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Master of Malt Blog

Tag: Champagne

Cocktail of the Week: French 75

For Mother’s Day we have a special cocktail that combines mummy’s two favourite things: gin and Champagne. Yeah, it sounds a bit odd but we can assure you the French…

For Mother’s Day we have a special cocktail that combines mummy’s two favourite things: gin and Champagne. Yeah, it sounds a bit odd but we can assure you the French 75 tastes delicious.

It might seem heretical to our modern tastes to add sugar and lemon juice let alone gin to Champagne but the Victorians were less precious. Dickens (who was a keen cocktail and punch enthusiast) would entertain guests with a mixture of gin and Champagne; and Queen Victoria’s drink of choice was whisky combined half-and-half with red Bordeaux. Sounds revolting but when you’re the Empress of India, who’s going to tell you you’re doing it wrong?

While I wouldn’t recommend going the full Queen Vic, we can learn from Dickens’ attitude to alcohol. I had a wonderful experience at the St Pancras Renaissance Hotel a few years ago courtesy of Joe Stockoe of drinks company Heads, Hearts and Tails. First he made a chilled fruit punch in a large silver bowl and then for the pièce de résistance, poured in a magnum of Veuve Clicquot to finish it off. The sparkling wine made the contents of the bowl fizz and froth like a magic potion. It tasted pretty magic too.

The result was not dissimilar to this week’s cocktail. The French 75, or as they call it in France the Soixante-quinze, is named after a French artillery gun, the 75 millimetre. It (the cocktail not the gun) was invented by Harry MacElhone at Harry’s Bar in Paris just after World War One. Perhaps hoping to make a point about diminished French military might, one of the German officers in the film Casablanca orders it at Rick’s Bar. The French, however, get their revenge later by beating the Germans in a singing contest.

So, which Champagne to use in your Soixante-quinze? It’s probably a waste to use anything too expensive like Krug or Dom Pérignon (unless you’re feeling particularly swanky) but at the same time you do need a sparkling wine with the body to stand up to all those additions. I find Veuve Clicquot ideal for this purpose. After some experimentation I think it works best with a good amount of lemon juice, and the orange bitters really lifts the whole thing and brings out orangey notes in the Champagne. For the gin, I’ve chosen Barentz, a lavender-heavy little number named after a Dutch explorer (but distilled in Britain). 

French

It should look at bit like this

I can’t think of a better cocktail to make your mother feel appreciated, though some flowers too wouldn’t go amiss. . . and would it hurt to call once in a while?

35ml Willem Barentsz Premium Gin
15ml fresh lemon juice
5ml sugar syrup
100ml Veuve Clicquot Yellow Label
Dash of Fee Brothers Orange Bitters

Shake the first three ingredients with ice and strain into a Champagne flute. Top up with chilled Champagne, stir, add a dash of bitters and garnish with a lemon twist. Some of the creative types at Master of Malt have created a snazzy little film (above) to show you exactly how it should be done.

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The Nightcap: 22 February

Greetings and welcome to Friday – you’re tuned in to your weekly round-up of all things booze news, The Nightcap! Yes folks, it’s Friday once again! Not only that, it’s…

Greetings and welcome to Friday – you’re tuned in to your weekly round-up of all things booze news, The Nightcap!

Yes folks, it’s Friday once again! Not only that, it’s also National Margarita Day, so if you’re not reading this edition of The Nightcap with a freshly-prepared Margarita, please feel free to prod anyone in arm’s reach and ask them kindly if they’d like to make you one. Or go make one for yourself and the aforementioned person in arm’s reach. Either way, ensure a tasty lime-and-Tequila-based beverage is in-hand before proceeding to read The Nightcap.

So, what’s been happening on the MoM blog this week? Henry taught us how to make a Margarita for our Cocktail of the Week, and hopped over to Ireland to check out the Dublin Liberties Distillery opening. Annie showed us the best time-saving treats for your home bar, and dug into the history of the Rat Pack and its connection to J&B Rare. Adam looked to the west and picked out some terrific Welsh drinks to celebrate St. David’s Day with. Oh, and we launched a gin. And won the Icons of Gin Online Retail of the Year award. As you do.

On with the remainder of the news!

Your love of Jim Beam meant it exceeded 10 million case sales!

Japanese gin and Jim Beam bolster Beam Suntory’s 2018 results

It was Beam Suntory’s turn to unveil those all-important 2018 numbers this week, and they make encouraging reading. Bourbon first, and Jim Beam continued its “strong momentum” to exceed 10 million case sales, while Makers Mark posted “double-digit” gains, passing the two million case-mark for the first time (that’s a lot of bourbon). Cognac brand Courvoisier and Canadian Club whisky contributed “high single-digit growth”, with Hornitos Tequila also performing well. But gin is well and truly in for Beam Suntory. Sipsmith’s growth was in double figures, while ROKU Japanese Craft Gin, which entered 31 new markets, “inspired strong sales”. Overall, Beam Suntory posted “mid-single-digit” sales gains. Cryptic, but clearly all’s well at the American-Japanese drinks group. Looking to future growth, Takeshi Niinami, Suntory Holdings Limited president and CEO, said in the financial results: “The key will be to continue providing high quality products like The Premium Malts and Jim Beam, and creating strong brands that are loved by consumers. In order to do this, we need to develop and grow premium products that have new value, which our rivals cannot offer.” Bring it on!

So this is what the future looks like…

Penderyn gets the green light for its second distillery!

Exciting distillery news alert, especially with St. David’s Day approaching – Welsh whisky producer Penderyn has got the go-ahead to open a second distillery! Planning permission for the new Swansea site was granted earlier this week, meaning work to transform the historic Hafod Morfa Copperworks site can get under way later this year. “Penderyn is delighted to bring a copper-based industry back to this area,” said Stephen Davies, Penderyn’s chief executive. “Once opened, we hope to see up to 100,000 visitors a year, and it will become one of the major attractions in the area. This all helps us promote our whiskies from Wales to the world.” The Lottery Heritage Foundation awarded £3.75 million to the project, which will comprise an exhibition area detailing the history of the copperworks, shop, tasting bar, conference suite and, of course, the distillery It’s all expected to open in 2022. Llongyfarchiadau, Team Penderyn!

A work of art – and that’s just the whisky!

Compass Box releases Leonardo da Vinci-inspired whisky

Just to remind us that blended whiskies can be seriously swanky comes a new release from the master of mixing, Compass Box. Called Tobias & the Angel, it’s named after a work by Verrocchio-Leonardo (meaning that it was painted at the school of Andrea del Verrocchio by Leonardo) hanging in the National Gallery in London depicting the biblical story of Tobias. The whisky is a blend of 24 year old Clynelish aged in American oak hogsheads and a peated Caol Ila of “considerably older age”, according to Compass Box. Founder John Glaser said: “For nearly 20 years, since we created our malt blend called Eleuthera in 2002, we have held a special reverence for the two distilleries used in Tobias and the Angel. That’s when I first discovered how perfectly these single malts complement each other. When we were recently offered extremely old and special parcels of whiskies from these two distilleries, I was compelled to put them together again.” He went on to say: “For this whisky, the name of the biblical story Tobias & the Angel just felt right; it seemed to reflect the personality of the two whiskies in this recipe. Searching through the many depictions of the story over the centuries, the Verrocchio-Leonardo painting had the beauty and the gravitas we wanted for this special creation.” Only 2,634 bottles will be produced and they will retail for around £450 ($500).

It’s time to party like your distillery manager used to work at a rum distillery in the 60s.

Ardbeg Day 2019: Time to get out your maracas

Well, have we got news for you. It turns out that the Islay-based Ardbeg distillery actually has some old connections to the Caribbean. Hamish Scott, Ardbeg’s distillery manager from 1964 to 1967, used to fill the same role at a rum distillery! Ardbeg Day has quite a reputation, with locals transforming everything from tractors to wheelbarrows into magnificent floats. Hence, on 1 June, during the famed Fèis Ìle Festival, Ardbeg Committee Members from around the world will gather in celebration of this year’s limited edition bottling, Ardbeg Drum. Dubbed a “peaty excuse for a party”, the single malt whisky has been matured in bourbon casks and finished in rum casks from the Americas, which should make for a rather interesting dram. It looks like this bottling will be as flamboyant as the celebrations surrounding it! The Committee release will go on sale from 5 March, though only a limited number of bottles will be released – let the festivities begin!

The GlenDronach 1993 Master Vintage, in all its glory.

The GlenDronach announces limited release 1993 Master Vintage

If you’ve ever enjoyed the pleasures of a Scotch whisky from Highland distillery GlenDronach (if you haven’t you need to correct this ASAP), then you’ll know that the brand specialises in bold, rich and predominantly sherried single malts. The distillery’s new release, The GlenDronach 1993 Master Vintage, is no exception. The liquid in some sherry casks filled in 1993 proved so exceptional that the distillery did the sensible thing and bottled some of it! The GlenDronach master blender, Dr Rachel Barrie, personally hand-selected the Pedro Ximénez and oloroso sherry casks used in this twenty-five-year-old expression, which was bottled at 48.2% ABV without chill-filtration or additional colouring. “With a quarter of a century slowly maturing in our renowned Andalucían casks, The GlenDronach Master Vintage 1993 Aged 25 Years has developed profound layers of depth and complexity, leading to an exceedingly long, voluptuous and memorable finish,” said Dr. Barrie. “Fans of The GlenDronach’s traditional Highland Single Malt can expect rich brandy-laced fruitcake on the nose, cocoa-dusted coffee and sultana brioche on the palate and lingering pecan toffee notes in the finish. I hope sherry cask connoisseurs around the world enjoy The GlenDronach 1993 Master Vintage, as an example of the finest sherry cask maturation.” Well, that sounds amazing. Is anyone else salivating a little?

Behold: Balcones Texas Pot Still Bourbon

Balcones readies new pot still bourbon

Hang on to your hats, American whiskey fans! Waco-based distillery Balcones has a new addition to its core range. Behold: Balcones Texas Pot Still Bourbon! Made using the brand’s Forsyth pot stills and aged for 24 months in new charred oak barrels, the mash bill features roasted blue corn, Texas wheat, Texas rye and malted barley. The result? An intriguing straight bourbon bottled at 92 proof (46% ABV). “Texas Pot Still Bourbon is about inclusivity,” said Jared Himstedt, head distiller at Balcones. “We wanted to create something that both long-time Balcones enthusiasts and people who are experiencing us for the first time can appreciate. By delivering flavour complexity within an approachable taste profile, we can introduce more people to the nuance of what we do.” Balcones Texas Pot Still Bourbon should be with us in the second half of 2019, but if you really can’t wait and fancy a trip to the US, you can get it from Texas, Florida and California now, priced at US$29.99.

The Dalmore and Massimo Bottura Present The Dalmore L’Anima Aged 49 Years.

Folks, we have Dalmore news! There’s a new expression on the block, and this one comes with some significant age. The Dalmore L’Anima Aged 49 Years was created by master distiller Richard Paterson and Massimo Bottura, owner of three-Michelin starred Osteria Francescana in Modena (voted the best restaurant in the world by the World’s 50 Best Restaurant Awards in 2018). 49 years-matured. Michelin-star chef. Dalmore. This should be good. Dalmore L’Anima – meaning soul in Italian – was inspired by Bottura and Paterson’s shared love of creativity, innovation and flavour. The 41.5% ABV cask-strength, natural colour expression is a marriage of Dalmore expressions previously matured in freshly-emptied small batch bourbon barrels; Gonzalez Byass casks which previously held 40 year old Pedro Ximénez sherry; and Graham’s vintage Port pipes. How does it taste? Sunkissed raisins, bitter chocolate, old English marmalade; freshly brewed Java coffee, Demerara sugar, pecan pie and crème brûlée, according to the tasting notes. But the most pleasing aspect of this new expression? It will be auctioned at Sotheby’s later this year raising funds for Bottura’s non-profit Food For Soul, which tackles fight food waste through social inclusion. “Bottura’s approach to deconstructing and reinventing daring food pairings is very similar to the way I approach whisky making,” said Paterson. “The coming together of our passions allowed me to create a whisky that is bold, different, full of warmth and completely unforgettable – it is a true reflection of the love, blood and balsamic that unites us.” Delightful.

The House of Peroni is a fully immersive experience

Introducing The House of Peroni 2019

Peroni Nastro Azzurro has kicked off its House of Peroni 2019 activation! The multi-sensory immersive experience is set London’s Covent Garden and features eight different spaces, inspired by eight emerging fashion designers. For example, the Sicily space focuses on light that recreates the Sicilian sky, the Nature and Maximalism room is full of botanical scents and a wall of man-made flowers, and the Future and Sci Fi area transports visitors to a futuristic time through industrial city sounds. Then there is, of course, the bar! Visitors are invited to sip on a selection of Peroni-infused cocktails crafted by Manchester-based bartender Sam Taylor, who has been mentored by Peroni Nastro Azzurro’s master of mixology, Simone Caporale. Taylor was scouted from a nationwide search for the best bartending talent, so expect great things from his creations! Each tipple is inspired by each of the eight designers, plus there’s Peroni Libera 0.0%, an alcohol-free serve just as stylish as its boozy counterparts. Just goes to show the Italian beer brand can keep up with current low alcohol trends. 2019 marks the seventh outing for the House of Peroni concept, which runs until 9 March.

Congratulations Scott Gavin!

Scott Gavin appointed bar manager at The Bloomsbury Club Bar

The Bloomsbury Club Bar, London, has a new bar manager. It’s UK World Class finalist Scott Gavin! With over 10 years of international experience in high-end hotels, independent cocktail bars and immersive bar outfits, Gavin began his career in 2006 in sunny Malta at Twentytwo, the island’s most prestigious bar. He returned to the UK in 2012 to become head bartender at the award-winning Limewood Hotel in Hampshire, before spending two years as senior bartender at the sublime Scarfes Bar at the Rosewood London. His first managerial role was at industry haunt NOLA, where he helped relaunch the bar. He also frequently collaborates with Michelin-starred chef Tom Kerridge. That’s some career, and we’re looking forward to seeing what he can bring to The Bloomsbury Club Bar. “I’m thrilled to be joining the team,” said Gavin. “The Bloomsbury Club Bar has been really innovative in the way it works with brands and other bars across the world. This position will be a new challenge for me and I’m excited to help continue raising the profile of the bar in London and worldwide.” Best of luck, Mr. Gavin!

Golden Barrel LeClarc Briant

Behold! The golden barrel!

And finally… For the wine lover who has everything, how about Champagne aged in 24-carat gold?

Winemakers love experimenting with fermentation vessels. Wines can be made in oak casks, concrete tanks, stainless steel vats, and even clay amphora, just like in Roman times. But now one Champagne producer has come up with the blingiest way to make wine yet: in a gold barrel. According to The Drinks Business, Champagne house Leclerc Briant will be releasing a wine fermented and aged in a stainless steel barrel lined with 24-carat gold some time in 2021. When asked what was the point of a gold-plated barrel, winemaker Hervé Jestin talked about “a resonance between solar energy and the wine”. He then went on to say that the gold would “increase the level of solar activity during the first fermentation” and “makes a connection with cosmic activity”. We’ll have what he’s having!

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The best January refreshments!

The annual season of overindulgence has ended. You’re probably in need of some good refreshment. These fab tipples ought to do the trick. It’s time to face up to facts….

The annual season of overindulgence has ended. You’re probably in need of some good refreshment. These fab tipples ought to do the trick.

It’s time to face up to facts. We overdid it last festive season. Again. There’s no point denying it. We spent most of December non-stop consuming. We put away more pigs in blankets than a fairytale wolf. Our plates were more potato than ceramic. Cheese boards and selection boxes trembled in our wake. It was the best of times. But it could never last.

Now we need some refreshment. To swap indulgence for invigoration. The kind of booze we treat ourselves to is a fine place to start. So, feast your eyes upon these fresh and fun tipples, a list of drinks we think make up some of the best January refreshments around!

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Tasting Pol Roger’s Cuvée Sir Winston Churchill 2008

It’s been a great year for Churchill fans: Gary Oldman won an Oscar for Darkest Hour, Andrew Roberts released a Churchill biography, and best of all, Pol Roger have just…

It’s been a great year for Churchill fans: Gary Oldman won an Oscar for Darkest Hour, Andrew Roberts released a Churchill biography, and best of all, Pol Roger have just launched a new vintage of their Cuvée Sir Winston Churchill.

Winston Churchill and Pol Roger go way back. I have seen an invoice from 1908 showing Churchill’s first purchase of Pol Roger Champagne, the 1895 vintage. The special relationship was cemented in 1944 (just after the liberation of Paris) at a lunch put on by the British ambassador to France where Churchill met with Odette Pol-Roger. They got on like a house on fire, no doubt helped by lots of the legendary 1928 vintage. Churchill became a great friend of the family and even named a racehorse after the house. In his last decade alone, he ordered 500 cases!

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The Nightcap: 14 September

Friday has arrived, meaning another edition of The Nightcap is in order, complete with all the booze news from the week that was. Surf’s up, folks. Look at a calendar….

Friday has arrived, meaning another edition of The Nightcap is in order, complete with all the booze news from the week that was. Surf’s up, folks.

Look at a calendar. Whether that calendar is made of paper or pixels, it’ll tell you that today is Friday. Unless you’re reading this on a day that isn’t Friday – then the calendar will tell you that it was once Friday. That’s generally how calendars work. Sometimes they give you the definition of interesting words or a picture of a small dog hanging around in a fishing village, but mostly they exist to tell you when Friday is. It’s today. Therefore, The Nightcap is a thing.

Firstly, let’s see what happened on the blog this week. Our Annie recapped the first leg of her visit to Piedmont with Cocchi, then showed us how to drink like a particularly famous British super spy. Kristy got the low-down on the final addition to Diageo’s 2018 Special Releases (they’re now available to pre-order, too!). Henry chatted to Cabby’s Rum founder Moses Odong about making rum in London and The Knowledge, then gave us a Macallan history lesson. Phew.

On to the rest of this week’s booze news!

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The bank holiday boozes you need in your life

With a precious bank holiday fast approaching (if you’re lucky enough to live somewhere that marks it) there is little time to waste. You need some delicious booze, but what…

With a precious bank holiday fast approaching (if you’re lucky enough to live somewhere that marks it) there is little time to waste. You need some delicious booze, but what should you choose? And where to find it? Don’t fret, dear reader. We have all the answers you need…

Bank holidays provide us with a well-earned break, a chance to catch-up with friends and/or family, and offer a seriously good excuse to indulge in a tasty tipple or two. So, what’ll it be this year? Maybe you’re one of the many going gaga for gin, or perhaps you’re on the lookout for a new go-to wine. Others will be searching for a superb single malt or are looking for some cocktail inspiration. With so many different styles and spirits around, the biggest challenge is finding the right booze to tickle your taste buds!

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Raise a glass of fizz and say Happy Birthday to Champagne!

4 August marks the Birth of Champagne. Instead of celebrating this momentous day with a traditional birthday cake and candles (although you can partake if you wish), why not join…

4 August marks the Birth of Champagne. Instead of celebrating this momentous day with a traditional birthday cake and candles (although you can partake if you wish), why not join us as we unpick the Birth of Champagne backstory – with a glass in hand, of course.

Fan of all things fizzy? Then you might be interested to know that 4 August is a pretty vital day when it comes to the history of sparkling wine. It’s the Birth of Champagne – so roll up and celebrate!

Not that I need an excuse to drink a glass of fizz, but what’s this Champagne Day all about?

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How to order wine at a restaurant

Feel lost ordering a bottle in a restaurant? Want to impress a friend/partner/hot date and paralysed with The Fear? We can help! Read on for an actual sommelier’s top tips…

Feel lost ordering a bottle in a restaurant? Want to impress a friend/partner/hot date and paralysed with The Fear? We can help! Read on for an actual sommelier’s top tips for tasty wine every time.

Picture the scene: you’re at a swanky restaurant. You’ve just been handed the wine list and everyone is looking you expectantly. The waiter glides over to take your order but just at that moment your mind goes blank, so you point to a name that looks vaguely familiar and when the wine comes, it’s a bit disappointing. We’ve all been there. But now help is at hand from Donald Edwards, the sommelier at hot new restaurant St Leonards in Shoreditch*, the brainchild of chefs Jackson Boxer and Andrew Clarke. It’s been described by Marina O’ Loughlin in the Sunday Times as “a classic in the making” – so you’ll want to pay attention. Here, Edwards gives us his top tips on how to get the most from a wine list.

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Imbibe 2018: What goes on at the UK’s biggest booze trade show

Imbibe Live: You might have heard of it. You may even have been along to it. It’s one of Europe’s top drinks trade shows where trends are spotted and ideas…

Imbibe Live: You might have heard of it. You may even have been along to it. It’s one of Europe’s top drinks trade shows where trends are spotted and ideas shared. Want to know what you’ll be drinking next? Our Henry headed to Imbibe 2018 to find out…

There’s always a moment when I first arrive at a trade show where I feel like a rabbit in the headlights. I am sure this would happen to me at Photocopier Expo but at Imbibe Live, one of Europe’s largest on trade shows, I was particularly overwhelmed with the bibulous possibilities on offer. Thank heavens then for Pol Roger, which had a quiet tent offering bacon sandwiches and its vintage 1999 Champagne – just the thing at 10 in the morning. While I nibbled, chairman of Pol UK, James Simpson, told me about a stash of ancient bottles that they had just discovered in a cellar that collapsed 118 years ago. Apparently they are in great condition. I am now waiting for an invite out to Epernay to try one. Watch this space.

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CO2 shortage: What’s going on with my fizzy drinks?!

All week there have been doom and gloom reports of CO2 (carbon dioxide) shortages affecting everything from our beloved summer pints and G&Ts to soft drinks and beyond. But what’s…

All week there have been doom and gloom reports of CO2 (carbon dioxide) shortages affecting everything from our beloved summer pints and G&Ts to soft drinks and beyond. But what’s actually going on, and should we be stockpiling all things fizzy? We investigate…

The CO2 shortage just got real yesterday as in a statement Coca-Cola announced it will be “temporarily pausing” some of its fizzy drinks production. This is a problem that has been bubbling up (sorry!) all week, with all kinds of stories and rumours that without carbon dioxide there might be no beer, which combined with the hot weather and some sort of football tournament going on in Russia, could lead to anarchy on Britain’s streets and, possibly, the end of civilisation as we know it.

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