It seems most countries have a national drink – these are the kind of bottles that are bought on holiday and go dusty in the cupboard only to be pulled out for drinking games at parties years later. One of the most iconic national drinks of all time is of course Tequila.
Tequila, as we all know, has a bad reputation as being that party drink, that led to that night, and many have avoided exploring this infamous spirit unless forced to by a friend who is swaying on the spot with a party hat on his head screaming, "SHOT!". However, if this is the case, Tequila's rustic cousin Mezcal should pique your interest. "What is a Mezcal?" I hear you ask. Well take a seat and I will tell you a story.
Martha Stewart was wrong! Yes, I said it. The Queen of Entertaining got it wrong this Thanksgiving. While her recipe for a Cranberry Old Fashioned was delightful, it needed some serious tweaking to provide the smooth, sweet, balanced and refreshing pre-dinner drink I was going for. The end result, I don’t mind telling you, was a massive hit. I detailed my quest to create the perfect Thanksgiving cocktail (I made a rule of using bourbon and cranberries as the base), and did much research on the subject before finally deciding on Martha’s recipe. Here’s how the experimenting went.
Martha’s recipe called for muddling cranberries in 2 teaspoons of sugar—a necessity when working with fresh cranberries. The problem with muddling fresh cranberries is that they become so pulpy, when you mix in the bourbon and ice you’re left with a sludgy (but delicious) mess! I did try substituting maple syrup for the sugar, but found that while the maple flavour really balanced the bourbon, the cranberries were too tart to be fully subdued by the sweetness of the syrup. I also found that the end result was an exceedingly strong drink. While I enjoy neat spirits, not all of my guests have such prepared palates. What to do??
It’s fair to say that I’ve been a fan of the guys from Fluid Movement (the team behind The Worship Street Whistling Shop, Purl, and the new Dach and Sons) for a while now. In fact, I reviewed Purl almost 18 months ago here should you care to read about it.
It was a somewhat off-the-cuff suggestion that we ‘do something together’ made whilst at the Whistling Shop about this time last year which has ultimately led to the situation of us jointly launching the first retail product from this team of really very clever chaps.
So, without further ado – I give you ‘Cream Gin’. The main ingredient in the Whistling Shop’s signature cocktail – The Black Cat’s Martini.
This really quite marvellous concoction is the brain-child of The Whistling Shop’s erstwhile head barman, and all-round mixological genius, Ryan Chetiyawardana.
In the name of journalistic plausibility, and to make for a better read, I briefly forgot all about the extensive NPD conducted for the product, and the fact that I now know more about vanillin content and fat globule homogenisation than any man has the right to, and caught up with Ryan for a brief Q&A:More...
Whether it's gifts for your gran or a last minute pressie for your bestie, we've got you covered! The holiday season is just about upon us (duck and cover, y'all), and we know you want to avoid the mad rush. So mix yourself a hot toddy, throw an extra log on the fire, put on some Bing Crosby tunes, and let your fingers do the work by perusing our Christmas whisky and spirits gift selection. We're sure you'll find something to suit everyone in your life this Christmas, and maybe—just maybe—you'll find a way to treat yourself, too!
We've taken all the people in your life and put them into neat little categories to save you time and brain power. After all those mince pies and champers and mulled wine, how can you be expected to create a spreadsheet of potential gifts for all your friends and family? Really? Especially when the Downton Abbey Christmas Special is about to come on...More...
Chivas Brothers have recently launched a new global educational campaign entitled ‘Great Things Take Time’.
To declare such a grand concept – Chivas treated us to a delicious lunch, courtesy of Mark Hix, at Brown’s Hotel to explain why age is important – undoubtedly because they have a lot of old whisky that needs selling, and selling is what we do. I am always happy to listen so I settled down to be wooed by these giants of blending.
According to their research only 10% of whisky consumers understand what the age statement on a bottle of whisky means, and 94% of people believe an age statement is an indicator of quality. This is understandable; it’s not immediately apparent, or indeed, at all apparent on the bottle that the age statement refers to the youngest whisky inside. Plus, it’s easy to see why older whisky should be better; older whisky is more expensive, if it’s more expensive surely it should be of a higher quality – that’s a fair assumption to make. However, this got me thinking as we tasted our way through the Chivas range with Master Blender Colin Scott: does age matter?
We were then ferried to the grotto of antiquities that is the Victoria & Albert Museum to watch a debate addressing the question whether age matters or not take place. The debate took place between historian Bettany Hughes and Peter Aspden from the Financial Times, however their inclination to agree with one another lended a bias to the argument that age does matter (remember old whisky is at stake here). Despite this what they had to say was interesting.
Today is two things: 1. It’s a day all the trains from London were delayed dramatically. 2. It’s Thanksgiving!
What do these 2 things mean when combined? Well, I found myself a rare free moment to muse upon all things American. Being a Yankee far from home at this time of year can be a bit sad (hello, 4-day weekend!), but luckily there’s enough turkey, cranberries, and canned pumpkin in the UK to get me through.
This year, I thought I’d add something new to my holiday tradition: pre-dinner cocktails. Normally, the drink of choice for Thanksgiving is Beaujolais Nouveau (I still recall the colourful paper signs propped in the liquor store window of my hometown: Le Beaujolais Nouveau est arrivé!), but this year’s crop has been low, so the bottles have been allocated and as such are in limited supply in the UK. Boo.More...
If you really want to understand a whisky, you need to visit the distillery where it's made and meet the people that make it. This has never been more appropriate than of the legendary Highland Park Distillery, whose whisky is inspired by the rugged terrain of the Orkney Islands that once played home to the Viking invaders. So, we decided to team up with these Orcadian distillers to arrange a little competition for you – with an absolutely massive prize.
If you purchase a bottle of the esteemed Highland Park Single Malt Whisky before five hundred bottles have been sold or before the 15th December – depending on which comes first – you could win a spectacular two-day trip up to the Orkney Islands to visit their famous distillery.
Well that last batch of Boutique-y whiskies certainly sold quickly. Terrifyingly quickly in fact.
Apologies to all those who didn’t get one from the first edition of the Ardbeg, Macallan or Caperdonich – but fear not – the second batches of all of these are now here, and available for purchase. You’ll notice that all three of them have the new batch number, new ABV, and a minor change to the illustration on each of the labels just to keep it interesting. You’ll also notice that the Caperdonich is cheaper than last time. Don’t say we never do anything nice for you.
We’re working on getting you another Port Ellen release* – more details on this as and when we’re successful.
So – now on to the next whiskies to be added to the series. It was pointed out to me today that completely by accident, we’ve selected 4 Speyside Whiskies, all beginning with ‘a’ and ‘b’. Not planned, just a weird coincidence…
All November, we at MoM Towers will be giving away (that’s right, giving!) free Gin! We know you love Gin…everything from the Professor’s Bathtub Gin, to Sipsmith Gin, to Tanqueray Gin, to Hendrick’s Gin… I could go on.
We’ve teamed up with those crafty chaps at The Gin Blog to celebrate their brand-spanking new (and portable!) version of The Ginvent Calendar! Loaded from top to tail with a stable of delicious gins to keep each day in December merry and bright—the first 24 days, that is!
That’s right, Gin Lovers, it’s a Gin Advent Calendar (get it? Ginvent??) and we’re giving away a full-sized bottle version of each of the precious drams inside the 24 doors of the calendar. To win, all you have to do is enter!
For those of you hitherto unfamiliar with them, our ‘Secret Bottlings’ series of Single Malts have long been a staple of our core range of Master of Malt branded whiskies. They provide exceptionally well-aged whiskies at a price that seems utterly unthinkable in today’s world of 5-figure 50 year olds, and six figure 54 year olds.
The secret with these whiskies has always been that we’ve released them without the name of the distillery present on the label, hence preserving the distillery in question’s brand equity, and allowing us to buy them at a fraction of the price that would be possible if the distillery’s own name was on it.
A bit more on that, because I’ve just read it back, and it sounds suspiciously like marketing bullshit. I’ll expand:
If a distillery (let’s call it Glenyummy) has a certain number of customers (X) for its standard 12yo whisky, the chances are they’ll have a customer-base of about 0.05X for their 18yo expression, 0.0005X for their 30yo expression, and 0.0000005X by the time they hit anything over a few hundred quid. More...