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'The Shelf' At Rosso: MCR's Most Expensive Drinks?

Jonathan Payne gets into the spirit and sups on nectar

Published on August 20th 2014.


'The Shelf' At Rosso: MCR's Most Expensive Drinks?
 

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IT wasn’t long into this tasting when word selection became difficult. Phenomenally rare, exceptionally aged, super-luxury, ultra-premium territory. No one in their right minds would usually have a tasting as superlatively hyperbolic as this, but as we were invited by Sasha Sváteq to experience the collection of premium spirits at Rosso, we weren’t going to demur. 

If you have something to celebrate, if you want to impress, if you want to consider a possible once-in-a-lifetime experience, then they provide.

The list of drinks is at the bottom, along with their knee-weakening prices. The kick off, with the Herradura tequila was intriguing. I’m still not convinced by this succulent derived liquid, it is too petrolly for me, a little oily in the mouth. Sasha reckoned that it makes a perfect Old Fashioned, but we weren’t here for cocktails. But it is certainly a glass that should not be bolted, and thankfully there was no salt in sight. 

Tequila with slam

Tequila without the slam

The second drink (we shared shots incidentally) was transporting. The 50 year old Appleton Jamaica Independence Reserve. It was astonishing. Limited to 800 bottles and retailing at £450 a glass, the nose was heavenly and the feel on the palate was sublime. Flavours blossomed on the tongue, hints of tropical fruits hidden behind rich molasses and warm littoral breeze… 

You will have to forgive the purple passages, but we quickly became adjectivally challenged. It was an exceptionally well balanced glass, with none of the sugariness of the usual off-licence stuff. I savoured the colour and the finish and thought twice about surreptitiously licking the glass. 

We then had a mere 40 year old, the Highland Park. I’m on more familiar ground with the single malts, but Highland Park is a protean whisky, one I’ve never been able to get a handle on. This however is an eye-opener. Gorse fires, burnt driftwood, an unexpected smoky edge to complement its 48.3% (the potency of the cask strength whiskies diminish naturally with age); close one’s eyes and you are walking on an Orkney beach.

Highland Park at 40

Highland Park at 40

Following this was a John Walker blend, the Odyssey. Like many of the other hand-blown bottles, and nattily bespoke packaging, this one came in a case like a porthole befitting its nautical origins, where, once the bottle was safely locked in, could be spun round. The master blenders of these special expressions, and two of the half dozen we tasted have female master distillers, like to make a statement. And if you are using such rare and specially chosen barrels you may as well package it accordingly. 

My companion simply said, well, they’re works of art… The John Walker was beyond smooth. I find some blends too bland, but this one, taken from only three distilleries was velvety, warming, like stroking a chinchilla by an Aga.

A smooth Chinchilla after enjoying a John Walker

 

A smooth Chinchilla after enjoying a John Walker

And then, unbelievably, a surprise. 

A New Yorker friend of mine has long mentioned that if one ever gets the chance to taste a Pappy van Winkle bourbon, rye or straight, one should hang the expense. Fortunately hanging was not a consideration here, and this Kentucky wonder was heart-stoppingly gorgeous. It is sometimes marketed as ‘the bourbon that billionaires can’t find’ as it is so rare (small batches in the main). 

Sasha has six different expressions, and two bottles of the 23 year old. One of these was flown over from the States with the seller; it was probably cheaper than paying the insurance. And this is one of the reasons why Rosso are promoting ‘Il Ripiano’, or The Shelf, as their collection is known. Sasha has spent a few years assembling these glittering prizes; he reckons it rivals anything in Britain.

The Shelf

 

The Shelf

If you have something to celebrate, if you want to impress, if you want to consider a possible once-in-a-lifetime experience, then they are going to provide. The Appleton incidentally was opened for Rio Ferdinand and Ashley Young to celebrate the twentieth Man Utd title. If you have something similar to match that, or have recently had a PPI pay-out then this is one for you.

Appleton a snip at £450

Appleton a snip at £450

We finished the evening with the Rémy Martin Louis XIII. It is a prince among cognacs (king among them is the Rare Cask expression – which they also have and a snip at £20,000 a bottle), a blend of eaux-de-vie from 40 to 100 years old, exclusively from the Champagne region. Sasha mentioned that it has an hour-long finish. I sat there, and my companion sat there, somewhat glassy-eyed in contemplation. The spicy, complex, aged, dense flavours slowly evaporating.

Drink, lovely drink

Drink, lovely drink

Sasha is a knowledgeable and forgivably enthusiastic host. The collection, and it is a collection, not just a bar, is extensive and of course starts at the more everyday level of Glenmorangies and Grey Gooses. Did we feel guilty at partaking of such largesse? Yup. Did we tell everyone we know that we had consumed 250 years’ worth of rare, specially selected, hand-crafted, bottled wonders? You betcha.

Herradurra Secección Suprema £25 

Appleton 50 YO Jamaica Independence Reserve £450 

Highland Park 40 YO Island Single Malt  £150 

John Walker & Sons Odyssey £75 

Pappy van Winkle's 23 YO Family Reserve   £200 

Rémy Martin Louis XIII £120 

Rosso, Restaurant & Bar, 43 Spring Gardens, City centre, M2 2BG

The ShelfThe Shelf

Rosso regalRosso regal

That's the spiritThat's the spirit

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19 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

AnonymousAugust 20th 2014.

The Appletons 50 tastes like the inside of an auld mahogany sideboard!!

3 Responses: Reply To This...
AnonymousAugust 20th 2014.

I thought it was more like a collection of leather bound books.

AnonymousAugust 21st 2014.

I'd agree with that too.

avoAugust 21st 2014.

Appleton VX and coke with a big squeeze of lime is a decent everyday drink.

pollolocoAugust 21st 2014.

Makes sense...frequented by footballers with loads of cash and little upstairs

2 Responses: Reply To This...
Hero
GordoAugust 21st 2014.

little ray of sunshine you are innit, Pollo?

AnonymousAugust 21st 2014.

I didn't think it was frequented by anyone.

AnonymousAugust 21st 2014.

innit? Yuk

pollolocoAugust 22nd 2014.

Innit.....?

1 Response: Reply To This...
Hero
GordoAugust 22nd 2014.

innit...!

pollolocoAugust 22nd 2014.

On a happier note...went to Mr Coopers for lunch yesterday, their £19 three course lunch is surely the best bargain in the city. It's a sad indictment of the Manchester public that this place was so quiet when the likes of AF and San Carlo are packing them in

5 Responses: Reply To This...
Karl WheatAugust 22nd 2014.

A lot of young(ish) people like burger places. There's nothing sad about AF being busy. They serve nice burgers.

AnonymousAugust 22nd 2014.

AF have to be the most overrated 'restaurant' in the city. Mediocre food at expensive prices and some of the worst customer service I have encountered anywhere. After a discussion with a manager I was left feeling it was my fault I didn't enjoy the experience because I didn't understand their 'concept.' Well AF the only concept a restaurant needs if good food at appropriate prices and good customer service. They have it wrong on both counts.

Calum McGAugust 22nd 2014.

I'm not young (37) and I love AF. The service is totally average but I don't really care - all they are doing is bringing me an AWESOME burger. They are totally fit. Anon - try AF again... the burgers are mint.

AnonymousAugust 22nd 2014.

For goodness sake, not young at 37! You have just started out on the adventure called life. With any luck, you still have 60years ahead of you.

AnonymousAugust 22nd 2014.

AF had their chance and the blew it. Everything from the tacky decor to the over priced mediocre burgers covered in different kinds of gloop is wrong. Then there are the totally inadequate basket things they serve the stuff in and don't get me started on the cheap kitchen roll they use as napkins. When that was plonked down on my table by the disinterested waiter (if you can dignify them with that title) I felt insulted. I'm paying you this money and you can't even provide me with a decent napkin? Warm wine... Over loud music....bouncers on the doors....get your own cutlery (I'll eat at home if I want to do that)....anything else? They won't be getting another penny of my hard earned money.....

pollolocoAugust 22nd 2014.

I know karl,what I'm saying is that it's sad that Mr Coopers isn't busier. I get my burgers from Frosts as well, very nice on the barbie.

2 Responses: Reply To This...
AnonymousAugust 22nd 2014.

Went to Mr Coopers once, it wasn't very good, some of the meals were cold, hard to get staff's attention, no wine glasses. Always found San Carlo very good though, even with a large menu.

Hero
GordoAugust 22nd 2014.

Anon, above, did you make this clear to the staff at the time?

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