For the longest time, I've had a suspicion about That Boutique-y Whisky Company being full of powerful wizards, what with the lightning-bolt shaped scars on their heads, their ability to talk to snakes (they’re very boring, all they want to do is sing songs about falling asleep) and how they’re very good at conjuring up delicious drinks. Sha-zam and abracadara!
Seeing as a number of their independently bottled marvels have just won Wizards of Whisky 2014 Awards, we think it’s pretty safe to say that they’re definitely sorcerers of the highest order, up there with Dumbledore, Gandalf and Emperor Palpatine (he shoots lightning from his hands, he totally counts as a wizard).
Glenmorangie’s Private Edition range really took the spotlight this year when Jim Murray named the 19 year old, Ealanta, World Whisky of the Year 2014. Jim claimed Ealanta stole the show “because it went out and did something very different: not only did it blow [him] away with its deftness, beauty and elegance, but it gave an aroma and taste profile completely new to [him] in over 30 years of tasting whisky”. High praise indeed.
Soon after, Glenmorangie’s Director of Distilling, Dr Bill Lumsden, faced the unenviable challenge of creating a follow-up. After such a coveted title, any successor malt would surely pale in comparison, or at least one might think. We were expecting intensity of flavour, perhaps a big dose of sherry this time? Well, rather that playing it safe, Bill took the somewhat risky decision of releasing a red wine finish – something we’ve seen a lot of over the years, but very rarely done well. In fact, put bluntly, most of the time red wine ruins whisky. I won’t name names*, but we’ve all had an “experimental” whisky buggered up by overdosing with wine casks that have perhaps unnecessary pedigree (aside from marketing purposes, why anyone feels the need to finish in First Growth casks is beyond my understanding!). So – how would Bill’s latest fare?
On Monday night I attended a Burns Supper with a difference, courtesy of the Monkey Shoulder Social Club. There was haggis, of course, and Scotch whisky too, but rather than Scotland’s favourite son taking centre stage, the star of this particular show was one Charles Montgomery Plantagenet Schicklgruber Burns, Sr. Oh, yes.
Monkey Shoulder, as I'm sure many of you will know, is a fantastic blended malt from William Grant that's made with whiskies from their three Dufftown distilleries: Glenfiddich, Balvenie and Kininvie.
The theme for the evening had been hiding in plain sight for some time as guests entered to win tickets to ‘A Celebrations of Mr Burns’, accompanied by a picture of Rabbie in a pair of shades that had apparently been enough to throw many off the scent. Upon arrival at The Caledonian Club, everything seemed perfectly above board... although... did I spot Groundskeeper Willy on my way up the street?.. Probably nothing, let’s just enjoy this Monkey Shoulder whisky punch (created by Roman Foltan of the Artesian Bar) in the library and speak to a couple of these nice people from the ‘Dufftown Burns Appreciation Society’.
Alternate Title: “If it’s not perfect, what’s the fucking point?”
My name is Ben. I like it when things are done properly*. This post, therefore, has been quite a while in the making.
It turns out making clear ice is hard. Very hard in fact. There’s a very good reason that companies like this exist. In fact, if you’re based in, or near, London – you should probably just stop reading this, man up, buy yourself a chest freezer to house some of their wares, and give them a call.
If like me though, you’re out of their delivery range, you’re going to need to make your own**.
Luckily, every single one of you has the requisite equipment for this, so there really aren’t any excuses. You can make big, clear ice with zero investment. Sounds like I’m trying to get you to buy a timeshare. I’m not. Promise.
Well that was quite a Christmas.
In fact it’s been so busy that 4 new releases have passed us by with nary a mention. Changing that, now I am here with the writing about things. Yes.
Without further ado, onto the explanations behind the crazy stuff that’s fallen out of my head and onto paper.
First up this time, we’ve got an absolute belter of an Islay Whisky, from Kilchoman.
Ah, Maltstock! 2013 marked Master of Malt’s 4th visit to the “relaxed whisky weekend”, although of the four people who went, three of us were, in fact, Maltstock virgins! That Boutique-y Whisky Company have also now released their second batch of Highland Park single malt Scotch whisky, complete with Maltstock label – more on that towards the end!
As mentioned above, Cat (now Maverick Drinks’ Brand Communications Manager), was the only one of us who had travelled to Maltstock before (making the local newspapers in the process), the rest of the team was made up by her Maverick minion Teesh,
Sam Alexandra (who is MoM’s marketing maestro), and yours truly!
Back in December I visited the Worship Street Whistling Shop for a very special, two hour long ‘multi-sensory experience’: the final Diageo Whisky Theatre of the year. The project is the work of irrepressible Diageo brand ambassador Colin Dunn and the Fluid Movement duo of Tristan Stephenson and Tom Aske who have presented similar experiences in the past, for example with rum, but the mention of whisky certainly caught our attention immediately! I believe Tristan also has a whisky book coming out this year too – one to watch out for.
There is (just) room for nine people but I was joined by a fab four of Gin Monkey, Imbibe’s Laura Foster (recent winner of the Alan Lodge Young International Spirits Writer of the Year), Siobhan Payne from Difford’s Guide and London Cocktail Week and Alex Kratena off of The Artesian (named The World’s Best Bar for the second year running in 2013).
More or less every time I write a blog post, I ask management for permission to use the phrase "hells-a-poppin'"...
I get shot down mercilessly every time.
Well, the renowned whiskym'n at The Macallan have only gone and released part five in their legendary Lalique Six Pillars Collection. Each single malt in the ultra-super-deluxe-premium range is made from exceedingly rare old stock, and bottled in decanters designed and created by the famous French crystal house, Lalique. If ever there was a time for the term hells-a-poppin', surely now is it.
Blimey, it’s been pretty busy around here lately! Jumping crocodiles, there’s been a lot to do! Most of it has something to with some little celebration towards the end of the month or something...
Just kidding, I can’t pretend to not be excited about Santa! I’m literally bursting with festive excitement! You see, I bloody love Christmas, me! The decorations, the music, all the wrapped up pressies and, of course, the Die Hard movies.
What on earth is there not to like?
When asked if I fancied a trip to Southwold I didn’t have to do a lot of thinking. A chance to visit a lovely coastal town, get some fresh, sea air in my lungs, escape the madness of the festive season AND visit the fantastic Adnams distillery to taste two brand new English whiskies?!
Um, yes. I think I can probably manage that, at a push. So off I went to Waveney to meet up with Jonathan Adnams, Chairman and fourth-generation brewer, and Head Distiller John McCarthy for a bit of a shimmy around the distillery and to taste two new, unique whiskies prior to their release.
The first ever Adnams whiskies. Ever.