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Master of Malt Blog

Category: Video

Master of Malt visits… The Lakes Distillery

Just before lockdown we squeezed in one last trip to the stunning Lakes Distillery – although we didn’t know it was going to be the last. Luckily we captured our…

Just before lockdown we squeezed in one last trip to the stunning Lakes Distillery – although we didn’t know it was going to be the last. Luckily we captured our wonderful time through the magic of video, so you can enjoy it too!

From the glorious landscapes to the wonders of the whisky studio, Lakes whisky maker Dhavall Gandhi showed us all the sites when we made our way up to Cumbria to take a nose around the distillery. If you’ve ever wanted to know more about sherry casks or the burgeoning English whisky category, or both at the same time, then you’re in the right place.

If you like words as well as videos, then you can check out our blog on what we learned at the distillery here!

First up, we chat with Gandhi about how he ended up in the whisky business, having started in the finance industry!

In Part 2 of our interview with Gandhi, we learn more about his unique holistic whisky making process and get an insight into a day in the life of The Lakes whisky maker.

Time for a sneak peek into each of the production processes at The Lakes, including a special insight into the importance of fermentation, with Gandhi as our guide.

Let’s talk all things cask maturation! It’s time to learn about the brilliance of sherry casks and different types of oak.

Blending is a huge part of Gandhi’s process, and here in his shiny whisky studio he explains about how blending whisky is a lot like art.

Tasting time! First up is Whiskymaker’s Reserve No.3, tasted by the whisky maker himself.

Gandhi tastes us through The ONE Signature Blend, taking us through how the Lakes own single malt works alongside Scotch grain and malt whiskies.

Time for some juniper, as Gandhi tastes and talks us through why The Lakes Classic Gin is indeed a classic.

Last, but certainly not least, The Lakes Pink Grapefruit Gin tasted by Gandhi, including his perfect serve.

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Master of Malt visits… Anno Distillers

Kent’s first whisky, science and new products (look out for MoM exclusive…) were all topics of discussion when we visited the wonderful Anno Distillery back in January. Which you can…

Kent’s first whisky, science and new products (look out for MoM exclusive…) were all topics of discussion when we visited the wonderful Anno Distillery back in January. Which you can see for yourself. We got it all on film.

I don’t know if you get on with your neighbours, but at MoM Towers, we’re delighted to have Anno Distillery just down the road from us. Among all the hop fields, sandy beaches and medieval castles of Kent are distilleries, many of them quite new and releasing all kinds of tasty booze at break-neck speed. Anno, the county’s first gin distillery in 200 years, has certainly been busy in the last decade creating a range of gins, vodkas and even Kent’s first whisky along the way.

We were invited for a visit to learn about its history, how the founder’s background in science impacts distillation and more. Which we did. But we went one better and filmed our tour so you can enjoy it as well. Particularly useful given many of you won’t have been able to visit any distilleries for the time being.

We begin at the beginning because we’re mavericks like that. Dr. Any Reason joins us to tell us about how he founded the brand in 2011 with Dr Norman Lewis (hence the name: it’s a combination of the first two letters of Andy and Norman). Dr Reason outlines how the brand created its distillery in Marden, where his love of spirits began, what the ambition for Anno Distillers was and even offers us a little glimpse into its future…

While whisky may be produced all over the world now until recently you couldn’t buy a whisky that was produced in the garden of England. In this video, Dr Reason tells us the story behind Kent’s very first whisky, how the brand partnered with Westerham Brewery to create this unique bottling and why it was matured in a medium-charred ex-bourbon cask that had previously held Speyside whisky.

As a former PhD research and development chemist, Dr Reason (by the way, amazing name. Sounds like an X-Men character) already had a keen understanding of the process of distillation. In this interview, he outlines how this background in science gave the brand an edge to make delicious booze, what kind of profile of gin he wanted to create and more. Bonus fact:  The logo, a registered trademark, demonstrates this influence as it was found in a 17th-century German text, and was recorded as the alchemical sign for distillation.

Assistant distiller Jake Sedge joins us now to give us a guided tour of the distillery and walk us through the production process. We meet Patience, Anno’s 300-litre copper pot still (Anno has come a long since experimenting in Dr Reason’s kitchen with a 2 litre still) which got its name thanks to an arduous 18-month wait for a licence. Sedge then explains how each set of botanicals are distilled in order for the brand to make its award-winning gin.

Sedge returns to underline the importance of water in distillation and how Anno filters its ultra-pure water in-house and then introduces us to Defiance, a smaller still the brand has on-site to conduct experiments with. Currently, Anno is looking to create its first rum. Is that a Master of Malt exclusive?! I think it is. There’s even talk of brandy. How very exciting.

Fancy blending you own gin and taking home a personalised bottle? Our good friend Jake Sedge is back again to talk us through the Marden distillery’s blending experience. He offers his expert advice, presents the many flavour options available to you and makes his own tasty example (which changed colour when he added tonic. Neat.). Did you know that you get to make your own unique label and keep a record of your recipe in the blending notebook so you can reorder the blend in future, direct from the distillery? Awesome.

Finally, we taste the Anno range with Anno sales and marketing director Kim Reason. If you’re thinking of picking up a bottle of its Kent Dry and 60² gins or a flavoured expression like its Orange and Honey Gin, B3rry Pink Gin or Elderflower Vodka then you’ll want to watch this. Best of luck picking one. They’re all very tasty.

Anno Distillers

We hope you enjoyed the tour!

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Celebrate Cinco de Mayo with Casamigos Tequila

Cinco de Mayo (5 May) is a national day in Mexico. Even for non-Mexicans, it’s a great excuse to feast and have fun. And to make your party go with…

Cinco de Mayo (5 May) is a national day in Mexico. Even for non-Mexicans, it’s a great excuse to feast and have fun. And to make your party go with a swing, we have Natasha Iny from Casamigos Tequila showing us how to make some delicious cocktails.

Do you remember when Mexican food meant those taco kits from the supermarket? And Tequila was just a drink to be knocked back in shots? So much has changed since then. Proper Mexican food has at last reached Britain (why did it take so long?) and we have woken up to the joys of quality agave spirits. Leading the charge is Casamigos Tequila, a brand set up by an actor and his friends with some spare time on their hands. 

The two amigos, George Clooney and Rande Gerber

To tell us more we have brand ambassador Natasha Iny. A Londoner, she got into the booze world through a pisco business belonging to her family in Latin America before joining Casamigos’s parent company, Diageo. She’ll be showing us how to make three delicious cocktails (see video below) as well as sharing her legendary salsa recipe.

MoM: And what makes Casamigos Tequila different?

NI: Well, firstly Casamigos is a 100% pure blue weber agave Tequila; it is not a mixto! Mixto is made of 51% blue agave combined with 49% sugar cane spirit and is what I personally think has made a lot of people wary of Tequila. Casamigos is out to change people’s notions of Tequila. It’s created in the Highlands of Jalisco, which is considered the most prestigious region for growing agave. This is where our agaves are grown for a minimum of seven years, and they have to be high in sugar content before they are harvested. After harvest, the agave piñas are roasted in traditional brick ovens for 72 hours, before being cooled for 24 hours, then crushed. That liquid, or mosto, is then slowly fermented for 80 hours (nearly double the industry standard) using Casamigos’ own strain of yeast. The fermented mosto is double-distilled in copper pot stills before being rested for two months to become our vibrant blanco. 

Mom: Tell me about the different expressions and how you would use them…

NI: The blanco (rested for two months) is great in a classic Margarita, Paloma, or even with soda and a squeeze of lime – oh and tonic, too! The blanco is a sure-fire hit for those who like their gin and vodka.

Then our reposado is aged for seven months in American oak barrels, so it really takes on the notes of bourbon from the barrels –think dried fruit, vanilla, caramel and sweet agave. The reposado is actually wonderful on its own over ice with a small squeeze of orange from an orange wedge, or you can top that with soda for a long drink. It is also great in a Tommy’s Margarita, and if you want to get fancy a twist on a French 75 – with the reposado, fresh lime juice, a hint of agave topped with Champagne! The reposado always seems to be a hit with whiskey lovers.

Our añejo is aged for 14 months in the same American oak barrels. I would also recommend having this neat or on the rocks. As a nightcap, it’s great in an Old Fashioned with agave and aromatic bitters. If you like your Manhattans, it’s also a great whiskey substitute twist considering it has the notes of tonka, cinnamon and spice! The añejo is a rum lover’s favourite!

MoM: What does Cinco de Mayo celebrate?

NI: Cinco de Mayo is the anniversary of the Battle of Puebla, and is celebrated as a holiday in Mexico and the US in honour of a military victory in 1862 over the French forces of Napoleon III. It’s kind of an excuse to celebrate and indulge in amazing Mexican food and drink, and attend parades and parties. 

MoM: What do Mexicans eat and drink on the day?

NI: Tacos, enchiladas, tamales, and flautas Mexicanas to name but a few dishes. And then, of course, for the drinks, the Margarita comes out on top; then there are Palomas, copitas of mezcal, Batangas, and for the non-drinkers there is delicious Horchata. I have developed a bit of a ritual of putting a couple of spoons of Casamigos into food. I love experimenting, and have accidently made some rather yummy ceviche, chicken and even pasta dishes with a small trickle of Tequila. But the dish I am showing you today is especially for Cinco de Mayo and is my version of a Mexican tomato salsa, that usually is accompanied by lashings of guacamole and tortillas! 

Casa Salsa

240g diced tomato
240g diced red onion
120g coriander
60g cup jalapeño / mild green chilli
2 tablespoons Casamigos Blanco
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons passata
3 tablespoons lime juice
1/2 teaspoon agave syrup
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon onion salt
1/3 teaspoon herb salt 

Combine all ingredients together, serve with tortilla chips.

And now for some fine cocktails:

Tommy’s Margarita

50ml Casamigos Reposado
25ml fresh lime juice
10-15ml (according to taste) agave syrup
2 dashes Fee Brothers orange bitters

Shake and strain over ice into a coupe or tumbler, and garnish with an orange or lime wedge. 

Repo Old Fashioned 

50ml Casamigos Reposado
5ml Agave syrup
2 dashes Fee Brothers orange bitters
2 dashes Fee Brothers chocolate bitters 

Stir down over ice in a tumbler and garnish with an orange twist. 

Casamigos High Ball 

40ml Casamigos Reposado
20ml Kahlua coffee liqueur
Tonic water 

Build in a Highball glass with ice, top up with tonic water, stir gently and garnish with an orange twist.

 

 

 

 

 

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St. George’s Distillery, English whisky’s trailblazer

In honour of St. George’s Day, we’re visiting a distillery named after England’s patron saint in the heart of the Norfolk countryside. It’s home to those pioneers of English whisky,…

In honour of St. George’s Day, we’re visiting a distillery named after England’s patron saint in the heart of the Norfolk countryside. It’s home to those pioneers of English whisky, the aptly-named English Whisky Company. And we’ve produced some videos so that you too can visit from the comfort of your favourite armchair. 

Driving north to the St. George’s Distillery in Norfolk, you can see where the inspiration came from for the whisky because as far as the eye can see across the flat countryside there is barley, acres and acres of barley. It’s the nearest that England gets to the great fertile plains of America or Ukraine. According to Andrew Nelstrop, his late father James Nelstrop always had the dream to make whisky. He describes his father as a “restless spirit.” The family were originally farmers in Lincolnshire but they moved around a lot with a stint in New South Wales and later his father farmed at Kaliningrad, a Russian enclave on the Baltic. It wasn’t easy, according to Andrew, “people kept stealing the light bulbs”.

Eventually the family settled into the farming life in Norfolk and that’s when the distillery dream became reality. Andrew filled me in: “originally the plan was to build a micro distillery and just make enough whisky to drink himself and supply friends.” But back in 2005, the minimum size allowed by HMRC was 1800 litres, “so we had to build a big one”, he said. The Nelstrops were in the fortunate position of not needing external investors or to borrow money from the bank. Consequently, they could do things in their own time. “We’re a farming family so we have a long term mentality,” said Andrew. 

At the time Andrew ran a building company, so they were able to draw up plans themselves. They received planning permission on 5 January 2006, and began work that very day. Stills came from Forsyths of Rothes and the head distiller came from Scotland too, Iain Henderson came down after finishing at Laphroaig for, as Andrew puts it, “a last hurrah.” The idea was to create a classic Lowland style single malt. The first release was in 2009. It got a lot of attention. “We were surprised by the level of interest in our first whisky,” Andrew said, “We got lucky and were picked up by BBC newswire which led to world wide coverage. “ There was a queue of customers two miles down the road, waiting to buy a bottle. 

The other surprise is what a tourist attraction the distillery has been. They originally budgeted for 1500 visitors a year. “By year four we had 30-40,000 visitors,” Andrew said. They opened new visitor facilities in 2017. Here the Nelstrop family have shown their rural cunning. The glass was built for the University of Greenwich but it faced the wrong way so was useless. Andrew told me that he picked it up for a song. They now get about 80,000 visitors who just come to the shop and cafe, which has excellent food and local beers, including one from St. Peter’s in Suffolk aged in English whisky casks. The shop doesn’t just sell the distillery’s own products but probably has the best selection of whisky in East Anglia. Around 20,000 people a year take the tour.

Sadly, James Nelstrop died in 2014 but at least he got to taste his own whisky. The site is called the St. George’s Distillery but the bottles were rebranded four years ago as the English Whisky Company to differentiate themselves from St. George’s Distillery in America. Andrew credits his wife Katy who looks after the marketing side of the business with this strong new look. 

David Fitt in action (credit: Tom Bunning)

Since 2008, distillation has been in the safe hands of David Fitt. Originally from Woolwich in south London, he was working at Greene King brewery in Suffolk before taking up his role at St. George’s. He worked with Ian Henderson for five months to learn how it was done. “If you can make beer, you can distill whisky. Operating equipment is operating equipment,” joked Fitt. He brings a brewer’s sensibility to whisky making, as we’ll find out.

The distillery was making peated whisky when we visited (it makes up about 10-15% of production) and the whole site smelt wonderfully like bacon. Fitt went through some of the technical side of his job. They have a one tonne mash tun and do a seven hour mash between 65 and 85°C (mashing video here). It is cooled and then it’s into the 3 x 7500 litre washbacks. They pitch the distillers yeast in early, the idea is to get the fermentation going quickly before any wild yeasts get a chance to work some mischief, something that’s a risk in Norfolk’s warm climate. They want quite a rapid ferment to create estery flavours of bananas and pear drops. It takes about 48 hours to produce a wash of 7-8% ABV but then David leaves it on the lees (dead yeast cells) for a day or two. This is like they do in Burgundy and other wine regions creating complex flavours like almond and hazelnut. This is another area where the distillery can take its time. There’s no hurry to create more spirit. 

There’s a wash still of 2750 litres and a spirit of 1800, the smallest that was allowed at the time the distillery was built. The idea is to create a light fruity new make so there’s plenty of reflux from the bulge above the base of the spirit still, and the shell and tube condensers (distillation video here). Even with the peated spirit, the cut is taken early so that, as Fitt puts it, “you lose heavy iodine notes and just get bonfire. What’s the point of replicating Laphroaig?” Indeed. They produce around 50,000 litres of pure alcohol per year, or “what Glenfiddich makes in 2.5 days,” as Andrew put it. 

From those two stills, Fitt produces an extraordinary array of whiskies (as well as a selection of liqueurs). Most of the ageing is in ex-bourbon casks though they do have some sherry, wine, rum and also use some virgin American oak (maturation video here). These various whiskies are divided into two ranges: single malts known as The English, and grain whiskies called The Norfolk. There are also various limited edition whiskies like the Poppy produced for Remembrance Sunday or the Triple-Distilled released last year, many of which are available only from the distillery. I’ve picked out a few whiskies to try below. Now that they have old stocks, the Original single malt was on fine form with fruit to fore but also the richness of more mature whiskies. I was also particularly taken with the Virgin Smokey, aged in new American oak and bursting with flavours of tobacco, orange peel, and bonfire smoke. 

But, I think the Norfolk range of grain whiskies are the distillery’s true calling card. This is where Fitt’s experience as a brewer is telling, the flavour coming from the cereal more than the cask. Andrew said: “David has extraordinary taste buds. He has a deep understanding of how different barleys behave. Look at what he does with different cereals in the Farmer’s which is made with crystal malt, oats, wheat and rye.” I particularly loved the Parched, a tribute to an Irish single pot still made from around 35% unmalted to 65% malted barley. It majors on green apple, rather like Green Spot, but in a lighter zestier style. Then there’s the Malt and Rye, perhaps the best non-North American rye I have tried. Norfolk Manhattan, anyone?

Since the Nelstrop family began in 2006, English whisky has become a proper category which, according to Andrew, helps them enormously when marketing abroad. There’s now a shelf in a whisky shop for English whisky. But where most English distilleries are still finding their feet, St George’s feels like it has very much found them and they’re taking increasingly large strides. They have gone from making excellent Lowland-style single malts in England to developing a distinctive home-grown style. 

Here are three to try:

The English Original

Nose: Zesty orange, vanilla custard, grassy malt.

Palate: Nuttier than the nose, with notes of almond and hazelnut. Milk chocolate, more orange.

Finish: Rich barley and a handful of spices.

The English Virgin Smoky

Nose: Rich bonfire smoke, with a touch of oak spice, blueberry loaf cake and vanilla.

Palate: Medjool dates, caramelised nuts and burnt toast, with lots of wood smoke in support alongside milk chocolate.

Finish: A drizzle of honey and dry smoke, with oily citrus peel coming through at the end.

The Norfolk Parched

Nose: Melon and honey. Brown sugar, nutmeg and stewed pears.

Palate: Zesty green apple, mint and creamy vanilla with a touch of baking spice. 

Finish: Juicy white grapes and lemon meringue.

 

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Take a VR tour of Royal Brackla Distillery with MoM!

Pop on a crown, start addressing yourself as ‘one’ and insist to your friends and loved ones that they are now your subjects because we’re going to Royal Brackla Distillery….

Pop on a crown, start addressing yourself as ‘one’ and insist to your friends and loved ones that they are now your subjects because we’re going to Royal Brackla Distillery. How? With some VR magic, of course.

Just because you’re self-isolating or on lockdown, it doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a good distillery tour. How is this possible? Thanks to the power of VR, of course. In this series we’re going to take you around some of the finest distilleries across England, Wales and Scotland from the comfort of your own home. This week we visit Royal Brackla, the first Scotch to be granted a Royal Warrant. There’s posh!

Highland distillery Royal Brackla, founded 1817 by Captain William Fraser, has an enviable history. It was one of the malts from which Andrew Usher created the first commercial blended whisky in the 1860s and the first whisky distillery to be granted a Royal Warrant. It gained its regal prefix in 1835 from King William IV and the spirit was heralded accordingly as the ‘King’s own whisky. Despite this, it’s not often a brand that gets much of a spotlight and much of its whisky has been used for blends throughout its history, although independent bottlings have consistently demonstrated the quality of the clean, fruity and refined spirit it makes. Under Bacardi’s ownership, it has introduced a core range of single malts that are full of the characteristic Royal Brackla style that’s a result of long fermentation and tall stills that are designed to allow plenty of reflux.

If you’ve enjoyed the regal delights of this Highland distillery, then you can see what all the fuss is about yourself by ordering a bottle or dram directly to your doorstep. In my view, Royal Brackla 16 Year Old is the highlight of the range and it was no surprise to see it pick up gold medals at the International Wine & Spirit Competition and International Spirits Challenge in 2019.

Royal Brackla 16 Year Old tasting note:

Nose: Ripe red apple at first before thick crème brûlée takes charge with apricot, custard and a little Buttercup cough syrup.

Palate: Spicy, caramelised apples and orchard fruit, vanilla and fresh black cherries.

Finish: Rich cocoa and baking spices.

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Take a VR tour of Aberfeldy Distillery with MoM!

Join us at Aberfeldy Distillery with another swanky VR tour! Just because you’re self-isolating or on lockdown, it doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a good distillery tour. How is this…

Join us at Aberfeldy Distillery with another swanky VR tour!

Just because you’re self-isolating or on lockdown, it doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a good distillery tour. How is this possible? Thanks to the power of VR, of course. In this series we’re going to take you around some of the finest distilleries across England, Wales and Scotland from the comfort of your own home. This week we head to Aberfeldy Distillery to find out why it’s referred to as ‘The Golden Dram’. Enjoy!

Aberfeldy Distillery is the only Scotch whisky distillery built by the Dewar family, one of the great family-owned blending firms that were founded in the 19th century. The architect was the renowned Charles Doig, who designed the signature pagoda roof that still dominates the distillery’s skyline. Aberfeldy Distillery, along with Aultmore, Craigellachie and Royal Brackla, was bought for £1.1bn by Bacardi back in 1998, who remain the owners to this day. It was built beside the freshwater stream Pitilie Burn, which is still panned for gold and is the only distillery in Scotland to use these waters. The long fermentation in larch washbacks and slow distillation process in tall pot stills is the key to Aberfeldy’s profile. The characteristic sweet and light spirit makes its whiskies perfect for blends and mixing, although they are very tasty neat, too.

If your interest in Aberfeldy has been piqued, then perhaps you’d enjoy a bottle or dram of its fine whisky. Fortunately, we can deliver these delights straight to your door so there’s need to worry about self-isolation and lockdown. I’d suggest you try Aberfeldy 16 Year Old. It’s delicious, outstanding value and has been recognised with various awards and accolades.

Aberfeldy 16 Year Old tasting note:

Nose: Raisins and cinnamon at first, before moving onto butterscotch, caramel and apple slices. A touch of floral malt, too.

Palate: Well rounded and mellow, but not lazy at all. More apples at first, soon joined by clementine segments and honey on toast. A spark of ginger.

Finish: Waxy peels and oak.

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Take a VR tour of GlenDronach Distillery with MoM!

Fans of sherried whisky will enjoy this week’s VR distillery tour as we peek behind the curtain at GlenDronach. Just because you’re self-isolating or on lockdown, it doesn’t mean you…

Fans of sherried whisky will enjoy this week’s VR distillery tour as we peek behind the curtain at GlenDronach.

Just because you’re self-isolating or on lockdown, it doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a good distillery tour. How is this possible? Thanks to the power of VR, of course. In this series we’re going to take you around some of the finest distilleries across England, Wales and Scotland from the comfort of your own home. This week we visit an innovative Highland distillery that creates some truly smashing whiskies. Enjoy!

Ever since GlenDronach Distillery was founded by James Allardice in 1826 it has been maturing whisky in Pedro Ximénez and oloroso sherry casks. This profile was maintained even though the distillery changed hands multiple times, with the likes of Walter Scott of Teaninich, William Grant’s son Charles Grant, William Teacher and Pernod Ricard all acquiring the distillery over the last two centuries. For much of this time, GlenDronach’s whisky was mainly used in blends such as Teachers and Chivas Regal. In 1968, GlenDronach was released as a single malt brand for the first time. The GlenDronach distillery was purchased by BenRiach’s owners in 2008 for £15 million, who invested £7 million, relaunched its core range and opened a new visitors centre in 2010 before selling to Brown-Forman for £285 million in 2016. The distillery features a traditional rake and plough mash tun as well as wooden washbacks, while its four stills which were coal-fired until 2005, making it the last in Scotland to be heated in this way. The wash stills are an interesting shape and the plain sides of the spirit still cut back on reflux, helping to build a heavy and robust spirit ensures that GlenDronach distillery character still shines even after lengthy maturation in sherry casks.

VR tour of GlenDronach Distillery

If you’ve enjoyed the look of Glendronach, then you’re probably intrigued about how its whisky tastes. We’d suggest you give The GlenDronach 18 Year Old Allardice a try. Named after the distillery’s founder, it matured completely in oloroso sherry casks and is an exceptionally fruity and complex single malt. 

The GlenDronach 18 Year Old Allardice tasting note:

Nose: Sherry notes so thick you need a knife to cut them! There’s a hint of old rum in there too, with pineapple and brown sugar in tow.

Palate: Christmas cake, rum again, chocolate-coated hazelnut, runny honey and a hint of Sauternes.

Finish: Fresh blackcurrant, blueberry pancakes with a generous helping of maple syrup.

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Take a VR tour of BenRiach Distillery with MoM!

See how BenRiach makes its delicious Speyside whisky thanks to this virtual reality tour of the distillery. Just because you’re self-isolating or on lockdown, it doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy…

See how BenRiach makes its delicious Speyside whisky thanks to this virtual reality tour of the distillery.

Just because you’re self-isolating or on lockdown, it doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a good distillery tour. How is this possible? Thanks to the power of VR, of course. In this series we’re going to take you around some of the finest distilleries across England, Wales and Scotland from the comfort of your own home. This week we take a look around a distillery that was closed for over 60 years but thankfully survived. Enjoy!

If you know a little of the history of BenRiach, then you’ll know we’re lucky that it still exists. Because of the Pattison crash  which wrecked the Scotch whisky industry, it was mothballed just two years after being built by John Duff in 1898 (though the floor malting remained operational).  It remained closed for over six decades. Most distilleries closed for that long don’t survive. Thankfully, in 1965 Glenlivet Distillers Ltd reopened and subsequently rebuilt the distillery. By 1972 it even began the production of peated malt. Seagrams then purchased the distillery in 1978 and added two more stills and in 1994 released BenRiach as a single malt brand in its own right. BenRiach then encountered another turbulent period, beginning with the closure of its floor maltings in 1999 after 101 years of uninterrupted operation. In 2001, Pernod Ricard took over BenRiach, Allt A’Bhainne, Braeval and Caperdonich but all four distilleries were subsequently mothballed a year later. Just when it seemed poor BenRiach couldn’t catch a break, an independent consortium led by Billy Walker acquired the distillery in 2004. They launched a new range, restored the malting floor in 2012 and sold the distillery to Brown-Forman in 2016. BenRiach is now in rude health and makes plenty of excellent sweet, nutty and fruity whisky to enjoy. 

VR tour of BenRiach Distillery

One of the best core expressions in the business, BenRiach 10 Year Old is the perfect way to introduce yourself to the distillery. But we’re not recommending you indulge yourself with a bottle of BenRiach 10 Year Old. We’re going one better. We suggest the BenRiach 10 Year Old Gift Pack with 2x Glasses, because it’s a hell of a steal and you can never have enough branded tasting glasses.

BenRiach 10 Year Old tasting note:

Nose: Citrus-forward, with gingerbread and cinnamon in support.

Palate: Fried banana, brown sugar, powerful barley notes driving it all along.

Finish: Lasting hints of peppery malt and vanilla custard

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Take a VR tour of Glenrothes Distillery with MoM!

Venture with us using the magic of digital technology to the heart of Speyside to visit one of the region’s finest distilleries: Glenrothes! Just because you’re self-isolating or on lockdown,…

Venture with us using the magic of digital technology to the heart of Speyside to visit one of the region’s finest distilleries: Glenrothes!

Just because you’re self-isolating or on lockdown, it doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a good distillery tour. How is this possible? Thanks to the power of VR, of course. In this series we’re going to take you around some of the finest distilleries across England, Wales and Scotland from the comfort of your own home. This week, take in the sights at a Speyside powerhouse. Enjoy!

Today Glenrothes may be a giant in the Scotch whisky industry, but its construction very nearly didn’t happen. It was founded in 1878 by James Stuart and Co., the group that licensed Macallan a decade prior. When Stuart left to focus his efforts on the Macallan distillery, the three remaining members of the syndicate; William Grant (not that one), Robert Dick and John Cruickshank were only able to build the distillery thanks to a timely loan. In 1897 and 1922 the distillery experienced disastrous fires, with the latter destroying the No 1 bonded warehouse and with it, 2,500 casks of Scotch whisky. Fortunately, the distillery was able to make it through the tough times and increased its capacity during the 1960s boom from four to six stills. Another pair was added in 1980 and by 1989 the distillery had ten distinctive stills. The very tall stills equipped with boil bulbs help create the signature Glenrothes style as they maximise reflux which results in a bold, complex spirit that matures beautifully in sherry casks. Glenrothes Distillery is well known for its ties with Berry Bros & Rudd which began during the 1920s with the release of Cutty Sark. Its a major component in the number one top-selling blended Scotch in America.

VR tour of Glenrothes Distillery

A perfect way to learn more about Glenrothes would be to taste some of its delightful whisky! We’d recommend getting stuck into the recently revamped range with The Glenrothes 12 Year Old – Soleo Collection, which is packed full of all kinds of sherried deliciousness. As always, we can deliver to your doorstep, so lockdown is not a problem. 

The Glenrothes 12 Year Old – Soleo Collection Tasting Note:

Nose: Gingerbread, stewed apple and earthy vanilla, then soft tropical fruit notes and a hint of sherried funk.

Palate: Creamy hazelnut, dried fruit and a hint of cinnamon. Hints of chocolate, old leather, dried herbs and tobacco add depth among Galia melon and honeyed oak.

Finish: Long and sweet with a touch of baking spice and more stewed fruits.

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Take a VR tour of Aber Falls Distillery with MoM!

Take a look inside North Wales’ first whisky distillery in a century thanks to our swanky VR tour of Aber Falls Distillery. Just because you’re self-isolating or on lockdown, it…

Take a look inside North Wales’ first whisky distillery in a century thanks to our swanky VR tour of Aber Falls Distillery.

Just because you’re self-isolating or on lockdown, it doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a good distillery tour. How is this possible? Thanks to the power of VR, of course. In this series we’re going to take you around some of the finest distilleries across England, Wales and Scotland from the comfort of your own home. We head to Wales this week to check out a distillery that makes plenty of delicious white spirits and is in the process of creating its first Welsh whiskies. Enjoy!

One of only four distilleries in Wales, and the first in North Wales since the early 1900s, Aber Falls takes its name from the nearby famous Aber Falls waterfall, at the gateway of the Snowdonia National Park. Distillation, ageing and bottling of spirits all occur on-site, in a 6,000-square-meter building that dates back to the 19th century. Aber Falls prioritises the importance of local identity and traditional craft, working with local farmers to source Welsh malted barley and exclusively using fresh Welsh water. Distillation occurs in large copper stills, a 5,000-litre wash still and a 3,600-litre spirit still. Aber Falls whisky is expected to arrive in 2020, so keep an eye out!

VR tour of Aber Falls Distillery

If you’re intrigued about all things Aber Falls, you’ll be pleased to know we can deliver a bottle(s) or a dram(s) to your very doorstep. We recommend Aber Falls Orange Marmalade Gin, which is so good you’ll have to resist dipping your toast in it. I failed this particular temptation. And have no regrets #toastyourtoast. 

Aber Falls Orange Marmalade Gin Tasting Note: 

Fresh orange juice, with a punchy kick of dried juniper. A bit pithy at points.

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