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Master of Malt Blog

Cocktail of the Week: The Margarita

Have you all got 22 February marked off in your diaries? No? Well, it’s National Margarita Day and we have everything you need to know about this Tequila-based cocktail. As…

Have you all got 22 February marked off in your diaries? No? Well, it’s National Margarita Day and we have everything you need to know about this Tequila-based cocktail.

As I am sure you are aware, Friday 22 February is National Margarita Day.  Well, it’s National Margarita Day in America at least, and in Mexico every day is National Margarita Day, or so I like to think. But like Loyd Grossman, bourbon, and the word ‘dissed’, National Margarita Day has crossed the Atlantic*.

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How J&B Scotch charmed Hollywood’s Rat Pack

Created by London wine merchants Justerini & Brooks, J&B Rare Scotch whisky was the drink of choice for world-famous casino crooners The Rat Pack, travelling more than 5,000 miles to…

Created by London wine merchants Justerini & Brooks, J&B Rare Scotch whisky was the drink of choice for world-famous casino crooners The Rat Pack, travelling more than 5,000 miles to make it into their tumblers. Here, writer Damian Barr explains just how Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra and company got their mitts on the liquid…

Before tux-clad entertainers Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Junior, Peter Lawford and Joey Bishop took the Las Vegas casino scene by storm in the 1950s and ‘60s, the city was little more than “a patch in the Nevada Desert,” Barr explains, speaking at London bar Oriole during J&B’s Rat Pack Redistilled event.

“The Rat Pack turned it into what it is now – for better and for worse,” he continues. “They liked to gatecrash one another’s shows, and often if you were going to a show for one of the members it would say over the marquee, ‘Dean Martin, maybe Frank, maybe Sammy’, because they just never knew who was going to turn up.”

J&B and America, a special relationship

So, how did the high rollers of Hollywood wind up quaffing what was, in fact, a wine merchant’s whisky? It all started with the ‘J’ in J&B – an Italian master distiller, blender, and creator of what were then referred to as ‘foreign cordials’, Giacomo Justerini, when he arrived in London from Italy back in 1749.

“He didn’t have much money, but he had lots of charm and a recipe which he copied on the back of a notebook and brought from his uncle in Bologna,” says Barr. “He needed a business partner so he set about finding one, and found Dr Samuel Johnson.”

Justerini set up as a wine merchant with Johnson’s nephew, George, at 76 Haymarket – the business remains nearby today – until eventually George sold his share of the business to Albert Brooks, paving the way for the J&B recognisable today.

“By the early nineteenth century, a huge interest increased in the number of private members clubs and they all opened up around St James’s,” says Barr. “Great whisky barons like [creator of Old Vatted Glenlivet] Andrew Usher and Tommy Dewar noted the increased demand and decided to improve their recipes. Every other whisky maker on the block – including Justerini and Brooks – decided to up their game.”

Brooks approached Usher – the first person to commercially blend whisky – and tasked him with creating a smoother blend. Usher, together with his business partner James Anderson, developed J&B Club, the precursor to J&B Rare. The duo was so enamoured with it, they decided to buy the business from Justerini and Brooks.

The Duke of Windsor J&B

The Duke of Windsor enjoying a glass of J&B

Not long later, during world war one, Anderson’s son met a exceedingly charismatic young man called Eddie Tatham in the trenches. He joined the company immediately after the war ended, and soon became a director. With the advent of cinema, film actors became friends with Tatham, who was “very outgoing and well-dressed… a party boy”.

“Eddie was a charmer, he was the kind of man that you’d want to be on out with on a night that might take unexpected turns,” says Barr. “His tactic was to choose top restaurants, top bars, top hotels, what became known as the tip of the trade. He received a bonus not long after joining of £200, which equates to £12,000 in today’s money, and set sail for America.”

There he met blender Charlie Julian, who is responsible for creating Chivas Regal among other whiskies. Together, they begin the blending process for what would eventually become J&B Rare: a blend of at least 42 single malt and grain Speyside whiskies, including liquid from Knockando, Auchroisk, Strathmill and Glen Spey. After Prohibition was repealed, Tatham set about “importing the good stuff from Scotland for the thirsty of America”.

With the help of distributor Abe Rosenberg, Tatham decided to target the national markets; Las Vegas, Palm Springs, Palm Beach, New Orleans, Newport. “Of these, the biggest was Las Vegas; big gamblers, big singers, big comedians, all playing the casinos,” says Barr. Performers like the Rat Pack, who he became very good friends with.

“Abe Rosenberg had this trick – he would send half a gallon of J&B to the dressing room of a star who had a show on and say, ‘I enjoyed your show very much, have one on me’,” says Barr. “Even if he was in New York or Rome or Paris! Apparently he was trying to give away up to 1,000 cases of Scotch every single year.”

The most loyal of J&B’s Rat Pack admirers was Dean Martin, the ‘amiable drunk’ persona, which he honed at the Sands Hotel in Vegas. “Introduced with the words ‘…and now, direct from the bar’, he would bound on stage, taking a Scotch from somebody’s table on the way,” says Barr. “There was often a bar on stage, and he’d ‘top-up’ his glass before launching into the final rendition of That’s Amore. He used to tell his audiences, “I don’t drink any more… I don’t drink any less, either’.”

Entertaining as it was, Martin’s intoxication was a little more than a stage act. “His son Ricky said that while it was true [his] Dad drank, the drunky routine was an act,” explains Barr. “On stage, and later on his TV show, he did have a J&B Scotch and soda but it was almost always a weak one – and sometimes it was just an apple juice.”

Dean Martin J&B

Dean Martin, that’s actually apple juice in his glass. No, really!

 

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Celebrate St. David’s Day with wonderful Welsh tipples

St. David’s Day is a day of celebration of both St David’s life and of the Welsh culture, so why not enjoy the festivities this year with a wonderfully Welsh…

St. David’s Day is a day of celebration of both St David’s life and of the Welsh culture, so why not enjoy the festivities this year with a wonderfully Welsh tipple?

March 1st isn’t just the first day of spring, but a very special day in the Welsh calendar – St. David’s Day, of course! To some it might be the country of daffodils, unpronounceable towns and Sir Tom Jones, but to us here at MoM Towers, we see a land with a long and notable history of alcohol production and a modern industry that is currently booming. Whether it’s craft beer, climate-defying wines, sublime gins or the emerging array of fab Welsh whiskies, there really is something for everyone.

St. David’s Day is the perfect time of year to check out the results for yourself. Whether you’re a non-Welsh person looking for something new or a Welsh native that wants to champion and reconnect with their roots, you can toast the country’s national day with a local tipple. Cooking up a feast of leek dishes accompanied by lamb, mutton and Welsh cake isn’t the only way to mark the occasion. Take a leek look (sorry) at these delectable St. David’s Day drinks that we’ve selected to celebrate the patron saint of Wales.

Dydd Gŵyl Dewi Hapus*, everyone!

Cygnet Gin

The first tipple on our list hails from Swansea and was created by master distiller and Cygnet Distillery director Dai Wakely, in what he described as “the only live micro gin distillery in Wales”. The botanica list includes juniper, lemon peel, lime peel, pink grapefruit peel, orange peel, liquorice root, orris root, coriander seed, angelica root, cardamom seed, almond and chamomile.

What does it taste like?:

Floral at first, with chamomile playing a big part on the nose. Fresh citrus peel give it a vibrant palate, joined by a bite of juniper and coriander spice.

Saintly serve: The Red Dragon

A fantastically fun and fruity tribute to the Welsh emblem and pride of the Welsh flag, The Red Dragon is a punchy, patriotic serve that’s incredibly easy to make. To create, simply add 30ml of Cygnet Gin, 30ml of Grand Marnier, 25ml blood orange juice, 25ml lemon juice and 3ml grenadine in a chilled glass together with ice. Shake well and then strain the mix into a chilled glass. Garnishing with an orange peel and belt out a resounding edition of Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau should you be so inclined.

Barti Ddu Spiced

Inspired by famous Pembrokeshire Pirate, ‘Barti Ddu’, (or ‘Black Bart’ in English), The Pembrokeshire Beach Food Company crafted this spirit using a blend of Caribbean rums spiced with notes of vanilla, cloves and orange and one special, appropriately patriotic ingredient: Pembrokeshire laver seaweed, also known as Welshman’s caviar.

What does it taste like?:

Warm, rich baking spices, marmalade, toffee apples, red cola cubes, vanilla and a wave of coastal saltiness.

Saintly serve: Pistol Proof

Who doesn’t love the modern classic that is the Espresso Martini? This Barti Ddu take on the serve is designed to make you ‘Pistol Proof’, something Barti Ddu himself was known for. To create, put 30ml of Barti Ddu Spiced, 35ml of St. George Nola Coffee Liqueur, 25ml of Reyka Vodka, 25ml of sugar syrup and lastly 25ml of fresh espresso into a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake vigorously for 20 seconds before straining into chilled Martini glasses (20 minutes in the freezer should do it). Dust with nutmeg, then try to avoid any terrible pirate impressions as you serve.

Penderyn Portwood

Penderyn managed to forge itself quite a reputation for producing some mighty fine single Port cask releases, so it was only a matter of time before the Welsh distillery created a single malt bottling for its core range. The whisky, which was initially matured in ex-bourbon casks and then in Portwood casks, received recognition in Jim Murray’s Whisky Bible in 2018 with a Liquid Gold Award.

What does it taste like?:

Sweet, jammy and creamy with some toffee, rich fruit, plum wine, sweet goji berries and wood spice.

Saintly serve: Iechyd Da

A toast to good health, the Iechyd Da is a simple but effective way to make great use of this delicious Welsh whisky. To create, simply pour 50ml of Penderyn Portwood, a bar spoon of Welsh honey, 10ml blood orange juice, 2 dashes of Angostura Orange Bitters and ice into a tumblr. Stir vigorously and garnish with a twist of orange peel. Serve and try to pronounce ‘Iechyd Da’ correctly (yeah-ch-id dah).

Aber Falls Orange Marmalade Gin

Aber Falls is North Wales’ first whisky distillery in over 100 years and we’re big fans, as you can probably tell from this blog post. While whisky stocks mature the brand has released a slew of seriously tasty liqueurs and flavoured gins such as the Aber Falls Orange Marmalade Gin, which may well be as good on toast as it is in a Citrus Fizz…

What does it taste like?:

Fresh orange juice, with a punchy kick of dried juniper. A bit pithy at points.

Saintly serve: Citrus Fizz

We decided to go with the Citrus Fizz here and not toast for reasons we’re sure you’ll understand. This cocktail is as refreshing as it gets and it couldn’t be simpler to create. In a chilled glass add 25ml of Aber Falls Orange Marmalade Gin, 50ml of dry white wine (something like Isabel Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2017), 75ml of soda water and plenty of cubed ice. Stir well and then garnish with orange zest. Serve and figure out how to actually pair gin and toast together later.

Penderyn Legend

If you want to toast the patron saint of Wales with a great Welsh whisky, then one with the red dragon proudly adoringin the label seems a sensible choice. Penderyn Legend is another rather tasty Welsh single malt whisky from the brand, who matured this spirit in bourbon barrels and finished it in ex-Madeira casks. It’s received a slew of awards, including Gold at in the European Single Malt – Premium category at The World Whisky Masters (The Spirits Business) in 2018.

What does it taste like?:

Rich and well-balanced, with dried fruit, dark chocolate, green apples, cream fudge and vanilla.

Saintly serve: Dewi Sant

This recipe was actually created as part of a St David’s Day celebratory menu in Donovan Bar, London by bar manager Armand Wysocki. All you need to do to create your own interpretation is add 50ml of Penderyn Legend, 25ml of Noilly Prat Original Dry, a dash of Angostura Orange Bitters and a dash of sugar into a Martini glass and stir well. Garnish with a lemon twist and raise a glass to Dewi Sant (St. David)!

Hibernation Gin

From Dyfi Distillery comes the delicious Hibernation Gin, which was crafted with some fantastic foraged ingredients including bilberries, crab apples and blackberries. Post-distillation the gin spends time maturing in white Port casks from the legendary Port house Niepoort.

What does it taste like?:

Gloriously bright and fruit-forward, with fresh white grapes and green apple, tempered by oily juniper and Alpine herbs. Slowly develops a subtly oak-y warmth on the mid-palate.

Saintly serve: Negroni

Add a dose of hearty Welshness to this Italian classic by combining 25ml of Hibernation Gin, 25ml of Campari and 25ml of Martini Rosso vermouth together in a cocktail shaker. Shake well with cracked ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a twist of orange peel, grate some fresh ginger on top and serve alongside a wholesome helping of cawl.

Dà Mhìle Apple Brandy

Dà Mhìle is another very impressive Welsh distillery with a range of interesting products, including this organic Apple Brandy. It’s crafted using wild apples from the brand’s own farm and nearby valleys, which were first made into cider and then quadruple distilled. The spirit was then matured for a year in barrels which has previously held French red wine.

What does it taste like?:

Sharp and sweet apple, brown sugar, butterscotch and a little oak spice.

Saintly serve: The Apple Old Fashioned

The Old-Fashioned gets a gloriously autumnal makeover here in this tasty serve. To make, start by stirring together a teaspoon of maple syrup with a few good dashes of Angostura Orange Bitters in an old-fashioned glass. Then add ice and 80ml of Dà Mhìle Apple Brandy. Garnish with a wedge of green apple and serve.

Brecon Special Reserve Gin

Penderyn don’t just make fine whisky, but delicious gin as well! Brecon Special Reserve Gin was distilled with a host of botanicals sourced from all over the world, such as juniper from Macedonia, orange peel from Spain, Chinese cassia bark, Sri Lankan liquorice, Madagascan cinnamon, French angelica root, Russian coriander, Indian nutmeg, Spanish lemon peel and Italian orris root. Very impressive stuff indeed.

What does it taste like?:

Juniper, warm citrus, coriander and hints of spicy cinnamon.

Saintly serve: Smoky Welsh Martini

Martinis are such a versatile and tasty serve. This edition adds a little smokiness via a tasty Welsh whisky. To make, you just need to pour 75ml of Brecon Special Reserve Gin and 5ml Penderyn Peated Whisky into a Martini glass filled with ice. Stir well and then garnish with a fresh lemon peel, or a bit of leek if you’re feeling particularly patriotic/brave.

 

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Meet MoMer’s Web Page Gin – our very own bottling!

Gather round spirit-loving folk, for we have most exciting news. A genuine Master of Malt gin is now a real thing in this realm of existence. What’s it all about?…

Gather round spirit-loving folk, for we have most exciting news. A genuine Master of Malt gin is now a real thing in this realm of existence. What’s it all about? We’re glad you asked…

You probably know us best as an (award-winning) specialist drinks retailer. But, as fans of our single cask series will attest to, we also love bottling anything that makes us go “Wow!”

Which is why it gives us great pleasure to unveil our latest creation: MoMer’s Web Page Gin.

The delicious tipple is a celebration of all things MoM. Developed in collaboration with those fab folk at That Boutique-y Gin Company, MoMer’s Web Page Gin is a classic dry gin with a rich, warming and distinctive profile.

MoMer's Web Page Gin

Introducing: MoMer’s Web Page Gin!

Its signature style is the result of the herbaceous awesomeness of its botanicals (basil, rosemary and thyme to be precise), which were distilled separately under vacuum before being expertly blended with a more traditional pot-distilled base. It doesn’t just sound delicious. We can confirm that it very much tastes delicious (see the tasting note below for more detail).

But now for the question that is surely on all of your lips: why MoMer’s Web Page Gin? Well, the name was inspired by an episode of everyone’s favourite cartoon family. The label is a reflection of this, and of today’s online culture of memes, gifs and stickers. As you can see below, the light-hearted front illustration is a smorgasbord of MoM’s pioneering history, as well as memes, in-jokes and plenty of familiar faces!

MoMer's Web Page Gin

The MoMer’s Web Page Gin label in all its glory

Here are our top five MoM-tastic references that feature on the label:

1. The Charity Run of the Bumblebee, not the hero we deserved, but the hero we needed.
2. The MoM Mobile expertly parked on top of a bent bollard, which is definitely what was meant to happen.
3. The famous Instagram dog that our editor Kristiane Sherry met and fell head-over-heels in love with.
4. The top of MoM digital executive Phillippa Round’s head. If you’ve seen any of our recent VR video content, you’ll know that her head, as well as her hands holding a GoPro handle, are something of a regular feature.
5. The shed where the masterofmalt.com adventure all began. Time really does fly when you’re not in a shed full of broken (but not discarded) printers.

But it’s not all memes and mayhem. If you know us well, you’ll be aware that we love a bit of technological innovation. This super-duper futuristic label actually harnesses the power of augmented reality! MoMer’s Web Page Gin celebrates the inventive side of the business, blending memory and magic like David Blaine doesn’t to bring the label to life!

MoMer's Web Page Gin

Embrace the future, people!

The best part is, it’s really simple to do. Even if you are something of a technophobe. So here’s a little walkthrough to help you out:

1. Buy a bottle of MoMer’s Web Page Gin. You can’t really miss this step out, people.
2. Download the Zappar app on your fancy-pants smartphone or mobile device.
3. Open the app and aim your phone at the Zapcode on the neck tag of the bottle.
4. Once it’s scanned, aim your phone at the label (make sure to get close and get that whole label in).
5. Marvel at the result. You have conquered augmented reality (sort of).

The AR platform also features a host of exclusive content, including recommended serve demonstrations and an interview with Stuart Medcalf, liquid production manager at That Boutique-y Gin Company, on how MoMer’s Web Page Gin was made.

Naturally, the animated elements of the label can also be found and used as stickers in Instagram Stories or on Snapchat. Just search for MoMer’s Gin and you’re good to go!

So, that’s our new gin. We’ve listed our tasting notes below with a couple of special cocktails. The first batch is available exclusively from Master of Malt now. There are only 660 bottles priced at £29.95, so move fast if you want some of that batch one brilliance.

MoMer's Web Page Gin

MoMer’s Web Page Gin

Tasting note by The Chaps at Master of Malt

Nose: Through aromatic cinnamon and earthy herbs – basil and thyme – there’s warm citrus from orange peel and cardamom as well as refined, pine-y juniper and additional floral touches.

Palate: The palate has a wonderfully rich mouthfeel. More baking spice emerges among a waft of orange blossom, lemon peel and a warm honey-esque sweetness. Bittersweet earth and garden herb notes are prominent throughout.

Finish: It’s a peppery, piney and long finish, with a sprig of rosemary thrown in for good measure.

Overall: Pretty darn excellent – if we do say so ourselves…

MoMer’s Web Page Gin suggested serves:

You’ll be pleased to know that MoMer’s Web Page Gin makes a great G&T. But everybody loves a good cocktail these days, so we enlisted the help of That Boutique-y Gin Company brand ambassador Stephanie DiCamillo to develop two signature serves. What she came up with are simple enough to be recreated by gin lovers at home and really make the most of the basil, thyme and rosemary trio.

MoMer's Web Page Gin

MoMer’s Gin & Coconut Water

MoMer’s Gin & Coconut Water:

50ml MoMer’s Web Page Gin
100ml Coconut water

Add both to an ice-filled Highball or Collins glass. Garnish with a small sprig of basil and a lime wedge

MoMer's Web Page Gin

All the Muck That’s Fit to Shake

All the Muck That’s Fit to Shake:

50ml MoMer’s Web Page Gin
50ml lightly sweetened chai tea (200ml brewed tea with 1tbsp sugar)
2 big tablespoons of frozen blueberries
3 basil leaves
1 thin lime slice

In a shaker, muddle the basil, lime and blueberries. Add the gin and tea, and shake hard with ice. Strain into an ice-filled tumbler and garnish with a basil leaf.

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Hack six classic cocktails with these at-home essentials

To help bars and pubs whip up everyone’s favourite whisky cocktail quickly and consistently, Woodford Reserve Bourbon has developed a cocktail syrup for the Old Fashioned. Don’t let bartenders hog…

To help bars and pubs whip up everyone’s favourite whisky cocktail quickly and consistently, Woodford Reserve Bourbon has developed a cocktail syrup for the Old Fashioned. Don’t let bartenders hog all the fun, though – cut corners at home with six bottlings that promise to create high quality cocktails in a flash…

If there’s one thing us Brits excel at, it’s waiting. We understand that it sometimes takes 15 years for whisky here to taste nice, and we can form an orderly queue like we were born to do it. But I’ll let you in on a secret – underneath that tight-lipped facade, we’re just as impatient as the rest of the world.

It’s a relief, then, that the good folks at Woodford Reserve Bourbon have been working with some of the UK’s best bartending talent to craft a bespoke cocktail syrup that balances the core flavours of this timeless serve – bitters, sugar and orange essence – because if there’s one thing for which we hate waiting for the most, it’s a cocktail.

“The Old Fashioned is a favourite with the public and bartenders alike, ranking as the world’s best selling classic cocktail and featuring on nine out of 10 of the world’s best bar menus,” Emily Richardson, head of super premium brands at Brown Forman, told Master of Malt.

“However it’s often seen as a complex and time-consuming serve to perfect. By using a pre-made syrup such as Woodford Reserve’s Old Fashioned Cocktail Syrup, the recipe becomes more accessible, making it possible to recreate with ease and consistent quality.”

Oh, and to make the whole process even quicker, Woodford Reserve has launched a barrel programme that enables bartenders to pre-batch the drink on-site – so keep your eyes peeled for two-litre cask on the bar.

Now, efficiency isn’t really an issue when you’re making drinks for your pals at home, but following complicated bartender drinks specs can be. It’s often an exacting task that requires, skill, equipment, and multiple boozes and syrups that frankly, you might not use for another six months.

The solution? Stock your home bar with these bottles to serve six classics in a flash…

The Handmade Cocktail Company Old Fashioned

Old Fashioned in a bottle from The Handmade Cocktail Company

Old Fashioned

Use: The Old Fashioned Cocktail

It would be remiss to begin with any other cocktail, really. Put your faith in the trustworthy folks at The Handmade Cocktail Company and nab this pre-batched bottling to make serving this classic drink a doddle. Pour over ice, stir, and then garnish with a twist of fresh orange peel, it’s as easy as that. It won’t wash the glass up for you afterwards though – you have to do some of the legwork I’m afraid.

Bermondsey Tonic Syrup, just add sparkling water and gin

The G&T

Use: Bermondsey Tonic Syrup

Making a G&T is much like making a cup of tea – we’re super fussy about the ‘best way’ to make it (for the record, it goes tea bag then water then milk). This concentrated tonic syrup from the folks at London gin bar 214 Bermondsey is the solution to your flavour woes. Simply mix it with carbonated water to your taste, add gin, ice and a garnish if you feel fancy and voilà: the ultimate serve.

Tippleworth Espresso Martini,

Tippleworth Espresso Martini, mix with vodka and shake

Espresso Martini

Use: Tipplesworth Espresso Martini Cocktail Mixer

The Espresso Martini isn’t exactly the easiest (or cheapest, let’s face it) cocktail to replicate at home, especially on the fly. Thankfully, her good self Lady Tipplesworth has the remedy: a ready-made mixer made with cold brew coffee. Fill a cocktail shaker with ice, add 50ml vodka and 50ml mixer, then shake, strain, and serve. Coffee bean garnish optional, Instagram upload essential.

Mr Lyan’s Spotless Martini – nothing else required

Martini

Use: Mr Lyan’s Spotless Martini

Sometimes you’re better leaving it to the experts, amiright? And if there’s one guy who knows a thing or two about ready-made drinks, it’s the living legend that is bartender Ryan Chetiyawardana. What with him launching what was essentially the world’s first bottled cocktail bar back in 2013 and all that. Anyway, his mix of gin, citrus and olive distillates, and vermouth easily puts our amatuer Martini-making efforts to shame. Thanks to the citrus hit, you don’t even need to add a garnish just freeze, pour, and enjoy.

Jose Cuervo Classic Margarita-Mix

Jose Cuervo Classic Margarita Mix

Margarita

Use: Jose Cuervo Classic Margarita Mixer

Who wants to shell out on triple sec and fruit, when you could just crack the lid of this Margarita Mixer? To be clear, this is a BYO Tequila affair. Sure, the good folks Cuervo probably envisaged you using I don’t know Jose Cuervo Tradicional Silver, or something, but if you choose to use another brand we promise we won’t dob you in. Just combine one part Tequila with three parts mixer, stir and serve over crushed ice.

Campari Negroni Cocktail

Campari Negroni Cocktail

Negroni

Use: Campari Negroni

As the saying goes, there’s “No Negroni without Campari” – something we imagine the Italian owners of that bitter red liquid continue to be absolutely delighted by, given the drink’s recent resurgence. When aperitif started attracting some serious bartender heat, the folks at Gruppo Campari went the whole hog and combined their beloved booze with London dry gin and (we can only assume) Cinzano Rosso vermouth. The most you’ll have to do is slice an orange.

 

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The Nightcap: 15 February

Had quite enough love-themed media to last the rest of 2019? Good, because there is no room for emotions here – time to get down to cold, hard, newsy facts…

Had quite enough love-themed media to last the rest of 2019? Good, because there is no room for emotions here – time to get down to cold, hard, newsy facts with The Nightcap!

Valentine’s Day has been and gone. All the vibrant pink balloons and ribbons in the shops have all been replaced by some very early Easter displays. While the shape of the novelty chocolate may have changed from hearts to eggs in your local supermarket, one thing doesn’t change – The Nightcap and its dedication to bringing you weekly bundles of booze news! This may have been one of the most tenuous ways to introduce The Nightcap yet, and honestly, I’m OK with that.

So, what’s been going down on the MoM Blog this week? Well, Kristy gave us some insight into what happens when you take part in American Distilling Institute’s 2019 Judging of Craft Spirits. Henry chatted to one of the Asterley Bros. about his upcoming Britannica London Fernet, delivered good news from HMRC on the growth of British gin exports, and showed us how to make a great punch with a kick of orange for the Cocktail of the Week. Annie looked at the big, wide world of minimalist cocktail bars from across the globe. Tequila was the order of the day on Wednesday for Adam, and he also found out about a new batch of cask strength Jameson

Phew! Best crack on with The Nightcap.

MBWS had a difficult 2018

MBWS waves goodbye to turbulent 2018 with 6% sales decline

French drinks group Marie Brizard Wine & Spirits (MBWS) has had a sorry time of late, as regular readers of The Nightcap will know. After a 25% profits slump and ongoing troubles in its home market, we’re sure the company won’t be sad to see the back on 2018. A sentiment surely underlined by its full-year results, released this week, which showed that sales fell 6.3% over the course of the year to €389 million (about £342 million). But while the French market continued to slow, there was at last some good news in the fourth quarter: sales climbed 17.1% in Poland, signalling a “progressive recovery”, and there was “solid sales growth” in Spain. Let’s hope the tide has now turned for the Sobieski, William Peel and Gautier Cognac-maker.

An artist’s impression of the Johnnie Walker Edinburgh store

A fancy Johnnie Walker store is coming to Edinburgh!

Earlier this week, Diageo formally submitted plans for a flagship Johnnie Walker visitor centre in Edinburgh, the focal point of Diageo’s £150 million investment in Scotch whisky tourism. Well, we’ll certainly drink to that. Johnny Walker’s new home will be a rather remarkable seven-floor space on Princes Street. The project will see the grand building renovated, with heritage features preserved wherever possible. David Cutter, chairman of Diageo in Scotland, stated that they hope to “restore it to its former glory as a cornerstone of the city”. The exciting space is set to include a multi-sensory immersive experience across three floors, allowing visitors to experience the 200-year history of the brand. As well as a flexible events area for music, theatre, arts and more, at street level there will be a retail space. Its interior is inspired by the stunning Johnnie Walker retail flagship in Madrid, which opened in November. Meanwhile, there will also be rooftop bars (yes, plural) so you can enjoy some of the best views of Edinburgh while you sip your Scotch. Excuse us, we’re just off to book some flights…

Say hello to Big Peat 10 Year Old!

Big Peat celebrates 10 years with commemorative bottling

Independent bottler Douglas Laing & Co had a big birthday this week. Big Peat is now a decade old. Where does the time go? The family firm behind the blended malt from Islay, made with whiskies from Caol Ila, Bowmore, Ardbeg and Port Ellen, marked this occasion with a new, commemorative 10 Year Old bottled without colouring or chill-filtration at a punchy 46% ABV. According to the brand’s tasting notes, you can expect “peat smoke, damp earth, smoked barley, BBQ ash, streaky bacon, tobacco, toasted marshmallows and a sea-salt tang balanced by a leathery sweetness”. The label features a collection of emblems, stamps and hand-drawn illustrations inspired by a vintage scrapbook in honour of Big Peat’s Islay home. A platinum-foiled (no expense spared here) book telling the legend of Big Peat and his whisky adventures will accompany each bottle. Fred Laing, chairman at Douglas Laing, said: “Back in 2009, I dreamt up a feisty Ileach fisherman who would later become Big Peat, a brand that would grow at an average of 29% year on year, and subsequently be joined by Scallywag, Timorous Beastie, Rock Oyster, The Epicurean and The Gauldrons to deliver what we so modestly designate our ‘Remarkable Regional Malts: The Ultimate Distillation of Scotland’s Malt Whisky Regions’.” Just 850 cases of Big Peat 10 Year Old will be available globally, priced at around £65.

Congratulations Alessandro Palazzi!

Legendary Duke’s bartender Alessandro Palazzi, honoured at CLASS Awards

On Tuesday night, the cream of the British booze world met for the annual CLASS Bar Awards. The winners were chosen by the CLASS Collective, a group of over 70 bar experts from all over the country. Lots of well-known venues scooped awards including Callooh Callay, Three Sheets, the American Bar at the Savoy, Coupette and Dandelyan. Individuals honoured included Max Venning, who won Bartender of the Year, and Declan McGurk from the Savoy, who picked up Bar Manager of the Year. But the biggest cheer of the evening went to Alessandro Palazzi from Duke’s Bar in London who won the Lifetime Achievement Award. Anyone who has experienced the Palazzi magic knows what a fine bartender he is, mixing great drinks, but also making one feel like the most important person in the world, if only for half an hour. His fearsomely strong Martinis were described by the San Francisco Chronicle as the “best in England”. We hope that he let someone else make the drinks on Tuesday night. Congratulations Alessandro!

The Future 50 initiative champions the next big things in wine and spirits.

WSET and IWSC seek out awesomeness in booze with The Future 50

Are you an incredible human-type under the age of 40 who works in booze? Know someone who is? If so, the Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET) and the International Wine & Spirit Competition (IWSC) want to hear from you! To celebrate their coinciding 50th anniversaries, the organisations have palled up to create The Future 50, an initiative that champions the next big things in wine and spirits. The list, set to be revealed in November, aims to recognise people from across the industry, from product development, design and distribution to marketing, journalism, hospitality, and everything else. As such, WSET and IWSC are calling on folk to nominate themselves and their talented colleagues! The judging panel includes the likes of Joe Fattorini (off of The Wine Show), Stephanie Macleod (Dewar’s master blender), Christine Parkinson (group head of wine at Hakkasan), Richard Paterson (Whyte & MacKay master blender), and Xavier Rousset MS (restaurateur), so there are some big names to impress. “As 2019 marks 50 years of success for each of our organisations, it offers the perfect opportunity to emphasise the importance of developing new talent through education and awards to secure an equally prosperous future for the industry,” said WSET chief executive Ian Harris. “At WSET we are delighted to be looking to the future and showcasing the next generation of talent in the wines and spirits industry through our joint Future 50 project.” For more information or to submit a nomination, head to future50.wsetglobal.com.

Sotheby’s enjoyed a fruitful 2018

Asia continues to dominate wine auctions according to Sotheby’s

Auction house Sotheby’s has just released its 2018 market report which shows the auction market for fine wine is in robust health. It was a record-breaking year for Sotheby’s, with auction sales up 50% on the previous year. Total sales of wines and spirits topped $100 million for the first time. The Asian market continues to expand, up from a 58% share in 2017 to 63% of the market this year, followed by North America and Europe. This is reflected in Hong Kong’s dominance with 53% of sales, followed by New York at 29% and London at 18%. Of the big names in wine, the number one producer by value was Burgundy’s Domaine de la Romanée-Conti at $24 million with 21% of sales. Indeed, one bottle of Romanée-Conti sold for $558,000 last year at auction in New York. Wine is all very well but Master of Malt readers will be pleased to hear that the most expensive bottle sold was a whisky, a Macallan 1926 with a label by Sir Peter Blake which went for $843,200. Yeah, whisky!

The initiative includes a fiery Flambé Masterclass!

D&D London Launches My Hospitality World

Starting on Monday 25 February, restaurant group D&D London will launch a two-week initiative called My Hospitality World, to encourage young people into the industry and demonstrate that opportunities are not confined to front of house or kitchen staff. This is in response to the industry’s growing skills gap. The initiative aims to encourage talented youngsters to see hospitality as a viable career path by offering a series of events in D&D London restaurants. There will be a full restaurant takeover of the Blueprint Café by students from London South East College, giving students an authentic taste of what goes on in the professional kitchen. There is even a dedicated event in support of International Women’s Day (8 March), to inspire more young women to become professional chefs! D&D London chairman & CEO Des Gunewardena commented: “Working in restaurants is viewed by many people as not being an occupation to aspire to and we want to change that.” Good luck to them!

Keep an eye out for The Hendrick’s LOVE Campaign

Hendrick’s seduces travellers with LOVE Campaign

Love is in the air! Well, almost – love is in the airport! The Hendrick’s LOVE Campaign is taking place throughout February and, in some places, into March in bars and shops at airports in the UK, Europe and across the Middle East and Asia. Under the headline, ‘Sublimely SIMPLE, yet curiously COMPLICATED – a gift much like LOVE’, Hendrick’s is charming travellers with a giant sharing teacup, a heart glorifier (thing that shows off the bottle), and copious amounts of rose petals and cucumbers. A surefire way to anyone’s heart. However, the most exciting part of the campaign is the exclusive airport serve named ‘A Rose Story’: a delightful combination of Hendrick’s gin with rose and elderflower syrup, and tonic, garnished with – to nobody’s surprise – rose petals and a cucumber slice. And there’s more potential Hendrick’s-themed fun on the horizon because on the 14th June, it’s World Cucumber Day. We’re rather intrigued to see how Hendrick’s will celebrate its favourite green salad fruit.

I beg your pardon, I never promised you a gin garden

Visit Britain’s first Gin Garden

Gin distillery tours are two-a-penny these days. You know the drill: admire the gleaming copper, try the gin and then buy a bottle. One distillery though, The Old Curiosity in Edinburgh, has come up with something a little different. From 23 March, you can visit its Gin Garden, located by the Pentland Hills to the south west of the Scottish capital. There you will be able to smell all those wonderful living botanicals that go into gin, witness the entire process from picking to distillation, and, of course, try the gin (it would be a pretty poor gin garden if there was no gin to drink). Not only is it a fun day out, but for gin nerds, it’s a great way to train your palate. The distillery has produced a video with distillery owner and top herbologist Hamish Martin that explains everything. It sounds like this Scottish distillery has raised the bar for gin-based experiences in Britain.

Bitters, Boulevardiers and big left entorhinal cortexes is how we roll at MoM Towers

And finally… Bitter-loving people are cleverer, say scientists

We lovers of bitter things like Campari or IPA have always felt ourselves to be somewhat superior, but now research by actual scientists shows that our tastes might not only show sophistication, they might also be linked to intelligence. Research into tonic water by Dr Daniel Hwang from the University of Queensland and published in New Scientist suggests that how people perceive bitterness is linked to brain size: “Researchers scanned the brains of 1,600 people and asked them to rate the bitterness of a quinine solution. Those who found the drink less bitter tended to have a bigger left entorhinal cortex”. In other words, if you like bitter things, you probably have a bigger brain. So next time someone tells you that adding Fernet Branca to your Negroni is neither big nor clever, point them to this study, and assume your genius face.

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Jameson launches second Bow Street 18 Years Cask Strength

The only cask strength Jameson is back! It pays homage to Jameson’s Dublin heritage by being matured at Bow Street, home of the old distillery. We travelled to Ireland to…

The only cask strength Jameson is back! It pays homage to Jameson’s Dublin heritage by being matured at Bow Street, home of the old distillery. We travelled to Ireland to learn more. . . 

Irish whiskey fans, rejoice! From August 2019, you will be able to get your hands on a new batch of Jameson Bow Street 18 Years Cask Strength. Bottled at 55.1% ABV without chill-filtration, the blend of pot still and grain Irish whiskeys was produced by Irish Distillers in Midleton Distillery where it was matured initially for 18 years in both ex-bourbon and ex-sherry casks under the watchful eye of master blender, Billy Leighton.

In January 2018, the expression was then re-casked in first-fill ex-bourbon American oak barrels to finish its maturation for a final six to 12 months in Dublin’s only live maturation house in the brand’s original home in Bow Street. The warehouse, which you can see for yourself if you tour what is now an award-winning visitor centre, can only hold 84 casks at any one time. Now that’s small batch.

Bow Street 18 Years Cask Strength

The whiskey is a celebration of Jameson’s Dublin heritage

Leighton commented on the process: “As a tribute to the Jameson distilling legacy in Smithfield, we’ve introduced some methods that would have been employed in days past. The final maturation period in Bow Street is our nod to the traditional ‘marrying’ method – I like to think of the whiskey getting engaged in Midleton and then ‘married’ in Dublin! It brings the provenance and heritage back to where it started. It is the ultimate expression of Jameson.”

Jameson Bow Street 18 Years Cask Strength comes in a luxury bottle that features 18 facets, one for each year of maturation, housed in a wooden box that references the traditional pot stills used in distillation. A special copper coin underneath the bottle provides fans with the opportunity to access an exclusive online portal where they can explore the whiskey’s story.

Bow Street 18 Years Cask Strength

Good cheesy fun at Bow Street Distillery

To mark the launch, Jameson has partnered with artisan Dublin cheesemonger Loose Canon to create a luxurious whiskey and cheese pairing and you’re encouraged to do the same this St. Patrick’s Day.

Leighton commented: “I hope that together with our cheese and whiskey pairings, we can inspire the world to match the strong flavours of the Jameson 18 family with the perfect Irish cheese to make a truly unique St. Patrick’s Day experience.”

Jameson Bow Street 18 Years Cask Strength will be available in the USA, Europe and Asia at an RRP of €240.

Bow Street 18 Years Cask Strength

Jameson Bow Street 18 Years Cask Strength Batch 2

 

Tasting note by Billy Leighton, master blender at Midleton Distillery:

Nose: Rich wood-driven influence with deep toffee notes and spice.

Taste: Toffee and oak remain consistent with hints of leather and vanilla along with a subtle sherry nuttiness creating depth and complexity.

Finish: Long and full with the sweet toffee notes slowly fading while the toasted oak and spice linger throughout until the very end.

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Forest Hill meets Milan in the Britannica London Fernet

Asterley Bros. is just about to release a London Fernet to go alongside its acclaimed Modern British Amaro and English Vermouth. We talk to one half of the dynamic duo,…

Asterley Bros. is just about to release a London Fernet to go alongside its acclaimed Modern British Amaro and English Vermouth. We talk to one half of the dynamic duo, Rob Berry.

The Bros. in Asterley Bros. are Jim and Rob Berry. The company is named after their mother’s maiden name, Asterley; Berry Bros. was already taken. Out of an industrial estate in Forest Hill, south London, the brothers make a range of delicious products including an amaro, which had them shortlisted for a BBC Food and Farming Award, a vermouth made with English Pinot Noir from Gusbourne Estate in Kent, and now a London Fernet which we have been experimenting with at MoM Towers and love. The ingredients list includes roasted hazelnuts, cacao nibs, chocolate malt and London porter. It’s got a chocolatey minty quality that does magical things with bourbon in a Boulevardier. We caught up with Rob Asterley, the talkative one, to learn about their latest product:

Jim (on the left) and Rob Berry in action

Master of Malt: How did you get into making an an amaro?

Rob Berry: I married into a Sicilian family ten years ago now. My wife’s grandfather gave us this very classic Sicilian amaro recipe. It was very reminiscent of Sicily: so lots of citrus, loads of bright orange and bergamot coming through. A few soft herbs, kind of basil, rosemary, a little bit of oregano and then lots of Arabic spicing as well which kind of permeates all the way through Sicilian cuisine. About four years ago we started talking about it [making an English version] seriously. We live in South London which is not quite the same terroir as Palermo! So we wanted to make something which has a Sicilian starting point but then also start to bring in some sort of British influence and make it our own. That was 2014 when we started that process.

MoM: And what do the Sicilians think of it?

RB: They love it actually! I think they’re just very proud of their own influence and the fact that the English are making an amaro.

MoM: Was it a lot of trial and error, getting it right?

RB: Oh yeah, shitloads! I mean like two years of trial and error. We must have made that first amaro recipe around 30 times. And each time takes months because it’s maceration. It’s not distillation where you can kind of get flavour out of ingredients relatively quickly. The first thing that we did was get a hundred jam jars and then in each of the jam jars we put a single botanical and then topped it up with grain spirit at 75% ABV. And after a month or six weeks we’ve just tasted our way through every single one. We were trying to build this collection of botanicals and then we started combining them. We started off in my kitchen. Then we moved into my shed. And then we moved into my basement. And then in 2015, we moved into the unit in Forest Hill.

Asterley Bros botanicals

Botanicals a-macerating

MoM: When did you have the idea for doing this new product, the fernet?

RB: I think we always had in the back of our mind that we wanted to do one. I mean we love fernet. It’s quite niche, it’s not a very mainstream product. By the time we’d finished the amaro we were also making a sweet vermouth. And for the third one we thought, ‘what do we want to do next?’. There were a lot of people asking us for a bianco or a dry vermouth but I think we wanted to do something a little bit different that no one was doing at the time.

MoM: What exactly is the difference between an amaro and a fernet?

RB: Amaro is the overarching category, so fernet is a type of amaro. Fernet is this kind of fun category of quite brutal bitterness. Normally, you’d find it at around 40% and there’s a lot less sugar than an amaro. You’ve got three or four really classic elements to it: myrrh is one, saffron is another, you have aloe, and there’s a lot of mint.

MoM: Fernet Branca from Milan is obviously the famous one, but are there lots of different others?

RB: I could probably name about ten but I’d get a bit stuck at that point. The Americans are popularising fernet. In San Francisco and Seattle in particular, plus New York a bit as well, they’ve got this really distinct taste for bitter drinks. There’s a real body of new wave producers who are making really nice, interesting fernets. And of course it’s the national drink in Argentina, somehow!

MoM: Tell me about the beta testing you did before launching your amaro and fernet?

RB:  We scratched our brains and thought: ‘what can we do? We’re two brothers, self-funded, how can we approach things in a slightly different way? How can we get people to taste our drinks? How can we create focus groups which will enable us to garner workable feedback and refine products? How can we get our message out there with zero marketing budget?’ This idea of beta testing is something that’s been used in the software industry for numerous years, a way of doing a invite-only release of the game, where you get people to work through it and play it in the normal way but then report back on all the bugs that are found. Beta testing covers two different things for us. A big one is the focus groups, getting 500 or 600 people from different parts of the globe to try the product, and with different levels of understanding of the product at well is really interesting for us. We’ve got people who have tried many, many different spirits and have a natural vocabulary, write about them, describe them for a living and have a really deep understanding of the spirit and wine world. And then we’ve got housewives in North Carolina who are trying them and giving us feedback as well.

MoM: Is there a difference in taste between professionals and your average member of the public?

RB: Yeah absolutely. All of the professionals said: ‘this product should be much more bitter and you should really reduce the amount of sugar’. And then all the people who are consumers, who had probably a lot less understanding of the category, said: ‘oh my gosh” It’s way too bitter, it should be much more sweet’. So, those two elements of feedback and two user groups can take you in two opposing directions.

RB: Is it possible to reconcile them?

MoM: Probably not! So what we decided is that we didn’t think we could necessarily reconcile them but we kind of made a decision and we thought the British desire for bitter products is only going to grow. And as you drink more bitter things you want things to be more bitter and less sweet. That’s what we found as consumers. And that’s what we thought would happen over the five to ten year period in the UK. And the writers, the bartenders, the bar owners, they are going to be leading the charge for bitterness, and the consumers will follow in that direction. So we’re going to take a bit of a punt and we’re going to have less sugar, more bitterness. We’re going to be more bitter that people will grow into, rather than being less bitter, which people might grow out of.

Asterley Bros

The brothers gonna work it out

MoM: What would you use the fernet in?

RB: We really like it bashed into things like White Russians. So you’ve got a quite rich creamy drink and then a shot of the fernet added to that suddenly takes it in a much more sophisticated, bitter, intense, grown-up direction. It’s the same thing with Espresso Martinis as well: probably half a shot (12.5 ml) going into an Espresso Martini, again it sort of amps up all of those flavours inside. So almost like a seasoning to a degree. It gives it a lot more bitterness and edge to the drink. It works pretty well with any kind of dark spirit, so if you’re having an Old Fashioned, or even a Manhattan, a few drops in there, a little dash, just to take it in a slightly more grown-up direction.

MoM: You’re working on some Sicilian vermouth, aren’t you?

RB: It’s in the initial stages. We’re going to be using Sicilian wines infused with British botanicals and we’re going to create a slightly different sub-brand of Asterley Bros, almost like a house range for everyday drinking. We’d like to be able to approach the Martini Riserva range where you can get a 70cl bottle for about £17.

MoM: And will you make those in your little garage in Forest Hill?

RB: In the big shed! Yeah, I think we will. We’re just trying to think of ways to streamline it and keep our product cost down, as far as we can, and pass that onto the consumer.

MoM: When will that be available?

RB: I would say, knowing us, six to nine months. We’re just starting the crowdfunding process at the moment. We’re going to be selling some equity in the business and going via Crowdcube, hopefully within the next two or three months. And once we’ve done that, and hopefully we secure some investment then we’ll be moving into it full time from that point onwards.

Sounds like exciting times for Asterley Bros.. We’ll let you know as soon as that crowdfunding offer opens. We can’t wait to try the new vermouth. Meanwhile, the London Fernet will be available any day now.

Britannica London Fernet

Coming soon. . . .

 

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Cocktail of the Week: Improved Blood Orange Punch

This week, we’re making a drink where all the hard work is done in advance, leaving you with time to amuse your guests with some top anecdotes. One of the…

This week, we’re making a drink where all the hard work is done in advance, leaving you with time to amuse your guests with some top anecdotes.

One of the great advantages that wine and beer have over cocktails is that they come ready to drink. Simply open and pour. Mixed drinks need work. Cocktails require you to concentrate on something rather than gossiping with your guests.

One answer to this problem is to convert your living room into a bar (if only there was a book that showed you how) and turn cocktail-making into the focus of the evening. And let’s face it, shaking up Daiquiris is much more fun than discussing house prices or Brexit with the neighbours. The downside is that you have to keep concentrating.

Mary Hoffman

Maggie Hoffman!

To solve this problem, you could hire a bartender or, and this is the clever bit, you could make your drinks in advance. Why didn’t I think of that? Now, to show you how to explore this brave new world of batch cocktails comes a new book called. . .  wait for it. . . Batch Cocktails! It’s been put together by American drinks writer Maggie Hoffman who has written for the San Francisco Chronicle, Food & Wine and Serious Eats. Here she explains the idea behind the book:

“There’s nothing worse than scrambling at the last minute, trying to mix drinks as your guests walk through the door. It’s hard to hold a conversation while searching for lost bitters, knocking over the jigger on the counter and rattling a shaker full of ice. And without fail, just when you’re finally about to sit down, your friends are ready for a second round.”

Tell me about it. In the book, Hoffman has eschewed the obvious choices like the Negroni or the Old Fashioned in favour of signature cocktails from bartenders she knows. The book is full of good advice such as, “using fresh ingredients is essential when making larger quantities of cocktail”. Also, when making an individual cocktail, it will become diluted when shaking with ice so you have to make sure you add water in the right quantity when making a batch. Thankfully, she has done all the hard work: “I’ve calculated and tested and tasted the proper dilution for each recipe in the collection, so they’re good to go.” Very reassuring.

All the recipes look delicious, but I went for what she calls an Improved Blood Orange Punch (so much better than the unimproved version) because our local greengrocer has stacks of blood oranges piled up outside at the moment. It would be a crime not to take advantage of them when they are in season. The original recipe comes from Jen Ackrill of Sky Waikiki in Hawaii. I’ve had a bit of a play with it.Hoffman makes it with vodka but I think it’ll work with gin or maybe even white rum or Tequila. This is an incredibly easy drink to make and requires almost no work when serving, leaving you with more time to talk about how Brexit is affecting the housing market. On second thoughts…

Improved Blood Orange Punch

Improved Blood Orange Punch. You should have tried the unimproved version, you couldn’t even drink it

To make the batch:

360ml Wyborowa vodka (ideally straight out the freezer)
180ml Luxardo maraschino liqueur
720ml blood orange juice (freshly-squeezed)
360ml lemon juice (freshly-squeezed)

To finish:

1 bottle of Molvino Valdobbiadene Prosecco
Half moon orange slices

Makes about 10-12 servings

Make the batch about two hours before you need it (no more as orange juice loses its pizazz if left around too long). Pour chilled vodka, maraschino liqueur, orange juice and lemon juice into a bottle or jug. Stir, then cover and refrigerate.

To serve, fill a highball glass with ice, pour in 120ml mixture, top up with Prosecco, stir and garnish with an orange slice.

Batch Cocktails

Batch Cocktails: Make-Ahead Pitcher Drinks for Every Occasion by Maggie Hoffman (£14.99 Ten Speed Press)

 

 

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British gin exports double in value

Is the gin boom over? Not by a long way, according to figures just released by HMRC. We take a closer look at this great British export success story. It’s…

Is the gin boom over? Not by a long way, according to figures just released by HMRC. We take a closer look at this great British export success story.

It’s not often you get good news from HMRC, but something that landed today made us smile. British gin is booming. Export sales in 2018 reached a record £612 million, meaning that they have doubled in value since 2010, and increased by 15% on 2017.

The EU is the biggest market for British gin worth nearly £290 million and up 14% on 2017. Next comes the USA, worth £191 million and up £13 million since 2017. Other places that can’t get enough of that good old British gin include Australia (£24 million, up 100%), South Africa (£14.5 million up 222%) and Switzerland (£6.6 million, an increase of 38%). With the EU such an important market, one hopes that some sensible arrangement can be reached post-Brexit. Miles Beale from the Wine and Spirits Education Trust (WSTA) commented:

“Europe represents a huge market for British gin, therefore it essential that the UK does not leave the EU without securing a deal which allows frictionless trade. It is hugely important that Government also secures free trade deals with the rest of the world and we are encouraged by mutual recognition agreements already signed with countries like Australia and Switzerland. However more must be done, and quickly, so that we maintain our position as the world’s largest spirits exporter and further boost the UK economy and provide more jobs.”

Meanwhile back at home, we’re no slackers when it comes to drinking gin. In 2018, the British got through 66 million bottles of gin, up 41% on the previous year. That’s a lot of Martinis. Put together, the domestic and export markets for gin are more than £2.5 billion.

Here at Master of Malt, gin sales in 2018 were up 50.5% by volume on 2017. Much of this growth comes from fun, sweeter products like flavoured and pink gins. Our 2018 top ten bestselling gins included: Peaky Blinder Spiced Dry Gin, Aber Falls Orange Marmalade Gin, Whitley Neill Blood Orange Gin, and Malfy Gin Con Arancia. According to the WSTA, the flavoured gin category is now valued at £165 million up 751% (no that’s not a typo) on 2017. Some people might sneer at flavoured gin, but clearly the public disagrees.

Haymans Gin

Where some of that British gin is made, the stills at Hayman’s in South London

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