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Master of Malt Whisky Blog

Author: Annie Hayes

Five minutes with… The Three Drinkers

The Three Drinkers

The drinks industry has a tendency to take itself a little too seriously at times. Thankfully, Adrian Smith, Colin Hampden-White and Helena Nicklin – aka, The Three Drinkers – are set to breathe a bit of life into our favourite spirits. We chat with the trio as their Scotch whisky series hits Amazon Prime

It’s high time booze had a TV show, isn’t it? Not a stuffy documentary film – or worse, a heavily branded videocast – but a light-hearted series that encompasses the industry we love as it exists today.

After all, things have changed a fair bit in the last 10 years. Spirits, and in particular Scotch, has shaken free of its ‘stereotypical drinker’ shackles, got a new haircut, and developed – dare we say it? – a bit of a sense of humour.

Luckily for you, wine writers Adrian Smith and Helena Nicklin, and whisky expert Colin Hampden-White spotted that gap in the market, and filled it with booze-soaked brilliance.

Across the four 30-minutes episodes of their inaugural series, you’ll see the trio dabble in a spot of coopering, give the Highland Games a decent crack, and set some whisky alight in the name of history.

We caught up with the gang as they kicked off the series with a fabulously swanky launch party at The Dorchester in London. Follow The Three Drinkers as they take you on a spirited journey across Scotland, and soon, the rest of the world…

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Categories : Features
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Peat-smoked spirits that aren’t Scotch whisky

Peat-smoked spirits

Scottish distillers may be the undisputed masters of the peat fire, but there are plenty of plucky distillers across the world making their own smoky creations, and with interesting and varied results. MoM invites you to drink outside the box with eight peat-smoked spirits that most definitely aren’t Scotch whisky.

Considering peat is literally a mix of decaying moss, shrubs, grasses, tree roots, dead animals and soil that has become compacted over thousands of years, it can be used to make various boozes pretty damn tasty.

You don’t need to descend on Scotland to source a little peat smoke for your spirits. Indeed, peatlands have been identified in at least 175 countries and make up 3% of the entire world’s land space (that’s 1.5 million square miles, FYI).

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Categories : Features
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Move over, US! British distillers set their sights on rye whisky

It’s arguably the most punk rock cereal of all time, and now rye is causing anarchy in the UK. Here, MoM chats with a handful of British distillers who have managed to tame whisky’s most rebellious grain…

For at least as long anyone reading this has been alive, rye-heavy mash bills have been the domain of US producers. Here in the UK, we’re a nation of single malt lovers – we always have been – but lately, British distillers are increasingly turning their attention to the bad boy of the crop world.

“Rye is gritty, real, and a bit punk,” says Cory Mason, master distiller at The Oxford Artisan Distillery (TOAD), which has focused on rye since it opened its doors back in July 2017. “As a comparison, I’ve always seen single malt as a Cognac, and rye more as an Armagnac, rough around the edges, a bit more hardcore, but still a stunning product in its own right.”

The question perhaps is not ‘why rye?’, but ‘why now?’. Mason highlights growing interest and demand for craft spirits, which he believes is prompting “a real willingness to step outside of traditional UK and European categories”. Specifically, aged rye whisky.

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Categories : Features
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How sound affects flavour… with Silent Pool Gin

Silent Pool

How does your environment alter what you choose to drink, without you even knowing it? This is what happened when sensory experts from the University of London’s Centre for the Study of the Senses gave MoM a taste of sonic seasoning (try saying that five times fast…).

We tend to view our senses – touch, sight, hearing, smell and taste – as separate entities, don’t we? We think that what you touch, for example, can’t possibly have much influence on what you taste.

Turns out we aren’t giving biology enough credit, as we discovered throughout the course of an evening hosted by Silent Pool in partnership with British philosopher Barry Smith, director of the at the Institute of Advanced Studies at University of London and co-director for the Centre for the Study of the Senses (rather cleverly shortened to CesSes).

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Categories : Features
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10 genuinely epic single grains from across the globe

epic single grains

If you’re of the opinion that single grain whisky is ‘all mouth, no trousers’ – as in, multiple cereals but zero flavour – you’re very sadly mistaken. Here, we’ve picked out 10 of the most sumptuous single grains the world has to offer. Tasting glasses at the ready…

It’s quaffable, affordable, and forms the backbone of many a blended whisky: could it be time to cut single grain some slack? David Beckham obviously thinks so, and we’re inclined to agree (though this list is, we assure you, Haig-free).

In reality, the things that many would consider to be grain whisky’s biggest weaknesses – light in character, industrial, no grain off-limits – have been transformed into the category’s greatest strengths by diligent distillers.

Now, I’m pretty nosy, so I wanted to find out a little bit more about the kinds of grains you can expect to find in each bottling. Easier said than done, because this information generally isn’t readily available.

So, where possible I’ve included the variety of grain each distillery primarily dabbles in (or dabbled, should it now be silent), so you can draw your own conclusions if you so wish…

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Categories : We're drinking...
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Defy Christmas tradition with 20 alternative festive cocktails…

Festive cocktails

This is your call to arms: it’s time to reclaim Christmas. Knock over a gingerbread house, wear your Christmas jumper backwards, and shake up 20 experimental festive tipples that promise to give your nan’s sorry-looking Snowball a run for its money. Vive la résistance!

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year is upon us. Parties for hosting, marshmallows for toasting, carolling out in the snow, and all that. While I love the festive season as much as the next person (and I do), December is cracking on, and I’m growing tired of the obligatory mulled wine/Hot Toddy combo on every bar and pub menu. And if you’re reading this, you probably are too.

Take eggnog. Whoever created it probably thought it would be cool for maybe a year or two, and then something new and more delicious would be invented. After all, it’s essentially milky, sugary, boozy eggs, which is pretty much every ingredient that existed in the 13th century. And yet, here we are, hundreds of years later, grimacing as we gulp down spicy yolks.

My theory is this: It isn’t because eggnog is actually all that delicious, it’s just that no one has managed to come up with anything better. It’s the same reason radio stations churn out Slade’s Merry Xmas Everybody every single year without fail.
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Categories : We're drinking...
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A look at Port of Leith Distillery’s fabulous first booze bottlings

Port of Leith Distillery

Mere months from breaking ground on what is set to be Edinburgh’s first single malt whisky distillery for more than 100 years, Port of Leith Distillery co-founders Paddy Fletcher and Ian Stirling have introduced their very first boozes. We took a peek inside the bottles…

When we heard that childhood friends Paddy Fletcher and Ian Stirling had designed Scotland’s first vertical distillery, our ears pricked up Alsatian-style. Set in (where else?) Edinburgh’s historic Port of Leith district, the project is a real labour of love, as Stirling told Kristiane on the blog back in April.

Now, eight months on, finance and planning permission has been secured, and an 18-month construction programme is scheduled to begin in March 2019, with an opening date of Autumn 2020. So far, so exciting.

As you can imagine, the Port of Leith Distillery’s inaugural single malt won’t emerge for a good few years, so to whet our collective appetites in the meantime, the duo has kicked off the range with Port of Leith Distillery Sherry and Lind & Lime Gin.

The curious among you may wonder how a distiller goes about distilling… without actually having built a distillery yet. Well, the gin is produced at The Tower Street Stillhouse near the site of the future distillery; a co-operative set-up shared by fellow local producer Electric Spirit Company (creator of Achroous Gin!).

Port of Leith’s sherry, meanwhile, is sourced from Bodegas Baron in Sanlúcar de Barrameda. The future distillery site is also home to the experimental whisky development programme, where the team will test yeast strains and fermentation styles over the coming months before settling on the final recipe.

Thirsty for more information, we asked Fletcher to talk us through the releases. Here’s what we learned…

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Rebel Rabbet: where brewing, botanicals and whiskey distilling collide

What if you could take the best aspects of beer, whiskey, and gin production, and combine them to make one killer category-defying hybrid spirit? London Distillery Company’s Matt McGivern and Dylan Bell have done just that – and more besides – through their experimental side project, Rebel Rabbet…

If your average distiller happened upon a 103-year-old Irish whiskey mash bill recipe, he or she might be tempted to resurrect the brand, recreate the spirit to the letter (or thereabouts), and pocket the profits.

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Categories : Features
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Your ultimate guide to storing spirits… with Salvatore Calabrese

Are you taking enough care of your top tipples? We tapped up world-renowned bartender Salvatore Calabrese, collector of rare spirits and creator of the world’s oldest cocktail, for his advice on making spirits last a lifetime or longer. With his advice, your bottles are in safe hands…

Every dedicated spirits lover has a precious bottle. A spirit they’re saving for the most exceptional of occasions. Liquid to savour. We’ll call it The Bottle. Now, don’t get us wrong, the booze within doesn’t have to be particularly expensive, nor particularly rare, for the vessel to earn The Bottle status.

Perhaps it’s a distillery exclusive from your trip to Japan, or maybe it contains the last drops of your mum’s favourite dram. Whatever the reason, you want to take great care of it, and rightly so. Thankfully, MoM knows a man who is familiar with the concept of irreplaceable liquid, or ‘Liquid History’, as he calls it.
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Blending rye with New York Distilling Company’s Allen Katz

As Brooklyn-based New York Distilling Company approaches its seven-year anniversary, distillery co-owner and industry legend Allen Katz delves into rye heritage, historic mashbills, and creating “a new American whiskey that tastes of more than just wood”.

“When I was 17, I started going to a particular hotel bar in Maryland with my grandmother; a magnificently social person,” recalls Katz. “We would have Manhattans made with the white label of Pikesville Rye 80 Proof, one of the juniors of Rittenhouse. I have always been fascinated with rye. It’s resolutely part of my personal heritage.”

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