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Master of Malt Blog

Tag: Ardbeg

Brendan McCarron tastes Ardbeg’s core expressions

Recently, we were fortunate enough to spend a few hours with one of the most entertaining men in whisky, Brendan McCarron. Now, we have produced four short films where McCarron…

Recently, we were fortunate enough to spend a few hours with one of the most entertaining men in whisky, Brendan McCarron. Now, we have produced four short films where McCarron gives a masterclass around each core expression. 

If you like your whiskies wild and smoky, then you’re probably an Ardbeg drinker. This Islay distillery inspires a fierce loyalty among whisky fans. So, when Brendan McCarron joined in 2014, he knew that he was taking on a big responsibility. Before Ardbeg, he has had an interesting career in whisky. A chemical engineering graduate, his first whisky job was with Diageo. He worked as distillery manager at Oban, before moving to Islay to run Caol Ila, Lagavulin and the Port Ellen Maltings.

Brendan McCarron Ardbeg

Brendan McCarron explaining whisky through hand gestures

Then he was made an offer he couldn’t refuse, an invitation to join the team at Ardbeg and Glenmorangie (which are both in the LVMH stable). McCarron’s official job title is head of maturing whisky stocks. He works alongside Dr Bill Lumsden (they described themselves at the recent launch for Glenmorangie Allta Private Edition as “like the two Ronnies, only not funny”) and is being groomed to succeed the good doctor when he retires.

We have produced a long interview with McCarron where he talks about the responsibility of working for a cult distillery like Ardbeg, his plans for the future and tells us which is his favourite expression, as well as a short Q&A. Below are four short films where McCarron gives us a mini masterclass on each of the four core whiskies in the Ardbeg range: 10 Year Old, An Oa, Uigeadail and Corryvreckan.

Slainte!

Ardbeg 10 Year Old –  The classic expression is aged exclusively in ex-bourbon casks and bottled at 46% ABV.

Ardbeg An Oa –  Named after a peninsula on Islay, this is aged in a mixture of Pedro Ximénez, charred virgin oak and ex-bourbon casks, and bottled at 46.6% ABV.

Ardbeg Uigeadail – The name comes from the water source used by the distillery. It is aged in oloroso and ex-bourbon casks, roughly half and half, and bottled at 54.2% ABV.

Ardbeg Corryvreckan – Named after a fearsome whirlpool about 40 miles off the coast of the island, around 30% of this expression is aged in new French oak barriques and the rest in ex-bourbon casks, and it is bottled at 57.1% ABV.

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The Nightcap: 22 February

Greetings and welcome to Friday – you’re tuned in to your weekly round-up of all things booze news, The Nightcap! Yes folks, it’s Friday once again! Not only that, it’s…

Greetings and welcome to Friday – you’re tuned in to your weekly round-up of all things booze news, The Nightcap!

Yes folks, it’s Friday once again! Not only that, it’s also National Margarita Day, so if you’re not reading this edition of The Nightcap with a freshly-prepared Margarita, please feel free to prod anyone in arm’s reach and ask them kindly if they’d like to make you one. Or go make one for yourself and the aforementioned person in arm’s reach. Either way, ensure a tasty lime-and-Tequila-based beverage is in-hand before proceeding to read The Nightcap.

So, what’s been happening on the MoM blog this week? Henry taught us how to make a Margarita for our Cocktail of the Week, and hopped over to Ireland to check out the Dublin Liberties Distillery opening. Annie showed us the best time-saving treats for your home bar, and dug into the history of the Rat Pack and its connection to J&B Rare. Adam looked to the west and picked out some terrific Welsh drinks to celebrate St. David’s Day with. Oh, and we launched a gin. And won the Icons of Gin Online Retail of the Year award. As you do.

On with the remainder of the news!

Your love of Jim Beam meant it exceeded 10 million case sales!

Japanese gin and Jim Beam bolster Beam Suntory’s 2018 results

It was Beam Suntory’s turn to unveil those all-important 2018 numbers this week, and they make encouraging reading. Bourbon first, and Jim Beam continued its “strong momentum” to exceed 10 million case sales, while Makers Mark posted “double-digit” gains, passing the two million case-mark for the first time (that’s a lot of bourbon). Cognac brand Courvoisier and Canadian Club whisky contributed “high single-digit growth”, with Hornitos Tequila also performing well. But gin is well and truly in for Beam Suntory. Sipsmith’s growth was in double figures, while ROKU Japanese Craft Gin, which entered 31 new markets, “inspired strong sales”. Overall, Beam Suntory posted “mid-single-digit” sales gains. Cryptic, but clearly all’s well at the American-Japanese drinks group. Looking to future growth, Takeshi Niinami, Suntory Holdings Limited president and CEO, said in the financial results: “The key will be to continue providing high quality products like The Premium Malts and Jim Beam, and creating strong brands that are loved by consumers. In order to do this, we need to develop and grow premium products that have new value, which our rivals cannot offer.” Bring it on!

So this is what the future looks like…

Penderyn gets the green light for its second distillery!

Exciting distillery news alert, especially with St. David’s Day approaching – Welsh whisky producer Penderyn has got the go-ahead to open a second distillery! Planning permission for the new Swansea site was granted earlier this week, meaning work to transform the historic Hafod Morfa Copperworks site can get under way later this year. “Penderyn is delighted to bring a copper-based industry back to this area,” said Stephen Davies, Penderyn’s chief executive. “Once opened, we hope to see up to 100,000 visitors a year, and it will become one of the major attractions in the area. This all helps us promote our whiskies from Wales to the world.” The Lottery Heritage Foundation awarded £3.75 million to the project, which will comprise an exhibition area detailing the history of the copperworks, shop, tasting bar, conference suite and, of course, the distillery It’s all expected to open in 2022. Llongyfarchiadau, Team Penderyn!

A work of art – and that’s just the whisky!

Compass Box releases Leonardo da Vinci-inspired whisky

Just to remind us that blended whiskies can be seriously swanky comes a new release from the master of mixing, Compass Box. Called Tobias & the Angel, it’s named after a work by Verrocchio-Leonardo (meaning that it was painted at the school of Andrea del Verrocchio by Leonardo) hanging in the National Gallery in London depicting the biblical story of Tobias. The whisky is a blend of 24 year old Clynelish aged in American oak hogsheads and a peated Caol Ila of “considerably older age”, according to Compass Box. Founder John Glaser said: “For nearly 20 years, since we created our malt blend called Eleuthera in 2002, we have held a special reverence for the two distilleries used in Tobias and the Angel. That’s when I first discovered how perfectly these single malts complement each other. When we were recently offered extremely old and special parcels of whiskies from these two distilleries, I was compelled to put them together again.” He went on to say: “For this whisky, the name of the biblical story Tobias & the Angel just felt right; it seemed to reflect the personality of the two whiskies in this recipe. Searching through the many depictions of the story over the centuries, the Verrocchio-Leonardo painting had the beauty and the gravitas we wanted for this special creation.” Only 2,634 bottles will be produced and they will retail for around £450 ($500).

It’s time to party like your distillery manager used to work at a rum distillery in the 60s.

Ardbeg Day 2019: Time to get out your maracas

Well, have we got news for you. It turns out that the Islay-based Ardbeg distillery actually has some old connections to the Caribbean. Hamish Scott, Ardbeg’s distillery manager from 1964 to 1967, used to fill the same role at a rum distillery! Ardbeg Day has quite a reputation, with locals transforming everything from tractors to wheelbarrows into magnificent floats. Hence, on 1 June, during the famed Fèis Ìle Festival, Ardbeg Committee Members from around the world will gather in celebration of this year’s limited edition bottling, Ardbeg Drum. Dubbed a “peaty excuse for a party”, the single malt whisky has been matured in bourbon casks and finished in rum casks from the Americas, which should make for a rather interesting dram. It looks like this bottling will be as flamboyant as the celebrations surrounding it! The Committee release will go on sale from 5 March, though only a limited number of bottles will be released – let the festivities begin!

The GlenDronach 1993 Master Vintage, in all its glory.

The GlenDronach announces limited release 1993 Master Vintage

If you’ve ever enjoyed the pleasures of a Scotch whisky from Highland distillery GlenDronach (if you haven’t you need to correct this ASAP), then you’ll know that the brand specialises in bold, rich and predominantly sherried single malts. The distillery’s new release, The GlenDronach 1993 Master Vintage, is no exception. The liquid in some sherry casks filled in 1993 proved so exceptional that the distillery did the sensible thing and bottled some of it! The GlenDronach master blender, Dr Rachel Barrie, personally hand-selected the Pedro Ximénez and oloroso sherry casks used in this twenty-five-year-old expression, which was bottled at 48.2% ABV without chill-filtration or additional colouring. “With a quarter of a century slowly maturing in our renowned Andalucían casks, The GlenDronach Master Vintage 1993 Aged 25 Years has developed profound layers of depth and complexity, leading to an exceedingly long, voluptuous and memorable finish,” said Dr. Barrie. “Fans of The GlenDronach’s traditional Highland Single Malt can expect rich brandy-laced fruitcake on the nose, cocoa-dusted coffee and sultana brioche on the palate and lingering pecan toffee notes in the finish. I hope sherry cask connoisseurs around the world enjoy The GlenDronach 1993 Master Vintage, as an example of the finest sherry cask maturation.” Well, that sounds amazing. Is anyone else salivating a little?

Behold: Balcones Texas Pot Still Bourbon

Balcones readies new pot still bourbon

Hang on to your hats, American whiskey fans! Waco-based distillery Balcones has a new addition to its core range. Behold: Balcones Texas Pot Still Bourbon! Made using the brand’s Forsyth pot stills and aged for 24 months in new charred oak barrels, the mash bill features roasted blue corn, Texas wheat, Texas rye and malted barley. The result? An intriguing straight bourbon bottled at 92 proof (46% ABV). “Texas Pot Still Bourbon is about inclusivity,” said Jared Himstedt, head distiller at Balcones. “We wanted to create something that both long-time Balcones enthusiasts and people who are experiencing us for the first time can appreciate. By delivering flavour complexity within an approachable taste profile, we can introduce more people to the nuance of what we do.” Balcones Texas Pot Still Bourbon should be with us in the second half of 2019, but if you really can’t wait and fancy a trip to the US, you can get it from Texas, Florida and California now, priced at US$29.99.

The Dalmore and Massimo Bottura Present The Dalmore L’Anima Aged 49 Years.

Folks, we have Dalmore news! There’s a new expression on the block, and this one comes with some significant age. The Dalmore L’Anima Aged 49 Years was created by master distiller Richard Paterson and Massimo Bottura, owner of three-Michelin starred Osteria Francescana in Modena (voted the best restaurant in the world by the World’s 50 Best Restaurant Awards in 2018). 49 years-matured. Michelin-star chef. Dalmore. This should be good. Dalmore L’Anima – meaning soul in Italian – was inspired by Bottura and Paterson’s shared love of creativity, innovation and flavour. The 41.5% ABV cask-strength, natural colour expression is a marriage of Dalmore expressions previously matured in freshly-emptied small batch bourbon barrels; Gonzalez Byass casks which previously held 40 year old Pedro Ximénez sherry; and Graham’s vintage Port pipes. How does it taste? Sunkissed raisins, bitter chocolate, old English marmalade; freshly brewed Java coffee, Demerara sugar, pecan pie and crème brûlée, according to the tasting notes. But the most pleasing aspect of this new expression? It will be auctioned at Sotheby’s later this year raising funds for Bottura’s non-profit Food For Soul, which tackles fight food waste through social inclusion. “Bottura’s approach to deconstructing and reinventing daring food pairings is very similar to the way I approach whisky making,” said Paterson. “The coming together of our passions allowed me to create a whisky that is bold, different, full of warmth and completely unforgettable – it is a true reflection of the love, blood and balsamic that unites us.” Delightful.

The House of Peroni is a fully immersive experience

Introducing The House of Peroni 2019

Peroni Nastro Azzurro has kicked off its House of Peroni 2019 activation! The multi-sensory immersive experience is set London’s Covent Garden and features eight different spaces, inspired by eight emerging fashion designers. For example, the Sicily space focuses on light that recreates the Sicilian sky, the Nature and Maximalism room is full of botanical scents and a wall of man-made flowers, and the Future and Sci Fi area transports visitors to a futuristic time through industrial city sounds. Then there is, of course, the bar! Visitors are invited to sip on a selection of Peroni-infused cocktails crafted by Manchester-based bartender Sam Taylor, who has been mentored by Peroni Nastro Azzurro’s master of mixology, Simone Caporale. Taylor was scouted from a nationwide search for the best bartending talent, so expect great things from his creations! Each tipple is inspired by each of the eight designers, plus there’s Peroni Libera 0.0%, an alcohol-free serve just as stylish as its boozy counterparts. Just goes to show the Italian beer brand can keep up with current low alcohol trends. 2019 marks the seventh outing for the House of Peroni concept, which runs until 9 March.

Congratulations Scott Gavin!

Scott Gavin appointed bar manager at The Bloomsbury Club Bar

The Bloomsbury Club Bar, London, has a new bar manager. It’s UK World Class finalist Scott Gavin! With over 10 years of international experience in high-end hotels, independent cocktail bars and immersive bar outfits, Gavin began his career in 2006 in sunny Malta at Twentytwo, the island’s most prestigious bar. He returned to the UK in 2012 to become head bartender at the award-winning Limewood Hotel in Hampshire, before spending two years as senior bartender at the sublime Scarfes Bar at the Rosewood London. His first managerial role was at industry haunt NOLA, where he helped relaunch the bar. He also frequently collaborates with Michelin-starred chef Tom Kerridge. That’s some career, and we’re looking forward to seeing what he can bring to The Bloomsbury Club Bar. “I’m thrilled to be joining the team,” said Gavin. “The Bloomsbury Club Bar has been really innovative in the way it works with brands and other bars across the world. This position will be a new challenge for me and I’m excited to help continue raising the profile of the bar in London and worldwide.” Best of luck, Mr. Gavin!

Golden Barrel LeClarc Briant

Behold! The golden barrel!

And finally… For the wine lover who has everything, how about Champagne aged in 24-carat gold?

Winemakers love experimenting with fermentation vessels. Wines can be made in oak casks, concrete tanks, stainless steel vats, and even clay amphora, just like in Roman times. But now one Champagne producer has come up with the blingiest way to make wine yet: in a gold barrel. According to The Drinks Business, Champagne house Leclerc Briant will be releasing a wine fermented and aged in a stainless steel barrel lined with 24-carat gold some time in 2021. When asked what was the point of a gold-plated barrel, winemaker Hervé Jestin talked about “a resonance between solar energy and the wine”. He then went on to say that the gold would “increase the level of solar activity during the first fermentation” and “makes a connection with cosmic activity”. We’ll have what he’s having!

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The Nightcap: 1 February

We welcome February with stories of distillery reopening progress, new Glenmorangie deliciousness, and whisky coming to the big screen. Time for The Nightcap! Greetings to all from your favourite pals…

We welcome February with stories of distillery reopening progress, new Glenmorangie deliciousness, and whisky coming to the big screen. Time for The Nightcap!

Greetings to all from your favourite pals at Master of Malt, and welcome to another edition of The Nightcap – our weekly round-up of all the booze news from the week that was. It’s a bit like a neater version of someone taking all the interesting stories about all the tastiest drinks, loading them into a cannon and firing them at your PC/phone/tablet/eyeball computer. Is our lack of a cannon the only reason we aren’t doing this in that way? Maybe!

Here’s what’s been happening on the MoM Blog this week. Annie checked out some nutrient-rich (and protein-packed) serves from JJ Goodman and explored the ongoing rise of Japanese gins. Our newest writer Jess had a look at Allta, the most recent Private Edition bottling from Glenmorangie (more on that later). Adam helped you get prepared for Valentine’s Day with a selection of lovely treats. Kristy had a nose around Glenglassaugh, and then looked at the crucial training aspects of cocktail-making. Henry checked out Kingsbarn’s first commercial whisky launch, gave us the background on The Bramble cocktail, and offered up some tasty drinks recommendations for all of you watching the Super Bowl this weekend.

Now. On with the news!

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The winners of the VIP trip to The Ardbeg Distillery are…

Three individuals will soon gaze upon the breathtaking views from the Seaview Cottage. The warmth and smell of peat bonfires filling their noses. They are the victors. Our competition has…

Three individuals will soon gaze upon the breathtaking views from the Seaview Cottage. The warmth and smell of peat bonfires filling their noses. They are the victors. Our competition has concluded and a VIP trip to Ardbeg Distillery is their prize!

Islay. Ardbeg Distillery. Distillery tours. Tastings. An enhanced Ardbeg activity. Two nights’ accommodation at the distillery with meals and more. All of this awaits the lucky three victors (and their plus-ones).

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Master of Malt’s most read stories of 2018

As 2018 draws to a close, we reflect on the news and features that caught your eye the most this year. Well, we’ve reached the end of another year. The…

As 2018 draws to a close, we reflect on the news and features that caught your eye the most this year.

Well, we’ve reached the end of another year. The Earth has put in another hell of a shift in its orbit around the Sun. Now is the time where we reflect on all that happened in 2018.

It has been another 12 months filled with standout stories, all manner of incidents, and of course highs and lows. Among the articles you read most on our award-winning blog were round-ups of great booze, limited-edition whisky launches, and a sorry tale of a collapsing warehouse. We shed a tear for all that bourbon.

Without further delay, these are the top 10 stories that you read, shared and talked about the most in 2018.

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An Ardbeg masterclass with Brendan McCarron

We try Ardbeg’s core range with Brendan McCarron while he tells us about making raw, rugged whisky, the similarities between Bill Lumsden and Gordon Ramsay, and whether there are any…

We try Ardbeg’s core range with Brendan McCarron while he tells us about making raw, rugged whisky, the similarities between Bill Lumsden and Gordon Ramsay, and whether there are any plans to make a blend.

The team at Master of Malt were invited to Moët Hennessy’s swanky headquarters in London to try the core Ardbeg range with Brendan McCarron, head of maturing whisky stocks at the Glenmorangie Company. Lucky us. Ardbeg inspires fierce loyalty among whisky fans. Not least because it very nearly didn’t survive. The distillery was only working sporadically for most of the ’80s and ’90s, and by 1996, according to McCarron, “the bulldozers were at the gates”. But happily, in 1998 Ardbeg was saved when it was bought and refurbished by the Glenmorangie Company (who are now part of LVMH).

Back to the situation at hand. McCarron joined the team in 2014. He was a chemical engineering graduate who, after a stint making penicillin, joined Diageo. He had various jobs including blending at Johnnie Walker before, at 28 years old, he became the youngest distillery manager in Scotland at Oban. From there he moved to Islay to run Caol Ila, Lagavulin and the Port Ellen Maltings. Enough intro, let’s get the interview out of the way so that we can try some whisky!

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The Nightcap: 14 December

Thank heavens it’s the end of the week. It’s time to dust off your dancing shoes and head to your local discotheque to strut your funky stuff, perhaps whilst wearing…

Thank heavens it’s the end of the week. It’s time to dust off your dancing shoes and head to your local discotheque to strut your funky stuff, perhaps whilst wearing novelty reindeer antlers. It’s up to you. But first, the Nightcap!

A great way to make those winter days go a bit quicker is with a Drinks by the Dram Whisky Advent Calendar. We’ve been counting down the days and this week we had a surfeit of K sounds in our whiskies: Kilchoman, Kirkwall Bay, Kavalan, Cotswold, Cardhu and Nikka. Plus Glenrothes standing aloof refusing to have anything to do with all those noisy Cs and Ks. For the Super Wish on Monday, #WhiskySanta was giving away a bottle of The Macallan M worth £3,300. And there was an opportunity to win £250 to spend at Master of Malt by finding #WhiskySanta in a Where’s Wally-style game. Head on over to our YouTube page to join in!

And that’s not all. Round 3 of the Master of Malt Auctions is under way; Annie talked to the people behind the Port of Leith distillery, Edinburgh’s first single malt distillery in more than 100 years; Henry wrote a bit about his favourite cocktail, the Negroni; and picked the best booze books of the year. Some excellent stocking fillers there.

Now on with the news!

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Behold! Six brilliantly old and rare Boutique-y whiskies are here!

‘Old’ and ‘rare’ are terms often bandied about with much abandon in whisky. Not here, folks. We’ve got six really rather marvellous, hard-to-find That Boutique-y Whisky Company gems that certainly…

‘Old’ and ‘rare’ are terms often bandied about with much abandon in whisky. Not here, folks. We’ve got six really rather marvellous, hard-to-find That Boutique-y Whisky Company gems that certainly live up to that billing, including a Macallan and not one but two Rosebanks!

We’re always on the look-out for unusual bottlings that max out deliciousness. And we love the people behind That Boutique-y Whisky Company because they are after the same: they sniff out incredible whiskies, independently bottle the best of the best, and then share them with the world. They are our kind of folk. And they’ve done it again. Say hello to six incredibly exciting brand-new bottlings: Rosebank 26 Year Old (That Boutique-y Whisky Company); Rosebank 28 Year Old (That Boutique-y Whisky Company); Ardbeg 27 Year Old (That Boutique-y Whisky Company); Highland Park 26 Year Old (That Boutique-y Whisky Company); Macallan 30 Year Old (That Boutique-y Whisky Company); and Springbank 22 Year Old (That Boutique-y Whisky Company)!

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Win a VIP trip to the Ardbeg Distillery

WIN the trip of a lifetime to Islay and Ardbeg Distillery! Three winners and their lucky plus-ones will enjoy a distillery tour, tastings, an enhanced Ardbeg activity and an overnight…

  • WIN the trip of a lifetime to Islay and Ardbeg Distillery!
  • Three winners and their lucky plus-ones will enjoy a distillery tour, tastings, an enhanced Ardbeg activity and an overnight stay with meals and more!
  • Everyone’s a winner – Ardbeg 10 Year Old is now just £34.95!
  • Award-winning Scotch whisky. Incredible food. Adventures on air, land and sea. A scenic Scottish island. All of this can be yours. “How is all this possible?” We hear you cry. Because we’re offering an incredible VIP 2 night stay for three human persons (and their +1s) at the Seaview Cottage at Ardbeg Distillery!

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    Raise a glass to delicious discounts on some of our favourite drinks!

    Fancy treating yourself to something tasty? Getting a head start on gathering those Christmas provisions? We have news. We’ve lopped a chunk off the price of some of our very…

    Fancy treating yourself to something tasty? Getting a head start on gathering those Christmas provisions? We have news. We’ve lopped a chunk off the price of some of our very favourite bottlings. Hurrah!

    It seems like #WhiskySanta’s jolliness has well and truly rubbed off on us all here at MoM Towers. We’re spreading good cheer to all of legal drinking age with these incredible deals on some of our most beloved bottlings!

    And why wouldn’t we? We love deliciousness and know you do too. It’s like a celebration of the most delectable drinks!

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