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Master of Malt Blog

Author: Master of Malt

Vote for your favourite whisky icon!

Whether they’re bourbons, single malts or blended whiskies, some brands are so famous that they’re iconic. But which is the biggest whisky icon? We’re running a poll on social media…

Whether they’re bourbons, single malts or blended whiskies, some brands are so famous that they’re iconic. But which is the biggest whisky icon? We’re running a poll on social media to find out, and this is the page to follow the results.

The Oxford English Dictionary defines the word ‘icon’ as: “A person or thing regarded as a representative symbol or as worthy of veneration.”

So, what makes a whisky an icon? Well, it has to be a great whisky to start with. One that’s revered across the world. But more than this, it has to have a strong memorable image. Say the name of a particular distillery or brand, and it should instantly resonate. 

The Macallan The Red Collection

It’s certainly an iconic brand, but will it be crowned MoM whisky icon?

Worth of veneration

Now this could be a globally famous brand like Johnnie Walker or Jack Daniel’s. Many people who have never even drunk whisky will have heard of these brands. Jack Daniel’s for its association with music, and Johnnie Walker because it’s an icon of consumer capitalism (as well as a great whisky). Then there’s Macallan, a symbol of luxury up there with Rolls Royce or Cartier. 

But lesser-known names can be iconic among the whisky cognoscenti. Take Springbank, for example. You have to know a bit about whisky to have heard of it but it’s undoubtedly “worthy of veneration.” We’ve seen grown men and women go all tearful at the thought of a rare bottle of Springbank. 

But your whisky icon might be Lagavulin from Islay, Four Roses from Kentucky or even a newer distillery like Mackmyra from Sweden. So to decide this once and for all, we’re giving Master of Malt customers the opportunity to shout about their favourite brands. 

Vote for your whisky of icon

Social polls will be posted on a @masterofmalt Instagram story Monday to Friday this week (simply view our story and tap on the distillery/brand you wish to vote for). Or alternatively you can vote over on the @MasterOfMalt Twitter page where a poll will be posted to our feed.

Whisky-Icons-Bracket

The tournament will end on Monday 27 September with the winner announced that day. This is how it will work:

Monday 20 September – first round with 32 whiskies

Tuesday 21 September – second round with 16 whiskies

Wednesday 22 September – quarter finals 

Thursday 23 September – semi finals 

Friday 24 September – finals

Saturday 25 September – voting closes

Monday 27 September – announcement of the winner

Get voting so we can say once and for all what the greatest icon of whisky is! And then we find something else to argue about. 

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New Arrival of the Week: Aber Falls Single Malt Autumn 2021

The first release from Aber Falls distillery sold out in 40 minutes. Thankfully, the second batch is now here, and even better, it’s very reasonably priced which is why Aber…

The first release from Aber Falls distillery sold out in 40 minutes. Thankfully, the second batch is now here, and even better, it’s very reasonably priced which is why Aber Falls Single Malt Autumn 2021 release is our New Arrival of the Week.

Whisky has always been expensive but it does sometimes seem that prices have been going particularly bananas of late. At the top end five figures are not unusual while new distilleries often release their three year old whiskies for north of £50.

Aber Falls Single Malt Autumn 2021 release 

So it’s refreshing to see the price of the second release from Aber Falls in Wales. Just £26 (at the time of writing). Roughly the price of a good blend. And for that you’re getting a small batch single malt whisky made entirely from local barley. And this isn’t some light fruity little whisky, it’s packed full of flavour from its complicated ageing regime. The distillery is going for maximum flavour in the young spirit. How do they do it for the money? 

The Aber Falls set-up is an interesting one with a mixture of copper pot and stainless steel stills. The 2021 release was then matured in a mix of ex-Oloroso and PX sherry casks, ex-bourbon casks, and virgin oak casks, before diluting with local spring water and bottling at 40% ABV. It’s a little more conventional than the inaugural release which included ageing in orange wine casks – yes, wine made from oranges. 

A big signing

Aber Falls began distilling in January 2018. The distillery is located in a beautiful part of North Wales located just south of Abergwyngregyn between the A55 and the Menai Strait. Earlier this year, parent company Halewood caused waves in the whisky world when it signed Dr Kirstie McCallum as its master blender earlier. She had only just joined Glen Moray in 2019 from Distell which owned Bunnahabhain, Deanston and Tobermory, but seemingly relished the challenge of joining a company where there was everything to play for. Halewood has many booze pies (mmmmm, booze pies) including the Crabbie’s single malt distillery in Edinburgh which is yet to release its inaugural whisky – more on that later this week.

McCallum commented on the Aber Falls 2021 release: “The perfect whisky is made up of exceptional ingredients, ideal conditions and well considered casks made of top-quality wood. In particular, the two sherry casks used for this single malt have provided a very enjoyable flavour that we’re incredibly proud of.”

The inaugural release sold out in 40 minutes

MD James Wright, who has been with the distillery since it was founded, added: “We are thrilled to release our 2021 Welsh Single Malt whisky, following the successful inaugural release earlier in the year, which saw 2,000 bottles sell out in just 40 minutes! We’re a distillery that proudly produces 100% Welsh whisky, capturing the Welsh craft and heritage in every bottle. As a result, our products are extremely sustainable, enabling us to benefit Wales at every stage of production, including returning any waste ingredients to local farms for use as fertiliser or cattle feed”.

Naturally there’s also a signature cocktail. Welsh Bartender Alex Mills has come up with an Old Fashioned with a Welsh twist that’s loosely based on the flavours of a Bara Brith, a spiced tea cake common in North Wales. The signature serve consists of ingredients from the four corners of Wales, including 15ml of honey from Nature’s Little Helpers in Cardiff, a pinch of black Welsh tea from Tea Traders in Carmarthen, five drops of coffee bitters from Dyfi Coffee in Machynlleth and, of course, 50ml of Aber Falls single malt.

With Aber Falls releasing whisky, there’s now something of a Welsh whisky scene alongside Penderyn’s Brecon Beacons distillery which was founded in 2000. Penderyn is now expanding with an outpost in Llandudno open and one in the pipeline in Swansea. Meanwhile we were fortunate enough to try some very promising new make from the In the Welsh Wind distillery in Cardigan Bay in South Wales. Let’s hope it follows the Aber Falls model of good whisky and reasonable prices. 

Aber Falls single malt 2021 release

Tasting Note by The Chaps at Master of Malt

Nose: Creamy malt with diced nuts, caramel crystallized fruit, dates, and prunes.

Palate: Vanilla and toffee cross zesty orange peel, heaps of sherried sultanas, and dried fruits. A gentle spice picks up with clove, earthy coffee, and extra dark chocolate, studded with nuts.

Finish: The creamy texture prevails, vanilla fudge, darker notes of berries and cherries, sherried fruit cake, soft barley spice.

To buy Aber Falls Single Malt Autumn 2021 release click here

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The Dalmore Decades: The No. 4 Collection is here!

An exceptional collection of whiskies has just landed at Master of Malt. Called The Dalmore Decades: The No. 4 Collection, it’s a set of rare single malts from four decades…

An exceptional collection of whiskies has just landed at Master of Malt. Called The Dalmore Decades: The No. 4 Collection, it’s a set of rare single malts from four decades of The Dalmore chosen by master blender Richard Paterson. We spoke to Paterson to find out more.

The Dalmore Decades: The No. 4 Collection has been a long time coming, decades in fact. It’s a collection of four single cask single malts from the 1970s, ‘80s, ‘90s and ‘00s. And Master of Malt has one set – see below for how you can get your hands on it.

We were fortunate enough to spend some time with master blender Richard Paterson aka ‘the Nose’ to learn more about this collection. He’s recently stepped back from his role at parent company Whyte & Mackay to concentrate on The Dalmore (and some side projects.)

Richard Paterson Nosing in Warehouse Credit Scott Rankin Photography

Richard Paterson and his famous nose

The Mackenzie family’s enduring influence

Dalmore has a long and rich history dating back to 1839 when the Highland distillery was built in 1839 by Alexander Matheson. But it was under brothers Andrew and Charles Mackenzie that it enjoyed its heyday. Today, every bottle carries the image of the stag, the symbol of clan Mackenzie. They took over running the distillery in 1867 and in 1874 doubled its capacity. 

According to Paterson, The Dalmore has a tradition of long ageing its whiskies: “Andrew Mackenzie thought ‘why am I giving these whiskies at six, seven, eight years old away for?’ and then he discovered ‘wait a minute, they’re becoming a quality I’m looking for, why don’t we leave them even longer?’” This was radical stuff in the late 19th century. Until very recently, Paterson said “the maximum age was 12 years. So if anybody went beyond it, you thought ‘you’re off your head, what are you doing?!’” 

Under the brothers Mackenzie, The Dalmore was sold as a single malt and exported all over the world but by 1914, most of its production was going into blends. “It was heavily demanded by the blenders,” Paterson said. The family sold up in 1960 to Whyte & MacKay, and it was only in the 1970s that the distillery returned to concentrating on bottling its own malts.

The Dalmore Distillery

The Dalmore Distillery

The importance of casks

Richard Paterson joined The Dalmore and worked under Hector Mackenzie, the last Mackenzie to be involved with the distillery. Part of building The Dalmore as a single malt brand was based on tightening up on the casks used. “There were expressions using American white oak, sherry,” he explained, “but not to the same degree to we know today. We know exactly where these casks have come from, we know how old they’ve been, we know how long they’ve been seasoned. All these things have taken place over the last 20 years.”

The other crucial thing was getting the image right: “we’ve got to get our packaging up to a very, very high standard but we’ve got to get a price structure that reflects that image we’re portraying’.”

“But one thing has not changed and that’s the quality of Dalmore,” Paterson told me. Dalmore is famed for its robust whiskies made with “big bulbous stills” that “give complexity.” There is a pair of large stills and three pairs of smaller stills. The other major component of the Dalmore style is the use of ex-bourbon casks followed by maturation of sherry oak from Gonzalez Byass’s Matusalem Oloroso Dulce to create a rich luxurious drop full for fruit cake and tobacco. Indeed, The Dalmore is considered one the classic accompaniments to a fine cigar. 

The Dalmore Decades: The No. 4 Collection

“But we can’t just have four decades with Matusalem sherry, but we also want to offer to our discerning drinkers, something completely different, something original, something that’s never been done before,” Paterson said. And this is exactly what he has done. These rare whiskies from four decades of Dalmore’s existence make use of Port casks and other unusual ageing techniques. This is all in keeping with the MacKenzie legacy, Paterson explained: “The Mackenzie Family had gone down to Jerez de la Frontera in 1852, gone up to the Douro Valley, and they had Mackenzie sherry and they had Mackenzie Port!”

Paterson said: “This is called a ‘masterpiece of time’ and that’s what the time is all about – to see that when the whisky was seasoned we took it off at exactly the right time to show the consumer what whisky, genuine aged whisky, is all about.” 

The Dalmore Decades

The Dalmore Decades: The No. 4 Collection

Here’s the collection:

The Dalmore Decades 1979 – ‘Curating Exquisite Casks’

This was distilled under Hector Mackenzie’s watchful eye. It was first matured in Matusalem Oloroso sherry butt followed by ageing in a cask that formerly held a 1952 vintage Graham’s Port. Expect flavours of “exuberant sultanas and toasted pistachios, finishing in pleasant notes of maple syrup, pineapple, and succulent dates.”

The Dalmore Decades 1980 – ‘Unbroken Chain of Visionaries’

1980 was the year Paterson arrived at The Dalmore and learned under Hector Mackenzie. This one has a complicated ageing history. It initially spent some time in bourbon casks before being racked into Matusalem sherry butts, and then spent more than five years back in first-fill ex-bourbon casks before bottling. Tasting notes promise: “beautifully orchestrated single malt layers, which include a gentle whisper of bitter chocolate, marzipan, and cocoa powder.”

The Dalmore Decades 1995 – ‘The Creation of an Icon’

The ‘90s saw the arrival of Dalmore’s famous bell-shaped bottle. This 1995 whisky was aged in ex-bourbon casks and finished in Tintilla de Rota casks – a rare sweet red wine from the sherry region. According to Dalmore “it offers a burst of red berries, glazed nectarines, frangipane, and moist pecan pie on the palate, building to a triumphal finish”.

The Dalmore Decades 2000 – ‘Into the New Millennium’

Dalmore was the first whisky distillery in Scotland to distill in the new millennium with new make coming off the stills at 12:03am. This spent all 20 years of its life in a Matusalem Oloroso sherry butt. No bourbon here at all. It is described as “rare and intriguing, black maraschino cherry and bitter chocolate drench the palate, and a final kiss of liquorice and tarte tatin ebbs slowly in the background.” 

All sounds pretty, tasty doesn’t it?

Paterson insisted that this collection is for drinking on special occasions: “When people buy this collection, I do not want them to just look at it on their pedestals and everything. I want them to at some point in their life, not just to look at them, to open them up and share them with their friends.”

Click here to find out how you can get your hands on the The Dalmore Decades: The No. 4 Collection.

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The Nightcap: 17 September

The biggest whisky bottle ever filled, Luther launches a bar and TWO ‘and finally’ stories… It’s all in the Nightcap: 17 September edition.  It might not have registered with you…

The biggest whisky bottle ever filled, Luther launches a bar and TWO ‘and finally’ stories… It’s all in the Nightcap: 17 September edition. 

It might not have registered with you but this Wednesday saw the first ever National Hospitality Day. Now, we realise that there are a lot of these things to keep up with: British Pie Week, World Whisky Day, and Talk Like a Pirate Day, if it’s still going. But National Hospitality Day is one that’s particularly close to our hearts. During all the lockdowns, almost as much as we missed our parents and grandparents, we missed the convivial fug of our favourite bars and pubs. Though it’s good to be back, many venues didn’t make it through Covid, and with talk of possible restrictions on the way (noooooooooooo!), we’re urging readers to make full use of their local. So grab your phone, tablet, or portable electronic device, head out, order your usual and settle back with the Nightcap: 17 September edition. Cheers!

As well as being National Hospitality Day, it’s also Negroni Week (13-19 September) so Millie Milliken brought us seven twists on the classic including the intriguing-sounding ‘wanky Negroni.’ Then we shined our New Arrival spotlight on an underrated Scotch whisky style, single grain, with a special bottling from McMurray David. Things took a turn for the unusual as we invited customers all aboard the Hendrick’s airship. On Wednesday, did we mention it was National Hospitality Day? To celebrate, MoM staff got all misty-eyed about their locals and we finished the day by making a Vesper Martini because there’s a new Bond film out this month. An eclectic week finished off with a trip to Normandy to sample some Sassy cidre

Now it’s on with the Nightcap: 17 September edition!

The Nightcap: 17 September

We’ve seen a lot of whisky in our time and, in our expert opinion, that is a big bottle

World record smashed for the biggest whisky bottle ever filled

Gather round, gather round and gaze upon its magnificence: the biggest whisky bottle ever filled! Yes, in the Scottish town of Huntly a world record breaking-sized bottle of Scotch, was unveiled this week containing a staggering 311 litres of Macallan single malt. Household names Fah Mai Holdings Group Inc (FMH) and Rosewin Holdings PLC (RH) joined forces to fill the beast on 9 September, which beat the previously-held record, established by The Famous Grouse Experience in 2012, by a landslide 83 litres. There’s two sister casks of 32-year-old Macallan single malt whisky, married together by Duncan Taylor, in the 1.8m (five ft. nine inches) tall bottle, which took an hour to fill. The leftover whisky has been used to produce a limited-edition bottling run called ‘The Intrepid’. Each set consisting of a replica of the record-winning bottle featuring the faces of different famous explorers, athletes and adventurers. The feat was done to raise money for a number of charities so the whisky will now travel to a London auction house, where the hope is that the bottle will end up breaking a second world record for the highest price for a bottle of whisky ever purchased. “To put it into perspective, a single 70cl bottle of original 30-year-old Macallan Oak sells for £4-5k and a similar independent bottling fetches £3k plus,” says Fah Mai Holdings Group and Rosewin Holdings owners Louis Haseman and Daniel Monk. “What we have here in our mega bottle alone is around 444 of those. We’ll leave you to do the maths…”

Big spirits regulate influencers

How do you influence the influencers?

Big spirits sets influencer standards

A group of the largest spirits companies including Diageo, Beam Suntory, Brown-Forman, Bacardi and Pernod Ricard has launched an initiative to set standards for influencers. The giants are part of 12 booze companies in the International Alliance for Responsible Drinking (IARD), and they’ve teamed up with 13 marketing firms. The idea is to prevent minors from being influenced by the influencers. Henry Ashworth, IARD president and CEO, explained: “This is a world-first initiative in raising collective standards of responsibility across multiple digital channels, and we call on our partners in the alcohol, advertising and influencer industries to join us in our ongoing work to ensure that alcohol marketing across all forms of media is responsible.” He added: “This is a major step in preventing minors from seeing any alcohol marketing and IARD is proud to have united the world’s leading agencies to help raise global standards.” All very laudable but it seems to us that the main problem with influencers is not that minors might see them, after all alcoholic imagery is everywhere on billboards, films and in shops. Far more worrying is that it’s often not clear that when a top influencer is by the pool in Dubai enjoying a bottle of big brand booze, they are being paid to do so. We look forward to hearing about the new transparency regulations soon.

The Nightcap: 17 September

This beauty will reduce energy-related CO2 emissions by 95% by next year

Belvedere completes its biomass capture facility 

Belvedere has opened an ambitious on-site biomass capture facility that’s been three years in the making. In 2018, the Polish vodka maker became the first spirits distillery to receive a grant from the European Commission to pilot such a facility, and it will now be able to accelerate its Made With Nature commitments set forth in 2020. The facility will start producing 100% renewable energy, and subsequently reduce energy related CO2 emissions by 95% by 2022. President & CEO of Belvedere Vodka, Rodney Williams, commented that the build marks a “major step forward towards Belvedere making good on our belief that better business practices create a better world,” adding that the brand is “building on these achievements by setting the bar even higher for ourselves with eight sustainability commitments achievable by 2025.” The eight commitments include initiatives such as converting to fully organic farming from 2023, restoring landscapes through a regenerative soil program, reducing water waste, pursuing renewable energy solutions, reducing use of plastic by 50% and recovering heat waste by converting the distillation by-product into fuel. We always welcome progress in the name of sustainability, so nice work Belvedere. We think you’ve earned a Martini. Or a Vesper, perhaps…

The Nightcap: 17 Septembervvvv

Transparency has been a problem within Irish whiskey

Irish whiskey legislation is tightened

The Irish Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM) has helped further the cause of transparency in Irish whiskey by introducing new legislation regarding how brands label and market their products. The new terms state that if your liquid was not produced at a distillery your brand owns, then the label must say ‘Produced for’. The Irish whiskey industry has been undermined by a number of brands which have been less than forthcoming about the whiskey it markets, often misleading consumers with labels that suggest it produces its own spirit. You might have thought this move would come from one of four distinct entities which claim to represent Irish whiskey producers – the Irish Whiskey Association, the Irish Distillers Association, the Irish Whiskey Guild, and the Irish Craft and Artisan Distilleries Association – but no it’s come from a government department. Many producers have publicly stated their dissatisfaction with the lack of transparency in Irish whiskey, such as the outspoken Blackwater Distillery founder Peter Mulryan. A tweet by the distillery reacted to the news positively, stating, “It’s great to see DAFM insisting that Irish whiskey labels now say ‘Produced for’ when liquid is not produced in-house by brand. Expect gnashing of teeth from shite brands and faux-distilleries. #irishwhiskey”. One suspects we haven’t heard the last about this, but for those who are passionate about protecting the good name of Irish whiskey should have something to raise a glass to this week. 

The Nightcap: 17 September

Congratulations, Jen and Seb!

Spirit of Manchester plans second site

It’s been a hard year-and-a-half for the spirits industry but that hasn’t stopped the impressive growth of The Spirit of Manchester Distillery. The maker of gin, rum and more is having to open a second facility outside Manchester city centre just to meet increased demand. A 5,000-square-foot facility called The Vault, will provide additional space for bottling, labelling and shipping, the chance to hire two new workers for its production and warehouse team, and the opportunity to produce more than one million bottles annually. The Spirit of Manchester currently operates its flagship distillery in the city centre in a grade two-listed building on Watson Street, which is also home to a cocktail bar and gin school (all of which are excellent, as an upcoming blog will reveal…). The company says it expects to grow sales by more than 30% on pre-pandemic levels in 2022 as a result of ‘booming’ consumer demand and increased production capability. “Having come through a tough period for the industry, we’re delighted to be looking to the future and investing in our growth,” says master distiller Seb Heeley. “By expanding our production facilities, we’re also able to plan exciting enhancements to our distillery tour and gin tasting offering and look forward to sharing the magic that is The Spirit of Manchester.” We can honestly say this couldn’t happen to nicer people. Congrats, guys.

The Nightcap: 17 September

Porte Noire opens on the 18 October

Idris Elba and David Farber to launch Porte Noire bar 

From Luther to luxury fizz, Idris Elba is launching a wine bar! He’s teaming up with David Farber from Connaught Wine Cellars and wine and Champagne brand Porte Noire. The bar will be located at the foot of Gasholders (yes, an old gasholder), by the Regent’s canal towpath London. Expect an extensive selection of wines from around the world, cocktails and a selection of classic French brasserie-style dishes split into tasters, bar snacks, starters, mains and desserts. Designed by leading design agency Kanvass, Porte Noire will feature an outdoor space, a dining room and a bar which can seat up to 70 guests. The new bar and shop will also be home to around 800 wine bins as well as one of the largest fine wine tasting rooms in London. Chosen by Farber, the wine selection will include  some of the best and rarest bottles to a more accessible selection of wines on tap to suit all tastes. Most bottles will be available to purchase in the shop that sits by the entrance of the bar. “David has been working in the wine space for a long time, I know he is going to take the Porte Noire name and create something special,” says Elba. The Porte Noire Bar and Shop is set to open on Monday 18 October.

The Nightcap: 17 September

The Gibson will play host to some Laphroaig larks with David Miles and Marian Beke

Edrington UK to host a month of events for London Cocktail Week

Need some ideas of how to spend London Cocktail Week? Well, Edrington UK, the company behind Macallan, Highland Park and Laphroaig, has announced an interesting sounding series of workshops and events dedicated to the trade across the capital. Designed for those working in the bar and hospitality industry, the brand has put together three different sessions taking place throughout London Cocktail Week, which is taking place across the entire month of October. The first is Tending to the Tenders at Lyaness, a partnership with the bar to create a community space that’s focused on great food, delicious cocktails, wellness, and mental health. From cocktails to food, massages to interactive sessions, yoga to cinema nights, trade can attend all of these events for FREE. Lovely stuff. Then there’s Laphroaig at The Gibson, which sees whisky specialist David Miles talking all things “Peat, Heat, Sour and Sweet” alongside Marian Beke. Finally, everything from bar economics to fixing glassware will be tackled in one-off trade workshops at Maker’s Mark x Tayēr + Elementary Workshops. Just follow the links if you want to book your tickets, hopefully, we’ll see you there!

The Nightcap: 17 September

Arbroath Smokies benefit from the traditional process. But will gin?

And finally… anyone for gin made in a fish smokehouse?

Forfar distillery Gin Bothy has partnered with smokehouse Alex Spink and Sons to enter a new addition into our classic Nightcap category: weird and wonderful gins. The local fish smokehouse, has been specialising in the art of making ‘Arbroath Smokies’, which are a traditional type of smoked haddock cured in salt before being slow-cooked in a fire-filled barrel, since the 1970s. It’s actually a geographically protected method, like Champagne. Now Alex Spink and Sons has applied the same traditional technique to botanicals including juniper, orange peel, coriander, and lemon, which were then used to make the smoked gin. You’ll be pleased to know that the distillation itself took place at the Gin Bothy distillery, half an hour’s drive away from the smokehouse, preventing the aroma of fish from penetrating the spirit. The Gin Bothy Smoked Gin is said to have notes of burned orange, deep citrus flavour with a smoky finish and its makers recommend sipping it neat, or pairing it with chips. Just kidding, a light tonic and a slice of orange should do the trick. Some smoked salmon on the side wouldn’t go amiss, all jokes aside. Gin Bothy founder Kim Cameron says the inspiration behind the gin was to bring together two of Scotland’s oldest traditions in one unusual product. “The smoking of ingredients and products has long been part of Scottish culture,” she said. “The bothy smokehouses dotted along the north-east coasts offer culinary secrets from recipes of old and it is here that we created our smoked gin.” The gin is priced at £35 per bottle and is available from Gin Bothy’s website.

The Nightcap: 17 September

Well, it’s hard to confuse that for anything else. Wait, not hard. Difficult. It’s difficult.

… or penis-shaped wine?

Well, we were bound to get there eventually. One Napa-based company has made penis-shaped bottles to house its wine. It’s called Just the Tipsy, obviously, and is hilariously described as “fairly anatomically correct”. Launched in June, the $37 genitalia bottle houses sparkling rose Seurat (not Penis Noir, before you ask) that’s described as being dry and crisp with a long, ahem, finish. Pairs excellently with coq au vin. Ha, ha, ha. Anyway, as you might expect, the initial idea was to market the wine for hen parties and “girls’ wine nights”. The project has been in the works for nearly two years, and CEO Matthew Shore says he was surprised by how many winemakers in Napa were open to participating. He also said that he can “neither confirm nor deny who the model(s) may have been, but we made sure to go through many rounds of design to make sure it came out perfect”. Isn’t that comforting? The penis-shaped bottle is available for purchase on the company’s website

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Take a magical airship ride with Hendrick’s Air

This week we’re launching Hendrick’s Air. An opportunity to take a magical ride in the Hendrick’s airship. And all you have to do is buy a bundle of Hendrick’s Gin….

This week we’re launching Hendrick’s Air. An opportunity to take a magical ride in the Hendrick’s airship. And all you have to do is buy a bundle of Hendrick’s Gin.

Airships are wonderful things, aren’t they? Great big floaty things moving silently across the sky. So much cooler than noisy old aircraft. So you won’t be surprised that Hendrick’s Air, the aerospace arm of Hendrick’s Gin, has its very own airship/ blimp type thing. Oh, and it’s shaped like a cucumber. Of course, it is.

Hendrick's Air

The Hendrick’s Air crew

Come fly with me

Hendrick’s airship lives somewhere in the internet and the best thing is that you can take a ride on it, virtually. All you have to do is buy a bundle of gin consisting of a bottle of Hendrick’s and a bottle of Hendrick’s Lunar and you will receive a ticket for the Hendrick’s Airship with details about how to claim your ride. Included in your bundle are two teacup and saucer sets, cos Hendrick’s, and a special World Cucumber Day fan. Which, as we are sure you’re aware, takes place on the 14 June every year.

The experience starts where all air journeys begin, in the departure lounge. As soon as you take off, it’s time for a drink with a cucumber and lemonade tutorial. Drink in hand, your magical mystery tour will begin taking you on a journey through gin and Hendrick’s history including a visit to the Girvan distillery in Scotland in the company of the master distiller herself, Lesley Gracie. She will give you a botanical tutorial and show you around the hothouse where they’re grown followed by a trip to the stillhouse where they are turned into delicious Hendrick’s Gin. That’s just a taster of the fun to be had, an aperitif if you will. 

After all the informative jollity, it’s back onto the blimp, or is it any airship? Come to think of it, what is the difference between a blimp and an airship? Anyway, to take this magical trip, simply buy a bundle of Hendrick’s Gin which contains a ticket with all the details on it. Chocks away!

Buy your Hendrick’s Air bundle here

Hendrick's Air

Please note that the Hendrick’s Air virtual experience is hosted solely by Hendrick’s and Master of Malt has no control over any details (including but not limited to the dates, times, availability of 3rd party software, internet connection, and the specific rundown); the event may be subject to separate T&Cs and Privacy Policy provided by Hendrick’s, which we will try our best to help let you know in advance.

 

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The Nightcap: 10 September

What to expect from this week’s round-up of boozy news: Midleton’s new rye whiskey, CAMRA’s plea to us to drink better cider, and the promise you can drink more if…

What to expect from this week’s round-up of boozy news: Midleton’s new rye whiskey, CAMRA’s plea to us to drink better cider, and the promise you can drink more if you exercise. It’s all in the Nightcap: 10 September edition!

What we love about the British summer is just when you think it’s over and autumn has definitely arrived, it’ll return for an encore. We’re making the most of the sunshine because before you know it, the darkness and gloom of winter will be here. But we need not be too sad because there’s a drink or drinks for every season. We’re looking forward to putting away the cold lagers, Margaritas, and Gin and Tonics, and moving on to the hot toddies, sherried single malts, and, best of all, lashing and lashing of Port. And to read with your seasonal beverages? Why, there’s always the Nightcap. Those winter months are just going to fly by.

Before we get stuck into the news from the world of booze, we have to tell you about all the excitement on the blog this week. And we mean excitement. The week began with a look at the long-awaited Johnnie Walker brand home on Princes Street in Edinburgh. Then Henry toasted the start of a new week with four limited-edition whiskies from Bunnahabhain, Deanston, Tobermory, and Ledaig. New columnist Lauren Eads spoke to Shannon Tebay, the first American to run the American Bar at the Savoy, while Adam knocked up Snoop Dogg’s favourite cocktail, the Gin and Juice. Ian Buxton returned with a look at the lost world of Australian and New Zealand whisky. Then we wrote about the oldest Japanese whisky ever released, a Yamazaki 55 Year Old! But that’s not all because Adam has just come back from Glenmorangie’s experimental new distillery. All in one week!

Now it’s on with the Nightcap: 10 September edition!

Dennis Malcolm at Glen Grant

Dennis Malcolm celebrates 60 years in whisky

Glen Grant launches 60-year-old whisky to honour Dennis Malcolm

Glen Grant sure knows how to mark an anniversary. The Speyside distillery is celebrating master distiller Dennis Malcolm’s six decades in the business with a 60-year-old single malt Scotch. The aptly-named Dennis Malcolm 60th Anniversary Edition comes from a single ex-oloroso Sherry cask, #5040, which was filled on 24 October 1960, making it the distillery’s oldest bottling in its 181-year history. It will launch globally in October this year and is made up of just 360 decanters designed by Glencairn Studio housed in a presentation box made from sustainable walnut. Each case is engraved with Malcolm’s signature and comes with a certificate of authenticity, signed by the master distiller himself. All this for €25,000. Malcolm was actually born at Glen Grant in 1946 and followed in his father and grandfather into the industry as an apprentice cooper when he was 15 years old. His work in whisky earned him recognition from Queen Elizabeth II in 2016, when he was named an Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (OBE). Bob Kunze-Concewitz, CEO of Campari Group, which owns Glen Grant, paid tribute to “the career of a true Scottish gentleman and globally recognised Scotch whisky craftsman,” adding that “Dennis has not only created some of the most-awarded single malts in the world, but also serves as an unwavering champion for the industry”. Hear, hear. Cheers to you Dennis!

Distillers Katherine Condon and Eva O'Doherty (2)

Katherine Condon and Eva O’Doherty look like they’re about to drop the folk electronica album of the year

Midleton Method and Madness Rye and Malt is here!

When we visited Midleton near Cork a couple of years ago, the highlight of the tour was the on-site experimental Micro Distillery. Now the first release from this hotbed of innovation is here and it sounds like a cracker. Called Midleton Method and Madness Rye and Malt, it was created by Katherine Condon who joined Irish Distillers as a graduate trainee back in 2014. It’s apparently inspired by 1857 notebooks from John Jameson III who was using rye at the time. Condon explained: “We have been inspired by the innovators in Irish whiskey who came before us. In turn, we have questioned tradition and challenged convention to follow their inspiration and drive the Irish whiskey category forward for a new generation of creators, consumers, and indeed, suppliers.” The mashbill is 60% rye and 40% malted barley. After fermentation, the grains were double-distilled, before going into ex-bourbon casks. It’s bottled at 46% ABV  with an RRP of €95. As massive fans of a) rye whiskey b) the Midleton distillery, to say we are excited would be an understatement. We’ll report back when we’ve had a little taste.

 

Fitness and alcohol

More of this and you can drink more of the good stuff, claim scientists

Fitter people can drink more and handle their booze better

Higher fitness levels are significantly related to greater alcohol consumption, according to a new study looking into people’s exercise and drinking habits. Regular exercisers drink more alcohol, but are less likely to be problem drinkers as stated in new research that appeared in Medicine & Science in Sports Exercise from a study at the Cooper Clinic in Dallas. According to the research, which looked at data from 38,000 healthy patients ranging in age from 20 to 86, there is a strong link between exercise and alcohol habits. The findings showed that “women within the moderate and high fitness categories had greater odds of moderate/heavy alcohol consumption in comparison to their low fitness counterparts. Similarly, moderate and high fit men had greater odds of moderate-to-heavy alcohol consumption in comparison to the low fitness group”. In addition, men who were heavy drinkers all displayed “higher fitness levels were related to lower rates of suggested alcohol dependence,” stated the findings. The subjects’ fitness was estimated with a treadmill test to exhaustion and transparency about their drinking habits, ultimately revealing how higher levels of cardiorespiratory fitness are related to increased alcohol consumption management among adults. In a similar study conducted by the University of Notre Dame, recent research found that people with a lower percentage of body fat will have lower ‘Blood Alcohol Concentration’ (BACs) than those with a higher percentage of body fat, debunking myths suggesting that if you are overweight you can handle your drink better.

Gabe Cook CAMRA and Cider

Gabe Cook says: drink better cider!

CAMRA calls on government to support UK cider makers

CAMRA (the Campaign for Real Ale) has teamed up with Gabe Cook, aka the Ciderologist, to try to get legislation changed to protect Britain’s independent cider makers. They are going to send a copy of Cook’s latest book Modern British Cider to all 70 MPs who sit for cider-making constituencies. The aim is to get them to change some of the laws governing cider and taxation in the UK. One is to introduce a progressive cider duty so that smaller cider makers looking to expand above the current 70hl duty exemption size won’t get clobbered. Next, they want to make ingredient labelling compulsory so that customers will know exactly what goes into their cider. Hint, it’s often not apples. At the moment ciders only need to be made from 35% apples, the rest of the alcohol can come from sugar. Many ciders are little more than apple-flavoured alcopops. So finally CAMRA and Cook are calling for a minimum 50% apple content in cider. In France, it’s 80%. Cook said: “I hope this book lends a voice to these causes and readers will join my calls to support the industry. Britain is blessed with so much cider heritage, which we desperately need to conserve, but also wonderful innovation, fun, and boundary-pushing boldness which we need to nurture. There truly is a cider for everyone.” It sounds like a worthwhile campaign. It should be more of a scandal how little apple content there is in most British ciders. 

Will Hawkes Fortnum & Mason drinks writer of the year

Congratulations to Will Hawkes (he’s the one in the middle)

The best drinks writers celebrated at Fortnum’s awards

To the glittering Royal Exchange outpost of Fortnum & Mason for the annual celebration of great food and drink writing. All the stars were there: Grace Dent, Claudia Winkleman, Stanley Tucci (!), and somehow Master of Malt managed to bag an invite. We were delighted that Will Hawkes won drinks writer of the year for his work in Pellicle and new drinks magazine Tonic. We were especially pleased to see Hawkes staying on brand by celebrating with a glass of beer rather than the Champagne that everyone else was knocking back. Man of the people. Another popular winner was Cas Oh for his snazzy cocktail book Co Specs which we covered on the blog earlier this year. It was great to catch up with him and discover that he’s as charming and stylish as his book. He snapped up the debut drinks book award while the main drinks book award went to Wine Girl by Victoria James. There were also some food awards with Fay Maschler, Jimi Famurewa and James Martin among the winners. Go here to see the full results. A great time was had by all and somehow we managed not to corner Stanley Tucci and bore him about how to make the perfect Negroni, though we did go a bit starstruck over Grace Dent. 

Joel McHale & Monkey Shoulder distill dry first dates

A new campaign for Monkey Shoulder has a revolutionary idea: whisky might help first dates be a bit less stuffy. In a bold move, William Grant & Sons’ mixable malt brand has enlisted Community actor and The Soup host Joel McHale to hit the streets of New York City to help daters drop the pretension and relax – preferably with a glass of Monkey Shoulder. The ‘Stick it to Stuck Up’ campaign attempts to remove the snobbery surrounding whisky as well as dating. It features McHale wearing a plaid suit with crystal lowball glass in hand playing “a person who’s trying way too hard to impress you,” before chucking the glass offstage and stripping down to a casual sweater. “To enjoy your whisky, you don’t need some guy with a handlebar mustache spewing a bunch of pompous tasting notes,” he quips. Anyone taking notes? As a part of the initiative, daters have the chance to have McHale crash their first dates by sharing stories of their most stuffy and stuck-up dating experiences. Go here to enter the contest. Not that anyone here at Master of Malt needs any assistance in the dating world. Now where’s my cravat, I’ve got a hot date tonight. 

Lockdown fine wine

Did you spend lockdown doing this? You’re not alone

And finally… Brits spent lockdown sipping fine wine

Did you learn another language during the many lockdowns? Or maybe get round to clearing the garage or grouting the bathroom? We didn’t do anything quite this dramatic but we did learn to make a killer chip shop curry sauce (the secret is to add apple, oddly). The other thing we did was drink better wine more often and it seems we weren’t alone. Bordeaux Index has just released figures showing that 75% of British wine drinkers saw their consumption of fine wine rise. Not only that but apparently 29% think of themselves as connoisseurs – presumably,  to paraphrase Basil Fawlty, they know a claret from a Bordeaux. It’s all great news for Bordeaux Index which has seen its wine and spirit sales increase by 44%, year on year. Director Matthew O’Connell explained: “Today’s findings show that the pandemic has significantly changed our approach to the way we consume fine wine, and the increasing desire to aspire to drink better at home. We have seen this in our own UK business, and interestingly have observed broadly similar patterns across our Asian and US offices.” He added that, if you can resist drinking the stuff, wine can be “a great investment option and we are seeing more and more investors enter the space.” As rumours fly of a fourth lockdown in the pipeline, or perhaps fifth, fine wine merchants across the country will be bracing themselves for deluge of orders. 

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The Yamazaki 55 Year Old is here!

We can scarcely believe what has just landed at MoM Towers, a single bottle of the oldest ever single malt from Japan, a Yamazaki 55 Year Old. That’s right, just…

We can scarcely believe what has just landed at MoM Towers, a single bottle of the oldest ever single malt from Japan, a Yamazaki 55 Year Old. That’s right, just one very special bottle. To tell us more we have brand ambassador James Bowker.

It’s not often that we get a whisky in that’s a piece of history, but this incredibly rare release from Suntory, a Yamazaki 55-year-old single malt, is just such a thing. It’s a blend of three casks of whisky, filled in 1960, 1961 and 1964, and captures a pivotal moment in Yamazaki’s history. The 1960 was filled under the watchful eye of Suntory founder Shinjiro Torii. But in 1961 his son Keizo Saji took over as president and master blender..

Japan’s original single malt

Then in 1963, according to brand ambassador James Bowker, Yamazaki was completely remodelled. The distillery, Japan’s first, was founded in 1923. “Before the stills were like old Macallan stills, quite small and stubby,” he said. They were replaced with the current set-up of eight unique pairs of stills to create a diverse range of flavour styles. So this is a taste of a lost style of Yamazaki that can never be recreated. 

According to Bowker, these casks were laid down with the expectation that they would age for a long time. Current master blender Shinji Fukuyo tasted the 1964 cask “for release to coincide with the 55th anniversary of the Olympics being held in Japan”, Bowker explained. It was “lovely but not perfectly balanced so he brought in the two older casks to harmonise it.” 

Master blender Shinji Fukuyo

Delicate, complex and balanced

Bowker explained how everything at Suntory must conform to founder Shinjiro Torii’s concept of “subtle and refined yet complex,” or “delicate, complex and balanced” as the company now puts it. As such at Yamazaki the team can produce a bewildering array of styles from different fermenters, yeast strains, still types (including some direct-fired stills), and peating levels of malt – and that’s before you even get on to casks.

Compare this with Macallan or Bowmore, Bowker said, “where every drop is identical up until the moment it goes into cask.” He went on to explain the difference. One approach is like “taking a photograph of one aspect of a thing”, whereas at Yamazaki they “take snapshots of all these angles and perspectives of the core malt profile of the distillery.” As such it’s hard to define the distillery’s style but, Bowker said, it always includes tropical fruit and a resinous quality from mizunara, Japan’s native oak. 

Sadly, the records have been lost as to exactly what went into those three special casks but according to Bowker, there is a hint of smoke about the finished whisky. The original casks are also something of a mystery. Bowker thinks the 1960 began in Spanish oak before moving to mizunara after about 25 years. “We re-cask whisky at around 25 years old to make sure it continues to improve,” he said. Finally, the three years were married together in glass for around six months before bottling in 2020 at 46% ABV.

Calm and mysterious

Fifth-generation chief blender Shinji Fukuyo commented: “Throughout the process of blending Yamazaki 55, I used as inspiration the passage of time and ‘wabi-sabi’ – the Japanese belief that imperfections can help to ultimately contribute to perfection. While I often view other extra-aged whiskies as art, I consider Yamazaki 55 to be more like a Buddhist statue: calm and mysterious, requiring time to truly enjoy the inner beauty.”

The result, with a minimum age of 55 years, is the oldest Japanese whisky ever released. Naturally, the packaging is pretty fancy too. It comes in a crystal bottle decorated with gold dust and lacquer. The bottle is wrapped in handmade Echizen washi paper and bound with a Kyo-kumihimo plaited cord, and comes in a box made from Japanese Mizunara wood and coated with Suruga lacquer.

Only 200 bottles have been filled, 100 for Japan and 100 for the rest of the world, and we have one. Just one. So how do you get your hands on this piece of history? Simple click here and fill out the form to register interest, and we’ll get back to you.

Yamazaki 55

Behold, the Yamazaki 55 Year Old

Tasting note for Yamazaki 55 Year Old

Nose: A robust aroma redolent of sandal wood. A sweet, mature bouquet like well-ripened fruit.

Palate: A soft, smooth first sip that blossoms in the mouth with flavor. A mixture of sweet and slightly bitter, followed by a woody note from the mizunara cask.

Finish: Slightly bitter, a fragrance like scented wood and a hint of smokiness. A sweet, rich, lingering finish.

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September 2021 Master of Malt competition winners part one

We’ve had competitions and that means we now have winners. Let’s announce some names of our recent competition winners! There are several kinds of lovely news to break. Like telling…

We’ve had competitions and that means we now have winners. Let’s announce some names of our recent competition winners!

There are several kinds of lovely news to break. Like telling your family and friends you’re pregnant/getting married/ blocked by Piers Morgan on Twitter. Or letting people know that they’ve won the competition you put together. Luckily we’re getting to do the latter today. And there will be more exciting announcements to follow soon… Anyway, let’s put some smiles on faces!

House of Hine, Jarnac

The House of Hine on the river Charente

Congratulations to…

The winner of a VIP trip to the House of Hine Cognac is… Adrian Moeckell

The winner of a virtual cocktail party with Wing Walker and Horse Guards is… Caroline Obbard

The winners of a bundle of boozy goodies from Jack Daniel’s are… Miriam Bland and Will Brooks

 

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The Nightcap: 3 September

It’s Friday, The Nightcap is back and the Tequila is on Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson and his doppelgänger, unless us Brits spill it all coming back from the bar of…

It’s Friday, The Nightcap is back and the Tequila is on Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson and his doppelgänger, unless us Brits spill it all coming back from the bar of course… What are we talking about? Read on to find out…

How hard is it to get a saying going, do you think? For example, if we wanted to replace ‘Thank God it’s Friday’ (or TGI Friday if you’re rad/a restaurant chain) with ‘Thank God it’s The Nightcap’, how long would it take to popularise the new and improved version? We know we can count on everyone who reads this to get on board, and that must be at least six people. We just need a weekly round-up of boozy news to become so synonymous with the beginning of the weekend and Friday itself that it’s a natural move for people. It can’t be that hard. Hoover is synonymous with the vacuum cleaner and I don’t know anyone who owns a Hoover. Let’s aim for Christmas.

Anyway, those of you who take a gander at our lovely little blog every now and then will have noticed there were some very exciting things happening this week. Like us celebrating Boutique-y Whisky’s birthday by shouting all about the Home Nations Series, or reviewing the very first Benriach Malting Season release. Elsewhere, Adam had a taste of some intriguing Irish whiskey, Lauren spoke to the remarkable woman behind Montanya Rum, and Millie uncovered the world of whisky auctions. Oh, and if you’re in the mood to whip something up tonight, then perhaps try our Cocktail of the Week: The Dominican Double!

And yet there’s still even more drinks stories to tell this week. So let’s get on with it. Here’s The Nightcap: 3 September edition!

The Nightcap: 3 September

Jameson is the toast of 2021 for Pernod Ricard

Pernod Ricard “rebounding very strongly” from Covid

Pernod Ricard announced some very promising results this week with organic sales up 9.7% on pre-Covid levels and profits up by 18.3%. “The business rebounded very strongly during FY21 to exceed FY19 levels,” said CEO Alexandre Ricard. Much of this success was driven by the irresistible rise of Jameson, seeing a 15% growth globally. The Irish whiskey brand is now bigger than Absolut in the US. Looking at other brands in the portfolio there was a strong performance from the Chivas Brothers side of the business with Glenlivet, Chivas, and Ballantine’s all enjoying growth, as well as Martell and Malibu. On the other hand Royal Salute, Beefeater, and Havana Club all lost ground. Looking at markets individually: Europe was up 4%, with the UK, Germany, and Eastern Europe all performing strongly, in contrast to Spain and Ireland. Globally, China (up a massive 34%), Russia, India, and the US (up 6%) all performed well. As expected, travel retail was a disaster, down 50%. Ricard continued: “I would like to take this opportunity to praise the exceptional commitment of our teams during this difficult time and express my support to those who have been or continue to be impacted by this pandemic. We will stay the strategic course, accelerating our digital transformation and our ambitious sustainability & responsibility roadmap. Thanks to our solid fundamentals, our teams, and our brand portfolio, we are emerging from this crisis stronger.” Trebles all around!

The Nightcap: 3 September

Congratulations, Kirsten!

Brown-Forman Scotland welcomes new assistant blender, Kirsten Ainslie

Congratulations to Kirsten Ainslie who has just landed the job of assistant blender for Brown-Forman’s Scotch distilleries, working with the master herself, Dr. Rachel Barrie. Ainslie, who spent three years as distiller at Edinburgh’s John Crabbie & Co, will join Barrie looking after Benriach, The GlenDronach, and Glenglassaugh. The job will involve new product development, cask management, and assessing spirit quality. As you can imagine she’s quite pleased: “I feel very privileged to be taking on the role of assistant blender and working alongside Rachel Barrie who is renowned in the whisky industry. Working closely with Rachel, I hope to build on the legacy of maturing and marrying different casks, and crafting whiskies to be enjoyed by newcomers and connoisseurs alike,” she commented. Barrie added. “Kirsten will be a great addition to the team. Nurturing young talent is an important part of what we do at Brown-Forman and Kirsten has certainly proven she has the best nose for the job.” Sounds like she’s going to be a Scotch whisky star of the future. 

The Nightcap: 3 September

Real talk. The new-look Chivas is no cap. Yas queen. That’s how young people talk, right?

Chivas Bros gets down with the kids

My 10-year-old daughter has come up with a portmanteau word, ‘dadbarrassing.’ It’s for those moments when fathers try to get down with the kids. This new word sprang to mind when we received a press release announcing a redesign for Chivas 12 Year Old. Apparently the biggest in the brand’s 112-year history. Global marketing director of Chivas, Nick Blacknell explained (if that’s the right word) the thinking behind the change: “Social media has introduced a new, broader audience to the wonder of whisky – ‘flex’ consumers with a hustle-first ethos that seek out upmarket brands to align themselves with.” We’re not quite sure what this means but the colour scheme has changed to “vibrant burgundy” and the packaging has changed to be more environmentally friendly with a new lighter bottle that will apparently save 1,000 tonnes of glass annually. Meanwhile, the liquid will remain the same. Blacknell continued: “I’m particularly proud of the central role sustainability has played in reconceptualising Chivas 12 for a new generation. With this redesign, we have once again reinforced our belief that sustainable luxury is not an oxymoron.” Expect to see the hip cats drinking Chivas 12 in fashionable discotheques this autumn.

The Nightcap: 3 September

Free whisky cocktails is a deal we’ll never turn down

Whisky pop-up giving out free drinks

London pubs The Culpeper and The Duke of Cambridge are doing the Lord’s work, it has been revealed this week, by launching ‘Whisky Six Wednesday’. This means that to celebrate the teaming up of Nc’nean and the sustainable pubs, a pop-up is being made that will give out free whisky, soda, and mint cocktails every Wednesday throughout September from 6-7pm at the two locations. The Scotch whisky distillery and eco-conscious London establishments will offer the former’s signature Whisky Six serve free of charge for anyone who can make a pledge for what they’re going to do differently in life, via Nc’nean’s website here. Whether it’s going zero waste for a month, cycling to work, or simply not checking emails outside work hours – this partnership wants to encourage positive change. The Whisky Six is intended to be a fresh take on a G&T (as in, it’s a Highball) and mirrors the approach the partnership encourages, which celebrates the ‘golden hour’, an early evening moment to reflect and encourage new experiences and fresh takes on old ones. If you want to make the serve yourself, just combine 50ml of Nc’nean Organic Single Malt Whisky and 100ml of soda water in a glass filled with ice. Gently stir then garnish with a fresh sprig of mint. Otherwise, you can get it at all four Culpeper venues across London outside of the promotion. But you’ll have to pay. Our advice would be to get the free ones if you can.

The Nightcap: 3 September

The distillery is looking to harness its environment to become more sustainable

Bruichladdich Distillery aims for net-zero whisky

Great whisky doesn’t come without cost. It’s estimated that Islay’s nine distilleries burn 15 million litres of oil each year, which means a lot of CO2 emissions. Good thing a lot of effort has been made by various distilleries and companies to recognise the importance of sustainability, with Bruichladdich Distillery becoming the latest to make a commitment. The Islay maker says that, by 2025, its distillation process will be net-zero. The production of malted barley and the hot mash to create the wort, whisky’s source fluid, will follow. Innovative types of green hydrogen production using green electricity and water electrolysis are planned, but for now, Bruichladdich is depending on a green tariff. Renewables will hopefully be installed over the next few years with Douglas Taylor, Bruichladdich’s chief executive, hoping that the technique could then be applied to Islay’s other distilleries, businesses, and homes, transforming the island, which is also the site of experimental tidal energy pilot projects, from fossil fuel dependency into renewables self-sufficiency. “We have this view of ‘think big, start small, but start today’,” Taylor says. “And that’s one of the things you need in the industry: to take a brave and courageous step to represent what change could look like,” he said. “What you have to do is start with what you can control.” For more info on Scotch whisky’s quest for sustainability, this Guardian article goes into some great detail.

The Nightcap: 3 September

This is a distillery we’re very excited by

Aber Falls releases its latest whisky

Aber Falls continues to show off its whisky prowess following the launch of its Single Malt Inaugural Release in May, with a new 2021 bottling. The three-year-old expression was made using 100% Welsh malted barley and rock-filtered water taken from the Aber Falls Waterfall, so it’s delightfully local for those who love a bit of provenance. Whisky fans who like intriguing processes will also appreciate that the bottling was distilled in an intriguing mix of copper pot and stainless-steel stills before being matured in a mix of ex-Oloroso and PX sherry casks, ex-bourbon casks, and virgin oak casks, before being bottled at 40% ABV. The Welsh distillery says to expect an aroma of sweet fruits with a hint of clove and delivers a rich and full-bodied palate, with sweet sherry notes, dark chocolate and espresso. It stimulates a long and lingering finish of dried fruit and subtle spice. Welsh bartender Alex Mills has also made a signature serve, an Old Fashioned with a Welsh twist that’s loosely based on the flavours of a Bara Brith, a spiced tea cake common in North Wales. The signature serve consists of ingredients from the four corners of Wales, including 15ml of honey from Nature’s Little Helpers in Cardiff, a pinch of black Welsh tea from Tea Traders in Carmarthen, five drops of coffee bitters from Dyfi Coffee in Machynlleth and, of course, 50ml of Welsh whisky. The 2021 bottling is on its way to MoM Towers and you’ll be delighted to know the price point is insanely reasonable (the RRP is £26). Lots to like about this distillery, folks.

The Nightcap: 3 September

Apparently, one of these isn’t Dwayne Johnson.

Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson wants to drink Tequila with his doppelgänger

The man who is definitely, totally and unequivocally most famous for owning Teremana Tequila, Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson, wants to share some of his greatest work with police officer Eric Fields, who happens to be the most remarkable doppelgänger. A picture of patrol lieutenant Fields’ was posted by the sheriff’s office on Facebook with the caption: “This gentlemen recently ran into Sgt. Mason and informed him he wanted to meet our Deputy that people say looks like “The Rock”. Sgt. Mason passed that along and Lieutenant Fields was happy to swing by the Hartselle Wal-mart to see him. Tyler is one of their many hard workers and it was great to meet him and some of his coworkers!” On Monday, the movie star responded by reposting a tweet comparing the two men side-by-side along with the caption: “Oh s**t! Wow. Guy on the left is way cooler. Stay safe brother and thank you for your service. One day we’ll drink @Teremana and I need to hear all your ‘Rock stories’ because I KNOW you got ’em #ericfields.” As for Fields himself, he’s surprisingly taken the news he looks like an international star and sex symbol in good spirits, telling AL.com “I’ve been called The Rock and Vin Diesel’s love child. I go along with it. It’s humorous. It’s flattering. It could be worse people, I guess.” 

The Nightcap: 3 September

RIP to all the lost pints.

And finally… data reveals Brits spill 11m pints per round

The return to busy bars and pubs means the old challenges are back. Getting the attention of bar staff. Nabbing a table that isn’t by the kitchen door. And trying to not spill everything you’ve just bought to huge ironic cheers from the other punters (this is actually a strangely loving response if you’re not from the UK and Ireland). According to hospitality app, OrderPay, Britons collectively spill an average of 11 million pints per round, and with the average pint in the UK costing £3.94 that’s the equivalent of over £43,340,000 each time! A whopping 40% of Brits confess to regularly dropping their drinks, with the average amount spilled per round just under a quarter of a pint. Disparities inevitably exist across the regions and the different age groups. The obviously lying over 55’s painted a cautious picture, with only 30% saying they lost beer to the floor, compared to 55% of honest 25 to 34-year-olds. Londoners typically seem to be in a rush the whole time as spillages were most prevalent in the capital, with almost half of people (49%) saying they regularly lost beer en-route. This perhaps is a good time to take stock and rethink. It’s an awful lot of drink wasted, folks. Our beloved booze deserves better. 

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Cocktail of the Week: The Dominican Double

This week we’re stirring up a booze heavy cocktail with Brugal 1888 rum from the Dominican Republic. It’s called the Dominican Double and to tell us more we have brand…

This week we’re stirring up a booze heavy cocktail with Brugal 1888 rum from the Dominican Republic. It’s called the Dominican Double and to tell us more we have brand ambassador Jamie Campbell.

When you have a high quality spirit, the best thing to do when mixing it is to keep things simple. You don’t want to drown the flavour in sugar syrups or fruit juice. Which is just the case with Brugal 1888 Gran Reserva Familiar rum from the Dominican Republic in the Caribbean.

Double-matured rum

It’s a classic smooth Spanish-style rum that will appeal to lovers of Santa Teresa or Diplomatico from Venezuela. Made from sugar cane molasses grown on the island, it’s fermented and distilled in a column still, and then treated to prolonged cask ageing. First it spends some time ex-bourbon barrels before secondary maturation in Oloroso-seasoned European oak casks. 

Jamie Campbell has just been appointed ambassador for the brand, and talked us through what this double maturation achieves: “The first ageing process provides a lot of the flavours and aromas you expect from a rum, for example vanilla, cinnamon and chocolate, but for me, it is the second maturation in European Oak casks where the magic really happens. Here, we start to get flavours like figs, raisins and bananas which complement the flavours from the American oak ageing and elevate the complexity of the rum to new levels – the liquid is constantly evolving on the palette and has this incredibly long finish and mouthfeel.” Sounds pretty tasty, doesn’t it?

The year on the bottle, 1888, isn’t the vintage, sadly, but the year the brand was founded by Don Andres Brugal Montaner, who was originally from Sitges in Spain. In 2008, the Edrington Group, acquired a majority stake in the company. Nevertheless, it’s still family run. In fact, only family members can become maestro roneros – rum maestros. There are currently two, Jassil Villavueva Quintana and Gustavo Ortega Zeller. Campbell explained that the distillation “process has been passed down through each of the five generations of master rum makers and the exact specifications and process are a closely guarded secret between them.”

Jamie Campbell , Brugal 1888 rum (1)

Jamie Campbell: barman, ambassador, rum lover

The story behind the cocktail

So you can understand why you don’t want to muck about with it too much. Campbell is particularly keen on something called a Double Dominican. So-called because it combines the rum with a banana liqueur from the same island plus some dry vermouth. The result is something not far from a Palmetto – but with a tropical twist. And who doesn’t enjoy a tropical twist of an evening? We’ll show you how to make one below.

Campbell has been working in the hospitality business since he was 14. “I quickly fell in love with all things restaurant and bar related. When I moved away to university, I landed my first ever bartending job and began to get more involved in the cocktail side of things, when I eventually took over as the bar manager, redesigning the cocktail menu and style of service.” From here he moved into the brand side of the business with a stint working with Lucas Bols before he was made brand ambassador for Brugal 1888 earlier this year. He’s “super excited and passionate about building the brand and the super-premium rum category in the UK.”

Campbell thinks that high quality rums are having a bit of a moment, especially sipped neat or, as he puts it “nearly neat” like in a Dominican Double. He continued: “I love that you can still taste the rum and the complexities of the liquid as typically, rum can often be overshadowed in cocktails and smothered by lots of additional ingredients such as fruit juices. In this cocktail, we simply use a small amount of crème de banane to enhance the tropical flavours of the rum, as well as some dry vermouth to provide a dry, refreshing end taste. It’s a simple cocktail on paper, but the flavour and finish are truly delicious.”

Right, that’s enough introduction, let’s cocktail! 

Dominican Double with Brugal 1888 rum

How to make a Dominican Double

50ml Brugal Gran Reserva Familiar 1888
15ml Briottet Crème de Banane or similar
10ml Noilly Prat dry vermouth

Method: Add all ingredients to a mixing glass with cubed ice and stir, before straining into a chilled coupe glass. Garnish with banana chips on the side.

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