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Master of Malt Blog

Tag: Bruichladdich

New Arrival of the Week: Laphroaig 15 Year Old 2004 (COIWC)

Today we’re welcoming a series of exciting bottlings at MoM from that mecca for whisky lovers, the Jewel of the Hebrides itself, Islay, including releases from Laphroaig, Ardbeg, Bowmore, Octomore…

Today we’re welcoming a series of exciting bottlings at MoM from that mecca for whisky lovers, the Jewel of the Hebrides itself, Islay, including releases from Laphroaig, Ardbeg, Bowmore, Octomore and, rarest of all, Port Ellen. The collection is called The Stories of Wind and Wave and it’s brought to you from the aptly-named Character of Islay Whisky Company.

It can be quite an adventure getting to Islay. Many times Master of Malt team members have tried to reach the island only to be thwarted by adverse weather conditions. And should you be lucky enough to have your flight from Glasgow cleared for take off, the wind-blown descent into the island’s airport on the tiny propeller plane can be terrifying for the uninitiated. Or there’s the joy of a two hour crossing on a CalMac ferry through rough seas. The fun doesn’t stop when you arrive down either, on a visit last year to visit Islay’s newest distillery, Ardnahoe, the air was thick with the scent of burnt heather. A combination of high winds, dry weather, and, probably, a stray cigarette end had set much of the south of the island on fire. The air smelt just like Islay whisky. 

For whisky lovers, this very inaccessibility is part of the magic of the island. You have to really want to visit. And the lure is, of course, the extraordinary concentration of distilleries all with their own unique character and the way the whiskies taste of their location, salt, peat smoke and seaweed. There are other peated whiskies from Scotland, but it’s the ones from Islay that get all the attention. 

Laphroaig John Campbell

Laphroaig on a rare sunny day

Those names, Ardbeg, Bowmore, and Laproaig, are music to whisky enthusiasts. And aiming to bottle some of that music, if such a thing were even possible, is a batch of rare malts that has just landed at MoM towers. It’s from our friends at the Character of Islay Whisky Company which previously released whiskies from anonymous distilleries on the island, but for this batch has revealed where they came from. Which is nice of them. The series is called the Stories of Wind and the Wave and includes bottlings from Bowmore, Laproaig and Ardbeg (see below). Plus still to come some Octomore and something tres fancy from Port Ellen.

The one we’re highlighting today is from Laphroaig, the most medicinal of all the Islay whiskies. It gets its distinctive character from only using Islay peat. The distillery has a traditional floor maltings and makes about 25% of its requirements using local Machrie moss peat which cold smokes the barley. The rest of the malt comes from the nearby Port Ellen maltings. Islay peat is largely made from seaweed which is where that love-it-or-hate-it salty iodine flavour comes from. The reason it tastes of the sea is because it comes from the sea, albeit a long time ago. This smokiness is accentuated by taking a late cut, so you get more of that peat smoke. 

The classic expression for lovers of medicinal malts is the 10 year old. But the longer you keep Laphroaig, the less smoky it becomes and the more tropical fruits start to appear. Release No.11693 was distilled in 2004 and aged for 15 years in a refill bourbon cask so you’re not getting that much wood influence. It’s bottled at 50.2% ABV. All that smoky character is still there but it’s been joined by stone fruit and quince (see below for full tastings notes). It’s a great dram to launch a series of rare and unusual whiskies that Islay fans will not want to miss. They’re the next best thing to a visit to the island itself.

Here is the full range of Stories of Wind and Wave whiskies currently available from Master of Malt:

Laphroaig 15 Year Old 2004 (Release No.11694)

Laphroaig 15 Year Old 2004 (Release No.11693)

Bowmore 18 Year Old 2001 (Release No.11715)

Bowmore 18 Year Old 2001 (Release No.11714) 

Bowmore 16 Year Old 2003 (Release No.11698) 

Bowmore 16 Year Old 2003 (Release No.11699)

Bowmore 16 Year Old 2003 (Release No.11697)

Ardbeg 15 Year Old 2004 (Release No.11673)

Tasting note for the Laphroaig 15 Year Old 2004 (Release No.11693) from The Chaps at Master of Malt:

Nose: Waxy peels, peppermint leaf and smoky black tea with a touch of baked earth to it.

Palate: Sweet smoke with savoury hints of salted butter and cedar underneath, plus stone fruit developing later on.

Finish: Polished oak, a touch of ash and continuing fruity elements.

 

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10 more gins with wonderfully unusual botanicals

Ever had a gin with botanicals such as bourbon vetiver, gunpowder tea, squid ink, moon rock or Jaffa cakes? These expressions feature such delightful and peculiar ingredients and more. Remember…

Ever had a gin with botanicals such as bourbon vetiver, gunpowder tea, squid ink, moon rock or Jaffa cakes? These expressions feature such delightful and peculiar ingredients and more.

Remember when we cast our big MoM-branded spotlight on ten gins that have the most intriguing ingredients? Well, it turns out there is a seemingly never-ending supply of bottlings that feature botanicals of all profiles and styles from all around the world. So we’ve decided to once again point you in the direction of those that benefit from the selection of strange and sublime ingredients. Here are 10 more gins with wonderfully unusual botanicals.

gins with wonderfully unusual botanicals

Jaffa Cake Gin

While some people would waste time asking if Jaffa cakes are biscuit or cake, wisdom prevailed at least with the creators of this beauty, who put the bickering aside and instead turned the irresistible chocolatey-orange treats into gin. Along with oranges, fresh orange peel and cocoa powder, actual Jaffa cakes were popped into a vacuum still to make an expression that will make one of the best Negronis you’ll ever taste, made all the easier by this Jaffa Cake Gin Negroni Bundle

What does it taste like?:

Zingy orange (marmalade-esque), rich and earthy chocolate, vanilla-rich cake, a touch of almondy-goodness and a solid backbone of juniper. Also, Jaffa Cakes!

gins with wonderfully unusual botanicals

Theodore Pictish Gin

A tribute to a tribe who are thought to be some of the very first settlers of Scotland, Theodore Pictish Gin contains 16 botanicals including some delightfully strange examples such as pine, damask rose, pomelo and bourbon vetiver. These ingredients were distilled using an old charentais still, just to add to the intrigue and delight of this expression.

What does it taste like?:

Damask rose and oolong tea make a floral bouquet, with both fresh and dried spicy ginger warmth, alongside notes of citric pomelo and crisp pine needles, smoky bourbon vetiver and hints of vanilla.

gins with wonderfully unusual botanicals

The Botanist Islay Dry Gin

An Islay gin created at the Bruichladdich distillery, The Botanist features a huge 31 botanicals, some of which are native to Islay and a fair few of which you’ll struggle to find in other gins. The full list of botanicals is as follows: angelica root, apple mint, birch leaves, bog myrtle leaves, cassia bark, chamomile, cinnamon bark, coriander seed, creeping thistle flowers, elderflowers, gorse flowers, heather flowers, hawthorn flowers, juniper berries, lady’s bedstraw flowers, lemon balm, lemon peel, liquorice root, meadowsweet, orange peel, orris root, peppermint leaves, mugwort leaves, red clover flowers, tansy, thyme leaves, water mint leaves, white clover, wood sage leaves. Did you get all that? Please don’t make me repeat it.

What does it taste like?:

Enough botanicals to make us wish we had five noses. Big notes of citrus, delicate menthol and flowers everywhere! 

gins with wonderfully unusual botanicals

Roku Gin

The first gin from Japan’s legendary Suntory features six Japanese botanicals that provide a whistle-stop tour of the four seasons. If you’ve never tasted the likes of sakura leaf and sakura flower (spring), sencha tea and gyokuro tea (summer), sansho pepper (autumn) and yuzu peel (winter), then Roku Gin should make the perfect introduction. 

What does it taste like?:

Earthy and vegetal, with a light whisper of fruity sweetness hiding underneath. Peppery notes develop on the finish.

gins with wonderfully unusual botanicals

Whitley Neill Handcrafted Dry Gin

Whitley Neill’s core bottling has proved exceptionally popular, with people enjoying its unique botanical blend, which comprises of African ingredients such as extracts from the Baobab Tree (known as the Tree of Life) and Physalis fruit. This London dry gin was distilled in a one-hundred-year-old copper pot still, just in case you thought its charm belonged solely to its botanicals.

What does it taste like?:

Juniper upfront, with hints of perfumed, coriander leaves, calves leather, cassia bark, cut herbs, acacia honey, exotic spices and citrus.

gins with wonderfully unusual botanicals

Drumshanbo Gunpowder Gin

The Shed distillery may not have been around long but it has already made some terrifically tasty spirits, such as its first Irish whiskey, Drumshanbo Single Pot Still Inaugural Release and this wonderful Irish gin, the brilliantly named Gunpowder Gin. Its name comes from its signature botanical, gunpowder tea, which is vapour infused alongside lemon, lime and fresh grapefruit and distilled with juniper, angelica, orris, caraway, coriander, meadowsweet, cardamom and star anise.

What does it taste like?:

Bright citrus and green tea notes are complemented by the spices.

gins with wonderfully unusual botanicals

Comte de Grasse 44°N 

French distiller Comte de Grasse’s inaugural gin, 44°N is a truly unique bottling, made using ultrasonic maceration, vacuum distillation and CO2 supercritical extraction. The spirit was inspired by perfume production methods and features an extensive list of botanicals that pay tribute to this, including mimosa, patchouli, everlasting (a golden flower), horse parsley, cade (a species of juniper), samphire, verbena, lavender, grapefruit and Sichuan pepper.

What does it taste like?:

Woody juniper and a pinch of salt, with a burst of sweet and bitter citrus followed by an aromatic floral bouquet, a creamy note on the finish supported by warming pepper spice.

gins with wonderfully unusual botanicals

Dr. Squid Gin

The Pocketful of Stones Distillery in Penzance has crafted using this gin using genuine squid ink! It’s an ingredient that’s become very popular in cuisine, so it’s no surprise to see it enter the world of gin. You won’t be surprised to learn that this is a rather savoury expression, with a coastal feeling to it along with a few touches of citrus and spice. It also comes in a charming copper flask, engraved with all sorts of flora and fauna and what looks like the eponymous Dr. Squid on the label. Oh, and your drink will also turn bright pink if you mix in some tonic water. How cool is that!

What does it taste like?:

Savoury kitchen herbs, fresh lemon zest, meadowsweet, woody juniper, a touch of sea breeze, spring blossom and pine.

gins with wonderfully unusual botanicals

Bareksten Gin 

If you’ve ever wanted to taste Norway in a glass (admit it, you definitely want to) then your best bet is to try Bareksten Gin. The botanical list for this one goes on and on. There’s juniper, coriander, blueberries, grains of paradise, fennel, rose hips, lime peel, rose flowers, cinnamon, caraway, cardamom, angelica, lemon and orange peel, orris, rhubarb, aniseed, nutmeg, red clover, lavender, chamomile, mint arnica flowers, elderflowers, lingonberries… Creator Stig Bareksten even uses a botanical GPS marker for each of the ingredients that are foraged.

What does it taste like?:

Earthy and oaky, with a bright hint of caraway shining through.

gins with wonderfully unusual botanicals

Moonshot Gin (That Boutique-y Gin Company)

That Boutique-y Gin Company’s space-age sensation doesn’t feature many botanicals you’ll be unfamiliar with, but it is the only gin we know that was made solely with botanicals that have been sent to space! Juniper, coriander, cubeb pepper, fresh lemon peel, chamomile flowers, cardamom, dried bitter orange peel, cinnamon, liquorice root, angelica and moon rock from a lunar meteorite (!) were all sent into the stratosphere at an altitude of at least 20km where they were exposed to extremely low pressures before being bottled.

What does it taste like?: 

Candied peels, starfruit, warming juniper, lemon thyme, cassia, black pepper, lemon sherbet, coriander seed, ginger beer and grapefruit.

 

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The Nightcap: 31 July

It’s Friday and you must know what that means by now, it can only be The Nightcap!  Sometimes you see something wonderful and it restores your faith in the world….

It’s Friday and you must know what that means by now, it can only be The Nightcap! 

Sometimes you see something wonderful and it restores your faith in the world. This week we had probably the best thing that’s ever been featured on our humble collection of boozy stories. It’s a story all about distillery pets. Do you want to see the cats and dogs (and a surprise animal) that reside at your favourite flavour factories? Of course, you do. It’s just the second feature from our new guest writer Lucy Britner and honestly, I don’t know how she tops it. Once you see those loveable animals you’ll feel ready to enjoy the weekend in all its glory. Grab a drink, settle down and kick it off with The Nightcap.

In another tip-top week on the MoM blog, Johnnie Walker kicked things off by announcing it releases four celebratory 200th-anniversary whiskies, while Henry had the pleasure of picking the brain of Elwyn Gladstone, the marketing guru behind such brands as Sailor Jerry rum, Hendrick’s, Malfy Gin and Hotel Starlino. Annie then did some trademark myth-busting on the role of water in spirits before Adam spoke to Michael Kain about 10 years of 6 O’Clock Gin. Fans of our regular posts will have noted that our Cocktail of the Week was the terrifically tasty Grasshopper, while our New Arrival of the Week was a delightful Japanese single malt whisky that was part-aged in an apple brandy cask.

The Nightcap

Founders of Sliabh Liag Distillers, James and Moria Doherty, with their first cask of Donegal whiskey

First Donegal whiskey launched

When we spoke to James Doherty of Sliabh Liag Distillers back in 2019, he told us about his desire to distil peated whiskey and make Donegal to Ireland what Islay is to Scotland. Well, this week the brand has taken its first big step forward to fulfilling this ambition by filling its first cask with a peated single malt new-make. Marking the first time that legal whiskey distillation has taken place in Donegal since the closure of Burt Distillery in 1841, the small-batch production took place at Sliabh Liag Distillers’ Carrick facility while the business’s new whiskey distillery at Ardara is under construction and on Wednesday the brand launched a new crowdfunding campaign to help raise €1.5m of capital for the project. The new make was distilled twice in SLD’s copper pot still, known as Méabh, from peated Irish Craft Malts barley grown in Meath, mirroring the profile of the spirit that was being distilled in Ulster 200 years ago, before it was filled into a first-fill bourbon oak cask. “While Burt Distillery ceased production in 1841, we know illegal distilling continued during the intermittent years, not least by my grandfather who was creating a smoky, double-distilled spirit under the authorities’ radar on the hills ‘up the glen’ in Kilcar. I think my grandfather would approve that we are now distilling the first legal whiskey in Donegal for nearly 200 years, and there’s a lovely sense of coming full circle,” commented Doherty. “There has been a fair amount of blood, sweat and tears to get to this point – especially last week in hand-mashing 500L of wort for brewing – but it’s given us a huge lift as we embark on the next stage in both our and Donegal’s history. Once we are up and running there, the future of Donegal Irish Whiskey will be even brighter.” 

The Nightcap

If everything goes well the tiny Hebridean island of Benbecula should have a distillery by 2022!

Plans unveiled for Benbecula distillery

New whisky distillery alert! Well, potential distillery. This week, The Uist Distilling Company revealed plans for a £6.5 million site at Gramsdale on the tiny Hebridean island of Benbecula! If it gets the green light, the distillery will make rum and gin alongside single malt, and will also feature a visitor centre and food outlet, where visitors can snap up all manner of freshly made local products. What’s especially exciting is that low-carbon tech will be used from design and build all the way through to distillation. Green(er) whisky incoming! 25 jobs will be created, alongside another 60-70 indirect jobs in the supply chain. Good stuff all round. “The new distillery aims to be a champion of all things Hebridean and Scottish and will provide a huge boost to tourism in the area,” said Angus A McMillan, Uist Distilling Company chairman and chief executive. “We want to produce whisky, rum and gin that will put Benbecula and the Hebrides firmly on the whisky tourist trail, while introducing the products we make to a national and international clientele.” The planning application is due for submission imminently, and, if all goes to plan, production will kick off in early 2022. Godspeed, folks!

The Nightcap

Scottish barley being harvested for Bruichladdich whisky

Bruichladdich continues transparent drive with No Hidden Measures campaign 

Islay-based distillery Bruichladdich has long committed itself to transparency. Back in 2016, it stood with whisky blender Compass Box in its drive for clearer labelling rules when it comes to the constituent parts of whisky expressions. Now Bruichladdich is honing in on accountability, with a focus on the prevalence of raw materials in whisky-making. Through its No Hidden Measures initiatives, it ‘hopes to bring a new level of transparency to single malt Scotch’ by publishing the provenance of and recipes for its flagship Classic Laddie and Laddie Eight bottlings on its website. Details include where the barley was grown (on the island of Islay or near Inverness), its maturation details of first- or second-fill casks, and the age of its youngest component part. Interestingly, the distillery also states how EU law restricts its transparency (the subject of the first campaign with Compass Box). “Never before have businesses been in such a privileged position to share the detail in all they do,” said Bruichladdich CEO Douglas Taylor. “Our customers are engaged with us across our big picture thinking down to the granular detail of how our whisky is made. Our aim has always been to make the most thought-provoking spirit possible, and we couldn’t do that without nurturing the same sense of curiosity in our consumers, as we allow ourselves.” He continued: “We’re determined to highlight the complexity behind every batch of The Classic Laddie and The Laddie Eight. There are no shortcuts taken in their creation, therefore we have no secrets… that’s what’s meant by ‘No Hidden Measures’. Some may dismiss this level of detail as unnecessary, but it’s important for us to make whisky accessible AND allow a more sophisticated conversation to take place.” To discover how their bottle was made, customers can pop a code found on the back of the bottles into Bruichladdich’s website. Happy tracking!

The Nightcap

Smeaton’s Gin is the latest brand to do their bit to support the on-trade

Smeaton’s Gin to boost Hospitality Action funds with new cocktail

We all know we’re living in challenging times, and that despite lockdown’s largely easing, the hospitality industry continues to struggle. Loads of brands and retailers alike have pulled together to support the on-trade, the latest being Smeaton’s Gin. The Bristol-based producer ran a cocktail competition to find a fabulous new serve. The winning concoction will be sold in bars and restaurants across the UK, with Smeaton’s making a donation to Hospitality Action for every cocktail sold. The winner? Gin blogger and judge Meme Toor with her serve The Hospitality. The pineapple-based drink “tastes delicious, shines in the glass, and will offer bars an easily-replicable, relatable, value-added cocktail to offer their patrons returning from lockdown,” according to brand ambassador Alex Williams. Smeaton’s owner Michael Palij MW added: “Bars and restaurants embraced Smeaton’s Gin when we launched. Now it’s our turn to help and at this immensely challenging time for the On-Trade, we are committed to supporting Hospitality Action – a charity which supports hospitality workers in times of hardship.” Good work all round!

The Nightcap

Cheers to 10 years of William Grant and Tullamore Distillery’s partnership!

William Grant & Sons Celebrates “10 Years of Tully”

Can you believe we’ve had 10 whole years of Tullamore D.E.W. deliciousness? This month marks an entire decade since it joined William Grant & Sons’ portfolio! Over that time it’s become the world’s second-largest triple blend Irish whiskey, which is pretty groundbreaking stuff. If you want to mark the occasion with more than just a dram (though that will certainly do), then you’ll be thrilled to know that Tullamore D.E.W. visitor centre reopened its doors to the public this month! We love a celebration. Anyway, we’ll leave you with a fact, the kind that’s going to come in handy at dinner parties. Here goes: across the world, 10 shots of Tullamore D.E.W. are consumed every second. Yes, really! Now, go and get yourself a glass of Tully and spread the word. 

The Nightcap

Yamazaki-55 Year Old, the oldest Japanese whisky ever produced.

Oldest Japanese whisky ever distilled goes to auction in August

If you want to see a little piece of whisky history made next month then mark the 21 August (Friday) in your calendar as it’s the day the Bonhams Hong Kong auction of Fine and Rare Wine & Whisky will take place. The highlight of this sale? A bottle of Yamazaki-55 Year Old, the oldest expression ever produced by the prestigious brand and the oldest Japanese whisky in history. The blockbuster of a single-malt was only released in June this year by Suntory, via a customer lottery system applicable only to residents from within Japan. The expression was distilled in the 1960s and matured in both Japanese Mizunara oak cask from 1960 and white oak cask from 1964 before it was bottled at 46% ABV. The whisky, which had an exceedingly-limited outturn of 100 bottles, is said to have a complex agarwood and sandalwood nose, rich in fruity scents with a sweet aftertaste. Excitingly, it’s even older than the coveted Yamazaki-50 Year Old, which – on several occasions over the years – has set the world auction record for a single bottle of Japanese whisky. Other wine and spirits highlights of the sale include a bottle of Saburomaru 1960 55-year-old, which means the auction will feature the two oldest Japanese whiskies currently available to the market, as well as Macallan Lalique 55-Year-Old, Karuizawa 1974 (40-year-old) Blue Geisha and Karuizawa 1974 (40-year-old) Gold Geisha and Bowmore 1955 (40-year-old). “We are thrilled to be the first international auction house to offer this historic and extremely popular bottle to the worldwide audience, which already has a strong appetite for the finest Japanese whisky,” Daniel Lam, Bonhams’ director of wine & spirits, Asia, commented. “One of only 100 that were produced, this amber joy by one of the most prestigious whisky distilleries is as rare as its quality is unmatched.”

The Nightcap

It’s wholesome escapism, Tobermory-style

And finally… need some soothing colouring? Tobermory’s got your back

Remember a couple of years ago when colouring-in books for grown-ups were the thing? Well, Mull-based Tobermory Distillery reckons it’s time for a come-back. After all, lockdowns around the world have inspired many of us to get in touch with our artistic sides, so why not? As such it has launched a Tobermory colouring book, featuring 10 hand-drawn designs by artist Lydia Bourhill depicting the charm of the island, from its technicolour harbour to dramatic landscapes. “Our colourful home on the island of Mull is ample inspiration for those looking to keep up the enriching, artistic hobbies many have started in lockdown,” said Amy Burns, Tobermory Distillery’s global marketing manager. “It’s thanks to this nourishing artistic community and the island’s stunning natural beauty that Tobermory Distillery is expressive by nature, and this is reflected in the spirits we craft.” She continued: “It is this expressive creativity which formed the inspiration for our colouring-in books, designed to let you relax, unwind and unlock your artistic passions over a gin and tonic or dram of whisky.” The colouring books are available from Tobermorydistillery.com – soothing weekend plans sorted!

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Coping with Covid: Scotch whisky’s post-pandemic plans

Today industry veteran Ian Buxton takes a look at how Scotland’s whisky business has coped with the global pandemic and what the mood is as the world begins to return…

Today industry veteran Ian Buxton takes a look at how Scotland’s whisky business has coped with the global pandemic and what the mood is as the world begins to return to some semblance of normality. 

You don’t need me to tell you there’s a nasty bug going round. Not so very long ago I was worrying about the new US import tariffs on single malt Scotch and the tit-for-tat taxes on American whiskey exports to the UK and European Union, noting that producers on both sides of the Atlantic, especially smaller distillers in the so-called craft sector were starting to feel real pain. The USA is Scotch’s most valuable single market – worth more than double the next nearest (France in case you wanted to know, where they love ‘value’ blends) – so it’s important.

Well, I didn’t know the half of it. ‘May you live in interesting times’ goes the old Chinese curse and regardless of where this particular C-virus curse originated we’re certainly in interesting times now.

Like most of the rest of the world and certainly the UK, Scotland’s distilling industry was brought to a dead stop with the arrival of Coronavirus. By mid-May the Scotch Whisky Association was reporting that “87% of production sites are either operating at reduced capacity or have closed entirely”. Many began producing hand sanitiser and high strength ethanol for key workers but, however laudable their efforts, they weren’t filling casks of new make or bottles of whisky.

However, at last, there are reasons to be hopeful, and while visitor centres remain shuttered, bottling and distilling has restarted at many locations. I’ve been asking what the industry plans to do to rebuild sales in the land of the free.

There must be worse places to isolate than the Hebridean island of Islay, from where Bruichladdich’s Christy MacFarlane told me that a phased restart got underway on 3 June though many employees remain home working. “Within the USA, sales and marketing have continued on a conservative basis, with an uplift in e-commerce channels,” she says. Also on Islay, Ardbeg and its mainland sister distillery Glenmorangie have reopened – just in time to support the launch of two new products into the USA. The Cadboll Estate is Glenmorangie’s first single estate whisky.  Aged in American oak bourbon casks for 15 years, this limited edition single malt Scotch whisky is exclusive to the US, Canada and Mexico. Wee Beastie is Ardbeg’s first 5 year old expression, matured in ex-bourbon and oloroso sherry casks.

Islay’s smallest distillery (for the moment) is Kilchoman. Just prior to lockdown, the family had completed a significant expansion and now they’re back at work, albeit with a smaller team all keeping an appropriate social distance.

Back on the mainland, Gordon Buist, production director at Chivas Brothers explained that “at present, seven of our 14 distilleries are operational [with] the health and safety of our team our number one priority. Any decisions on increasing capacity and/or reopening sites will be led by government guidelines that keep them – as well as our visitors, partners and the wider community – safe.”

However, while anticipating that “social distancing will continue to be the norm across all of our sites until a vaccine is found,” he concluded that Chivas “remain confident in the resilience of Scotch – which has seen just one dip since 2000 – and its ability to bounce back after this outbreak, as it has done following many other macro events that have impacted the world in the past 20 years.”

whisky crash

Ian Buxton next to a cask of whisky

Representing Balblair and Old Pulteney single malts, Malcolm Leask, global vice president of sales, was similarly upbeat, remarking on its new US distributor partnership with the super-premium artisanal spirits importer and distiller Hotaling & Co, from April and promising “exciting plans for these brands in the US market over the next year, to tell the stories of our whiskies and re-engage US malt whisky drinkers.”

But tourism and whisky festivals have been hit hard. It feels as if 2020’s visitor operations will be a total write-off, though some distilleries have been offering their limited edition festival bottlings online. Expect them soon on an auction site as the virtual roundabout continues.

Back in the USA where blends are still hugely important, from major player Dewar’s comes word that blending and bottling operations have continued without interruption of supply. Brian Cox, VP Dewar’s North America says “COVID-19 has raised challenges, as it has for everyone, but we remain resolutely focused in trying to anticipate and shape the future, for both Dewar’s and the category. We plan to carry on pushing the boundaries of what is expected from the whisky category and continue our long-standing commitment to innovation. Watch this space for more exciting news from the brand soon.”

That’s the spirit for these times!

Though he has neither a beard nor any visible tattoos or piercings, Ian Buxton is well-placed to write about drinks. A former marketing director of one of Scotland’s favourite single malts, his is a bitter-sweet love affair with Scotland’s national drink – not to mention gin and rum, or whatever the nearest PR is pouring. Once, apparently without noticing, he bought a derelict distillery. Follow his passionate, authentic hand-crafted artisanal journey on the Master of Malt blog.  Or just buy his books.  It’s what he really wants.

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Join our Islay celebrations on Instagram Live!

Just because we won’t be heading to Islay this year, doesn’t mean we can’t keep the festival spirit alive! Thanks to the magic of Instagram Live we’ve organised a series of…

Just because we won’t be heading to Islay this year, doesn’t mean we can’t keep the festival spirit alive! Thanks to the magic of Instagram Live we’ve organised a series of interviews with the island’s distilleries that features tastings, chats and Q&As.

This is usually the time of year where we would pack our travel bags, camera kit and 10-litre bottles of midge insect repellent to head north to the beautiful Scottish island of Islay to revel in one of the highlights, if not the highlight of the whisky calendar. The week-and-a-bit from 22-30 May was sure to provide all the whisky-dipped merriment you could shake Dave Worthington’s pipe at.

But we have no intention of letting this period pass by without some recognition of an island that is home to some of Scotch whisky’s finest distilleries. Which is why we’ve put together the next best thing. Through the wonderful medium of Instagram Live, we’ve created our own virtual festival by teaming up with the island’s distilleries (and the fab folk at Jura, of course). We’ve put together a programme of tastings, chats and Q&As with your questions, comments and tasting notes to keep the Islay spirit alive and your tasting glass full from the comfort of your own home.

We thoroughly hope you enjoy our virtual Islay celebration. The schedule for the Instagram Live shows is listed below, complete with accompanying dram. Don’t forget, you can always embrace the Islay spirit whenever you like with Drinks by the Dram’s Islay Whisky Tasting Set! Why not order one for you and a pal and set up your own Zoom tasting?

Fèis Ìle on Instagram Live

Aerolite Lyndsay 10 Year Old

Day One

Who’s joining us? The Character of Islay Whisky Company and its head of whisky, Sam Simmons for a tasting. What a way to kick off proceedings!

What whisky will we be tasting? Aerolite Lyndsay 10 Year Old, Green Isle, Grace Île and Fiona Macleod.

When is it? Friday 22 May at 7:30pm

Fèis Ìle on Instagram Live

Lagavulin will be joining us on day two

Day Two

Who’s joining us? Lagavulin and its distillery manager Colin Gordon for an evening dram and a chat. Grab a tasting glass and get your questions ready for Colin!

What whisky will we be tasting? Lagavulin 8Lagavulin 16.

When is it? Saturday 23 May at 8:30pm.

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Head distiller Adam Hannett will join us for a tasting and Q&A

Day Three

Who’s joining us? Bruichladdich and its head distiller Adam Hannett for a tasting and Q&A. Bruichladdich also has its own Laddie Lock-In, while its ballot system to decide who can get their hands on its alternative festival bottling, Port Charlotte 16, has now concluded.

What whisky will we be tasting? The Classic Laddie.

When is it? Sunday 24 May at 6pm.

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Caol Ila Distillery, as seen from the skies.

Day Four

Who’s joining us? Caol Ila and its distillery manager for an evening dram and a chat with Pierrick Guillaume.

What whisky will we be tasting? Caol Ila 12.

When is it? Monday 25 May at 8:15pm. 

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We’ll be spending lunchtime with Laphroaig

Day Five

Who’s joining us? Laphroaig for a lunchtime taste and learn session with distillery manager John Campbell. It will also be hosting its own celebration, #LaphroaigLive from 18:15pm.

What whisky will we be tasting? Laphroaig 10.

When is it? Tuesday 26 May at 1pm. 

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The beautiful Bowmore Distillery who will join us on day six

Day Six

Who’s joining us? Bowmore for another lunchtime Live, with time with distillery manager, David Turner. We’ll have a chat about all things whisky, so ready your questions!

What whisky will we be tasting? Bowmore 12.

When is it? Wednesday 27 May at 1pm.

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Kilchoman founder Anthony Wills will stop by to kick-off our Thursday with a bang

Day Seven

Who’s joining us? Kilchoman and its founder Anthony Wills will be kicking off the day with us. The distillery also has quite the online festival Programme, complete with live tastings and a distillery tour.

What whisky will we be tasting? Kilchoman Machir Bay, Loch Gorm 2020, the new Am Burach, 100% Islay 9th Edition, and the official Festival Bottling!

When is it? Thursday 28 May at 10.30am.

Fèis Ìle on Instagram Live

Bunnahabhain Toiteach a Dhà

Day Eight

Who’s joining us? Bunnahabhain and its global brand director, Derek Scott, who will host a tasting with a very delicious dram, usually distillery-exclusive dram (it will also host its own 8pm tasting, ‘Fèis at home‘). 

What whisky will we be tasting? Bunnahabhain Toiteach a Dhà, Bunnahabhain 25-Year-Old, and the very exciting Bunnahabhain 2003 Amontillado Finish, which is usually only available from the distillery.

When is it? Friday 29 May at 5pm.

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The scenic Jura Distillery makes delicious and subtle smoky whisky

Who’s joining us? Jura and Whyte & Mackay’s Gregg Glass, who will be online with us for an evening tasting. 

What whisky will we be tasting? Jura 10 Year Old.

When is it? Friday 29 May evening.

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The stunning Ardbeg Distillery at night

Day Nine

Who’s joining us? Ardbeg and Brendan McCarron, head of maturing whisky stocks for Ardbeg (and sister distillery Glenmorangie) ,for an Ardbeg Day tasting. You can also join the distillery at 7pm on Facebook for its first-ever online Ardbeg Day!

What whisky will we be tasting? Ardbeg 10An Oa and Blaaack. 

When is it? Saturday 30 May at 3pm.

 

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The Nightcap: 13 March

Tune into The Nightcap this week for news on Ardbeg’s Mickey Heads retiring, literature-based libations, and giraffes. Yes, giraffes.  Everyone is being told not to touch their own faces, or…

Tune into The Nightcap this week for news on Ardbeg’s Mickey Heads retiring, literature-based libations, and giraffes. Yes, giraffes. 

Everyone is being told not to touch their own faces, or other people’s faces. Some people are even being very specific and saying not to touch other people’s eyes, or touch other people with your eyes. That last one is generally a good bit of advice at any time. If that has drastically freed up time for your eyes, then direct them towards this edition of The Nightcap, our weekly round-up of the news from the booze world. Stay safe, folks. And for goodness’ sake, wash your hands.

On the blog this week, Ian Buxton returned to cast an eye at the biggest whisky market of all, before Kristy reminded us Mother’s Day is on the horizon. Don’t panic, though, she’s got you covered with this selection of delightfully boozy gifts. Adam was then on-hand to make sure you squeeze in some St. Patrick’s Day celebrations next week, and was feeling so patriotic that he even recommended a new Irish whiskey that has just landed at MoM Towers for our New Arrival of the Week. He then found time to talk Johnnie Walker Highballs with whisky ambassador Ali Reynolds, who was joined on the MoM blog this week by Scottish singer Kerri Watt and then Cointreau master distiller Carole Quinton. Annie then picked out five unmissable audiophile bars, while Henry suggested a great serve for those who like a cocktail that’s simple but sublime: The Kir

Don’t forget you’ve still got time to enter our competition to win an incredible VIP trip to the home of J.J. Corry! Now, onto The Nightcap!

The Nightcap

Here’s to Duncan

Former Bruichladdich manager Duncan McGillivray passes away

Incredibly sad news to open The Nightcap with this week. Duncan McGillivray, the man who worked at Islay’s Bruichladdich for almost half a century and was a compelling force in bringing the distillery back to life, passed away aged 68. He dedicated so much of his life to Bruichladdich and the wider island, and his loss will be felt keenly across the whisky world and beyond. He first joined the distillery as a trainee stillman back in 1974, then became a brewer in 1977. The distillery was mothballed in 1994, but he re-joined the team in 2001 when it was reopened by its new owners. “Looking back to 2001, the Bruichladdich re-birth seemed a dream too far; this was a time when distilleries where still being closed, a far cry from today,” said Simon Coughlin, a friend of Duncan’s, a Bruichladdich founding member, and now head of whisky for parent company, Rémy Cointreau. “If it was not for the patience of Duncan and his unwavering commitment to the cause (even if he thought we were mad sometimes!) we would not be here today.” He also said: “His influence and association with the distillery go back almost 50 years and, put simply, the resurrection of Bruichladdich and much of the success that has followed would not have been possible without the dedication of Duncan. Selfless, hard-working, gentle, determined and funny… and that’s just for starters. Everyone at Bruichladdich and those that enjoy any of our spirits can raise a glass today to thank this wonderful man.” We have our own memories of Duncan. On a 2015 visit to the distillery, our Kristy recalls a warehouse tasting with him. “He had such an incredible energy, was full of passion for the whisky, and was just so generous with his knowledge. And with the whisky… he filled our Glencairn glasses almost to the brim straight from the cask with a valinch. It was hilariously impractical. Let’s just say the pours were not delicate, but Duncan’s glee to be sharing these samples was clear to see. He was such a character.” We know what will be in our glasses this evening. Here’s to Duncan.

The Nightcap

Thanks for everything, Mickey!

Mickey Heads from Ardbeg retires

Sticking with Islay for a moment, and there’s double Ardbeg news this week: the distillery has released its first beer, and we have just heard that the much-loved and admired manager at the distillery, Mickey Heads, will be retiring in October. We’ve been assured that the two events are not related. Under his watch, Ardbeg picked up more Whisky of the Year and Distillery of the Year accolades than any previous manager. He has spent his whole working life on Islay and Jura, taking on the coveted role at Ardbeg in 2007. Mickey Heads said: “Being at the helm of Ardbeg for 13 years has been a great privilege. The whisky we make here is of wonderful quality, and being part of the team that creates it is fantastic. Ardbeg has such a long history, I’ve always seen myself as a custodian carrying it forward for the next generation. So, you just do it as well as you can, and with as much passion as you can.” Thomas Moradpour, CEO of The Glenmorangie Company, said: “Mickey Heads is a hugely respected figure in the world of single malt whisky and will be sorely missed by Ardbeggians everywhere. There cannot be many distillery managers who combine such a wealth of knowledge, depth of passion and warmth of welcome. On behalf of everybody who has had the pleasure of meeting or working with Mickey, I want to express gratitude for all his hard work in maintaining the quality and reputation of the Ardbeg brand. His successor will have a hard act to follow.” Thanks for all the whisky, Mickey!

The Nightcap

If you’re having whisky this good launched in your honour, you know you’ve had a great career

Johnnie Walker launches Master’s Ruby Reserve 

When you’re an OBE-honoured master blender with a remarkable career spanning four decades, there’s really only one way to celebrate your legacy properly, with delicious whisky! That’s exactly what Johnnie Walker has done for Dr. Jim Beveridge’s with its latest release, Master’s Ruby Reserve. Said to be made from “some of the finest Scotch in the Johnnie Walker reserves”, the expression is composed of eight rare whiskies that are at least forty years old from ‘ghost’ distilleries of Cambus, Carsebridge, Pittyvaich and Port Ellen as well as Talisker, Royal Lochnagar, Glendullan and Cragganmore. The good doctor personally selected all the whiskies and chose ones that evoked his earliest whisky-making memories in an attempt to create a Scotch whisky that provides a window into his distinguished career. “Every whisky that has gone into the creation of this new expression holds a special place in my heart. I worked at each of these distilleries during various points of my career and the flavours and smells of those whiskies transport me back to very happy times throughout my career at Johnnie Walker,” said Beveridge. “The ‘ghost’ whiskies from Cambus, Carsebridge and Pittyvaich bring layers of rich fruit flavour. We’ve combined this with the flavours of dark chocolate, plums and cherries found in the wonderfully aged expressions of Royal Lochnagar, Glendullan and Cragganmore and the soft aromatic sea salt notes of Talisker and Port Ellen – creating a beautiful, full-bodied whisky.” The celebratory limited-edition was bottled at 43% ABV and will retail for £15,000 exclusively through DFS duty free stores, so if you’re in the market, you’ll have to pack your bags. Only 398 bottles are being released in hand-crafted golden-red Baccarat crystal decanters as a tribute to Beveridge’s ruby anniversary. Fancy stuff.

The Nightcap

Glenmorangie wants to do its bit for this majestic creature

Save the giraffe, drink Glenmorangie

The giraffe is the mascot of Glenmorangie on account of its enormously tall stills. Now, the distillery is doing something to help preserve these most majestic of creatures whose numbers have fallen by 30% in the last 30 years. Glenmorangie has announced a three-year partnership with the Giraffe Conservation Foundation (GCF) and the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland (RZSS) which will help protect them in the wild, but also provide a place for them at Edinburgh Zoo. Much of the work will be focused in Uganda where half the world’s critically-endangered Nubian giraffes live, and will include protecting the animals from poaching and loss of habitat. Thomas Moradpour, president and chief executive of The Glenmorangie Company and back for a second turn in the Nightcap this week, said: “For 175 years we have created whisky, in stills as high as an adult giraffe, the tallest in Scotland. Over time, this majestic animal has become a beloved symbol of our brand. It seems only right that we should channel our passion for this animal into our new global conservation partnership with GCF and RZSS. Together, we will work to protect giraffes in the wild and shine a light on their predicament before it’s too late.” So your dram will be doing good as well as tasting good.

The Nightcap

The World Class GB Final 2019 wasn’t much more diverse…

Diageo Reserve reveals World Class GB bartenders… just 9% are women

It’s that time of year again – Diageo Reserve’s World Class bartender competition is ramping up! After a record-breaking digital entry stage (more than 450 people threw their hat into the ring), The World Class GB Top 100 has been revealed – and it’s a glittering who’s-who of the current UK bartending scene. Those on the list are now required to submit their next online entry by 6 April, ahead of an in-bar judging stage. This is when stuff really gets serious, as the 100 are whittled down to 20. But there’s one small problem. We say small, it’s actually pretty sizeable, and blindingly obvious when you take in the list. Just nine people in the top 100 are women. To put that in context (as if any more is required), there are more men on that list named some variation of Matthew or Michael (we counted. There’s 11.). Clearly something has gone amiss. Could it be that for some reason, significantly fewer women bartenders decided to take part? It’s definitely possible. And it may be the sole explanation. Or are women not progressing in cocktail competitions? If not, why not? We asked Diageo Reserve Talisker and World Class ambassador Jason Clark for his take: “Now in its twelfth year, World Class was created as a platform for everyone. Our aim is to educate and encourage all bartenders to become part of our community, to challenge themselves and compete to be the very best they can be. All entries for the competition are judged blind and based purely on the drink submission. Last year we had women finishing in third and fourth place overall and, over the GB competition’s history, we’ve had many exceptional female bartenders enter and reach the finals. We continue to look at ways to celebrate women in the industry and we can’t wait to see what the next stage of the competition holds.” One thing’s for sure – if we want to see more women reach the top of the game in the bar industry, something’s got to give.

 

The Nightcap

The Italian liqueur based around the brilliance of bergamot

Pernod Ricard splashes out on Italicus aperitivo

Just last week drinks mega-group Pernod Ricard got its wallet out to invest in Japan’s first gin producer, The Kyoto Distillery. Well, it’s a case of another week, another transaction! This time it’s bergamot-infused aperitivo Italicus that’s joining the Pernod portfolio. The 20% ABV product is described as ‘distinguishable yet versatile’, and has already become a bartender favourite since it was founded by Italian spirits expert Giuseppe Gallo in 2016. Pernod Ricard hasn’t shared the financial details of the deal, or whether the ‘strategic partnership’ – as they call it – includes any level of acquisition, but Gallo will remain the active CEO going forward. “Since its launch, the brand has experienced success with both the on-trade and consumers, and it is now time to consolidate with this heavyweight strategic partner in order to accelerate our global distribution,” he said. “We have an ambitious plan to build Italicus into one of the world’s most successful aperitivo brands.” Gilles Bogaert, chairman and CEO of Pernod Ricard EMEA-LatAm, added: “We are thrilled to add Italicus to the Pernod Ricard portfolio and for the Group to help drive its future development.” The future’s bright, the future’s bergamot-scented.

The Nightcap

Teeling is bringing its own brand of Paddy’s Day celebrations to London

Teeling bring St Paddy’s Celebrations to London

You may have heard of the luck of the Irish, now it’s time to show your love of the Irish! This St Patrick’s Day, Teeling Whiskey is bringing the Spirit of Dublin to London, in a special all-Irish celebration at Milroy’s of Spitalfields. And what a night it promises to be, with Irish fiddlers, food for the nibblers, Celtic cocktails, and of course some delicious Irish drams. And the best part of all (apart from the whisky of course…) is that the entry is free! Milroy’s doors will open at 6pm, we’ll see you there! Obviously in the current environment do check back nearer the time for confirmation that the event will go ahead. But you can still mark your diaries for St Patrick’s Day. Pop a bottle of Teeling in your basket now to make sure you can still sip along and celebrate, even if it’s at home, on 17 March!

The Nightcap

Joe Fattorini, wine merchant and TV presenter, has campaigned for lower wine taxes

Drinks industry reacts to duty freeze

It’s been a tough year for the drinks industry with trade tariffs, Brexit uncertainty and now the Coronavirus, but there was some good news as Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak announced a freeze in alcohol duty rates in Britain, a country with some of the highest drink taxes in the world. Joe Fattorini, wine merchant and TV presenter, who has been campaigning for a lowering of such taxes, commented: “The recognition by the Chancellor that wine is the nation’s favourite alcoholic drink and therefore shouldn’t be singled out for tax rises is welcome news for the 33 million wine fans in the UK. Now it’s time to go one step further and cut back wine tax in the coming year.” But it wasn’t just the wine trade celebrating (responsibly, natch).  Dayalan Nayager from Diageo said: “We welcome the Chancellor’s duty freeze which will provide much-needed stability in these difficult times for the industry. We are delighted that he announced his intention to reform the duty system to bring fairness for gin and Scotch whisky, which should ensure that these iconic homegrown products no longer face punitive levels of tax.” But Karen Betts, chief executive of the SWA (Scotch Whisky Association), thinks that more needs to be done: “Our industry needs continued support, through the upcoming review of UK alcohol taxation and while our exports remain subject to US tariffs. The fact remains that duty on spirits in the UK is already very high and puts Scotch whisky at a competitive disadvantage to wine, beer and cider, with £3 in every £4 spent on an average-price bottle of Scotch whisky going to the government in tax”. Regular readers, however, will only really want to know what Nightcap favourite Miles Beale thinks. Well, the chief executive of the WSTA had this to say:  “While he has not cut duty, it is reassuring to see that in his first Budget as Chancellor, Rishi Sunak MP, has taken steps to address the UK’s excessively high duty rates. He has shown he is in touch with British consumers – from all walks of life – who want to enjoy a drink without getting stung by further tax hikes. We will all raise a glass to the Chancellor tonight, who has recognised that everyone benefits from a freeze, including the Treasury.” We’ll raise a glass with you, Miles!

The Nightcap

The study found millennials and Gen Zers prefer a traditional boozer

Millennials and Gen Zers’ perfect pub revealed?

It’s fair to say that in the last half-a-century or so, quite a bit has changed. We can carry our phones with us wherever we go, fax machines are something of an urban myth, and you can’t even smoke indoors anymore! Despite this (or perhaps because of it), a recent study by SpareRoom found out that, when it comes to pubs, millennials and Gen Zers are most fond of your traditional boozer. And you can wave goodbye to millennial pink. 60% of 18 to 34-year-olds prefer your traditional wooden interior, complete with fireplaces and period fixtures, with 70% preferring wooden flooring to the carpet (though we don’t think it’s just millennials that feel this way…). But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. It’s not a total step back in time that the younger generations are after. 62% prefer speedy card payments to cash, and 41% want free wifi along with their wooden beams. The humble pint has even lost its place as the drink of choice, with 49% saying that spirits are their go-to tipple. Perhaps even more interestingly, 45% say that low-alcohol serves are their top choice when taking a trip to their local! It just goes to show that even though younger generations value a trip down memory lane, if there’s not a charging point then… you’ve gone too far.

The Belloni, named in honour of Virgina Woolf’s sister, artist Vanessa Bell

And finally. . . . literature you can drink at the Academy Hotel

Books and booze go way back, from the Bible through to Shakespeare, not forgetting Dorothy Parker’s quip about her favourite drink: ‘I like to have a Martini, two at the very most. After three I’m under the table, after four I’m under my host’. Now the Academy Hotel is celebrating this special relationship with a series of cocktails inspired by that most literary part of London (and the hotel’s location): Bloomsbury. There’s The Lighthouse to honour Virginia Woolf made with Tanqueray Gin, one for her husband called the Old Fashioned Leonard made with Woodford Reserve bourbon, and, keeping it in the family, a Belloni, a take on the Negroni paying homage to her sister, the painter Vanessa Bell. According to the press bumf all the drinks are “created especially using the finest ingredients and hand-selected garnish”. No machines picking the garnishes at the Academy. No sir!

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New Arrival of the Week: Bruichladdich 28 Year Old

This week’s New Arrival is a single cask Bruichladdich bottled by Hunter Laing and filled in the early ‘90s when the future of the distillery looked far from certain.  Islay…

This week’s New Arrival is a single cask Bruichladdich bottled by Hunter Laing and filled in the early ‘90s when the future of the distillery looked far from certain. 

Islay had a rough time in the ‘80s and ‘90s. A downturn in the Scotch whisky industry meant that there wasn’t such a demand for malts, especially such distinct ones. Port Ellen closed 1983 and was partly demolished. Others escaped a similar fate only by a whisker, distilleries like Ardbeg and the one we’re looking at today, Bruichladdich.

The distillery dates back to 1881 when it was founded by three brothers: Robert, William and John Harvey. It was a purpose-built distillery, state of the art for the time. As is the way with Scotch whisky distilleries, except Glenfarclas, it changed hands a number of times before settling down with Invergordon Distillers (now part of Whyte & Mackay) from the 1960s until the ‘90s. Bruichladdich was largely used in blends. At some point in the ‘60s peat was abandoned and the maltings fired by coal instead. So, unlike its neighbours, most Bruichladdich is unpeated. It’s not your typical Islay single malt.

Bruichladdich

The Bruichladdich Distillery today

After some uncertain years, the distillery finally closed in 1994 and was mothballed. That may have been it but a London wine merchant called Mark Reynier was an enormous fan, selling quantities through his business and was heartbroken at his favourite distillery’s closure. As you do, he decided that he was going to buy it. After being rebuffed by the distillery’s owners for many years, he put together a consortium who finally managed to purchase Bruichladdich in 2000. He had two strokes of luck in bringing the name back from the dead. Firstly, the distillery was largely intact and was able to get the original equipment, including a 19th-century cast-iron mash tun, six Oregon pine washbacks and four swan-necked stills, working again. Secondly, Islay whisky hero Jim McEwan was retiring from Bowmore at about the same time and rather than settle into a life of golf and Saga holidays, was looking for a new challenge. It was the start of a beautiful friendship. McEwan’s role in the Bruichladdich revival is portrayed in the film The Golden Dram.

Bruichladdich began working again in 2001 and since then has become famous for doing things a little bit differently. The packaging to start with, you’ll find no tartan or Monarchs of the Glen here. The team has stayed true to the elegant Bruichladdich style with unpeated whisky but they also make the heavily-peated Port Charlotte and the oh-my-god-it’s-so-peaty Octomore (named after a local spring). There’s also an excellent Botanist gin made using a Lomond still which appeared in 2010. All the whiskies are created from Scottish barley and there have been releases made with a rare archaic cereal called bere. If you want to talk about terroir in whisky, it’s a good place to start.

Talking of terroir, Reynier’s latest venture is the Waterford Distillery in Ireland making true single estate whiskey, as well as Renegade rum looking to do a similar thing on the island of Grenada. Bruichladdich was bought by Remy Cointreau in 2012 but seems to have kept what made the distillery special. 

One for your whisky library.

But all this in the future when our New Arrival was distilled. In 1991, it was filled into a refill hogshead (cask number 16883 to be exact) and there it lay for 28 years before being bottled (at cask strength 50.7% ABV with no chill filtering) by Hunter Laing, the Glasgow-based independent bottler who last year moved into distilling with Ardnahoe on Islay. This expression is part of its ‘First Editions’ range, about which the company said: 

“As the name may suggest, each cask is carefully selected to evoke the qualities of a rare literary volume – those of character and collectability. Colour-coding on the labels denotes the particular regions the whiskies themselves are from and each bottle is individually numbered and presented in a gift tube. A ‘First Editions’ bottling without doubt makes a valuable addition to anyone’s whisky library.”

But don’t just leave it on the shelf in your whisky library, you can also drink it. Only 295 bottles have been filled. It’s a slice of history that’s unlikely to hang around. 

Tasting note by The Chaps at Master of Malt:

Nose: Grassy malt with honeyed cereal, sea breeze and melted butter.

Palate: Spicier than the nose suggests, with cinnamon, nutmeg and toasted oak. Lots of apricot, pear and apple following on.

Finish: Layers of toffee, oat, lemon and black pepper.

Bruichladdich 28 Year Old 1991 (cask 16883) – The First Editions (Hunter Laing) is available now.

 

 

 

 

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Perfect booze for the bank holiday!

Come rain or shine, bank holidays are an ideal excuse to indulge in your favourite drinks. There’s nothing quite like looking ahead to a week of work and realising that…

Come rain or shine, bank holidays are an ideal excuse to indulge in your favourite drinks.

There’s nothing quite like looking ahead to a week of work and realising that there’s no need to set your alarm this Monday morning. This upcoming bank holiday (Monday 26th August) is one to take advantage of since this is the only one we’ve got left to enjoy before winter hits.

For some, a bank holiday means planning a long weekend away. For others, the day off equals a well-earned lie-in. But for our kind of people, the absence of work is a cause for celebration. One that involves a drink or two. Given this is meant to be a period of relaxation, allow us to save you the trouble of trawling the supermarkets, corner shops and virtual shelves online for alcohol. Instead, enjoy our round-up of delightful whiskeys, gins, rums, beers, wines and even craft cocktails!

That Boutique-y Gin Company Craft Cocktails Bundle (5 x 330ml)

That Boutique-y Gin Company knows that nobody really wants to spend their day off with more work to do so it created these ready-to-drink cocktails. No need to create your own serve. Including such wonderful combinations like Pineapple Gin Mule, Strawberry Gin Fizz, Gin and Tonic, Yuzu Gin Collins and Cherry Gin Cola, this bundle not only means great taste without the effort, but it will also save you precious monies versus buying each can individually!

J.J. Corry The Gael

A blended whiskey from the first new whiskey bonder in Ireland for over 50 years, J.J. Corry The Gael is a fruity, juicy and mixable expression made to represent what the brand felt was the classic Irish whiskey profile. The bottling is named after a bicycle the 19th-century whiskey bonder J.J. Corry (who the brand itself is named after) invented.

What does it taste like?:

Fresh hay, honeydew melon, fizzy strawberry laces, cinnamon, green apple, soft oak salinity and a bright hint of lime.

Gin Ting – Passionfruit, Mango & Elderflower

Take a tasty gin recipe featuring juniper, cassia, coriander, orange and lemon and add a refreshing and summery infusion of passion fruit, mango and elderflower and what do you get? The wonderful Gin Ting, a full-bodied, fruity number that’s perfect for those with a sweet tooth.

What does it taste like?:

Fresh fruit is right at the fore of this one, with tangy mango and a hint of passion fruit. Subtly spicy juniper and cassia in the background.

Woodford Reserve Kentucky Bourbon

If you ask a bourbon to fan to think of an affordable, approachable and tremendously tasty bottling that makes for a cracking Old Fashioned cocktail, there’s a good chance that Woodford Reserve Kentucky Bourbon will be on their mind. The distinctive drink features a mash bill that includes a weighty rye concentration (18% to be exact), adding a good kick of spice to contrast with its exceptionally smooth delivery.

What does it taste like?:

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

Manchester Gin – Raspberry Infused

With any luck, we’ll see some evidence that it’s still summer this bank holiday. If the weather cooperates, you’ll need an equally appropriate sunshine-worthy drink. For this, we recommend Manchester Gin – Raspberry Infused, which takes the already delicious Manchester Gin recipe and add raspberries to the mix. Excellent for cocktails, mixed drinks, heck, even splashed in a glass of Champagne, it’s little surprise this beauty picked up a bronze medal in the Flavoured Gin category at the World Gin Awards 2019.

What does it taste like?:

Nutty juniper developing into soft waves of floral dandelion and lemon. Layers of sweet raspberry notes surround it.

Kona Big Wave Golden Ale Bundle (6 Pack)

Let’s face it, a good order of beer is a bank holiday essential and one that saves you a few quid is always going to be a winner. Take this bundle of Big Wave Golden Ale from the Hawaii-based Kona Brewing Co, for example. It’s filled with 6x 355ml bottles of the light, refreshing and delicious beer and it will save you a healthy 10% versus buying individually!

What does it taste like?:

Cereal, grapefruit, pineapple, toffee, bready malt and slightly pine-y hops.

Gin Mare

For the gin fan who wants an expression with a story behind it, Gin Mare is ideal. The Mediterranean gin is distilled in a thirteenth-century chapel in an ancient fishing village using a variety of botanicals including rosemary, thyme, basil and the arbequina olive. This final ingredient ensures that every bottle is unique, as every year the arbequina olive changes acidity.

What does it taste like?:

Herbal notes, coriander, tart juniper, citrus zest, berry fruits and hints of perfume.

Neptune Rum

For rum fans who want a bottling that’s delicious neat or when mixed, it’s hard to go wrong with Neptune Rum. A blend of eight, five and three-year aged golden rum distilled from pure sugar cane molasses at the revered Foursquare Distillery in Barbados, Neptune Rum was matured in American bourbon oak barrels, filtered using a specific cold filtration process, diluted with soft spring water and bottled at 40% ABV. For serving suggestions, you can check out this neat little feature from our blog!

What does it taste like?:

Maple syrup, fresh apricot, ripe peaches, shredded coconut, green banana, caramelised brown sugar, vanilla, spicy pepper, nutmeg, warm bourbon oak, sherried peels

Malfy Gin Con Limone

With its sheer cliffs, rugged shoreline and rustic charm, the Amalfi coast is a popular holiday destination for good reason. But for those who can’t make the trip to the southern edge of Italy’s Sorrentine Peninsula this bank holiday weekend, you can always enjoy a taste of the region with this delightful expression. Among the six botanicals used in the creation of Malfy Gin is an infusion of Italian coastal lemons, including some from the Amalfi coast.

What does it taste like?:

Very citrus forward and fresh, with touches of woody juniper bringing character. Lemon notes are authentic, bright and mouth-filling.

Gusbourne Rosé 2015

Rosé is always a phenomenally popular choice of drink among friends so having a good bottle on hand is essential. You can’t go wrong with this 2015 vintage from the sublime English vineyard Gusbourne, produced from hand-picked Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier grapes for a delicate, floral and fruity profile.

What does it taste like?:

Delicate fruity notes of cherry, strawberry and slightly tart cranberry with buttery notes of brioche and a hint of spice.

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The Nightcap: 16 August

Another busy week of booze news has occurred, and we’ve corralled it up into one handy blog for you to take into the weekend – it’s The Nightcap! The weekend…

Another busy week of booze news has occurred, and we’ve corralled it up into one handy blog for you to take into the weekend – it’s The Nightcap!

The weekend is fast approaching (or perhaps it is already here by the time you read this), and we wouldn’t dare step out of the house on a Saturday not armed with the booze news from the week that was. It would be like heading to the beach without a ridiculous hat, or heading to a bowling alley without grossly underestimating the difficulty of chucking a heavy ball at some wooden sticks. It’s just not the done thing. Luckily, you can acquire all the weekly news from the world of drinks right here in The Nightcap! We cannot, however, provide floppy sun hats or any good tips for bowling. You’re on your own for those things.

On the blog this week, our friend Ian Buxton popped by to champion the overlooked stars of the blended Scotch whisky world, blends, while Annie found out what botanical rum is and what the lovely people at CBD-infused spirits company Top Beverages are up to (infusing spirits with CBD, mostly). Kristy, meanwhile, shared the news of how Brora celebrated its 200th Anniversary (did someone say 40-year-old whisky?), before Henry sat down for a lovely chat with Dr. Don Livermore from Hiram Walker, made a spin on the classic Negroni his Cocktail of the Week and even found time to make a charming bottle of poítin Irish moonshine our New Arrival of the Week. Oh, and don’t forget we have still a competition going on and there’s a VIP trip to Salcombe Gin distillery up for grabs!

A busy week, but there’s more to come. In our best Huw Edwards voice, here is the news!

The Nightcap

We’re sure Port of Leith whisky will be worth the wait!

Port of Leith Distillery secures whisky production site

It’s all go for whisky-making in Edinburgh at the moment – and now Port of Leith Distillery has announced it has secured the site for its whisky production! Situated in Leith (as the name suggests), the distillery will be built next to the Royal Yacht Britannia and the Ocean Terminal centre. “The acquisition of our site took slightly longer than we anticipated. In fact, from start to finish, it’s taken us three years to get this incredibly complex land deal over the line,” the team wrote in an email on Monday, “We’re outrageously excited to announce the deal was completed at the end of July, which means we should be on site very shortly.” If all now continues on schedule, we should see Port of Leith spirit flow from the stills as soon as the first quarter of 2021! The news comes hot on the heels of The Holyrood Distillery kicking off whisky production in Edinburgh earlier this month. Can’t wait for a taste of Port of Leith? The team’s Lind & Lime Gin is available now!

The Nightcap

It’s good news for Irish whiskey, and we can raise a glass (or two) to that!

IWA gains protection for Irish whiskey in South Africa and Australia

Legal gubbins now – but of the good kind. Because this week, the Irish Whiskey Association (IWA) secured certified trade mark status for Irish whiskey in both South Africa and Australia! The news means that only whiskey actually distilled and matured on the island of Ireland (Northern and the Republic) can be sold as ‘Irish whiskey’ in those markets. It’s a big deal, especially as Irish whiskey grows in both volume and reputation – it stops rogues and scoundrels using its name in vain on lesser spirit. It’s also important because more than two million bottles of Irish whiskey were sold in Australia in 2018, up 9.1%, while South Africa collectively shifted 4.4 million bottles, growth of 4.5%. What more reason do you need to sip on a celebratory measure of Irish whiskey this Friday?!

The Nightcap

Roushanna Gray, founder of Veld and Sea, in Cape Town, will star in the film

The Botanist gets wild with new film mini-series

Islay gin The Botanist has unveiled a series of films to shine a light on wild foragers, chefs and bartenders around the world. Wild – A State of Mind depicts these “like-minded souls” as they explore their native landscapes on the hunt for food and flavour. Each five-minute film focuses on a different person: Nick Weston, director of Hunter Gather Cook, along the River Itchen; Philip Stark, professor and director of the Berkeley Open Source Food project, in downtown San Francisco; Roushanna Gray, founder of Veld and Sea, in Cape Town; Nick Liu, executive chef and partner at DaiLo and Little DaiLo Restaurant in Toronto; and Vijay Mudaliar, founder of Native, a foraged mixology bar in Singapore. “In creating The Botanist, we explored the flavours of our own backyard, the Isle of Islay,” said Douglas Taylor, CEO of Bruichladdich Distillery, which makes The Botanist. “The Botanist has its own full-time professional forager, James Donaldson, who sustainably hand-picks 22 local island botanicals to be used in the distillation of our Islay dry gin. Through our involvement in the foraging movement, we’ve been lucky enough to work with some of the most exciting foragers, chefs and bartenders from all over the world. Through these films, we hope to show people that there’s a world of flavour out there.” The films will be released one by one, so keep your eyes peeled and in the direction of The Botanist website.

The Nightcap

It’s about time somebody celebrated Eddie Murphy’s role in the animated Mulan film

Bowmore unveils China-exclusive 36yo Dragon Edition

Islay single malt distillery Bowmore has launched a shiny new 36-year-old expression exclusively in China, the first in a series of four releases. Initially unveiled at Whisky Live Shanghai, Bowmore 36-Year-Old Dragon Edition “pays homage” to Bowmore 30 Year Old Sea Dragon Decanter, an expression that celebrates an Islay myth and picked up quite the following when it launched. The new bottling builds on this, lauding the dragons that live on in Chinese culture. The liquid comes from Bowmore’s famous No.1 Vaults warehouse, selected from the same parcels of sherry casks used to create the 30 year old, and has been bottled at 51.8% ABV. Nosing and tasting notes include tropical fruit, toffee apple, caramelised orange, hints of pine needles, and a peppery tinge on the finish. “This new expression is a homage to the 30-Year-Old Sea Dragon that’s been much loved and collected by Bowmore fans across China,” said David Turner, Bowmore distillery manager. “Born from an island that is rich with heritage and legends, Bowmore is celebrating the legendary creatures of Chinese mythology that are the protectors of people – just as Bowmore has protected and matured this precious liquid for 36 years. We’ve taken this amazing legacy and renewed it for the next generation of whisky drinkers.” There are just 888 bottles of Bowmore 36-Year-Old Dragon Edition available, each priced at US$2,000. Keep an eye out if you’re in China!

The Nightcap

Grant’s 12 Year Old was a standout performer.

Grant’s blended Scotch boasts growth as others decline

Time to get the calculators out. An interesting press release crossed our desks this week, claiming that blended Scotch sales fell by 0.4% from 2013 to 2018. What’s more, the declines are set to continue by another 4% to 2022 (Edrington-Beam Suntory Distribution UK stats). Are we all turning to single malts? Shopping from countries further afield instead? It’s kind of irrelevant to Grant’s, which boasted 1.2% global growth over the period, and “double digit” gains across Africa, Eastern Europe, Latin America, and India. And the team seems particularly excited about Grant’s 12 Year Old. What sets it apart? “Our master blender Brian Kinsman, his unique expertise in choosing the malts that go into the blend, and the quality of the fresh bourbon cask finish,” said Danny Dyer, Grant’s global brand ambassador. “Grant’s 12 is a smooth whisky making it ideal to share with friends whether they are aficionados or newcomers to whisky.” Why do we care about all this? It’s always intriguing to see a brand doing well against the grain of a trend. Do you still love blended Scotch? Or why do you not drink it? Let us know on social or in the comments below!

The Nightcap

Look! It’s brand new Lagavulin whisky!

Lagavulin 10 Year Old makes travel retail debut

Spent all summer dealing with smug colleagues breezing off on their holidays, leaving you to do all the work and regretting your seemingly smart decision to avoid all children and jet off later in the year outside the school break? Well, we have some news to make that delayed gratification even sweeter. Lagavulin (yes, the very same Islay distillery that makes the iconic 16 year old expression) has launched a new 10 year old whisky exclusively in travel retail! Which means all those annoying, chilled, sunkissed people would have missed it, but you can bag a bottle when it’s your turn to head through the airport. “What makes this single malt unique is the combination of refill, bourbon and freshly-charred casks that we used in its creation,” said Dr Craig Wilson, master of malts (nothing to do with us) at Diageo. “The bourbon casks add a sweetness to the flavour and the freshly-charred casks add spicy and woody notes. The different wood types used have helped create a whisky with a fiery yet light and smoky yet smooth character – one that is filled with surprising contrasts.” It’s available now in UK Duty travel retail stores priced at £50, but will be available more widely later in the year. Now that really IS a reason to get to the airport early…

Tequila Avión teams up with 21 Savage for ‘borderless’ campaign

Agave fans and rap aficionados, listen up. Tequila Avión has signed Grammy-nominated artist and aspiring pilot 21 Savage to be the face of its new Mexico City-inspired ‘Depart. Elevate. Arrive’ campaign. It brings together a fancy new look for the brand, while highlighting its passion for aviation. The aim is to inspire adventurous sorts by highlighting “those who have forged their own paths by having a borderless mindset”, and it all kicks off with the Atlanta-based rapper. “I grew up wanting to fly and pursued my pilot’s license as soon as I was able,” he said. “When I’m in the air flying, there’s nothing like it. No traffic, no borders. With a borderless mindset, I’m able to bring everything I’ve seen, a worldly point of view, into my creative process. Into my art. It brings my art to an elevated space and that’s the heart of this partnership. Elevating creativity through being borderless.” We’ll take the Tequila over trying to fly… less alarming.

The Nightcap

A sight the UK wine drinker and tax officials both appear to enjoy…

‘Crisp white’ named as UK’s top wine

Wine Drinkers UK (a collection of wine lovers, makers and sellers, who, in their own words, are ‘fed up with being unfairly taxed’) have revealed the UK’s top wine preferences. Leading the pack? ‘Crisp white’ (Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Grigio), with 41% of those questioned saying they enjoy the selection. Full-bodied red (Malbec or Shiraz) ranked second with 38%, followed closely by Prosecco, at 34%. The least popular? In equal ninth, English sparkling wine and dry rosé (Southern French rosé or Pinot Grigio rosé), which, quite frankly, has caused uproar in the office as they are both bloody delicious. Are we Brits a tad ridiculous? We could just be blinded by the tax levied on wine, reckons Wine Drinkers UK. Despite wine’s status as being the most widely drunk and most popular alcoholic beverages, tax rises in the last 10 years (39%) have far outpaced those on beer (16%) and spirits (27%). Plus, only 5% of UK drinkers were aware of the tax they pay on wine. “As the number of people enjoying wine grows, so does their tax bill. Duty on wine has risen over twice as fast as beer over the past ten years,” said The Three Drinkers presenter, Helena Nicklin. “As a result, on average, the majority of wine drinkers are handing over more than 50 pence in every pound they spend to the taxman. After a decade of unfair increases, it is time to cut them a break and cut back wine tax.” As such, there’s a new campaign which kicked off on 12th August, now known as ‘Wine Tax Freedom Day’. The date is 61% of the way through the calendar year, and represents the 61% tax (duty +VAT) that is paid on a £5 bottle of wine. Did you know the tax levied on vino? Time for fairer booze duties, we reckon.

The Nightcap

Brockman’s Gin Autumn Reviver cocktail

Brockmans Gin signals changing of the seasons with autumn menu

Ok, ok… the sun’s certainly NOT got its hat on, and it’s more soggy than sunkissed (in the UK anyway…) but it’s still mid-August. Is it really time to unveil Autumn cocktails? We’ll forgive Brockmans though, because these ones look mega tasty, and they’re based around irresistible warming spices and berry notes. First up is the Autumn Reviver, made with 1 2/3 oz. Brockmans Gin (soz for the imperial measures), 2/3 oz. Lillet Blanc, 2/3 oz. freshly squeezed lemon juice, 1/2 oz. ginger syrup, 1/3 oz. orange liqueur, and a slice of dehydrated orange studded with cloves. Just fill a cocktail shaker with ice, add the first five ingredients and shake. Strain into a chilled coupe glass and garnish with the clove-studded orange slice. Voilà! Then there’s the slightly trickier Blackberry Sling, with 1 2/3 oz. Brockmans Gin, 10 fresh blackberries, a sprig of fresh rosemary, 1 2/3 oz. freshly squeezed lime juice, 2/3 oz. simple syrup, and chilled soda. Muddle the blackberries (save some for the garnish) and rosemary in a Highball glass, take the rosemary out, add the gin, lime juice and syrup and stir. Then fill half the glass with ice, top with soda and pop the saved blackberries (and the rosemary, if it still looks good) in as garnishes. “Our signature seasonal recipes were developed to highlight the combination of traditional gin aromas, bitter-sweet orange peel, coriander and top notes of blueberries and blackberries found in our gin,” said Neil Everitt, Brockmans co-founder and CEO. We know what we’re drinking on the next waterlogged summer evening. Oh, that would be tonight…

The Nightcap

We’ve needed a new hobby since our office games of ‘The Cones of Dunshire’ started getting too heated…

And finally. . . a whisky board game

They say you should never play with your food, but nobody ever said anything about playing with your drink. Which is just as well, as two Czech whisky aficionados have created a board game based around their favourite liquid. The idea came to them at a meeting of their whisky club which they call the Gentlemen of Tullamore, based on their early love for Tullamore D.E.W. “It took actually almost three years to develop,” Petr Pulkert, one of the duo, told us. He went on to say how helpful the industry has been with their project. “So far they, including legends like Nick Savage, John Quinn, Alan Winchester, Rachel Barrie, all helped us for free and with enthusiasm.” To play, you move your Glencairn glass-shaped counter around Scotland and Ireland, answering questions about whisky (and indeed whiskey) and collecting points. There are character cards featuring big whisky cheeses like Quinn, Barrie and Winchester. Each character has a special ability, such as Dave Broom with beard grooming, or Bill Lumsden with wearing snazzy shirts. We may be making this up a bit; we’re not precisely sure how the game works but it does sound like enormous fun, especially with a dram in hand (though this isn’t a drinking game). The Tullamore Boys are crowd-funding production: they’ve already raised £3,800 out of a target £6,622. So, if you like whisky and you like games, then sign up.

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The Nightcap: 9 August

Artificial tongues that can taste whisky? Vodka made from Chernobyl rye? The gin boom is still going?! These aren’t tales from 2054 – these stories all appear in this week’s…

Artificial tongues that can taste whisky? Vodka made from Chernobyl rye? The gin boom is still going?! These aren’t tales from 2054 these stories all appear in this week’s Nightcap!

Behind the scenes sneak peek at how The Nightcap comes together right here: sometimes this intro is written after the all the stories have been finished. Having a look at all the futuristic stuff in this edition of The Nightcap, you might think that time travel is real and MoM Towers has slipped through a dimensional rift and ended up in the year 2054. Stranded and working purely on instinct, we notice on the future calendar it’s a Friday, so we write up a new edition of The Nightcap, regaling the masses with tales of artificial tongues that can taste whisky and spirits made from crops in Chernobyl stories that these future folk see as perfectly normal, but to our minds are wildly out of this world. But it’s not. It’s today and stuff is just becoming more impressive by the day!

So, good people of 2019, what’s been happening on the MoM Blog? Henry kicked off the week with a gem of a rum from the Diamond Distillery for New Arrival of the Week, made a Pink Lady for Cocktail of the Week and spoke to Peter Lynch from WhistlePig about an oloroso-finished rye exclusive to MoM. Annie chatted to Bimber’s founder Dariusz Plazewski about where people can go wrong (and right) when starting a craft distillery, and then asked a very important question to us all: how do you make alcohol-free beer delicious? Guest columnist Nate Brown has opinions about drinks industry folk who RSVP for events then don’t turn up.

We also launched a new competition where you could win a trip down to Deven to visit Salcombe Distilling Co.! Take a look, pick up a bottle of excellent gin, and cross your fingers!

And now, the news of the future today!

Cardhu

How Cardhu will look when it’s been refurbished

Johnnie Walker gets the green light for Cardhu redevelopment

The final piece in the jigsaw is now in place. That jigsaw being Diageo’s £150m plan for whisky tourism in Scotland based around four key distilleries. As we have reported previously, developments at Glenkinchie, Caol Ila, Clynelish, and a Johnnie Walker HQ in Edinburgh have all been granted planning permission. Now it’s the turn of Cardhu in Speyside. This was the first distillery acquired by Johnnie Walker in 1893 and since then has been a key component in the blend. David Cutter, chairman of Diageo in Scotland, said: “Together these locations will create a unique Johnnie Walker tour of Scotland, encouraging visitors to the capital city to also travel to the country’s extraordinary rural communities.” Laura Sharp, brand home manager at Cardhu, added: “This announcement is very exciting and we want to thank Moray Council and all our neighbours for their continued support.” We love it when a plan comes together.

That’s what an artificial tongue looks like

Boffins baffle counterfeiters with artificial whisky-tasting tongue

Who can forget the story from 2017 when a Chinese businessman spent $10,000 on a glass of Macallan that turned out to be fake? Well, such occurrences might be a thing of the past thanks to a team of Scottish engineers from the universities of Glasgow and Strathclyde. A paper titled ‘Whisky tasting using a bimetallic nanoplasmonic tongue’ published this week in the Royal Society of Chemistry’s journal Nanoscale describes a metal ‘tongue’ that can be used to analyse whisky. The ‘taste buds’ are made up of gold and aluminium in a checkerboard pattern. It identifies whiskies from the statistical analysis of minute differences in how the metals absorb light. The device was tested on a series of single malts – Glenfiddich, Glen Marnoch and Laphroaig – and was able to tell the difference between them, as well as different expressions of the same malt with greater than 99% accuracy. The paper’s lead author, Dr Alasdair Clark (above), of the University of Glasgow’s School of Engineering, said:  “We call this an artificial tongue because it acts similarly to a human tongue – like us, it can’t identify the individual chemicals which make coffee taste different to apple juice but it can easily tell the difference between these complex chemical mixtures. In addition to its obvious potential for use in identifying counterfeit alcohols, it could be used in food safety testing, quality control, security – really any area where a portable, reusable method of tasting would be useful.” So next time you’re splashing out on the Macallan, don’t forget your artificial tongue. 

Clouded Leopard Gin bottle

This is gin, it’s still very popular in Britain

Gin still booming according to the WSTA 

There have been articles recently in the Spectator and the Financial Times saying that the gin boom is over, but figures just released by the WSTA seem to contradict this. As a trade body, the WSTA has an interest in bolstering the industry but nevertheless the stats make interesting reading. Retail sales up to March 2019 were up 43% by value on the previous year, worth nearly £1 billion. The off-trade is up 56% by volume on last year’s sales with nearly 6 billion bottles sold between March 2018 and 2019. Combining domestic and export sales, the British gin market is worth over £3 billion. WSTA chief executive Miles Beale commented: “It’s been another phenomenal 12 months for gin and, despite recent reports suggesting the gin bubble may have burst, our numbers suggest the exact opposite. Gin’s continued domestic popularity, and the growth in the spirits category overall, has no doubt been helped by the decision to freeze duty on spirits in the last Budget. We need further supportive action from the Government as we approach Budget time once more. Looking at the popularity of British gin overseas is also cause for celebration. £350 million, or around 46% of all British gin exports head to the EU, and so it is imperative that the Government works with the European Union to secure trade that is as seamless in the future as it is now.” What could possibly go wrong?

Firestone & Robertson TX whiskey, now just a tiny bit Frencher

Pernod Ricard bets on American whiskey with Firestone & Robertson buy

French drinks group Pernod Ricard, which owns the likes of Beefeater Gin, Absolut Vodka, The Glenlivet Scotch and Jameson Irish Whiskey, this week bolstered its presence in American whiskey by snapping up Firestone & Robertson Distilling Co. The Texas-based producer makes TX-branded whiskey and bourbon, and the deal includes its Whiskey Ranch distillery too. “This is an exciting day for all of us at Firestone & Robertson,” said Leonard Firestone and Troy Robertson, who co-founded the business. “Building our company and producing award-winning whiskeys has been a truly remarkable experience. We are so proud of our team, and grateful to the many people that supported our efforts over the years. It is an extraordinary opportunity to partner with Pernod Ricard, and we are confident this relationship will accelerate the growth of our brands while preserving our roots and shared core values.” Pernod chairman and CEO, Alexandre Ricard, said the (undisclosed) transaction was a “very promising venture” that “strengthens our portfolio and footprint in the United States”. If it means more tasty American whiskey to go round, we’re all for it. 

You can swap a tin of beans for one of these!

The Alchemist tackles food poverty with cocktail exchange

Foodbank use is soaring in the UK (charity the Trussell Trust recently reported a 19% increase in food supplies it’s donated in the last year). Loads of us are both donating to and accessing our local food banks (there’s a list on the Trussell Trust’s site), so when news reached us that UK bar group The Alchemist is encouraging people to bring supplies in return for a cocktail, we whooped and cheered. On 29 August, any customers who bring non-perishable donations (unopened and in date; tinned, dried and packaged foods) into one of the bars with them will get vodka-based serve The Colour Changing One for free! All collections will be donated to local food banks. “These are truly fantastic local charities tackling food poverty across the UK, which is an issue we’re particularly passionate about at The Alchemist,” said Hannah Plumb, head of restaurants at The Alchemist. “This activity is a fun and engaging way to encourage customers to donate to their local food banks, who are in need of donations now more than ever.” You can find The Alchemist in Birmingham, Cardiff, Chester, Leeds, Liverpool, London, Manchester, Newcastle, Nottingham and Oxford. You know what to do on 29 August!

Bruichladdich's Bere Barley

Bruichladdich’s bere barley

Bruichladdich reinforces barley focus with Exploration Series trilogy

Remember earlier this year when we checked out Bruichladdich’s trial barley plots? Well, the Islay distillery’s long-running focus on the grain has continued with new flavour-focused expressions, which will form a Barley Exploration series. Its focus on barley has become a bit of a USP for the distillery, which works with different local producers, and is currently trialling up to 60 different varieties. There are also plans to open its own maltings by 2023. So what does this new range look like? First up, Bruichladdich The Organic 2010 was distilled in 2010 (obvs) and made using barley from Mid Coul Farms harvested in 2009. It was matured in ex-bourbon American oak casks for at least eight years, and was bottled sans chill-filtration or caramel colouring at 50% ABV. Bruichladdich Bere Barley, made from Orkney-grown Bere, a variety considered “obsolete” by many distillers, was likewise distilled in 2010 and bottled at 50% ABV just as it is. Rounding off the trio is Bruichladdich Islay Barley 2011, made from Islay-grown barley, which spent 75% of its six-year maturation life in American ex-bourbon casks, and 25% on European ex-wine casks. “We want to support people who grow for flavour, those champions of heritage and natural crops,” said Bruichladdich head distiller, Adam Hannett. “By partnering with them we can find new and forgotten flavours, reconnecting our whisky with its vital raw ingredients.” Sounds great to us! 

Doesn’t it look jolly in Fentimans’ Secret Spritz Garden?

Fentimans kicks off Secret Spritz Garden

If The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett was one of your favourite books as a child, AND you now like refreshing summer sippers, then we have news. The Venn circles have officially crossed, courtesy of tonic brand Fentimans. Tucked away behind ivy-covered walls, away from the hustle and bustle of nearby Farringdon is (for the next three weeks, anyway) a little oasis of tranquility, aromatic plants, and a Spritz menu of dreams! The garden itself is overflowing with trailing greenery, herbs, and a 200-year-old olive tree, while Fentimans has added a lemon-filled fountain, highly-Instagrammable swing seat and the all-important bar into the mix. The menu (developed with the likes of Lillet and Martini Fiero) was created by Dino Koletsas (from The Langham, Bourne & Hollingsworth and Callooh Callay) and showcases the wonder of low- and no-alcohol cocktails, including the Rose Spritz, made with Fentimans Rose, lemonade, Martini Prosecco and fresh strawberries; and the Valencian Spritz, with Fentimans Valencian Orange Tonic Water, with Belsazar White Vermouth and peach liqueur. Head on down (you might even find yourself in a free guided workshop, from the Art of the Aperitivo to watercolour classes) Wednesday to Saturday up until 29 August to enjoy!

Aecorn range

Aecorn, a range of non-alcoholic aperitifs, has just been launched by Seedlip

Diageo acquires majority stake in Seedlip

In a move that will surprise no one, it was announced this week that Diageo has taken a majority stake (mmm, majority steak) in alcohol-free ‘spirit’ manufacture Seedlip. The brand was launched by Ben Branson in 2015 and created a new category of non-alcoholic drinks flavoured, packaged, and priced to rival premium gin. Distill Ventures, Diageo’s venture capital arm, took a minority investment in June 2016. Since then, Seedlip has gone global: it’s sold in top bars and restaurants in 25 countries, and comes in three varieties. It has also inspired legions of imitators such as Ceder’s from Pernod Ricard. Earlier this year, Seedlip launched Aecorn, a range of non-alcoholic vermouth-style aperitifs. We have been informed that Branson will still be involved with business. He commented: “We want to change the way the world drinks and today’s news is another big step forward to achieving this. Distill Ventures’ and Diageo’s shared belief in our vision has enabled us to build a business that’s ready for scale and I’m excited to continue working with Diageo to lead this movement.” John Kennedy from Diageo said: “Seedlip is a game-changing brand in one of the most exciting categories in our industry. Ben is an outstanding entrepreneur and has created a brand that has truly raised the bar for the category. We’re thrilled to continue working with him to grow what we believe will be a global drinks giant of the future.” And Shilen Pate from Distill Ventures added: “Supporting the vision of founders is what Distill Ventures was set up to do, and we’re proud of the impact Ben has had on our industry in such a short period of time.” With all that Diageo cash behind it, expect Seedlip’s upward trajectory to continue. 

GlenDronach

Mouth-watering malts

The GlenDronach’s new Cask Bottling releases will have whisky lovers salivating 

Prepare yourselves, The GlenDronach has just announced the seventeenth batch of its Cask Bottling series! It contains whisky drawn from fourteen casks ranging from the years 1990 to 2007, all of which have been selected by none other than master blender, Dr Rachel Barrie. What to expect? Each Highland expression has been bottled from a single cask from a selection of the distillery’s signature Pedro Ximénez and oloroso sherry casks alongside two Port pipes. Particularly special is a bottling from a rare vintage 1995 cask, one of the last remaining casks from that year still at the distillery. “The batch seventeen cask selection truly celebrates The GlenDronach house style; robust, elegant, fruity and full-bodied,” said Barrie. “Each cask individually explores the sophistication, powerful intricacy and rich layers of Spanish sherry cask maturation found in every GlenDronach expression; from layers of crème brûlée, treacle toffee and over-ripe banana in 1990 […] to toasted pain au raisin and butterscotch simmering beneath the surface in 2007.” Is your mouth watering as well? Then keep your eyes peeled for your favourite online retailer (us, duh) over the next few weeks.

Atomik Vodka

Don’t worry, it isn’t radioactive

And Finally… anyone fancy a Chernobyl Martini?

We’re no strangers to far-out spirits at Master of Malt, after all, we sell a gin distilled using botanicals that have been into space, but a new spirit might be the strangest thing yet. It’s called Atomik Vodka and it’s distilled using rye and water from the contaminated area around Chernobyl, site of the world’s worst nuclear energy disaster in 1986. Just this week, London bar Swift on Old Compton Street made the very first Atomik Martini with it. But before you start calling for Soho to be cordoned off, and send in the men in yellow suits, this vodka, despite its name, isn’t radioactive. The man behind it, Professor Jim Smith from the University of Portsmouth, told the BBC that though the rye was “slightly contaminated”, distillation has removed any impurities, and radioactivity levels are “below their limit of detection.” Only one bottle has been made so far but the Chernobyl Spirit Company, consisting of Smith, Ukrainain scientist Dr Gennady Laptev and others, plans to make 500 bottles per year. The team still has some legal hoops to jump through before production can start but when it does, 75% of the profits will go to help people in the region. Smith commented: “I think this is the most important bottle of spirits in the world because it could help the economic recovery of communities living in and around the abandoned areas. Many thousands of people are still living in the Zone of Obligatory Resettlement where new investment and use of agricultural land is still forbidden.” Sounds very worthwhile and, according to Sam Armeye, the vodka tastes good too. Atomik Martinis all round!

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