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Master of Malt Blog

Category: We’re drinking…

Cocktail of the Week: The Montenegroni

As any fule kno, Negroni = Campari + sweet vermouth + gin. But not always, this week we’re mixing things up a little by chucking the Campari and using Amaro…

As any fule kno, Negroni = Campari + sweet vermouth + gin. But not always, this week we’re mixing things up a little by chucking the Campari and using Amaro Montenegro instead.

The constant factor in most Negronis is Campari, so much so that Campari has owned the 100 years of the Negroni celebrations that took place this year. Italy, however, is full of amari (bittersweet liqueurs) which you can use in place. One such is Amaro Montenegro from Bologna, named after Princess Elena of Montenegro who became Queen of Italy in 1900. It has an elaborate production process involving over 40 botanicals including vanilla, eucalyptus, orange and cinnamon. Some are macerated, other boiled or distilled to a recipe perfected in 1885 by Stanislao Cobianchi. Today master herbalist Dr. Matteo Bonoli is in charge with keeping things consistent.

The flavours are sweet, rich and round with a distinct chocolatey note. Back in Bologna, it’s usually drunk as a digestif alongside a cup of espresso but for a while now, it has been a liqueur revered by the drinks cognoscenti. Last year it won a gold medal at the IWSC.

Montenegroni

The Montenegroni: can people this photogenic be wrong?

As part of the plan to raise its profile, Amaro Montenegro is backing the Vero Bartender competition, where bartenders from around the country will compete to create a cocktail with a maximum of five ingredients (based on Amaro Montenegro, naturally). There will be northern and southern heats in September, with the UK final at the Punch Room at the London Edition Hotel on 20 October. But that’s not the end of it, because 12 finalists from around the world will then compete in the global final in Italy on 19 November! So if you fancy yourself behind the stick (to coin a phrase) then you should enter.

To kick things off in style, this special Negroni has been created by Rudi Carraro, UK brand ambassador for Amaro Montenegro. In a bold move, Carraro has not only chucked the Campari, but he’s not using vermouth either. He plays by his own rules. Instead he’s using Select Aperitivo, a low-ish alcohol amaro (17.5% ABV) from Venice, not dissimilar to Aperol. It’s what many Venetians prefer to use in a spritz in place of the mighty orange beverage. He didn’t specify the gin, so we’re using delicious, lemony Brooklyn Gin for no particular reason except we like it. The result is something mellower and more complex, but less boozy than the classic Negroni. It would be equally at home after dinner as before.

Carraro originally designed this recipe as a punch as a nod to the bar at the London edition, but we’ve domesticated it into a single-serve version. Right, let’s get stirring.

40ml Amaro Montenegro 
25ml Brooklyn Gin
20ml Select Aperitivo 

Add ingredients to an ice-filled tumbler, stir and garnish with a slice of orange.

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New Arrival of the Week: St. Patrick’s Moonshine

This week we are mostly drinking a traditional Irish spirit made to an old family recipe from St. Patrick’s Distillery in Cork. The Walsh family have been distilling a long…

This week we are mostly drinking a traditional Irish spirit made to an old family recipe from St. Patrick’s Distillery in Cork.

The Walsh family have been distilling a long time, though in the past they had to keep quiet about it because it wasn’t always strictly legal. Walsh’s great grandfather Patrick Walsh was involved in the illicit production of poitín and had some run-ins with the law. “My late father, also Patrick Walsh, often reminisced about hiding bottles in the cabbage patch as a child whenever a raid was rumoured”, said Cyril Walsh from St. Patrick’s Distillery. It now produces a spirit that is made to the old Walsh family recipe from Croagh Patrick mountain in County Mayo. “He [Walsh’s father] would have been immensely proud to see the family tradition acknowledged and finally legal”, Walsh went on to say.

The family-inspired spirit is a blend of pot-distilled malted barley and potato spirit. The result is sweet, rich and spicy with a creamy texture from the potato, and bottled at a punchy 45.7% ABV. It’s like drinking fine new make whiskey. As you might guess it makes a cracking Martini but it’s really designed for sipping on its own. According to Walsh it “is eligible to be sold as poítin [but] we have chosen to call our signature spirit Moonshine as the largest markets for St. Patrick’s Distillery are currently the USA and China, and this is much easier to understand and pronounce”. But in future they do intend to release some limited edition bottlings labelled poítin.

St. Patrick's Moonshine

Moonshine, it’s easier to say than poitín

Moonshine is just part of a range of spirits produced by Cyril Walsh and partner Tom Keightley. Walsh looks after the technical side of things and Keightley, who has an MBA (from Harvard, no less) runs the business. The company’s first releases in 2015 were a gin and a vodka, both potato-based. These have been joined by a range of gins, an Irish cream liqueur, and both blended and single malt whiskeys (which really impressed me when I tried them at the Irish embassy in London a couple of years ago). As well as the US and China, the company exports to Germany, Canada and the UK.

St. Patrick’s Distillery has picked up so many gongs from the IWSC, Irish Whiskey Awards, and C2C Spirits Cup in Germany, that the website looks like a Soviet officer’s uniform. The name of the company is a bit of a misnomer because, though it does have a still, at the moment the team buys in all its spirits.

They plan to start distilling at some point but at the moment Walsh and Keightley’s skills lie in buying, blending and maturing spirits distilled to their specifications. Something they seem to be very good at. 

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Cocktail of the Week: The Pink Lady

This week we’re shaking up the pinkest thing in the known universe. Pinker than the Pink Panther, pinker than a pink shirt from Thomas Pink, Pinker even than the Pink…

This week we’re shaking up the pinkest thing in the known universe. Pinker than the Pink Panther, pinker than a pink shirt from Thomas Pink, Pinker even than the Pink herself, it’s the Pink Lady!

It has nothing to do with the Pink Ladies from Grease, but the Pink Lady is named after a musical. A show called The Pink Lady ran on Broadway before the First World War and it must have been a hit to have a cocktail named after it. The Pink Lady cocktail, however, would have to wait until Prohibition before is became a certifiable hit. The key ingredient, grenadine, is not only a pinking agent but it’s useful for disguising the taste of bad gin. Since its 1920s heyday, the Pink Lady has has fallen out of fashion. It’s seen as a rather kitsch drink. Jayne Mansfield, famous for her luridly decorated Los Angeles home known as the Pink Palace, was a fan. 

Originally, a Pink Lady would have been a very gin heavy cocktail. In Harry Craddock’s 1930 Savoy Cocktail Book, it’s basically neat gin (he specifies Plymouth) shaken with a tablespoon of grenadine and an egg white. Fierce! But by the 1940 and ‘50s it had evolved into something extremely sweet and somehow cream had crept into the recipe. That’s a step too far but nevertheless a properly-made Pink Lady should slip down a little too easily.

The Pink Lady

None more pink

The perfect version should fall between Craddock’s (too) basic recipe, and the more baroque constructions that came later. In David A. Embury’s The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks, the Pink Lady comes under variations of the sour. The key thing is the lemon juice which freshens it up and stops the grenadine becoming cloying. Embury includes applejack (American apple brandy sometimes made with the addition of neutral alcohol) in his recipe, something taken up by later drinks writers including Eric Felten and Richard Godwin. Very nice but today I’m just sticking with gin. In this case Bathtub to give it a bit of Prohibition glamour. If you want to do a light Charleston while shaking, then that’s all to the good. 

The results are absolutely delicious. Pink is having a bit of a moment, what with pink gins, pink wines and, err, all the other pink things. If it’s pink, it sells. So, I think the Pink Lady is long overdue a revival, don’t you? Here’s how to make it. 

50ml Bathtub Gin
15ml lemon juice
10ml grenadine

1 egg white

Dry shake all the components hard, add ice and then shake again. Double strain into a chilled coupe or Martini glass and serve with a maraschino cherry or a raspberry.

You can always make your own grenadine, see this recipe.

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New Arrival of the Week: TBRC Diamond Distillery (Port Mourant Still) 10 Year Old

This week’s new arrival isn’t just a very special rum from Guyana bottled by That Boutique-y Rum Company, but it’s also a portal through time because it was distilled using…

This week’s new arrival isn’t just a very special rum from Guyana bottled by That Boutique-y Rum Company, but it’s also a portal through time because it was distilled using a wooden pot still dating back to 1732! 

We visit a lot of distilleries here at MoM. They come in all shapes and sizes but one thing they have in common is at the heart there will be a mass of gleaming metal (usually copper) where the magic happens. But they do things a little differently in Guyana. It’s the only English-speaking country in South America. Though it’s sandwiched between Suriname, Venezuela and Brazil, Guyana is closer culturally to Caribbean countries like Jamaica and Trinidad. 

Heavy Guyanese spirits formed the backbone of Navy rum, as they still do in blends like Pusser’s. These highly-prized rums get their magic from wooden pot stills. It sounds a bit dangerous, doesn’t it? Since distillation involves boiling highly flammable liquids, surely wood is the last thing you’d want to use? Yet originally this how many rums were made, but only in Guyana do they still use the technique.

Port Mourant stills

No gleaming copper here

The Port Mourant stills were constructed in 1732. Or at least parts of them are that old. The set-up is a sort of Heath Robinson contraption that bits have been added to and replaced over the years. It consists of two stills of 3,000 and 2,000 gallons, the pots are made from local hardwood to which copper necks have been attached, the columns are linked and lead to a retort and a condenser.

The wood does two things. Firstly, it’s not an inert substance so it preserves and transmits flavours from previous distillations going back hundreds of years. Secondly, there is much less copper contact than a normal pot still which preserves heavier alcohols and congeners.

The stills have had an interesting life which reflects the vicissitudes of Guyanese rum. Around the beginning of the 20th century there were seven great distilleries including Port Mourant in the country but, as with Irish whiskey, downturns in the industry led to consolidations, and one by one, distilleries closed. But so important were these old stills, that rather than being scrapped when the Port Mourant Distillery closed, they were first transported to the nearby Albion Distillery,and when that closed they went to Uitvlugt (Dutch word, pronounced ‘eye-flut’). It then closed in 2000 when all distilling in Guyana was consolidated at the Diamond Distillery belonging to Demerara Distillers Ltd. The stills’ slow journey around the country is commemorated on this rum’s label. The gleaming towers of the modern distillation equipment at Diamond can be seen on the horizon.

Diamond Distillery (Port Mourant Still) - Batch 3

The wooden stills on their way to the promised land, or the Diamond Distillery as its better known

The Port Mourant stills aren’t the only bits of living industry at Diamond. There’s another wooden pot still which came from the Versailles Distillery and an exact replica of the original Coffey still which came from the Enmore estate, but made from wood! So within one distillery in Guyana, there’s the heritage of the entire’s country’s rum industry and the ability to make an extraordinary range of spirits. There’s a good article about the place here

These rums usually go into blends but some are bottled under the El Dorado (the fabled city of gold that was thought to be in Guyana – it wasn’t) label, as well as independent bottlings like this 10 year old from That Boutique-y Rum Company. As you might have guessed, it’s a rum packed full of flavour with estery banana notes and no shortage of funk. Ten years in cask have rounded it off, giving it elegance but without losing that extraordinary character. It’s a remarkable bit of living history, and best drunk with just a little ice. 

Diamond Distillery (Port Mourant Still) 10 Year Old (That Boutique-y Rum Company)

Diamond Distillery (Port Mourant Still) 10 Year Old (That Boutique-y Rum Company)

Tastings note from The Chaps at Master of Malt:

Nose: Grassy initially and then the funky flavours come: overripe bananas, balsamic flavours and sun-baked earth.
Palate: Quite light body, dry and crisp with hot peppery notes, with a lingering banana and boiled sweet fruitiness underpinning it all.
Finish: Toffee with lingering vegetal notes.
Overall: Funky but elegant too.

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Join us as we celebrate International Scottish Gin Day!

Today marks the very first International Scottish Gin Day! To celebrate the occasion, we’ve picked out 10 of the tastiest gins that hail from north of the border. Enjoy! Words:…

Today marks the very first International Scottish Gin Day! To celebrate the occasion, we’ve picked out 10 of the tastiest gins that hail from north of the border. Enjoy! Words: Victoria Sayers

3 August 2019 is the first ever International Scottish Gin Day. Juniper geeks, get ready to celebrate! No longer is the Scottish distilling scene only about whisky: now distilleries are embracing local botanicals to create a sense of place through gin, too. The reputation of Scottish distilling is sky-high, but instead of riding on Scotch’s coat tails, these gin producers are carving their own niche in the international spirits scene. Here’s our pick of some of the tastiest Scottish gins around – but it was actually a pretty tough call to make. Not only are there LOADS of them, they’re pretty delicious, too. These 10 not enough to whet your appetite? We’ve got a whole bunch more Scottish gins right here! 

International Scottish Gin Day

Theodore Pictish Gin

Theodore Pictish Gin

Inspired by the Picts, one of the first tribal settlers of Scotland, we introduce Theodore Pictish Gin! These body-painted warriors arrived on the eastern archipelago and had a sense of mystery about them. This clan inhabited the Scottish Highlands and documented their adventures through poetry, engravings and building fortresses across Scotland. A creative, enterprising bunch. Theodore Gin represents the curiosity of the Pict people, and is made with 16 botanicals to wet your whistle: honey, coriander, citric pomelo, bourbon vetiver, damask rose, pink pepper, angelica, chamomile, kaffir lime, ginger, orris, pine, lavender, cardamom, and oolong tea all mix in with the juniper to create something truly elegant. Try out this T&T in a highball glass: 50ml Theodore Gin and 125ml tonic water, built over ice and garnished with a slice of mango.

International Scottish Gin Day

Hendrick’s Midsummer Solstice

Hendrick’s Midsummer Solstice 

Deeply floral and lightly playful, it’s Midsummer Solstice Gin! A refreshing take on a classic Hendrick’s, this expression is infused with a tip-top secret recipe that has been made in a very small batch, so once it’s gone, it’s gone. Much like Midsummer Day itself, it’s meant to be a fleeting moment in time, hence the limited-run liquid. We’re big fans; it pairs especially well with sparkling wine and tonic.

International Scottish Gin Day

Orkney Gin Company Rhubarb Old Tom

Orkney Gin Company Rhubarb Old Tom

Orkney Gin Company, named after its namesake archipelago off the north coast of Scotland, released its Rhubarb Old Tom for the first time on World Gin Day 2017 (timing = excellent). Rhubarb is widely celebrated in Orkney, where families pass down their recipes to new generations of Orcadians. Old Tom gins are traditionally sweetened to give the liquid a smoother finish, and Orkney Gin Company believes this enhances the tartness of the rhubarb. Other botanicals that complement the rhubarb’s zesty flavour include the smooth juniper berries, citrus peel, rose petals and cinnamon. The team even uses seven-times distilled grain spirit, an updated version of the historical methods… The result? Pretty tasty!

International Scottish Gin Day

Rock Rose Gin

Rock Rose Gin

Made by Dunnet Bay Distillers (a tiny team of seven) in North Scotland, the alluringly smooth Rock Rose Gin is produced using local botanicals including rose root, coriander seed, cardamom, juniper, sea buckthorn, rowan berries and blueberries. The team’s very clever gardener, Dr Hana, can be found growing these weird and wonderful botanicals in the brand’s very own geodome which she built at the distillery. Wowzers. This is suitably tasty on its own due to the spritziness of the rose notes, but of course you can couple with tonic, too.

International Scottish Gin Day

Daffy’s Small Batch Premium Gin

Daffy’s Small Batch Premium Gin

Daffy is the goddess of gin (apparently) and was first written about over 300 years ago. The wheat grain spirit used in the expression hails from northern France, while the distillery Daffy’s Gin is made at is situated in Scotland’s Cairngorms National Park. Traditional botanicals like juniper, cassia bark and coriander are mixed in with Lebanese mint and a variety of lemons. The Daffy’s team believes that the balance of strength and flavour at 43.4% ABV results in a well-rounded and smooth finish, even when enjoyed straight. The design of the bottle is the work of artist Robert McGinnis, who created film posters for various James Bond films and Breakfast at Tiffany’s. The perfect D&T? 50ml Daffy’s Gin, 100ml tonic water, three wedges of lime and some mint leaves. You’re welcome!

International Scottish Gin Day

The Botanist Islay Dry Gin

The Botanist Islay Dry Gin

Islay is known for its rather wonderful whiskies, but now it’s the home of some gin brands, too! We’re fans of The Botanist (made at the Bruichladdich Distillery). It really does have one of the best bottles we’ve set our eyes upon. Plus, it’s a treat for your taste buds, too. A whopping 22 botanicals are squashed into The Botanist gin including some Islay natives. Are you ready for this list? The full list of is as follows: apple mint, chamomile, creeping thistle, downy birch, elder, gorse, hawthorn, heather, juniper, lady’s bedstraw, lemon balm, meadowsweet, mugwort, red clover, spearmint, sweet cicely, bog myrtle sweet gale, tansy, water mint, white clover, wild thyme and wood sage. Phew!

International Scottish Gin Day

Loch Ness Gin

Loch Ness Gin

Produced in Loch Ness (obvs), Loch Ness Gin is the product of a husband and wife team, Kevin and Lorien Cameron-Ross, whose family has resided on the bank surrounding the lake for over five centuries. They pick their own juniper and botanicals on their home estate, right on the shores of Loch Ness – very cool. At the heart of the distillery’s products is the Loch; its water is used in the whole range of spirits – we like to think it gives a bit of a magical, mysterious vibe. With all this nature on the doorstep, the family has a deep understanding of the region and respect the land highly; they say it makes their ingredients ‘real and rare’, with a taste like no other.

Lussa Gin

Lussa Gin

Lussa Gin is native to the Isle of Jura, situated off the west coast of Scotland. It was founded by a trio of adventurers; they grow, gather and distil using only local botanicals. Jura is super-remote, only 30 people live at the north end of the island, where the distillery is located. The team says ‘isolation is inspiration’; how could you not when you’re surrounded by mountains and water, and you can only reach the island by ferry (or by helicopter, if you happen to have a spare one of those). It is so free from air pollution that lichen can grow everywhere. The end product: a fresh, zesty, smooth gin with a subtly aromatic finish. 

Lind & Lime Gin

Lind & Lime Gin

The first tipple to come from Edinburgh’s Port of Leith Distillery – it’s Lind & Lime Gin! Inspired by Dr James Lind, who conducted clinical trials aboard HMS Salisbury to help find a cure for Scurvy back in the day. His findings helped sailors see a remarkable improvement in their health, and kept Britain a huge step ahead of enemies during times of naval warfare. As for the bottle design, inspiration was drawn from the 14th century, when wine was one of the most valuable items to pass through the local harbour.  Juniper, lime and pink peppercorns are the three key botanicals in this gin and they really work in harmony. We reckon it tastes as good as it looks.

International Scottish Gin Day

Eight Lands Gin

Eight Lands Gin

Eight Lands produces an array of spirits with Speyside spring water, distilled and bottled by the family-owned Glenrinnes Distillery. Featuring 11 different botanicals including cowberries and sorrel from the Estate gives this gin some berry good flavours (ha!). This shiny new distillery was purpose built to not make whisky (a shocker in Speyside, we know!) and was completed in 2018. The spirits are made using spring water drawn from the lowest slopes of Ben Rinnes – both pretty cool and sustainable. And it tastes really rather good in a classic G&T.

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Master of Malt Dram Club – August 2019

Had quite enough of July and its roulette-wheel-style weather selection and slightly disappointing blockbuster movies? Well buckle up, bub – August is here, and it’s got a bunch of new…

Had quite enough of July and its roulette-wheel-style weather selection and slightly disappointing blockbuster movies? Well buckle up, bub – August is here, and it’s got a bunch of new Tasting Sets for Master of Malt Dram Club members!

We’re back for another month of decidedly delicious Master of Malt Dram Club escapades! If those words mean nothing to you, here’s the 411, folks. Sign up for Dram Club and every month you’ll receive a Tasting Set delivered to your door via the magic of the postal service (the actual postal service, not the indie band from the mid-2000s). You can choose between Whisky, Rum or Gin, or even get fancy with Premium Whisky or Old & Rare Whisky. You’re also able to gift a membership to someone who you reckon would love to immerse themselves in a particular spirit. If you want to know what sort of thing people are finding in these Tasting Sets, you’ve come to the right place – here’s what Dram Club members are receiving in August!

Dram Club Whisky for August:

Dram Club Premium Whisky for August:

Dram Club Old & Rare Whisky for August:

Dram Club Gin for August:

Dram Club Rum for August:

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Cocktail of the Week: The Moscow Mule

This week we have a cocktail that has nothing to do with horses or donkeys, and not much of a connection to Russia. It’s the Moscow Mule! The Moscow Mule…

This week we have a cocktail that has nothing to do with horses or donkeys, and not much of a connection to Russia. It’s the Moscow Mule!

The Moscow Mule owes its success to some very clever marketing. One of the drinks (possible) inventors, John G. Martin, would take photographs of customers drinking the Mule in its distinctive copper mug using the new-fangled Polaroid camera (launched in 1948). He would put one photo up on the wall of the bar, and take the other photo to another bar to show them what they were missing out on. Thus the Mule spread, customers would see photos of people enjoying a new drink and think: ‘maybe I’ll have one of those?’ 

That’s the marketing, but what about the origins of the drink itself? One plausible story concerns the serendipitous meeting of three people with an oversupply problem in a British-style pub in Los Angeles called the Cock and Bull. It was the 1940s, and Jack Morgan who ran the pub was trying without much success to launch his own brand of ginger beer. He had cases of the stuff in the basement gathering dust. One day he met the aformentioned Martin who had just acquired the rights to sell Smirnoff vodka in the US. It’s hard to imagine now, but vodka was considered a bit niche, and he was struggling to sell the stuff. You can just imagine the lightbulb moment when they both simultaneously thought: ‘why not mix them together?’ Brilliant! The result was the Moscow Mule.

Cocktail of the Week Moscow Mule

The Moscow Mule, all dressed up

Not exactly earth shattering stuff. People had been mixing rum, whisky and brandy with ginger beer for years and adding a little citrus. But the final piece in the jigsaw is the clever bit: Morgan’s girlfriend was a lady called Sophie Berezinski who has just inherited a factory that made copper mugs which. . . yes you guessed it, she couldn’t get rid of. A chilled spicy alcoholic drink in a distinctive shiny serving vessel with beads of condensation dripping down the side. Just the thing for a hot night in Los Angeles. Just add a Polaroid camera and a cocktail sensation was born. Special mugs were commissioned with the legend ‘kicks like a mule’.

The mule had arrived. Or so the story goes. Esteemed drinks writer Eric Felton thinks this story is a load of cock and bull, and the Mule was actually invented at the same pub but by the bartender, Wes Price. Perhaps more likely but less fun.

Anyway, the marketing is perhaps more interesting than the drink. But still, boozy ginger beer, what’s not to like? The most important ingredient is the ginger beer. For me, Fentiman’s is king, having a massive hit of ginger without being too sweet. Fever Tree also make a very nice ginger beer. And the vodka? Anything you like really. I suppose Smirnoff would be the most authentic choice but I’m using Wyborowa from Poland. Perhaps, it should be called a Warsaw Mule.

Right, let’s Mule!

60ml Wyborowa Vodka
180ml Ginger Beer
Juice of half a lime

Fill a Mule cup with ice, add all the ingredients and give it a good stir. Garnish with a lime wedge and a sprig of mint.

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A lip-smacking round up for Rum Month

It’s been a busy ol’ Rum Month, so we thought we’d take some time to have a look at a few of our favourites to round the month off deliciously….

It’s been a busy ol’ Rum Month, so we thought we’d take some time to have a look at a few of our favourites to round the month off deliciously.

Some people know July as “I’m going to see that one big movie and maybe I’ll go to a park to kick a ball” month. Others know it as “my boss won’t look at me funny for coming to the office wearing shorts” month. Ice cream van owners probably know July as “aw beans, I’m going to need to order more flakes” month. While these all may be correct, they are all missing one important thing. July is Rum Month. That important fact is the catalyst for this blog post’s existence, because we’re taking a moment to show off some of our favourite rums that we enjoyed during Rum Month!

Pusser’s ‘Gunpowder Proof’ Black Label

Pussers Gunpowder Proof Black Label

Pussers Gunpowder Proof Black Label

The last day of July is Black Tot Day, which commemorates the last ever daily rum ration issued by the Royal Navy on 31 July 1970. Though the bosun’s call of ‘Up Spirits’ no longer rings out, Navy rums are still very much a thing. As such, it’s only right that we kick off this rum round up with the incredible Pusser’s ‘Gunpowder Proof’ Black Label, produced in accordance with the Admiralty’s recipe and bottled at a generous 54.5% ABV. You can expect all sorts of dark fruit, brown sugar and dry spice notes running through this one.

Pineapple Grenade Spiced Rum

Pineapple Grenade

Pineapple Grenade

If you’re looking for a particularly punchy rum for… Well, for punches and the like, then Pineapple Grenade is exactly what you’re after. Built around a molasses-based rum from the ever-excellent Diamond Distillery in Guyana, Pineapple Grenade is flavoured with a secret mix of spices as well as salted caramel and the eponymous pineapple. It’s bottled at 65% ABV, which we agree, is rather strong indeed. You’ll want to dilute it well in your mixed drinks – speaking of which, this stuff goes excellently with ginger ale.

Issan (That Boutique-y Rum Company)

Issan That Boutique-y Rum Company

Issan That Boutique-y Rum Company

When you think of countries where rum is produced, Thailand probably doesn’t spring to mind. Which is too bad, because it turns out that tucked away in the north-east of Thailand, there’s a distillery making some fascinating rum with an eco-friendly approach. This rum from the Issan Distillery was bottled by That Boutique-y Rum Company, and made using the juice from red sugar cane (as seen on the label). It’s full of classic rhum agricole funkiness, with hints of fresh berries and vanilla coming through later on.

Havana Club Máximo Rum Extra Añejo

Havana Club Máximo Rum Extra Añejo

Havana Club Máximo Rum Extra Añejo

Got a hefty wodge of cash that you’re looking to turn into a very special bottle of rum? Havana Club can certainly help with that endeavour. Máximo is an extra añejo Cuban rum expertly crafted by maestro ronero Don José Navarro using some incredibly well-aged stocks, with only 1,000 bottles produced each year. You might be thinking “Gosh, that sounds nice, I bet it comes in a very fancy bottle…”, and you’d be absolutely right. Máximo is presented in a handmade crystal decanter alongside a sufficiently weighty crystal stopper.

Rumbullion!

Rumbullion!

Rumbullion!

We’re finishing things off here with another reference to Black Tot Day – this time it’s a shout-out to the grog tub, the robust vessel from which tots were dispensed up until 1970. You’ll see one of these on the label of Rumbullion!, a marvellous spiced rum featuring the likes of Madagascan vanilla, orange peel, cassia, clove and cardamom alongside the high-quality Caribbean rum. A terrific cockle-warmer, but more than suitable for enjoying on a warm evening with ice and a good whack of lime.

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World spirits: fabulous flavours from far off lands

This week, we’re gathering a whole host of delicious spirits from all over the globe, so you can get a taste of far flung lands and intriguing botanicals wherever you…

This week, we’re gathering a whole host of delicious spirits from all over the globe, so you can get a taste of far flung lands and intriguing botanicals wherever you are!

Travelling the world is fun. This is something we generally all agree on. However, quite frankly we just don’t have time to visit each and every continent and try the local boozy delicacies, however much we’d like to. Enter our fabulous compilation of spirits from many lands, including gin, rum and whisk(e)y! We’ve gathered this wonderful selection to tickle your tastebuds and transport you to all corners of the globe, all without leaving the safety of your sofa. Because sofas are nice, and sometimes they have cats on them, and cats are always a good thing. Anyhow, we digress. Onto the spirits!

Angostura 7 Year Old

Where’s it from?

Trinidad and Tobago

What is it?

A classic, tasty molasses-based rum from the Angostura company, produced in a continuous still. The liquid is aged in bourbon barrels for seven years before it’s filtered. The ideal dark rum for whacking into a cocktail, be it a Mai Tai, Daiquiri or even a Rum Old Fashioned! If you fancy it neat, definitely serve this one with a good wedge of juicy orange to balance the richer creamy notes.

What does it taste like?

Bittersweet dark chocolate balanced by cinnamon, burnt caramel, mocha, creamy crème brûlée, vanilla fudge and a hit of spice on the finish.

St Germain Elderflower Liqueur

Where’s it from?

France

What is it?

An iconic elderflower liqueur made with fresh elderflowers hand-harvested only once a year, for a few weeks in the late spring. Each bottle contains around 1,000 elderflower blossoms! The flowers are macerated, and the infusion is then strained and blended with eau-de-vie de vin, water, sugar, and neutral grain spirit. Splash it in a glass of Prosecco for a floral fizzy treat.

What does it taste like?

Sweet and floral notes of elderflower (of course), supported by lychee, tart lemon, a hint of buttery sweetness and a lengthy elderflower-filled finish.

Nikka Whisky From The Barrel

Where’s it from?

Japan

What is it?

An incredibly delicious, award-winning blended whisky from Nikka! It marries single malt and grain whiskies from the Miyagikyo and coastal Yoichi distilleries. The liquid is aged in a massive range of casks, including bourbon barrels, sherry butts and refill hogsheads.

What does it taste like?

Full of chai spice, buttery caramel and vanilla cream, with sweet cereal notes, raspberry, orange peel and drying oak spice alongside a spicy, warming finish.

Basil Hayden’s

Where’s it from?

Kentucky, America

What is it?

Distilled in Clermont, Kentucky, Basil Hayden’s Bourbon really was created by master distiller Basil Hayden himself, all the way back in 1796. He added rye into a traditional corn-based mashbill, and this innovative risk certainly paid off. The sweetness of corn balances brilliantly with the spiciness of rye, making for a brilliant Whiskey Bramble.

What does it taste like?

Fairly light and spicy, with vanilla and honey balanced by pepper and peppermint, with corn and dark berries on the finish.

Le Tribute Gin

Where’s it from?

Barcelona, Spain

What is it?

From the family-run distillery in Vilanova, a tiny fishing village close to Barcelona comes Le Tribute Gin. It’s a tribute (shocker) to the pioneers, processes and the heritage behind the spirit, and is inspired by the distillery’s history. There are seven botanicals, all distilled separately: juniper, lime, kumquat, lemon, pink and green grapefruit, tangerine, cardamom, bitter and sweet oranges and lemons, and the seventh is lemongrass. Wow, that was a lot. All are distilled in wheat spirit except lemongrass, where water is used in place of spirit to maintain freshness. 

What does it taste like?

Citrus and sherbet sweets, with an amalgamation of vibrant and loud fresh fruity notes. Juniper takes something of a backseat, but still plays a major role here.

Konik’s Tail Vodka

Where’s it from?

Poland

What is it?

It’s 20 years in the making and the vision of one man, Pleurat Shabani, who single-handedly harvests and bottles the vodka himself. Inspired by the elusive Polish Konik horses which, if they are spotted, will promise a good harvest (according to Polish superstition). Shabani had plenty of setbacks and harsh nights sleeping rough, but found a sense of purpose after buying a one-way ticket to escape the conflicts back home in Croatia. Determined to create something people would appreciate, he chose three grains to create this delicious vodka, Spelt (the happy grain), Rye (the dancing grain) and wheat (the smiling grain) – suggesting that the aim in life is to laugh, dance and smile.

What does it taste like?

Nutty, with burnt black pepper, spice and a sweet finish.

Lot 40 Rye Whisky

Where’s it from?

Canada

What is it?

A no-age statement rye whisky from Lot 40. The expression is in fact a revival of a whisky from the 1990s, and is named for the plot of land which used to belong to Joshua Booth, grandfather of the now-retired master distiller, Mike Booth, who created the whisky. In the 2000s, the expression was discontinued, but luckily it returned to us! The mashbill is 90% rye and 10% malted rye, so you can be sure this is sufficiently spicy.

What does it taste like?

A gentle floral start builds into all of those warming spicy notes, with black pepper, cardamom and oak spice, followed by roasted coffee bean and brown sugar on a finish of cigar box. 

 

Dancing Sands Dry Gin

Where’s it from?

Takaka, New Zealand

What is it?

This is the flagship gin from the Dancing Sands Distillery! The brainchild of husband and wife duo Ben and Sarah Bonoma, the gin takes eight hand-crushed botanicals, including manuka, almond, cardamom and liquorice, which are vapour infused. After it’s blended with water sourced from the Dancing Sands Spring over in Golden Bay, which the founders refer to as the ninth botanical, the spirit is bottled. The colours on the bottle represent each of the different botanicals. It also just looks amazing. 

What does it taste like?

Juniper straight away, followed by delicately floral manuka, warming cardamom and a subtle hint of chocolate, creamy nuttiness and a spicy peppery finish. 

Westerhall No.10 

Where’s it from?

Grenada, Caribbean

What is it?

Westerhall No.10 is, would you believe it, a 10 year old rum from the Westerhall Estate! We did not see that one coming. The estate is located on what’s called the ‘Spice Isle’ of Grenada, and this is certainly reflected in its flavour profile. If you happen to get your hands on any, try it with fresh coconut juice for a more local serve.

What does it taste like?

Spiced apple, waxy honey and rich maple syrup, creamy oak and fudge. 

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New Arrival of the Week: Clouded Leopard Gin

This week’s shiny new recruit is so new to the market that we just couldn’t wait to get our paws on it… and it’s all in a good cause, too!…

This week’s shiny new recruit is so new to the market that we just couldn’t wait to get our paws on it… and it’s all in a good cause, too! Say hello to Clouded Leopard Gin! Words: Victoria Sayers

We’re generally cat people here at MoM Towers. From the teeniest tabby up, we’re all on-board for feline-related content. Gastropub owner and chef Will Phillips seems to be no different, except his kitty of choice is the endangered clouded leopard (Neofelis nebulosa to be sciencey). He loves the cat so much, he’s launched an actual gin to raise money in its honour! 

Clouded Leopard Gin

Behold, the clouded leopard (aka Neofelis Nebulosa)

Clouded Leopard Gin doesn’t just do good, though; it’s pretty tasty, too. Botanicals are sourced from Southern Asia, home to the cautious leopardy one, and distilled in Bristol. This gin is produced from British wheat spirit using one-shot distillation in 30-litre copper pot stills. 15% of the profit will be donated to the Born Free Foundation, which works to protect the clouded leopard (if you do the sums, that means at least £1 from each bottle will go to the fund). It is important to Phillips that the quality of the product’s botanicals is as powerful as the message that the gin will deliver. 

Typically a rainforest resident, the clouded leopard can be found in Southeast Asia, just like the botanicals in this lively, energetic spirit. We have the classic London dry juniper (obviously), with coriander seeds, angelica root, cassia bark, tropical mango, fragrant black pepper and lemon zest. The recipe is then macerated in the wheat spirit for 24 hours pre-distillation. Basically, this gin is glorious with a slice of fresh mango if you can, and meets with a paw-some cause. 

Clouded Leopard Gin

In all its glory

We need to address the design of the bottle, too. Its frosted (or cloudy) glass features a silhouette of a leopard striding across a branch, designed by Sarah Rock and illustrated by Jonathan Gibbs. The wax seal is particularly pretty, with a print of leaves fluttering down. It would very happily star in a gin shelfie. Purrfect.

But what of the clouded leopard itself? It is a tiny carnivore, only measuring around 6ft from nose to the tip of its tail, weighing up to 50lbs. Named for its stunning spotted coat, it’s rarely even seen in the wild due to its mysterious habits. The cat is listed as vulnerable with populations decreasing rapidly due to habitat loss from industrial logging and land development. It’s also illegally hunted for its beautiful coat, and some wrongly believe clouded leopard bones and teeth have healing powers… Heartbreaking.

“The clouded leopard is a fantastic and elusive animal rarely seen in the wild, and in grave danger of extinction,” said Phillips “I really want to help save this fantastic animal in its natural habitat and riding the crest of the gin wave sounds like an ideal place to start.” We love gin.  We love leopards. Combine them, and you’re winning!

A fun fact to round off on: Malaysians call this cute cat the ‘tree tiger’. Possibly because of the unique markings, or the fact it’s double jointed, allowing for easy tree climbing mayhem. Bit envious, TBH.

Clouded Leopard Gin and mango

Clouded Leopard Gin – a treat with mango

Clouded Leopard Gin tasting notes:

Nose: Soft fruit, lots of tropical mango transitioning to spicy pepper with zesty lemon.

Palate: Juniper berries, citrusy lemon, Love Hearts sweets, mango and peppery spicy notes.

Finish: Medium-length and pleasantly warming.

Clouded Leopard Gin bottle

Get yours right here!

Clouded Leopard Gin is priced at £34.95, and a Phillips-approved serve involves Fever-Tree Indian Tonic, garnished with fresh mango and black pepper. You can even grab some now in time for 4 August, which is of course International Clouded Leopard Day!

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