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Master of Malt Blog

Tag: Ardbeg

The Nightcap: 21 January

Which bar has the world’s biggest whisky selection? Where can you get free pints – or even pull your own? Can hamsters outdrink elephants? All these questions and more are…

Which bar has the world’s biggest whisky selection? Where can you get free pints – or even pull your own? Can hamsters outdrink elephants? All these questions and more are answered here. It’s The Nightcap: 21 January edition!

It’s Friday afternoon, which means we’ve all made it through another week of January and are closer to brighter, warmer days. Although we do love being tucked up warm with a good dram and a fresh edition of The Nightcap on a winter’s evening. Good thing we’ve whipped up another one then, isn’t it? Let’s crack on.

This week on the blog we had a £20,000 50-year-old GlenDronach whisky, which frankly is exciting enough to have been the sole feature, but then we also got to see how Diageo is reviving Brora and picked out some top Scotch to enjoy on Burns Night. A gin from Lebanon called GinBey also arrived at our doors, as Lauren took a look at the inexorable rise of the non-alcoholic apéritif and Millie bemoaned the dying of the dive bar, before we whipped up a Bobby Burns especially for Burns Night.

Now, onwards to The Nightcap: 21 January edition!

The Nightcap: 21 January

The release celebrates a broken boiler and a fermentation that went on for three weeks!

Ardbeg limited release celebrates a fermentation that went wrong

We tend to think of single malt distilleries as well-oiled machines, turning out consistently excellent whisky. But sometimes things go wrong. Very wrong. One such time was in November 2007 when the boiler broke at Ardbeg and refused to get going. This could have spelled disaster for the washbacks which would have been too cool to do the normal ferment. Where most would have seen a crisis, Dr Bill Lumsden saw a crisitunity. He instructed the team to open the washbacks and expose them to the air. He explained: “I’ve always wanted to experiment with longer fermentations, so I think an unintentional boiler breakdown was the best thing that could have happened! For context, most Ardbeg is only fermented for 72 hours, making three weeks uncharted territory for us. The outcome is a dram that tastes like pure science fiction. Peat and smoke meld beautifully with fresh, floral flavours, while sharp, more malty notes give Ardbeg Fermutation a uniquely zingy profile.” It was aged in a mixture of first-fill and refill bourbon casks and bottled at 49.4% ABV. This very unusual 13-year-old Islay malt will set you back £150 and is only available to Ardbeg Committee members from 1 February. It’s likely to be a collector’s item of the future. 

The Nightcap: 21 January

We say goodbye to a great man, Anthony Barton

Legendary Bordeaux owner Anthony Barton dies 

Sad news from Bordeaux as the wine world lost one of its greats in the form of Anthony Barton who died on Wednesday at the age of 91. Barton was one of the last of a breed of Irishmen who used to dominate the Bordeaux wine trade up until the 1970s when the multinationals moved in. He was descended from Tom “French Tom” Barton from Enniskillen who came to Bordeaux in 1722, Despite being in Bordeaux ever since, the family retained its Anglo-Irish roots. Anthony was born in Ireland in 1930, educated in England, and at the age of 21 came to work with his uncle Ronald Barton at Chateau Langoa-Barton. When his uncle died, Anthony took over in 1983 and under his watch, the wines of Langoa-Barton and Leoville-Barton went from strength to strength to become some of the most highly-prized in Bordeaux. He had been ill for a number of years but we are pleased to hear that he was able to attend his granddaughter’s wedding recently. Following news of his death, tributes poured in from around the world, with people remembering his warmth, kindness, and generosity. The term ‘proper gentleman’ was used a lot. We would like to offer our condolences to his wife Eva, and daughter Lilian Barton-Sartorius, who is involved with the business. The Barton family legacy is safe in her hands. 

The Nightcap: 21 January

Brewdog in trouble again

Brewdog shipped not legally-approved beers to US

It just gets worse for the self-styled punks of the beer world. A BBC investigation has discovered that Brewdog shipped beer including Elvis Juice to the USA that contained ingredients that had not been legally approved. One former worker who spoke to the BBC stated: “The pressure was enormous. ‘Just make it happen’, that was the culture. It was clear to us this was coming from the top – from James [Watt].” There is evidence that Brewdog deliberately deceived the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) in America by giving them false information on at least five occasions. It would have been the importer who would be liable had the TTB decided to take action. One importer Daniel Shelton commented: “We believed what we were told and we weren’t told what was actually going on. They [Brewdog] did lead somebody in my company to falsify documents. And, of course, I’m not happy about that; I don’t respect that, I don’t like it.” James Watt, Brewdog’s founder responded on Linkedin: “We made some mistakes with the paperwork on the first few shipments.” He continued, “all taxes were paid in full, but the paperwork was not always correct.” He also said that he has come clean to the TTB which has decided not to take action. All this and more will be in a forthcoming BBC Scotland investigative programme about the craft beer behemoth which will be broadcast on BBC One Scotland on Monday 24 January at 19:00, and available on the BBC website soon after. Sounds like required viewing.

The Nightcap: 21 January

The new record breakers?

World’s biggest whisky selection in Lanarkshire?

A Scots chef claims his bar has the world’s biggest whisky selection beating ‘record holders’ in the USA. Derek Mather has more than 3,000 different drams behind the bar at the Artisan Restaurant in Wishaw, Lanarkshire, and believes his collection topples that of a pub in California that holds the official Guinness Book of Records title. The Whiskey House in San Diego – run by Alex Minaev – says it has the most, with 2,467 on offer, and was awarded the prestigious title in January 2019. It will hold it until it is officially contested, but Mather is doing just that, saying “If 2,467 whiskies is the current world record then we know we’ve topped it. We have over 3,000 whiskies here”. Minaev, who claims he now has more than 4,000 different drams, responded in kind, however, saying “Well, you can claim you are the fastest runner at 100m but, until you register that record at the Olympics, it is no more than just a claim.” Sounds like fighting talk. So, who actually has the most whisky? We won’t know from the Guinness Book of Records unless Mather formally registers his selection. Seems like it’s pretty obvious what should happen next… dram off!

The Nightcap: 21 January

Just make sure you know how to pour your Guinness or you’ll end up on @shitlondonguinness

A 500-year-old pub on Airbnb lets you pull your own pints

If pulling your own pints in a 500-year-old pub with your mates sounds like the dream, then you’ll be delighted to learn about a new staycation opportunity in Lincolnshire. The White Hart Inn, located in Horncastle has been listed on Airbnb at £667 per night and sleeps 14 guests. Or a bargain £47 per person per night. There are six bedrooms (and a sofa bed), seven bathrooms, pool tables, plenty of room to host meals, and beautiful surrounding countryside to explore. But the main attraction is the fully functioning bar, where you can even hook up the beer of your choice if you order in advance. Unsurprisingly, customers are already leaving rave reviews for the venue on Airbnb. What’s not to love about enjoying your favourite pints on draught with your friends and family in a space that’s all your own. Unless, of course, you’re like us and are friends with a lot of bartenders. Then it might feel like a busman’s holiday…

The Nightcap: 21 January

Jezza’s getting the round in

Jeremy Clarkson offers fans free beer at his brewery

And if you don’t want to pull your own pints, then let Jeremy Clarkson do it for you. Well, not quite him personally, but the TV presenter is offering fans the chance to enjoy free beer at his new brewery. The Top Gear, Grand Tour, and Clarkson’s Farm star has revealed that the Cotswold Brewing Company in Gloucestershire, home to his Hawkstone Lager, is in the process of developing a new 4% ABV session lager and has sought input from beer lovers who are willing to participate in the recipe testing this week. Two free samples of the two session front-running recipes, as well as a free half pint of his Hawkstone 4.8% ABV lager, are on offer, both made using Clarkson’s own barley from Diddly Squat farm. Clarkson’s farm shop has had some bad news recently, having been forced to close and been refused planning permission for a restaurant, but the bar is still going strong. “The Hawkstone master brewers have been working tirelessly on the new session lager but we’ve reached a bit of a deadlock with these two recipes,” says Clarkson. “We’re calling on all beer lovers to come down to the brewery and help us decide which goes into production.” Some people might find Clarkson disagreeable, but you can’t argue with free beer.

The Nightcap: 21 January

If this goes right for Scotch the results will be huge

Scotch whisky on the table in trade talks with India

Trade talks between the UK and India are now underway, with Scotch whisky on the table as one product with huge potential gains. Scotch is only one product among many that Britain wants to export, but cracking the world’s biggest whisky market has plenty of obstacles. A bottle arriving in the port of Mumbai faces a colossal 150% import tariff, in part because domestic distillers have lobbied fiercely and successfully to limit Scottish imports. Yet it hasn’t stopped Indians from being enthusiastic drinkers of Scotch whisky. To further complicate matters, some Indian states don’t allow alcohol sales at all, except for those who know how to get around the rules. Scotch makes up only 2% of India’s market, yet the value of Scotch whisky sales to India has risen from below £60m in 2011 to more than £150m in 2019. Oxford Economics calculated that if import tariffs come down to around 25% it would lead to £1.2bn more exports within five years, potentially generating 1,300 jobs in the UK. And part of the pitch to the Indian government is that such trade liberalisation would only take Scotch from 2% to around 6% of the nation’s consumption while boosting Delhi’s government revenues by more than £3bn. That way, everyone wins. If only it was that simple. Still, if progress could be made, it would mean a great deal to Scotch whisky.

The Nightcap: 21 January

Congratulations, Angelo!

St James Bar appoints Angelo Sparvoli head bartender

St James Bar has a new head bartender: Angelo Sparvoli. Taking the reins at the establishment within the five-star Sofitel hotel, Sparvoli joins with an impressive résumé. The 28-year-old Italian- native began his foray into the industry in 2013, in the Le Marche region of central Italy. He worked several bars in Italy and Portugal before joining the prestigious American Bar at The Savoy in 2016. There he progressed from barback to bartender under the tutelage of bar manager Declan McGurk and head bartender Erik Lorincz, during which the bar garnered a multitude of awards including World’s Best Bar at the Spirited Awards in 2018 and in the World’s 50 Best in 2017. In January 2020, Sparvoli joined Lorincz at the award-winning Kwānt, but has now got his own space to show us what he’s got. “I am very excited to welcome Angelo at St James bar in Sofitel London St James,” says Kostas Bardas, bar manager at St James Bar. “His passion and vision for bartending, alongside his well-established experience in prestigious bars will elevate our five-star offering even more.”

The Nightcap: 21 January

These are hot property

No-and-low alcohol category value nears $10bn

It’s more than just Dry January, interest in no- and low-alcohol drinks is fast becoming a year-round trend. A new report from IWSR Drinks Market Analysis shows just how much the category has to celebrate, after examining 10 core markets: Australia, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, South Africa, Spain, the UK, and the US. Based on its findings, the IWSR forecasts that no- and low-alcohol volume will rise at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of more than 8% between 2021 and 2025, outpacing alcohol volume growth by more than 0.7% CAGR over the four-year period. The market value of the no-and-low sector in 2021 in the 10 markets reached just under US$10 billion, up by 6% from US$7.8bn in 2018. The category now has a 3.5% volume share of the drinks sector. “While January has become a popular month for people to cut back or abstain from alcohol, interest in no- and low-alcohol drinks has increasingly become a year-round trend among consumers across the world,” says Emily Neill, chief operating officer of IWSR Drinks Market Analysis. The question is, how does a new brand in the sector stand out as companies rush to make their mark? Neil says that the brands that will ultimately dominate in the no/low space are those that are “successful in navigating the barriers of taste, price, pack format, availability and overall consumer education.”

The Nightcap: 21 January

“Another round!”

And finally… Hamsters handle booze better than elephants

You have no idea how hard it is to get a hamster drunk”. Not a sentence I ever thought I’d write, but that quote from The Atlantic concerns a story I don’t think any of us could have possibly expected. Then again, 2022 has seemingly no interest in relenting from the chaotic energy that has engulfed life in recent years, so perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised that humans spent time and money finding out that hamsters have a really high tolerance for strong alcohol. They score low on a special scale of falling over sideways no matter how much they consume and, when given the choice between water and alcohol, regularly go for the latter. In fact, Gwen Lupfer, a psychologist at the University of Alaska Anchorage, was even quoted as saying “you just put a bottle of unsweetened Everclear [a high strength brand of grain alcohol] on the cage and they love it.” PLEASE don’t test this theory at home, though. What’s craziest about this story is that it’s not technically news, hamsters’ ability to handle their drink has been known to scientists for some time. They have been observed hoarding fruit in the wild and consuming them as they ferment throughout winter. What isn’t clear is why nobody told us until now. Bonobos, chimpanzees, and bats can also apparently hold their drink, while bigger animals like cows, horses, and elephants struggle. We’re not sure whose feeding all these animals booze, but all we’re saying is that Attenborough has means, even if we’re not clear on motive.

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Most-read posts of 2021

I am sure you’ll all agree that it’s been quite a year. But earth-shattering events like a continued global pandemic could not stop the booze news. We had a record…

I am sure you’ll all agree that it’s been quite a year. But earth-shattering events like a continued global pandemic could not stop the booze news. We had a record number of visitors to the blog and these were the most-read posts of 2021.

Looking back at 2021, we don’t want to blow our own trumpets but we published some pretty interesting things on the blog. But which ones did you like the best? Well, using the magic of Google Analytics, we’ve lined up the ones that got the most traffic, and a theme has emerged. It’s whisky. Master of Malt customers love reading about whisky whether it’s big whisky news, whisky comment, whisky features, whisky launches, or whisky cocktails. This makes sense as we are Master of Malt not Master of Crisps. Though we do love crisps.

So, thank you for reading, Happy New Year, and here are our most-read posts of 2021!

Nikka from the Barrell

1) New Japanese whisky regulations 

This was the most-read story by a country mile. There have been rumours flying around that many big-name Japanese blends contained Scotch and Canadian whisky. And finally, producers come clean (ish) on the matter. Big whisky news.

2) A warning about whisky investment

The whisky investment market exploded in 2021. You’ve probably been getting emails outlying how you can make a killing on investing in whisky. Well, read this article by Ian Buxton before you part with any hard-earned cash.

3) Lifting the lid on bulk Scotch whisky sales to Japan

You read the news story and now here’s a detailed look at how the Scottish and Japanese whisky industry have been intertwined for decades from former Diageo man Dr Nick Morgan.

4) New Arrival of the Week: Kilchoman Loch Gorm 2021 release.

A new whisky from Kilchoman is always an event for Master of Malt customers. This heavily-sherried limited edition release did not hang around for long so clearly it struck a chord.

5) Master of Malt tastes… Diageo Special Releases 2021

Another whisky event, the launch of Diageo’s Special Releases. This year’s releases came with packaging that was literally fantastic. The contents were nice too and we thoroughly enjoyed tasting via the internet with Ewan Gunn.

6) Cocktail the the Week: The Penicillin

A great whisky cocktail, the Penicillin, caught the imagination of readers this year. And no wonder because with its mix of peated and blended Scotch whisky, it’s really very special.

7) Blue Spot Irish whiskey returns after more than 50 years 

We were knocked out by the quality of this seven-year-old cask strength single pot still release from Irish Distillers. The online launch, which had whiskey lovers from around the world all comparing notes, was quite something and cheered us up at a difficult time.

8) Torabhaig Distillery’s first whisky!

The first release from Skye’s second working distillery clearly got Master of Malt customers excited because not only did the article get huge traffic but the whisky sold out in record time. 

9) Brendan McCarron to leave Glenmorangie for Distell 

Big whisky news doesn’t come any bigger than one of whisky’s best-loved characters Brendan McCarron (the chap in the header) leaving the Glenmorangie Company for Distell where he took the title of master distiller for Deanston, Tobermory, and Bunnahabhain.

10) RIP Douglas Ankrah

Our last most-read story was a sad one. One of Britain’s bartending greats, Douglas Ankrah, inventor of the Pornstar Martini, died suddenly in his sleep. We posted an obituary with tributes from the British drinks business. 

RIP Douglas Ankrah

RIP Douglas Ankrah

 

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Top ten whiskies by flavour

At a loss for which whisky to buy this Christmas? We’ve handily grouped some of our favourite drams by their taste profile. Here are our top ten whiskies by flavour….

At a loss for which whisky to buy this Christmas? We’ve handily grouped some of our favourite drams by their taste profile. Here are our top ten whiskies by flavour.

Even for whisky experts, it can be hard to know what you’re going to get when you open a bottle. To help customers, there is a trend in bars like The Fife Arms that Adam visited recently to group bottles by flavour rather than region. So in the spirit of a modern whisky bar, we’ve come up with five flavour profiles to help you on your journey. They are:

Floral – lavender, honey, citrus blossom and herbaceous flavours.

Fruity – such as peach, apple or pineapple.

Sherried – classic sweet Oloroso and PX flavours like raisins, orange peel, nuts and dates.

Smoky – peated whiskies with all the different flavours you get here like bonfire, coal smoke, TCP etc.

Sweet – think butterscotch, toffee, vanilla and caramel, lots of American oak character.

Now, of course, your whisky may well be fruity and floral, or sherried and smoky, or even fruity, floral, sherried, smoky and sweet. In which case, we’ve picked the predominant flavour. We admit it’s not a perfect system but it is helpful

So without further ado, here are our favourite whiskies by flavour from Scotland, Ireland and beyond.

Floral

highland-park-12-year-old-viking-honour-whisky

Highland Park 12 Year Old – Viking Honour

Once just known as Highland Park 12 Year Old, now it’s called Viking Honour. Fearsome! The whisky, happily, is the same as it ever was with that classic honey, floral and wood smoke profile. The Orkney distillery does things the time-honoured ways with floor maltings, peat, sherry casks and cool climate maturation. If it ain’t broke and all that. 

What does it taste like?

Honey and floral notes abound on the nose with some wood smoke. On the palate it’s peppery with notes of orange and wood shavings. 

the-hakushu-single-malt-whisky-distillers-reserve-whisky

Hakushu Single Malt Whisky – Distiller’s Reserve

From the Hakushu distillery in the foothills of Mount Kaikomagatake comes their Distiller’s Reserve single malt whisky, a no-age-statement expression, that captures the smoky, herbaceous characteristics of its whiskies. Both lightly-peated and heavily-peated malts were used for this complex and deeply enjoyable whisky. 

What does it taste like?

The herbs are very upfront with this one. Peppermint, pine and pleasant grassy notes with citrus zest and a waft of smoke. 

Fruity 

green spot single-pot-still-whiskey

Green Spot Single Pot Still 

Last year we announced the return of Blue Spot, now we’re showing some love to the best known of the range and a whiskey that has done so much to fly the flag for single pot still whiskey. We’re talking, of course, about the fabulous Green Spot, a whiskey that was matured in a combination of first and second fill bourbon casks as well as sherry casks to deliver a robust, fruity and rich profile. Savour this one.

What does it taste like?

Fresh green apple, sweet barley, sugary porridge, creamy vanilla, papaya, gentle bourbon oak, green woods, menthol, potpourri and citrus.

masthouse single-malt whisky

Masthouse Single Malt

We were very excited to try this first single malt from the Copper Rivet Distillery in Chatham, Kent as we’d tasted some aged new make. It’s fair to say that we were more than impressed as it manages to be vibrant, smooth and packed full of flavour despite only being three years old. It’s made only from Kentish barley, distilled and aged in ex-bourbon and virgin American white oak barrels.

What does it taste like?

The fruit on the nose jumps out of the glass with apple and peaches followed by creamy cereal, sweet spices and vanilla. 

Sherried

glenfarclas 15 year old whisky

Glenfarclas 15 Year Old

A wonderfully sherried 15-year-old dram from Glenfarclas, boasting oodles of dried fruit notes. It’s bottled at 46% ABV simply because this was the strength that George Grant’s grandfather preferred it at. Happily, this also results in the Speysider boasting a big, juicy, Christmas cake profile. 

What does it taste like?

Intensely sherried on the nose with raisins, orange peel, walnuts and dates. This is as close as you get to Christmas cake in a glass. 

Darkness 8 year old

Darkness 8 Year Old 

If you like a sherry bomb then you’ll love the Darkness 8 Year Old. It’s a single malt from an undisclosed distillery aged in ex-bourbon casks before spending a few months in custom-made Oloroso sherry octave casks. Small casks make for a vastly increased surface area to volume ratio, leading to more cask influence. In other words: sherry city!

What does it taste like? 

More sherry than a vicars convention in Jerez. Candied orange peel, dried cherry and chocolate peanuts on the nose, with powerful raisin, prune and oak on the palate. 

Smoky

ardbeg-10-year-old-whisky

Ardbeg 10 Year Old 

Ardbeg 10 Year Old is a firm favourite of peated whisky fans because it does a sublime job of showcasing the flavours Islay and the distillery itself are famous for. As well as all that smoke and sea, however, you’ll also taste an array of sweet, citrusy and fruity elements thanks to the depth of the spirit and the balance ex-bourbon casks bring. 

What does it taste like?

A ridge of vanilla and caramel leads to a mountain of peat smoke capped with citrus fruits and circled by clouds of sea spray.

seaweed-and-aeons-and-digging-and-fire-10-year-old-whisky

Seaweed & Aeons & Digging & Fire 10 Year Old

They say you can’t judge a book by the cover, but you can judge this whisky by its label. The name makes sense as soon as you take a sip, it’s a smoky peaty Islay malt from an undisclosed distillery with 25% aged Oloroso sherry cask. This has proved an extremely popular malt with MoM customers.

What does it taste like? 

Does exactly what it says on the bottle: there’s woodsmoke, seaweed and charred meat combined with sweet sherry notes, red apple and vanilla. 

compass-box-hedonism-whisky

Sweet

Compass Box Hedonism

Smooth, creamy and really very tasty, Hedonism is a blended grain whisky featuring liquid (depending on batch variation) from Cameronbridge, Carsebridge, Cambus, Invergordon, Port Dundas or Dumbarton that was matured in 100% first-fill American oak barrels or rejuvenated American oak hogsheads. 

What does it taste like?

Fraises des bois, sponge cake, red pepper, black cherry, milk chocolate, toasted oak and sweet spices with some cereal notes.

balvenie-14-year-old-caribbean-cask-whisky

Balvenie 14 Year Old Caribbean Cask     

‘Finishing’ whisky is commonplace now but it was David Stewart who pioneered the process at The Balvenie in the 1970s. This 14-year-old shows the magic of double cask ageing as it was initially matured in bourbon barrels before finishing in casks that previously held Caribbean rum, imparting some extra sweetness and warmth.

What does it taste like?

It’s a sweetie, no doubt, with toffee, vanilla and coconut, but there’s no shortage of fruit like mangoes, orange and creamy toffee.

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The Nightcap: 22 October

We’ve got plenty of weird and wonderful stories from the world of booze including dog that can fetch gin, Arbeg’s monster ice cream truck, and Glenlivet appears on MTV Cribs….

We’ve got plenty of weird and wonderful stories from the world of booze including dog that can fetch gin, Arbeg’s monster ice cream truck, and Glenlivet appears on MTV Cribs. They’re all in the Nightcap: 22 October edition.

It being the 22 October today means we’re nearly in November. And that means that the year is almost done. It certainly doesn’t feel right that 2021 has almost gone the way of the dinosaurs. But the numbers don’t lie. Here we are, very close to 2022, and not even really feeling like we’ve got our heads round 2020. It’s all a bit much, isn’t it? Better to not think about it, on reflection. Let’s all distract ourselves with some lovely safe Nightcapping. Ahhhh. That’s better, isn’t it?

This week the MoM blog became home to some exciting new competitions, including one that offers you the chance to visit Campbeltown in the company of Glen Scotia and another that promises a boozy bundle from Inverroche Gin. Elsewhere, Henry did his bit to make sure Tomatin whisky gets the spotlight it deserves and made a delicious The Gimlet, while Lauren learned the art of the cooper. On-hand to report on the big news that Johnnie Walker has a new master blender was Adam, who also explained why he still dreams of Bertie’s whisky bar and then put a torch to his face to tell some spooky whisky ghost stories

But we ain’t afraid of no ghosts. So we’re cracking on with The Nightcap: 22 October edition!

Premium-Gin-Advent-Calendar-Horizontal

The ultimate gin advent calendar

Which? reveals the best gin advent calendars 

UK’s consumer champion Which? magazine has just revealed the results of its latest test, finding the best Advent calendars on the market. Taking in three categories, chocolate, toys, or gin, 23 calendars were marked by a panel to reveal which are worth your money and which are better avoided. Hotel Chocolat and the Playmobil Pirate Island were both highly rated but what you’re really interested in is gin, isn’t it? Of the five gin advent calendars tested, the Drinks by the Dram Premium Gin Advent Calendar (that’s us) came out on top. Huzzah! It received high praise for its packaging and variety of gins – featuring bottles from around the world and small niche distilleries. That Boutique-y Gin Company’s Advent Calendar (that’s us too) was also awarded an Editor’s Choice and was the second favourite of the panel, receiving praise for its selection of UK craft distilleries, and mix of sweet and dry gins. The other calendars tested did not score as highly, partly because they contained several cheaper-to-produce gin liqueurs with much lower ABVs, which did not provide the same value for money. “Our research shows it pays to do your homework when looking for an advent calendar this Christmas, as the difference in quality and value for money between the best and worst examples in our tests was huge,” says Ele Clark, Which? retail editor. Which is basically a corporate way of saying we kick ass. Get your Advent calendars here folks. They’re officially the best around, after all.

ArdbegIceScreamTruck Halloween

We scream for Ardbeg

Ardbeg creates monster ‘Ice Scream’ truck 

Whisky lovers are in for a treat this Halloween as Arbeg has specially commissioned an ‘ice scream’ horror truck as a homage to classic B-Movie beasts. The vehicle, which took three months and 12 people to build and comes complete with horns, tentacles and beady eyes. It will serve exclusive ice cream creations made in collaboration with top ice cream maker Ruby Viole featuring Ardbeg’s smoky single malt Scotch whisky. These include: Cookies & Scream, with Ardbeg Wee Beastie ice cream sandwiched between charcoal cookies, coated in (optional) crunchy mealworms; the Ahhh, No! Bar, made with Lapsang Souchong ice cream with an Ardbeg An Oa caramel centre coated in white chocolate; and Ice Cream Groan, a charcoal cone, filled with Ardbeg Ten smoky blackcurrant ice cream, topped with sour cherries and a brittle insect-flecked shard. The ice creams are free for Ardbeg Committee Members and are also available to buy from Ruby Violet’s King’s Cross Coal Drops Yard outlet in London from Friday 22nd October until stocks last. Visitors to the Ice Scream truck can also book an exclusive 45-minute slot in a scary Monsters of Smoke ‘cage’ and indulge in ice and cocktails. The ‘cage’ is an extension of the Ice Scream horror truck and allows visitors to experience squeamishly smoky cocktails. The Ice Scream truck will visit London, Glasgow, and Edinburgh between 26 and 31 October. Go here to purchase tickets.

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It’s Alexander Reid, founder of the Macallan and notorious ginger

Macallan launches Red Collection

It literally never stops at The Macallan. Seemingly every week, the marketing department gets in touch to tell us about another amazing rare whisky or collection of whiskies from this famous distillery. In the past month, we’ve reported on the 71 Year Old Tales of Macallan, a rather more affordable chocolate-inspired whisky, and the 30 Year Old Double Cask. You’d think the team would be off with the Macallan caravan to Hunstanton for some well-earned R&R. But no, there’s more, and it’s pretty special. Called the Red Collection, it’s inspired by the colour that runs throughout Macallan’s history. The distillery’s founder Alexander Reid’s surname means ‘the red one’, The Macallan’s Choice Old range launched in 1903 had red print on the boxes and there was the red ribbon tied around bottles of The Macallan 40 Year Old in 1980. It consists of a 40 year old, 50 year old, and a scarcely believable 78 year old, the oldest ever release from The Macallan to date. What’s more, they’re coming soon to Master of Malt! But seriously, a plea to the big wigs at The Macallan, give your staff some time off. They’ve really earned it. 

Millie SCOTY 3Award Winner-10_3

Millie Milliken (left), spirits communicator. The spirits you drink, not the spooky kind

Millie Milliken wins IWSC Spirits Communicator of the Year

We are delighted that one of Master of Malt’s writers has won one of the biggest awards in the British drinks industry. Last night at the Balmoral Hotel in Edinburgh, Millie Milliken fought off stiff competition to be crowned IWSC Spirits Communicator of the Year. It was quite the shortlist with ex-Master of Malt editor Kristiane Sherry, Moa Nilsson aka ‘Swedish Whisky Girl’, Felipe Schrieberg of ‘The Rhythm and Booze’ project and Forbes fame, and Billy Abbot from the Whisky Exchange all in the running. The year, however, didn’t begin so well for Milliken, as Imbibe magazine where she was deputy editor closed its doors, but since then she has gone from strength to strength, launching the Drinks Community with the Drinks Trust, and writing for a huge variety of publications including the Master of Malt blog (read her stuff here). She told us: “Winning this award is a huge honour. Looking back at the previous winners, it’s unbelievable to think I am now the latest to hold this accolade. The world of spirits communication has never been more exciting thanks to incredible people making incredible liquids. I hope I can help bring a new wave of thirsty drinks writers through the ranks with the plans I have over the next year – and beyond.” Congratulations Millie!

a bottle and a glass of whiskey on a black background with space for text

Enjoy a dram from your Glencairn glass while composing a crime story

Glencairn Glass launches crime short story competition

Did you know that for the past two years Glencairn Glass has been a headline sponsor of the McIlvanney and Bloody Scotland Debut crime-writing prizes? Yep, the whisky glass experts have been helping to celebrate the finest in Scottish crime writing talent and now it’s building on this creative collaboration by launching its very own crime short story competition, in partnership with Scottish Field Magazine. The competition opened for entries on 20 October and runs until 31 December, inviting all budding crime writers to build their stories around the theme: ‘A Crystal-Clear Crime’ in no more than 2,000 words. Prizes for the winning trio of authors includes £1,000 for first place, whilst the two runners up will each receive £250. All three winners will also get a set of six engraved Glencairn glasses. The overall winning entry will be published in Scottish Field and the Glencairn website in spring after the winners are announced in March 2022. The judges include Scottish Field’s drinks columnist and author of the historical thriller Hare, Peter Ranscombe, the 2020 winner of the Bloody Scotland Debut Crime Novel of the Year for her book Hold Your Tongue, Deborah Masson, as well as Glencairn’s marketing director Gordon Brown, who has written eight crime novels and is one of the founding directors of the Bloody Scotland International Crime Writing Festival. So, if you fancy yourself to be the new Ian Rankin, then make sure you submit your short story entries here before midnight on the Friday 31 December 2021.

Brewdog gold can

It’s only gold-plated

Brewdog’s solid gold beer can ad misleading, ASA says

Cast your mind back to the balmy days of July, we ran a story on how some customers were up in arms about a misleading gold can of Brewdog beer. The maverick brewers ran a promotion which said customers could win ‘solid gold’ beer cans. Now advertising watchdog (so many dogs in this story) the ASA says the claim was misleading, as some winners complained after discovering the cans were not solid gold, but were gold-plated instead. The ASA received 25 complaints in relation to three social media adverts and in its ruling said it “understood the prize consisted of 24 carat gold-plated replica cans,” but added “because the ads stated that the prize included a solid gold can when that was not the case, we concluded the ads were misleading”. In response, James Watt, co-founder and chief executive at Brewdog, said: “We hold our hands up, we got the first gold can campaign wrong.” Brewdog said its social media posts which contained the words “solid gold” did so in error due to miscommunication, which also claimed the can’s value was £15,000. The ruling comes amid heavy criticism of Brewdog in recent months, with a letter from ex-workers stating former staff had “suffered mental illness” as a result of working for the craft beer brewer. Perhaps a period of quiet reflection might be in order for the bad dogs of brewing.

Glenlivet Iain Stirling MTVH78A3396x

Iain Stirling gives Glenlivet the MTV Cribs treatment

The Glenlivet gets the MTV Cribs treatment

Trading Beverly Hills for Speyside, The Glenlivet and comedian Iain Stirling have released a new episode of the hit show, MTV Cribs. Offering an exclusive tour of the Glenlivet’s new Speyside home and tapping into some premium noughties nostalgia, there might not be sports cars or entourage-packed jacuzzis, but the distillery does have an interactive barley field. Take that, Snoop Dogg. The episode – available to view here – features the classic MTV Cribs peek inside the fridge, which is filled top-to-bottom with the Glenlivet Capsule Collection. There’s also a glimpse at some of the other exciting experiences on offer, which could even tempt Mariah to pop down and jump in a bath of cocktail capsules sometime soon. Taking cues from the original episodes, Stirling even introduces viewers to a few friends along the way, including the oracle of The Glenlivet and master distiller, Alan Winchester, who he attempts to catch out in a quick fire round of questions. If you’d like to check out Speyside’s finest crib, then you’ll be pleased to know that it is now open to the public and you can book here.

Dog gin

Who’s a good boy then?

And finally…  dog taught to fetch gin

More canine-based news: it has been revealed this week that a woman has managed to teach her dog to fetch her a drink when she says ‘it’s gin o’clock!’ Somerset residents Janice, and her husband Dave, first realised their dog had the capacity for exceptional customer service after taking a break from gardening. Janice turned to their labrador Bear and said, ‘ooh, it’s gin o’ clock’ and off he went to the kitchen to retrieve a premixed can of Gin and Tonic with his mouth. Bravo, Bear. It does make us wonder what the implications of this news is. Might this be the answer to staff shortage in the hospitality industry? Can we expect to see dogs working the back bar? And have dogs secretly always wanted to be involved in the drinks industry? There’s a lot of questions to answer. But what’s not in doubt is who’s a good boy then. It’s Bear. What a good dog.

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Whisky icons – we have a winner!

Whether they’re bourbons, single malts or blended whiskies, some brands are so famous that they’re iconic. But which is the biggest whisky icon? We’re running a poll on social media…

Whether they’re bourbons, single malts or blended whiskies, some brands are so famous that they’re iconic. But which is the biggest whisky icon? We’re running a poll on social media to find out, and this is the page to follow the results.

The Oxford English Dictionary defines the word ‘icon’ as: “A person or thing regarded as a representative symbol or as worthy of veneration.”

So, what makes a whisky an icon? Well, it has to be a great whisky to start with. One that’s revered across the world. But more than this, it has to have a strong memorable image. Say the name of a particular distillery or brand, and it should instantly resonate. 

Worthy of veneration

Now this could be a globally famous brand like Johnnie Walker or Jack Daniel’s. Many people who have never even drunk whisky will have heard of these brands. Jack Daniel’s for its association with music, and Johnnie Walker because it’s an icon of consumer capitalism (as well as a great whisky). Then there’s Macallan, a symbol of luxury up there with Rolls Royce or Cartier. 

But lesser-known names can be iconic among the whisky cognoscenti. Take Springbank, for example. You have to know a bit about whisky to have heard of it but it’s undoubtedly “worthy of veneration.” We’ve seen grown men and women go all tearful at the thought of a rare bottle of Springbank. 

But your whisky icon might be Lagavulin from Islay, Four Roses from Kentucky or even a newer distillery like Mackmyra from Sweden. So to decide this once and for all, we’re giving Master of Malt customers the opportunity to shout about their favourite brands. 

Vote for your whisky of icon

Social polls will be posted on a @masterofmalt Instagram story Monday to Friday this week (simply view our story and tap on the distillery/brand you wish to vote for). Or alternatively you can vote over on the @MasterOfMalt Twitter page where a poll will be posted to our feed.

The tournament will end on Monday 27 September with the winner announced that day. This is how it will work:

Monday 20 September – first round with 32 whiskies

Tuesday 21 September – second round with 16 whiskies

Wednesday 22 September – quarter finals 

Thursday 23 September – semi finals 

Friday 24 September – finals

Saturday 25 September – voting closes

Monday 27 September – announcement of the winner

Get voting so we can say once and for all what the greatest icon of whisky is! And then we find something else to argue about. 

UPDATE, 27 September:

The winner was… Bunnahabhain with Lagavulin as the runner-up.

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The Nightcap: 2 July

UFOs, gold beer cans, and a bourbon heist – they are all in our weekly round-up of the news from the world of booze. It’s the Nightcap: 2 July edition!…

UFOs, gold beer cans, and a bourbon heist – they are all in our weekly round-up of the news from the world of booze. It’s the Nightcap: 2 July edition!

What is going on with the weather? Sorry, we should be more specific, what is going on with the British weather? Readers in Burkina Faso or Wirra Wirra will probably have their own takes on the local weather. Earlier this week at MoM Towers at a secret location just off the A26 in Tonbridge, we had our slippers on and were seriously considering building a fire out of old pallets. Luckily we’ve got plenty of booze so when we get the shivers, we get the Chivas, if you know what we mean. And then today, the sun’s out and we’re lounging around in muscle vests sipping Tio Pepe. Anyway, whether it’s hot, cold or indifferent where you are, pour yourself a weather-appropriate drink, put your feet up and enjoy our weekly round-up of booze news. It’s the Nightcap: 2 July edition! 

On the blog this week

We had a fun-packed blog this week: Lucy Britner looked at big booze companies hoovering up smaller brands for pots of cash; talking of cash, Ian Buxton cast a sceptical eye over some extremely old whisky releases; while Millie Milliken went completely bananas. Our New Arrival was a new rum brand, Saint Benevolence, making a difference to the people of Haiti, while Henry claimed to have invented our Cocktail of the Week, the Blood Orange Margarita. But that’s not all – Jess visited Quaglino’s, we got in the spirit of the 4th of July with some delicious American whiskies, and even launched a competition that could see you head to Islay as a guest of Kilchoman. Pretty fun-packed, eh?

Meanwhile over on the Clubhouse App this week we’re talking all things low-and-no alcohol while enjoying the usual Nightcap goodness with guests Kristy Sherry, Camille Vidal, and Claire Warner. Be sure to join us if you’re on the app.

Now on with the Nightcap!

Glenglassaugh releases 50 year old “coastal treasure”

Look, it’s by the coast. It’s coastal treasure!

Glenglassaugh releases 50-year-old “coastal treasure” 

Well, it seems to be the season for very old Scotch whisky. Hot on the heels of Dufftown’s 54-year-old release and Gordon & MacPhail 80 year old Glenlivet, comes a venerable bottling from Glenglassaugh. It’s a 50-year-old from this fascinating little distillery that was silent from 1986 to 2008. The whisky comes from a single Pedro Ximénez sherry cask and only 264 bottles have been filled at 40.1% ABV. Looks like they caught that cask in the nick of time, if they’d left it another couple of years, it would no longer be legally classed as whisky. The PR company is really going for the maritime angle with this one describing it as a “coastal treasure” with lots of stuff about North Sea air and even a reference to Dr Rachel Barrie learning to surf near the distillery as a child. There’s a video about it here. The master blender herself commented on the flavour: “Offering a deep and seductive sweetness, the 50 Year Old’s flavour profile ranges from caramelised pear to soft exotic cherries; almond and refined oak beautifully intertwine to present a symphony of tropical notes on a gentle ocean breeze with rolling waves of flavour, which intensify and evolve with each sip.” But don’t take her word for it, the judges at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition were impressed too, awarding it a double gold. And our whisky sage Ian Buxton, who was involved with the distillery’s revival, thinks that these old Glenglassaughs are usually superb (full story to come.) All this for £5,500, or roughly six times cheaper than the 54 year old Singleton of Dufftown. Bargain!

Foursquare Shibboleth

Foursquare Shibboleth – not likely to hang about

Foursquare’s latest limited release rum, Shibboleth, is here! 

We always get a bit hot and bothered by a new Exceptional Cask Selection from Foursquare. The Barbados distillery’s core range is pretty tasty, but when the team pulls all the stops out, the effect is sensational. And MoM customers clearly agree because these often bafflingly-named (‘Empery’?, ‘Détente??’) rums don’t hang about. In fact, by the time you read this, the latest may well be gone. It’s called Shibboleth, and for once the name makes a bit of sense. You’ll certainly recognise that someone is in your tribe if they profess a love of Foursquare rum. It’s a 16-year-old blend of column and pot still spirits, aged in ex-bourbon casks and bottled at 56% ABV with none of that filtering, colouring or sweetening. Just pure Barbados goodness. And blimey it is good. We were sent a little sample by Foursquare’s Peter Holland, and we spent a good ten minutes just smelling it. The aroma is heady with toffee, buttered popcorn, and banana bread with cloves, ginger, cinnamon, and refreshing menthol notes. Taking a sip, it carries it’s alcohol beautifully, exploding in the mouth with black pepper, tropical fruit, fudge and chocolate. The finish is extremely long. Shibboleth goes live today, but as we said, it may already be gone. It’s gone

Pappy van Winkle bourbon

Pappy van Winkle bourbon – tempted?

Bourbon crime documentary ‘Heist’ coming to Netflix soon

There’s a new whiskey documentary coming. Don’t worry, it’s not called The Golden Mist or something, featuring Jim McEwan and Dave Broom wandering around Islay. This is a whiskey film with an ‘e’, and melds two of America’s greatest exports, bourbon and organised crime. It’s part of a new true crime series starting 14 July on Netflix called Heist. Two programmes will be devoted to the theft of some seriously expensive Pappy Van Winkle Bourbon. Dubbed ‘Pappygate’ by the US press, it took place in 2013 when Gilbert “Toby” Curtsinger, a Buffalo Trace employee, stole rare whiskeys valued at $26,000 from the distillery in Frankfort, Kentucky. It took until 2015 before he was finally apprehended by Sheriff Pat Melton. Cutsinger was sentenced to 15 years, though only served 90 days. The story is further complicated by Cutsinger claiming in this article that although he had stolen barrels of bourbon from the distillery, he did not steal the rare bottles of Pappy Van Winkle. The documentary includes interviews with both Cutsinger and Melton. Director Nick Drew commented: “We all worked together and said, ‘let’s make this a roller coaster ride. Let’s make every beat of it live and sing and match the other stories.’ It was a fun challenge… We leaned into a sort of Coen Brothers, slightly absurd vibe….” It sounds like it’s going to be unmissable for fans of bourbon and crime capers.

Beavertown UFO

Keep watching the sky

Beavertown Brewery teams up with UFO expert for World UFO Day ‘Ask Me Anything’

We don’t know about you, but World UFO Day (2 July) has been in our diaries for months – and it’s finally here! Thought beer would have no place during World UFO Day? Think again, folks. With its zany, out-of-this-world illustrations (Gamma Ray American Pale Ale being a prime example), Beavertown Brewery clearly has an affinity with outer space, too. Today at 4pm, you can catch Nick Dwyer, Beavertown’s creative director and illustrator, and self-confessed space-obsessive, chatting to UFO expert (also known as a ufologist – we want that job title!) Nick Pope on Instagram Live (@BeavertownBeer). The event was appropriately named ‘Nick on Nick, Ask Me Anything’. You don’t have to be called Nick to join, but a zest for beer and the extraterrestrial would probably be handy. Pope isn’t just any ol’ ufologist – he was the former head of UFO investigation at the Ministry of Defence, no less. So gather your thoughts, grab a can of your favourite Beavertown beer, and get ready to question everything you thought you knew. The truth is out there.

St James Bar London

Spot the unicorn cordial

St James Bar launches ‘Imagination’ cocktail menu 

When we last visited St James Bar at Sofitel St James in January 2020, life was very different. We tried the (then new) Passport cocktail menu, which was created unironically, back when our passports hadn’t been gathering dust for nearly 18 months. Anyway, that’s enough dwelling on the past – now it’s out with the old and in with the new for the zazzy London bar, because later this month it’s launching a brand new cocktail menu: Imagination. The talented team used molecular techniques and sustainable processes to create this one, looking to challenge our senses and drive into our olfactory bulb with these new drinks. Inspiration has been drawn from impressionism, dragons, Iron Man comics, and even Elton John lyrics, while big words like spherication, carbonation, and foaming are all processes being used. But we’re not scientists, we’re cocktail lovers, so let’s get to the good stuff. We’re rather intrigued by the serve named ‘Van Gogh’, a combination of Tanqueray No.Ten, yuzu butter, Italicus, white Port, effervescence, husk ash, and something called unicorn cordial. In keeping with the times, sustainability is also a big consideration for the bar, which is using lemon husks in multiple ways and even producing its own honey from hives located at the top of the hotel. We’ll see you there on 29 July to find out how these unicorns are making their own cordial… 

Ardbeg 8 Committee release.png RS

Join the Committee and you can join the discussion

Join the Ardbeg Committee to taste latest 8-year-old sherry cask release

Sound the smoky whisky klaxon! There’s a new Ardbeg on the loose this week. It’s an eight-year-old bottling dubbed ‘For Discussion.’ Master distiller Dr Bill Lumsden explained: “I like to think of it as the ‘alternative universe’ version of Ardbeg Ten Years Old. An aged ex-sherry whisky is new territory for us, so naturally, we want some thoughts! We’re sharing this with the Committee’s experienced palates to help us find that smoky sweet spot. With notes of bold peat smoke, creosote, charcoal and salted caramel, it’s more than guaranteed to provoke discussion among those privileged enough to taste it.” It’s bottled at 50.8% ABV, costs £57 and is only available to members of the Committee – a global organisation of Ardbeg nuts. So if you love Ardbeg, and you’re not a member, what are you thinking? It’s free to join. Distillery manager Colin Gordon will host a live tasting for members on 30 July 2021. He urged: “We look forward to hearing their thoughts on our latest expression.  And, to anybody not already part of the family, we invite you to join the Ardbeg Committee… and join in the conversation!” 

Beavertown Gold Can

Probably not worth £15,000

And finally… all that glitters is not gold for Brewdog

Spare a thought for the PR department at Brewdog who have been working overtime recently. First there was the letter from disgruntled former employees and the resultant media frenzy. Now, just when they were beginning to stop twitching every time the phone rings, another story hits the news. The brewer had hidden 10 special cans in cases of beer for lucky customers. Each can was said to be worth £15,000 and came with £10,000 worth of Brewdog shares. Pretty tasty, eh? The problem is that someone at Brewdog said on social media that the cans were “solid gold” but when one winner, Adam Dean from Shrewsbury, took his to a jeweller to be valued, it turned out the can was actual gold-plated brass and only worth £500. Though the brewer has apologised to one unhappy winner, Mark Craig, it is still claiming that though the can isn’t solid gold, it is still worth £15,000 adding that the value: “somewhat detached from the cost of materials”. Looks like it’s going to be another week of late nights for the Brewdog comms team. 

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How to mix BBQ and booze for Father’s Day

If your dad has moved beyond the classic cremated sausage (black on the outside, raw in the middle) and supermarket lager combo, this is the blog post for you. And…

If your dad has moved beyond the classic cremated sausage (black on the outside, raw in the middle) and supermarket lager combo, this is the blog post for you. And him. So here are our tips on putting together BBQ and booze this Father’s Day.

Beer and a burger are about as perfect a match as Kylie and Jason. But the world of the barbecue offers a range of ingredients and flavours, opening up a whole load of drinks opportunities. From marinating meats with a splash of whisk(e)y to pepping up tomato sides with a slug of vodka, barbecues and booze are brilliant bedfellows.

Cooking with alcohol

Let’s take a closer look at how to put the booze on or in the food:

“We love adding a small quantity of alcohol into a barbecue marinade or glaze,” say Aaron & Susannah Rickard, authors of the newly published book Cooking with Alcohol. “The volatile alcohol molecules will gradually evaporate from the warm food as you eat, and this evaporation carries the vibrant, fresh aromas to your nose – fragrance is a big part of how our brains perceive flavour, so the addition of alcohol can literally make it seem more delicious.”

Well, there’s the science. The Rickards tend to use dark spirits when barbecuing with alcohol – they look for booze that can stand up to the strong, smoky flavours without adding too much liquid. “Dark rum, bourbon and even Jägermeister are all great options,” they recommend.

Cornish sustainability expert and development chef James Strawbridge from Strawbridge Kitchen agrees. He recently worked with online farm shop 44 Foods to create National BBQ Week ideas and he says using whisky in marinades helps to build a robust depth of flavour.

“It works wonderfully with the following spices and herbs: clove, mustard, rosemary, allspice, smoked sea salt, soy sauces, cinnamon and orange zest,” he explains. “Bourbon with its vanilla, spiced caramel notes is excellent with maple syrup for a smoky glaze brushed onto sticky ribs or with pulled pork.”

Buffalo Trace and butcher Jonny Farrell

Jonny Farrell demonstrates the thrill of the grill

BBQ and bourbon

Speaking of bourbon, Buffalo Trace has gone big on Father’s Day this year, with a competition for people to nominate a strong father figure for a chance to win a bourbon and barbecue experience. The brand has teamed up with renowned butcher Jonny Farrell, who has given MoM a top tip for the grill.

“If you’re outside and have a decent space around you – no covers and walls nearby – you can always use a little Buffalo Trace to flambé your steaks,” he says. “Just as they’re about to finish, carefully pour a shot over the coals and watch the flames lick the meat!”

Farrell explains that not only does this look “seriously cool”, but it also adds a little extra flavour.

Peat smoke and fire

Away from bourbon and back on this side of the pond, Strawbridge is a fan of peaty Scotch, which he says works “wonderfully well with BBQ beef short ribs or smoked beetroot to enhance the woody notes”.

The folks at Ardbeg are also unsurprisingly big on smoke – and smoking meat. They have once again joined forces with DJ BBQ to bring “big, smoky flavours to backyard barbecues”. The DJ’s big hit has to be 18-hour whisky smoked pulled pork, a recipe that features half a bottle of Ardbeg.

If that’s not enough Ardbeg, you could also make the Hot or Cold Apple Cider drinks pairing – a heady mix of Ardbeg Wee Beastie, cider and ginger (recipe below).

Ardbeg Wee Beastie

Ardbeg Wee Beastie, smokin’!

Beyond meat

But if red meat or big peat are not your bag, Cornish chef Strawbridge has a dish for that, too. “Irish whiskey is the drink to use with a little orange zest on lobster tails or to flambé wood roasted scallops in their shells,” he explains. “It’s lighter, complex and can be paired with seafood or poultry.”

Cooking with Alcohol authors the Rickards also have some tips beyond the meaty main. To pep up side dishes, they reckon stirring in a little alcohol can add a bright, fresh flavour.

“The zesty, herbal notes of gin will enhance a coleslaw beautifully, while just a teaspoon of vodka in a spicy tomato sauce adds a lovely zing,” they say. “And to finish your meal, marinade large pieces of pineapple or peach together with a little brown sugar, lime juice and spiced rum, before tossing them on the barbecue. The sugars in the fruit will caramelise over the heat to create a deliciously sticky sauce with incredible depth of flavour.”

Whatever you’re barbecuing this Father’s Day, there’s a drink for that.

Hot or Cold Apple Cider

Ingredients

50ml Ardbeg Wee Beastie
50ml apple cider
50ml ginger beer
25ml freshly squeezed lime juice
Demerara vanilla sugar to taste

Decide whether you would like to make cocktails individually or as part of a batch. Add the ingredients together and stir well. Heat the mixture on a BBQ (depending on your preference) and serve with a ladle or use a hot poker to heat individual serves (careful now!) Garnish with a cinnamon quill, a star anise and a mini toffee apple

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Master of Malt Islay Festival 2021 Day 9: Ardbeg

It’s Master of Malt Islay Festival 2021 Day 9: Ardbeg time! For the ninth day we travel to the mighty Ardbeg to see what the team has planned while Lucy…

It’s Master of Malt Islay Festival 2021 Day 9: Ardbeg time! For the ninth day we travel to the mighty Ardbeg to see what the team has planned while Lucy Britner shares her own painful memories of the distillery.

We’re so near the end of the Master of Malt Islay festival 2021. This is the last day on the island itself before we head to Jura and from there back to MoM Towers at a secret location in Kent. We’ve got a treat today, as we’re going to Ardbeg, home of some of the most individual and fiercely-loved whiskies in Scotland. 

Before we hand over to Lucy Britner for her memories of Ardbeg and the Islay half marathon, we’re going to take a look at what kind of online shenanigans the team has planned for Ardbeg Day. But before that, check out our very own Jake Mountain talking to now-retired distillery manager Mickey Heads from Feis Ile 2019 and don’t forget to listen to our Islay memories playlist on Spotify 

What’s going on today?

As you might expect, Ardbeg is doing things a bit differently with what’s described as a “Fantasy Island Map” that you can navigate around to discover whisky-based treasure. “Simply click where you want to travel to, pour yourself an Ardbeg, and enjoy uncovering the myth behind this year’s malt – Ardbeg Scorch,” it says. It’s a bit hard to explain so we recommend going to the special page to find out more. 

What’s the festival exclusive?

Ardbeg Scorch, of course! This will be released in time for Ardbeg Day on 5 June. That’s today! Naturally, Ardbeg Committee members get first dibs. The name comes from a dragon that apparently lives in Dunnage Warehouse no. 3. The limited release whisky is aged in heavily-charred ex-bourbon casks and bottled with no age statement at 46% ABV. Dr Bill Lumsden described it as “a fire-breathing beast of a dram!” The tasting note is quite something: “A long and heroic finale, with a subtle tarry aftertaste. A finish that will drag on, well into its happily ever after.” Blimey! 

Colin Gordon, Ardbeg’s new distillery manager, said: “This year will be my first Ardbeg Day ever: a baptism of fire! It’s a shame we Ardbeggians can’t enjoy it together in person, but the online event is shaping up to be tremendous fun. With a whole virtual world to explore, including fantasy inns, campfire tales, medieval feasts and live tastings, there’s plenty for people to be excited about this year.” 

The brave runners of the Islay half marathon (credit: Phil Williams)

The brave runners of the Islay half marathon. Lucy Britner is 132

Tales from Islay: The Ardbeg half Marathon

This is the story of how Lucy Britner came to be wearing the former Ardbeg distillery manager’s socks. It’s also a story of friendship, loss and an ill-advised ceilidh.

The mile marker said ‘7’. I was over halfway in the half marathon that I’d only half trained for. Horizontal rain turned to hail and then back to sunshine, and I could no longer see any of the other drinks journalists that were also taking part in the Ardbeg Islay half. We were all doing the race in memory of one of our peers, Alan Lodge, who had died of a brain haemorrhage shortly before his 30th birthday. 

Ardbeg had always been Alan’s favourite dram, and he would mention it frequently and passionately. And so here I was, plodding along a country road, trying to avoid grain trucks as they sped past. The rain kept coming and with it, every emotion I had. Of course, I was sad to be thinking about Alan but then moments later, laughing out loud at what he would’ve made of this motley crew of booze hacks running 13.1 miles. 

I suspect I looked genuinely deranged. More so, perhaps, because mile seven was going on forever. And ever. I knew I couldn’t give up because I was alone in the middle of nowhere – and as I was fighting a feeling of despair, finally a mile marker came into view. It was mile 10. It turned out the others had blown away.

The finest illustration of just how lonely the run was, is Phill Williams’ brilliant picture of booze journo Richard Siddle. We called it the ‘never-ending road’ – and I genuinely don’t know how he’s smiling in the picture. Well, actually I do… Richard, or ‘the chief’ as he is known, ran the race on a cocktail of painkillers, owing to a bad back. He told me later that he’d been listening to Kylie and even enjoyed a blissful few miles where she had been running along beside him. Maybe that’s how to run a half marathon…

Celidh, Islay half marathon. Credit: Phil Williams

Never do this after a half marathon

The end of the road

The race started and ended in Bowmore and as I approached the finish, I could see familiar faces, already wearing medals and spurring me on for the final few paces.  A stranger shouted ‘C’mon, Lucy’ and for a second, I thought I was some kind of new local celebrity, but then I remembered my name was printed on the back of my top. Still, it gave me a boost for those last steps, especially as to meet the 13.1-mile requirement, you had to sort of run beyond a natural finishing point and round a little corner, away from the bustling main drag of Bowmore.

So, we finished. We ate snacks on Bowmore beach and patted each other on the back. The competitive ones among us talked times and tactics, showed each other app readings and compared running notes.

But I had something else on my mind. I’m a big believer in rewarding myself after any kind of exercise, so my thoughts naturally turned to what I could eat and drink after running that far. And so, just a couple of hours later, I was sipping from a can of lager in the village hall, awaiting my turn to be flung around the dance floor at the ceilidh. The hall was packed with locals and runners, and no one showed any of that ‘school disco’ fear. Indeed, we clapped and danced for hours and hours.

This, it turns out, was a huge mistake.

The next morning, my blisters had blisters and no amount of plasters would let me put on yesterday’s trainers. For some reason, I had taken flipflops to Scotland, which was a blessed relief until I got to the Ardbeg distillery.

We were hosted by the wonderful Mickey Heads, who was the distillery manager at the time – and if  my memory serves, we got to try many drams, including a limited-edition Ardbeg from 1973, as well as Alligator, Corryvreckan and Galileo. (Soz, Alan, you would’ve loved this.)

Mickey heads Credit: Phil Williams

Mickey Heads to the rescue with a fresh pair of socks

You can’t hike to a water source in flip flops

After a tour of the distillery, Heads announced we were going to hike to Ardbeg’s water source, Loch Uigeadail, for a picnic. Now, it’s not that far – about 1.5 miles – but there’s always a danger of ticks and the like, so my flip flops quickly became a bone of contention. There was no chance the trainers were going back on and soon a pair of wellies appeared, and then Mickey handed over a fresh pair of socks. From his own sock drawer. What a legend.

And so we walked (slowly) and lazed by the loch, eating, drinking, chatting.

In hindsight, the Ardbeg half was a wonderful way to see a chunk of Islay. And I’d do it again, just with better trainers.

And so, for this year’s virtual Fèis Ìle, I raise a glass of Ardbeg to you, Alan. Gone, but never forgotten. 

Photos of Islay half marathon courtesy of Phil Williams.

 

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The Nightcap: 23 April

On this week’s Nightcap there’s new Ardbeg and Talisker to drool over, the ‘world’s first Tequila board game’ and a man pouring a pint of lager over his head. Its…

On this week’s Nightcap there’s new Ardbeg and Talisker to drool over, the ‘world’s first Tequila board game’ and a man pouring a pint of lager over his head. Its all in The Nightcap: 23 April edition.

Happy St George’s Day, everyone! We hope you’re having something delicious and English to celebrate, whether it’s whisky, gin, rum, sparkling wine, or whatever takes your fancy. Personally, we’re very much enjoying The Oxford Artisan Distillery’s first rye whisky. Sadly, there’s very little of it about, so you’ll have to enter our latest lottery for a chance to buy a bottle. But you don’t have to slay any dragons to get involved. So that’s something. 

Elsewhere, the MoM blog was the place to be if you love Japanese booze as we uncovered the philosophy of Suntory and recommended seven of the finest Japanese whiskies available now. Australian whisky was also on our mind as we unveiled That Boutique-y Whisky Company’s new series of delightful expressions, as was the role of the Scotch Whisky Association and the news that Elixir Distillers snapped up Georgie Crawford in a surprise transfer from Diageo. The forgotten Prairie Oyster, Glen Scotia’s special Campbeltown Festival release, Canaïma’s cause-led gin and the simple but sublime Cuba Libre also caught our attention in a packed week.

But we’re not done yet. It’s The Nightcap: 23 April issue!

The Nightcap: 23 April edition

The fearsome fire-breathing limited edition will be arriving at MoM Towers soon…

Fearsome fire-breathing Ardbeg Scorch unveiled for Feis Ile

Fèis Ìle might not be taking place IRL, but the distilleries are still doing plenty to keep the fans spending money. Sorry, happy. We’ve just heard the news that Ardbeg will be releasing a limited edition in time for Ardbeg day on 5 June. It’s called Ardbeg Scorch based on a dragon that apparently lives in Dunnage Warehouse no. 3. No this isn’t a St. George’s Day fool, the team really is releasing this whisky (though the dragon thing sounds unlikely, imagine the health and safety implications with all that flammable whisky.) It’s aged in heavily-charred ex-bourbon casks and bottled with no age statement at 46% ABV. Dr Bill Lumsden described it as “a fire-breathing beast of a dram!” The tasting note is quite something: “A long and heroic finale, with a subtle tarry aftertaste. A finish that will drag on, well into its happily ever after.” Blimey! Colin Gordon, Ardbeg’s new distillery manager, said: “This year will be my first Ardbeg Day ever: a baptism of fire! It’s a shame we Ardbeggians can’t enjoy it together in person, but the online event is shaping up to be tremendous fun. With a whole virtual world to explore, including fantasy inns, campfire tales, medieval feasts and live tastings, there’s plenty for people to be excited about this year.” Sounds fun! Ardbeg Scorch will be available from 27 May for £100 from your favourite online retailer. And it’s been a busy week for Dr Bill and team as they also unveiled X by Glenmorangie, a whisky that’s “made to mix.” Full feature on this mixable malt coming soon…

The Nightcap: 23 April edition

A remarkable liquid with a story that’s… well, it’s a story alright.

Talisker releases its oldest expression to date: 43 year old Xpedition Oak

In what might be the most convoluted bit of coopering ever, the latest release from Talisker called Xpedition Oak The Atlantic Challenge was finished in casks containing staves that sailed across the Atlantic. James Aiken took the unusual cargo on his yacht, the Oaken Yarn, for a 3,264 journey following the route of the rowers in the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge from La Gomera in Spain to Antigua. The staves were then sent back to Scotland and made up into barrels which were used to finish a 43-year-old Talisker in. We’re not quite sure why. Still, 1805 bottles were filled at 49.7% ABV and should cost you around £3500. Bottle number one will be auctioned to raise money for conservation charity Parley for the Oceans. Brand ambassador Ewan Gunn commented: “This whisky is a sublime single malt that captures the pinnacle of the key aromas of Talisker – spice, sweetness, waxy and creamy, with a sense of the sea salt spray the morning after a storm. The four decades of maturation have given a full flavour, yet a softness to this bold dram resulting in a rounded and elegant experience.” We were given a little sample and can only agree with Gunn, that Talisker DNA just shines through even after 43 years with an incredible lingering creamy sweetness. What a treat, though what effect the Atlantic voyage has on the flavour is not obvious to us.

The Nightcap: 23 April edition

Arnett is moving on to exciting new pastures

Former Jack Daniel’s master distiller to found $20m distillery

When Jeff Arnett left his role at the world’s biggest American whiskey brand back in September 2020, I think it was pretty clear to all of us that he was going to put his experience to good use. This week, the former master distiller of Jack Daniel’s revealed he’ll do just that at a new distillery being built in Tennessee. Following a US$20 million investment, Arnett’s Company Distilling project will open a 4,000 sq ft site with a tasting room and restaurant in Townsend, Tennessee in autumn 2021. It will be followed by the opening of a multi-functional ‘family-friendly’ facility in Springbrook Farm in Alcoa, Tennessee in 2022, which shows you how serious this plan is. The latter 20,000 sq ft site will eventually be home to the main distillery and manufacturing operations and will also include a tasting room, restaurant, brewery, and retail store with outdoor activities and entertainment hosted in 31 acres of space. There will be live music and games such as corn hole and pickleball (we have no idea what these but are guessing they are something Cletus from the Simpsons would play). Arnett is not the only significant figure in American whiskey at the centre of this project. It’s collaboration with Kris Tatum, former president of the Tennessee Distillers Guild; Heath Clark, founder of Tennessee-based H Clark Distillery; construction management professional Corey Clayton; and Clayton Homes CEO Kevin Clayton. Arnett is understandably excited about the project. He commented: “For years now, we’ve had this spirit in the back of our minds. It’s straight bourbon whiskey finished with maple wood to produce a sip like no other. It’s hard to believe it’s finally real. And it’s better than we ever imagined.” And there pickleball too!

The Nightcap: 23 April edition

It was quite the return to the world of in-person events for us this week

Bowmore and The Savoy team up to open Solas

This week did something truly amazing. We went to a bar for an event. Frankly, we’d have bit your hand off for an evening at Moe’s Tavern but we got to enjoy some a little more sophisticated at The Savoy. The London landmark was celebrating the launch of Solas (which means light, joy and comfort in Scottish Gaelic), an pop-up outdoor dining space in the historic Savoy Court that takes advantage of this age of outdoor hospitality. It’s a collaboration with Bowmore, which helped put together quite the menu. There’s an array of sublime cocktails that we got to taste as well as a raw seafood bar (mmmmm, raw seafood bar) that serves oyster selections, lobster rolls, gravadlax and scallop ceviche. The venue is a feast for the eyes too, but as you might imagine, it was the cocktails that really sold it for us. Standouts include the Pursuit For Perfection, a light, refreshing and elegant combination of Haku Vodka, peach, rosebud cordial and Champagne and Timeless, a rich, deep and complex mix of Bowmore 15 Year Old, Chezakette Bianco, Averna, Angostura, aquavit and sugar. It’s a truly impressive experience, to be honest. It looks great, the cocktails were delicious and the food? Well, Gordon Ramsey was there and he seemed perfectly happy. Solas is now open seven days a week until 21 June 2021 and I’d imagine reserving ASAP would be a good idea. 

The Nightcap: 23 April edition

The distillery has always had sustainability at the core of its business

Flor de Caña Rum to plant one million trees by 2025

With it being Earth Day yesterday, many brands have put the PR machines into overdrive in order to shout about how environmentally friendly they are. There are a few that aren’t simply greenwashing however, like Flor de Caña. It’s a sustainably-produced rum distilled with 100% renewable energy that’s carbon neutral and Fair Trade certified. It also has its own reforestation program, which has led to the planting of nearly 750,000 trees since 2005. Now it’s ramping up those efforts by pledging to plant more than one million trees by 2025. By partnering with One Tree Planted, its global campaign aims to raise awareness on the importance of reforestation and inspire consumers, bartenders and the general public to donate through the One Tree Planted platform. This guarantees that one tree will be planted for every dollar received. In turn, Flor de Caña will then match all donations received in order to have a greater impact. The global campaign, titled ‘Together for a Greener Future’, will also see the launch of several events with retailers, bars, restaurants and on social media (#TogetherForAGreenerFuture) to engage eco-conscious consumers. “Trees are essential for biodiversity and a healthy climate, so it’s great to work with a brand so committed to making a positive impact for reforestation and sustainability overall,” said Diana Chaplin, canopy director at One Tree Planted. Keep up the good work, guys!

The Nightcap: 23 April edition

Congratulations Mark!

Mark McClintock is Diageo World Class GB Bartender of the Year

Congratulations to Mark McClintock who fought off stiff competition to be crowned last night as Diageo World Class GB Bartender of the Year. The test consisted of two challenges. The first dubbed ‘Alive with Freshness’ used Tanqueray No. Ten and was judged solely on flavour and balance. The second was more complicated and involved contestants designing a dream whisky bar along with two cocktails, one made with Talisker and one with Johnnie Walker Black Label. World Class ambassador Jo Last praised McClintock’s “impeccable skills and hospitality throughout both challenges”.The judging panel was led by Pippa Guys who commented: “Mark has demonstrated a consistently high quality of drinks, knowledge, and personality ever since he stepped into the World Class programme.” McClintock himself said: “I am genuinely shocked and so honoured to go on and represent GB on the global stage”. In addition to the glory of going to the final 4-8 July (virtually), McClintock wins a 12-month contract with Global Bartending, WSET Level 3 spirits course, a personalised Cocktail Kingdom kit, and photoshoot. We wish him the best of luck for the final.

The Nightcap: 23 April edition

Loser has to sing The Champs – Tequila on karaoke.

Celebrate Cinco de Mayo with Cazcabel’s ‘world’s first Tequila board game’

Last week we heard about Jose Cuervo’s plans to celebrate Cinco de Mayo, now Cazcabel has revealed how it will mark the event. The brand has launched the ‘world’s first Tequila board game’, La Lotería. A hand-illustrated version of the Mexican classic bingo-style game, the aim is to be the first to match all the pictures on the sheet, La Tabla, with those called out by the host from the deck of cards. Each La Lotería game, comes in a magnetic box complete with a deck of cards, eight reusable La Tabla sheets and pens, a rule sheet, and a Spanish translation guide. Cazcabel Tequila is also hosting a Mexican Fiesta two-hour virtual event filled with tequila cocktails and La Lotería at 6:30 pm on Thursday 6th May. It will be hosted by the brand’s global brand ambassador Nate Sorby, with tickets available via Design My Night for £25 per person. It also sounds great, but to be honest the idea of mixing up some Margaritas whilst playing a Tequila board game sounds hard to beat. You can pick one up from the brand’s website and grab your Cazcabel Tequila here

And finally… man celebrates end of lockdown by pouring a pint over his head

Here in England, we’ve unable to contain our excitement that the pubs are opening again so we can have a delicious pint of beer in the garden. But not as excited as one St Helens man who was so overcome with emotion at the thought of that first pint, that rather than drink it, he poured it over his head. 45-year-old Charlie Richards commented: “My mate was just doing a video showing everyone there really enjoying the day and it went onto me, and well I got a bit excited and ended up rubbing the beer on my face before pouring it over my head for a few laughs. I didn’t think too much of it really, but my mate posted it on Facebook and now it’s gone everywhere.” So this St. George’s Day, we raise a glass to a true Englishman. Cheers Charlie!

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Five minutes with… Colin Gordon, distillery manager at Ardbeg

We spoke to the new Ardbeg distillery manager, Colin Gordon, about being a whisky romantic, the future of the category, and what the distillery and its new stillhouse have in…

We spoke to the new Ardbeg distillery manager, Colin Gordon, about being a whisky romantic, the future of the category, and what the distillery and its new stillhouse have in store for visitors when it reopens. Oh, and a mosh pit restaurant…

Arbeg means ‘small promontory’ in Scots Gaelic, but you’d have to work hard not to spot it perched proudly off the south coast of Islay. The distillery has been producing whisky originally for blends but now bottled as single malts for over 200 years (on and off). The range goes from the youthful Wee Beastie 5 year old, to its newly released 25 year old. Its long-running distillery manager Michael ‘Mickey’ Heads stepped down from his 13-year tenure in late 2020 and now, Colin Gordon (who has held the similar roles at neighbouring Port Ellen Maltings and Lagavulin Distillery) holds the keys to the growing site. So, what has he got in store for us?

Colin Gordon from Ardbeg

It’s Colin Gordon from Ardbeg!

Master of Malt: How have the first few months of running Ardbeg been since you started in October 2020?

Colin Gordon: It’s been brilliant! I already knew the site quite well just from already being on Islay and there is always a buzz here. There’s a close-knit team [about 30 people in the summer] which has been great since coming in – it doesn’t feel like I’ve only been here a few months. It’s been really busy and although Covid has brought its challenges, we’ve been making some fine new make spirits.

MoM: What made you make the move from Lagavulin to Ardbeg?

CG: It’s funny, I really wouldn’t have moved for many jobs to be honest. I already knew quite a few people who worked for Glenmorangie, so when the role came up myself and my family were really settled on Islay and we want to stay here. The Ardbeg brand is alive and well, it is such a funky brand, there’s a great team where you’re really involved and I just felt like it was the right opportunity.

MoM: What was your relationship with Ardbeg before you began the job?

CG: Islay is a close-knit place. Where I used to work in Port Ellen is probably the only place in the world where you get told how your malt is going when you’re standing in the queue buying a loaf of bread. I’d already dealt with Mickey quite closely, so I knew quite a lot about Ardbeg, and it was always a great place to visit and get lunch at the cafe. During Islay Fèis Ìle, the last day is always at Ardbeg, and it was always a really great mix between locals and visitors. Of course it’s also a great whisky – Ardbeg as a liquid is a grand dram.

Ardbeg Distillery on Islay

Ardbeg looking all dark and moody

MoM: What’s the best thing about running a distillery?

CG: I love whisky. It’s funny because there are so many people who work in the industry who don’t love it, but I genuinely do, and single malt especially, so I love what we’re doing day to day. Distilleries are so intertwined with the place as well and we’ve still got people working here related to people who worked here before them and as the 21st distillery manager, you’ve just got to come in and keep that going because we have passionate fans all over the world. No day is the same, and Islay often has unique challenges. As an industry though, we collaborate: I think that’s stronger on Islay – it’s like you’re one brand.

MoM: What does it take to be a distillery manager?

CG: I would say you need to be quite calm under pressure because things do go wrong and you will always have challenges, from poorer crop for your malt to process issues, day-to-day managing, customs – you know, all that good stuff. You need to be passionate about what you do and be open to change and innovation which is huge at Ardbeg: you need that mindset. Distillation and making whisky or new make spirit is a process we’ve been doing for a long time, so you need to try things and have an open mind for that. You’ve got to like people too because ultimately you’re a people manager.

MoM: Did Mickey Heads give you any advice on taking over?

CG: Mickey and I didn’t have a long handover because of Covid and everything was delayed. Mickey finished on 1 October which was pretty much the day I started. We went for a walk around the site and in a very calm manner he said: “This is a great site. Use the team and you’ll be absolutely fine.” He didn’t give me anything too worrying, but he did recommend a few things he’d like to see done. 

Ardbeg distillery (Credit: Phil Wilkinson)

Ardbeg distillery (Credit: Phil Wilkinson)

MoM: Are there any changes you’re looking to implement?

CG: I think the biggest thing for us is really around volume as the demand continues to grow. We have built a new stillhouse and doubled up with two wash stills and two spirit stills. We will hopefully finish at the end of this month and that will be key to help us maintain the brand. Everything [from the original stills] has been replicated, so they’re identical and we need to make sure they run the same, and the spirit we’re running off is the best quality. There will be other bits and pieces, too. 

MoM: What are the nuances of the Ardbeg distillery that are different to what you’ve experienced before?

CG: We’re still quite manual in a lot of respects. A lot of the places I’ve worked before have been automated, but I’m a bit of a whisky romantic at heart so I like that the mash is still very manual. The operators are the sequence, with valves being opened by hand, so that’s one of the biggest differences. We’ve still got a lot of people interacting with the process.

MoM: What do you think will be the challenges for whisky distilleries in Islay in the coming years?

CG: I think there are a number of things that will pose challenges. There are a number of distilleries on Islay that will hit a spate of retirements and we need to make sure we have the right people coming through. There is a fine balance in rural Scotland (and rural UK) in that we need to make sure we keep our young population so that we have the next generation working here. That is a real issue – we need to make sure we have the right people to grow. Long term, it’s all about sustainability. The Scotch Whisky Association has set ambitious targets and we support that 100% as a business. They are good challenges.

MoM: What’s on the horizon for Ardbeg in 2021?

CG: Nothing but exciting times. In terms of the distillery side, we have the new stillhouse and there are some more exciting bottlings and special releases. The visitor centre also plays a large role and when we can welcome people back, one of the things we’ve looked at since Covid is our restaurant. It’s one of the great things people loved here, it was like organised chaos (like a mosh pit sometimes), so we’re looking at how we can develop that and restructure nicely so we have an outdoor eatery. It will be like a big American-style trailer with smoked foods and we’re really looking at what we can do with that. We’re a brand that doesn’t sit still.

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