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Master of Malt Blog

Five minutes with… The Three Drinkers

The drinks industry has a tendency to take itself a little too seriously at times. Thankfully, Adrian Smith, Colin Hampden-White and Helena Nicklin – aka, The Three Drinkers – are…

The drinks industry has a tendency to take itself a little too seriously at times. Thankfully, Adrian Smith, Colin Hampden-White and Helena Nicklin – aka, The Three Drinkers – are set to breathe a bit of life into our favourite spirits. We chat with the trio as their Scotch whisky series hits Amazon Prime

It’s high time booze had a TV show, isn’t it? Not a stuffy documentary film – or worse, a heavily branded videocast – but a light-hearted series that encompasses the industry we love as it exists today.

After all, things have changed a fair bit in the last 10 years. Spirits, and in particular Scotch, has shaken free of its ‘stereotypical drinker’ shackles, got a new haircut, and developed – dare we say it? – a bit of a sense of humour.

Luckily for you, wine writers Adrian Smith and Helena Nicklin, and whisky expert Colin Hampden-White spotted that gap in the market, and filled it with booze-soaked brilliance.

Across the four 30-minutes episodes of their inaugural series, you’ll see the trio dabble in a spot of coopering, give the Highland Games a decent crack, and set some whisky alight in the name of history.

We caught up with the gang as they kicked off the series with a fabulously swanky launch party at The Dorchester in London. Follow The Three Drinkers as they take you on a spirited journey across Scotland, and soon, the rest of the world…

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The Nightcap: 18 January

The sun has gone down, the working week is ending, it’s time to pour yourself a glass of something delicious, and catch up with all the news that’s fit to…

The sun has gone down, the working week is ending, it’s time to pour yourself a glass of something delicious, and catch up with all the news that’s fit to drink. Yes, it’s time for… The Nightcap!

This week we went Robert Burns crazy with the launch of our poetry competition. We’ve already been inundated with entries, and the winner will be announced on Burns Night itself (25 January.) Then continuing with the Burns theme, Adam rounded up some Scotch whiskies that would have brought a smile to the Bard’s face. Annie looked at some unusual bottles: rye whiskies from Britain, and peat-smoked spirits from everywhere except Scotland (not sure Burns would have approved.) Our Cocktail of the Week was that tiki classic, the Zombie. Kristy visited the Wolfburn Distillery and spoke to top glass maker Denver Cramer about how to get the most out of your nose.

Lots to get your teeth into! And now it’s time for booze news. Here we go!

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Handy tips to nose and taste, with Denver & Liely glassware

We all know spirits are fundamentally there to be enjoyed, right? But what if your enjoyment takes the form of detailed nosing and tasting? How can you get the best…

We all know spirits are fundamentally there to be enjoyed, right? But what if your enjoyment takes the form of detailed nosing and tasting? How can you get the best out of a spirit? And does glassware even matter? We talk all things sensory with Denver & Liely’s Denver Cramer…

How do you drink your spirits? Are you one to sit, sip, and just enjoy the experience? Or are you more likely to takes notes and deconstruct every aroma and flavour note? Perhaps, like me, you’re a mix of the two. But if you sit in the latter camp, you’ll find that the right approach and (of course) the right tasting glass can enhance the experience.

Denver Cramer, co-founder of Australian glassware brand Denver & Liely, has given the nosing and tasting experience a lot of thought. The mechanical engineering graduate turned designer set up the venture with friend Liely Faulkner after meeting in a bar and then considering how different spirits could be experienced.

“You always make better decisions when you have more information,” he tells me as we chat over the phone. “For example, having your nose in the glass when you taste means your brain ends up getting more information.” He acknowledges that there are many successful brands on the market, but he still felt more could be done, especially when it comes to the specific intricates of different spirits. That’s why Denver & Liely designs allow the drinker to have their nose in the glass as they taste, for example.

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Join us on our Wolfburn adventure!

Last year we headed north. Very north. To the most northerly distillery on the Scottish mainland: Wolfburn! And with Burns Night on the horizon, now seems like the perfect time…

Last year we headed north. Very north. To the most northerly distillery on the Scottish mainland: Wolfburn! And with Burns Night on the horizon, now seems like the perfect time to reminisce over the trip…

Welcome to Wolfburn Distillery! In late 2018 we headed north of the border to discover one of Scotland’s newer whisky makers. Located on the outskirts of Thurso, the production site as we know it was founded in 2012. But that’s not the start of the story.

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Brilliant Burns Night whiskies

One of the biggest dates in the year for Scotch whisky fans approaches – Burns Night! Supply your supper with some of the best around with this sublime selection! Commemorating…

One of the biggest dates in the year for Scotch whisky fans approaches – Burns Night! Supply your supper with some of the best around with this sublime selection!

Commemorating the anniversary of Robert Burns on his birthday, 25 January, is a tradition upheld all over the world. Libation, literature and laggis – I mean haggis – will be enjoyed by many as we toast a man who loved a good Scotch himself.

A notable feature of his poems, Burns often spoke of his love of whisky, even scalding the English for raising whisky duty. It would surely please one of Scotland’s favourite sons to know people celebrate his life to this day with plenty of the water of life, or ‘usquabae’, as it was known back then.

Whether you’re a seasoned Burns supper pro or you fancy experiencing one for the first time (you really should do it at least once in your life, it’s great fun), you’ll need to stock up on Scotch to do the night justice.

So, we’ve rounded up a remarkable range to mark the occasion, from sublime single malts to brilliants blends, and a great grain whisky for good measure. Each has an accompanying Burns poem or song and themed cocktail to boot. And for those who simply can’t get enough of all things Robert Burns, be sure to check out our Burns Night poetry competition, where you could win a bottle of Robert Burns Single Malt!

Happy Burns Night all!

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Cocktail of the Week: The Zombie

Talk to bartenders about what’s going to be big in the next year and one word keeps coming up: tiki. So, on-trend as ever, this week we’re looking at the…

Talk to bartenders about what’s going to be big in the next year and one word keeps coming up: tiki. So, on-trend as ever, this week we’re looking at the original tiki cocktail, the Zombie!

Tiki is the name of the first man in Polynesian mythology, but tiki bar culture owes more to California than Hawaii. The two godfathers of tiki were Don the Beachcomber (aka Ernest Raymond Beaumont Gantt) who opened an eponymous bar in Hollywood in 1934, and ‘Trader’ Vic Bergstrom whose Oakland bar in northern California became Trader Vic’s. Their bars offered a blend of Polynesian-ish decor, Caribbean-esque cocktails and, for some reason, Chinese food – I suppose anything ‘exotic’ would do. They both proved immensely popular and grew into chains.

Central to the tiki vibe were cocktails such as the Zombie and the Mai Tai, which combine lavish quantities of rum with tropical ingredients like pineapple, lime juice and grenadine. Both Don and Vic claimed to have invented the Mai Tai (the word means ‘good’ in Tahitian), whereas Don is credited as the sole creator of the Zombie.

Don and Vic inspired legions of imitators perhaps because the tiki look is cheap to copy. You just need some tribal masks, bamboo, and grass matts, oh and plenty of rum. Tiki spread across the world in the ‘50s and ‘60s. There can be few cities that didn’t have a tiki bar, there were even whole tiki hotels, and it was common for swinging suburban Americans to have a tiki bar in their basement or garage.

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Peat-smoked spirits that aren’t Scotch whisky

Scottish distillers may be the undisputed masters of the peat fire, but there are plenty of plucky distillers across the world making their own smoky creations, and with interesting and…

Scottish distillers may be the undisputed masters of the peat fire, but there are plenty of plucky distillers across the world making their own smoky creations, and with interesting and varied results. MoM invites you to drink outside the box with eight peat-smoked spirits that most definitely aren’t Scotch whisky.

Considering peat is literally a mix of decaying moss, shrubs, grasses, tree roots, dead animals and soil that has become compacted over thousands of years, it can be used to make various boozes pretty damn tasty.

You don’t need to descend on Scotland to source a little peat smoke for your spirits. Indeed, peatlands have been identified in at least 175 countries and make up 3% of the entire world’s land space (that’s 1.5 million square miles, FYI).

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Burns Night poetry comp – win Robert Burns single malt!

Friday 25th January is Burns Night and to celebrate Scotland’s bard we are doing something a little different, a poetry competition! Robbie Burns was not only Scotland’s greatest poet but…

Friday 25th January is Burns Night and to celebrate Scotland’s bard we are doing something a little different, a poetry competition!

Robbie Burns was not only Scotland’s greatest poet but he was also famously keen on Scotland’s greatest export, Tunnock’s Teacakes. Sorry, whisky! If Burns had the money, he drank Ferintosh from the Black Isle, which was considered the best whisky in Scotland. When it stopped distilling in 1784, Burns wrote a poem: “Ferintosh! O sadly lost! Scotland lament frae coast to coast….” Though a lowlander, he was not very keen on Lowland whiskies, referring to them as “rascally liquor”. Perhaps though, Burns’s most famous pronouncement was: “Freedom an’ whisky gang thegither! Take aff your dram!” And who can argue with that?

So to celebrate Burns and Scotch whisky, Master of Malt is proud to announce a poetry competition. All you have to do is write a poem about whisky. It’s as simple as that. It could be a sonnet, a haiku, a limerick, or, if you have the time, an epic like ‘Paradise Lost’. You could even write it in the style of Burns. It could be about a specific whisky (shall I compare thee to a Famous Grouse?), or could be about whisky in general. We only insist that your poem must be in English or Scots. The winner will be the one that we think is the best (making us laugh will probably help).

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Move over, US! British distillers set their sights on rye whisky

It’s arguably the most punk rock cereal of all time, and now rye is causing anarchy in the UK. Here, MoM chats with a handful of British distillers who have…

It’s arguably the most punk rock cereal of all time, and now rye is causing anarchy in the UK. Here, MoM chats with a handful of British distillers who have managed to tame whisky’s most rebellious grain…

For at least as long anyone reading this has been alive, rye-heavy mash bills have been the domain of US producers. Here in the UK, we’re a nation of single malt lovers – we always have been – but lately, British distillers are increasingly turning their attention to the bad boy of the crop world.

“Rye is gritty, real, and a bit punk,” says Cory Mason, master distiller at The Oxford Artisan Distillery (TOAD), which has focused on rye since it opened its doors back in July 2017. “As a comparison, I’ve always seen single malt as a Cognac, and rye more as an Armagnac, rough around the edges, a bit more hardcore, but still a stunning product in its own right.”

The question perhaps is not ‘why rye?’, but ‘why now?’. Mason highlights growing interest and demand for craft spirits, which he believes is prompting “a real willingness to step outside of traditional UK and European categories”. Specifically, aged rye whisky.

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The Nightcap: 11 January

It’s our first Nightcap of 2019 so it’s a special bumper edition. We’ve got a lot to get through so without further delay, ado, procrastination or beating about the bush,…

It’s our first Nightcap of 2019 so it’s a special bumper edition. We’ve got a lot to get through so without further delay, ado, procrastination or beating about the bush, here’s what we’ve been up to since the last Nightcap way back in 2018.

Cast your mind back to New Year’s Eve, we know it seems like a long time ago, Adam came up with some top tips to drink on the night. Between Christmas and New Year, we rounded up our most-read stories of 2018, and looked at Glenkinchie’s exciting plans to become a top tourist destination. Then as January began, Annie fell in love with grain whisky and learned how your other senses affect how you taste. Adam produced a list of mouthwateringly-refreshing drinks and got all seasonal with winter-y botanicals. Kristy peered into her crystal ball (yes, she really has a crystal ball) to see what we’ll be drinking in the next few years and spoke to some bigwigs at Johnnie Walker about the future of whisky. And finally, Henry put in a plea for fortified wines, introduced a new regular feature, Cocktail of the Week, and got all bitter and twisted over amari. See what we mean about bumper edition?

And that’s not all. We had our first Dram Club of 2019 and announced a competition to win a VIP trip to Ardbeg!

Such content. Now we can’t hold back the tide of news any longer. Here it comes!

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