Master of Malt Whisky Blog

Author: Annie Hayes

The Nightcap: 23 February

Nightcap

Busy few days? Pour yourself something special – The Nightcap is here, and it’s a corker. This week, Hollywood hero Ryan Reynolds bought “the best tasting gin in the world”, Aldi’s animated carrot Kevin was forced to go teetotal, and Jose Cuervo appointed a ‘salt sommelier’ to source the ultimate variety for a cracking Margarita.

Before we start to unpack that bizarre bunch, it’s time to reflect on blogs gone by. Earlier in the week, we detailed Ardbeg’s plans to double its production capacity with a brand spanking new still house and two additional stills, and delved into the fortunes of the rum category following an inspiring discussion at the inaugural Think Rum event.

Esteemed London bar The Gibson beckoned us into the world of savoury gin with its new bottling, and you’ll also find a lesson in Welsh whisky history and its recent renaissance ahead of St David’s Day on Thursday 1 March. Outside of the blog, some surprising news surfaced…

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Categories : News
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When will rum’s golden hour arrive?

rum

For years, industry insiders have been prophesying rum’s meteoric rise – but the category is still waiting in the wings. What is rum doing to move forward, and how can it attract new fans? A group of experts pondered its prospects at the first ever Think Rum event. 

It has heritage akin to Scotch whisky and the regional diversity found in gin, so why isn’t rum taken as seriously? Well, the category is broad and complex for starters. It’s also privy to a party image, and largely underrepresented in bars and pubs. However, that’s not to say rum is struggling – far from it. In fact, UK sales topped £1 billion for the first time ever in 2017.

For this level of popularity to be sustainable, rum must not rest on its laurels. Now more than ever, drinkers want to be educated about the various styles and brands within any given category, and it’s important that the entire rum community, from producers to bloggers, is poised to deliver if the category is to thrive.

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Categories : Rum
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Ardbeg plans to double distilling capacity by 2019!

Ardbeg

Welcome news for peat lovers: Islay-based single malt whisky producer Ardbeg is to double its production capacity with a brand spanking new still house and two additional stills.

It’s all go at The Glenmorangie Company! Mere weeks after announcing expansion plans at its Highland distillery Glenmorangie, the firm has submitted a planning application for a multi-million-pound still house at Ardbeg Distillery.

The “traditional-style” development will be constructed on a site formerly occupied by warehouses (they were demolished in 1980!), and will see a new wash still and spirit still bring the distillery’s total still count up to four. The existing still house will be repurposed to accommodate extra washbacks. Meanwhile the construction of a new boiler house, set a little further away from the main distillery building, is already underway.

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Categories : Scotch Whisky
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The Nightcap: 16 February

Nightcap

Well, well, well, what do we have here? This week’s Nightcap features a 2,400 gallon cocktail shaker, George Clooney-approved mezcal, and the dawn of a new era in Canadian whisky!

But first, it’s time to cast our minds back, waaay back to…. Well, yesterday evening actually, when we were delighted to be named Gin Magazine’s Icons of Gin Online Retailer of the Year 2018! Cue celebrations, high-fiving, and cocktail toasting.

Elsewhere on the blog, we reconnected with nature at Oslo Håndverksdestilleri (OHD) in Norway’s capital city, sipped on Beefeater’s new strawberry-flavoured pink gin, visited The Macallan’s first ever UK whisky lounge, and asked six drinks aficionados to reminisce over their first spirit love in the name of Valentine’s Day.

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Categories : News
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Drinks aficionados share their first spirit love!

Valentine's Day

Whether you’ve found the gin to your tonic or you’re more interested in Ballantine’s than Valentine’s, there’s one thing we can all agree on: when it comes to spirits, our love will never run dry. Here, six drinks industry luminaries share their most cherished booze discovery…

Do you remember your first love? No, not Debbie from Year 9; I’m talking about your first spirit love. No matter whether it was whisky, gin, Tequila, or something different entirely, my question to you is this: what was the first spirit that you thoroughly enjoyed, the one that you’ll always cherish?

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Categories : Liqueurs, Rum, Whisky
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Think pink: Introducing Beefeater London Pink!

Leave your preconceptions at the door – the pink gin trend is going nowhere. Beefeater has become the latest distillery to jump on the bandwagon with the launch of its new strawberry-flavoured variant, Beefeater London Pink. Spoiler alert: it’s delicious.

It’s nigh-on impossible to have missed the flurry of pink gins that have entered the category over the last year, so kudos to you if you managed it. Keen to capitalise on the ‘millennial pink’ movement, a plethora of producers have concocted their own rose-coloured creations, sending juniper purists shouting unintelligible swear words into pillows (probably).

You might think Beefeater is a little late to the party, and you’d be right – but it turns out there’s a pretty good reason. As with any fledgling spirits trend, there have been some excellent pink gin releases, and there have been others with, shall we say, questionable flavours (read: saccharine sweet, artificial, a bit naff). Beefeater has been busy refining the recipe to get it bang on.

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Categories : Gin
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Nature distilled: Exploring Oslo Håndverksdestilleri (OHD) in Norway

With its idyllic fjord, lush forested hills, bountiful indigenous botanicals and laid-back stance on foraging, Oslo is a city that practically lends itself to distilling. Last December I ventured to Oslo Håndverksdestilleri (OHD) for a tour and tasting during a trip to the country’s vibrant capital.

They say that in Oslo you’re never more than a 15-minute walk from nature, and there’s not a single doubt in my mind that statement is true. But the city is much more than the wild and breathtakingly beautiful nature that surrounds it.

Cosmopolitan yet quintessentially Nordic all at once, Oslo’s bustling cafe culture, eclectic architecture, and dynamic food and drink scene rival the likes of its hip Scandinavian sisters Stockholm and Copenhagen. Amid the coffee-slash-cocktail bars and microbreweries lies Oslo Håndverksdestilleri, which was established by Cask Norway’s Marius Vestnes and Number One Drinks’ Marcin Miller back in 2015.

No matter where you are in the world, it’s a given that the ultimate way to experience a country – particularly if the visit is fleeting – is to eat and drink like a local. With that in mind, I found my way to a red brick building by the city’s longest river, the Alna, where commercial manager, Elias Vega, and head distiller, Matt McMillan, greeted me with a cracking Nordic spread.

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Categories : Cocktails, Gin
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The Nightcap: 9 February

The Nightcap

Naked Swedish people, heart-breaking agave stats, and a newly-formed drinks thinktank that could change the future of booze marketing: it’s The Nightcap.

It’s time to reflect back on the week – and what a week it’s been, largely thanks to the celebrations and general revelry brought about by the most exciting day of the year. Forget Christmas, I’m talking about International Scotch Day. We were absolutely delighted to see so many of you get involved on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram using the hashtags #InternationalScotchDay and #LoveScotch. So much so that we compiled them into a post of epic proportions. Click here to see if your dram made the cut…

Elsewhere on the blog, we chatted with Rachel Barrie, master blender at The BenRiach Distillery Company, as she approaches her first year with the Scotch whisky producer, and picked out some dazzling spirits with which you could woo your Valentine (or yourself. That works too). Oh, and we were only bloody named Online Retailer of the Year 2018 by Whisky Magazine in its Icons of Whisky Rest of the World category! We’re almost too excited to tell you about all the other news. Almost…

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Categories : News
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Q&A: BenRiach Distillery Company master blender Rachel Barrie

Rachel Barrie

As she approaches her first year as master blender at The BenRiach Distillery Company, Rachel Barrie discusses wood policy, product development, and why there’s “no such thing as a bad whisky, just some that are better than others”.

Very few master blenders could list the likes of Glenmorangie, Bowmore, Laphroaig and Glen Moray on their CV, but Rachel Barrie is one of them. Having clocked up an impressive 26 years in the Scotch whisky industry, during which she’s been “extremely lucky to work with so many great malts”, her knowledge of Scotch whisky styles and flavours knows no limits. Put it this way, we want her on our team at the next whisky-themed pub quiz.

In February last year Barrie made the move to Brown-Forman-owned BenRiach Distillery Company, succeeding the company’s founder, Billy Walker, as master blender and assuming responsibility for the BenRiach, GlenDronach and Glenglassaugh distilleries. Here, she reflects on her first 12 months in the role…

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Categories : Scotch Whisky
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The Nightcap: 2 February

Nightcap

Gin made with foraged plants from the UK’s oldest botanic garden, a world record-breaking Japanese whisky bottle, and an innovative new cocktail menu centered on industrial crop systems top this week’s news bulletin, The Nightcap.

High fives all-round, the dullest month of the year is over. The bright(er) days of February are upon us, bringing a flurry of fresh booze news. Highland distillery Glenmorangie saw January out with the launch of its ninth Private Edition innovation, Glenmorangie Spìos, at the same time as outlining plans for a brand spanking new multi-million-pound still house. Meanwhile Captain Morgan sent the office feral with its ‘posepants’ (‘business on the right, party on the left’, as one Facebook commenter observed).

Also this week, NYC bar The Dead Rabbit announced the launch date of its highly-anticipated Irish whiskey, and we delved into the what, why, and how of being a Scotch whisky blender with Kevin Balmforth and Calum Fraser from Chivas Brothers. Plus, if you’re a Master of Malt Dram Club member, you were treated to a sneak peak of February’s swag. But what else occurred? Let’s take a look…

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