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Master of Malt Blog

Category: We’re drinking…

Dram Club – April 2020

April has finally arrived, and there are new Tasting Sets for Dram Club members to be had. Let’s see what drams are hiding within these cardboard cuboids… It might have…

April has finally arrived, and there are new Tasting Sets for Dram Club members to be had. Let’s see what drams are hiding within these cardboard cuboids…

It might have felt like four or five months squashed together haphazardly, but March is over and we’re into April. With this new month brings another round of Tasting Sets for Dram Club members to get their hands on, all filled with lip-smacking tipples. Reckon it’s about time we see which aforementioned drams await the aforementioned members inside the aforementioned Tasting Sets.

Dram Club Whisky for April:

Dram Club Premium Whisky for April:

Dram Club Old & Rare Whisky for April:

Dram Club Gin for April:

Dram Club Rum for April:

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Cocktail of the Week: The Foraged Martini

One drink, three ingredients, and absolutely no prep required: This week we’re championing stripped-back simplicity with the delightful Foraged Martini, a cocktail menu mainstay at intimate east London bar Three…

One drink, three ingredients, and absolutely no prep required: This week we’re championing stripped-back simplicity with the delightful Foraged Martini, a cocktail menu mainstay at intimate east London bar Three Sheets. Here, co-owner Noel Venning walks you through the drink…

Much like the wider cocktail menu at Three Sheets, the light, fresh Foraged Martini is proof that when it comes to ingredients, less really is more. Ever since Venning brothers Noel and Max first flung open the doors on Kingsland Road back in 2016, the bar has been known for its minimalist ethos – from the contents of the back bar to its marble-topped counters – and this is reflected not only in the way they developed each drink, but also in the design of their menu.

There are nine cocktails in total, split across three key sections. Three Sheets, if you will. While each sheet is characterised by strength and flavour, all of the drinks on the menu are designed to be approachable in nature. Over on the left, you’ll find the lightest cocktails – such as the Almond Flower Sour, which combines Bombay English Estate, almond flower, egg white and lemon. Heavier-going drinks – like Café Français, which combines Seven Tails XO Brandy, salted coffee butter and madeleine cream – tend towards the right of the menu. 

Three Sheets Dalston

Three Sheets, so minimalist

“At Three Sheets, we aim to put drinks on the menu that we think our guests will enjoy,” Noel Venning explains. “Moving away from using popular bartender products that might not be enjoyable for guests. This has led to a lighter style of drink and the Foraged Martini is a great example of that – taking a classic vodka Martini but making it more approachable for a wider audience.”

In the spirit of keeping things simple, the base structure is similar to that of a classic Martini, says Venning. Indeed, just three ingredients are required to make the Foraged Martini: Absolut Elyx, dry Italian vermouth, and Thorncroft’s Wild Nettle cordial. “The great thing about the Foraged Martini is that everything is available to buy in a shop,” he continues. “It is a wonderful example that making great drinks doesn’t necessarily have to come with fancy equipment or esoteric, obscure ingredients.”

It’s fair to say that one of the traditional Martini’s most defining features – its out-and-out ‘booziness’ in terms of flavour – is what tends to put most newcomers off. But you won’t find that brashness in the Venning brothers’ Foraged iteration. Thanks to the addition of the nettle cordial, this serve is made accessible for the non-Martini drinker, while packing enough of a punch to satisfy the drink’s usual devotees. 

“The idea behind this Martini was to have a lighter, more approachable version of a classic Martini that would appeal to a wider audience – while also being enjoyable for a guest who drinks Martinis all the time,” Venning adds. “The nettle cordial softens off the punchy nature of the Martini with some grassy, citrusy notes, and the vermouth ties it all together.”

That’s gypsophila (yes, we had to Google it)

Democratising the Martini is all in a day’s work for the Three Sheets duo. If you’re ready to take the Foraged Martini for a spin, you’ll find the recipe below. Now, aside from the liquid ingredients, you’ll also need ice, a twist of lemon (for the zest only), and a Nick and Nora, Coupette or Martini glass – the team usually opts for the latter, but at home you call the shots.

Oh, and if you really want to set the drink off in true Three Sheets style, source a small sprig of gypsophila for the garnish. Arty Instagram shots are not only welcomed but wholeheartedly encouraged.

Right, let’s forage up a Martini!

50ml Absolut Elyx
10ml Martini Extra Dry vermouth
5ml Thorncroft’s Wild Nettle Cordial

Add all the ingredients to a cocktail shaker filled with ice, and stir to dilute and chill. Double strain into a chilled Martini glass. Express a piece of lemon zest (discard the twist afterwards) and garnish with a sprig of gypsophila (if you have one).

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Get some new and trending tipples!

Looking for what’s hot, new and next in the world of delicious drinks? Then we’ve got what you’re looking for. How do you like the sound of getting your hands…

Looking for what’s hot, new and next in the world of delicious drinks? Then we’ve got what you’re looking for.

How do you like the sound of getting your hands on the most exciting bottles on the shelves at MoM Towers? Hot-off-the-press fresh whiskies. In-demand gins and rums. Trending Tequilas. Everybody hates being out of the loop and we all love tasty things. That’s why we’ve created this selection of spirits to keep you up to date with the latest and greatest in the world of booze no matter if you’re self-isolating or in lockdown.

 

Get some new and trending tipples!

Jaffa Cake Gin

Jaffa Cake Gin is distilled with oranges, fresh orange peel and cocoa powder. Oh yeah, and jaffa cakes. Proper jaffa cakes. Full moon, half-moon, total eclipse. Jaffa cakes. Do you actually need any more information? The label claims it will make the best Negroni mankind has ever seen and I don’t doubt it for one single minute. 

What does it taste like?

Zingy orange (marmalade-esque), rich and earthy chocolate, vanilla-rich cake, a touch of almondy-goodness and a solid backbone of juniper. Also, Jaffa Cakes! 

Get some new and trending tipples!

Wormtub 

You don’t see too many worm tubs these days. Which is a shame. A lot of distilleries have opted to use efficient, easier to maintain condensers, but the muscular, complex profile it gives whisky is delicious. It’s that distinctive character that Wormtub whisky celebrates by blending together single malts made exclusively in distilleries still using traditional worm tubs. This is one for those who like their whisky to be full, rich and robust.

What does it taste like?

Sherry, leather, dates, cocoa, caramel, walnuts, wood-spice, fresh garden mint, ripe strawberries, candied cherry fudge and a wisp of smoke.

Get some new and trending tipples!

Dead Man’s Fingers Pineapple Rum 

Add the sweet, sour and tropical notes of pineapple to an already delicious rum and what have you got? Doubly tasty rum. That’s what. The folks over at Dead Man’s Fingers created this fun and fruity concoction using roasted and candied pineapple. It’s incredibly refreshing, particularly when paired with lemonade, lots of ice, a wedge of lime and a bunch of fresh mint.

What does it taste like?

Bright and almost tangy at first with fresh pineapple and ginger, followed by homemade caramel, nutmeg, cassia and mango.

Get some new and trending tipples!

Regions of Scotland Whisky Tasting Set 

It’s basically impossible to narrow down what the best thing about Scotch is, but the incredible range of different styles of whisky produced across all of its distinctive regions might just be it. This tasting set by Drinks by the Dram champions these regions with five 30ml samples from the peaty, smoky Islay; to the fruity, malty Highlands; the soft, floral Lowlands; and the honeyed, often Sherried Speyside and more!

What does it taste like?

Please don’t eat the box.

Get some new and trending tipples!

Aerolite Lyndsay 10 Year Old – The Character of Islay Whisky Company

There’s plenty of mystery around Aerolite Lyndsay 10 Year Old but one thing’s for sure, it’s bloody delicious. It was recently awarded the title of Islay Single Malt 12 Years and Under at the World Whiskies Awards 2020 for good reason. This Islay single malt from The Character of Islay Whisky Company was sourced from an undisclosed distillery on the island, but what we do know is that it was aged for 10 years in a mixture of bourbon barrels and Spanish oak sherry quarter casks. Plus the name is a fun anagram you can work out in your spare self-isolation time. 

What does it taste like?

Maritime peat, iodine, honey sweetness, paprika, salted caramel, old bookshelves, mint dark chocolate, espresso, new leather, soy sauce, liquorice allsorts, bonfire smoke and toffee penny, with a pinch of salt.

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Glenfarclas 25 Year Old

Glenfarclas 25 Year Old is just an absolute classic and whisky this good never goes out of fashion. The single malt Scotch whisky, which was matured 100% Oloroso sherry casks and bottled at 43% ABV, is probably the ultimate example of the kind of delightful sherried goodness that the Speyside distillery specialises in.

What does it taste like?

Classic Sherry notes, creamy barley, hints of gingerbread, nutty chocolate, smoke and a touch of menthol.

Get some new and trending tipples!

Beavertown Neck Oil Bundle (6 Pack)

Stocking up on good beer while in lockdown is a must and if you’re looking for a sublime session IPA then you won’t do better than Beavertown’s ever-popular Neck Oil beer. This bargain bundle will save you 10% versus buying them individually.

What does it taste like?

Light and crisp but full of flavour – citrusy and hoppy, slightly floral, very moreish.

 

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New Arrival of the Week: Manly Lilly Pilly Pink Gin

This week we’re crossing our fingers for sunshine while sipping a new pink gin with no added sugar all the way from Australia. And there’s a special cocktail at the…

This week we’re crossing our fingers for sunshine while sipping a new pink gin with no added sugar all the way from Australia. And there’s a special cocktail at the end.

Some people get very upset with pink gin. Just mention of it can get gin aficionados harrumphing into their (extremely) dry Martinis. But we’re equal opportunities boozers here at Master of Malt so we say, if you like pink gin, then ignore the snobs and drink it. Whatever blows your hair back. Some brands, however, are a little sweet for those raised on London dry gin which is why we’re so taken with the new Lilly Pilly Pink Gin from Australia which contains no added sugar. 

It gets its name from Lilly Pilly, a native Australian species of myrtle with striking pink coloured fruits known in New Zealand rather sweetly as monkey apples. Vanessa Wilton, co-founder of Manly Gin described them as “slightly tart but ever so Australian.” The gin, however, gets its pretty colour from raspberries, not from the lilly pillies which are distilled along with other exciting botanicals such as native limes, hibiscus rosella flowers, blood orange, sea fig and nasturtium flowers. The resulting gin is then steeped with raspberries for 18 hours. There is no sugar added. According to Wilton, “we were really inspired by the beautiful pink sea fig and nasturtium flowers found scattered on the sand dunes of Freshwater beach near the distillery.”

Top foraging!

The distillery itself is not named after some Burt Reynolds-type figure, disappointingly, but after Manly, a suburb of Sydney. It was set up by David Whittaker and Vanessa Wilton who got the spirits bug after visiting a distillery in Tasmania. The Manly range arrived in the UK only last year but has already made quite a splash. In addition to the Lilly Pilly, they produce two dry gins, a barrel-aged gin which tastes like an Australian Chartreuse, and two stunning flavoured vodkas. Finally, there’s whisky in the pipeline which came of age last year but isn’t commercially available yet. 

You might be surprised that the distiller of these amazingly Australian spirits is actually an Englishman, Tim Stones. He previously worked with Desmond Payne at Beefeater, and he confided in us that the great man himself had given the Australian Dry Gin the thumbs-up. Stones is clearly relishing working with Australia’s native flora, “these botanicals are incredibly pungent – just like the nation”, he told us last year. 

In addition to all the unusual ingredients, Manly has not stinted on the juniper in the Lilly Pilly gin and though it is definitely exotic, it’s not wacky. This means it’s a very versatile gin. It would be lovely just with tonic water, garnished with some raspberries, mixed into the reddest Negroni on the planet or you could try in a cocktail suggested by the distillery called the Pink Gin Sling. Just the thing for sipping in the garden when the sun comes out. Chin Chin! Or here’s mud in your eye, as they say in Australia. 

45ml Lilly Pilly Pink Gin
15ml Campari
45ml pineapple juice
20ml lime juice
15ml simple syrup
3 raspberries

Shake all the ingredients together and strain into an ice-filled Highball glass. Garnish with a lime wheel and a raspberry. 

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Five classic spirits from unusual places

Until fairly recently, beyond international stalwarts like vodka or whisky, there were certain native drinks that were not made outside their home countries. Now, however, this is beginning to change….

Until fairly recently, beyond international stalwarts like vodka or whisky, there were certain native drinks that were not made outside their home countries. Now, however, this is beginning to change. From Canadian aquavit to Australian vermouth, we lift the lid on five classic spirits made in non-traditional places…

The French have Cognac. The Scots have Scotch whisky. In Mexico they make Tequila, and the US boasts bourbon. There are rules and regulations that tie these spirits to their geographical location. But some spirits aren’t bound by such legalities. And with a bit of distiller ingenuity, they can be made anywhere in the world – and often with interesting results. Here, we look at five classic spirits made in unusual places…

Gin from Japan

Holland is widely credited as the birthplace of gin. Following the creation of genever – the region’s beloved malt-based spirit – gin is thought to have been invented by Dutch physician Franciscus Sylvius, who used it for medicinal purposes back in 1550. By the time the 1600s rolled around, there were hundreds of gin distilleries in the city of Amsterdam alone.

Around the same time, gin started to emerge in England in various forms, giving way to a rather bleak period dubbed the ‘Gin Craze’ until production was eventually licensed and tamed. Today, the juniper-forward white spirit is produced in countless western countries the world over, but rarely in the east, which is one of the reasons we were particularly excited to see Ki No Bi Gin launch back in 2016. 

The inaugural release from the Kyoto Distillery – and the first Japanese gin produced in Kyoto – Ki No Bi is made from a rice spirit base and flavoured with locally-sourced botanicals that include yellow yuzu, green sansho and gyokuro tea. The botanicals are split across six flavour categories – base, citrus, Tea, spice, fruity & floral and herbal – and these groupings are distilled individually before being blended together to make the final liquid.

Shochu from California

Historians believe shochu first originated in Persia (or possibly China or Korea) but it’s best known as Japan’s national spirit, having made its way to the rural south of the island country sometime in the 16th century. While it’s typically made from rice, barley, sweet potatoes, buckwheat or brown sugar, Japanese distillers have been known to use chestnut, sesame seeds, potatoes and even carrots to make the clear white liquor – so flavour-wise, it’s super diverse.

Generally speaking, shochu is little-known outside its east Asian home, with confused westerners sometimes referring to the spirit as ‘Japanese vodka’. However in recent years, a handful of experimental distillers, such as those at St. George Spirits, have sought to create their own regional take on the traditional spirit – in this instance, “a full-flavoured shochu from California rice that would complement a hearty bowl of ramen”. 

To create St. George California Shochu, steamed Calrose rice is inoculated with koji spores and fermented (known as ‘sake lees’). Once the rice starch has been transformed into sugar, yeast is added, and the mix is fermented cold. It’s then blended with non-GMO neutral grain spirit and distilled in a copper pot still. On the nose you’ll find cashew, pistachio, sweet mushrooms and dried cocoa, they say – with the latter developing on the palate as bittersweet chocolate.

Absinthe from Scotland

Unlike other spirits categories, we know precisely when and where absinthe was created: the canton of Neuchâtel in Switzerland, 1792. It was the handiwork of French doctor Pierre Ordinaire, who set out to capture the powerful healing effects of wormwood in a potable form. Fast-forward 70 years or so, and this potent anise-flavoured spirit had become the alcoholic drink du jour among bohemian Parisian writers and other arty types.

Where traditional absinthes are bottled anywhere up to 74% ABV – and modern variants up to an eye-watering 90% – Hendrick’s Absinthe stands at an altogether far more reasonable 48%, somewhere in the region of your typical single malt. In a step away from the stereotypical green-tinged liquid we’re accustomed to seeing, this spirit runs clear.

Crafted by master distiller Lesley Gracie at the gin brand’s headquarters in Girvan, Scotland, this variant is flavoured with Hendrick’s signature rose and cucumber botanicals, as well as traditional wormwood and star anise, making it an approachable introduction to absinthe.

Aquavit from Canada

Distilled from grain (or sometimes potatoes), this herbaceous tipple has been produced in Scandiavian countries since the 15th century. Aquavit is characterised by its predominant flavours of caraway or dill or both – the style varies depending on whether you’re in Sweden, Norway or Denmark – and may be matured in a barrel or bottled unaged.

The spirit has found favour outside its Nordic home in the likes of Iceland, Germany, the US, and Canada – the birthplace of Long Table Långbord Akvavit. Produced at Vancouver’s first microdistillery, Long Table Distillery, the liquid is made in small batches according to traditional Scandi style.

Långbord Akvavit is flavoured with six botanicals including caraway, fennel, anise and Seville oranges, and it’s bottled unaged, so there’s no cask influence. Expect ‘complex licorice and orange notes’, ‘a smooth, sweet finish of lingering marmalade’ and ‘prevailing herbal notes on the palate’, the team say.

 

Vermouth from Australia

While it’s more commonly associated with Italy, the history of this fortified wine is rooted in 16th century Germany. In fact, the origin of the word ‘vermouth’ comes from the way French people would pronounce ‘wermut’, the German word for wormwood (an original ingredient that remains a staple to this day). Modern vermouth – as we know it today – was first produced in the 18th century in Italy, with French and Spanish producers creating their own iterations not long after.

Australia may be renowned for its outstanding vineyards, but even so – when Regal Rogue debuted its inaugural new world vermouth, the brand caused a bit of a stir. The four-strong range sees 100% Aussie wines – from Barossa Valley shiraz to Hunter Valley semillon – married with native aromatics including anise myrtle, quandong, pepper berry and more.

This Wild Rosé bottling introduces pale, dry Barossa shiraz rosé from Adelaide Hills to native illawara plums, rosella and strawberry gum, and rhubarb and kina, resulting in a semi-dry vermouth characterised by tropical fruit and fruit spice notes. Delightful.

 

 

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Cocktail of the Week: The Improved Whiskey Cocktail

What’s better than a Whiskey Cocktail? A Fancy Whiskey Cocktail. And better than that? Why, the Improved Whiskey Cocktail, of course. It’s an Old Fashioned but slightly better.  Back in…

What’s better than a Whiskey Cocktail? A Fancy Whiskey Cocktail. And better than that? Why, the Improved Whiskey Cocktail, of course. It’s an Old Fashioned but slightly better. 

Back in the good old days, a cocktail was a specific type of drink rather than a generic term for an iced mixed drink. The Cocktail Book from 1900 lists pages of drinks called ‘cocktails’ that are variations on the spirit (or wine) plus bitters, sugar and ice theme. But you can also see new drinks creeping in involving vermouth like the Manhattan and early versions of the Martini. Therefore, in the book, an old timey Whiskey Cocktail is called a Whiskey Cocktail Old-Fashioned to differentiate it. There’s also something called a ‘Fancy’ version made with maraschino liqueur as a sweetener. So fancy!

The Old Fashioned may have been old fashioned but doesn’t mean that it stopped evolving in 1845. It’s an endlessly versatile drink, which is why bartenders love coming up with new versions of it. Jerry Thomas, of the Eldorado Hotel in San Francisco, is usually credited with the invention of the Fancy Old Fashioned. Though more likely it was something that was around at the time and he was the first person to write it down in his Bartenders Guide: How to Mix all Kinds of Plain and Fancy Drinks (1887). There’s that word again, fancy.

Adding maraschino liqueur to a drink that was often garnished with a bittersweet cherry is not such a leap. It’s just a twist on a classic. But Thomas’s next step was more extreme: to turn a ‘Fancy’ into an ‘Improved’, he added absinthe taking the Old Fashioned dangerously into Sazerac territory. For the many who loathe aniseed this is not so much improved as ruined. 

Woodford Reserve Bourbon

Looks fancy. Sorry, I mean improved

Even as an aniseed lover, I will concede that a little goes a long way, so rather than add a teaspoon as with most recipes, you can add a few drops as a wash to the glass and shake it out before adding the rest of the ingredients. I’m using Ricard instead of absinthe as it’s what I’ve got in the house. It provides just a background note of aniseed. If you’re using proper absinthe which is drier instead of pastis then you might want to add more sugar. Then it’s a question of which whiskey to use. Well, it’s got to be American. Thomas would probably have used a rye but I’ve chosen a classic all-rounder bourbon, Woodford Reserve. It’s a really complex, well-balanced drop made, unusually for Kentucky, in a pot still. I’m serving it on the rocks but you could stir it over ice and serve it straight up. Oh and don’t forget the bitters. I’m using a mixture of Angostura and just a drop of orange which really lifts the whole thing.

Right, let’s improve a whiskey cocktail!

60cl Woodford Reserve bourbon
1 tablespoon Luxardo maraschino liqueur
1 tablespoon sugar syrup
1 tsp Ricard pastis (or absinthe)
2 dashes Angostura bitters
1 dash Fee Brothers orange bitters

Add a teaspoon of pastis to an Old Fashioned glass, swirl it around and then shake it out. Add lots of ice cubes, all the other ingredients and give it a good stir. Express a piece of orange over the top and then serve. 

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Behold, the World Gin Awards 2020 winners!

It’s official: the World Gin Awards are out! Now you can grab yourself a bottle, make yourself a Gin & Tonic, settle down and tell yourself that you’re drinking the…

It’s official: the World Gin Awards are out! Now you can grab yourself a bottle, make yourself a Gin & Tonic, settle down and tell yourself that you’re drinking the world’s best gin. Now that’s something to brag about. From aged expressions to best Old Tom, we’ve rounded up the best of the best right here. 

world gin awards

It may be easy to see awards as vacuous and unimportant, but with numerous rounds of blind tasting, Gin Magazine’s World Gin Awards is sure to single out spirits that are truly outstanding and worthy of your time as well as your taste buds. Gin-thusiasts, read on!

world gin awards

Drinks by the Dram World Gin Awards Winners 2020 Tasting Set

Want to taste the winners without committing to an entire bottle? Drinks by the Dram has gone and created a handy tasting set boasting five 30cl drams of award-winning gin from this year’s World Gin Awards! You’ll find Bathtub Gin, Lubuski Aged Gin, Marylebone Orange & Geranium Gin, Hayman’s Spiced Sloe Gin and Sky Wave Gin, all in one nifty box. Who says convenience can’t be delicious too?

https://www.instagram.com/shreddy/?hl=en

 

World’s Best Matured Gin: Lubuski Aged Gin

Poland’s Lubuski distillery secured World’s Best Matured Gin this year with its Aged Gin! A combination of oak and chestnut casks gives this one silky caramel alongside green oak notes. One to test twists of classic cocktails with, we reckon.

world gin awards

World’s Best Old Tom Gin: Hernö Old Tom Gin

Sweden’s Country Winner here, with the wonderful Hernö just continuing to scoop up awards! With the same base botanicals as Hernö Dry Gin, though with a dialled up amount of meadowsweet, honey and sugar are also added post distillation for that hallmark Old Tom sweetness.

world gin awards

World’s Best Flavoured Gin: Marylebone Orange & Geranium Gin

It turns out that geraniums aren’t just for the garden thanks to Marylebone Orange & Geranium Gin, the work of London’s Pleasure Gardens Distilling Co.! As you’d expect, it’s all about the floral and citrus notes in this one.

world gin awards

World’s Best Compound Gin: Bathtub Gin

Don’t be fooled by the bootlegger name, Bathtub Gin is a far cry from the Prohibition spirits of old. From England’s very own Ableforth’s comes this year’s World’s Best Compound Gin, named for the 1920s Prohibition method of infusing botanicals in a bathtub. The highly aromatic gin sees the infusion of six botanicals through cold compounding resulting in a rich, viscous mouthfeel boasting orange citrus, fragrant spices and a good core of juniper. 

world gin awards

World’s Best Sloe Gin: Hayman’s Spiced Sloe Gin

How to make sloe gin even more warming? Give it a good kick of spice! The wonderful Hayman’s steeped its own Sloe Gin in sloe fruit flowers and a whole host of seasonal spices to create this Spiced Sloe Gin, which will do rather well as a fruity evening sipper. 

world gin awards

World’s Best Contemporary Gin: Ki No Tea Gin

From the city’s first dedicated gin distillery comes the Kyoto Distillery’s Ki No Tea Gin! Japan’s Country Winner, it was the second release from the distillery and the tasty result of a partnership with local tea grower and blender Hori-Shichimeien. Tencha and Gyokuro teas are among the botanicals used, so it’s full of floral tea notes alongside prominent juniper.

world gin awards

World’s Best London Dry Gin: Manly Spirits Co Australian Dry Gin

If you want to sip on a taste of Australia’s east coast, Australia’s Manly Spirits Co. has bottled up just that with its Australian Dry Gin, Australia’s Country Winner this year. It’s jam-packed full of sustainably foraged Australian botanicals such as sea lettuce, finger lime and mountain pepperberry. A refreshing, savoury and peppery affair, this one.

world gin awards

World’s Best Navy Gin: Conniption Navy Strength Gin

We journey to Durham, North Carolina for America’s Country Winner in the World’s Best Navy Gin category, with the spicy and sweet Conniption Navy Strength Gin! Juniper, cardamom and rosemary are vapour infused in a pot still, while citrus and fig are vacuum distilled at room temperature before being blended together and bottled up at 57% ABV.

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New Arrival of the Week: Boondocks 11 Year Old Cask Strength whiskey

This week we’re highlighting an American whiskey that’s very close to a bourbon in style but with one crucial difference, created by former Woodford Reserve supremo Dave Scheurich. Whisky distillers…

This week we’re highlighting an American whiskey that’s very close to a bourbon in style but with one crucial difference, created by former Woodford Reserve supremo Dave Scheurich.

Whisky distillers are like master criminals, no, not in terms of morals, well, some of them are, but that’s another story. What they have in common is that both announce their retirements, only to be lured out by one final job. Think of Jim McEwan who retired from Bruichladdich in 2015 only to be made an offer he couldn’t refuse by the Hunter Laing mob when they were setting up a new distillery on Islay, Ardnahoe

Then there’s Dave Scheurich, who retired from Brown-Forman in 2010 after over 21 years at the bourbon giant.  He was instrumental in setting up the Woodford Reserve brand and making it one of the most admired whiskeys in America. Before that he had stints with Wild Turkey, and 14 years man and boy at Seagram, the now-defunct Canadian giant who dominated the international spirits business before collapsing in 2000. In 2012 he was given a Lifetime Achievement Award by Whiskey Advocate magazine. After that sort of career, most of us would be happy to take up fishing and long-winded anecdotes, but not Scheurich.

In 2016, it was announced that he had teamed up with the Royal Wine Company (a New York-based business that specialises in kosher wine) to create a new American whiskey brand, Boondocks. The name is inspired by a slightly-pejorative word used by fancy city types for the countryside. What we might call it ‘the back of beyond’. 

The aim was to create fine American whiskeys that were a bit different from the bourbon norm. Despite its corn-heavy mash bill (80% corn with the rest rye and malted barley), our New Arrival can’t be called bourbon because it’s not put in new oak casks. Instead like much Scotch, it’s aged in used casks. It’s also significantly older than most American whiskeys, which to be sold as such in the EU only have to be three years old (and can be much younger in the home market). This is also bottled at cask strength, 63.5% ABV, something that will appeal to aficionados. There’s also a 47.5% ABV version as well as an 8 year old bourbon.

With a name like Boondocks, you’d probably imagine it’s made in a tiny distillery in the woods, miles from the nearest town of any size, that hasn’t changed much since prohibition was repealed and staffed mainly by men called Jedediah. Sadly, nothing so romantic as the brand doesn’t have its own distillery and buys in its whiskey. Nothing wrong with that, lots of brands in whiskey, especially in the US and Ireland, don’t make their own spirit, it’s just not such a good story.

Still what matters most is what’s in the glass. And it’s good, really good, with a depth of flavour you don’t often find in American whiskeys. Previous releases have won awards like a Gold Medal at the Los Angeles International Spirits Competition 2016 and Best of Category in the Ultimate Spirits Challenge 2016. It’s a great sipper either with a splash of water, with ice or I can’t think of a better whiskey for an Old Fashioned. Drink it slowly, let the ice dilute the high strength and see how it changes.

Tasting note from the Chaps at Master of Malt:

Nose: Strong coffee with just a splash of milk, rich cherry sweetness and a subtly floral hint.

Palate: Toasted almonds and spicy rye, underneath layers of brown sugar and cookie dough.

Finish: Lingering buttery corn and stem ginger.

Boondocks Cask Strength 11 Year Old American Whiskey is available from Master of Malt.

 

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10 different ways to customise your G&T

The shelves of your local supermarket may be leaving a little to the imagination right now, but that’s no reason to sip a lacklustre G&T in isolation – go beyond your…

The shelves of your local supermarket may be leaving a little to the imagination right now, but that’s no reason to sip a lacklustre G&T in isolation – go beyond your typical tonic and garnish variation with a few smart and simple additions. Here, we’ve collected 10 pointers from the pros about how to DIY your favourite juniper serve…

If nothing else, having a little extra spare time allows us to flex our creative muscles a little more than usual – and as we’ve seen in our favourite bars in the world over, no cocktail recipe is more readily adaptable than the Gin and Tonic. 

Usually, this might mean changing our tonic water or experimenting with a new garnish. But let’s be real for a second: half of us are struggling to buy loo roll at the minute. Now is not the time to forage the fresh produce section for exotic fruits.

Luckily, you don’t need wild Himalayan pears to level up your G&T. In fact, you don’t even need to set foot in a supermarket. Whether you’re a fan of flavoured gin or simply adore London dry, you’ll find 10 different expert-approved ways to customise your G&T below…

1) Flavour your ice

With ice being a key element of the serve, it’s an added opportunity to elevate your G&T for both visual and taste benefits, explains Laura Bonner, founder of The Muff Liquor Company. Try freezing your tonic or mixer into ice cubes with botanicals that compliment the tasting notes, such as fruit, herbs, spices, and even edible flowers. Alternatively, you could freeze fruit juice or tea into cubes, or even fresh produce like grapefruit, watermelon or cucumber.

Bombay Bramble, inspired Dick Bradsell’s classic cocktail

2) Introduce a liqueur

Why not add a splash of flavour and colour with a liqueur? Bombay Sapphire has just launched Creations, a colourful gin liqueur range, specifically for this purpose. “Our four trend-based floral and fruity blends all expertly pair with the balanced juniper and citrus notes of our world-famous gin, adding a subtle pink hue from the Rose, a sweet hint of summer from the Strawberry or Raspberry or a more aromatic touch from the Hibiscus,” explains Bombay’s UK brand ambassador Renaud de Bosredon.

Alternatively, pick out the key tasting notes of your gin and experiment with any liqueurs you have at home. “Marylebone London Dry Gin has a very classic base with a great, delicate accent from the lemon balm, lindon and camomile,” says brand ambassador Chris Dennis. “I like to think these give a floral and citrus note. Small additions can go a long way in accentuating these flavours, such as 10ml St.Germain, 10ml Italicus, or 10ml Merlet Pear.

3) Add a dash of bitters

For a subtler approach, try using bitters to intensify certain flavour notes within the gin, say Andrew Kearns and Alex Palu, directors of modern Italian bar Hey Palu in Edinburgh. As a general rule of thumb, they suggest using orange or grapefruit bitters to highlight citrus notes, peach or rhubarb bitters to target fruit flavours, and celery bitters for savoury notes.

Eddie Brook, Cape Byron

Eddie Brook from Brookie’s Gin

4) Pick a fruit-forward gin

Experiment with different styles of gin to enhance the experience, suggests Eddie Brook, the founder of Brookie’s Gin. “Our Brookie’s Byron Slow gin makes for an interesting take on the classic mix,” he says. “We use half tonic and half soda with a strawberry and mint leaf garnish – we call it the Take It Slow.”

Or you can explore other fruit-forward gins. Bombay Sapphire is about to introduce Bombay Bramble, a blackberry and raspberry flavoured gin inspired by the classic Bramble cocktail – “a sophisticated option for those that enjoy a touch of fruit in their G&T,” says de Bosredon.

5) Switch up your glassware

A balloon glass – or copa de balon – is a great choice for bringing out the flavour profile of a gin and tonic, especially gin with a strong citrus or floral fragrance, suggests Bonner. “The bowl shape allows the flavours to be trapped in the glass whilst the carbon in the tonic expands,” she says. “You get a hit of aroma on the nose before drinking the G&T, which gives a more rounded flavour profile experience.”

6) Spritz a mist

Liquid garnishes are all the range, didn’t you hear? You could fashion your own if you have an atomiser bottle, or buy one ready-to-go, à la gin brand Silent Pool. “Our mist garnishes work like a citrus twist garnish as they release the oils and provide that same amazing aroma, but using more unusual botanicals,” explains Silent Pool brand ambassador India Blanch. “Flavour mainly comes from aroma, so this really works to lift certain notes in your G&T.” They’ve just launched a psychedelic CBD-spiked mist. Trippy.

Spritz your G&T to make it up to 20% more delicious

7) Rinse your glass

We don’t mean in the dishwasher (although, make sure you do that too). For an intense herbal aromatic layer, you could try spraying the glass with absinthe first, suggest Kearns and Palu.

8) Flavour your own tonic syrup

Sure, you could make your own tonic tincture from cinchona bark, but being admitted to A&E with accidental quinine poisoning is quite literally the last thing any of us need. However, you could buy (ready-made, safe-to-consume) tonic syrup and use it to flavour your own tincture. “You can make a simple syrup at a 1:1 ratio of sugar to water,” suggests Yusif Al Baggou, bar manager at London’s Tavla. “Once it’s made, add 50ml of the tonic tincture to 500ml of the simple syrup and you have a tonic syrup.” The great thing about making your own syrup is you can add in other flavours to infuse it further, he says, such as cloves and lemongrass. “It’s all about experimenting and finding what flavours suit your palate and gin.”

The magnificent back bar at Hey Palu in Edinburgh

9) Add a splash of cordial

You could also try adding a small measure of cordial, like elderflower, pear or rhubarb, to sweeten and add flavour. “One of the most important things you shouldn’t do when making a G&T is lose the DNA of it,” says Dan Garnell, head bartender at Super Lyan in Amsterdam. “It’s quite a delicate drink when you think about it, as it’s just two ingredients. So you always have to make sure you are amplifying notes either in the gin or a certain spice in the tonic you would love to champion.”

10) Repurpose flat tonic water

Turn your classic G&T into a M&T (that is, a G&T Martini) by boiling flat tonic water and reducing it by half, suggests Tiago Mira, bar manager at The Goring Cocktail Bar in London. “If you want to be more creative, you can simply add aromatic herbs or perhaps some berries to the mix,” he explains. “Once reduced, let it cool, then keep in the fridge.” To make the G&T Martini, add 50ml of your favourite gin and 25ml of the tonic reduction to a mixing glass with plenty of ice. Stir and serve.

 

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10 delicious boozes to keep your spirits up at home

We’ve rounded up ten delightful drinks for those who still want to indulge in some boozy brilliance while stuck at home. I hope you’ve been working on your social distancing…

We’ve rounded up ten delightful drinks for those who still want to indulge in some boozy brilliance while stuck at home.

I hope you’ve been working on your social distancing game, folks. I’m something of a pro myself. Staying indoors wearing sweatpants, feigning disappointment at cancelled plans and watching so much Netflix I think it’s stopped bothering with the ‘are you still watching?’ prompt is a life I’m well attuned to. I’ve also got a hell of a drinks cabinet for when I fancy a small indulgence.

If you’re anything like us here at MoM Towers, then a period of self-isolation means time to refine your cocktail-making skills, an opportunity to sample an intriguing new dram and to restock the home bar with exciting new expressions. That’s why we’ve created this selection especially for those who could use a bit of retail therapy right now (#treatyoself). Enjoy the list and please stay safe.

10 delicious boozes to keep your spirits up at home

Negroni Bundle

If you’re looking for a simple and tasty cocktail to make at home, then we humbly recommend the classic Negroni. Thankfully we’ve made the whole process even easier with this handy little bundle, which brings together the holy trinity of great gin, tasty vermouth and wonderfully bitter Campari in one convenient place. We’ve even chucked in [carefully] a crystal Master of Malt Riedel tumbler to add to the super savings. 

Negroni recipe:

Combine 25ml of Bathtub Gin, 25ml of Campari and 25ml of Martini Rosso sweet vermouth. Stir over ice and strain into your shiny new ice-filled Riedel tumbler. Garnish with an orange peel (‘express’ over top by giving it a little squeeze, and then simply plonk it in).

10 delicious boozes to keep your spirits up at home

Beavertown Neck Oil Bundle (6 Pack)

Having a few cans on hand is something many a booze-lover will want to ensure during this period of self-isolation, but there’s no need to settle for less. The bundle of Beavertown’s sublime session IPA – Neck Oil doesn’t just guarantee you terrific beer, it will also save you 10% versus buying them individually. Who doesn’t love a discount?

What does it taste like?

Light and crisp but full of flavour – citrusy and hoppy, slightly floral, very moreish.

10 delicious boozes to keep your spirits up at home

Dead Man’s Fingers Pineapple Rum

Pineapple and rum just belong together, unlike pineapple and pizza. I don’t make the rules. But I do know that Dead Man’s Fingers make a seriously good flavoured rum. This terrific tropical treat boasts notes of both candied and roasted pineapple, alongside simmering spices and a helping of brown sugar. Superb served over ice, but also goes great with lemonade or ginger ale.

What does it taste like?

Bright and almost tangy at first with fresh pineapple and ginger, followed by homemade caramel, nutmeg, cassia and mango.

10 delicious boozes to keep your spirits up at home

The Macallan 12 Year Old Sherry Oak

If you’re not familiar with the delights of the Macallan distillery, then this expression is the perfect way to acquaint yourself. Released as part of Macallan’s ever-wonderful Sherry Oak range, this delicious dram spent its entire maturation in sherry-seasoned oak casks which impart that rich, fruity and full-bodied profile we’ve come to know and love from a sherried Macallan.

What does it taste like?

Sultanas, fresh apple blossom, Calvados, tropical fruit, golden syrup, hot pastries, marmalade and barley sugar.

10 delicious boozes to keep your spirits up at home

Jaffa Cake Gin

At a time like this, there’s nothing better than a few home comforts, like comfy pyjamas, a cup of tea and a box of jaffa cakes. Sounds like bliss. How about if you added a tipple, like a delicious and fun gin? Even better. What if that gin was made to taste like jaffa cakes and even included the timeless treat in its botanical selection? Perfection. Good thing such a drink exists. Now, go forth and make an insanely delicious Negroni. Full marks if you stick a Jaffa Cake on your glass like a citrus wheel garnish.

What does it taste like?

Zingy orange (marmalade-esque), rich and earthy chocolate, vanilla-rich cake, a touch of almondy-goodness and a solid backbone of juniper. Also, Jaffa Cakes! 

10 delicious boozes to keep your spirits up at home

Tanqueray No. Ten

A bartender’s favourite for a reason, Tanqueray No. Ten is simply one of the most delicious, versatile and iconic gins on the market. Named after the still of its origin, pot still number 10, which is quite endearingly nicknamed Tiny Ten, this expression was crafted using whole fresh citrus fruits, such as oranges, limes and grapefruit, along with chamomile flowers and other traditional botanicals. Quarantini, anyone?

What does it taste like?

Tangy grapefruit zest, creamy custard, clean juniper, hints of Earl Grey tea and cardamom. 

10 delicious boozes to keep your spirits up at home

Caol Ila 12 Year Old

A staple Islay whisky, the perfect introduction into the smokier side of things and one of our all-time favourites, we’ll happily champion this peaty, fruity and fresh tipple whenever the opportunity presents itself. The entry-level bottling from the Caol Ila distillery is phenomenal (or should that be phenonenal. You know, because of all the phenols… oh, shut up) neat, but if you’re a fan of a Penicillin Cocktail it should do the trick too.

What does it taste like?

Fresh herbs, rubbed peppermint leaves, damp grass, cigar leaves, smoked ham, hickory, elegant smoke, boiled sweets and lemon peels at the harbour.

10 delicious boozes to keep your spirits up at home

Woodford Reserve Double Oaked

If you’ve ever enjoyed the delightful Woodford Reserve but craved something a little deeper, darker and richer, then you’re in luck. Double Oaked is made the same way as its classic sister expression but is then further matured in barrels which have been heavily toasted and lightly charred. A killer Old Fashioned awaits.

What does it taste like?

Lots of sweet oaken character, as well as rich fruit, vanilla and caramel notes.

10 delicious boozes to keep your spirits up at home

The Lakes Vodka

If you’re a vodka fan and you’re on the lookout for a reliably clean and crisp bottling, then you’re not going to do much better than the winner of the World’s Best Vodka at the World Vodka Awards 2019. The Lakes Vodka was made with water from the River Derwent (the very same River Derwent which was mentioned in William Wordworth’s book, The Prelude!) and triple distilled for the desired clarity and flavour profile. It’s sublime in a number of cocktails, like the simple and sublime Moscow Mule.

What does it taste like?

Very soft and a touch drying, with light hints of peppery wheat coming through.

10 delicious boozes to keep your spirits up at home

Signature Blend #2 (That Boutique-y Rum Company)

For those who intend to make good use of their time indoors by perfecting the art of the Mai-Tai, then look no further than the second Signature Blend from That Boutique-y Rum Company for your base spirit. It was specifically developed with Pete Holland (who you’ll know from The Floating Rum Shack) with the classic cocktail in mind and was made from a combination of particularly rich Guyanese rum and some wonderfully funky Jamaican rums.

What does it taste like?

Oily walnuts, rich molasses, dark chocolate, oaky tannins, spicy nutmeg, pitted Medjool dates, raisins, papaya, banana bread, engine oil, sweet tobacco, coconut husk, juicy pineapple, sugarcane, game meat, coffee beans, black tea, dark chocolate and roasted apricot. 

 

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