We’ve done a fair few Christmas round-ups this month and last. We think we’ve covered most bases for lovers of whisky and other spirits. Now, however, it’s the big one: what Master of Malt staff want for Christmas.
In the content team, we get to taste a lot of bottles in this job so things that stand out tend to be particularly interesting. And if you want to read more by Emma Symons, Jess Williamson, Adam O’ Connell or me, Henry Jeffreys, just click on our links. There’s some high quality booze-soaked writing to explore.
Right, here’s what we want for Christmas. Are you listening, Santa?
Chosen by Alex Holbrook
This is one of my all time mind blowing sips. Imagine if you could bottle Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s Dream, flavoured by the sweet winds of a meadow on midsummer’s eve with a Bat for Lashes soundtrack… If you could, it would very much taste like this Fary Lochan Danish whisky (I think).
Chosen by Emma Symons
I encountered this at an agave spirits festival when it had recently launched alongside coffee and cacao expressions, so it was the first chance for all the UK industry nerds to try it. Pechuga mezcal is traditionally distilled with the addition of protein such as raw meat and herbs, but intriguingly, this expression was instead treated to a third distillation with the addition of mole paste. No, not made from small burrowing mammals, you will be pleased to here. Mole (pronoucned mole-ay) is made with chillies, sesame seeds, almonds, peanuts, garlic, onions, raisins, bananas, and cacao. It was the talk of the show, with attendees and brand owners alike all excitedly checking each other had made it to the Quiquiriqui stand to give it a try. Unsurprisingly, tasting samples had run out long before the end of the day. I’ve been promising myself a bottle ever since, but somehow other empty spaces in my spirit cabinet always end up taking priority, so if anyone’s feeling generous, this really would make a splendid Christmas present!
Chosen by Adam O’ Connell
Flora and Fauna is now a discontinued Diageo brand with a cult status among whisky fans. There was a time when lots of distilleries didn’t have single malts or brands. If you wanted to taste across the Scotch whisky map you had to wait for an independent bottler to snap something up, then hope you get your hands on it. But the Flora and Fauna series changed that, giving us a welcome window into obscure distilleries like of Benrinnes, Blair Athol, Dailuaine, Inchgower, and Mannochmore. All producers that still don’t get enough plaudits. More for me, I guess. If I was being greedy, I’d take all of the above bottles and more. But it’s Christmas and so I won’t take the mick out of Santa. I’d be happy to see any of these under my tree.
Chosen by Jess Williamson
I already love the pineapple rum from Plantation, and I love Irish whiskey, so this Teeling Pineapple Rum Cask is high on my list, seeing as it’s finished for an entire year in casks which held that rum. I made a lot of Daiquiris with Plantation Pineapple Stiggins’ Fancy over lockdown when it was scorching, but I reckon there could be a wintery twist waiting in the wings that this whiskey would be perfect for. Also it’s only 45 quid so… if anyone was wondering what to get me, let this be a sign!
Chosen by Henry Jeffreys
2023 was the year that I got seriously into rye whisky. That spicy pungency becomes quite addictive once you pick up a taste for it. I loved ryes from the rare and expensive Ryelaw from Scotland to huge-selling brands like Lot 40 from Canada. When I saw that rye masters Michter’s 10 year old limited edition had just landed at Master of Malt, it immediately went to the top of my wishlist. Everyday Michter’s is pretty special so imagine the same whisky at ten years’ old. I think this would make a truly monumental Old Fashioned but if I did get a bottle, I think I’d just pour a little into a copita and sit and smell it for a good 20 minutes before having a sip. Please Santa, I’ve been ever such a good boy.