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Master of Malt Blog

Tag: Benriach

Whisky Advent 2019 Day #11: BenRiach 10 Year Old

The 11th door of Drinks by the Dram’s Whisky Advent Calendar holds something exceptionally tasty from a certain Speyside distillery which is named for the Gaelic for ‘speckled mountain’…  Well,…

The 11th door of Drinks by the Dram’s Whisky Advent Calendar holds something exceptionally tasty from a certain Speyside distillery which is named for the Gaelic for ‘speckled mountain’… 

Well, well, it’s the 11th day of Advent. We’re not half way just yet, but gosh darn it’s not far off either! You’ll know that though of course, because you can see how many doors you’ve opened on your Drinks by the Dram Whisky Advent Calendar, and it’s got a treat for you on this special day.

We all know you’re here for the whisky, so we’ll get down to it.

Today’s dram is… BenRiach 10 Year Old!

This particular expression was first launched in April 2015, and is the flagship expression from the Speyside distillery after it changed hands in 2004 from Pernod Ricard to Billy Walker (it was subsequently bought by Brown-Forman in 2016). So, this was the first core range expression to be predominantly crafted from whiskies distilled at BenRiach since Walker took over. And it’s still going strong! 

The Speysider is drawn from both bourbon and sherry casks after a decade of ageing, so you have all those sweeter, creamy notes from the bourbon cask sitting wonderfully alongside the spicier notes from the sherry cask. 

Benriach 10 year old

It’s the wonderful Dr Rachel Barrie, everyone!

We got to chat to the awesome master blender Dr Rachel Barrie, to talk us through all things BenRiach! It’s been quite the year for the Dr Barrie, as among many other achievements, after 27 years in the industry she was inducted as a ‘Keeper of the Quaich’

Master of Malt: Wow, here we have the flagship expression from BenRiach! Can you talk us through what we should be expecting flavour-wise?

Dr Rachel Barrie: Benriach 10 Year Old glides on the palate like a delicious patisserie, with layers of succulent orchard fruit on a base of pastry-like malt and vanilla cream, topped with toasted almond and a touch of spice. 

MoM: What’s your favourite way to drink BenRiach 10 Year Old?

RB: I enjoy BenRiach 10 Year Old neat or with a splash of water for the perfect multi-layered balance of fruit, malt and oak. 

Benriach 10 year old

Behold, Benriach 10 Year Old.

MoM: What’s been a BenRiach highlight of 2019?

RB: In 2019, the launch of the latest BenRiach Cask bottling Batch was a highlight, after selecting 24 casks from Warehouse 13, including Benriach unpeated and peated matured in oak casks previously filled with Tokaji wine, oloroso sherry, Pedro Ximénez, Port, claret, Madeira, Sauternes, virgin oak, South African red wine, Jamaican rum, Rioja, Sicilian Marsala, and bourbon! The drinker now has the chance to select from the same eclectic collection of casks I have the pleasure of nosing every day.

MoM: What’s your favourite Christmas cocktail?

RB: A smooth, spiced fruit cocktail with cloudy apple juice, ginger beer, cinnamon and cloves, and a slice of red apple perched on glass, to crunch between sips. The perfect balance of sweet and dry, warm and spicy yet refreshingly smooth and fruity.

MoM: What can we expect from BenRiach in 2020?

RB: BenRiach will really come alive in 2020 with many exciting developments when it comes to our pursuit of flavour and pushing the creative boundaries of whisky-making in our three styles – classic, peated and triple-distilled.

Tasting note:

Nose: Citrus-forward, with gingerbread and cinnamon in support.

Palate: Fried banana, brown sugar, powerful barley notes driving it all along.

Finish: Lasting hints of peppery malt and vanilla custard.

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Five minutes with… Billy Walker, owner and master blender at Glenallachie Distillery

The wonderful Billy Walker of GlenAllachie Distillery fame has joined us to talk about making his mark, what the future holds and winning the Scottish Whisky Distillery Of The Year…

The wonderful Billy Walker of GlenAllachie Distillery fame has joined us to talk about making his mark, what the future holds and winning the Scottish Whisky Distillery Of The Year award.

It’s been a whirlwind couple of years for Billy Walker since he took over GlenAllachie Distillery in 2017. In a preview he gave us back in October of that year, he outlined his ambitions for his new purchase and many have been achieved. Expressions have been added to the core range, including the recently released GlenAllachie 15 Year Old and in July the first Wood Finish range launched, which comprises of three expressions, the 12 Year Old Pedro Ximénez Sherry Wood Finish, the 10 Year Old Port Wood Finish and the 8 Year Old Koval Rye Quarter Cask Wood Finish. A visitor centre and shop were also unveiled in May which will welcome people to the distillery for the first time since it was built in 1967. Such has been the progress, The GlenAllachie even managed to pick up the Scottish Whisky Distillery Of The Year award at the Scottish Whisky Awards.

We thought it was high time we sat down once again with the veteran of the industry to discuss all the above, talk about what the future holds and more.

Billy Walker

Say hi to Billy Walker!

Master of Malt: Hi Billy! Congratulations on the Scottish Whisky Distillery Of The Year award.

Billy Walker: Thank you! It’s fantastic of course. It’s a pretty amazing award, but it doesn’t surprise me. That’s not a conceit, because it’s got nothing to do with me frankly, it’s got to do with the team and the available inventory, the shape of the inventory, the range of the inventory and indeed the spirit the distillery makes. Was it a surprise? Yeah, a little bit. We were delighted to be in the final choice, but yeah, to win it is fantastic.

MoM: How have the last two years been for you at GlenAllachie Distillery?

BW: The last two years have been all about interfacing and understanding, being really intimate with the individual casks, understanding what we have in the casks and working out if there is going to be enough for the direction we want to go in. It’s the case with all distilleries. You have to understand what the style of whisky is, the wood it’s in and what direction you want to take it. So, these last two years has helped us get an in-depth understanding of where we’re going and what we can release and the quality that we expect it to deliver.

MoM: What did you learn from your time at BenRiach, GlenDronach and Glenglassaugh?

BW: The one thing that was certainly brought home to me is that there is no shortcut to quality. It is important to understand the kind of vibrancy and the dynamism that is in the single malt sector in the last ten to 12 years. In that period we have learned that we need to be loyal to the routes to market through the private, independent sector. It’s a way for us to get visibility and loyalty without tiptoeing into the territory of big companies like supermarkets. We really don’t want to be in supermarkets in the short to medium term, if ever at all. And that’s the one thing we’ve learnt: build the brand, be patient, build the brand through the private independent retailers. Engage with informed consumers. Because these are the guys that will act as loyal and refreshing and honest ambassadors for our brand and indeed for other people’s brands.

Billy Walker

The Glenallachie Distillery

MoM: How would you describe the distillery to someone who didn’t know much about it?

BW: I always had an admiration for the spirit from Glenallachie because it was an extremely important contributor to some very, very famous blended whiskies. So we were familiar with the style, but we weren’t terribly familiar with the distillery infrastructure, but everything was perfect. The water supply is wonderful, it runs over granite and peat so it’s fantastic for both whisky and for fermentation generally. It’s a relatively big distillery. It can make 4.2 million litres of alcohol but we’ve tailored it down and we’re reaching about 800,000 litres at the moment. This has allowed us to do very important things like long fermentation (120 – 160 hours), which we’re big advocates of. We introduced it at the Ben Riach, we introduced it at Glendronach and we also introduced it at Glenglassaugh. With long fermentation, you get an extension of flavour development in the fermenter but more importantly, you bring a very benign, calm wash to the wash still so that the distillation process is much easier to control. The big bonus that we also have is warehousing capacity, we can store about 50,000 casks so we’re pretty well fully integrated. The only thing missing is a bottling plant but who knows… maybe that’s something we can do in the future. All-in-all, what we have inherited we are very, very happy with.

MoM: You’ve mentioned the possibility of creating a bottling plant. How likely is it that there will be any expansions or alterations of any of the distillery buildings or equipment in the near future?

BW: The bottling plant is certainly an idea at the moment. We would like to have the flexibility of having access to our own bottling unit, but it brings with it as many problems as solutions! But we’ll see. It’s too early, we’re too much in our infancy at the moment. We’re using a contract bottler with whom we are more than comfortable and it’s not on the horizon at the moment but it’s not off the radar. Well, one of the attractions of this distillery at Glenallachie is that it has terrific storage capacity, but I suspect that we will probably have a need to have some additional storage and that would certainly be something we would have to do sooner rather than later. It won’t be in the next 12 months, however, it wouldn’t surprise me if we did have to do it within the next 24 months.

Billy Walker

Walker is experimenting with different cask types

MoM: Can you describe the profile of the GlenAllachie new-make and what the distillery character is?

BW: We’re actually in the process of changing the character. Essentially what we’re looking for in the new-make is clean, sparkling fruits, vanilla, butterscotch, biscuity notes, the latter of which the long fermentation will deliver for us. We don’t want a dull, flat spirit. We want a full-bodied spirit that allows us to interface with rich wood. And we’re achieving that. We’ve done a lot of cask experiments and looked into various types of wood such as PX and oloroso and that’s exciting, just to see how you can change the direction of the flavour profile of the whisky as you go along. I go up to the distillery once or twice a week essentially to follow the development and note how each of the individual casks is developing and how the DNA of both young and mature spirit is moving along.

MoM: The distillery has a relatively recent history, is that liberating for you creatively to not have too much tradition and history to keep in line with?

BW: Oh unquestionably. It’s important to understand that back when this distillery was built the purpose of almost every single malt was to feed into one of the many famous and very good blended Scotch whiskies that existed then and indeed continue to exist now. If you reflect that when this distillery was built in 1960, it was at a time when there was a lot of activity in modernising and in building new distilleries that could become an integral part of some very important blended whiskies. The Glenallachie was made to feature in some of these blends, which I’m not going to name. You can contrast that to what we’re doing now because we have adopted a policy that we are not releasing any of our production to any third parties. We are focused on owning everything that we produce.

MoM: What does the future hold for GlenAllachie Distillery and what do you hope to achieve with the distillery?

BW: The important thing with any distillery is that you define and create your range of products to be compatible with the consumer base that you’re targeting. We’ve already discussed the importance of being a brand who aim to reach the market in a manner where they can be built and developed slowly, but in a way that where you are targeting and engaging with informed consumers who, in many ways, then become your ambassadors. We have to be patient; we know this is not a sprint, there are no shortcuts to quality. It’s a long term goal to deliver Glenallachie and we have ambition frankly. Our ambition is to be the best Speyside single malt in the region, and there are some competitors in there! But if we don’t have ambition we shouldn’t be creating.

Billy Walker

Walker wants Glenallachie to be the best single malt on Speyside

MoM: Back in 2017, you seemed open-minded when asked if you’d purchase another distillery, how do you feel now?

BW: We would not be against having another distillery in the stable. My only caveat in all of that is that it is becoming more and more difficult to actually acquire that kind of an asset. If something came up and it was the right fit and the price was right, then unquestionably we would be interested. But right now the prices are not really right! Of course, we would be comfortable having another distillery in-house and having the opportunity to work with another whisky would be fantastic. Playing with whisky is just such a wonderful obsession.

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The Nightcap: 1 November

The Rock’s Tequila distillery, the arrival of Port season and bourbon-infused cheese, it’s all in this week’s Nightcap! This week, The Nightcap has been mostly powered by the leftover sweets…

The Rock’s Tequila distillery, the arrival of Port season and bourbon-infused cheese, it’s all in this week’s Nightcap!

This week, The Nightcap has been mostly powered by the leftover sweets that weren’t claimed by trick-or-treaters. Our fingers are propelled by chocolate and our brains are running on toffee, but our hearts… Our hearts are driven by the love of bringing you all the stories from the world of boozes which occurred this week. Plus lollipops. We knew there was a good reason to pick up significantly more sweeties than we could ever hand out.

If you push past the cobwebs in the haunted MoM Towers you may have glimpsed the terrifying amount of activity that occurred on the blood-curdling blog this week. Nate Brown returned to lambast the deification of bartenders before Adam rounded-up a smoky selection of spirits perfect for Bonfire Night. Annie then acquainted herself with Kinahan’s Kasc Project and Five Hundred Cuts Rum from BrewDog Distilling Company, while Henry also enjoyed a delightful rum from an unusual source as Hayman’s Merser & Co. Double Barrel rum was our New Arrival of the Week. Henry also marked the upcoming Día de Muertos (it’s tomorrow) by making The Red Devil our Cocktail of the Week.

But the frightening fun doesn’t stop there! It’s The Nightcap!

The Nightcap

Congratulations Dr Kirstie McCallum!

Dr Kirstie McCallum is Glen Moray’s new head of whisky creation

There’s a new sheriff in town at Speyside distillery Glen Moray. Dr Kirstie McCallum has been appointed head of whisky creation, a new role which will see her take responsibility for brands such as Cutty Sark, Sir Edward’s and Label 5 as well as Glen Moray. McCallum has big shoes to fill, as she will take over from Graham Coull who was master distiller for 14 years. In that time he oversaw the expansion of Glen Moray Distillery and developed several award-winning cask expressions, but he has since moved to pastures new, becoming the master distiller at Dingle Distillery in Ireland. This won’t phase the good doctor (McCallum has a PhD in analytical chemistry from Glasgow Caledonian University), however, as she boasts quite the résumé herself. Her last role was as senior blender at Distell International, where she worked in various roles for over 12 years and was responsible for single malts Bunnahabhain, Deanston and Tobermory as well as the company’s blended whiskies. “I am really excited about the opportunities this role will offer, working with world renowned brands such as Glen Moray, Label 5 and Cutty Sark and Sir Edward’s,” says McCallum. “There is a great opportunity to experiment with new cask types and to develop new expressions, using the expansive knowledge of other wine and spirit experts within the La Martiniquaise-Bardinet group.”

 

 

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The name is official: Ladies and gents, I proudly bring you, TEREMANA TEQUILA 🥃 TERA is meant to represent “Terre” which means of the earth and MANA is our powerful Polynesian spirit that guides us. Spirit of the earth. Our goal is to create a tequila that is the best of quality and taste, but done the right way – by hand. Small batch, hand crafted tequila from our Teremana blue agave, maturing in the highlands of Jalisco, for everyone to enjoy. After years of hard work, this blessing is truly a dream come true – but it’s just the beginning and there’s much work to be done. I’m committed with my team to bring you the best tequila, because quality and legacy are what matter most. From all of us here at Distilleria’ Teremana, we invite you to COME HAVE A DRINK. The tequila of the people. #TEREMANA #tequila #ItsAlmostReady #Q12020 @hhgarcia41 📸

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Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson reveals new Tequila distillery

It’s been an eerily long while since we’ve heard about a new celeb getting in on the Tequila madness. In all honesty, we were starting to get a little anxious. Luckily for us, Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson calmed our worries by announcing his newest venture, Destileria Teremana! This hasn’t come completely out of the blue though, as back in March Johnson posted a little teaser on his Instagram. It was also on Instagram this week that he revealed his new distillery, Teremana, explaining that ‘Tere’ translates as ‘earth’, while ‘Mana’ means ‘spirit’. So there you have it, spirit of the earth! We’re no hashtag experts, but we’re pretty sure that ‘#Q12020’ means that hopefully we can expect to actually taste some spirit early next year. When we do though, we’ll make sure to have it… on the rock(s).

The Nightcap

It’s quite the array of Scotch

Hunter Laing releases retrotastic Old & Rare Heritage whiskies

Independent bottler Hunter Laing has been busy sniffing out some rare casks for a splendid new series of whiskies which are both old and rare. Each bottle comes from a single cask and is bottled at cask strength with no colouring or chill-filtration. The line-up is likely to get whisky enthusiasts swooning on the chaise lounge with such bottlings as a 30 year old Mortlach, a 37 year old Aultmore and a rare sighting of a Glen Elgin 44 year old. Smelling salts, please! The MD, Stewart Laing, said: “There are some whiskies which are so remarkable that they deserve a little extra recognition, and our heritage series was created to celebrate these incredible malts. My two sons and I have personally selected each of these whiskies from our finest and most prized stocks.” Son and export director Andrew Laing added: “2019 continues to be both a busy and exciting year for us at Hunter Laing & Co with the opening of our first distillery Ardnahoe, the launch of the Scarabus Islay single malt and entering the travel retail market with Scarabus and our Journey Series of blended malts.” While we are sure the contents will be tip-top, we are particularly taken with the look of the series with its squat green bottles and retro-tastic labels. Naturally, they will be arriving soon at MoM. Keep an eye on the New Arrivals page.

The Nightcap

The commemorative bottling will be released in time for 11th November

The English Whisky Company to launch Remembrance Sunday whisky

Some people drink to forget but now you can drink to remember with a special whisky to commemorate the dead of the First World War. It’s been released in time for Remembrance Sunday on the 11th November by the English Whisky Company. The label features the silhouette of a Tommy, the words ‘Lest We Forget’ and the St. George’s Cross, particularly appropriate as the St. George’s Distillery is the home of the English Whisky Company. Andrew Nelstrop, whose father founded the distillery in 2005, had this to say about the new release: “We are delighted to launch this special centenary whisky to mark such an important time in the history of this country. In 2014, we released a similar bottling to remember those that fell in World War 1 and it proved so popular that due to repeated requests for another batch, we felt it only fitting to launch one to commemorate the 100 year anniversary of the Treaty Of Versailles which formally ended WW1,” he adds. It will go on sale on 7th November with an RRP of £49.99.

The Nightcap

It’s Port season, don’t you know?

Taylor’s announces the arrival of the Port Season

You might think that a Port digital marketing campaign would be an oxymoron, like military intelligence, but perhaps we should not be surprised that Taylor’s, consistently one of the most forward-looking Port houses, has announced just such a thing. The campaign, created by Keko London who have worked with such swank merchants as Bentley and Bugatti, designates a season for port that begins when the clocks go back and goes on throughout the winter taking in Halloween, Bonfire Night, Christmas and New Year. Andrew Hawes from Taylor’s UK agents Mentzendorff writes: “There is no getting away from the fact that people like Port. The quality versus value equation has never been better and there are strong recognisable brands in the market that are consistently invested in. Taylor’s launching the new digital advertising campaign will support the brand’s very broad trade distribution at a time of the year when family and friends gather, and Port represents a warm and affordable luxury, often described as “the oil of good conversation”. The campaign which will feature on Instagram, Facebook and YouTube depicts a glamorous dinner party having a splendid time enjoying a drop of Port. We’d like to see that uncut version which shows what happens when someone inadvertently drops the B-word after a few too many glasses.

The Nightcap

So much lovely whiskey…

Over 9 million barrels of whiskey now maturing in Kentucky

Well, it’s only taken 86 years but it looks like Kentucky has finally recovered from Prohibition. Figures just released by the Kentucky Distillers’ Association (KDA) show that last year more than 2.1 million barrels of whiskey were filled taking the total ageing to 9.1 million. That’s a lot of Mint Juleps. KDA president Eric Gregory commented: “This is a historic day that cements Kentucky’s rightful title as the one, true and authentic home for bourbon and distilled spirits.” Sounds like fighting talk! According to the KDA, Kentucky bourbon industry is worth $8.6 billion and generates more than 20,000 jobs. But it’s not all gravy in Kentucky, whiskey is a heavily taxed industry in the States with a levy on maturing stock and then there’s that pesky trade war with the EU. Gregory went on to say: “Kentucky Bourbon is collateral damage in a trade dispute that has nothing to do with us. While we remain hopeful for a resolution soon, the impact on our industry, our partners and our farm families is significant and growing.” The figures just released are the highest of the modern era beating a previous best of 8.7 million total barrels in 1968 and 1.9 million barrels filled in 1967. After that America went mad for white spirits in a big way and the bourbon market collapsed. But that couldn’t happen again, could it?

The Nightcap

BenRiach wants to bring its sensory palette to life through art

BenRiach to be turned into art

It was Elvis Costello who said “writing about music is like dancing about architecture”. Or maybe it was Frank Zappa. There is some debate. Whoever said it, we wonder what he would make of painting about whisky because this is exactly what’s going on at BenRiach. The Speyside distillery has commissioned Ellis O’ Connor, an artist from Dundee, to produce a three landscape paintings inspired by the three types of casks, bourbon, oloroso and virgin oak, used in the make-up of BenRiach 10 Year Old. The paintings will be displayed at London bar TT Liquor during Scotch Whisky Weekend in January 2020. Ellis O’Connor said: “Speyside is renowned for its big skies, fast-flowing river and of course, whisky, so when the opportunity arose to bring this climatic corner of Scotland to life on canvas on behalf of its most creative distillery, I jumped at the chance. BenRiach is packed full of innovation, experimental heritage and flavour and I wanted to depict that through the essence of its flagship whisky BenRiach Aged 10 Years and how it speaks to me through the colours and movement on the canvas. Each canvas will have a distinct colour that explores the flavour profile of the single malt and its cask journey.” Master blender Dr. Rachel Barrie added: “Partnering with this talented young Scottish artist is such a wonderful way to bring BenRiach’s flavour journey to life and we can’t wait to see Ellis’ creations on canvas.” We can’t wait to see the results.

The Nightcap

The Guinness Japanese Brew Series

Guinness launches the Japanese Brew Series

Ireland and Japan are joining forces through the form of a good old brew! Guinness has launched three limited edition Japanese-inspired brews in celebration of the Rugby World Cup (which is in Japan, just in case you’ve been living under a rock). Though Ireland is no longer in the tournament, we can still all get in the spirit with the Guinness Japanese Brew Series, boasting three new beers. There’s Ginger and Wasabi Stout, which is flavoured with ginger spice and dark chocolate, and weighs in at 6.2% ABV. Next, there’s the Yuzu Amber Ale, with a slightly lower strength of 4.8% ABV, where a base of Irish red ale is paired with yuzu fruit and hops. Last but not least there’s a (nearly) non-alcoholic stout, Stout of the Rising Sun, which at 0.5% ABV boasts notes of hojicha, a charcoal roasted green tea from Japan. “As Official Sponsors of Belief, Guinness is delighted with our new limited-edition Japanese Brew Series,” Peter Simpson, lead brewer at Guinness Open Gate Brewery said. “These three special beers are our latest innovation where experimentation with Japanese inspired tasting notes and an evolution of classic Irish recipes has created a unique celebration and union of culture and craft.” Where can you find these tasty brews? For those of you down south, the Yuzu Amber Ale is available at London’s Flat Iron Square for a limited time, so best get on down there, or pop over to Dublin for the rest!

The Nightcap

May Fair Bar will soon be alive with all kinds of wintry wonderment

Belvedere + Ice Winter pop-up to launch at May Fair Bar

We’re approaching that time of year, folks. You know, the one people call the ‘most wonderful’. And you know what that means, a whole host of festive and seasonal celebrations from various brands and establishments will start to pop-up all over the place. Like Belvedere + Ice, a 7-week pop-up at May Fair Bar that will attempt to bring some winter-based wonderment to the space with bespoke cocktails and pan-Asian small plates. Expect blue and white accented forestry and frosted detail all over May Fair Bar’s cosmopolitan interiors. The exclusive collaboration with Belvedere Vodka will last from Tuesday 12th November to Tuesday 31st December, and guests can anticipate brunch to bottle service, a soundtrack from May Fair Bar’s resident DJ’s playing late into the night and, on centre stage at the bar, Belvedere + Ice, a luxurious Champagne cocktail priced at £300 that features Richard Hennessy Cognac, Madagascan vanilla-infused Belvedere Unfiltered vodka, Dom Perignon Brut Vintage 2009 & gold leaf. Tis the season to be spendy, after all. Five other vodka-based cocktails will also be on offer between £14 and £18, including the Rosé Negroni, Old Fashioned Blanc, Jasmine & Fig Sour, Ice Melon Martini and The Socialite. You can find more information here.

The Nightcap

A fine addition to your cheeseboard

And Finally… Basil Hayden’s wins Christmas already with bourbon-infused cheese

Now it’s actually November it feels entirely appropriate to start mentioning Christmas. The dinner, the drams, the all-important cheeseboard. But it seems bourbon brand Basil Hayden’s has already made our festive dreams come true, ticking at least two of those three boxes of indulgence, hitting peak Christmas and winning our hearts and taste buds in the process. Behold: Pour Me a Slide bourbon-infused cheese! It’s been made in partnership with Utah-based creamery Beehive Cheese from semi-firm Jersey cow’s milk. The infusion is said to result in cheese that “tastes sweet with a hint of spice”, thanks to the high-rye profile of the whisky. Count us in. “Our goal is to craft cheeses that bring people together through their elevated, artisanal flavour,” said Pat Ford, co-founder of Beehive Cheese. “We’re excited to partner with Basil Hayden’s because the trademark spice of this bourbon adds a really unique flavour to the cheese that makes it perfect for a gathering or gifting.” Sadly it appears to be a US phenomenon, but if you’re listening, Team Basil: we need Pour Me a Slice this side of the pond, too! (All is not lost – Team MoM have sampled and can personally vouch for the deliciousness of Laphroaig cheese and Springbank cheese. No need for all-out dairy-based whisky panic.)

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The Nightcap: 15 March

Rock, rye and Bristol – that’s what The Nightcap is about this week (among other things. There are many, many other things, too). Time to dig in! Spring is here….

Rock, rye and Bristol – that’s what The Nightcap is about this week (among other things. There are many, many other things, too). Time to dig in!

Spring is here. Kinda. Meteorological spring has been here for a while, but astronomical spring is kicking off next Wednesday. Also, the weather has still been a bit grim. We’re in a bit of a weird mini-season, which we’re going to call wing, partly because it’s the words winter and spring smooshed together, and partly as an homage to Wings, the band The Beatles could have been. Anyway, kick start your wonderful wing weekend with our weekly round-up of booze news – it’s The Nightcap!

Here’s what has been happening on the MoM Blog this week. Our Annie chatted to Knappogue Castle Irish Whiskey’s Tony Carroll and then showed off our Cocktail of the Week – The Shallow Negroni. Henry started up a new weekly feature for the blog focusing on exciting new arrivals at MoM Towers, and then did a spot of reading (whiskey-related reading, of course). Kristy caught up on all things Irish whiskey with Irish Distillers master blender Billy Leighton, and had a look at the plans for Gordon & MacPhail’s upcoming distillery. Adam then checked out the new series of photogenic whiskies from Berry Bros. & Rudd. Good stuff all around.

Now. On with the news!

Pernod Ricard

Will Pernod Ricard follow in the footsteps of Diageo and sell its wine brands?

Is Pernod Ricard about to sell its wine brands?

This week, we’re kicking off The Nightcap by dipping our toes into the world of reports, speculation and rumour – but if true, this development could significantly shape the structure of the global wine industry. On 13 March, Bloomberg reported that Pernod Ricard, best-known perhaps for its Jameson, The Glenlivet, Beefeater, and Havana Club spirits brands, is thinking about selling off its wine division. Why is this significant? Because its wine portfolio includes the likes of Jacob’s Creek and Campo Viejo, some of the biggest wine brands in the world. Pernod Ricard itself is tight-lipped, but if it does decide to sell up, it wouldn’t be the first spirits-maker to sharpen its focus on spirits by sacking off the wine. In 2015, Diageo offloaded its Chateau and Estate wine brands to Treasury Wine Estates, and in 2017, Campari Group sold off the Château de Sancerre winery, its final foothold in wine. Will Pernod Ricard follow suit? We’ll have to wait and see – probably with a glass of wine in-hand.

WSTA Brexit

Brexit is difficult and confusing. Booze? Now that we understand…

WSTA ‘delighted’ by apparent Brexit delay

If you’ve had one eye on UK politics this week, you’ll know there’s been a right load of drama. Votes left, right and centre, rebellious MPs, and more confusion than how and why Stonehenge was built – it’s been a palaver and a half. One group who have some sort of handle on what it all means for drinks is the Wine & Spirit Trade Association (WSTA). On Wednesday, the day after Theresa May’s deal was thrown out (again), Miles Beale, WSTA chief exec, said the drinks trade faced “deeper uncertainty, and for longer”. He continued: “We welcome the decision that there would be a temporary suspension of tariffs on wine and most spirits under ‘No Deal’,” adding that more action was needed to keep the booze industry flowing. He was in chirpier spirits on Thursday though, when he said the WSTA was “delighted” to see ‘No Deal’ off the table. But is it actually? Beale said it was “imperative” for the government to pass emergency legislation before 29 March, the UK’s current leaving date. Still confused? Us too. “The wine and spirit industry still lacks clarity as to what the trading landscape will look like when we do leave the EU,” Beale continued. Can we have some of that clarity too, please?

Foo Fighters

It’s Times Like These you learn to love bourbon! Image: Andreas Lawen

Foo Fighters named Bourbon & Beyond headliners

Like your bourbon with a side of rock and folk? Then you’d better head on down to Louisville, Kentucky from 20-22 September. Annual festival Bourbon & Beyond, founded by whiskey author Fred Minnick and music exec Danny Wimmer, is a celebration of bourbon, music and food (throw in cats and you’ll have our top four all-time favourites), and this week the line-up was announced. Top of the bill? The Foo Fighters! Other acts include John Fogerty, The Flaming Lips, Joan Jett and the Blackhearts, and loads more, including one big name yet to be revealed. The bourbon line-up is also pretty impressive. Festival-goers will be able to sample more than 40 brands, including the likes of Blanton’s, Buffalo Trace, Coopers’ Craft, Evan Williams, Four Roses, Jim Beam, Knob Creek, Maker’s Mark, Michter’s, Old Forester, Wild Turkey, WL Weller, and Woodford Reserve. Blenders and distillers will be on hand to dish out info about their brands, and there’s a full programme of masterclasses, too. Tickets go on sale today, 15 March! Time to book some flights…

Aber Falls

All smiles at Aber Falls distilling Wales’s first rye

Aber Falls distils Wales’s first rye!

Rye whisky fans, we bring you glad tidings: Aber Falls has distilled its first ever rye whisky! It seems that Aber Falls is a distillery of firsts, as it is also the first whisky distillery that North Wales has seen for over 100 years. The distillery has been producing new-make malt spirit for just little over a year, since January 2018. Of course, the rye whisky will only be available from 2020, once it’s mature. Though it appears rye is the first of many plans, as the distillery is aiming to put itself on the world whisky map, building a portfolio fit for the next 20 years. Innovation is key to the distillery and James Wright, managing director at Aber Falls stated that this addition of a rye whisky “allows us to bring into the fold whisky drinkers beginning their journey of experimentation”. For both new and seasoned whisky drinkers, this is fantastic news from those Aber Falls folks.

legent

Introducing: Legent, which you will find at MoM Towers later this year…

Meet Legent, a bourbon where ‘East meets West’

When Japan’s Suntory Holdings snapped up US-based Beam, Inc. in 2014, it was a very stark union of East and West. And this accord is now playing out in actual whiskey! Behold Legent (pronounced ‘lee-jent’), an unusual bourbon developed jointly by Fred Noe, seventh-generation Jim Beam master distiller, and Shinji Fukuyo, the chief blender at Suntory whisky, and only the fifth person to ever hold the role. Legent starts life as a Kentucky straight bourbon made with a classic Beam recipe. It’s then aged in wine and sherry casks, before being blended with more straight bourbon for a “perfectly balanced yet complex and layered” tipple. Takeshi Niinami, Suntory Holdings CEO, described the expression as “the perfect articulation of the amazing things that can be achieved when two great cultures come together as one”. We’re intrigued – but might have to wait a bit to taste it. Legent is due to land a MoM Towers later this year.

Circumstance Distillery

The “unashamedly funky” Circumstance Distillery

Circumstance distillery releases saison yeast spirit

You want innovation? The team at Circumstance Distillery in Bristol has it coming out of their ears. Not content with offering pre-sales with their very own cryptocurrency, the team is now pushing the envelope with the first release. Called Circumstantial Barley, it will be made from 100% British malted barley. Doesn’t sound so crazy does it? The interesting thing is the fermentation process. In addition to distillers yeast, the team is using a French saison beer yeast, and the whole lot ferments for nearly two weeks. Most distilleries are all done within two days. The resulting wash is packed full of flavour. It’s then put through a short column still and, according to head distiller Mark Scot, aged for “six months on a combination of charred bespoke oak spindles and first-fill bourbon casks”. The result? “A beautiful raw spirit, and our short ageing techniques allows the quality of the raw spirit to shine through,” he continued. Co-founder Danny Walker added: “We have thrown out the rule book and are focusing on flavour over tradition and experimenting with every step of the process to make a ‘new world’-style spirit.” It will be bottled 45% ABV and cost £44 for 700ml bottle. Circumstance has a rye and an “unashamedly funky” (who is ashamed of being funky?) white rum in the pipeline. We want to try them all!

Waterford Distillery

Say hello to Hunter (the barley, not the person)

Waterford Distillery successfully makes spirit from heritage Hunter barley

Those barley- and terroir-obsessed Waterford folks are at the grain experimentation game again – this time with a spirited outcome! This week the distillery successfully distilled 10,000 litres of spirit – 50 barrels-worth – from a barley varietal that’s not been available to distillers for 40 years. The grain in question is called Hunter, named after a chap called Herbert Hunter who worked in barley breeding at Ireland’s Cereal Station (cool name, vital work). Hunter (the barley, not the person) was introduced in 1959, but was last used in 1979 when it fell out of favour as other strains provided better yields. So why bring it back now? It’s all part of efforts, led by the Waterford team, to take a flavour-focused approach to barley selection, rather than solely focusing on how much booze it generates. “Contrary to what much of the industry is telling drinkers, flavour starts with the grain and the terroir in which it’s grown,” said Neil Conway, Waterford’s head brewer. “Hunter is an old favourite, a very successful variety, so much so that it dominated for 20 years. That’s why we’re working with Minch Malt and our growers – we’re on the hunt for profound sources of flavour, even if that means going back decades to find these forgotten treasures.” Good luck to them! The Hunter development at Waterford follows the production of the ‘world’s first’ biodynamic whiskey at the distillery last year.

Kestin Hare x BenRiach

Those look lovely – and the clothes are nice too…

Kestin Hare x BenRiach collection arrives

We knew that whisky was fashionable, but combining whisky and fashion? That’s new! Scottish menswear designer Kestin Hare has joined forces with BenRiach distillery for his Spring Summer 2019 Collection! It features five different garments inspired by the whisky itself, the Speyside landscape and architecture of BenRiach distillery. The clothing has been dyed with peat, each shade representing a different aged single malt from BenRiach. Peat isn’t the only influence for the collection; inspired by the whisky casks themselves, Hare created a digital print that reflects the colours and patterns seen on the wood. What’s more, the pieces are fully functional for a trip to Speyside! They’re made from water-resistant fabrics inspired by golfing and fishing garments, while the colour scheme, full of golden sand, grass green and peaty tones, is sure to help you blend into the natural surroundings. Or camouflage into a wall full of BenRiach whiskies. It’s up to you. The SS19 collection can be found in store, online and in selected global retailers from today.

Francois Badel and Aldrick John Baptiste

Congrats to Francois Badel and Aldrick John Baptiste!

Francois Badel and Aldrick John Baptiste named Mai Tai Champions

How’s that for a title – Mai Tai Champion? Well, we now have two new ones following the conclusion of the Chairman’s Reserve Mai Tai Challenge 2019. What is such a challenge? The Saint Lucian rum brand whisked a whole host of talented bartenders to the island’s Rodney Bay (aka, paradise) to put them through their paces. This was after heats in France, the UK, Ireland, Spain, Portugal, Greece, Switzerland, Canada and the US, so we know we’re dealing with the world’s best here. Each bartender was then paired up with a local St Lucian bartender to collaborate on creating an incredible original Mai Tai-like serve using local ingredients and Chairman’s Reserve as a base. Each pair then had to present their creation to a panel, demonstrating the culture of St Lucia at the same time. And France’s Francois Badel and St Lucia’s Aldrick John Baptiste were named champions! “I was taken aback by the passion these skilful bartenders had for Chairman’s Reserve,” said Margaret Monplaisir, St Lucia Distillers managing director. “Their attention to every detail, their enthusiasm, and knowledge of Chairman’s Reserve was remarkable.” Mai Tai, anyone?

And finally… Joss Stone performs in North Korea as part of ultimate bar crawl

Yep, you read that right. Pop singer Joss Stone, best known for early noughties tunes such as Fell in Love with a Boy and You Had Me, has taken to the stage in a North Korean bar, of all places. Two questions: why; and, surely this isn’t newsworthy?! Bear with us. Stone is embarking on a literal world tour, or in her words, “to bring loveliness in the form of music to every single country on our planet”. It’s a noble effort. She’s already sung in Syria. And why is it newsworthy? We all have ambitions: to drink in every watering hole in town (responsibly, of course); visit as many breweries as possible; enjoy a dram at every Islay distillery. We reckon performing in every country in the world, taking in its many myriad bars as you go, is the stuff of dreams. It’s something we’d certainly sign up for if we could hold a tune. And the more adventurous of us would include North Korea in that…

On that note, have excellent weekends, folks!

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10 new Master of Malt Single Cask Series whiskies!

We’ve got a whole new batch of Master of Malt Single Cask Series whiskies, people! 10 of them, to be specific. Are you very excited? You should be. Whisky fans,…

We’ve got a whole new batch of Master of Malt Single Cask Series whiskies, people! 10 of them, to be specific. Are you very excited? You should be.

Whisky fans, rejoice. We’ve done it again! You know the drill by now. We introduce a brand new selection of Master of Malt Single Cask Series whiskies, you enjoy the spoils of our labour. What a system.

As always, we’ve managed to get our hands on some truly sublime single malts from a host of fantastic distilleries, including: Laphroaig, Bunnahabhain, Mortlach, Craigellachie and more. The single cask expressions range from 8 to 37 years matured and every single edition is presented at cask strength, without any chill-filtration or added colourings. All you find in these MoM-tastic bottles is very, very tasty whisky.

Now go check out our brand new selection below and enjoy!

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Whisky Advent 2018 Day #5: BenRiach 12 Year Old – Sherry Wood

We’re five days in to the Drinks by the Dram Whisky Advent Calendar, and it’s high time we dig in to some well-sherried Scotch whisky… As we all know, there’s…

We’re five days in to the Drinks by the Dram Whisky Advent Calendar, and it’s high time we dig in to some well-sherried Scotch whisky…

As we all know, there’s a lot of careful planning that goes in to planning Christmas, so much so that I personally try to portion out the thinking time throughout the whole of December so that it all doesn’t have to happen on one day (usually Christmas Eve), causing a meltdown in my brain and meaning that I have to reboot it by eating an entire Jamaican Ginger Cake. Today, I’m thinking about post-Christmas-dinner drinks. What will folks want to drink after consuming frankly too much food? You want it to be aptly seasonal, sweet enough to counterbalance the savoury elements of all those Yorkshire puddings and cauliflower cheese (the two vital parts of a Christmas dinner, no matter what Jake Mountain tells you), and something just generally good. Well, the whisky behind window #5 of the Drinks by the Dram Whisky Advent Calendar may have made it an easy decision.

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The winners of the VIP BenRiach trips are…

We’ve got winners to announce for our BenRiach competition. These lucky folks will be heading up to the heart of Speyside to see where how the BenRiach brilliance happens in…

We’ve got winners to announce for our BenRiach competition. These lucky folks will be heading up to the heart of Speyside to see where how the BenRiach brilliance happens in person!

It’s time that we announced the names of the winners who will be heading all the way up to Speyside for a VIP trip to BenRiach including a distillery tour, tasting, trip to The Speyside Cooperage and more. The hat has been filled with names, and we’ve plucked out three of them. Our lucky winners are…

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Win a VIP trip to BenRiach Distillery!

WIN one of three fancy-pants trips to Speyside and discover the BenRiach Distillery! Three winners and their lucky plus-ones will enjoy a distillery tour, tasting, trip to The Speyside Cooperage,…

  • WIN one of three fancy-pants trips to Speyside and discover the BenRiach Distillery!
  • Three winners and their lucky plus-ones will enjoy a distillery tour, tasting, trip to The Speyside Cooperage, an overnight stay with meals and more!
  • Everyone’s a winner – enjoy £5 off BenRiach 10 Year Old and BenRiach 10 Curiositas until 11 September!
  • What’s better than a distillery tour? A luxurious VIP trip for you and your favourite person with posh accommodation, a tasting which features some SUPER exciting limited edition whiskies, delicious meals at top local establishments, a detour to the Speyside Cooperage, UK travel, and a personal, exclusive distillery visit with a fabulous brand ambassador as your personal guide, of course! (For the nitty gritty details, see the competition terms below.)

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    The Nightcap: 13 July

    Friday the 13th might be unlucky for some, but not if you follow the world of booze! It’s been an action-packed week, and we have the glorious highlights right here,…

    Friday the 13th might be unlucky for some, but not if you follow the world of booze! It’s been an action-packed week, and we have the glorious highlights right here, right now. It’s The Nightcap!

    Happy Friday, folks! The weekend is here and it’s time to celebrate with something tasty. Perhaps a delish and straightforward dram. Or, as Beam Suntory was highlighting when we stopped by this week, a Highball in all its glory. Or a G&T, Daiquiri, Margarita… the possibilities are endless. And now we’re distracted.

    So. The tumultuous week that was. England tumbled out of the World Cup (at the semi-final stage so we’re still pretty proud here at MoM Towers), Brexit was back in the headlines (did it ever leave?!), and the astonishing Thai Cave rescue came to a successful close (huge respect to the rescue team, and of course we remember Saman Kunan, the brave diver who tragically died while saving others).

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    The Nightcap: 6 July

    Happy Friday, team! Summer is ON (at least here in the UK) and there’s a certain football match on the agenda tomorrow… But before that comes around, it’s time to…

    Happy Friday, team! Summer is ON (at least here in the UK) and there’s a certain football match on the agenda tomorrow… But before that comes around, it’s time to get an update from the world of booze. Bring on The Nightcap!

    This week brought with it a new month as well as a whole new cohort of booze goings on – and of course a new Dram Club box for our subscribers, too! We took a sneak peek inside those packs of tastiness on Sunday.

    On Monday we looked back to Fèis Ìle 2018 when Kilchoman founder Anthony Wills shared his plans for the distillery expansion project, and got part three of Annie’s Bourbon Series – this time it was Rob Samuels from Maker’s Mark in the spotlight.

    The Glencairn glass has become synonymous with spirits (whisky in particular), and on Tuesday we met the family behind the business. Sales are soaring – it seems we can’t get enough fancy glassware to hold our boozes!

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