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Master of Malt Blog

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Cocktail of the Week: Spiced Rum Coke Float

This week’s cocktail is a retro classic with a kick. We all remember the Coke Float from the ‘80s but what about a Coke Float with rum in it. Now…

This week’s cocktail is a retro classic with a kick. We all remember the Coke Float from the ‘80s but what about a Coke Float with rum in it. Now you’re talking!

There are some drinks that have the time travelling powers. The very name can transport you into the past. One such is the Coke Float, just Coca-Cola over ice with a scoop of ice cream on the top. It was a staple of burger joints when I was growing up in the 1980s. Ordering one made you feel like you were in some optimistic American series, like Saved by the Bell. Putting ice cream on top of a carbonated drink goes back much further, however. According to trusted source Wikipedia it was invented in 1874 by Robert McCay Green, though it doesn’t seem inconceivable that someone had put ice cream in a fizzy drink before. It’s not rocket science. 

All very nice and nostalgic, but we’re grown-ups now and so Tom G. Hurst from Rockstar Spirits had the brilliant idea of putting rum into this classic drink. Again, he might not be the first person to have done this, but still, what a great idea! And not just any rum but his Two Swallows Citrus and Salted Caramel bottle. This is made from high quality aged rum from the Diamond Distillery in Guyana – the people behind El Dorado. Then the team at Rockstar add natural ingredients to create a delicious, not too sweet flavoured rum. Hurst has worked hard on the profiles so that each rum works particularly well with Coca-Cola – as he told me: “80% of rum is drunk with Coke.”

Hurst’s background is in new product development. He worked at William Grant & Sons during an incredibly fertile period for the company when it launched Hendrick’s Gin, Sailor Jerry spiced rum and Monkey Shoulder blended whisky. All drinks that launched a thousand imitators. Hurst saw that rum was ripe from premiumisation and so in 2018 he set up Rockstar Spirits. Figures released last year by the WSTA support this with over 10 million bottles of flavoured rum sold 2018/19 and the market is growing rapidly. There are now nearly 200 brands on the British market, up from 50 in 2006.

Two Swallows Rum

The name is inspired Victorian daredevil Matthew Webb who features on the top left of the label

The main line from Rockstar spirits is Two Swallows, a range of flavoured rums made with high quality natural ingredients. The name comes from the classic naval tattoo, and inspired by Hurst’s great great uncle Captain Matthew Webb. Hurst described him as “a global icon. David Beckham of the Victorian era.” He was the first man to swim the English channel. Bryant & May put his face on its match boxes. He came to a tragic end, however. Hurst explained: “He loved the fame aspect and as that faded away, he kept on trying to do crazier and crazier stunts.” One included swimming the rapids at Niagara Falls where he drowned. The two swallows were supposed to carry drowning sailors to heaven.

So that’s the story behind Two Swallows. The brand has only been going a short time but things are going well despite the problems caused by lockdown. “Long term we are very much committed to the on-trade,” Hurst said. But the brand is going great guns through supermarkets and other retailers. It’s one of the bestselling rum brands at Master of Malt. “We launched three new products since the new lockdown to give people a point of difference,” he said. The combination of distinctive packaging and distinctive contents seems to work. Hurst explained the thinking behind the rums: “They had to tick three boxes: excellent standalone spirits, great with mixers, and interesting for bartenders to work with”. To achieve the latter, the rums are packed with subtle flavours which you might not notice on first taste, but can be pulled out with the right ingredients.  

This might be the best Coke Float you’ve ever had. Here’s how to make it:

50ml Two Swallows Salted Caramel and Citrus Rum
150ml Coca-Cola
Good quality chocolate ice cream

Serve in Highball glass over ice with a scoop of good quality chocolate ice cream.  

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Top ten: Scotch whiskies under £50

From smoky single malts to the ultimate Highball blend, you don’t have to spend a lot of money to get some seriously good Scotch whisky. Here are ten of our…

From smoky single malts to the ultimate Highball blend, you don’t have to spend a lot of money to get some seriously good Scotch whisky. Here are ten of our favourites.

We love whisky at Master of Malt. Which means that everyone in the office has strong opinions on the subject so it was tricky to narrow this list down to just ten bottles. People are going to be upset that we didn’t include their favourite drams, especially Talisker 10, Laphroaig 10 or Bowmore 12. But we thought it would be a good idea to include alongside the old favourites some lesser-known whiskies as well as expressions that are so well-known you probably don’t notice them anymore. So without further ado, delay or general beating around the bush. Here are (some of) our favourite Scotch whiskies under £50. Tell us in the comments or on social why we should have included your dram of choice.


Ardbeg Uigeadail

Well, we had a bit of a discussion that got quite heated about which Ardbeg to include. The Ten would have been the obvious choice but instead we’ve gone with the spectacular Uigeadail ( pronounced “Oog-a-dal”) that melds the smoky lime-scented Ardbeg character with sweet sherry casks. And how!

What does it taste like?

There’s plenty of peat and smoke but it’s all wrapped up in muscovado sugar, honey and espresso coffee. Rich and pungent, Uigeadail is quite an experience.


Arran 10 Year Old

This distillery was founded by former Chivas MD Harold Currie, the first on the isle of Arran on the West Coast since 1837. It might be the entry level whisky but this ten year old aged entirely in bourbon casks tastes pretty special, showing off the fruity, floral distillery character.

What does it taste like: 

Nutty and biscuity with fresh apple and lemon fruit plus floral summer hedgerow and honey notes. It’s packed full of character and really over delivers for the money.


Balblair 12 Year Old

Last year Balblair switched from vintage releases to a suitably impressive new range of age statements expressions. This is the baby of the bunch, aged in ex-bourbon and double-fired American oak casks, and it’s superb.

What does it taste like? 

The soft mango and peach distillery character really shines through, supported by spicy cedar and nutmeg, honey and barley. A great introduction to a great distillery. 


Compass Box Spice Tree 

Originally made with oak staves which attracted the ire of the SWA, Spice Tree is now aged in especially-made casks with new French oak heads. It’s a stunning blend of Highland malts with the French oak adding masses of spice, hence the name. 

What does it taste like? 

Dried apricots, vanilla, cinnamon and toffee with pungent tobacco, cloves and pepper, it’s not called Spice Tree for nothing. Long, complex and totally harmonious. 


Glenfarclas 10 Year Old

Glenfarclas is one of the very few family-owned distilleries in Scotland. That combined with its excellent sherry-soaked Speyside drams is why it is one of the the country’s best-loved distilleries. 

What does it taste like? 

On the nose there’s honey, toffee and Oloroso sherry. While the palate is full of baking spices with fruitcake, apples, nuts and even a little smoke.


Glenmorangie 10 Year Old

We love the whole Glenmorangie range but it’s the 10 Year Old Original we keep coming back to. Entirely aged in ex-bourbon casks, it’s smooth, sweet and fruity but deceptively complex. No drinks cupboard should be without a bottle. 

What does it taste like? 

Full of lemons, nectarines and apples with vanilla, digestive biscuits and gentle baking spices. And honey! Lots and lots of honey. 


J&B Rare 

J&B Rare is one of those whiskies so ubiquitous, you probably don’t even notice it behind the bar. Which is a shame because this is probably the ultimate Highball whisky. Just blend with soda, ice and maybe a dash of orange bitters for a refreshing pre-dinner drink. One sip and you’ll never go back to G&Ts.

What does it taste like? 

Yes, it’s light but there’s depth here too with appley fruit joined by richer notes of malt, cedar, vanilla and walnut with a lift of orange zest. Perfect with soda.


Johnnie Walker Green Label 15 Year Old

Well, we had to include something from Johnnie Walker. But rather than the Red or Black, we’ve gone with Green Label, a spectacular 15 year old all malt blend that combines whiskies from around Scotland. One to offer to people who say they only drink single malts.

What does it taste like? 

This is packed full of dark chocolate, oak spice, malty cereal notes, and coffee and walnut cake. An after-dinner whisky, if there ever was one. 


Kilkerran 12 Year Old

In 2004, Springbank reopened Glengyle distillery taking the number of working distilleries in Campbeltown to three. But Glen Scotia owns the Glengyle brand which is why this whisky is called Kilkerran. The quality is exceptional for the money and this expression has become something of a cult. 

What does it taste like? 

It melds citrus, cherries and orange peel with creamy vanilla, honey and butterscotch, with a saline note running through it. If you love the oily Springbank style, then you’ll adore this.


Seaweed & Aeons & Digging & Fire 10 Year Old

An Islay single malt from an undisclosed distillery. The name makes sense as soon as you take a sip, it’s a smoky peaty Islay malt with 25% aged Oloroso sherry cask. This has proved an extremely popular malt with MoM customers.

What does it taste like? 

Does exactly what it says on the bottle: there’s woodsmoke, seaweed and charred meat combined with sweet sherry notes, red apple and vanilla. 

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Our favourite cocktail delivery services

Our beloved hospitality industry is taking quite the hit during lockdown, and obviously we’re all gutted we can’t go and support them… Except wait, we can! Here are a few…

Our beloved hospitality industry is taking quite the hit during lockdown, and obviously we’re all gutted we can’t go and support them… Except wait, we can! Here are a few ways you can get your cocktail fix without even leaving your home. 

We know that nothing will quite beat the ambiance of our favourite watering hole, glancing over at the bar and seeing your drink being shaken (or stirred) by a bonafide professional. But, at the same time, enjoying a bar-quality cocktail in the comfort of your own home brings quite a bit of solace and downright enjoyment in times like these. If you can’t go to the bar, bring the bar to you! Plus, now you won’t have to queue or anything… 

cocktail delivery
Speakeasy At Home

It’s triple trouble with Speakeasy At Home, as three of the World’s 50 Best bars have joined forces for this one! You’ll find cocktails from Swift, Nightjar and Oriole all in one place, which is pretty awesome. Will you choose Swift’s famed Irish Coffee, Nightjar’s Barrel Aged Zombie or Oriole’s Jalisco Negroni? If you simply can’t pick which bar you feel like visiting (through the wonder of taste, of course), you can get yourself a box featuring one cocktail from each. Handy! Cocktails come in 220ml pouches and 500ml bottles, starting at £15 and delivering throughout the UK. 

cocktail delivery
Milroy’s The Proofing Room

The ever-wonderful Milroy’s treated us to a new Spitalfields-based site this year, and underneath you’ll find The Proofing Room, its basement cocktail bar. Now it’s bringing the cocktails to us, and they’re all inspired by the humble Highball. The six-serve menu treats us to a whole host of different variations on the classic cocktail, from bourbon, chestnut, peach and ginger to Tequila, coconut rum, chill, caraway and orange. What’s more, there’s delivery across the UK within 48 hours! So you won’t be thirsty for long. Each bottle costs between £12 to £14 and holds three servings. ‌ 

Easy Social Cocktail Company

Easy Social Cocktail Co.

Bartender and Master of Malt contributor Nate Brown, had big plans for 2020 including a Highball Bar called Soda, a pizza and cocktail venue named Nebula and had an idea that at-home cocktails might be a thing. Well, for various reasons, not all of them Covid-related, Soda didn’t open, Nebula is open and doing takeaways, and a cocktails delivery service seems like a really good idea. So Brown has teamed up with Imie Augier, formerly of Fitz’s Bar and Shrub and Shutter, and Hebe Richardson of Drinks with Hebe fame (and also Brown’s wife), to launch the Easy Social Cocktail Co. The menu includes classic cocktails in bottles or pouches as well as Hard Seltzers. We were given a little taste of some of the deliciousness on offer including a Cracking Christmas Cosmo and a Super Strawberry Negroni which might be the best Negroni we’ve ever tried (both £25 for 500ml). 

cocktail delivery

Coupette (above) is bringing its delicious cocktails to the masses, because it’s delivering its drinks worldwide! Get your all-important Calvados fix or give the Parmigiano- and bourbon-inspired Ain’t Easy Being Cheesy a go. Heartbreakingly, Champagne Piña Coladas don’t do well in transit. Sad faces all around. Though we’re sure we’ll cope, because there are heaps of other options from its outstanding menu to choose from. If you dim the lights, get some music on and cook yourself some gratin dauphinoise, it’ll be like you never left the East London bar! Cocktails come in three sizes, 125ml, 250ml and 500ml, starting at £10. 

cocktail delivery

Agave lovers, we didn’t forget about you! London’s Hacha is here to get us our fix, having bottled its famed Mirror Margarita. Each 700ml bottle holds four serves, and you’ll find Tequila or mezcal versions of the cocktail along with seasonal infusions like clementine and cinnamon, or even a mulled variant! The bar has even reworked the classics, with pre-bottled agave twists on Negronis and Martinis too. A top feature of the bar was its ever-changing spirit selection, complete with bespoke weird and wacky food pairings (mezcal and Monster Munch, anyone?). With Hacha’s agave tasting flights, you can recreate this at home! The flights are designed for two people, holding two serves of three different spirits, along with full tasting notes and even pairing suggestions. If you weren’t an agave aficionado already, you will be soon! Bottles start from £35, delivering all over the UK.

cocktail delivery
Liana Cocktail Co. 

Liana Cocktail Co. is the tasty result of a bad situation (which was lockdown, in case you hadn’t guessed). It goes one step further than just sending you a delicious cocktail, because each serve has one of those fancy QR codes. Say hello to the Interactive Cocktail Experience! From an Apple Old Fashioned to Margaritas, every cocktail has a corresponding video featuring a bartender talking you through how the drink was created. If you’re looking for something festive, on 1 December there’s a special event where founder David Wood himself will be there to talk you through the making of each cocktail, the spirit producers selected and how to get those perfect finishing touches. The cocktail box will give you access to this live event*, as well as donating £1 to The Drinks Trust, helping our friends in hospitality. Each box is £19.99 and holds three cocktails, with delivery across the UK mainland.

*Just make sure you order before 25 November to get your box in time!

cocktail delivery

Bring Your Bar Home

And last but not least, a very shiny new feat of technology from a fellow bar-lover – say hello to Bring Your Bar Home! As much as we hate to admit it, it’s basically a better version of what we’ve just done with this blog, because instead of rounding up a few favourites for you (brilliant though they are), you simply whack in your postcode (only works in the UK) and shows you a long ol’ list of bars which can deliver straight to your doorstep. Genius! Just the sort of thing we wish we’d come up with ourselves… 

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New Arrival of the Week: Springbank 17 YO Madeira

Today we’re toasting the arrival of a limited edition Madeira cask whisky from a distillery that still does things the old ways, Springbank in Campbelltown. Hurry, it’s not going to…

Today we’re toasting the arrival of a limited edition Madeira cask whisky from a distillery that still does things the old ways, Springbank in Campbelltown. Hurry, it’s not going to be around for long.

You can tell that they do things a little differently at Springbank from the marketing bumf. There’s no fancy fonts, or guff about ‘lovingly hand-selected’ and ‘hand-signed’ casks. Instead you have something that would have looked a bit dated in 1981.

Production is similarly traditional. Everything, malting, distilling, maturation and bottling, takes place at the distillery. Springbank is the only distillery in Scotland still doing this. But that’s not the end of the anachronisms: the stills are direct-fired, with oil. There’s something called a rummager inside to remove burnt bits. Springbank has its own unique distillation process with three stills. It’s a bit hard to explain so I’m going to quote from The World of Whisky book: 

“The low wines, foreshots and feints are re-distilled with the next batch of low wines in an intermediate still before final distillation occurs in the spirit still.”

The unique still set-up at Springbank

So, the spirit is distilled 2.5 times. The wash and the spirit stills use shell and tube condensers while the intermediate still uses a worm tub.We scarcely need to say that there’s no chill-filtration or colouring used. The final unusual thing about Springbank is it has been in the hands of the same family since it was founded 1828. The current chairman of the distillery Hedley Wright is great grandson of founder John Mitchell. 

At one point, Campbeltown, on a peninsula next to the isle of Arran across the water from Glasgow, was home to a staggering 34 distilleries. For much of the 19th century, it was Scotland’s whisky powerhouse, famous for its heavy oily spirit which was much in demand for blends. Things began to go wrong with the advent of the railways which saw better-connected distilleries further north, Speyside basically, stealing a slice of the whisky pie. But there were other problems: the Campbelltown style was ill-suited to lighter blends that became fashionable, Prohibition struck a blow, and there are stories about unscrupulous distillers simply making bad whisky and ruining the town’s reputation. By the 1930s there was only one functioning distillery in town.

Springbank suffered too. It stopped distilling in 1926 only to reopen in 1933. It then shut down for nearly ten years in 1979 as the Scotch whisky industry fell into another trough, and when distillation resumed, it was with only a limited production. Of course, things are very different now, Sprinbank is one of the most sought-after whiskies in the world, with old bottling attracting big money on the auction market. 

Casks outside the distillery

Things were going so well that in 2004, Springbank reopened Glengyle distillery taking the number of working distilleries in Campbeltown to three, the final one being Glen Scotia. Just to confuse matters, Glen Scotia owns the Glengyle brand so new releases from Glengyle distillery have been released under the Kilkerran name. The 12 year old is well with trying if you want some of the Springbank style at a bargain price.

Springbank itself produces three different brands: Longrow, which is heavily peated and distilled twice, Hazelburn which is unpeated and triple distilled as well as the classic lightly-peated Springbank. This week’s new arrival is a limited edition of this classic style. 

Only 9200 bottles have been produced. It was aged in rum and bourbon casks for 14 years, before spending three years in Madeira casks, a total of 17 years, before being bottled in October 2020 at 47.8% ABV. That classic Springbank fullness mingles beautifully with the sweet nuttiness from the Madeira wine. It’s sure to sell out quickly but if you’re not one of the lucky ones, there are other Springbank and Campbeltown whiskies on the site.

Tasting note from the Chaps at Master of Malt:

Nose: Big rich flavours with ginger cake, toffee, grapefruit rind and strawberry jam coming through strongly with underlying saline and smoky notes.

Palate: Spicy black pepper and briny peat leads with sweet notes of caramelised ginger, salted caramel and fennel coming through, and a thick oily feel in the mouth.

Finish: Long, peat character mingles with walnuts.

Overall: Beautifully-balanced dram combining all those classic oily briny Springbank notes with sweet jam, toffee and nuts from the Madeira cask.

Springbank 17 year old Madeira wood is now sold out. 

Springbank Madeira

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Cocktail of the Week: The Popcorn Old Fashioned

This week’s cocktail is the Popcorn Old Fashioned, a long-time favourite at Sexy Fish. The London hotspot has sold over 12,000 of them since it opened five years ago. Bar…

This week’s cocktail is the Popcorn Old Fashioned, a long-time favourite at Sexy Fish. The London hotspot has sold over 12,000 of them since it opened five years ago. Bar manager Jérôme Allaguillemette explains how to recreate the drink at home…

Tucked away on a corner of Berkeley Square lies Sexy Fish – no, you’re not hard of herring, that’s its real name – which toasted its fifth birthday with a book of its most beloved serves, titled Surrealism. Set in a split-level building that boasts seascape-inspired Damien Hirst art in the main restaurant and two of the world’s largest live coral reef tanks in the private dining space below, the opulent hotspot is known for its wildly inventive Asian-fusion food and drink offering.

If you’re into celeb spotting, it’s the plaice to be. The venue flung open its doors in October 2015 with a star-studded opening party – Rita Ora performed a medley of hits (dressed as a glittery gold mermaid, obv) while the likes of Kate Moss and Lindsay Lohan sipped cocktails and snacked on rainbow-coloured sushi platters. Ever since, a revolving door of big names has been spotted inside its glitzy lair, including Katy Perry, Hugh Jackson, Kendall Jenner and Joan Collins.

If you can tear your eyes from the venue’s theatrical artworks for long enough – among them a 13-foot mirrored crocodile (by architect Frank Gehry), a waterfall wall, and an illuminating shoal of fish hovering above the bar (also Gehry) – you’ll find the largest collection of Japanese whisky in the world. Sexy Fish even has its own single cask bottling, Sexy Fish Whisky, made at Chichibu Distillery in the central Saitama Prefecture. As well as having a huge selection of spirits within easy reach, the bar team also has a fully-stocked kitchen to draw from – and they make full use of this unique set-up, as Allaguillemette explains.

“Our kitchen fridges and pantry are our main inspiration,” he says. “Over the last five years we’ve used some interesting ingredients, including Wagyu fat, smoked salmon, bonito flakes, Shiitake mushrooms, codonopsis and Galangal. We use a lot of techniques borrowed from chefs: sous vide cooking, blending, centrifuging, and additional ‘scientific methods’ such as vacuum distillation, which allows us to extract very delicate and unusual flavours using laboratory equipment.”

Sexy dish, swanky bar

There are, indeed, plenty of unconventional flavour combinations on the menu. In the savoury, herbal serve Neonach – which is presented in a red coral glass – you’ll find salmon-infused Hendrick’s gin, basil, fennel and chilli oil. When designing a cocktail at Sexy Fish, bringing ingredients together is only half the story. After all, the owners didn’t spend (an estimated) £15 million on eye-catching art installations from the biggest names in architecture and art to serve your lavish cocktail in dull glassware.

“The visual aesthetic is the guest’s first contact with the drink, it needs to be appealing and to some extent sexy and intriguing,” says Allaguillemette. “We’re always looking to excite as many senses as possible when it comes to our serves, using textures, shapes, colours and scents. Some [vessels] are unique, bespoke pieces that we designed in collaboration with brands, such as our Neonach coral glass, which is 3D-printed.”

Unsurprisingly, putting each menu together requires plenty of work. The first menu followed Marco Polo across Asia; the second, called Haute Couture, took inspiration from the catwalk; the third, Whet, was designed to whet all appetites; and the most recent edition Travel was inspired by the team’s global bar tour. Each has typically taken around nine months, from the first meeting to the launch, says Allaguillemette, with all hands on deck. “The menu creation is most definitely a team effort, from the concept to the drinks and serve design,” he continues.

With each menu so vibrantly different to the last, how would he sum up the cocktail offering at Sexy Fish in three words, I ask? “Sexy, accessible, yet complex,” says Allaguillemette. That’s four – but then, surreal Sexy Fish is hardly known for following convention, so we’ll it slide.

Right that’s Sexy Fish, now let’s make a Popcorn Old Fashioned. It’s described by the bar like this: “An all-time favourite, this Old Fashioned is a cocktail that really pops. All the classic ingredients report for duty, alongside popcorn-infused Chita Whisky. Over the years, we’ve taken 110kg of popcorn to take this old favourite into new territory”.

50ml popcorn-infused Chita Whisky*
5ml sugar syrup
2 dashes Angostura Bitters 

Stir all ingredients over ice and strain onto a large chunk of ice in a rocks glass. Garnish with an orange twist.

*To make the popcorn-infused Chita Whisky, mix 200ml whisky with 20g popcorn, leave in a freezer overnight, and strain through a coffee filter the following morning.

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10 ten: Irish whiskeys under £50

On the lookout for some Irish whiskey? You don’t need to spend a fortune because we’ve picked out some absolute bargains from delicious blends to distinctive single pot still bottles. The…

On the lookout for some Irish whiskey? You don’t need to spend a fortune because we’ve picked out some absolute bargains from delicious blends to distinctive single pot still bottles.

The recent boom in Irish whiskey means there is a huge range of expressions currently on the market. If you need a versatile, mixable blend, you’ve got options. If you desire a spicy, rich pot still, there’s variety. If you’re a fan of experimental cask finishes, take your pick. The only difficulty is choosing which one is right for you. Which is where we come in. Whether you’re on the lookout for a gift or in the mood to try something new, we’re sure you’ll find something perfect in the following round-up. And the best part is, every single bottle costs less than £50. 

Oh, and if you still can’t decide what bottle to plump for, you could always choose a selection of all things great from the Emerald Isle, like this 12 Dram Irish Whiskey Collection from the wonderful Drinks by the Dram.

bargain Irish whiskey

Teeling Small Batch with 2x Glasses

With Christmas on the horizon, we thought we’d kick things off with a splendid present for the Irish whiskey fan in your life. This bottle of Teeling’s multi-award-winning Small Batch blended whiskey, a deliciously creamy, spicy and rich Irish blend made with a high malt content and finished in rum casks, comes with two delightful branded glasses.

What does it taste like?

Cut grass, orange blossom, allspice, creamy vanilla, rose petal jelly, apple pie, dried herbs, caramel and blackberries.

bargain Irish whiskey

Jameson Caskmates IPA Edition

The Jameson Caskmates series features some incredible and intriguing bottles, the standout of which for us is the tasty IPA Edition. To create this, Jameson sent its used whiskey casks over the Franciscan Well brewery, where they were used to age some IPA beer. After that, the casks made their way back to the distillery, where they were used to finish this Irish whiskey. Lovely stuff.

What does it taste like?

Fresh grapefruit, lime, vanilla pod, sugared almonds, oily walnut, hops, caramelised dates, white pepper, caraway and green apple.

bargain Irish whiskey

Slane Irish Whiskey

On the grounds of an 18th-century castle in a converted 250-year-old stable, you’ll find Slane Distillery, the home to one of the most affordable and pleasant blends in Ireland. Slane Irish Whiskey is made using local grain which and matured in a trio of casks: virgin-oak, refill-American-whiskey and Oloroso sherry.

What does it taste like?

Sweet oak and toasted barley at first, with layers of caramel, Victoria Sponge Cake, butterscotch and ginger developing later on. 

bargain Irish whiskey

Tullamore D.E.W. XO Caribbean Rum Cask Finish

Tullamore D.E.W. makes a delightful and original blend of pot still, malt and grain Irish whiskeys that work in a number of cask finishes. In this case, the brand used first fill Caribbean rum casks which previously held Demerara rum that not only delivers a rich, sweet and complex taste, but also pays tribute to the role that Irish immigrants played in the development of rum in the Caribbean back in the 17th century. Which is pretty neat.

What does it taste like?

Cherry pie, lots of caramelised pineapple and banana alongside buttery caramel, brown sugar, oak, dried fruit, sweet malt and rum spice.

bargain Irish whiskey

The Sexton Single Malt

An approachable, affordable and very tasty dram from master blender Alex Thomas, one of the few female master blenders in the Irish whiskey industry, the distinctive-looking Sexton Single Malt was made from 100% Irish malted barley and aged in Spanish Oloroso sherry casks. It’s got one of those profiles that just begs to be put to good use in cocktails

What does it taste like?

Rich aromas of nuts, dried fruit, honeycomb sweetness, lemon zest, prunes, marzipan and dark chocolate with a pinch of spice.

bargain Irish whiskey

Midleton Method and Madness Single Grain 

Midleton’s experimental Method and Madness range was launched in 2017 to push boundaries and innovate. We recommend you check out the full selection of singular expressions released in the last three years, but today we wanted to shine a light on this single grain Irish whiskey which was finished in a virgin Spanish oak cask, because it’s a great demonstration of how good Irish single grain can be.

What does it taste like?

New pencil shavings, light rose petal, fresh rain on pine, warm toasted oak, fresh peeled grapefruit, zesty wood spices, sweet cereal and fresh mint.

bargain Irish whiskey

Kinahan’s The Kasc Project 

This unusual bottling sees a blend of malt and grain whiskeys aged in handmade hybrid casks made of five different wood varieties – Portuguese, American, French, and Hungarian oak, and chestnut – each selected for the flavours they impart into the whiskey. It’s so delicious and intriguing we wrote a whole blog post about it.

What does it taste like?

Juicy autumnal fruit, namely plum, alongside pear, apple crumble, rich caramel, pineapple, barbecued mango, vanilla pod, creamy fruit and nut chocolate.

bargain Irish whiskey

Pearse Lyons 5 Year Old Original

The first five-year age statement Irish whiskey to appear from a new distillery in the whole of Ireland in more than 25 years, this bottling marries both malt and grain whiskeys, aged exclusively in bourbon barrels. Oh, and it was distilled in pot stills that sit on an altar in a converted church. Pretty cool.

What does it taste like?

Lemon blossom, porridge, oak char, floral malt, honeyed spice, mint milk chocolate, fresh oak, millionaire’s shortbread, leading into some drying spices.

bargain Irish whiskey

Bushmills Black Bush

A bartender’s go-to for good reason, Bushmills Black Bush is one of the most consistent and versatile Irish blends on the market. Use this one to make all kinds of delicious whiskey cocktails.

What does it taste like?

Over-ripe grape, light citrus, toffee, peanut, vanilla, chamomile tea, Digestive biscuit, cooked plum, orange oil, cinnamon sticks and milk bottle sweets. 

bargain Irish whiskey

Green Spot Single Pot Still 

Just a week on from announcing the return of Blue Spot, now we’re showing some love to the best known of the range and a whiskey that has done so much to fly the flag for single pot still whiskey. We’re talking, of course, about the fabulous Green Spot, a whiskey that was matured in a combination of first and second fill bourbon casks as well as sherry casks to deliver a robust, fruity and rich profile. Savour this one.

What does it taste like?

Fresh green apple, sweet barley, sugary porridge, creamy vanilla, papaya, gentle bourbon oak, green woods, menthol, potpourri and citrus.

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New Arrival of the Week: Foursquare Détente

This week we’re particularly excited about the latest Exceptional Cask Selection rum from the Foursquare Distillery in Barbados. It’s been aged in ex-bourbon and Port casks for ten years. And…

This week we’re particularly excited about the latest Exceptional Cask Selection rum from the Foursquare Distillery in Barbados. It’s been aged in ex-bourbon and Port casks for ten years. And that’s not all, there’s a new vintage bottling on the way too. Double trouble!

First of all, let’s get the name out of the way, ‘Détente.’ It might sound a bit peculiar but it’s just the latest in a long line of gnomically-named bottles from the Foursquare Distillery in Barbados like ‘Criterion’, Nobiliary’ and ‘Empery’ –– some to think of it, I think I lost £20 on ‘Empery’ at Cheltenham a few years ago. Détente, though, brings to mind the Cold War, the word was used to refer to moments of relative calm between the USSR and USA. Could it be a coded reference that some sort of agreement over the terms of the island’s GI has been reached by those two titans of Bajan distilling, Richard Seale from Foursquare and Alexandre Gabriel from the West Indies Distillery?

Sadly not. The word in French can simply mean ‘relaxation’ and is probably just a reference to the perfect way to enjoy it. Whatever the meaning of the name, there’s no doubt that this is an exceptional drop. It’s a single blended rum which means that both pot and column still spirit is used, specifically a double retort pot still and the continuous twin column still for all you rum nerds out there. The final blend is made up of a ten year old, aged exclusively in ex-bourbon casks combined with a rum that was aged for four years in ex-bourbon casks before spending another six in ex-Port casks. It’s bottled at 51% ABV with no chill-filtering, colour or sugar additions. 

But that’s not the only exciting new bottling from Foursquare. The company has also released another rum in its Exceptional Cask Selection series this month. It’s also a blend, distilled in 2008 and spent the last 12 years in ex-bourbon casks before bottling at 60% ABV. Full details of both below.

The Seale family have been on the island of Barbados since the 1650s and involved in the rum business since at least the 1820s. The brand R.L. Seale dates back to the 1920s. Foursquare, however, is a much more recent creation. The distillery was founded in 1995 by Sir David Seale and is now run by his son Richard, a master distiller and blender. Under the Foursquare label, the firm produces some of the finest rums in the Caribbean to Richard Seale’s exacting standards. He is outspoken in his opposition to any sugar addition and off-island ageing, both techniques used (to great effect it has to be said) by Alexandre Gabriel at the West Indies Distillery, also in Barbados. So there’s a lot they disagree on which we have documented on the Master of Malt blog in the past. Anyway, that’s enough politics, let’s taste the rums!

From cask types to bottling dates, there’s no shortage of information on Foursquare labels

These are both exceptional liquids, that are best drunk neat or in very simple cocktails which let the quality hine through. With the Détente, I made perhaps the best Palmetto I’ve ever had, made half and half with Barbadillo sherry vermouth, served over ice with a dash of Angostura and some orange peel. Absolutely stunning. Here are the full tasting notes for:

Foursquare Détente Exceptional Cask Selection (available now from Master of Malt)

Nose: Extraordinary complexity: sweet notes like butterscotch and muscovado sugar mingle with spices including cinnamon and nutmeg, dark cherries and orange peel, and then powerful aromatic menthol notes and a touch, just a touch of acetone. 

Palate: Smooth with popcorn, dark chocolate, red fruit, molasses and creamy buttery notes but all the time with a vein of fiery pepper running through it. 

Finish: That menthol note comes breezing through again, like mint choc chip ice cream.

Foursquare 2008 (new stock coming in any day now at Master of Malt) 

Nose: Strong acetone notes like varnish and furniture polish followed by dark chocolate, coffee, and toffee.

Palate: Strong wood tannins, it really grips the mouth with a taste of tobacco, leather and bitter espresso coffee. Big alcohol too, providing black pepper and chilli. A dash of water softens it bringing out notes of milk chocolate, maraschino cherry, cooked apple and manuka honey. 

Finish: Long and intense, like biting into high cacao dark chocolate and those tannins linger. A finish you can chew. 

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Cocktail of the Week: The Caipirinha

This week we’re whipping up the Caipirinha, a Brazilian classic. This light, refreshing drink emerged in São Paulo in the early 19th century and has been a national treasure ever…

This week we’re whipping up the Caipirinha, a Brazilian classic. This light, refreshing drink emerged in São Paulo in the early 19th century and has been a national treasure ever since. Morgana Toro, bartender at London’s Artesian, shows us how to combine the holy trinity of cachaça, sugar, and lime…

There’s much debate about the origins of Brazil’s national drink. One theory claims the Caipirinha was invented by farmers in the countryside region of Piracicaba, which was the epicentre of cachaça production at the time. Elsewhere, it’s believed the drink was a medicinal tincture used to treat the Spanish flu, initially containing garlic and honey in place of sugar and ice. Another theory suggests scurvy-riddled sailors invented it when they docked at the Port of Santos, mixing citrus with cachaça in the absence of readily-available rum. 

One thing’s for certain: to be called a Caipirinha today, it has to be made with lime, sugar, cachaça and ice, says Morgana. “You could use lemon if you like, but then it’s not traditional. You can use brown sugar, unrefined sugar, any type of sugar,” she says. “And the cachaça can be silver or aged. Usually in Brazil we make it with ice that isn’t cubed or crushed; it’s something in-between. It’s like a crushed cube of ice, but not like the crushed that we know here.” Faced with the limited options in the supermarket, Morgana suggests using cubed ice, because fully crushed will dilute the drink too fast. 

Morgana Toro with three cocktails, none of which is a Caipirinha

Once you’ve got these simple ingredients prepared, you’re ready to start making the drink. First, cut a lime into wedges and add to a tumbler or rocks glass with sugar. Muddle until the sugar – and it has to be powder sugar, not sugar syrup, says Morgana – is dissolved in the lime juice. Then top the rest of the glass with ice and add around 50ml cachaça. “Then you stir slightly but not like you’re stirring a built drink,” she says. “It’s more like, you put the spoon inside and do a little movement to mix it from the bottom. It’s not supposed to be completely mixed together.”

We’re using Abelha Cachaça, made from 100% organic sugarcane grown in the protected national park of Chapada Diamantina in Bahia, Northern Brazil. Crafted by master distiller Marcos Vaccaro – an expert in organic agriculture – Abelha Silver is rested for six months in stainless steel tanks, while the Gold bottling is aged for three years in casks made from an ash wood native to Brazil called garapeira. We know Vaccaro is devoted to the cause, because he takes care to reused and recycle the by-products of every distillation of Abelha elsewhere on the farm, even running his car on the stuff. Plus, he lives in a treehouse.

The traditional Caipirinha – made with lime – isn’t the only version of the drink. “In Brazil, we say that we are very creative people,” says Morgana. “We make everything in a thousand different flavours.” A common twist on the cocktail is the Caipifruta, which consists of cachaça, crushed fresh fruits, and ice. “You can do strawberry, lime and passionfruit… You just change the fruit,” she continues. “I’ve tried a mango and pink peppercorn one before. That’s super good.”

Now that looks more like a Caipirinha

Whether you choose to keep things traditional or switch up the recipe, you’ll need little in the way of equipment. “Making a Caipirinha at home is really easy because you don’t need any equipment,” says Morgana. “You can muddle with anything, even a rolling pin. There’s no shaker. You just need a spoon, it can be a teaspoon. As long as you have good cachaça and good limes – and you muddle until the sugar has dissolved – that’s all you need.”

50ml Abelha Cachaça
1 tbsp sugar
1 lime, sliced in half lengthwise and cut into quarters or eighths.

In a double rocks glass, combine the lime segments with the sugar and use a muddler to gently crush and squeeze the limes. Add the cachaça and stir well. Add crushed ice and stir. Serve immediately with a slice of lime to garnish.

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Top ten: Gins under £30

Want to treat yourself to some juniper-based deliciousness without shelling out your savings? That’s exactly why we’ve rounded up our ten favourite gins that won’t put a dent in your…

Want to treat yourself to some juniper-based deliciousness without shelling out your savings? That’s exactly why we’ve rounded up our ten favourite gins that won’t put a dent in your bank account, because they’re all under £30! 

The world of gin is an ever-growing category, and if you end up feeling overwhelmed by the sheer number of juniper-based opportunities there are to try, we don’t blame you. If you’re feeling snazzy sometimes you might fancy a gin distilled with ants or some rare African botanicals, but let’s be honest – most of the time you just want a tasty G&T that doesn’t break the bank. 

We’ve gathered up our top 10 affordable bottlings that don’t skip out on flavour, so here’s hoping you’ll find a new favourite too! If you thought affordable means boring, think again… 

Favourite gins

Moonshot Gin (That Boutique-y Gin Company) 

Deets: Though most of the botanicals within That Boutique-y Gin Company’s Moonshot Gin are pretty classic, the fact that each and every one of them have been sent to space certainly isn’t! Among the likes of juniper, citrus peels, chamomile and cardamom, the Boutique-y folks even included actual moon rock from a lunar meteorite. As you do, eh? The result is a fairly traditional flavour profile with a stellar (!) back story.

What does it taste like? Lemon sherbet and peel, followed by spicy ginger, bitter citrus and peppery juniper. 

Favourite gins

LoneWolf Cactus & Lime Gin 

Deets: BrewDog (yes, the beer people!) has made quite the splash with its spirits line, which is no surprise seeing as it’s releasing expressions like this LoneWolf Cactus & Lime Gin. Alongside a base of the original LoneWolf Gin you’ll find makrut lime and Queen of the Night, a fragrant cactus flower that gets its name because it only appears after dark. Talk about unusual botanicals! One for a dose of tropical, zesty deliciousness.

What does it taste like? Zingy lime citrus and sweeter lychee, with watermelon and piney juniper in support.

 Favourite gins

Kyrö Gin

Deets: A wonderful gin all the way from Finland’s Kyrö, known for its love of rye. Naturally, this gin is distilled from rye too, along with meadowsweet, citrus, cumin and juniper. A spicy, leafy and herbal expression which even won the IWSC Gin & Tonic Trophy! Get the tonic out, folks. 

What does it taste like? Floral violet, juniper and spicy rye, with hints of almond, citrus and mint. 

Favourite gins

Roku Gin

Deets: Suntory took its inspiration from Japan’s four seasons for its very first gin, Roku Gin! Six Japanese botanicals give us a whistle-stop tour of the four seasons, with sakura leaf and sakura flower evoking springtime, summery sencha tea and gyokuro tea, sansho pepper for autumn and yuzu peel for winter. If you forget all that, fear not – the botanicals are engraved on the beautiful bottle to remind you! 

What does it taste like? Peppery undertones build alongside fresh florals, tangy citrus and fruity sweetness, backed up by earthier notes. 

Favourite gins

Flavoursmiths Pink Grapefruit Gin

Deets: A blushing gin from the aptly-named Flavoursmiths, harnessing the zesty power of pink grapefruit! Unlike many pink gins, this is far from sickly sweet. There’s a good dose of juniper in here too, so it’ll do well to put a zesty twist on classic gin cocktails – though you can’t go wrong with a simple G&T along with a generous wedge of the eponymous citrus.

What does it taste like? A big burst of vibrant grapefruit, supported by piney juniper and subtle woody, peppery spices. 

Favourite gins

Dà Mhìle Seaweed Gin

Deets: Though this Seaweed Gin hails from the Welsh Dà Mhìle Distillery, the gin itself has been infused with seaweed from the Newquay coast for three weeks – cue a subtle green hue and a glorious coastal character! It’s not all about the savoury notes, with citrus, menthol and spice bringing balance. If you’ve ever thought about pairing gin with food, crack out the seafood for this one (or even oysters if you’re feeling super adventurous).

What does it taste like? A dash of sea salt alongside fresh mint and lemon peel, with refreshing juniper and distinctive eucalyptus. 

Favourite gins

McQueen Smokey Chilli Gin

Deets: This unique Smokey Chilli Gin is part of the McQueen range, with Chipotle and smoked chilli at its core. What else goes with those two spicy botanicals? Oh yeah, lime, and that’s in there too! We could see this making some sort of intriguing gin-based twist on a Margarita…

What does it taste like? A wisp of smoke leads into zesty lime, with chilli heat building throughout alongside woody juniper.

 Favourite gins

Jaffa Cake Gin

Deets: We bet you haven’t seen anything like Jaffa Cake Gin before, distilled with real, no-foolin’ Jaffa cakes, along with cocoa, oranges and fresh orange peel! This is full strength, so it’s not sickly sweet and is distinctly a gin, with juniper coming through among the unmistakable… Biscuit? Cake? Let’s not get into that. Trust us when we say it makes the best Negroni you’ve ever tasted.

What does it taste like? Unmistakable Jaffa cakes, with hallmark rich chocolate and zesty orange, all backed up by a good piney juniper tang. 

Favourite gins

Boë Passion Gin

Deets: Passion fruit is a pretty distinctive flavour, and this Passion Gin from Scotland’s Boë has bottled up all of that tangy, tropical goodness. Fresh passion fruit is the star here alongside orange and all of your classic herbaceous gin botanicals. Plus, the colour ought to make for some fantastic eye-catching cocktails! 

What does it taste like? Puckering passion fruit and sweeter orange, with herby juniper and a dash of menthol. 

Favourite gins

Hayman’s Sloe Gin

Deets: Perfect as we descend into the cooler months, Hayman’s Sloe Gin is a rather traditional tipple. It’s made with wild-foraged English sloe berries, which are steeped in the distillery’s own London dry gin for three to four months before it’s blended with natural sugar. The result is a deliciously mixable, bittersweet and fruity gin!

What does it taste like? Reminiscent of Bakewell tart, with ground almond, sour cherry and ripe plum, all backed up by juniper.

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Fantastic staff favourites we think you’ll love!

From an Islay single malt whisky to Jaffa Cake Rum, here’s a selection of staff favourites chosen by the team here at Master of Malt. We think there’s something here…

From an Islay single malt whisky to Jaffa Cake Rum, here’s a selection of staff favourites chosen by the team here at Master of Malt. We think there’s something here for everyone. As long as you want booze, that is.   

Here at MoM Towers, we’ve spent plenty of time tasting, sampling and mixing our way through some of the world’s finest drinks over the years so that we can pass on our knowledge and share our passion with you lovely people. Naturally, we develop favourites and so we thought it would be fun to round-up some staff standouts and recommend them to you, from beautiful blended whisky to innovative rum and more.

Fantastic staff favourites we think you’ll love

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

We’re always going to love a delightful, versatile and award-winning (Islay Single Malt 12 Years and Under at the World Whiskies Awards 2020, don’t you know) single malt from Islay but the fact that this beauty comes with a charming enamel mug perfect for enjoying a Hot Toddy in just makes it all the better. Oh, and if you need a recipe, Tammy Jackson (of @forcocktailsake fame) makes a particularly good one, which you can see her doing here.

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.

Fantastic staff favourites we think you’ll love

Kyrö x Ki No Bi Gin

Kyrö Distillery has launched a neat little series where it teams up with other brands to create something tasty, which is an idea we’re very much in favour of! For the first of its Kyrö x Friends releases the Finnish spirit-makers partnered with Kyoto Distillery over in Japan to celebrate 100 years of diplomacy between Japan and Finland, and created a gin that combines the best of each distillery’s local botanicals in one trans-continental treat.

What does it taste like?

A touch of berry fruit and red florals, with distinctive yuzu citrus and oily, piney juniper, leading into peppery spice and a smidge of savoury seaweed.

Fantastic staff favourites we think you’ll love

Jaffa Cake Rum

Combining two wonderful things doesn’t always work (my hamster never accepted that damn tiny sombrero) but this combination of Jaffa Cakes and rum is an absolute winner that we can’t help but talk about. It’s made with actual Jaffa Cakes, folks, which are blended alongside oranges, fresh orange peel and cocoa powder with Caribbean rum to create this expression, which makes for a mean Daiquiri or Rum Old Fashioned.

What does it taste like?

Rich hot chocolate, zesty orange, subtle ginger heat, vanilla pod earthiness, subtly grassy rum, cakey sweetness and a tangy hint of tropical fruit.

Fantastic staff favourites we think you’ll love

Aberlour 10 Year Old

There’s always going to room for vibrant, fruity and rewarding drams in our drinks cabinet, which is why it’s always a good idea to make sure you have a bottle like Aberlour 10 Year Old on-hand. Plus it represents outstanding bang for your buck. What’s not to love?

What does it taste like?

Sherried raisins, toffee, spicy rich fruitcake, foam bananas, honey, sweet spices and a pleasant nuttiness.

Fantastic staff favourites we think you’ll love

Eleventh Hour Gin

The Derbyshire Distillery made this dry gin by combining botanicals including juniper, angelica, cassia, ginger, coriander, orris, lemon, sour cherry and poppy seeds. The last ingredient is something of a symbolic choice, as £3 of each bottle of Eleventh Hour that’s sold will aid The Royal British Legion to make a difference. Tasty gin is one thing, but when you know that every bottle you purchase will support who served in the armed forces past and present, it’s really something.

What does it taste like?

Softly fruity, with cherry and lemon standing out amongst the angelica, spicy juniper and anise notes.

Fantastic staff favourites we think you’ll love

Chivas Regal 12 Year Old

A favourite of critics, an absolute bargain, a versatile option and an all-round tasty blend, there’s no secret as to why we enjoy Chivas Regal 12 Year Old. The world-famous Scotch blend was first made in the early 20th century by Chivas Brothers and continues to charm us to this day.

What does it taste like?

A creamy, aromatic melange of vanilla custard, hints of aniseed, lemon curd, butter toffee, dried banana chips, barley malt, ground walnut, caramel and cereal sweetness.

Fantastic staff favourites we think you’ll love

Woodford Reserve Double Oaked 

A deep, dark and rich twist on the delightful Woodford Reserve, Double Oaked is made using the same process as its classic sister expression but is then further matured in barrels which have been heavily toasted and lightly charred. Why do we like this one so much? Two words: Old. Fashioneds.

What does it taste like?

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

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