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Master of Malt Blog

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Cocktail of the Week: The Americano

This week’s cocktail unites two of Italy’s great aperitifs, Campari and Martini Rosso, in one glass. It’s the Americano! The Americano used to be called the Milano-Torino because it contained…

This week’s cocktail unites two of Italy’s great aperitifs, Campari and Martini Rosso, in one glass. It’s the Americano!

The Americano used to be called the Milano-Torino because it contained Campari from Milan and Martini Rosso vermouth from Turin. It was originally served at the Milan bar belonging to the creator of Campari, Gaspare Campari. The name changed when American tourists arrived in Italy in the 1920s. They were escaping Prohibition and with the strong dollar, continental Europe was their playground. It’s the decadent generation immortalised in the novels of Ernest Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald.

And what did these louche Americans drink when they were in Italy splashing their cash around and upsetting the locals with their loose morals, hot jazz and enormous baggy trousers? Why, Campari and Martini, of course, with a splash of soda. Due to its ubiquity amongst expat Americans, the drink became known as an Americano. A similar thing happened with coffee. Espresso was a little too strong for the tourists so they asked for it diluted with hot water, the Americano coffee was born.

Americans were still causing trouble in the 1950s. There’s a song about their influence on Italian youth by Neapolitan musician Renato Carosone called Tu ‘Vuò Fà L’Americano’. You might recall it from the 1999 adaptation of Patricia Highsmith’s novel, The Talented Mr Ripley (the film has its moments but the book is brilliant. If you haven’t read it, you’re in for a treat). Carosone’s song is about an Italian boy trying to ape American fashions: smoking Camel cigarettes, dancing to rock n’ roll and playing baseball (though he drinks Whisky and Sodas, not Americanos). Despite his modish veneer, this wannabe Italian is still living off his parents. 

But it’s not just Americans and Italians who fell for the charms of the Americano. It crops up in Ian Fleming’s short story ‘From a View to a Kill’ where Bond recommends drinking it in hot weather where one of his more usual drinks like a vodka Martini would be too strong. It’s a great drink for when you really want a Negroni but plan to get some work done/ bump off a Smersh agent in the afternoon.

It’s one of those cocktails that requires very little thought. You could experiment with other amari but I’m keeping it traditional with Campari. Then for the vermouth, well, it really has to be Martini. I’m using Martini Riserva Speciale Rubino which is made with red wines from Piedmont, the flavour is more floral and complex than the classic Martini Rosso. 

Right, that’s enough preamble, it’s time to put on some appropriate music and let’s make an Americano!

35ml Campari
35ml Martini Rubino Riserva Speciale Rosso vermouth
Soda water

Fill a highball or tumbler with ice, add the Campari and Martini and give it a good stir. Top up with soda, stir gently and garnish with an orange slice.

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Brand new boozes!

There’s nothing quite like treating yourself to a bottle of something new, regardless of what you already have sitting at home. So indulge yourself with these recently released expressions… It…

There’s nothing quite like treating yourself to a bottle of something new, regardless of what you already have sitting at home. So indulge yourself with these recently released expressions…

It can be hard to keep up with the world of booze. It seems like every day there’s a different bottling launched on the market. It’s not easy to find the time to filter through all of the choices to find the perfect expression for you. That’s where we can help, by rounding-up some of the most delightful new drinks to arrive at MoM Towers.

Whether your drink selection looks like it could use a bit of a refresh, you want to broaden your horizons, or you just can’t help yourself and you want to buy some shiny new booze (we can relate), then this blog is the place for you.

1770 Peated – Release No.1

The Glasgow Distillery Company has released what it claims to be the city’s first peated whisky, made using heather-rich peat from the Highlands. The peated variant of its 1770 single malt was matured in first-fill ex-sherry casks, then finished in virgin oak casks. It’s historically significant and very tasty.

What does it taste like?

Zesty orange, toasty oak, burnt sugar, dried fruit richness, earthy peat and a hint of quince, juxtaposed by wafts of floral smoke.

Campfire Old Tom Gin

If you’ve got something a sweet tooth then an Old Tom gin might just be the thing for you. This expression is from the Puddingstone Distillery and it’s a variation of its original Campfire Gin that gets it extra sweetness from angelica root, lemon peel, cardamom and cinnamon. Traditionally Old Tom gins are sweetened with sugar or honey, so this is an interesting point of difference. Oh, and the great grandfather of the founder of the distillery was known to his friends as ‘Old Tom’. Which we think is neat.

What does it taste like?

Warming and sweet spices, with an undertone of piney juniper, fresh citrus notes and a sweet, creamy finish.

Mackmyra Vintersol 2019

Mackmyra’s seasonal release always proves popular and this expression should prove no exception. Vintersol (which translates to ‘Winter Sun’) 2019 was created in collaboration with the Port wine producer Quinta Do Vallado, who provided the Swedish whisky-makers with ex-port casks to add a rich and fruity dimension to the otherwise creamy whisky.

What does it taste like?

Oaky vanilla, liquorice, grape skins, custard creams, pear tart, fruitcake, tinned pear, vanilla custard, gingerbread and lots of dried fruit, with a subtle note of pine.

QuiQuiRiQui Tobalá

If you haven’t tried mezcal yet, you’re missing out. Let’s rectify the situation with a Joven mezcal that established lovers of the Mexican spirit will also appreciate from QuiQuiRiQui. Made from wild Tobalá agave, which is smaller than other varieties and takes around 10 or 15 years to grow to maturity, this is a complex and intriguing tipple. Production of this expression is also limited to ensure sustainable farming and protect the species.

What does it taste like?

Tropical notes of creamy coconut, tangy pineapple and corn on the cob (with a lot of butter), with a clean, grassy finish and gentle smoke lingering.

Octomore 10.1 5 Year Old

Perhaps the most accessible Octomore released to date, the first expression in Bruichladdich’s Octomore 10 series was created to explore “a different realm of ‘softer smoke’”. It’s peated to 107PPM, so those who like it smoky will still get a kick out of it, but it should prove less intimidating for those who want to start exploring the peatier side of things without smoking themselves out. Octomore 10.1 was aged for 5 years in a selection of first-fill American whiskey casks (Jim Beam, Heaven Hill, Buffalo Trace and Jack Daniel’s).

What does it taste like?

Bright stone fruit sweetness, salty smoke, toasted sugar, charred oak, dried earth, waxy peels, salted caramel, tangy mango, peach and fiery peat.

LoneWolf Cloudy Lemon Gin

Citrus-forward gins will always prove popular, so it’s a safe bet to say that you won’t regret indulging in this tangy variation of BrewDog’s LoneWolf Gin. That cloudy lemon profile is achieved by allowing the original recipe gin (which features punchy botanicals along the lines of Scots pine, lavender, fresh grapefruit peel, and more) to macerate with fresh Sicilian lemon peels for seven days.

What does it taste like?

Clearly lemon notes appear at the fore, but the spicy gin at its core is certainly no slouch, packing heavy notes of juniper and spice.

The ONE Signature Blend

The Lakes Distillery just keeps churning out great whisky, and this blend is just another example. The ONE Signature Blend features its very own single malt distilled in the Lake District at its core, which is then blended with Scotch single grain, and malt whiskies from the Highlands, Speyside, and Islay. It’s subtly smoky and delightful mixed or neat.

What does it taste like?

Toasted sugar, upside-down cake, honeysuckle, caramel, citrus, smoky spices, toasted oak, stem ginger, nutty malt, orange boiled sweets, cedar and menthol.

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New Arrival of the Week: Teeling Single Pot Still

Our New Arrival of the Week, Teeling Single Pot Still, is one for the history books – the first Dublin-distilled whiskey to come out of the city in nearly 50…

Our New Arrival of the Week, Teeling Single Pot Still, is one for the history books – the first Dublin-distilled whiskey to come out of the city in nearly 50 years (and be on sale in the UK).

Whiskey lovers and dram fans, we invite you to cast your mind back to October 2018. All being said, it was a pretty memorable month. Banksy shredded his £1 million artwork at auction in front of hundreds of onlookers, astronomers discovered the first moon outside of our solar system, and the world’s oldest intact shipwreck was found at the bottom of the Black sea. 

But far more memorable for us (sorry, ancient shipwreck) were the moves made within the drinks sphere. In Ireland, the Teeling Whiskey Distillery released its very first commercial whiskey, Teeling Single Pot Still. Being the first Dublin-distilled dram to hit shelves for almost 50 years, it marked the beginning of a bright new chapter for the city, which was, at one time, at the forefront of the golden era for Irish whiskey.

Now one of Dublin’s top visitor attractions, the magnificent Teeling Distillery!

The very first bottle from Batch One made history the month prior, when it sold for a whopping £10,000 at auction, breaking a world record for the most expensive bottle of whiskey sold from a new distillery, with the proceeds donated to local charities. Last year, the arrival of Teeling Single Pot Still – released in three batches – was a landmark occasion for Ireland’s whiskey industry. Now it’s a landmark occasion for the UK, as the final resulting liquid reaches our shores for the very first time. 

In homage to Dublin’s historic distillers, Teeling Single Pot Still is made from a traditional mash bill of 50% unmalted barley and 50% malted barley. The heritage, however, ends there. “We dialled up the innovation by making a fruit-forward distillate – the wash going into the stills is quite fruity because we use our own bespoke yeast,” explains Stephen Teeling, co-founder of Teeling Whiskey Distillery. The new-make has then been matured “50% in ex first-fill bourbon casks, 25% in virgin American oak, and the last 25% in sherry casks.”

The next step, he continues, is to make a case for single pot still as a modern Irish whiskey category. “Our Single Pot Still isn’t trying to be a Redbreast imitation,” Teeling says. “It’s a Dublin Pot Still whiskey for our generation – something we feel reflects the DNA of Teeling Whiskey. “Because [Redbreast] has been the only real Single Pot Still out there, because nobody’s been challenging it, everyone just expects a Redbreast 2.0. We wanted to do something different.”

Teeling Single Pot Still whiskey is here

So, what can you expect flavour-wise from Pot Still liquid? Robust, spicy flavours akin to a rye whiskey, Teeling says – away from the mellow, sweet, easy-drinking flavours Irish whiskey is synonymous with. “That’s what Pot Still is all about, it’s a big spice ball,” he explains, “when you taste it side-by-side with [Teeling Single Grain] or [Teeling Small Batch], it is very different, and that’s exactly what we wanted.”

You’d forgive the team for resting on their laurels in the wake of such a momentous launch, but it isn’t the Teeling way. “Someone said to me the other day, ‘Oh my god, you’re going to be five years making whiskey in January’, and I thought, ‘Wow’ – just looking back on it, so much has happened, it’s all a bit fast and furious,” he says. “We’ve got a good bit of momentum behind our premium and super-premium products – our 24 Year Old won World’s Best Single Malt in March, which was a great accolade. This year we had a pretty ambitious target to sell a million bottles globally, and we look on track to do that.”

Over the last five years Teeling Whiskey has welcomed half a million people through its distillery doors, a number that will surely rise year-on-year after the Irish government awarded the site a €200,000 grant to further develop its existing facilities. “We’re always looking at ways we can bring things to life in the distillery,” explains Teeling, who will use the funds to introduce a warehousing experience to the Liberties-based site this coming winter – giving visitors the opportunity to get to grips with the ageing process through cask sampling and live maturation.

When it comes to liquid plans, a few single malt projects – including a certain peated number – are in the pipeline. A follow-up to The Revival series, aptly titled The Renaissance, will hit shelves, beginning with an 18-year-old single malt finished in a former Madeira cask. All being said, 2020 looks set to be a sterling year for both Teeling Whiskey and the wider Irish whiskey category. “We’re at the stage where we have our own whiskey, we have a pipeline of innovations, and we’ve very, very good partners,” Teeling says, “we’re excited to keep pushing the bar up and driving things forward.”

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Cocktail of the Week: The Irish Coffee

Now that the nights are drawing in, and summer is a distant memory, it’s time to get out those woolen socks, fire up your wood-burning stove and make some Irish…

Now that the nights are drawing in, and summer is a distant memory, it’s time to get out those woolen socks, fire up your wood-burning stove and make some Irish Coffee. John Quinn from Tullamore DEW is on hand to explain everything.

It would be hard to think of a more incongruous setting for a talk on Irish Coffee. We were by a swimming pool in a villa in the hills above the Catalan resort of Sitges. It was May and the temperature was already in the high 20s (degrees centigrade). Oh, and almost everyone had had very little sleep. This didn’t deter John Quinn, brand ambassador for Tullamore DEW, who gave us an amusing history of the drink, and then, naturally, served up the hot, boozy, creamy concoction.

We were there for the annual conference of the European Bartenders School (EBS). Quinn is something of a legend in Irish whiskey. Indeed he was greeted by the team from EBS with great reverence. He’s been with Tullamore DEW since 1974 and in December was voted vice chair of the Irish Whiskey Association. 

John Quinn

John Quinn, on brand since 1974

Before showing us how to make the perfect Irish Coffee, Quinn admitted that he had a bit of an ambivalent relationship with the drink because until recently many bars only kept Irish whiskey for this purpose. But at the same time, he noted how important Irish Coffee was in the survival of Irish whiskey during the dark times. Its popularity meant that (nearly) every bar and restaurant in the world had to have a bottle of Jameson or Tullamore for when the inevitable call for a postprandial boozy coffee came in.

Interestingly, according to Quinn, the drinks creator, Joe Sheridan, also got a bit sick of his creation. Quinn’s version of the story goes a bit like this: some time in the 1950s a planeload of Americans had to land at Foynes Airport in the west of Ireland (in some versions it’s Shannon). It was freezing cold so the bartender there, Sheridan, made some coffee with whiskey and cream to warm up the stranded passengers. A classic was born. Then an unlikely-monikered American journalist called Stanton Delaplane tried Sheridan’s invention, and brought it back to the Buena Vista Cafe in San Francisco where it became the house speciality. Sheridan later emigrated to America and worked at the Buena Vista but quickly became bored with having to make his creation all day every day; he left after three months and was never heard from again. Nevertheless, the Irish coffee proved a lifeline to the Irish whiskey industry which was struggling at the time.

As you’d expect from such a ubiquitous drink, it’s often made very badly with stale or even instant coffee, and aerosol cream. To make it properly, always use freshly-brewed coffee, from a cafetiere or filter, and proper whipped cream. And then which whiskey to use? Well, Quinn used Tullamore DEW obviously but any smooth, sweet Irish whiskey will do – like Jameson, Powers or Black Bush. Under the burning Catalan, it tasted damn good.

Irish Coffee

Irish Coffee, tastes even better served with denim napkins

Here’s our recipe:

50ml Tullamore DEW Irish whiskey
150ml freshly-brewed hot coffee
Two tablespoons of lightly-whipped double cream
1 teaspoon brown sugar (optional)

First whip your cream, not too thick because you want to pour it so that it settles on top of the coffee. In a large toddy glass add the whisky, the coffee (and sugar if you’re using it) and stir. Warm the cream very gently and then pour it over the bowl of the spoon into the coffee. You can garnish with some chocolate flakes or a grating of nutmeg. Serve immediately. 

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Grab an incredible deal on these Gin Twins!

Gin stash looking a little bit sad? Fret not! We’ve got buy one, get one half price deals on some incredible bottles in our Autumn Gin Sale Extravaganza! The best…

Gin stash looking a little bit sad? Fret not! We’ve got buy one, get one half price deals on some incredible bottles in our Autumn Gin Sale Extravaganza! The best way to spruce up the drinks cabinet this autumn.

Picture the scene: You’ve got a pal come over for the evening. It might be to catch up on the rugby, or for dinner, or just for a bit of a gossip. You offer them a drink and they plump for a G&T. Great! You think. Until you wander to the gin shelf only to find dregs across the collection. It’s a sad time, indeed. 

But if it’s a familiar scene, fear not! We’ve got your back. To mark the changing of the season (hello autumn, in all your technicolor, crunchy-leafed wonder) we’ve sorted out some really rather tasty deals on some of our very favourite gins. Buy one, get another of the same bottle for half price bundle deals! It’s truly easy peasy. You get to restock your gin collection, or bag a perfect gift (with one in reserve for you, obvs), or get set for a seasonal soiree (Halloween’s just around the corner, you know). 

Here’s a sneak peek of what we’ve got in store for you. Check out our Gin Twins Sale Page for the full shebang, but right here, we’ve got a selection of our favourite deals to give you a taste. 

So have a peruse, snap up a bargain, and enjoy!

Gin Sale

Bombay Sapphire English Estate

Know the classic Bombay Sapphire? This is a reimagined version, developed to capture the tastes and aromas of the countryside surrounding the brand’s Laverstoke Mill Distillery in Hampshire. Plus, the botanical recipe is boosted with three newbies: pennyroyal mint, rosehip and toasted hazelnut. If you’re in denial about the end of summer, this gin will help keep the sunny-day spirit flowing. 

Gin Sale

Mermaid Gin

Hailing from the Isle of Wight, Mermaid Gin is not only delicious (rock samphire and Boadicea hops shine from among the botanicals), it looks STUNNING, too. It’s not just the perfect pressie, it’ll make your gin collection shelfie pop. Why not try it in a Bramble for an autumnal twist? Shake 50ml with 12ml lemon juice and 12ml gomme syrup, pour over ice in a rocks glass, top with some creme de mure, stir and serve with some tasty blackberries.

Gin Sale

Roku Gin

A Japanese gin that celebrates the shifting of the seasons while looking thoroughly beautiful! What more could you ask for this time of year? Its botanical recipe includes six local stars (sakura leaf, sakura flower, sencha tea, gyokuro tea, sansho pepper and yuzu peel), each one depicted on a different side of the embossed, multifaceted bottle. It’s a slightly earthier gin, and we’re big fans at MoM Towers.

Gin Sale

Bathtub Gin

Fancy trying something a little different? This cold-compounded gin sees juniper, orange peel, coriander, cassia, cloves and cardamom-infused into copper-pot still spirit over a week or so (the actual time depends on the season – it’s sampled periodically by actual humans). It’s deliciously bold but still elegant, and it has a characteristic light tint from the infusion process, too. 

Gin Sale

Dingle Original Gin

Behold: A juniper-based delight from Ireland! Dingle is made with locally-foraged botanicals, including the likes of bog myrtle, heather and hawthorn, transporting every sipper to the glorious Kerry landscape that the distillery calls home. It’s also highly regarded – only went and nabbed World’s Best Gin at the World Gin Awards 2019! Top stuff right here. 

Gin Sale

Sharish Blue Magic Gin

Don’t believe in magic? Well, you should now. This bright blue Portuguese gin turns pink before your very eyes when you add tonic! It’s all down to extracts from a flower known as blue pea – but we’d prefer to believe there’s some kind of weird sorcery going on. Aside from all the chameleon activity, it’s mighty tasty, too! Ideal for impressing pals at a dinner party. 

But that’s not all – this is just a slice of the action. Head on over to the Gin Twins sale page now to check out the entire spectrum of tastiness on offer. Buy one bottle, and pick up a second for half the price! We are good to you.

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New Arrival of  the Week: The English – Triple Distilled

This week we’re talking a closer look at the latest release from the pioneers of English whisky, St. George’s Distillery in Norfolk, which, as you might guess from the name,…

This week we’re talking a closer look at the latest release from the pioneers of English whisky, St. George’s Distillery in Norfolk, which, as you might guess from the name, is triple-distilled.

It now seems difficult to believe but when the St. George’s Distillery, home of the English Whisky Company, opened its door in 2006 (its first release was in 2009), a whisky from England of all places was a novelty. Its founder, farmer James Nelstrop now looks like something of a visionary as English whisky has become a respected and rapidly-expanding category. Nelstrop senior died in 2014 but the business is still in family hands. I spoke with James’s son Andrew Nelstrop about the latest limited edition release.

It’s a bit unusual, a triple-distilled single malt. “When you open a distillery you write a list of whiskies you like, and those you don’t like, and then off you go”, Nelstrop told me. And on the like list was a traditional Irish triple-distilled malt, like Bushmills. So for the past 12 years the distillery has been doing runs of triple-distilled spirit. “We liked the results, put it in cask and wait a few years. It’s a delicate and light whisky, unusual for us, for people who like their Irish whiskey”, Nelstrop said. With such a delicate spirit, they had to be careful with the oak treatment: “it’s a mixture of first and second-fill bourbon casks, a good fit for triple-distilled, though lots of people said, ‘put it in sherry!’” The casks were filled in 2011 and the whisky bottled at 46% ABV earlier this year.

The full English!

This is the first time the family have released a triple-distilled whisky. It’s part of the distillery’s small batch range only, 1462 bottles have been filled. For these special whiskies, according Nelstrop, they “pick three or four casks. We try to pick them from all the same year though if we have to mix a year or two up we will. The joy of small batch is it’s different every time.”  The next small batch in the pipeline sounds very interesting, a peated malt aged in virgin oak casks called Virgin Smokey. The distillery also offer two or three single cask bottlings but these often sell out without a public launch such is the demand.

Overall St. George’s distills around 60,000 litres of pure alcohol per year. “We could if were were feeling terribly enthusiastic put out 250,000 litres,” Nelstrop said. “When you start you go flat out. Now at 14 years old, we’re matching sales to production otherwise you’re building a warehouse every year.”

He seems delighted at how English whisky has a category has taken off in the last ten years: “I don’t know if we expected it, father loved whiskey and always wanted to open a distillery. It was only when Adnams joined the fray five years later and then you hear that someone else has a go, and realise that there is going to be a category. Creating the category is terribly important. We are beginning to justify our own space in a shop or on a website. The rest of the world has become more aware of non-traditional whisky nations. You can ask for a Swedish, English, or Australian whisky in a bar. That’s been a massive sea change in ten years.”

As well as small batches and single casks, the distillery has a core range of single malts, pot-distilled single grains and a spicy Norfolk Malt ‘n’ Rye (with a cat on the label – why don’t more distilleries put cats on the label?). The Nelstrop are farmers but at the moment all the cereals in their commercial whiskies are bought-in, mainly from Crisp Malting. But, Winthrop told me, “we have barley from our own farm, all done on in-house floor malting. It’s expensive and hard work. We have our own whisky maturing, we’ve never sold any yet. When we release an age statement whisky then it’ll be estate whisky, as I call it.” That sounds worth waiting for.  

Tasting Note by The Chaps at Master of Malt:

Nose: Orange marmalade, chocolate sponge cake with vanilla custard, notes of anise and condensed milk.

Palate: Another helping of vanilla custard, with butterscotch, lemon drizzle cake, bitter dark chocolate and honeyed pastry.

Finish: Buttery toffee and liquorice on the finish.

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London Cocktail Week: 10 things to look out for

We’ve rounded up some of the standout events from the upcoming London Cocktail Week (4-14 October) so you can focus your energy on enjoying its many delightful boozy offerings. What…

We’ve rounded up some of the standout events from the upcoming London Cocktail Week (4-14 October) so you can focus your energy on enjoying its many delightful boozy offerings.

What was already one of the biggest dates in the drinks industry calendar is even bigger this year. London Cocktail Week has returned and has chosen to mark its 10th anniversary by broadening its showcase of the capital’s best bars, mixologists and drinks with an extended ten-day celebration. Because what’s better than a week of cocktails? Ten days of cocktails, that’s what.

Ten years already. Where does the time go? It’s been quite the journey since DrinkUp.London’s Hannah Sharman-Cox and Siobhan Payne founded LCW (as we in the ‘biz’ call it) as a pop-up in Selfridge’s to showcase London’s cocktail scene in 2010. Great oaks from little acorns grow: there are now over 300 bars taking part, tons of quirky pop-ups making temporary homes across London, and endless masterclasses where you can improve your shaking and stirring skills. There’s even a cocktail-meets-doughnut van courtesy of Maker’s Mark and Crosstown Doughnuts, for goodness sake.

As such, many of you will be looking forward to making yourself at home in the Cocktail Village at the Old Truman Brewery, Brick Lane between 4-14 October. But, you also might be feeling slightly overwhelmed by the significant number of events on offer. That’s why we’re here to offer a helping hand by highlighting some of the most intriguing, exciting and engaging opportunities London Cocktail Week has presented for 2019.

London Cocktail Week: the events

Ten options are listed below, but before we start it’s worth noting that you will need to purchase your £10 festival pass and download the DrinkUp.London app to activate it to enjoy London Cocktail Week. This will give you access to £6 drink deals at participating bars as well as entry to the Cocktail Village, so even if you don’t have the chance to make it to the good times below, there’s still plenty to be had all around this fair capital city of ours.

Now, let’s check out some events!

London Cocktail Week

All kinds of whisky-based shenanigans are to be expected

The Whisky House take over at Black Rock

Where?: Black Rock Tavern, 9 Christopher Street, London, EC2A 2BS

When?: Friday 4 October to Saturday 12 October

What’s it all about?: The fabulous Black Rock Tavern hosts brands like Bulleit Frontier Whiskey, Talisker, Copper Dog, Johnnie Walker and Roe & Co for a series of amazing events. The blend of pop-up whisky takeovers, experiences and late-night DJs across nine days will take place within the newly furbished first floor Blending Room and ground floor Tavern at East London’s specialist whisky bar.

Why would I like this, Adam?: There’s endless whisky-based fun to be had and a 185-year old interactive cocktail ageing tree trunk. Yes, you read that right.

London Cocktail Week

An award-winning G&T in a sauna? We’re in.

Kyrö Gin Sauna

Where?: The Cocktail Village, 146 Brick Lane, London, E1 6RU

When?: Wednesday 9 October to Monday 14 October (Wed-Sat 12-11pm, Sun 12-7pm)

What’s it all about?: Kyrö Distillery conceived in a Finnish sauna by a group of friends with a shared love of rye. That’s the kind of back-story that deserves to be celebrated, and that’s exactly what this feature is all about! Plenty of rye gin and, yes, an actual sauna, will be present in the Cocktail Village once again this year, as well as an opportunity to blend your own gin in a gin-blending masterclass. Tickets for the blending workshops can be found here.

Why would I like this, Adam?: Because there’s a sauna involved, for goodness sake. Plus plenty of Kyrö’s award-winning G&Ts.

London Cocktail Week

Refreshment is guaranteed

That Boutique-y Gin Company’s Instant Refreshment Service

Where?: The Cocktail Village, 146 Brick Lane, London, E1 6RU.

When?: Wednesday 9 October to Sunday 13 October (Wed-Sat 12-11pm, Sun 12-7pm).

What’s it all about?: That Boutique-y Gin Company’s Instant Refreshment Service means one thing: lots of delicious and easily accessible cocktails. You can help yourself to the independent bottler’s range of Craft Cocktails via a brilliantly Boutique-y vending machine, which will also be available on draft.

Why would I like this, Adam?: That Boutique-y Gin Company has made it clear its dream is for every attendee of London Cocktail Week to be fully refreshed at all times. This is a noble goal, and it involves consuming delicious cocktails. Which is the whole point of the entire enterprise, people.

London Cocktail Week

Is this the death of the whisky tumbler? No, but it’s still lots of fun

The Glenlivet’s Capsule Collection

Where?: Tayér + Elementary, 152 Old St, London EC1V 9BW

When?: Friday 4 October from 4-6pm.

What’s it all about?: Ever had an edible cocktail capsule before? No? Well, here’s your chance. A partnership between co-owner of Tayēr + Elementary, Alex Kratena and Scotch whisky distillery The Glenlivet has resulted in this selection of glassless cocktails, which will attempt to redefine the way whisky is traditionally enjoyed. The edible capsules are 23ml in size, fully biodegradable and housed in a seaweed-extract casing courtesy capsule designers Notpla. Simply pop them in your mouth an enjoy three original cocktails inspired by the elements and flavours of The Glenlivet Founder’s Reserve: Citrus, Wood and Spice.

Why would I like this, Adam?: You get to eat cocktails. There’s no need for glass, ice or cocktail stirrers here.

London Cocktail Week

The ultimate Cointreau Margarita cocktail awaits

Alfred Cointreau at The K Bar in celebration of London Cocktail Week

Where?: The K Bar, 109 – 113 Queen’s Gate, South Kensington, London SW7 5LP.

When?: Thursday 10 October from 6-9pm.

What’s it all about?: A celebration of both the week and Cointreau’s 170th Anniversary, this event sees Alfred Cointreau (the clue is in the name) taking the reins behind the wonderful K Bar in Kensignton to mix up classic and twists on the iconic Margarita while telling the story of Cointreau.

Why would I like this, Adam?: You get to meet some drinks industry royalty and learn how to make the ultimate Cointreau Margarita cocktail.

London Cocktail Week

Go wild in the isles, folks!

Supermarket Sweep

Where?: London Cocktail Club Shoreditch, Unit 12, 29 Sclater Street, London, E1 6HR

When?: Wednesday 9 October to Sunday 13 October (3.30-9pm)

What’s it all about?: If you’re somebody who’s looking for any excuse to get their 90s game show vibe on, then London Cocktail Club Shoreditch’s pop-up is the one for you. Inside the re-creation of a miniature supermarket you’ll get an opportunity to make a cocktail from JJ Goodman’s book ‘Kitchen Cocktails’ and sample cocktail recipes made from everyday ingredients like angel delight to Coco Pops. Best of all, you can whizz around the aisles Supermarket Sweep-style. So, choose your teams, grab your basket and indulge in some nostalgia! To book your ticket you’ll need to email reservations@londoncocktailclub.co.uk.

Why would I like this, Adam?: You can channel your best Dale Winton impression while enjoying some unorthodox cocktails.

London Cocktail Week

Karaoke and cocktails is a good night by anybody’s estimation

The House of Suntory Masterclass & Cocktail Karaoke

Where?: Shochu Lounge, Roka Charlotte Street, 37 Charlotte Street, London, W1T 1RR

When?: Monday 7 October to Tuesday 8 October (6-11.30pm)

What’s it all about?: An evening of learning about Japanese culture while imbibing Suntory’s Roku Gin, Haku Vodka and Toki Whisky in the company of UK ambassador James Bowker sounds pretty great. But the Japanese distillery has turned a great night into an unforgettable one by also hosting ‘Cocktail Karaoke’. Simply you choose your base spirit (gin/vodka/whisky) and your favourite classic track then the team at Roka will create a Japanese riff on your song choice. How good does that sound? You can book your ticket here.

Why would I like this, Adam?: Two words: Cocktail. Karaoke.

London Cocktail Week

How often do you get to create your own whisky?

The Blend by Chivas Regal

Where?: Mac & Wild, 9A Devonshire Square, London, EC2M 4YN

When?: Monday 7 October to Thursday 10 October (various slots from 6.30pm)

What’s it all about?: A chance to create a whisky you can call your own should never be passed up. That’s exactly what Chivas Regal is offering at a special masterclass at Mac & Wild, Devonshire Square, to celebrate the launch of The Blend campaign. The guided tasting sessions will provide a window into the life of a master blender as you learn the history of Chivas Regal and how to make your own whisky highball twists with UK brand ambassador Phil Huckle. But best of all, you’ll leave this event 200ml of your very own whisky, blended from a combination of floral, citrus, fruity, creamy and smoky flavours. Book your ticket here.

Why would I like this, Adam?: You literally get to make a whisky of your own. What are you waiting for?

London Cocktail Week

Science is finally put to good use

The Essence House by the London Essence Company

Where?: 5 Great Newport Street, London, WC2H 7JB

When?: Thursday 3 October to Saturday 5 October (12-10pm)

What’s it all about?: If there’s one thing you want from London Cocktail Week, it’s amazing cocktails. Thanks to The London Essence Company you can do just that as it treats you to a bespoke cocktail, matched to your palate using real science by some of the world’s top bartenders. The Essence House, described as an “interactive journey of flavour discovery”, is an experience curated by Dr Rachel Edwards-Stuart, an expert in gastronomy and flavour perception, who will help you to get hands-on with botanicals, flavours and aromas over the course of a 45 minute session that includes that personal palate profiling experience and two cocktails (alcoholic and non-alcoholic options available). Tickets are available here.

Why would I like this, Adam?: You know you want tasty cocktails, and The London Essence Company know what you find tasty…

London Cocktail Week

Over the last century, the Negroni has stood the test of time

The Experimental Negroni Club

Where?: Henrietta Hotel, 14-15 Henrietta St, London, WC2E 8QG

When?: Friday 4 October to Sunday 13 October (12pm-close)

What’s it all about?: It’s been 100 years since the Negroni first entered our lives and we haven’t looked back. The Experimental Group, however, will actually be looking back to celebrate this illustrious history through the Experimental Negroni Club a partnership with Campari at the Henrietta Hotel. Vintage ingredients selected in partnership with the Old Spirit Company will ensure the recreation of cocktails served in the 50s, 60s, 70s and 80s and to make the perfect vintage Negroni, which will be accompanied by a light show created by Frankie Boyle (not the Scottish comedian, thankfully).

Why would I like this, Adam?: We love Negronis. You love Negronis. Go forth and toast its brilliance the only way how. With a Negroni.

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Cocktail of the Week: The Hemp Highball

Today, we’re talking to booze hero William Borrell, the man behind the Ladies & Gentlemen bars in London, Vestal Polish vodka and now a CBD-infused rum, Dead Man’s Fingers, the…

Today, we’re talking to booze hero William Borrell, the man behind the Ladies & Gentlemen bars in London, Vestal Polish vodka and now a CBD-infused rum, Dead Man’s Fingers, the base of this week’s cocktail.

You may have read a few things recently (here, here and here, for example) about the rise of CBD-infused spirits. CBD is an active ingredient in cannabis, not the one that gets you all confused and hungry (that’s THC, apparently), but may have some generally groovy effects. Or it might not. By law producers aren’t allowed to make any claims for general grooviness. We tried CBD rum Dead Man’s Fingers at Imbibe this year (very nice it was too though we can’t report any unusual effects), now we’re delighted to speak to the man behind it, William Borrell.

“The idea was first conceived at the Ladies and Gentlemen bar distillery and working kitchen in Camden. This is where we try new ideas during the day before the hoards of punters descend,” he told us. The process involved, according to Borrell “a lot of trial and error”. Things moved very quickly: “we had begun experimenting with the flavours you get from a basic hemp in May and then quickly moved to a range of specialist CBD hemp strains,” he said. We tried the finished version in July. It wasn’t all plain sailing though: Borrell was worried that “we would never be able to replicate the exciting flavours we stumbled on to at the beginning of the journey when it was just our team in the Ladies & Gentlemen bar but I think we got there in the end.”

William Borrell

Ladies and Gentlemen, Mr William Borrell!

Borrell has been working in the booze business for nearly ten years now. His first venture was with a series of “terroir-focused” potato Polish vodkas, Vestal. A bar followed, Ladies & Gentlemen in Kentish Town, and then earlier this year he opened a new venue down the road in Camden Town. Both are housed in converted Victorian toilets, hence the name. Don’t worry, Borrell and the team gave them a good clean first. This summer, a new non-lavatorial venture set sail, a Ladies & Gentlemen rum boat for cruisin’ n’ boozin’ on the Regent’s Canal.

Back to this week’s cocktail: the Hemp Highball, according to Borrell was inspired by “Joerg Meyer who at his highly acclaimed bars in Germany is reclaiming the Highball as the go-to drink at the moment.” And finally, the big question is which sort of music should you listen to while sipping your CBD drink. Borrell recommends: Bill Withers Live at Carnegie Hall (on vinyl, natch). He went on to tell us that at his bar, “we have a BYOV night every Sunday where customers receive a taste of Dead Man’s Fingers for free if they bring their own vinyl, why not pop down.” Why not, indeed. Or you can make a Hemp Highball at home. Here’s how:

40ml Dead Man’s Fingers Hemp Rum
20ml Giffard Triple Sec 
20ml Lime Juice
5ml sugar syrup
100ml Sekforde Rum Mixer (or tonic water if you can’t get hold of it) 

Add first four ingredients to an ice-filled Highball glass. Give them a good stir, top up with Sekforde Rum Mixer, stir again gently and garnish with a lemon wedge, a mint sprig and a basil leaf. Now take it away Bill Withers!

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Master of Malt Dram Club – October 2019

The spookiest month of the year is here, but there’s no reason for Master of Malt Dram Club members to be scared opening up their Tasting Sets – they’re full…

The spookiest month of the year is here, but there’s no reason for Master of Malt Dram Club members to be scared opening up their Tasting Sets – they’re full of tasty spirits (the liquid kind, not… Oh, forget it).

The parcel arrives on your doorstep, and you have no idea what is inside. You pick it up with trepidation and carry it inside, holding the parcel at arm’s length, as if it was dachshund-sized lobster. You place the parcel on a table and slowly begin to open it, the anticipation growing with every passing second. Finally, the last bit of packaging is removed, and you can’t help but scream. It’s… It’s… It’s some absolutely delicious drams in your latest Master of Malt Dram Club Tasting Set!

Dram Club Whisky for October:

Dram Club Premium Whisky for October:

Dram Club Old & Rare Whisky for October:

Dram Club Gin for October:

Dram Club Rum for October:

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New Arrival(s) of the Week: That Boutique-y Whisky Company X Balcones Distilling

This week, we’re tempting you with not one but three (soon to be four) extraordinary bottlings from Texas’ trailblazing Balcones Distilling, released in collaboration with our good friends at That…

This week, we’re tempting you with not one but three (soon to be four) extraordinary bottlings from Texas’ trailblazing Balcones Distilling, released in collaboration with our good friends at That Boutique-y Whisky Company. You’ll want to taste them to believe them, but until then, we’ve captured their essence in four words: upside-down cask maturation…

Hello, curious whisky drinker. We thought the words ‘upside-down cask maturation’ might just lure you in. Those clever folks at That Boutique-y Whisky Company are back at it again – and by ‘it’, we mean bottling the contents of compelling, rare, and/or downright bizarre casks from across the globe, this time from the Lone Star state: Texas. 

Now, the team behind Balcones Distilling aren’t shy about “testing the waters of what’s possible”, as head distiller Jared Himstedt so eloquently puts it. They’re the creators of the first Texan whisky since Prohibition, the pioneers of blue corn whisky, and the only distillers bold enough to create a smoky whisky by smoking the distillate, rather than the grain. If they can’t find a space for these barrels in their existing range, the contents must be – and we mean this as the highest possible compliment – extraordinarily weird.

Of the four Boutique-y releases, three are single malts made from Golden Promise malted barley from Scotland – aged for various timescales in Tequila, oloroso sherry, and Balcones’ own Brimstone casks – while the final spirit is made from blue corn and finished in Pedro Ximénez barrels. Each one spent more time in the finishing cask than it did in the original – hence ‘upside-down cask maturation’.

“We haven’t really released anything like these on our own,” says Winston Edwards, brand ambassador at Balcones Distilling. “We haven’t done a Tequila cask single malt at the distillery, we haven’t done a Brimstone cask at the distillery – we have done a sherry release, but not with our blue corn spirit. They’re unique to Boutique-y.”

Let’s take a closer look, shall we?

 

Balcones 3 Year Old Batch 2 (That Boutique-y Whisky Company)

Well, well, well, what have we here? A Tequila cask-aged Texan single malt whisky; bold and vegetal, with a glorious dried fruit sweetness. “I don’t know what distillery this Tequila cask came from,” says Himstedt. “[Cask] Brokers can be weird – sometimes they don’t want you to know because then you can just start calling the distilleries and bodegas on your own. 

The team has always used Tequila casks, right from the beginning, in the mix for Baby Blue Corn Whisky, he continues. “We’d buy all the Tequila casks that were about to break down and they would make them into smaller barrels for us – they’d get shaved and re-charred and all that. I wanted to see what big Tequila casks would do for Baby, and when we got our first truckload in, we probably had 14 or 15 different isolated spirits recipes, so we threw everything in one – just to see.”

After 12 months ageing in a virgin French oak barrel, the single malt was scooted across to the ex-Tequila barrel, where it remained for 37 months. “I don’t know what you call it when you reverse the process,” says Himstedt. “We didn’t ‘finish’ it – we started it in one barrel and then it really matured in another.”

Balcones 2 Year Old Batch 1 (That Boutique-y Malt Company)

The more astute among you might’ve noticed something unusual. That Boutique-y Malt Company? Eh? “We’re not allowed to call it whisky in the UK if it’s under three years old,” Dave Worthington, global brand ambassador at That Boutique-y Whisky Company explains. “This is just two years old, so we’ve put a little flag over the whisky logo and renamed it ‘That Boutique-y Malt Company’.” 

After 14 and a half months ageing in an ex-bourbon barrel, this single malt was switched to a Balcones Brimstone cask for a further 16 and a half months’ ageing. The name Brimstone refers to a corn whisky of the same name, which is smoked using scrub oak. “It’s actually not a different species of oak, but in Texas where it’s really dry the tree grows twisted, almost like a Bonsai version of what an oak tree would be,” Edwards explains. “It’s so dense, we’re talking about something that has spent 60 to 80 years just to grow four feet tall, so lot of the compounds and aromas are really concentrated.” Think: smoky bacon and campfire deliciousness.

Balcones 2 Year Old Batch 2 (That Boutique-y Malt Company) 

The third single malt – again, bottled as a malt spirit rather than a whisky – spent 11 months in ex-bourbon casks before maturing for a further 14 months in an oloroso sherry cask, with all the rich plum fruit and mouthwatering spicy treacle you’d expect. Fun fact: This will be the joint-third Balcones release that has spent time in a sherry cask – the other two being the distillery’s 10th anniversary single malt and a dark rum finished in a Pedro Ximénez cask. *Italian chefs kiss* 

We say joint third, because soon (quite how soon is still under wraps) there will be another spirit joining this experimental line-up: a 100% blue corn spirit finished in Pedro Ximénez casks. If your whistle has been thoroughly wetted, you’ll need to get a move on – a very limited number of bottles are available, priced at £69.95 per 500ml bottle. Hey, we told you they were extraordinary. 

 

 

 

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