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Master of Malt Blog

Take a VR tour of BenRiach Distillery with MoM!

See how BenRiach makes its delicious Speyside whisky thanks to this virtual reality tour of the distillery. Just because you’re self-isolating or on lockdown, it doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy…

See how BenRiach makes its delicious Speyside whisky thanks to this virtual reality tour of the distillery.

Just because you’re self-isolating or on lockdown, it doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a good distillery tour. How is this possible? Thanks to the power of VR, of course. In this series we’re going to take you around some of the finest distilleries across England, Wales and Scotland from the comfort of your own home. This week we take a look around a distillery that was closed for over 60 years but thankfully survived. Enjoy!

If you know a little of the history of BenRiach, then you’ll know we’re lucky that it still exists. Because of the Pattison crash  which wrecked the Scotch whisky industry, it was mothballed just two years after being built by John Duff in 1898 (though the floor malting remained operational).  It remained closed for over six decades. Most distilleries closed for that long don’t survive. Thankfully, in 1965 Glenlivet Distillers Ltd reopened and subsequently rebuilt the distillery. By 1972 it even began the production of peated malt. Seagrams then purchased the distillery in 1978 and added two more stills and in 1994 released BenRiach as a single malt brand in its own right. BenRiach then encountered another turbulent period, beginning with the closure of its floor maltings in 1999 after 101 years of uninterrupted operation. In 2001, Pernod Ricard took over BenRiach, Allt A’Bhainne, Braeval and Caperdonich but all four distilleries were subsequently mothballed a year later. Just when it seemed poor BenRiach couldn’t catch a break, an independent consortium led by Billy Walker acquired the distillery in 2004. They launched a new range, restored the malting floor in 2012 and sold the distillery to Brown-Forman in 2016. BenRiach is now in rude health and makes plenty of excellent sweet, nutty and fruity whisky to enjoy. 

VR tour of BenRiach Distillery

One of the best core expressions in the business, BenRiach 10 Year Old is the perfect way to introduce yourself to the distillery. But we’re not recommending you indulge yourself with a bottle of BenRiach 10 Year Old. We’re going one better. We suggest the BenRiach 10 Year Old Gift Pack with 2x Glasses, because it’s a hell of a steal and you can never have enough branded tasting glasses.

BenRiach 10 Year Old tasting note:

Nose: Citrus-forward, with gingerbread and cinnamon in support.

Palate: Fried banana, brown sugar, powerful barley notes driving it all along.

Finish: Lasting hints of peppery malt and vanilla custard

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Virtual pub quiz: 9 April

Think you know your booze? Then you should enter our wildly popular virtual pub quiz. All entries will get a discount code and one winner a £25 off voucher. All…

Think you know your booze? Then you should enter our wildly popular virtual pub quiz. All entries will get a discount code and one winner a £25 off voucher. All must have prizes!

It’s the return of the Master of Malt pub quiz. Last week was enormously popular. Here is a link the answers. Remember, strict pub quiz rules, no looking at Google.

Fancy your chances?! Go to the quiz by hitting ‘click here’!

CLICK HERE

 

The Nightcap

Have a pint and take part in our online pub quiz!

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The Nightcap: 9 April

With the strangest Easter weekend in living memory on the horizon, The Nightcap has arrived a little earlier than usual, but there’s still plenty of boozy brilliance to enjoy! The…

With the strangest Easter weekend in living memory on the horizon, The Nightcap has arrived a little earlier than usual, but there’s still plenty of boozy brilliance to enjoy!

The Easter weekend is almost here. If you’re looking for something to do which doesn’t involve giant hollow chocolate ovoids wrapped in tin foil that will inevitably be rolled up into a ball and whipped at someone’s head, the MoM blog has continued to be populated with stories from the world of drinks for your perusal. Of course, this includes another edition of The Nightcap, packed full of bite-sized chunks of booze news – and not a shred of tin foil in sight.

On the MoM blog this week we launched a sparkling new competition with The GlenDronach distillery because having things to look forward to right now is essential. We then listed some terrific TV shows that feature booze to make staying safe indoors a little easier. Adam did the same by taking us on a virtual tour of Aber Falls and Glenrothes Distillery before suggesting some delicious drinks for the Easter weekend, while Henry recommended a delightful single-vineyard Barbaresco and a refreshing apple-based serve. Annie, meanwhile, took a closer look at Italicus Rosolio di Bergamotto and Dangerous Don mezcal, the latter with the help of the wonderful Thea Cumming.

Also, a big thank you to all who entered our pub quiz last Friday. You will find the answers if you scroll down to the bottom. This week’s edition (link here) will go live at 5pm tonight, so pour yourself a drink and get that old memory working.

Right, here’s the week’s booze news!

The Nightcap

Broom was shortlisted for his excellent film, The Amber Light

Dave Broom shortlisted twice at Fortnum & Mason awards

Books and writers are a lifeline when you’re stuck at home, so we were very excited to receive the shortlist for the Fortnum and Mason awards today. Master of Malt readers will surely be delighted to see Dave Broom shortlisted in the drink writer category alongside Fiona Beckett (National Geographic and the Guardian) and Zeren Wilson (always good value in Noble Rot magazine). Broom was also shortlisted in the programme category for The Amber Light. Meanwhile, there’s some great inspiration in the books department including Jancis Robinson and Hugh Johnson for their majestic World Atlas of Wine, Eddie Ludlow’s Whisky Tasting Course, Just the Tonic, the Schofield Brothers book which we covered last year and a new one for us Becky Sue Epstein’s Strong, Sweet and Dry: A Guide to Vermouth, Port, Sherry, Madeira and Marsala which sounds right up our street. There’s also some food stuff. Full details here. The awards were scheduled for 14 May but due to events, they have been postponed so we’ll have to wait to see who wins, which gives us extra time to read the shortlisted writers. Every cloud. . . .

The Nightcap

The winner gets £250, five coins and a bottle of Fernet Branca, along with a trip to The Back Bar Games with two colleagues!

UK bartenders invited to Fernet Branca Coin Design Challenge 

Are you bored of seeing the same old coins every day? Fernet Branca is giving bartenders a chance to design the UK’s 2020 coin! Okay, so it’s the Fernet Branca coin, not real sterling, but that doesn’t mean it’s not valuable. The first Fernet Branca coin was released into the wild in 2010, and the coins are only carried by a select few bartenders throughout the industry. The coins aren’t just pretty, there’s a game you can play with them (full details here.) Brand ambassador Poppy Croft explained: “The Fernet Branca coins are an institution, a fun, unifying initiative giving a ’sense of common belonging’ to the global bartending community. If you are out with a group of friends, knowing they all have coins – the last to produce theirs on the bar, once you’ve laid it – gets the drinks. The challenge is knowing who has their coin on their person, best to keep it to hand for all eventualities!” So, bartenders, your submissions must be in (link here) by 17 April. The good news is that this year, in the face of adversity, the prizes have been extended to increase your odds of winning. The top 100 designs will receive a £50 voucher, while the winner will receive £250, five coins and a bottle of Fernet Branca, along with a trip to The Back Bar Games with two colleagues! Time to get those creative juices flowing, we can’t wait to see what the industry comes up with!

The Nightcap

The Three Drinkers podcast features drinking secrets, career anecdotes and something called crumpet beer…

The Three Drinkers launch first podcast series Bring A Bottle

The Three Drinkers have launched their very first podcast series! Dubbed Bring A Bottle, listeners can follow Aidy, Helena and Colin over five 20 minute episodes, the first of which aired yesterday (Wednesday 8 April) on Spotify and Apple Podcasts. The series will be packed full of drinking secrets, career anecdotes and something called crumpet beer… You’ll have to listen to get all the answers! What’s more, The Three Drinkers have teamed up with McGuigan Wines for the series, which means that over the five episodes, McGuigan Wines will be giving one lucky winner a three month supply of Australian wines! Top-notch booze chat and the chance to win some equally top-notch wine? You’ll know where to find us in isolation…

The Nightcap

Be sure to get creative with your entries to get your hands on the prize!

Lindores Abbey launches #stayindoors #staylindores competition

With lockdown life set to continue for the foreseeable future those feelings of restlessness, déjà vu and boredom will understandably surface for some. That’s why Lindores Abbey has created a bit of boozy entertainment to help encourage people to stay safe at home. It’s an Aqua Vitae cocktail competition called #stayindoors #staylindores (clever) that challenges those who enter to create their own Aqua Vitae cocktail or make one using the brand’s online recipes. Then you simply take a picture of the drink with your bottle of Aqua Vitae and share the picture on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter using the hashtag #stayindoors #staylindores and tag Lindores Abbey Distillery. The lucky winner will have the choice between a £500 membership or a private dinner for six and Aqua Vitae making session in the brand’s Apothecary. The competition was inspired by the fact that the original Aqua Vitae was made by the Lindores monks as a cure for all ills for its ability to ‘abandoneth melancholy, quickeneth the spirits, keepeth the head from whirling and stoppeth the stomach from wambling.’ Lindores Abbey stresses that its bottling doesn’t have any medical properties and only promises that it tastes delicious in a wide range of cocktails. You can pick up a bottle of its signature Aqua Vitae here.

The Nightcap

The big debate: are is it a clip-on or hand-tied?

And finally. . . is this the world’s snazziest bottle of whisky?

What could be smarter than a limited edition, only 280 bottles produced, 15-year-old Glenturret? The answer is a limited edition 15-year-old Glenturret in a bow tie! Because the Whisky Magazine awards ceremony didn’t take place as planned, the awards were run digitally instead (see here for the results), the team at the magazine had a load of bow ties going spare so they decided to attach them to whisky bottles. You can enter a ballot to buy one of these special bottles for £125 with £10 going to The Ben (the Scottish drinks industry charity) direct from Whisky Magazine. The whisky itself is aged in a mixture of bourbon and sherry casks and bottled at 40%ABV and we’ve been told that the bow ties are real silk. But what we want to know is, are they clip-ons or hand-tied?

 

Pub quiz answers 

1) Name the quarter in New Orleans where bars are open 24 hours a day. 

Answer: The French Quarter

2) Old Tom gin reportedly got its name from which animal? 

Answer: Cat

3) What is Brazil’s national cocktail? 

Answer: Caipirinha

4) What was created first, the Martinez or the Martini? 

Answer: Martinez

5) A Vodka Martini is also known as…

Answer: A kangaroo cocktail

6) Which whisky is Bob Harris (Bill Murray) advertising in the 2003 film ‘Lost in Translation?’

Answer: Hibiki 17

7) When did Johnnie Walker change the direction of their walking man? 

Answer: 2000

8) In SkyFall, what brand does Bond describe as a ‘waste of good Scotch’ when it is used for target practice?

Answer: Macallan

9) Which Scottish island is known as the ‘Jewel of the Hebrides’? 

Answer: Islay

10) Which country consumes the most whisky per capita?
Answer: France

 

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Take a VR tour of Glenrothes Distillery with MoM!

Venture with us using the magic of digital technology to the heart of Speyside to visit one of the region’s finest distilleries: Glenrothes! Just because you’re self-isolating or on lockdown,…

Venture with us using the magic of digital technology to the heart of Speyside to visit one of the region’s finest distilleries: Glenrothes!

Just because you’re self-isolating or on lockdown, it doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a good distillery tour. How is this possible? Thanks to the power of VR, of course. In this series we’re going to take you around some of the finest distilleries across England, Wales and Scotland from the comfort of your own home. This week, take in the sights at a Speyside powerhouse. Enjoy!

Today Glenrothes may be a giant in the Scotch whisky industry, but its construction very nearly didn’t happen. It was founded in 1878 by James Stuart and Co., the group that licensed Macallan a decade prior. When Stuart left to focus his efforts on the Macallan distillery, the three remaining members of the syndicate; William Grant (not that one), Robert Dick and John Cruickshank were only able to build the distillery thanks to a timely loan. In 1897 and 1922 the distillery experienced disastrous fires, with the latter destroying the No 1 bonded warehouse and with it, 2,500 casks of Scotch whisky. Fortunately, the distillery was able to make it through the tough times and increased its capacity during the 1960s boom from four to six stills. Another pair was added in 1980 and by 1989 the distillery had ten distinctive stills. The very tall stills equipped with boil bulbs help create the signature Glenrothes style as they maximise reflux which results in a bold, complex spirit that matures beautifully in sherry casks. Glenrothes Distillery is well known for its ties with Berry Bros & Rudd which began during the 1920s with the release of Cutty Sark. Its a major component in the number one top-selling blended Scotch in America.

VR tour of Glenrothes Distillery

A perfect way to learn more about Glenrothes would be to taste some of its delightful whisky! We’d recommend getting stuck into the recently revamped range with The Glenrothes 12 Year Old – Soleo Collection, which is packed full of all kinds of sherried deliciousness. As always, we can deliver to your doorstep, so lockdown is not a problem. 

The Glenrothes 12 Year Old – Soleo Collection Tasting Note:

Nose: Gingerbread, stewed apple and earthy vanilla, then soft tropical fruit notes and a hint of sherried funk.

Palate: Creamy hazelnut, dried fruit and a hint of cinnamon. Hints of chocolate, old leather, dried herbs and tobacco add depth among Galia melon and honeyed oak.

Finish: Long and sweet with a touch of baking spice and more stewed fruits.

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Cocktail of the Week: The Pomme Spritz

How do you like them apples? A lot? Well, we’ve got the perfect cocktail for you, a refreshing blend of tonic water and the none-more-appley 30&40 Double Jus aperitif from…

How do you like them apples? A lot? Well, we’ve got the perfect cocktail for you, a refreshing blend of tonic water and the none-more-appley 30&40 Double Jus aperitif from France. 

30&40 is named after a card game, trente et quarante, that was popular in France before the war. It was played at the casinos of Deauville, when artists and aristocrats flocked to the playground of the Normandy coast, according to the brand’s co-founder Vincent Béjot. “It was the golden age for Normandy, it was also the golden age of the aperitif,” he said. 

Béjot, a Norman himself, was living in Paris and, he said, “drinking lots of Calvados.” He got two friends, Aymeric Dutheil and Thibault Patte, hooked on it too and the idea emerged to create an aperitif based on their favourite drink. They took pommeau, a Norman liqueur rather like Pineau des Charentes made with apple juice and brandy, and mixed it with Calvados, hence the name Double Jus. But they couldn’t get the recipe quite right: Béjot explained: “Too much Calvados, around 24/25 % ABV, made it taste too much like brandy. But when we put more pommeau in, it was too sweet and heavy like pommeau can be.” He didn’t want to take the easy way out of using neutral alcohol or sugar.

Left to right: Thibault Patte, Jean-François (fellow Norman distiller), Vincent Béjot, and Aymeric Dutheil (hidden)

They worked with a spirits specialist called Alexandre Vingtier to solve the problem. The answer was inspired by the Norman port of Le Havre, which rather like Leith in Scotland, used to be awash with old barrels from sherry, Port and rum, which Calvados producers would age their brandy in. So they experimented with adding rum to the recipe. According to Béjot, the flavour of rhum agricole was too overpowering but a tiny amount, about 2%, of five year old rum from Belize (very expensive, according to Béjot) rounded the whole thing out without adding sugar. In future, however, he’s looking to make Double Jus with all local products. 

An early supporter was Paris bar Le Syndicat, famous for only using French products. Béjot only had samples in plastic bottles at that stage but the bar placed an order for two cases. “I filled the two first cases in my room.Then I thought: ‘now we can get serious’”, he said. London bartenders too, quickly saw the potential: “Erik Lorincz when he was at the American Bar at the Savoy, Happiness Forgets and Three Sheets. They all supported us. That’s how we started.” The hobby had become a business. 

As well as making a delicious drink, the aim with 30&40 is to help the Calvados category which has been in decline in recent years (though there are signs that it is picking up) and to revive the great French tradition of the aperitif. Béjot explained: “In the 1920s, after the war, people were super happy to stop at a local bar or cafe and have a drink after work. The word aperitif comes from the Latin apero, to open.” Drinks like Dubonnet and Byrrh with their bitterness were designed to get you salivating.

It was also the time of the soda syphon. According to Béjot, the word spritz comes from Austrian tourists to Italy who ask for a ‘spritz’ of soda in their bitter aperitif drinks. A cocktail classic was born. 

Le Pomme Spritz

Sadly, the classic French aperitif declined in the 1960s due to changing drinking habits. Béjot explained: “Most of the brands died or were bought by big industrial groups whose main focus was to keep affordable products for existing clientele. Natural ingredients were replaced with artificial colouring and flavouring and ABV lowered for tax purposes.” 

He added: “For us the market is not super exciting. That’s why we decided to launch a product like Double Jus,” Béjot said, “Quite high ABV compared with some aperitifs, and all completely artisanal. Made only from apples grown in Normandy no flavours or colourant. You can tell when you try neat or over ice.”

There is still the tradition of going out for a pre-dinner drink in France even if people aren’t drinking French aperitifs. Instead, it’s usually wine, beer or, increasingly, Aperol, which has led to a Spritz revival. Béjot said “Whether in the UK or France, people are used to Aperol and want to try something else. This is just the right moment to try our product.”

And that’s the best way to drink 30&40, just with a spritz of soda or tonic water. It could be the drink of the summer, Now, anyone for cards?

50ml 30&40 Double Jus
150ml Fever Tree Mediterranean Tonic (or any tonic water)

Add the ingredients to an ice- filled Highball glass, stir gently and garnish with a piece of lemon peel.

Double Jus is available from Master of Malt. Tonight, Wednesday 8 April at 5pm (BST), there’s a live tasting with Vincent Béjot @thelianacollection Instagram page. 

 

 

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Top 5 drinks TV shows

We like drinks, and we also like TV. So, here are our top five TV shows with some rather significant tipples in them. A drink can tell you a lot…

We like drinks, and we also like TV. So, here are our top five TV shows with some rather significant tipples in them.

A drink can tell you a lot about a character, if you know where to look. Plus, TV shows are like a snapshot in time, so it’s rather fun to go through the different ages and see how cocktail culture reflected in our TV shows has changed!

Full disclosure, the characters in these series are not necessarily always drinking responsibly or doing responsible things having had a drink. Remember, sip, don’t gulp. Let’s keep it fictional, people!

Christmas drinks trends

Sex and the City 

Nothing has done as much for the Cosmopolitan as Sex and the City. Whether that’s a good or a bad thing is up to you! A true representation of the rise in colourful cocktail culture, the pink drink is a mixture of vodka (often citrus-flavoured, as was the rage in the 90s), cranberry juice, triple sec or Cointreau, and lime juice, all served up in a Martini glass. Just don’t try ordering one at a McDonald’s like our girl Carrie.

You can find Sex and the City on Amazon Prime.

Better Call Saul

Ring, ring, Better Call Saul is on our list! Seeing as the Breaking Bad prequel is also set in New Mexico, you can imagine where we’re going with this. Oh yes, Tequila. The eagle-eyed of you may have spotted a rather fancy bottle appear throughout the show called Zafiro Añejo, complete with an agave-shaped stopper. While Jimmy McGill / Saul Goodman starts his journey drinking Rusty Nails alone, soon he’s conning people into buying him fancy Añejo Tequila… Let’s just ignore the fact that it’s clear. Maybe it was filtered? Oh, and its fifth season came out this year, so what better way to celebrate than with a sip of some non-fictional Tequila?

You can find Better Call Saul on Netflix.

Frasier

‘Sherry’ was probably the most-said word in Frasier. The sitcom, originally a spin-off from Cheers, revolved around Seattle psychiatrists Frasier Crane and his brother Niles, and their sherry decanter. Romantic misadventures, professional disappointments and family feuds, were all ameliorated with a couple of glasses of the very finest sherry (though in some episodes it does look like they are drinking Harvey’s Bristol Cream.) The tension in the show came from the relationship between the snobbish Crane brothers and their beer-drinking ex-cop father Marty, and his equally no-nonsense English carer Daphne (complete with dodgy Manchester accent.) Things got really confusing when Marty starts seeing a woman called Sherry.

You can find Frasier on Amazon Prime.

Mad Men

How could we not include Mad Men on this list? While Don Draper’s whisky consumption may be slightly on the enthusiastic side, we can’t fault his choice of Canadian Club, which he’s regularly seen sipping throughout the seven seasons (though funnily enough, Jack Daniel’s actually sponsored the first season). Like Sex and the City, Mad Men also sparked a cocktail resurgence, though Don Draper has a penchant for classic cocktails like the Manhattan and Old Fashioned, so you know exactly what you should settle in with when you decide to crack this classic show out.

You can find Mad Men on Netflix.

Peaky Blinders

Irish whiskey, represent! The series not only inspired a whole generation to shave of the bottom half of their hair, but also gave wonderful Irish whiskey some proper screentime. Though it’s set in 1920s Birmingham, the Peaky Blinders seem to be rather partial to a dram of Irish whiskey. Plus, there’s even an actual Peaky Blinders whiskey, the ultimate companion to your binge-watching! Even Tommy Shelby’s arch nemesis (played by Tom Hardy, another bonus) is a fan of the stuff, with the (not so) wise words: “Whiskey, now that… that is for business.” 

You can find Peaky Blinders on Netflix or BBC iPlayer.

Whisky is for business | Series 2 Episode 2

We couldn't celebrate #WorldWhiskyDay without this quote from Alfie Solomons could we?

Posted by Peaky Blinders on Saturday, 18 May 2019

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A closer look at Italicus Rosolio di Bergamotto

When Italicus Rosolio di Bergamotto launched four years ago, it brought centuries of Italian drinks history to the back bar. Here, we talk contemporary rosolio with brand ambassador Luca Missaglia,…

When Italicus Rosolio di Bergamotto launched four years ago, it brought centuries of Italian drinks history to the back bar. Here, we talk contemporary rosolio with brand ambassador Luca Missaglia, and share five super simple cocktail recipes to try at home…

First, a little background. Italicus is the brainchild of Giuseppe Gallo, former global brand ambassador for vermouth behemoth Martini, no less. A few years back, he spotted a rosolio-sized gap in the aperitivo renaissance and set out to reinstate the historic liqueur, which dates back to the 17th century. 

Indeed, before vermouth, bitters and amaro, rosolio was the Italian aperitivo. It became so popular that each of the country’s 20 regions had its own distinctive take on the liqueur based on the botanicals grown there. Rosolio was regarded as the ‘aperitivo of the people’ until Vittorio Amedeo III, King of Sardinia and Duke of Savoy from 1773 to 1796, incentivised the farmers to switch to vermouth production.

“The word rosolio is from the Latin ‘ros solis’, which means ‘morning dew’,” explains Missaglia. “When farmers get up early in the morning and go down to the field, they find morning dew on top of their botanicals. That’s where the name comes from – they harvest those botanicals to infuse into alcohol with sugarcane and a bit of water to make rosolio.”

Great with snacks

Using the blueprint of a rosolio recipe that dates back to the 19th century, Gallo scoured Italy from north to south and set about painting a flavour map of the country with his botanical selection. There’s lavender, gentian, yellow roses and melissa balm from northern Italy; Roman chamomile from Lazio; bergamot from the Calabrian region; and cedro from Sicily. 

Italicus’ botanical recipe centres on a traditional technique known as sfumatura, which sees essential oils extracted from the peel of the bergamot and cedro using little more than sponges and water. Meanwhile, lavender, gentian, yellow roses, melissa balm and Roman chamomile are infused together in a thermodynamic maceration over the course of around two weeks. 

The botanical liquid, which is produced at a family-owned distillery in the town of Moncalieri in Turin, is blended with neutral grain spirit, sugarcane and water before bottling. And what a bottle. The stopper features a renaissance-style Bacchus – the Roman god of agriculture, wine and fertility – harvesting bergamot; the colour of the glass represents the Grotta Azzura in Capri and the Amalfi Coast shoreline.

Flavour-wise, Italicus has ‘fresh tones of ripe citrus fruits’ balanced with ‘light, bitter, floral spice’. Perfect for pre-dinner tipples, such as the Italicus Spritz, which sees the liqueur combined with bubbles – ideally Prosecco, but any bubbles will do – in a 50:50 ratio.

“For us, the Spritz gives a real feeling of what Italicus is,” says Missaglia. “All of us have a bottle of sparkling wine in the fridge; if we don’t, we probably have tonic water. And if you still don’t, you have some soda.” 

Being an Italian brand, the serves that follow champion simple ingredients and fresh flavours. You’ll need plenty of olives for the garnish – it’s aperitivo hour after all – but if you can’t find any, a pinch of salt will suffice.

Italicus Spritz

This is Italicus’ signature serve, and it’s summer in a glass. Floral? Check. Tart bubbles? Check. A hint of saltiness to round the whole thing out? Ooh, check. 

2 parts Italicus Rosolio Di Bergamotto
2 parts Prosecco (or Champagne)

Build over ice cubes in a large wine glass. Garnish with three green olives.

Gin & Italicus

A Martini, except it’s holding a rose between its teeth and there’s a mysterious glint in its eye. We dig it wholeheartedly. 

1 part Italicus Rosolio Di Bergamotto
1 part London dry gin

Stir over ice cubes and serve straight up in a coupette glass. Garnish with three green olives.

Negroni Bianco

The Negroni twist you’ve been waiting for: fresh, slightly dry, and (almost) crystal clear. Use chunky, clear ice and Instagram the hell out of it.

1 part Italicus Rosolio Di Bergamotto
1 part dry vermouth
1 part London dry gin

Build over ice in a rocks glass, garnish with three green olives.

Italicus Sgroppino

Looks fancy, tastes fancy, and yet… so simple to make. This would make a winning dessert on Come Dine With Me, no doubt about it. Just don’t ask us how to pronounce sgroppino.

2 parts Italicus Rosolio Di Bergamotto
1 scoop citrus sorbet
Sparkling wine to top. 

Build in a coupette, garnish with grated bergamot or lemon peel.

Ipalicus

There aren’t many liqueurs that pair well with beer, but the floral, citrus-y elements found in both Italicus and your typical IPA pair beautifully together. And may we say – cracking name, too.

1 part Italicus Rosolio Di Bergamotto
4 parts I.P.A. Beer

Build over ice cubes in a highball. Garnish with one green olive.

 

 

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Five minutes with. . . Thea Cumming from Dangerous Don mezcal

Soft, floral and perilously quaffable? It could only be Dangerous Don’s new Joven expression, a dazzling 100% Espadin mezcal lovingly crafted in the depths of the Oaxacan countryside. We caught…

Soft, floral and perilously quaffable? It could only be Dangerous Don’s new Joven expression, a dazzling 100% Espadin mezcal lovingly crafted in the depths of the Oaxacan countryside. We caught up with the brains behind the brand, Thea Cumming, to chat about experimental destilados, the original ‘Don’, and a cowboy called Frank…

You might recognise Cumming’s name. As the co-founder of dedicated agave celebration London Mezcal Week – now in its fourth year – and co-owner of Stoke Newington music and mezcal bar Doña, she’s carved a reputation as a figurehead in the city’s mezcal scene. 

While today Cumming may have her fingers in many enchiladas (figuratively speaking), her spirited journey began on the final leg of an epic US road trip, in the port town of Puerto Escondido, situated on Mexico’s Oaxacan coast. 

“That’s where I drank mezcal for the first time,” says Cumming. “We were staying in a place called Sunset Point and met this cowboy from Colorado called Frank. He was going up into the mountains, buying mezcal and mixing it with coffee, vanilla, sugar and some other things in his kitchen, then bottling it and selling it. And he had some amazing mezcals.” 

Thea Cumming with friend in Oaxaca

A few sundowners later, Cumming was sold. “I remember being sat by the pool and deciding, ‘I’m going to start selling mezcal,” says Cumming. “And I’m going to call it Dangerous Don’. That’s my dad’s nickname – his mates from university called him dangerous Don because he had this elaborate plan to go and smuggle cigars with his best mate, big Andy.”

One large bank loan, a tour of Oaxaca and 12 palenques later, Cumming met the Martinez family in Santiago Matatlan, headed by fourth generation master mezcalero Celso. Taking inspiration from Frank’s DIY kitchen blending, she and Martinez would go on to develop the very first Dangerous Don variant, a ‘mezcal destilado con café’.

It isn’t a liqueur – rather, the coffee is treated as a botanical. Martinez twice-distills his 100% Espadin agave in a copper pot still before adding medium-roasted, coarsely-ground Naom Quie coffee beans to the distillate. He allows the mix to steep for 24 hours before distilling again, resulting in a smooth sweet mezcal. 

“The production process of mezcal is unbelievable, it’s such a labour of love,” says Cumming. “Each producer has such different techniques, from roasting the agave to the fermentation process. It’s the same as being a chef – each chef will produce a different dish when they’re asked to cook the same thing.”

Coffee being prepared for distillation

Terroir is also a massive influence in mezcal, as follow-up bottling Dangerous Don Joven demonstrates beautifully. It’s made by master mezcalero Juan Nacho Diaz Cruz in picturesque Santa María Quiegolani – around seven hours’ drive from Oaxaca – where he roasts, ferments and then twice-distils his 100% Espadin agave. 

“It’s very secluded, there’s nothing around for miles and miles,” says Cumming. “I drove out to meet him and his family last April, they’re growing loads of agave and making these incredible mezcals, all super soft and floral and really approachable.”

While the Joven is just hitting shelves, there’s no slowing down for Cumming, whose next destilado is already in the works. There’s plenty of experimentation within mezcal – master mezcaleros love a botanical or two – and Dangerous Don’s master mezcaleros are no exception.

“We’ve just made a ‘destilado con mandarina’ – mandarin – which is really delicious,” says Cumming. “We distil the mezcal twice, peel [the fruit] and leave them to steep for a day, then distil again. The plan this year is to roll out a few more destilados. It’s a really great way to get people to start exploring [the category].”

While it’s beloved by bartenders and drinks aficionados, mezcal is yet to make waves in the mainstream. This presents a unique opportunity for the tight-knit mezcal community to present their liquid as the artisanal product it genuinely is, free from the ‘slammer’ and ‘shot’ connotations associated with its agave cousin, Tequila. 

El joven esta acqui

So long as the category can retain its ‘craft’ credentials, anyway. Which might prove tricky as multinational spirits companies carve their own slice of the agave action. The problem with bigger players coming in, Cumming warns, is that they’ll drive the price point down. And if this sounds like a good thing, trust us – it isn’t.

“Mezcal is an expensive product because of the process,” she explains. “We’re not talking about a grain or sugarcane – we’re talking about something that takes eight years to grow, and that comes with a price point. Many smaller brands can’t necessarily get their price down, and I don’t know that you would want them to.”

On the bright side? As drinkers, we’re more open and invested in the industry than ever before. “The way we consume has changed a lot,” Cumming says. “We care about the origin of the products we buy now, more so than ever, and with mezcal, that’s really important. If that conscious consuming mentality is applied to the mezcal category, then that’s just the dream.”

While we’d always recommend appreciating any artisan spirit neat – at least to begin with – Dangerous Don is also made for mixing. The range is exquisite with tonic (garnish with an orange or grapefruit wedge). If you’re keen to experiment, the original con café variant makes a cracking Negroni when subbed in for the gin. 

“My favourite drink is a Mezcal Tommy’s Margarita,” says Cumming. “Lime and a bit of agave with Dangerous Don Joven, it works really well. If you want to be slightly more creative, you could do a take on an Espresso Martini with Dangerous Don, cold brew, crème de cacao and a tiny dash of agave syrup and that’s delicious too.”

There’s currently £5 off bottles of Dangerous Don original and Joven at Master of Malt.

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Delicious drinks for the Easter weekend!

With Easter weekend just days away you’re probably on the lookout for a sweet treat. Good thing we haven’t let lockdown life stop us from rounding-up some our tastiest tipples…

With Easter weekend just days away you’re probably on the lookout for a sweet treat. Good thing we haven’t let lockdown life stop us from rounding-up some our tastiest tipples for the occasion. Happy Easter, everyone!

With everything going on at the moment you can be forgiven for forgetting that Easter is on the horizon. Usually, this weekend would be filled with plans and celebrations, making the most of the days off work and the time spent together at home. But not everything has to change. You can still indulge yourself this weekend, whether that’s with a frankly unacceptable amount of chocolate or a delicious drop of booze. 

If you’re in the mood for something festive or need some help picking out the right bottle then you’re in the right place. We’ve picked out a selection of sweet treats from the shelves of MoM Towers that are perfect for Easter. Enjoy!

Delicious drinks for the Easter weekend!

Ableforth’s Dark Chocolate VSOP 

Ableforth’s makes all kinds of delicious booze but this indulgent offering is the most suitable for your Easter celebration. The Dark Chocolate VSOP was made by infusing VSOP Cognac with Criollo cocoa nibs, which is then blended with more VSOP and XO Cognac. A touch of sweetness is then added to the final blend to create a rich and complex profile.

What does it taste like?:

Slightly bitter dark chocolate, a touch of maple syrup, a hint of sour cherry, lots of juicy dried fruit, red grape, prunes, a drizzle of honey and a prickle of spice.

Delicious drinks for the Easter weekend!

Flavoursmiths Cucumber Gin

When you think of perfect flavours to add to gin, you probably imagine sweet fruits, tart citrus or warming spice take centre stage. Like Lemon Peel or Parma Violet. For this expression, however, Flavoursmiths combined refreshing and aromatic cucumber with the crispness of juniper and traditional gin botanicals. It’s a delightful creation, which should make an incredible G&T garnished with a thick slice of cucumber (of course).

What does it taste like?:

Refreshing cucumber, aromatic citrus, gentle sweetness and peppery juniper.

Delicious drinks for the Easter weekend!

Mister Katz’s Rock & Rye 

Rock & Rye is a sweet and intriguing drink that was very popular pre-Prohibition. The New York Distilling Company has brought back the style with Mister Katz’s Rock & Rye, a combination of their youthful rye whiskey, rock candy sugar, sour cherries, cinnamon and a touch of citrus. It’s a superb sipper over ice but can also be used in a number of cocktails too. We recommend it as an alternative for the rye in a Manhattan!

What does it taste like?:

Brandied cherries, buttered malt loaf, aniseed balls, candied orange peels, boiled sweets, cinnamon and rye.

Delicious drinks for the Easter weekend!

Jaffa Cake Gin 

Every now and again you see something that truly restores your faith in humanity. A gin distilled with oranges, fresh orange peel, cocoa powder and actual jaffa cakes is one of those things. How do you make your Gin and Tonic better? Jaffa Cake Gin. How do you improve your Negroni? Jaffa Cake Gin.

What does it taste like?:

Zingy orange (marmalade-esque), rich and earthy chocolate, vanilla-rich cake, a touch of almondy-goodness and a solid backbone of juniper. Also, Jaffa Cakes! 

Delicious drinks for the Easter weekend!

Mozart Dark Chocolate Liqueur 

“Hi there, kind people of Master of Malt. I’d like to add a dose of delicious chocolate to my Easter drinks, how would you recommend I do that?” This. This drink is exactly how you add the kind of chocolatey goodness you desire. From Austrian masters of the craft, Mozart, this decidedly decadent and rich liqueur is also delicious on its own over ice.

What does it taste like?:

Lots of pleasantly bitter and subtly sweet dark chocolate with touches of vanilla, toffee and just a hint of salty butter.

Delicious drinks for the Easter weekend!

Bloom Strawberry Cup 

For those who would like to add a touch of summer bliss to their Easter weekend, this gin liqueur is perfect. Bloom Strawberry Cup combines the fantastically floral Bloom Gin with fresh strawberries in a very delicious way. That’s probably why it was awarded a master medal in the Liqueur category at The Travel Retail Masters (The Spirits Business) 2019. It’s superb with tonic water, lemonade, Prosecco or ginger ale and enjoy!

What does it taste like?:

Violet, light juniper, angelica, honeysuckle and huge strawberry influence.

Delicious drinks for the Easter weekend!

Aberfeldy 12 Year Old 

For so long a fundamental cog in the Dewar’s blended Scotch recipe, it’s brilliant to see Aberfeldy get its time in the spotlight as a single malt to show off the delicious whisky it creates. This smooth and sweet dram is an excellent introduction to this wonderful Highland distillery and works both neat and in cocktails. Combine 50ml of Aberfeldy 12 Year Old, a teaspoon of honey and a couple of dashes of Angostura Bitters and Orange Bitters and you’ve yourself the expressions’ signature serve: The Golden Dram.

What does it taste like?:

Sherried fruit, a hint of smoke, prune, custard, espresso bean, malt, vanilla, peaches in cream, subtle oak, ginger, nutty nougat and a little grapefruit zest.

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Take a VR tour of Aber Falls Distillery with MoM!

Take a look inside North Wales’ first whisky distillery in a century thanks to our swanky VR tour of Aber Falls Distillery. Just because you’re self-isolating or on lockdown, it…

Take a look inside North Wales’ first whisky distillery in a century thanks to our swanky VR tour of Aber Falls Distillery.

Just because you’re self-isolating or on lockdown, it doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a good distillery tour. How is this possible? Thanks to the power of VR, of course. In this series we’re going to take you around some of the finest distilleries across England, Wales and Scotland from the comfort of your own home. We head to Wales this week to check out a distillery that makes plenty of delicious white spirits and is in the process of creating its first Welsh whiskies. Enjoy!

One of only four distilleries in Wales, and the first in North Wales since the early 1900s, Aber Falls takes its name from the nearby famous Aber Falls waterfall, at the gateway of the Snowdonia National Park. Distillation, ageing and bottling of spirits all occur on-site, in a 6,000-square-meter building that dates back to the 19th century. Aber Falls prioritises the importance of local identity and traditional craft, working with local farmers to source Welsh malted barley and exclusively using fresh Welsh water. Distillation occurs in large copper stills, a 5,000-litre wash still and a 3,600-litre spirit still. Aber Falls whisky is expected to arrive in 2020, so keep an eye out!

VR tour of Aber Falls Distillery

If you’re intrigued about all things Aber Falls, you’ll be pleased to know we can deliver a bottle(s) or a dram(s) to your very doorstep. We recommend Aber Falls Orange Marmalade Gin, which is so good you’ll have to resist dipping your toast in it. I failed this particular temptation. And have no regrets #toastyourtoast. 

Aber Falls Orange Marmalade Gin Tasting Note: 

Fresh orange juice, with a punchy kick of dried juniper. A bit pithy at points.

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