Master of Malt Whisky Blog

Author: Annie Hayes

Behind the scenes at London’s new Ziggy Stardust-inspired bar

In 1973, David Bowie toasted the retirement of his alter ego, Ziggy Stardust, with a star-studded bash dubbed ‘The Last Supper’ at Hotel Café Royal. Now, 25 years on, the historic London venue has immortalised the influential artist by opening a bar in his honour, called – what else? – Ziggy’s. MoM pinned down the hotel’s bars and beverages manager Fabio Spinetti for the inside scoop before the doors fling open for the first time this week…

Oh, to be a fly on the wall at Hotel Café Royal on the night of July 3, 1973. Just hours before, ‘Ziggy played guitar’ for the final time at a sold-out concert at London’s Hammersmith Odeon Theatre. The Soho venue, a natural choice for Bowie’s bash, was packed to the rafters with famous faces.

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Categories : Features
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Piedmont part two: The sparkling union between Bava Winery and Giulio Cocchi

Aperitif and sparkling wine producer Cocchi recently welcomed MoM to its Italian home in Piedmont. We marvel at the brand’s fascinating history, take a peek at aromatised wine production at Bava Winery, and touch on the world of Futurist cocktails…

“Our family tree dates back to 1682 – and it started on that hill,” says company director Roberto Bava, as he gestures at a vineyard opposite the Bava Winery. “We were farmers who came from the Savoy area to run the farm. We’ve been there ever since.”

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Categories : Features
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Want to imbibe like Bond? London’s top bartenders show you how…

Shaken – Drinking with James Bond and Ian Fleming

From the Vesper in Casino Royale, to his iconic Martini ‘shaken, not stirred’ in Diamonds are Forever, James Bond’s penchant for high-class tipples is something we can certainly get behind. We go behind the scenes of brand new cocktail compendium Shaken – Drinking with James Bond & Ian Fleming, curated by the folks behind London bar Swift…

If you’re a fan of James Bond, you’ll know he’s fond of dishing out some pretty specific drink specs to bartenders. Now, 65 years after he first became immortalised in ink, 007 has his very own recipe book to draw from.

The Shaken compendium, launched in collaboration with The Ian Fleming Estate and Ian Fleming Publications, contains 10 classics lifted directly from the novels – along with 40 brand new recipes that pay homage to the people, places and plots of the original novels.
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The epicentre of Italian vermouth, Piedmont: Part one

Piedmont: home of slow food, fine wine, and… medieval horse festivals? Well actually, yes. Aperitif and sparkling wine producer Cocchi recently welcomed MoM to the region for a weekend packed with bareback horse racing and vermouth-flavoured ice cream. Here’s what we discovered…

Many people go through their entire life without hearing those three little words. Unforgettable words that, when uttered together, promise the recipient that life will never, ever be the same from that moment on. No not ‘I love you’ – we’re talking about ‘medieval horse festival’. Or, if you want to be specific, ‘Palio di Asti’.

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This is why your next drink should be a bottled cocktail

Pre-batched cocktails have experienced something of a glow-up in the last few years. Forget ‘shaken or stirred?’, we’ll take ours bottled, please. Here’s why you should, too…

When you consider our collective obsession with theatricality, traceability and quality ingredients, on the surface the bottled cocktail phenomenon almost presents itself as an anti-trend. But delve a little deeper and you’ll find that the concept offers all three by the bucketload.

Once a cardinal cocktail sin, the stigma long associated with pre-made tipples has dissolved, and bartenders alike have welcomed the challenge of turning batched ingredients into bar-worthy serves. James Law, co-founder of London-based tonic, seltzer, and soda maker the Longflint Drinks Company, says a “huge shift in quality” is enticing drinkers to the burgeoning pre-batched category.
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Kanpai! 10 things you should know about sake

It’s complex, versatile and seriously cool, but how much do you know about sake? If your knowledge is lacking, fret not – we’ve got all the info on this lip-smacking Japanese tipple (for starts, don’t refer to it as ‘rice wine’). From the origins of the drink to its intricate production processes, here are 10 things you need to know about sake…

Japan: the home of elaborate toilets, bizarre vending machines, Studio Ghibli, selfie sticks, and matcha lattes. The island nation is also known for making an array of delicious boozes, from the popular – in the case of Japanese whisky and its waning stocks, we’re drinking them a bit too quickly – as well as some lesser known ones (think: shochu).

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Splice the mainbrace! A brief history of Navy Strength gin

You’ve seen it on shelves, you’ve sipped it in cocktails, but what exactly is Navy Strength gin? Here Jake Burger, co-founder of London’s Portobello Road Gin and renowned gin historian, delves into the storied past of the maritime tot. Anchors away!

Last week, the folks at Portobello Road Gin officially inducted their Navy Strength expression into the fold with a nautical bash at their beloved gin-theme-park-disguised-as-a-hotel, The Ginstitute.

The new edition follows the classic Portobello Road Gin recipe – English wheat distillate redistilled with nine botanicals: juniper, coriander, angelica, orris, liquorice, orange peel, lemon peel, cassia bark and nutmeg – with the addition of English sea salt, which is added during dilution.

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A beginner’s guide to aquavit

Aquavit is finally taking flight outside its Scandinavian home, and it’s about time you got acquainted. Here’s what you should know about the herbaceous and softly spiced Nordic spirit…

We might’ve hit peak ‘hygge’ – anyone else tired of off-white Instagram filters, comfortable rugs, scented candles, coffee shop danishes and minimalist off-white furniture..? – but I’m here to tell you about another equally unpronounceable Scandi staple; one that the world has somehow passed by. It’s called Aquavit (or akvavit, if you’re from the Nordics), and it is delicious.

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Categories : Features, We're drinking...
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Exploring the trend for rum cask-finished Scotch whiskies

Now more than ever, Scotland’s whisky-makers are treating their ageing stocks to a resting period in tropical casks from sunshine shores. We explore the trend for rum cask-finished Scotch whiskies…

With ‘gooey caramel, helpings of apricots, dark chocolate, bittersweet vanilla and soft baking spices’, you’d be forgiven for assuming this tasting note was describing Ron Zacapa or El Dorado. In actuality, it documents the deliciousness of BenRiach 22 Year Old Dark Rum Cask Finish, which saw out the final period of its maturation in dark rum barrels from Jamaica.

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Categories : Rum, Scotch Whisky
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10 things you need for a dynamite home bar

Home bar looking a bit… lacklustre? It’s time to give your boozes the tender loving care they deserve. To paraphrase the late, great Aretha Franklin, all they’re asking for is a little respect. Sock it to ‘em with our selection of home bar essentials…

We have an inkling that you’re into tasty spirits and cocktails. That’s why you’re here, isn’t it? Coincidentally, that’s why we’re here, too. The two of us have so much in common… but please, enough flirting for a moment.

We’re gravely concerned about the wellbeing of your cherished bottles and request that you complete this short quiz. Tempting as it may be, don’t circle your answers like in newspapers, because you’ll ruin your computer. Just try to remember them instead.

I keep my spirits bottles (a) kinda sticky, by the kitchen counter, (b) lightly dusty, in a display cabinet, or (c) squeaky clean, in a designated bar cart.
Ice is (a) merely a solid form of water, (b) what happens to the freezer until it needs defrosting, or (c) often essential for making a decent drink.
Cocktail garnishes are (a) a nuisance, (b) for eating, or (c) for adding aroma (and style) to a mixed drink.

If you answered mostly A or B to the above, consider this an intervention.

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Categories : Features
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