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Master of Malt Blog

Whisky Advent 2018 Day #14: Kavalan Single Malt Whisky

The wait is over. You are now allowed to open the 14th door in your Drinks by the Dram’s Whisky Advent Calendar! Inside you’ll find a whisky from Taiwan, I…

The wait is over. You are now allowed to open the 14th door in your Drinks by the Dram’s Whisky Advent Calendar! Inside you’ll find a whisky from Taiwan, I wonder if you can guess what it is…

Like the Three Wise Men, only much tastier, this whisky comes from the east. Taiwan to be specific. It could only be. . . .

Kavalan, and Kavalan Single Malt Whisky to be specific!

Since it was founded in 2005, Kavalan has won awards left, right and centre including the International Wine & Spirit Competition Worldwide Whisky Trophy in 2017 and the International Spirits Challenge Trophy in 2016 and 2017.

And no wonder because the late, great Jim Swan, distiller and blender extraordinaire, was involved at every stage in Kavalan’s development (more on that later). The sub-tropical climate in Taiwan means that the spirit matures four times faster than in Scotland and it loses twice as much to the angels’ share. The climate, the fruity new make and the use of sherry and bourbon casks give the whisky its signature style which is rich, sweet and crowd-pleasing.

It’s no boutique operation; the distillery produces around five million litres of spirit per year. Kavalan is owned by an enormous Taiwanese conglomerate, King Car, which also makes Taiwan’s most popular coffee brand, Mr. Brown (that’s a great fact to share with the family at Christmas).

To tell us more, we spoke with Jim Swan’s protege, Ian Chang, master blender and distiller at Kavalan.

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Help us find #WhiskySanta and win a £250 Master of Malt voucher!

Fancy snapping up a delicious Christmas treat just for you? Help us find #WhiskySanta and you could snap up a super-fancy, interest-accruing, never-expiring Master of Malt voucher worth £250! Christmas…

Fancy snapping up a delicious Christmas treat just for you? Help us find #WhiskySanta and you could snap up a super-fancy, interest-accruing, never-expiring Master of Malt voucher worth £250!

Christmas is approaching with alarming haste! Which probably means you’re either in a panicked whirlwind of pressie shopping or you’re sat smugly, dram in hand, actually enjoying the festive season as you’d chosen, bought, and wrapped all your gifts prior to 1 November.

Either way, there’s still space for a little self-gifting, right? How does a MoM voucher to the tune of £250 sound?! That’s a really rather delectable bottle. Or a LOT of drams. It’s also the dream way to round off the year!

So we thought we’d get in the spirit of #WhiskySanta and have a little game for our eagle-eyed friends and followers!

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The great Negroni Bundle is here!

Need an excuse for festive Negronis? How about a whopping £20 off all three key ingredients and a fancy Riedel tumbler to sip from, with our super-duper Bathtub Gin, Martini…

Need an excuse for festive Negronis? How about a whopping £20 off all three key ingredients and a fancy Riedel tumbler to sip from, with our super-duper Bathtub Gin, Martini Rosso and Campari Negroni Bundle?!

This is the late great Anthony Bourdain on the pleasures of the Negroni: “I’m not a gin drinker. I don’t like sweet vermouth, I don’t like Campari, but together they form a sinister yet lovely and inspired hell broth. Like a marriage, it’s a true everlasting love. This is not a cheap date; this is not a one night stand.”

Bourdain is right, the Negroni is a drink that really shouldn’t work. Mixing three strongly-flavoured alcoholic drinks in equal proportions sounds like a recipe for disaster. But, somehow, something wonderful emerges from the wreckage. Or perhaps it’s not that strange after all. I’ve been reading Cocktail Codex, a new book by the team behind legendary New York bar, Death & Co. It shows how various drinks are related to each other. According to the Codex team, the Negroni fits into the Martini/ Manhattan family being spirit + vermouth + some sort of bittering agent (lemon peel, bitters, Campari.) The Negroni isn’t such a maverick after all.

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Whisky Advent 2018 Day #13: Cardhu Gold Reserve

The thirteenth might be unlucky for some – but not if you’re following Drinks by the Dram’s Whisky Advent Calendar! Continuing with the theme, there’s another delectable whisky hidden away…

The thirteenth might be unlucky for some – but not if you’re following Drinks by the Dram’s Whisky Advent Calendar! Continuing with the theme, there’s another delectable whisky hidden away behind today’s window…

Phew! After all the smoke of yesterday’s Kilchoman, you’d think it might be time to chill those taste buds out. Not so. While it doesn’t pack a peaty punch, today’s dram is a much-loved expression, bursting with Speyside charm and all-round honeyed, fruity, luscious loveliness. The whisky in question?

It’s Cardhu Gold Reserve!

Cardhu is a key component in blended Scotch behemoth Johnnie Walker, and in recent times hasn’t been all that active on releasing its own single malts. This was partly due to being a victim of its own success – back in the early 2000s, so much single malt from the distillery was being consumed by our thirsty neighbours in continental Europe that demand put pressure on Johnnie Walker supplies! A period of confusion followed when Cardhu became what’s today recognised as a blended malt (with single malt liquid from multiple distilleries), but that’s all been and gone. Today, Cardhu has a core range of age statements in its portfolio and this tasty little number, Cardhu Gold Reserve, is a no-age statement expression celebrated for its smooth grassiness and honeyed fruit richness.

Enough from us. We caught up with Ewan Gunn, Diageo’s global whisky ambassador, to get the Cardhu particulars in full.

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A look at Port of Leith Distillery’s fabulous first booze bottlings

Mere months from breaking ground on what is set to be Edinburgh’s first single malt whisky distillery for more than 100 years, Port of Leith Distillery co-founders Paddy Fletcher and…

Mere months from breaking ground on what is set to be Edinburgh’s first single malt whisky distillery for more than 100 years, Port of Leith Distillery co-founders Paddy Fletcher and Ian Stirling have introduced their very first boozes. We took a peek inside the bottles…

When we heard that childhood friends Paddy Fletcher and Ian Stirling had designed Scotland’s first vertical distillery, our ears pricked up Alsatian-style. Set in (where else?) Edinburgh’s historic Port of Leith district, the project is a real labour of love, as Stirling told Kristiane on the blog back in April.

Now, eight months on, finance and planning permission has been secured, and an 18-month construction programme is scheduled to begin in March 2019, with an opening date of Autumn 2020. So far, so exciting.

As you can imagine, the Port of Leith Distillery’s inaugural single malt won’t emerge for a good few years, so to whet our collective appetites in the meantime, the duo has kicked off the range with Port of Leith Distillery Sherry and Lind & Lime Gin.

The curious among you may wonder how a distiller goes about distilling… without actually having built a distillery yet. Well, the gin is produced at The Tower Street Stillhouse near the site of the future distillery; a co-operative set-up shared by fellow local producer Electric Spirit Company (creator of Achroous Gin!).

Port of Leith’s sherry, meanwhile, is sourced from Bodegas Baron in Sanlúcar de Barrameda. The future distillery site is also home to the experimental whisky development programme, where the team will test yeast strains and fermentation styles over the coming months before settling on the final recipe.

Thirsty for more information, we asked Fletcher to talk us through the releases. Here’s what we learned…

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Whisky Advent 2018 Day #12: Kilchoman Machir Bay Single Malt

Time to take a peek behind the 12th door of the Drinks by the Dram’s Whisky Advent Calendar where you will find a dram from Islay’s youngest distillery. . ….

Time to take a peek behind the 12th door of the Drinks by the Dram’s Whisky Advent Calendar where you will find a dram from Islay’s youngest distillery. . .

If you like a bit of elegant smokiness (and let’s face it, who doesn’t?) then you’ll love this next dram. It comes from Kilchoman, the first new distillery built on Islay in more than 120 years (another new distillery Ardnahoe, is just about to start production). It was founded in 2005 by Anthony Wills and family, and is based at Rockside Farm not far from Bruichladdich. The team produces a “barley to bottle” single malt whisky called 100% Islay where the entire process from the growing of the barley to malting, maturing and bottling, is carried out on the farm. Kilchoman also distills whiskies from bought-in malted barley like its bestseller, Machir Bay, our dram of the day.

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2018’s best booze books

From exploring beer that smells of bins to evaluating the finest wines known to humanity, this year’s booze books have something for everyone. Here’s what to read this Christmas if…

From exploring beer that smells of bins to evaluating the finest wines known to humanity, this year’s booze books have something for everyone. Here’s what to read this Christmas if you like to drink.

There has been a bumper crop of booze books this year. Ideally, we would have at least three posts to get all of them in. But we just don’t have the time! So as we’ve already covered the excellent Aperitif by Kate Hawkings and Japanese Whisky by Brian Ashcraft, I won’t talk about them again. Then there’s the game-changing Home Bar by, errm, me. Anyway, after that shameless plug, here are my top ten drink books of the year.

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Whisky Advent 2018 Day #11: Cotswolds Single Malt Whisky

Open Door No. 11 and you’ll find that Drinks by the Dram has treated us to the first dram of English whisky in 2018’s Whisky Advent Calendar… Christmas in an…

Open Door No. 11 and you’ll find that Drinks by the Dram has treated us to the first dram of English whisky in 2018’s Whisky Advent Calendar

Christmas in an exciting time, isn’t it? There’s all kinds of amazing food to look forward to, you’ve got some days off work and who knows, you may even get a present you absolutely adore on the day itself. But even more exciting than waiting for Santa is the burgeoning English whisky scene. First expressions from interesting and innovative new distilleries are hitting the shelves (virtual or otherwise) seemingly all the time, joining an ever-growing list of impressive bottlings to sample. It’s fair to say things are looking very bright for the category, as a superb distillery in the Cotswolds countryside demonstrates. It released its first whisky this year to much acclaim and today you can find out what all the fuss is about yourself.

Behind window 11 is…

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Whisky Advent 2018 Day #10: Kirkwall Bay

Behind the 10th door of the Drinks by the Dram’s Whisky Advent Calendar lies a mysterious single malt from the island of Orkney… Some of the most interesting whiskies in…

Behind the 10th door of the Drinks by the Dram’s Whisky Advent Calendar lies a mysterious single malt from the island of Orkney…

Some of the most interesting whiskies in Scotland aren’t famous brands, nor do they have the names of distilleries on them. Instead, they come from small bottlers and blenders who sniff out interesting whiskies and sell them under their own labels. One such company is Morrison and MacKay. It is based in Perth, a place with a rich whisky heritage. This [incredibly beautiful, you should visit] city on the banks of the river Tay was ideally located between the Highlands, home of strong-tasting malt whiskies, and the Lowlands, home of more delicate spirits, to produce, market and sell blended whisky around the world. Such great firms as Matthew Gloag & Son (of Famous Grouse fame), Arthur Bell & Sons, and John Dewar & Sons were all founded in Perth.

By the 1990s, most had left the city as the whisky industry consolidated. But Perth’s whisky tradition has been kept alive by Morrison and MacKay. The company was created by Brian Morrison from Morrison Bowmore, and Kenny Mackay, who worked with Morrison and previously for another old Perth firm, Peter Thomson. The Morrison and MacKay range includes Bruadar and Columba Cream whisky liqueurs (Scotland’s answer to Bailey’s), Old Perth blended malt (a revival of a Peter Thomson brand), rare cask bottlings and its own-brand single malts.

Which brings us on to the dram behind the 10th door of the Whisky Advent Calendar…

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#WhiskySanta’s The Macallan M Super Wish!

#WhiskySanta is back with a Super Wish so special that it will, quite literally, knock your socks off. This week he’s giving away a Lalique decanter of The Macallan M…

#WhiskySanta is back with a Super Wish so special that it will, quite literally, knock your socks off. This week he’s giving away a Lalique decanter of The Macallan M worth £3,300!

Mariah Carey once sang “All I want for Christmas is you”. In my view, it’s the last great Christmas song and one I never get tired of shaking my booty to at the #WhiskySanta Christmas party, but can you imagine if people acted on this song’s sentiments? Just picture the scene. It’s Christmas Day but I haven’t ventured down the chimney laden with boozy goodness because someone said that all they wanted for Christmas was to see a special friend. There would be tears before bedtime.

So to prevent grown-ups crying, I have been busier than ever giving away fine whiskies and other boozes from around the world in thousands of Master of Malt orders and also across social. By harnessing the awesome power of Twitter, Facebook and Instagram (oh, and Google+. Go on then), I have been making your wishes come true. Including, for some very lucky people, Super Wishes!

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