Number three and the final one in a series of special edition whisky discussions to celebrate the Three Choirs Festival; July 23rd - 30th 2022 in the wonderful city of Hereford. Writing this while I am now at the festival (see middle picture of Dvorak Requiem from Monday Evening). I say this is truly an amazing festival not to be missed that has been running across Gloucester, Worcester and Hereford cathedrals for more than 300 years. Thus in my last week picking out certain pieces that are to feature at the festival and choosing one of my choice drams to pair with it.... we have Nunc gaudeant by St Hildegard of Bingen, arranged by composer Stevie Wishart, a composer with roots in improvisation and early music. She is also a performer on the violin, and hurdy-gurdy, a stringed keyboard instrument going back to medieval times, its strings sounded by the rim of a wheel. This instrument gives a unique "old-and-new" sound, which resonates in Stevie’s compositions. Hildegard joined the German monastery of Disibodenberg when she was just 8 years old and resided there for almost 40 years becoming an abbess in 1136, through out her life she was an inspiring spiritual leader, theologian, mystic, scientist and composer.
The work selected here, Nunc gaudeant will be performed by Voice, an exciting vocal trio who have over the last 15 years have built a fan base across the world for their rarely performed early music, new commissions and varied repertoire. The trio first began singing together as members of the Oxford Girl's Choir before performing the trio in 2006. Their interest in early music also being traced back to their performances of Hildegard which they learnt as members of Stevie Wishart's group Sinfonye, which they also perform in to this day.
Look out for this lovely concert titled Megaphones of the Unheard which will take place at Hereford Cathedral at 11am on Friday 29th July. There is something about early music and A capella vocal sound that in a cathedral space is truly special and something that always moves me greatly when opportunities like this arise. Find out more here.
The whisky I have chosen to pair with this ageless work is the second small batch release from Wardington's with only 400 bottles, called Wardington's Original Ludlow Whisky ‘Distillers Cut, 2nd Edition, Oloroso Sherry’. It was released just last week on the 22nd July and has sold out already! Ludlow sits at the historical heart of the Welsh Marches, the borderlands between Wales and England. Shaun Ward (Wardington Bear) launched Ludlow Dry Gin in 2018 and had gone on to releasing rum whisky and cocktails. Sean himself has a wonderful background as a continuo player, Director of Music at Holy Trinity Church, Hereford and Ludlow Parish Church.
Vital statistics: This is the second batch of a planned six batches from Ludlow, something to keep an eye on. It is a non-aged statement, the ABV at a standard 42%. This Ludlow Single Malt Spirit is distilled in a wood-fired 200l German column still (the only one in the British Isles) the spirit is double cask matured, then after some time, transferred into a previously used single malt Scottish whisky barrel for finishing which were used for aging bourbon.
Appearance: Is somewhere between white wine, cider and apple juice in colour, hard to pigeon hole. The legs are rather subtle, if not non existent, suggesting this could be a smooth whisky, not a bad thing at all.
Nose: The aroma on the first nose has a sense of brine, even smoke / smoked wood but then on another nosing I also get fruit notes and it reminds me of a lovely Dundee Cake.
Flavour: On first taste the immediate hit is smooth and light but leaving my tongue with a peppery warm note that also warms the back of my throat. Taking a second mouthful I taste a sense of wood bourbon notes , a light almost wine like additional flavour and even though there is a mention of Oloroso Sherry there is not any overwhelming sweetness which can sometimes put me off whisky, so rather relieved about that.
Summary: This is a whisky which is another great edition to Ludlow's whisky collection and there is something in the drink that travels between smooth and light to darker tones that links to this wonderful 12th century piece, the work thought to be celebrating the end of an edict that was limiting the amount of music allowed in daily worship. There is much to celebrate here with the whisky itself.
Naomi was kindly able to taste Ludlow Whisky, Distiller's cut, Cask Edition No. 2, Oloroso Sherry despite it currently being sold out - there will be four other batches to look out for. If Whisky isn't your favourite tipple, then head down to the festival bar - we have a variety of options including Ludlow Gin!
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