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Master of Malt Blog

Category: News

We’re Icons of Whisky’s Online Retailer of the Year!

MUCH excitement, folks. Last week we were named Icons of Whisky’s Online Retailer of the Year 2019 – and we’re still not over it! On Thursday we donned our glad…

MUCH excitement, folks. Last week we were named Icons of Whisky’s Online Retailer of the Year 2019 – and we’re still not over it!

On Thursday we donned our glad rags and headed up to London for the Whisky Magazine Awards. As did a whole host of distillers, brand ambassadors and bartenders – just being there was super exciting.

The likes of Teeling Whiskey 24 Years Old Vintage Reserve, Four Roses 130th Anniversary 2018 Limited Edition Small Batch, and Hibiki 21 Years Old all took home major awards (for World’s Best Single Malt, World’s Best Bourbon and World’s Best Blended Whisky respectively). Tobermory and Bunnahabhain parent Distell won Distiller of the Year, and Angela D’Orazio of Mackmyra and Mike Miyamoto from Suntory were inducted into Whisky Magazine’s Hall of Fame. It was a cracking evening of great whiskies and wonderful company. What more could you want?

Online Retailer of the Year 2019 Icons of Whisky

(L-R) Justin Petszaft, group managing director; Kristiane Sherry, editor; and Jake Mountain, campaign manager, pick up the Online Retailer of the Year award from Rob Allanson, Whisky Magazine editor

THEN we were named Icons of Whisky’s Online Retailer of the Year 2019!

This means so much to us. The Icons of Whisky accolades are voted for by the drinks trade, and it’s incredibly special to be recognised by our peers. And it’s the seventh time in eight years we’ve won Online Retailer of the Year. The whole team is still buzzing days on!

Icons of Whisky Online Retailer of the Year trophy

Most importantly though, a HUGE thank you to you, our epic customers. We love bring delicious, delicious drinks to the world, and we literally couldn’t do it without you. Thank you for supporting us, sticking with us, and making us your booze purveyor of choice. Here’s to you!

 

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Bruichladdich to build on-site maltings

As part of its sustainability efforts and commitment to investment in Islay, Bruichladdich has announced plans to build at an in-house maltings by 2023 and confirmed the purchase of a…

As part of its sustainability efforts and commitment to investment in Islay, Bruichladdich has announced plans to build at an in-house maltings by 2023 and confirmed the purchase of a farm, Shore House Croft.

One of Scotland’s most innovative distilleries, Bruichladdich will build a maltings, due to be operational by 2023. Plans are subject to change and planning permission, but the proposed facility will consist of Saladin boxes rather than floor maltings. It will be used predominantly to malt small batches, including barley grown on the island, organic grain from Elgin, and bere barley from Orkney. The aim is that it will provide about 50% of the distillery’s needs, and may expand to 100% in time.

Bruichladdich

Bruichladdich, local barley

Bruichladdich has been at the forefront of trialling different types of barley, as the innovative Bruichladdich Bere Barley bottling attests. To help with further experimentation, the distillery has purchased the 30 acre Shore House Croft where it can run barley trials. At the moment Bruichladdich uses 100% Scottish barley, with 42% of this grown on Islay.

The new maltings will enable this barley to be processed on the island rather than being sent to Inverness, cutting down on food, or rather booze, miles. It’s all part of the distillery’s drive to be more sustainable. The team is currently looking into using renewable energy sources such as tidal power, water turbine and biomass. It already uses electric vehicles and hot waste water to run the central heating.

“Running a business from an island makes us distinctly aware that our social, economic and environmental impact must be a positive one,” said CEO, Douglas Taylor.  

“We feel strongly about our responsibility to the island the people of Islay. In recent years, we have endeavoured to be more sustainable in our operations and more environmental in our actions. Some have been straightforward, like stopping using bottled water and introducing electric vehicles, or more complicated, like habitat protection, wildlife corridor agreements with landowners for barley growing and engineering a solution that reuses hot water-water from distillation.”

Douglas Taylor

Douglas Taylor!

Bruichladdich dates back to 1881 but has existed in its present form since 2001 when it was revived by Mark Reynier, Simon Coughlin and Jim McEwan. It was acquired by Rémy Cointreau in 2012. The distillery produces one million litres of pure alcohol per year, which goes into a range of spirits including The Botanist gin, and the Bruichladdich, Port Charlotte and Octomore whisky brands.

Expansion plans also include new warehouses.  There are four in the pipeline, meaning that all its casks can continue to be matured on Islay. You might be surprised to learn that the distillery is the largest private sector employer on the island. It employs 80 people (and a further 20 on the mainland), more than Diageo, and second only to the council. Good work, team laddy!

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The truth about the Master of Malt Luxury Trilogy…

This morning we revealed our incredible new range of innovative single malt Scotch whiskies with its accompanying Sven Nekyan film. Since then we’ve received plenty of feedback across social media….

This morning we revealed our incredible new range of innovative single malt Scotch whiskies with its accompanying Sven Nekyan film. Since then we’ve received plenty of feedback across social media. Now it’s time to come clean.

The Master of Malt Luxury Trilogy, comprising of the eminently covetable Limitless, Opulence and Kryptós expressions, will not be available to buy later this month. We’re extremely sorry for the inevitable disappointment this must cause you and whisky lovers around the world.

Fry

The whisky-craving masses just this morning.

As hard as it may be to believe, for example, we’re not going to release a whisky with a palate that’s “Full and buoyant, akin to a private party submarine drifting beside the Lucayan Archipelago on the way to a festival on the island of Great Exuma”.

In fact, isn’t Sven Nekyan an anagram of Kenny Evans, the Master of Malt Digital Media Manager?! We’re sure some aspects of these whiskies “like no others” are giving us deja-vu, too…

All we can say for sure is that Limitless, Opulence and Kryptós are as real as Handsome Clive’s Ginder profile.

(And that we had a lot of fun in the lead up to 1 April! Huge thanks to the good people at The Warren in Tunbridge Wells where the ‘Opulence’ scene was shot.)

The gang hard at work. [left to right: Jack (procurement buyer), Laura (campaign exec), Jake (campaign manager), Kenny (digital media manager) and Phillippa (digital creative planner)]

Tom Ball, goods in supervisor and part-time birdperson

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Introducing the Master of Malt Luxury Trilogy

It’s with enormous pride that we’re able to bring you an incredible new range of single malt Scotch whiskies, like no others that have come before. Meet the Master of…

It’s with enormous pride that we’re able to bring you an incredible new range of single malt Scotch whiskies, like no others that have come before. Meet the Master of Malt Luxury Trilogy.

*UPDATE: It’s time for you all to know the truth about Limitless, Opulence and Kryptós.*

Today represents the start of a journey, one that will lead drinkers to new worlds and new possibilities. Leave all your preconceptions at the door and join us…

It was important to us to bring the concept for each of these new whiskies to life and to convey its meaning in a coherent manner. By working with acclaimed filmmaker Sven Nekyan, we hope you’ll agree the video above does just that and more.

The Master of Malt Luxury Trilogy is made up of three innovative whiskies, each representing a different story. Be brave and invite a little glamour, or perhaps some mystery, into your life and into your glass.

Limitless

Your destiny is in your hands. Be who you want to be in your limitless life with this majestic single malt Scotch whisky. Aged patiently in carefully selected American and European oak casks for at least three long years, this expression is beautifully presented in a decanter bottle complete with sterling silver stopper and matching wings. We leave it up to you to embrace the infinite.

Opulence

Eau de Vie de grain vieillie en fûts de chêne. Pour Homme ou Femme. Or simply for everyone, actually. Everyone to whom style and grace speaks. Adroitly assembled for this very purpose by a perfumier par excellence and leading aromachologists, this is an expression that’s certainly not to be missed. You only get one life, make it opulent.

Kryptós

The most enigmatic expression of all is saved until last. The excitement in life is often in the unknown, thusly we offer fewer details for Kryptós than for any of the rest of the Luxury Trilogy. The elegant, opaque bottle, adorned with its greek name (meaning ‘secret’), contains a liquid inspired by the science of cryptography. Based on an incredibly ancient recipe that’s been reinterpreted for a thoroughly modern experience, we’re committed to not revealing any more information about this whisky until this time next year.

So there you have it. Three extraordinary whiskies borne of the desires of now. Although currently produced through unprecedented exclusive partnerships with the very finest distilleries, within a couple of years the already celebrated Master of Malt Luxury Trilogy will become the first releases from our cutting-edge 3D-printed distillery.

Limitless, Opulence and Kryptós will be available to purchase later this month. You will, of course, also be able to experience these whiskies digitally through our multi-sensory Joculus Snift eDramming headset.

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The Nightcap: 29 March

Carbon neutral distilleries, robots that scare birds away from grapes and a farewell to vintages. It’s a particularly varied week for The Nightcap. You’re tuned in to The Nightcap, Master…

Carbon neutral distilleries, robots that scare birds away from grapes and a farewell to vintages. It’s a particularly varied week for The Nightcap.

You’re tuned in to The Nightcap, Master of Malt’s round-up of booze news stories from the week that was. If there was a way to make sound happen automatically when you open The Nightcap in a way that wasn’t completely terrifying (it scares us every time a website just randomly decides that we’d love for a video to make noise right away, or that we just have to hear this royalty-free classical music while reading about something on the internet), you bet it would be one of those cool ‘dun-dun-dun-da-daaaah’ type melodies that all good news shows on TV have.

So, what have been the happenings on the MoM Blog this week? Adam got a taste for new releases, firstly showing off HYKE Gin, and then even more lip-smacking new arrivals to MoM Towers. Annie got out a magnifying glass to check out what could be the smallest gin distilleries in Britain, and followed it up with a look at the rise of cocktail-specific booze. Henry mixed up a French 75 for Cocktail of the Week, and met with Glenlivet’s Alan Winchester to taste a 50 year old single malt. Jess headed to London for a night of perfume and cocktails with Theodore Pictish Gin. Kristy was lucky enough to try something completely new from Tobermory – a gin!

More news? More news!

Balblair

No more vintages: the new Balblair core range

Balblair replaces vintages with age-statement whiskies

Some of us thought we’d never see the day. Age statements instead of vintages at Balblair? That’s the news this week from the Highland distillery, who confirmed a departure from the distillery’s ‘vintage-only’ approach in favour of four age-statement expressions. The new collection of single malt Scotch whiskies will be available in the UK this month and globally from April 2019. It consists of: a 12 Year Old, matured in American oak ex-bourbon and double-fired American oak casks; a 15 Year Old, aged initially in American oak ex-bourbon casks, followed by first-fill Spanish oak butts; an 18 Year Old, matured initially in American oak ex-bourbon casks, followed by first-fill Spanish oak butts; and finally, the standout in the range is a 25 Year Old that was initially aged in American oak ex-bourbon casks then re-casked in Spanish oak oloroso casks. John MacDonald, Distillery Manager at Balblair, said: “As one of the oldest working distilleries in the Scottish Highlands, Balblair has a long and rich history of crafting premium single malt Scotch whisky. Our new collection is intrinsically linked to our heritage and is testament to the place and the people behind our whisky, while being emblematic of our ‘True Highland Spirit’.” We’re sad to see the vintages go, but we’re looking forward to seeing what’s to come from this new era for Balblair – and tasting those age-statement whiskies!

don julio

The ‘world’s first’ Añejo Claro Tequila in a White Negroni

Don Julio brings ‘world’s first’ Añejo Claro Tequila to the UK

As everyone who is studying for the WSET Level 2 knows, or should know, Tequila Añejo is aged for a minimum of one year in oak so that it takes on colour and flavour from the cask. Well, that was true up until now because Don Julio Tequila has just launched an Añejo Claro into the UK market. It is aged for 18 months in American oak barrels but then filtered, rather as with some white rums, so you have all (or most) of the flavour of an aged spirit but without that pesky colour. It’s called Don Julio 70 and, coincidentally, will retail for around £70. Richard Larkin, head of Diageo Reserve GB, said: “This first-of-its-kind Tequila showcases the talent and skill of master distiller Enrique de Colsa who has created an Añejo Claro to challenge conventions and support the growth of super premium tequila in the UK. It’s a masterpiece of innovation.” First of its kind? Masterpiece of innovation? We’re always a bit sceptical when we hear that. So we did some investigating. It’s certainly new to the UK, although it sounds very much like a product called Hornitos Cristalino, also a filtered colourless Añejo. The folks at Diageo got in touch to tell us Don Julio 70 was first conceived in 2011 though, so it does indeed have claim to the ‘first-ever’ Añejo Claro title after all.*

ailsa bay

The new technological tipple

Ailsa Bay unveils blockchain whisky bottle

News that will please whisky geeks and, well, geeks in general came from William Grant & Sons this week, which announced the launch of a new Ailsa Bay expression that features blockchain technology. For those of you scratching your head, blockchain is a list of registers, or blocks, that contain information about the previous block and transaction data between the two blocks. Essentially, it acts as an open ledger to track authenticity and (in this case) allows shoppers to digitally track the whisky’s production journey. This new whisky features data acquired from William Grant & Sons including cask types, filling dates and bottling dates. The brand’s use of blockchain captures the full distilling and manufacturing process, allowing customers to track their whisky from source to store and trace the origins of their whisky via a web experience, which is individually tailored to each bottle. All you have to do is scan the QR code and you’ll be presented with a visual history of your whisky. William Grant & Sons partnered with specialist blockchain technology company Arc-Net to create this bottling. Dominic Parfitt, head of E-commerce at William Grant & Sons, said: “Innovation is a key part of our business. We’re constantly looking to evolve our offering and learn new things in order to push the boundaries within the drinks industry. We’re doing something now that we hope will set the bar for the future experience of spirits, and we look forward to seeing how other brands follow suit as innovation within the industry continues to develop in the next few years.”

greensand ridge

Greensand Ridge becomes carbon neutral

Kent-based Greensand Ridge is the UK’s first carbon neutral distillery

It’s 2019, and with environmental concerns becoming more pressing than ever we are happy to announce that craft distillery Greensand Ridge in Kent has become carbon neutral. It’s the first distillery in the UK to achieve this milestone, so we’ll certainly raise a glass to that! When the distillery opened in 2015, it already had the goal of having as little impact on the environment as possible, and it’s taken the last four years of hard work to reach this point. It uses surplus produce from local farmers that supermarkets won’t take, which is why you’ll see a fair few fruit spirits from the distillery such as Apple Brandy or Raspberry Ghost. With a zero target for chemical use and non-recyclable waste, and powered by 100% renewable electricity, Greensand Ridge truly has its eye on the sustainability ball. Greensand Ridge founder and distiller Will Edge says that becoming carbon neutral “doesn’t change our spirits, but it’s a statement of what is important to us as a new and growing business.” If you happen to be in the area, you can visit the distillery and even make your own bottle of carbon-neutral gin! Let’s hope more follow suit.

patron

Best of luck and many thanks to Dave Wilson!

Patrón global president and chief operations officer Dave Wilson to retire

Bacardi Limited has announced this week that Dave Wilson, global president and chief operations officer of Patrón Spirits International and the Patrón Spirits Company, will retire as of 1 April 2019. During his tenure, Wilson helped establish Patrón, which was acquired by Bacardi Limited in April 2018, in the ultra-premium Tequila category and to become one of the most recognisable agave-spirit brands around. With Wilson’s retirement, Pete Carr, president of Bacardi North America, will now lead both the Bacardi and Patrón organisations for North America, while Wilson will continue as a senior adviser to Patrón. Mahesh Madhavan, CEO of Bacardi Limited commented: “During his tremendously successful 40-year career, Dave has made an everlasting imprint in the spirits industry driving pioneering marketing, world-class operations, and innovative environmental programs. On behalf of Bacardi and our newest colleagues from Patrón, I thank Dave for his contributions to the industry and for supporting the union of two incredible organisations that are Bacardi and Patrón.” Best of luck in all future endeavours, Mr. Wilson!

valour

Is there anything more fashionable these days than gin?

Fashion designer partners with start-up distillery to launch bespoke designer gin

It seems that fashion and booze go hand-in-hand these days. Fashion designer Scott Henshall has partnered with Cooper King Distillery as part of Henshall’s new ‘Valour’ brand which launched during York Fashion Week. Don’t worry, we didn’t forget any prefixes, this is Yorkshire’s very own fashion week. Henshall, who has worked with the likes of Victoria Beckham and Paris Hilton, became, at the age of 22, the youngest designer to show during London Fashion Week. Originally from York, he wanted to celebrate his 21st year in the fashion industry by going back to his roots. The Valour range urges people to ‘be courageous in all you do’. Co-founder of Cooper King Distillery Chris Jaume said that it had been great fun working on “a unique gin which articulates the luxury and courage which Scott’s Valour brand signifies”. Among the botanicals is local honey from Cooper King’s own beehives, and lemongrass. With at least 1% of all proceeds going to the Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust as part of Cooper King Distillery’s 1% for the Planet initiative, the gin not only looks fabulous and tastes amazing, but even has a positive environmental impact. If that’s not fashionable, we don’t know what is.

luxardo

Gareth Franklin, Luxardo global brand ambassador

Luxardo launches ‘Modify This’ masterclass tour

Italian drinks company Luxardo is taking its products on the road with a series of guest nights and masterclasses at bars around the country. The initiative is called ‘Modify This!’ and it’s fronted by global brand ambassador Gareth ‘G’ Franklin. The journey begins in Wales at Pennyroyal in Cardiff on 10 April and will take him all over this great country of ours. The point is to encourage bartenders and customers alike to look at liqueurs like Luxardo Maraschino or Bitter Bianco as the headliner rather than the supporting act. Mr G said: “Liqueurs are by far the largest and most diverse category out there, but they are often seen as a lower priority on the list and in terms of the location where they are placed at the bar. I want to change this. With fresh thinking, bartenders will re-discover the benefits, authentic style and distinctive flavours of liqueurs, and how they can transform popular, simple spirit plus mixer drinks into original cocktails.” To make his point, G has come up with a special serve called the Iceberg Slim consisting of Luxardo Bitter Bianco mixed with tonic, lemon essential oils and fresh dill. Sounds like a definite contender for Cocktail of the Week.

Yeah, you can chuck those out

Gin: from mother’s ruin to Mother’s Day

It’s Mother’s Day on Sunday, but on the same day the clocks go forward meaning less time in bed. What’s that all about? Better make sure you have a good present for the mother in your life to make up for that extra hour awake. According to the WSTA, gin is now the gift du jour on Mothering Sunday. Figures released yesterday show that in the last two years gin sales spiked in March. In the first quarter of 2017, 6.4m bottles of gin were sold in UK shops, and of that 2.6m, 41%, were sold in March. Last year was even stronger, with 9m bottles of gin sold in January, February and March of which 4.7 million, 52%, of those were sold in the run up to Mother’s Day. Marcus Pickering of Pickering’s Gin whose company offers a personalised gin wrapping service said: “After years of giving flowers and chocolates we have discovered what mums really want is gin”.

bombay sapphire

Bombay Sapphire Limited Edition English Estate is a summer-inspired gin

Bombay Sapphire launches new gin inspired by the English countryside

Bombay Sapphire announced this week that it planned to release more gin-based deliciousness in the form of Bombay Sapphire Limited Edition: English Estate. It’s a gin inspired by the landscape surrounding the brand’s home at Laverstoke Mill in the Hampshire countryside. The first in a series of limited editions, Bombay Sapphire English Estate was made with an infusion of three new botanicals: Pennyroyal mint, rosehip and toasted hazelnut to create a summery profile. But be warned, this gin will only be available for 12 months from April 2019. Two bespoke cocktails were created to showcase this drink, ‘The Secret English Garden’, which blends English Estate gin with Fever-Tree ginger ale and cloudy apple juice served long with lemon, apple, thyme and ice, as well as a twist on the classic G&T, combining English Estate gin with Fever-Tree tonic over ice, garnished with mint and a lemon wedge. Ivano Tonutti, Bombay Sapphire master of botanicals, commented on the expression: “Each botanical in our gin is carefully balanced to create a smooth and complex taste and the new Bombay Sapphire English Estate is no different. Hand-selected from the English countryside and drawing creative inspiration from the Hampshire home of Bombay Sapphire, the additional botanicals produce a summer-inspired vibrant gin.”

bird that hates grapes

It’s saying: “I’m gonna eat your graaaaaaaapes!”

And finally… Drone to deter birds from stealing wine grapes

Grapes have made a few enemies over the years. Phylloxera, for example. One grape enemy you may be more familiar with is birds. Birds have trouble resisting those little globes of deliciousness, and while making sure birds enjoy a balanced breakfast is a noble cause, we can all agree that this should not come at the cost of wine. In a report from The HeraldDarren Fahey, the viticulture development officer for NSW Department of Primary Industries, estimated that birds cause $300 million-a-year crop and winegrape losses in Australia. That’s where Zi Wang, a Sydney University School of Aerospace Mechanical and Mechatronic Engineering PhD candidate, comes in with his plan to use a drone to scare away the hungry birds from Australian vineyards. The drone, which is being trialled in Hunter valley, Hilltops and Orange vineyards, can be piloted remotely, and the aim is to make it so the system can detect birds and automatically launch into action. It can emit mimicked bird distress calls, and even has a dummy crow attached to it, to make it look like the drone has just caught it. Perhaps if Heathrow starts having drone problems again, the way to defeat them is to send out a rival drone with another drone attached to it…

That’s it for The Nightcap this week, folks. Have a good one!

*An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that Hornitos Cristalino was first to market – apologies, folks. 

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First taste of Glenlivet 50 Year Old Winchester Collection

We were given a very special personal tasting with master distiller Alan Winchester ahead of the release of Glenlivet 50 Year Old Winchester Collection Vintage 1967, the distillery’s new $25,000 expression….

We were given a very special personal tasting with master distiller Alan Winchester ahead of the release of Glenlivet 50 Year Old Winchester Collection Vintage 1967, the distillery’s new $25,000 expression.

The Glenlivet was still in family hands when the youngest component in this 50 year old whisky was distilled in 1967. It was run by the great Captain Bill Smith Grant, descendent of distillery founder George Smith. In those days the stills would have been direct-fired by coal, and yet, according to the current master blender, Alan Winchester, the spirit has the same character today.

Alan Winchester, Glenlivet

Alan Winchester with very old cask

We met in the Punch Room at the London Edition Hotel along with Bethan Gray, the noted furniture designer, who has created a spectacular box for this very special Glenlivet. It’s inspired by the distillery, the landscape and her father, who was raised in the Cairngorms. It features stained maple wood inlaid with copper representing the charred casks and the stills, and mother of pearl, a nod to the freshwater mussels in the Spey. The whisky is housed in a hand-blown bottle by Brodie Nairn. It’s a work of such extraordinary craftsmanship that I didn’t dare touch it.

I felt the same about the contents; I was reluctant to risk spilling a precious drop (only 150 bottles have been filled) until Winchester picked his glass first and began describing it to me: “The whisky started life in European oak but spent most of its life in Amerian oak casks, it was then taken out and put in a refill ex-bourbon hogshead, that‘s why there’s still so much distillery character,” he said.

On the nose I could see what he meant. It was dominated by sweet peachy fruit followed by notes of apricot jam and toffee. On the palate there’s dark chocolate and orange peel. It’s very smooth despite the high alcohol. The finish has toffee, coconut, and “banoffee pie”, according to Winchester.

He went on to say, “at 48% ABV, it’s kept a lot of strength in maturation, and retained lots of Glenlivet flavours. It’s full of sweetness and has not been dominated by European oak”. Adding water brought out aromatic floral notes and spices like cardamom. Winchester put it more poetically: “it’s like heather after a shower of rain, everything is fragrant.” He reckoned the release is “in keeping with the fruity floral Glenlivet style. This is how it was produced a few generations ago and this is how we are producing it today, they were right and we’ve followed them. Good news!”

Glenlivet

Ah! the smell of heather after rain

Winchester is a native of Morayshire. His father had a farm that supplied barley for Glenfarclas and indeed, that is where Winchester got his start in whisky. He moved to Glenlivet in 1979 and became master distiller a short 40 years later in 2009. It’s an immense responsibility. “Glenlivet is the holder of the Speyside style,” Winchester said, “and it’s been handed over to me. You can change everything if you like but you must make sure the whisky doesn’t change.” When this whisky was distilled two generations back, the master distiller was Bob Arthur. It was a more formal time, “you called the manager Mister, it’s all Christian names now,” he said, with perhaps a tinge of regret.

After a period with Seagram, the distillery was bought by Pernod Ricard in 2000. Production at Glenlivet has been ramped up in recent years. “Glenlivet has been expanded three times in my career, the last two I was heavily involved in,” Winchester told me. “This has given us more capacity to meet the demands of anticipated growth”. But, he said, “though it’s a large distillery we speak about things in terms of craft.”

This Glenlivet 50 Year Old Winchester Collection Vintage 1967 (which will be released later in spring at $25,000 per bottle!) is part of the Winchester Collection of rare whiskies named, of course, after the master distiller himself, who is due to retire soon. I asked Winchester about retirement but he corrected me: “semi-retirement.” He was cagey about who was lined up to replace him (“there’s a few folk being groomed to take over, I hope they’re jostling for position”). He seems reluctant to leave (and who can blame him?), but soon the responsibility for this famous name will be in someone else’s hands.

 

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Distell unveils super-local Tobermory Hebridean Gin!

Are you a gin magpie with an eye for shiny, new juniper-based concoctions? Then listen up. Mull-based distillery Tobermory is in the process of releasing its first gin expression. Behold –…

Are you a gin magpie with an eye for shiny, new juniper-based concoctions? Then listen up. Mull-based distillery Tobermory is in the process of releasing its first gin expression. Behold – Tobermory Hebridean Gin!

Tobermory Distillery has been closed for a two-year renovation period, and the first fruits of that investment were on display at an event in London last night (27 March).

Not only did the distillery reveal its new Tobermory 12 Year Old, an unpeated bourbon cask-matured, virgin oak-finished Scotch whisky expression, but it surprised guests with a sneak peek at the new gin, too.

Tobermory Hebridean Gin

Tobermory Hebridean Gin – Tobermory’s first gin!

Tobermory Hebridean Gin is a 46.3% ABV small-batch-distilled gin made with local botanicals including elderflower, tea and wild heather, and a dash of Tobermory new-make spirit.

The new-make is used more as another botanical rather than the full base. The result means the oily, cereal character is a flavour contributor, rather than overwhelming the whole expression.

We were particularly impressed by the bottle, which showcases the iconic, colourful houses that border the shore in Tobermory, the island’s biggest town. The clear glass and label design are in line with a sleek brand refresh for the wider spirits range. 

Dr Kirstie McCallum, Distell’s master blender, told us that the gin release was the result of the investment in the distillery. It’s currently being produced in 60-litre still named Wee Betty, with a larger dedicated gin still set to be installed in the new spirits stillhouse (separate from the existing whisky-producing space) later this summer.

Once the larger still is in situ, the gin will be released more widely.

Tobermory 12 Year Old

The shiny new Tobermory 12 Year Old!

McCallum also confirmed Tobermory 10 Year Old has been discontinued with the launch of the 12 Year Old expression, and that we can expect to see more changes to the distillery’s core Scotch whisky range soon. In addition to the unpeated Tobermory range, the site also produces heavily-peated Scotch whisky under the Ledaig name.

Keep an eye on the blog for our full interview with McCallum, including further details on Tobermory Hebridean Gin and Tobermory 12 Year Old, coming soon!

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An evening of cocktails and perfume with Theodore Gin

We headed to London’s Eve Bar to check out the perfumery of Theodore Pictish Gin, the inaugural release from Greenwood Distillers. The wonderful folks from Greenwood Distillers hosted an evening…

We headed to London’s Eve Bar to check out the perfumery of Theodore Pictish Gin, the inaugural release from Greenwood Distillers.

The wonderful folks from Greenwood Distillers hosted an evening of gin, cocktails and perfume to celebrate their very first release, Theodore Pictish Gin. The brand was founded in 2018 by Barthelemy Brosseau, while the first Theodore gin expression was only released in February this year.

The gin takes its name from the Picts, an ancient tribe that once settled in Ardross in the Scotland’s Northern Highlands. Meanwhile, Theodore de Bry was a 16th century engraver who brought the Picts to life through his art, hence the gin’s name. The spirit was crafted with the help of olfactory expert and perfume designer Barnabé Fillion, so it made perfect sense for the brand to link the gin and perfume, and it was illuminating to understand how the botanicals and their scents interact together in order to fully grasp how the gin works.

Behold the Oud Gimlet!

We were welcomed through swirls of incense with a rather delicious cocktail that we found out was a ‘Celery Spritz’, a mix of Theodore Gin, celery cordial, salted honey and a dash of fizz. There were also three other cocktails which celebrated the botanicals in Theodore Gin, curated by the fabulous team at Eve:

Holy Collins: Theodore Gin, clear lemon, Makrut lime tincture, holy wood, and soda

Sakura Fizz: Theodore Gin, sakura blossom, lemon, and benzoin gum

Oud Gimlet: Theodore Gin, jasmine cordial, and oud essence.

Theodore Pictish Gin contains 16 botanicals including pine, lavender, pomelo and bourbon vetiver. As part of the sensory experience we were given each botanical to smell in its purest form, most of them as oils, as though the gin had been deconstructed into its key components. During this we also had a glass of the gin in hand, and it was fascinating to have the botanicals right in front of us as well as the finished product.

Now, these potent pure scents weren’t all sweet as roses (although we may note that Damask rose was in fact one of them!), some were downright weird and fairly unpleasant. Brand ambassador Keivan Nemati began to explain that “off-flavours are essential to composition”. If you were to separate out the compounds of let’s say, Makrut lime, remove the aromas that didn’t smell nice on their own and take all the ‘best’ or ‘nicest’ scents of, you would perhaps expect it to be some sort of extraordinary Makrut lime scent? You would be mistaken!

Scents that aren’t necessarily pleasant are still crucial when combined with other components. For example, in terms of the gin, bourbon vetiver is not the most alluring scent on its own, though it is exactly the addition of botanicals like vetiver that help others shine through and also bring balance.

Perfume and gin – an atmospheric combination

It was then time to enjoy the rest of the gin and have a chat with founder Barth Brosseau. Needless to say, the packaging of the gin is really quite something. The wonderful bespoke bottle is simultaneously refined and rustic, while the presentation tube is elaborately adorned with two strong and fierce Pictish warriors, surrounded by ornate drawings of the botanicals in the gin, drawn by the fabulous Carlotta Saracco. Brosseau mentioned that the male and female Picts are on opposite sides of the tube to reflect the same balance that is seen in every aspect of the gin.

It was fabulous to see Brosseau talk so passionately about the history that inspired him to create such a gin, as well as his vision for Greenwood Distillers’ future which is set to include Armagnac, mezcal and much more. Currently, half of the gin is produced in France and half is produced in the UK. But the brand is in the process of building its own distillery in Scotland, where it will be closer to the history which inspired Theodore Gin. Watch this space.

Wonderfully refreshing, this stuff…

 

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The Nightcap: 22 March

Looking for bite-sized bits of booze news? That’s exactly what The Nightcap is all about! This week we’ve got stories about distillery facelifts, trees and 47 year old whisky… It’s…

Looking for bite-sized bits of booze news? That’s exactly what The Nightcap is all about! This week we’ve got stories about distillery facelifts, trees and 47 year old whisky…

It’s time once again for the MoM editorial team to remove the selection of stylish toppers from our heads and don our snazzy newsy caps with the little bit of paper saying “PRESS” or “NEWS” sticking out of them. The Nightcap is back for another round of news stories from the booze world. You can wear whatever variety of hat you want as you read it. Perhaps a pillbox hat? A Stetson? A whoopee cap?! All headwear is allowed.

So what’s been going on here on the MoM Blog? Well, it kicked off with Henry looking at Graham’s Blend No. 5 Port, which he followed up with the Cocktail of the Week (it’s a Manhattan) and an overview of the last 20 years of the London cocktail scene. Annie explored the world of terroir and how it relates to vodka. Kristy took a look around the home of American craft distilling pioneer St. George Spirits in San Francisco. Adam collected together a bunch of suitable springtime treats that would make excellent Mother’s Day pressies. We also had a nose around Aberfeldy, and made it so you can use Apple Pay at the checkout!

That’s all well and good, but what about the rest of the news? Read on…

Clynelish

Clynelish, the Highland ‘home’ of Johnnie Walker, is set for a radical revamp

Clynelish and Cardhu set for fancy facelifts

Diageo has revealed the latest recipients as part of its £150 million investment in Scotch whisky tourism – Highland distillery Clynelish, and Speyside’s Cardhu! Local residents have been invited to check out yet-to-be-submitted plans for both sites, which will become outposts for blended Scotch brand Johnnie Walker. Clynelish, situated about an hour north of Inverness, will get a visitor centre on the upper floor, along with a new bar and tasting area, boasting stunning views of the Sutherland coast. As the Highland ‘home’ of Johnnie Walker, the distillery will share design cues with the major new visitor attraction in Edinburgh. Clynelish shares its site with Brora, a long-closed distillery that’s being brought back into production in a separate project. Meanwhile, over in Speyside, Cardhu is also set for a refurb. The distillery, just north of the River Spey near Knockando, will become Johnnie Walker’s Speyside home. It’s association with the brand dates back to 1893 when it became John Walker & Sons’ first distillery. The investment will see a visitor experience dedicated to Helen and Elizabeth Cumming, the two women who set up and ran the distillery in the 19th century, plus a new orchard space for people to enjoy. “Tourism is an increasingly important part of the Speyside economy, alongside distilling,” said Laura Sharp, Cardhu Distillery brand home manager. “The investment we are making here at Cardhu will add another jewel to Speyside’s whisky tourism crown and we look forward to working with the local community and stakeholders as we progress our plans.” Jacqueline James-Bow, her Clynelish counterpart, added: “Scotch whisky tourism is one of the major attractions driving economic growth in rural communities such as Brora. With the work we are already doing at Brora Distillery, and that we plan to do at Clynelish, we are bringing major investment and creating exciting new economic opportunities for the community.” Subject to planning permission, work is expected to get underway at both sites later this year.

Tres Agaves

Feast your eyes on the new Tres Agaves Distillery!

Tres Agaves opens new Tequila distillery

We’ve heard a lot about new distilleries across Scotland and Ireland recently, but this week we bring you news of a pristine Tequila distillery! San Francisco-based Tres Agaves has opened its first production site in Amatitán, Mexico, with Iliana Partida at the helm as its founding master distiller. Tequilera TAP has been custom-built and will continue to make Tres Agaves’ Blanco, Reposado and Añejo 100% agave range, only now with full organic certification. The set-up includes a 20-ton autoclave, a four-stage roller mill, shallow stainless-steel fermentation tanks, and copper coiled alembic distillation stills. As well as the shiny new kit, there’s also a traditional brick horno, a tahona wheel and shallow pine fermentation tanks, to provide time-honoured production options, too. Capacity will reach more than 600,000 litres of spirit per year. Visitors are welcome, and can take advantage of tours and private tastings, including single-barrel releases. The Tres Agaves team seem delighted with the developments. “Tres Agaves has always been about family, the local community and producing the finest quality authentic Tequila,” said Barry Augus, founder and CEO of Tres Agaves Tequila. “I’ve known Iliana’s family for twenty years and even purchased the land for the new distillery from her father, David. The opening of our state-of-the-art distillery with Iliana, whose family I have known since my start in the Tequila industry, marks a major milestone for us.” Congrats to all!

It seems appropriate to celebrate Cotswolds Dry Gin victory with a quick tipple…

ADI names Best of Class craft spirits

Remember when we headed out to San Francisco for the American Distilling Institute’s Judging of Craft Spirits? Well, the winners have been announced! And they are a diverse bunch indeed. Those named Best in Class were deemed outstanding by the individual panels, and then re-tasted by the entire judging contingent – so you know they’re good. And leading the gin charge was England’s very own Cotswolds Distillery, which won the International Gin category with its Dry Gin! Other top tipples were NAUD’s VS Cognac, which won International Brandy; and Casa D’Aristi, which scooped International Liqueur with its Kalani Coconut offering. Kudos also goes to The Heart Distillery which won in the US gin category, Solar Spirits, which snapped up US vodka for its Eclipse Vodka, and Cutwater Spirits, which triumphed in the US Whiskey section with Devil’s Share American Whiskey. Overall, there were hundreds of medals awarded to all kinds of spirits across the category spectrum. Congratulations to all the winners!

Mortlach

Just look at this beauty. Wow

Mortlach releases 47 year old ‘Singing Still’ bottling

We love the meaty taste of Mortlach. It’s not known as the beast of Dufftown for nothing. So, we were particularly excited to learn about a new 47 year old expression from the single malt Scotch distillery. 47 years! Imagine the beastiness. This is the oldest expression ever released by the distillery. It’s the first to hit the market in a new series of single cask whiskies called The Singing Stills Series (can now picture Disney-esque stills actually singing) after Mortlach’s famously vocal distillation equipment. This one is from a refill American oak hogshead that was filled in 1971. “This bottling is exquisite for its age and is unmistakably Mortlach, with its intensely complex character and well-balanced flavour profile,” said master blender Dr. Craig Wilson. Global Scotch ambassador Ewan Gunn added: “The sound of the stills is as distinctive to the distillery as the taste of the whisky. Mortlach’s exceptionally bold and complex flavours effortlessly bridge the gap between mellow and smoky.” Mmmmmm, mellow and smoky. On 25 March one bottle will be auctioned by Bonhams of Singapore with the money going to Daughters of Tomorrow, a charity that supports underprivileged women. A further 94 will go on sale on 9 April for £10,000 apiece. Master of Malt will be given a wee taste soon; we will let you know ASAP whether it’s worth dipping into your wallet.

Barton 1792

You can enjoy bourbon and the Kentucky sunshine with Barreled And Bold

Kentucky distillers team up for free tours!

Great news if you’re Kentucky-bound – Buffalo Trace, Copper & Kings and Barton 1792 have partnered to offer complimentary (yes – free!) distillery tours! Known as Barreled And Bold, the experience takes in each of the three distilleries, based in Frankfort, Louisville and Bardstown respectively. To take part, visitors need to register at BarreledAndBold.com, and then collect their B&B pass at the first stop. The pass gives bearers access to a free tour at each site, and progressive discounts along the journey (10% at the first distillery, 15% at the second, 20% at the third). Visit all three, and get a commemorative gift! “This is not just serendipity, this is allowing for a partnership that can provide an exciting, adventurous window to the past, present and future of distilling in America, well beyond the borders of Kentucky,” said Mark Brown, Buffalo Trace Distillery and Barton 1792 Distillery president and chief executive officer. Copper & Kings founder Joe Heron added: “What a proposition! Bourbon Pompeii to Rock & Roll Brandy, Warehouse X, maybe not SpaceX, but it does feel like a rocket about to take off. Three completely unique perspectives of adventurous Kentucky spirits, Bourbon, American Brandy, Gins and Absinthe. From the barrel for the bold, bold from the barrel. It’s Kentucky hospitality distilled.” We’ve got it on the travel bucket list.

Cooper King Distillery

Cooper King Distillery, doing its bit for the environment

Cooper King marks International Day of Forests by planting hundreds of trees

Over in North Yorkshire, Cooper King Distillery has donated over £1,000 to the Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust (YDMT) to mark International Day of Forests on 21 March. The donation will enable it to plant 115 trees! It comes as part of a wider distillery vision to plant 400 trees in its first year of operation. 335 are already in the ground, offsetting 167.5 tonnes of CO2, the equivalent of 50kg of carbon dioxide for every bottle of Cooper King gin sold. Imagine if every distillery did that! It’s one of just a handful of distilleries in the UK to run on 100% green energy, and instead of relying on fresh water to supply the cooling system, the team uses a nifty closed loop system, saving an eye-watering 13 tonnes of fresh water every year. Cooper King is also the first distillery in England to launch a scheme encouraging people to bring their empty gin bottles back to be refilled. You’ll get 15% off if you do! Think of it as a much more rewarding supermarket plastic bag scheme. If a small distillery that’s been up and running for less than a year can do this, why aren’t others stepping up? As Michael Delvin, development manager at YDMT, commented: “Big businesses can learn a lot from passionate start-ups such as Cooper King Distillery.” Hopefully it will inspire many more to follow suit.

Near & Far

Near & Far comes to Camden!

Get a taste of California in Camden at the latest Near & Far

The Near & Far family of bars is growing once again! With locations already in Peckham and Angel, another bar has just opened in Camden. The third instalment spans four floors of Californian-inspired decor, with room for 180 happy guests. Prepare yourself for palm trees, pastel hues and a copious number of cacti. There’s even a roof terrace which, being in England and all that, is sure to get its fair share of use all year round. With a cocktail menu inspired global tastes and Mexican street food from Elote, there’s literally something for everyone. A few of the cocktails are old favourites from other bar locations, as well as some new blood on the scene (not literally). We’re sure a favourite is going to be The Benedict Cucumberbatch – though isn’t that just his regular name..? There’s also a fabulous range of non-alcoholic cocktails and beers. In even more good news, it’s open seven days a week! Now, near or far, you’ve no excuse not to go…

P(our) Symposium

P(our) Symposium will come to the English capital for the first time

P(our) Symposium heads to London

Listen up, bartenders and other booze folk: thought-provoking non-profit convention P(our) is coming to London for the first time! As well as revealing the location for the proceedings (Village Underground, 24 June), the team has also unveiled this year’s topic: Understanding. Speakers unpacking the theme through a variety of talks and collaborations include Isabella Dalla Ragione, and agronomist and expert on biodiversity; Brigitte Sossou Perenyi, a documentary producer and author; and bartender Jeffrey Morgenthaler. More names will be announced in due course. “We’re excited to bring to the fore this year’s theme of ‘Understanding’, looking at it from different perspectives – where it comes from, why it’s important, where more is needed and how it can be built,” said co-founder Monica Berg. Other P(our) founding members include Alex Kratena, Simone Caporale, Ryan Chetiyawardana, Jim Meehan, Joerg Meyer and Xavier Padovani, who united to bring and embrace change in drinks through discovering new ideas, sharing information, and exchanging inspiration. Tickets for P(our) are free, will be released in April through an application process. Fancy going along? keep your eyes peeled.

Highland Whisky Festival

Fancy Glen Ord? It will offer visitors a chance to operate the distillery themselves

Highland Whisky Festival reveals programme, complete with Game of Thrones tasting

The Highland Whisky Festival, Scotland’s newest whisky event, is really taking shape! Set to run from 10-17 May, the celebration takes in distilleries across one of Scotland’s most beautiful and varied, though often overlooked, regions. Programme highlights include a special Game of Thrones tasting at Clynelish on 12 May, and a peek inside the soon-to-be reborn Brora distillery. Balblair will screen Ken Loach’s film The Angel’s Share among the casks of Dunnage no. 3, while on 14 May Glenmorangie will host a special single cask dinner. Meanwhile, the brave team at Glen Ord will offer visitors a chance to operate the distillery themselves on 16 May (sounds potentially dangerous.) To round things off on 17 May, Tomatin will roll out the barrel with live coopering demonstrations and a dinner, just in case you need more feasting after a week of festivities. It all sounds brilliant!

Bacardi

Look at its little face. This is vitally important work

And Finally… Bacardi backs the bats in Puerto Rico

We are a bunch of animal lovers here at MoM Towers. From cat pictures to office dogs, we are fans of all things fluffy. And the not so fluffy too, it turns out. News reached us this week that Bacardi Limited, owner of Bacardi rum (makes sense), has been rewarded for its efforts to protect bats at its rum distillery in Cataño, Puerto Rico, and our hearts soared. Like a bat in flight. Bacardi picked up WHC Conservation Certification, becoming the first site on the island to do so. What’s all the fuss about? Well, the bat programme offers education to employees and locals alike, stressing the creature’s importance to the island’s ecosystem. The company is also working to restore the natural forest area near its campus, creating a better habitat for the local bats. “Bacardi is an environmental leader, voluntarily managing its lands to support sustainable ecosystems and the communities that surround them,” said Margaret O’Gorman, president, Wildlife Habitat Council. “Achieving certification at the Bacardi Corporation facility in Puerto Rico demonstrates the company’s commitment to the environment, employee engagement and community relations.” Hurrah for Bacardi! And actually, looking at that little dude above, we reckon bats fall into the fluffy animal category, after all…

That’s it for The Nightcap for this week, folks. Have a marvellous weekend!

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You can now snap up delicious boozes using Apple Pay!

Big news, folks! As of today, you can use Apple Pay to complete your orders on Master of Malt. Which means it’s even easier to stock your drinks cabinet with…

Big news, folks! As of today, you can use Apple Pay to complete your orders on Master of Malt. Which means it’s even easier to stock your drinks cabinet with treats!

Browsing Master of Malt in Safari on an iPhone right now? A Mac? Or even an iPad? If so, you can forget all the faffing associated with typing your address and payment details at the checkout. Simply fingerprint/facial recognition it and go!

Apple Pay MoM

Simples

We’re super-excited about this development. We know more and more of you use your smartphones to check us out, research what’s new in the world of drinks, and read up on developments on the blog. As such, we wanted to make it even easier to actually get those bottles you’re eyeing up from your basket to your booze cabinet!

If you’ve got Apple Wallet set up of your device, you’re good to go. If not, if you’ve got an Apple gadget and you want in, there’s a little bit of admin involved to add your payment card to your Apple account. But don’t worry, we’ll wait.

Then, once you’re ready to check out, pop in your delivery postcode and head to the payment page. Hit the Apple Pay box above the card payment option, and voilà! Easy peasy. Ready the glassware – your drinks are on their way!

MoM Apple Pay

Not THOSE sorts of apples

How does it work? All the necessary deets are held by Apple Pay, so we get the info (encrypted and super-safe, obvs) from them, not you. So you spend less time typing and more time watching all-important cat videos. You’re welcome.

Reading this on a Google device and feeling all kinds of FOMO? Fret not. Our team of ace developers are on the case. We’ll have more news soon…

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