What’s better than supping a sweetly-spiced, rum-based Post-Colonial Punch after a hard day in Canary Wharf ?
Clutching the winter warmer at the East London Liquor Company’s recently opened underground drinking spot the Tasting Room, might well be.
But downstairs, bathed in a rustic golden glow, rum drinkers are surrounded by dozens of casks containing a different spirit – the first whisky to be made north of the Thames in more than a century.
The stacks of barrels in differing sizes, with signatures scrawled on their ends, are part of the Mile End company’s Creators Cask initiative.
Guests with cash to splash on alcoholic investments can opt for a bespoke barrel, ranging from 30litres to 300litres with styles including ageing in former red wine and Bourbon casks. It’s a waiting game until 2018, when the process is completed.
East London Liquor Company founder Alex Wolpert said the latest underground bar, which can accommodate around 20 people, was a “hidden gem”.
“We wanted to remind people this is the whole ethos of what we are doing,” he said.
“We don’t need to sell big barrels, we are making barrel production an affordable, fun thing, which up until now it hasn’t been.
“We are putting all the price into the cost of the barrel from the get-go.
“My idea here is for people who have a few grand to spare and just want some whisky.
“There’s a bespoke part of every barrel and bottle with individual labels.”
Creating a barrel with the company starts at £4,100 for a 30-litre new oak cask, producing approximately 40 bottles at cask strength (about £102 each).
If you’re just up for drinks however, the venue’s bartenders have introduced a handful of fresh beverages to the menu for the festive period.
These include the Post Colonial Punch and a homely, soothing in the Beavertown Rye IPA for those who fancy something less strong.
The cocktail, inspired by the original punches brought to England by sailors from the British East India Company, combines the firm’s own rum with cherry, orange juices and a fennel flower and pear liquer.
Alex said: “It’s a really good drink using our demerara rum, which has got a fantastic flavour to it.
“It’s a Christmassy rum, very smooth with lots of dried fruits. In winter, people want different, sweeter, spicier styles that are a lot more developed, so it’s about having richer, more interesting flavours.
“I love summer drinking and I love the sun, but there’s something satisfyingly predictable about the seasons. It’s good to get into winter, but it’s good to get out of it, too.”
The Post-Colonial Punch costs £8.50 and is available throughout December.