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Master of Malt Blog

The rise and rise of Japanese gin

Until recently, few modern-day distillers have been interested in exploring Japan’s unique natural larder. Now, gins bearing the country’s native botanicals adorn back bars the world over. We take a…

Until recently, few modern-day distillers have been interested in exploring Japan’s unique natural larder. Now, gins bearing the country’s native botanicals adorn back bars the world over. We take a moment to appreciate the burgeoning Japanese gin market…

“Gin has been made in Japan before, let us not forget that the Japanese were making western-style spirits 100 years ago,” says Marcin Miller, who co-founded The Kyoto Distillery with business partner David Croll, “however, I’m pretty sure no-one had – or has, other than us – built a distillery specifically to make top quality gin.”

Armed with years of experience working with super premium spirits – the duo are the brains behind Japanese whisky specialist Number One Drinks – Miller and Croll established the distillery on the island of Honshu back in 2015 with the intention of creating “something that is instantly recognisable as a gin – that is to say, juniper-led – but with a distinct Japanese accent”.

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The Nightcap: 25 January

The time has come once again for your favourite pals at Master of Malt to dive in to the news stories of the week from the world of booze –…

The time has come once again for your favourite pals at Master of Malt to dive in to the news stories of the week from the world of booze – it’s another edition of The Nightcap!

You have technically made it through the final full work week of January 2019. That in itself is a triumph. High-fives and fist-bumps all around – your choice which you receive. Personally, I enjoy the nonchalant and relaxed nature of a fist-bump, but others might prefer the exuberant bravado of a high-five. Either way, you’ve done all well. Also, since it’s a Friday, it’s time for our weekly round-up of the stories from the drinks world. Bonus.

Here’s what’s been doing down on the MoM Blog this week. The Buffalo Trace Antique Collection happened again – in fact, it’s still happening, as our charity auctions for bottles of these exciting whiskeys are continuing on over the weekend! Annie chatted with The Three Drinkers off of the TV about whisky being on the TV, and then had a look at Aussie whisky in honour of Australia Day (which is tomorrow). Henry sat down with Conor Hyde from Hyde Whiskey to find out about whiskey bonding and more, then took us through the foundations a classic with the Cocktail of the Week – the Martini. Kristy talked to Jon Purcell about his new book, The Art in Whisky, and has been having a nose around some of California’s best distilleries – check out our Instagram stories to see what she’s been up to. Adam showed off oddles of delicious treats based around coffee and tea, then took a look at Auchentoshan’s New Malt Order and how bartenders help shape some of the distilleries whiskies.

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The Burns Night poetry comp – we have a winner!

The judges have conferred, discussed, mused and argued. Now after much debate, we have chosen a winner in our Robert Burns Single Malt competition. Here are all the details: It’s…

The judges have conferred, discussed, mused and argued. Now after much debate, we have chosen a winner in our Robert Burns Single Malt competition. Here are all the details:

It’s Burns Night which means that it’s time to announce the winner of our poetry competition. We were inundated with entries, from haikus to rude limericks to long poems written in the style of Burns. There were many that rhymed whisky with frisky, some that made us laugh, and others that made us groan. There were even a few that were too obscene to print. Overall though, we were amazed by how much effort some of you put in. Who knew Master of Malt customers would be so talented? We were so impressed that we’ve picked five runners up who will all receive drams.

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The Art in Whisky, pictured

The inherent beauty of the whisky wrapped up in one seriously lovely tome? Yes please. We talk to Jon Purcell, author of The Art in Whisky, about how he went…

The inherent beauty of the whisky wrapped up in one seriously lovely tome? Yes please. We talk to Jon Purcell, author of The Art in Whisky, about how he went about capturing the soul of the spirit we all adore.

They say we’ve each got a book in us. Stories to tell, places to document. Jon Purcell certainly has, but his mission to document the making of whisky goes far beyond putting pen to paper.

We first met Purcell at the Jura Distillery during Fèis Ìle (different island, we know). He’d been in the same tasting session as us and was carrying a mysterious-looking bag around with him. We got chatting and he revealed his cargo: a stunning (and sizeable! It runs to 300 pages, measures 350mm x 350mm and weighs in at 10kg) coffee table-style whisky book, authored by his own fair hand.

I say ‘authored’. As we flicked through the book in the old Jura maltings it wasn’t the copy that stood out. No. That’s because The Art in Whisky is a compelling love letter to whisky delivered through the medium of photography, narrated by the global landscapes, distilleries and people behind the spirit. The visuals are so sumptuous they almost drip from each page.

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Challenging how we drink Scotch with Auchentoshan

We take a look at how Scotch whisky is embracing cocktails, competition and change with Auchentoshan and the New Malt Order. You know it as the producer of triple distilled…

We take a look at how Scotch whisky is embracing cocktails, competition and change with Auchentoshan and the New Malt Order.

You know it as the producer of triple distilled Scotch. But Auchentoshan is evolving its identity through its New Malt Order program. Over the last three years the competition has brought some of the world’s finest bartenders together with an aim to challenge perceptions, innovate and collaborate to create a limited-edition expression of whisky.

It’s part of a larger movement within the industry to welcome a more diverse consumer base. It’s become commonplace to see many brands intent on questioning how we drink Scotch now and how it will change in the future. This is often expressed by embracing modern cocktail culture and the bartending community.

We were fortunate enough to be invited to the Lowland whisky distillery in September 2018 to see how the New Malt Order works and to speak to Ron Welsh, master blender at Auchentoshan, on what it has achieved so far.

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The past, present, and future of Australian whisky

Distillers across Australia are crafting whisky by the barrelful, and it’s liquid unlike any you’ve ever tasted before. In the first of a two part series, the country’s producers share…

Distillers across Australia are crafting whisky by the barrelful, and it’s liquid unlike any you’ve ever tasted before. In the first of a two part series, the country’s producers share insight into the past, present and future of Australian whisky-making…

A moment of appreciation for our mates down under, guardians of some of the world’s most astonishing wines. They brought us Neighbours, the electric drill, and Google Maps. They even invented WiFi. Australia Day, which lands on 26 January each year, may be a national event – but thanks to the country’s great minds, the world has plenty to celebrate too.

Today, Australia is best known for low-abv boozes like wine and beer, but that wasn’t always the case. In Tasmania – which is quickly earning a reputation as the whisky capital of Australia – distilling dates back to the earliest days of European settlement, more than 200 years ago, explains Heather Tillott, production manager at Sullivans Cove Distillery.

“We have evidence that some of the first convicts who landed were stealing grain to make spirits,” she says. “There was a thriving spirits industry here with several licensed distilleries, mostly based on the excellent barley we grow in Tassie. Unfortunately, in 1838 a law was passed banning distillation in Tasmania and we didn’t make a drop of whisky in a commercial capacity here for over 150 years.”

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Cocktail of the Week: The Martini

It’s Wednesday evening which means it’s time to get your shaker out. This week we risk the wrath of the cocktail puritans by extolling the pleasures of a Martini that’s…

It’s Wednesday evening which means it’s time to get your shaker out. This week we risk the wrath of the cocktail puritans by extolling the pleasures of a Martini that’s heavy on the vermouth.

There’s no cocktail like the Martini for bringing out the purist in certain people. You know the sort of thing they say: “Show the gin a bottle of vermouth, throw the vermouth in the bin and then drink the gin.” Noël Coward wrote, “a perfect Martini should be made by filling a glass with gin, then waving it in the general direction of Italy.” Hemingway liked a ratio of 15 parts gin to 1 part vermouth.

I used to order such booze-heavy concoctions, probably to try to look cool. But I actually much prefer my Martinis a little wetter. Happily though, the purists are in retreat as fashion is swinging back towards something like the early Martini. The drink (probably) evolved from the Marguerite: 2 parts gin, 1 part dry vermouth, a dash of orange bitters, and served straight up. The name comes from the Martini & Rossi company which released a dry French-style vermouth in 1900. People began ordering their Marguerites by the vermouth brand and the name stuck. Or that’s the theory anyway, nobody quite knows.

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Coffee and tea-based tipples – no kettle necessary!

We’ve shined a spotlight on some of the best boozes around that were created with either tea and coffee. It’s our round-up of coffee and tea-based tipples! They dominate the…

We’ve shined a spotlight on some of the best boozes around that were created with either tea and coffee. It’s our round-up of coffee and tea-based tipples!

They dominate the hot drinks category. For many, their consumption has become ritual. They help us make it through groggy mornings, or soothe us after a long day. Love is all you need? No, actually, Beatles. People also need a good cuppa tea or coffee; Beatles.

Of course, it was only a matter of time before people recognised the potential to create great booze with coffee and tea. Our love affair with these drinks is just getting started, people. There’s a wealth of options now on the market for those who want to indulge in the rich and bittersweet delights of coffee or those who want to experience the herbaceous, aromatic qualities of tea in an alcoholic drink.

We’ve rounded up some the finest coffee and tea-based tipples right here to save you the trouble of looking around yourself. Each even comes with an accompanying cocktail serve. Enjoy!

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Talking casks with whiskey bonder Conor Hyde

Cork-based bonders Hyde has been wowing drinkers with its rare bottlings since 2015. We talk to founder Conor Hyde about the art of cask ageing, the history Irish whiskey bonding,…

Cork-based bonders Hyde has been wowing drinkers with its rare bottlings since 2015. We talk to founder Conor Hyde about the art of cask ageing, the history Irish whiskey bonding, and the future of the category.

Conor Hyde’s family have been in the drinks business in Ireland for ten generations. He joked that he and his brother Alan are “the first of the Hyde family not to be born in a tavern or pub in West Cork.” Hyde Whiskey, however, is a new venture for the family. It was launched in 2015. They don’t have a distillery, instead the business is based on buying and maturing new make spirit as well as finishing bought-in mature whiskey.

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Buffalo Trace Antique Collection 2018: lotteries and charity auctions

Set the excitement controls to very extremely exciting because the 2018 Buffalo Trace Antique Collection is here! As we have done in the past, we will be splitting each allocation…

Set the excitement controls to very extremely exciting because the 2018 Buffalo Trace Antique Collection is here! As we have done in the past, we will be splitting each allocation between a 30ml dram lottery, a bottle lottery, and a charity auction.

To find out when and where the action will take place, see the timeline below.

The release of the annual Buffalo Trace Antique Collection is one of the most eagerly-awaited events in the whiskey lover’s calendar. We were lucky enough to receive a small allocation (see below) and demand is likely to be bananas. Therefore, as in the past few years, we will be using our patented ‘least-worst’ three-pronged approach.

For more information on our approach see this post from 2016, which explains everything in great detail. Here are the prongs:

Prong 1) A third of the allocation will be turned into 30ml Drinks by the Dram samples (drams) so that as many people as possible can taste these whiskeys. These drams will be allocated for sale by lottery.

Prong 2) Another third will be sold as full bottles, again allocated by lottery, with the following statement on the back of each: “I, [your lucky winning name], hereby swear not to sell this bottle – but to drink it with my chums. May my taste-buds and olfactory bulb shrivel and die if I should break my word.

Prong 3) The final third will be sold via auction with everything over RRP (net of any applicable VAT) going to Malaria No More UK. Last year these Buffalo Trace auctions alone raised over £3,000 towards eradicating a disease that is especially deadly to children under five. Your love of whiskey can help save lives. You can find out more about our chosen charity here.

Right, all clear? Let’s have a look at the whiskeys:

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