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Master of Malt Blog

Tag: Blended Scotch

BBR unveils photography-inspired Perspective Series

Berry Bros. & Rudd (BBR) has released The Perspective Series, a collection of blended Scotch whiskies, in collaboration with award-winning Scottish photographer Lindsay Robertson. We were invited to the brand’s…

Berry Bros. & Rudd (BBR) has released The Perspective Series, a collection of blended Scotch whiskies, in collaboration with award-winning Scottish photographer Lindsay Robertson. We were invited to the brand’s famous home at 3 St. James’ Street, London to check it out.

If you know us at all, you’ll be aware that a collectable range of limited edition blended Scotch whiskies with serious age was always going to be of interest to us. But, London wine and spirits merchant Berry Bros. & Rudd (BBR) didn’t just have sublime Scotch to present last night, but some remarkable photography, too.

The Perspective Series, Berry Bros. & Rudd master blender Doug McIvor explained, “is all about the use of our senses”. That’s where Robertson comes into the picture. He was approached by BBR with a task: to adorn each bottle in the range with images of majestic Scottish landscapes. Having seen these images in person, it’s fair to say he met his brief.

Robertson himself began life as an advertising photographer, where he often found himself snapping promotional shots for Bell’s. Now, all these years later, he’s gone full circle, creating images that portray a visual metaphor of each whisky’s flavour. Combine this with McIvor’s experience in expertly blending Scotch, and you’ve got yourself a range that’s all about artistry, inside and out.

Perspective Series

The lone cottage on Rannoch Moor, the striking image that was chosen to pair with the 35-year-old expression.

“Photography is to see,” Robertson explained. “The art of being aware of our natural surroundings which are the raw ingredients to compose the image – that image is then captured within a moment in time. Whisky is similar in that it is the taste which is the art… using the same raw natural ingredients, composing and distilling these ingredients in time, then patiently awaiting the day of maturity with anticipation.”

McIvor added: “Absorbing the spectacular images on the label whilst taking a sip of the amber dew provides a powerful combination that can amplify and instil joyful memories of a time and a place. Visual beauty is emotive, and I look for balance and complexity, maturity and texture in the whisky. It is the task of the blender to bring all these elements together to create extraordinary landscapes of aroma and flavour.”

The Perspective Series will be available from Master of Malt soon. In the meantime, let’s check out the range:

Perspective Series

The 21-Year-Old Blended Scotch Whisky

21-Year-Old Blended Scotch Whisky

First in the selection is a 21-Year-Old Blended Scotch Whisky, bottled at 43% ABV and set to retail for £89.00. We were seriously impressed by this one, which could prove quite the bargain for a spirit of its age.

Producer Tasting Note: Fresh, vibrant fruit is undercut by delicate oak and spice, gracefully interwoven with vanilla and honey. A lingering finish caps the experience.

Label image: Sandwood Bay, a natural bay on the north-west coast of mainland Scotland best known for its remote mile-long beach.

Robertson says: “The last shot of the day. I can still hear the cliffs resounding with the timeless echo of the waves. The combination of the creamy, subtle tones of the ocean crashing onto the fine, granular structure of the sand capture the soulful and beautiful peace exuded by the area.”

Perspective Series

The 25-Year-Old Blended Scotch Whisky

25-Year-Old Blended Scotch Whisky

Next up is 25-Year-Old Blended Scotch Whisky, bottled at 43% ABV and priced at £145.00. An intriguing blend, the 25-year-old features a stunning snap of The Cuillins as its label art.

Producer Tasting Note: The nose exudes soft, ripe autumnal fruit and fresh citrus with waves of honey and prickles of spice. The palate is full, viscous, fresh and lively, leading to a long, satisfying finish.

Label image: The Cuillins, a range of rocky mountains located near Talisker’s home on the Isle of Skye.

Robertson says: “The light danced around the mountains, creating interesting shapes and textures over the rugged terrain, and eventually all the elements came together for that one moment. Pure in its simplicity, it captures the vastness, ruggedness and subtlety of nature.”

Perspective Series

The 35-Year-Old Blended Scotch Whisky

35-Year-Old Blended Scotch Whisky

We felt the standout of the range (narrowly edging out the 21-year-old), was this 35-Year-Old Blended Scotch Whisky, bottled at 43% ABV and priced at £250.00. It’s absolutely sublime, and also features our favourite image of the image of the night as its label art.

Producer Tasting Note: Rich, mature notes of fruit and malt are augmented by a lively crispness from the grain. Candied fruit emerges, carried on waves of honey and balanced by judicious hints of oak. The finish is long and relaxed.

Label image: Rannoch Moor, an expanse of around 50 square miles of boggy moorland notable for its wildlife.

Robertson says: “Below the distant Grampian mountains, silence and solitude reigns, with the deer, heather and bog myrtle all contributing to this desolate no-man’s land fashioned by nature. One thousand feet above sea-level, the light and shadow play against the lone cottage on Rannoch Moor.”

Perspective Series

The 40-Year-Old Blended Scotch Whisky

40-Year-Old Blended Scotch Whisky

The final expression in the range is the impressive 40-Year-Old Blended Scotch Whisky, bottled at 40.1% ABV and set to retail for £450.00. This is the only bottling with a peat-forward profile, so if that’s your kind of thing don’t miss out on this beauty.

Producer Tasting Note: Plentiful soft, ripe tropical fruit combines with hints of vanilla, coffee beans and subtle yet uplifting spice. A rich, textured, lively palate builds in luxuriance towards a deliciously long, lingering and rewarding finish.

Label image: Buichaille Etive Mòr, a mountain at the head of Glen Etive in the Highlands of Scotland.

Robertson says: “The sentinel of Glen Coe displays its majestic dominance over the landscape in a striking yet sympathetic way. The early morning light, coupled with the winter morning air, rendered an absolute clarity and sharpness not normally seen.”

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How J&B Scotch charmed Hollywood’s Rat Pack

Created by London wine merchants Justerini & Brooks, J&B Rare Scotch whisky was the drink of choice for world-famous casino crooners The Rat Pack, travelling more than 5,000 miles to…

Created by London wine merchants Justerini & Brooks, J&B Rare Scotch whisky was the drink of choice for world-famous casino crooners The Rat Pack, travelling more than 5,000 miles to make it into their tumblers. Here, writer Damian Barr explains just how Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra and company got their mitts on the liquid…

Before tux-clad entertainers Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Junior, Peter Lawford and Joey Bishop took the Las Vegas casino scene by storm in the 1950s and ‘60s, the city was little more than “a patch in the Nevada Desert,” Barr explains, speaking at London bar Oriole during J&B’s Rat Pack Redistilled event.

“The Rat Pack turned it into what it is now – for better and for worse,” he continues. “They liked to gatecrash one another’s shows, and often if you were going to a show for one of the members it would say over the marquee, ‘Dean Martin, maybe Frank, maybe Sammy’, because they just never knew who was going to turn up.”

J&B and America, a special relationship

So, how did the high rollers of Hollywood wind up quaffing what was, in fact, a wine merchant’s whisky? It all started with the ‘J’ in J&B – an Italian master distiller, blender, and creator of what were then referred to as ‘foreign cordials’, Giacomo Justerini, when he arrived in London from Italy back in 1749.

“He didn’t have much money, but he had lots of charm and a recipe which he copied on the back of a notebook and brought from his uncle in Bologna,” says Barr. “He needed a business partner so he set about finding one, and found Dr Samuel Johnson.”

Justerini set up as a wine merchant with Johnson’s nephew, George, at 76 Haymarket – the business remains nearby today – until eventually George sold his share of the business to Albert Brooks, paving the way for the J&B recognisable today.

“By the early nineteenth century, a huge interest increased in the number of private members clubs and they all opened up around St James’s,” says Barr. “Great whisky barons like [creator of Old Vatted Glenlivet] Andrew Usher and Tommy Dewar noted the increased demand and decided to improve their recipes. Every other whisky maker on the block – including Justerini and Brooks – decided to up their game.”

Brooks approached Usher – the first person to commercially blend whisky – and tasked him with creating a smoother blend. Usher, together with his business partner James Anderson, developed J&B Club, the precursor to J&B Rare. The duo was so enamoured with it, they decided to buy the business from Justerini and Brooks.

The Duke of Windsor J&B

The Duke of Windsor enjoying a glass of J&B

Not long later, during world war one, Anderson’s son met a exceedingly charismatic young man called Eddie Tatham in the trenches. He joined the company immediately after the war ended, and soon became a director. With the advent of cinema, film actors became friends with Tatham, who was “very outgoing and well-dressed… a party boy”.

“Eddie was a charmer, he was the kind of man that you’d want to be on out with on a night that might take unexpected turns,” says Barr. “His tactic was to choose top restaurants, top bars, top hotels, what became known as the tip of the trade. He received a bonus not long after joining of £200, which equates to £12,000 in today’s money, and set sail for America.”

There he met blender Charlie Julian, who is responsible for creating Chivas Regal among other whiskies. Together, they begin the blending process for what would eventually become J&B Rare: a blend of at least 42 single malt and grain Speyside whiskies, including liquid from Knockando, Auchroisk, Strathmill and Glen Spey. After Prohibition was repealed, Tatham set about “importing the good stuff from Scotland for the thirsty of America”.

With the help of distributor Abe Rosenberg, Tatham decided to target the national markets; Las Vegas, Palm Springs, Palm Beach, New Orleans, Newport. “Of these, the biggest was Las Vegas; big gamblers, big singers, big comedians, all playing the casinos,” says Barr. Performers like the Rat Pack, who he became very good friends with.

“Abe Rosenberg had this trick – he would send half a gallon of J&B to the dressing room of a star who had a show on and say, ‘I enjoyed your show very much, have one on me’,” says Barr. “Even if he was in New York or Rome or Paris! Apparently he was trying to give away up to 1,000 cases of Scotch every single year.”

The most loyal of J&B’s Rat Pack admirers was Dean Martin, the ‘amiable drunk’ persona, which he honed at the Sands Hotel in Vegas. “Introduced with the words ‘…and now, direct from the bar’, he would bound on stage, taking a Scotch from somebody’s table on the way,” says Barr. “There was often a bar on stage, and he’d ‘top-up’ his glass before launching into the final rendition of That’s Amore. He used to tell his audiences, “I don’t drink any more… I don’t drink any less, either’.”

Entertaining as it was, Martin’s intoxication was a little more than a stage act. “His son Ricky said that while it was true [his] Dad drank, the drunky routine was an act,” explains Barr. “On stage, and later on his TV show, he did have a J&B Scotch and soda but it was almost always a weak one – and sometimes it was just an apple juice.”

Dean Martin J&B

Dean Martin, that’s actually apple juice in his glass. No, really!

 

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Our take on booze trends for 2019!

New year, new drinks. Here’s what we reckon we’ll be debating, writing about and, most importantly, sipping in 2019. Tasting glasses at the ready… There’s nothing we enjoy more here…

New year, new drinks. Here’s what we reckon we’ll be debating, writing about and, most importantly, sipping in 2019. Tasting glasses at the ready…

There’s nothing we enjoy more here at MoM Towers than a good old chinwag about delectable spirits. And with the earth completing another full circuit round the sun, what better excuse to surmise, debate and generally theorise about the state of booze in 2019? Read on for the lowdown on ten drinks trends we think will influence what and how we consume in the coming 12 months. Enjoy!

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Diageo to transform Glenkinchie Distillery

Lowland malt distillery Glenkinchie, an important component in Johnnie Walker blended Scotch, has just been granted planning permission for a new visitor centre. Located just over 15 miles from Edinburgh,…

Lowland malt distillery Glenkinchie, an important component in Johnnie Walker blended Scotch, has just been granted planning permission for a new visitor centre.

Located just over 15 miles from Edinburgh, Glenkinchie is one of very few Lowland malt whisky distilleries. Being so close to the capital means that the distillery has huge potential as a tourist attraction, something that Diageo is now looking to build upon. We have just received news that East Lothian Council has granted permission for development work on the distillery.

There has been a distillery on the site since 1837, but the current Glenkinchie set-up dates back to 1890. As part of Diageo’s plans, its Victorian red brick warehouse will become a new all-singing, all-dancing visitor experience which including a shop, a bar, a cocktail classroom, and tastings rooms. The new visitor centre will also show off Glenkinchie’s unique asset, a scale model of the distillery built for the 1925 Empire Exhibition (watch this short film to see the model in all is magnificence.) Work will begin on the expansion early next year.

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Whisky Advent 2018 Day #7: Smokey Monkey

It’s the first Friday of Advent! Got that weekend feeling? You will once you discover the dram squirrelled away behind Door No.7 of Drinks by the Dram’s Whisky Advent Calendar……

It’s the first Friday of Advent! Got that weekend feeling? You will once you discover the dram squirrelled away behind Door No.7 of Drinks by the Dram’s Whisky Advent Calendar…

Much excite in these parts today. Not only is it Friday, but there’s a right treat awaiting discovery in the Whisky Advent Calendar today.

But first! Some background. Scotch whisky cocktails are DELICIOUS. But historically (and this is an attitude that can linger in some circles today), single malts have been seen as ‘too good’ for mixing. What’s that all about?! A great drink needs flavour, character and balance, and single malt Scotches tend to have that dream trio in the bucket-load.

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Glen Moray parent buys Cutty Sark blended Scotch whisky brand

La Martiniquaise-Bardinet, the company that owns Glen Moray single malt, has boosted its Scotch portfolio with the acquisition of blended whisky Cutty Sark from Macallan parent Edrington. In a statement…

La Martiniquaise-Bardinet, the company that owns Glen Moray single malt, has boosted its Scotch portfolio with the acquisition of blended whisky Cutty Sark from Macallan parent Edrington.

In a statement released this morning, Edrington said it was ‘pleased’ that it had sold the brand to La Martiniquaise-Bardinet, but didn’t disclose how much the French drinks group had paid for the whisky.

It’s set to be a pretty swift transaction, with all the legal and regulatory stuff expected to be complete within a month. As part of the deal, Edrington says it will continue to help with bottling, blending and other practicalities during a transition period.

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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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10 of the best super spooky Halloween spirits!

Whether you’re attending a party full of deadly debauchery or spending a quiet night at home treating yourself, we’ve got the tipples to tickle your festive fancy this Halloween… Halloween…

Whether you’re attending a party full of deadly debauchery or spending a quiet night at home treating yourself, we’ve got the tipples to tickle your festive fancy this Halloween…

Halloween has come around again, promising a day of ghosts and ghouls, spiders and scares and all things frightening and foul. But there is truly nothing more terrifying than the idea of enduring the endless barrage of begging children or the heaving town centres without a decent drink in hand (severed or otherwise)…

So, let us set the scene for spooky celebrations and paranormal partying this year. Spare yourself the tricks and instead treat yourself to these spooktacular offerings. We’ve compiled a list of spine-tingling spirits, each with the scariest of serves, from peculiar punches to creepy cocktails.

So come and join us – if you dare – and cast your eyes upon the most bewitching boozes around. Oh – and be sure to check out our Halloween 2018 page for more ghastly greats… Mwahahaha!

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Q&A: Alasdair Day, R&B Distillers co-founder!

We meet Alasdair Day, R&B Distillers, to chat Tweeddale blends, his whisky heritage and what the future holds for blended Scotch whiskies… R&B Distillers is a company on a fascinating…

We meet Alasdair Day, R&B Distillers, to chat Tweeddale blends, his whisky heritage and what the future holds for blended Scotch whiskies…

R&B Distillers is a company on a fascinating journey. Inspired by a mysterious old ledger, its Tweeddale blended Scotch whiskies challenge long-held conventions around the category. Its first distillery, Isle of Raasay, is bringing jobs and tourists to the eponymous little-known Hebridean island. And there’s a second distillery in the works in Scotland’s Borders region, too. Co-founder Alasdair Day is the driving force behind it all, and we caught up with him over the phone to talk specifically about all things Tweeddale…

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Ballantine’s Single Malt? The blended Scotch giant branches out

Ballantine’s Single Malt is officially a thing – the Chivas Brothers-owned blended Scotch (the second-largest in the the world by volume) is launching three 15 year old single malts under…

Ballantine’s Single Malt is officially a thing – the Chivas Brothers-owned blended Scotch (the second-largest in the the world by volume) is launching three 15 year old single malts under its own brand: Glenburgie, Miltonduff and Glentauchers.

Ballantine’s shifts more than 70 million bottles a year worldwide, second only to Diageo’s Johnnie Walker in the global Scotch whisky volume stakes. It’s big news that the brand is to release three Ballantine’s-branded Speyside single malts into the world – each with a fairly hefty age-statement at that.

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