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Master of Malt Blog

How Australian whisky-makers harnessed the power of nature

In much the same way that Scotch whiskies are shaped by their location, so too is liquid down under – except Australia happens to be a gargantuan 98 times bigger…

In much the same way that Scotch whiskies are shaped by their location, so too is liquid down under – except Australia happens to be a gargantuan 98 times bigger than Scotland. In part two of our series, Australian distillers reveal how the country’s natural resources influence the taste of their whisky

Australia’s booze roots lie in spirits production, as we discovered on the blog last month. As modern day distillers flock to reignite its history, could Aussie whisky become the breakout category of the decade?

It certainly has the resources to do so. Australia is one of the largest malting-grade barley producers in the world, with many varieties unique to the country, says Dave Withers, master distiller at New South Wales distillery Archie Rose.

“We work with a number of New South Wales’ farmers to get hold of unique malts which demonstrate regional terroir,” he adds. “It also allows us to develop a relationship with the land and their custodians, exploring ancient and heirloom varieties”.

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The Nightcap: 1 February

We welcome February with stories of distillery reopening progress, new Glenmorangie deliciousness, and whisky coming to the big screen. Time for The Nightcap! Greetings to all from your favourite pals…

We welcome February with stories of distillery reopening progress, new Glenmorangie deliciousness, and whisky coming to the big screen. Time for The Nightcap!

Greetings to all from your favourite pals at Master of Malt, and welcome to another edition of The Nightcap – our weekly round-up of all the booze news from the week that was. It’s a bit like a neater version of someone taking all the interesting stories about all the tastiest drinks, loading them into a cannon and firing them at your PC/phone/tablet/eyeball computer. Is our lack of a cannon the only reason we aren’t doing this in that way? Maybe!

Here’s what’s been happening on the MoM Blog this week. Annie checked out some nutrient-rich (and protein-packed) serves from JJ Goodman and explored the ongoing rise of Japanese gins. Our newest writer Jess had a look at Allta, the most recent Private Edition bottling from Glenmorangie (more on that later). Adam helped you get prepared for Valentine’s Day with a selection of lovely treats. Kristy had a nose around Glenglassaugh, and then looked at the crucial training aspects of cocktail-making. Henry checked out Kingsbarn’s first commercial whisky launch, gave us the background on The Bramble cocktail, and offered up some tasty drinks recommendations for all of you watching the Super Bowl this weekend.

Now. On with the news!

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Cocktail of the Week: The Bramble

This week we show you how to make this modern classic inspired by a childhood spent foraging for blackberries. The origins of most great cocktails are lost in the mists…

This week we show you how to make this modern classic inspired by a childhood spent foraging for blackberries.

The origins of most great cocktails are lost in the mists of time. Not the Bramble though – it was invented in the mid-’80s by Dick Bradsell when he was working at a bar in Soho called Fred’s Club. Bradsell tended bar in some of London’s most notorious venues including Zanzibar in the ‘80s and the Atlantic Bar in the ‘90s. You might remember seeing photos of Noel Gallagher or Kate Moss falling out of the Atlantic. Ah, happy daze!

Bradsell wasn’t just barman to the stars. He pioneered a return to cocktails made from scratch with fresh ingredients when everyone else was making luridly coloured concoctions with syrups. Bradsell was an inspiration to a new generation of bartenders and put London on the cocktail map. As well as perfecting the classics, he invented dozens of cocktails including the Espresso Martini (coming soon to Cocktail of the Week) and this week’s cocktail, the Bramble. How many bartenders can say that they have invented two stone-cold classics? Sadly, Bradsell died in 2016 of brain cancer aged only 56.

The Bramble was inspired by the British pastime of brambling in late summer and early autumn when the blackberry bushes that grow like weeds in hedgerows and on wastelands come into fruit. Back in 2001, Bradsell wrote the following for Difford’s Guide:

“I wanted to invent a truly British drink for reasons that escape me now…. A bramble, by the way, is the bush where the blackberry grows, I know this as I spent an inordinate amount of time in my Isle of Wight childhood cutting and scratching myself on their jaggy thorns in attempts to capture those elusive berries that others had failed to harvest.”

Dick Bradsell

The late, great Dick Bradsell (credit: Diffordsguide.com)

The heart of the Bramble is a liqueur made from blackberries (or you can call them brambles, as they do in Scotland, according to my mother). It’s very easy to make your own: all you need are lots of brambles, some gin or vodka and caster sugar. Steep the fruit with the sugar in alcohol, shaking occasionally every couple of days. After three to six months, strain and bottle. Annoyingly this autumn was terrible for brambles. The intense summer heat meant they ripened too quickly. One day they were nice, the next they were shrivelled, and I had missed my moment. There’s a lesson in there somewhere.

Luckily, I still have some liqueur left over from the bumper harvest of 2017. But you can buy ready-made crème de mure (blackberry in French), or you can make variations on the Bramble by using cassis, Chambord, or even, Bradsell says, Ribena. Just remember to use the correct fruit to garnish. Next, you need crushed ice. If you don’t have an ice crusher at home, and honestly who does, then put the ice in a plastic bag and hit it with a rolling pin.

Then which gin to use? You could play around with fruit botanical gins (not liqueurs though, they have to be dry). I had a lovely Scottish gin from Darnley made with sloes, rosehips and brambles which would be ideal. But in this case, I used Chase Elegant Gin which is distilled from apples. You don’t get more evocative of a British childhood than blackberries and apples.

The Bramble Cocktail

The Bramble cocktail

Right, that’s enough nostalgia. Let’s make a bloody Bramble!

50ml Chase Elegant Gin
25ml lemon juice
10ml sugar syrup*
10ml crème de mure

Shake the gin, lemon juice and sugar syrup with ice in a shaker, double-strain into a tumbler filled with crushed ice. Drizzle crème de mure on the top and garnish with a lemon slice and a bramble that you have foraged yourself (or more likely bought from a supermarket as it’s January).

*Easy sugar syrup recipe: in a saucepan add 2 parts sugar to 1 part water, heat gently (do not boil) until the sugar dissolves. Decant into a jam jar or bottle. It lasts for months in the fridge.

 

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From Dream to Dram: Kingsbarns’ first whisky

Last week, we met with Isabella and William Wemyss, the brother and sister team behind Kingsbarns Distillery in Fife, for the launch of Dream to Dram, the duo’s first commercial…

Last week, we met with Isabella and William Wemyss, the brother and sister team behind Kingsbarns Distillery in Fife, for the launch of Dream to Dram, the duo’s first commercial single malt Scotch whisky release.

There can be few new distilleries as beautiful as Kingsbarns. It’s set in rolling Fife farmland and housed in a converted 18th century farmstead, complete with a dovecote that looks like a wee castle. The Wemyss (pronounced Weems) family is old Scottish nobility with its seat at a proper castle nearby called, naturally, Wemyss Castle. This part of Scotland attracts visitors from all over the world to the home of golf, St Andrews Links. As William Wemyss put it, “We’re bringing together golf and Scotland’s other great export.” He means whisky, not shortbread.

William and his sister Isabella are clearly geared up for tourism: there’s a very impressive visitor centre, a café (try the sausages rolls), and their very own gin distillery which produces Darnley’s Gin, named after Mary Queen of Scots’ notorious husband. The idea for a Fife whisky began in 2010 with an email from Doug Clement, a former pro golf caddy, to William Wemyss saying that they should open a distillery. At the time, William joked, “we couldn’t spell the word washback.” So they brought in some experts. Jim Swan consulted on creating “an early-maturing spirit” and the distillery was designed by Ian Palmer from Inchdairnie, with stills from Forsyths of Rothes.

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Master of Malt Dram Club – February 2019

Uh oh, look who it is – our favourite month that begins with the letter F – it’s February! Shall we have a peek at what Master of Malt Dram…

Uh oh, look who it is – our favourite month that begins with the letter F – it’s February! Shall we have a peek at what Master of Malt Dram Club members will be finding in their Tasting Sets this month?

There’s a theory floating around that the real reason why February is a short month is because January secretly has about 4,528 days (give or take a week). The good news is that we’re free of January’s razor-sharp clutches and ready to continue our 2019 with… Loads of snow?! Oh for goodness sake. Put that thought to one side for the moment, because it’s time to see what Master of Malt Dram Club members will be finding has magically appeared on their doorstep in February!

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Education central: Why training is crucial for bars

We meet Gavin Wrigley, head of education at the European Bartender School, to chat through drinks trends, distillery visits, and explore why training is crucial if we all want delicious…

We meet Gavin Wrigley, head of education at the European Bartender School, to chat through drinks trends, distillery visits, and explore why training is crucial if we all want delicious cocktails.

While it would be rude to outright disagree with classic lyrics, Pink Floyd were actually pretty incorrect when it comes to education in bars. We do indeed need some education – quite a lot, in fact! – if our drinks scene is to continue to evolve and thrive.

But what does that training actually look like? Why is it important? Can’t you just learn on the job? So many questions. But here to answer them is Gavin Wrigley, head of education at the European Bartender School (EBS). Enjoy!

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Valentine’s Day gifts for drinks lovers

Mark the occasion of all things love and romance with these Valentine’s Day-themed tipples! The 14th of February approaches. Valentine’s Day. It’s the time of year when you need to…

Mark the occasion of all things love and romance with these Valentine’s Day-themed tipples!

The 14th of February approaches. Valentine’s Day. It’s the time of year when you need to be your most romantic, passionate and thoughtful, but it’s also the day dinner reservations die and expectations go through the roof. Just how on earth are you supposed to come up with an original, Instagram-able way to celebrate your relationships every year?

Luckily, there’s an alternative. A better way. Sure, you could say ‘I love you’ with roses, chocolate or one of those personalised novelty cards with cats on the front (actually, you really should still invest in that last one). But if you want to make this a memorable February 14th, then why not say it with your beloved’s favourite tipple??

Let us play Cupid this year and help you touch the heart of your favourite drinks fan with our round-up of Valentine’s gifts for drinks lovers. Don’t forget you can also give a gift with a personal touch by personalising a bottle of whisky for your beloved. Enjoy!

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Join us as we check out Glenglassaugh Distillery!

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

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

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

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Glenmorangie marks a decade of Private Edition with Allta

Glenmorangie has unveiled Glenmorangie Allta, the 10th release in its annual Private Edition series of pioneering whiskies. This is the story of a love affair between Scotch whisky and humble…

Glenmorangie has unveiled Glenmorangie Allta, the 10th release in its annual Private Edition series of pioneering whiskies.

This is the story of a love affair between Scotch whisky and humble yeast. Or, perhaps not as humble as we thought. Glenmorangie’s director of distilling, whisky creation and whisky stocks, Dr. Bill Lumsden is brandishing the potential of yeast in the latest Private Edition’s rich, fruity release – Glenmorangie Allta (Scottish Gaelic for ‘wild’, pronounced ‘al-ta’). Not only does it mark the 10th anniversary of the Private Edition series, it’s also the distillery’s first expression created using wild yeast.

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Protein drinks with a difference from London Cocktail Club

Keen on continuing your New Year’s health kick? Sounds like you’re in need of some delicious non-alcoholic and low alcohol cocktails. Bartender and entrepreneur JJ Goodman – the man behind…

Keen on continuing your New Year’s health kick? Sounds like you’re in need of some delicious non-alcoholic and low alcohol cocktails. Bartender and entrepreneur JJ Goodman – the man behind London Cocktail Club – has you covered with these nutrient-rich (and protein-packed) serves…

Dry January is almost over, and there isn’t a soul across the nation who isn’t grateful for the sweet release of February. If you haven’t been been actively participating in a month-long abstinence, you’ve been at the mercy of friends and family that are, along with their elaborate ‘non-drinking’ plans. No, I don’t want to learn pottery, or try taxidermy, or have a crack at flower-arranging. Just take me to the pub please.

I’m joking, of course. Not only are there myriad health benefits associated with taking a step away from the sauce from time to time, but there are also plenty of fantastic non-alcoholic alternatives to decorate your glass with on designated dry (or dryer) days. Bartenders we are not, so we turned to London Cocktail Club founder (and author of brand new book, Kitchen Cocktails) JJ Goodman for inspiration.

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