You might know this collection of 31 days as July, but to us here at MoM Towers, it’s Rum Month! To mark the occasion we’ve selected some stand-out expressions we…
You might know this collection of 31 days as July, but to us here at MoM Towers, it’s Rum Month! To mark the occasion we’ve selected some stand-out expressions we think you’ll love.
We’ve reached July, folks, which might have passed you by with everything that’s been going on. But now that the sun is gingerly making an appearance and life has some semblance of normality again, this is as good a time as any to take a moment and try to relax. Particularly as July is Rum Month! That’s right. A whole 31 days to celebrate all things delicious, distilled and rummy. There’s only one thing to do with that information. Indulge in some of the finest rums you can find. Thankfully we’re very good at making that process incredibly easy. Click away!
A rum that boldly goes where no other rum has gone before. Ok, that’s not strictly true, but we can assure you that Central Galactic Spiced Rum doesn’t just offer the chance to make all kinds of space puns, but that it tastes tremendous. The creative folks behind this expression added pot-distilled fresh raspberry distillate, star anise and cold-distilled lime peel aromatic to Caribbean spiced rum to create this (inter)stellar bottling. I apologise for nothing.
What does it taste like?
Oily orange peel, liquorice, juicy raspberry sweetness, orange marmalade, rich brown sugar, toffee, zingy lime peel, ginger, cinnamon, cardamom and vanilla pod.
You may be interested to know that Gosling’s combined rums from both pot and continuous column stills to make this super-strength bottling. Or perhaps you’ll be intrigued to learn that this classic rum’s name comes from the black wax that was originally used to seal the bottles. But the most important information we can tell you about this rum is that it’s very tasty and will make a sublime Dark ‘n’ Stormy, a cocktail that’s actually trademarked by Gosling Brothers.
What does it taste like?
Dark fruits, sweet spices, fresh herbs and fruitcake.
The legendary Diamond Distillery that sits on the east bank of the mighty Demerara River in Guyana makes all kinds of delicious rum, but the El Dorado brand is probably what it’s best known for and with good reason. This charcoal-filtered, cask-aged three-year-old white rum is incredibly versatile and can be used as a base for a number of different cocktails.
What does it taste like?
Coconut, icing sugar, tart citrus, cocoa, dark brown sugar and buttery toffee.
The first release from That Boutique-y Rum Company’s Signature Blend range, this tasty treat was developed with Pete Holland (of The Floating Rum Shack) to make the best gosh darn Daiquiri you’ve ever had. It features a combination of unaged rum from Martinique and some particularly bold aged rum from Jamaica and can be used in a number of different serves. But do yourself a favour and embrace its Daiquiri potential. You won’t be disappointed.
What does it taste like?
Conference pears, foam banana sweets, dried pineapple rings, a little watermelon, a touch of pink grapefruit tartness, classic Martinique grassiness, vanilla oak, stewed winter fruits, salted caramel, ginger root and a prickle of black pepper spice.
This expression from Pull The Pin is packed full of classic British summertime deliciousness, which makes it the ideal July bottling. The combination of raspberry and strawberry makes this a balanced, light and sweet flavoured rum that you can pair with all kinds of different mixers.
What does it taste like?
Crunchy sugar, strawberries and cream sweeties, a hint of jam on brioche, some citrus sharpness.
Combining salt and caramel was already a genius move that has improved all of our lives immeasurably. But throwing cherry into the mix? We’re through the looking glass now folks, and it tastes like delicious rum. Rockstar Spirits created this delight with rum from Guyana’s Diamond Distillery that was infused with maraschino cherries, black cherries, caramel and a pinch of rock salt.
What does it taste like?
Packed with honey and caramel, fruity esters drifting up through the richness. Just a touch of savoury salt notes arrive later on, balanced by juicy cherry and fresh banana.
Today we’re shaking up perhaps the most famous cocktail in cinema, the White Russian, with Black Cow, a vodka distilled from milk. Whatever next! There are some cocktails that are…
Today we’re shaking up perhaps the most famous cocktail in cinema, the White Russian, with Black Cow, a vodka distilled from milk. Whatever next!
There are some cocktails that are inextricably linked with films or TV series: like the Cosmopolitan in ‘Sex and the City’, ‘Mad Men’ and Martinis and the Tequila Sunrise in, um, ‘Tequila Sunrise.’ But the union of drink and film reaches its apotheosis in the Coen Brothers’ 1998 fim, ‘The Big Lebowski.’ It’s now not possible to drink a White Russian without thinking of Jeff Bridges as The Dude in his dressing gown saying: ‘careful man! There’s a beverage here!’ The film, which initially had an underwhelming response on its launch, has become a cult favourite with Big Lebowski-themed evenings involving the consumption of many White Russians.
The cocktail also known in the film as a Caucasian (cos it’s white) is a derivation of the Black Russian (a mixture of vodka and coffee liqueur) with cream and/or milk added to it. Both Russians, Black and White are relatively recent cocktails, the Black was first mentioned in 1949 and the White in 1965. The big question is should you use cream or milk in your cocktail. Well, the Dude uses both. Fans of the film will recall the Dude paying for a carton of half and half in Ralphs with a cheque for 69 cents. For non-American readers, half and half is a mixture of milk and cream weighing in at about 10% dairy fat (and Ralphs is a chain of Californian supermarkets). Personally, I prefer my White Russians a little lighter so would just use whole milk, with about 4% fat. The other ingredients are vodka and coffee liqueur, the Dude uses Kahlua but you can use Tia Maria. Or there are other coffee liqueurs out there, or you could even add a shot of espresso, though you might want to sweeten it a bit then.
With real dairy goodness
Finally vodka, the Dude uses Smirnoff. But we’ve got something that’s custom built to go with dairy products because it is itself a dairy product. Black Cow vodka was launched back in 2012 by dairy farmer Jason Barber and his friend Paul Archard. It’s made by fermenting the whey, the liquid left over from making cheese, and distilling it. They then filter the vodka through coconut-shell charcoal. The result is something distinctly creamy and dairy, but at the same time tasting clean and fresh like a vodka should. It sounds a bit weird, but it really works.
There are tonnes of variation on the classic White Russian. Our favourite is the addition of ice cream and then blending it to create a decadent boozy milkshake. But today, we’ve just kept it classic. With it’s simple sweet flavours, high dairy content and coffee kick, the White Russian is the perfect cocktail for when you just got up, or look like you’ve just got up. Which is perhaps why the Dude likes them so much.
Right, got your dressing gown? Got your Creedence tapes? Let’s make a White Russian!
With the world tentatively opening up, we asked some of the team here at Master of Malt where they would go if they could go anywhere. Some picked exotic locations,…
With the world tentatively opening up, we asked some of the team here at Master of Malt where they would go if they could go anywhere. Some picked exotic locations, others went for their local boozer. Horses for courses.
Like most of the world, we at Master of Malt have not been moving around much recently. Some of us have barely left the house. The little matter of a global pandemic put the kibosh on all our plans for the year: trips were cancelled, festivals postponed and even our locals were closed. But as the world slowly gets back on its feet, we’ve been talking about the first place we’d like to visit. As this is a drinks website, most of our answers involve booze. This could be a dream destination, a much-loved distillery or even just a favourite bar. Being near people is quite exciting enough, thank you very much. We’d love to hear from readers about places they want to visit and what they’ll drink when they are there.
Getting to Islay has proved a long road for Adam.
Who: Adam O’Connell, writer
My post-pandemic dream is Islay. In nearly three years of being a drinks writer I’ve come close to making it to The Queen of the Hebrides but a cancelled flight here or change of plans there has always thwarted me. Going to Fèis Ìle next year would be a great way to scratch my Islay itch (#FèisÌle2021), but frankly, I’d be just as happy to spend a few days there myself getting to know the place and the people as well as all the whiskies and distilleries. There’s history, community and sights to see beyond the peat and spirit. Although, rest assured, I will make sure I have a dram in hand as often as possible.
Henry has visions of imbibing funky, tropical rum at Hampden Estate
Who: Henry Jeffreys, features editor
For my first post-COVID drinks trip, I want to go on a rum-soaked tour of Jamaica. When I see the names of distilleries like Long Pond, Clarendon and Hampden Estate on bottles, my mind drifts into thoughts of fields of sugar cane, clanking, steaming Heath Robinson-esque stills and fearsome-looking dunder pits. Then my mouth begins to salivate in anticipation of a taste of pungent, tropical-fruit laden, funky as hell high ester rum. If the Jamaica Tourist Board can’t make my dreams come true then I will have to make do with a tour of Trailer Happiness, a specialist rum bar in London.
Charlotte wants to relive good memories at Verdigris. Looking at that food, I’ll be booking a table myself.
Who: Charlotte Gorzelak, social media and email assistant
Where: Verdigris, Tonbridge
The first place I’m going to post-lockdown is Verdigris in Tonbridge. Not only a fab wine bar with a fantastic cocktail menu (looking at you Giggle Juice) but also a restaurant. Many an evening I’ve sat on the terrace by the river sipping a glass of wine with my friend watching boats go by. I’m looking forward to sitting there whiling away the hours in the evening sun again. During the lockdown, Verdigris turned part-bakery, part-take away cocktail bar to help keep afloat and they also did an amazing 80 day-aged rib to have at home. It’s not anywhere abroad and it’s actually pretty much on my doorstep, but I will never take being able to pop for impromptu drinks for granted again.
Can’t imagine why Mariella would want to go to Oaxaca. Nope. It’s beyond me.
Who: Mariella Salerno, PR manager
Once the Covid-19 crisis is over, the first country I would like to visit is Mexico! Ever since I took part at the EBS (European Bartenders School) annual convention in Barcelona last year, I have been fascinated with all things agave and so I would very much like to visit Oaxaca and get the real mezcal experience. This will include a visit to the Siete Misterios Distillery for the following reasons: firstly, the distillery seems to be working almost entirely in a sustainable way, so I will be curious to see how that works; second, how cool is the name? (Seven Mysteries Distillery!); and finally, have you seen a better bottle label? I don’t think so. I will then attempt to master the perfect Margarita cocktail and maybe sip it on my own or in some good company on a terrace of one of the local bars.
The scenery, the culture, the history and lots of delicious whiskies. Ben has his priorities in order.
Who: Ben Pender, digital media assistant
Where: Yoichi, Japan
Yoichi, while sounding like the lovable Mario character ‘Yoshi’, is also a distillery, famous for Nikka Whisky. It was founded by Masataka Taketsuru, the father of Japanese whisky. He picked a perfect location: like many of the best Highland distilleries, it’s close to the sea, surrounded by mountains, has a cold, crisp climate with the appropriate humidity and lots of fresh water, all the essential comforts whisky needs to feel at home. What I’m most curious to see are the coal-fired pot stills. This traditional method of coal-fired distillation is rarely seen today because of how difficult it is to control temperature and requires highly skilled craftsmen to operate them.
Jess craves whisky-soaked adventures in the land down under. Starward Distillery is a great place to start…
Who: Jess Williamson, content assistant
Once I’m officially allowed, you can be sure I’m getting as far away from my house as possible. The other side of the world, specifically. Having only got round to trying Australian whisky in lockdown (specifically Starward Solera), now I just can’t get enough. But to actually drink the good stuff in its home country? Now that would be something else! Truth be told my imagination has run ridiculously wild and I’m imagining sipping on a single malt while riding a kangaroo, but that seems almost as far-fetched as getting through customs at this point…
The house of Rémy Martin has long been dedicated to sustainable agriculture, having pioneered green practices in Cognac for well over a decade, and a huge part of its commitment…
The house of Rémy Martin has long been dedicated to sustainable agriculture, having pioneered green practices in Cognac for well over a decade, and a huge part of its commitment involves tackling the threat posed by climate change. Here, cellar master Baptiste Loiseau explains how robust new grape varieties are being trialled across the estate – and what this might mean for the future of the Charente…
“Climate change is already here,” says Loiseau. “It started, let’s say, more than 20 years ago, but we really faced this change during the 2003 vintage. It was a really difficult vintage in the region of Cognac.” An intensely hot summer caused the grapes to grow “in an erratic way that was really new for all the growers of the region,” he explains, “and it was really at that time that we understood that we needed to be focusing on and adapting to climate change.”
The first decision Rémy Martin made was to harvest earlier, in an effort to preserve the freshness and acidity of its grapes. “We are facing quite the same characteristic this year,” says Loiseau. “We had a really hot spring and the ripeness of the grapes is arriving much more rapidly.” This year’s harvest could take place at the beginning of September, potentially even the end of August. By contrast, it typically takes place during the third week of September.
Baptiste Loiseau in the vineyard
An earlier harvest is a temporary solution – an elastoplast – over a far bigger issue, something Rémy Martin was quick to recognise. The best way to preserve the future of the Cognac appellation, Loiseau says, is by experimenting with new grape varieties for the next generation of winegrowers. “We are making some trials on two new cultivars that maybe in the next decades, maybe in 40 or 50 years, will replace the classical cultivar that we are using, called Ugni Blanc.”
The first is an older grape variety called Monbadon which, though native to the Charente, is now mainly found in California. In decades gone by, it didn’t quite fit the bill for Cognac-making in terms of ripeness and aromas, says Loiseau, “but because of climate change, it’s now much more suitable and adapted to the region”. In 2015, the house took an approximately 1.5 hectare plot on its estate and divided it into two, designating 0.8 hectares for Monbadon – equivalent to around 3,000 vines – and the rest for Ugni Blanc. Rémy Martin made its first harvest three years later in September 2018.
For three to four weeks prior, the team conducted analysis and taste testing. Every Monday, the team would go to the field to taste and analyse the grapes, looking at acidity – which needs to be high, since Rémy does not use sulphur – nitrogen levels, and the health of the vine, says Loiseau. “It’s really a combination between the senses, the taste, the shape of the grapes and their weight also, because it’s a question of quantity and a question of quality,” he explains.
Flowering, a crucial time in the development of healthy grapes
When it’s time to pick the grapes, the field is harvested the same day. “We will preserve one press for the Monbadon and one press for the Ugni Blanc, to compare the two cultivars,” says Loiseau. “We do the winemaking and the distillation the same way. The only difference is based on the cultivar itself.” The team analyses both wines and eaux de vies and tastes them both blind, before ageing them in the cellar.
“We need between five to 10 years of cask ageing to [assess] the evolution of the aromas of Monbadon in comparison to the classical Ugni Blanc,” says Loiseau. And then, given how remarkably each vintage can be, the experiment needs to be conducted over multiple harvests to provide a true picture. “So in fact, we will not have the answer to our questions before 2030,” he says.
Naturally, Monbadon isn’t the only cultivar under trial at Rémy Martin. There’s another alternative for the future of the appellation, currently under wraps. “We have another plot that is not corresponding to a variety that is known now in the region,” says Loiseau. “It’s a code with a figure, a letter, and a figure – I’m not going to disclose it, because it’s quite secret right now. We have a high expectation on this one. And just besides, we have another four rows of vineyards that are planted with two other secret codes.”
Cover crops between vines
Little is known about the second cultivar, other than it has “this characteristic corresponding to climate change,” says Loiseau. “It’s also a cultivar that is much more resistant, less sensitive, to diseases,” requiring less fertilisation. This helps Rémy fulfil the former – “that is to say, to have less impact because of practises on the environment,” he says.
Despite the decision to keep the cultivar under wraps for now, Loiseau says the research – conducted in partnership with the Bureau National Interprofessionnel du Cognac (BNIC) and the French National Institute for Agronomic Research – is for the benefit of the appellation. “When we decide to go in a direction, we have to be sure that it’s the right one and not only for ourselves, but for the next generation to come,” he says.
Today, we’re looking at a brand of rum, Plantation, that announced last week it is in the process of changing its name because of the word’s unsavoury connotations. We’re shining…
Today, we’re looking at a brand of rum, Plantation, that announced last week it is in the process of changing its name because of the word’s unsavoury connotations. We’re shining the spotlight on two particularly interesting bottlings, one from Fiji and the other from Jamaica.
Before telling you about the rums that have just arrived at MoM HQ, we’re going to start with the news that Plantation is in the process of changing its name. “As the dialogue on racial equality continues globally, we understand the hurtful connotation the word plantation can evoke to some people, especially in its association with much graver images and dark realities of the past,” says the brand’s founder Alexandre Gabriel. “We look to grow in our understanding of these difficult issues and while we don’t currently have all the details of what our brand name evolution will involve, we want to let everyone know that we are working to make fitting changes.” We will let you know as soon as we learn more.
When you think of rum, your mind probably goes to Caribbean and Latin America, but sugar cane spirits are made all over the world. According to Alexandre Gabriel from Plantation rum (as the brand is still called for the time being), sugar cane which is native to Asia would have been planted in Fiji long before it was brought to the Caribbean. The country is made up of over 300 islands which together have a landmass about twice the size of Jamaica and produce about 160,000 tonnes of sugar annually. The variety planted, which Gabriel calls ‘noble cane’, was wiped out by disease in the Caribbean in the late 19th century but still thrives in Fiji.
It’s hard to say how long rum has been made in Fiji though. Gabriel thinks it dates back a long time: “You cannot help human beings from making booze, it’s been happening throughout the world. It’s a rule that’s never been broken.” He has found evidence of distilling from the early 1800s but thinks it goes back further.
The distillery that our New Arrival of the Week comes from, however, is more recent. It was built about 50 years ago by the Fijian government at Lautake on Viti Levu, the largest island (which is roughly the same size as Jamaica) to process molasses from the nearby plantations. In 1980, it was bought by a private consortium, the Rum Co. of Fiji.
One of the pot stills at the Rum Co. of Fiji
As well as using exclusively Fijian sugar cane, Gabriel said: “The yeast you use, how you ferment, how you distill, how you handle it is as important as your raw material. The sense of terroir in a holistic way including the local know-how that perpetuates itself from that one generation to the other.” He then filled us in on production methods: “The Rum Co. of Fiji uses both wild yeast and cultured yeast, depending on what they’re trying to achieve.” Fermentation of the molasses takes around five days depending on the batch. The distillery has two pot stills, both adapted with double retorts to produce rum by John Dore & Sons, and an old column Canadian column still which produces spirit a little over 80% ABV. Gabriel describes the country’s style as combining some of the weight and intensity of Jamaica with the elegance and balance of Barbados.
The team at the distillery are all Fijian except head distiller Liam Costello. An Australian, his background is in wine but he married a Fijian woman and moved to the island: “And fell in love not only with a wonderful Fijian woman, but also with the country and became the master distiller at the distillery,” said Gabriel.
Today, the distillery produces two brands Ratu and Bounty (not to be confused with the brand of the same name from St. Lucia) as well as selling bulk rum. Which is where Gabriel stepped in. He explains: “I met Liam five or six years ago, I knew about his rums and I really liked them. I said one day: ‘I think we should do something together’ and he says ‘yes’. So we kept on communicating until one day he called me and he says: ‘You know I sold some of the bulk here and there and I was very often disappointed with what they did with my rum.’”
Gabriel & Costello, a great double act
So Gabriel and Costello hatched a plan to bottle some spirits that will show off the Fijian style to the full. There’s a popular blend but Plantation also bottles some special vintage offerings. The latest batch of which comes only from the column still. According to Gabriel, even with just the column, you still get that intensity but, as he puts it “in a very elegant way.”
The rum was aged for 14 years in Fiji in ex-bourbon barrels before being shipped in cask to France: “The interaction with the wood and the elements is incredible,” he said. This is how rum was shipped in the old days, and Gabriel thinks it really makes a difference and this is apparent not just in taste but through analysis with gas chromatography. “I can show you a chromatography before and after you’ve shipped the rum,” he said, “the ester elements, the fruit elements are totally boosted, you have wood extractions that’s 10% more, just during that journey.” Once in France, it is transferred to old Cognac casks and aged a further year. It’s bottled at 50.2% ABV with 4 grams per litre of sugar added. The result is something that is elegant and fruity with notes of toffee, mint, apples and crème brûlée with spicy ginger and cinnamon. A gorgeous luxurious rum that pays tribute to a rum tradition that deserves to be better known.
But today’s excitement doesn’t stop there: in addition to this exclusive Fijian rarity, we’ve got something very special from Jamaica. It’s a rum from Clarendon distillery distilled in 2003. It’s a high classic high ester style (422 g/hl) known as a Monymusk Wedderburn (a designation created in the 19th century by rum blenders) produced from a two week ferment followed by distillation in a Vendome pot still. It’s aged for 16 years in Jamaica in American oak before spending a year in Cognac. It’s bottled unsweetened at 49.5% ABV. “I do a dosage depending on what I’m trying to showcase,” Gabriel said, “Here I wanted to really bring forward this rustic, in a good way, feel”. As you would hope, it’s packed full of high ester goodness like overripe banana and pineapple melded with chocolate and spice cask flavours.
So there we have it: two utterly different, unique Plantation rums.
The fastest, heaviest and loudest rock’n’roll band in history, Motörhead’s far-reaching influence on music can’t be overstated – and now, the band is making waves in the spirits world with its…
The fastest, heaviest and loudest rock’n’roll band in history, Motörhead’s far-reaching influence on music can’t be overstated – and now, the band is making waves in the spirits world with its own whisky, vodka, rum, and more. Here, we chat with legendary drummer Mikkey Dee on touring, his favourite drinks and Lemmy’s surprising love of Kinder eggs.
From their prolific back catalogue to their dedicated touring schedule, the trio behind Motörhead – late bassist and singer Ian ‘Lemmy’ Kilmister, drummer Mikkey Dee and guitarist Phil Campbell – never did anything by half measures. So when these pioneering rock icons started bottling their own booze, we had a feeling the liquid would be nothing short of incredible.
It took three years and an untold number of cask samples to finalise the recipe for Motörhead’s flagship single malt whisky, made in collaboration with Sweden’s Mackmyra Distillery, and this exacting attitude extends across the entire range: from Motörhead Vödka, made in the Swedish market town of Malmköping using locally-grown wheat, to a rum aged in ex-bourbon casks from the Dominican Republic.
Mikkey relaxing before a show with some on-brand booze
Behind the scenes the creative process has been an uncompromising and hands-on affair, with no detail left unchecked, as drummer Mikkey Dee attests. As Motörhead Premium Dark Rum bags yet another tasting award, its fourth in a little over a year, we caught up with Dee to talk Motörhead Spirits, memorable shows, and the contents of their rider:
Master of Malt: First things first, how did the Motörhead spirits range first come about, who came up with the idea?
Mikkey Dee: Lem always had a dream to make his own drinks brand. We were all on board. Drinking together was a big part of our life, so why not have drinks to call our own! Lemmy also wanted a legacy beyond the music, something else that could keep the spirit of Motörhead alive for years. That’s when the vodka was created, Lem had moved to drinking vodka and orange juice more than other spirits once he was diagnosed with diabetes.
MoM: Tell us about the process of creating each one – how involved were you, Lemmy and Phil?
MD: It’s got our name on it, so we’re involved in everything. It always started with a product idea – what Lem or we enjoyed drinking, then also thinking of the fans and what they would like and want to see from us. We’re involved in it all, from choosing the liquid, to naming the products and bottle and label design. Lemmy really liked the creative part, he knew how he wanted the bottles to look. I remember we were in the studio recording mixes for Bad Magic when we were brought samples of the Single Malt Whisky – Lem chose it right there. It took three years of tasting to find the right one!
MoM: Motörhead Premium Dark Rum has just won its fourth spirit award. How does it feel for the liquid you created to be recognised in its own right?
MD: We work really hard on our drinks for the quality and we are ready to take on anyone – that’s always been the Motörhead way. The quality was always really important to Lem and will continue to be for anything else we do in the future.
Motörhead’s award-winning rum. Count those medals!
MoM: Could you share a story about a time the band shared a memorable drink together? Where were you, and what made it memorable?
MD: We were doing a show in Stockholm in 2015 at the Hovet Arena. We got together before the show and had some of our drinks there – our lager and the Single Malt Whisky, which was Lem’s favourite. The whisky is made in Sweden by Mackmyra so he called it his ‘Swhisky’ for Swedish Whisky. It was one of the last shows we did together before Lem passed, so I’ll always remember it.
MoM: This isn’t your only spirits project, you also opened Alabama in Paris last year. What made you want to open your own bar, and did you have a specific vision in mind?
MD: Yes I actually got asked by a friend of mine – Sofia – if I wanted to be a part of the bar opening. I had just shut down my other bar in Tenerife which was called Mikkey Dee Rock Lounge. I thought it was a great opportunity and decided to do it with Sofia. The bar is right at Plaza Republic, super central. We have all the Motörhead drinks there and also some merchandise. We really brought in the feeling of Motörhead; a little bit of memorabilia! That was the vision. I try to get there as often as I can but it hasn’t been too much recently.
MoM: What’s your go-to drink of choice when you’re playing a show? And how about when you’re relaxing at home?
MD: I’m not complicated, I like a simple lager. We have our Bastards Lager available around the world – hopefully soon in the UK too!
MoM: You were in Motörhead for 23 years. How did the band’s approach to touring change over time – were the later tours as rock’n’roll as the earlier ones?
MD: Absolutely. With Motörhead the problem we had was Lem couldn’t stay at home! That old bastard never wanted to stop. We had just got back from four or five months’ touring in Europe and the US, I flew home to Sweden and two weeks later Lem called and said, ‘Hey what’s going on, should we go out again?’. I’d say to him, ‘We need to have time off!’ and he’d say, “Fuck it, we should get going now!” The approach was never-ending, being on the road all the time, even in the later years.
MoM: What might we find on a typical Motörhead rider?
MD: We weren’t really that particular to tell you the truth. We were easy going. Lemmy liked bourbon, whisky, and vodka and orange. On my rider – beer, a bottle of whisky, water. Snacks: fruit. The only weird shit was Lemmy was obsessed with Cadbury Kinder Eggs. He didn’t eat the chocolate but loved the gift on the inside. Sometimes he opened the egg and there was a finished piece instead of one you put together and he’d say, ‘This is a shit batch!’ He liked to make the toy himself. My boys would sometimes be backstage with us and would go into Lemmy’s dressing room before the show to hang out – then they’d come into my room and said to me, ‘Hey dad, Lemmy doesn’t eat the chocolate!’ with shocked faces.
MoM: Motörhead will be remembered as one of the greatest rock bands of all time. Could you share one of your career highlights from your time in the band?
MD: Oh my god, so many. Basically every time you walk off stage – you felt that was it, no one can follow this. You felt you gave it all. I remember we didn’t care much for awards shows and all three of us had the same attitude – how do you compete in music, why should this song or album win an award over this or that. We always got awarded by our fans and that was enough for us. That’s where the real deal is. But, when we did win a Grammy, Lem was very proud. I could see and feel that. And of course me and Phil as well. Not so much because we won – more that someone finally gave us a little bit more space and attention in this world. I thought that was fair. I’m glad Lemmy got to experience that, he deserved it. The band deserved it too after so many years of total rock and travelling the world. I don’t think we had one bad record. It was nice to be awarded for that from the industry.
Cheers, Mikkey! To toast Motörhead’s excellent taste in spirits, Brands For Fans is offering you the opportunity to get your hands on a Motörhead merch package that includes the band’s Premium Dark Rum, Single Malt Whisky and Vodka. Competition opens this Thursday. Watch this space!
It’s a bumper week for The Nightcap, with stories about The Macallan, Diageo, competition winners, the artist formerly known as Plantation rum and a new Swift bar. Lovely stuff. It’s…
It’s a bumper week for The Nightcap, with stories about The Macallan, Diageo, competition winners, the artist formerly known as Plantation rum and a new Swift bar. Lovely stuff.
It’s been another busy week and a whole heap of boozy news has occurred. With so many stories floating around it can be hard to keep up. It’s not as if you have some kind of contraption to corral it up into one place to hand, like a big booze news net or one of those massive gloves they have in that American sport with the baseball hats. Lucky for you, we’ve got just the thing. Our delightful round-up of all the drinks industry happenings from the last seven days – it’s The Nightcap!
For the very last time, we’d like to thank all of you who entered last week’s virtual pub quiz. It’s been a pleasure teasing you with all kinds of weird and wonderful boozy trivia and hopefully, you all had fun. Thomas Knockaert certainly enjoyed himself, as he has the distinction of being the final winner! You can check out the answers to the last quiz (*sob*) below.
The rum formerly known as Plantation
Maison Ferrand rename Plantation Rum brand
Plantation Rum announced this week that its brand name will change. While we don’t know what the new name will be yet, we do know that its production methods and the liquid inside the bottle will remain the same. It’s also clear that the move was prompted by the global protests for social justice and racial equality spearheaded by the Black Lives Matter movement. “As the dialogue on racial equality continues globally, we understand the hurtful connotation the word plantation can evoke to some people, especially in its association with much graver images and dark realities of the past,” says Alexandre Gabriel, Plantation Rum master blender. “We look to grow in our understanding of these difficult issues and while we don’t currently have all the details of what our brand name evolution will involve, we want to let everyone know that we are working to make fitting changes.” Global brand manager Stephanie Simbo added that the rum brand “wants to be on the side of actions and solutions”. This case is a reminder of rum’s complex history and the fact that it is inextricably linked to slavery. But this is so rarely acknowledged, which is why we think this is great news and a meaningful step in the right direction.
The full Double Cask range. It’s a beautiful sight.
The Macallan adds to Double Cask range
The Macallan has bolstered its Double Cask range with two new aged expressions, the Double Cask 15 Years Old and Double Cask 18 Years Old. The former is said to impart aromas of dried fruit, toffee and vanilla, and delivers a warming finish with a creamy mouthfeel, while the latter is said to be filled with notes of dried fruits, ginger, toffee and a warm oak spice finish that’s balanced by sweet orange. Fans of the distillery will remember The Macallan Double Cask 12 Years Old was first introduced in 2016 as part of a series that celebrates the union of American and European oak sherry-seasoned casks. The Speyside distillery sources its European oak in northern Spain and the French Pyrenees, and American oak from Ohio, Missouri and Kentucky. Both types are transported to Spain, where they are made into casks, seasoned with sherry and then shipped to The Macallan Estate where they are filled. “Bringing together American and European oak sherry-seasoned casks to achieve the perfect balance of flavours is incredibly exciting for the whisky mastery team, and we are proud to offer two new expressions to this distinctive range for The Macallan Double Cask fans to explore,” says Kirsteen Campbell, master whisky maker of The Macallan. “Oak influence is the single greatest contributor to the quality, natural colour and distinctive aromas and flavours at the heart of The Macallan’s single malts.”
Each expression is the ‘first and last of its kind’, according to Diageo.
Diageo launches Prima & Ultima and plans carbon-neutral distillery in Kentucky
Diageo has had a busy week! First up is its shiny new whisky alert, announcing the launch of a very luxurious set of single malts, named Prima & Ultima. The first and last. Because each is the ‘first and last of its kind’, according to the press release. See what they did there? There are eight cask strength whiskies in the series selected by none other than Dr Jim Beveridge OBE. “Each of the eight whiskies I’ve selected for Prima & Ultima tells a tale of heritage and craftsmanship and I’ve chosen them from distillers of great personal importance to me,” says Dr Beveridge. You’ll find whisky from Cragganmore, Lagavulin, Mortlach, Port Ellen, Clynelish, Caol Ila, Talisker, and The Singleton of Dufftown, and each bottling marks a significant period of whisky-making for its distillery, with each one accompanied by a limited edition book of personal stories from Dr Beveridge himself, along with a 20ml sample. If you have a spare £20,000 you can get your hands on the entire set, though you’ll have to register first (which opens on 22 July). There are only 238 sets though, so better be snappy!
The other big news is physically much bigger, because Diageo has revealed its plans to construct Bulleit Bourbon brand’s new Kentucky whiskey distillery, and it’s going to be carbon neutral! It’ll run on 100% renewable electricity (even the on site vehicles), using electrode boilers and a combination of renewable energy sources. It’s costing a cool $130 million and is set to be up and running by 2021, with the capacity to produce just over 34 million litres each year. Get ready to say hello to one of the largest carbon-neutral distilleries in North America!
Congratulations to you, Stephanie Macleod!
International Whisky Competition 2020 winners announced
The results are in. The 11th edition of the International Whisky Competition whiskies has concluded after drams from around the world were judged side by side at the event in Estes Park, Colorado from 10-14 June. The top recognition, Whisky of the Year, was awarded to John Dewar and Sons – Double Double 32 Year Old (Blended Scotch), which scored 96.4 points, the highest-scoring whisky of the competition. This meant Stephanie Macleod, the brand’s master blender, became the first woman to win this prize and it was also the second year running that Macleod has won the accolade of Master Blender Of The Year, after she made history in 2019 as the first woman to win the award. John Dewar and Sons also won the Golden Barrel Trophy. “At Dewar’s we aim to push the boundaries of what is expected from the whisky category and have a long-standing commitment to innovation, so we are delighted with our success in the 2020 competition and it is an honour to be named Master Blender of the Year,” says Macleod. “I accept this award on behalf of the whole team at Dewar’s who have shown relentless hard work and dedication to achieving the very best quality and taste for our beautifully crafted whisky, despite the challenges this year has held. It is incredibly rewarding indeed to see these efforts appreciated.” Other winners were Glenmorangie’s Dr Bill Lumsden who won Master Distiller of the Year, while Ardbeg won Distillery of the Year. You can check out the full list here.
How Soho may look as it goes pedestrian-only in the evenings this summer.
Soho gets a pedestrian makeover
As Britain wakes up from its lockdown slumber, bars, pubs and restaurants have been working out how to reopen safety. Westminster Council has hit on a great way to help, pedestrianise Soho. So this summer from 5pm to 11pm, London’s original nightlife capital will be out of bounds to motor vehicles as part of the new Summer Street Festival. The pedestrian-only area covers Dean Street, Frith Street, Greek Street and Old Compton Street (map including street closure timings and details can be found here.) We spoke with Simo from Milroy’s yesterday about his plans for reopening which includes 16 tables outside the whisky shop on Greek Street. Other famous venues due to reopen include Cafe Boheme, Dean Street Townhouse, and Bar Italia. Many places are also offering incentives to visit such as one free drink with dinner bookings and discounts for NHS workers. The best thing is, that if this experiment is judged a success, then there’s potential for full or part pedestrianisation to become permanent. So no more diesel fumes in your al fresco cocktail.
We can’t wait to have those delicious Irish coffees at the new venue…
Swift to open all-day venue in Shoreditch
Swift, you are really spoiling us! Not only will the award-winning Old Compton Street institution be opening again on Saturday 4 July but the couple behind it, Mia Johansson and husband Bobby Hiddleston, have announced a new location to open at the end of the month. Located on Great Eastern Street in Shoreditch, it will serve from 8am during the week and 11am on weekends, offering breakfast, coffee etc. alongside the sort of cocktails that made the original Swift such a destination (though not at 8am presumably.) The team issued a statement saying: “Whilst we’re all still in uncertain times and have a long road ahead of us on our way to recovery, we have faith in the British public’s love of coming together for great food and drink and are hopeful that London’s world-class cocktail scene will rebuild itself to come back stronger than ever. Sticking to our plan to open our second site is just the embodiment of our faith in this and we are so excited to start hosting guests again.” A bit of optimism, that’s what we like to hear.
Gordon & MacPhail has gone for the classic Teletubbies look with its new distillery
Gordon & MacPhail distillery gets the green light
Gordon and MacPhail (G&M) is edging ever closer to having a shiny new multi-million-pound distillery near Grantown. The whisky distiller and bottler has given the contractors, Morrison Construction, the green light to begin contruction at the site on the banks of the River Spey in Craggan in Scotland’s Cairngorm National Park. The facility will be the first new malt whisky distillery to be built in the Cairngorms National Park Authority (CNPA) area since its creation in 2003. The building was supposed to be already well underway by now, but because of Covid-19 crisis restrictions, the project had to be pushed back. The distillery, which G&M has said will become a “significant local employer,” will have the capacity to produce around 440,000 gallons of whisky a year. Forsyths of Rothes will supply and install the distilling equipment, while the visitor centre, tasting rooms, retail space and coffee shop are projected to attract 50,000 tourists annually. “These appointments are the next major milestone in delivering this long-term project for the company. We look forward to working with these established businesses who are both highly experienced in their own field,” says Ewen Mackintosh, managing director of Elgin-based G&M. “We’ve been really heartened by the warm welcome we have received locally. As a family-owned business located in the north of Scotland, we are very much rooted in our communities, and we are keen to develop strong relationships in Grantown and the surrounding area.”
Why pour beer down the drain when you can feed it to cattle?
And finally. . . . Wimbledon Brewery feeds cows with beer
Some of the most heartbreaking stories to come out of lockdown were about pubs having to pour beer that was going out of date down the drain. Oh, the humanity! When Wimbledon Brewery found itself with a lot of unsaleable beer destined for pubs, however, someone had a brainwave: why not feed it to cows? And not just any cows, the excess stock went to the beer-loving cattle at Trenchmore Wagyu Beef Farm in Sussex. The beer helps make Wagyu the tenderest and sweetest-tasting beef on the planet. In return, the brewery will receive its very own Wagyu burgers. This is not the only way the brewery has adapted. According to founder Mark Gordon, the company lost 90% of business when the hospitality industry closed but managed to survive by concentrating on “local home deliveries and increased sales to supermarkets and bottle shops. This went from a very low base to the equivalent of 80% of our pre-lockdown turnover.” He went on to say: “Soon after the lockdown was announced, we initially closed the brewery but quickly took the decision to reopen because beer can be very good for morale.” It certainly is, and that reminds us, it’s probably time for beer. Have a great weekend everyone!
Pub Quiz Answers
1) In ‘Diary of a Nobody’, what brand of Champagne does Charles Pooter order from his local shop?
Answer: Jackson Freres
2) What’s the nearest single malt distillery to Edinburgh?
3) What’s the name of the famous copperworks at Rothes?
4) Who invented the spirit safe?
Answer: Septimus Fox
5) Which brand of whisky does Karen Hill (Lorraine Bracco) smuggle into prison for her husband (Ray Liotta) in ‘Goodfellas’?
6) Which cocktail was supposedly named after Zelda Fitzgerald?
Answer: White Lady
7) In the Jeeves & Wooster stories, what is the “secret” ingredient of the former’s hangover remedy?
Answer: Worcestershire Sauce
8) Which gin does Amy Whitehouse mention in the song ‘You Know I’m No Good’?
9) Bernard de Voto’s book ‘The Hour’ is a paean to which cocktail?
10) In which of Shakespeare’s history plays is one of the characters drowned in a barrel of Malmsey wine?
For a long time Tullamore D.E.W. was a historic name without a distillery. Now the Irish whiskey brand is closing the gap on Jameson’s and enjoying life under William Grant’s…
For a long time Tullamore D.E.W. was a historic name without a distillery. Now the Irish whiskey brand is closing the gap on Jameson’s and enjoying life under William Grant’s stewardship.
The first thing you see when you enter the Tullamore D.E.W. distillery is a copper phoenix. It was adopted as the symbol of the town in 1785, a decade after Tullamore was seriously damaged when the crash of a hot air balloon resulted in a fire that burned down around 130 homes. It’s the emblem of the local sports clubs. There’s a bar in town called The Phoenix. Symbolically it’s the perfect image for the Irish whiskey brand to evoke, as it knows a thing or two about rising from the ashes.
The original Tullamore distillery was built in 1829 by the Malloy Brothers – Michael and Anthony Malloy. After passing through the family for a couple of generations, the business was left to Daniel Edmund Williams to run. “Williams joined the business in 1862 as a 14-year-old boy and by the time he was 25, in 1873, he was the general manager,” says John Quinn, the global ambassador for the brand. “Over the next two decades he proceeded to buy out the owners and began producing a whiskey that became famous and the famous ‘D.E.W. ‘was added, a play on Williams’ three initials and the word ‘dew’”. There’s an air of Willy Wonka about Williams. He added a bonded warehouse and bottling plant to the distillery, and transformed the town bringing modern amenities like electricity, telephones and cars, as well as opening over 20 pub-grocery shops. He even coinined the immortal slogan “Give Every Man his Dew”. “He was an iconic man, an iconic individual. It inspires us and it would inspire anybody,” explains Quinn.
Although the brand initially thrived, by the beginning of the 20th century it was barely surviving, a fate that affected most Irish whiskey distilleries due to a number of reasons. “The rebellion in Dublin that generated independence for Ireland also led to an economic war with Britain, which meant access to the likes of Canada, Australian, India and Britain was blocked. That coincided with the Prohibition in the US so the market was closed to Irish whiskey exports. Then, with the second world war, the American soldiers eventually based themselves in Britain and got a taste for Scotch,” explains Quinn. “Probably the most significant event, however, was the development of blended Scotch. The distillers of Ireland fought hard against its introduction and this inability to move with the times caused the Irish whisky industry to almost collapse. Combined with the financial difficulties that came with the new Irish state after independence a lot of the distilleries struggled, particularly as the overseas business had virtually gone completely. By the 1950s most of the distilleries in Ireland were closed”.
John Quinn has been working with the brand since 1974, so he’s seen it all.
Tullamore Distillery held on until 1954 until it had to shut its doors. But the brand didn’t die off. It was sold to John Powers & Son in 1960 and six years later the Dublin distillers merged with two other Irish distilleries to form Irish Distillers. In the 1970s, Irish Distillers closed their existing distilleries and consolidated production at a new distillery built in Midleton, County Cork. In 1994, Irish Distillers sold the brand to the C&C Group before it was acquired by the owners of Glenfiddich et al, William Grant & Sons, for €300 million in 2010. At which point, Tullamore D.E.W. was still without its own distillery, with every expression released under the brand’s name being sourced from Bushmills and Midleton Distillery.
William Grant , however, had other ideas. It put plans into motion to build a new state-of-the-art distillery in Tullamore.”When William Grant took over we heard talk of building a distillery but I kind of refused to believe it because I’d heard it all before. People used to say ‘if we sell a quarter of a million cases, we’ll build a distillery’. We got to 600,000 cases, still no distillery. There was a commitment to build the brand but not to build the legacy!” says Quinn. “When William Grant took over I can remember the joy of talking to people who were also interested in whisky and history and legacy. A lot of people are getting into Irish whiskey trying to make money. With the Grant family, it’s in their blood and they genuinely are passionate about it. When you’re part of a company that lives and breathes whisky, it’s different”.
Quinn actually first realised that William Grant was serious about the project while managing a ladies football team. “One of the players needed a lift to the game and said ‘I’m sorry I’m late but I had to finish a report I was writing’. She was a ground engineer writing a report for a whisky company and said it was looking at building a distillery. Immediately I knew who she was talking about,” Quinn recalls. “Lo-and-behold, a month or two later we got an announcement that the distillery was to be built in Tullamore. It was the greatest thrill of all time for me because I’m the longest-serving Tullamore D.E.W. person at that time in the business. I’m like a child in a toy shop when I go down there because having spent 40 something years in the business I’m now six years with our own distillery and it’s still a novelty that I can’t get over”.
The delightful new Tullamore Distillery.
After an initial €3 million investment upgrading the visitor centre (housed in the old distillery’s warehouse that closed in 1954), William Grant spent €35 million on a brand new, state-of-the-art facility in Tullamore, which opened in 2014. Initially it had the capacity to produce up to 1.8 million litres of pot still and malt whiskey per annum using four pot stills, but provision was made for the installation of a further two pot stills in the distillery, which doubled this capacity to 3.64 million litres. Following an additional €25 million investment, a grain distillery with a gigantic three column still and bottling plant were added in 2017. That spend brought total monies invested over the past eight years to €100m. “We now employ over 90 people locally and we have great facilities now for innovation, for trialling, for working on different casks and finishings,” says Quinn. “We even brought over Tom, the original distiller from 1948-54 who had emigrated to New York City, as the guest of honour. He got the keys that were lent to us by the Williams family to reopen the distillery”.
The installation of a grain distillery means that the distillery can now produce all three components (pot still, malt, and grain whiskey) of its Tullamore Dew blended whiskey on-site, which matures in six warehouses filled with close to 300,000 casks. It’s the only triple-distilled blend, grain to glass Irish distillery. “We’re very proud of that. It’s the key thing about our brand that we distil three kinds of whisky, malt, pot still and grain, and each of those is triple-distilled [the grain in the column still]. That gives us a whiskey that’s complex, approachable and unique. There isn’t a lot of whiskey made that way,” says Quinn. “Pot still is a very interesting component in that it gives a viscosity and oiliness to the texture of the whiskey. It’s an iconic style in Ireland so it’s important that we have it in our blend and we’ll hopefully release a pot still whiskey in the not too distant future, which will be exciting. A single pot still won’t have been made in Tullamore in a long time, it would have been 65 years.”
Another blend is the Tullamore D.E.W. XO Caribbean Rum Cask Finish, which finishes its original blend of pot still, malt and grain Irish whiskeys in first fill Caribbean rum casks which previously held Demerara rum, while the brand also has a 14-year-old and an 18-year-old single malt in its portfolio, both of which were produced at Bushmills. At the visitors centre, you can also pick up the Tullamore D.E.W. Old Bonded Warehouse Release, which Quinn describes as “a variation of our original whisky with more pot still and sherry cask, it’s a big seller at our visitors centre because you can’t buy it anywhere else”. Excitingly, there’s more to come. “We’re in a process of innovation and we will be launching new expressions this year. They probably would have been launched sooner if it wasn’t for COVID-19, but we will have at least one, if not two expressions, coming certainly between now and next April. Unfortunately, I can’t tell you any more about them because there will be a big reveal and launch,” Quinn explains.
The old warehouse was converted into the brand’s visitor centre
Tullamore D.E.W has the distinction of being the only distillery in Ireland that uses Irish winter wheat as its grain, which is considerably more expensive than say French corn, a more commonplace choice. “I remember when the grain distillery was being built and the project manager suggested it and I said I would love it to use Irish wheat rather than French corn if it’s possible! The thinking behind it at the time was that Girvan [grain distillery owned by William Grant] works with wheat and so our guys were happy to work with wheat from an engineering point-of-view, but for me, it was fantastic because it’s another part of our story which is interesting and different,” says Quinn. “Being environmentally conscious is still high on our agenda even with a pandemic going on. We have a distillery where the grain is all Irish and where the movement of your spirit from your distillery to the warehouses and from the warehouses into a bottling hall is just there beside you. It gives us an efficient carbon footprint statement. There’s no other distillery in Ireland that’s doing that. We’ve got three types of whiskies, all of them being matured on-site and all of them using Irish grain and all of them being matured and bottled in the same campus”.
Part of this consideration to act responsibly and ensure provenance meant that William Grant also built a water pipe to receive the water from the Slieve Bloom Mountains as part of the construction of the distillery, which is 14 kilometres away. “The water coming from the mountains is probably softer but mostly we wanted to ensure that we had our own supply of water, rather than taking it out of the town supply or from underground even from wells below the distillery,” Quinn explains. The consideration for the local environment extended so far as to plant plants in the distillery grounds in order to facilitate a bee corridor and use a patented William Grant engineering department system called ‘thermal vapour recompression’. “Essentially it reuses the latent heat built up around the condensers to fire up the stills again so we don’t need nearly as much energy to run them, so it improves our efficiency by another 17% beyond what it would have been. I’m very proud of that part of our business. We’re just lucky that we’ve got this site big enough and the company had the vision to do everything on one site”.
Tullamore D.E.W malt and pot still whiskey is distilled in handcrafted copper stills that were modelled on the original pre-1954 Tullamore stills, which are actually on display at the nearby Kilbeggan Distillery. “The engineers showed me the designs of the stills before and I thought ‘why is all this familiar to me?’ They told me they found the old designs and we’d gone to Forsyths in Scotland and asked them to make the stills’. That speaks to the importance of heritage and legacy and history in the business,” Quinn says. In keeping with the spirit of innovation, Tullamore D.E.W also brought back the art of coopering to its distillery for the first time in six decades. The brand’s cooperage currently employs one cooper who previously worked in Cognac and for William Grant in Scotland before he came to Tullamore. The plan is to hire an apprentice in the near future. “At first we didn’t think having our own cooper would be essential, but as time went on and the more casks that we put out, we realised we needed to have our cooper man on-site doing all this work’,” Quinn says. “It’s brilliant because it completes the whole picture”.
The handcrafted copper stills were modelled on the original pre-1954 model
Tullamore D.E.W is certainly going to be putting those skills to good use as the brand has never shied away from experimenting with cask types, which the Tullamore D.E.W. Cider Cask Finish expression demonstrates. “The Scotch whisky people I talk to do have a degree of gentle jealousy that there’s flexibility in Irish whiskey to play with different casks that they don’t, or least until recently certainly didn’t have. We appreciate that we need to hold onto some of the traditions and not throw everything out, but that we don’t need to hamstring ourselves completely”, Quinn explains. “We’ve got great flexibility to do all sorts of cask finishing, which gives us an opportunity to offer expressions that might not otherwise have been available and therefore Irish Whiskey becomes really interesting. And we need to be interesting because we need people to be talking about it, you know?”
That conversation has been helped by the formation of the Irish Whisky Association in 2014, according to Quinn, who believes that the organisation gives those in the Irish whiskey industry a sense of common purpose and an understanding of the threat of not doing it right. “We’ve developed quality standards and technical and verification files with a view to geographical indication to help define what the category is. It brings us all together and gives everybody a chance to do well so the industry can continue to thrive and grow, employ more people and encourage a tourism industry that we haven’t had” Quinn explains. His ultimate aim is that it becomes sort of second nature to talk about ‘Irish’ when you talk about ‘whiskey’. “I remember a time when we had to remind people that there are other whiskies beyond Scotch and American. When convincing people that Irish whiskey has heritage, quality and flavour was a real challenge. You have to be careful that we don’t get complacent and what we definitely don’t want is the new smaller distilleries to fail and for us to find ourselves with closed distilleries again in Ireland. We want everybody to succeed and I can’t see any reason why anybody would want other than a thriving business”.
Cocktails have become a key part of this conversation and Tullamore D.E.W as a brand has embraced this culture, filling its website with recipes. This is something Quinn never thought he’d see in an article about whiskey and the fact that cocktails have become such a key part of the conversation is a pleasant surprise for him. “Did I ever think I would see myself talking about cocktails? No! But it’s great to hear bartenders responding to the different elements in the blend. I love that they can pick out the sweetness from the grain whiskey, the spice that’s coming from the pot still, the fruit that’s coming from the malt and then make something special with it. It’s this blend of thoughts, cultures and ideas that make us all interesting people and an interesting brand”.
Tullamore D.E.W is Ireland’s second-biggest whiskey brand and its future is bright
Interesting though they are, in the current climate it’s harder than ever to predict what the future holds for Tullamore D.E.W. and Irish whiskey. Prior to the pandemic, it was on course to sell a million and a half cases this year. “If you had asked me this in December my answer would be that I see a very bright future for Irish whiskey, particularly in places where we’re really small and relatively unknown. In Latin America or Asia for example, where there’s a very strong Scotch culture, we’re trying to help people understand that this is a really interesting category and country. Our business is dominated by Europe and North America, so these markets are an incredible opportunity for us as a category,” Quinn says. “There’s potential there and I hope we’ll have an industry where there are lots of Irish whiskey distilleries with different flavour profiles and everybody will have a place in and will be living from a vibrant industry platform that talks with confidence and nobody worries about mothballed distilleries. That’s what I’m hoping, that’s what I dream of and that’s what I envisage. For the last 15 years, we can say that that’s certainly been the trend line”.
With the capital’s venues tentatively opening up again on the 4 July, we thought it as good a time as any to celebrate some of our favourite places in London…
With the capital’s venues tentatively opening up again on the 4 July, we thought it as good a time as any to celebrate some of our favourite places in London to drink whisky.
It’s happening, it’s finally happening! Soon, when you want to have a drink with a friend it won’t mean dropped connections and unflattering camera angles on Zoom, or sitting two metres apart in your garden wondering whether using the loo would break government guidelines on social distancing. No, we’re talking about sitting at a table under a roof while someone brings you a drink, and then you pay for it. Sounds bananas, but it could catch on. So, we’ve rounded up five of our favourite places to drink whisky. Where we know, we’ve put when the venue will be opening again and whether booking is required. Please do contact the bar first though. Right, without further ado, here they are. Let us know about your favourites in the comments or on social media.
Almost every day, Boisdale owner, the magnificently-monickered Ranald Macdonald, is to be found enjoying lunch in the Belgravia branch. Always a good sign. This first Boisdale specialising in Macdonald’s three favourite things steak, cigars and whisky, opened in 1988, and has since been joined by three other venues, Mayfair, Bishopsgate and a mammoth venue at Canary Wharf. Macdonald also loves music and so there are regular jazz, soul and reggae gigs with some serious talent on offer like Courtney Pine or Horace Andy. The Mayfair branch has a special vinyl and cocktail bar in the basement whereas in Belgravia you can indulge your inner plutocrat on the cigar terrace where Glen Collins will suggest the perfect malt to go with your Montecristo. During lockdown, MacDonald has kept the wolf from the door issuing Boisdale War Bonds where one can buy fine whisky, wine, food and music in advance at a massive discount. The Belgravia branch will open from 8 July.
You could spend a lot of time and money at Bull in a China Shop
This amazing bar in London by Old Street roundabout is a booze wonderland especially for lovers of Japanese whisky. It was founded by brothers Simon and Stephen Chan who created the Drunken Monkey dim sum bar also in Shoreditch. Bull in a China Shop has been open since 2015, and offers an incredible range of Japanese whisky including some Karuizawa at £55 a glass and the biggest bottle of Nikka from the Barrel you have ever seen, plus whiskies from smaller producers like Mars. There’s plenty of Scotch too. Stephen Chan told me he had a soft spot for Tomatin, in particular. There’s Japanese, Taiwanese and Korean bar snacks to wash down with your single malt.
Milroy’s has been a whisky destination since the ’60s
Milroy’s is a Soho institution that was revived and revitalised when Martyn ‘Simo’ Simpson took over in 2014. There’s a cocktail bar in the basement and a whisky bar on the ground floor with over 1,000 bottles to try; they claim it’s the largest selection outside Scotland. Simo buys and bottles his own rare casks so there are things here that you can’t find anywhere else. During lockdown, the team kept busy by selling rare casks, offering Zoom tastings and selling bottled cocktails. “We will come out of this stronger than we went in,” he said. He opened a three story Spitalfields outpost last year which contains a whisky-focused private members club. This will be selling drams to take away while the Soho branch will open up next week with seating at the whisky bar and 16 tables outside as part of Soho’s evening pedestrianisation transformation. He’s taking the opening slowly “we’ll be fully open in September, no one is going to rush back to central London yet.”
The aim with Homeboy was to bring a bit of Dublin to Islington, according to founders Aaron Wall and Ciaran Smith. As you’d expect there’s a remarkably range of Irish whiskeys alongside some excellent cocktails along with simple food like toasties or, sure to bring back childhood memories, a crisp sandwich made with Tayto’s cheese and onion. One of London’s smallest bars, it will be reopening on 4 July; Wall told us: “we are just doing table service and blocking off every second table for distancing. We are happy to take walks too and also takeaway. Bookings have been really good for Saturday but really quiet for after that.” Wall has kept busy experimenting with Home Boy Irish Coffee Bitters (why has no one done this before?), which should be coming soon, bottled cocktails and “our own limited release top secret finished Irish Whiskey.” Sounds exciting.
We love a bit of theatre here at Master of Malt, and there’s theatre a-plenty at the secret Sibin bar at the recently-opened Great Scotland Yard Hotel. It was so secret that we struggled to find it until a helpful member of staff pressed a discreet button and, James Bond villain-style, a section of bookcase opened to reveal a secret bar. It’s called Sibín, as in an Irish drinking den (sometimes spelt shebeen). The drinks menu takes a turn for the unexpected too with old classics given a tune-up. The Rusty Nail is made with two types of Talisker, and Drambuie, and then left to oxidise for two days to mellow. Bars manager Michal Mariarz adds a little PX to his Smokey Cokey, Lagavulin 16 year old and Coke. For the more classically-inclined there are unusual whiskies like a 2005 Caol Ila part-matured in Hermitage red wine casks. Please note, opening date for Sibin is still TBC.
Today we’re making one of the world’s most delicious cocktails, the way it should be made. With a good flavoured rum and fresh ingredients. I had a Piña Colada epiphany…
Today we’re making one of the world’s most delicious cocktails, the way it should be made. With a good flavoured rum and fresh ingredients.
I had aPiña Colada epiphany a few years ago. I’d always dismissed it as the sort of lurid concoction laden with sugar, cream and cocktail umbrellas that Del Boy might order in Only Fools and Horses. Or that my older brother would drink on family holidays on Lanzarote. But a French friend made one for me with fresh pineapple, coconut water and Martinque rum, and it was about the most delicious thing I’ve ever tasted. It was so delicious, that I didn’t notice how much rum was in it until I tried to stand up.
So what is a Piña Colada? The name literally means ‘strained pineapple’ in Spanish and something like the modern version was invented in 1954 by a barman at the Caribe Hilton in Puerto Rico called Ramón “Monchito” Marrero, or so the story goes. There are other pretenders to the crown of the inventor of the world’s greatest pineapple-based cocktail. The story is further complicated by the existence of a Cuban cocktail called a Piña Colada mentioned in the 1920s which mixes pineapple with rum but doesn’t contain coconut. It was the Puerto Rican version, however, that went global in the 1960s and naturally it began to change a bit. The cream of coconut from the originally was substituted with the sort of cream that might once have had something to do with cows, pasteurised or tinned pineapple replaced the fresh stuff, and cheap rums sneaked in like cheap rums do along with glace cherries, umbrellas, fireworks etc. Just the sort of thing that Del Boy would have ordered in the Nags Head.
But made properly, a Piña Colada is a magnificent thing combining as it does the three most tropical ingredients imaginable: pineapple, rum and coconut. Imagine if you could get a mango in there somewhere, or would that be too tropical? Anyway, as long as you use decent ingredients you can’t go wrong. So fresh pineapple juice, coconut cream or water and, of course, a rum that tastes like rum.
We’re using Aluna Coconut rum; it’s unusual among coconut rums in really tasting of both rum and coconut. In fact, it tastes like opening up a coconut to find that it’s full of rum rather than coconut water. Wouldn’t that be amazing? That’s because it’s not only macerated with coconut but also sweetened with coconut water so it’s about the nearest thing you’ll get to a rum-filled coconut. The base spirit is a blend of Guatemala and Caribbean rums. It’s bottled at 35% ABV, so significantly stronger than some other coconut rum drinks so be careful standing up after a couple.
So whether you’re celebrating Piña Colada day on the 10 July or want to make the ultimate a tropical cocktail now, here’s how to do it properly:
50ml Aluna Coconut rum 50ml Coconut water 100ml Fresh pineapple juice Juice of half a lime
Add all the ingredients to an ice-filled shaker. Shake hard and strain into a tumbler or Collins glass filled with ice. Garnish with a slice of lime or pineapple. And, what the hell, a glace cherry, umbrella and sparkler too. Lubbly jubbly!