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Master of Malt Blog

Author: Master of Malt

The Nightcap: 14 January

In the news this week: celebrate Burns Night with Batman, Guinness goes green, Marky Mark gets into Tequila, and, not to be outdone, Katy Perry, crashes the world of zero…

In the news this week: celebrate Burns Night with Batman, Guinness goes green, Marky Mark gets into Tequila, and, not to be outdone, Katy Perry, crashes the world of zero ABV drinks. All this and more in The Nightcap: 14 January edition!

Well, time continues to march on so now we’re at the weekend before Blue Monday, supposedly the worst day of the year because it’s cold, dark, and we’re all broke and guilty thanks to Christmas indulgence. The Irish have a saying that we think is quite a fitting response to this sort of thinking: what a load of ol’ shite. There’s lots to enjoy in January. Like leftovers. New presents. The FA Cup. And, of course, The Nightcap. What a treat. Let’s crack on with today’s edition.

On the blog, our Dry January coverage continued with cracking cocktails from High Point, and you can still win some goodies from them thanks to the second part of our competition. Dr. Nick Morgan returned to ask bartenders to go easy on the ice, while folks from all over MoM chipped in to recommend some of our favourite places for lunch. Elsewhere, our New Arrival was a very special rum from Guatemala, our Cocktail of the Week was inspired by one of the legends of the jazz age, and we got familiar with the weird and wonderful Pussanga as well as an Australian winery that turned its hand to whisky.

Now, onwards to The Nightcap: 14 January edition!

The Nightcap: 14 January

What is it with celebs and Tequila?

Mark Wahlberg launches a Tequila

George Clooney, Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson, Kendall Jenner… are there any celebrities left who don’t have a stake in a Tequila brand? Well, we strike Mark Wahlberg off the list anyway as he’s invested in Flecha Azul, co-founded by Mexican PGA golfer Abraham Ancer and entrepreneur Aron Marquez. Wahlberg actually initially turned down the proposal, saying “you have all these other people out there claiming to have gone to Mexico and created Tequila and cultivated agave and all this stuff”, but was persuaded that this time was different. A visit to the brand’s distillery in Jalisco, Mexico, which has been owned and operated by a local family since 1840, surely helped. Flecha Azul has five types of expressions: Blanco, Reposado, Añejo, Cristalino and Extra Añejo, but is currently only sold in California, Texas, Nevada, and Georgia, although it plans to launch nationwide later this year. Despite every celeb and their granny having an agave brand, Wahlberg is unfazed by the competition. “The space is growing thanks to guys like Dwayne who have created a lot of awareness and excitement,” he told CNN. “We’re coming for everybody’s spot… We plan on being the best.” The Departed actor added that he’s down to host a Tequila-off with Johnson and Clooney. “I’ve tasted their product, they haven’t tasted mine! Those guys know me very well, they know my competitive spirit!'”

The Nightcap: 14 January

The portmanteaus need to stop. Please.

Meanwhile, Katy Perry launches zero ABV drinks for ‘Soberuary’ 

If you’re sick of irritating portmanteau words like ‘veganuary’, ‘staycation’, and ‘brosé’, then look away now because top pop star Katy Perry has just created the world’s worst word – ‘soberuary’. Yes, it’s a juxtaposition of January (or perhaps February) and sober. You probably won’t be surprised as to the reason behind this word crime is that the Californian singer has recently launched her own range of zero ABV drinks. Called De Soi, they are made in conjunction with, as Perry put it on Twitter, “my fellow new mama/ botany babe Morgan McLachlan.” De Soi will come in three varieties: Golden Hour made with citrus and lemongrass, Champignon Dreams with strawberries and grapefruit (and we presume mushrooms), and Purple Lune flavoured blackberry nectar, vanilla oak, and rose petals. McLachlan is the lady behind Amass, a company that makes all kinds of botanical-based goods including skincare products, gin, and non-alcoholic drinks, so she probably knows what she’s doing. And it does make a nice change from another celeb Tequila brand, we’re looking at you Marky Mark, but please no more portmanteau words.

The Nightcap: 14 January

Fifty Cheyne is one of several capital establishments marking Burns Night with Aberfeldy

Celebrate Burns Night with Aberfeldy

And if you’re on the lookout for Burns Night ideas, Aberfeldy has options across London. The Cadogan Arms, The Sitwell Supper Club, Boisdale Belgravia and Canary Wharf, and American steakhouse Smith & Wollensky will all be hosting Burns Night feasts on 25 January with traditional food and a selection of signature Aberfeldy serves. Meanwhile, No. Fifty Cheyne has an extravagant five-course set menu and whisky tasting flight and Mr. Fogg’s Society of Exploration is making three limited-edition cocktails. There’s the Burns and the Bees, a mix of Aberfeldy 12 Year Old, spiced oat milk, honey, and walnut bitters, served with an oat tuile; the Sae the Lord Be Thankit, a combination of Aberfeldy 12 Year Old combined with cold brew Lady Grey tea, shortbread syrup, and rhubarb bitters; and the Golden Ratio, a blend of tablet-washed Aberfeldy 12 Year Old, Moët N.V. Champagne and orange bitters. You can click the links to each establishment to find where to book your tickets. Sounds like there’s going to be some truly cracking Burns Night celebrations this year.

The Nightcap: 14 January

Batman is Scottish. This is canon. And he probably loves Glenfiddich

Or you could Celebrate Burns Night Batman style

Ah, Burns Night! A celebration of all things Scottish, and Batman. Wait, what? If you head down on Tuesday 25 January to Park Row restaurant, you’ll be able to take part in ‘The Wayne Family Burns Night Supper’. Yes, apparently all along Batman was Scottish. Who knew? Well, according to the press release, everyone did. The evening will draw on “Bruce Wayne’s Scottish heritage, well-known to readers of the comics”, and consists of a traditional Burns Night supper with whiskies and cocktails by Glenfiddich, followed by a ceilidh band so you can dance the night away. Tickets cost from £55 per person, with whisky pairings extra. The Soho restaurant, that’s Soho London, not SoHo New York, is billed as “the UK’s first DC-inspired restaurant,” which we initially thought was something to do with the capital of the USA but it actually refers to the comic book company behind Batman, Superman et al. A restaurant inspired by superheroes, imagine being at lunch when they came up with that one.

The Nightcap: 14 January

No emissions from this big boy

Guinness goes green with zero emissions transport

Diageo has been really stepping up its environmental commitments of late thanks to its 10-year sustainability action plan, Society 2030: Spirit of Progress, and the latest development it’s made is to introduce the first zero-emissions vehicles into Guinness’ fleet from this summer. The aim is to cut transport emissions by 70% by the end of 2025, and by 100% before 2030. There’s actually already one zero-emission vehicle already in use exclusively at the brewery, which was used in a trial to transport bulk beer in the Guinness tankers from St James’s Gate to Dublin Port, helping to determine if it can be used to transport heavy goods beyond the brewery. Four zero-emission trucks will also be tested later this year to deliver kegs to the hospitality trade in Dublin City, with an ambition to extend further if successful. “We are only 263 years into our 9,000-year lease on the St. James’s Gate Brewery, and we are in it for the long haul – for our people, our products, and our planet, and we will never settle in pursuit of a better, more sustainable future for everyone,” Barry O’Sullivan, managing director, Diageo Ireland.

The Nightcap: 14 January

Are you intimidated by the ‘rules’ of wine?

75% people think ‘rules of wine’ intimidating

Woodbridge Wines recently sought the help of OnePoll to conduct research into how people respond to the world of wine and the response was… less than ideal. According to the findings, three out of four of people find wine etiquette intimidating, while 67% of respondents believe that there are right and wrong ways to drink wine and eight out of 10 respondents said they did not always follow the so-called “rules of wine”. A total of 2,000 U.S. respondents aged 21 and older participated in the survey, and just 22% of them said that following traditional wine etiquette greatly enhanced their experience of drinking. The good news was that seven out of 10 respondents said they drink wine more than any other type of alcohol over the winter, and a pleasant surprise was found in the research that showed 62% of men and 50% of women would choose wine over beer while watching sports. So not all bad then. We’d personally be very intrigued to see how people would respond to a similar survey about whisky.

The Nightcap: 14 January

For two days this summer, Portugal is coming to London!

Portuguese FESTA coming to London in June 

This sounds brilliant. Portugal will be coming to London for two days this summer. London’s Bar Douro has teamed up with wine expert Sarah Ahmed to put on FESTA, a two-day festival devoted to all kinds of Portuguese deliciousness at Tobacco Dock in London on Friday 24 and Saturday 25 June. There will be wines from 50 of the country’s best producers to sip as you munch on delicious Portuguese snacks like croquette de bacalhau. Max Graham, from the noted Port family and Bar Douro founder, had the original idea to “introduce wine, food and travel lovers to the Portuguese producers and products.” He continued: “I’m thrilled to be able to do this through a unique cultural event, with art and live music.” With Sarah Ahmed’s involvement, the wines are likely to be superb. She explained: “the wines have gone from strength to strength as Portugal’s dynamic producers have developed an ever-deeper understanding and respect for their country’s distinctive grape varieties, wine traditions, and terroir.” It sounds like the next best thing to actually visiting the country. And you won’t have to take a lateral flow test. We hope. 

The Nightcap: 14 January

Tax deductible wine? It’s about damn time (phone courtesy of @Trump_ton)

And finally… is wine now tax deductible?

For the self-employed, the arrival of January only means one thing. It’s tax time. The end of the month is the deadline to get your returns in so people are frantically going through their receipts trying to work out what is and isn’t tax-deductible. Printer ink is, sadly drinks aren’t. Or are they? Online funny man @mikedicks aka @Trump_ton spotted something in his local Waitrose which will provide hope to impoverished freelancers everywhere, wine classed as an office supply. This means that all those bottles you’ve been knocking back over the year are actually tax-deductible. Wouldn’t that be amazing?

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The Nightcap: 7 January

Why has Taiwan bought 20,000 bottles of rum? Have Bono and the Edge found what they’re looking for? And can you cure a hangover? We ask the big questions in…

Why has Taiwan bought 20,000 bottles of rum? Have Bono and the Edge found what they’re looking for? And can you cure a hangover? We ask the big questions in our first news round-up of the year. The Nightcap: 7 January 2022 has landed!

Hey folks, long time no see. We hope you had a lovely Christmas, a wonderful Chanukah, and a Happy New Year. We did too, thanks for asking, and are now looking forward to getting back into the swing of things. And what better way to do that than with a classic round-up of boozy news. Who’s ready to do some new year Nightcapping?

Since our last edition a fair amount has happened on the blog, so let’s run through it quickly. We made a list of our top ten favourite and most-read posts as well as our funniest stories from 2021. We also launched our famous Burns Night poetry competition and kicked off our Dry January coverage with a guide on how to do it the MoM way, as well as giving you a recipe for a delicious low-alcohol cocktail, some cracking options for which bottles to buy, and even a chance to win big. We also talked about terroir in rum, helped you find a new favourite dram, saw how New Zealand is getting on the whisky map, learned the story behind Fable whisky, and showed you which distilleries to keep an eye on in 2022.

Phew! Lots to catch up on. But for now let’s crack on with The Nightcap: 7 January edition!

The Nightcap: 7 January

These two from U2 have put some serious cash into the beer biz

Bono, the Edge, and Hozier invest in brewery

The Wicklow Wolf Craft Brewing Company has added some star power to its ranks. U2 stars Bono and the Edge, as well as fellow Irish musician Hozier, a part of a group of investors backing the craft brewery. Founded by Mountmellick native Quincey Fennelly and Simon Lynch in 2014, The Wicklow Wolf Craft Brewing Company has issued new shares for almost €2.4 million. Reports suggest Bono and the Edge put up €327,000 between them, and Wicklow native Hozier invested almost €110,000, while the largest investor was Zatrix Holdings, a company controlled by Mary Ann O’Brien, the founder of Irish chocolate maker Lily O’Brien’s. It’s not the first time the brewery has made headlines for big sums, with the company investing €4 million in a brewery in Newtown Mount Kennedy in 2019, the funding for which came from a €2 million equity raise. It’s good to see a company thriving in these difficult times, and hopefully Bono and the Edge have found what they’re looking for. We make no apologies.

The Nightcap: 7 January

We’ve all got our own methods, but let’s face it – none of them truly work

Hangover cures don’t work, say scientists 

On New Year’s Day, did you rub your aching head and reach for the ginseng? If so, we have bad news. According to the scientific journal Addiction (reported in UPI), there’s no evidence that so-called ‘hangover cures’ have any effect. Dr. Emmert Roberts and his team at King’s College London published a study based on over 20 trials of various products containing red ginseng, artichoke extract, prickly pear, and other popular hangover remedies. The doc commented: “Our study has found that evidence on these hangover remedies is of very low quality and there is a need to provide more rigorous assessment.” He continued: “For now, the surest way of preventing hangover symptoms is to abstain from alcohol or drink in moderation.” However, the study did not contain data on the effects of common painkillers like aspirin nor on that old standby, a can of ice-cold full fat Coca-Cola and a bacon sandwich. More research needed, we think.

The Nightcap: 7 January

Lithuanian rum, now very popular in Taiwan

Taiwan buys 20,000 bottles of Lithuania rum destined for China

Taiwan is sharing tips with the public on how to drink and cook with rum after it bought 20,400 bottles of Lithuanian rum bound for China. According to local media, Taiwan Tobacco and Liquor Corp (TTL) purchased the rum after learning that it could be blocked from entering China. It comes after Lithuania established a de facto embassy in Taiwan using the name ‘Taiwan’ rather than ‘Chinese Taipei’, the name preferred by the Chinese government (yes it’s a bit complicated, well worth reading this on the China-Taiwan relationship). In retaliation, China downgraded diplomatic relations with Lithuania days after. The state-owned TTL said it had been notified by Taiwan’s finance minister and head of the Taiwanese Representative Office of Lithuania (great job title mate) Eric Huang that a batch of rum could be up for grabs, as past shipments of beer had been blocked. Taiwan’s National Development Council later said in a post on Facebook that the rum “could not pass through Chinese customs” and has urged locals to buy rum at the end of January when the shipment would be on sale. Recipes that have been shared include ones for a Dark ‘n’ Stormy cocktail (classic), and rum-infused French toast (nice), steak (tell me more) and hot chocolate (all great ideas). Of course, we’ve got plenty of rum recipes ourselves if anyone wants any more inspiration. 

The Nightcap: 7 January

A Caribbean-infused Burns Night feast!

Dewar’s will deliver a Caribbean Burns Night feast 

Dewar’s has the perfect answer if you’re planning on celebrating Burns Night at home this year. The Scotch whisky brand has teamed up with creative consultant Mark Low, who also works with Mr Lyan Studio, and food delivery people All in a Box to deliver you a Burns Night supper with a twist. It’s not your standard haggis, neeps, and tatties fare, as it’s inspired by Dewar’s Caribbean Smooth so there’s a West Indian vibe about the whole thing. The box features haggis Scotch eggs, jerk chicken with neeps, tatties, and plantain mash, and an Irn-Bru-infused take on a Manhattan and a Cranachan-inspired Highball cocktail, all made with Caribbean Smooth, an eight-year-old Dewar’s finished in rum casks. It even comes with a special playlist, The Proclaimers covering Chaka Demus and Pliers, perhaps. Boxes cost £70 and you can order from 10 January (go here for more information) for an unforgettable Caribbean-infused Burns Night.

The Nightcap: 7 January

Drinks from the likes of Adnams, Big Drop and Lucky Saint are available

Alcohol-free off-licence comes to London

Can you imagine running down to the offie and finding out that they only have alcohol-free drinks? Surely a nightmare for some, but not for Laura Willoughby who is putting on a pop-up ‘off-license’ just off Regent Street in London with no alcoholic drinks whatsoever. Willoughby (MBE, no less) who runs Club Soda, an alcohol-free drinks site, commented: “More UK drinkers than ever are putting their health first by choosing low and no alcohol products. Substituting alcohol-free drinks for alcoholic ones is a tried-and-tested approach to cutting down or stopping drinking, and having good quality choices makes that easier.” Thankfully these days going without booze doesn’t mean going without flavour. There are over 70 brands on sale including Master of Malt favourites Everleaf and Lyre’s plus excellent zero and low ABV beers from Adnams, Big Drop, and Lucky Saint. So whether you’re doing Dry January, dry curious or just don’t drink alcohol, then head down to 59 Great Portland Street until 20 January. Deliciousness awaits. 

The Nightcap: 7 January

Your Dry January options have just increased

Bacardi releases non-alc spirit Palette

If you’re looking for non-alcoholic deliciousness, Bacardi may have the answer. It has collaborated with bartenders in Amsterdam on two spirit substitutes made with all natural flavours called Palette Roots and Palette Bold. Master of botanicals Alessandro Garneri and his team put cutting-edge technology and three different methods to good use to extract flavour. Of the two varieties, Roots is more your white spirit imitation, made with juniper berries, ginger, and the essential oils of nutmeg, cloves, and cinnamon, while Bold mimics an aged spirit using the likes of American oakwood and gentian root. At the moment it’s on-trade only, the brand will launch in bars and restaurants across London including Lyaness, L’Escargot, and Christopher’s. Suggested serves include the Pink Clove which combines Roots with grapefruit soda, lime juice, and tonic, finished with a grapefruit garnish, or Bold Rush, made with Bold, lemon juice, agave syrup, and mint. “We’re calling time on sweet, tasteless ‘mocktails’,” says Marine Rozenfeld, innovation development lead for Bacardi Europe, Australia & New Zealand. “With the launch of Palette coming hot on the heels of our new Martini Non-Alcoholic Aperitivo with its groundbreaking quality and taste, we are definitely taking mindful drinking to new heights.” Exciting stuff, and right in time for Dry January. That was probably deliberate.

The Nightcap: 7 January

One of the finest Highballs in London

Swift Soho shows off swanky new menu

Did you know that Swift Soho, the award-winning bar and home of the Irish Coffee I think about at least once a week, has just turned five years old? Well, it has, and to celebrate the news the bar has put together a brand new menu: Legends. Inspired by famous drinkers throughout history and their favourite tipples, including drinks industry icons such as Dick Bradsell and his daughter Bea, Peter Dorelli and Salvatore Calabrese, historic figures like Van Gogh and Hemingway, up to present-day celebrities including Snoop Dogg and Sir Ian McKellen. The menu includes 19 fun and elegant cocktails, with new innovations as well as some classic Swift serves, all illustrated by hospitality industry artist Dan Collins, who has drawn a portrait of each of the famous faces and their respective inspired cocktails. We had the opportunity to try a couple and, typically, Swift did not disappoint. There’s a smoky Highball made with Port Charlotte 10 Year Old called the Hummingbird that is so drinkable I’d like to install a tap of it in my flat, while the Pisco Sour-inspired Shanghaied is spectacular. Right now we desperately need to support the hospitality industry, so if you need an excuse we can think of worse ones than sampling the Legends menu. Now I really fancy an Irish Coffee…

The Nightcap: 7 January

Farewell, fellow whisky lovers

And finally… monks expelled for drinking whisky at New Year

Three Buddhist monks were caught boozing at a temple in Thailand on New Year’s Day, claiming they were only drinking whisky to “deliver” the alcohol to ancestors. Police from the Mueang Kamphaengphet District Office at a temple in Kamphaengphet found the senior monks were violating the rules of monkhood after breathalyser tests confirmed suspicions. Local residents who had heard the monks drinking and partying tipped them off and the odour of alcohol was, according to the officers, very strong in the area when they entered the temple. Monk Arpat was the one who confessed, reportedly telling officials, “We don’t usually drink, only in festivals. We were drinking local rice whisky from local residents who wanted to give the spirits to their ancestors as a blessing. So we drank this whisky in order to deliver alcohol to those dead people. We were doing a good thing by blessing their ancestors and thought this would not violate the rules of being a monk.” As excuses go, it’s more creative than anything I’ve ever come up with. Unfortunately, it didn’t wash with the authorities and all three monks were expelled from the monkhood for breaking one of the major rules of conduct for Buddhist Monks in Thailand. If you think they’re bad, just wait till you see the amount of sherry Irish nuns put away at Christmas. Igniting the pudding is a high-risk endeavour. 

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#BagThisBundle – win Dry January 2022 goodies!

Dry January 2022 doesn’t have to be boring. We’re here to bring some excitement with the first of a two-part competition…  Are you one of the millions of people across…

Dry January 2022 doesn’t have to be boring. We’re here to bring some excitement with the first of a two-part competition… 

Are you one of the millions of people across the world who has taken the vow to shun alcohol for January following weeks of festive overindulgence? Of course you are, that’s why you’re here. That or morbid curiosity. For the former, we’d here to remind you that choosing to take part in a month of no or reduced drinking doesn’t mean ordering a Diet Coke and playing with your car keys while everyone else has fun.

Especially given that every year even more fantastic low-and-no alcoholic options are launched to provide you with options and not compromises. There’s no excuse not to drink well while drinking less. And also to not go out and support your local hospitality business. Remember how hard they’ve had it the last couple of years. Don’t let them down now.

To help you on your path to low-and-no excellence, we’ve given you the opportunity to get your hands on some terrific bottles. Even more excitingly, this is just part one. In total, our Dry January competition will run for two weeks but the prize is going to be different from week one to week two. So, be sure to keep an eye out for even more amazing prizes in the future. To kick us off, we’ve got the perfect Dry January cocktail kit featuring Atopia Citrus!

Atopia Bundle competitionIn full, here’s what is up for grabs:

And all you have to do to enter is the following:

  • Follow @masterofmalt Instagram account.
  • Like this post!
  • Tag a friend you’d like to share the bundle with on our competition post.

Just successfully complete those steps and your ‘new year, new me’ bundle could soon be en route. Exciting times.

MoM ‘Dry January Bag This Bundle’ Competition 2022 open to entrants 18 years and over. Entries accepted from 12:00:00 GMT on 4 January to 17:00:00 GMT on 9 January 2022. 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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Burns Night Poetry Competition 2022 – win Glengoyne 21 Year Old!

Are you a secret poet? Do you know it? Well, hide your light under a bushel no longer because it’s time for our Burns Night Poetry Competition 2022. You could…

Are you a secret poet? Do you know it? Well, hide your light under a bushel no longer because it’s time for our Burns Night Poetry Competition 2022. You could win a bottle of Glengoyne 21 Year Old. Runners up will receive Darkness Islay 12 Year Old and a Regions of Scotland whisky tasting set, or an Aerolite Lyndsay 10 Year Old Islay single malt.

You know those moments in meetings when the sensible people run out of things to say? That’s normally the opportunity for the others to propose outlandish ideas which will be tactfully shot down or crack jokes that nobody quite gets. Well, that’s how our Burns Night Poetry Competition started back in 2019. There was a lull in a meeting to discuss how we should cover Burns Night, a big event in the whisky calendar, somebody said ‘poetry competition’, and much to everyone’s surprise, we went ahead and did it.

Even more surprising is how successful it’s been. Every year we get dozens of entries, and, though some of them are awful – rhyming ‘whisky’ with ‘frisky’ is a giveaway – there’s always some that show real talent. Just take a look at the winning entries from 2019,  2020, and 2021.

Burns Night Poetry Competition 2022

Prizes for poetry, but only if you wow us…

Enter our Burns Night Poetry Competition 2022

This year we’ve upgraded the prizes so we’re expecting an even higher standard than previous years. The winner will receive a bottle of  Glengoyne 21 year old single malt worth over £140. The second place prize is a bottle of Islay 12 Year Old Oloroso Cask Finish (Darkness) and a Regions of Scotland Whisky Tasting Set. And there’s a very nice bottle for the third-place entry, a bottle of Aerolite Lyndsay 10 Year Old – The Character of Islay Whisky Company

Some tasty whiskies there. All you have to do is write a poem in either English or Scots of 25 lines or less. No epics, please. Apart from those rules, you can do what you like: write in blank verse, use iambic pentameters, or come up with something totally experimental. Again, just don’t rhyme ‘whisky’ with ‘frisky.’ 

To get you in the mood, here’s a little something from the Bard himself, Robbie Burns:

‘My heart’s in the Highlands, my heart is not here;
My heart’s in the Highlands, a-chasing the deer;
A-chasing the wild-deer and following the roe,
My heart’s in the Highlands, wherever I go.’

Stirring stuff!

The 2021 MoM Burns Night poetry competition is open to entrants 18 years and over with postage to UK addresses only. Entries accepted from 12:00 GMT on 3 January to 12:00 GMT 17 January 2022. Full T&Cs are below, but to enter simply email us at [email protected], or comment on Facebook, Instagram, or below with your poem by 17 January. The winner will be announced on Burns Night, Tuesday 25 January.

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Our favourite blog posts of 2021

We published over 500 features on the MoM blog this year. Among such excellence, it’s hard to pick out some highlights but nonetheless, here are our top ten favourite blog…

We published over 500 features on the MoM blog this year. Among such excellence, it’s hard to pick out some highlights but nonetheless, here are our top ten favourite blog posts of 2021.

As 2021 wraps up this week we, like a lot of people, are finding we’re looking back on the year. And we like to think it’s been another cracking year for our little blog, where some big news was broken, some fascinating insight was provided and lots of fun was had. We also got to enjoy stellar contributions from the likes of Millie Milliken, Annie Hayes, Ian Buxton, Lucy Britner, Lauren Eads, and Dr. Nick Morgan.

So now we’re going to pick out some of our favourites from last year. It’s not easy to narrow down the highlights to just 10 but we gave it a good shot. We’re deliberately not including anything that will appear in our upcoming most-read list, because we wanted to shine a light on a couple of features that might have gone under the radar too.

1. Where are the older people in whisky advertising? – Henry Jeffreys

Are the marketing departments in whisky firms in denial that people over 40 exist?. Here Henry explores the idea that, while whisky is so keen to attract a new crowd, it runs a risk of forgetting older people and taking them for granted. It’s an opinion-led piece that features contributions from industry experts and doesn’t pull any punches.

2. Chill-filtration: what is all the fuss about? – Adam O’Connell

If you’re a bit of a whisky nerd (no judgement, you’re our people), you’ll know how controversial chill-filtration is. It’s as if the conversation is a bit cloudy… That’s why Adam did a little filtering of his own, exploring what the process is, why it’s such a hot button issue for whisky fans, and asking if it’s really worth the fuss. 

3. The inside scoop on pairing whisky and ice cream – Millie Milliken  

Did you know that whisky and ice cream make for wonderful bedfellows? Well, they do, and with the rise of artisanal ice cream and a slew of excellent whisky launches there’s never been a better time to pair the two together. Here Millie is on sparkling form, full of advice and recommendations in a feature so good that Cocktails in the City actually asked her to do a presentation on the subject at this year’s event. 

favourite blogs of 2021

Anyone for whisky and ice cream?

4. Does very old whisky taste better? – Ian Buxton

The older the whisky is, the better it is. Right? Well, no, not necessarily. In this piece, Ian Buxton explains why age doesn’t necessarily mean excellence, reasoning that a fair number of the most pricey and prestigious are for display not drinking. Given Buxton has tried it all, you can be sure he knows how often the most swanky are over the hill.  

5. Is the living room the new tasting room? – Lucy Britner

For the drinks industry, as with almost everywhere else, virtual became the new reality in the last couple of years. But will it last? Lucy Britner explores this idea in a feature that gets stuck into one of the most significant recent trends, reporting from a virtual event featuring some of the industry’s leading voices. If you want to know what the future holds, this is worth a read..

6. Why are some whiskies so expensive? – Lauren Eads

You may have noticed that there’s no shortage of fancy whiskies these days and that the price tags are becoming increasingly obscene. But how can a bottle of booze possibly cost as much as a deposit on a house? Lauren Eads takes a closer look, analysing the impact of the secondary market, novelty, and uniqueness and how they dictate price and collectability, and if a bottle is overpriced.

favourite blogs of 2021

How can a bottle of whisky sell for £1.5m? Find out on our blog.

7. Ice ice baby – why ice is the vital element in your drink – Jess Williamson

Why should you care about ice? Because it’s a crucial component of a great cocktail and not all of it is created equal. Jess has spent more time this year doing outstanding work over on the Pour & Sip blog but she still found time to stop by and break down the significance of this seemingly innocuous element. Turns out ice isn’t just important, but interesting too.

8. Waterford Cuvée and the future of whisky – Henry Jeffreys

In an era where terroir, provenance, and identity are more important to drinks brands than ever, the question of what makes a country’s whisky unique and how we define when a whisky is truly connected to where it’s made is a pressing one. Good thing Henry takes it head-on, not shying away from the big questions after a tasting of Waterford Cuvée, asking how its unique composition could change how we look at premium whisky forever. 

9. Fettercairn Distillery is finally telling its own story – Adam O’Connell

There’s nothing worse than people not giving great whisky a chance. It’s not always been the most popular or admired distillery, but the Fettercairn fightback is well and truly on, with owners Whyte & Mackay gradually rebuilding its ailing reputation and putting a lot of time and effort into ensuring it creates great spirit and tells its interesting story better. That’s why Adam wanted to hear it for himself. If you love a good comeback tale, this is for you.

favourite blogs of 2021

The Aviation has a signature pale purple-blue hue

10. Cocktail of the Week: The Aviation – Annie Hayes

2021 was sadly the year that the wonderful Annie Hayes moved onto pastures new after four years of writing for our blog, but she signed off in classic style with some great stories, including one of the standout entries in our Cocktail of the Week series. This pre-Prohibition classic is a simple and rewarding serve with an interesting history that Annie tells here.

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Explore new whiskies this year… and next

If you’re stuck in a whisky rut, we’ve got some unusual, off-beat and under the radar recommendations to give your palate a workout. Let’s explore new whiskies in 2022! When…

If you’re stuck in a whisky rut, we’ve got some unusual, off-beat and under the radar recommendations to give your palate a workout. Let’s explore new whiskies in 2022!

When shopping for clothes, it can be very easy to rely on old favourites. This is why I have a cupboard full of almost identical blue shirts with button-down collars. It’s the same with whisky. The choice available at Master of Malt can be overwhelming even to those of us who work here. It’s very easy when buying for ourselves or recommending bottles to friends and customers to go for old favourites like Glenmorangie 10, Lagavulin 16, or Johnnie Walker Black Label.

So, we’ve rounded up some excellent bottlings which aren’t quite so well-known. There’s offerings from non-traditional whisky countries, underrated Scotch whiskies distilleries, lesser-known expressions from some of the big boys, an unusual blend, and a single grain whisky that’s really a malt.

Go on, try something different this year, and next.

Explore new whiskies this year

jura-the-loch-whisky

Jura The Loch

Poor old Jura. While Islay gets all the attention from whisky lovers, it’s near Hebrides neighbour is often overlooked. This is a shame as if you love sweet sherry and smoke, then you’ll love Jura The Loch. It was initially matured in American oak casks before being finished in casks that previously held 30 year old Pedro Ximénez sherry, and bottled at 44.5% ABV. Originally this was travel retail only, but we’ve managed to snaffle some. 

What does it taste like?

Smells like rich oak and milky coffee, with a burst of juicy raisin sweetness. In the mouth, there’s thick caramel and treacle, balanced by a hint of peat smoke.

the-cardrona-growing-wings-solera-sherry-and-bourbon-cask-whisky

Cardrona Growing Wings Solera – Sherry & Bourbon Cask

Last week Adam was raving about the quality of the whisky coming out of this New Zealand distillery. Now you can see what all the fuss is about with this 35cl bottle. Part of the Growing Wings collection by Cardrona Distillery, it was matured for five years in a combination of Oloroso sherry and bourbon casks and bottled at 65.6% ABV.

What does it taste like?

It’s packed with heaps of glorious syrupy fruit and nut character from the sherry butt, balanced by creamy bourbon oak vanilla.

tobermory-12-year-old-whisky

Tobermory 12 Year Old

We love the orchard fruit-laden flavour profile from this Isle of Mull distillery and think it deserves to be better known. We’ve been lucky enough to try some older releases this year from Tobermory and have been knocked out by the quality. But this 12 year old aged in American oak and bottled at 46.3% ABV is pretty special. We think it’s one of the great bargains of the whisky world. 

What does it taste like?

Pear, peach and apple, with a dusting of brown sugar. Greek yoghurt, barley and a hint of cinnamon pastries.

loch-lomond-peated-single-grain-whisky

Loch Lomond Peated Single Grain

Due to SWA regulations, this has to be labelled as a single grain but it’s actually made from 100% malted barley. So what the hell is going on? Well, the crazy cats at Loch Lomond used a Coffey still instead of pot stills so it can’t be called a single malt. Following this unusual distillation method, it was aged in first-fill and refill American oak ex-bourbon casks to produce one of the most idiosyncratic malts on the market.

What does it taste like?

Berry jam, orchard fruit, oaky vanilla, and a dusting of baking spices and liquorice, with a layer of fragrant smoke underneath it all.

compass-box-glasgow-blend-single-marrying-cask-pour-and-sip-whisky

Compass Box Glasgow Blend – Single Marrying Cask (Pour & Sip Exclusive)

Compass Box bottled a limited edition of its Glasgow Blend Single Marrying Cask just for Pour & Sip subscribers (so sign up here). It brings together malt whisky from Craigellachie and grain whisky from Cameronbridge, alongside Clynelish and Laphroaig, as well as a Highland malt blend. The blend was married in an ex-Clynelish cask for 15 months before being bottled at 49% ABV. If you think blends are all about big brands, well think again.

What does it taste like?

On the nose you’ll find peach and plum, polished oak, Crunchie bars, waxy citrus peels, with caramelised nuts, coconut ice, a smidge of snuffed-out candle, crisp red apple on the palate.

glenfiddich-grand-cru-23-year-old-whisky

Glenfiddich Grand Cru 23 Year Old

And finally, let’s go beyond the classic 12 Year Old or, our favourite, the 15 Year Old Solera, and explore the upper echelons of the Glenfiddich range like the Grand Cru 23 Year Old. This single malt initially ages in American and European oak casks, before being moved over to rare French cuvée oak casks – which previously held a seriously fancy wine. 

What does it taste like?

Melted butter on rye toast, sandalwood, peach, soft peppery hints drifts in later on, with just a pinch of mint.

If you’re looking to expand explore new whiskies, you should sign up with our whisky subscriptions service Pour & Sip. It’s offering a tasting pack containing the Cardrona Growing Wings Solera Sherry & Bourbon Cask, an exclusive bottling of Compass Box Marrying Cask, Tobermory 12 Year Old, Jura The Loch, and Loch Lomond Peated Single Grain. Click here for more details.

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Top ten red and white wines for Christmas. 

Whatever you’re having to eat over Christmas, we’ve got a great selection of wines to make your festivities go with a swing. Here are our top ten red and white…

Whatever you’re having to eat over Christmas, we’ve got a great selection of wines to make your festivities go with a swing. Here are our top ten red and white wines for Christmas. 

At Master of Malt, we’re not just masters of malt, we’re masters of wine too. Not officially, that would mean years of study and taking exams, but we do stock an excellent range from around the world.

Whatever you’re having, whether it’s traditional turkey, roast beef, smoked salmon, some sort of exotic vegetarian concoction, or all of the above, we’ve got a wine for you. And for when the cheese comes out, here is a selection of Ports which you can’t go wrong with. Oh, and at the time of writing, you can still order now and receive your goods before Christmas.

Right, without further ado, here are our top ten red and white wines for Christmas. 

Red wines for Christmas

jean-louis-chave-cotes-du-rhone-mon-coeur-2018-wine

Côtes-Du-Rhône Mon Coeur Jean-Louis Chave 2018

Monsieur Chave makes some of the best and most expensive wines in the northern Rhone. If you’re feeling flush, try his Hermitage. But he also makes a more affordable range under the JL Chave Selection label. A blend of Grenache, Shiraz and Mourvedre, this is consistently one of the best Cotes du Rhones on the market.

What does it taste like?

Raspberry and blueberry leading into floral violet, liquorice and white pepper, with touches of baked earth. Try this with baked ham, you won’t be disappointed. 

coteaux-du-lyonnais-traboules-2017-wine

Côteaux du Lyonnais Traboules 2017

Here’s a lovely light Boxing Day sort of wine. It’s made from the grape of Beaujolais, Gamay Noir, but grown in the Côteaux du Lyonnais region which as its name suggests is rather near the city of Lyon at the top of the Rhone valley. This is perhaps the ultimate wine to eat with leftovers.

What does it taste like?

It’s all floral and fruity with blueberries, raspberries, liquorice and a slatey refreshing edge. It’s one of those reds that tastes delicious lightly chilled. 

niepoort-dao-rotulo-2016-wine

Niepoort Dão Rótulo 2016

The Dão region has been called the Burgundy of Portugal making joyful perfumed wines at a very good price. Niepoort is best known for its Ports but it makes wine all over Portugal as well as in Austria, for some reason. A blend of native grapes, Touriga Nacional, Jaen, Tinta Pinheira and Alfrocheiro, this Dão is delightful now but will age for many years.

What does it taste like?

Pungent floral nose with dark fruit, rosemary, fennel, and a little tannic bite. It makes a great affordable Burgundy alternative to drink on Christmas Day.

badenhorst-family-secateurs-red-2018-wine

Badenhorst Family Secateurs Red 2018

This is made in Swartland, an area of the Cape that was almost unknown ten years ago but now makes some of South Africa’s finest wines. It’s a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Carignan, Cinsault and Grenache made from very old wines. With three years age, it has developed some real complexity but still with plenty of fresh fruit.

What does it taste like?

Blackberries and blackcurrants with lavender-like floral notes, a refreshing edge and a little nutty roundness on the finish. Perfect with turkey and all the trimmings.

yeringberg-shiraz-2016-wine

Yeringberg Shiraz 2016

Incredible Australia Shiraz from the Yeringberg winery in the Yarra Valley near Melbourne. This region has long been the destination for wine lovers looking for elegance. It gets pretty cool down there compared with other famed Shiraz-growing regions so the wines tend to be lighter but with no shortage of good old Aussie fruit.  Treat yourself. 

What does it taste like?

Redcurrant and cherry, followed by delicate florals and forest floor, a whiff of dry smoke leading to clove and cinnamon. A perfect roast rib of beef wine.

White wines for Christmas

eekhoring-white-blend-2018-wine

Eekhoring White Blend 2018

This is what’s known as a Cape blend, a uniquely South African mixture of grapes, usually with Chenin Blanc in the majority. Eekhoring White Blend is harvested from old vines and the grapes are fermented in a mixture of stainless steel and old oak barrels. It offers a lot of complexity for the money.

What does it taste like?

Apple blossom, lime citrus and waxy hints, with under-ripe peach appearing on a dry finish. Good with rich vegetable dishes like ratatouille. 

reichsrat-von-buhl-bone-dry-riesling-2019-wine

Reichsrat von Buhl Bone Dry Riesling 2019

As you can probably deduce from the name, there is not an ounce of sugar in this wine, so if you think all German wines are sweet, then think again. This is from one of the country’s top estates in the Rhineland and it’s absolutely bursting with lively fruity deliciousness.  It’s the perfect pick-me-up.

What does it taste like?

Masses of citrus, think grapefruit, lemon and nectarine with a savoury smoky edge. We’re thinking smoked salmon on Christmas morning. 

joseph-drouhin-saint-veran-2018-wine

Joseph Drouhin Saint-Véran 2018 

Joseph Drouhin sourced Chardonnay grapes from the limestone soils of the Saint-Véran appellation in Burgundy for this 2018 vintage! The wine rested in stainless steel for around eight months so it’s crisp and citrusy, and delicious with fish and white meats.

What does it taste like?

Ripe green apple and crisp citrus, with a flinty undertone. If you’re having fish pie on Christmas Eve, then look no further. 

cantina-terlan-winkl-sauvignon-blanc-2019-wine

Cantina Terlan Winkl Sauvignon Blanc 2019

Here’s something you don’t see every day, a Sauvignon Blanc from Italy. This is made in the Sud Tyrol in the far north of the country. It spends 12 months in large oak barrels at the winery before bottling.  

How does it taste?

Zingy fresh with elderflower, peach, limes, peaches and aromatic fresh mint. This would be delicious with a rich goat’s cheese tart.

chapel-down-kits-coty-chardonnay-2018-wine

Chapel Down Kit’s Coty Chardonnay 2018

English Chardonnay just keeps getting better and better, and this is probably the best of the bunch. This is now the sixth vintage of Chapel Down’s premium single vintage Chardonnay. The grapes ferment using wild yeasts, before ageing in old oak which imparts a subtle nuttiness to the wine.

What does it taste like?

Baked apples and orchard fruit, buttery almond, soft oak, crisp pear, and fresh apple peels. If you like white wine with your turkey, then look no further.

millton-te-arai-chenin-blanc-2017-wine

Millton Te Arai Chenin Blanc 2017 

Most people associate Chenin Blanc with the Loire or its adopted home in South Africa, but there are some pretty tasty examples coming out of New Zealand these days. This comes from Te Arai, a coastal vineyard, and made from a mixture of organic and biodynamic grapes, and aged in a mixture of large oak barrels and stainless steel. 

What does it taste like?

Baked apples and orchard fruit, buttery almond, soft oak, crisp pear, and fresh apple peels. Give it a go with some soft cheeses.

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Whisky Advent 2021 Days 18, 19, 20 and 21

We’re on the home stretch, everyone. There’s just one more Drinks by the Dram Whisky Advent Calendar blog to come after this, so let’s enjoy the festive spirit while we…

We’re on the home stretch, everyone. There’s just one more Drinks by the Dram Whisky Advent Calendar blog to come after this, so let’s enjoy the festive spirit while we can!

We’re so close to Christmas! It’s time to start wrapping the presents, assembling the cheeseboard, and peeling sprouts. You might be a little sick of Christmas music by now but here at MoM Towers, we can’t get enough to be honest. As long as nobody plays Dominic the Donkey. I’m deadly serious. If I hear that “hee-haw, hee-haw”, somebody is getting a stocking to the face.

One thing nobody will have any disagreements over is how good days 18, 19, 20, and 21 in your Drinks by the Dram Whisky Advent Calendar have been. There’s some classic names and new favourites to enjoy, in a selection that particularly lends itself to mixing. Who wants a Christmas cocktail? 

Whisky Advent 2021 Days

Day 18: Monkey Shoulder

William Grant’s classic blend that changed everything, prompting a generation of bartenders to start mixing whisky again with the confidence that this creamy, supple and very malty Scotch made only with single malt whisky wouldn’t let them down. Try it neat or in a variety of cocktails. You can’t go wrong.

What does it taste like?

Berry fruit, juicy toasted barley, cloves, butterscotch, manuka honey, hot-buttered-toast, and dried apricot develop.

Whisky Advent 2021 Days

Day 19: The Glenrothes 12 Year Old – Soleo Collection

This range takes its name from the process of sun-drying grapes in Jerez for sherry production, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that sherried deliciousness is a focus here. A perfect introduction to all things that make Glenrothes fantastic, this 12-year-old single malt is a smooth, creamy, and beautifully balanced treat.

What does it taste like?

Creamy hazelnut, dried fruit chocolate, old leather, dried herbs, cinnamon, honeyed oak, and Galia melon.

Whisky Advent 2021 Days

Day 20: Talisker Port Ruighe

Pronounced ‘Port Ree’, this no age statement release from the always popular Talisker is finished in Port wine casks, which imparts a new dimension of rich, fruity goodness to this salty, slick, and smoky Isle of Skye single malt.

What does it taste like?

A thick, oily mouthfeel carries notes of wood smoke, sea salt, brine, and orange peel as well as additional characteristics from the Port casks such as plum and chocolate.

Whisky Advent 2021 Days

Day 21: Stauning Rye

Made from a combination of local rye and barley and matured in new American oak barrels before it was bottled without chill-filtration at 48% ABV, this Danish delight is different from other ryes you’ll taste. The spicy, dusty American profile makes way in a fruity, rich, and mellow sipper that’s full of the nutty, orchard fruit-heavy distillery character we love.

What does it taste like?

Buttery, creamy, and full-bodied with marmalade, cinder toffee, floral honey, freshly baked rye bread, salted popcorn, peanut butter, stewed apples, cherry, lemon peel and a rich, aromatic note of stem ginger.

Whisky Advent 2021 Days

How to make a Sazerac with Stauning Rye

The Sazerac. A genuine classic: strong, smooth, superb. It’s also a very simple drink that people love to overcomplicate. This is a cracking little recipe that allows you to get the full benefit of the absinthe without waste or leave stirring a sugar cube into whisky all day. You can substitute Stauning Rye for a different rye whisky if you prefer, but do use Peychaud’s Bitters, there’s really no replacing it.

30ml Stauning Rye or any rye whisky you fancy
3ml sugar syrup
1 dash Peychaud’s Bitters
A dash of absinthe

Pop your ingredients in a tasting glass and give them a swirl before tasting for sweetness. Sling in a handful of ice, and give the drink a quick stir. Grab your serving glass and roll a glug of absinthe before tipping it back into the bottle (no need to waste it if your glass is clean. You can also just drink it) and then strain your well-chilled, well-diluted cocktail into the glass. Finish off by expressing a fresh lemon twist over it and serve.

That’s it for now. Your final Advent update will be on 24 December. See you then!

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The Nightcap: 17 December

It’s the final Nightcap of the year and we’re signing off with an absolute cracker thanks to stories on new whisky from The Balvenie, a Port ‘speakeasy’, and the best…

It’s the final Nightcap of the year and we’re signing off with an absolute cracker thanks to stories on new whisky from The Balvenie, a Port ‘speakeasy’, and the best home bar we’ve ever seen…

Well folks, that’s it for another year. As next week is Christmas Eve (ahhh) and the week after that is New Year’s Eve (ahhhhhh) we’re afraid this is the final Nightcap of 2021. It’s been an absolute pleasure to spend the last 12 months bringing you the best of boozy news every week and we’ll be back in 2022. In the meantime, please enjoy the last Nightcap of the year, preferably with a dram of something delicious in your hand. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you all.

Just because it’s the most wonderful time of the year, that doesn’t mean we’ve slacked off from writing to eat mince pies. There was plenty of goings-on in the world of MoM this week, including a new competition with Atom Labs, a feature from Millie on how agave spirits can be sustainable, and a superbly seasonal Cocktail of the Week. There was also the usual delights of Super Wishes, Advent calendar revelations (twice!), and plenty of delicious whisky, including ten of our favourites by flavour and a new Fettercairn release. We didn’t forget about the festive fizz either, and even managed to squeeze in some time with the wonderful Louise McGuane from J.J Corry and Dr. Jim Beveridge of Johnnie Walker fame.

Phew! Lot’s to enjoy. But there’s more to come. Onto The Nightcap: 17 December edition!

The Nightcap: 17 December

Jay Bradley, co-founder of Whiskey & Wealth Club Limited

Texas authorities investigate whisky investment scheme 

We’ve run a lot on the blog recently about the dangers of whisky investment schemes making outlandish promises. Now, it looks like authorities are taking an interest. The Texas State Securities Board recently announced “an emergency cease and desist order to stop an illegal international whiskey investment scheme.” The scheme in question is the Whiskey & Wealth Club Limited, a business headed up by Jay Bradley with offices in London and Dublin. “We’re alleging that Whiskey & Wealth Club is touting its success in profiting from sales of casks of whiskey that are at least three, five or ten years old,” said Joe Rotunda, TSSB enforcement director. “That’s misleading. The company has not even been incorporated for three years.” And as the TSSB noted, its accounts with Companies House are overdue. Rotunda and team also claim that Whiskey & Wealth Club is deceiving customers in other ways including refusing to show investors the contract until a deposit has been received. It will be interesting to see how this plays out and whether authorities in Britain or Ireland will get involved. Meanwhile, if you’re thinking of investing in whisky, read Ian Buxton’s guide to avoiding scams

The Nightcap: 17 December

A great whisky to end a great series

The Balvenie concludes Tun 1509 series with Batch 8

The Balvenie has launched the eighth and final bottling in the distinguished and much loved Tun 1509 series. The creatively-titled The Balvenie Tun 1509 Batch 8 demonstrates the expertise of malt master David C. Stewart MBE brings to the table in the blending of rare aged stocks. This latest releases is a combination of 18 whiskies from the distillery stocks, married together in the Tun, a large oak marrying vessel that sits proudly in Warehouse 24, which gives the series its name. The liquid is left to marry for three months after a long maturation in ex-bourbon barrels, second-fill sherry butts, refill puncheons and new sherry butts before being bottled without any filtration. “The Tun 1509 series draws to its completion with Batch 8. This Batch is a remarkable marriage of casks which result in a deep and rich Balvenie,” Stewart commented, “To taste we have a rich toffee sweetness, buttery vanilla and a swirl of the house honey style – layering to candied ginger and aromatic spices” Sounds delicious, so good thing we’ve got some.

The Nightcap: 17 December

The architect’s impression of The Cabrach Distillery

Cabrach Trust whisky distillery gets £3.5m funding 

The Cabrach Trust has moved one step closer to building a Scotch whisky distillery in Moray after securing a multi-million-pound investment. The distillery and heritage centre first received planning permission in September 2017 and work was due to begin work on the site in 2018 after securing £310,000 in funding, but those efforts have been boosted by a further £3.5m investment and construction is now expected to start in February 2022. Funding has come from the The Ethos Foundation, the William Grant Foundation and the Vattenfall Clashindarroch Wind Farm Community Fund, while distilling equipment provider Forsyths is also one of the project’s backers and the Bently Foundation gave a significant grant to the scheme in 2021. The site, which is due to be operational by spring 2023, is in the Cabrach area which is said to be one of the birthplaces of the Scotch whisky industry and famed for illicit stills and smuggling. The Cabrach Trust aims to regenerate the area as a sustainable community, restoring a 19th-century steading at the trust’s Inverharroch base and incorporating a renewable energy source. The distillery and traditional dunnage warehouse will occupy two wings of the steading, with the additional two wings used for the heritage centre, community bistro, tasting room and visitor reception. Intriguingly, the trust has also revealed the distillery will use ‘historic methods’ that reflect the production of malt whisky from the 1800s. We can’t wait to see what they make.

The Nightcap: 17 December

Take a journey through the history of the Martini at Henson’s

Henson’s in Soho offers ‘Flights of Fancy’ cocktail menu

Top Soho nightspot Henson’s at the Mimi’s Hotel has a new cocktail menu! It is divided into five sections including Forgotten Classics, Icons Reinvented, and Classico Italiano. There’s even a No-Alcohol section for those doing Dry January, or who just fancy a break from the hard stuff. Bar manager Francesco Delfino commented: “We can’t wait to re-introduce a selection of classic cocktails to our customers old and new. We have always prided ourselves on serving the heroes of modern cocktail culture, with a strong focus on Italian serves and feel this is one of our strongest menus to date.” We, however, were particularly taken with the fifth section, called Flights of Fancy, which features three mini cocktails for £12. The Martini flight, for example, “takes drinkers on a journey from the first documented ‘Marguerite’, an early days Martini, in 1888, through to the first two parts London Dry to one part dry vermouth created in 1906.” So even if you can’t fly, you can still take a flight.

The Nightcap: 17 December

They’re bringing Porto to Marylebone this Christmas.

Port ‘speakeasy’ opens in London

The first of two speakeasy stories this week, we received word that the ‘Rebel Port Club’, a collaboration between Port giants Symington Family Estates and the Chiltern Street Deli in Marylebone, is opening. Sounds edgy! Rob Symington explained the idea behind it: “Port used to have some colourful associations, which were rooted in how and where it was traditionally drunk – particularly in private members’ clubs. Rebel Port Club takes this association and flips it on its head. Our objective is to create a cosy, welcoming and informal space where people can discover the full range of Port styles (ruby, tawny, and white) in both classic serves as well as some more rebellious cocktails. With the rise of UK visitors to Porto, we are seeing a new wave of excitement for Port, as people learn more about the category and return home eager to replicate the serves and pairings from their holidays. We are excited to bring a bit of Portugal to London this Christmas season.” The pop-up will be open on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays until 24 December from 5-8.30pm, and then recommence in January. Tickets cost £25 and consist of two Port cocktails, and a glass of vintage and tawny, plus charcuterie, cheese and pastel de nata. So even if it’s not particularly rebellious, it does sound pretty tasty.

The Nightcap: 17 December

Kentucky has been devastated by this tornado

Jim Beam gives $1m to help Kentucky tornado victims

Beam Suntory has made a big pledge recently to provide assistance following the tornado that hit western Kentucky last week, killing more than 80 people. The whiskey giant has responded by donating US$1 million to support organisations providing aid to those affected by the disaster. The donation is spread between the state’s Team Western Kentucky Tornado Relief Fund, which has been established by governor Andy Beshear, and the American Red Cross’ disaster relief fund. Meanwhile, Beam Suntory is also matching personal donations by its US workers to relief organisations and donating single-barrel bourbons from Maker’s Mark and Knob Creek to a charity auction organised by the Kentucky Distillers’ Association (KDA). “While our facilities and teams were spared the worst of this catastrophe, we stand with our neighbours and offer this support on behalf of the more than 1,200 people of Beam Suntory in Kentucky,”  Beam Suntory CEO Albert Baladi says. It’s a great gesture and we hope it has the desired impact for the people of Kentucky.

The Nightcap: 17 December

We heartily recommend you pay them a visit

Karakana opens in Brixton offering fine Indian cuisine and  cocktails 

Ever wanted your London cocktails offerings to contain a little Indian innovation? Well, that’s exactly what you can get at Brixton’s Karakana, a restaurant that opened this month. Styled as an Indian diner and bar, the concept came from Pat and Elly Foster of Satay Bar, Market House and Nanba bar fame, and MasterChef champion Tim Anderson. General manager and 20-year industry veteran Harry Rustan has made a simple but sublime selection of drinks such as The Karakana, a mix of vodka, amaretto, lassi, mango puree and crushed pistachios, the Pina Co-Lassi, which combines rum, coconut cream, lassi and pineapple juice and garnished with a pineapple slice, as well as a Tamarind Whisky Sour which combines whisky, sugar syrup, tamarind and lime juice with an orange and cherry garnish. Co-founders of Brixton Brewery Jez Galaun and Mike Ross even brewed a spiced wheat beer especially for the restaurant. Head chef Khilesh Anand, formerly of the Cinnamon Club, made a menu consisting of tapas-style small plates like lotus blossom onion bhajis and cheese and potato samosas as well as hearty curries and innovative tandoori dishes to life. So if you fancy sipping on creative Indian serves while wolfing down lamb chops, pork ribs and even currywurst, then you know where to head.

The Nightcap: 17 December

@theresapizzaaa wins our vote for best home bar

And finally… woman reveals speakeasy bar behind kitchen cabinet

We’ve heard of a home bar but the set-up one woman can boast in her house is another thing entirely. TikTok user @theresapizzaaa has caused a stir by revealing a huge speakeasy bar hidden underneath her kitchen, with a door sneakily hidden behind a cupboard in the kitchen island. The astonishing underground speakeasy is the same size as her house and boasts racks of wine at the bottom of the staircase, a private cinema room, an old telephone box and fully-stocked bar area. There’s a live band playing in the bar for good measure. @theresapizzaaa actually first posted the footage back in May, but a recent trend to share your ‘most viral’ of the year on the app has led to renewed interest. The original video has racked over 35 million views, while the reposted version is already well over five and a half million views. We’re very happy to verify its awesomeness in person, if @theresapizzaaa fancies sending an invitation our way…

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Top ten whiskies by flavour

At a loss for which whisky to buy this Christmas? We’ve handily grouped some of our favourite drams by their taste profile. Here are our top ten whiskies by flavour….

At a loss for which whisky to buy this Christmas? We’ve handily grouped some of our favourite drams by their taste profile. Here are our top ten whiskies by flavour.

Even for whisky experts, it can be hard to know what you’re going to get when you open a bottle. To help customers, there is a trend in bars like The Fife Arms that Adam visited recently to group bottles by flavour rather than region. So in the spirit of a modern whisky bar, we’ve come up with five flavour profiles to help you on your journey. They are:

Floral – lavender, honey, citrus blossom and herbaceous flavours.

Fruity – such as peach, apple or pineapple.

Sherried – classic sweet Oloroso and PX flavours like raisins, orange peel, nuts and dates.

Smoky – peated whiskies with all the different flavours you get here like bonfire, coal smoke, TCP etc.

Sweet – think butterscotch, toffee, vanilla and caramel, lots of American oak character.

Now, of course, your whisky may well be fruity and floral, or sherried and smoky, or even fruity, floral, sherried, smoky and sweet. In which case, we’ve picked the predominant flavour. We admit it’s not a perfect system but it is helpful

So without further ado, here are our favourite whiskies by flavour from Scotland, Ireland and beyond.

Floral

highland-park-12-year-old-viking-honour-whisky

Highland Park 12 Year Old – Viking Honour

Once just known as Highland Park 12 Year Old, now it’s called Viking Honour. Fearsome! The whisky, happily, is the same as it ever was with that classic honey, floral and wood smoke profile. The Orkney distillery does things the time-honoured ways with floor maltings, peat, sherry casks and cool climate maturation. If it ain’t broke and all that. 

What does it taste like?

Honey and floral notes abound on the nose with some wood smoke. On the palate it’s peppery with notes of orange and wood shavings. 

the-hakushu-single-malt-whisky-distillers-reserve-whisky

Hakushu Single Malt Whisky – Distiller’s Reserve

From the Hakushu distillery in the foothills of Mount Kaikomagatake comes their Distiller’s Reserve single malt whisky, a no-age-statement expression, that captures the smoky, herbaceous characteristics of its whiskies. Both lightly-peated and heavily-peated malts were used for this complex and deeply enjoyable whisky. 

What does it taste like?

The herbs are very upfront with this one. Peppermint, pine and pleasant grassy notes with citrus zest and a waft of smoke. 

Fruity 

green spot single-pot-still-whiskey

Green Spot Single Pot Still 

Last year we announced the return of Blue Spot, now we’re showing some love to the best known of the range and a whiskey that has done so much to fly the flag for single pot still whiskey. We’re talking, of course, about the fabulous Green Spot, a whiskey that was matured in a combination of first and second fill bourbon casks as well as sherry casks to deliver a robust, fruity and rich profile. Savour this one.

What does it taste like?

Fresh green apple, sweet barley, sugary porridge, creamy vanilla, papaya, gentle bourbon oak, green woods, menthol, potpourri and citrus.

masthouse single-malt whisky

Masthouse Single Malt

We were very excited to try this first single malt from the Copper Rivet Distillery in Chatham, Kent as we’d tasted some aged new make. It’s fair to say that we were more than impressed as it manages to be vibrant, smooth and packed full of flavour despite only being three years old. It’s made only from Kentish barley, distilled and aged in ex-bourbon and virgin American white oak barrels.

What does it taste like?

The fruit on the nose jumps out of the glass with apple and peaches followed by creamy cereal, sweet spices and vanilla. 

Sherried

glenfarclas 15 year old whisky

Glenfarclas 15 Year Old

A wonderfully sherried 15-year-old dram from Glenfarclas, boasting oodles of dried fruit notes. It’s bottled at 46% ABV simply because this was the strength that George Grant’s grandfather preferred it at. Happily, this also results in the Speysider boasting a big, juicy, Christmas cake profile. 

What does it taste like?

Intensely sherried on the nose with raisins, orange peel, walnuts and dates. This is as close as you get to Christmas cake in a glass. 

Darkness 8 year old

Darkness 8 Year Old 

If you like a sherry bomb then you’ll love the Darkness 8 Year Old. It’s a single malt from an undisclosed distillery aged in ex-bourbon casks before spending a few months in custom-made Oloroso sherry octave casks. Small casks make for a vastly increased surface area to volume ratio, leading to more cask influence. In other words: sherry city!

What does it taste like? 

More sherry than a vicars convention in Jerez. Candied orange peel, dried cherry and chocolate peanuts on the nose, with powerful raisin, prune and oak on the palate. 

Smoky

ardbeg-10-year-old-whisky

Ardbeg 10 Year Old 

Ardbeg 10 Year Old is a firm favourite of peated whisky fans because it does a sublime job of showcasing the flavours Islay and the distillery itself are famous for. As well as all that smoke and sea, however, you’ll also taste an array of sweet, citrusy and fruity elements thanks to the depth of the spirit and the balance ex-bourbon casks bring. 

What does it taste like?

A ridge of vanilla and caramel leads to a mountain of peat smoke capped with citrus fruits and circled by clouds of sea spray.

seaweed-and-aeons-and-digging-and-fire-10-year-old-whisky

Seaweed & Aeons & Digging & Fire 10 Year Old

They say you can’t judge a book by the cover, but you can judge this whisky by its label. The name makes sense as soon as you take a sip, it’s a smoky peaty Islay malt from an undisclosed distillery with 25% aged Oloroso sherry cask. This has proved an extremely popular malt with MoM customers.

What does it taste like? 

Does exactly what it says on the bottle: there’s woodsmoke, seaweed and charred meat combined with sweet sherry notes, red apple and vanilla. 

compass-box-hedonism-whisky

Sweet

Compass Box Hedonism

Smooth, creamy and really very tasty, Hedonism is a blended grain whisky featuring liquid (depending on batch variation) from Cameronbridge, Carsebridge, Cambus, Invergordon, Port Dundas or Dumbarton that was matured in 100% first-fill American oak barrels or rejuvenated American oak hogsheads. 

What does it taste like?

Fraises des bois, sponge cake, red pepper, black cherry, milk chocolate, toasted oak and sweet spices with some cereal notes.

balvenie-14-year-old-caribbean-cask-whisky

Balvenie 14 Year Old Caribbean Cask     

‘Finishing’ whisky is commonplace now but it was David Stewart who pioneered the process at The Balvenie in the 1970s. This 14-year-old shows the magic of double cask ageing as it was initially matured in bourbon barrels before finishing in casks that previously held Caribbean rum, imparting some extra sweetness and warmth.

What does it taste like?

It’s a sweetie, no doubt, with toffee, vanilla and coconut, but there’s no shortage of fruit like mangoes, orange and creamy toffee.

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