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Master of Malt Blog

Tag: Bourbon

Drink books of the year 2019

Whether you’re a wine buff, a whisky aficionado or a lager lout, this year’s crop of drink books has something for everyone. We pick our favourites to curl up by…

Whether you’re a wine buff, a whisky aficionado or a lager lout, this year’s crop of drink books has something for everyone. We pick our favourites to curl up by the fire with this Christmas. 

Well, it’s been a bumper year for drink books. There’s new offerings from old pros like Jancis Robinson and Tristan Stephenson, as well as debuts from Felix Nash and Eddie Ludlow. In fact, it was such a good year that we had trouble narrowing the list down so apologies if your favourite is missing. 

All of them will make great gifts for the drink lover in your life. And we can’t think of a better way to spend the holidays than with a roaring fire, a dram/ glass/ pint of something delicious and one of these books, and that includes watching Casablanca on Christmas Day with a belly full of Port and Stilton. 

A Brief History of Lager Mark Dredge

Lager is so ubiquitous, it’s the beer the world drinks, that it’s hard to imagine how 200 years ago it was a Bavarian speciality. At that time, beer in the rest of Europe was essentially ale. But slowly lager spread and along the way mutated from a sweet, brown beer to the crisp golden brew we know today. It’s a great story told with a real sense of fun by award-winning beer writer and TV regular Mark Dredge. 

Sample line: “Lederer kept contact with Sedlmayr and Dreher, and there’s a wonderful photo taken in 1939 of the three of them all wearing top hats and overcoats, each with a thick moustache, and all holding hands.”

The Curious Bartender’s Whiskey Road Trip Tristan Stephenson

Tristan Stephenson aka the Curious Bartender is the author of many excellent cocktails books. In this latest outing, he takes a journey across America sampling whiskeys from 44 distilleries both large and small including some real MoM favourites like Balcones 44, St George, and Michter’s  nice work if you can get it.

Sample line: “Tuthilltown is home to a huge cat call Bourbon (there another cat called Rye that we didn’t get to meet.”

Fine Cider Felix Nash 

You probably haven’t realised it yet but we are living through a golden age of cider. It hasn’t quite hit the mainstream yet, but all over England, Wales and the cider-producing world (which is much bigger than you think), producers are waking up to the potential of apple-based goodness. Felix Nash, a cider merchant, has written a heartfelt, in-depth hymn to his favourite fruit and drink.

Sample line: “I wouldn’t be able to tell you about all the apples used to make cider or the pears used to make perry, and no one could. It’s not simply that so many varieties exist in the world, but that they can very localised”.

Sherry: Maligned, Misunderstood, Magnificent! Ben Howkins

We’ve written a fair bit on the blog about how much we like sherry, so this was a book after our own hearts. Written by a man with more experience in the wine trade that he would like to admit, this is a love letter to one of the world’s great wines. Reading this, you can almost smell the bodegas of Jerez. Warning, it’s almost impossible to read this book without developing a serious sherry habit. 

Sample line: “Olorosos are the wines that will emulate rugby players, rather than ballet dancers.”

Spirited: How to create easy, fun drinks at home Signe Johansen

You might know Johansen (the lady in the header) as Scandilicious, evangelist for all things Scandinavian and delicious. Originally from Norway, now living in London, she’s just as good on drinks as food. This book makes a great introduction to cocktails, tips for non-alcoholic drinks and all round guide to stress free non-nerdy entertaining. 

Sample line: “Life is too short to worry about what anoraks and bores think so now I happily enjoy whichever drinks I’m in the mood for.”

The Whisky Dictionary Ian Wisniewski

Someone who is certainly a bit of an anorak but never a bore is Ian Wisniewski. He’s the one on distillery tours who will always be asking more questions than anyone else. We know as we’ve been round a few with him and we always learn a lot. This book, which we have already found an invaluable reference guide, is a testament to that insatiable curiosity. 

Sample line: “Do enzymes ever get the applause they deserve? Rarely. If ever. It’s time to make up for that with a standing ovation.”

Whisky Tasting Course  Eddie Ludlow

Like many of the best people in the drinks business, Ludlow began his career at Oddbins. Since then he’s become an expert at opening up the often confusing world of whisky. In this book, Ludlow breaks it down into easily digestible segments, explains why whiskies taste as they do, and talks the reader through the most common styles of whisky such as single pot still Irish, small batch bourbon and Islay single malt. Before you know it, you’ll be saying “bonfires on the beach” or muttering “mmm, Jamaica cake” like an old pro.

Sample line: “Your mouth and tongue are actually quite inefficient at detecting all but the most basic flavours.”

The World of Whisky – Neil Ridley, Gavin D. Smith and David Wishart

Lavishly-produced guide to the every-expanding world of whisky by three of the best writers in the business. And you do really need three to cover what is now such an enormous topic. Inevitably the majority of the book is on Scotland with a page devoted to each malt distillery, but the Irish, US and Japan sections are also impressive.

Sample line: “Would even the most discerning of palate be able to detect a differences made using barley grown in Mr McTavish’s bottom field and the one, over yonder hill, behind the tree and the babbling burn?”

The World Atlas of Gin Joel Harrison and Neil Ridley

Another book part-written by Neil Ridley! How does it do it? We suspect that he has actually cloned himself to spread the workload. There’s a lot of gin out there and it’s expanding all the time, meaning that this book can only be a snapshot of what’s available but you know with these two that everything in here is going to be worth drinking. Also extra points for not being afraid to put in the big names, like Beefeater, rather than going for hipster obscurity points.

Sample line: “France has embraced the gin revolution with a charismatic style and charm of its own.”

The World Atlas of Wine Jancis Robinson and Hugh Johnson

This is the 8th edition of an all time classic book, first published in the 1970s and updated every few years. Originally just written by Johnson, Robinson joined the team in 2003. It’s hard to think of a better looking book with its lavish photos and intricate maps of the world’s greatest wine regions. The words are pretty nifty too as you’d expect from (probably) the world’s top two wine writers. 

Sample line: “For centuries, Hungary has had the most distinctive food and wine culture, the most varied grape varieties, and the most refined wine laws and customs of any country east of Germany.”

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The Nightcap: 29 November

Need to decompress after all the Black Friday sales hubbub? We’ve got just the thing – it’s The Nightcap! If you find yourself exclaiming out loud “How on earth did…

Need to decompress after all the Black Friday sales hubbub? We’ve got just the thing it’s The Nightcap!

If you find yourself exclaiming out loud “How on earth did it get to be 3 o’clock?!” almost every day, you might be very surprised to find out November is almost over. You were probably getting ready to go to the beach or hide chocolate eggs in the toaster or something. Go dig out a Santa hat and glue it to your forehead so you’re constantly aware of what’s going on. And to keep your noggin warm. It’s quite chilly out there if you’re dressed for a spring morning stroll. We’re also ready to help bring you up to date. Behold, it’s another edition of The Nightcap, our round-up of booze news from the week that was!

On the MoM blog this week you probably noticed that #WhiskySanta announced that he was giving away an Old and Rare Whisky Advent Calendar worth nearly £1,000. That wasn’t only the bargain on the blog, however, as we rounded-up some of our best Black Friday deals. Ian Buxton returned to investigate a curious phenomenon while Adam caught up with Billy Walker, owner and master blender at Glenallachie Distillery. Elsewhere, Annie looked at a blended Scotch you’ll want for your next Highball, and talked over 400 years of distillation with Sandie van Doorne at Lucas Bols. Henry’s week involved a lot of Martini-based fun, from enjoying its predecessor The Martinez, to interviewing Alessandro Palazzi from the esteemed Dukes Bar, although he did find time to make a Kentucky whiskey aged in barrels that are toasted rather than charred our New Arrival of the Week.

Now, onto the Nightcap!

The Nightcap

Congratulations to you David!

The Balvenie’s David Stewart MBE nabs top gong at IWSC

Last night saw the glittering International Wine & Spirit (IWSC) Awards Banquet take place at London’s Guildhall (the most Harry Potter-esque venue you ever did see). It was the 50th anniversary of the awards, which celebrate all kinds of things, from tip-top wine and spirits producers and their wares (obvs), but also communicators, and outstanding achievers, too. And step forward The Balvenie malt master David Stewart! He was honoured for his Outstanding Achievement in Scotch Whisky over his whopping 57-year career, garnering praise from peers and whisky drinkers right across the globe. Other big winners include Ryan Chetiyawardana who scooped Spirits Communicator of the Year, and William Grant, which bagged the Outstanding Spirits Producer 2019 gong. Congrats all!

The Nightcap

You can find out what your ‘perfect dram’ is now!

Diageo sets AI What’s Your Whisky quiz

We’re sure many of you whisky-lovers have a selection of favourite expressions, from go-to bottles to desert-island drams. But have these preferences been verified by the wonders of technology? Because Diageo has created a ‘digital experience’, said to help people find their perfect whisky based on their preferences for certain flavours. What’s Your Whisky uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to analyse a user’s personal palate, asking eleven questions to understand their preferences, such as “how often do you eat bananas?” and “how do you feel about chillies?”. The data collected is then used to create a ‘Flavour Print’, which matches the user with a single malt whisky that the AI thinks they will love. “We are using our extensive consumer knowledge, whisky expertise gathered over hundreds of years and cutting-edge AI to help consumers discover, explore and enjoy Scotch in new and exciting ways,” said Dr Adeline Koay, principal scientist, research and development for Diageo. Andy Parton, senior regional manager for Diageo, added: “We’re excited to roll this out at scale and help many thousands of people find their perfect Whisky based on the innovative FlavorPrint AI technology.” I took the test and found the questions amusing, but slightly limiting. It did recommend Talisker, which I admittedly do love. So maybe it does work. Although if your dream dram isn’t made by Diageo I wouldn’t hold out too much hope of it coming up… What’s Your Whisky launched on 28 November in nine countries (UK, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Spain, Greece, Belgium, Denmark and the Netherlands) – check out the website or scan a QR codes in participating bars, restaurants and shops. 

The Nightcap

The inimitable Ronnie Cox, as drawn by Alasdair ‘Loon’ Hilleary, red socks and all!

Berry Bros. & Rudd launches Ronnie’s Reserve

Ronnie Cox has worked in this industry for 43 years, spending more than three decades of that at Berry Bros. & Rudd (BBR). He’s a Master of the Quaich and a member of the Worshipful Company of Distillers. He’s also part of the seventh generation of the Cumming family, which previously owned Cardhu distillery. Now, as BBR’s legendary brands heritage director “edges towards retirement”, he’s been tasked with curating a range of single malt Scotch whiskies. The seven single cask bottlings are all from one undisclosed distillery (it’s very easy to figure out if you know the brand’s history). Two of the bottlings are from casks laid down in the 1990s, one is from the ‘80s, two are from the ‘70s and two are from the ‘60s, including the remarkable Tempus Fugit 1968 Cask No. 13497, which produced 65 bottles and is priced at £3,800 (this is the one that you’ll have to wait until June 2020 to purchase). Cox explained that he had his eye on these for many years, and he counted himself “incredibly fortunate to be able to select these whiskies to bottle under my name”. The first six bottlings will be launched on St. Andrew’s Day (30 November), available from Berry Bros. & Rudd. The illustrations on the bottle were drawn by Alasdair ‘Loon’ Hilleary, a lifelong friend, who depicts Cox wearing his classic red socks, which he’s made something of a trademark. If you do happen to get your hands on a bottle or two, do be sure to don your best scarlet stockings as you imbibe. 

The Nightcap

It’s a wintery dose of Swiss-esque bliss in London

Möet opens Alpine Lodge in Soho

Many people like the idea of apres-ski. Think cosy cabins, Last Christmas I Gave you my Heart knitwear and wintery drinks, without all the palaver with snow, salopettes and chair lifts. Möet has cleverly spotted this by opening an Alpine lodge, not in Gstaad or Whistler, but in London. Located in 100 Wardour in Soho, it’s open now and runs until the end of January. We popped in this week and can confirm that it’s just like being halfway up a mountain in Switzerland, only much easier to get to from Tottenham Court Road Underground station. On arrival, we wrapped ourselves in blankets and got stuck into the cocktails; as you might expect from the world’s largest Champagne company, they were pretty good. We were particularly taken with the Snowed Under which combines Tanqueray Export Strength, Möet & Chandon Impérial, lavender syrup, lemon juice, and icing sugar; and the Ice Ice Baby, made with Antica Formula, Campari, Möet & Chandon Impérial, plum bitters, crusta sugar, and a dried orange. Nothing says ‘Christmas is coming’ like a dried orange. And then rather than having to cross country ski home, like they do in the Alps, we took a train. Much more civilised. 

The Nightcap

Things are getting festive at the German Gymnasium!

Maker’s Mark reveals gingerbread pop-up at German Gymnasium

Sticking with Christmas for a moment, and we’re spotting a micro-trend for all things gingerbread this season. After Fentimans unveiled a life-size gingerbread house at London’s Skylight, bar and restaurant German Gymnasium has opened its very own tasty terrace, this time in partnership with bourbon brand Maker’s Mark. Described as a “sugar-filled wonderland”, the space features wooden huts, lights and lanterns galore, cosy blankets, and, of course, a mouthwatering, sweet-themed cocktail list. Serves include a Gingerbread Old Fashioned (made with Maker’s Mark and gingerbread syrup, topped with toasted marshmallow), and Maker’s Milk (Maker’s Mark, Kahlua, rum, vanilla, double cream and egg white, served in a milk bottle). Hot serves will also be on-hand in case of chilliness. Head to King’s Cross with haste if you’ve got a sweet tooth this December and January!

The Nightcap

This should put a stop to people judging a dram by its colour…

Glencairn releases black glass for Black Friday

In honour of Black Friday (which for better or worse, is now very much a thing), top Scottish glassmakers Glencairn has released a limited-edition glass that might be the blackest thing on the planet. It’s blacker than Darth Vader’s helmet, blacker even than Back in Black by AC/DC, the previous holder of this title. The colour not only looks very metal, but will stop you judging your dram by its colour, putting your olfactory system firmly in charge. Each glass costs £7 and comes in a black box, naturally. Only 1,000 have been produced and they go on sale first thing on Black Friday (so may be already gone by the time you read this). This season, black is very much back. 

The Nightcap

Good things come in small pubs

Guinness opens pint-sized pub for a cosy Christmas

Guinness is opening a tiny pub in Flat Iron Square in London from Thursday 5 till Sunday 8 December. From 1pm until 11.30pm, punters will be able to enjoy food, fire and more Christmas tunes than you can shake a stick at. There will also be a certain famous Dublin stout on tap. Here’s the best thing: it won’t cost you a penny. That’s right, free Guinness! Before you book your travel to central London though, we should let you know that it’s a very small space indeed so there’s only room for five people (not including the bartender) and you have to book.  Simply sign up via Design my Night and you can reserve the entire pub for you and a few friends. Oh, and you’re only allowed two pints each. Still, it sounds pretty ace. So gather your nearest and dearest, huddle into a tiny pub, and enjoy free beer. If you can think of a better way to keep out the cold, we’d like to hear it.

The Nightcap

The GlenDronach Traditionally Peated will be at MoM Towers soon…

The GlenDronach reveals its new release, Traditionally Peated

GlenDronach is showing us its smoky side with a brand new peated single malt! The GlenDronach Traditionally Peated harks back to the days in 1826 when the distillery was founded, and it was common practice in the Highlands to burn peat in the kiln towards the end of the barley malting. For the whisky, the distillery has kept it traditional sherried style, marrying liquid from a range of Pedro Ximénez, oloroso sherry and Port casks, all bottled up at 48% ABV. “The GlenDronach Traditionally Peated offers connoisseurs a rare opportunity to explore the distillery’s rich depths of sherry cask maturation, while paying homage to the robust peat-smoked earthy character of the early 19th century, that James Allardice himself would likely have enjoyed,” says master blender Dr. Rachel Barrie. “This wonderfully complex single malt presents notes of Highland toffee, dark honey and coal-smoked barley. Burnt orange and treacle glide over the palate, on a base of cloves and smoked bramble. Liquorice and dark fruits linger and intensify into the rich and earthy finish.” Sounds like a smoky Highland lip-smacker to us! Keep an eye out, it should be landing on our shores very soon…

The Nightcap

Getting your haircut so often you’re basically bald for the free Metaxa is most certainly a ‘mood’

Come for a shave, stay for a drink

There are few things more pleasurable than getting your haircut while enjoying a drink. Now, this could be some Wray & Nephew overproof rum drunk out of a teacup at Kyrie’s in Kensal Rise, or a single malt Scotch at Blades in Soho. Both we would highly recommend. But there’s a new contender in London town for best drink/cut combo. From now until the end of December, you will receive a free Metaxa Ginger Rock, a combination of ginger ale and Metaxa 12 Stars, when you book a haircut or a shave at Sharps Barber Shop in Great Windmill Street. For those who have never been to Greece where no meal is complete without a little glass, Metaxa is a blend of brandy, Muscat wine and botanicals, and, especially in 12 Stars form, is utterly delicious. We can see ourselves going for repeat utterly unnecessary haircuts just for the free Metaxa. 

The Nightcap

Sobar. Sober. So-bar… Oh, yep. I get it. Nice one, guys.

And finally… A snack bar claims it can make you less drunk

It’s not that we’re sceptical here at MoM Towers, but a piece of news reached us from across the pond this week that had our eyebrows raised pretty much to the roof. Sobar, a brand of snack-sized protein bars, is claiming it’s found a magic formula that will make us less giddy after one too many drams. Sort of. Apparently a study has found it reduces alcohol absorption, and, in comparison to other similar foods, it was about twice as effective per calorie. Each Sobar weighs in at 210 calories, and apparently it works because a thing called Alco-HOLD keeps the booze in your stomach for longer so it can be “inactivated”. “This research project started after I had too much to drink on an empty stomach at a wedding,” said SOBAR inventor Joseph Fisher, MD PhD.  “After that experience I thought that there was a huge need for a specialised, low-calorie snack that could efficiently and effectively reduce alcohol absorption.” Or you could. . . sip not gulp in the first place? Just a thought. 

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New Arrival of the Week: Michter’s US*1 Sour Mash Toasted Barrel Finish

This week we’re drinking a Kentucky whiskey with an unusual twist, it’s been aged in barrels that are toasted rather than charred! What’s all that about? Michter’s whiskey has something…

This week we’re drinking a Kentucky whiskey with an unusual twist, it’s been aged in barrels that are toasted rather than charred! What’s all that about?

Michter’s whiskey has something of a convoluted history. It was originally founded in Schaefferstown, Pennsylvania in 1753 by John Shenk who began distilling rye. He was a Mennonite, a religious sect like the Amish, think beards without moustaches, putting up wooden houses quickly and strictly no motor cars. Especially in 1753.

This was pre-independence when the 13 original colonies of British America were still part of the mother country. During the War of Independence, George Washington is said to have purchased Shenk’s whiskey for his troops to keep their morale up. It seems to have worked as the rebellious colonists won the war and thus the United States of America was born.

Shenk’s distillery was bought by Abraham Bomberger in the 1860s and became known as Bomberger’s. Then in the 1950s, the name was changed again by the distillery’s then owner Lou Forman by combining the names of his sons Michael and Peter: ta da, Michter’s!  Pennsylvania was once famous for its rye whiskey but by the 1980s rye as a category was dying and the venerable old distillery closed in 1989. It’s now a National Historic Landmark but sadly in a state of severe dilapidation. Ominously, according to Wikipedia: “The distillery closed in 1989 and may have since been demolished.” 

Happily the brand was revived by a company called Chatham Imports. There’s been some legal argie bargie over the name Bomberger’s since but we won’t go into that now.  The Michter’s magic now happens at the Fort Nelson distillery (see image in header) in the heart of bourbon country Louisville, Kentucky under the watchful eyes of master distillery Dan McKee and head of maturation Andrea Wilson. Last year it opened a visitor centre on the famous Whiskey Row. 

The standard rye whiskey is a benchmark, particularly popular with bartenders, while there are all kinds of bourbons and whiskeys produced too. Which brings us on to this week’s New Arrival. Because of its unusual grain bill, it can’t be categorised as either a rye or a bourbon (which would have to be at least 51% rye or corn respectively.) In the sour mash process a portion of the last ferment is added to the next to get things going rather like with sourdough bread, only better because you end up with whiskey. This is produced as with the standard Sour Mash but then it undergoes secondary maturation in, according to Michter’s: “a second custom made barrel. This second barrel is assembled from 18-month air-dried wood and then toasted but not charred.” It’s bottled at a nice punchy 43% ABV and only produced in limited quantities. You’ll probably want to sip this neat to appreciate those fancy casks but you can also channel your inner Mennonite with an Old Fashioned

Tasting Note by The Chaps at Master of Malt:

Nose: Golden Grahams, orange peel, soft oaky smoke and a hint of menthol.

Palate: Honey on toast, salted butter, vanilla pod earthiness and white pepper heat.

Finish: Cinnamon, floral grains and another waft of smoke.

Michter’s US*1 Sour Mash Toasted Barrel Finish is now available from Master of Malt.

 

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The Nightcap 22 November

This week on the Nightcap: The Macallan turns its distillery into a festive wonderland, register to vote and you’ll get a free drink, and stop worrying about your hangover: you’re…

This week on the Nightcap: The Macallan turns its distillery into a festive wonderland, register to vote and you’ll get a free drink, and stop worrying about your hangover: you’re only making it worse. 

We don’t know about you, but we’ve spent most of this week scavenging for firewood around the Master of Malt warehouse. At the first sign of a broken pallet out came the kindling vultures to squabble over scraps of pine and medium-density fibreboard to be hoarded and turned into life-giving heat later in the day. What a life! This is just a roundabout way of saying that it’s been properly cold this week. But it’s also the perfect weather to curl up by the fire with a dram of something rich and smooth, and revel in this week’s Nightcap. 

The blog went competition crazy this week with a chance to win tickets to see singer songwriter Jarrod Dickenson with Balcones whisky and with #WhiskySanta is giving away a bottle of Hennessy Paradis worth nearly £1,000. In non-competition news, our Jess tried The World Whisky Blend from That Boutique-y Whisky Company, and went to Seville to discover the Royal Salute 29 Year Old Pedro Ximénez. Meanwhile, Annie got acquainted with Dutch spirit genever, and spent five minutes with Dr Kirstie McCallum, the new head of whisky creation at Glen Moray. Adam tried a bourbon with a Japanese twist courtesy of Beam Suntory, and, clearly in a Kentucky frame of mind, spoke to Jackie Zykan, master taster for Old Forester. Kristy peered into her crystal ball to look at rum’s future with Lucy Cottrell from Dead Man’s Fingers; and Henry brought us news on the revival of Rosebank distillery and cooked up a hot cider cocktail to keep the cold out. 

That’s the week that was. On with The Nightcap!

Macallan60old

Some very rare Macallans like those in the Vietnamese collection

Whisky collection smashes record with £10m valuation

How much is your whisky collection worth? A few hundred quid? Maybe into the thousands? This week, Guinness World Records confirmed a Vietnamese collector was the delighted owner of the most valuable whisky collection in the world – weighing in at a mighty £10,770,635! The haul belongs to Mr Viet Nguyen Dinh Tuan of Ho Chi Minh City, and it was valued by the team at Rare Whisky 101. They reckon the figure could top £13,032,468, when you add on the 21% buyers’ premium if it was sold through a UK auctioneer. The collection features 535 bottles, including the only known complete Macallan Fine & Rare set, complete with three 1926 bottlings. Only forty were ever released! There are also 12 bottles of the oldest and most expensive Bowmore ever released (it fetched £300,000 at auction recently), and one of only 24 bottles of the 1919 vintage Springbank. Phew. Mr Viet has been building his collection for over 20 years. “For me, whisky collecting has been my life’s passion,” he says. “Every spare I moment I get, I’m searching auction sites and trading websites to find famous and rare whiskies from around the world. Clearly this requires a lot of patience and no shortage of tenacity, but I’m proud of my efforts. As for my collection, I have no intention of selling any of it. Not one bottle. In fact, I’ll continue to hunt for more old and rare bottles and add to and enrich it.” Wowzers!

Warehouse X Experiment 2 Barrels resize

“Careful Jed, it’s one of those experiential casks!”

Buffalo Trace Distillery completes second Warehouse X experiment

Cask ageing is still a perplexing business, but the team at the Buffalo Trace Distillery is attempting to break the process down using the specially-designed and mysteriously-monikered Warehouse X. The second experiment at the facility, which began in 2016, has just been completed. It focused on how temperature affects the ageing process. The warehouse’s four chambers were used to determine how barrel activity correlates with temperature changes, keeping two chambers constant and varying the other two chambers and leaving the breezeway unchanged. Buffalo Trace tracked temperature fluctuations, monitored barrel pressures and collected a total of 9.1 million data points. As a result, the distillery was able to confirm how temperature affects pressure, colour and flavour over a period of three years. After leaving Warehouse X, the barrels were rolled into a traditional warehouse to continue ageing, as was done with the first experiment. Built in 2013, Warehouse X was created to study the many variables that affect the bourbon maturation process, and Buffalo Trace is now almost a third of the way through a 20-year project to monitor numerous atmospheric elements, including natural light, temperature, humidity and air flow. The first experiment, which ended in 2016, focused on natural light. The next two-year experiment will begin soon to expand on the most recent findings, focusing on how temperature swings affect whiskey activity in the barrel. We’re intrigued to see what they find.

It’s David C. Stewart or DCS to his friends

The Balvenie unveils final DCS Compendium instalment

In brilliant but bittersweet news, Chapter Five of The Balvenie DCS Compendium has been unveiled. Why bittersweet? Because it’s the last of the series, so for one final time we all have the opportunity to gaze longingly at five unique and intriguing single-cask Balvenie expressions that none of us will ever taste. Titled ‘Malt Master’s Indulgence’, the rare vintages were selected by David C. Stewart MBE (hence DCS) for their significance to his career. Aged between 16 and 56 years, the selection includes The Balvenie’s oldest-ever bottling, the fragrant and sweet 1962 expression taken from a European oak oloroso hogshead, which commemorates Stewart’s very first year at the distillery. The longest-serving malt master in the whisky industry, who started the role back in 1974, commented on Chapter Five: “It takes a good deal of time to understand how each cask differs and how whisky maturation is affected by various wood types. You need confidence to select casks and know which are likely to achieve greatness. Working for a family company, I’ve been lucky enough to have been given the freedom to make stock decisions based on my preference and vision, with the free rein to pick casks and hold on to whisky, not always knowing what I’m going to do with it, for no other reason than thinking one day it will be extraordinary. For me, this is indulgence in its truest form.” As with past Chapters, Chapter Five is presented in a handcrafted, individually-numbered frame, with just 50 sets available worldwide. It also features The Balvenie DCS Compendium book depicting rare archive imagery from the distillery, along with information on each of the five chapters, which documents Stewart’s thought process in curating the Compendium. The Balvenie is also planning a series of celebratory events throughout 2020 to mark the completion of the project.

£2500 and you have to bottle it yourself.

Bottle your own 40-year-old at Aberfeldy Distillery

Heading up to the charming Aberfeldy Distillery? You can now hand-bottle the delightful Aberfeldy 40 Years Old! Directly from the cask. In the warehouse. Yes, that’s the oldest whisky the Highland whisky-makers have released to date. If that doesn’t get you excited, nothing will. In total, three single cask editions will be launched, all of which were first filled on 22nd August 1978 and matured in American oak, ex-bourbon hogsheads. “To find one cask at this venerable age, is extraordinary but to find three, is exceptional. Just think of the four decades of history these casks have slumbered through,” said malt master Stephanie Macleod. “The single cask is something that we at Aberfeldy bottle rarely – to have the honour of filling your very own bottle of our oldest and most exclusive whisky yet, is a truly special opportunity. The golden hallmarks of the distillery are evident; beautifully-balanced, elegant and well-mannered with peerless texture, perfectly expressed by these 40-year-old bottlings.” The whisky will be on sale for £2,500 a bottle, exclusively from the Aberfeldy Distillery.

Just some of the mouth-watering rums drunk on World Foursquare Day at Trailer Happiness in London

Barbados distillery honoured with inaugural World Foursquare Day

Rum lovers of London descended on Trailer Happiness in Notting Hill last Sunday (17 November) for the inaugural World Foursquare Day. The day was the idea of Facebook group Foursquare Rum Appreciation Society to celebrate the much-loved Barbados distillery. According to Foursquare brand ambassador Peter Holland, they chose 17 November because it “was the day that Foursquare Distillery and Heritage Park was officially opened by Sir David Seale [father of the owner, Richard], and the Prime Minister of Barbados Mr. Owen S. Arthur in 1996.” Holland organised the London event; there were rum cocktails, bottles from Holland’s own collection (including the ultra-rare Foursquare Triptych), and even a surprise appearance from the Seales themselves. There was also a well-attended event in Milton Keynes. Holland told us: “Next year, I think we will look to grow the event, and, perhaps in conjunction with the UK importers, see if we can get a few more bars involved across the UK. Increase the celebration, but try not to make it crass and commercial.” So put 17 November 2020 in your diary now.

Annabel Meikle, one of the judges at the Spirit of Speyside Awards

Top whiskies shortlisted for Spirit of Speyside Awards

Awards and whisky go together like bread and butter, and Speyside is about to get its fair share! Eight Speyside single malts have been shortlisted as finalists in the international Spirit of Speyside Whisky Awards. The initial judging process took place earlier this month in the heart of Speyside (well, where else could it be?), where a panel of leading whisky experts carried out a blind tasting of 41 entries. A tough job, but somebody’s got to do it. However, it’s not the experts who get the final say. The Spirit of Speyside Whisky Awards are the only industry awards in the world to give consumers the final vote. Over the next six months, the two finalists in each category will be put forward for judging by whisky drinkers all over the place, from the UK and Europe to India and Canada. Spanning four categories, this year’s finalists are Aberlour 10 Year Old and Cardhu 12 Year Old, Benromach 15 Year Old and Glenallachie 15 Year Old, Glenfiddich Grand Cru 23 Year Old and Glenfarclas 25 Year Old, and finally Tamnavulin Sherry Cask Edition and Cardhu Amber Rock. “It was almost impossible to pick just two finalists in each Awards category this year – the standard of whisky produced here in Speyside by our local craftsmen and women is truly exceptional,” said James Campbell, Chairman at The Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival. “We’re very much looking forward to opening up the judging to consumers over the next six months before celebrating the winners at what we believe is the finest whisky festival in the world.” You’ll have to wait a few months for the results, as the category winners will be announced at the opening of the 2020 Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival in late April.

Fairy lights from Robert Dyas at The Macallan

The Macallan Distillery goes festive

The team at the Macallan are pulling out all the stops to turn the award-winning distillery into a festive wonderland this Christmas. As you’d expect from such a luxury brand, this will be a little more lavish than neon Santas, plastic holly, and M&S mince pies. Instead, the decorations have been inspired by the character of the single malt with golden acorns, dried berries and a palette of sienna, gold, copper and black, colours traditionally associated with The Macallan”, no less. At the centre will be a “towering” 15 ft Christmas tree. But that’s not all. There will also be a special Christmas menu in the restaurant, seasonal Macallan cocktails like the Speyside Flip and the Clootie to be sipped, and a special after-hours dinner on Thursday 5 December. Stuart Cassells, general manager, commented: “We are incredibly proud of the success our new distillery experience has enjoyed since opening 18 months ago. But we want to be more than a fantastic visitor attraction. Our ambition is to become a key Speyside destination, a place where people from the local community and further afield want to return to again and again. We’re extremely excited about the exclusive experiences we are offering, from unique gifting options to our new brasserie and bar menus. We hope to attract visitors old and new and look forward to providing a warm welcome to The Macallan Estate this festive season.” Sounds magnificent, though we’d have been just as happy with M&S mince pies as long as there was some Macallan to wash them down with. Don’t tell #WhiskySanta…

Remember kids, don’t drink and vote

Free drink if you register to vote

Here’s a good way to combat voter apathy (and we are being asked to vote a lot more than normal). A free drink when you vote. Brilliant! Why did no one think of this before? Well, of course they did. In elections past, unscrupulous politicians would ply the electorate with booze to get them to vote the ‘right’ way. But this new initiative from the Lollipop group of venues around London, is not trying to corrupt, just get people to vote. Simply turn up at a Lollipop bar, like Journey on the King’s Road or Dear Sunny in Hackney, prove that you have registered to vote before 26 November (the closing date), and a free drink will be yours (full details and list of venues here).  Founder Seb Lyall had this to say: “We know how important it is for people of all ages and backgrounds to get out there and vote on December 12. These elections will have a significant impact on our industry and we want as wide a group of voices to be heard as possible.” Make sure, however, that you vote sober, or you never know who we might end up with.

We could be saying, ‘goodbye Joe to baijiu” (sorry)

Are we heading for a baijiu shortage?

Kweichow Moutai is one of the biggest baijiu brands on the planet – and this week, at its overseas distributors conference, the company suggested that the Chinese spirit is gaining such a following internationally that stock shortages are becoming a reality for the first time. “It’s one of the most significant changes we have seen in overseas markets since Moutai rebounded in the domestic market in 2016,” said Moutai Group chairman and party committee secretary Li Baofang. Baijiu is the most consumed spirit category in the world, although the vast, vast majority is drunk in China. This looks to be slowly shifting though – and from 2017-18, we saw a 650% uptick in sales here at MoM Towers, albeit from a teeny base. Keep an eye out for more baijiu in 2020 – if international supply can keep up with demand!

Don’t worry, be happy

And Finally… Worrying about your hangover ‘makes it worse’

We’re all about responsible drinking here at MoM Towers. Remember – sip, don’t gulp! But sometimes, a little overindulgence can happen. And new research from the University of Salford this week appears to confirm something we’ve had a little inkling about: worrying about a hangover makes it worse. It’s all linked to whether someone is likely to “catastrophise pain” or not. What’s that, we asked. Apparently it’s when you worry too much about the threat of pain, which makes you feel like you can’t manage it, and then dwell on how much something hurts. 86 people ages from 18 to 46 were quizzed about a recent time they’d had a drink (more gulping than sipping. Just don’t). The results showed a “significant relationship” between all that catastrophising and the severity of the hangover. Turns out there are actual dehydrated-related symptoms, but also stress-related ones, too – and the stress ones were more likely to get on that catastrophising. “These findings suggest the importance of cognitive coping strategies in how people experience hangovers after drinking alcohol,” said lead researcher, Sam Royle. “This may have implications in understanding behavioural responses to hangovers, and also for addiction research.” Good work, Sam. But the best way to avoid that hangover? Keep the booze consumption sensible in the first place! 

And with that in mind… Happy weekend, folks!

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Creating Legent: a blend of Beam and Suntory

It’s not every day that you get to sit down with the master distiller of Jim Beam and the fifth-ever chief blender at House of Suntory. But that’s exactly what…

It’s not every day that you get to sit down with the master distiller of Jim Beam and the fifth-ever chief blender at House of Suntory. But that’s exactly what we did to discuss the launch of the innovative Legent whiskey with the legendary Fred Noe and Shinji Fukuyo.

When Beam and Suntory merged in 2014, it was fairly obvious that it mean the two enormous whiskey brands would do a fair amount of collaboration. You could expect to see an exchange of casks, for example,  and the sharing of expertise. Perhaps even a nice bottling of something exotic as a Christmas bonus.

What nobody predicted was the creation of the first-ever bourbon-Japanese whiskey crossover, which is what we got in March 2019 when Legent (pronounced ‘lee-gent’) debuted. It’s been billed as a genuine first-of-its-kind product, a combination of styles that has essentially created a new, and as of yet, undefined category. It’s the first new standalone bourbon brand to come from the company in 27 years: a blended bourbon that’s brought together East and West, as well as two masters of their art, Fred Noe (the great-grandson of Jim Beam) and Shinji Fukuyo. 

“Shinji and I were tasked to work together to create a product that would combine bourbon-making and blending by the senior leadership of the company. We were trying to bring the two cultures together. We put our heads together and that’s how it got started,” says Noe. “Bringing our company together, bringing East and West together was a very important thing as we’re one big family now from all over the world. We’re lucky we can do it within that one Beam Suntory family. 

Legent

Fred Noe and Shinji Fukuyo

Legent was created using one of Noe’s historic recipes, a mashbill of corn, rye and malted barley that is initially matured in charred virgin white oak for four years. Portions of this aged Kentucky straight bourbon are then finished in California red wine casks (for approximately one extra year) and sherry casks (for approximately two extra years), and the three are finally blended by Fukuyo. “From my experiences, the wine cask finish gives a sweeter profile and the sherry cask finish gives it a tannic element and spice. These were the flavours and aromas that weren’t necessarily in the base bourbon itself, so I thought it would probably be a good combination,” says Fukuyo. 

It’s an experimental process that many will have never seen the like of before, but, as Noe points out himself, the profile of Legent is still bourbon-forward. “The big thing was we didn’t want to change the bourbon, we just wanted to add to it and take it to another level. What it’s done really is it adds more layers to the aroma and the finish when you taste it. So it’s a labour of our love and it was fun to take bourbon in different places,” says Noe. 

It might sound as if this bottling is more Beam than Suntory, but it’s worth noting that Noe and Fukuyo very much see each other as equals and are keen to heap praise on the other. For Noe, it was a thrill to witness the master blender at work. “There was a lot of art that Shinji brings to blending to Kentucky, taking different liquid streams and bringing them together. We’ve done some finishing before, but we’ve never finished and then blended those finished liquids together. That’s kind of a new technique for us in Kentucky,” says Noe. 

Legent

Legent was created through the shared knowledge across whisky styles and nations

For the immensely modest Fukuyo, the joy was learning first-hand the production process of a style of whiskey he was less acquainted with. “I had to learn what bourbon whiskey really is. Japanese whisky was inspired by Scotch whisky, so we are very familiar with Scottish production, but not so familiar with bourbon itself,” explains Fukuyo. The climate of Kentucky was also a learning curve. “After the first summer, I was so surprised by the progress. We had to so be careful with our observations of what was happening during the finishing process.”

The duo present a united front when together and the mutual respect is palpable. When discussing what challenges arose during the collaboration, the two are honest in admitting that initially it took time for them to be working from the same page. Fukuyo’s English is outstanding. Noe concedes his Japanese could do with some work. But these guys have been in this game a long time. The respective knowledge of the craft was always going to shine through eventually. “We figured it out through the language of whiskey,” says Noe. “You could tell when we were getting closer and when we were getting farther away, just by the look in each other’s eyes. You know you don’t have to talk a lot of times to know if you’re going in the right direction or not. There was a lot of trial and error”.

Noe and Fukuyo are aware that Legent represents a risk. But the early signs are very much that it was one worth taking. The reception it’s received excites them both. “It was really cool and to watch people experience it for the first time. Especially with people who were very sceptical. We gave them a little pour, and then they would look at their friends and say ‘Oh, that’s pretty good!’ It’s great to know there’s more of that to come because we’re just getting it out there and more and more people are discovering it,” says Noe. “It worked. We did something right.” 

Legent

It’s rare to see two masters of their craft come together like this

So, what collaborations can we expect in future? Will Fukuyo bring something more Japanese whisky-based to the table? Will the duo continue to experiment with the Legent brand? They’re surprisingly forthright. “Well Legent is a stand-alone, but will we collaborate more? I’m sure we will. We’ll come up with something new.” says Noe.  “We enjoyed working together. Who knows, we may bring some of our other compadres in from one of our other distilleries or my son as he’s taking over from me, he’s the future of the bourbon side of our company. I’m sure going down the road Shinji and Freddie (Noe’s son) will have a long career together creating great whiskies for the world, and I’m sure other folks in the industry will be doing things similar if this product is successful.”

It’s interesting to consider the implications of Legent. Noe is right, if this continues on its promising path then it’s surely only a matter of time before we see more innovations like this. It’s also interesting to see this level of collaboration involving a major figure from Japan’s whisky industry, which is notoriously siloed. Given that Japanese whisky is becoming increasingly expensive and rare, perhaps this kind of project offers one solution for ensuring Japanese expertise remains well-represented.

Legent may well then be an indication of what’s to come. It was only a matter of time before the multinational companies that dominate the industry would bring  together the depth of resources and expertise at their fingertips. Noe recognises the strength of Beam Suntory’s position: “With all the different spirits we produce in all different parts of the world, we can all come together and use products that are from within our family. Other bourbon producers would have to go outside of their company to be able to do something like this. We’re the only bourbon producer that has ties to Japan, Cognac, Irish whiskey, Scotch whisky, Canadian whisky, tequila, rum, and all of us are very passionate about what we make,” he says. “But not only are we creating a new product, but each process like fermentation, distillation, maturation – we can share that information with each other and influence each other, which leads to progress,”  adds Fukuyo. 

Legent

Legent could have interesting implications for the industry

But for now, only one big question remains: how does Legent taste? Is this the result of a welcome marriage of meticulous Japanese blending and traditional Kentucky bourbon-making, or a marketing-laden gimmick that’s best avoided? It’s certainly not like a bourbon I’ve ever tasted. But it works. Very well, in fact. It’s quite lovely. Its success is that it hasn’t shoe-horned two styles together in a vague attempt to seem complex or innovative. This doesn’t taste as if Jim Beam bourbon was lazily chucked into a Yamazaki cask or like some concoction made by a mad scientist who distilled KFC and green tea together. Legent has subtly, character and a profile that suggests that a good Old Fashioned is very much on the cards. In fact, the brand has put together some interesting cocktail recipes, including the Kentucky Kyushiki a twist on the aforementioned classic serve.  

The cask influence might frustrate those who want big notes typical of wine and sherry casks, but personally I enjoyed the delicate manner in which these elements present themselves. The balance is very impressive, it’s rich, spicy, creamy and bold and none of those characteristics overwhelms the other. I wanted another glass, which is really the only compliment any good whisky needs.  

Legent

Legent bourbon

Legent Tasting Note:

Nose: Plenty of classic bourbon character is at the forefront of the nose but the cask influence adds balance and depth. Brown sugar, toasted almonds, jammy fruits, butterscotch, vanilla and orange peel combine initially, with delicate warmth and spice provided from ginger root underneath. A hint of Pinot Noir and stewed black cherry emerge as the nose develops, with milk chocolate, sandalwood and hints of leather.

Palate: An initially deliciously silky delivery leads with rich caramel, floral notes and a suggestion of marmalade before chewy rye spice initially makes things more complex among savoury notes of roasted peanuts and a slightly bitter quality from charred wood, coffee beans and unsweetened dark chocolate. Dark cherry jam and stewed plums then burst through adding vibrant fruitiness alongside the sweetness of vanilla, cake batter, muscovado sugar and a hint of cola. Warmth from freshly-ground black pepper is present in the backdrop.  

Finish: Chocolate-covered cherries, black fruits, sugary cereals (Sugar Puffs, mostly) and a hint of liquorice fade ever so gradually; while the nutmeg and oak spices play about for longer.

Overall: In all the intrigue and innovation, Noe and Fukuyo clearly didn’t forget that the most important thing to ensure about Legent is that it’s delicious. Which it is. Very much so. 

Legent will be available at MoM Towers soon.

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Five minutes with… Jackie Zykan, master taster for Old Forester

Jackie Zykan has what sounds like one of the world’s best jobs, master taster for Kentucky bourbon firm Old Forester. But what exactly is a master taster? Does she just…

Jackie Zykan has what sounds like one of the world’s best jobs, master taster for Kentucky bourbon firm Old Forester. But what exactly is a master taster? Does she just spend all her time tasting whiskey and mixing up Old Fashioneds? We spent some time with her to find out more.

Jackie Zykan, by her own admission, fell into her role at Old Forester. She previously worked as a beverage director for a company in Louisville, Kentucky. Before that, she bartended her way through a chemistry and biology degree, picking up every side gig going and becoming familiar with local bourbon brands. When Old Forester expressed an interest to bring her on board, Zykan said it was a no-brainer. We were delighted to have some times with her to learn about her experiences behind the bar, he thoughts on the industry in general and just what it takes to be a master taster. Here’s what she had to say:

Old Forester

Say hello to Jackie Zykan!

MoM: Can you explain your role as master taster and what your day to day looks like? 

JZ: It’s a hybridisation between global marketing and production. Some days I am in a warehouse, some days I’m at the distillery, some days I’m in our corporate office, some days I’m in a plane heading to see people and do presentations. There’s an education side of it, a new product development side, quality control, drink strategy, it all falls onto my lap. It touches every single angle of Old Forester. There is not a single day that is the same, that is for sure. 

MoM: I understand you also handle cocktail strategy and the single barrel programme, can you talk about those aspects of the role as well? 

JZ: We have a line of cocktail provisions from Old Forester and that was my project, those are my children! It’s very, very important, not every single person looking to get into whiskey is going to be a purist. Cocktails are a fantastic way to introduce people to the spirit in a way that’s familiar to them. Then for the single barrel programme, I oversee the inventory. I keep a nice diverse pool because not everybody’s after the same kind of barrel and that’s kind of the beauty of a single barrel, that they’re all different.

Old Forester

The Old Forester Distillery in Louisville, Kentucky

MoM: Talking about your role in product development, can you give us an idea of what it’s like to create a new product?

JZ: You look at your portfolio and you say “What is it that we don’t have that we could have?” “What would be fun to do?” “‘What’s going to help to tell the story of this brand?” We innovate in a historically relevant way. The Whiskey Row series is a great example of that, where every expression is geared towards telling a pertinent year of the Old Forester history. It’s not about what kind of shock value we get out of a new product or how weird can we make it, it’s always about making a quality balanced product. The process is long, by the time you see a bottle on the shelf we have been talking about it for probably seven years in the office! That’s probably a much longer process then people realise. We’re always thinking of what is coming next for sure.

MoM: Can you give us a brief background on the distillery? 

JZ: Old Forester as a brand was started in 1870 by George Garvin Brown, who saw an opportunity to make things a little bit different and a little bit safer for the general consumer. Back then buying whiskey meant filling up whatever vessel you had from a barrel at a retailer. You weren’t going in and buying a bottle off of a shelf. In the late 1800s here, in America, the whiskey was known as a pharmaceutical. There was a lot of doctors that heard their patients complain that what they’re being prescribed made them sicker or was too inconsistent. This was the Wild West of whiskey production which predated modern-day bourbon regulations. George sees this opportunity to ensure consistency by blending. Old Forester was actually the first bourbon that was blended from multiple distilleries together. Then, to ensure the quality you seal it in a glass bottle so no one can mess with it. With a barrel you can refill it with anything and spread and stretch profits and no one is going to know. That made Old Forester the first bottled bourbon, and it was the first to be sold exclusively in a sealed glass vessel. That changed everything. We’ve been running ever since, all through prohibition, consistently under Kentucky permit number three. It was around before, during and after prohibition and it’s the longest-running family-owned brand of bourbon. It’s definitely a product of Louisville, Kentucky. Our whiskey is made start to finish completely in Louisville, from mashing, fermentation, distillation, maturation, bottling, mostly consumption. We think of it as ‘the hometown bourbon of bourbon’s hometown’.

Old Forester

Old Forester back in ye olden days

MoM: You returned home to 119 Main Street recently, that must have such a huge moment for you guys

JZ: Oh absolutely, it’s a very exciting moment to be able to literally come home as a brand into the same space you started in. We’ve modernised and we’ve kept up with all the trends of the alcohol industry, but the one thing we’ve never forgotten is where we started and it was always quality and consistency foremost. To be able to come back into that same space, you really are sticking true to the roots of a brand that was started by a man who just had a vision of doing things the right way. It’s so meaningful.

MoM: Do you find that it can be a little difficult to innovate when you’ve got this name and history to live up to? 

JZ: Think of it this way, Old Forester came out as a brand in a different way. We really revolutionised how quality was ensured for the industry, so we think of our innovation in all sorts of different ways. It’s not about just doing a different finishing on this product, you want to innovate in a manner that’s going to impact the entire industry. Through sustainability measures. Through packaging. Our history isn’t weighing us down and limiting us because we’ve always been a brand of firsts, and they haven’t always been to do with the actual liquid. It’s a very, very respected company in the industry and there is a good reason for that. We’ve led the way in the pursuit of making sure that everything is very credible and always done with quality and transparency.

Old Forester

Zykan believes that Old Forester has led the way in making its production process credible and transparent

MoM: How would you describe the character of the new make and the distillery character in the spirit from Old Forester?

JZ: What you’re getting from the new make is a really good display of the grain attributes. The mash bill for all Old Forester bourbon is the same: it’s 72% corn, 18% rye, 10% malted barley. That new-make distillate that’s being pulled off the still has a rye backbone coming through for it, so it’s got a nice rye spice to it, but there’s a lot of really good fruit notes that come through and a lot of that is driven by the proprietary yeast strain that we use for Old Forester. You’re gonna get a lot of apple, you’re gonna get a lot of citrus, everybody finds banana in there. We do a quality check on our distillate as soon as it comes off of the still to make sure that it’s always coming out the same and that it’s right on point. If what goes into the barrel isn’t good, what comes out isn’t good.

MoM: Tell us about the creation of your rye whiskey and why it was so exciting.

JZ: It was the first time we’ve ever offered a different mash bill for Old Forester when we released that rye whiskey in February of 2019. The recipe for it is based on a historic recipe from a product that used to be made at the Brown Forman Distillery back in 1940, so it’s a 65% rye, 20% malted barley and 15% corn. That malted barley is giving us a lot of floral and fruit notes to a rye whiskey which usually you just sort of think of as being spiced, or in my mind I always think of it as being incredibly savoury. But this is incredibly balanced because you’re taking a heavier malt mash bill and putting it into a brand new charred oak barrel to create a completely different experience. I honestly think we have one of the most unique ryes in the category.

Old Forester

The mash bill for all Old Forester bourbon is the same: it’s 72% corn, 18% rye, 10% malted barley.

MoM: You’ve said that bartenders have been responsible for some of the resurgence in whiskey’s popularity, how?

JZ: In rye specifically, a lot of the interest in rye came back through the craft cocktail resurgence. People were using these classic cocktails as templates and rye whiskey was getting called for quite a bit, especially with recipes that were developed during prohibition because it was available. The demand was always for something that was a little bit higher proof and that wasn’t going to break the bank and crash your entire cocktail programme. That’s the reason our rye is 100 proof and the price it is, because we recognised that that’s what was driving the interest in it in the first place.  In general, the craft cocktail scene has been huge for a lot of distilled spirits, from the explosion of gin brands on the market to the resurgence of some sort of esoteric stuff that a lot of people haven’t paid attention to in a really long time, like cachaça, bitters etc. The craft cocktail movement has changed the perspective that you’ll ruin a distilled spirit if you throw it into a cocktail. It’s opening a gateway for people to experience in a way that’s familiar to them. Long live the cocktail!

MoM: How did being a bartender affect your approach now and inform the job you do now?

JZ: When working behind a bar you’re seeing it from a totally different angle. Price affects things, for sure, but you also realise how important the right packaging and things being ergonomically feasible for fast service is. This definitely affects conversations we have at Old Forester. It helps you gain a different perspective and it certainly helps you develop your palate. I didn’t necessarily recreationally drink when I was a bartender but you learn to balance and you get to learn a lot of flavour profiles. That has really helped me as far as articulating flavour notes that are in our whiskey, for sure.

Old Forester

Zykan’s role as master taster entails more than product development

MoM: What industry trends have caught your eye? 

JZ: The biggest one that we’ve seen is honestly the lower-to-no alcohol trend. It can be hard for me to answer this question because my role is a global role, so the trend in the UK is different than the trend in Minneapolis, Minnesota, but lower alcohol and being more health-conscious and mindful is definitely not going to go anywhere anytime soon. There’s also a massive trend with the bourbon boom of losing this purist mentality and that’s fantastic. Whiskey as a category can be quite intimidating. For a very long time it was sort of put up on this pedestal and it was as if you could only appreciate it in its pure form. Which isn’t the case, whatsoever. You don’t ruin whiskey by putting it in a cocktail. You make your cocktail better by using a good whiskey as opposed to a bad whiskey. This isn’t the early 1900s anymore, you’re not trying to cover up swill liquor with sugar and such. You’ve got more quality and more regulated products out there and it’s a very exciting time to be able to mix things around a bit. We need that shift to make it a much more approachable category for everybody all over the place.

MoM: Next year is Old Forester’s 150th anniversary. I presume you guys are already working on some stuff to mark the occasion? 

JZ: Oh you know that we have, for many, many years! We’re excited to finally get it out there and in the hands of the people who love this brand so much. So yes, you’ll be seeing some special stuff coming out next year. It’s going to be a big year for us.

MoM: What’s your go-to bottle of Old Forester and then your go-to cocktail? 

JZ: Our 1910 Expression is really having a moment, I am absolutely in love with that one. As far as cocktails go, it is a harder question to answer. What I drink the most of is the 100 proof signature and it’s always in an Old Fashioned. I’m an Old Fashioned die hard!

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Cocktail of the Week: The Old Fashioned

It’s Old Fashioned Week! Time to dust off those plus fours, oil the old penny farthing and start getting excited about the new Sherlock Holmes story that’s being serialised in…

It’s Old Fashioned Week! Time to dust off those plus fours, oil the old penny farthing and start getting excited about the new Sherlock Holmes story that’s being serialised in the Strand magazine. Or you could just make an Old Fashioned cocktail. 

Why is an Old Fashioned called an Old Fashioned? Well, once upon a time, a cocktail wasn’t a general term for a mixed drink, it was a combination of a spirit (usually whiskey), sugar, ice and bitters. But in the 1850s and 60s, new fangled European concoctions like vermouth arrived in America and the term cocktail expanded to include drinks made with vermouth: proto-Manhattans, Brooklyns and Martinis. Hence, if you wanted an old timey cocktail, you asked for an Old Fashioned.

The Cocktail Book (published in 1900) lists cocktails, in the old-fashioned sense of the word, made with Cognac, rum, gin, and Scotch whisky but until quite recently the Old Fashioned was synonymous with American whiskey. Bourbon is the classic choice and this Old Fashioned Week (1-10 November), Woodford Reserve is putting on a series of events where top London bars like Swift, Homeboy, Murder Inc, Discount Suit Co. and Three Sheets are offering their takes on the bourbon Old Fashioned. 

We are, however, rediscovering how good this drink can be made with other spirits like aged Tequila, Jamaican rum or single malt Scotch. This week, therefore, I’m using a Speyside whisky, Glen Moray Classic Port Cask Finish. Something that might annoy the malt purists but the Old Fashioned is such a good drink because it highlights rather than masks the flavour of the base spirit. So much so that Glen Moray has really got behind the whole thing and released a series of Old Fashioned recipes produced by those diffident drinks enthusiasts Joel Harrison and Neil Ridley from World’s Best Spirits. These include a particularly nice one made with marmalade instead of sugar syrup. In fact, playing with the sweetening agent you can have a lot of fun. Other great sugary switcharoos include the syrup from maraschino cherries, honey or Pedro Ximenez sherry.

Glen Moray

The Old Fashioned is so adaptable that you can even put a burning sprig in it

But if you’re sticking with pure sugar, the big question when making your Old Fashioned is whether to use granulated sugar and spend ages stirring, or just use sugar syrup. If I was a professional bartender, I’d go for syrup every time. Time is money after all. But at home, I like the ritual of using sugar, preferably brown, and stirring for a good two minutes. It’s therapeutic. 

Finally the bitters. Angostura is a great all rounder, but fruity and chocolate bitters can be fun, accentuating flavours in the whisky (or whatever you are using). Cherry bitters are a great foil to the Glen Moray Port Cask Finish bringing out the red fruit but the distillery has also come up with its own bitters which are only available to bartenders. 

This spirit of constant experimentation is what makes the Old Fashioned perhaps the most satisfying cocktail to make at home. Choose your spirit, and then play around with different sweeteners and bitters, and you can’t go wrong. Well, you can but mistakes are easily rectified. So, find a nice heavy glass, get out your sturdiest spoon and let’s make a cocktail the old-fashioned way.

50ml Glen Moray Classic Port Cask Finish 
1/2 teaspoon of brown sugar (or more if you like it sweeter)
2 teaspoons hot water
1 dash Fee Brothers Cherry Bitters

In a tumbler add the sugar, bitters and hot water. Stir vigorously until most of the sugar has dissolved. Add half the whisky, keep stirring until there is no graininess left. Now add three or four big cubes of ice and stir. Finally, add the rest of the whisky, stir some more and serve with a maraschino cherry. 

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The Nightcap: 1 November

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

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

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

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

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

The Nightcap

Congratulations Dr Kirstie McCallum!

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

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

 

 

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

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Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson reveals new Tequila distillery

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

The Nightcap

It’s quite the array of Scotch

Hunter Laing releases retrotastic Old & Rare Heritage whiskies

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

The Nightcap

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

The English Whisky Company to launch Remembrance Sunday whisky

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

The Nightcap

It’s Port season, don’t you know?

Taylor’s announces the arrival of the Port Season

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

The Nightcap

So much lovely whiskey…

Over 9 million barrels of whiskey now maturing in Kentucky

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

The Nightcap

BenRiach wants to bring its sensory palette to life through art

BenRiach to be turned into art

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

The Nightcap

The Guinness Japanese Brew Series

Guinness launches the Japanese Brew Series

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

The Nightcap

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

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

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

The Nightcap

A fine addition to your cheeseboard

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

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

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Get ready for Halloween!

Halloween approaches. But there’s nothing to fear this year because we’ve got you covered with these 10 fabulously frightening boozes. Costume? Check. Decorations? Check. Carved pumpkin you’ll forget to throw…

Halloween approaches. But there’s nothing to fear this year because we’ve got you covered with these 10 fabulously frightening boozes.

Costume? Check. Decorations? Check. Carved pumpkin you’ll forget to throw away until it’s a rancid puddle attracting half the neighbourhood’s wildlife? Check. It sounds like you’ve got everything you need to celebrate another Hallows’ Eve. Everything apart from some delicious drinks, of course.

That’s where we come in. We’ve collected some of the spookiest spirits we could find here at the haunted MoM Towers to ease your burden. Now you can focus on getting your costume right. Fake blood can be a real mess. I’ll probably just go as the bumblebee guy and save myself the time and effort.

Happy Halloween!

Poetic License Pumpkin Spice Gin

Jack-o’-lanterns are a major part of Halloween, so it’s only right we have a pumpkin-forward spirit on this list. Poetic License distilled this gin not only with a classically autumnal pumpkin spice mix but actual pumpkin and pumpkin seeds as well, making this a truly festive treat.

What does it taste like?:

Fragrant nutmeg and cinnamon, with balancing piney juniper. Mouth-coating nutty, sweet pumpkin alongside even more baking spice, with fiery ginger and just a dash of citrus peel on a warming, spiced finish.

Cloven Hoof Spiced Rum

Halloween is the Devil’s holiday and Cloven Hoof Spiced Rum is clearly a reference to the Prince of Darkness (Satan, not Ozzy Osbourne). But it also features in our round-up because it’s very tasty! Made from a blend of Guyanese and Trinidadian rum, along with a selection of spices, including cassia, anise and clove (another influence on the name), this bottling has everything you want in a spiced rum and should prove very popular among company.

What does it taste like?:

Enjoyably hot with cooking spice, with underlying caramelised fruit and brown sugar.

El Espolòn Reposado Tequila

We’ll take any opportunity we have to rally against how rubbish the usual party culture around Tequila is. Ditch the salt and the fruit and all that nonsense and instead enjoy the quality and craftsmanship of El Espolòn Reposado Tequila at your spooky soiree. It was made by Destilladora San Nicolas in Los Altos, who actually play rock music in the factories to “inspire” the agave. That’s how rad they are. The skeletons on the bottle make it suitably festive too.

What does it taste like?:

Warming spice, roasted agave, vanilla, brown sugar, vibrant fruit and a sweet hint of caramel.

Jim Beam Devil’s Cut

A bottle of bourbon fit for a prince. Of darkness. We’re talking about Satan again, although Ozzy would probably appreciate this one too, come to think of it. Made by blending Jim Beam Bourbon and the extracted spirit that was absorbed into the wood of the barrels itself, this is a punchy oak-fest of a dram.

What does it taste like?:

Immensely woody, fresh-cut oak, a whole heap of vanilla and wood spice.

Fallen Angel Blood Orange Gin

That ceramic heart-shaped bottle will be the talk of your Halloween party, and the flavoured gin inside should prove just as popular! Featuring a selection of classic gin botanicals alongside a hearty helping of blood orange, this Fallen Angel expression is one way to add some spookiness to your G&T.

What does it taste like?:

Juicy orange and drying cinnamon, with soft juniper growing on the finish.

Dead Man’s Fingers Cornish Spiced Rum

An exceptionally popular spiced rum with an appropriately festive name and bottle label, Dead Man’s Fingers was made using a blend of Caribbean rums and plenty of spices. Delicious cocktails await, although don’t underestimate how simple it is to make a really enjoyable rum and coke with this bottling,

What does it taste like?:

Pineapple, Seville orange, dried raisins dusted with cinnamon and black pepper. A touch of creamy vanilla develops later on.

Solway Apple Caramel Gin

With a flavour combination that was made for autumnal months, this gin from Solway Spirits is simply begging to be put to good use in a variety of cocktails and serves. What’s not to like about a blend of juicy apples, sweet caramel and a touch of aromatic cinnamon? Nothing. That’s what.

What does it taste like?:

Butterscotch, white grape, apple pie dusted with cinnamon, a hint of black pepper.

Wicked Wolf Exmoor Gin

Plenty of you will be looking for the perfect gin to enjoy this Halloween and you can’t go wrong with Wicked Wolf Exmoor Gin. Made in North Devon using a selection of 11 botanicals, including juniper, angelica, cardamom, coriander, cubeb, grains of paradise, hibiscus, Kaffir lime leaves, orange peel, lemon peel and lemongrass, this beauty is insanely tasty and versatile, making it perfect for cocktails.

What does it taste like?:

Clean juniper, fresh citrus, angelica, hibiscus sweetness, savoury thyme, drying cubeb peppery hints joined by a hint of fennel seed.

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1792 Full Proof is Jim Murray’s World Whisky of the Year 2020

Kentucky has come out on top in Jim Murray’s Whisky Bible 2020, with 1792 Full Proof Kentucky Straight Bourbon from the Barton 1792 distillery scooping the World Whisky of the…

Kentucky has come out on top in Jim Murray’s Whisky Bible 2020, with 1792 Full Proof Kentucky Straight Bourbon from the Barton 1792 distillery scooping the World Whisky of the Year accolade. 

1792 Full Proof  is a non-chill-filtered expression, bottled at 62.5% ABV. It’s hugely full-flavoured, bursting with toffee penny, burnt sugar and nutmeg notes – but as a limited-run, is sadly sold out (we’re trying to get more in – keep you posted!).

Jim Murray's Whisky Bible 2020 1792 Full Proof

Mr Murray’s top drop

Second place went to William Larue Weller 125.7 proof, an updated version of the winning 2019 expression, with third place nabbed by Thomas Handy Sazerac Rye 127.2 proof.

1792 Full Proof is made at Barton 1792 Distillery, while William Larue Weller and Thomas Handy are both made at Buffalo Trace. All three are owned by Sazerac. 

“To not only be named World Whisky of the Year but also to have our whiskeys named second and third finest is astonishing,” said Mark Brown, Sazerac president. “We could not be happier or more motivated to continue to strive for perfection in the American whiskeys we make.”

Murray chose his 2020 winners from 1,250 new drams. Sectional winners include: the Taiwanese Nantou Distillery Omar Cask Strength Bourbon Cask (Single Cask of the Year); Glen Grant Aged 18 Years Rare Edition (Scotch of the Year); Johnnie Walker Blue Label Ghost & Rare (Blended Scotch of the Year); Penderyn Single Cask no.M75-32 (European Whisky of the Year); and Nikka Taketsuru Pure Malt (Japanese Whisky of the Year).

Jim Murray's Whisky Bible 2020 Scotch Glen Grant

Behold, Jim’s Scotch of the Year!

“There will be eyebrows raised and claims of favouritism which, of course, is never the case with the Whisky Bible: I call it exactly as I see it,” Murray said. “Once I knew the top three were from the same company, I spent two extra days running through my top ten whiskies once more…and the results came out exactly the same!

“For the 1792 Distillery to win World Whisky of the Year is extraordinary because when I first went there some 25 years ago, the then-owners had no interest in high-end whiskey. The oldest they produced was a six-year-old, which I thought was one of the most complex on the market but still under-cooked. I implored them then to bring out something much older.” He added that the team has “turned a potentially great distillery into something truly magnificent”.

Jim Murray’s Whisky Bible 2020 is due to arrive at MoM Towers imminently! 

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