Master of Malt Whisky Blog

Author: Annie Hayes

Copenhagen distillery Empirical Spirits is the future of booze

To most people, oysters, chicken stock and katsuobushi are ingredients. To Lars Williams – former head of R&D at Noma, one of the world’s most influential restaurants – they’re botanicals. Forget everything you think you know about booze: at category-defying distillery Empirical Spirits, nothing is off-limits.

If a distillers’ rulebook exists, Lars Williams hasn’t just thrown it in the bin – he’s set the whole thing on fire. The grain-to-bottle distillery he shares with fellow Noma alumni Mark Emil Hermansen wasn’t solely built to bottle. The entire set-up, designed and built by Williams, was imagined in the kitchen.

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Categories : News
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These are the biggest cocktail trends in the UK right now…

Like keeping your finger on the garnish? As Bacardi Brown-Forman Brands’ bartender education roadshow Jigger, Beaker, Glass approaches the final leg of its UK-wide tour, Shervene Shahbazkhani shares four cocktail trends to look out for now…

London has earned its place as one of the cocktail capitals of the world, but if you’re seeking a tastemaker outside of the M25, you need to be a little more discerning. While there are plenty of cracking bars elsewhere in the UK (that aren’t celebrated enough), by and large, the majority are still playing contemporary cocktail catch-up.

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Categories : Cocktails
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How Glencairn Crystal created whisky’s signature tasting glass

It’s the company that employs the brains behind your go-to tasting glass – as well as some of the world’s most expensive whisky bottles – but how much do you know about Glencairn Crystal? As demand for luxury spirits elevates the company to dizzying new heights, director Scott Davidson reveals how it all began…

What do you decant your dram into? Chances are, it’s a Glencairn Glass. The vessel has become synonymous with whisky world since it found its way onto our shelves in the early 2000s. Of course, if you’re really lucky/fancy, you might just be pouring liquid from a Glencairn Crystal decanter.

Glencairn broke the £10 million revenue barrier for the first time this year, with sales up by an astronomical 20% – the largest percentage jump since the business was founded by Scott’s father, Raymond Davidson, back in 1981.

If the world was thirsty for premium-and-above spirits bottlings five year ago, it’s positively parched now. Last year the decanter and glassware side of the business grew by 40%, driven by demand for the super-old and rare. On its CV? Glenmorangie Pride 1974 and Gordon & MacPhail’s Mortlach 75 Year Old.
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Categories : Whisky
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The Bourbon Series: Part Three… with Rob Samuels of Maker’s Mark

Our Bourbon Series concludes with Maker’s Mark, one of the world’s most beloved wheated bourbons. Rob Samuels, chief operating officer – and grandson of the brand’s founder, Bill Samuels – shares Scottish roots, ‘ageing to taste’, and the story behind the bottle’s iconic red wax seal.

Founded in the 1950s, Maker’s Mark may be among the youngest of the traditional bourbon brands, but there are old hands behind the stills. In fact, the Samuels family has been distilling whiskey for more than 500 years.

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Categories : American Whiskey, Whisky
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Kombucha: What is it and why is everyone drinking it?

Kombucha is touted as something of a health elixir, but the effervescent fermented tea has plenty in common with the drinks industry. Brewed like beer, as complex as wine and the ultimate cocktail mixer – here’s why the world is jumping on the ‘booch bandwagon…

Thirsty for the next big booze obsession? Your best bet is to slide onto a bar stool and flick through the drinks list, because few people know the industry better than the folks behind the stick. If you’re a seasoned menu-scanner, by now you’ll have clocked the influx of kombucha food pairings, tasting flights and cocktails gracing global bar and restaurant menus – as well as a whole host of ‘booch brands.
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Categories : Cocktails
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The Bourbon Series: Part Two… with Freddie Noe of Jim Beam

If there’s a gene responsible for skilful whiskey distilling, clearly Jim Beam and his descendants have it in abundance. Here, eighth generation Beam family distiller, Freddie Noe, talks whiskey forecasts, the bourbon boom, and why single barrel Booker’s will never, ever happen…

Last week we brought you the first instalment in The Bourbon Series, with whiskey chat from none other than Jim Beam Bourbon’s legendary master distiller Fred Noe. He’s not quite ready to hang up his hat just yet, but with son Freddie Noe next in line for the throne, the business will clearly be in excellent hands when he does.

Growing up in the knowledge that you’re Jim Beam’s actual great-great grandson would give anyone an inflated sense of self-importance. But not Freddie. Rumour has it the American dictionary definition of the word ‘humble’ is just a picture of his face. It might be hearsay, but after the tasting, we’d believe it.

As we collectively tasted our way through Jim Beam White Label, Jim Beam Double Oak, Jim Beam Black, Basil Hayden’s, Basil Hayden’s Dark Rye, and Knob Creek, Freddie regaled us with tales of his youth. Here’s what we discovered…
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Categories : American Whiskey
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Modern blended whiskies you’ll want to boast about

Blended whisky gets a seriously bad rap – call time on single malt snobbery, and stock your home bar with these modern blended whiskies (and blended malts) that equal far more than the sum of their parts…

In the age of the single malt, you’ll be hard pushed to find anyone who would freely admit that their favourite sipper is of the blended variety. For all intents and purposes, it’s the equivalent of wearing a Status Quo t-shirt to a Sex Pistols gig.

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Categories : American Whiskey, Japanese Whisky, Scotch Whisky, Whisky
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The Bourbon Series: Part One… with Fred Noe of Jim Beam

From humble beginnings in Kentucky, Jim Beam has captured the hearts of American whiskey fans across the globe, quite rightly earning the title of ‘World’s Best-Selling Bourbon’. We travelled to Barcelona to meet master distiller Fred Noe, and hear him reflect back on German roots, cowboy stereotypes, and the ‘Kentucky chew’…

Since Jim Beam and his direct descendants have been making bourbon in Kentucky for more than 200 years, it’s safe to say the family know their way around a glass of whiskey. So when MoM was invited to a tasting led by Jim Beam’s great grandson (among other bourbon royalty – more on that next week!) there could only be one reasonable response: hell yes.

As we tackled the veritable line-up – which comprised Jim Beam White Label, Jim Beam Double Oak, Jim Beam Black, Basil Hayden’s, Basil Hayden’s Dark Rye, and Knob Creek – Fred Noe reflected on the past, present, and future of Beam’s legacy, and the wider bourbon category. Here’s what he had to share…
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Categories : American Whiskey
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Love bourbon? Heading to Kentucky? Make this your first stop…

Unless you’re lucky enough to live in or around the Bluegrass State, a visit to the birthplace of bourbon is something akin to a pilgrimage. As it readies to open the Kentucky Bourbon Trail Welcome Center and The Spirit of Bourbon interactive exhibition, MoM reveals why The Frazier History Museum needs to be your first port of call…

If you’re hoping to cram in all 23 stops on both Kentucky Bourbon Trail tours, your whiskey-filled trip will require meticulous planning. Where to begin? It’s a question many have pondered. Thankfully, the good people at The Frazier History Museum, located in the heart of the Bourbon District of downtown Louisville, have been working hard on a solution. And come 25 August it will be open to the public.

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Categories : American Whiskey, News, Whisky
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John Crabbie & Co 2.0: Edinburgh’s son returns to whisky distilling

Five months after resurrecting the historic John Crabbie & Co. whisky brand with the launch of two single malts, Halewood International revealed plans for an Edinburgh distillery – the old stomping ground of Crabbie himself. Despite his Scotch kudos, surprisingly little is known about this influential character. MoM delves into the past, present and future of Crabbie Whisky…

When Halewood announced plans to invest more than £7 million in a new Crabbie distillery in Leith, industry ears pricked up. Though best known for its green ginger wine and ginger beers, the brand’s roots lie in whisky: it was founded a few short years after Blair Athol and Highland Park. Now, it’s the third contender in a race to build the first new distillery in Edinburgh for almost 100 years.

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Categories : News, Scotch Whisky, Whisky
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