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Master of Malt Whisky Blog

Author: Henry Jeffreys

Whisky Advent 2018 Day #12: Kilchoman Machir Bay Single Malt

Whisky Advent 2018 Day #12

Time to take a peek behind the 12th door of the Drinks by the Dram’s Whisky Advent Calendar where you will find a dram from Islay’s youngest distillery. . .

If you like a bit of elegant smokiness (and let’s face it, who doesn’t?) then you’ll love this next dram. It comes from Kilchoman, the first new distillery built on Islay in more than 120 years (another new distillery Ardnahoe, is just about to start production). It was founded in 2005 by Anthony Wills and family, and is based at Rockside Farm not far from Bruichladdich. The team produces a “barley to bottle” single malt whisky called 100% Islay where the entire process from the growing of the barley to malting, maturing and bottling, is carried out on the farm. Kilchoman also distills whiskies from bought-in malted barley like its bestseller, Machir Bay, our dram of the day.

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2018’s best booze books

From exploring beer that smells of bins to evaluating the finest wines known to humanity, this year’s booze books have something for everyone. Here’s what to read this Christmas if you like to drink.

There has been a bumper crop of booze books this year. Ideally, we would have at least three posts to get all of them in. But we just don’t have the time! So as we’ve already covered the excellent Aperitif by Kate Hawkings and Japanese Whisky by Brian Ashcraft, I won’t talk about them again. Then there’s the game-changing Home Bar by, errm, me. Anyway, after that shameless plug, here are my top ten drink books of the year.

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Categories : Features
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Whisky Advent 2018 Day #10: Kirkwall Bay

Whisky Advent 2018 Day #10

Behind the 10th door of the Drinks by the Dram’s Whisky Advent Calendar lies a mysterious single malt from the island of Orkney…

Some of the most interesting whiskies in Scotland aren’t famous brands, nor do they have the names of distilleries on them. Instead, they come from small bottlers and blenders who sniff out interesting whiskies and sell them under their own labels. One such company is Morrison and MacKay. It is based in Perth, a place with a rich whisky heritage. This [incredibly beautiful, you should visit] city on the banks of the river Tay was ideally located between the Highlands, home of strong-tasting malt whiskies, and the Lowlands, home of more delicate spirits, to produce, market and sell blended whisky around the world. Such great firms as Matthew Gloag & Son (of Famous Grouse fame), Arthur Bell & Sons, and John Dewar & Sons were all founded in Perth.

By the 1990s, most had left the city as the whisky industry consolidated. But Perth’s whisky tradition has been kept alive by Morrison and MacKay. The company was created by Brian Morrison from Morrison Bowmore, and Kenny Mackay, who worked with Morrison and previously for another old Perth firm, Peter Thomson. The Morrison and MacKay range includes Bruadar and Columba Cream whisky liqueurs (Scotland’s answer to Bailey’s), Old Perth blended malt (a revival of a Peter Thomson brand), rare cask bottlings and its own-brand single malts.

Which brings us on to the dram behind the 10th door of the Whisky Advent Calendar…

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Super rare Cognacs land at Master of Malt!

There’s so much more to Cognac than the big names. We talk to David Baker, Cognac sniffer-outer extraordinaire, about how he finds rare expressions, and then persuades the owners to sell.

It was a taste of 1840 A.E Dor at a hotel in Monaco that turned David Baker on to the magic of Cognac. Well, you might as well start with the best. It was the beginning of a great love affair. In 1987 he set up his own business, Hermitage Cognacs, to showcase the finest, rarest and oldest brandies that the region has to offer.

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Categories : Features
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Chase Distillery: Turning potatoes into liquid gold since 2008

On Chase Distillery’s 10th anniversary, we paid a visit and discovered how to make the ‘World’s Best Tasting Vodka’ (and excellent gin) from the humble spud.

Chase Distillery is located on Rosemaund Farm in Herefordshire. This part of England is a food and drink-lover’s paradise: there are cider apple orchards, Hereford beef cattle, and potato fields as far as the eye can see. The Chase family have been farming here for generations. In the early 2000s they weren’t getting a good price from the supermarkets, so William Chase cunningly decided to fry his potatoes before selling them. The result was Tyrells crisps. Then, according to William’s son James, “we started the distillery because we had a huge surplus of potatoes too small to make the crisps”. It was such a success that the family sold the crisp brand in 2008 to concentrate on making vodka.
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Dandelyan releases its last cocktail menu… ever!

Since it opened in 2015, Dandelyan at the Mondrian Hotel has become a London institution, winning awards and fans for its experimental but always delicious cocktails. Sadly it closes at the end of the year. We take a peek at the final menu which is available now.

And now the end is near and we have reached the final curtain, or something like that. Yes, it’s the very last cocktail menu at Dandelyan at the Mondrian London: a bar that has won more awards than Mariah Carey has wardrobe changes (which is a lot) including World’s Best Cocktail Bar at the Spirited Awards 2017.

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Copper stills ‘reawakened’ at Brora

The legendary Brora Distillery moves a step closer to reopening as the original copper pot stills have just been removed for refurbishment.

Whisky lovers know that the shape of the still is a crucial factor in creating the unique flavour of their favourite drams so it is a relief that the old Brora stills have been pronounced in sound condition. The pair were removed from the closed distillery and have been taken 200 miles to Diageo Abercrombie coppersmiths in Alloa where they were checked over using ultrasound. The careful restoration process can now begin.

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Categories : News
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Red Spot Whiskey relaunch – the top spot in Dublin

To celebrate the rebirth of Red Spot whiskey, we descended into Mitchell & Son’s cellars deep beneath the streets of Dublin for a trip back into Irish distilling history (and we got to try the whiskey, obviously.)

Jonathan Mitchell from the family-owned wine merchant described the relaunch as “the biggest day of all, we’ve had orders for Red Spot for two years.” We were at the historic Shelbourne Hotel and from there we walked to Mitchell & Son’s old cellars beneath Fitzwilliam Lane to try the long-awaited whiskey. The family has been in business since 1805 but their whiskey story starts in 1887 when they began sending empty casks of port, sherry, Malaga and Marsala to the John Jameson and Sons distillery at nearby Bow Street to be filled with spirit. This would have been made from a mixture of malted and unmalted barley, triple-distilled in a giant pot still.

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Salcombe Distillery: a Devon gin producer with big ideas

Angus Lugsdin, co-founder of Salcombe Distillery, tells us about collaborations with top chefs and prestigious wineries, why he doesn’t want to just make a regional gin, and explains how to differentiate yourself in a crowded marketplace.

Lugsdin’s background was in oil and gas exploration, but inspired by childhood holidays in Salcombe on the south Devon coast, he set up Salcombe Distillery in 2014 with friend Howard Davies. It began distilling in 2016.

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Inside Crucible – the laboratory where London’s wildest cocktails are born

In this short video we take a look inside Crucible in East London, part laboratory, part work space, and part social club. It’s somewhere where bartenders can meet, exchange ideas and play around with high-tech equipment like centrifuges and rotary evaporation.

The man behind the operation is Stuart Bale. Originally from Glasgow, Stuart was training as a dentist but the lure of booze was too strong. He worked with Tony Conigliaro at 69 Colebrooke Row, where many of Britain’s most innovative bartenders cut their teeth. In the past, bars would closely guard their recipes and techniques but, according to Bale, “ideas are now swapped between bartenders around the world”. Crucible is a place where people can meet and magic can happen. One important thing before watching the video, don’t call it ‘The Crucible’; that’s a place in Sheffield where the snooker takes place! It’s ‘Crucible’, no definite article. Got that? Right, let’s cocktail!

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