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Master of Malt Blog

Fèis Ìle 2019: Day Seven, Bunnahabhain and Jura

Time for some unpeated fun at Bunnahabhain’s and Jura’s open days – and some peated fun too, because why not?! – as well as more boats, dogs and rain! We…

Time for some unpeated fun at Bunnahabhain’s and Jura’s open days – and some peated fun too, because why not?! – as well as more boats, dogs and rain! We had a blast.

It’s been a busy day at Fèis Ìle, with the team getting down to Bunnahabhain nice and early before splitting up so we could be at Jura’s open day too! We’ve also lost Kristy. She loves whisky, of course, and was gutted to miss the fun that’s yet to come tomorrow, but like many of us she has other passions. In her case that takes the form of a musical group called the Spice Girls, and even a cancelled flight wasn’t going to stand between her and their gig in Manchester tomorrow night!

Godspeed Kristy, we miss you already!

Grey sky at day, whisky maker’s delight. Or something like that.

Before we delve into today, however, there’s the (not) small matter of last night’s activities. After the blog post went live we headed back over to Ardnahoe for Hunter Laing‘s Kinship Collection evening with the one and only Jim McEwan. Those who’ve been following our Instagram stories may already know that we found the range – which is made up of a Bruichladdich 27 year old, Bunnahabhain 30, Caol Ila 40, Bowmore 30 (all soap and violets as you may hope/fear, depending on your tastes), Ardbeg 26 and Laphroaig 18 – very impressive indeed.

Kinship Collection

A very special tasting of Hunter Laing’s Kinship Collection of Islay malts

Friday morning at Bunnahabhain then brought rain. More rain! Last year was glorious sunshine throughout the festival, *BUT* this year the grey skies are actually welcome. As mentioned earlier in the week water sources had been getting worryingly low across the island, with some distilleries having to cease production, so it’s all for the greater good! (We are all whisky fans, after all!)

Cue taking cover in the distillery’s office, where we caught up with distillery manager Andrew Brown and Distell International master blender Dr. Kirstie McCallum. Kirstie talked us through the first two festival bottlings, which you can check out riiight… here:

Another place it doesn’t rain is in the cabin of a tall ship, and we were back on the Flying Dutchman for the first official tasting of the day. Some great drams, memorable yarns and even a couple of songs later, and it was time to split up. Well, once we managed to get off of the ship. Some of us took longer than others negotiating the (admittedly treacherous) soaking wet ladder up to the pier as the ship lurched up and down.

Kristy, Laura and Kenny then headed off to Jura, while I was able to enjoy the Bunnah Warehouse No. 9 Experience. Which was a bit good. 5 cracking casks – an ex-bourbon 6 year old, Manzanilla 10 year old, Palo Cortado 11, Pedro Ximénez 12 and a peated Mòine 15 – all available as hand-filled 20cl distillery exclusives. I impulse bought a PX shortly after, but would have happily taken any of the sherry cask options off their hands. It was also great fun, Colin (affectionately known as ‘Butthead’, or so I’m told), I salute you!*

Colin Bunnahabhain

“It’s all about the dram!” It is, you know.

Meanwhile, over in Jura, the team attended a tasting with blender and whisky maker Gregg Glass, taking in its new make, a couple of 21 year-olds from its Tide and Time series (keep an eye out for the fruity, ex-peated Jura cask Tide on the site soon…) and a distillery exclusive peated sherry cask number with a big charcoal finish.

Jura Time Tide whisky

Time ‘n’ Tide

As with last year, this wasn’t any ordinary tasting though. There were atomisers, scents trapped in bubbles, popcorn pairings and even prizes! We didn’t win anything, but photographic evidence suggests we were quite taken by the chocolate and honey scented bubbles.

Jura Gregg Glass bubbles

So bubbles.

My final masterclass of the day (the awesome folks at Bunnahabhain looked after us extremely well) was a chocolate and whisky pairing event with Kirstie and Julieann Fernandez that afforded an opportunity to taste the distillery’s third festival release. A 1988 Champagne cask, which was ridiculous in the best way possible. Think Champagne, actual Champagne, but a spirit – with people who don’t like Champagne loving it. Notes of brioche, melon, zesty real lemonade, cashew, green apple skin, some toffee – a weird note that I’ve somehow categorised as ‘silver birch’ in my brain over the years – just great, unique stuff. Hats off to those who queued up overnight and managed to bag one.

We got tees and drams into some new friends’ hands too, of course!

So, what have I missed? Ah, yes. A distillery poochie, of course! Apparently we can’t do one of these without one. Did I start this? It no longer matters, the whisky people need their doggos and who am I to deny them?! Meet Alfie. This pic came from @Belsnickel222 with the message “We will accept this one in the blog.” As will we my friend, as will we.

good boy

A Bunnah good boy.

Another awesome day on Islay and some more much needed water for the distilleries. They have enough now though, right…? Fingers crossed for some clear skies as we head to Ardbeg‘s Caribbean flavoured day tomorrow!

*“Is this available in the shop?!”

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The Nightcap: 31 May

It might have been our final short week until August, but the barrage of booze news didn’t let up – it’s The Nightcap! This week for us, and we’re sure…

It might have been our final short week until August, but the barrage of booze news didn’t let up – it’s The Nightcap!

This week for us, and we’re sure for many of you, was Fèis Ìle week. A seven-day extravaganza of delicious Islay-based booze, bands and banter. You’ve probably noticed on the blog this week Kristy and co. enjoying the spoils of another fantastic Fèis Ìle, from an action-packed ‘Day 0’, to all sorts of wonderful adventures with Lagavulin, Bruichladdich, Caol Ila and Islay Ales, Laphroaig, Bowmore and Ardnahoe and Kilchoman. And there’s still more to come!

Elsewhere on the blog we announced the winner of our Cotswolds Distillery competition! Adam then reported on the new Macallan whisky that has entered the world, before enjoying the fourth batch of Dingle single malt, our New Arrival of the Week, and finding time to celebrate Ableforth’s eighth birthday. Meanwhile, Annie talked Ketel One vodka and Henry made The Long Sloe Summer his Cocktail of the Week. Ian Buxton also asked some big questions in his guest column inspired by The Macallan Archival Series.

Now, onto the news!

The Nightcap

Introducing: Whyte & Mackay Light

Whyte & Mackay Light launches low-ABV ‘spirit drink’

Yes, you read that correctly. This is not new whisky from Whyte & Mackay. Instead, this is a spirit drink, created in an attempt to appeal to new consumers in a reaction to the growing popularity of lower ABV drinks. It’s a trend we’ve certainly noticed here at MoM Towers, so it’s little surprise to see more and more drink producers embrace it. The new product, Whyte & Mackay Light, was bottled at 21.5% ABV, which means that it cannot be legally labelled as whisky, which has a minimum ABV requirement of 40%. Hence the term ‘spirit drink’ being used in this case. “We’re continually looking at trends in drinks and listening to our consumers across the UK, which is why we’re delighted to announce the launch of Whyte & Mackay Light,” said Ruairi Perry, head of brand at Whyte & Mackay. “It’s a different product, built with the same younger, lighter consumer in mind. We see a different type of drinking occasion emerging – and Whyte & Mackay Light has been developed to satisfy that occasion.” Whyte & Mackay Light will launch in early June, and is expected to set you back £12.

The Nightcap

The fabulous Craft Cocktails range!

That Boutique-y Gin Company launches ready-to-drink Craft Cocktails

That Boutique-y Gin Company has launched a new canned range of craft cocktails made using the brand’s delicious gins mixed with a host of interesting ingredients. Craft Cocktails, which will be available this summer, will also come in keg form so the on-trade can take advantage of the growing opportunities found within draught cocktails. An initial wave of five variants will be released, including Moonshot Gin and Citrus Tonic, Spit-Roasted Pineapple Gin Mule, Cherry Gin and Craft Cola, Strawberry & Balsamico Gin Fizz and Squeezed Yuzu Gin Collins. The Boutique-y team has briefed that it will embrace an approach to the category akin to craft brewing and so expect the range to continuously evolve with future variants, one off batches, collaborations and seasonal lines in the pipeline. “We want more people to have access to interesting drinks in more places. We know that drinkers are looking for increasingly exciting and sophisticated flavour combinations, and that putting these in cans or on draught will allow both retailers and bars to satisfy the demands of convenience and ease of service without compromising on flavour,” TBGC’s Selina Raggett explains. “For the cans, we’ve embraced the true Boutique-y style at its boldest, moving away from the traditional gin in a tin look and feel. That Boutique-y Gin Company is well known for pushing the boundaries with exciting releases and new flavours, and the Craft Cocktails will continue this ethos. We’re already working on an exciting wave of new releases!” While the Craft Cocktails range has launched with gin, we will also get to see That Boutique-y Whisky Company and That Boutique-y Rum Company get a chance to shine in a ready-to-drink format in the future.

The Nightcap

The future is here. And it’s boozy

Grey Goose launches world’s first sub-zero draught cocktail tap system

Grey Goose has its pioneering boots on this week, it seems. The vodka producers have responded to the current trend for ‘tapped’ and ‘draught’ cocktails by creating the world’s first sub-zero draught tap system. In a move designed to put premium vodka at the forefront of innovation within the drinks industry, Grey Goose has attempted to come up with an innovative solution to revolutionise cocktail culture with a system that can provide consistently delicious cocktails for any occasion. The draught cocktail tap system was designed to allow for a variety of drinks to be served with quickly and with ease to exacting standards, all at sub-zero temperatures. It can be charged with nitrogen to add a rich and creamy texture to your Espresso Martini, for example. “We began with the desire to be able to create innovative drink serves in a way that has never been seen or done before,” commented Marc Plumridge, the European programming director at Bacardi who drove the development of the draught tap system. “The cutting edge technology used delivers spectacular cocktails, dispensed at speed, all housed within a transparent casing – allowing individuals to have a full view of the technology at work.” To launch this new technology, Grey Goose has invited consumers to see the system in action at The 12th Knot rooftop bar on London’s Southbank from Friday 31st May – 2nd June.

The Nightcap

Limited edition private cask bottlings could be yours…

Bimber Distillery debuts founder’s club

This week, London’s Bimber Distillery announced that it’s formed its very own Founders’ Club, and they’re taking applications now! Very swanky. This means that it will release a limited number of private casks for members to purchase. All of this is in celebration of the distillery’s first whisky casks finally reaching their third birthday. If you sign up, you can expect your first exclusive cask strength single malt in December this year. Among other treats, members will also be able to purchase their own 30 litre cask (for the meagre price of £895), filled with either Bimber’s peated or non-peated new make spirit, which after maturing at the distillery for three years, will eventually set them up nicely with around 49 bottles of whisky. The club aims to bring together people who “want to be part of a distillery whose mission is to produce true handcrafted whisky”, says sales director Farid Shawish. “Our members will always be welcome for a chat, and their input will play an important part in shaping the future of Bimber Distillery.” Membership will set you back £395.

The Nightcap

Miles Beale, CEO of the WSTA

WSTA claims the drinks industry is ‘vulnerable’ to no-deal Brexit

Following the announcement that Theresa May will step down as UK prime minister on 7 June, with no replacement named, The Wine and Spirit Trade Association (WSTA) has warned that the industry “remains vulnerable to a disastrous no-deal scenario”. The latest Brexit deal was overwhelmingly rejected in the House of Commons three times in the weeks running up to the original scheduled exit date at the end of March. Miles Beale, CEO of the WSTA, has branded May’s Brexit approach as “neither clearly defined nor successful”, adding that “as a result we remain vulnerable to a disastrous ‘no-deal’ scenario. A change of leadership neither provides our industry with the answers it needs, nor change the WSTA’s long stated position – which is for the government to deliver an outcome that allows this industry to continue international trade in its products without delays, barriers or additional costs.” Beale also commented that a no-deal scenario “has never been categorically taken off the table” and that it is “imperative that a new leader confirms that the UK will not leave without a deal and moves quickly to find a solution”. As a result of the current situation, Beale has claimed that nearly 80% of the trade body’s members had made preparations for the original exit date of 29 March and will have to prepare again ahead of the new Brexit date on 31 October. He said: “It’s difficult for businesses to determine the exact cost of Brexit contingency planning, including stockpiling and other measures, but we have heard estimates ranging from £20,000 to £5 million.”

The Nightcap

Maison Brillet, a family vineyard in the heart of the Cognac region

Rémy Cointreau to buy Maison de Cognac JR Brillet

French drinks group Rémy Cointreau has announced this week that it has entered into negotiations to purchase Maison de Cognac JR Brillet from the Brillet family. While financial terms have not been disclosed, it is understood that the deal would also include part of the Brillet family’s vineyard estate which is located in the village of Graves-Saint-Armant and has a history which dates back to the 17th century. Rémy Cointreau’s interest in Maison JR Brillet is motivated by the chance to “integrate spirits with genuine development potential into its portfolio” and increase its inventory of eaux-de-vie and vineyards “of the highest quality”. The signing of the deal, which is subject to administrative procedures, is expected to take place in autumn 2019. The news comes off the back of positive full-year sales that Rémy Cointreau posted last month which showed a growth of 7.8% in 2018/19, driven by a double-digit gain for its Cognac portfolio, with the Rémy Martin Cognac brand proving to be the standout.

The Nightcap

The new Plymouth Gin bottling, which we enjoyed a delightful tasting session!

Plymouth Gin launches special edition craft gin from 177-year-old recipe

There are so many new gins emerging all the time it can be difficult for a drinks producer to stand out amongst the crowd. Plymouth Gin may well have just done that, however, with Mr King’s 1842 Recipe, the first special edition in a series of craft gins made to celebrate the spirit of exploration. It was distilled using a recipe found deep within the vaults at the Plymouth Black Friars distillery (the oldest gin distillery in England) that dates back to 1842. That was 177 years ago, people. Master distiller Sean Harrison has reimagined the recipe to create a new product and thanks to the technological advancements in gin production today, he was able to replicate the distillation process that was attempted in 1842, with even more precision. Mr King’s 1842 Recipe was made with just two ingredients – orris root and handpicked juniper from a single harvest day in the mountains of Frontignano, Italy, after Plymouth uncovered the original sales record that linked the purchase of juniper to the renowned Italian region over 170 years ago. Due to the hyper-local sourcing of the ingredients, this one of a kind gin cannot be reproduced. “Mr King’s 1842 Recipe is a truly one-off craft gin that we will never be able to recreate again. Even if we were to visit the same Italian hillside next year, the climate and harvest conditions would affect the juniper resulting in a different taste profile,” Harrison explained. “At a time when other brands are using many different botanicals throughout the distillation process, Mr King’s 1842 Recipe focuses on just two and the result is something very special.” We went to a tasting of this delightful drink and can confirm that it’s as delicious as it sounds!

These tariffs are not good news for the booze industry

US tariffs impact agave-based spirits and EU booze

In concerning news this week, US president Donald Trump announced plans to impose a 5% tariff on all imported goods from Mexico from 10 June, including Tequila and Mezcal, in response to what was termed the “illegal migration crisis” at the US-Mexico border. Trump was quoted in a statement posted on the White House website saying he was “invoking the authorities granted to me by the International Emergency Economic Powers Act” in order to “address the emergency at the southern border”. The US president has also warned that if the ‘crisis’ persists, tariffs will be raised to 10% on July 1, 2019, 15% on 1 August, 20% on 1 September and 25% on 1 October if the US is still not satisfied that Mexico has taken the action it requests. This follows news from just yesterday, which revealed that trade bodies in the US have called for the removal of EU spirits from proposed retaliatory tariffs from the States in response to an ongoing dispute with the World Trade Organization (WTO). The US has been embroiled in a “long-standing” spat with the WTO over civil aircraft subsidies and, on 8 April, the United States Trade Representative (USTR) revealed a draft list of EU products that could be hit by retaliatory tariffs which included alcohol. Trade groups representing the alcohol industry in the US, including the Distilled Spirits Council, have made it clear they oppose such tariffs, however, commenting that they “strongly oppose the inclusion of beverage alcohol production” and that they are “gravely concerned that this escalation would compound the negative impact of the tariffs on a sector that is already feeling the damaging impact resulting from unrelated trade disputes.” The groups, which include alcohol suppliers, wholesalers, importers and retailers, have quoted industry analysis which warns the proposed retaliatory tariffs could affect almost US$6.8 billion worth of imports and could result in a loss of between 6,600 and 45,800 US jobs. Hopefully we’ll have better news on these matters in the future.

The Nightcap

The Johnnie & Ginger, a light and summery treat

Johnnie Walker celebrates National BBQ Week with Berber & Q

Johnnie Walker and East London BBQ restaurant Berber & Q have teamed up to create a new cocktail for National BBQ Week (it’s a thing, a very important thing). The limited edition Johnnie & Ginger, made by barbecue pioneer and Berber & Q founder Josh Katz, was designed to complement al fresco dining, summer sunshine and BBQ food, particularly Berber’s Joojeh Chicken Kebab, as Katz explains, “the smokiness of the charred chicken is offset by the smooth whisky and is given a spicy lift by the inclusion of ginger ale.” The light and summery Johnnie & Ginger cocktail is available at Berber & Q Grill House from 27th May – 2nd June and priced at £9. Katz describes it as “a taste experience and the perfect start to a barbecue.” But don’t fear if you don’t manage to get a table at Berber & Q, the Johnnie & Ginger cocktail is easily recreated at home. All you need to do is mix 50ml of Johnnie Walker Black, 15ml of lime juice, 35ml of pressed Granny Smith apple juice and a little pinch of Zaatar, which you’ll shake with one ice cube for no longer than 5 seconds. Then place the mix in a highball glass filled with ice and top with 35ml of ginger ale. Garnish with a dehydrated apple wheel and mint sprig, and there you have it!

The whisky takes its name from Lake Samilpo

And finally… North Korea launches its own whisky

Reports have emerged this week that suggest that North Korea has distilled its own brand of whisky and plans to launch it at the end of this year. According to the South Korean Hankook Ilbo newspaper, this would be the first time the country has produced whisky, although it’s worth noting that it has not been mentioned yet in North Korea’s own media. The source of the story is the Young Pioneer Tours tourism company, based in China, which specialises in visits to North Korea and other places that “your mother would rather you stay away from”. The tour operator claims to have laid its hands on a couple of bottles of the elusive spirit and described Samilpo’s design as “closely resembling” that of Johnnie Walker, a “well-recognised whisky in North Korea”. According to Pioneer Tours, Samilpo, which takes its name from the lake near Mount Kumgang, will launch three expressions: a ‘40% ABV black label edition, a 42% ABV red label edition and a 45 edition which has not been bottled yet. It is not known what types of grain that goes into the spirit, or how old it is. It has also been reported that the owner of Samilpo hopes to export the whisky to other countries once North Korea’s ‘political situation’ improves. You’re not likely to get your hands on some anytime soon, for those who might have been intrigued.

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The Macallan unveils new expression: The Macallan Estate

Sound the horns, we have new whisky from The Macallan! That’s right, people. The Macallan has launched a new single malt Scotch whisky today. It’s called The Macallan Estate and…

Sound the horns, we have new whisky from The Macallan!

That’s right, people. The Macallan has launched a new single malt Scotch whisky today. It’s called The Macallan Estate and it was made to be a celebration of provenance and heritage, which is why it was distilled using barley grown at the brand’s home on the 485-acre Easter Elchies estate in Speyside, where Macallan whisky has been produced since 1824. The barley fields are located on the banks of the River Spey, which is overlooked by The Macallan’s award-winning distillery that opened last year in June 2018.

The Macallan Estate

The Macallan Estate is a tribute to home and heritage

What makes this expression stand out is that it represents a rare opportunity to experience a Macallan Scotch whisky that contains spirit made from its own home-grown barley, which is distilled just once a year over the course of a single week. This spirit is usually limited to The Macallan’s most exclusive and sought-after releases. I told you it was rare.

“Our Easter Elchies estate lies within the legendary Speyside region of Scotland, a place of timeless natural beauty, and a place that we are proud to call home,” Sarah Burgess, whisky maker for The Macallan, says. “With its wonderful sweet citrus hints and warming wood spice, The Macallan Estate is a rich, satisfying and complex spirit that pays homage to the fertile Speyside lands where The Macallan is located and celebrates the unrivalled craftsmanship for which we have been known since 1824.”

The Macallan Estate

The Macallan Estate

Described as “a rich and complex whisky with a remarkably long finish,” The Macallan Estate is said to exude notes of wood spice, orange oil and the traditional sherried richness that has become associated with The Macallan’s single malt. As you can imagine, it’s presented in a very fancy gift box that reflects the natural stones found on the estate, with an inlay of slate. Inside you’ll find aerial photography which showcases the barley fields, as well as landscape-inspired designs.

But there are three things that you all you want to know above all else, so here are the answers:

1) It’s priced at £195.

2) It will be available from July.

3) We will be stocking it.

The Macallan Estate will also be available through an exclusive online ballot that the distillery is holding, which will close 23:59 UK time on 7th June 2019.

To anybody who does manage to get their hands on a dram, we sincerely hope you enjoy it and be sure to let us know what you think of it!

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The winner of our Cotswolds Distillery competition is…

We teamed up with our friends over at the Cotswolds Distillery in the beautiful English countryside to bring you the chance to win a VIP trip around the stunning distillery….

We teamed up with our friends over at the Cotswolds Distillery in the beautiful English countryside to bring you the chance to win a VIP trip around the stunning distillery. Now, the time has finally come to reveal the lucky champion…

Cast your minds back to the very beginning of May, when bank holidays were aflowing and we announced our Cotswolds Distillery competition! It was easier than ever to enter, as all you had to do was buy any whisky or gin from the Cotswolds distillery range!

Now, the champion of that competition will soon be on their way (with their equally fortuitous plus one) for an overnight stay at the distillery plus much, much more. Will the lucky victor go for a gin or whisky masterclass, we wonder? It’s out of our hands now, we’ve done our part. Whatever they choose, it’ll be delicious.

We are super stoked to announce the winner, who will soon be galavanting around the distillery and sipping on Costwolds G&Ts.

The lucky winner is…

Lee Taylor, from Gloucester!

The Cotswolds Distillery

A Cotswolds cloudy G&T, to be enjoyed by our winner

 

An enormous thank you to those who entered, and a huge congratulations to our winner! If you weren’t so fortunate this time, with your bottle of Cotswolds gin or whisky, you’re already winning!

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Fèis Ìle 2019: Day Six, Kilchoman

Shiny new distillery expansion, cocktails galore, and more drams than you could shake a stick at. It can only be the Kilchoman Open Day at Fèis Ìle 2019! The sunshine…

Shiny new distillery expansion, cocktails galore, and more drams than you could shake a stick at. It can only be the Kilchoman Open Day at Fèis Ìle 2019!

The sunshine couldn’t last forever. Fèis Ìle 2019 Day Six dawned mightily murky, with no end in sight to the drizzle. It was the dedicated Kilchoman day, and Islay’s self-styled farm distillery seems to have little luck with the weather – as I recall it was the only grey day of the Fèis last year. But! Festival goers are more than prepared for the elements. A little bit of Islay sogginess wasn’t going to put anyone off.

We rose moderately fresh – last night’s activities involved a brief jaunt to the Lochindaal Hotel, only to discover festival-goers had quite literally drunk the bar dry. Beer was off. After a swift one, we decamped to the Port Charlotte Hotel for beers. (Don’t worry, Rinns residents – we were assured the Lochindaal was due to be restocked today!) By the time we arrived at Kilchoman, situated right out west, towards Machir Bay, we were ready for a dram (anyone else now alarmingly comfortable with sipping whisky at 10am?!).

Kilchoman Feis Ile

Behold, Kilchoman’s 2019 festival bottling!

First thing on the day’s agenda was an interview with Kilchoman founder Anthony Wills. Kilchoman was born out of Wills’s vision and started producing spirit in 2005. Fast-forward to 2019, and the distillery has big news! Last year, Anthony shared distillery expansion plans with us. Today we were itching to see the results of the project in the flesh! The only thing standing in our way was a tasting of the Kilchoman Fèis Ìle 2019 release, and 11 year old, 54.4% ABV expression! A delicious distraction. Wills chatted us through it, and you can watch it below!

After the tasting and a Q&A with Wills (we put your questions to him), it was time to give away t-shirts and drams. The shiny new stills would have to wait a little longer! We’ve seen a handful of t-shirt selfies – do keep sending them our way, we’re @masterofmalt on social. We want to get your thoughts and tasting notes on our All Islay Blended Malt, too!

The Kilchoman team really had thought of everything today. As well has covering the courtyard with gazebos (useful, as the rain was flat refusing to stop), they had also made a handy guide to proceedings, complete with a map of where you could nose your way round the distillery, and grab a dram in the process!

Kilchoman Feis Ile

Mapping out the day!

We headed over to the Comraich Blend Bar (so named after a distillery-only expression) for a refreshing sipper to accompany our plan-making. The guys from Blend Whisky Bar, off of actual Italy, were on it! We sampled a few, but particularly recommend the Machir Bay serve, made with green tea and Abbott’s Bitters. Green tea really is the cocktail ingredient that keeps on giving!

Kilchoman Feis Ile

Ciao, Blend Whisky Bar chaps!

Cocktails done, and we plotted our route, making our way to the Kilchoman stillhouse with haste. Last year, Wills said the plan was to knock down the end wall of the existing production space and create a carbon copy, almost like a mirror image. That’s exactly what’s happened! Production capacity has soared from 240,000 litres of alcohol a year to 480,000 litres. Still tiny compared to the likes of Caol Ila, which produces in the region of 6.5 million litres! There’s a brand new mash tun, two fermenters, and two very sleek and shiny new stills. And we got to taste the new new make! So fruity, deliciously oily, and with that characteristic waft of Kilchoman smoke. We approve.

Kilchoman Feis Ile

Gorgeous new Kilchoman stills!

After the stillhouse, we meandered our way through to Warehouse No. 1, where myriad casks are maturing. We then popped in to check out the malting floor, which opened last year (our mini-tour was not in production order, but who cares?!). We even tried our hand at turning the locally-grown barley, with only medium levels of success!

Kilchoman Feis Ile

Inside Warehouse No.1

We popped back outside, dodging the raindrops, to explore the full Kilchoman line-up on the dram bar. Punters could choose from a whole range of liquid, including distillery-only bottlings, and the 2019 festival release! Such a treat to be able to sample from such a wide range!

Kilchoman Feis Ile

Dram time!

As we’ve come to expect on a distillery day, there was not only ace tunes from myriad bands, but also a whole host of excellent doggos!

Kilchoman Feis Ile

So many excellent poochies!

Before heading back we zipped along to take in the sights and sounds (and accompanying sea spray!) of Machir Bay. Gorgeous in the sunshine, but still bleakly beautiful in the rain, Kilchoman has named an expression after the huge expanse of sand – and rightly so, it’s a defining feature of the area.

Kilchoman Feis Ile

Machir Bay!

Kilchoman truly knows how to do a distillery open day. As well as all the fun and games we took part in, the team had all kinds of tastings on offer, plus farm tours. The best bit was being able to explore so much of the distillery, dram in hand, at our own speed without waiting for an organised tour. It was brilliant. Job well done, team – thank you for a tremendous day, and congrats on the distillery expansion!

Next up: a tasting at Ardnahoe this evening, before checking out both Bunnahabhain and Jura tomorrow. We’re excited!

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Eight years of “really bloody tasty spirits” with Ableforth’s

To mark Ableforth’s eighth birthday, we pinned down global brand manager Jen Meredith to talk spirit production, ‘everyday success’, and challenging preconceptions both inside and outside the industry… “Our creative…

To mark Ableforth’s eighth birthday, we pinned down global brand manager Jen Meredith to talk spirit production, ‘everyday success’, and challenging preconceptions both inside and outside the industry…

“Our creative process stems from the desire to create something truly distinctively delicious – whether that’s rum, brandy, gin or something else!” Jen Meredith, Ableforth’s brand manager, is emphatic. Ableforth’s has just turned eight, and as well as celebrating, she and the team are reflecting. “Our founders wanted to create products they wanted to enjoy themselves – full of flavour and using the best ingredients,” she continues. “In that sense, we haven’t really changed at all.”

Yes, Ableforth’s has come a long way since it was established by four friends, Justin Petszaft, Ben Ellefsen, Joel Kelly and Tom McGuinness, in 2011. The plan at the outset was to create a range of “really bloody tasty spirits”, inspired by drinks and styles from the past with robust, fresh and unusual flavours.

From gins, rums, brandies, liqueurs and more, Ableforth’s has had in its fingers in many boozy pies, establishing a following for its signature products such as Bathtub Gin and Rumbullion!, and in the process collecting more awards than Meryl Streep. The secret to its success?

“We create tasty things! Really genuinely tasty things,” says Meredith. “Like a complex spiced rum rather than a pure vanilla and sugar bomb; a sweetly zesty gin, a Cherry Brandy which is made with actual real-life brandy and real cherries. It’s this approach which ensures we stand out from the crowd.”

And it’s now become quite the crowd. As of last year, England now has 166 registered distilleries. Stiff competition is part and parcel of the industry. But it’s also worth remembering that the landscape was quite different when Ableforth’s first started out. Back in 2010, England had just 23 distilleries. Ableforth’s made its mark right at the outset of the craft spirits boom.

Fundamentally, Ableforth’s approach to production has enabled it to stand out. This can be seen in its willingness to embrace time-honoured techniques such as cold compounding, which is utilised in the creation of Bathtub Gin. “The base gin is produced in a copper pot still with ten botanicals,” says Meredith. We take this, reduce it down to 45% ABV, and split it in half. One half we put to one side and the other half is where the cold-compounding, or botanical infusion, happens.”

This is the crucial bit. “Into this part of the gin, we infuse our six botanicals [juniper, dried orange peel, cardamom, cloves, coriander seeds, and cassia bark] and leave them in for at least one week. During this time the gin must be sampled and tasted repeatedly to ensure the right concentration of flavour is being achieved.” The aim is to create a gin that is highly botanically flavoured, where the flavours have been extracted at ambient temperatures to capture those which don’t survive traditional, high-temperature distillation.

There’s an obvious hue, too. “Imagine a tea bag left in room temperature water for a few hours,” Meredith explains. This gin can now be carefully blended back into the original, 10-botanical copper pot-distilled gin.”This process enables us to deliver perfect consistency on a suitable scale with the colour and exact flavour of finished Bathtub Gin. Once this is done we simply make sure that the abv is at the correct bottling strength of 43.3%, and fill the beautiful bottles”.

Ableforth’s

Bathtub Gin is created using the time-honoured technique, cold compounding.

An appreciation of distillation techniques is just one element, however. When it comes to ingredients, “it’s less about the ‘where’ and more about the ‘what’,” according to Meredith. “We only use exceptional ingredients, no matter where in the world they come from; from the fresh botanicals we lovingly infuse into our copper pot gin, to the XO Cognac that we put into our Cherry Brandy.”

Meredith also explains that Ableforth’s don’t make compromises during the production process. “It helps us be exact in our recipes and thorough in our quality control. We don’t cut corners, and we never take shortcuts. If it takes a little longer to make it properly tasty, that’s time well spent in our opinion,” Meredith says. “You saw an example of this with our Bathtub Gin. We don’t just pop a load of fruit in with gin and let it sit, we have a precise seven-day infusion process at ambient temperature which we use to make a flavourful concentrate which we then blend back into our copper pot distilled gin. This is tested throughout the seven days, so we never miss the sweet spot.”

The recent installation of a larger infusion tank is a result of the success this approach has brought. “Our infusion tank makes this process even more precise, but mostly it enables more to be made to meet the growing demand in global markets,” says Meredith. “The process, the infusion is still a full seven days, checked and tested to ensure the very best flavours are coming out.”

Ableforth’s

Ableforth’s employs a selective approach to its ingredients

Meredith does it make it clear that there’s a desire for Ableforth’s to remain grounded, explaining that the brand values ‘everyday success’. “It’s not just about reaching long term sales goals. We’ve seen success in our Global Award Wins, such as our recent Gold for Rumbullion! at the San Francisco International Spirits Competition. But we also absolutely love getting good feedback from the people who buy and drink our products in an email or on social media,” Meredith says. “For us, when someone takes the time to send us a little note to say they enjoyed an Ableforth’s drink that’s up there with the award wins because really, that’s what we’re all about!”

Challenges still rear their head. That faux brown paper bag wrapped around the bottle, hand pleated, twined and waxed by hand, has become increasingly recognisable, particularly on a back bar. But the style can lead to misconceptions, as Meredith explains. “Some people think that our packaging means we want to be seen as an ‘old fashioned’ brand, or that we have recipes which have been passed down for generations, which isn’t the case.” She adds, “our packaging is actually a little nod to methods of the past, back when ingredients were always the real deal and products were made with time and effort, which is exactly what we do today.”

Equally the perception of compound-style gin, which is used to create Bathtub Gin, can be a cause of frustration. “There’s a lingering misconception that this is an inferior way to make gin. Which is definitely isn’t,” Meredith says. “We’d love to be a brand that can help change people’s minds within and outside of the industry, and show that using the compounding method can create a sensational gin when done right, and we think we do it pretty damn well.”

Ableforth's

The eclectic Ableforth’s range, complete with distinctive faux brown paper bag, black wax and twining.

As Ableforth’s celebrates its 8th birthday this week, it’s clear the drinks producer has no intention of slowing down. The demand for delicious, bespoke spirits isn’t going away, something Ableforth’s knows all too well. “One of the most exciting things we see happening at the moment is the shift in trends,” Meredith explains. “People are much more discerning with what they buy, they want higher quality products. And that’s exactly who we make our drinks for”.

“What’s even more exciting is that this is a global phenomenon, so the UK trend which inspired our founders in Kent eight years ago, is now part of the global zeitgeist,” says Meredith. It’s been quite the ascent for Ableforth’s. World domination does seem like the next logical step…

To help you celebrate its 8th birthday in style, we’ve listed a few suggested serves below so you can make the most of some of Ableforth’s most popular products. Enjoy!

Ableforth's

The Bathtub Gin Southside

Bathtub Gin Southside

Ingredients: Bathtub Gin, fresh lemon juice, sugar syrup and mint leaves.

Method: Shake 50ml of Bathtub Gin, 20ml of fresh lemon juice, 10ml of sugar syrup and mint leaves over ice. Then fine strain into a coupe glass and top with soda.

Ableforth's

The Rumbullion! Mai Tai

Rumbullion! Mai Thai

Ingredients: Rumbullion!, Triple Sec, lime juice, Orgeat and lime wedges.

Method: Shake 40ml of Rumbullion!, 20ml of Triple Sec, 25ml of lime juice and 20ml of Orgeat over ice. Then strain into an ice-filled rocks glass and garnish with squeezed lime wedges.

Ableforth's

The Summer Cup Royale

Summer Cup Royale

Ingredients: Summer Fruit Cup, lemon juice, sugar syrup, orange bitters and Prosecco.

Method: Shake 40ml of Summer Fruit Cup, 20ml of lemon juice, 15ml of sugar syrup and 2 dashes of orange bitters over ice, then pour into a highball and top up with Prosecco. Garnish with an orange slice and a sprig of mint.

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Fèis Ìle 2019: Day Five, Bowmore and Ardnahoe

We love a double Fèis Ìle distillery outing! And on the fifth day of the festival we joined the party in Bowmore, before taking in Islay’s newest whisky-maker, Ardnahoe. After…

We love a double Fèis Ìle distillery outing! And on the fifth day of the festival we joined the party in Bowmore, before taking in Islay’s newest whisky-maker, Ardnahoe.

After a moderately late night (an early morning for some in!), Fèis Ìle dawned on a fairly sedate note. The evening before we’d joined our good friends at The Whisky Lounge over at their Ellister abode for pizza, Negronis, drams, and a marvellously good time (although no hot tubbage this year). It was rather helpful, then, that we didn’t need to be in Bowmore until late morning! (Serious kudos to all of you who camped out in the legendary queue for the super-rare Bowmore bottling. We gather the line started at 10am yesterday when we were all sunning ourselves over at Laphroaig!)

Bowmore’s Open Day is always a lot of fun, and this year was no different. The distillery knows how to do it responsibly too though, handing out separate wrist bands to designated drivers (in fetching orange) and non-drivers (complete with dram tokens!) as people arrived on-site. Today, I can confirm I was NOT the Des, and swiftly made my way to the dram tent to suss out the bar. And I was not disappointed! Bowmore No.1 set the scene, with Bowmore 10 providing a tasty follow-up a little while later, both complimentary, with a whole haul of other drams on offer, too. Great stuff!

Bowmore Ardnahoe Feis Ile

What’s better than a dram? A complimentary dram!

Did you grab a dram and t-shirt from us at Bowmore? We were swamped! If you’re in possession of either (hopefully both!) we want to see you in your shirt, and hear what you think about our All Islay Blended Malt, made with our pals at That Boutique-y Whisky Company. Drop us a line on social or leave us a comment below. We’d love to hear from you!  

Back to the distillery day! Next on the agenda was checking out all the fun of the Fèis, and Bowmore was pretty much rammed. There was a coopering demo, which pulled in the crowds…

Bowmore Ardnahoe Feis Ile

Noisy lot, those coopers…

…a kind of cask bung shuffleboard-type challenge (we were rubbish).

Bowmore Ardnahoe Feis Ile

NOT winning

You could also engrave a bung, which seemed far more sensible to us! (Not sore losers at all…)

Better to engrave than slide…

And if that wasn’t enough of a souvenir, you could even get a group snap taken against a green screen! Who knows what those Bowmore folks might put in the background…

Bowmore Ardnahoe Feis Ile

But what’s behind you?!

After a super speedy prance about (and dance, the music was ace again!) we met distillery manager David Turner for a catch-up and a taste of both festival bottlings* (yep, folks – we got to sample both the highly sought after 1995 vintage, 55.2% ABV 23 year old sherried single cask, of which there are just 325 bottles, and the delectable 15 year old 51.7% ABV bourbon cask release). You can check out Turner’s assessment of them both right here!

We also put some of your questions to him – the Q&A vid will be out on the blog and the old socialz ASAP post-Fèis!

Bowmore Ardnahoe Feis Ile

Nom.

From the oldest warehouse to the newest distillery

The arrival of a new distillery on Islay doesn’t just mean more whisky. It means an even more tightly-packed Fèis schedule, too! After a quick bite (our Laura especially loved the paella on offer at Bowmore!) we packed the film kit into the car and hurtled up the island to Ardnahoe.

Bowmore Ardnahoe Feis Ile

Ardnahoe in all its glory

The distillery, founded by family-owned company Hunter Laing, only started production six months ago, and officially opened its doors in April (Henry even stopped by for a visit!). So 2019 is the team’s first Fèis Ìle! Nothing quite beats the excitement of visiting a distillery for the first time, and if it’s brand-spanking new, the thrill is somehow even more intense. And Ardnahoe lived up to the hype!

https://www.masterofmalt.com/blog/post/ardnahoe-a-closer-look-at-islays-newest-distillery.aspx

Goodie bag!

We were met with a goodie bag (hello drams!) and, with the sun just about still out, we made the most of the views. This distillery is in a seriously spectacular location (and Islay is so stunning it’s easy to get blasé). But the scenery across the Sound of Islay and across to the Paps of Jura is genuinely astonishing. We highly recommend popping over for a dram on the open-air terrace!

https://www.masterofmalt.com/blog/post/ardnahoe-a-closer-look-at-islays-newest-distillery.aspx

That view though…

We quizzed Hunter Laing export director Andrew Laing with your questions on plans for the distillery, and then had a good nose around. The still house makes the most of that incredible view – sadly it was raining by the time we popped our noses in; we’re desperate to return on a sunny day!

https://www.masterofmalt.com/blog/post/ardnahoe-a-closer-look-at-islays-newest-distillery.aspx

The newest stills on Islay!

After chilling in the bar, taking in the gift shop, and checking out the obligatory Fèis Ìle band, it was about time to head back to Port Ellen for an evening in. Cheese and drams are on the agenda. But we may head up to the Loch Indaal for a dram if we’re feeling adventurous enough to brave the rain. Cheers to both Bowmore and Ardnahoe for a mega Islay day!

Whatever you’re up to this evening, enjoy – and see you at Kilchoman tomorrow!

*Apparently there’s a mystery third bottling?! Let us know if you’ve spotted it in the wild!

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Cocktail of the Week: The Long Sloe Summer

Sloe gin isn’t just for Christmas, says pioneering bartender Nick Strangeway. This week’s cocktail eloquently explains why. Long before foraging became fashionable, people were making sloe gin. These tiny sour…

Sloe gin isn’t just for Christmas, says pioneering bartender Nick Strangeway. This week’s cocktail eloquently explains why.

Long before foraging became fashionable, people were making sloe gin. These tiny sour plums that appear in autumn hedgerows aren’t great for eating but do something magical when steeped with gin and sugar. By the following winter, you have something delicious to drink. Bartender and founder of Hepple Gin, Nick Strangeway told me: “Everybody thinks of it as something you drink around Christmas and then forget about for the rest of the year.”

But he uses sloe gin all year round in a variety of cocktails: “When I worked with Dick Bradsell”, he said, “we made a drink with sloe gin called the Wibble, named after the marketing director of Plymouth Gin at the time who would wobble but wouldn’t fall over”. He also recommended other sloe gin cocktails like the Hedgerow Sling and the Charlie Chaplin.

Strangeway is a stalwart of the London bar scene who worked with Bradsell at such legendary venues such as Fred’s and the Atlantic. Strangeway remembers his mentor very fondly: “Some of the places he worked in were not what you’d call salubrious yet he would look after you as though you’re in the Savoy,” said Strangeway. I asked him what was the most important thing he learned from the master: “Most of it was to do with looking after customers. Bars are about customers, rather than about drinks. Without nice customers and nice staff, it’s irrelevant whether you make good drinks”, he said.

Long Sloe Summer

Nick Strangeway, bartender and founder of Hepple Gin

Anyway, back to those sloes. The Moorland Spirits Company, the business that Strangeway founded in 2014 with chef Valentine Warner and others in Northumbria, has just launched its Hepple Sloe and Hawthorn Gin. It’s less sweet than a standard sloe gin: “Sugar can cloud complex flavours like the sloe”, Strangeway told me. It’s also bottled at a higher ABV than most rivals: “There’s a tendency to default to what already exists, rather than the right ABV. When we did ours, we thought 32% ABV was best in terms of flavour delivery”, he said. The Hawthorn “add another level of dryness to it”, as well as continuing the hedgerow theme.

Strangeway spends half the year in Denmark and he is very inspired by New (well “old now”, he jokes) Nordic Cookery, “a northern style of cookery that’s fresh and light. In terms of flavours Hepple and indeed Northumbria is Nordic”, he said. He’s also inspired by how Scandinavian chefs use technology to bring out flavours. Hepple Gin is made using a ‘Triple Technique’ compromising of traditional pot still, vacuum distillation and CO2 extraction. This juniper-heavy gin is used as a base for the Sloe and Hawthorn Gin.

So now on to the cocktail, the Long Sloe Summer. Strangeway mixes his sloe gin with fino sherry which “adds dryness and salinity.” The final ingredients are a splash of tonic for a spritz and some green olives for a savoury element. “I wanted a long drink that wasn’t massively high in ABV, a drink I could drink all summer long”, he said.

Cheers, Nick!

Long Sloe Summer

The Long Sloe Summer

30ml Hepple Sloe and Hawthorn Gin
30ml Tio Pepe fino sherry
150ml of tonic water
2 Green Olives to garnish

In a large wine glass combine the sloe gin and the sherry, add lots of ice, top up with tonic and stir. Garnish with two green olives.

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Fèis Ìle 2019: Day Four, Laphroaig

We go again! Laphroaig Open Day is known for its tasting experiences and mellow vibes – and 2019 was no different. The sun even came out for us! Team MoM…

We go again! Laphroaig Open Day is known for its tasting experiences and mellow vibes – and 2019 was no different. The sun even came out for us!

Team MoM had a quiet one last night, and we collectively woke up fresh as daisies for Fèis Ìle Day 4’s Laphroaig Open Day. Good job really – in order to nab some time with distillery manager John Campbell we needed to arrive before the gates even opened/the crack of dawn. He’s a popular man!

Laphroaig Feis Ile

It’s John Campbell! We chat to Laphroaig’s distillery manager

Made it we did, and the day started as all should – with a dram down on the beach in good company. John was on excellent form as he chatted us through this year’s distillery release. So the first drop of the day was Càirdeas Triple Wood Cask Strength, the 2019 festival bottling! It’s a no-age statement 51.7% ABV release matured in ex-bourbon barrels, quarter casks, and then European oak ex-Oloroso casks. An absolute bargain at £77. And there are 36,000 bottles available, from the distillery and through its members’ society, Friends of Laphroaig. The sheer number of bottles available really added to the relaxed setting – no queuing overnight here! Wondering what it tastes like? We’ve got it all in John’s own words:

John hung around with us a bit longer to answer the questions you all put to him via Twitter and Instagram – the Q&A will be released shortly after Fèis Ìle!

With the interviews in the bag, it was time to dish out some t-shirts and drams! We LOVE chatting to you all as we hand them out. We’d also really like to hear what you think about our All Islay Blended Malt, made with our pals at That Boutique-y Whisky Company. We’d be especially excited to see your t-shirt selfies, too. Just tag us in – we’re @masterofmalt on Instagram and Twitter, You’ll find us on Facebook as well!

Laphroaig Feis Ile

Drammage.

What next? Drams, of course! We checked out the bar (tip-top selection), and frequented the warehouse where you could even win a measure or two. Spot of bung tossing, anyone?! Then, two things caught our beady eyes. Firstly, VisitScotland’s Coo Van (have you ever seen such a vehicle in all your days?!)…

Laphroaig Feis Ile

Behold: Visit Scotland’s Coo Van!

…and a cheese tent! Yes, really! Campbeltown-based (and excellently-named) Scotcheese was there with its delicious wares, and we hoovered up all the samples going before nabbing some for later on. Already getting hungry thinking about it.

Laphroaig Feis Ile

Cheese? Yes, please, Scotcheese!

After all that cheese sampling we needed a refresher. Luckily Islay Ales was on hand! For those not into the beer, Laphroaig was on it with the cocktails (much like the other Open Days. Are consistently good cocktails the big Fèis trend of 2019? I reckon so). There were two Laphroaig Select-based, part pre-batched options: a Fruit of the Fèis, made with raspberry, lemon, apple, mango and lemon juice; and the Fizzy Ginger, with ginger cordial, sugar syrup, and an orange and lemon juice. We plumped for ginger, and it made a tasty refresher out in the sunshine.

Laphroaig Feis Ile

Cocktail hour at Laphroaig

The music was on point once more (shout out to The Coaltown Daisies who were especially excellent!), and sitting out in the sun you could have been almost anywhere in the world (once you take the pesky windchill factor out).

Laphroaig Feis Ile

Cheers, The Coaltown Daisies!

And it was another ace distillery day when it came to dog-spotting opportunities! Here are two of our faves from the day:

Laphroaig Feis Ile

Surely takes Sirius Stardust’s crown as the fluffiest poochie of the Isle?

Laphroaig Feis Ile

Our Laura makes a new friend

With an excellent day over at Laphroaig in the bag, our Jake had another mission: head off to catch fancy boat The Flying Dutchman for a voyage/tasting around the Scottish island distilleries with That Boutique-y Whisky Company! He was last seen rowing over from the distillery. The legendary Boutique-y fellow Dave Worthington even dressed as a pirate for the occasion. And we snuck our All Islay Blended Malt into the line-up, which also included a 22 year old Springbank*, 18 year old Highland Park, and a 22 year old Arran. Fab whisky, ace company and the high seas. There’s no better way to round off a distillery day!

Laphroaig Feis Ile Boutique-y tasting

All aboard the Boutique-y boat!

*apparently a canal cuts them off so the locals consider themselves islanders

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New Arrival of the Week: Dingle Single Malt – Batch No.4

Our New Arrival of the Week is something fans of Irish whiskey fans all around the world will have been waiting for… Dingle Distillery is doing a very good job…

Our New Arrival of the Week is something fans of Irish whiskey fans all around the world will have been waiting for…

Dingle Distillery is doing a very good job of making a name for itself in the Irish spirits category. Just this year its Dry GIn was named the World’s Best Gin at the 2019 World Gin Awards. But for whiskey fans, the Kerry-based brand is better known as the home of one of the most in-demand ranges of small-batch spirits, an annual release that has brought us some of the finest Irish single malts on the market.

This year on the 4th of April, Dingle revealed the long-awaited Batch 4 Single Malt (see what they did there, with all the 4s? That’s marketing right there, my friends), as well as its cask strength variant, to the world. This is very exciting. There’s a reason this is our New Arrival of the Week.

Part of Dingle’s appeal as an Irish whiskey producer is that it was one of the first of the delightful new breed of Irish distilleries to have its own distillate to release. Many have not yet reached the stage where the stock has matured enough to be bottled as whiskey, and so have to make do with importing spirit from elsewhere in Ireland or creating gins and vodkas in the meantime.

Dingle Single Malt

The superb Irish distillery has gotten a lot of attention for its delicious spirits.

Dingle, however, is able to demonstrate its own distillery profile in its spirit and has taken this opportunity to emphasise provenance in its whiskey production. Each expression was distilled in its three bespoke copper pot stills and diluted with localised well water, for example. But what probably stands out the most about its annual batches of single malt to fans is the increasing variety of casks used in maturation.

The first batch was drawn from bourbon casks. The second from bourbon and Pedro Ximénez casks. Batch three was a marriage of bourbon cask and Port cask-matured whiskey. And what of Dingle Single Malt – Batch No.4? It was drawn from a combination of bourbon, sherry (both Pedro Ximenez and Oloroso) and Port casks. Which technically is four casks, isn’t it? They’ve done it again!

Elliot Hughes, a partner at The Dingle Distillery, said that this maturation in the distillery’s three main cask types, “gives it a really unique point of difference which should once again give people further insight into how our Dingle whiskey will continue to grow in terms of flavour over the coming years.”

But what of the flavour of this particular batch? Well, the first thing to be said about Dingle Single Malt – Batch No.4 is that it’s properly delicious, which is a good start. While this is a rich and creamy dram (think chocolate, vanilla, toffee) with plenty of distinct wine notes present (lots and lots of sherried dried fruit), there’s also some pleasant drying warm spice (gingersnap biscuits) as well as a refreshing burst of citrus (citrus) that makes this a well-rounded and balanced bottling.

Now, there will be some people reading this who are resigned to the idea that they won’t get to taste this beauty for themselves. When it comes to Dingle single malt releases, the volumes that are available tend to be quite low. That’s what you get with small-batch production techniques. These whiskies are highly sought after and its little surprise to see them sell out in a matter of days.

However, batch number four means more this year. Following an increase in production, there are 30,000 bottles of Dingle Single Malt – Batch No.4 available globally, compared to the 2,000 bottles that were created in total for Batch 3. In fact, that number will now be available in the UK alone, with a release of 500 bottles of a cask strength variant to be launched exclusively in the UK and Ireland. This is good news as it hopefully means more people will get to taste this fine whiskey.

Regardless, if you want one – move fast. It’s very tasty and I want more. Sláinte!

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