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Master of Malt Blog

Author: Adam O'Connell

Take a VR tour of Craigellachie Distillery with MoM!

Go behind the scenes at one of Speyside’s most intriguing distilleries thanks to VR technology. Welcome to Craigellachie Distillery! Just because you’re self-isolating or on lockdown, it doesn’t mean you…

Go behind the scenes at one of Speyside’s most intriguing distilleries thanks to VR technology. Welcome to Craigellachie Distillery!

Just because you’re self-isolating or on lockdown, it doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a good distillery tour. How is this possible? Thanks to the power of VR, of course. In this series we’re going to take you around some of the finest distilleries across England, Wales and Scotland from the comfort of your own home. This week we visit one of Scotch whisky’s most intriguing distilleries. Enjoy!

It used to be a rather rare sight to see an official bottling of Craigellachie single malt. Since it was built in 1891, Craigellachie has primarily been used for Dewar’s blended whisky. The distillery, which was designed by the legendary Charles Doig, has two wash and spirit stills and still utilises worm tubs, which are increasingly rare in Scotch whisky. They contain a smaller amount of copper than more modern condensers which helps promote the distinctive Craigellachie character, as does its preference for long fermentation. Bacardi now operates the distillery, along with Royal Brackla, Aberfeldy, Aultmore, and Macduff, and has released a core range of expressions, which means there’s now plenty of sulphurous, muscular and fruity whiskies to enjoy.

VR tour of Craigellachie Distillery

Craigellachie 13 Year Old is the perfect introduction to the delights of the distillery. One of the three official Craigellachie bottlings released in 2014, this 13-year-old single malt Scotch whisky handsomely shows off the bold, robust character of the distillery’s output.

Craigellachie 13 Year Old Tasting Note:

Nose: Apple orchards in bloom, slightly meaty, burnt popcorn, treacle tart.

Palate: Oily malt arrives first, followed by BBQ pineapple and summer berries. Pine nuts and almonds.

Finish: A very soft hint of sulphur hides behind biscuit and apple notes.

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Take a VR tour of Chase Distillery with MoM!

Come and take a tour of Chase Distillery in Herefordshire thanks to our good friend virtual reality… Just because you’re self-isolating or on lockdown, it doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a…

Come and take a tour of Chase Distillery in Herefordshire thanks to our good friend virtual reality…

Just because you’re self-isolating or on lockdown, it doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a good distillery tour. How is this possible? Thanks to the power of VR, of course. In this series we’re going to take you around some of the finest distilleries across England, Wales and Scotland from the comfort of your own home. The Chase Distillery welcomes us this week to see how it creates its award-winning gins and vodkas. Enjoy!

Chase Distillery was founded by William Chase, who you may know as the guy who made very tasty crisps. After selling Tyrrells in 2008 for almost £40 million, he set up Chase Distillery with the profits. Crisps and booze? This guy is my hero. The £3m distillery operates out of Chase’s farm in Herefordshire, with one of the world’s tallest copper distillation columns (70ft in size), and maintains a sustainable approach to creating spirits. All waste produce goes to feed its herd of pedigree Hereford cattle, and wherever possible, the fresh ingredients used in its products are sourced from the farm, including its King Edward and Lady Claire potatoes, as well as cider apples.

VR tour of Chase Distillery

All that talk of crisps and booze has put me in the mood for a spot of tasty indulgence. If you’re also persuaded, then you should give Chase Pink Grapefruit and Pomelo Gin a go. It’s a supremely delicious summer tipple that will come into its own as the weather picks up but for now, will bring a ray of sunshine into your own home. It’s available with £5 off and we can deliver straight to your door. There’s also a discount on Chase GB Gin and Chase Rhubarb and Bramley Apple Gin. What are you waiting for?

Chase Pink Grapefruit and Pomelo Gin Tasting Note:

Fresh tropical fruit notes sit up front, with plenty of enjoyable citrus acidity at its core. Juniper notes act as a spicy foil to the full-bodied sweetness.

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Get some new and trending tipples!

Looking for what’s hot, new and next in the world of delicious drinks? Then we’ve got what you’re looking for. How do you like the sound of getting your hands…

Looking for what’s hot, new and next in the world of delicious drinks? Then we’ve got what you’re looking for.

How do you like the sound of getting your hands on the most exciting bottles on the shelves at MoM Towers? Hot-off-the-press fresh whiskies. In-demand gins and rums. Trending Tequilas. Everybody hates being out of the loop and we all love tasty things. That’s why we’ve created this selection of spirits to keep you up to date with the latest and greatest in the world of booze no matter if you’re self-isolating or in lockdown.

 

Get some new and trending tipples!

Jaffa Cake Gin

Jaffa Cake Gin is distilled with oranges, fresh orange peel and cocoa powder. Oh yeah, and jaffa cakes. Proper jaffa cakes. Full moon, half-moon, total eclipse. Jaffa cakes. Do you actually need any more information? The label claims it will make the best Negroni mankind has ever seen and I don’t doubt it for one single minute. 

What does it taste like?

Zingy orange (marmalade-esque), rich and earthy chocolate, vanilla-rich cake, a touch of almondy-goodness and a solid backbone of juniper. Also, Jaffa Cakes! 

Get some new and trending tipples!

Wormtub 

You don’t see too many worm tubs these days. Which is a shame. A lot of distilleries have opted to use efficient, easier to maintain condensers, but the muscular, complex profile it gives whisky is delicious. It’s that distinctive character that Wormtub whisky celebrates by blending together single malts made exclusively in distilleries still using traditional worm tubs. This is one for those who like their whisky to be full, rich and robust.

What does it taste like?

Sherry, leather, dates, cocoa, caramel, walnuts, wood-spice, fresh garden mint, ripe strawberries, candied cherry fudge and a wisp of smoke.

Get some new and trending tipples!

Dead Man’s Fingers Pineapple Rum 

Add the sweet, sour and tropical notes of pineapple to an already delicious rum and what have you got? Doubly tasty rum. That’s what. The folks over at Dead Man’s Fingers created this fun and fruity concoction using roasted and candied pineapple. It’s incredibly refreshing, particularly when paired with lemonade, lots of ice, a wedge of lime and a bunch of fresh mint.

What does it taste like?

Bright and almost tangy at first with fresh pineapple and ginger, followed by homemade caramel, nutmeg, cassia and mango.

Get some new and trending tipples!

Regions of Scotland Whisky Tasting Set 

It’s basically impossible to narrow down what the best thing about Scotch is, but the incredible range of different styles of whisky produced across all of its distinctive regions might just be it. This tasting set by Drinks by the Dram champions these regions with five 30ml samples from the peaty, smoky Islay; to the fruity, malty Highlands; the soft, floral Lowlands; and the honeyed, often Sherried Speyside and more!

What does it taste like?

Please don’t eat the box.

Get some new and trending tipples!

Aerolite Lyndsay 10 Year Old – The Character of Islay Whisky Company

There’s plenty of mystery around Aerolite Lyndsay 10 Year Old but one thing’s for sure, it’s bloody delicious. It was recently awarded the title of Islay Single Malt 12 Years and Under at the World Whiskies Awards 2020 for good reason. This Islay single malt from The Character of Islay Whisky Company was sourced from an undisclosed distillery on the island, but what we do know is that it was aged for 10 years in a mixture of bourbon barrels and Spanish oak sherry quarter casks. Plus the name is a fun anagram you can work out in your spare self-isolation time. 

What does it taste like?

Maritime peat, iodine, honey sweetness, paprika, salted caramel, old bookshelves, mint dark chocolate, espresso, new leather, soy sauce, liquorice allsorts, bonfire smoke and toffee penny, with a pinch of salt.

Get some new and trending tipples!

Glenfarclas 25 Year Old

Glenfarclas 25 Year Old is just an absolute classic and whisky this good never goes out of fashion. The single malt Scotch whisky, which was matured 100% Oloroso sherry casks and bottled at 43% ABV, is probably the ultimate example of the kind of delightful sherried goodness that the Speyside distillery specialises in.

What does it taste like?

Classic Sherry notes, creamy barley, hints of gingerbread, nutty chocolate, smoke and a touch of menthol.

Get some new and trending tipples!

Beavertown Neck Oil Bundle (6 Pack)

Stocking up on good beer while in lockdown is a must and if you’re looking for a sublime session IPA then you won’t do better than Beavertown’s ever-popular Neck Oil beer. This bargain bundle will save you 10% versus buying them individually.

What does it taste like?

Light and crisp but full of flavour – citrusy and hoppy, slightly floral, very moreish.

 

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Take a VR tour of Wolfburn Distillery!

Thanks to wonders of VR technology, you can now tour the wonderful Wolfburn Distillery from the comfort of your own home! Just because you’re self-isolating or on lockdown, it doesn’t mean…

Thanks to wonders of VR technology, you can now tour the wonderful Wolfburn Distillery from the comfort of your own home!

Just because you’re self-isolating or on lockdown, it doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a good distillery tour. How is this possible? Thanks to the power of VR, of course. In this series we’re going to take you around some of the finest distilleries across England, Wales and Scotland from the comfort of your own home. This week we see what it’s like inside Scotland’s most northerly mainland distillery. Enjoy!

The current Wolfburn Distillery was founded in 2013 in Thurso, the most northerly town on the British mainland. It’s just 350 metres from the site of the original Wolfburn distillery, which dates back to 1821 and closed its doors back in 1860. The burn from which the distillery took its name remains the water source to this day. Both peated and unpeated whisky is produced at Wolfburn in two Forsyths copper pot stills, a 5,500-litre wash still and 3,600-litre boil ball spirit still. Fermentation times range from 70-92 hours in the four stainless steel washbacks and the distillery has a single 1.1-tonne semi-lauter mash tun, while the whisky is matured in ex-bourbon hogsheads, quarter casks and ex-oloroso sherry butts. Despite being a relative newcomer, the distillery is already building quite a reputation for its light, sweet and complex whiskies.

a VR tour of Wolfburn Distillery

 If Wolfburn seems like your kind of distillery, then I’d recommend you help yourself to a bottle of Wolfburn Northland Single Malt (above), the first single malt released by the distillery back in March 2016. Some of the whisky was matured in quarter casks that previously held peated whisky from Islay, but this is no Islay imitation. It’s very much got its own character. Best of all, we’ll deliver straight to your doorstep, so if you’re self-isolating or on lockdown, then we’ve got your back. No, wait, that’s not the best part of this. If you order now, you can save a whopping £7 on this bottling! There’s also 10% off Langskip, Morven and Aurora. 

Wolfburn Northland Single Malt Tasting Note:

Nose: Orchard fruits, apple pie, a fresh maltiness, almonds, magnolia and a suggestion of smoke.

Palate: Honey Nut Clusters breakfast cereal, sweet spices, chocolate croissant, more honey towards the end, and a subtle earthy peatiness.

Finish: Long and fresh, with even more rich honey notes

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Take a VR tour of Glenglassaugh Distillery!

Take a tour of the delightful Glenglassaugh Distillery, thanks to the wonders of virtual reality! Just because you’re self-isolating or on lockdown, it doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a good…

Take a tour of the delightful Glenglassaugh Distillery, thanks to the wonders of virtual reality!

Just because you’re self-isolating or on lockdown, it doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a good distillery tour. How is this possible? Thanks to the power of VR, of course. In this series we’re going to take you around some of the finest distilleries across England, Wales and Scotland from the comfort of your own home. We begin at a distillery with a real phoenix-from-the-flames tale. Enjoy!

The history of Glenglassaugh distillery has been tumultuous, to say the least. It was founded by James Moir and Thomas Wilson in 1875, who sold it to Highland Distillers 18 years later. A downturn in the market forced it to close in 1907 for 53 years (aside for a couple of years in the ‘30s). In 1960 it reopened to cater for increased demand for Scotch whisky before another downturn in the market forced it to close again in 1986. At this point, it may have looked condemned to many, but not to former William Grant & Sons distillery manager Stuart Nickerson, who purchased the distillery with Russian-backed firm Scaent Group in 2006. Two years later the takeover was complete and they got the distillery back on its feet. So much so that Billy Walker’s The BenRiach Distillery Co. bought it in 2013, before he sold all three of his distilleries (Glenglassaugh, BenRiach and Glendronach) to Jack Daniel’s producer Brown-Forman in 2016. Its loyal following, pioneering marketing and delicious and intriguing spirit should ensure we get to enjoy Glenglassaugh for some time.

Has all this given you a taste for Glenglassaugh? Then let us deliver a bottle (or indeed a dram) right to your door! How about Glenglassaugh Revival, the first chance to try whisky made at the re-opened distillery?  All three core expressions from the distillery, including Torfa and Evolution, are now available with a 10% discount!

Glenglassaugh Revival

It’s Glenglassaugh Revival!

 

Glenglassaugh Revival Tasting Note:

Nose: Loads of sweet caramel, a sherry nuttiness, honey, chocolate, toffee, red berries, and fresh orange. There’s a charred oak earthiness, too.

Palate: Big and mouth-filling with a creamy texture, the honey becomes more mead-like, along with red cherries, walnut and a soft spice.

Finish: Medium-length with more of that sherry character, plus caramel and some mulled wine-like spice.

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10 delicious boozes to keep your spirits up at home

We’ve rounded up ten delightful drinks for those who still want to indulge in some boozy brilliance while stuck at home. I hope you’ve been working on your social distancing…

We’ve rounded up ten delightful drinks for those who still want to indulge in some boozy brilliance while stuck at home.

I hope you’ve been working on your social distancing game, folks. I’m something of a pro myself. Staying indoors wearing sweatpants, feigning disappointment at cancelled plans and watching so much Netflix I think it’s stopped bothering with the ‘are you still watching?’ prompt is a life I’m well attuned to. I’ve also got a hell of a drinks cabinet for when I fancy a small indulgence.

If you’re anything like us here at MoM Towers, then a period of self-isolation means time to refine your cocktail-making skills, an opportunity to sample an intriguing new dram and to restock the home bar with exciting new expressions. That’s why we’ve created this selection especially for those who could use a bit of retail therapy right now (#treatyoself). Enjoy the list and please stay safe.

10 delicious boozes to keep your spirits up at home

Negroni Bundle

If you’re looking for a simple and tasty cocktail to make at home, then we humbly recommend the classic Negroni. Thankfully we’ve made the whole process even easier with this handy little bundle, which brings together the holy trinity of great gin, tasty vermouth and wonderfully bitter Campari in one convenient place. We’ve even chucked in [carefully] a crystal Master of Malt Riedel tumbler to add to the super savings. 

Negroni recipe:

Combine 25ml of Bathtub Gin, 25ml of Campari and 25ml of Martini Rosso sweet vermouth. Stir over ice and strain into your shiny new ice-filled Riedel tumbler. Garnish with an orange peel (‘express’ over top by giving it a little squeeze, and then simply plonk it in).

10 delicious boozes to keep your spirits up at home

Beavertown Neck Oil Bundle (6 Pack)

Having a few cans on hand is something many a booze-lover will want to ensure during this period of self-isolation, but there’s no need to settle for less. The bundle of Beavertown’s sublime session IPA – Neck Oil doesn’t just guarantee you terrific beer, it will also save you 10% versus buying them individually. Who doesn’t love a discount?

What does it taste like?

Light and crisp but full of flavour – citrusy and hoppy, slightly floral, very moreish.

10 delicious boozes to keep your spirits up at home

Dead Man’s Fingers Pineapple Rum

Pineapple and rum just belong together, unlike pineapple and pizza. I don’t make the rules. But I do know that Dead Man’s Fingers make a seriously good flavoured rum. This terrific tropical treat boasts notes of both candied and roasted pineapple, alongside simmering spices and a helping of brown sugar. Superb served over ice, but also goes great with lemonade or ginger ale.

What does it taste like?

Bright and almost tangy at first with fresh pineapple and ginger, followed by homemade caramel, nutmeg, cassia and mango.

10 delicious boozes to keep your spirits up at home

The Macallan 12 Year Old Sherry Oak

If you’re not familiar with the delights of the Macallan distillery, then this expression is the perfect way to acquaint yourself. Released as part of Macallan’s ever-wonderful Sherry Oak range, this delicious dram spent its entire maturation in sherry-seasoned oak casks which impart that rich, fruity and full-bodied profile we’ve come to know and love from a sherried Macallan.

What does it taste like?

Sultanas, fresh apple blossom, Calvados, tropical fruit, golden syrup, hot pastries, marmalade and barley sugar.

10 delicious boozes to keep your spirits up at home

Jaffa Cake Gin

At a time like this, there’s nothing better than a few home comforts, like comfy pyjamas, a cup of tea and a box of jaffa cakes. Sounds like bliss. How about if you added a tipple, like a delicious and fun gin? Even better. What if that gin was made to taste like jaffa cakes and even included the timeless treat in its botanical selection? Perfection. Good thing such a drink exists. Now, go forth and make an insanely delicious Negroni. Full marks if you stick a Jaffa Cake on your glass like a citrus wheel garnish.

What does it taste like?

Zingy orange (marmalade-esque), rich and earthy chocolate, vanilla-rich cake, a touch of almondy-goodness and a solid backbone of juniper. Also, Jaffa Cakes! 

10 delicious boozes to keep your spirits up at home

Tanqueray No. Ten

A bartender’s favourite for a reason, Tanqueray No. Ten is simply one of the most delicious, versatile and iconic gins on the market. Named after the still of its origin, pot still number 10, which is quite endearingly nicknamed Tiny Ten, this expression was crafted using whole fresh citrus fruits, such as oranges, limes and grapefruit, along with chamomile flowers and other traditional botanicals. Quarantini, anyone?

What does it taste like?

Tangy grapefruit zest, creamy custard, clean juniper, hints of Earl Grey tea and cardamom. 

10 delicious boozes to keep your spirits up at home

Caol Ila 12 Year Old

A staple Islay whisky, the perfect introduction into the smokier side of things and one of our all-time favourites, we’ll happily champion this peaty, fruity and fresh tipple whenever the opportunity presents itself. The entry-level bottling from the Caol Ila distillery is phenomenal (or should that be phenonenal. You know, because of all the phenols… oh, shut up) neat, but if you’re a fan of a Penicillin Cocktail it should do the trick too.

What does it taste like?

Fresh herbs, rubbed peppermint leaves, damp grass, cigar leaves, smoked ham, hickory, elegant smoke, boiled sweets and lemon peels at the harbour.

10 delicious boozes to keep your spirits up at home

Woodford Reserve Double Oaked

If you’ve ever enjoyed the delightful Woodford Reserve but craved something a little deeper, darker and richer, then you’re in luck. Double Oaked is made the same way as its classic sister expression but is then further matured in barrels which have been heavily toasted and lightly charred. A killer Old Fashioned awaits.

What does it taste like?

Lots of sweet oaken character, as well as rich fruit, vanilla and caramel notes.

10 delicious boozes to keep your spirits up at home

The Lakes Vodka

If you’re a vodka fan and you’re on the lookout for a reliably clean and crisp bottling, then you’re not going to do much better than the winner of the World’s Best Vodka at the World Vodka Awards 2019. The Lakes Vodka was made with water from the River Derwent (the very same River Derwent which was mentioned in William Wordworth’s book, The Prelude!) and triple distilled for the desired clarity and flavour profile. It’s sublime in a number of cocktails, like the simple and sublime Moscow Mule.

What does it taste like?

Very soft and a touch drying, with light hints of peppery wheat coming through.

10 delicious boozes to keep your spirits up at home

Signature Blend #2 (That Boutique-y Rum Company)

For those who intend to make good use of their time indoors by perfecting the art of the Mai-Tai, then look no further than the second Signature Blend from That Boutique-y Rum Company for your base spirit. It was specifically developed with Pete Holland (who you’ll know from The Floating Rum Shack) with the classic cocktail in mind and was made from a combination of particularly rich Guyanese rum and some wonderfully funky Jamaican rums.

What does it taste like?

Oily walnuts, rich molasses, dark chocolate, oaky tannins, spicy nutmeg, pitted Medjool dates, raisins, papaya, banana bread, engine oil, sweet tobacco, coconut husk, juicy pineapple, sugarcane, game meat, coffee beans, black tea, dark chocolate and roasted apricot. 

 

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Fèis Ìle 2020 officially cancelled

We’re sorry to report that Fèis Ìle 2020 and other whisky festivals around the country will not take place this year as the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic spreads.  At MoM Towers, we…

We’re sorry to report that Fèis Ìle 2020 and other whisky festivals around the country will not take place this year as the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic spreads. 

At MoM Towers, we sadly received confirmation today that Fèis Ìle 2020 has been cancelled. The organisers released the following statement in The Ileach, an independent newspaper for Islay and Jura, “Following Scottish Government guidelines, with deep regret, we announce that Fèis Ìle 2020 has been cancelled. We are devastated to have to announce this. We love our festival and welcoming people from around the world. We have considered the impact on islanders, local businesses and visitors alike.” 

The statement continued: “We have made this decision after lengthy discussions between the committee and our distillery partners, and have concluded no other option was viable. Please continue to support our island and we look forward to seeing you for Fèis Ìle 2021. To those who have bought tickets direct from Fèis Ìle, you will be contacted by our volunteers in the next 14 days. Please be patient and we will be in touch. Thank you”.

Fèis Ìle 2020

The coronavirus pandemic unfortunately made the Fèis Ìle 2020 inevitable

The directors of the Islay Festival of Malt & Music had organised an emergency meeting to discuss the status of this year’s Fèis Ìle (scheduled for 22-30 May) according to WhiskyCast and in light of current events the news, while devastating, comes as little surprise. Scotland’s first minister Nicola Sturgeon had previously called for the cancellation of events with 500 more people in order to free up emergency services workers, while UK prime minister Boris Johnson warned the British public to avoid pubs, clubs and social venues in a bid to mitigate the impact of coronavirus. At the moment, we don’t know whether this will mean no special Fèis Ìle 2020 expressions from Islay’s distilleries.

The news follows a number of closures and cancellations across the industry. The Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival 2020 that was due to take place from 29 April -4 May has also been cancelled. “In response to the escalating situation with Covid-19, the board of directors have decided that this year’s Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival is cancelled as a preventative measure,” said James Campbell, chairman of the festival. “We very much regret the inconvenience that this will cause our visitors, event providers, members, partners and local communities, and trust that everyone will fully understand why we have had to make this decision.” In addition, organisers of the Campbeltown Malts Festival have announced the cancellation of their event scheduled for 19-22 May , while The Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) has released a list (that will be updated daily) of Scotch whisky distilleries that have closed or suspended tours.

Fèis Ìle 2020

The island is home to some of the world’s most famous and beloved distilleries

A number of other events have been postponed, including Whisky Live London and its sister festival Gin Live London. It was announced this week that both events will go ahead “later in the year”, according to the organisers. The Wine & Spirits Show, set to take place in London next month, has also been postponed, while Think Spirits has confirmed that its event will no longer take place on April 28th and instead has been pushed back to the 15th September 2020 at the same venue, St Mary’s, Marylebone.   

It’s an awful shame. The festival’s blend of open events, music and merriment makes it a bucket-list trip for whisky-lovers everywhere and it’s an occasion we at Master of Malt love to visit and cover for the blog. Ultimately, public safety must take precedent. There will be plenty of time to enjoy delicious whisky in each others’ company in the future. For now, you can still get the best Islay and others have to offer straight to your home as we remain open for business. For more information on that, this handy blog post should answer any questions.

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Master of Malt tastes… Johnnie Walker whisky highballs

We tried the exclusive new collection of bottled Johnnie Walker whisky Highballs with Johnnie Walker’s whisky ambassador Ali Reynolds and discussed the role this simple but sublime serve will play…

We tried the exclusive new collection of bottled Johnnie Walker whisky Highballs with Johnnie Walker’s whisky ambassador Ali Reynolds and discussed the role this simple but sublime serve will play in the future of the spirit.

“Whisky has been quite a tired category for a while and it’s been aimed at men of a certain age for a long time. We were telling people how to drink it in terms of ‘you can only add a dash of water’ or ‘maybe one ice cube’,” says Ali Reynolds, whisky ambassador for Johnnie Walker. “There are all these flavours within the Scotch category and we should be exploring them more in cocktails. I’m always asking why isn’t whisky one of the biggest spirits on more cocktail lists? Brigadiers have been brave enough to stock four pre-bottled whisky sodas and it’s just a great way to get people into Scotch. We need to relax that conversation. Talk less about Scotch, talk more about the flavours within it”.

We’ve met to talk about the whisky Highball and its potential to bring new drinkers to the whisky category at Brigadiers, an Indian restaurant and bar in the City of London inspired by the army mess bars of India where military regiments eat, drank and socialise. It’s recently launched a series of four Highballs which are carbonated and bottled in-house made with various types of Johnnie Walker. 

Johnnie Walker as a brand is all over cocktails. The distillery’s website has a dedicated cocktail section that and a quote: “The mark of a truly great whisky is its versatility and even when mixed”. As the distillery enters its 200th year and prepares to open the Johnnie Walker whisky experience in Edinburgh, it’s understandable how much time and resource its devoting to converting people into whisky lovers. The Highball is clearly at the centre of its strategy and there’s a good reason why. As a serve it has a realistic chance of opening up the world of whisky to people who never considered it before. It’s whisky’s closest relative to the gin and tonic and a favourite of bartenders. And Japan, for that matter. It makes whisky seem modern, enticing and refreshing. 

Johnnie Walker whisky highballs

Look, it’s Johnnie Walker’s whisky ambassador Ali Reynolds!

One of the challenges for the 2019 World Class bartender competition, which was to create a pre-canned Johnnie Walker Highball. “It’s a daunting challenge because a lot of people would question how many flavours could you possibly get out of it. But every single drink was different,” Reynolds explains. “But the way bars are heading now, they want drinks that mean quick service, simplicity and easy access for their bartenders. There’s no longer five deep at the bar, someone shaking and stirring drinks until their arms are falling off. It’s quick, easy, clean and about dedicating more time to the customer than just being behind the bar, busy. Pre-bottled Highballs offer a really good way to do that”. 

Changing perceptions around whisky is very much an ongoing process, however. Reynolds recalls being told off a few years ago for combining Lagavulin 16 Year Old and Coca Cola. He was told in no uncertain terms that you don’t make a 16-year-old whisky to be mixed with Coke. By Fèis Ìle 2019, he was serving a ‘Smokey Cokey Floaty’, made with Lagavulin 16, Coca Cola and a scoop of ice cream on top. “We’re always looking to bring more diversity to the category, whether that’s women or young people. At a lot of recent events and festivals we’ve been making Highballs with peach tea, green tea, lemon, ginger and elderflower, so that’s five very different flavours,” he says. “If you went back 15 years and talked about mixing elderflower with Scotch, people would recoil and say ‘What are you talking about, what’s going on here?’ But that’s silly because I can’t honestly name another spirit category that has that breadth of flavour that Scotch has. We have the smoke, we have the sweetness, the fruit, the waxiness, the wood. It’s incredible. Accessibility is the key for us”. 

With this in mind, the first of the four expressions arrives. It’s the Jal-Jeera, a mix of Johnnie Walker Black, apple and chaat masala ginger ale. “The smoked apple note and then that addition of masala has just given it such a unique taste. It reminds me of smoked fish, kedgeree style, which is such a weird tasting note to put into something so refreshing but it really works. I’m a fiend for spicy food, I absolutely love it and this one is perfect for it,” Reynolds says of it. I think it’s fabulous, instantly refreshing and beautifully spiced and the aromatic combination of the ginger and apple is wonderful. 

Johnnie Walker whisky highballs

The Jal-Jeera, Sandalwood Sharbat and Passion Fruit Lassi

We then moved on to the Passion Fruit Lassi, a combination of Johnnie Walker Gold, passion fruit, pandan and clarified yoghurt soda. “This one I think is very much based around the Pornstar Martini. The fact that they’ve used passion fruit, yoghurt and pandan just makes it a little bit more accessible to the regular drinker. It’s super-fruity and creamy,” says Reynolds. “Gold Label has got this amazing viscosity to it and oiliness which kind of coats the palate and they’ve taken that element from it and then recreated it in a soda. If you gave this and the Sandalwood Sharbat to anyone they wouldn’t bet their money on whisky being in it.” We both agree that this isn’t our personal favourite of the selection, but it’s interesting because it totally differs from what your expectation of a whisky and soda would be in the best possible way.

Next, we tried that Sandalwood Sharbat, a Highball consisting of Johnnie Walker Green, amontillado sherry, sandalwood and banana soda. “The Green Label has got Talisker, Linkwood, Cragganmore and Caol Ila in there and the sandalwood brings out all the wonderful wood characteristics from the four distilleries. The amontillado sherry complements the bit of saltiness from the Caol Ila, but again this is a really refreshing and easygoing serve,” Reynolds says. “Throughout this range, they’ve done a really good job of dissecting the whisky in terms of its flavours”. This was probably the highlight of the range for me, it’s complex and bittersweet and ridiculously moreish. I’d drink the soda element on its own happily and the touch of sherry is beautifully measured.

Finally, we tried the showstopper of the range. The Nepalese Butter Tea, which was made from Johnnie Walker Blue Label, pineapple caramel, brown butter, milk oolong tea and Champagne, is served in a Champagne-style bottle and intended for four people to share. “The flavours are great. Whisky and Champagne is an overlooked pairing, for sure. But when we did the Blue Label tasting we agreed that it’s got waves of flavours which is why the ingredients they’ve used here, the milk oolong, the Champagne, they’re quite delicate so they don’t take away too much from the whisky,” Reynolds explains. This is by far the most indulgent of the range and it’s an interesting demonstration into how you can turn a humble serve into a premium cocktail. It’s still  refreshing enough to work as a Highball, but the butter element, in particular, adds a decadent richness that’s amazing, although I would say best enjoyed in small quantities.

Johnnie Walker whisky highballs

The decadent and delicious Nepalese Butter Tea

Tasting this range, my immediate thought is that I know people who don’t like whisky who would happily drink these cocktails. It’s an impressively comprehensive selection for just four drinks and I can imagine that there will be something there for everyone. If these Johnnie Walker whisky highballs are a sign of the direction that whisky drinking is going in, I think we’re on to something. 

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Fab Irish whiskey and gin for St. Patrick’s Day

St. Patrick’s Day is next week (Tuesday 17 March) and you know what that means: it’s time to indulge in some delightfully Irish spirits! There are plenty of ways to…

St. Patrick’s Day is next week (Tuesday 17 March) and you know what that means: it’s time to indulge in some delightfully Irish spirits!

There are plenty of ways to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. You could try not patronising your Irish friends with terrible impressions and old stereotypes. That’s always fun. Or you could ditch the horrible green beer and drink deliciously Irish booze and raise a glass to the patron saint. That sounds much better, doesn’t it?

Whether you’re a fan of gin or whiskey, we’ve got plenty of festive Irish fancies for you to enjoy. Oh, and don’t forget that you can still enter our latest fabulous VIP competition, the winner of which will go to the old country to create their very own bottling with J.J. Corry founder Louise McGuane!

Fab Irish whiskey and gin for St. Patrick's Day

Redbreast 12 Year Old  

Not just one of the best single pot still Irish whiskeys you’ll ever taste, but just hands down one of the best whiskeys you’ll ever enjoy, Redbreast 12 Year Old is a real favourite of ours here at MoM Towers. It was matured in a combination of bourbon-seasoned American oak barrels and 0loroso sherry-seasoned Spanish oak butts to give it that classic nutty, rich and oily profile.

What does it taste like?:

Citrus peels, ginger, linseed, melon, marzipan, dried fruits, custard and a hint of sherry.

Fab Irish whiskey and gin for St. Patrick's Day

Green Spot Château Léoville Barton 

If you want to push the boat out this St Patrick’s Day and go for something a little different, then you won’t go wrong with the first-ever single pot still Irish whiskey finished in Bordeaux casks. Matured initially in a mixture of ex-0loroso sherry, fresh American oak and ex-bourbon barrels, this delicious Green Spot whiskey was then finished in the ex-Château Léoville Barton Bordeaux wine casks for 12 to 24 months. What’s so cool about this choice of cask is that Ch. Léoville Barton is not only a highly-regarded grand cru Château, but it was founded by an Irishman, Thomas Barton, and still run by his descendants to this day.

What does it taste like?:

Wild raspberry, a little potpourri, crab apple, honey, gingerbread, toffee, green apple, lemon peel, vanilla, redcurrant and warming spice.

Fab Irish whiskey and gin for St. Patrick's Day

Mór Irish Gin

You probably know of Tullamore D.E.W  and its range of delicious whiskies, but did you know it’s not the only delightful distiller in the town? Mór Irish Gin is made in the Arderin Distillery in Tullamore using a quartet of berries amongst its botanical selection – juniper berry, blackberry, cranberry and raspberry! It also features floral wafts of angelica, rosemary and coriander too. 

What does it taste like?:

Earthy at first, with coriander and rosemary making a big impression. Becomes sweet and juicy with big bundles of fresh berry notes at the core. A slight peppery hint on the finish.

Fab Irish whiskey and gin for St. Patrick's Day

Writers Tears Copper Pot Irish Whiskey 

If you’re looking for a light, sweet Irish whiskey then we recommend Writers Tears Copper Pot Irish Whiskey. Made using a mix of single pot still and single malt whiskeys, this tipple is wonderfully easy to drink and would make for a great introduction to Irish whiskey for folks new to the spirit. I should point out that no writers were harmed in the making of this whiskey.

What does it taste like?:

Thick honey spread on granary toast, citrus peels, vanilla, golden malt, green apple skin, caramel and a hint of oak.

Fab Irish whiskey and gin for St. Patrick's Day

Bertha’s Revenge Irish Milk Gin

Some people name their gin brands after their founders, others prefer to honour the place it was made or a key botanical. But this gin from Ballyvolane House was named after Bertha, a Droimeann cow from Kerry that was said to have been the oldest in the world when she died aged 48 in 1993. Which is amazing. Unsurprisingly, given the gin honours a cow, it uses whey alcohol from Irish dairies as its base and is distilled using locally-foraged botanicals.

What does it taste like?:

Almond, hay, dried juniper, orange peel, floral angelica, cumin spiciness, clove, cardamom, creamy vanilla, fresh citrus peels, oily juniper, lime and liquorice root.

Fab Irish whiskey and gin for St. Patrick's Day

Teeling Small Batch

When the Teeling Whiskey Company released this delicious small-batch blend we learned that this was a distillery that was interested in making unconventional, experimental whiskey and we love them for it. To create this expression, grain and malt whiskies were initially matured in ex-bourbon barrels before being married together in a Central American rum cask for up to 12 months. This one makes a delightful Old Fashioned.

What does it taste like?:

Cut grass, dried herbs, caramel, cinnamon, orange blossom, allspice, vanilla, apple pie, rose petal jelly, lemon curd and blackberries.

Fab Irish whiskey and gin for St. Patrick's Day

J.J. Corry The Gael – Batch 2 

Amazing VIP competitions are not the only thing that’s great about J.J. Corry. It also blends some truly delicious whiskey, like The Gael Irish whiskey. Made from a blend of 60% malt and 40% grain and aged in a combo of ex-bourbon and sherry casks, this expression is meant to serve as a mission statement of sorts – an example of what the team is aiming for when its own whiskey comes of age. We can’t wait to see what they do next.

What does it taste like?:

Sugary shortbread, peaches and cream, lemon drizzle cake, honeycomb, hazelnut spread, apricot yoghurt, mince pie filling, rye bread and thyme.

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New Arrival of the Week: Drumshanbo Single Pot Still

A new Irish whiskey has landed at MoM Towers, the Shed Distillery‘s long-awaited inaugural release: Drumshanbo Single Pot Still Whiskey. Irish distilleries have been popping up all over the place…

A new Irish whiskey has landed at MoM Towers, the Shed Distillery‘s long-awaited inaugural release: Drumshanbo Single Pot Still Whiskey.

Irish distilleries have been popping up all over the place in recent years with a noticeable and delightful consequence: more Irish whiskey to enjoy. Teeling, J.J. Corry, Dingle, Roe & Co and Pearse Lyons have made real strides and there’s more to come from a raft of other producers. Some will inevitably disappoint, while others, like Drumshanbo Single Pot Still Inaugural Release, will demonstrate why there’s so much excitement around the category.

Its producer, The Shed Distillery, made its name creating the wildly popular Gunpowder Gin. It was crafted with an intriguing botanical selection that included gunpowder tea. This was followed by Sausage Tree Vodka, made with the fruit of the Kigelia Africana (also known as the sausage tree – because the fruit looks like sausages, definitely worth a Google).

Looking at the previous body of work, it’s fair to say that the first distillery in Connaught in over 101 years, based in the tiny rural village of Drumshanbo in Co, Leitrim., has set the bar high for this whiskey. It’s also demonstrated an experimental approach that has prioritised creating spirits with a singular profile, rather than appealing to notions of tradition or Irish identity. Unless I’m mistaken and Kigelia Africana is native to Donegal, I think we can all agree that the ingredients The Shed Distillery has used so far are distinctly exotic in nature. This made me curious to see how the company would innovate with its first whiskey.

Drumshanbo Single Pot Still Inaugural Release

The Shed Distillery is the first in Connaught in over 101 years

Drumshanbo’s inaugural release is a triple-distilled, single pot still whiskey. Triple distillation is often associated with Irish whiskey and pot still is a style unique to the Emerald Isle, so that’s two big traditional boxes ticked already. Personally, as a huge pot still fan, I’m always delighted to see a distillery embrace this distinct and historical style. But where things get really interesting is the recipe. The mash bill contains malted and unmalted barley as well as a 5% helping of Irish Barra oats, which keeps it in line with the current Irish Whiskey Technical file while offering a point of difference.

Historically there’s a precedent of using oats in pot still whiskey and the forgotten grain has started to find its way into expressions, particularly in America. But if you were to have a search of the Irish whiskeys in MoM Towers right now you’ll notice that oats have yet to make a significant comeback. The fact that The Shed Distillery has chosen to embrace it demonstrates both an appreciation for the category’s heritage and a helping of that experimental side we’re used to seeing from the Connaught-based producers.

As for maturation, Drumshanbo Single Pot Still Inaugural Release is made up of whiskey that was aged for between three and five years in a combination of ex-bourbon barrels and oloroso sherry butts. It was then bottled at a relatively hefty 46% ABV without any additional colouring or chill-filtration which should appeal to those who enjoy getting geeky about such things.

Drumshanbo Single Pot Still Inaugural Release

Founders Patrick and Denise Rigney with head distiller Brian Taft.

Every drop of Drumshanbo Single Pot Still Inaugural Release was crafted by head distiller Brian Taft at the distillery itself. The Shed Distillery clearly made a decision that it would not buy-in any spirit made elsewhere, which is quite refreshing for an Irish whiskey brand. There’s nothing necessarily wrong with doing this, but I like drinking a whiskey knowing that I’m tasting some distillery character. It might explain why the price is on the premium side of things, however. Also, I’d like to draw attention to the fact that, according to the Irish Independent, Prince Albert of Monaco and Count Carl Von Hardenberg of the German drinks dynasty are the proud owners of two of the first-ever casks of whiskey distilled in Drumshanbo. For no other real reason other than I found that quite amusing.

So,  what should you (and Albie and Carl, for that matter) expect from Drumshanbo Single Pot Still Inaugural Release? In my opinion, good things. The market for Irish whiskey is highly competitive but there’s always enough room for those who are creating distinctive drams. That’s exactly what the Drumshanbo Single Pot Still Inaugural Release is. It’s delightfully creamy, the sweet notes are well-measured and it really tastes a good few years older than its age. Very promising stuff.

The Shed Distillery is currently in the process of expanding the distillery with a €1.5m visitor centre that is set to open in the summer and there’s sure to be more whiskey to follow. It’s certainly a producer to keep an eye out for. For now, it’s three expressions all provide something different to enjoy and you can find all of them here at MoM Towers. Sláinte!

Drumshanbo Single Pot Still Inaugural Release

 

Drumshanbo Single Pot Still Inaugural Release Tasting Note:

Nose: Creamy vanilla is at the core with custard and caramel in support. The sherry-cask influence then arrives with raisins, red berries and a touch of baking spice. Hazelnut whip brings a nutty element to the aroma while apple turnover, golden cereals and a hint of milk chocolate add sweetness underneath.

Palate: It’s a fantastically creamy and slightly rich palate. Notes of stewed plums, Christmas cake and flamed orange peel appear first, before leather, red chilli heat and aromatic nutmeg add depth.

Finish: Quite long and delicately sweet. The spices make way for more dried fruit, grassy malt and honeyed porridge. 

You can buy it here from Master of Malt.

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