalade cider with bourbon, mulled wine and, yes, “chestnuts roasting on an open fire.”
You’ll find me by the bar with a Japanese malt.
- The Plough, 21 High St, Harborne, Birmingham B17 9NT
- 0121 427 3678