fbpx
Created by potrace 1.12, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2015

We're just loading our login box for you, hang on!

Master of Malt Blog

Tag: Bourbon

The joy of distillery pets

From man’s best friend to an ostentation of peafowl, many distilleries are home to more than just the people behind the brands. Today, we talk tail feathers, snooze spots and…

From man’s best friend to an ostentation of peafowl, many distilleries are home to more than just the people behind the brands. Today, we talk tail feathers, snooze spots and botanical snacks with the proud owners of several distillery pets

Once upon a time, distilleries would employ mousers fearless, often semi-feral cats with the job of keeping the mice out of the barley. These days, all kinds of creatures can be found sleeping by warm stills, entertaining visitors or patrolling the grounds. Some even have their own Instagram accounts. MoM found five distillers willing to share the stories of their four-legged or feathered friends.

Darcy from the Cambridge Distillery, England

You could say that Darcy is the brains behind the entire operation: it was walks with her owners, (Cambridge Distillery founders) William and Lucy Lowe, through Grantchester Meadows that sparked the idea for the business. “There wouldn’t be a Cambridge Distillery without Darcy,” explains Will. “We made the decision to start making gin whilst out on a walk with her and it was out on a walk that we discovered the amazing array of botanicals that surround us, which inspired us to create the world’s first truly seasonal gin. Everything went from there.”

Darcy the black lab even has her favourite botanicals, including nettles, apple and pear blossom, blackberries and blackcurrants. She can usually be found overseeing operations by following the sunny spots around the distillery and then cooling off with a swim in the river Cam, which flows behind the site. It really is a dog’s life. 

Chicken from FEW Spirits, Chicago, Illinois

Don’t be fooled by the name, chicken is a dog. Though he is also a bit of a chicken: “He is a very good boy but he hates the noise and smells at the distillery,” says FEW founder and Chicken’s human, Paul Hletko. “It’s a very scary place for him and he just wants to sit in my lap when he’s there.” Chicken enjoys hanging out with his brother, Elvis, and naturally the pair have their own Insta – @chicken_and_elvis (chicken is the foreground above, Elvis behind).

The big question is how did the family end up with a dog called Chicken? “I have three kids, two wanted a dog. One wanted a chicken. She’s still mad and thinks she got ripped off,” explains Hletko. Elvis’s name choice was a bit more conventional – he came home when Hlekto’s oldest child was in a big Elvis Presley phase. “My wife and I wanted Egbert (or Egg, for short) to answer the ‘chicken/egg which came first’ question forever, but we lost to the kids.

“Elvis is also a very good boy.” MoM wonders how often he leaves the building…

Ginny from Manifest Distilling, Jacksonville, Florida 

Ginny the cat walked into the distillery right off the street. “She hid in our ‘high-proof room’ for the first couple days before she realised that we were her friends,” says general manager Jim Webb. 

It wasn’t a great start for Manifest’s new feline friend – she needed a trip to the vet to get her jabs as well as get rid of what Webb describes as “FLEAS FROM HELLFIRE”. They also discovered she had a broken leg, right at the knee, that couldn’t be fixed. Luckily, it healed on its own and restored Ginny with the majesty and mischief of a good distillery cat: “She can climb and jump and set off the motion detector alarm at all hours of the evening and early morning,” says Webb.

In less unusual times, Ginny’s favourite job was to go on tours and meow to get all sorts of attention from new people. Now, though, tours are on hold so Webb and the team have a new full-time job, paying Ginny attention. “She likes finding confined places to nap and currently is in our front-of-house stock closet snuggled up in a case of plastic shot glasses (safely wrapped for their future shooter’s protection),” says Webb. 

Ginny’s also on the ‘gram: @manifesting_ginny

Otis from Badachro Distillery, Scotland

Otis, the long-haired Weimaraner, joined the Badachro menagerie just before lockdown. “We already have two Labradors, Ellis, our old lady (13) and Timo (10) who were only mildly amused – to be honest, we think Ellis wanted to give him back straight away, but Timo quite enjoys having a little brother to go out for walks with,” says Badachro co-founder Vanessa Quinn.

Izzy the cat “tolerates” Otis, while the chickens are having to take a temporary break from being free range and the ponies believe him to be crazy. “One of the highlights of Otis’s life at the distillery are the delivery drivers and the posties, always prepared with a dog biscuit. They are more than welcome and he will let us know when they come up the drive,” says Quinn.

As lockdown life eases, visitors have started to return to the distillery and many are keen to meet Otis, who has become a hit on the Badachro Insta (@badachrodistillery).

Otis is nearly six months old now and Quinn says he might be trained as a gun dog, though he hasn’t yet decided what he wants to be when he grows up.

Rowan from Lux Row Distillers, Bardstown, Kentucky

Most distilleries have cats or dogs. Rowan, however, is a peacock. In fact, Lux Row inherited a handful of peacocks from the property’s former owners, the Ballard family. When the distillery opened in 2018, the folk at Lux Row say there were about half a dozen birds. “Now we’ve got at least 17 four new babies this year.”

While most are tricky to tell apart, Rowan boasts the longest tail feathers and so the ambassadors named him after a prominent historical Bardstown figure, who also gives his name to the road on which the distillery is located. Handy. Rowan enjoys strutting his stuff for the visitors and allows himself to be photographed after all, every side is his best side.

“No other distillery on the Bourbon Trail (that we know of) has such unique animals,” the team at Lux says. Mr Ballard still comes to feed the peacocks two or three times a week, but every now and then they may snack on some spilled leftover grain.

No Comments on The joy of distillery pets

The Nightcap: 3 July

It’s a bumper week for The Nightcap, with stories about The Macallan, Diageo, competition winners, the artist formerly known as Plantation rum and a new Swift bar. Lovely stuff. It’s…

It’s a bumper week for The Nightcap, with stories about The Macallan, Diageo, competition winners, the artist formerly known as Plantation rum and a new Swift bar. Lovely stuff.

It’s been another busy week and a whole heap of boozy news has occurred. With so many stories floating around it can be hard to keep up. It’s not as if you have some kind of contraption to corral it up into one place to hand, like a big booze news net or one of those massive gloves they have in that American sport with the baseball hats. Lucky for you, we’ve got just the thing. Our delightful round-up of all the drinks industry happenings from the last seven days – it’s The Nightcap!

On the MoM blog this week Kristy recalled her trip to Texas distillery Balcones as our exclusive Balcones Barrel Pick landed at MoM Towers, Adam spoke to John Quinn about the journey to restore Tullamore D.E.W Distillery and Jess broke down why garnishes are so great with the help of some industry experts. Annie then shone our MoM-branded spotlight on Cornwall’s first distillery and then had some advice on how you can upgrade your BBQ beverages, while Henry asks what it takes for a Cognac to be singled out for the vintage treatment while enjoying a new Frapin expression, made one of the world’s most delicious cocktails the way it should be made and celebrated some of our favourite places in London to drink whisky.

For the very last time, we’d like to thank all of you who entered last week’s virtual pub quiz. It’s been a pleasure teasing you with all kinds of weird and wonderful boozy trivia and hopefully, you all had fun. Thomas Knockaert certainly enjoyed himself, as he has the distinction of being the final winner! You can check out the answers to the last quiz (*sob*) below.

The Nightcap

The rum formerly known as Plantation

Maison Ferrand rename Plantation Rum brand 

Plantation Rum announced this week that its brand name will change. While we don’t know what the new name will be yet, we do know that its production methods and the liquid inside the bottle will remain the same. It’s also clear that the move was prompted by the global protests for social justice and racial equality spearheaded by the Black Lives Matter movement. “As the dialogue on racial equality continues globally, we understand the hurtful connotation the word plantation can evoke to some people, especially in its association with much graver images and dark realities of the past,” says Alexandre Gabriel, Plantation Rum master blender. “We look to grow in our understanding of these difficult issues and while we don’t currently have all the details of what our brand name evolution will involve, we want to let everyone know that we are working to make fitting changes.” Global brand manager Stephanie Simbo added that the rum brand “wants to be on the side of actions and solutions”. This case is a reminder of rum’s complex history and the fact that it is inextricably linked to slavery. But this is so rarely acknowledged, which is why we think this is great news and a meaningful step in the right direction.

The Nightcap

The full Double Cask range. It’s a beautiful sight.

The Macallan adds to Double Cask range

The Macallan has bolstered its Double Cask range with two new aged expressions, the Double Cask 15 Years Old and Double Cask 18 Years Old. The former is said to impart aromas of dried fruit, toffee and vanilla, and delivers a warming finish with a creamy mouthfeel, while the latter is said to be filled with notes of dried fruits, ginger, toffee and a warm oak spice finish that’s balanced by sweet orange. Fans of the distillery will remember The Macallan Double Cask 12 Years Old was first introduced in 2016 as part of a series that celebrates the union of American and European oak sherry-seasoned casks. The Speyside distillery sources its European oak in northern Spain and the French Pyrenees, and American oak from Ohio, Missouri and Kentucky. Both types are transported to Spain, where they are made into casks, seasoned with sherry and then shipped to The Macallan Estate where they are filled. “Bringing together American and European oak sherry-seasoned casks to achieve the perfect balance of flavours is incredibly exciting for the whisky mastery team, and we are proud to offer two new expressions to this distinctive range for The Macallan Double Cask fans to explore,” says Kirsteen Campbell, master whisky maker of The Macallan. “Oak influence is the single greatest contributor to the quality, natural colour and distinctive aromas and flavours at the heart of The Macallan’s single malts.”

The Nightcap

Each expression is the ‘first and last of its kind’, according to Diageo.

Diageo launches Prima & Ultima and plans carbon-neutral distillery in Kentucky

Diageo has had a busy week! First up is its shiny new whisky alert, announcing the launch of a very luxurious set of single malts, named Prima & Ultima. The first and last. Because each is the ‘first and last of its kind’, according to the press release. See what they did there? There are eight cask strength whiskies in the series selected by none other than Dr Jim Beveridge OBE. “Each of the eight whiskies I’ve selected for Prima & Ultima tells a tale of heritage and craftsmanship and I’ve chosen them from distillers of great personal importance to me,” says Dr Beveridge. You’ll find whisky from Cragganmore, Lagavulin, Mortlach, Port Ellen, Clynelish, Caol Ila, Talisker, and The Singleton of Dufftown, and each bottling marks a significant period of whisky-making for its distillery, with each one accompanied by a limited edition book of personal stories from Dr Beveridge himself, along with a 20ml sample. If you have a spare £20,000 you can get your hands on the entire set, though you’ll have to register first (which opens on 22 July). There are only 238 sets though, so better be snappy! 

 

The other big news is physically much bigger, because Diageo has revealed its plans to construct Bulleit Bourbon brand’s new Kentucky whiskey distillery, and it’s going to be carbon neutral! It’ll run on 100% renewable electricity (even the on site vehicles), using electrode boilers and a combination of renewable energy sources. It’s costing a cool $130 million and is set to be up and running by 2021, with the capacity to produce just over 34 million litres each year. Get ready to say hello to one of the largest carbon-neutral distilleries in North America!

The Nightcap

Congratulations to you, Stephanie Macleod!

International Whisky Competition 2020 winners announced

The results are in. The 11th edition of the International Whisky Competition whiskies has concluded after drams from around the world were judged side by side at the event in Estes Park, Colorado from 10-14 June. The top recognition, Whisky of the Year, was awarded to John Dewar and Sons – Double Double 32 Year Old (Blended Scotch), which scored 96.4 points, the highest-scoring whisky of the competition. This meant Stephanie Macleod, the brand’s master blender, became the first woman to win this prize and it was also the second year running that Macleod has won the accolade of Master Blender Of The Year, after she made history in 2019 as the first woman to win the award. John Dewar and Sons also won the Golden Barrel Trophy. “At Dewar’s we aim to push the boundaries of what is expected from the whisky category and have a long-standing commitment to innovation, so we are delighted with our success in the 2020 competition and it is an honour to be named Master Blender of the Year,” says Macleod. “I accept this award on behalf of the whole team at Dewar’s who have shown relentless hard work and dedication to achieving the very best quality and taste for our beautifully crafted whisky, despite the challenges this year has held. It is incredibly rewarding indeed to see these efforts appreciated.” Other winners were Glenmorangie’s Dr Bill Lumsden who won Master Distiller of the Year, while Ardbeg won Distillery of the Year. You can check out the full list here.

The Nightcap

How Soho may look as it goes pedestrian-only in the evenings this summer.

Soho gets a pedestrian makeover

As Britain wakes up from its lockdown slumber, bars, pubs and restaurants have been working out how to reopen safety. Westminster Council has hit on a great way to help, pedestrianise Soho. So this summer from 5pm to 11pm, London’s original nightlife capital will be out of bounds to motor vehicles as part of the new Summer Street Festival. The pedestrian-only area covers Dean Street, Frith Street, Greek Street and Old Compton Street (map including street closure timings and details can be found here.) We spoke with Simo from Milroy’s yesterday about his plans for reopening which includes 16 tables outside the whisky shop on Greek Street. Other famous venues due to reopen include Cafe Boheme, Dean Street Townhouse, and Bar Italia. Many places are also offering incentives to visit such as one free drink with dinner bookings and discounts for NHS workers. The best thing is, that if this experiment is judged a success, then there’s potential for full or part pedestrianisation to become permanent. So no more diesel fumes in your al fresco cocktail.

The Nightcap

We can’t wait to have those delicious Irish coffees at the new venue…

Swift to open all-day venue in Shoreditch 

Swift, you are really spoiling us! Not only will the award-winning Old Compton Street institution be opening again on Saturday 4 July but the couple behind it, Mia Johansson and husband Bobby Hiddleston, have announced a new location to open at the end of the month. Located on Great Eastern Street in Shoreditch, it will serve from 8am during the week and 11am on weekends, offering breakfast, coffee etc. alongside the sort of cocktails that made the original Swift such a destination (though not at 8am presumably.) The team issued a statement saying: “Whilst we’re all still in uncertain times and have a long road ahead of us on our way to recovery, we have faith in the British public’s love of coming together for great food and drink and are hopeful that London’s world-class cocktail scene will rebuild itself to come back stronger than ever. Sticking to our plan to open our second site is just the embodiment of our faith in this and we are so excited to start hosting guests again.” A bit of optimism, that’s what we like to hear. 

The Nightcap

Gordon & MacPhail has gone for the classic Teletubbies look with its new distillery

Gordon & MacPhail distillery gets the green light

Gordon and MacPhail (G&M) is edging ever closer to having a shiny new multi-million-pound distillery near Grantown. The whisky distiller and bottler has given the contractors, Morrison Construction, the green light to begin contruction at the site on the banks of the River Spey in Craggan in Scotland’s Cairngorm National Park. The facility will be the first new malt whisky distillery to be built in the Cairngorms National Park Authority (CNPA) area since its creation in 2003. The building was supposed to be already well underway by now, but because of Covid-19 crisis restrictions, the project had to be pushed back. The distillery, which G&M has said will become a “significant local employer,” will have the capacity to produce around 440,000 gallons of whisky a year. Forsyths of Rothes will supply and install the distilling equipment, while the visitor centre, tasting rooms, retail space and coffee shop are projected to attract 50,000 tourists annually. “These appointments are the next major milestone in delivering this long-term project for the company. We look forward to working with these established businesses who are both highly experienced in their own field,” says Ewen Mackintosh, managing director of Elgin-based G&M. “We’ve been really heartened by the warm welcome we have received locally. As a family-owned business located in the north of Scotland, we are very much rooted in our communities, and we are keen to develop strong relationships in Grantown and the surrounding area.”

The Nightcap

Why pour beer down the drain when you can feed it to cattle?

And finally. . . .  Wimbledon Brewery feeds cows with beer

Some of the most heartbreaking stories to come out of lockdown were about pubs having to pour beer that was going out of date down the drain. Oh, the humanity! When Wimbledon Brewery found itself with a lot of unsaleable beer destined for pubs, however, someone had a brainwave: why not feed it to cows? And not just any cows, the excess stock went to the beer-loving cattle at Trenchmore Wagyu Beef Farm in Sussex. The beer helps make Wagyu the tenderest and sweetest-tasting beef on the planet. In return, the brewery will receive its very own Wagyu burgers. This is not the only way the brewery has adapted. According to founder Mark Gordon, the company lost 90% of business when the hospitality industry closed but managed to survive by concentrating on “local home deliveries and increased sales to supermarkets and bottle shops. This went from a very low base to the equivalent of 80% of our pre-lockdown turnover.” He went on to say: “Soon after the lockdown was announced, we initially closed the brewery but quickly took the decision to reopen because beer can be very good for morale.” It certainly is, and that reminds us, it’s probably time for beer. Have a great weekend everyone!

The Nightcap

Pub Quiz Answers

1) In ‘Diary of a Nobody’, what brand of Champagne does Charles Pooter order from his local shop?

Answer: Jackson Freres

2) What’s the nearest single malt distillery to Edinburgh?

Answer: Holyrood

3) What’s the name of the famous copperworks at Rothes?

Answer: Forsyths

4) Who invented the spirit safe?

Answer: Septimus Fox

5) Which brand of whisky does Karen Hill (Lorraine Bracco) smuggle into prison for her husband (Ray Liotta) in ‘Goodfellas’?

Answer: J&B

6) Which cocktail was supposedly named after Zelda Fitzgerald?

Answer: White Lady

7) In the Jeeves & Wooster stories, what is the “secret” ingredient of the former’s hangover remedy?

Answer: Worcestershire Sauce

8) Which gin does Amy Whitehouse mention in the song ‘You Know I’m No Good’?

Answer: Tanqueray

9) Bernard de Voto’s book ‘The Hour’ is a paean to which cocktail?

Answer: Martini

10) In which of Shakespeare’s history plays is one of the characters drowned in a barrel of Malmsey wine?

Answer: Richard III

 

No Comments on The Nightcap: 3 July

The Nightcap: 19 June

It’s Friday and that means it’s time to pour yourself a dram, ignore any incoming emails and relax. Might we recommend some delightfully boozy news to accompany your drink? It’s…

It’s Friday and that means it’s time to pour yourself a dram, ignore any incoming emails and relax. Might we recommend some delightfully boozy news to accompany your drink? It’s the Nightcap!

Did you know that the “Here’s looking at you, kid” quote from Casablanca (1942) was improvised by Humphrey Bogart? So was “Heeeere’s Johnny!” from The Shining (1980), “You’re gonna need a bigger boat!” from Jaws (1975) and “Like tears in rain…” from Blade Runner (1982). All made up on the spot. When you realise that it puts a lot of pressure on you to come up with a good intro to the Nightcap. How profound or witty can you be introducing a round-up of boozy news? Maybe you lovely folk don’t need anything that grandiose. Maybe I could just say, “Here’s The Nightcap” and you’d all be fine with that. Well, here’s hoping. Because it’s all I’ve got. Here is. . . The Nightcap!

On the MoM blog this week we launched another terrific #BagThisBundle competition, this time with a whole heap of delicious Rebel Yell whisky up for grabs. Ian Buxton then returned to talk about how Scotch whisky coped with the global pandemic and what the future holds, while Adam talked delicious vermouth with Vermò and pointed you in the direction of another fresh batch of bargains. Annie spent this week enjoying some Nine Elms, a range of alcohol-free drinks specifically designed to complement food before Henry introduced a previously distillery-only expression from Bunnahabhain that’s now available only from Master of Malt and tasty whiskies from a lesser-known Japanese producer, all with a White Port and Tonic in hand.

A huge thank you again to all who entered last week’s virtual pub quiz and kudos to Jonathan Stoller, who we can confirm is our glorious victor! You can check out the answers to last Friday’s quiz below and this week’s edition of MoM pub quiz will be on our blog from 5pm as always.

The Nightcap

Five lucky dads will be sent the fully-stocked bar

Win a barful of Buffalo Trace for Father’s Day

What do you think your old man would like this Father’s Day? Some socks? A card? Or how about a whole bar stacked full of bourbon? Yes, please! Well, for five lucky fathers, their wildest whiskey dreams will come true this Sunday courtesy of Buffalo Trace. The prize is a wooden bar filled with delicious whiskeys from one of the world’s greatest distilleries. This includes Buffalo Trace Bourbon, Benchmark Bourbon, Eagle Rare Bourbon and Sazerac Rye Whiskey. For your dad to be in with a shout, all you have to do is nominate him on Instagram or Facebook, tag who you wish to nominate and make sure you both follow @buffalotraceuk. Pretty simple. But hurry as the competition ends tonight, Friday 19 June at 23:59. Kris Comstock, senior marketing director, commented: “We’ve found that in these uncertain times the need to maintain a connection to family and friends has become more important than ever. Here at Buffalo Trace, fellowship and sharing a drink with loved ones is at the heart of our core beliefs. Providing a bar for people to enjoy in the comfort of their own homes is our way of ensuring that despite social distancing, the tradition and meaning of Father’s Day is not lost.” The five lucky dads (sounds like an 80s comedy with Ted Danson) will be sent the fully-stocked bar along with someone to put it together so there will be no DIY sense of humour failures this Father’s Day.

The Nightcap

Du Nord Craft Spirits owner, Chris Montana

Du Nord Craft Spirits organises riot recovery fund

Earlier this month, Minneapolis’ Du Nord Craft Spirits suffered some pretty terrible damage as a result of riots in the city. The warehouse was engulfed in flames and 26,000 gallons of water was needed to put out the fires over four-and-a-half hours, along with much more damage to the surrounding area and businesses. But all is not lost, and luckily, there is something we can do to help! The Du Nord Riot Recovery Fund was set up by founders Chris and Shanelle Montana. However, this isn’t to raise money for the distillery itself. As it states on the Go Fund Me page, the distillery is “establishing this fund to support black and brown companies affected by the riots” and dedicated “to rebuilding Minneapolis in a way that ensures our cultural beacons are restored.” Initially, the target was set at $50,000 but the support has been immense, and at the time of writing just over half of the new $1,000,000 target has been achieved. It’s always wonderful to see the community come together in times of adversity, so please help if you can!

The Nightcap

Half price super fancy whiskies at Boisdale. Buy now, drink later.

Boisdale ‘war bonds’ the ‘best whisky deals of all time!’

It’s an incredibly rough time for the restaurant and bar industry but we’ve been impressed with some of the schemes that embattled businesses have come up with in order to survive. Boisdale, a small chain of restaurants in London specialising in steak, whisky and cigars, has come up with something particularly clever, ‘war bonds.’ They are the brainchild of owner Ranald MacDonald. The way they work is that you buy certain drinks or experiences now at a discount and cash them in when things reopen (we hear rumours that might be as soon as the 4 July). For example, a flight of whiskies from mothballed distilleries, Rosebank 1981, St. Magdalene 1964, Brora 30 year old, Port Ellen 1978, and Glenury Royal 36 year old, would normally set you back £230 but as a war bond, it’s only £115. MacDonald described them as “the best whisky deals of all time.” It’s not just whiskies, however, there are deals on Champagne, First Growth claret and music events that Boisdale is famous for. Find a full list here. But you’ll have to hurry because as soon as the restaurants reopen, then the bonds will come off the market. MacDonald commented: “To garner spirits during these testing times we thought that having a special treat to look forward to when our wonderful customers return to Boisdale would be a very good thing. The Boisdale War Bonds have been amazingly successful and we look forward to a non-stop victory celebration at Boisdale when we reopen!”

The Nightcap

Your cocktail must include no more than four ingredients, one being either Eight Lands Gin or Vodka.

Eight Lands launches mixology competition 

Eight Lands is celebrating its first anniversary with an experimental cocktail competition through social media. The prize? An Eight Lands cocktail masterclass for two with Harry Nikolaou, director of mixology at Four Season Hotel London at Ten Trinity Square, and a meal for two at the hotel’s restaurant, La Dame de Pic (it’s got two Michelin stars, folks). All entrants to the competition will receive a 10% discount code to purchase their own bottles of Eight Lands from the brand’s website and two runners-up will each receive a bottle of Eight Lands Organic Speyside gin and vodka. For all you amateur mixologists out, here’s what you need to do: create a unique cocktail, which must include no more than four ingredients, one being either gin or vodka. Bear in mind that you’ll have to impress Nikolaou and award-winning drinks writers and broadcasters Neil Ridley and Joel Harrison, who will front the competition as well as judging the entries. The winning cocktail will be announced during the first week of July online.  “It’s been an incredible year for us and we would have loved to celebrate with a big party for our friends and partners. However, in the circumstances we thought it would be fun to find a way to engage with our nation of locked-down amateur mixologists,” said Alex Christou, founder of the award-winning organic spirits brand from Speyside. “I am also really pleased to be working with Harry and our friends at Ten Trinity Square, as well as Neil and Joel in creating this competition. They all have a great passion for great drinks and will be fantastic judges.” The competition closes this Sunday 21st June, so get those entries in! For more info, head to www.eight-lands.com/competition

The Nightcap

When life gives you pineapples, make Piña Coladas!

And finally… Duppy Share Rum drops 1,000 pineapples to Londoners

On Saturday 27 June premium rum brand The Duppy Share will be embracing all things tropical and tasty by dropping off 1,000 pineapples to homes across London? Why? Because the 27th is National Pineapple Day, of course! Each household to receive a regular pineapple will also receive a code to redeem one free 5cl bottle of The Duppy Share Spiced Rum, which will be delivered directly to a chosen London address and you can share a snap of your pineapple on Instagram (be sure to hashtag #PineappleExpress and tag @theduppyshare) to potentially win an entire case of The Duppy Share Spiced. Be on the lookout for the special 50 golden pineapples, as anyone lucky enough to get their hands on one will receive a Home Piña Colada kit containing a 70cl bottle of The Duppy Share Spiced, two gold metal ‘Duppy’ Cups, a can of Coco Lopez and one Frobisher’s Pineapple Juice (250ml). So basically everything you need to make delicious Spiced Pineapple Coladas (you can purchase via The Duppy Share website if you miss out on the limited edition fruit). 

The Nightcap

Pub Quiz Answers

1) Which alcoholic drink is essential in making zabaglione? 

Answer: Marsala

2) Which of these is not a Speyside distillery?

Answer: Glenmorangie

3) What is Snoop Dogg’s favourite gin brand?

Answer: Tanqueray

4) What did Vladimir Putin give to David Cameron when they met 2012?

Answer: Armenian brandy

5) Which beer has Britain’s oldest trademark?

Answer: Bass

6) Which American whiskey brand was created in collaboration with Canadian rapper and actor Drake?

Answer: Virginia Black

7) Which aperitif do you need to make a Vesper according to Ian Fleming’s original recipe?

Answer: Kina Lillet

8) In ‘The Lord of the Rings’, which of these do hobbits not drink?

Answer: Whisky

9) Which Japanese whisky does Beyoncé reference on Lemonade track 6 Inch?

Answer: Yamazaki

10) Last month, Sarah Jessica Parker (off of Sex and the City) added a new wine to her Invivo X range. But what style of wine is it?

Answer: Southern French rosé

 

No Comments on The Nightcap: 19 June

#BagThisBundle – Win a bundle from Rebel Yell!

We’re back with another terrific #BagThisBundle; this time, there’s a whole heap of delicious Rebel Yell whisky up for grabs. Would you consider yourself a rule-breaker, a renegade, a rebel?…

We’re back with another terrific #BagThisBundle; this time, there’s a whole heap of delicious Rebel Yell whisky up for grabs.

Would you consider yourself a rule-breaker, a renegade, a rebel? I once walked on a patch grass once despite there being a sign that clearly said ‘Keep off the grass’. I felt terrible. Sometimes embracing the outlaw in you isn’t always the best idea. Unless you make all kinds of delicious bourbon, like Rebel Yell. Then you’ve earned that slice of sass. If Keith Richards is a fan and Billy Idol likes your whiskey so much he wrote a song inspired by the name, you’re doing something right.

If you haven’t tried any of its whiskey, you need to remedy this situation immediately to find out what I mean. Allow us to help you out, by offering you the chance to win a whole load of Rebel Yell whiskey you could enjoy, without spending a penny.

By now you’ve worked out that this is another fantastic MoM competition and will be dying to know what the prize is. Well, it’s the big one. The full Rebel Yell family. Yep, all of its whiskies, plus some quality merch. Here’s the list: 

a bundle from Rebel Yell

Basically you’ll receive a bounty that Keith Richards and Billy Idol would be more than happy to see turn up on their respective doorsteps. That’s how good this prize is. All you need to do now is enter the competition. How? Simple. Just follow these steps:

That was easy, isn’t it? Just complete those steps by midnight on Sunday 21 June, and you’re in with a chance to win! 

MoM ‘Bag This Bundle’ Competition 2020 open to entrants 18 years and over. Entries accepted from 16th June to 21st June 2020. Winners chosen at random after close of competition. Prizes not transferable and cannot be exchanged for cash equivalent. See full T&Cs for details.

1 Comment on #BagThisBundle – Win a bundle from Rebel Yell!

What we’re buying for Father’s Day

Today we ask a few people from around the office which bottle they are buying this Father’s Day for their dads. Some of the answers might surprise you… For many…

Today we ask a few people from around the office which bottle they are buying this Father’s Day for their dads. Some of the answers might surprise you…

For many of us this will be the first Father’s Day in years that we won’t be able to raise a glass to our fathers in person because of lockdown restrictions. It’s a particularly difficult time with grandparents unable to see their children and grandchildren, and the pubs are closed! But we don’t want the old man to feel unloved so we will be sending a card and something from Master of Malt such as a nice bottle of wine or two, a single malt whisky, or some unusual gin. What better way to say ‘Happy Father’s Day!’ than with booze. Here’s a selection of what a few people from Master of Malt and the wider Atom family will be buying their fathers.

Stevie Heyes – head of engineering

Fiona Macleod 33 Year Old – The Character of Islay Whisky Company

I’m treating my dad as he is hitting a milestone age later in the year (no more details for fear of meeting an untimely demise when I see him next). He loves Islay whisky, but he’s a frugal chap and wouldn’t dream of buying the Fiona Macleod 33 for himself, so I will. Well you’re only 70 once oops.

Jess Williamson content assistant

Jaffa Cake Gin

Since I introduced my dad to Negronis there’s literally nothing else he’d rather drink (so long as someone else is making them), and I’m yet to find a better gin for the cocktail than Jaffa Cake Gin! It’s super zesty, plus he loves finding new spirits to show his friends, and this is definitely a unique one. Negronis all around this Father’s Day!

Cal MeGuinness – trade service advisor

Diplomático Reserva Exclusiva

It’s safe to say that my dad is not the easiest man to buy for… A copy of ‘A Beginners Guide to Birdwatching has gone unread, and last years ‘World’s Greatest Dad’ mug has turned into a rather nifty pen pot. So this year I’ve decided to go for something a little different and picking up a bottle of Diplomático Reserva Exclusiva rum from Venezuela. It’s full of flavour on it’s own but also makes a rather delicious Rum and Ginger! Surely I can’t go wrong with rum?! 

Charlotte Gorzelak – social media and email assistant 

Caorunn Small Batch Gin

My dad has had a thing for gin ever since my sister introduced it to him seven years ago. Now we have a regularly updated bar shelf which has at least five types of gin. To add to his collection this Father’s Day, I am giving him a delightful Scottish gin made with dandelions, Caorunn Small Batch Gin. We’re going to drink it with a slice of red apple and plenty of ice.

Henry Jeffreys features editor

Father’s Day Whisky Tasting Set

My father likes his single malts but he’s more of a wine drinker. So what better way to broaden his whisky horizons than with the aptly-named Father’s Day Tasting Set. There’s a classic ten year old Islay, a 12 year old Loch Lomond, a small batch bourbon and just to confuse him, a blend of whiskies from around the British isles. 

Adam O’Connell  writer.

Tobermory Gin

My dad remembers drinking the occasional gin and tonic in his youth in Ireland, but for much of his life he’s had two go-to drinks: lager and Guinness. But recently he’s embraced all things botanical again and likes to pair his gin with ginger ale instead of tonic. A savoury gin with plenty of warming citrus and delicate sweetness, like Tobermory’s flagship gin, makes a great base for this cocktail. 

Peter Holland – rum consultant 

Foursquare 12 Year Old 2007 – Exceptional Cask Selection

My father is hardly a drinker, so I am thinking about something you really could spend your time with, a single pour that evolves and takes you on a journey. Foursquare 2007 is one of those spirits that covers a lot of bases. Perfect for those looking to explore cask strength rum; It offers so much without being overtly challenging but will not disappoint the experienced sipper either.

There’s more gift ideas and special offers to be found on our Father’s Day page. 

 

No Comments on What we’re buying for Father’s Day

Five minutes with… John Little from Smooth Ambler

Almost by accident, John Little built a business around his ability to sniff out great mature whiskey for his award-winning Old Scout brand. But what happened when other people got…

Almost by accident, John Little built a business around his ability to sniff out great mature whiskey for his award-winning Old Scout brand. But what happened when other people got in on the act and those sources dried up? We find out. . . .

John Little never intended to go into the whiskey business. He ran a number of ventures in West Virginia with his father-in-law Tag Galyean before founding Smooth Ambler in 2009 to make craft gin and vodka. But when they came across casks of quality mature bourbon that nobody else wanted, they saw an opportunity. According to Little: “A lot of people start businesses and they start sourcing and they create a brand, and if it goes really well maybe they build a distillery. Ours was the opposite story”. The result was Old Scout, a range of sourced mature whiskeys. They quickly built a reputation, winning awards and selling in unexpectedly large quantities. But success brought its own problems as good mature whiskey became harder and harder to source, and the Old Scout brand nearly disappeared. In 2016, Pernod Ricard took a majority stake in the company, with Little staying on as CEO. Since then the company has stabilised, producing a range of whiskeys from bought-in new make and spirits distilled by the team at Smooth Ambler. We talked to Little to find out more. . .

John Little nosing out some quality whiskey

Master of Malt: How are things in West Virginia?

John Little: They’re pretty good. Well, as well as can be expected during this crazy craziness. We’re still bottling but mashing and distillation has switched over to bottling hand sanitiser. So right now we’ve committed to 19,000 bottles of hand sanitiser so we’re getting those out. We’ve taken the crew that was doing mashing and distillation over to hand sanitiser.

MoM: When did you set up your distillery?

JL: We had the idea in 2008, my father-in-law and I were in a separate business together. We were trying to showcase what we love about living here in West Virginia: clean water, clean air, really wonderful people. It’s a cheap place to buy land so putting some sort of facility here was great. We’re an eight hour drive from 70% of the US population because we’re so close to all these big cities. We looked at making clothes and doing a customer service centre and making furniture. One day my father-in-law saw an article in Time magazine that talked about the growth of the distilling business. Ten days later there was a conference in Louisville Kentucky and that kind of set us on a path to where we are today. 

MoM: Were both of you keen whiskey drinkers before?

JL: At the time I was drinking a lot of vodka and some red wine and that was pretty much it at the time, and a little bit of whiskey. Our original business we started off was making vodka and gin. All those craft folks, everybody was trying to figure out how to do the shortest amount of time without any sort of profitability! With vodka and gin you can make it today and sell it tomorrow. When we first started we were making vodka and gin and making whisky whenever we had time; whisky wasn’t the focus. We did that for a while and then realised that vodka sells for one of two reasons: it’s either priced very well or marketed very well and ours was neither.

Smooth Ambler warehouses in West Virginia

MoM: How did you get into buying casks of mature whiskey? 

JL: In 2010 we realised that we needed another still to be efficient. We went to buy a still in Kentucky and I met Richard Wolf. He is a broker, he sells barrels for a living. At the time, late 2010/ early 2011, the bourbon business was much different than it is right now. There was bulk inventory available from probably six or seven different places. And we tasted through some of that. I think the tenth or eleventh sample that we tried was this high-rye mash bill from MGP [Midwest Grain Products of Indiana]. As soon as I nosed it I thought ‘yeah, this is what I’m looking for’.

MoM: Where did the name Old Scout come from?

JL: Everything up until that time had been about grain-to-glass. Then I found this juice and I called one of our distributors and I said ‘We have this chance to buy some bourbon that is really good and it’s affordable and we’re going to do different than what some other people have done, which is to say that they made it, we’re going to tell people that we didn’t make it’. That’s where the name ‘Old Scout’ came from, we’re going to say that we scouted this out. I said ‘can you sell it?’ and he said ‘yeah, I think so’ and so we bought 40 barrels. And then we bought 80 barrels. And then we bought 120 barrels. And then my partner said ‘I’ve seen enough, let’s buy all of them that we can!’  

MoM: How important is it to be honest about where your whiskey comes from?

JL: I want to make sure that we’re being open and honest in running our business, whether it’s about this or anything. That’s the way we try to live our lives and certainly that’s the way we’re going to run the business. I remember we won World’s Best Single Barrel in 2016 [at the World Whiskies Awards] with a single barrel of MGP and people were upset because we didn’t make it. A reporter, Mark Gillespie, asked me about it and I said ‘look, let’s be honest, MGP did the heavy lifting, I just made it available’. We have never lied about it, we have always told people the truth.

Inside one of the warehouses

MoM: And now that the American whisky boom has happened is it harder to get these whiskies or are they just a lot more expensive?

JL: Well, both! The ability to be able to buy whisky from other people, that went away quickly, in two years, maybe from 2011 to 2013. There just wasn’t stuff out there, people saw what was happening so fast. Investors were buying barrels and trying to flip ‘em. And that’s really what screwed us, right? Well, a lot of things. We made a lot of mistakes early on right, we just didn’t know. Like we bought a bunch of whisky, at one point in time we had about 3,800 barrels, early on. We were tiny our first still was 175 gallons and we had a little bitty business and we have 3,800 barrels and I thought ‘God, this is going to take a lifetime to sell!’ Turned out it took about three or four years! Our business was booming Old Scout was just going crazy and the plant was expanding and we were adding people and it was enabling us to do all sorts of other things. We kept thinking there were some deals out there, or strategic partnerships that we were going to make that would give us access to more whiskey. They never really materialised. 

MoM: How did this shortage affect the business?

JL: The ability to buy those barrels had gone away. We grew that business explosively from 2011 to 2016, and in 2016 we stopped selling Old Scout Ten, Old Scout Rye and Old Scout Bourbon. We took our three biggest sellers off the market because we just didn’t have the inventory. In 2014, we started buying whisky from MGP but instead of buying it in an aged format we bought it as new-made contract. That whisky that we bought is now just coming available for us at the end of last year. When we first started sourcing Old Scout it was all five years old. Then we went for three years without selling it. From 2016-19 we didn’t have any Old Scout except for a little bit of American Whiskey. And then just last September we bought out some more Old Scout (Revenant) Five Years Old. 

MoM: Have you noticed any difference between the stuff that you were buying in ready-aged and the stuff that you’ve aged yourself?

JL: No, I can’t taste any difference. When we started selling Old Scout it was five years old, the same age as what we’re selling it right now. The problem is that it aged up. So it was five years old and then it was six years old and then it was seven years old. Well then at the end, when we stopped selling it, some of that whisky was eight, nine, ten years old. We changed it from ‘Five’ to ‘Six’ to ‘Seven’ but by the time we got to ‘Seven’ we were big and we had a lot of distribution so we didn’t want to change it to an ‘Eight year Old’ and we’d have some Seven and some Eight so we just understated the age. We were putting eight, nine, ten year old juice in a seven year old bottle. So if you drank Old Scout in 2016, or whatever was leftover from 2016-17 you were drinking an eight, nine or ten year old product. And if you taste that aside the Old Scout that we’re putting out you say ‘well, it’s good but it’s as good’ because it’s a five year old whisky compared to an eight or nine year old whisky. That’s one of the issues that we have but with Old Scout I didn’t really see a way around it right, unless we waited another four years which is something that we just couldn’t do.  

The Smooth Ambler range

MoM: Have you been distilling your own whisky as well and maturing it alongside Old Scout?

JL: Yeah, we do it for Big Level, which is 100% house-made. We think of our business now in three ways: the stuff we make, Big Level and some other products that aren’t even out yet; the things that we don’t, which is Old Scout; and then in 2013/14 we created a brand called Contradiction, and it’s a blend of things that we make and things that we don’t. That’s where the name came from. We used to primarily make a wheated bourbon, that’s what Big Level is. It’s about a third of what we make and two-thirds sourced. So a wheated bourbon mixed with a bourbon made from rye. 

MoM: How has it been working with Pernod Ricard?

JL: There have been some growing pains, mostly from figuring out how a small brands fits in among the big brands. But they have made us a better business, that makes better whiskey, is safer, and more efficient. And they are as much like family as any corporate business can be. We’re proud of our relationship with them.

MoM: And do you still do a vodka or was that left behind?

JL: We stopped selling vodka in 2015-16, and stopped selling gin in 2017. If you go into a store and you have ten minutes of their time, and you only have three things to show them, what do you show ‘em? You show them the three biggest sellers and they were always whisky. So gin was sort of forgotten about. But our gin was delicious and we still have people all the time begging us to make it again. Our response is always ‘well if you had been buying a whole lot more back in the day we wouldn’t have stopped making it!’ 

MoM: How has the EU/US trade tariffs affected your business?

JL: We’ve had to change our prices on everything, in order to be competitive in the EU and UK. Trade wars, as far as I can tell, are bad for everybody. But you know, I love the market there. London is one of my favourite cities to go to. The best bars in London just also happen to be some of the best bars in the world.

MoM: What are your favourite ways to drink your whiskey?

JL: I’m pretty simple, at home I’ll make bourbon and ginger ale. In a bar I’m going to be pretty basic too. I’ll probably drink it in an Old Fashioned. One of my favourites is a drink called the Brown Derby. A mixture of bourbon, grapefruit and honey, it’s named after a Los Angeles diner that was shaped like a hat, a brown derby [take a look at the picture on Wikipedia].  

Smooth Ambler whiskeys are available from Master of Malt.

 

No Comments on Five minutes with… John Little from Smooth Ambler

Five minutes with… Oskar Kinberg, Hide

He may have a Michelin-starred kitchen at his disposal, but you won’t find bartender Oskar Kinberg – one of the creative minds behind acclaimed London restaurant Hide –  raiding the cupboards…

He may have a Michelin-starred kitchen at his disposal, but you won’t find bartender Oskar Kinberg – one of the creative minds behind acclaimed London restaurant Hide –  raiding the cupboards for obscure ingredients. Here, Kinberg delves into the inner workings of a well-executed menu and shares two simple cocktail recipes you can make at home…

Serving up unfussy cocktails with a culinary twist, Hide’s menu is the culmination of 15 years’ bartending experience, which began when Kinberg moved to London from Sweden in early 2005. After seven years of tending bars around London – including private members’ The Cuckoo Club – Kinburg opened Michelin-starred Dabbous and Oskar’s Bar with business partner and chef, Ollie Dabbous.

The duo went on to meet Yevgeny Chichvarkin and Tatiana Fokina – the couple behind Mayfair’s Hedonism Wines – and together, they opened Michelin-starred dining experience, Hide, in 2018. The capital’s most eagerly-awaited restaurant opening in years, Hide is split across three levels: fining dining restaurant ‘Above’, all day restaurant and bakery ‘Ground’, and basement bar ‘Below’. 

Naturally, Below stocks a jaw-dropping selection of fine and rare spirits. But for us, the biggest draw is the cocktail list. ‘Whether the main flavour is a spirit, fruit or a vegetable, our aim is to present it in the very best way we can, using both modern and classic techniques,’ Hide Below’s website reads. As such, the menu changes seasonally, ‘so we can always use our favourite ingredients when they taste their best’, it continues.

Oskar Kinberg looking pensive

You’ll find drinks like the Creamed Corn Soda, made with Bulleit Bourbon, sweetcorn, Angostura bitters and soda, and Pineapple Express, which combines fortified muscat, pineapple, cardamom, bay leaf, and fino sherry. The classics have been given a twist, too – the Dry Martini is stirred with frozen birch sap instead of ice, ‘to give it a silky mouthfeel and a luxurious, soft finish’. Here, we caught five with Kinberg to find out more:

 

MoM: Who or what would you say are your biggest creative influences when it comes to shaping your bartending style and approach to designing drinks?

Oskar Kinberg: It has changed a lot over the years. As I started out it was very much about replicating other people’s work and classics and modifying them slightly. I think this is probably quite common. Next step was more like a stage of challenges – someone would say, ‘I bet you can’t make a nice drink with this’, handing me a disgusting ingredient, and then I would make something palatable with it. My standard answer now would probably be, ‘Why would I want to?’ I try to find inspiration in things that naturally sound delicious rather than the obscure and unknown. If you put nice things in the shaker, you usually get a good end result. You’re less likely to get a drink made with strawberries sent back than a drink with squid ink. I know this not only because it makes sense to everyone, but also because I’ve had a drink on a menu with squid ink, and it got very mixed reviews. To sum up, I try to only make drinks that I think our guests will enjoy.  

MoM: What sets Hide apart from your previous projects in terms of the equipment you use and the way you have approached the menu?

OK: The team is much bigger and our equipment is much nicer. Even so, our menu is smaller than previous places I have worked in. I personally find it draining reading a tome of cocktails when I get to a bar and much prefer to have a shorter menu of well-executed drinks. Guests always order mainly from the first two pages anyway. With that said, we have two pages of cocktails. Page one is the more seasonal one with more fresh ingredients. These drinks are long, light and fresh and based around fruits and berries. Page two is for spirit aficionados and the drinks there are more booze-forward. As such, not as seasonally-bound – more seasonal in an emotional way. Winter time would see more warm spices and summer would use lighter, fruitier flavours, while still being boozy. We obviously offer all the usual classics as well. We prefer saying yes rather than no to any request, however odd it may be. 

MoM: We love the sound of a Martini stirred with frozen birch sap instead of ice. Could you share any other inventive ways you’ve used ingredients or techniques to add texture to drinks?

OK: Thank you, I like it too! The best other example would be our Cross-Eyed Mary. We’re not the only ones doing a clarified Mary but it’s the best one I’ve tried. We make a tomato consommé with fresh tomatoes, basil, and spices and then combine this with a vodka washed with olive oil and a little bit of dry sherry. It’s really light and elegant. It’s more of a drink than a meal, as is the case with its Bloody sibling. We have a lot of regulars coming back just for this drink and they rave about it worldwide, bringing friends down to the bar from all corners of the world. We even had Jethro Tull’s manager – the band whose song the drink is named after – email us and inquire about it in a humorous ‘do not cease and desist’ email. I’m still waiting for them to pop in to try it though. 

“A good bartender is not the person that makes the best drinks, but the person that makes you feel the most at home”

MoM: Which drink(s) on the menu receives the most compliments from guests? What’s in it, how is it made, and why do people love it?

OK: Other than Cross-Eyed Mary, I would say that Adam & Eve is very popular. It’s a milk punch with fig leaf, rum, cider brandy and spices. This is a drink that goes against everything I’ve previously said, but comes out really clean and elegant. The balance is amazing, according to myself, and it’s very difficult to dislike it. We serve it very simply on a block of ice with no garnish. It looks like a glass of water but the flavours are amazing. Fig leaf tastes a bit like coconut, but not in a sunscreen way – a little bit greener. 

MoM: Is distilling your own spirit or liqueur something you’re interested in experimenting with, or do you prefer to bring different ingredients and flavours together in a bar setting?

OK: I don’t think so. Plenty of people are very good at it and certainly have a head start. I think I’m happiest when mixing other people’s spirits and liqueurs together. I would probably be more keen on getting in later in the production stage and learning about blending, etcetera. Never say never, though! 

MoM: They say every day’s a school day – what do you wish you knew when you started bartending that you know now? 

OK: Cocktails are a small proportion of bartending. A good bartender is not the person that makes the best drinks, but the person that makes you feel the most at home. There is also an element of work that needs to be done behind the scenes. Setting up and making sure your prep is good is as important as putting things away right at the end of the night and cleaning down. If this all fails you will end up looking like a fool anyway. If you have the discipline to do this well every day and every night you will be rewarded for it in the long run.  

MoM: Could you share a cocktail recipe or two that our readers could make at home?

OK: Ja. Not many of the drinks we make at Hide Below are that easy to replicate at home, I guess that’s why you come to us instead. Here is a perfect summer cocktail called Fallen Madonna. It’s fresh, fragrant and made with ingredients you can find in a supermarket. I’ve also included the recipe for an old favourite; Fizzy Rascal, also light, fresh and perfect in the warmer weather.  

The Fallen Madonna (perhaps a reference to ‘Allo ‘Allo)

Fallen Madonna

50ml Tanqueray gin
35ml flat tonic water
25ml aloe vera juice
12.5ml lemon juice
10ml sugar syrup

Add ingredients to an ice-filled shaker, shake and strain into an Old Fashioned glass with cubed ice. Garnish with pea shoots and flowers.

Fizzy Rascal

50ml Chopin potato vodka
15ml fresh lemon juice
15ml elderflower cordial
25ml apple juice
2 sage leaves
1 slice cucumber
Prosecco to top

Combine all ingredients in a shaker except prosecco, shake and strain. Serve in a Highball glass filled with cubed ice and top with prosecco. Garnish with extra sage leaves.

 

 

No Comments on Five minutes with… Oskar Kinberg, Hide

Cocktail of the Week: The New Yolk

This week we’re serving up a bourbon-based twist on the Brandy Alexander called the New Yolk. This dessert-style cocktail is straight off the menu at City Social, Jason Atherton’s Michelin-starred…

This week we’re serving up a bourbon-based twist on the Brandy Alexander called the New Yolk. This dessert-style cocktail is straight off the menu at City Social, Jason Atherton’s Michelin-starred restaurant and bar in London. Here, bar manager Catalin Ciont shares the story behind this indulgent tipple and talks us through the recipe…

Are you a ‘main and dessert’ rather than ‘starter and main’ kinda person? Do you find yourself partial to a pun-based cocktail name from time to time? Do you like drinking bourbon? If you answered yes to the above, prepare to feel many things as we describe this week’s Cocktail of the Week to you. 

Named New Yolk, this delectable drink hails from City Social’s ‘Signature’ list – a flavourful tour of Atherton’s various venues across the globe, from the Philippines to Doha, Dubai to Shanghai, St. Moritz to London and many more regions besides. When the team assembled the menu, they matched each restaurant to a classic cocktail before creating their own twist on the serve using different flavours and ingredients associated with the local culture there.

The New Yolk represents – you guessed it – Atherton’s New York-based restaurant The Clocktower, and combines bourbon whiskey, zabaglione cream (more on this in a moment), double cream and vanilla syrup. It’s a decadent whiskey-based twist on the classic Brandy Alexander, traditionally consisting of Cognac, crème de cacao and cream, usually topped with a light dusting of nutmeg.

While brandy-based sipper rose to prominence during the early 20th century – i.e. ages ago – it wasn’t the original. In fact, it’s a variation of an earlier, gin-based cocktail that was simply called ‘Alexander’. New Yolk, then, is a twist on a twist on a classic. Like the movie Inception in cocktail form, but with more double cream and fewer cliffhangers.

You might be wondering which ingredients put the ‘New York’ in ‘New Yolk’. As you may know, New York City has the largest population of Italian Americans in the entire country, and the cocktail is designed to reflect this in both flavour and formulation – bringing an Italian cooking technique together with America’s homegrown whiskey, bourbon. As such, the cocktail does require a little preemptive kitchen prep – City Social is a Michelin star venue, after all – but you’ll be pleased to hear there’s no complicated equipment involved. You just need a kettle (or a hob) and a couple of bowls.

“We’re going to use an Italian cooking method well known to make pasta carbonara, called bagnomaria or ‘bain-marie’,” says Ciont, “a type of heated bath. In our case, we’re using it to make a lovely homemade cream called zabaglione, which we will add to our cocktail later. It’s mostly used in Italian desserts for its creamy texture.”

Behold! The New yolk!

The key ingredients are the bourbon and homemade zabaglione cream, Ciont says – the bourbon giving the drink body and structure; the lactose from the double cream softening and rounding the alcohol. “Together with the rest of the ingredients they bring a unique pleasant taste and creamy texture to your pallet, easy to drink any time in the day or night,” he adds. 

The method is simple – shake and strain – but if you don’t have a professional cocktail shaker to hand, a protein shaker or blender will work too, Ciont says. Just follow the instructions below, grate some Tonka bean over the top (very much an optional garnish, it’s important to note) and you’re good to go.

Ready to get cracking (no yolk intended)? Below, you’ll find the methodology for both the zabaglione cream and the cocktail. As for any remaining cream left over… we hear it goes down a treat with a little fresh fruit and crushed amaretti. 

40ml FEW bourbon
30ml homemade zabaglione*
10ml double cream,
10ml vanilla syrup 

Fill a shaker up to the halfway point with ice before adding the bourbon, homemade zabaglione, double cream and vanilla syrup. Give the mixture a strong shake before straining it into a coupette glass. Use a kitchen fine strainer to avoid any pieces of ice in your glass. Garnish with grated Tonka bean and enjoy.

* To make your zabaglione you’ll need 6 egg yolks, 25g caster sugar, 50ml sweet wine or vermouth (like Martini Rosso). Fill a bowl with one litre of boiling water and then place another bowl on top (so the water heats the bottom). Add the egg yolks, caster sugar and sweet vermouth and stir the mixture until all the ingredients are creamy. Set aside.

 

No Comments on Cocktail of the Week: The New Yolk

The search for perfect snack & spirit pairings

If you’ve ever felt uncertain mixing spirits with snacks, you’re not alone. However, through rigorous and very scientific testing methods, we think we’ve uncovered some perfect pairings… Food and drink….

If you’ve ever felt uncertain mixing spirits with snacks, you’re not alone. However, through rigorous and very scientific testing methods, we think we’ve uncovered some perfect pairings…

Food and drink. The phrase rolls off the tongue in such a way that it makes me believe they should rarely be apart. Breakfast deserves orange juice. Tea demands biscuits. They complement each other so carefully that you can almost imagine every type of drink having an invisible string connecting it to its faithful food friend.

But then spirits enter the picture, and the strings end up getting a bit tangled. You can enjoy an excellent spirit with food, I just don’t think I’ve ever quite found a perfect duo. However, I truly think there’s opportunity for greatness when spirits meet snack foods, and so through my Very Important Research, I set out to uncover some impeccable pairs.

First order of business was to assemble a snack selection. I chose eight snack foods that I believed stood a good chance of complementing a spirit – with some caveats. For starters, I’m a vegetarian, which automatically ruled out some snacks – my apologies, pork scratchings aficionados. I’ve also seen the dangers of introducing cutlery to a casual pub setting first hand, so anything involving knives and forks was also not considered. With this in mind, the final snack list was…

The snack ensemble

Crisps – Specifically cheese and onion flavoured crisps. It’s the best readily available flavour of crisp and I am willing to fight my corner on that.

Peanuts – Specifically salted peanuts. Why wouldn’t I want my legumes to be covered in tiny mineral crystals?

Tortilla chips – Specifically salted tortilla chips. I usually want to avoid having my fingers covered in that bright orange dust found on cheesy tortilla chips.

Plantain chips – Specifically salted plantain chips. OK, this time I was limited by the selection at the shop, but probably what I would have chosen anyway.

Popcorn – Specifically salted popcorn. I refuse to acknowledge sweet popcorn.

Olives – Specifically green olives. You might think olives need cutlery, or at least a toothpick, but I don’t. Does this make me a monster? Maybe.

Pretzels – Specifically salted pretzels. Other jazzy flavours are available, but let’s be real. Let’s be really real. If you’re getting pretzels, you’re getting salted pretzels.

Pickled onions – Specifically… Actually, never mind. They’re pickled onions.

Next, a spirit selection was assembled. For this list, I picked out drinks that wouldn’t raise too much of an eyebrow if you were to see them on the back bar of your local drinking establishment. OK, the genever might be a bit surprising, but I really like genever and wanted to see what if there were any good matches. I’ll admit I was playing favourites. To allow for general applications of the findings I won’t be revealing any of the brands, but I aimed to use good examples of the spirit and style. The final list was peated single malt, sherried single malt, bourbon, dark rum, gin, genever and reposado Tequila.

Snacks chosen. Spirits chosen. The science soon followed. These tastings were done over a series of days, and the routine was to sip Spirit A, eat Snack A, assess, take a good glug of water, eat Snack A, sip Spirit A, assess, take a good glug of water, repeat with Snack B, and so on. Tasting the spirits and snacks both ways around seemed important to me when I started, but it only ever really made a difference a handful of times. If a combination tasted bad one way around, nine times out of ten it tasted bad the other way around too. I did get to eat more pickled onions than I would have done otherwise, though. Silver linings.

Well then. Here’s how it all played out.

Peated single malt

Top Snack: Peanuts

Peat and peanuts!

It appears that peanuts and phenols are good friends, as the salted peanuts were the best partner for peated single malt. It ended up tasting like smoky peanut butter, which absolutely should be a thing. I am willing to lose crunchy peanut butter if it means we can have smoky peanut butter instead. The briny intensity of olives stood up well to peaty whisky, and the tangy brightness of pickled onion was enjoyably refreshing when juxtaposed with the smoky single malt. Popcorn is the enemy of smoky whisky – the combo was astringent and unpleasant.

Sherried single malt

Top Snack: Plantain chips

Plantain chips and sherried whisky makes for a fruit-forward combo

The sweet, subtle fruitiness of plantain chips blended brilliantly with the red berry and chocolate notes in sherried single malt, making it the best partner for this whisky. However, the rest of the snacks didn’t really put up much of a fight for the top spot. The cheesy crisps we’re pretty good (after a few seconds – it starts out a bit too sweet, but gets better), and pickled onion is definitely worth a go, though neither were anywhere near great. Tortilla chips and sherried single malt somehow ended up having the consistency and flavour of spent coffee grounds. As you can imagine, not great.

Bourbon

Top Snack: Pickled Onions

Who didn’t see this one coming?

Pickle juice and bourbon is a strange combination that sounds terrible but is the complete opposite. With that knowledge, I will admit that I approached bourbon and pickled onions with an inkling that this would be a winning pair. Reader, I was right about pickled onions and bourbon. They’re such a great team. Popcorn performed well here, as did the tortilla chips, which I think has something to do with their corn content and the corn content of bourbon. The sweetness of plantain chips did not help its cause, with the combination becoming unappealingly marshmallowy. Sadly, olives are just too funky to pair with bourbon very well at all.

Dark rum

Top Snack: Popcorn

I was a big fan of rum and popcorn

Popcorn was the biggest surprise here. I’d say it “really pops”, but that’s the kind of pathetic pun that makes me want to push chairs over instead of do a polite giggle. Anyway, the heaviness of the dark rum along with its powerful fruit notes pair brilliantly with the lightness of the popcorn, as well as feeding into the classic sweet/savoury dynamic. If you really like peanuts, dark rum is a good match, as it somehow manages to bolster and intensify the peanut’s flavour profile. The subtle estery notes of plantain chips blended well with rum, giving it a tasty, tangy kick, too. A strange, acidic bitterness developed when introducing pickled onions to rum, so that combo is to be avoided, I reckon.

Gin

Top snack: Inconclusive

So here’s the thing. I didn’t find a snack that I could confidently say paired perfectly with gin. That isn’t to say one doesn’t exist. This was only a test of eight snacks, I have of course missed great swaths of snack foods, including ones across the globe that I have never had the chance to try (but really want to – if anyone knows where I can get halva in Ireland, give us a shout). I did taste a few good matches, though. To the surprise of no one, olives work well with gin. The creamy, subtle sweetness of plantain chips helped to balance the herbal bitterness, as did the very light toastiness and saltiness of pretzels. Pickled onions were fine, if a little bit too punchy. The best thing to be said about crisps and gin was that it opened up the chance to write something about “crisps and crisp juniper”, but even then it was kind of hard to fit into a sentence naturally. A missed opportunity.

Genever

Top Snack: Peanuts

Got all artsy with the peanut placements

You might think that genever is too similar to gin to yield any different outcomes, and that my personal love of the spirit might influence the results. However, try genever and peanuts and tell me that combo isn’t awesome. I dare you. Spiciness, creaminess, saltiness, a whiff of earthiness and subtle sweetness – it’s all there, and it’s great. Plantain chips are on a similar wavelength to peanuts when paired with genever, except leaning a bit more on the sweetness. Tortilla chips, crisps and popcorn helped the herbaceous elements of genever come through a little brighter, which was cool. Pretzels and genever ended up being a pretty bland combination, while the pickled onion overwhelmed the genever completely, which is a sin in my book.

Reposado Tequila

Top Snack: Olives

My favourite combo of the lot – Tequila and olives

Only one snack and spirit pairing made me swear out loud, and that was olives and Tequila. It’s such a good combo – instantly bright and juicy on the palate, with savoury, oily notes lasting, plus a little hint of funk popping up later on. But that’s not all – both popcorn and pretzels really impressed me with the Tequila too. The big, crunchy salt crystals on the pretzels supercharge the vegetal earthiness of the spirit, and the softly toasty popcorn created an almost bourbon-esque flavour profile with the Tequila. The oniony notes of the crisps made for an enjoyably tangy experience, while the estery elements of the plantain chips were bolstered wonderfully. Tortilla chips performed pretty well, but did get a bit lost underneath the Tequila, while the opposite was the case for pickled onions, which took over the palate once again. Peanuts started out alright, but after a few chews the combination became surprisingly way too sweet.

I recognise that I have written a lot of words about snacks, all of which sort of amounts to a series of yummy/not yummy verdicts. I wouldn’t blame you if you skipped past them in the hopes of there being a graph or something you can refer to and quickly see what snack you should pick up to pair with a tasty bottle you’ve got on your shelf. If you did do that, you’re in luck. Inspired by a colleague’s deep love of charts and graphs, feast your eyes on this incredibly artistic chart that I made. Enjoy.

Artistic, scientific, and very colourful

What did we learn from this? Well, personally I think I have learnt that Tequila may be my favourite spirit to pair with food. It produced the best combo with the olives, and worked well with almost all of the snacks. While I was very excited to see how pickled onion would fare, I found that it wasn’t actually a great match for most of the spirits on the list. I’m honestly not surprised, but I think it’s good to have that confirmed – I’ll stick to eating them straight from the fridge when I accidentally wake up at 2 a.m. I also decided that further research will need to happen to find a good partner for gin. Even with top tier Martini and Gibson garnishes in the running, nothing made me jump out of my chair. Perhaps sweet snacks are the way to go? Only time will tell. On the topic of more testing, I really would love to do this again with different spirit and different snacks. If you reckon there’s a spirit out there that could use a partner, or snacks that deserve investigation – or if you’ve done your own analysis and found your own perfect match – let me know in the comments!

No Comments on The search for perfect snack & spirit pairings

Awesome whiskeys from across the pond!

There’s no shortage of choice when it comes to fantastic American whiskey. Let us help narrow down your options. When you’ve got time on your hands it’s the perfect opportunity…

There’s no shortage of choice when it comes to fantastic American whiskey. Let us help narrow down your options.

When you’ve got time on your hands it’s the perfect opportunity to try something new, which is why we’re  giving you a glimpse into what’s happening in the American whiskey scene. In our selection, we’ve got classic brands that have been doing the business for decades and younger distilleries firing up stills ready to make their mark. There’s bottlings that are best savoured by sipping them straight and those that make great whiskey cocktails. We’ve got spicy ryes and smooth bourbons, various mashbills and even a heavy-metal inspired expression. 

But they all have something in common: they’re delicious American whiskeys that we heartily recommend. Enjoy!

Awesome whiskeys from across the pond!

Slipknot No.9 Whiskey

Yes, this is a whiskey that was made in collaboration with heavy metal band Slipknot. In fact, it was actually blended by Slipknot’s very own Shawn “Clown” Crahan (he wears a clown mask when performing), with the help of the lovely folk at Cedar Ridge Distillery. Both the band and distillery hail from Iowa, so fittingly the whiskey was made from Iowa corn as well as a helping of rye. If you’re looking for the perfect pairing then you can’t get more appropriate than Slipknot’s Iowa album!

What does it taste like?:

Honey, toasted cornbread, smoked paprika, toffee apples, chocolate digestives, citrus blossom, cracked black pepper, caraway and fragrant florals.

Awesome whiskeys from across the pond!

Woodford Reserve Kentucky Bourbon 

A delightful Kentucky bourbon that represents fantastic value for money, Woodford Reserve Kentucky Bourbon is ideal for those who enjoy an Old Fashioned. It has a rich, spicy profile that’s partly down to a mash bill that features a high percentage of rye: 72% corn, 18% rye and 10% malt.  

What does it taste like?:

Honey, leather, cocoa, a little smoke, toasty oak, vanilla cream, butterscotch, espresso beans, winter spice, cereal sweetness, plenty of rye, ground ginger, almond oil and cereals.

Awesome whiskeys from across the pond!

Rittenhouse Straight Rye 100 Proof 

If you haven’t enjoyed the sweet, spicy and distinctive character of rye whiskey, then you should rectify this situation immediately. This award-winning expression, which commemorates Philadelphia’s famous Rittenhouse Square, was produced in the tradition of the classic rye whiskeys that dominated the industry pre-Prohibition and is fantastic in a number of cocktails.

What does it taste like?:

Dried fruits, soft spices, cocoa, butterscotch, orange peel, cinnamon, caramel, chocolate oranges, cassia bark, nutmeg and marmalade.

Awesome whiskeys from across the pond!

Smooth Ambler Old Scout American Whiskey 107 Proof

A full-bodied, punchy and powerful bottling from those fab folks over at Smooth Ambler Spirits in Greenbrier County, West Virginia, this is not for the faint-hearted. The fantastic variation of the brand’s classic Old Scout American Whiskey was bottled at 107 proof (or 53.5% ABV for those of us here in the UK). 

What does it taste like?:

Roasted coffee beans, burnt caramel, a good kick of cumin, floral vanilla, fresh ginger, fiery cinnamon, fudge, mango and sponge cake.

Awesome whiskeys from across the pond!

Michter’s US*1 Bourbon

A stylish and superb Kentucky bourbon with a mellow, earthy and delicately sweet profile, Mitcher’s US*1 Bourbon is made in small batches typically composed of no more than two dozen barrels. The brand is named after what some believe to be the oldest former distillery in the US, which dates back to 1753.

What does it taste like?:

Caramel, vanilla and fruit notes, alongside a pleasing earthy quality at its core.

Awesome whiskeys from across the pond!

Mellow Corn

Arguably the most intriguing bottling in our selection is the delightful Mellow Corn, which is made at the Heaven Hill distillery. Inside that distinctive bright yellow bottle, you’ll find a punchy, gold-coloured American corn whiskey made with a mash bill that’s at least 81% corn, with the rest being a combination of malted barley and rye.

What does it taste like?:

Buttery corn, toffee popcorn, vanilla, brown sugar and a flicker of woody spice.

Awesome whiskeys from across the pond!

Sazerac Straight Rye

An expression named for the Sazerac Coffee House in New Orleans, birth-place of the famous Sazerac cocktail. While it was originally made with Cognac, the Sazerac is also delicious when it’s made with rye whiskey. Particularly very tasty rye whiskey, like this fine example from the Buffalo Trace distillery.

What does it taste like?:

Sweet spices, stem ginger in syrup, orange zest, freshly ground black pepper, mixed peels, Seville orange marmalade, peanut butter, toffee and barrel char.

 

No Comments on Awesome whiskeys from across the pond!

Type on the field below and hit Enter/Return to search