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Master of Malt Whisky Blog

Author: Kristiane Sherry

What’s going on with whisky, according to three Johnnie Walker execs

Last year, we zipped off to Madrid to check out Johnnie Walker’s first flagship store. While we were there we quizzed three of the brand’s top executives to get their take on the fortunes of Scotch whisky, from the accessibility of Scotch to that ‘B’ word…

“The world of whiskies is fascinating – not only because we work in it,” said Cristina Diezhandino, global category director of Scotch and Reserve Brands at Diageo, as she opened the first Johnnie Walker flagship store last November. “We see a whisky renaissance, truly, globally.”

When someone like Diezhandino gives her assessment on the state of Scotch, you sit up and listen. And it’s far from a throwaway sentiment: Scotch whisky exports soared by 8.9% in volume terms to reach £4.36 billion in 2017 (the latest figures currently available), and it’s a trend that looks set to continue. The number of distilleries in Scotland is at a record level (the Scotch Whisky Association reckons there are now 128 in the country, the most since 1945). It really does look like boom time for whisky!

But challenges persist, especially around accessibility. Too many people still think whisky isn’t for them. What’s being done to roll out the metaphoric red carpet and welcome in new drinkers? Why are people starting to explore the category? And should we collectively be worried about the impact of things like Brexit? I commandeered Diezhandino, as well as Duncan Elliott, Johnnie Walker global marketing and innovation director, and Greg Klingaman, global head of retail and strategic partnerships, to get their take on the current state of Scotch.

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Our take on booze trends for 2019!

booze trends for 2019

New year, new drinks. Here’s what we reckon we’ll be debating, writing about and, most importantly, sipping in 2019. Tasting glasses at the ready…

There’s nothing we enjoy more here at MoM Towers than a good old chinwag about delectable spirits. And with the earth completing another full circuit round the sun, what better excuse to surmise, debate and generally theorise about the state of booze in 2019? Read on for the lowdown on ten drinks trends we think will influence what and how we consume in the coming 12 months. Enjoy!

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Whisky Advent 2018 Day #22: The Balvenie Peat Week Aged 14 Year Old

Christmas is almost here, which means our Drinks by the Dram Whisky Advent Calendar countdown is coming to a close. Only something truly delicious will distract us from this sorrow. Luckily we’ve got just that behind window #22!

Last summer (NOT the boiling 2018 one, the one before, when we could actually comprehend something other than the weather) the talk of the whisky town for a good few weeks was the arrival of peated Balvenie! We got incredibly excited, and you can read all the full deets in this blog post right here. But to provide a brief overview, The Balvenie had been distilling wash made from barley peated to 30PPM (parts-per-mission) for one week a year. And Peat Week 14 Year Old was the result!

It marked something of a departure for the classic Speyside distillery known for its honey vanilla sweetness. But don’t be alarmed. The point of Balvenie Peat Week isn’t to pack a full-on smoke punch. For starters, it’s not made with that distinct Islay peat, so there’s less iodine and more earth. Plus, by the time the whisky comes out the bottle it tastes more in the region of 5PPM. The Balvenie Character is still there.
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Whisky Advent 2018 Day #21: Aberfeldy 12 Year Old

It’s Festive Friday! At least that’s what we’re calling it. As the big day hurtles ever closer, it’s time to tuck in to Day 21’s dram. And it’s a Highland corker…

Aberfeldy is one of those distilleries that doesn’t necessarily spring to mind when you think ‘single malt Scotch’. Known as the home of Dewar’s and with the liquid a key component in the White Label blend, single malt expressions have historically been limited to 12 and 21 year old bottlings. But all that has changed!

Bacardi (yep, of rum fame) bought the Highland distillery and brand (along with the rest of the Dewar’s portfolio) back in 1998. As the single renaissance took hold, Bacardi invested in broadening the portfolio, introducing the 16 Year Old and even a 25 Year Old (although that is now sadly discontinued).

Today the distillery produces around 3.5 million litres of alcohol and remains a core part of Dewar’s White Label, but single malts are a much larger focus. And the distillery itself, with its visitor centre and really rather wonderful archive is well worth a visit.
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The Home Bar: Our Henry’s book is here!

Our very own features editor Henry Jeffreys has released a book! The Home Bar is full of all kinds of envy-inducing, Insta-worthy abodes, but also some really rather straightforward cocktail ideas, too. We chat to him about all things at-home drinking.

If you’re anything like us, mixing cocktails for friends at home goes one of two ways. Something miraculous could happen where you actually have the ingredients, ice, enough kit and the time, and the Negroni comes out almost as it’s supposed to. Everyone appreciatively oohs and aahhs, but there’s that lingering, sneaking suspicion that a pre-bottled offering might have been better. Then there’s option 2. The most likely option. It looks like a sticky mess, questionable glassware and a total lack of balance. And that’s the best you can hope for even when you’ve got enough ice in.

But it doesn’t have to be that way! Henry’s book The Home Bar presents a third option: cocktail recipes you can actually make at home along with glorious images of other people’s home bars. It balances aspirational with our inherent need for nosiness, while actually giving some top tips for at-home cocktail success. And it looks the part, too. (We also reckon it would make a fabulous last-minute Christmas gift if you’re listening, #WhiskySanta!).
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Whisky Advent 2018 Day #13: Cardhu Gold Reserve

Whisky Advent 2018 Day #13

The thirteenth might be unlucky for some – but not if you’re following Drinks by the Dram’s Whisky Advent Calendar! Continuing with the theme, there’s another delectable whisky hidden away behind today’s window…

Phew! After all the smoke of yesterday’s Kilchoman, you’d think it might be time to chill those taste buds out. Not so. While it doesn’t pack a peaty punch, today’s dram is a much-loved expression, bursting with Speyside charm and all-round honeyed, fruity, luscious loveliness. The whisky in question?

It’s Cardhu Gold Reserve!

Cardhu is a key component in blended Scotch behemoth Johnnie Walker, and in recent times hasn’t been all that active on releasing its own single malts. This was partly due to being a victim of its own success – back in the early 2000s, so much single malt from the distillery was being consumed by our thirsty neighbours in continental Europe that demand put pressure on Johnnie Walker supplies! A period of confusion followed when Cardhu became what’s today recognised as a blended malt (with single malt liquid from multiple distilleries), but that’s all been and gone. Today, Cardhu has a core range of age statements in its portfolio and this tasty little number, Cardhu Gold Reserve, is a no-age statement expression celebrated for its smooth grassiness and honeyed fruit richness.

Enough from us. We caught up with Ewan Gunn, Diageo’s global whisky ambassador, to get the Cardhu particulars in full.

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Whisky Advent 2018 Day #7: Smokey Monkey

It’s the first Friday of Advent! Got that weekend feeling? You will once you discover the dram squirrelled away behind Door No.7 of Drinks by the Dram’s Whisky Advent Calendar…

Much excite in these parts today. Not only is it Friday, but there’s a right treat awaiting discovery in the Whisky Advent Calendar today.

But first! Some background. Scotch whisky cocktails are DELICIOUS. But historically (and this is an attitude that can linger in some circles today), single malts have been seen as ‘too good’ for mixing. What’s that all about?! A great drink needs flavour, character and balance, and single malt Scotches tend to have that dream trio in the bucket-load.
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Whisky Advent 2018 Day #6: Hudson Baby Bourbon

The sixth day of Advent is here – and Drinks by the Dram is getting all trans-Atlantic for today’s Whisky Advent Calendar dram…

Forget The Fairytale of New York. To get in the Christmas spirit this year, Drinks by the Dram saw fit to treat us to another example of The Big Apple at its finest. And it’s rather historical, too. This dram comes from Tuthilltown Spirits, which produced the first aged grain liquor in New York since Prohibition! Seeing how yesterday was Repeal Day, it seems almost fitting that today’s dram is…
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Whisky Advent 2018 Day #3: The Singleton of Dufftown Malt Master’s Selection

Forget the Monday blues. Drinks by the Dram has a right tasty treat hidden behind door number 3 of the Whisky Advent Calendar!

Welcome to the first working day of Advent 2018! And what a fine pair of drams there were to discover over the weekend. After a corker of a Lost Distilleries Blend on Day 1, there was Starward New World Malt Whisky all the way from Australia on Day 2!

Want to avoid spoilers? Waiting until this evening before you tear open that Advent calendar window? Then consider this fair spoiler alert warning. Because tucked away waiting to be discovered on Advent Day 3 is…

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Behold! Six brilliantly old and rare Boutique-y whiskies are here!

‘Old’ and ‘rare’ are terms often bandied about with much abandon in whisky. Not here, folks. We’ve got six really rather marvellous, hard-to-find That Boutique-y Whisky Company gems that certainly live up to that billing, including a Macallan and not one but two Rosebanks!

We’re always on the look-out for unusual bottlings that max out deliciousness. And we love the people behind That Boutique-y Whisky Company because they are after the same: they sniff out incredible whiskies, independently bottle the best of the best, and then share them with the world. They are our kind of folk. And they’ve done it again. Say hello to six incredibly exciting brand-new bottlings: Rosebank 26 Year Old (That Boutique-y Whisky Company); Rosebank 28 Year Old (That Boutique-y Whisky Company); Ardbeg 27 Year Old (That Boutique-y Whisky Company); Highland Park 26 Year Old (That Boutique-y Whisky Company); Macallan 30 Year Old (That Boutique-y Whisky Company); and Springbank 22 Year Old (That Boutique-y Whisky Company)!

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