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Master of Malt Blog

Author: Jess Williamson

Whisky Advent 2019 Day #6: Mackmyra Vinterglöd

Roll up, roll up, it’s the sixth day of Advent, which means that door number six on your Drinks by the Dram Whisky Advent Calendar is eagerly awaiting to be…

Roll up, roll up, it’s the sixth day of Advent, which means that door number six on your Drinks by the Dram Whisky Advent Calendar is eagerly awaiting to be opened! What’s in store for us today?

The first week of Advent is just flying by, don’t you think? With a different dram to look forward to every day, it’s hard not to wish away the whole 24 days! Today, we’re in for a real treat, with a whisky from a place which, over the last couple of decades, has now been put on the tasty whisky map. Yes, it’s a thing. Yes, it also looks a lot like a regular map, except… this one’s full of places which produce tasty whisky. Duh. 

Today’s dram is… Mackmyra Vinterglöd!

Once the friends behind Mackmyra started looking to create a Swedish whisky distillery back in 1998, it seemed ridiculous that nobody had thought of this before! There’s pure water running past the distillery, with Swedish barley growing in the fields, to the Swedish oak which can be used to make barrels for ageing. It’s like this is what the country was born to do!

Mackmyra Vinterglod

Mmm, maturing Mackmyra whisky…

Vinterglöd means ‘winter glow’ in Swedish, and the whisky was inspired by the Swedish tradition of drinking mulled wine during winter (though we wouldn’t say that’s an exclusively Swedish tradition, we don’t want to know how many ladles of mulled wine we get through during the festive period here at MoM Towers). To achieve this fruity, wine-y flavour, Vinterglöd is matured in casks that previously held Pedro Ximénez sherry and Swedish mulled wine. That should do it.

To learn a bit more about this fun-loving Swedish distillery, we chatted to UK sales manager Alex Johnson!

Master of Malt: What memories come to mind when you nose/taste Vinterglöd?

AJ: It’s all those lovely evocative Christmas flavours – Christmas cake, marzipan, fragrant spices, dried fruits, candied peel, sweet sherry and panettone.

MoM: What’s your favourite way to drink Vinterglöd?

AJ: With a slice of ginger cake or a bowl of Christmas Pudding. A roaring fire is not obligatory but it helps, however good company is essential.

Mackmyra Vinterglöd

It’s Mackmyra Vinterglöd!

MoM: What can we expect from Mackmyra in 2020?

AJ: More innovative finishes and more people experiencing their own personal 30L casks.

MoM: It’s Christmas Eve, and you’re sitting down with a Mackmyra dram. Which one is it?

AJ: It would have to be a bottle from my own Mackmyra Reserve 30L Peated Oloroso cask.

MoM: Okay, and besides mulled wine and (obviously) whisky, what’s your favourite Christmas tipple?

AJ: Sherry, sherry and more sherry – Manzanilla in the morning, Amontillado in the afternoon and PX with pudding!

Mackmyra Vinterglöd Tasting Note:

Nose: Christmas cake spice cuts through blood orange and red berries. Aromas of burnt toffee popcorn, caramel fudge and a little marzipan develop throughout.

Palate: Blackcurrant, pink grapefruit and a little floral barley blend with caramelised almonds and tobacco leaves.

Finish: Oak spice and ginger linger with a little cherry.

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We taste the new Royal Salute 29 Year Old Pedro Ximénez cask finish in Seville

Royal Salute is back with another exciting new release! To celebrate the new 29 Year Old Pedro Ximénez cask finish, we headed to Seville with master blender Sandy Hyslop and…

Royal Salute is back with another exciting new release! To celebrate the new 29 Year Old Pedro Ximénez cask finish, we headed to Seville with master blender Sandy Hyslop and creative advisor Barnabé Fillion to learn all about the history and processes behind the blend.

“I think we’ve been pretty humble with Royal Salute for years and years,” Sandy Hyslop tells me. His pride is evident and, after a few days in Seville learning all about the brand, I can see why. It’s the only whisky brand which has consistently has a 21 year old expression since its origins in 1953, which is also the youngest blend in the brand’s portfolio. Royal Salute was first created as a gift for the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II, the inspiration for the latest release, a 29 Year Old blended malt finished in Pedro Ximénez casks, came from the Queen’s first royal visit to Spain in 1988, hence the sherry wood. Rather appropriately, the new expression is presented in a deep red ornate porcelain bottle, rather than the blue we’ve seen before. 

royal salute 29 year old

The Royal Salute 29 Year Old PX finish, in all its glory!

The whisky

This is a first for Royal Salute, which hasn’t finished a whisky exclusively in sherry casks before. “With this release, we’ve done everything as it should be done,” says Hyslop. The blend was finished in sherry casks for 18 months or so, though the processes to source the casks began around four years before the whisky entered the wood. The casks used for this expression are custom-made from Spanish oak to hold Royal Salute. PX is so viscous that if it’s filled straight into new oak, it won’t be able to permeate the wood. So, after the cask has been dried for around 18 months, it’s first filled with Oloroso sherry for two years to prep it for the PX. Hyslop and Fillion even popped over to Spain to choose exactly which PX they wanted.

Royal Salute 29 Year Old

The Ave Maria orange grove, not a bad spot for lunch…

We make our way to the Ave Maria orange grove just outside of Seville. Wandering through the orange trees and scent of orange blossom, we come to a clearing that is to be where we have lunch. Next to a glass of the 29 Year Old there is an incredibly dark, viscous liquid, revealed to be the PX sherry used to season the whisky casks. No wonder they chose this one: it’s like nectar, dried fruits galore, choc full of cherries and liquorice. There are murmurs around the table, many people are saying that this has converted them to sherry, and that they can’t wait to try some when they get back home. Hyslop later tells me, “they’re going to be so disappointed.” This PX is over and above exceptional.

Royal Salute 29 Year Old

Sandy Hyslop tasting us through the awesome PX sherry.

Then it’s time to try the whisky. “The first time, seven years ago that I tried Royal Salute, Seville orange was the first thing I picked up,” Fillion tells me. What better spot to try the whisky than here? On the nose, there is indeed that classic Royal Salute chunky orange marmalade, along with sandalwood, treacle toffee, ginger spice, liquorice and loads of plump sultanas. It’s incredibly rich and complex on the palate, and tried next to the PX, the sherry influence shines. There’s plum, honey, dark chocolate-coated almonds, and more treacle toffee. Vanilla and syrupy fruits appear, with prickles of spice around the edge. The finish just goes on and on, taking an age to disappear thanks to the use of top quality casks. 

Royal Salute 29 Year Old

Barnabé Fillion and some Seville orange. On the nose of the whisky, on the trees, it’s everywhere!

Olfactory 

“A 29 Year Old in a sherry cask… It was a dream for me,” professional nose Barnabé Fillion tells me. Fillion has been in the perfume business for most of his adult life, having created scents for brands like Aesop while also working as an independent perfumer, joining Royal Salute as creative advisor for the brand in 2016. Evening draws in, and a sensory dinner (which is really more of a banquet) hosted by Fillion awaits us for our final evening in Seville. He begins by telling us the 95% of your sensory experience comes from your nose; now there’s no excuse for not nosing your whisky first. He wants to flood our senses, giving us new experiences and olfactory memories. “You may end up feeling a bit overwhelmed, but this is sort of the point,” Fillion says. To help us dissect the nose of the 29 Year Old, Fillion has deconstructed it scent by scent. Various oils are dipped onto paper, there’s incense, and some scents are presented on 3D printed ceramic, which more accurately replicates how a scent appears on your skin.

Royal Salute 29 Year Old

Incense, flowers and whisky – Fillion’s sensory dinners have it all!

Sandalwood incense is passed around the table, leaving a trail of aromatic smoke, as well as sandalwood oil, which has an almost milky scent while still remaining dry. Then there’s the rare scent of vanilla orchid, which is creamy and intensely floral. Then, vanilla extract obtained through Co2 extraction comes around, which captures it in its purest form, and at first nobody is quite sure what it is. Usually vanilla is associated with sweetness, though this is so earthy and raw. The point of this is to pick up these subtle notes in the whisky, which we have to nose alongside these various scents. 

If you were to hold your nose while eating or drinking something, then you wouldn’t be able to taste anything. It’s why having a cold is totally rubbish. So, scent has a huge impact on our taste, and they are completely intertwined. Having said that, smell and olfactory is pretty subjective as it relies on your past experiences, smells and memories. So how does somebody like Fillion ensure that each person gets the same experience out of a certain scent? Well… he doesn’t. “I don’t want to standardise your experience, I don’t even want to guide it,” Fillion tells me. “I just want to plant some little seeds that will make your tasting even more interesting.” For Fillion, the whole idea of this olfactory is to “celebrate your subjectivity and life experience,” and give us the vocabulary to describe our sensory experience, rather than create it.

Royal Salute 29 Year Old

Hyslop and Fillion, the dream team!

What’s next?

“I think this is a bit of a golden period for us,” Hyslop tells me, referring to the explosion of new releases for the brand. Throughout his tenure Hyslop has made history, bringing three new expressions into the range where only one stood before for decades, with the Malts Blend and Lost Blend released earlier this year, and now the 29 Year Old. He’s not done yet either, and is now laying down casks that he will never see come to fruition, the responsibility of future stock on his shoulders. So, what’s next for the brand? Quite simply, more experimentation, namely in the form of cask finishes. “We need to start saying, ‘this is what else we can do’,” says Hyslop. “If we want to do Port, we’ll try and do Port.” Of course, whatever cask finish comes next will go through the same rigorous process to seek perfection. “Consumers want different things now,” Hyslop continues. “If it’s not right, we’re not doing it.” That in itself sums up why Royal Salute has had such success, as well as only a small handful of core releases throughout its 66 years.

Keep an eye on our New Arrivals page for Royal Salute 29 Year Old PX finish!

Royal Salute 29 Year Old

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New Arrival of the Week: That Boutique-y Whisky Company World Whisky Blend

Our new arrival this week is from somewhere that we’re all familiar with. We’ve all spent a lot of time here, and it’s rather great because it’s the only place…

Our new arrival this week is from somewhere that we’re all familiar with. We’ve all spent a lot of time here, and it’s rather great because it’s the only place (that we know of) with cats and whisky. That’s right, our new arrival is from… planet Earth! 

Awesome indie bottler That Boutique-y Whisky Company really thought outside the box with this one. Behold, World Whisky Blend, which marries together lip-smacking whiskies from all over the globe! We really mean all over, and you’ll find whiskies from Scotland, Canada, Ireland, Sweden, USA, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Taiwan, India, Italy, Germany (Bavaria), Japan and Finland all in one bottle. The idea from the folks at TBWC was to celebrate how the world drinks whisky, while also elevating the idea of the humble blend. 

World Whisky Blend

Tasty whisky, awesome label, TBWC knows its stuff!

“World Whisky Blend is inspired by the whisky boom of 19th century Scotland,” said Dr Sam Simmons, head of whisky (what a title) at TBWC. Back in the 1880s, Scotch whisky saw this boom thanks to grain whisky produced at low cost and high volume in the Lowlands. At the time, batch-distilled malt whisky was perceived as rougher and more inconsistent than grain whisky. Imagine that! Then, grain and malt whiskies were blended together, making the malts more accessible.

“The whole world is making whisk(e)y today and the global craft whisky movement has exploded. Unfortunately, these great craft spirits remain “rough” and “inconsistent” in the eyes of the average drinkers,” Dr Simmons continued. “World Whisky Blend endeavours to bring people into the rich world of craft whiskies in the 21st century as the great Scottish blenders did in facilitating first steps into single malt for so many in the 19th century. On the base of one of the world’s richest and most abundant yet least appreciated whisky nations we marry characterful craft malts from all corners of the world.”  

World Whisky Blend

It’s World Whisky Blend and all of its awesome serves!

One of the best things about this whisky (apart from its delectable flavour profile) is that the folks at TBWC are encouraging drinkers to mix it. Or, not even that, but to drink it however they darn please, and we’re all for it. It was Dr Simmons who travelled the world looking for seven signature serves to represent the ways in which the world drinks whisky. He returned victorious, with the ‘Seven Wonders of the World’. There are no pyramids and temples to be seen here, but seven Highball World Whisky Blend serves using TBWC’s Global Method, with either ginger ale, cola, coconut water, green tea, soda water or tonic water. Don’t worry, we know that’s only six. The seventh serve is the simplest: neat!

Global Method:

50ml World Whisky Blend

Fill your glass with ice, and top with any mixer your heart desires, wherever you may be. Oh, and don’t skip the garnish.

Master of Malt tasting notes:

Nose: Notes of freshly baked bread, lots of honey and a smidge of orange marmalade, supported by slightly tart stewed apple with a sprinkle of brown sugar. 

Palate: Warming and spicy, with more of that floral honey and baked crumble topping, alongside crunchy, underripe apple and pear.

Finish: A prickle of spice, toffee and vanilla pod linger alongside a slightly mineral note.

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New Arrival of the Week: The Three Drinkers Cask Selection No. 1

Our new arrival this week is hot off the press! Behold, the first official whisky bottling from The Three Drinkers, released in collaboration with your favourite online retailer. Yes, us!…

Our new arrival this week is hot off the press! Behold, the first official whisky bottling from The Three Drinkers, released in collaboration with your favourite online retailer. Yes, us!

In preparation for The Three Drinkers’ new season, due to be released on Amazon Prime TV in December, we joined forces with the trio who have just released their brand new whisky! If you’re unfamiliar with The Three Drinkers, then you should know they’re also known as Aidy Smith, Helena Nicklin and Colin Hampden-White, with the three friends gallivanting around Scotland’s distilleries while teaching us a thing or two about Scotch whisky on camera.

Three Drinkers Whisky

The Three Drinkers, doing their thing with a dram!

The new blended malt has been dubbed The Three Drinkers Scotch Whisky, Cask Selection No. 1, and was created with support from Cask Trade, a new online whisky trading platform. The flavour profile of the 17 year old is inspired by the different locations the trio visited during the show, which took them all over Scotland.

Now we don’t want to blow our own trumpet but we’re pretty excited, because the whisky is available exclusively through Master of Malt! What’s more, we’ll also be featuring in part two of the second season, ‘The Three Drinkers do Scotch Whisky’, which is due to air in early December. What better dram to sit down and binge watch the first season of The Three Drinkers with while we eagerly await the second?

“We’re delighted to be working with The Three Drinkers in the run up to the second series,” says Kristiane Sherry, Master of Malt editor. “It’s exciting to be able to offer The Three Drinkers Scotch Whisky, Cask Selection No.1 – not only does it make the perfect liquid accompaniment to watching the new episodes, it also makes an ideal Christmas gift as the festive season approaches.”

The Three Drinkers Whisky

The Three Drinkers Scotch Whisky, Cask Selection No. 1 in all its glory.

Only a limited 300 bottles have been released, with each individual bottle signed by each of The Three Drinkers. You’ll be thrilled to know that you can pre-order Cask Selection No.1 now through our website, though we’re sure you’ll want to know what it tastes like first…

Master of Malt tasting notes

Nose: Jamaican ginger cake, stewed apples, melted butter and a touch of floral barley.

Palate: Juicy apricot sweetness as it opens, followed by cinnamon, clove and sultana. Very subtle smoke, with a few hints of salted caramel along the way.

Finish: Vanilla tablet, almond and Victoria sponge cake.

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The winner of our VIP trip to Kingsbarns whisky distillery is…

All the way back in September, we celebrated the first commercial release from the awesome Kingsbarns distillery by offering you a chance to win a VIP trip to Scotland! The…

All the way back in September, we celebrated the first commercial release from the awesome Kingsbarns distillery by offering you a chance to win a VIP trip to Scotland! The time has come to reveal the winner…

The folks at Kingsbarns dreamed up (and distilled) the fabulous Dream to Dram, which they released earlier this year once it came of age! To celebrate such a momentous occasion, we teamed up with the distillery to give whisky-lovers the chance to win a VIP trip. The prize would entail, breakfast and dinner and a two nights stay in historic St. Andrews for the winner and their plus one, a distillery tour with the master distiller and lunch for two at the distillery as well. Oh, and of course a bottle of Dream to Dram whisky to top it all off. 

Kingsbarns VIP

The team at Kingsbarns having all the fun (and whisky)!

It couldn’t have been easier to enter. All you had to do is buy something from the Kingsbarns distillery range and you were automatically entered, just like magic. Well, not magic, technology, but they’re almost the same thing…

Anyway, that’s enough of that, we know why you’re here. It’s time to get down to it. 

The winner is…

Ed Ryan from Aylesbury in Buckinghamshire!

Huge congratulations to Ed, and thanks to everyone who took part! With a bottle of Kingsbarns, you’ll be (metaphorically) transported to the Lowlands in no time.

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#BagThisBundle – Win a bundle of English whisky from the Lakes Distillery!

You’ve heard of #BagThisBottle, now get ready for… #BagThisBundle! We’ve paired up with the wonderful Lakes Distillery to give you the chance to win not one, not two, but four…

You’ve heard of #BagThisBottle, now get ready for… #BagThisBundle! We’ve paired up with the wonderful Lakes Distillery to give you the chance to win not one, not two, but four bottles of delicious English whisky!

Through the magic of social media, you could be the proud owner of four bottles of lip-smacking whiskies from the Lakes Distillery. What are these delicious bottles? Well, there’s The ONE, the very first whisky from the distillery, The ONE Port Cask Finished, border-crossing blended malt Steel Bonnets, and last but not least, The Lakes Whiskymaker’s Reserve No.1, a delicious new single malt drawn from a combination of red wine and Pedro Ximénez sherry casks.

bag this bundle lakes

You could win these four handsome bottles of English whisky!

All this talk of tasty whisky got your ears perked up? Wonderful. We’re sure you’re eager to know how you could be in with a chance to win it. Handily,  the details are right here.

All you have to do is:

1. Follow the Master of Malt Instagram account.
2. Follow the Lakes Distillery Instagram account.
3. Tag three pals you’d share these exciting whiskies with in our Competition post.
4. Like the post!

And voilà! That’s literally it – complete those tiny quests by midday on Monday 14 October and you’ll be in with a chance to win! So go forth and take to Instagram, we wish you all the best of luck!

MoM ‘Bag This Bundle’ Competition 2019 open to entrants 18 years and over. Entries accepted from 11 October to 14 October 2019. Winners chosen at random after close of competition. Prizes not transferable and cannot be exchanged for cash equivalent. See full T&Cs for details.

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The winner of our Mackmyra private cask ownership is…

Back in September we announced something rather marvellous, and that was the chance to win (and consequently own) your own maturing cask of spirit, courtesy of the awesome Mackmyra! It’s…

Back in September we announced something rather marvellous, and that was the chance to win (and consequently own) your own maturing cask of spirit, courtesy of the awesome Mackmyra!

It’s a truly unique opportunity to have you very own cask of maturing spirit, much less to have that new make come straight from the wonderful Mackmyra stills! The friendly folks over in Sweden will fill the lucky winner’s 30-litre first-fill ex-bourbon cask with unpeated new make spirit. The cask will even have a personalised brass plaque, with the winner’s shiny name glinting off it. That cask will then be matured in one of two Mackmyra’s warehouses for at least three years, though which warehouse is totally up to them!

Mackmyra cask

The winner’s cask could be maturing here very soon…

The fun doesn’t stop there. The victor will be given a 50ml sample of their maturing spirit each year so they can monitor their whisky’s maturation journey. Once a least three years and one day have passed (unless they want to let it mature for longer) the winner will be able to crack open the cask for good! Then the whisky will of course be bottled up, with labels boasting the winner’s own message slapped on the front before it’s delivered.

That’s a whole lot of excitement right there. But the really magical thing was that it was so easy to enter! All you had to do was nab yourself one of these tasty Mackmyra bottlings! To make it that little bit tastier, we even lopped £3.50 off MACK by Mackmyra, and a whole fiver off Mackmyra Äppelblom. We’re nice like that.

Mackmyra whisky

Treating yourself to a bottle of one of these tasty whiskies got you in with a chance of winning!

Well, we’ve rambled on for long enough, it’s time to get down to it.

The winner is…
Stephen Maher from Halesowen!

A massive congratulations to Stephen, your cask awaits. And a huge thank you to everyone who took part, though with a bottle of scrumptious Swedish whisky, you’re already winning.

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The winner of our Salcombe Gin competition is…

Cast your minds back to August, when the summer seemed endless and we announced that we teamed up with the brilliant Salcombe Distilling Co. to bring you the chance to…

Cast your minds back to August, when the summer seemed endless and we announced that we teamed up with the brilliant Salcombe Distilling Co. to bring you the chance to win a VIP trip down to the Devon distillery! 

All you had to do was buy a bottle from the mouthwatering Salcombe Gin distillery range, and you were automagically entered. We really made it easy.

Now, summer is nearly over (it’s not over yet, don’t say it) and the time has come to announce our victor! The lucky winner and their fortunate plus one will be treated to a two-night stay at the beautiful Brightham House boutique B&B (named by The Times as one of its top 10 coolest places to stay in the UK) along with dinner at the Salcombe Harbour Hotel. Then ensues a distillery tour with the lovely Salcombe Gin folks chatting all things gin, all to be rounded off with a rib (rigid inflatable boat) ride around Salcombe harbour. Boats, views and gin. Lots of gin. 

Salcombe Gin

Mmm, Salcombe Gin G&Ts…

Anyway, before we get too jealous, it’s time for the big reveal.

The winner is….

Tracey Jennings from Pudsey, West Yorkshire!

Congratulations Tracey, and a huge thanks to everyone who got involved. Let’s be real, everyone’s winning with a bottle of Salcombe Gin. Cheers!

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The connection between Jura Seven Wood and the French forest

The opportunity to see the journey of a whisky from tree to barrel to glass is a rare one. Imagine our delight then, when we were invited to witness exactly…

The opportunity to see the journey of a whisky from tree to barrel to glass is a rare one. Imagine our delight then, when we were invited to witness exactly that in the forests near Bordeaux, following the evolution of Jura Seven Wood

Wood is a huge focus for whisky but how many of us know about the processes before the wood becomes a cask? Probably not that many. We marvel, understandably, at whisky that has been aged for 40 or perhaps even 50 years. And yet, the process really begins centuries before in the forest, which is where our trip began. But first, a brief introduction to Jura Seven Wood. The no age statement lightly peated single malt is initially aged in American white oak bourbon barrels, before it’s finished in six different types of French oak: Limousin, Tronçais, Allier, Vosges, Jupilles, and Les Bertranges. To save you counting on your fingers, yes, that adds up to seven wood types.

Jura Seven Wood

The Loches forest looking particularly magnificent.

As we travel north on what looked like was going to be a rather grey day, the scenery becomes greener until we arrive at the Loches forest, a stark contrast to the stone buildings and baking heat of Bordeaux itself. Forest guard Fabien Daureau emerges from the trees to greet us. The forest is crucial to French history; back in the 1600s wood was predominantly used for energy and ship building. Rather sensibly, to ensure it was protected and managed correctly, the French government split the forest up into parcels, and guards like Daureau were put in place to manage each part. The forest is still divided up the same way, though now the primary use for wood has changed. In the parcel we’re visiting, it’s making casks. 

Oak trees destined to become casks are like the A-listers of the tree world. They must be straight, tall and without branches lower down the trunk. Every 10 years, the guards will comb through the forest, deciding which trees they should cull and which they should keep. It’s a ruthless process. There are an overwhelming number of factors which will exclude a tree from making the cut (pun intended). These include knots in the wood (which would cause barrel leaks), branches low down on the trunk, or tiny imperfections that an untrained eye would never see. We come across a 100 year old tree with something called a ‘pippy’ trunk, a miniscule little nubbin on the trunk caused by a beam of light. Generally other trees act as a barrier to these beams, though clearly this one got through. The ‘pippy’ tree is now unusable as a cask, a century of growth gone to waste!

Jura Seven Wood

Fabien Dareau imparting some serious knowledge.

There are other tricks to reduce the chance of imperfections. To ensure branches don’t grow lower down the tree trunk, Fabien and his team must see that the trees grow close enough together so there isn’t enough light for this to happen. A lack of light also promotes upwards growth, though there’s a fine line. Block out too much light and you’ll no longer encourage the smaller trees, but hinder them.

Choosing when to cut is just as complex as growing them, and Daureau tells us that much like humans, trees have feelings. If all the surrounding trees are suddenly cut, then the remaining tree will go into a state of stress, because of sudden differences in water and light. Older healthy trees are still surrounded by smaller or dying trees, which serve no purpose but to keep the environment stable. As saplings, there are around one million oak trees per hectare. At 250 years old, only between 50 and 100 trees per hectare remain, through both natural selection and rigorous culling from the forest guard. Only a mere quarter of each tree can be used to create casks, as the higher up the tree you go, the less straight it is, lowering the quality of the wood. The very top will be used to make paper or firewood. 

The ideal amount of growth is just incredibly slow, just 2mm a year. Slow growth results in a tight grain, which causes more interaction between the spirit and the wood. Good things take time. It’s incredible to see centuries of growth in one place, with great oaks that are soon to be cut standing tall next to tiny saplings.

Jura Seven Wood

Brownie points if you can spot the pippy trunk, because we certainly can’t!

We leave Daureau and the green wonders of the forest, making our way to the Sogibois stave mill just outside of Bordeaux. Here the oak is cut, revealing if the toils and efforts over the last few centuries have paid off. It’s only here that some trees reveal they’ve been housing bullets from World War I, which have rather poetically turned the wood black. Of course, they can’t be used. That’s not to say there aren’t some happy surprises. We’re shown an eye-catching unique orange wood, its rosy hue thanks to an unexplained mutation and the presence of beta carotene. It’s highly prized and much more expensive, though there’s no way of identifying the mutation until it’s cut. As much as we can try to control these factors, the fact is that nature is unpredictable, which is part of the beauty of the cask.

Jura Seven Wood

Blackened oak from WWI bullets.

Following the journey of the oak, we then head to Demptos cooperage where the staves are made into casks the very casks in which Jura Seven Wood is matured! The wood doesn’t merely pass through the cooperage, but spends a minimum of two years here while the water content is reduced to 20%. Once again, the length of time before the spirit even enters the barrel is just mind-boggling. 

It’s also the cooperage which helps create the flavour profile of the whisky. There are simple differences between different wood types, for example French oak is spicier than the vanilla-heavy American oak. Then, there are more complex layers of wood categorisation, such as micro-porosity, determining how quickly the spirit will age. Demptos has built a menu of 188 different ‘ingredients’, forming a partnership with each whisky blender who will create their own recipe. 

Jura Seven Wood

Many, many staves drying out at Demptos Cooperage.

Having spent much of the day outside, we’re suddenly plunged into a dramatic and fiery warehouse, where the immensely skilled coopers are literally spinning flaming barrels around with their hands. They did have gloves on, mind. The inside of the barrel reaches a scorching 200 degrees celsius, while the outside remains a balmy 35 degrees. A delight to the senses, the barrel smells just like freshly baked bread after one hour of toasting. Of course, there are longer toasting periods, as it’s just another of the many ingredients that can be personalised. Around 150 barrels are made here each day, and it was both astonishing and encouraging how much of the work is still done by hand. Creating a barrel is such a delicate art (albeit with a lot of banging and clanging) that, even in this day and age, it requires a human hand. 

Jura Seven Wood

Talk about playing with fire at Demptos…

Just as we saw the stages of tree growth and barrel-making, we also got to taste each stage of the Jura whisky throughout its ageing. What better place than in the midst of the beautiful Loches forest to taste the evolution of Seven Wood? Naturally, we started with the new make, the majority of which is unpeated, and full of creamy lemon, loads of malt and a hint of pear drop. Then, after maturing in American oak for 10 years, the spirit boasts boatloads of green tea, vanilla, banana and fresh mint.

To really show us the flavour French oak imparts, Glass shows us spirit matured in solely French oak, which is slightly more oily, bursting with mango, baking spices, set honey and chocolate. In Seven Wood however, the six French oak-matured spirits will have spent time in American white oak first, and will be blended with both peated and unpeated spirit that has been aged purely in American white oak. When that all comes together you get Seven Wood, with subtly smoky, nutty notes, vanilla, fresh peach, pear and a prickle of spice.

Jura Seven Wood

Gregg Glass chatting us through Seven Wood in the depths of the forest.

“It’s not just seven woods for the sake of it,” Glass notes as he explains the thought process behind the whisky. “When you look back at the recipes you’ve developed, you don’t realise you’ve used so many. It’s like opening a can of worms in terms of how many ingredients you can use.” Glass and his team found that these specific combinations created the desired layers of depth and complexity, a recipe that was built up over time. “Experimentation has always been very important to me,” Glass continues. “Without that sense of adventure, you’re never going to discover.”

The identity of Seven Wood was found in the French forest, so it’s no surprise Jura wanted to show off the often-overlooked stories of the trees themselves. I know that when I now look at a whisky, I won’t merely see an age statement or time in a warehouse, but will recall the years of growth, nature and talent that begin long before the liquid meets the cask. Glass told us that he was trying to create a harmony with Seven Wood, and harmony he has achieved. A thoroughly delicious whisky, paying its respect to the forest where it all began.

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Win a VIP trip to Salcombe Gin distillery!

Here at MoM, we’ve teamed up with Salcombe Distilling Co. to give you an incredible chance to win a trip down to the Devon distillery! Expect gin, stunning views and…

Here at MoM, we’ve teamed up with Salcombe Distilling Co. to give you an incredible chance to win a trip down to the Devon distillery! Expect gin, stunning views and boats, many many boats…

Gin lovers, boat lovers, this one’s for you. Salcombe’s stunning waterfront and plethora of coastal activities has drawn people to the coastline for years. Lucky for us, it now also has its very own gin! Two friends, Angus and Howard, who met while working as sailing instructors, decided to bottle what makes Salcombe so special. Behold, Salcombe Gin was born. It only opened three short years ago, in November 2016, but there’s boatloads of history down there, and the distillery and the gin itself were inspired by Salcombe’s shipbuilding heritage.

salcombe gin rose sainte marie

Salcombe Gin Rosé Sainte Marie spritzes

Salcombe Distilling Co. has been busy ever since, with new releases popping up left, right and centre, the most recent of which is the delicious Salcombe Gin Rosé Sainte Marie. With no added sugar and inspired by Provence rosé wine, it’s pink, it’s dry and it’s the perfect summer sipper.

Did you know the distillery even deliver their gin… by boat? To other boats? To sum up, these guys are cool, their gin is delicious, and they really like boats. On to the competition!

What do I win?

So many lovely things! A two-night stay for two (the lucky winner and the equally fortuitous plus one) at the beautiful Brightham House boutique B&B, which was named by The Times at one of its top 10 coolest places to stay in the UK. You’ll enjoy a scrumptious dinner for two at the stunning Salcombe Harbour Hotel as well! Of course, it would be rude not to have a wonderful distillery tour and attend the gin school with the lovely Salcombe Gin folks. The distillery is called ‘The Boathouse’, appropriately nestled in the boat-building quarter of Salcombe. Right on the waterfront, it’s one of only a handful of distilleries accessible by boat! Pretty cool, if you ask us. There you can meet the still named Provident, and enjoy some delicious gin while you admire the coastal views.

salcombe gin

Even the views inside the distillery are superb!

All this to be rounded off by a rambunctious rib (rigid inflatable boat) ride around Salcombe harbour!* (Weather and time of year permitting, of course.) It’s going to be quite the excursion.

I want in! How do I enter?

This is the fun part, and it’s so easy! All you have to do is buy a bottle from the following Salcombe Gin distillery range, and you’re automagically entered. (For the nitty gritty details, see the competition terms below.)

Start Point

This is the inaugural gin from the Devon distillery, boasting 13 botanicals including Macedonian juniper, chamomile, fresh lemon, lime and red grapefruit peels. It takes inspiration from the Salcombe fruiters, boats which brought exotic fruit into the humble bay from all over the world in the 19th century. The gin boasts notes of warming spice, peppery heat, a fruity note with piney juniper and a burst of citrus.

Rosé Sainte Marie

A pink expression from Salcombe, inspired by dry rosé Provence wine. That explains why it’s named after the Sainte Marie Lighthouse which marks the Southern entrance to the Old Port of Marseille, where the aftorementioned fruiters would pick up the haul destined for the UK. With no added sugar, it’s full of floral notes, peppery juniper and gentle notes of red fruit and citrus, without being overly sweet.

Guiding Star Voyager Series

Part of the Voyager Series, Guiding Star is a sloe and damson gin made in partnership with Niepoort, a fabulous Portuguese winery. The fruity spirit was finished in a Tawny Port cask from the winery, and is full of jammy Port, orange peel, oak spice and earthy juniper notes.

salcombe gin

The Salcombe Gin Distillery range, in all its glory

Arabella – Voyager Series

This expression was created in collaboration with renowned chef Michael Caines MBE, who was in fact born in Devon himself. Caines selected all the botanicals himself, including hibiscus, bitter almond, lemon thyme and verbena, taking inspiration from a garden in bloom in English summer. It was named Arabella after a famed fruiter built in 1860, and the gin is full of floral notes, with earthy spice, loads of citrus and hallmark juniper.

Island Queen Voyager Series

Another collaboration with Salcombe Gin and a famed chef, this time Monica Galetti influenced the spirit. This gin is super tropical, inspired by another Salcombe fruiter after the same name, with notes of fresh mango, pineapple and coconut, balanced by traditional juniper, citrus and aromatic spices.

Mischief Voyager Series

Made with the help of restaurateur Mark Hix MBE, Mischief contains 10 botanicals in honour of the 10th anniversary of the Hix Restaurant Group. Again, it’s named after a famous Salcombe fruiter built in 1856. With sea buckthorn and samphire, the maritime notes balance well with the supporting floral tones and lots of aromatic juniper.

Finisterre

A wonderful cask aged expression, Finisterre spent 11 months resting in an American oak casks which previously housed Fino sherry from Bodegas Tradición. It takes its name from the Spanish ‘finis terre’, which translates to ‘end of the earth’, which is how far the Salcombe Gin folks say they’ll go for the perfect botanicals!  The cask has imparted a hint of salinity and sweeter fruity notes to the already herbaceous and citrus forward gin.

Finisterre Gift Pack

Remember that Fino sherry we were just talking about from Bodegas Tradición? Well, in this ingenious Finisterre Gift Pack, a bottle of the cask aged gin is accompanied by a bottle of that very sherry! Now you can compare and contrast the two wonderful bottlings.

So that’s it: buy a bottle of gin, and you’re in. We know, it sounds too good to be true, but it is! 

Good luck, and happy gin-drinking to all! 

*Only available between April – September months. £50 spa voucher will be provided in the event the rib ride is not available

MoM Salcombe Gin Competition 2019 open to entrants 18 years and over. Entries accepted from 6 August to 20 August 2019. Winners chosen at random after close of competition. Prizes not transferable and cannot be exchanged for cash equivalent. See full T&Cs for details. 

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