So – it’s that time of year again isn’t it? I checked my calendar the other day, and realised it’s 6 weeks until Feis Ile. 6 weeks. I’ve got no idea who’s stealing all the time, but as whoever it is takes with one hand, they surely give with the other – we’re only 7 weeks away from the release of this year’s Ardbeg Day special edition.
This year’s offering is called ‘Auriverdes’ – a portmanteau of the latin ‘Aurum’ (Gold) and Portuguese ‘Verdes’ (Green) – Gold for the colour of the whisky, and Green for the iconic green* bottle in which Ardbeg is presented.
Why Portuguese, I hear you ask? Well apparently there’s some sort of kickball tourney on later this year in Brazil? Not really my sort of thing, but I’m sure Jake will use it as an excuse to bore the crap out of you / keep you entertained (delete per your preference).
Imagine a world where you could taste any whisky you wanted, instantly, for free, and in the comfort of your own multi-million-pound caravan-home or luxury yachts-vessel. And just picture yourself, if you will, browsing an immense digital library with fine single malts flashing majestically before your very eyes like that bit in Minority Report.
The time is 9pm, the day is today, and you’re sitting in a wingback chesterfield armchair. It’s slightly old – still maintains its shape, but the burgundy leather has become softer and more forgiving. In essence, you’re the mayor of comfort city. It’s liquor o’clock, and Mrs Hammersworth, the nice lady who looks after you, is strapping a slightly cumbersome though thoroughly modern-looking headset onto your face. The device, pictured below, is the groundbreaking “Joculus Snift” – a unique multi-sensory media experience which stimulates four of the five senses with state-of-the-art (SOTA) technology.
Considering that the Knockdhu distillery was founded over 100 years ago in a land brimming with peat, they’ve certainly taken their sweet time bringing out some peated whisky in the shape of the anCnoc Peaty collection. What have they been doing with all that peat all this time? Hoarding it in case Islay ever runs out? Using it to run some very slow trains? Dirt clod fights?
In actual fact, back in 1894 when Mr. John Morrison and his cohorts first started producing whisky at the Knockdhu distillery up near Aberdeen, a location chosen for its proximity to the Great North Railway line and the abundance of barley, peat and springs of Highland water, the malted barley was indeed dried using peat-fired kilns. They were making peated whisky all the way back in the 1800s!
This week we're making a nice potent, wintry drink for #MasterofCocktails to accompany all the unseasonably warm weather we've been enjoying. D'oh!
Don't worry about that though, we're making a Boulevardier. You'll notice, ingredients-wise, that it's basically a Negroni made with whiskey instead of gin. It appeared in Harry McElhone's Barflies and Cocktails right back in 1927 after the New Yorker set up his bar in Paris and it's just an absolutely superb drink.
You put the lime in the Ballantine’s, you drink 'em both together,
Put the lime in the Ballantine’s, then you feel better,
Put the lime in the Ballantine’s, drink 'em both up,
Put the lime in the Ballantine’s, and call me in the morning…
Flavoured whisky, eh? Obviously not that though. What I should say, of course, is flavoured whisky liqueurs and whisky-based spirit drinks, eh? This one’s a little different to many, however. First of all, it’s not honey flavoured (or even cherry flavoured). Secondly, it’s essentially made by actually steeping lime peel in Scotch whisky, in the cask.
Well. This is sort of a big deal, isn't it?
I can probably count on the fingers of one hand the number of whiskies ever released that are over 60 years of age, and it's absolutely unthinkable these days that a 60yo distillery release would ever see the light of day at anything less than a five-figure price tag. Yet here we are bringing this astonishing piece of liquid history to you for a three-figure sum*.
Well rather than re-iterate, I'll refer you to my explanation of the economics behind this, here: http://www.masterofmalt.com/Blog/post/Brand-New-30-40-and-50-Year-Old-Whisky.aspx. Do please read it, as every bit of it still rings true, and it's the reason behind our ability to continue to deliver exceptional, unbelievably well-aged whiskies at price-points an order of magnitude less than some other folk.
Twitter is all a-buzz like a bag of bees in a barber shop with lots of gossip about winners. They must have heard that we were announcing the winner of our Balblair competition today! It could have been because there was a massive academy awards show on TV just the other night or it could be about us. But as there have been no good films made since Back To The Future in 1985, all the gossip must be about our competition!
This does beg the question: Who leaked this information about us announcing the Balblair competition winner to Twitter?
Another week's been and gone, which means it must be time for another #MasterofCocktails! This week we're making a Penicillin cocktail, created at Milk and Honey NYC by Sam Ross. Nice work Sam.
This is a Whisky sour, but is unusual, being made with a good slug of Peated Malt. Not a traditional hit in cocktails.
In this context, the peat works well with the traditional ginger, honey and lemon mix to provide further mental cues that the drink's doing you good. Delicious!
Townspeople – I bear exciting and groundbreaking whisky news.
It’s not often we see the launch of a new malt whisky distillery, what with the tremendous setup and operational costs, and the sheer difficulty of actually doing the thing, but, as of yesterday, it was announced that there will be a new distillery on the Isle of Skye, named Torabhaig.
The sun is starting to peek through the clouds once more and there’s that glorious feeling of love in the air. Is that because Valentine’s Day is creeping closer and closer? It actually has nothing to do with Valentine’s Day at all (but you can still address all heart-shaped boxes of chocolate to Sam Smith, MoM Towers, Tunbridge Wells). No, that lovely feeling is coming from the parcel that has found its way to my desk.
Hidden beneath a shock of shredded black paper sits a fancy looking black box tied up with quite a fancy leather string bow. It's the kind of box that people can only hold really awesome or really scary stuff. You're not going to get a box that looks like this with a stapler or a bike lock or a bank statement in it. It's either amazing or devastating. A gold ring or a ring finger. A puppy or too many scorpions. Cake or death. I'm quite partial to cake, to be perfectly honest.