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Cocktail of the Week: The Shallow Negroni

What do you get when you cross Bradley Cooper’s Oscar-winning box office tearjerker A Star Is Born with a quintessentially Italian cocktail invented in Milan back in the late 20th…

What do you get when you cross Bradley Cooper’s Oscar-winning box office tearjerker A Star Is Born with a quintessentially Italian cocktail invented in Milan back in the late 20th century? MoM headed down to 45 Park Lane in Mayfair to find out…

We’ve got a bit of a two-in-one for you this week. It’s a twist on a twist on a classic. You could take the drink a step further by modifying the recipe at the bottom to craft a twist on a twist on a twist on a classic, but what you do in your own time is up to you.

45 Park Lane

Swank city

We stumbled across this little number a couple of weeks ago, at Dorchester Collection’s contemporary Mayfair hotel, 45 Park Lane. The bar there is well-known for its knockout Negroni offering – there is even a trolley dedicated to the drink – so we were thrilled to attend Negroni Nights masterclass hosted by esteemed bar manager Francesco Orefici in honour of the drink’s 100-year anniversary.

“We are in the Seventies in Milan,” Campari Group brand ambassador Paolo Tonellotto announces as we take our seats. We’re no longer in a private room in Mayfair, but have instead been transported to Bar Basso, a Milanese institution. Bartender Mirko Stocchetto is making drinks, and a customer has approached the bar to order a Negroni. In goes the Campari, followed swiftly by vermouth. So far, so Italian.

“At that very moment, a blonde lady walks into the bar,” says Tonellotto, “she’s beautiful, everyone is staring at her. The bartender reaches for a bottle and starts pouring. At that very moment the customer turns around and says, ‘Ti stai sbagliando’ which means, ‘You are mistaken’. It was prosecco that he poured.”

“He says, ‘Don’t worry, I’ll make another for you’,” Tonellotto continues. “The guy looks at him like, ‘by the time you do that, someone else will talk to that lady!’. So he takes the drink and off he goes to chat her up. Ten minutes later, the guy comes to the bar and says, ‘Can I have two sbagliato of yours?’. And that’s how the Sbagliato was born*.”

Shallow Negroni

Mixing a Negroni

So, what inspired the 45 Park Lane team to put a twist on the twist? “We had a phone call from our lovely chef [David McIntyre, executive chef at Cut], who asked us to come up with a lovely drink ahead of the Oscars,” Orefici explains; “We know that one of his favourite drinks is the Negroni. He said he will be cooking for several celebrities, including Bradley Cooper – so instead of prosecco we used Champagne, to celebrate the awards.”

A lovely touch. Incidentally the name isn’t a sly dig at actors but a nod to the title song of A Star is Born, ‘Shallow’, sung by Lady GaGa and Cooper himself. So, what does it taste like? Compared to the Negroni, the Sbagliato – and, indeed, the Shallow Negroni – will be slightly sweeter, says Tonellotto, making it great introduction to the bitter classic for the uninitiated Negroni drinker.

“If you’re taking gin away, you’re taking a 40% alcohol out of the equation, as well as the only ingredient that has got no sugar whatsoever,” he says. “Instead it’s prosecco or Champagne, which have bubbles and residual sugar.”

If there was a cocktail version of the Academy Awards, this drink would absolutely clean up. The Shallow Negroni has to be the Best Adapted Screenplay we’ve ever tasted. Lanson Champagne is honoured with Best Supporting Actress. Orange wheel walks away with Best Visual Effects, no question.

Until the drinks Oscars takes off, you’ll either have to take our word for it or make one for yourself. Ladies and gentlemen, without further ado, may we present to you: the Shallow Negroni…

Shallow Negroni

Voila! A Shallow Negroni

30ml Campari
30ml Antica Formula
Lanson Champagne to top

Add ice to a Burgundy wine glass. Add Campari, Antica Formula, and top with approximately 30ml Lanson Champagne. Garnish with a wheel of freshly cut orange. With tears in your eyes, thank your mum, dad and family pet for their love and support.

For the London locals among you, the Negroni Nights experience is running bi-monthly until Thursday 2 May. Priced at £125 per person, it includes three cocktails – the Classic Negroni, Vintage Negroni and Seasonal Negroni – each paired with canapes created by David McIntyre. For more information or to make a booking email CUT.45L@dorchestercollection.com, call 020 7493 4545 or visit dorchestercollection.com.

*You have to remember that the Negroni Sbagliato was invented long before social media and Fake News. There was no such thing as @DHOTYA in the Seventies (‘Didn’t Happen Of The Year Awards’, for the Twitter-less among you). You have been told that a delicious drink was invented completely by accident, and that is the tale that will be told until the end of time.

 

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When All is Said: A novel told through whiskey

As you may have already guessed, we love whiskey at Master of Malt. We also love reading, that is why we’re head-over-heels with When All is Said, a novel told…

As you may have already guessed, we love whiskey at Master of Malt. We also love reading, that is why we’re head-over-heels with When All is Said, a novel told through Irish whiskey.

When All is Said is Anne Griffin’s debut, but it reads like the work of a master storyteller. No surprise then that it’s been selling like hot cakes in Britain and Ireland (where it was a number one bestseller), and picking up great reviews. Master of Malt has been conducting whiskey tastings at some of her talks, including one at Waterstones Covent Garden, where Griffin used to work. Before the event started, she told us a bit about the inspiration for the book:

“It must have been July of 2014, I happened into a bar in Mayo and here was an old gent standing there having a pint. He came over to talk to us. He said, ‘you know I used to work here when I was a boy’, and then he said the most amazing thing as he walked away, he said, ‘I’m not going to see the morning’. But he was gone before I could pull him back say ‘so exactly what does that mean?!’ What a statement! The next day that sentence stayed in my head and the idea of Maurice Hannigan, this fictional character sitting at a bar, to drink five toasts to the most five most important people in his life, came to me. And that’s where it all started.”

Midleton whiskey

Midleton Very Rare – so rare that we have sold out

Over the course of the evening, he has a few drinks, and he tells us his whole life. The three whiskeys he consumes are Bushmills to his daughter Molly, Jefferson’s Bourbon to his son in America, and finally something old and rare from Midleton to his long-suffering wife Sadie. He also drinks a bottle of stout to his brother Tony and one to his sister-in-law Noreen. We learn about his upbringing in poverty in Ireland, working in service for the brutal local landowners, his marriage, and children. There’s skulduggery involving a rare gold sovereign, family revelations and more than a little tragedy.

When All Is Said

Fiction chart-topper, When All Is Said

Hannigan is not always a likeable man. He can be stubborn, mean and greedy. As a boy, he grew up with nothing and gradually became the richest man in the area, but this success came at the expense of personal relationships. It’s a story about regret: that evening, Hannigan says all the things he should have said in person to the people he is addressing. I read much of it on the plane back from Dublin and found myself welling up more than a few times (though apparently altitude makes people emotional). Reading When All is Said is like meeting an interesting, engaging, amusing and occasionally maddening man in the pub, and listening to his life story. There’s something very believable about this reticent man opening up over a few drinks. This quote from the book, sums him up:

“As for Irish men, I’ve news for you. It’s worse as you get older. It’s like we tunnel ourselves deeper into our aloneness. Solving our problems on our own. Men, sitting alone at bars going over and over the same old territory in their heads.”

Anne Griffin

Anne Griffin

Anne Griffin herself is a keen whiskey drinker: “My family, my mum and dad are teetotallers. But around 25, I began to just have a whiskey after dinner. I loved Bushmills and I adored Midleton. And I just felt that Maurice Hannigan had to be a whiskey drinker.” We’ll drink to that.

Master of Malt will be supporting Anne Griffin at the Cork World Book Festival on Saturday 27th April.

When All is Said by Anne Griffin is published by Sceptre, hardback, £12.99.

 

 

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Gordon & MacPhail reveals new whisky distillery details

Whisky distiller and bottler Gordon & MacPhail has unveiled further details for its proposed shiny new distillery in Scotland’s Cairngorm National Park. And we’re excited. At MoM Towers, we’re all…

Whisky distiller and bottler Gordon & MacPhail has unveiled further details for its proposed shiny new distillery in Scotland’s Cairngorm National Park. And we’re excited.

At MoM Towers, we’re all ears when it comes to distillery developments. Those giant ears of ours have been twitching with anticipation ever since Benromach parent Gordon & MacPhail said last year it was planning to open a second distillery. And now have an update.

Set to be built on the banks of the River Spey in Craggan, near Grantown-on-Spey, the proposed distillery has a strikingly circular design. It’s the work of architect firm NORR, and is meant to make the most of the stunning mountain and river views while hiding most of the operational side of spirits production. It’s even got a grass sedan roof (remind you of anything?) to help it blend into the environment.

Gordon & MacPhail's new distillery

Gordon & MacPhail’s super-modern proposed distillery

If the plans go ahead, the Craggan distillery (not its official name) will become the first of the new-wave distilleries to go live in the Cairngorm National Park.

How much whisky will it make? At first, 375,000 litres of spirit will flow, but capacity can increase to 2 million litres in the longer term – which would make it much larger in terms of output than Benromach.

Local residents were recently treated to an exhibition detailing the planned site, with more than 150 people popping in to check out the proposals. According to Gordon & MacPhail, the response has been “overwhelmingly positive”.

“We’re really pleased at the number of people who came along to see our plans, we couldn’t have asked for a warmer welcome,” said Ewen Mackintosh, Gordon & MacPhail’s managing director.

“People are saying how excited they are to see a distillery being proposed for the area as they believe it has the potential to support Grantown-on-Spey as a destination and encourage visitors to stay longer in the town.”

Gordon & MacPhail's new distillery grass roof

Round, round baby… and with a fancy grass roof

The Urquhart family, which owns Gordon & MacPhail, also went along to the presentation. “We are a longstanding family-owned business with strong roots and commitment to the north of Scotland,” said Stuart Urquhart, Gordon & MacPhail operations director. “Building and operating our second distillery is part of our generational plan to grow a long-term sustainable business, whilst continuing to be part of the fabric of the local community.”

Let’s hope the plans get the go-ahead!

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New Arrival of the Week: Plantation Barbados Rum 2002

As part of a new series on the blog, we will be highlighting new bottles that we are particularly excited about. To begin with, here is a delicious Bayan rum…

As part of a new series on the blog, we will be highlighting new bottles that we are particularly excited about. To begin with, here is a delicious Bayan rum with a French twist.

I know we’ve said it before but it’s worth reiterating, rum is going to be the next single malt whisky. It might be taking longer than we first thought but the quality is there and prices compared with the whiskies from Scotland, America and Japan are very friendly (at least for the time being). At the moment, most rum sold is a blend of distilleries, islands and even countries, but gradually drinkers are waking up to single distillery offerings the rum equivalent of single malts.

Just as in Scotland, independent merchants play an important role, tracking down, buying and bottling rare spirits. Which brings us on to this week’s new product from the Plantation range. This company bottles rums from around the Caribbean: Jamaica, Trinidad and this little beauty from Barbados.

It comes from the West Indies Rum Distillery. You’ve probably never heard of it but you’ve almost certainly drunk something made there. Spirits distilled here go into big names like Cockspur Five Star and Malibu. Alongside such familiar faces, the distillery also produces more upmarket rums which are sold under a myriad of labels. If your rum is from Barbados, it’s probably distilled here, at the famous Mount Gay distillery, or at Four Square, which is owned by a great rum family, the Seales. There is also the tiny St. Nicholas Abbey Distillery

Barbados has a rich rum history. It’s the island where the word ‘rum’ (a contraction of rumbullion, meaning a fight or a disturbance) comes from, probably. It’s also where rum evolved from a rough borderline poisonous spirit drunk by slaves and indentured labour into something to rival Cognac. The Mount Gay distillery dates back to 1703; the West Indies Rum Distillery is more recent being founded in 1893. Four Square is the baby of the group, it began distilling in 1996.

Plantation 2002 Barbados Rum

Plantation 2002 Barbados Rum

The Plantation range and, since 2017, the West Indies Rum Distillery are owned by a French company, Maison Ferrand (the people behind Pierre Ferrand Cognac and Citadelle Gin). And the influence of the parent company certainly shows in the 2002 Plantation Barbados rumIt’s made from a blend of pot and column still spirits (heavier and lighter rums, respectively) which were distilled in a single year, 2002. It spent 12 years on the island maturing in ex-bourbon casks. The heat of Caribbean leads to rapid ageing. Then it was transferred to former Cognac casks and matured in the cool of the Cognac region in France before bottling. You’d be hard-pressed to find a whisky with this kind of maturity for under £50. 

This is just the kind of thing that gets us lovers of dark spirits a bit hot under the collar. The unusual two climate, two wood ageing process has produced a rich elegant rum with notes of toffee, fruitcake, vanilla and cigars. It’s delicious neat but, I think, even better in a rum Old Fashioned, just add a little sugar, ice and bitters. Whisky lovers, what are you waiting for? Rum lovers, we probably already had you at ‘Plantation’.

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Five minutes with… Knappogue Castle’s Tony Carroll

With St. Patrick’s Day just around the corner, we pinned down Knappogue Castle Irish Whiskey global brand ambassador Tony Carroll to talk 15th century castles, defunct distilleries and fighting spirit….

With St. Patrick’s Day just around the corner, we pinned down Knappogue Castle Irish Whiskey global brand ambassador Tony Carroll to talk 15th century castles, defunct distilleries and fighting spirit. Plus, three cracking Irish whiskey cocktail recipes from New York bar Pouring Ribbons…

When the Irish whiskey market collapsed in the early 20th century, distillers, blenders and bottlers on the Emerald Isle were plunged into a century-long decline they’ve only recently began to recover from. In the 1890s the island was home to more than 30 distilleries; by the 1990s, just three remained.

Today, the category is the fastest-growing spirit on the planet, but the after-effects of the bust linger. Today, Irish whiskey can be roughly split across three routes: distillers with mature stock; working distilleries bottling sourced whiskey, and traditional bonders. ‘Old’ and ‘rare’ whiskeys don’t appear too often.

For independent bottler Knappogue Castle Irish Whiskey, however, those words are part of its DNA. In fact Knappogue Castle 1951, bottled by the brand’s founder Mark Edwin Andrews II, is one of the oldest and rarest commercially available Irish whiskies on the market.

If your palate is yet to be acquainted with Knappogue Castle’s portfolio, its whiskeys are triple distilled and aged for a minimum of 12 years in bourbon oak casks. This makes for a “smooth, mellow and well-balanced” dram, Carroll told MoM, with notes of “fruit, vanilla and peppery spice”. Here, he explains how the brand came to be…

Tony Carroll, Knappogue Castle

Tony Carroll, brand ambassador for Knappogue Castle

Master of Malt: Knappogue’s founder started ageing whiskey in his eponymous castle way back in the Sixties. Could you tell us how the whiskey became the brand it is today?

Tony Carroll: Knappogue Castle Single Malt Irish Whiskey is named after Knappogue Castle, a 15th century castle in western Ireland, which was restored by Texas native Mark Edwin Andrews II and his wife – a prominent American architect – in 1966. A connoisseur and collector, Andrews amassed an impressive and rare collection of pure pot still Irish whiskey. Purchasing by the cask direct from distillers, primarily from B. Daly Distillery which ceased production in 1954, he aged and then bottled the product under the name Knappogue Castle after his beloved building. Andrews’ last bottling – Knappogue Castle 1951 – was made available to the public for the first time in 1998 by his son, Mark Edwin Andrews III, under Knappogue Castle Spirits – an homage to his father’s legacy. Today, the Knappogue Castle portfolio includes the 1951 and the 12, 14 and 16-year expressions along with a range of different limited releases.

MoM: Knappogue Castle 1951 caught our eye, being one of the oldest and rarest commercially available Irish whiskies on the market could you talk about the history behind it?

TC: The production of Knappogue Castle 1951 is very much intertwined with the history of Knappogue itself, being the last of Mark Edwin Andrews II’s original bottlings from the days he collected whiskey at Knappogue Castle. Made from malted and unmalted barley, Knappogue Castle 1951 was triple distilled in copper pot stills in 1951, aged in oloroso sherry casks for 36 years and then bottled in 1987.

MoM: Irish whiskey very much seems to be focused on innovation at the moment. Could you share some insight about Knappogue’s strapline, “Boldly daring to do things the way they’ve always been done”, and the intention behind it?

TC: The strapline very much reflects the ethos and direction that Knappogue has taken throughout its many years. It was bold and daring of Mark Andrews II to purchase the castle and bring it back to its present glory, and it was bold and daring for Mark Andrews III – our current Knappogue chairman – to take the whiskey to America. But that’s the way Knappogue has always been. It’s that simple.

MoM: We love a bit of history here at MoM towers. Could you tell us an interesting story about Knappogue Castle?

TC: In the early 20th century the castle served as the headquarters of General Michael Brennan and the Irish Free State army in Ireland’s fight for freedom. Maybe this is where Knappogue Castle gets its fighting spirit from.  

MoM: We’re dying to know where does Knappogue source its casks from today?

TC: Knappogue, like all Irish whiskey, is bound by the Irish whiskey technical file, which states that the best cask for ageing Irish whiskey is American white oak that has been maturing bourbon for two years and over. This provides beautiful balance and colouring. With regard to our finishes, we source barrels from Spain, France and Italy to name a few. All these casks have matured either port or wine and each contributes its own very unique taste profile to our Knappogue finishes. But trust me on one thing – they’re bloody lovely.  

Knappogue Castle 1951

Seriously rare, Knappogue Castle 1951

MoM: Could you talk about the most exciting or perhaps unusual projects you have done in the past? And any you have lined up?

KC: The new Cask Finish Series is the latest in Knappogue Castle’s history of successful speciality limited releases. With only 1,020 bottles in production, the latest release is The Château Pichon Baron, which is matured in bourbon barrels for a minimum of 12 years, then further aged in casks from the renowned Bordeaux winery. We also have plans for additional Barolo and Marsala wine cask finished expressions, which will find a home in America, Europe and Asia. Earlier this year we unveiled the 21 Year Old Single Malt edition, too.

MoM: Where is Irish whiskey headed – what do you predict the category will look like in a decade’s time, say?

TC: Right now the growth of Irish whiskey is phenomenal, and it’s down to a number of factors. Most of the growing Irish whiskey markets are well-established Scotch strongholds. Scotch has driven an appetite for high-end whiskey, but nowadays choice is king. Years ago, for example, America didn’t have too much choice… Scotch or beer was pretty much it, but these days with the plentiful supply of Irish whiskies, the consumer gets to choose. Secondly, the age demographic has changed, moving from middle aged men that like a snifter to young 28 to 40 year olds enjoying Irish whiskey in cocktails or on the rocks. The next 10 years will be very much ‘foot to the floor’ as we say here in Ireland, but Irish whiskey is a long game player. It takes 12 to 21 years to produce our current range of Knappogue whiskey, so we will stick to the principles that have served us well over the past years.

Thanks, Tony! Below, you’ll find three Knappogue Castle whiskey cocktails created by Joaquín Simó from Pouring Ribbons. Slainte!

Crossing Currents

Ingredients: 60ml Knappogue Castle 12 Year Old Irish Whiskey, 20ml Contratto Bianco, 1 tsp Kalani Coconut Liqueur, 1 dash Angostura Bitters
Glass: Cocktail
Garnish: Trimmed, expressed and inserted lemon peel
Method: Stir and strain

Sweater Weather

Ingredients: 60ml Knappogue Castle 12 Year Old Irish Whiskey, 1 tsp Grade B Maple Syrup, 1 tsp Tempus Fugit Crème de Cacao, 1 tsp Pierre Ferrand Dry Curaçao, 1 dash Angostura Bitters
Glass: Rocks
Ice: Cylinder
Garnish: Trimmed, expressed and inserted orange peel
Method: Build in glass

MacNamara Rose

Ingredients: 60ml Knappogue Castle 12 Year Old Irish Whiskey, 20ml Lillet Rosé, 15ml Aperol, 2 slices muddled cucumber, 1 pinch sea salt
Glass: Cocktail
Garnish: Skewered cucumber ribbon with 1 drop rose water
Method: Muddle lightly, stir and double strain

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The Nightcap: 8 March

The weekend is almost here, and we wouldn’t want you to go into a wonderful Saturday without a whole heap of booze news – hence, The Nightcap! It has been…

The weekend is almost here, and we wouldn’t want you to go into a wonderful Saturday without a whole heap of booze news – hence, The Nightcap!

It has been a long ol’ week, despite being around the same number of hours as every other week for about… Well, since weeks were invented. Whoever did that should have made them shorter, because then you would get more editions of our weekly round-up of stories from the world of boozes. Maybe write a letter to the week inventor. See if they can get rid of a day or two somewhere. Thursday has always felt a bit extraneous.

Anyway, what’s been happening on the MoM Blog this week? Well, Kristy has been chatting to some of the amazing women who work here at MoM Towers in celebration of International Women’s Day (it’s today, by the way) – you can read all of those interviews right here. Annie once again did her best Mystic Meg impression and looked at the bars of the future that exist today. Henry watched whisky on the big screen, found out more about Israel’s Milk & Honey distillery and brewed up something tasty for Cocktail of the Week – the Espresso Martini. Adam greeted the new season with open arms and tasty garnishes as he looked at delicious spring spirits. We also did some more winning, this time at the UK eCommerce Awards.

Say hello to Diageo’s first women apprentice coopers

Diageo recruits first women apprentice coopers!

In case it had escaped your attention, today is International Women’s Day. And there was some exciting news from Diageo this week which makes a fitting top Nightcap post! The drinks group has recruited the world’s first female coopering apprentices at its Cambus Cooperage in Scotland. Angela Cochrane and Kirsty Olychick are part of a 16-strong team of apprentices at the Coopering School, where traditional coopering skills are taught over the four-year course. Both women are in their 30s, not just shattering the stereotype that coopering is exclusively a career for men, but also that apprenticeships are only open to school-leavers. “I’ve never been put off by gender stereotypes,” said Cochrane. “I don’t think that should stop anyone from doing what they want to do. And knowing you’re contributing to the growing whisky industry is an amazing feeling.” Olychick added: “Coming into a male-dominated workplace didn’t put me off at all, in fact I found it really empowering to be one of the first women to take up the craft and make my mark in history. It’s such an exciting prospect to think that I’ll be contributing to the next generation of Scotch.” We’re raising a dram to them both – while hoping that at some point soon stories like this won’t be newsworthy as there will be genuine equal representation across the spirits industry.

We should celebrate, with some Aperol of course!

Aperol sales soar by 28% as Campari Group reports ‘strong’ results

Financial results time! And Campari’s full-year stats make for interesting reading. Vibrantly-hued Aperol continued its global charge, with sales soaring by more than 28% over the year, while Campari saw sales climb by 5.1% (Negronis are still ON). Wild Turkey (+7%), Grand Marnier (+5.2%), Bulldog Gin (+7.2%), and the Jamaican rum portfolio (+8.3%, includes the likes of Appleton Estate and Wray & Nephew Overproof) all did very well. Not so good for Skyy vodka though, which saw 8.1% declines, blamed on weaknesses in the US, or Glen Grant, which saw sales fall by 5.7%. An agave price hike impacted profitability, although its Espolòn Tequila brand posted emphatic 26.1% gains. Overall, total group organic sales climbed by +5.3%, and CEO, Bob Kunze-Concewitz, is happy. “We remain confident in achieving a positive performance across the key underlying business indicators in 2019,” he said.

Meet Igor Boyadjian!

All change at the top: The Macallan names new MD

Single malt Scotch brand The Macallan is about to get a new managing director! Following news that Scott McCroskie, current MD, is off to lead parent company Edrington, Igor Boyadjian has been named as his successor. Boyadjian leads Asia Pacific & India at Edrington, and will take up his new post – and a spot on the Edrington executive team – from 1 April. He first joined Edrington in 2017 to lead the travel retail operations, but had partnered with the company for more than a decade before that as part of its Edrington-F.I.X. Middle East joint venture. “I am thrilled to have been given the opportunity to help chart the next stage in the journey of The Macallan,” Boyadjian said. “Under Scott’s leadership, The Macallan has demonstrated a constant pursuit of excellence and dedication to creating the finest single malt Scotch whisky. It is both an honour and a privilege to work alongside a dedicated and talented group of people all over the world, whose mastery, creativity and pride for the brand have helped push the boundaries to make The Macallan what it is today.” Congrats, Igor!

These bourbon and rye whiskies were distilled before Prohibition.

Rare 1920s bourbon for sale in Kentucky

Lovers of good old time sippin’ whiskey should head to the Frazier Museum in downtown Louisville, Kentucky. Thanks to a change in the state alcohol laws, the museum is now allowed to sell some of its collection of rare whiskeys. Known colloquially as “dusty bottles”, they are likely to get bourbon lovers salivating. The first releases of what will become a regular thing are pint bottles of Old Hickory Canadian Rye bottled in 1925, Old Jim Gore Bourbon, distilled 1912 and bottled in 1925, and John Poindexter Old Bourbon, distilled in 1916 and bottled in 1928. The last two were distilled by Wigglesworth Brothers of Harrison County, Kentucky. The bourbons are $2,000 a pop, with the rye a snip at $1,500. Andrew Treinen from the museum told us: “There was a guy waiting to buy one of all three when we opened the morning after the release. We have a small inventory of all brands still available and hopefully more on the way.” Readers will note that they were bottled during Prohibition. How was this even possible? Well, to get around the law forbidding the sale of alcohol, at the time they were sold for medicinal use only. We imagine that doctors were pretty popular people in 1920s America.

The value of rare Scotch whisky has increased by a staggering 600%.

Whisky now a better investment than art, cars or coins

If you’ve got some spare cash to invest, then you could do a lot worse than ploughing it into rare whisky, according to The Wealth Report 2019, released this week. Whisky currently tops the Knight Frank Luxury Investment Index (KFLII) which tracks the value of assets including cars, art and rare coins. The whisky index, based on the auction values of 100 bottles of rare Scotch, has increased in value by 40% in the last 12 months. In the past ten years, prices have risen by nearly 600%! That’s a lot of moolah. Much of this growth is driven by the Asian market. “The stunning price growth of rare single malt whiskies shows that the appetite for new ‘alternative’ asset classes remains strong among high-net-worth investors,” said Andrew Shirley, editor of The Wealth Report and the Knight Frank Luxury Investment Index. Andy Simpson, co-founder Rare Whisky 101 added: “While rare whisky remains a somewhat fledgling asset class compared to some other passion investments, the market for rare and vintage bottles has witnessed extraordinary growth over the past ten years.” We should point out, of course, that assets can go down in value as well as up. Nothing is guaranteed. However, the great thing about whisky is that if prices do collapse, at least you will have something to drown your sorrows with.

Even more Irish whiskey to come!

Ireland officially has another working distillery – welcome to the party, Clonakilty!

We all know Irish whiskey is booming, and now there’s another distillery to add to the must-visit list. On 5 March, the waterfront Clonakilty Distillery and Visitor Experience in West Cork opened its doors! In addition to its three-still stillhouse and whiskey and gin production, the site has a story room which tells the tale of Clonakilty town’s brewing and smuggling history, a gin school, a bistro, and a fancy gift shop. The distillery is open to the public from Tuesday through to Sunday, and tours can be booked on the distillery website. Clonakilty becomes Ireland’s 23rd operational distillery, and reckons it will attract as many as 35,000 visitors a year. Congrats, all!

Say hello to Tamdhu’s new 15 Year Old!

Raise a glass to Tamdhu’s new 15 Year Old

It wouldn’t be the Nightcap if there wasn’t news of delicious new whisky. Scotch single malt distillery Tamdhu has done the decent thing this week and launched a new limited edition 15-year-old annual release. Fans of the Speyside drop will be pleased to know it’s as sherry-tastic as ever, having been matured in American and European oloroso-seasoned casks for the full 15 years. Tamdhu 15 Year Old was bottled at 46% ABV without any chill-filtration or additional colouring, and is said to be a complex and rich dram that delivers notes of apple pastry, spiced currants, orange zest, juicy apricot, vibrant raspberry, almonds, malt biscuit, cream sherry and vanilla. The bespoke bottle sports Tamdhu’s new packaging, which tells the history of the distillery and highlights the significance of sherry casks in its maturation. “We’re extremely proud of our new Tamdhu 15 Year Old,” said Sandy McIntyre, Tamdhu distillery manager. “When you taste a dram of Tamdhu 15 Year Old, you can really taste the time and care that has gone into creating this incredible whisky. We hope Tamdhu drinkers around the world will savour it as much as we do.” You’ll be pleased to know that Tamdhu 15 Year Old is on its way to MoM Towers, so keep an eye out…

The Signature Range has arrived!

Glasgow Distillery Company to launch all kinds of new whisky!

The Glasgow Distillery Company, founded in 2014, has made the sort of announcement that makes us geek out in excitement here at MoM Towers. Glasgow’s first independent single malt whisky distillery since 1902 is poised to release not one but three new Scotch whiskies! Alongside the return of its 1770 Single Malt Scotch Whisky in the form a 2019 edition, meet peated and triple-distilled expressions, 1770 Peated and 1770 Triple Distilled. Most excitingly, these three together will form one awesome collective, like the Power Rangers, except this one is called the Signature Range. The first 1770 release sold out in 2018, so many will be delighted to welcome it back. Matured in first fill ex-bourbon casks, finished in virgin oak and non-chill filtered, the new 1770 Single Malt is available to pre-order now from the brand’s website. The first peated expression will follow in late 2019 and the triple-distilled bottling will appear in early 2020. “Innovation is very important to us, and the announcement of the 1770 Signature Range is no different,” said Liam Hughes, CEO and co-founder. “We’re proud to be one of a select few distilleries in Scotland to have three different styles of single malt as part of their core whisky offering.” Exciting stuff!

Congratulations to Hannah Lanfear!

Hannah Lanfear is the new Armagnac educator for the UK

The wonderful Hannah Lanfear (who we spoke to as part of last year’s International Woman’s Day series) now has another exciting role: she is the new Armagnac educator for the UK! Working closely with Amanda Garnham of the BNIA (Bureau National Interprofessionnel de l’Armagnac), Lanfear will present Armagnac masterclasses and training sessions over the next few months to take Armagnac to thrilling new brandy-based heights. The Mixing Class founder has a wealth of experience as a spirits educator for the Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET) up her sleeve. She’s previously hosted WSET classes on Armagnac at Brooklyn Bar Convent in the US, and is an Armagnac judge at spirits competitions. There’s an ever-growing interest in the category, particularly within the bar community, and the versatile, complex brandy looks set for a bright future. “Since travelling to Gascony during distillation season I have completely fallen for this historic brandy,” said Lanfear. “Not only is it an immensely interesting spirit to study the production of, it has a wonderful depth of flavour and is utterly enigmatic in a cocktail. I am thrilled to be able to share the story of Armagnac in London.”

The London Classics

Bimber celebrates London with new drinks range!

Introducing The London Classics, a collection of spirits from Bimber Distillery featuring a London Vodka, a London Gin and a London Rum, all distilled, packaged and labelled by hand at the brand’s West London site. This means the London Classics are 100% made in London, which is very pleasing. The trio was created to offer an alternative to the standard house spirits found in the speed rail of many a bar, pub, restaurant and hotel. Bimber set itself the challenge of rallying against a perceived lack of creativity, individuality and value for money in these tipples. The plan was to create a new range based on character and flavour, housed in stylish, minimalist and convenient bottles that are easy to pour, while being affordable and fun. A lofty ambition, but seeing as we already stock the vodka, gin and rum, you can decide for yourself if these handcrafted, small-batch spirits live up to it.

The Winchester Collection Vintage 1967. The Glenlivet has wowed us.

The Glenlivet teams up with British designer for 50 year old(!) bottling

Today, just literally today, The Glenlivet unveiled The Winchester Collection Vintage 1967, a super-rare 50 year old limited-edition single malt whisky worth $25,000 (around £19,000), with a bottle and display case designed by award-winning British designer Bethan Gray. The whisky marries malts from a number of casks, the youngest of which was filled in December 1967. That’s right, the youngest. With whiskies this old, around 60-80% of the liquid has been lost to the angels’ share – what remains is like gold dust. Or liquid gold, perhaps. No wonder only 150 bottles have been released worldwide. Gray’s grandfather lived and worked in the Cairngorms, close to The Glenlivet, and the misty landscape around the valleys inspired the Dhow pattern that adorns the case. The glass bottle is hand-blown, while the ombré glass mirrors the ageing process of the whisky. The hand-stained maple case, decorated with mother-of-pearl, is made using solid copper overlays, reflecting The Glenlivet’s copper stills, crafted with a technique that was specially invented for this curved case – now try telling us that isn’t special! This is certainly a collector’s item, though beneath all of this is simply some truly outstanding whisky!

The launch of Rémy Martin’s cigar terrace at Dukes didn’t go entirely to plan… (It wasn’t us).

And finally… Rémy Martin smokes out Dukes Bar. Accidentally.

We try to make sure that there’s a Master of Malt representative at all the swankiest events, so naturally we sent someone to cover the opening of the Rémy Martin Cognac and Cigar Garden at Dukes London Mayfair. But while everyone was sipping Rémy XO and puffing on a Romeo Y Julieta, there was trouble brewing. Someone (not us, we hasten to add) had left the door to the terrace open. Consequently, the waft of fine cigar smoke was permeating the entire hotel, including the famous bar presided over by Alessandro Palazzi (winner of the Lifetime Achievement Award at the recent Class Bar Awards). He came striding through the hotel and told us firmly and politely to keep the door shut. Normally the most genial and relaxed of hosts, it’s the only time we have seen Palazzi looking the tiniest bit flappable. A newsworthy moment indeed. Everyone assumed the naughty schoolkid pose. Sorry, Alessandro!

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IWD 2019: Meet our content assistant, Jess Williamson!

Want to get into writing about whisky? On International Women’s Day, we meet our content assistant Jess, who does just that! It’s International Women’s Day! All week, I’ve been chatting…

Want to get into writing about whisky? On International Women’s Day, we meet our content assistant Jess, who does just that!

It’s International Women’s Day! All week, I’ve been chatting to just some of the women who work at Master of Malt, in all different departments across the business. We’ve met Emma, our head of service; Mariella, our PR manager; Rachel, our trade service manager; Laura, our campaign executive; and earlier today, Charlotte, our digital marketing assistant.

Now, wrapping up our Q&A series, we have Jess, the newest member of the MoM marketing team. She joined Content in January 2019 and immediately hit the ground running, helping to research and write about – and, most importantly, taste! – the very many products we get live on the site every day. She also contributes to The Nightcap, the blog, and a whole host of other drinks and words-related things.

Intrigued about getting into drinks writing? Want an insight into content at MoM? Over to Jess!

Tell us about you and your role at Master of Malt.
I’m the content assistant at Master of Malt, so I mainly help with the shed-loads of new products that flood in, and write some (hopefully) witty and informative content for them!

Talk us through a typical day…  
Mostly I’ll be looking through all the new product listings and writing content for those, with some social media content on the side. Occasionally, we have brands come in to show us their products; those days are always educational and delicious. I contribute to The Nightcap posts each week, and if I’m lucky then I’ll also have some tasty drams to write tasting notes for!

How did you get into content and writing?
I graduated from Bristol University with an English Literature degree, so I’ve always loved writing, and have written for online music magazines in my spare time for nearly three years. I also worked in an extensive gin bar for a while (it had 64 gins!), which is when I realised that drinks were really a thing – when I say that, I mean more than just vodka and squash, which happily I shall never drink again. I started temping in another department within the company for a few months, during which time the industry got me hook, line and sinker, and I applied for my current role at MoM!

Jess, who loves music and booze, is our content assistant!

What’s one of the most surprising things about your role?
I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I was (happily) surprised at how varied it is, and how everyone is happy to pitch in, and for me to pitch into projects. I don’t think I’d quite understood the scale of the industry and the level of discernment involved – I was blind but now I see! Also, three cheers for the hands-on nature of actually tasting the drinks I write about. Yum.

What makes the drinks industry such an interesting place to work?
As someone fairly new to the industry I’ve learnt so much in such a short space of time, and I don’t think that’ll slow down any time soon! Everyone involved is so enthusiastic; there’s such a great combination of tradition and innovation. The whole nature of drinks is so subjective as each consumer is unique, so it feels like the possibilities are endless!

Recommend a drink!
Just one? I’m a big fan of trying any new and exciting cocktail when I’m out, but I love a Bramble. Although if I’m making a drink for myself, then it’ll probably be a Gin & Tonic!

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IWD 2019: Meet digital marketing assistant, Charlotte Gorzelak!

It’s International Women’s Day! All week, we’ve been celebrating by interviewing some of the women who work at Master of Malt. Today, we chat to our digital marketing assistant Charlotte…

It’s International Women’s Day! All week, we’ve been celebrating by interviewing some of the women who work at Master of Malt. Today, we chat to our digital marketing assistant Charlotte Gorzelak, who landed at MoM Towers after working in Germany and LA. Kent is very different in comparison…

8 March is here and it’s International Women’s Day! To mark the occasion, we thought we’d take the opportunity to quiz some behind-the-scenes faces at Master of Malt. Not only have you got to meet some of our dream team, hopefully it’s potentially sparked some drinks industry career ideas, too…

Today we’re chatting to Charlotte Gorzelak, who joined MoM in July 2018 as our digital marketing assistant. Charlotte’s career path so far has certainly been geographically diverse, and she’s also our resident detective with her Criminology degree. Intrigued? Read on!

Tell us about you and your role at Master of Malt…
I’m the digital marketing assistant at Master of Malt, so I do a little bit of everything from pay-per-click, to email and social marketing. I mainly build the social media posts which go out on all channels, and I go to a few events to post stories on Instagram to give our followers an insight into the interesting new things happening in the industry. Most recently, I was in Mayfair for the launch of our new MoMer’s Web Page Gin, and the week after that I was in Covent Garden for an Irish whiskey tasting and book signing with Anne Griffin, the author of When All is Said.

How did you get into digital marketing?
I actually got into marketing by applying for a waitressing role after graduating with a degree in Criminology. They saw I had media and PR experience on my CV, and offered me a different role in the interview. Cue four years of me working in a microbrewery, helping during brewing (read: getting malt in my wellingtons and generally making a mess), making cocktails and serving drinks, and doing marketing for a few drinks businesses. I also did a short stint in Los Angeles working with a film company as their marketing person, and in Germany filming with Audi at the Nürburgring. I then came back to England (and the drinks industry!) to work at MoM.

She might not be a GoT fan, but Charlotte is queen of the Iron Throne.

What makes the drinks industry such an interesting place to work?
It’s varied and fun. It’s such a broad industry. From the making of the drink to the selling and then the serving, you need lots of different skills at each intersection and I think that’s why you get such a mix of people working in our industry. There’s a place for everyone. When I worked in brewing, we used to do the brewing process in these steel vessels next to the bar. I was inside cleaning out the malt one day and popped my head out of the hatch. I totally surprised this couple eating their lunch next to the tank! It was hilarious, and it made their day that they could talk to someone who was really involved in the drink they were drinking at the time.

Tell us about a career highlight…
When I was just starting out at MoM I was asked to go to the Macallan Magnum exhibit to celebrate the opening of the new distillery. It was the first event I attended at MoM. I was able to take an in-depth look at the distillery and chat to people in the industry, while sipping amazing whisky cocktails – and I got to sample the Macallan Magnum expression bottled especially for the opening. I also went to Diageo’s Game of Thrones Johnnie Walker White Walker launch which was amazing, even though I have never seen the TV show! As we were filming, I even made a tiny cameo.

Recommend a drink!
The Penicillin cocktail. Smoke, ginger and sweetness. I’m still yet to perfect it at home but whenever it’s on a menu, it’s my go-to drink.

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MoM does the double at UK eCommerce Awards!

Yep, we’ve not quite calmed down yet, but there are two more shiny trophies to add to the Master of Malt awards cabinet – and we’re so excited! We’re beyond…

Yep, we’ve not quite calmed down yet, but there are two more shiny trophies to add to the Master of Malt awards cabinet – and we’re so excited!

We’re beyond thrilled to share some marvellous news – last night we picked up not one but two trophies at the glitzy eCommerce Awards in London: Food & Drink eCommerce Website of the Year, and eCommerce Social Campaign of the Year for everyone’s favourite supernatural, omniscient, festive, heavily-bearded being, #WhiskySanta!

Yes, folks, it was another celebratory evening, and today the whole team is buzzing. It means so much to be recognised for something you love doing – purveying delicious boozes is never not going to be a joy!

Charlotte and Dan from the digital team picking up our UK eCommerce Awards trophies!

We’re pretty chuffed that the UK eCommerce Awards judging panel chose to celebrate all things Master of Malt. Dan and Charlotte from our digital team were our reps on the ground, picking up the two shiny trophies and raising a glass on behalf of us all.

The Food & Drink eCommerce Website of the Year was a big one for us. We were up against some stiff competition, and the judges said they were especially impressed by our advanced search function, which makes it even easier to track down those mouth-watering bottlings. Anything to make it easier to find that perfect tipple.

And then #WhiskySanta only went and bagged a trophy, too! We’re super proud. This year’s campaign was bigger than ever before, with £250,000-worth of the finest spirits handed out as gifts, either in response to wishes on social or tucked away in parcels through November and December. No wonder #WhiskySanta has to take the rest of the year off. That’s a lot of booze to haul about!

We’re delighted – and we’ll keep it up in our quest to bring our incredible customers the best drinks experiences possible. It’s our very favourite thing to do, after all!

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IWD 2019: Meet trade service manager, Rachel Matthews!

It’s probably fairly obvious that we love and sell all kinds of delicious boozes here at Master of Malt. But did you know that we also work with the likes…

It’s probably fairly obvious that we love and sell all kinds of delicious boozes here at Master of Malt. But did you know that we also work with the likes of bars, restaurants and pubs? It’s Rachel Matthews and her team who look after this side of proceedings, and in today’s instalment of our International Women’s Day series we’re getting stuck in to all things Trade!

Rachel joined Master of Malt five-and-a-half years ago, and has been instrumental in building the Trade team out. Her hospitality background is a huge advantage, as is a love for the hundreds of new products we see each week. Over to Rachel!

Tell us about you and your role at Master of Malt.
I’m the trade service manager.  What do I do, I hear you ask… well, I’m here to support and help develop the team to provide the best service to our customers that have businesses in the world of booze. We give our on-trade customers a service which is knowledgeable, product-filled and a cut above the rest. And we continue to make Trade a thriving sector at Master of Malt!  Each year we gain more customers through word-of-mouth because of the service we proudly provide.

How did you get into trade service?
I’ve been at MoM for five-and-a-half years; before that, I was waitress at a cocktail bar when I met you (love that song – The Human League!). Sadly, it wasn’t as cool as that – it was a seafood restaurant. I’d worked in the hospitality industry for long period of time after university and I was ready to get out, but I still wanted to continue dealing with customers as I enjoyed that aspect of my work. This is when I decided I wanted to work for MoM, I knew a fair bit about alcohol, but my main love was dealing with customers. I finally, got an interview (after stalking the website daily) with Emma Golds, and they accepted me for a stock assistant role (not what I wanted but it developed my understanding of the company). I quickly transitioned into the Trade department. From there, I grew within the department, continually learning and building my knowledge about how to give our customers the best service possible. I’ve always been a believer that you have to work hard for what you want and always push yourself, learn from your strengths and weaknesses.  

Master of Malt International Women's Day Rachel Matthews

Meet trade service manager, Rachel!

What are the particular challenges to working in Trade?
I love a challenge; it is the only way you learn about yourself. But one particular area I find challenging is keeping up with the constant flow of new products. There are thousands of them, and it is not slowing down! For instance, the gin industry is still booming, and I believe there are 315 distilleries in the UK according to from HM Revenue & Customs figures, and gin drinkers helped category sales exceed more than £1.9bn in 2018. It’s absolutely mind-blowing!

What makes the drinks industry such an interesting place to work?
The industry is ever-changing, you never stop. People said after the EU referendum that the alcohol industry was in danger. Well, I can confirm that Trade is seeing sales climb 65% year-on-year.  People are wanting to spend more on the quality of the liquid, and are more focused on the ingredients and stories behind the bottles. This is great, as we are able to help our customers expand their knowledge on the products available, as well as our own knowledge, too! We are constantly learning, and no day is the same.

Recommend a drink!
Tough question! If I’m needing a pick-me-up then I’d go for an Espresso Martini. If I’m putting the world to right with my friends, then I’ll have a wee dram of the Glenfarclas 15 Year Old.

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