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Master of Malt Blog

Author: Henry Jeffreys

Checking out Kentish rum at Greensand Ridge

A rum distillery in the garden of England? Yes indeed! We take a trip to Greensand Ridge Distillery. Distilleries don’t come much smaller than Greensand Distillery. Located in leafiest Kent…

A rum distillery in the garden of England? Yes indeed! We take a trip to Greensand Ridge Distillery.

Distilleries don’t come much smaller than Greensand Distillery. Located in leafiest Kent just up the road from Master of Malt HQ in Tonbridge, it’s housed in converted stables and employs just two people: founder Will Edge and Chris Poole, a former bartender who looks after sales. “Having only two people keeps the risk low but makes the work harder,” Edge told me when I visited recently. “It means a lot of late nights.” He uses a combined pot and column still which means he can make a wide variety of spirits in a small space. The rest of the stables is crammed with barrels and fermentation equipment.

When I visited the air was alive with the heady smell of rum low wines coming off the pot still. “Rum is tricky to make, there is so much sugar that it’s a toxic environment for yeast; it needs a long fermentation,” he explained. After the low wines have been collected, he puts them through a column still on a “stripping run to remove sulphur”. The idea, according to Edge, is to make a “soft, subtle rum, a floral spirit that doesn’t need lots of ageing”. It’s spends a year in ex-bourbon casks, and emerges sweet, spicy and as smooth as David Niven in a velvet DJ.

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Why sherry and Scotch are a match made in heaven

Sherry cask-finished whisky is nothing new, but just why does the combination work so well, and why have the butts become so important? We investigate the magic of sherry and…

Sherry cask-finished whisky is nothing new, but just why does the combination work so well, and why have the butts become so important? We investigate the magic of sherry and Scotch

All whisky lovers know that sherry casks and Scotch go together like Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince, but the term ‘sherry cask’ isn’t as simple as it may at first appear. To get to the bottom of this much misunderstood part of the whisky process, I spoke to Donald Colville, Diageo global malts ambassador, about sherry, whisky, history, and Talisker’s super fancy recently launched Bodega Series 40 Year Old single malt.

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We paid a visit to Copper Rivet in Kent

What’s more exciting than a local whisky distillery? One that makes gin, vodka and an intriguing Port-like wine, too! We have a nose around Kent’s Copper Rivet distillery and get…

What’s more exciting than a local whisky distillery? One that makes gin, vodka and an intriguing Port-like wine, too! We have a nose around Kent’s Copper Rivet distillery and get to sample some very intriguing spirits indeed…

The building that houses the Copper Rivet Distillery looks like it should be in a piazza in Siena rather than amongst the retail parks of what used to be the Royal Naval Dockyards in Chatham, Kent. A former pump house, it lay derelict for years until it was spotted by Matthew Russell who was having a picnic over the River Medway at Upnor Castle. His family had been looking all over the country for a place to start making gin, but when he saw those Italianate arches, he thought “bingo” (or perhaps “gingo”).

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Raise a glass of fizz and say Happy Birthday to Champagne!

4 August marks the Birth of Champagne. Instead of celebrating this momentous day with a traditional birthday cake and candles (although you can partake if you wish), why not join…

4 August marks the Birth of Champagne. Instead of celebrating this momentous day with a traditional birthday cake and candles (although you can partake if you wish), why not join us as we unpick the Birth of Champagne backstory – with a glass in hand, of course.

Fan of all things fizzy? Then you might be interested to know that 4 August is a pretty vital day when it comes to the history of sparkling wine. It’s the Birth of Champagne – so roll up and celebrate!

Not that I need an excuse to drink a glass of fizz, but what’s this Champagne Day all about?

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Celebrating Signet: Inside Billy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory

There are few whiskies that you could truly describe as mould-breaking, but one such single malt is Signet from Glenmorangie. To celebrate the chocolate malt-based expression’s 10th anniversary, Dr Bill…

There are few whiskies that you could truly describe as mould-breaking, but one such single malt is Signet from Glenmorangie. To celebrate the chocolate malt-based expression’s 10th anniversary, Dr Bill Lumsden, director of distilling, whisky creation and whisky stocks at Glenmorangie and Ardbeg, invited a select few for an in-depth look at how this unique single malt is made.

From the moment I arrived at the Glenmorangie distillery it was clear that something unusual was going on; the air was alive with the aroma of roasting coffee and chocolate. I half expected to turn the corner and see a gang of Oompa Loompas lugging sacks of malt.

We were here to deconstruct Signet, a single malt that has garnered something of a cult status. Launched back in 2008, the expression has raised eyebrows and piqued palates for its unconventional raw material use and distinct flavour profile. It is made using chocolate malt, a highly roasted malted barley like that used to make stout, and it’s all about those chocolate and coffee notes. It’s also delicious, award-winning, and as popular now as it was way back when it launched.

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New release from Johnnie Walker Blue Label Ghost & Rare range on the way

Johnnie Walker ain’t afraid of no ghost – the second bottling in the Blue Label Ghost & Rare series has been announced, featuring whisky from Islay’s legendary Port Ellen distillery…

Johnnie Walker ain’t afraid of no ghost – the second bottling in the Blue Label Ghost & Rare series has been announced, featuring whisky from Islay’s legendary Port Ellen distillery at the heart of the blend.

This week Diageo announced the launch of the (deep breath) Johnnie Walker Blue Label Ghost & Rare Port Ellen, or JWBLG&RPE for short. It may sound like two whiskies, but is actually a new blend created by Johnnie Walker master blender Jim Beveridge and his team. It gets its spooky name because it’s based around whisky from legendary ghost (ie. closed) Islay distillery Port Ellen, as well as two lost grain distilleries – Carsebridge (which closed in 1983) and Caledonian (which closed in 1988). These priceless whiskies are then blended with some very rare malts from non-ghostly distilleries – Mortlach, Dailuaine, Cragganmore, Blair Athol and Oban.

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How to order wine at a restaurant

Feel lost ordering a bottle in a restaurant? Want to impress a friend/partner/hot date and paralysed with The Fear? We can help! Read on for an actual sommelier’s top tips…

Feel lost ordering a bottle in a restaurant? Want to impress a friend/partner/hot date and paralysed with The Fear? We can help! Read on for an actual sommelier’s top tips for tasty wine every time.

Picture the scene: you’re at a swanky restaurant. You’ve just been handed the wine list and everyone is looking you expectantly. The waiter glides over to take your order but just at that moment your mind goes blank, so you point to a name that looks vaguely familiar and when the wine comes, it’s a bit disappointing. We’ve all been there. But now help is at hand from Donald Edwards, the sommelier at hot new restaurant St Leonards in Shoreditch*, the brainchild of chefs Jackson Boxer and Andrew Clarke. It’s been described by Marina O’ Loughlin in the Sunday Times as “a classic in the making” – so you’ll want to pay attention. Here, Edwards gives us his top tips on how to get the most from a wine list.

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Mortlach reveals three new whiskies

The Beast of Dufftown is back at it again. Mortlach has unveiled a trio of single malt whiskies for its core range, including 12 year old, 16 year old and…

The Beast of Dufftown is back at it again. Mortlach has unveiled a trio of single malt whiskies for its core range, including 12 year old, 16 year old and 20 year old expressions.

Today mighty Speyside distillery, Mortlach, aka the Beast of Dufftown, announced the launch of three new expressions: the 12- year-old “Wee Witchie” bottled at 43% (RRP £50), the 43.4% 16-year-old Distiller’s Dram (RRP £80) and also at 43.4% the 20- year-old Cowie’s Blue Seal (RRP £200). Mark Brunton, Distillery Manager, said: “The 16-year-old is a classic Mortlach expression, while the 12-year-old offers a strong distillery character through its use of refill casks. The 20-year-old offers a balance of character and distillery character with active wood.”

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Whisky is Coming!

Diageo and HBO have announced The Game of Thrones Single Malt Scotch Whisky Collection, with more details to come over the coming months. It’s all a bit mysterious at the…

Diageo and HBO have announced The Game of Thrones Single Malt Scotch Whisky Collection, with more details to come over the coming months.

It’s all a bit mysterious at the moment – like that bit in seasons five and six where Arya Stark spent what seemed like centuries in the Hall of Faces – but Diageo has released a short film on social media announcing a Game of Thrones single malt collection. It will feature eight whiskies: Lagavulin, Oban, Singleton, Talisker, Cardhu, Royal Lochnagar, Dalwhinnie and Clynelish.

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All aboard! We join Starward to taste its ocean-aged whisky

What happens to whisky when it’s aged not in a warehouse but on the front of an enormous cruise liner as it sails around the world? We join Starward founder…

What happens to whisky when it’s aged not in a warehouse but on the front of an enormous cruise liner as it sails around the world? We join Starward founder David Vitale for the first taste of an expression that has undergone just that…

It’s not every day that you’re invited on board the MS Queen Elizabeth, a 294-metre long ocean liner in the Cunard fleet. Sadly we were at Southampton Docks with a lovely view of Ikea instead of heading off on a cruise around the Caribbean. And it was drizzling. But we weren’t there for the views or the weather; we were there to try some whisky – and Starward whisky at that!

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