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Master of Malt Blog

Category: Video

Talisker video masterclass with malt whisky ambassador TJ

One of only two whisky distilleries on the Isle of Skye, Talisker, has a loyal following. In this masterclass malt whisky brand ambassador TJ shows us how to get the…

One of only two whisky distilleries on the Isle of Skye, Talisker, has a loyal following. In this masterclass malt whisky brand ambassador TJ shows us how to get the most out of its distinctive smoky salty taste.

The rugged maritime setting of coastal Skye is echoed in the taste of Talisker whisky.

One sip of the 10 Year Old expression, and you can smell the sea air and almost hear the squawk of seagulls. It’s one of Scotland’s best-loved and most distinctive single malts. If you’re lucky enough to visit the distillery, you mustn’t miss out on the nearby shack selling fresh and smoked seafood caught in the surrounding waters. A dram of Talisker and a Scottish oyster is a match made in heaven. But you don’t have to drink it neat, Talisker is also delicious in cocktails, hot and cold. 

Talisker Campfire Hot Chocolate

Talisker Campfire Hot Chocolate

To tell us more about Talisker, its affinity with seafood and how to use it in cocktails, we were lucky enough to spend some time with TJ. A former Edinburgh bartender, TJ now works as a malt whisky ambassador for Diageo, spreading the word about the joys of Scotch whisky.

Got your Talisker ready? Take it away TJ!

Here TJ tells us a little about himself and his journey from behind the bar to Diageo whisky brand ambassador.

In this video TJ shows how well Talisker 10 goes with raw oysters.

Talisker Campfire is the ultimate hot chocolate drink.

Talisker Port Ruighe also tastes amazing with seafood.

 

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Johnnie Walker Blue Label masterclass with Colin Dunn

We filmed Diageo whisky ambassador Colin Dunn talking about how to get the most out of Johnnie Walker Blue Label. Turns out, we’d been doing it wrong all these years….

We filmed Diageo whisky ambassador Colin Dunn talking about how to get the most out of Johnnie Walker Blue Label. Turns out, we’d been doing it wrong all these years.

Johnnie Walker is the most famous name in Scotch whisky and Blue Label sits at the top of the range (give or take a few special editions). It’s perhaps the ultimate gift whisky: you know you’ve done a good job or your father-in-law approves when you receive a bottle. But as well as being a known currency throughout the world, it’s also a damn fine drop blended from some extremely rare and old malt and grain whiskies.

Johnnie Walker Blue Label

That’s the stuff

It’s not an in-your-face whisky and as such can initially be a bit underwhelming to palates raised on the big bold flavours of heavily sherried or peated malts. So, to show us how to appreciate this fine elegant blend, we are lucky enough to have some time with Colin Dunn. Dunn originally worked in the wine trade before being snapped up by Bowmore to spread the word about single malt whisky. He also worked with other distilleries in the Suntory portfolio including  GlenGarioch, Yamazaki, and Hibiki. Then in 2008, he moved to Diageo where he represents the company’s 28 malt distilleries as well as Johnnie Walker.

Right, got your Blue Label ready? Take it away, Colin!

Here Colin Dunn introduces himself and tells us why he loves Scotch whisky so much.

And now the Johnnie Walker Blue Label masterclass. You’ll never drink whisky in the same way after watching this.

 

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Mortlach video masterclass with malt whisky brand ambassador TJ

Last month we spent an evening at Diageo’s London HQ with Edinburgh bartender and malt whisky brand ambassador TJ learning about why they call Mortlach the Beast of Dufftown. And…

Last month we spent an evening at Diageo’s London HQ with Edinburgh bartender and malt whisky brand ambassador TJ learning about why they call Mortlach the Beast of Dufftown. And we’ve got the videos to prove it.

Mortlach is a Speyside legend famed for its powerful whiskies that are capable of great ageing (the distillery recently released a 47 year old). Its unique character is down to a peculiar distillation technique known as ‘The Way’ invented by Alexander Cowie who built the distillery in 1823. We won’t go into too much detail about how it works but you can read more about it here. In this technique, the wash is distilled not once, not twice, not even three times a lady, but 2.81 times. So precise!

You can see it for yourself if you enter our Mortlach competition, where you can win a VIP trip to the distillery featuring a private tour, tastings, two nights at The Craigellachie Hotel and more. There’s also currrently 10% off Mortlach 12 Year Old, 16 Year Old and 20 Year Old, so everyone’s a winner!

Mortlach 12 Year Old in all its glory

To talk us through the core range, we were lucky enough to have one of Diageo’s newest and shiniest brand ambassadors TJ. An Edinburgh native, TJ cut his teeth working in some of the city’s best bars before being snapped up to spread the malt whisky gospel.

Drams at the ready, let’s masterclass!

Here TJ tells us a little about himself and his journey from behind the bar to Diageo whisky brand ambassador.

 

The 12 Year Old is Mortlach’s bestselling expression offering all that trademark meatiness at an everyday price.

 

One step up in the range and a move up the complexity scale is the 16 Year Old.

 

And finally the biggest beast in the Mortlach core range, it’s the mighty 20 Year Old!

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Have a nose around Aberfeldy Distillery!

We paid a visit to Highland distillery Aberfeldy – AKA the Home of Dewar’s – for a good old explore. The results? Six videos, so you can check it out,…

We paid a visit to Highland distillery Aberfeldy – AKA the Home of Dewar’s – for a good old explore. The results? Six videos, so you can check it out, too!

Aberfeldy is a small town of about 2,000 people. It’s huddled in a valley near the source of the River Tay, and sits on a crossroads. Walking through, it feels very typically Scottish – it’s got a pretty high street, people are friendly and you don’t have to go very far to find a decent pub. Also, it’s got a distillery.

Aberfeldy Distillery is unusual though, mostly because it’s probably better known as the Home of Dewar’s, the blended Scotch brand. At least on the tourist trail anyway. From the start, the branding is all Dewar’s. And actually, it’s refreshing to find a single malt distillery celebrating the blend it is such an integral part of. There’s none of that ‘single malts are just better’ nonsense here.

Aberfeldy Distillery Dewar's

#HomeofDewars – and Aberfeldy

“Aberfeldy has a great, rich history and story centred round the Dewar’s family,” said Matthew Cordiner, Dewar’s Aberfeldy distillery brand ambassador. And that’s the real ethos of the distillery – it doesn’t just celebrate the whisky (although of course it does), but there’s a huge focus on the family and the history behind it all, too. And there are stories galore.

After stopping by the Pitilie Burn (gotta have a decent water source), we check out the milling. And, of course, there’s a classic Porteus malt mill! On-site maltings stopped in the 1960s, so pre-malted Concerto barley is now delivered by lorry.

Then it’s tun time. The vessel was only designed to handle 6.5 tonnes of grist, but the team manages to produce 7.5 tonnes each time. “We’re actually over-producing,” Cordiner detailed. In total, Aberfeldy makes 3.4 million litres of spirit a year.

Fermentation is really where you start to see the Aberfeldy, as we know it, come to life. The long 72-hour average fermentation brings out that sweet, honeyed note. The distillery has eight larch washbacks and two stainless steel ones, installed three years ago.

Time to check out the stillhouse! Aberfeldy has two wash and two spirit stills, with two shell and tube condensers. In 2014, the distillery switched over to a biomass boiler.

Aberfeldy doesn’t really mature on-site, but there are some casks you can check out…

And voilà! If that’s given you a taste for Aberfeldy, you can visit the Home of Dewar’s all year round!

Matt and our ace video team!

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Brendan McCarron tastes Ardbeg’s core expressions

Recently, we were fortunate enough to spend a few hours with one of the most entertaining men in whisky, Brendan McCarron. Now, we have produced four short films where McCarron…

Recently, we were fortunate enough to spend a few hours with one of the most entertaining men in whisky, Brendan McCarron. Now, we have produced four short films where McCarron gives a masterclass around each core expression. 

If you like your whiskies wild and smoky, then you’re probably an Ardbeg drinker. This Islay distillery inspires a fierce loyalty among whisky fans. So, when Brendan McCarron joined in 2014, he knew that he was taking on a big responsibility. Before Ardbeg, he has had an interesting career in whisky. A chemical engineering graduate, his first whisky job was with Diageo. He worked as distillery manager at Oban, before moving to Islay to run Caol Ila, Lagavulin and the Port Ellen Maltings.

Brendan McCarron Ardbeg

Brendan McCarron explaining whisky through hand gestures

Then he was made an offer he couldn’t refuse, an invitation to join the team at Ardbeg and Glenmorangie (which are both in the LVMH stable). McCarron’s official job title is head of maturing whisky stocks. He works alongside Dr Bill Lumsden (they described themselves at the recent launch for Glenmorangie Allta Private Edition as “like the two Ronnies, only not funny”) and is being groomed to succeed the good doctor when he retires.

We have produced a long interview with McCarron where he talks about the responsibility of working for a cult distillery like Ardbeg, his plans for the future and tells us which is his favourite expression, as well as a short Q&A. Below are four short films where McCarron gives us a mini masterclass on each of the four core whiskies in the Ardbeg range: 10 Year Old, An Oa, Uigeadail and Corryvreckan.

Slainte!

Ardbeg 10 Year Old –  The classic expression is aged exclusively in ex-bourbon casks and bottled at 46% ABV.

Ardbeg An Oa –  Named after a peninsula on Islay, this is aged in a mixture of Pedro Ximénez, charred virgin oak and ex-bourbon casks, and bottled at 46.6% ABV.

Ardbeg Uigeadail – The name comes from the water source used by the distillery. It is aged in oloroso and ex-bourbon casks, roughly half and half, and bottled at 54.2% ABV.

Ardbeg Corryvreckan – Named after a fearsome whirlpool about 40 miles off the coast of the island, around 30% of this expression is aged in new French oak barriques and the rest in ex-bourbon casks, and it is bottled at 57.1% ABV.

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Come along and explore Craigellachie!

It’s a Speyside distillery with a cult following and an intriguing production story (yes, we mean those worm tub condensers). But what is Craigellachie actually like behind the scenes? We…

It’s a Speyside distillery with a cult following and an intriguing production story (yes, we mean those worm tub condensers). But what is Craigellachie actually like behind the scenes? We zipped along to spend a couple of hours exploring!

If you like weighty, meaty whiskies with a fragrant edge, you’ll already know all about Craigellachie. Situated in the Speyside town of the same name, the distillery, which is part of Bacardi’s Dewar’s portfolio, works hard to maintain its beefiness. When we stopped by for a quick visit, it was immediately apparent that every stage of production had been meticulously planned to max out those sulphur notes that give Craigellachie its signature style.

Craigellachie

The glorious stillhouse at Craigellachie

“We’re encouraging less copper contact than most distilleries for that meaty, robust character,” said Matthew Cordiner, Dewar’s brand ambassador, of the distillery that dates back to 1891. Today, this approach starts with the 100% Concerto barley (actually peated ever so slightly – not to give a smoke, but to make sure those big earthy notes are there from the very beginning). “Everything is about allowing those bigger notes to come through.”

There’s a 47,000-litre mash tun, which leads on to eight Siberian larch washbacks, where Craigellachie’s 56-hour fermentation runs take place. The resulting 8% ABV wash heads to one of the two 23,500-litre wash stills and the 28,000-litre spirit stills.

The Craigellachie washbacks. Fermentation is just one factor than influences the distillery’s robust character

Then it’s on to the famous Craigellachie worm tubs. To get to them, you have to head out on to the roof. Yes, really. Forget about condensers you’ve seen before: these worm tubs are ENORMOUS.

How do they work? Actually, really quite simply. The hot vapour from the stills is inside those huge ‘worm’ pipes. It’s cooled by the water in the surrounding giant tank. Back in the day, loads of distilleries would have used this process to condense spirit vapours, but with smaller, more efficient shell-and-tube styles now available, the worms have been largely weeded out for sleeker models.

Craigellachie worm tubs

Worm tubs!

Not so at Craigellachie – the worm tubs live on, and so does the distillery’s mega meaty character. But don’t let us tell you about them. In our video, Cordiner chats us through them in all their glory.

Craigellachie Bridge

Dramming by Craigellachie Bridge

After our whistle-stop tour (you can check the distillery out for yourself in more detail in our virtual reality video, top), we headed down to the famous Craigellachie Bridge to enjoy a dram. And it was a special dram – a 21 year old bottled specially for the town’s famous hotel. It might have been a cold, rainy day but that robust character kept us warm!

Thanks for having us, Craigellachie!

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Join us as we check out Glenglassaugh Distillery!

Part of the trio of Scotch whisky distilleries sold to Brown-Forman in 2016, Glenglassaugh is a treasure trove of sweet-yet-seaweedy drams matured by the sea. We stopped by to have…

Part of the trio of Scotch whisky distilleries sold to Brown-Forman in 2016, Glenglassaugh is a treasure trove of sweet-yet-seaweedy drams matured by the sea. We stopped by to have a nose about.

Located on the edge of Speyside, almost equidistant between Inverness and Aberdeen, Glenglassaugh is a distillery with a chequered history but a bright future. It was built way back in 1874 and has changed hands many times, even enduring periods of closure – unfairly overlooked in favour of its rivals in the Speyside epicentre further west. After 22 long years (its longest silence) its potential was spotted by Dutch investor Scaent Group in 2008 who snapped up the site and reopened it shortly after. Billy Walker’s The BenRiach Company took the reins in 2013, before American whiskey giant Brown-Forman, thirsty for Scotch whisky, acquired Glenglassaugh, along with BenRiach and GlenDronach, in 2016.

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Join us on our Wolfburn adventure!

Last year we headed north. Very north. To the most northerly distillery on the Scottish mainland: Wolfburn! And with Burns Night on the horizon, now seems like the perfect time…

Last year we headed north. Very north. To the most northerly distillery on the Scottish mainland: Wolfburn! And with Burns Night on the horizon, now seems like the perfect time to reminisce over the trip…

Welcome to Wolfburn Distillery! In late 2018 we headed north of the border to discover one of Scotland’s newer whisky makers. Located on the outskirts of Thurso, the production site as we know it was founded in 2012. But that’s not the start of the story.

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Building Brand Wales at Aber Falls Distillery!

We took a trip to Aber Falls to discover North Wales’ first whisky distillery in over 100 years – and found incredible landscapes, a deep-rooted passion for the region, and…

We took a trip to Aber Falls to discover North Wales’ first whisky distillery in over 100 years – and found incredible landscapes, a deep-rooted passion for the region, and an abundance of delicious gins along the way, too!

“Look at Japan, what they’ve done. Welsh whisky could really come forward with a bit of a similar model to those guys,” James Wright, Aber Falls managing director, is not lacking in ambition. It’s a bold claim, especially when you consider the international following that Japanese whisky has. Such is the demand that age statements are now a rare and very expensive thing. Could Welsh whisky ever really reach such heights?

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In Pictures: Bombay Sapphire’s Laverstoke Mill Distillery

In the first of our new occasional series we showcase one of the UK’s most visually striking distilleries: Bombay Sapphire’s Laverstoke Mill! What would any discerning gin enthusiast enjoy most?…

In the first of our new occasional series we showcase one of the UK’s most visually striking distilleries: Bombay Sapphire’s Laverstoke Mill!

What would any discerning gin enthusiast enjoy most? The chance to expand their gin knowledge? An opportunity to uncover the secrets, skill and artistry behind world-famous brands? A window into how their favourite spirit is made? A distillery tour, of course, where you can do all these things and more!

If you need a good place to start, then we have a suggestion… Hampshire’s Laverstoke Mill, where Bombay Sapphire gin has been made since 2014. You can learn about the brand’s history in the heritage room, see the botanicals used to create the gin in the iconic glasshouses and dry room, say hello to Mary and Thomas* in the Dakin Still House, and enjoy the dedicated bar (yay!) and gift shop (double yay!!).

Interest piqued? Why not take a look at the distillery in pictures right here – so you can get an idea of the treat you’re in for if you do stop by and visit.

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