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Master of Malt Blog

The Nightcap: 20 November

It’s the only place you’ll find rare whisky, pop stars and Kentish Pinot Noir all in the same place. The Nightcap is here! We’re now officially at that time of…

It’s the only place you’ll find rare whisky, pop stars and Kentish Pinot Noir all in the same place. The Nightcap is here!

We’re now officially at that time of year when Christmas shopping and decking the halls becomes less a joyous celebration of the festive season and more a stressful exercise in ticking boxes off a seemingly never-ending to-do list. In order to combat the chaos, we recommend a cosy chair, a good dram and some entertaining light reading. Like a round-up of everything that’s happened in the world in the booze. The Nightcap should do the trick. Read on.

The MoM Blog continues to be the place to be if you want to get your hands on tremendous drinks as we offered you the chance to win a VIP trip to the wonderful Jura Distillery. Elsewhere, Henry enjoyed the latest Exceptional Cask Selection from Foursquare, while Adam tasted his way through GlenAllachie’s Virgin Oak Series, picked out some bargain bottles of Irish whiskey and found out why Tequila is a spirit in demand. As for Annie, she had a week that made us long for the return of our favourite drinking holes, sitting down with cocktail trailblazer Julie Reiner, looking into the science behind mixing a cocktail and making a twist on an Old Fashioned that’s a long-time favourite at Sexy Fish.

The Nightcap

Raise your glasses, folks, to one of the greats

Port loses one of its greats, James Symington

The Port business lost one of its most influential and dynamic figures this week in James Symington. Born in 1934 in Oporto, his family had been in the Port business since the late 19th century. After serving with the British Army in Kenya, he joined the business in 1960 shortly after marrying his wife, Penny. It was a difficult period for the industry with sales in the doldrums. Symington was a vital force in the revival of the region. He worked as a taster and blender for the firm, and created such legendary vintage Ports as Dow’s and Warre’s 1966, and Graham’s 1970, and he was instrumental in turning the family firm into one of the most important in the Douro region. Later, he moved to the commercial side of the business, developing markets in the US, Canada and Scandinavia, regions that now have some of the keenest appreciation of Port. In 1987, Symington and his wife restored Quinta da Vila Velha, a derelict property in the Douro valley, which now makes some of the best wines in the region. He is survived by his wife, two daughters Clare and Miranda, and son Rupert who is the CEO of Symington Family Estates. Let’s raise a glass, Dow’s ‘66 preferably, to one of the greats of Oporto. 

The Nightcap

It could be you pouring this exceptional whisky…

Glengoyne to open rare 50-year-old whisky at someone’s special moment  

Glengoyne is doing something pretty amazing with the launch of its oldest ever expression. A decanter of its limited-edition 50 Year Old Highland Single Malt, priced at £22,500, will be given away via an online ballot, open to groups of five or more friends or family. All you have to do is submit an entry alongside a description of your perfect moment for savouring the Glengoyne 50 Year Old together next year. The Glengoyne team will then make that special moment a reality, delivering the highly sought-after whisky for one group to enjoy and savour. “At Glengoyne, we believe that patience is always rewarded. This year we’ve all had to sacrifice spending time with our loved ones or delay celebrations. That’s why we want to make these moments extra special in 2021 with a memorable whisky that, after waiting so long for just the right moment, is truly ready to be opened and savoured,” said Robbie Hughes, master distiller at Glengoyne. The 50 Year Old comes in a special crystal decanter, alongside a 25ml sample of the 50 Year Old whisky, as well as individually numbered books which are signed by Hughes. Available from next week, this extremely limited-edition release will join a new 30 Year Old Glengoyne and the present 25 Year Old whisky, as part of the distillery’s new ‘Fine and Rare’ range. If you’d like a chance to taste this incredible whisky, then you have until Monday 14th December to gather your group and submit your moment here.

The Nightcap

Dua Lipa and great whisky. Two things we love!

Johnnie Walker takes centre stage with Dua Lipa’s Studio 2054

Music and malt have always gone together particularly well so it’s no surprise to see a brand take advantage of a major collaboration. In this case, Johnnie Walker has launched a new partnership with Dua Lipa’s Studio 2054 Livestream event. The digital music experience will be live-streamed globally on the 27 November and will see Lipa sing and dance with a cast of guest stars, surprise performers, acrobats and artists to tracks from her eponymous debut album, the multi-platinum Future Nostalgia and her most recent Club Future Nostalgia. Johnnie Walker, as the exclusive spirits partner, is tipped to feature throughout and has created a set of unique Studio 2054 Highball serves which celebrate global club culture throughout the decades. “This partnership is an opportunity for Johnnie Walker to be involved in a truly unique cultural moment that could only be delivered by a trailblazer like Dua”, says Julie Bramham, Johnnie Walker global brand director. “Our own ‘Keep Walking’ philosophy is all about a constant desire to push the boundaries and Dua is the perfect partner to do that with.” Further information and ticket access for the Studio 2054 live stream event can be found here and more details will be shared across Johnnie Walker social channels pre, during and post the event.

The Nightcap

Russ and Gemma Wakeham, founders of the world’s first carbon-negative rum distillery

Big week for environmentally-friendly rum

It’s been quite the week if you’re into sustainable rum. First, plans have been submitted for the construction of a new £10 million carbon-neutral rum distillery and visitor centre in Cornwall, which will be powered by geothermal energy. Entrepreneur Matthew Clifford, founder of the Cornish Geothermal Distillery Company (CGDC) wants to create a 100% sustainable rum cask maturation facility, visitor centre, cooperage and geothermal energy centre. The project even includes an “ultra-high-tech” Eden Project-style biome which can recreate global temperature and humidity profiles and will house the patent-pending carbon-neutral rum cask maturation pods. It all sounds a tad Bond villain, to be honest, but exciting nonetheless. Elsewhere, Two Drifters revealed it surpassed its fundraising target of £150,000 in three hours. The Devon-based brand (what is it with the south-west and green rum brands?), which was launched in 2019 by Gemma and Russ Wakeham and claims to own the world’s first carbon-negative rum distillery, began its crowdfunding campaign on Monday 9 November on Crowdcube to raise funds to secure larger retail opportunities and improve the distillery’s operations. “We are now in a position to take Two Drifters further to more people,” said Gemma Wakeham. We can also help out in that regard by pointing out that you can check out Two Drifters range of spirits here, which includes a British white rum, dark rum and an overproof spiced pineapple rum.

The Nightcap

All the joys of Whisky Live without having to change out of your PJs. Bliss

Whisky and Gin Live are coming to your home 

To help us through the boredom of lockdowns, there have been many online tastings such as our own Instagram Live series or the Whisky Show, and now this year’s Whisky Live is taking place at home. It’s called… wait for it… Whisky Live at Home! Brilliant! The standard ticket (click here) costs £89 and includes 29 x 30ml samples, the equivalent of around one and a quarter full-sized bottles of whisky. You also get a Glencairn glass, magazines, oatcakes and water. The whole jamboree launches on 30 November but the clever thing is that you can tune in any time to Whisky Live TV and watch masterclasses, seminars, interviews and tasting sessions all hosted by top whisky personality Christopher Coates and his new evil genius beard. You can also buy more upmarket tickets giving you fancier drams and access. Plus, the team is also putting on Gin Live TV (click here) which works in a similar way only with gin (we didn’t need to explain that though, did we?) Those lockdown evenings are going to fly by. 

The Nightcap

The Titanic dry dock and pump house building could soon be home to a new distillery

Whiskey distillery to open at Titanic Dock in Belfast

The Irish whiskey scene looks like it will welcome a new player as businessman Peter Lavery and Belfast-based venture capitalist firm Norlin Ventures have announced plans to construct a new distillery at Titanic Dock and Pumphouse in Belfast. Assuming the full planning application that will be submitted next month is granted in the first quarter of 2021 (which is expected), the new site should be open by the end of next year. This will allow the brand to relaunch the Titanic Whiskey brand in April 2021 to coincide with the departure of Titanic’s maiden voyage in April 1912. “Before Prohibition, Belfast was the largest producer of Irish whiskey on the island of Ireland,” said Lavery. “Whiskey has therefore played an important part in the history of our city and we are excited to tell this story through the relaunch of our Titanic Whiskey brand and the development of a new distillery at Titanic Dry Dock and Pumphouse.” Lavery has got experience in the distillery game, having been involved in the long-delayed distillery plans at the Crumlin Road Gaol prison in Belfast, which resurrected the McConnell’s Irish whiskey brand after more than 90 years in 2020.

The Nightcap

Kentish Pinot Noir, anyone?

Le Kent Nouveau est arrivé

Do you remember when you used to see signs outside Victoria Wine saying “le Beaujolais nouveau est arrivé”? Come to think of it, do you remember Victoria Wine? Showing my age here a little. Anyway, people still get quite excited when the young, so-fresh-it’s-almost-still-fermenting Beaujolais from the current year arrives on these shores on the third Thursday of November. Well, now there’s a challenger, as this Wednesday, one day earlier than Beaujolais, Balfour near Tonbridge, released an English nouveau made with Kentish Pinot Noir. Now, even in the heat of the Garden of England, Pinot Noir isn’t that easy to ripen but we’ve been blessed with a particularly warm vintage this year, perfect for creating a juicy fruity wine. Head winemaker Fergus Elias commented: “The fruit from this parcel was so early, with a lovely strawberry jam character, that we thought we would never have a better opportunity to make a Nouveau style red wine. This fruit was the forerunner of a harvest of exceptional quality”. He described the wine as “brimming with rich red autumnal fruits combined with delicate hints of spice and coffee”. All this for £20 with free delivery. Go to https://hushheath.com/ but hurry, as only 1000 bottles have been produced.

The Nightcap

I’m lost for words, to be honest (Image credit: Hendrick’s)

And finally… Hendrick’s Gin launches £1,800 exercise bike

If we told you that a gin brand had branched out into exercise equipment, you’d probably be quite surprised. But, if we showed you a picture of Hendrick’s limited-edition penny farthing-inspired exercise bike, you’d probably nod and say “yep, that is so Hendrick’s”. The gin-makers has had its fair share of Nightcap coverage thanks to its weird and wacky approach, but The Hendrick’s High Wheel is probably the most ridiculous story yet. Particularly as it will set you back £1,889 (plus shipping from the U.S). The bike is made of iron and comes equipped with a “hydration holder”, a “pedal-powered incandescent bulb”, a small bell, an adjustable seat and a built-in bookstand. This can be used to hold the High Wheel Exercise Manual, which includes photographs of a bike journey through Scottish landscapes to Girvan’s Gin Palace – no wifi or electricity here. If you’re interested in embarrassing your children and you fancy picking yourself up a Hendrick’s High Wheel, then note that to mount the olive-green machine you need to use the cucumber side-pegs or a staircase at the rear. Oh, and that it sits upon a synthetic lawn complete with fallen rose petals. Of course it does. 

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Master of Malt tastes… GlenAllachie’s Virgin Oak Series

We taste our way through GlenAllachie’s limited edition Virgin Oak Series and talk to master distiller Billy Walker about wood policy, oak species, local terroir and more, as well as…

We taste our way through GlenAllachie’s limited edition Virgin Oak Series and talk to master distiller Billy Walker about wood policy, oak species, local terroir and more, as well as how to ensure distillery character isn’t lost in experimental maturation. 

In October The GlenAllachie Distillery tweeted that “Wood policy is an essential part of our master distiller, Billy Walker’s craft. He meticulously hand-selects all the casks from around the world”. The brand then invites fans to suggest cask types they’d like to see Walker use, and in the background, you can see a cask from Koval Distillery in Chicago, a ruby Port pipe and a Pedro Ximenez cask.

It’s a demonstration of how Walker works and what he wants GlenAllachie to be. October also marked three years since Walker bought the distillery near Aberlour in 2017 with Trisha Savage and Graham Stevenson and in this time they have become familiar with the site and its inventory and defined GlenAllachie as a distillery with a full-bodied, fruity, sweet and biscuity spirit, delivered in part by long fermentation (something of a signature of Walker’s) with a wood policy that emphasizes using oak with history and unique characteristics.

Which brings us to The Virgin Oak Series, a new range consisting of whiskies finished for twelve months in casks of different oak species from  regions around the world: 12 Year Old Spanish Virgin Oak Finish12 Year Old French Virgin Oak Finish and 12 Year Old Chinquapin Virgin Oak Finish. Each whisky was first matured in white American oak ex-bourbon barrels and and every virgin oak cask was toasted and charred to the same level (medium, toast for 30–40 minutes, char for 30–40 Secs). They were also bottled without any additional colouring or chill-filtration at an ABV of 48%, which means every parameter was kept consistent so any distinctions and nuances between the expressions will be down to the virgin oak casks.

GlenAllachie Virgin Oak

Billy Walker with the new range

Walker, who was awarded Master Distiller/Master Blender of the Year 2020 at the Icons of Whisky Awards, commented: “We had already a lot of knowledge on the behaviour of a variety of different virgin oak casks and thought it might capture the imagination of the curious inquisitive consumer. We have endeavoured to showcase how different oak genera can determine the flavour and organoleptic profile of the maturing whisky. We selected three oak styles which from our experience we know would deliver significant differences that the consumer could recognise and appreciate.” He went on to explain how the three oak species each have their own distinct flavours caused by wood structure, pore size and chemical make-up. These characteristics are exacerbated by the different lengths of time each wood is air-dried for (see tasting notes). Walker said: “Natural air drying provides a more natural and gentle drying experience in reducing the water presence down to under 10%.” 

Experimenting with maturation in this regard is incredibly exciting, but it does come with risks. A series like this is only interesting if we can observe how the GlenAllachie distillery character is affected by the cask types. If it’s overwhelmed by the virgin oak (which can easily happen), then the series falls flat. A full-bodied distillate helps, but Walker says that to avoid this pitfall, experience and knowledge are key. “We ensure that the secondary wood management does not overwhelm the fundamental DNA of the GlenAllachie distillate and allow the secondary maturation to continue only until the “sweet spot” has been achieved. This requires a lot of sampling to follow its development. We were checking every fortnight”.

GlenAllachie Virgin Oak

The GlenAllachie Distillery, home to much experimentation and tasty whisky

Tasting the Virgin Oak Series (which you can watch Walker doing here), I think it’s fair to say that the experiment worked. The contrast between each expression is stark and, while the integration wasn’t always consistent, I was impressed with how much GlenAllachie personality is here. There’s a whisky for all palates in this range. The French Virgin Oak is the finest of the three in my book, but we’d love to hear which you enjoyed the most. Looking forward, Walker confirms that GlenAllachie has a lot of interesting things going on (look out for British oak and Mizunara casks) which he assures us will lead to some absolutely stunning releases. We look forward to trying them too. For now, check out our tasting notes and details on the new releases, which you can buy here, below.

GlenAllachie Virgin Oak

GlenAllachie 12 Year Old Spanish Virgin Oak Finish

The Spanish Virgin Oak was finished in hogsheads made of Spanish white oak (both it and the French oak are types of Quercus Robur) from the Cantabrian Mountains in northern Spain. Walker says this area has a cooler climate and greater humidity than the rest of the country and that the pores of the Spanish virgin oak are less tight. When combined with the length of air drying (18 months), he says it imparts distinctive spicy, treacly notes with heather honey, treacle, coconut, orange zest, nutmeg and cinnamon”

Master of Malt Tasting Note:

Nose: Soft toffee pennies, Bounty chocolate bar, floral honey and orange peel with dark chocolate, bruised peach, hazelnut, buttery biscuit, mini foam bananas and hints of fresh clove and cinnamon in support.

Palate: Waves of chocolate and milky coffee come through with treacle, apple blossom, floral notes, dried fruit, black pepper and stem ginger.

Finish: Long, delicately sweet and with Sugar Puffs some lingering spice and floral elements.

Overall: The cask has brought out the citrus, biscuity and spicy elements in an approachable, bright that possesses weight and complexity. The most fun of the three, but without the depth of the French oak.

GlenAllachie Virgin Oak

GlenAllachie 12 Year Old French Virgin Oak Finish

The French Virgin Oak Finish is made from French oak from the Haute-Garonne region near the Pyrenees and the wood was air dried for 15 months. Walker says the wood is very finely grained and rich, which creates a subtle, sweet and earthy taste with silky tannins, honey, fruit, orange zest, honey and ginger.

Master of Malt Tasting Note:

Nose: At first there’s drying red apple skins, some earthiness, digestive biscuits and heather honey followed by a little mocha, pink grapefruit, chocolate orange, cinnamon and honeycomb.

Palate: Lots of coffee, tannins and butterscotch upfront, with orchard fruit, dried apricot liquorice and a touch of bran muffin underneath. 

Finish: Rich, sweet and long with cinnamon, white chocolate and citrus.

Overall: An earthy, more mellow and bittersweet dram that’s got so much depth and subtlety as well as the best integration of cask and distillate. 

GlenAllachie Virgin Oak

GlenAllachie 12 Year Old Chinquapin Virgin Oak Finish

Finally, the Chinquapin Virgin Oak Finish is made from casks from the northern Ozark region in Missouri, USA. Chinquapin is a sub-species of quercus alba (Quercus Muehlenbergeii). The casks are air dried for nearly four years which Walker explains creates flavours of liquorice and even hints of rosehips, which accompany complex, zesty flavours with notes of heather honey, barley sugar, toasted biscuit and orange zest, mocha, anis, fennel, cinnamon.

Master of Malt Tasting Note:

Nose: Vanilla tablet, fragrant citrus, honey and a little cacao leads with heather, polished oak, drying nutmeg and Thorntons Caramel Shortcake Bites in support.

Palate: Initially there’s butterscotch biscuits, stewed apple, hazelnut and honey on toast before those liquorice, aniseed boiled sweet elements appear among a little baking spice and sandalwood.

Finish: A big scoop of chocolate ice cream, buttery vanilla and plenty of cinnamon.

Overall: Hugely decadent and full of personality, but it’s a touch overwhelming for me.

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Shaken vs stirred: the science behind mixing a cocktail

Margaritas are shaken, Martinis are stirred, and that’s pretty much the way it’s been since time immemorial. The question is: why? For the definitive on when cocktails should be stirred…

Margaritas are shaken, Martinis are stirred, and that’s pretty much the way it’s been since time immemorial. The question is: why? For the definitive on when cocktails should be stirred versus shaken, we asked two bartenders to divulge the ‘rules’ behind each method, offer technique tips, and share four lip-smacking recipes to try at home…

Chances are, unless you’re a bartender – or James Bond – you’ve rarely given much thought to the technicalities of cocktail methodology. If the recipe instructs you to “shake”, you shake, and if it says “stir”, you stir, without ever really pausing to consider what the process brings to the drink, or why you’re doing one rather than the other. 

“Both shaking and stirring will ensure the individual ingredients are well-mixed, and so the overall cocktail has the right balance from start to finish,” says Patrick Pistolesi, founder of Drink Kong in Rome – one of the World’s 50 Best Bars – and head of mixology at NIO Cocktails.

Opening a bar during the COVID-19 pandemic

The team from Swift in Shoreditch

Both processes also cool the cocktail, Pistolesi continues, although shaking gets the job done slightly quicker. “Shards of ice break off and melt faster as the surface area of the ice is increased,” he explains. “Aside from cooling, the other main purpose of either shaking or stirring with ice is to dilute the cocktail to deliver the perfect drink.”

If both approaches mix the ingredients, dilute the drink, and cool the liquid – albeit at different speeds – when does one method take precedence over the other? It’s all to do with the tiny air bubbles that form during the shaking process.  “Shaking aerates the cocktail, which changes both its texture and its taste,” says Pistolesi.

Those bubbles are the reason a stirred drink will be crystal-clear, while a shaken drink will be cloudy, or at least opaque. Therefore, drinks made with ‘clear’ ingredients, like neat spirits and liqueurs, are typically stirred, while those with already ‘cloudy’ ingredients – such as citrus, syrup, fresh juice, egg whites, cream or milk – ought to be shaken. 

One of the most important (and oft-forgotten) ingredients? Ice. “Put simply, high quality ice delivers a better-tasting cocktail,” says Pistolesi. “Experience with different types of ice is important, as the quality of the ice can also affect the time required to shake or stir.” Good ice (very good blog post on the subject) starts with quality filtered water. You don’t want your ice to melt too quickly or it will have too much dilution, so use it straight from the freezer and avoid that ready-made ice with holes in.

The shake

Perhaps unsurprisingly, you’re going to need a shaker. But which one? “The Boston shaker is the classic two-piece, one part usually stainless steel and the other glass,” says Pistolesi. “This is really great for a sour drink that needs a lot of froth, as the shaker is pretty large and can contain more liquid.”

Alternatively, you could opt for the classic three-piece or ‘continental’ shaker. “This holds a smaller amount of liquid than the Boston shaker, will cool faster and deliver the right amount of air in the drink,” he continues. “I use it mostly for three-ingredient cocktails, for example a White Lady or a Daiquiri.”

In terms of technique: add ice into the shaker first, don’t overfill the vessel with liquid, and opt for a longer, harder shake when using viscous ingredients or those that don’t mix easily, Pistolesi says. Remember, you don’t need to shake as long you would stir – “anywhere between 15 and 20 seconds should be about right,” he adds.

Whatever you do, don’t risk an overshake. “It could make your cocktail watery and gritty with ice shards,” explains Mia Johansson, managing partner of London’s Bar Swift – also one of the World’s 50 Best Bars – and creator of cocktail delivery platform Speakeasy At Home.

“There is no way of perfectly timing it because it has to do with what is in your tin – and how much, more precisely,” she continues. “Make sure you fill your tin with plenty of ice and try to listen to the sound of the shake, when it goes from clunky to broken up it should be just perfect.” 

Ready to give it a crack? You’ll find two shaken classics from Johansson below:

Adnams Rye Malt Whisky Sour cocktail

A Whisky Sour made with Adnams Rye Malt and served on the rocks

Whiskey Sour 

3 parts whiskey (Black & Gold bourbon)
1 part lemon
1 part simple syrup or honey
1 egg white (or 25ml aquafaba)

Give it a good shake with plenty of ice in your tin. Serve straight up in a glass or over ice if you prefer. Garnish with a lemon wedge or cherry. For an extra touch, try adding a dash of Amaretto – 0.5 parts is enough.

French

The French 75!

French 75: 

3 parts Bathtub gin
1 part lemon
2 parts simple syrup
Sparkling wine to top

Shake in a tin with plenty ice, double strain into a coupe or flute and top with the sparkling wine. Garnish with cherry or lemon twist. For a twist, add 0.5 parts of elderflower cordial.

The stir

For this method, you can use your cocktail shaker or a stirring glass – either works fine. “Again, make sure you have plenty of ice, as you want to be able to control the dilution,” says Johansson. “The more ice you have, the more time you’ve got.” Give it “a good stir until you feel the ice has lost its edges and feels smoother,” she says, “usually around 20 to 30 seconds”. Pause and taste it to see if it is cold enough. Texture-wise, it should be “silky but still packed with flavour.”

Pistolesi, meanwhile, advocates for a longer stir. “You’d need to spend upwards of a minute and a half stirring a cocktail to achieve the same cooling and dilution as 15 to 20 seconds of shaking,” he says. In terms of method, “the simplest way is to dunk the spoon in and out of the drink – once the ice and ingredients have been added – while twirling the spoon.” Alternatively, you could use a Japanese method called the Kaykan stir. “The objective is to move the ice and the liquid as a single body and hence to avoid aerating the drink,” Pistolesi explains.

The perfect stir requires a little common sense, so keep an eye on the drink to make sure it doesn’t dilute too much. Get your stir on with the recipes below, again from Johansson:

The classic Boulevardier

Boulevardier

2 parts whiskey (Black & Gold bourbon)
1 part Campari
1 part sweet vermouth 

Stir over ice and serve on the rocks. Garnish with an orange peel. For an extra touch, add a dash of cherry brandy, no more than 0.5 parts.

Stinger made with H by Hine Cognac

Stinger

4 parts H by Hine Cognac
1 part Giffard crème de menthe 

Stir and serve straight up in a coupe. Garnish with a lemon twist. Perfect classic for a Christmas tipple. 

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10 cracking Irish whiskies for under £50

On the lookout for some Irish whiskey? You don’t need to spend a fortune because we’ve picked out some absolute bargains from delicious blends to distinctive single pot still bottles. The…

On the lookout for some Irish whiskey? You don’t need to spend a fortune because we’ve picked out some absolute bargains from delicious blends to distinctive single pot still bottles.

The recent boom in Irish whiskey means there is a huge range of expressions currently on the market. If you need a versatile, mixable blend, you’ve got options. If you desire a spicy, rich pot still, there’s variety. If you’re a fan of experimental cask finishes, take your pick. The only difficulty is choosing which one is right for you. Which is where we come in. Whether you’re on the lookout for a gift or in the mood to try something new, we’re sure you’ll find something perfect in the following round-up. And the best part is, every single bottle costs less than £50. 

Oh, and if you still can’t decide what bottle to plump for, you could always choose a selection of all things great from the Emerald Isle, like this 12 Dram Irish Whiskey Collection from the wonderful Drinks by the Dram.

bargain Irish whiskey

Teeling Small Batch with 2x Glasses

With Christmas on the horizon, we thought we’d kick things off with a splendid present for the Irish whiskey fan in your life. This bottle of Teeling’s multi-award-winning Small Batch blended whiskey, a deliciously creamy, spicy and rich Irish blend made with a high malt content and finished in rum casks, comes with two delightful branded glasses.

What does it taste like?

Cut grass, orange blossom, allspice, creamy vanilla, rose petal jelly, apple pie, dried herbs, caramel and blackberries.

bargain Irish whiskey

Jameson Caskmates IPA Edition

The Jameson Caskmates series features some incredible and intriguing bottles, the standout of which for us is the tasty IPA Edition. To create this, Jameson sent its used whiskey casks over the Franciscan Well brewery, where they were used to age some IPA beer. After that, the casks made their way back to the distillery, where they were used to finish this Irish whiskey. Lovely stuff.

What does it taste like?

Fresh grapefruit, lime, vanilla pod, sugared almonds, oily walnut, hops, caramelised dates, white pepper, caraway and green apple.

bargain Irish whiskey

Slane Irish Whiskey

On the grounds of an 18th-century castle in a converted 250-year-old stable, you’ll find Slane Distillery, the home to one of the most affordable and pleasant blends in Ireland. Slane Irish Whiskey is made using local grain which and matured in a trio of casks: virgin-oak, refill-American-whiskey and Oloroso sherry.

What does it taste like?

Sweet oak and toasted barley at first, with layers of caramel, Victoria Sponge Cake, butterscotch and ginger developing later on. 

bargain Irish whiskey

Tullamore D.E.W. XO Caribbean Rum Cask Finish

Tullamore D.E.W. makes a delightful and original blend of pot still, malt and grain Irish whiskeys that work in a number of cask finishes. In this case, the brand used first fill Caribbean rum casks which previously held Demerara rum that not only delivers a rich, sweet and complex taste, but also pays tribute to the role that Irish immigrants played in the development of rum in the Caribbean back in the 17th century. Which is pretty neat.

What does it taste like?

Cherry pie, lots of caramelised pineapple and banana alongside buttery caramel, brown sugar, oak, dried fruit, sweet malt and rum spice.

bargain Irish whiskey

The Sexton Single Malt

An approachable, affordable and very tasty dram from master blender Alex Thomas, one of the few female master blenders in the Irish whiskey industry, the distinctive-looking Sexton Single Malt was made from 100% Irish malted barley and aged in Spanish Oloroso sherry casks. It’s got one of those profiles that just begs to be put to good use in cocktails

What does it taste like?

Rich aromas of nuts, dried fruit, honeycomb sweetness, lemon zest, prunes, marzipan and dark chocolate with a pinch of spice.

bargain Irish whiskey

Midleton Method and Madness Single Grain 

Midleton’s experimental Method and Madness range was launched in 2017 to push boundaries and innovate. We recommend you check out the full selection of singular expressions released in the last three years, but today we wanted to shine a light on this single grain Irish whiskey which was finished in a virgin Spanish oak cask, because it’s a great demonstration of how good Irish single grain can be.

What does it taste like?

New pencil shavings, light rose petal, fresh rain on pine, warm toasted oak, fresh peeled grapefruit, zesty wood spices, sweet cereal and fresh mint.

bargain Irish whiskey

Kinahan’s The Kasc Project 

This unusual bottling sees a blend of malt and grain whiskeys aged in handmade hybrid casks made of five different wood varieties – Portuguese, American, French, and Hungarian oak, and chestnut – each selected for the flavours they impart into the whiskey. It’s so delicious and intriguing we wrote a whole blog post about it.

What does it taste like?

Juicy autumnal fruit, namely plum, alongside pear, apple crumble, rich caramel, pineapple, barbecued mango, vanilla pod, creamy fruit and nut chocolate.

bargain Irish whiskey

Pearse Lyons 5 Year Old Original

The first five-year age statement Irish whiskey to appear from a new distillery in the whole of Ireland in more than 25 years, this bottling marries both malt and grain whiskeys, aged exclusively in bourbon barrels. Oh, and it was distilled in pot stills that sit on an altar in a converted church. Pretty cool.

What does it taste like?

Lemon blossom, porridge, oak char, floral malt, honeyed spice, mint milk chocolate, fresh oak, millionaire’s shortbread, leading into some drying spices.

bargain Irish whiskey

Bushmills Black Bush

A bartender’s go-to for good reason, Bushmills Black Bush is one of the most consistent and versatile Irish blends on the market. Use this one to make all kinds of delicious whiskey cocktails.

What does it taste like?

Over-ripe grape, light citrus, toffee, peanut, vanilla, chamomile tea, Digestive biscuit, cooked plum, orange oil, cinnamon sticks and milk bottle sweets. 

bargain Irish whiskey

Green Spot Single Pot Still 

Just a week on from announcing the return of Blue Spot, now we’re showing some love to the best known of the range and a whiskey that has done so much to fly the flag for single pot still whiskey. We’re talking, of course, about the fabulous Green Spot, a whiskey that was matured in a combination of first and second fill bourbon casks as well as sherry casks to deliver a robust, fruity and rich profile. Savour this one.

What does it taste like?

Fresh green apple, sweet barley, sugary porridge, creamy vanilla, papaya, gentle bourbon oak, green woods, menthol, potpourri and citrus.

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Why Tequila is increasingly a spirit in demand

Demand for Tequila is increasing year on year and the future for the category looks bright. But what’s behind the boom? We talk to Proximo Spirits Tequila educator Oli Pergl…

Demand for Tequila is increasing year on year and the future for the category looks bright. But what’s behind the boom? We talk to Proximo Spirits Tequila educator Oli Pergl to find out.

While gin continues to dominate headlines and rum muscles its way into the spotlight, the rise of Tequila consumption hasn’t gone unnoticed here at Master of Malt. More and more people are waking up to the versatility and deliciousness of Mexico’s national spirit and a raft of new producers have sensed the potential, building premium brands on a bedrock history, tradition and craft.

The stats make for pretty good reading, too. Waitrose reported in May this year that its Tequila sales boomed by 175% since the lockdown in March and new Nielsen data revealed that in the US,  Tequila sales were up 55.5% in September and October 2020 in the off-trade. Becle, a Mexican company whose flagship brand is Jose Cuervo Tequila, reported better-than-expected results for the July to September quarter this year, with net global volumes growing by 26% compared to the same three months last year and shipments rising by 28% to 3.38 million cases. Wall Street analysts called the figures both “outstanding” and “amazing” when they were announced last month.

But what’s driving this growth? To find out, it’s worth talking to somebody who knows the spirit inside-out, like Tequila educator Oli Pergl. He spends his time enlightening and delighting folks on the pleasures of the agave-based spirit for Jose Cuervo, a Tequila brand which is not only the world’s best-selling but the oldest, having been granted the first license by King Carlos IV of Spain to produce and distribute Tequila in 1795.

tequila

Say hello to Proximo Spirits Tequila educator, Oli Pergl!

For Pergl, the desire for ‘craft’ spirits and the heritage, provenance and character of Tequila has galvanised the industry and is responsible for the boom. “This is an era in which people want to look beyond the label. They want to know who the producer is, how the spirit is made. Tequila is perfect in that respect. It’s got such a rich and deep history and the craft of Tequila is unique and specific to Mexico,” Pergl explains. “And people are now discovering it in new ways. We’ve seen so many new brands come over the last few years and Tequila is one of the fastest-growing categories of spirits at the moment. Vodka has been on the decline for a little while. There’s an oversaturation of gin in the UK which has prompted people to look elsewhere. I believe Tequila is on its way to being the next big player in the market”. 

The pandemic did little to halt this impressive rise. “We’ve seen a lot of people enjoy Tequila over lockdown. They want to be reminded of summer holidays, having fun, and Tequila fits the bill. Virtual Mexican nights and cocktail hours have been hugely popular and driven demand” says Pergl. “With quality, premium Tequilas being much more widely available, and easy to work with when making cocktails at home, we think this trend will continue to grow for a good while yet”.

In light of the increased interest in the category, it’s little surprise to see that celebrities have jumped on the bandwagon, including George Clooney, Dwanye Johnson, Michael Jordan. Pergl acknowledges that celebrity endorsement has plenty of advantages, but can be a double-edged sword. “You don’t want millions of celebrity endorsements to saturate the market,” Pergl explains. “But, overall, it’s a good thing. It’s created more awareness and has broadened the premium market because that’s typically where celebrities get involved. Thankfully there hasn’t been too much cheesy product placement or gimmicky marketing. They’re often almost romantic about their businesses and are just as in love with the spirit as the people making it. That, in turn, tells the consumers ‘maybe I should fall in love with it as well’”.

tequila

Appreciation of the legacy, production process and culture of this unique spirit has helped drive growth

The biggest cultural shift, however, has been the movement away from identifying Tequila purely as the rough and tumble party spirit that you knock back with salt and citrus. Education in this regard is still needed, but increasingly consumers are sipping and appreciating. “We want people to understand the passion involved. We’re targeting events towards consumers to ensure that tequila isn’t just seen as a party shooter or a Margarita ingredient,” Pergl says. “We promote the versatility and mixability of Tequila. We want people to dive deeper and realise you can have Old Fashioneds, Mojitos, Piña Coladas etc. I personally believe any cocktail can be twisted with Tequila and we want to demonstrate that it has a diverse enough character to replace rum, whisky, gin or vodka”.  

The growth of premium Tequilas (which are usually made with 100% blue weber agave) casts an inauspicious light on ‘mixto Tequilas’, a term given to more economical expressions made from the mandated minimum of 51% agave, with the other 49% coming from sugarcane or another sugar source. However, Pergl says this style still has its merits and a future. “That type of Tequila still has a massive part to play because it introduces people to the fun and light-hearted side of the category,” he explains. “There’s always going to be times for celebration in our lives and the need for a mixable spirit and it’s great that consumers have options because not everyone has the budget for premium Tequila. Producers also have to be very careful about what they are going to be making their Tequila from because 100% blue agave isn’t necessarily the most sustainable option”. 

This is one of the challenges the industry faces. While things are looking good for Tequila, the increased demand for agave-based products has raised concerns about sustainability. “It’s not just Tequila, there’s a huge demand for agave syrup. It’s putting serious pressure on a lot of brands. We’re constantly assessing our role in this and creating solutions. We have a laboratory onsite to analyse different conditions and how they affect the crop to ensure that our agaves are treated as best as they can. We have about 4,000 jimadors, all of them are generational-led experts, in the field every day tending to millions of plants who prioritise the safety of the crop,” Pergl explains. “We’re also working to make sure that our agaves, after turning into Tequila, have a much longer life as well. We recycle its fibrous materials, for example, and donate them to local businesses to be turned into straws, rope, aprons or kitchenware. It’s not just a case of using the agave purely for Tequila, we want to extend the life of it”.

tequila

Pergl believes the future is bright for Tequila

Looking forward to how Tequila can maintain consistent and sustainable growth, Pergl says that companies like Jose Cuervo have a responsibility as a leading brand to ensure that the traditions and the culture of Mexico remain respected and that the quality of new expressions adheres to a certain standard. “We always feel a responsibility to the industry. We’re never trying to trample over anyone. Our position allows us to innovate, to take that next big leap and show the other companies we can be brave together. Once we do that and master certain techniques then we can share that knowledge so Tequila doesn’t have to be this one thing,” Pergl says. “We also have a responsibility to our farmers, our neighbours and to the town of Tequila, to represent Mexico with integrity. Jose Cuervo himself was the mayor and he introduced a lot of measures to ensure that people had the right facilities. Those values paved the way and the eleventh generation members still ensure that those traditions are met”. 

The question is, will the demand for Tequila continue to rise in 2021? Pergl has no doubt that it will. “Rum and Tequila are yet to have their heyday in terms of the popularity that gin and vodka have enjoyed. I think that’s about to change. We want more of the world to fall in love with our spirits and, lockdowns permitting, we’ll be getting out there educating and working to increase the appreciation and adoration of this great spirit. 2021 is going to be a big year for us”.  And if you’d like to see it in with a quality Tequila in-hand, you can pick some up right here.

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New Arrival of the Week: Foursquare Détente

This week we’re particularly excited about the latest Exceptional Cask Selection rum from the Foursquare Distillery in Barbados. It’s been aged in ex-bourbon and Port casks for ten years. And…

This week we’re particularly excited about the latest Exceptional Cask Selection rum from the Foursquare Distillery in Barbados. It’s been aged in ex-bourbon and Port casks for ten years. And that’s not all, there’s a new vintage bottling on the way too. Double trouble!

First of all, let’s get the name out of the way, ‘Détente.’ It might sound a bit peculiar but it’s just the latest in a long line of gnomically-named bottles from the Foursquare Distillery in Barbados like ‘Criterion’, Nobiliary’ and ‘Empery’ –– some to think of it, I think I lost £20 on ‘Empery’ at Cheltenham a few years ago. Détente, though, brings to mind the Cold War, the word was used to refer to moments of relative calm between the USSR and USA. Could it be a coded reference that some sort of agreement over the terms of the island’s GI has been reached by those two titans of Bajan distilling, Richard Seale from Foursquare and Alexandre Gabriel from the West Indies Distillery?

Sadly not. The word in French can simply mean ‘relaxation’ and is probably just a reference to the perfect way to enjoy it. Whatever the meaning of the name, there’s no doubt that this is an exceptional drop. It’s a single blended rum which means that both pot and column still spirit is used, specifically a double retort pot still and the continuous twin column still for all you rum nerds out there. The final blend is made up of a ten year old, aged exclusively in ex-bourbon casks combined with a rum that was aged for four years in ex-bourbon casks before spending another six in ex-Port casks. It’s bottled at 51% ABV with no chill-filtering, colour or sugar additions. 

But that’s not the only exciting new bottling from Foursquare. The company has also released another rum in its Exceptional Cask Selection series this month. It’s also a blend, distilled in 2008 and spent the last 12 years in ex-bourbon casks before bottling at 60% ABV. Full details of both below.

The Seale family have been on the island of Barbados since the 1650s and involved in the rum business since at least the 1820s. The brand R.L. Seale dates back to the 1920s. Foursquare, however, is a much more recent creation. The distillery was founded in 1995 by Sir David Seale and is now run by his son Richard, a master distiller and blender. Under the Foursquare label, the firm produces some of the finest rums in the Caribbean to Richard Seale’s exacting standards. He is outspoken in his opposition to any sugar addition and off-island ageing, both techniques used (to great effect it has to be said) by Alexandre Gabriel at the West Indies Distillery, also in Barbados. So there’s a lot they disagree on which we have documented on the Master of Malt blog in the past. Anyway, that’s enough politics, let’s taste the rums!

From cask types to bottling dates, there’s no shortage of information on Foursquare labels

These are both exceptional liquids, that are best drunk neat or in very simple cocktails which let the quality hine through. With the Détente, I made perhaps the best Palmetto I’ve ever had, made half and half with Barbadillo sherry vermouth, served over ice with a dash of Angostura and some orange peel. Absolutely stunning. Here are the full tasting notes for:

Foursquare Détente Exceptional Cask Selection (available now from Master of Malt)

Nose: Extraordinary complexity: sweet notes like butterscotch and muscovado sugar mingle with spices including cinnamon and nutmeg, dark cherries and orange peel, and then powerful aromatic menthol notes and a touch, just a touch of acetone. 

Palate: Smooth with popcorn, dark chocolate, red fruit, molasses and creamy buttery notes but all the time with a vein of fiery pepper running through it. 

Finish: That menthol note comes breezing through again, like mint choc chip ice cream.

Foursquare 2008 (new stock coming in any day now at Master of Malt) 

Nose: Strong acetone notes like varnish and furniture polish followed by dark chocolate, coffee, and toffee.

Palate: Strong wood tannins, it really grips the mouth with a taste of tobacco, leather and bitter espresso coffee. Big alcohol too, providing black pepper and chilli. A dash of water softens it bringing out notes of milk chocolate, maraschino cherry, cooked apple and manuka honey. 

Finish: Long and intense, like biting into high cacao dark chocolate and those tannins linger. A finish you can chew. 

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Five minutes with… cocktail trailblazer Julie Reiner

A trailblazer in the modern American bar scene, Julie Reiner is credited with shaping New York City’s booming cocktail culture. She’s the brains behind some of the city’s finest watering…

A trailblazer in the modern American bar scene, Julie Reiner is credited with shaping New York City’s booming cocktail culture. She’s the brains behind some of the city’s finest watering holes – Flatiron Lounge, Clover Club and Leyenda, to name just three. We took five with Reiner to discuss mango Margaritas, longevity in the bar world, and making tonic water from scratch…

Julie Reiner has been changing the way New Yorkers drink since the late 1990s. The Hawaii native began her bartending career in San Francisco before making her way to the Big Apple in ‘98, where she founded Flatiron Lounge in Manhattan back in 2003. From there, Reiner opened Pegu Club in 2005 as a silent partner, before co-founding Clover Club in 2008 and Leyenda in 2015. All closed their doors having amassed prestigious awards during their time.

When she’s not opening hugely influential bars, Reiner can be found imparting her knowledge as a drinks author – The Craft Cocktail Party: Delicious Drinks for Every Occasion is a home bar staple – and as a judge, mentor, or consultant (her business goes by Mixtress Consulting). Her work has influenced a generation of bartenders; Reiner is one of a handful of people to scoop the title of Best Bar Mentor at Tales of the Cocktail’s Spirited Awards.

Most recently, Reiner released a line of craft canned cocktails, Social Hour, with legendary bartender and Clover Club co-owner Tom Macy. She’s worked closely with many big names over the years, including her mentor Dale DeGroff – known as the King of Cocktails, the bartender and author is widely credited with laying the foundations for the craft cocktail revival we’re enjoying today – plus Pegu Club founder Audrey Saunders, and the ‘Modern Mixologist’ Tony Abou Ganim. 

Julie Reiner in action behind the bar

From memorable serves and creative influences to canned drink development, Reiner answers our burning questions below – and shares a cocktail recipe to try out at home:

MoM: Thanks so much for your time, Julie! When and where did your love of hospitality begin? 

Reiner: I grew up on Oahu in Hawaii and as a kid my house was a revolving door of visitors. It was as if we were running an AirBnB for our extended family and friends. Hospitality was in my blood, I helped my mom pass hors d’ oeuvres and blend up mango Margaritas and loved it. We had a limousine van so that we could tour the island all together. It was a big part of my childhood and really solidified my future in the hospitality industry. 

MoM: What are your biggest creative influences in terms of shaping your bartending style? 

Reiner: Early on in my career, tropical flavours were my biggest influence as I had a lychee tree in my front yard and a mango tree in the back. I naturally gravitated towards those fruits and island flavours. I met Dale Degroff, Audrey Saunders and Tony Abou Ganim early on in my career and discussed cocktails and flavour pairings with all of them in the early stages of my career. They all had great influence on me and my bartending style, as did the chefs I worked with at various restaurants.  

MoM: To fast-forward to 2020 – how has the coronavirus pandemic changed your working life? 

Reiner: In terms of how it has affected business: we were originally scheduled to launch Social Hour in April, just in time for the spring/summer season… and then Covid hit. We lost some of our funding, and had to regroup before we could launch. We also had to shut down Clover Club and Leyenda, which was very stressful. 

And enjoying a well-earned drink

MoM: How did the development process for Social Hour compare to designing cocktails for a bar setting? 

Reiner: It was similar in some ways and very different in others. The biggest difference is we had to create ingredients like tonic water or ginger beer from scratch so we could adjust variables like sweetness, acidity, spiciness, etcetera. It was great to have that flexibility but it took a while to get it all right. The end goal was the same as it is in a bar, but the road we had to take to get there was different.

MoM: Could you share a story about a memorable drink you’ve made over the years?

Reiner: When we were preparing to open Clover Club, I created a cocktail called The Slope named after my neighborhood of Park Slope [see below]. It was meant to be our house Manhattan variation and became an instant classic at the bar. It is one of the only cocktails that has never left the menu. The Slope is a fan favorite with our regulars and has been featured on menus all over the world. It was even featured in a Brooklyn-themed cocktail box in France.  

MoM: What key qualities does it take to forge a career in the bar industry? And, how do you foster longevity and prevent burnout?

Reiner: It’s not an easy path to be sure. In my experience, which includes many highs and lows over the years, the most important thing is pick the right partners. Also, continue to innovate and look ahead, don’t rest on your laurels. Hire well. Give people the opportunity to grow… and keep your consumption in check!  

We asked Reiner to share a cocktail you could recreate at home – so below you’ll find the recipe for The Slope, a twist on the classic Manhattan. Enjoy!

The Slope

70ml Rittenhouse Straight Rye whiskey 100% proof
20ml Punt e Mes
5ml Giffard apricot liqueur
2 dashes Angostura Bitters 

Stir all ingredients with ice and fine strain into a chilled coupe.

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The Nightcap: 13 November

In this week’s round-up of news from the wide world of drinks, we say hello to some incredible new booze, Scotland’s first ‘vertical distillery’ and goodbye to a great publication….

In this week’s round-up of news from the wide world of drinks, we say hello to some incredible new booze, Scotland’s first ‘vertical distillery’ and goodbye to a great publication.

Friday the 13th is meant to be unlucky, but then so are black cats and it’s a known fact that all cats are amazing with no exception. So maybe we should pay no heed to this superstition. After all, today is Friday the 13th and another edition of The Nightcap has arrived, packed to the brim with brilliant boozy happenings as always.

Another week, another chance to win incredible boozy prizes. We do love to spoil you. This time we launched our #MissedMoment competition which runs until the 19 November, so get those entries in! Elsewhere on the MoM blog, there was plenty of exciting whisky coverage, Henry revealed that Irish Distillers relaunched Blue Spot after a 56-year hiatus, got a sneak preview of the upcoming Johnnie Walker film and introduced a mysterious long-aged bourbon from Tennessee. Adam then got a taste of Benromach’s new 21-year-old expression and Annie took a fresh look at New World whisky. Elsewhere, we whipped up the Caipirinha, a Brazilian classic, rounded-up a top ten of bargain gins and then put together a selection of staff favourites chosen by the team here at MoM Towers.

The Nightcap

Thanks for all the amazing drinks coverage guys!

Goodbye to Imbibe magazine and imbibe.com

We said a very sad goodbye this week at MoM Towers to an industry stalwart and our friends at Imbibe magazine and imbibe.com this week, as editor Robyn Black announced they are to be wound up in December 2020. After 13 years of providing us with outstanding coverage of all aspects of the drinks industry, it’s hard to hear that the shutters are coming down. Black revealed in a statement posted on Imbibe’s website that the publication is another unfortunate casualty of the COVID-19 crisis. “It is wreaking its worst on our industry and unfortunately Imbibe has not escaped its clutches,” said Black. “Thanks must go to everyone who has ever been involved in the magazine and website for their hard work in building them into what they are today. It is testimony to Imbibe’s culture that a large number of former staff still write for us and are very much still involved in our portfolio of competitions, tastings and events. It has been a pleasure to work with them all.” Thankfully, the show will, quite literally, go on at least, as Imbibe Live is still scheduled to entertain and delight as usual on 5-6 July 2021 at London’s Olympia. You can click here to register for Imbibe Live 2021. We hope to see you there!

The Nightcap

What the Port of Leith Distillery will hopefully look like by 2022

Work starts on Scotland’s first ‘vertical distillery’

Foundations have just been laid for The Port of Leith Distillery which is projected to be completed by 2022. The brainchild of boyhood friends Patrick Fletcher and Ian Stirling, the completed distillery will feature a top floor double-height whisky bar, with views to Edinburgh Castle, two copper stills hand-crafted by the Speyside Copper Works in Elgin and the capacity to produce up to million bottles of single malt a year. The distillery should provide a welcome boost to the local economy and is supporting more than 30 jobs during construction – including six staff in the distillery team – and will create around 50 long-term jobs once complete. Given the project’s proximity to the Royal Yacht Britannia, visitor numbers play an important part in the distillery’s business plan, however, the success of its Oloroso sherry and award-winning Lind & Lime Gin means this is now less critical to the company’s plans. “Our ambition is to create an outstanding new style of Scotch using a modern approach, based on years of research we have already undertaken – and building on the remarkable heritage of the historic whisky district of Leith,” Stirling says. “Although our distillery has a very modern outlook, we’re very proud to be bringing the whisky trade back to one of the places it all began,” Fletcher concludes.

The Nightcap

That is one swanky Port. Anyone want to start a whip-round for a bottle?

Taylor’s releases 90-year-old Port to toast the new Kingsman film

November is traditionally when wine lovers start to think about Port (though here at MoM, we’re all year-round Port drinkers.) So it’s with perfect timing that Taylor’s has unveiled possibly its snazziest Port yet. It was created to tie in with the release of the latest Kingsman film, The King’s Man, in February now there’s a film franchise that knows how to drink. It’s a very old tawny with an average age of 90 years blended from some of the rarest casks lying in the company’s cellars at Vila Nova de Gaia. Taylor’s MD Adrian Bridge explained: “This Taylor’s limited edition Port will not only appeal to Kingsman devotees, but it is also an exceptional Port of great age which will grace the cellars of collectors and connoisseurs of fine and rare wines. Our blenders have used their skill and expertise to create a unique blend matured for almost nine decades in seasoned oak casks and displaying the multi-layered complexity which only Port can achieve.” The new film is a bit of a change from the previous ones as it is set during the first world war but as before it’s directed by Matthew Vaughn so expect the usual blend of action, sharp suits and general silliness. Bridge described the collaboration as “the perfect fit” while Vaughn said: A true Kingsman will never forget to pass the Port to his left, but this Taylor-made vintage will certainly test his resolve…” Wise words. Only 700 bottles have been filled and will be on sale for £2950. Might be a bit too expensive for us but we will be getting in some 1961 Taylor’s, almost as tasty and much more affordable.  

The Nightcap

The Nightcap is full of seriously impressive booze this week!

Sotheby’s to offer complete Black Bowmore series

Want to get your hands on the complete set of the incredible Black Bowmore series? Well, auction house Sotheby’s and the Islay distillery have announced that you will get the chance to do just that in Hong Kong next spring (date to be confirmed). The five bottles, spanning each release from 1993 to 2016, will be presented in a bespoke ‘Archive Cabinet’ made by the craftsman John Galvin and have a pre-sale estimate of £400,000. The first release of the Black Bowmore was in 1993 when it was 29 years old, with subsequent releases over the following years, most recently, in 2016 at 50 years-old. The spirit, which was distilled in 1964 and aged in ex-Oloroso sherry casks, was initially sold for £100 a bottle but has gone on to become one of the most collectable whiskies in the world, with bottles now going for many thousands of pounds each. “Its value has increased exponentially over the years, which can be attributed to its undeniable quality and, now that so many bottles have been consumed, its newfound rarity,” said Johnny Fowle, Sotheby’s spirits specialist and now something of a Nightcap regular. “We are thrilled to partner with Bowmore for this landmark offering in the world of collectable whisky.” David Turner, Bowmore distillery manager, added: “Black Bowmore truly is the jewel in our crown and it takes its rightful place in the distillery’s history for firmly putting Bowmore on the map as an iconic, collectable whisky.” The winning bidder will also receive an invitation to the Bowmore distillery for a tasting of other old and rare malts, while the proceeds of the sale will be donated to an Islay-based charity.

The Nightcap

Organic: Gaia 1.1 will be available from MoM Towers soon

Waterford launches Ireland’s first certified organic whiskey

Given that it’s Ireland’s most barley-forward, terroir-driven distiller, it was no surprise to learn this week that Waterford Distillery will launch the country’s first certified organic single malt whisky: Organic: Gaia 1.1. It’s the first part of the brand’s new Arcadian Series, a provenance-driven range of Irish whiskies made from organic, biodynamic and heritage grains, which the brand says “celebrates radical barley growers and alternative farming philosophies”. Organic: Gaia 1.1, which takes its name from the Greek goddess symbol of the Earth, was distilled in 2016 from 100% organic Irish barley grown by six farmers before it was matured in a combination of first-fill US oak (42%), virgin US oak (17%), premium French oak (23%) and Vin Doux Naturel sweet fortified wine casks (18%) and bottled at 50% ABV without any additional colouring or chill-filtration. “At Waterford, we have placed barley – where and how it is grown – at the heart of what we do, curious about where the real whisky flavour may be found,” says Waterford Distillery founder and CEO Mark Reynier. “A natural progression of this philosophy is to see what not only single farm origins can accomplish but what organically grown barley can do when it is given the right platform. We’re not playing at it; we lay down 400 to 600 casks of organic spirit a year, we buy all the Irish grown organic malting barley that can get our hands-on. Waterford Organic will be a main player in our ongoing portfolio for the discerning whisky drinker.” Organic: Gaia 1.1 will be available from MoM Towers soon, so keep an eye out on the New Arrivals page.

The Nightcap

The charming little bird has teamed up with some of the biggest names in rugby.

Famous Grouse renews commitment to rugby union 

It’s fair to say that Britain’s top whisky brand Famous Grouse is pretty committed to rugby. This week it launched a new Spirit of Rugby campaign and announced that it will be the official whisky of the Premiership Rugby for the next three years. The Edrington brand will also sponsor both the British and Irish Lions and the South African team for the forthcoming Lions tour of South Africa. But that’s not all! On top of all that, the brand has announced another three-year partnership with Glasgow Warriors. Aristotelis Baroutsis, Famous Grouse’s global managing director, commented: “The Famous Grouse has been investing in the sport of rugby for the past 30 years, and we are very proud to have reaffirmed our commitment to this great game by agreeing these three exciting new partnerships at both international and club level to celebrate The Famous Grouse as The Spirit of Rugby.” Mark Brittain, chief commercial officer at Premiership Rugby, added: “We’re delighted to welcome The Famous Grouse on board as the official whisky of Premiership Rugby for the next three seasons. It’s fantastic that The Famous Grouse has shown a commitment to Premiership Rugby during these times and is a testament to the growing strength of the competition within the U.K. sporting landscape. The Famous Grouse has a proud track record of developing strong relationships with rugby fans as a result of decades of involvement in this great sport. We’re excited to work with the brand to engage with supporters throughout the season.” Cheers to that!

The Nightcap

Want to hear Alexander McCall Smith do what we does best? Then be sure to tune in!

The Malt Whisky Trail teams up with Book Week Scotland

The Malt Whisky Trail announced this week that it will virtually welcome esteemed author Alexander McCall Smith during Book Week Scotland when he collaborates with The Glenlivet Distillery in Speyside (one of the nine iconic whisky sites that make up the trail) next week. The author of No.1 Ladies’ Detective Agency, the 44 Scotland Street series and more will narrate stories and poetry from his home in Edinburgh in a live stream hosted on The Malt Whisky Trail Instagram channel on 17 November at 1pm (GMT). With a warming Glenlivet dram in hand, McCall Smith will also treat viewers to a special treat in the form of a poem from his new collection, In a Time of Distance. “Visiting The Malt Whisky Trail is a marvellous way for visitors to Scotland, as well as Scots themselves, to discover a part of the country rich in historical associations. Whisky and storytelling in Scotland have more than a passing acquaintanceship,” says McCall Smith. “Book Week Scotland and the Malt Whisky Trail are natural partners, and I am really looking forward to being a part of this.” The Malt Whisky Trail prides itself on taking visitors on a journey to discover the best of whisky country including its landscape, larder, stories, and whisky has partnered with Book Week Scotland which takes place Monday 16 to Sunday 22 November. A full list of 2020’s programme can be found here and you can pick up McCall Smith’s latest works at independent bookstore The Bookmark in Grantown-on-Spey.

The Nightcap

Look, the tasty cocktails in store if you take part!

Take part in a virtual Christmas party in aid of the Drinks Trust

Well, it looks like the annual Christmas party won’t be happening this year. There will be no partying responsibly long into the night before ending up in a karaoke bar with your tie around your head belting out ‘I Will Survive’ like every word is deeply significant. Or perhaps that’s just us. But never fear, because those clever cats at the Liana Cocktail Co. have the answer. On 1 December between 6-7.30pm, you can take part in a virtual Christmas cocktail party. Register and purchase here and for only £19.99 you will receive a box of delicious cocktails made by experts with the finest ingredients known to humanity and details of how to attend the party. Best of all, for every ticket sold, LCC will donate £1 to the Drinks Trust; not only will you have fun, but you’ll be doing some good too. So dig out your tackiest reindeer jumper, round up your friends and take part in a virtual Christmas party. And if you’re feeling tired and emotional at the end, no one is going to stop you from putting on Gloria Gaynor. You will survive!

 

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A post shared by Gemma Collins (@gemmacollins)

And finally… TOWIE star gets her very own gin, probably

It’s a case of ‘move over George Clooney’ and ‘Ryan Reynolds, who he?’, because we’ve heard rumours that a proper celeb is about to launch her own drinks brand*. Yes, the word on the street is that Gemma Collins, star of The Only Way is Essex, Dancing on Ice and I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out of here! will be releasing her own gin in the near future. The most famous person to come out of Romford, after Richard Madeley, may soon be in the distilling business. ‘The GC’ is currently on a mission to reach number one on the music chart with a Christmas charity cover single, proving what a renaissance lady she is. We don’t have many details about the rumoured gin yet, but seeing as Collins is usually pictured in pink, we reckon it is likely to have a pinkish hue. When we know more, we’ll let you know. These babies are likely to fly out the door.

* The rumours were true. More information about the gin liqueur here.

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Johnnie Walker film: ‘The Man Who Walked the World’

There’s a Johnnie Walker film called The Man Who Walked the World coming out today, 12 November, and we were fortunate enough to get a sneak preview and talk to some…

There’s a Johnnie Walker film called The Man Who Walked the World coming out today, 12 November, and we were fortunate enough to get a sneak preview and talk to some of the people behind it. Here’s what we thought.

As you might have noticed from the release of fancy new whiskies, the revamping of distilleries and the publication of a splendid biography, it’s the 200th anniversary of the Johnnie Walker brand. Now, there’s a film too. We can’t wait for the video game. But back to the documentary: it’s called The Man Who Walked the World and it’s directed by award-winning filmmaker Anthony Wonke for independent production company Something Originals and Partizan films. It features a mixture of whisky types including Dr Nick Morgan and Alice Lascelles with celebrities like Cappadonna from the Wu-Tang Clan, and people who are a bit of both like actress and brand ambassador Sophia Bush. There’s also some top cultural commentary from Jason Solomons, John Hegarty and Ekow Eshun.

Cappadonna from the Wu-Tang Clan is a fan of Johnnie Walker

We were fortunate enough not only to see the film but, as part of the Edinburgh International Film Festival, listen to a discussion featuring some of the film’s participants. Though sadly not, from none more black heavy metal band The Black Label Society, who tried and failed to get endorsement from Johnnie Walker whisky. What’s amazing about The Man Who Walked the World was that it was made during the pandemic so the director Anthony Wonke couldn’t travel. He had to shoot the whole thing remotely using local film crews. Not so easy as the film travels from Baghdad to Brazil and had to be made as different countries were locking down.

The documentary is a race through the history of the whisky from its beginnings in Kilmarnock to becoming the world’s number one whisky brand. Wonke takes a global perspective looking at what Johnnie Walker means to different cultures and individuals. There’s a lot to cram in, too much really for a 45 minute film. At times it had the feel of a trailer for a longer, more satisfying film, But then, it’s not really aimed at hardcore whisky fans. Those looking for the full history should read Morgan’s book.

As the Wonke said during the press conference, after watching the film the audience should “feel like they’ve had a couple of shots of Johnnie Walker”. I certainly felt a little like that after viewing it though that might have had something to do with the Black Label Highball I was sipping at the time. 

1950s Johnnie Walker billboard advert

Here are five things we learned from the film:

Johnnie Walker fits in everywhere

Johnnie Walker has the ability to “walk with kings and not lose the common touch” as Alice Lascelles put it quoting Kipling. From the trans community of Burma to protest movements in Brazil; from your local cornershop to the swankiest bar in Dubai, Johnnie Walker is at home everywhere. 

Johnnie Walker was into diversity before it was popular

The brand was running aspirational adverts with black Americans enjoying Johnnie Walker back in the 1950s and ’60s (see above). There was no message beyond saying that Johnnie Walker is for everyone. Quietly powerful.

Johnnie Walker’s big birthdays tend to be in interesting times

It’s eerie how the brand’s 200th anniversary echoes its 100th which took place at a time when people were reeling from the first world war followed by the global flu pandemic. He does pick his moments, does Johnnie. 

Johnnie Walker is a global currency

One of the best bits in the film was an interview with an American intelligence officer working in Iraq who said that meetings with Iraqi politicians could not begin until there was a bottle of Johnnie Walker Blue Label on the table.

Johnnie Walker was an Indian film star

An Indian actor called Badruddin Jamaluddin Kazi (1926-2003) who changed his name to Johnnie Walker. He was famous for playing drunks though as an observant Muslim he never touched a drop. His son features in The Man Who Walked Around the World.

The film will be broadcast on Discovery’s portfolio of brands and services from 12 November. For more information visit https://themanwho.film

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Win big with our #MissedMoment competition!

Do you want to win some amazing prizes to lift your spirits and make the most of the new lockdown? Good. Because we’ve got just the thing for you. We’ve…

Do you want to win some amazing prizes to lift your spirits and make the most of the new lockdown? Good. Because we’ve got just the thing for you.

We’ve missed out on a lot this year. The coronavirus pandemic has cancelled many things, with travel, festivals, shows, events and more having to be shut down due to lockdowns and quarantines. We’ll never take having a drink with our mates or popping to the shops whenever we want for granted again.

We never need an excuse to put a smile on your face and give you something to look forward to, but now that we’re in a new lockdown this seems as good a time as any to give away some delicious drinks. Which is why we’ve put together our #MissedMoment competition, right in time for the festive season. You probably have questions, so allow us to answer them.

What is this competition all about?

We’re encouraging you to share with us a moment you missed this year that you would like to recreate. It can be anything you like. If it means something to you and you feel like you lost an opportunity, then we want to hear from you. We’ll then spoil one lucky person with plenty of boozy goodies to lift their spirits.

#MissedMoment competition

Fancy sampling your way through some of the most delicious gins around?

What do I win?

The following amazing prizes:

  • The choice of either a premium gin, rum or whisky (Pour & Sip’s December 2020 box) tasting set.
  • Entry to a private virtual tasting for up to 30 people (from different households!)

How do I enter?

It’s so simple, Just follow these steps:

  1. Like this post.
  2. Follow @masterofmalt, @pourandsip and @drinksbythedram 
  3. Comment with the moment you missed and would like to recreate on the competition post.
#MissedMoment competition

We’ve collaborated with Drinks by the Dram and Pour & Sip to offer you the finest prizes

We look forward to hearing your answers and announcing a winner soon (keep your eyes out on the MoM blog for that). Good luck, everyone!

MoM #MissedMoment Competition 2020 open to entrants 18 years and over. Entries accepted from 12th November to 19th November 2020. Winners chosen at random after close of competition. Prizes not transferable and cannot be exchanged for cash equivalent. See full T&Cs for details.

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