A few weeks ago, just before my holidays, I went along to an evening of whisky tasting at the recently opened Ramusake restaurant in Kensington. Cardhu whisky was new to me so it was fascinating to learn more about the brand and its history. Cardhu is a Speyside distillery near Moray in Scotland, which was set up on a farm by whisky smuggler John Cumming in 1824, and is now run by Diageo, the world's largest spirit producer. The distillery was originally run by John's wife Helen, before being taken over by their daughter-in-law Elizabeth, after it had been moved to a new site. The distillery produced so much whisky that the majority of it was sold to Johnnie Walker and Sons to add to their own blend. And in 1893 the distillery itself was sold to Johnnie Walker and Sons under the promise that the Cumming family would continue to actually run it.

Cardhu produce a range of single malt whiskies that vary between 12 and 21 years old. But we were at Ramusake to try their new product - Cardhu Gold Reserve, a single malt whisky made in hand-picked toasted oak casks. This creates an extra sweet, rich whisky, with notes of red apples, toffee, pear, clotted cream and tropical fig! It finishes on a dry note, and has a very rounded finish, unlike other whiskies I've tried that have a harsher finish. Cardhu Gold Reserve is perfect on the rocks, with or without ice, and is the first whisky I've really appreciated drinking straight.

What I appreciated even more than the straight whisky were both of the amazing cocktails it was served in at the tasting, aptly named "Golden Delicious" and "Honeyed Gold", both created by Andrea Montague, formerly of Calooh Callay, one of my favourite London bars. The "Golden Delicious" was made with a double shot of Cardhu Gold Reserve, equal amounts of pear juice and ginger ale, and a splash of honey water - it was sweet and refreshing and incredibly drinkable!

The "Honeyed Gold" was a double of Cardhu Gold Reserve, small amounts of lemon and orange juice and a dash of golden syrup water. This had a sharper note to it than the pear version, but again was refreshing and easy to drink. Of the 2 my favourite was the "Golden Delicious" but there was very little between them.

Another great pairing that I learnt about on the night was Japanese food served with the whisky cocktails, though with the recent Japanese interest in whisky production, it wasn't as surprising a combination as it sounds. Ramusake describe their food as "post-Japanese" on their site, and serve a variety of exciting takes on typical Japanese fare. We had crab inside out rolls with avocado; blackened cod; tuna sashimi with kizami wasabi salsa and yuzu-soy; razor clam and grapefruit ceviche, and scorched cauliflower - an unexpected favourite. Ramusake is dark and elegant, and almost nightclub-like, so excuse the photos, as it was really hard to get a good shot!

Cardhu Gold Reserve is available to buy by the bottle and would make an excellent present for any whisky lovers or even whisky novices, thanks to its sweet, smooth taste. The real test of the whisky was when I got home from the tasting and asked the boy to try it. He definitely knows a thing or two about whisky, his favourite tipple, and he absolutely loved the Cardhu! A really special gift to give someone would be the Cardhu Gold Reserve Golden Moments gift set that has been put together specially to enhance the experience of drinking this whisky. The box includes a bottle of the Cardhu Gold Reserve with two balloon whisky glasses, whisky flavoured chocolates, a black fig candle made by perfumer Angela Flanders that matches the aromas of the whisky and comes in a beautiful box, and a book containing the recipes for both cocktails we tried, as well as a few tongue-in-cheek party hosting tips. The box is great value at £55, as the bottle alone retails for £43.50.

One last whisky fact I want to leave you with is how to spell the word whisky. I hadn't realised before the tasting that if whisky is from Scotland then it's spelt without an "e" but if it's from elsewhere in the world then it's spelt "whiskey". Do you like whisky? What's your favourite way to drink it - if you have any whisky cocktail suggestions I'd love to hear about them so please leave a comment!

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