With the world tentatively opening up, we asked some of the team here at Master of Malt where they would go if they could go anywhere. Some picked exotic locations, others went for their local boozer. Horses for courses.
Like most of the world, we at Master of Malt have not been moving around much recently. Some of us have barely left the house. The little matter of a global pandemic put the kibosh on all our plans for the year: trips were cancelled, festivals postponed and even our locals were closed. But as the world slowly gets back on its feet, we’ve been talking about the first place we’d like to visit. As this is a drinks website, most of our answers involve booze. This could be a dream destination, a much-loved distillery or even just a favourite bar. Being near people is quite exciting enough, thank you very much. We’d love to hear from readers about places they want to visit and what they’ll drink when they are there.
Who: Adam O’Connell, writer
My post-pandemic dream is Islay. In nearly three years of being a drinks writer I’ve come close to making it to The Queen of the Hebrides but a cancelled flight here or change of plans there has always thwarted me. Going to Fèis Ìle next year would be a great way to scratch my Islay itch (#FèisÌle2021), but frankly, I’d be just as happy to spend a few days there myself getting to know the place and the people as well as all the whiskies and distilleries. There’s history, community and sights to see beyond the peat and spirit. Although, rest assured, I will make sure I have a dram in hand as often as possible.
Who: Henry Jeffreys, features editor
For my first post-COVID drinks trip, I want to go on a rum-soaked tour of Jamaica. When I see the names of distilleries like Long Pond, Clarendon and Hampden Estate on bottles, my mind drifts into thoughts of fields of sugar cane, clanking, steaming Heath Robinson-esque stills and fearsome-looking dunder pits. Then my mouth begins to salivate in anticipation of a taste of pungent, tropical-fruit laden, funky as hell high ester rum. If the Jamaica Tourist Board can’t make my dreams come true then I will have to make do with a tour of Trailer Happiness, a specialist rum bar in London.
Who: Charlotte Gorzelak, social media and email assistant
Where: Verdigris, Tonbridge
The first place I’m going to post-lockdown is Verdigris in Tonbridge. Not only a fab wine bar with a fantastic cocktail menu (looking at you Giggle Juice) but also a restaurant. Many an evening I’ve sat on the terrace by the river sipping a glass of wine with my friend watching boats go by. I’m looking forward to sitting there whiling away the hours in the evening sun again. During the lockdown, Verdigris turned part-bakery, part-take away cocktail bar to help keep afloat and they also did an amazing 80 day-aged rib to have at home. It’s not anywhere abroad and it’s actually pretty much on my doorstep, but I will never take being able to pop for impromptu drinks for granted again.
Who: Mariella Salerno, PR manager
Once the Covid-19 crisis is over, the first country I would like to visit is Mexico! Ever since I took part at the EBS (European Bartenders School) annual convention in Barcelona last year, I have been fascinated with all things agave and so I would very much like to visit Oaxaca and get the real mezcal experience. This will include a visit to the Siete Misterios Distillery for the following reasons: firstly, the distillery seems to be working almost entirely in a sustainable way, so I will be curious to see how that works; second, how cool is the name? (Seven Mysteries Distillery!); and finally, have you seen a better bottle label? I don’t think so. I will then attempt to master the perfect Margarita cocktail and maybe sip it on my own or in some good company on a terrace of one of the local bars.
Who: Ben Pender, digital media assistant
Where: Yoichi, Japan
Yoichi, while sounding like the lovable Mario character ‘Yoshi’, is also a distillery, famous for Nikka Whisky. It was founded by Masataka Taketsuru, the father of Japanese whisky. He picked a perfect location: like many of the best Highland distilleries, it’s close to the sea, surrounded by mountains, has a cold, crisp climate with the appropriate humidity and lots of fresh water, all the essential comforts whisky needs to feel at home. What I’m most curious to see are the coal-fired pot stills. This traditional method of coal-fired distillation is rarely seen today because of how difficult it is to control temperature and requires highly skilled craftsmen to operate them.
Who: Jess Williamson, content assistant
Once I’m officially allowed, you can be sure I’m getting as far away from my house as possible. The other side of the world, specifically. Having only got round to trying Australian whisky in lockdown (specifically Starward Solera), now I just can’t get enough. But to actually drink the good stuff in its home country? Now that would be something else! Truth be told my imagination has run ridiculously wild and I’m imagining sipping on a single malt while riding a kangaroo, but that seems almost as far-fetched as getting through customs at this point…