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Master of Malt Blog

Author: Jess Williamson

Top 10 delicious drinks for Mother’s Day!

Mother’s Day is fast approaching! Don’t forget to treat your mum with something tasty – luckily we’ve rounded up a whole range of gift-worthy tipples right here… This is your…

Mother’s Day is fast approaching! Don’t forget to treat your mum with something tasty – luckily we’ve rounded up a whole range of gift-worthy tipples right here…

This is your friendly reminder to get your hands on something delicious for Mother’s Day (it’s on 14 March, FYI). Nothing beats cracking open a bottle together, though this year it’s probably going to be a little different – let the Zoom drinks commence! Nonetheless, you can rest easy knowing that you picked out a top bottle for her to enjoy for the occasion. 

Brilliant bottles await! 

Lind & Lime Gin

Lind & Lime Gin

Your mum will love a gorgeous bottle of delicious gin, and that’s exactly what we have here – Lind & Lime Gin is the first release from Edinburgh’s Port of Leith Distillery! The zesty spirit was inspired by Dr. James Lind of Edinburgh, who first made the link between citrus fruits and scurvy. Alongside a good dose of lime citrus there’s pink peppercorn and juniper spice, too. Plus, after it’s been drunk, you could use the bottle for all sorts of other purposes. Candle holder. Vase. Lamp. The list goes on!

What does it taste like? Bright citrus, fresh and authentic. Juniper is oily and subtly spicy, bolstered by pink pepper and cardamom warmth.

Jaffa Cake Rum

Jaffa Cake Rum

Orange and chocolate. A dynamic duo, and flavours you’ll often find in aged rum. The folks behind Jaffa Cake Rum went one step further, a blended Caribbean rum with real life Jaffa cakes, alongside oranges, fresh orange peel and cocoa powder! Make sure to whip your mum up a Rum Old Fashioned, garnished with a Jaffa cake – failing that, a ribbon of orange peel will do. Mother’s Day drinks, done!

What does it taste like? Zesty orange, cake-y vanilla, and tropical fruit tang, with dark chocolate and bittersweet coffee bringing balance.

Dalwhinnie 15 Year Old

Dalwhinnie 15 Year Old

Whether your mum is a seasoned sipper or looking to explore the world of whisky, Dalwhinnie 15 Year Old is a superb choice. The delicate and flavoursome Highland single malt was aged in a combination of ex-bourbon and ex-Oloroso sherry casks, with just a smidge of smoke running through it. Sublime stuff, and maybe she’ll even share a dram with you if you’re nice enough to give it to her!  

What does it taste like? Oily and nutty, with almond and butterscotch alongside heather honey, malt biscuits, and oaky vanilla. 

Chapel Down Sparkling Bacchus 2019

Chapel Down Sparkling Bacchus 2019

Our Kentish neighbours at Chapel Down know exactly how to make the most out of their Bacchus grapes, and this sparkling wine is one such example! This is a wonderfully refreshing English wine, brimming with vibrant fruit and gentle vanilla notes, all carried by fine bubbles. The perfect bottle to pop open on 14 March!

What does it taste like? Elderflower, pineapple, mango, citrus, cut grass, and nectarine.

Mermaid Pink Gin

Mermaid Pink Gin

Remember what we said literally just now about beautiful bottles and delicious gin? Well, not to hammer the point home, but we’ve got another brilliant example here from the Isle of Wight Distillery! It’s a blushing variant of its gorgeous Mermaid Gin, infused with strawberries from the aforementioned isle. Think bright berry fruitiness balanced by savoury rock samphire and herbaceous Boadicea hops, and you’re there. Pair with a splash of elderflower tonic and handful of fresh strawberries, and serve it straight to your mum. A sure way to become the favourite!

What does it taste like? A burst of bright berries initially, with citrus and piney notes, balanced by subtly coastal samphire.

Starward (New) Old Fashioned

Starward (New) Old Fashioned

Mother’s Day calls for cocktails! Though if you’re not familiar with the ol’ shaker or stirrer, a pre-bottled serve might be the best option. This is the (New) Old Fashioned from Starward in Australia, made with its very own whisky, house-made bitters, and, for an extra Australian touch, wattleseed demerara syrup. If you have ice and a glass, then you’re ready to serve this tasty tipple!

What does it taste like? Sharp orange, stewed berries and strawberry jam, oak, a hint of mint leaf.

Project #173 Pineapple Rum

Project #173 Pineapple Rum

A tropical treat for you from the Project #173 range, made with a delicious top-quality rum base which has been flavoured with the tangy delights of pineapple! It’s totally gift-worthy too, because it’s presented in a bottle adorned with actual 23 karat gold leaf. Go on and make Mother’s Day Daiquiri with this. It’s like a normal Daiquiri, except you’ve made it on Mother’s Day without being asked!

What does it taste like? Vibrant pineapple, and tangy tropical fruit, with fried banana, runny caramel, and a crackle of peppery spice.

Dr. Squid Gin

Dr. Squid Gin

Yes, this is unusual, but that’s what makes this Cornish tipple amazing! Dr. Squid Gin is from the Pocketful of Stones Distillery in Penzance, and it’s made with real squid ink – we know you saw that one coming, you read the name, right? As such, there’s a coastal touch to the spirit, balanced by those classic notes of juniper, citrus, and spice. As if it wasn’t cool enough, it even turns bright pink when mixed with tonic water! And it’s presented in a copper flask! See? Cool!

What does it taste like? Juniper and citrus kick it off, with a subtly savoury sea breeze running through, along with a helping of sweeter florals.

Caoruun Gin

Caorunn Small Batch Gin

First things first, if you’re going to give Caorunn Gin to your mum, you’re going to have to know how to pronounce it. It’s ‘ka-roon’. You’ll also probably want to know what’s in the Scottish spirit, and it’s local botanicals galore! Hand-picked rowan berry, heather, coul blush apple, and dandelion feature in here, and its signature serve is with a good quality tonic and slice of apple to garnish.

What does it taste like? Floral heather, woody juniper, and green, leafy notes, with a burst of citrus and spice.

Drinks by the Dram 12 Dram Premium Gin Collection

Drinks by the Dram 12 Dram Premium Gin Collection

Drinks by the Dram has taken all the hard work out of choosing by doing it for you, rounding up 12 of its favourite gins in this gorgeous collection. Within you’ll find 12 wax-sealed 30ml drams from all over the world – we’re talking England, Australia, Finland, and more! It’s the perfect shape for easy wrapping (should you be so inclined), though covered in florals it’s pretty just as it is.

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#BagThisBundle – Win a delicious bundle from Pangolin Gin!

Want to win a delicious bundle of gin and tonic water, all while raising awareness for an endangered animal? Better enter our latest #BagThisBundle competition, then!  Great gin with an…

Want to win a delicious bundle of gin and tonic water, all while raising awareness for an endangered animal? Better enter our latest #BagThisBundle competition, then! 

Great gin with an even better cause is something we love to get behind here at MoM Towers. And Pangolin Gin is one such example. Found across Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, pangolins (also known as scaly anteaters) are a very cute animal with a very sad story. It is the most trafficked animal in the world because of demand for its scales and meat. The former is often used as alternative medicine, despite having no medicinal properties.

Pangolin Gin was founded to help the animal while giving people something delicious to sip at the same time. The gin itself boasts African botanicals like baobab, rooibos, and honeybush. While each bottle sold sees a donation to Pangolin conservation charities working across Africa and Asia to protect it from extinction.

Pangolin searching for ants

One of our scaly little friends searching for some ants.

Here’s what you can win:

In honour of World Pangolin Day (which is 20 February, get it in your diaries!), the folks behind Pangolin Gin have released a special limited Pink edition. Not only does it boast the addition of pink peppercorn, pink grapefruit, and orange peel to the botanical list, but 50% of the profits from each bottle are donated to the Born Free Foundation, supporting its international Pangolin conservation projects!

To celebrate this exciting release (and very worthy cause), we thought we’d give you the chance to win a tasty bundle. What exactly is in this bundle? We’re glad you asked…

#BagThisBundle Pangolin Gin and Double Dutch Tonic Water

This could be yours!

How to #BagThisBundle of Pangolin Gin:

Sounds pretty good, right? Now you’re probably wondering how to enter. Just complete the following steps: 

Oh, and what’s even more exciting is that we’re choosing not just one, but two lucky winners! That’s just doubled your chances. 

Best of luck to you all! We’re off to watch pangolin videos on YouTube now – we just can’t get enough of the little critters. 

MoM Pangolin Gin Bag This Bundle Competition 2021 open to entrants 18 years and over and in the UK only. Entries accepted from 12:00 GMT on 16 February 2021 to 23:59:59 20 Feb 2021. 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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Whisky Advent 2020 Day #24: Balvenie 14 Year Old – The Week of Peat

It’s Christmas Eve! But also, sadly, the last day of #WhiskyAdvent. One door closes, another opens and all that. But today we’re mainly opening doors, specifically #24. For our final…

It’s Christmas Eve! But also, sadly, the last day of #WhiskyAdvent. One door closes, another opens and all that. But today we’re mainly opening doors, specifically #24. For our final whisky of the countdown, we’ve got a rather unique smoky Speysider… It’s Balvenie 14 Year Old – The Week of Peat!

Back in 2019, Balvenie released The Balvenie Stories range, a trio of whiskies crafted to tell tales of the distillery’s history to its drinkers. The Week of Peat was one of such three, and is actually based on The Balvenie Peat Week Aged 14 Year Old, which was launched in 2017. So, what’s the story? A peated Speysider isn’t something you see every day, so you know it’s going to be a good one…

Cast your minds back to 2002. The very first film instalment of Spider-Man (and arguably the best – Tobey Maguire reigns the arthropod king, and I will take this outside) had just been released, and Balvenie distillery manager at the time Ian Millar had found a rare gap in the distillery’s production schedule. There was a whole week free! So, he decided to give drying barley with peat a go. Why not, eh? There’s a first time for everything, and it certainly wasn’t the last. This smoky dram was inspired by the fruits of that experimental week, with classic Balvenie florals and butterscotch supported by a delicate layer of smoke. But don’t take our word for it, we’ve got Balvenie’s global brand ambassador Gemma Patterson on hand to tell us all about it! 

whisky advent balvenie week of peat

It’s Gemma Patterson!

Master of Malt: Tell us about the history of The Week of Peat releases!

Gemma Patterson: The Week of Peat started back in 2002 when we cleared the production schedule for a week at Balvenie and ran a heavily peated batch of malt through the distillery. This is a tradition that continued and we have maintained an annual Peaty Week ever since. Ian Millar, distillery manager at the time was the brains behind the operation, he inspired a number of trials that ran through The Balvenie maltings in the years leading up to the first full week of peat. It was maltman/poet/songwriter Robbie Gormley who was responsible for experimenting with the malt, using Highland-grown barley that had been peated to around 28PPM. Brian Webster, mashman/raconteur, was responsible for milling, mashing, and fermenting the stuff and he lovingly refers to this variant as “that stinkin’ stuff!”. In the end, after 14 years resting in an American oak bourbon barrel the peat has mellowed to around 5PPM. The dram is still characteristically Balvenie with smooth honey undertones, only laced with a wisp of peat. Oh, and it is bottled at 48.3% ABV so it has a nice kick to it. I like to add a wee splash of water to this one. If you want to hear more from the people who made this whisky then head here and have a listen to our podcast.

whisky advent 2020 balvenie

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

GP: It depends on the dram, hand me a Caribbean Cask and I love a wee splash of water with it. If you’re generous enough to pour me a PortWood then I would sip this one slowly neat.

MoM: Has there been a Balvenie highlight of 2020?

GP: The highlight of 2020 was launching the next variant in our Stories Series, The Edge of Burnhead Wood. We did this virtually via Zoom, Teams, and live distillery tours. This involved connecting with our Balvenie families across the world, from our local ambassadors, the distillery team, and malt master David C. Stewart MBE from his home in Glasgow. Like the rest of the world, we’ve had a lot of ups and downs over the course of the year getting to grips with new technology and different ways to communicate, but overall it has been an enjoyable journey, keeping connected has been incredibly important for us all to keep sane. One day we may show you our blooper reels…

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

GP: The Week of Peat of course! You can’t beat a wee smoky dram in front of the fire at this time of year. 

MoM: Do you have a go-to Christmas cocktail?

GP: I’m going to experiment with making a Balvenie Caribbean Cask Eggnog, let’s see how that turns out…

whisky advent 2020 balvenie

Tasting note by The Chaps at Master of Malt:

Nose: Gentle sweet peat smoke, lighter floral notes and delicate butterscotch honey

Palate: Velvety and round to taste with the peat smoke balancing citrus flavours, oaky vanilla and blossom honey

Finish: Gentle smoke with a lingering and creamy vanilla sweetness.

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Whisky Advent 2020 Day #20: Glenfarclas 15 Year Old

Door number nine holds behind it… Glenfarclas 15 Year Old! George Grant joins us once again for #WhiskyAdvent, and if it’s heavy reading you’re after, this… isn’t it. A man…

Door number nine holds behind it… Glenfarclas 15 Year Old! George Grant joins us once again for #WhiskyAdvent, and if it’s heavy reading you’re after, this… isn’t it. A man of few words, as always.

If it’s a sherried Speysider you’re looking for, Glenfarclas is right up there as a go-to. The distillery only uses sherry-seasoned casks to mature its whisky in, and for good reason. It’s absolutely delicious, and it’s a combination that’s worked since 1836! If it ain’t broke, and all that…

Glenfarclas 15 Year Old is what some might call one of the ultimate Christmas drams, as it is almost literally Christmas cake in liquid, malt-based form. It’s also bottled at 46% ABV, for no other reason that because that’s the strength that George Grant’s grandfather preferred it at. 

Speaking of, we grabbed a few (literally) words from George Grant himself, head of sales and the 6th generation of the family behind the whisky. If you’re in a rush then no worries, this won’t take long! 

whisky advent glenfarclas

Master of Malt: Describe Glenfarclas 15 Year Old in three words. 

George Grant: Big, bold, delicious.

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

GG: A double.

MoM: What can we expect from Glenfarclas in 2021? 

GG: It’s our 185th Anniversary of legal distilling.

MoM: It’s Christmas Eve, and you’re sitting down with a Glenfarclas dram. Which one is it? GG: Glenfarclas 25 Year Old. It’s Christmas, in a glass.

MoM: Besides classics like mulled wine and (obviously) whisky, what’s your favourite Christmas tipple

GG: Pol Roger Cuvée Sir Winston Churchill 2009, in magnum, of course.

whisky advent glenfarclas

Tasting Note by The Chaps at Master of Malt

Nose: Intense, powerful sherry. Pedro Ximenez, perhaps? Almost… a touch of peppermint? An almost rancio quality to this. Smells older than 15.

Palate: Raisins, more sherry, orange peel, walnuts, dates.

Finish: Incredibly long, complex, more of the Walnuts again.

Overall: Water draws out sweetness. This is Christmas cake, not whisky. Simply astonishing.

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Whisky Advent 2020 Day #11: Glenfiddich Experimental Series – IPA Cask Finish

On the 11th day of Advent, Drinks by the Dram decided to treat us with a category-crossing whisky that brings together the humble brew with the water of life. It’s…

On the 11th day of Advent, Drinks by the Dram decided to treat us with a category-crossing whisky that brings together the humble brew with the water of life. It’s Glenfiddich Experimental Series – IPA Cask Finish!

It’s Friday! Or ‘Fri-yay’ if you’re posting on Instagram, which you may well be – and don’t forget to tune into #WhiskyAdvent if you are. Anyway, there’s lots of reasons today is a ‘yay’ rather than just simply a ‘day’. But the main one is that there’s yet another delicious dram squirrelled away in your Drinks by the Dram Whisky Advent Calendar! Beer lovers, whisky lovers, it’s time for you to put your differences aside and come together with this top release from Glenfiddich, finished for three months in casks which previously held IPA. Is that a ‘yay’ we can hear? Of course it is.

Called Glenfiddich Experimental Series – IPA Cask Finish, it was released as part of the Speyside distillery’s Experimental Series – it’s not every day you see beer and whisky coming together so literally. We turned to brand ambassador Mark Thomson (whose official title is ‘ambassador to Scotland – Glenfiddich Single Malt Whisky’, which is awesome but must be hard to fit on a business card) to chat about this unique release, the year that was, and his favourite Christmas sipper!

whisky advent glenfiddich ipa cask

It’s Mark Thomson, everyone! Where can we get a tasting glass like that?

Master of Malt: An IPA-finished whisky! Can you talk us through this release?

Mark Thomson: Sounds strange doesn’t it? Well, we’ve had a long history of experimenting with whisky at Glenfiddich and this particular release fitted into our Experimental range launched in 2016. It came around from a conversation between a brewer and Brian Kinsman, our malt master. Rather than taking a beer cask, we infused a cask at Glenfiddich which had already contained our whisky with a bespoke-brewed hoppy ale. Then removed it from the cask and added back Glenfiddich whisky to allow a conversation between the two creations to begin. It’s a light style of Glenfiddich in general, being fully matured in American oak, there is sweetness with classic fruit notes. However, the influence of the ale is not lost with a hoppy, zesty overtone and delicious lingering aftertaste. It’s perfect enjoyed on its own, but I often find myself pairing it with a beer on the side. A traditional serve known as a Hauf ‘n Hauf in Scotland.  

MoM: You can only pick either beer or whisky – which one is it?

MT: Whisky of course, because it’s always appealing to me, can be mixed into cocktails or lengthened into a highball. Far more flexible than beer if I was to be forced down such a path – you have to play the long game. 

MoM: What was a 2020 highlight for Glenfiddich?

MT: I suppose in any other normal year it would be difficult to choose because we are always forging ahead with new releases, activations or events. As we all know, this year wasn’t anything close to “normal”. So I’d say our highlight was the charity drive we did over the year with fundraising events, challenges and auctions. Our own Standfast programme which was set up to support the hospitality workers of the UK to raise £300k and we are still coming up with other initiatives to support charities such as the Benevolent in Scotland and the Drinks Trust elsewhere in the UK. In addition to this, the ambassadors of William Grant & Sons all made a huge effort to support hospitality workers wherever possible. Even if that was simply having a coffee (safely) and letting them voice their concerns and worries. 

whisky advent glenfiddich ipa cask

Gaze upon the actual Glenfiddich distillery.

MoM: Can we expect more releases along these beer-y lines from Glenfiddich?

MT: Perhaps not so much beer related, but you never know. Brian has a number of experiments maturing in the warehouses of Glenfiddich and the Experimental Series was always a playground for us to try new things. We aim to always have three releases available in the series -there have been four so far, however Winter Storm, a 21 year old finished in Canadian ice wine casks, was a limited edition. There should have been a new release in the series for 2020, but we’ve popped that back in the warehouse for now until things return or settle to a new normal. Keep an eye out over the next year to 18 months for some new and exciting Glenfiddich releases. But I’m afraid my lips are sealed for now on what those may be.

MoM: Which Glenfiddich dram will we find you enjoying at Christmas?

MT: I’ll be celebrating Christmas this year with an indulgent drop of our luxurious Grand Cru whisky. A 23 yr old Glenfiddich allowed to rest for a time in French cuvée wine casks before being bottled. It’s fast becoming one of my favourite available whiskies in our range. The character is quite unlike anything else we have out at the moment. The whisky, before hitting those final French oak casks, is already delightful with a subtle sweet/salty note, delicate floral elements and classic Glenfiddich white fruit. Then it is elevated into an incredibly complex yet approachable whisky by those fabulous French casks. Quite simply, a perfect whisky for any celebration, not just Christmas.

whisky advent glenfiddich ipa cask

Tasting Note from the Chaps at Master of Malt

Nose: An elegant harmony of fresh green apple, William’s pear and spring blossom. Complimented with aromatic hops and fresh herbs.

Palate: Vibrant with a zesty citrus note followed by creamy vanilla and a hint of fresh hops.

Finish: Enduring sweetness with an echo of green hops.

 

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Whisky Advent 2020 Day #9: Balvenie 14 Year Old Caribbean Cask

Behind today’s little cardboard door of the Drinks by the Dram Whisky Advent Calendar is a fruity Speysider that brings together Scotland and the Caribbean. It’s Balvenie 14 Year Old…

Behind today’s little cardboard door of the Drinks by the Dram Whisky Advent Calendar is a fruity Speysider that brings together Scotland and the Caribbean. It’s Balvenie 14 Year Old Caribbean Cask!  

You will never again make the choice between rum and whisky with Balvenie 14 Year Old Caribbean Cask. But this single malt wasn’t just finished in any old rum casks. Oh, no. Balvenie malt master David C. Stewart made his very own blend of West Indian rums, filled it into casks, waited patiently and then finished Balvenie whisky in these delicious rum-seasoned casks after an initial maturation in American oak.  Tropical fruit and toffee awaits…

Who better to grab a moment with than UK brand ambassador Alwynne Gwilt? She’s on hand to have a festive chat with us about cask finishes and Christmassy drams! 

whisky advent 2020 balvenie

Say hello to Alwynne Gwilt!

Master of Malt: What do you think it is about rum casks and Balvenie whisky that works so well together?

Alwynne Gwilt: When you nose a number of aged rums, you’ll note similar aroma characteristics to what you find in whisky: brown sugar, toffee, spice. And our malt master David Stewart MBE is a big fan of rum, so when he noticed those synchronicities he was keen to experiment with how to continue bringing out the best of our whisky, while adding on some nuances to it through the rum-cask finish.

MoM: How do you drink this whisky?

AG: I think Caribbean Cask 14 is my favourite for experimenting with in the range. I like to drink it neat, of course, because it is fruity, sweet, spicy and incredibly well balanced. But I also love it in a Highball in the summertime, and a Caribbean Cask 14 Piña Colada is something else! Absolutely delicious! 

whisky advent 2020 balvenie

The stunning Balvenie distillery!

MoM: What does 2021 have in store for Balvenie?

AG: We are all looking forward to getting back to doing more events and activations – COVID-19 permitting – and we will be continuing the ‘story’ of Stories, as well as hero-ing our dedication to craft in some new and unique ways, so definitely watch this space!

MoM: What’s your favourite type of cask finish? (You don’t have to say rum!)

AG: My favourite type is one which still allows the main DNA of the whisky to shine through – so, for The Balvenie, malty, honeyed sweetness from a long maturation in American oak is key – while just adding a slight hint of something ‘extra’ through a short finish. It should be there to add an extra layer, rather than dominate. So, while I cannot say I have a favourite, this is definitely what I look for in our whisky and others that I try. 

MoM: What will you be drinking on Christmas day?

AG: I recently discovered a dram of Port Wood 21 leftover from a tasting event, so I’ve saved that up for Christmas – after all, it is David Stewart’s favourite! That and some gorgeous South African wine that I’ve been looking forward to opening up after a long year!

whisky advent 2020 balvenie

Tasting note from the Chaps at Master of Malt

Nose: Rich with notes of tropical fruits, namely passion fruit, and creamy toffee.

Palate: Sweet vanilla forms a creamy palate with notes of apples and mangoes with a hint of orange in the background.

Finish: The finish lingers with a vanilla focussed character.

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The Best UK Cocktail Delivery Services in 2021

Our beloved hospitality industry is taking quite the hit during lockdown, and obviously we’re all gutted we can’t go and support them… Except wait, we can! Here are a few…

Our beloved hospitality industry is taking quite the hit during lockdown, and obviously we’re all gutted we can’t go and support them… Except wait, we can! Here are a few ways you can get your cocktail fix without even leaving your home. 

We know that nothing will quite beat the ambiance of our favourite watering hole, glancing over at the bar and seeing your drink being shaken (or stirred) by a bonafide professional. But, at the same time, enjoying a bar-quality cocktail in the comfort of your own home brings quite a bit of solace and downright enjoyment in times like these. If you can’t go to the bar, bring the bar to you! Plus, now you won’t have to queue or anything… 

cocktail delivery
Speakeasy At Home

It’s triple trouble with Speakeasy At Home, as three of the World’s 50 Best bars have joined forces for this one! You’ll find cocktails from Swift, Nightjar and Oriole all in one place, which is pretty awesome. Will you choose Swift’s famed Irish Coffee, Nightjar’s Barrel Aged Zombie or Oriole’s Jalisco Negroni? If you simply can’t pick which bar you feel like visiting (through the wonder of taste, of course), you can get yourself a box featuring one cocktail from each. Handy! Cocktails come in 220ml pouches and 500ml bottles, starting at £15 and delivering throughout the UK. 

cocktail delivery
Milroy’s The Proofing Room

The ever-wonderful Milroy’s treated us to a new Spitalfields-based site this year, and underneath you’ll find The Proofing Room, its basement cocktail bar. Now it’s bringing the cocktails to us, and they’re all inspired by the humble Highball. The six-serve menu treats us to a whole host of different variations on the classic cocktail, from bourbon, chestnut, peach and ginger to Tequila, coconut rum, chill, caraway and orange. What’s more, there’s delivery across the UK within 48 hours! So you won’t be thirsty for long. Each bottle costs between £12 to £14 and holds three servings. ‌ 

Easy Social Cocktail Co.

Bartender and Master of Malt contributor Nate Brown, had big plans for 2020 including a Highball Bar called Soda, a pizza and cocktail venue named Nebula and had an idea that at-home cocktails might be a thing. Well, for various reasons, not all of them Covid-related, Soda didn’t open, Nebula is open and doing takeaways, and a cocktails delivery service seems like a really good idea. So Brown has teamed up with Imie Augier, formerly of Fitz’s Bar and Shrub and Shutter, and Hebe Richardson of Drinks with Hebe fame (and also Brown’s wife), to launch the Easy Social Cocktail Co (photo credit above: Milly Fletcher). The menu includes classic cocktails in bottles or pouches as well as Hard Seltzers. We were given a little taste of some of the deliciousness on offer including a Cracking Christmas Cosmo and a Super Strawberry Negroni which might be the best Negroni we’ve ever tried (both £25 for 500ml). 

cocktail delivery services
Coupette

Coupette is bringing its delicious cocktails to the masses, because it’s delivering its drinks worldwide! Get your all-important Calvados fix or give the Parmigiano- and bourbon-inspired Ain’t Easy Being Cheesy a go. Heartbreakingly, Champagne Piña Coladas don’t do well in transit. Sad faces all around. Though we’re sure we’ll cope, because there are heaps of other options from its outstanding menu to choose from. If you dim the lights, get some music on and cook yourself some gratin dauphinoise, it’ll be like you never left the East London bar! Cocktails come in three sizes, 125ml, 250ml and 500ml, starting at £10. 

cocktail delivery
Hacha

Agave lovers, we didn’t forget about you! London’s Hacha is here to get us our fix, having bottled its famed Mirror Margarita. Each 700ml bottle holds four serves, and you’ll find Tequila or mezcal versions of the cocktail along with seasonal infusions like clementine and cinnamon, or even a mulled variant! The bar has even reworked the classics, with pre-bottled agave twists on Negronis and Martinis too. A top feature of the bar was its ever-changing spirit selection, complete with bespoke weird and wacky food pairings (mezcal and Monster Munch, anyone?). With Hacha’s agave tasting flights, you can recreate this at home! The flights are designed for two people, holding two serves of three different spirits, along with full tasting notes and even pairing suggestions. If you weren’t an agave aficionado already, you will be soon! Bottles start from £35, delivering all over the UK.

cocktail delivery
Liana Cocktail Co. 

Liana Cocktail Co. is the tasty result of a bad situation (which was lockdown, in case you hadn’t guessed). It goes one step further than just sending you a delicious cocktail, because each serve has one of those fancy QR codes. Say hello to the Interactive Cocktail Experience! From an Apple Old Fashioned to Margaritas, every cocktail has a corresponding video featuring a bartender talking you through how the drink was created. Each box is £19.99 (while £1 from every box will be donated by Liana Cocktail Co. to The Drinks Trust) and holds three cocktails, with delivery across the UK mainland.

cocktail delivery

Bring Your Bar Home

And last but not least, a very shiny new feat of technology from a fellow bar-lover – say hello to Bring Your Bar Home! As much as we hate to admit it, it’s basically a better version of what we’ve just done with this blog, because instead of rounding up a few favourites for you (brilliant though they are), you simply whack in your postcode (only works in the UK) and shows you a long ol’ list of bars which can deliver straight to your doorstep. Genius! Just the sort of thing we wish we’d come up with ourselves… 

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Top ten: Gins under £30

Want to treat yourself to some juniper-based deliciousness without shelling out your savings? That’s exactly why we’ve rounded up our ten favourite gins that won’t put a dent in your…

Want to treat yourself to some juniper-based deliciousness without shelling out your savings? That’s exactly why we’ve rounded up our ten favourite gins that won’t put a dent in your bank account, because they’re all under £30! 

The world of gin is an ever-growing category, and if you end up feeling overwhelmed by the sheer number of juniper-based opportunities there are to try, we don’t blame you. If you’re feeling snazzy sometimes you might fancy a gin distilled with ants or some rare African botanicals, but let’s be honest – most of the time you just want a tasty G&T that doesn’t break the bank. 

We’ve gathered up our top 10 affordable bottlings that don’t skip out on flavour, so here’s hoping you’ll find a new favourite too! If you thought affordable means boring, think again… 

Favourite gins

Moonshot Gin (That Boutique-y Gin Company) 

Deets: Though most of the botanicals within That Boutique-y Gin Company’s Moonshot Gin are pretty classic, the fact that each and every one of them have been sent to space certainly isn’t! Among the likes of juniper, citrus peels, chamomile and cardamom, the Boutique-y folks even included actual moon rock from a lunar meteorite. As you do, eh? The result is a fairly traditional flavour profile with a stellar (!) back story.

What does it taste like? Lemon sherbet and peel, followed by spicy ginger, bitter citrus and peppery juniper. 

Favourite gins

LoneWolf Cactus & Lime Gin 

Deets: BrewDog (yes, the beer people!) has made quite the splash with its spirits line, which is no surprise seeing as it’s releasing expressions like this LoneWolf Cactus & Lime Gin. Alongside a base of the original LoneWolf Gin you’ll find makrut lime and Queen of the Night, a fragrant cactus flower that gets its name because it only appears after dark. Talk about unusual botanicals! One for a dose of tropical, zesty deliciousness.

What does it taste like? Zingy lime citrus and sweeter lychee, with watermelon and piney juniper in support.

 Favourite gins

Kyrö Gin

Deets: A wonderful gin all the way from Finland’s Kyrö, known for its love of rye. Naturally, this gin is distilled from rye too, along with meadowsweet, citrus, cumin and juniper. A spicy, leafy and herbal expression which even won the IWSC Gin & Tonic Trophy! Get the tonic out, folks. 

What does it taste like? Floral violet, juniper and spicy rye, with hints of almond, citrus and mint. 

Favourite gins

Roku Gin

Deets: Suntory took its inspiration from Japan’s four seasons for its very first gin, Roku Gin! Six Japanese botanicals give us a whistle-stop tour of the four seasons, with sakura leaf and sakura flower evoking springtime, summery sencha tea and gyokuro tea, sansho pepper for autumn and yuzu peel for winter. If you forget all that, fear not – the botanicals are engraved on the beautiful bottle to remind you! 

What does it taste like? Peppery undertones build alongside fresh florals, tangy citrus and fruity sweetness, backed up by earthier notes. 

Favourite gins

Flavoursmiths Pink Grapefruit Gin

Deets: A blushing gin from the aptly-named Flavoursmiths, harnessing the zesty power of pink grapefruit! Unlike many pink gins, this is far from sickly sweet. There’s a good dose of juniper in here too, so it’ll do well to put a zesty twist on classic gin cocktails – though you can’t go wrong with a simple G&T along with a generous wedge of the eponymous citrus.

What does it taste like? A big burst of vibrant grapefruit, supported by piney juniper and subtle woody, peppery spices. 

Favourite gins

Dà Mhìle Seaweed Gin

Deets: Though this Seaweed Gin hails from the Welsh Dà Mhìle Distillery, the gin itself has been infused with seaweed from the Newquay coast for three weeks – cue a subtle green hue and a glorious coastal character! It’s not all about the savoury notes, with citrus, menthol and spice bringing balance. If you’ve ever thought about pairing gin with food, crack out the seafood for this one (or even oysters if you’re feeling super adventurous).

What does it taste like? A dash of sea salt alongside fresh mint and lemon peel, with refreshing juniper and distinctive eucalyptus. 

Favourite gins

McQueen Smokey Chilli Gin

Deets: This unique Smokey Chilli Gin is part of the McQueen range, with Chipotle and smoked chilli at its core. What else goes with those two spicy botanicals? Oh yeah, lime, and that’s in there too! We could see this making some sort of intriguing gin-based twist on a Margarita…

What does it taste like? A wisp of smoke leads into zesty lime, with chilli heat building throughout alongside woody juniper.

 Favourite gins

Jaffa Cake Gin

Deets: We bet you haven’t seen anything like Jaffa Cake Gin before, distilled with real, no-foolin’ Jaffa cakes, along with cocoa, oranges and fresh orange peel! This is full strength, so it’s not sickly sweet and is distinctly a gin, with juniper coming through among the unmistakable… Biscuit? Cake? Let’s not get into that. Trust us when we say it makes the best Negroni you’ve ever tasted.

What does it taste like? Unmistakable Jaffa cakes, with hallmark rich chocolate and zesty orange, all backed up by a good piney juniper tang. 

Favourite gins

Boë Passion Gin

Deets: Passion fruit is a pretty distinctive flavour, and this Passion Gin from Scotland’s Boë has bottled up all of that tangy, tropical goodness. Fresh passion fruit is the star here alongside orange and all of your classic herbaceous gin botanicals. Plus, the colour ought to make for some fantastic eye-catching cocktails! 

What does it taste like? Puckering passion fruit and sweeter orange, with herby juniper and a dash of menthol. 

Favourite gins

Hayman’s Sloe Gin

Deets: Perfect as we descend into the cooler months, Hayman’s Sloe Gin is a rather traditional tipple. It’s made with wild-foraged English sloe berries, which are steeped in the distillery’s own London dry gin for three to four months before it’s blended with natural sugar. The result is a deliciously mixable, bittersweet and fruity gin!

What does it taste like? Reminiscent of Bakewell tart, with ground almond, sour cherry and ripe plum, all backed up by juniper.

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Master of Malt visits… The Lakes Distillery

Just before lockdown we squeezed in one last trip to the stunning Lakes Distillery – although we didn’t know it was going to be the last. Luckily we captured our…

Just before lockdown we squeezed in one last trip to the stunning Lakes Distillery – although we didn’t know it was going to be the last. Luckily we captured our wonderful time through the magic of video, so you can enjoy it too!

From the glorious landscapes to the wonders of the whisky studio, Lakes whisky maker Dhavall Gandhi showed us all the sites when we made our way up to Cumbria to take a nose around the distillery. If you’ve ever wanted to know more about sherry casks or the burgeoning English whisky category, or both at the same time, then you’re in the right place.

If you like words as well as videos, then you can check out our blog on what we learned at the distillery here!

First up, we chat with Gandhi about how he ended up in the whisky business, having started in the finance industry!

In Part 2 of our interview with Gandhi, we learn more about his unique holistic whisky making process and get an insight into a day in the life of The Lakes whisky maker.

Time for a sneak peek into each of the production processes at The Lakes, including a special insight into the importance of fermentation, with Gandhi as our guide.

Let’s talk all things cask maturation! It’s time to learn about the brilliance of sherry casks and different types of oak.

Blending is a huge part of Gandhi’s process, and here in his shiny whisky studio he explains about how blending whisky is a lot like art.

Tasting time! First up is Whiskymaker’s Reserve No.3, tasted by the whisky maker himself.

Gandhi tastes us through The ONE Signature Blend, taking us through how the Lakes own single malt works alongside Scotch grain and malt whiskies.

Time for some juniper, as Gandhi tastes and talks us through why The Lakes Classic Gin is indeed a classic.

Last, but certainly not least, The Lakes Pink Grapefruit Gin tasted by Gandhi, including his perfect serve.

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New Arrival of the Week: Silent Pool Rare Citrus Gin

This week we’re looking at only the second core expression to come from a Surrey-based distillery since it opened in 2014 – it’s the shiny new Rare Citrus Gin from…

This week we’re looking at only the second core expression to come from a Surrey-based distillery since it opened in 2014 – it’s the shiny new Rare Citrus Gin from Silent Pool!

Ian McCulloch and James Shelbourne are the creative minds behind Silent Pool, and like all good stories, it began in a local pub. Here the pair met and, to cut a long story short, with McCulloch in marketing and Shelborne in distribution, they started planning their distilling adventure. One thing both firmly agreed on was that they had to find a site with a good story. 

They found just such a site when they came across a dilapidated farm on the Albury Estate. Here chamomile had taken over the decrepit building that became the first still room, so naturally that went into the gin. Elderflower grows in abundance surrounding the site, so that’s in there too, along with linden, lavender and rose. All the florals are what makes their gin unique. 

Silent Pool Rare Citrus Gin

Silent Pool gin by the Silent Pool!

Then there’s the all-important Silent Pool and the myth from which the distillery gets its name. If you don’t already know, the story goes that a young woodcutter’s daughter was pursued by the evil Prince John, and drowned in the pool in a bid to escape, which is said to have been haunted (and silent) ever since. Most brands begin with happier tales, though this one does ground it in a sense of place!

Eerily beautiful and blue, it is true, the top pool is much quieter than the one below, which is bustling with bird life. I (somewhat cynically) ask Tom Hutchings, head of distillery operations, why the pool is really so quiet. “Because it’s haunted, obviously!” he says. Or could it be because it’s just much colder? We’ll never know. With Silent Pool, the story is the brand. The bottle captures it all, with the colour of the pool, the myth and botanicals all reflected in the packaging.

Silent Pool Rare Citrus Gin

Rare citrus galore

But onto Rare Citrus! Excitingly, this is only the distillery’s second core expression since it opened. The clue is in the name for this one. The team came across a brilliant duo over in Portugal, Jean Paul and Anne, who are citrus fanatics and experts. No, really, they have a smashing 500 different varieties of citrus growing in their garden! Monoculture? Never heard of it.

“Having felt that passion and their craft, we always wanted to do a project with them, so this felt like the perfect opportunity,” Hutchings tells me. They have a library of rare fruit, mainly citrus, and these rare varieties make excellent gin botanicals.

Let’s get one thing out of the way: this is not a flavoured gin. All the botanicals are distilled with as much thought as went into the first bottling. Whacking a load of flavourings in wasn’t going to cut it. The team travelled over to Portugal (back when that was a thing you could do) and harvested the fruit themselves, bringing back 12 fruits and a few varieties of leaves. They eventually narrowed down the selection to four. 

Silent Pool Rare Citrus Gin

So, what are these rare citruses? First up is Buddha’s hand. If you haven’t seen one, I urge you to look it up right now! It gives flavours of pure sherbet and effervescent lemon, all those bright top notes. It’s pith all the way through, but the pith is what gives it its sweetness – unlike most citrus fruit. Then there’s Seville orange bringing those classic grassy, bright bitter notes we know and love from our marmalade. 

Next up is natsudaidai. Yeah, we hadn’t heard of that one before either. Hutchings describes this as a cross between pomelo and mandarin, “but with slightly sweeter grapefruit and orange flavours”. Last but not least there’s hirado buntan, which is a type of pomelo, tasting like a sweeter grapefruit with notes of honey. Apparently it’s one of the best citrus fruits Hutchings has ever tasted “with the perfect balance of sweet and sour”. High praise indeed!

Silent Pool Rare Citrus Gin

If you think Rare Citrus would be ace in a Negroni, you’re right…

Each citrus fruit was separately distilled and then blended together. While they wanted to keep the essence of the original gin, the same botanical base just didn’t work with the citrus additions. Lavender is the only remaining floral, and a few different peppers have been added – Timur pepper (which, despite its name, is actually a variety of citrus), wild forest pepper (used in perfume) and the musky voatsiperifery pepper.

Tasting the gin straight, the citrus is complex but not overwhelming. Juniper is still very much there, along with peppery spice. The citrus is evident though – bitter orange and zesty grapefruit appear throughout, lifted by those sherbet notes and grounded by the woody, musky peppers. 

Being a citrus-forward gin, we immediately started thinking about Negronis. To avoid losing the delicate citrus complexity of the gin, the Silent Pool folks have made their own version, tinkering with the ratios of gin, Campari and vermouth to 2:1:1, topped off with a pink grapefruit garnish. We took it upon ourselves to taste-test it and it was fabulous.

You can grab a bottle of Silent Pool Rare Citrus from MoM now!

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