I found myself cooking black beans and rice the other night.
Now, to most, this wouldn’t be a big deal. But to me it symbolises something bigger…my subconscious urgings to go visit Latin America again.
You see, ever since I went to Colombia at the age of 18, these cravings surge up every once in a while. Something in the air reminds me of my time there or in Costa Rica – which I went to for six weeks after quitting my office job in 2011 – and all I can do is think wistfully about the sights, the smells, the people, the language, the food, the dancing. It’s not about a desire to travel. It reaches deeper than that. I was once told by someone that I must have been from there in a former life because there seemed to be something ‘Latin’ engrained in me.
And so I make beans and rice and salsa from methods taught to me by various people (such as an ex’s cook, who made the world’s best rice…I mean mine’s got nothing on her’s) and try to avoid heading to Expedia.
Despite a bone-deep love for this part of the world, I’ve never had a desire to go to Brazil – something my Brazilian friends would probably not be too chuffed to hear me say. Maybe it’s because they speak Portuguese? I’m not sure…whatever it is, it’s not been on my top travel hit list.
But, of course, at the moment Brazil is more than ever being talked about. With the World Cup and then the Olympics both on the near horizon, it is a country that will hit the headlines thousands of times in the coming months and years. I have friends who have visited recently and friends who live there who have urged me to visit, but I can’t see myself getting a taste of the Brazilian life anytime soon.
So, it was with interest that I recently received a small sample of the upcoming Ardbeg Day 2014 release: Auriverdes. Done as a tribute to all this Brazilian love in the air, the release’s name is based on Auri (gold colour of the whisky) and verdes (the green bottle of Ardbeg). Plus it helps that Auriverdes is the nickname of the national football team of Brazil. I love the symbiotic relationship there. Chalk one up for skilled marketing.
As such, I couldn’t help but think: would this be a little bottle of Brazilian sunshine? An inspiration so great I’d be onto Expedia booking my Rio flights as soon as I sipped its nectar?
Well, let’s see…here’s what I thought of the Auriverdes, which will be hitting shelves 31 May.
Ardbeg Auriverdes: 49.9%: £70:
Made from whisky matured in specially commissioned American oak casks, featuring toasted ends.
(n): A nice butter-laced smoke, with added notes of smoked corn, summer BBQs, warm earth, sea salt, menthol, tobacco, leather, old books, coffee, milk chocolate and brown sugar. With water: More lemony/citrussy and some of the smoke dissipates, allowing the vanilla to really come to the fore.
(p): Much sweeter than expected with that BBQ smoke coming through from nose. Vanilla beans and dirt, roasted almonds, steeped mint leaves, mocha coffee and popcorn. With water: vanilla cream heavy, along with some black pepper and dusty notes.
(f): Buttered popcorn. Same with water.
In conclusion: this is a sticky, smoky, rich whisky – more vanilla heavy than I might have imagined and that ‘mocha’ the company was aiming for definitely comes out. It is my favourite Ardbeg? No, I don’t think so. I still prefer Galileo. But one to try? Definitely. I’d recommend getting a dram of this one first at a bar on Ardbeg Day if you can manage it before committing to a whole bottle as it may be too sweet for a lot of traditional Ardbeg fans.
In the interim, I’ll be busy cooking beans and rice, and not booking flights on Expedia to Chile or Argentina (sorry Brazil, these two still come out on top for me). But if you see a tweet from me in Spanish, you’ll know the pull was too strong. Wish me luck!