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Master of Malt Blog

Tag: Coronavirus

The Nightcap: 6 November

The first Nightcap of the second lockdown has arrived just in time to provide some much-needed cheer and levity. It’s packed full of boozy goodness so enjoy! As we all…

The first Nightcap of the second lockdown has arrived just in time to provide some much-needed cheer and levity. It’s packed full of boozy goodness so enjoy!

As we all brace for Lockdown 2 (or 2 Lockdown 2 Furious), the team at MoM Towers has been searching for silver linings. Maybe we’ll have some more time to try to understand the electoral college system and even more time to watch old James Bond films after we’ve inevitably given up. We’ll also be able to do some important research, like finding out what the implications of Sam’s snack grid are (someone grab some dark rum and popcorn for the Bond marathon, while I think of it) and why we haven’t done more coverage of distillery pets. Of course, with Black Friday, Christmas and who knows what else on the way we probably won’t have any more free time, but we can guarantee that there will always be a fresh, warm Nightcap ready every Friday evening, just how you like it. That’s a pretty good silver lining, at least.

Things might have ground to a halt around us but the MoM blog was as busy as ever this week as we launched another #BagThisBundle competition, this time with the wonderful folks at Cointreau. Then, as it’s #SherrryWeek, Annie looked at the vibrant vermouth scene in Jerez and the rest of Spain, before learning about the story behind a gin created to raise money for a historic endeavour and how Nikka is spoiling us by launching not one, but two new Japanese whiskies. Henry then shook up a special seasonal cocktail for Bonfire Night and created a shopping list of the essentials bottles you need to make your home bar the envy of your friends. As for Adam, he had a pretty whisky-soaked week, finding out what makes Scandi spirit-makers Stauning so stellar and tasting a 60-year-old single cask whisky from Glenfarclas Distillery. 

Johnnie Walker film coming soon

First, there was the whisky, then there was a book, and now we’ve just got the news that there’s going to be a Johnnie Walker documentary. Slated to appear on the 12 November we don’t know terribly much about it, only to say that it’s the story of the world’s most famous whisky brand. Called ‘The Man Who Walked Around the World’, it features contributions from Cappadonna from the Wu-Tang Clan, advertising guru John Hegarty, and noted booze enthusiast Alice Lascelles. It’s been directed by award-winning filmmaker Anthony Wonke for independent production company Something Originals and Partizan films. Check out the jazzy trailer above. When we know more, we’ll let you know. 

The Nightcap

We can now officially say this is an artist’s representation of The Cairn

Gordon & MacPhail unveils The Cairn 

Do you remember that distillery that Gordon & MacPhail was building in Cairngorms National Park? Well, the family-owned whisky specialist has given it a name: The Cairn. Which makes sense. Must have been a short meeting. The brand has said it was chosen to honour the stunning surroundings of the park (it really is glorious) and that it wanted a brand that would be easy to communicate globally, which presumably rules out any hard-to-pronounce Scottish Gaelic and prevents them from stepping on the toes of its other distillery, Benromach. “We wanted the new brand to complement, not compete. It’s eye-catching and contemporary and the approach to developing it put the consumer at the centre of our thinking,” said Ian Chapman, The Cairn brands director. “It is the same approach we have taken to designing The Cairn Distillery itself. The modern building takes advantage of the outstanding views across the River Spey to the Cairngorms and has been designed with the customer at the centre of the experience.” An icon has been developed to symbolise the brand; the fragmented shape representing the coming together of many pieces to form a cairn. Scheduled to open in spring 2022, The Cairn Distillery will include a visitor experience, tasting rooms, retail space and coffee shop.

The Nightcap

It was bottled at 95% ABV, folks. 95%. You read that right.

Anno Distillers launches world’s strongest gin

Our Kent-based neighbours Anno Distillers informed us of some pretty astounding news this week, it has created what is believed to be the world’s strongest gin. Anno Extreme was bottled at a frankly alarming 95% ABV Gin, smashing the previous record of 82.5% ABV and made in Sweden. Naturally, the gin is available in smaller bottles, just 20cl, and even comes in a presentation box with a 25ml scientific measuring beaker, perfect for accurate measurements with the suggested serves. There’s the Light G&T, a 5ml measure of Extreme poured over ice and served with premium tonic and a slice of grapefruit which is said to deliver “full flavour G&T with 75% less alcohol” (so a Hayman’s Small Gin kind of deal) and the Strong G&T, a 25ml measure of gin poured over ice and topped up with at least 120ml of premium tonic (the equivalent of an ordinary double measure, Anno says), garnished with a sprig of bruised thyme. “We wanted to make a gin which packs more punch and flavour drop-for-drop than any other spirit in the world,” says Dr Andy Reason, co-founder of Anno Distillers. “As scientists we really wanted to push the limits of possibility and create the spirit of alchemy, turning something ordinary into something extraordinary.” 

The Nightcap

Of course Sam Neill makes booze, he’s so awesome.

Sam Neill meets Samuel Gelston’s whiskey

Samuel Gelston’s has announced the launch of its latest expression and it’s honestly one of the coolest collaborations ever. You see, Johnny Neill, who runs the brand, teamed up with his cousin who owns a vineyard in New Zealand called Two Paddocks and matured the single pot still Irish whiskey in Pinot Noir casks. Who is that cousin, you ask? Sam Neill. The Sam Neill. The actual star of Jurassic Park, Peaky Blinders and more. Amazing. Anyway, back to the liquid, it was triple distilled and matured for 19 months in ex-bourbon casks, before spending a further 21 months maturing in the French oak casks and is said to have notes of strawberry, nutmeg, tropical fruit, blackcurrant and more. “The Neill family have been making quality spirits for generations. My great, great grandfather Harry Neill set up the successful McCallum Neill & Co in Australia in 1851, and Percival, one of his younger brothers set up Messrs Neill & Co in 1882 – Percival was Sam’s great grandfather,” said Johnny. “Sam and I have continued this legacy in our respective sides of the world. For the first time in 150 years, we’re bringing together the expertise from both sides of the family  – the result being an incredibly exciting sweet, honeyed and very inviting single pot still whiskey”.

The Nightcap

The World’s Best Bar has been announced, just as we can’t visit!

Connaught in London named World’s Best Bar

In a bit of cruel timing as much of Europe goes back into lockdown, the World’s Top 50 bars have been revealed just as we can’t visit them. Oh well! Sitting astride the world is the Connaught Bar in London. Mark Sansom, content editor for The World’s 50 Best Bars, commented: “Hats off to Connaught Bar, undoubtedly one of the finest cocktail bars of our time. The institution has earned a place on the list every year since 2010 and it has gradually grown in stature to become the world-beating bar it is today. Ago Perrone and his team are dedicated to excellence and look at every element of the guest experience to choreograph a faultless service.” Runners up were last year’s winner Dante in New York followed by the Clumsies in Athens. It’s been a great year for London with three in the top ten: Tayēr + Elementary were at number five and newcomer Kwant at number six. All in all the list features bars from 23 countries: the Best Bar in Asia award went to Atlas, Singapore; the Best Bar in Australasia is Sammy in Sydney; Zuma, Dubai picked up Best Bar in the Middle East and Africa, while Florería Atlántico, Buenos Aires, is The Best Bar in South America. Elisa Gregori from main sponsors Perrier added: “The pandemic has heavily impacted the entire hospitality industry and the situation remains shaped by uncertainty, yet the industry is adapting quickly and we believe it will return stronger after these difficult times.” Congratulations to everyone who made the list and we’re hoping that we’ll be able to visit some of them in the not too distant future.

 

The Nightcap

Dr Bill says Glenmorangie Malaga Cask Finish is an “indulgently sweet and rich” dram

New small-batch Glenmorangie is on the way

We can never hear the words ‘Glenmorangie’s launches new whisky’ too much so we were obviously delighted to learn that a small batch edition was on the way (keep an eye out for it). The 12-year-old bottling was finished in Malaga wine casks, which aren’t the most common sight in Scotch whisky. Dr Bill Lumsden, Glenmorangie director of whisky creation, sourced the rare handful of first-fill Malaga ‘dulce’ casks (which once contained wines at the sweeter end of Malaga’s range), then filled them with an eight-year-old whisky initially aged in bourbon casks. After four years of finishing, Dr Bill chose the best of these casks in July 2020 to be bottled for the Distillery’s Barrel Select Release. “The honeyed aromas and fruity, chocolatey tastes of Glenmorangie Malaga Cask Finish take me straight to the sun-kissed south of Spain, where Malaga’s famed fortified wines are made,” said Dr Bill. “By finishing our soft, creamy whisky in Malaga ‘dulce’ casks, we’ve created an indulgently sweet and rich small-batch single malt. Our Barrel Select Release is a delicious treat for whisky lovers old and new.” You can see for yourself if Dr Bill is on the money, as Glenmorangie Malaga Cask Finish will be available soon from Master of Malt. 

The Nightcap

The industry needs support like this from those who have the resources to provide it

Diageo relaunches Learning for Life

This is a critical time for the hospitality industry with COVID-19 restrictions set to have a continued impact on the sector, so now would be the moment for some big players to step up. Diageo has set its sights on doing just that this week by relaunching Learning for Life, an award-winning bartender and hospitality training programme that aims to assist the sector to meet the demands of dealing with COVID-19. Learning for Life has been designed to help to develop and engage the industry’s hard-pressed staff, including those on furlough, by providing key training, alleviating isolation, improving practices and updating ways of working during these challenging times. The £1m-per-year programme will work alongside Diageo’s Raising the Bar programme, which pumps £30 million into the UK hospitality trade to create a safer infrastructure, for example through the introduction of hand sanitiser units or personal protective equipment for staff. “People and businesses in the hospitality industry across the UK are fighting for their future and we stand alongside them in that fight,” said Nicola Reid, Diageo Learning for Life Manager. “That’s why we’ve refocussed our Learning for Life programme so it offers the best training opportunities possible to support bar staff and businesses with skills that will help them weather the current storm”.

The Nightcap

Ten expressions from The Glenlivet form the bulk of the range

Chivas Brothers unveils 2020 Distillery Reserve Collection

Chivas Brothers latest single malt collection is on the way! There are 48 new single cask expressions ranging from four to 29-years-old that were sourced from 13 of Pernod Ricard’s distilleries, including The Glenlivet, Strathisla, Aberlour and Scapa. The full Distillery Reserve Collection is now available for purchase from visitor centres of the aforementioned distilleries (visit here for full information on opening times and restrictions to operations) but, due to the current travel restrictions, for the first time, a smaller selection of bottlings will also be available from The Glenlivet website. “Our distilleries are the beating heart of Chivas Brothers and the Distillery Reserve Collection celebrates the heritage, innovation and style that make each one unique. This one-of-a-kind collection has been hand-selected to showcase the breadth of character and bold flavours single malt distilleries can achieve,” says Miriam Eceolaza, marketing director, single malts at Chivas Brothers. “I’m thrilled to be able to invite whisky lovers to join us in celebrating the stories of Speyside and delve even deeper into the vast world of single malt whiskies.”

The nation’s favourite on-screen boozers revealed

Liberty Games has done some vital research this week and conducted a survey to find out the nation’s favourite on-screen boozer, as well as analysing the price of a pint, the location and the IMDb score of each pub. The games retailer can reveal that The Nag’s Head from Only Fools and Horses is the nation’s favourite on-screen boozer in the UK. with 17.2% of Brits saying they would love to have a drink there, although it does tie with Harry Potter’s The Leaky Cauldron for having the most expensive pint, costing £5. Typical London prices. The cheapest pint can be found in the pub from Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps’, the Archer Hotel, at just £3.20. Liberty Games also found London has the most on-screen pubs, but that Yorkshire has the majority of the nation’s favourite on-screen pubs. It is God’s own county, after all. The Woolpack from Emmerdale and the Leaky Cauldron are the second and third favourite fictional pubs with 13.4% and 12.6% of respondents agreeing they are the pub they would most like to have a drink in. The Crab & Lobster from Doc Martin, Heartbeat’s The Ainsfield Arms, The Drovers Arms from All Creatures Great and Small, Life on Mars’ The Railway Arms, The Boatman from Four Weddings and a Funeral and The Slaughtered Lamb from An American Werewolf in London also made the top ten. Which fictional pub would you like to visit? Let us know in the comments.

The Nightcap

If any of our family are reading this, then yes we want one of these

And finally… Bacardi combines a bar with a turntable

According to Bacardi, a fifth of British people will be hosting a virtual cocktail party this Christmas while 60% will be celebrating with friends and family over Zoom. And in the best marketing tradition of revealing a problem and then solving it, Bacardi has the antidote to all this enforced staying at home. Designed by “famed furniture designer” Hugh Miller (surely, you’ve heard of him?), it’s called the Mixing Console, and it’s a freestanding bar with a walnut top and an actual turntable and speakers built-in. And not just any turntable but an “attractive and well-engineered” Fluance RT80. Not my words but the words of What HiFi magazine. So you can mix your drinks while spinning your records. Just be careful you don’t get the two confused or it could get messy. Also, this magnificence doesn’t come cheap, £1700. But Bacardi’s research also stated that: “treating yourself, family and friends more are top 2021 New Year’s resolutions”, so come on family, treat me!

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Opening a bar during the COVID-19 pandemic

Last month, bars and restaurants across the UK  unlocked doors after nearly four long months. But for some venues, July meant planning a (socially-distanced) grand opening. What’s it like to…

Last month, bars and restaurants across the UK  unlocked doors after nearly four long months. But for some venues, July meant planning a (socially-distanced) grand opening. What’s it like to launch a new bar during the coronavirus pandemic? We spoke to Swift co-founder Bobby Hiddleston to find out. 

Ask anyone at team MoM and they’ll tell you that one of our favourite locations to imbibe at is the award-winning cocktail bar Swift in Soho. I frankly don’t even want to find out how much money I’ve spent on their lovely Irish Coffees. So when we heard that a second London venue would open in Shoreditch in late July 2020 at 93 Great Eastern Street, we were delighted. Brunch-style dining? The kind of apéritif-style cocktails we know and love from the Soho site? Even more Irish Coffees? It sounded perfect. 

However, the opening of this second location was anything but. The COVID-19 pandemic has taken a severe toll on the global hotel industry, putting jobs and livelihoods on the line and many treasured bars and restaurants on the brink of collapse. For the husband-and-wife team, Mia Johansson and Bobby Hiddleston, who founded the Old Compton Street institution in 2016 with the backing of fellow couple and Nightjar and Oriole founders Rosie Stimpson and Edmund Weil, the timing couldn’t have been worse. Opening a bar brings enough challenges at the best of times, but trying to establish a new venue during the midst of a global pandemic adds a whole other level of difficulties and complications. 

We wanted to find out what the process was like for somebody who has been through it and Hiddleston was kind enough to join us to talk all about it. 

Opening a bar during the COVID-19 pandemic

Say hello to husband-and-wife team Mia Johansson and Bobby Hiddleston!

Master of Malt: How have you been affected by the impact of Covid-19?

Bobby Hiddleston: Like most businesses, we have been massively affected in almost every way. Things take longer to get done, people are more wary, and there is certainly no guarantee of trade. We’ve had to change our methods of service to keep everyone safe, but also make them comfortable enough to still enjoy themselves. It’s all a bit of a tightrope.

MoM: How does opening a bar now differ from opening a bar under typical circumstances?

BH: It’s difficult. Footfall on the street is way down so we’ve had to adjust all of our predictions. Being unable to fill the bar completely also means people’s first impressions are going to be different, so it’s too early to tell how that will play in the long run.

MoM: Was there enough support and guidance for the hospitality industry?

BH: The hospitality industry has been really good at supporting bartenders and owners alike. We all know how drastic this situation is worldwide, so it seems like petty differences have fallen by the wayside and everyone just wants to help each other out.

Opening a bar during the COVID-19 pandemic

The all-day drinking destination in Shoreditch opened in late July 2020

MoM: How did the opening day/night go?

BH: Really well – we had a lot of friends come and see us, a lot of whom were venturing outside for the first time in months, so I think it was good for them to see a bit of positivity.

MoM: What has been the response from customers?

BH: Fantastic, so far. We have had so many friends and acquaintances come to see us and wish us well. The few offices that are back to work have also peeked their heads in, so we’re excited to be able to cater to the general Shoreditch community as well.

MoM: How have consumer habits differed compared to pre-COVID?

BH: People are very respectful of social distancing and safety measures. It’s certainly a comfort knowing that people are following protocol. Going to a bar is a luxury and a risk at the moment, so if they don’t feel comfortable going to a venue then they won’t go, but at the same time, I think people are craving a little bit of normality in their lives.

Opening a bar during the COVID-19 pandemic

The Swift Shoreditch team have experienced probably the strangest bar opening of their lives.

MoM: How have the staff adjusted to the new normal?

BH: So quickly, I’m very proud of our team for getting to grips with what needs to be done so well.

MoM: What measures have worked? Are there any that haven’t?

BH: There aren’t really any measures that haven’t worked. Things that people would never do pre-COVID – taking names & details at the door, keeping safe distances, etc – everyone is following because everyone knows how important it is to follow.

MoM: What needs to change?

BH: For the industry to survive long-term, the 1m rule will need to be relaxed. Of course, that can only happen when it is safe to do so, but many venues simply cannot sustain themselves on 50-60% of regular turnover, like most bars are right now.

Opening a bar during the COVID-19 pandemic

Expect signature serves from the new Swift likes its Sgroppino and Irish Coffee

MoM: Why was it necessary for bars to open/reopen?

BH: Aside from the obvious attempt to restart the economy by opening private businesses again, it is essential to get hospitality workers back to work. The longer the bars are closed, the less likely they are to reopen at all, so to have an entire wave of people willing but unable to work is disastrous.

MoM: Can London’s world-class cocktail scene rebuild itself to come back stronger than ever?

BH: Yes, absolutely it will, but I also predict that this will also signal a new wave of smaller towns and cities improving their cocktail scenes. Every major city had talented bartenders from small towns go home for COVID and then realise they preferred it where they’re from, so there will be a whole new ecosystem of brilliant people wanting to use their skills more locally. In a few years, there will be many more great bars springing up outside of the capitals, which is a fantastic thing.

MoM: What should we expect from the new Swift?

BH: Swift Shoreditch is an all-day offering, we’re open from 8am for coffee and pastries, and go through to the evenings for our signature spritzes and Irish Coffees. But most importantly, the new Swift will have the same warm welcome as Swift Soho.

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Take a VR tour of Royal Brackla Distillery with MoM!

Pop on a crown, start addressing yourself as ‘one’ and insist to your friends and loved ones that they are now your subjects because we’re going to Royal Brackla Distillery….

Pop on a crown, start addressing yourself as ‘one’ and insist to your friends and loved ones that they are now your subjects because we’re going to Royal Brackla Distillery. How? With some VR magic, of course.

Just because you’re self-isolating or on lockdown, it doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a good distillery tour. How is this possible? Thanks to the power of VR, of course. In this series we’re going to take you around some of the finest distilleries across England, Wales and Scotland from the comfort of your own home. This week we visit Royal Brackla, the first Scotch to be granted a Royal Warrant. There’s posh!

Highland distillery Royal Brackla, founded 1817 by Captain William Fraser, has an enviable history. It was one of the malts from which Andrew Usher created the first commercial blended whisky in the 1860s and the first whisky distillery to be granted a Royal Warrant. It gained its regal prefix in 1835 from King William IV and the spirit was heralded accordingly as the ‘King’s own whisky. Despite this, it’s not often a brand that gets much of a spotlight and much of its whisky has been used for blends throughout its history, although independent bottlings have consistently demonstrated the quality of the clean, fruity and refined spirit it makes. Under Bacardi’s ownership, it has introduced a core range of single malts that are full of the characteristic Royal Brackla style that’s a result of long fermentation and tall stills that are designed to allow plenty of reflux.

If you’ve enjoyed the regal delights of this Highland distillery, then you can see what all the fuss is about yourself by ordering a bottle or dram directly to your doorstep. In my view, Royal Brackla 16 Year Old is the highlight of the range and it was no surprise to see it pick up gold medals at the International Wine & Spirit Competition and International Spirits Challenge in 2019.

Royal Brackla 16 Year Old tasting note:

Nose: Ripe red apple at first before thick crème brûlée takes charge with apricot, custard and a little Buttercup cough syrup.

Palate: Spicy, caramelised apples and orchard fruit, vanilla and fresh black cherries.

Finish: Rich cocoa and baking spices.

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Take a VR tour of Aberfeldy Distillery with MoM!

Join us at Aberfeldy Distillery with another swanky VR tour! Just because you’re self-isolating or on lockdown, it doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a good distillery tour. How is this…

Join us at Aberfeldy Distillery with another swanky VR tour!

Just because you’re self-isolating or on lockdown, it doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a good distillery tour. How is this possible? Thanks to the power of VR, of course. In this series we’re going to take you around some of the finest distilleries across England, Wales and Scotland from the comfort of your own home. This week we head to Aberfeldy Distillery to find out why it’s referred to as ‘The Golden Dram’. Enjoy!

Aberfeldy Distillery is the only Scotch whisky distillery built by the Dewar family, one of the great family-owned blending firms that were founded in the 19th century. The architect was the renowned Charles Doig, who designed the signature pagoda roof that still dominates the distillery’s skyline. Aberfeldy Distillery, along with Aultmore, Craigellachie and Royal Brackla, was bought for £1.1bn by Bacardi back in 1998, who remain the owners to this day. It was built beside the freshwater stream Pitilie Burn, which is still panned for gold and is the only distillery in Scotland to use these waters. The long fermentation in larch washbacks and slow distillation process in tall pot stills is the key to Aberfeldy’s profile. The characteristic sweet and light spirit makes its whiskies perfect for blends and mixing, although they are very tasty neat, too.

If your interest in Aberfeldy has been piqued, then perhaps you’d enjoy a bottle or dram of its fine whisky. Fortunately, we can deliver these delights straight to your door so there’s need to worry about self-isolation and lockdown. I’d suggest you try Aberfeldy 16 Year Old. It’s delicious, outstanding value and has been recognised with various awards and accolades.

Aberfeldy 16 Year Old tasting note:

Nose: Raisins and cinnamon at first, before moving onto butterscotch, caramel and apple slices. A touch of floral malt, too.

Palate: Well rounded and mellow, but not lazy at all. More apples at first, soon joined by clementine segments and honey on toast. A spark of ginger.

Finish: Waxy peels and oak.

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Take a VR tour of GlenDronach Distillery with MoM!

Fans of sherried whisky will enjoy this week’s VR distillery tour as we peek behind the curtain at GlenDronach. Just because you’re self-isolating or on lockdown, it doesn’t mean you…

Fans of sherried whisky will enjoy this week’s VR distillery tour as we peek behind the curtain at GlenDronach.

Just because you’re self-isolating or on lockdown, it doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a good distillery tour. How is this possible? Thanks to the power of VR, of course. In this series we’re going to take you around some of the finest distilleries across England, Wales and Scotland from the comfort of your own home. This week we visit an innovative Highland distillery that creates some truly smashing whiskies. Enjoy!

Ever since GlenDronach Distillery was founded by James Allardice in 1826 it has been maturing whisky in Pedro Ximénez and oloroso sherry casks. This profile was maintained even though the distillery changed hands multiple times, with the likes of Walter Scott of Teaninich, William Grant’s son Charles Grant, William Teacher and Pernod Ricard all acquiring the distillery over the last two centuries. For much of this time, GlenDronach’s whisky was mainly used in blends such as Teachers and Chivas Regal. In 1968, GlenDronach was released as a single malt brand for the first time. The GlenDronach distillery was purchased by BenRiach’s owners in 2008 for £15 million, who invested £7 million, relaunched its core range and opened a new visitors centre in 2010 before selling to Brown-Forman for £285 million in 2016. The distillery features a traditional rake and plough mash tun as well as wooden washbacks, while its four stills which were coal-fired until 2005, making it the last in Scotland to be heated in this way. The wash stills are an interesting shape and the plain sides of the spirit still cut back on reflux, helping to build a heavy and robust spirit ensures that GlenDronach distillery character still shines even after lengthy maturation in sherry casks.

VR tour of GlenDronach Distillery

If you’ve enjoyed the look of Glendronach, then you’re probably intrigued about how its whisky tastes. We’d suggest you give The GlenDronach 18 Year Old Allardice a try. Named after the distillery’s founder, it matured completely in oloroso sherry casks and is an exceptionally fruity and complex single malt. 

The GlenDronach 18 Year Old Allardice tasting note:

Nose: Sherry notes so thick you need a knife to cut them! There’s a hint of old rum in there too, with pineapple and brown sugar in tow.

Palate: Christmas cake, rum again, chocolate-coated hazelnut, runny honey and a hint of Sauternes.

Finish: Fresh blackcurrant, blueberry pancakes with a generous helping of maple syrup.

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Take a VR tour of BenRiach Distillery with MoM!

See how BenRiach makes its delicious Speyside whisky thanks to this virtual reality tour of the distillery. Just because you’re self-isolating or on lockdown, it doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy…

See how BenRiach makes its delicious Speyside whisky thanks to this virtual reality tour of the distillery.

Just because you’re self-isolating or on lockdown, it doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a good distillery tour. How is this possible? Thanks to the power of VR, of course. In this series we’re going to take you around some of the finest distilleries across England, Wales and Scotland from the comfort of your own home. This week we take a look around a distillery that was closed for over 60 years but thankfully survived. Enjoy!

If you know a little of the history of BenRiach, then you’ll know we’re lucky that it still exists. Because of the Pattison crash  which wrecked the Scotch whisky industry, it was mothballed just two years after being built by John Duff in 1898 (though the floor malting remained operational).  It remained closed for over six decades. Most distilleries closed for that long don’t survive. Thankfully, in 1965 Glenlivet Distillers Ltd reopened and subsequently rebuilt the distillery. By 1972 it even began the production of peated malt. Seagrams then purchased the distillery in 1978 and added two more stills and in 1994 released BenRiach as a single malt brand in its own right. BenRiach then encountered another turbulent period, beginning with the closure of its floor maltings in 1999 after 101 years of uninterrupted operation. In 2001, Pernod Ricard took over BenRiach, Allt A’Bhainne, Braeval and Caperdonich but all four distilleries were subsequently mothballed a year later. Just when it seemed poor BenRiach couldn’t catch a break, an independent consortium led by Billy Walker acquired the distillery in 2004. They launched a new range, restored the malting floor in 2012 and sold the distillery to Brown-Forman in 2016. BenRiach is now in rude health and makes plenty of excellent sweet, nutty and fruity whisky to enjoy. 

VR tour of BenRiach Distillery

One of the best core expressions in the business, BenRiach 10 Year Old is the perfect way to introduce yourself to the distillery. But we’re not recommending you indulge yourself with a bottle of BenRiach 10 Year Old. We’re going one better. We suggest the BenRiach 10 Year Old Gift Pack with 2x Glasses, because it’s a hell of a steal and you can never have enough branded tasting glasses.

BenRiach 10 Year Old tasting note:

Nose: Citrus-forward, with gingerbread and cinnamon in support.

Palate: Fried banana, brown sugar, powerful barley notes driving it all along.

Finish: Lasting hints of peppery malt and vanilla custard

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Take a VR tour of Glenrothes Distillery with MoM!

Venture with us using the magic of digital technology to the heart of Speyside to visit one of the region’s finest distilleries: Glenrothes! Just because you’re self-isolating or on lockdown,…

Venture with us using the magic of digital technology to the heart of Speyside to visit one of the region’s finest distilleries: Glenrothes!

Just because you’re self-isolating or on lockdown, it doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a good distillery tour. How is this possible? Thanks to the power of VR, of course. In this series we’re going to take you around some of the finest distilleries across England, Wales and Scotland from the comfort of your own home. This week, take in the sights at a Speyside powerhouse. Enjoy!

Today Glenrothes may be a giant in the Scotch whisky industry, but its construction very nearly didn’t happen. It was founded in 1878 by James Stuart and Co., the group that licensed Macallan a decade prior. When Stuart left to focus his efforts on the Macallan distillery, the three remaining members of the syndicate; William Grant (not that one), Robert Dick and John Cruickshank were only able to build the distillery thanks to a timely loan. In 1897 and 1922 the distillery experienced disastrous fires, with the latter destroying the No 1 bonded warehouse and with it, 2,500 casks of Scotch whisky. Fortunately, the distillery was able to make it through the tough times and increased its capacity during the 1960s boom from four to six stills. Another pair was added in 1980 and by 1989 the distillery had ten distinctive stills. The very tall stills equipped with boil bulbs help create the signature Glenrothes style as they maximise reflux which results in a bold, complex spirit that matures beautifully in sherry casks. Glenrothes Distillery is well known for its ties with Berry Bros & Rudd which began during the 1920s with the release of Cutty Sark. Its a major component in the number one top-selling blended Scotch in America.

VR tour of Glenrothes Distillery

A perfect way to learn more about Glenrothes would be to taste some of its delightful whisky! We’d recommend getting stuck into the recently revamped range with The Glenrothes 12 Year Old – Soleo Collection, which is packed full of all kinds of sherried deliciousness. As always, we can deliver to your doorstep, so lockdown is not a problem. 

The Glenrothes 12 Year Old – Soleo Collection Tasting Note:

Nose: Gingerbread, stewed apple and earthy vanilla, then soft tropical fruit notes and a hint of sherried funk.

Palate: Creamy hazelnut, dried fruit and a hint of cinnamon. Hints of chocolate, old leather, dried herbs and tobacco add depth among Galia melon and honeyed oak.

Finish: Long and sweet with a touch of baking spice and more stewed fruits.

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Take a VR tour of Aber Falls Distillery with MoM!

Take a look inside North Wales’ first whisky distillery in a century thanks to our swanky VR tour of Aber Falls Distillery. Just because you’re self-isolating or on lockdown, it…

Take a look inside North Wales’ first whisky distillery in a century thanks to our swanky VR tour of Aber Falls Distillery.

Just because you’re self-isolating or on lockdown, it doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a good distillery tour. How is this possible? Thanks to the power of VR, of course. In this series we’re going to take you around some of the finest distilleries across England, Wales and Scotland from the comfort of your own home. We head to Wales this week to check out a distillery that makes plenty of delicious white spirits and is in the process of creating its first Welsh whiskies. Enjoy!

One of only four distilleries in Wales, and the first in North Wales since the early 1900s, Aber Falls takes its name from the nearby famous Aber Falls waterfall, at the gateway of the Snowdonia National Park. Distillation, ageing and bottling of spirits all occur on-site, in a 6,000-square-meter building that dates back to the 19th century. Aber Falls prioritises the importance of local identity and traditional craft, working with local farmers to source Welsh malted barley and exclusively using fresh Welsh water. Distillation occurs in large copper stills, a 5,000-litre wash still and a 3,600-litre spirit still. Aber Falls whisky is expected to arrive in 2020, so keep an eye out!

VR tour of Aber Falls Distillery

If you’re intrigued about all things Aber Falls, you’ll be pleased to know we can deliver a bottle(s) or a dram(s) to your very doorstep. We recommend Aber Falls Orange Marmalade Gin, which is so good you’ll have to resist dipping your toast in it. I failed this particular temptation. And have no regrets #toastyourtoast. 

Aber Falls Orange Marmalade Gin Tasting Note: 

Fresh orange juice, with a punchy kick of dried juniper. A bit pithy at points.

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The Nightcap: 3 April

This week on The Nightcap you can look forward to stories about Easter eggs, Hollywood stars and… reaction to the lockdown. Obviously. Lockdown has not stopped the booze news from…

This week on The Nightcap you can look forward to stories about Easter eggs, Hollywood stars and… reaction to the lockdown. Obviously.

Lockdown has not stopped the booze news from making its way to… Well, I was going to say MoM Towers, but we’re currently writing this from our homes. Metaphorical MoM Towers? The MoM Towers of the Cloud? Electronic MoM Towers? Whatever. Booze news ain’t stopped, and neither has The Nightcap. Go on, get stuck in.

On the MoM blog this week, Annie returned to provide some pro tips to make bar-quality cocktails at home, and then demonstrated the kind of deliciousness you can make with minimal fuss with our Cocktail of the Week. Henry, meanwhile, was on-hand to recommend some terrifically tasty drinks, including a new pink gin with a difference, and a delicious Colombian rum, before Adam got in on the act by shining a spotlight on some of the finest new and trending tipples (Jaffa Cake Gin, anyone?). Elsewhere, our virtual reality tour series took us to Craigellachie Distillery and Chase Distillery, we suggested some quality podcasts to keep you amused when you’re self-isolating, and Ian Buxton paid tribute to Scotch whisky industry expert Alan Gray.

Also, a big thank you to all who entered our virtual pub quiz last Friday. This week’s edition is en route, so pour yourself a drink and remind yourself there’s no glory in Google. Good luck!

With no further ado, here’s The Nightcap for this week!

The Nightcap

Join us for some terrific tastings over on Instagram!

Join us for live tastings!

First up this week is a little plug for how you can join us for some tastings over on Instagram! Yes, the vast majority of Team MoM is too in isolation, and we miss tasting with our pals. We also love sharing some of our classic favourites (now known as isolation sippers) and shiny new things, so we figured the best course of action was to take to the socials! Fancy joining us? Here’s the line-up for the next few weeks. We’ll go live on Mondays at Wednesdays at 7:30pm over on our Instagram  – and here are the drinks to get your mitts on if you fancy joining!

Monday 6 April: How delicious gins are made

We explore how production techniques influence flavour. On the line-up we’ve got Sipsmith London Dry Gin, Hernö Old Tom, and Bathtub Gin!

Wednesday 8 April: Essential isolation whisky sippers

The best accompaniment to an evening book, film, or Netflix documentary (Tiger King, obvs) during this time? A dram, of course! We’ve picked our isolation essentials for this tasting: Lagavulin 16 Year Old, Balvenie 14 Year Old Caribbean Cask, Auchentoshan The Bartender’s Edition, Auchentoshan American Oak, and Glen Scotia Victoriana!

Wednesday 15 April: Sherry Monsters Tasting Set

We’re joined by Sam Simmons (aka Dr. Whisky) to explore some of the most mouth-watering sherry bombs from the world of whisky! Tasting sets available now. We’re excited!

Monday 20 April: World Gin Award Winners 2020

Come and discover the best gins in the world! Grab your tasting set in advance, and join us to taste through these delectable award winners!

Wednesday 22 April: That Boutique-y Whisky Company does Scotch!

Brand ambassador Dave Worthington will take us through That Boutique-y Whisky Company’s Scotch Whisky Collection Gift Set – a delish treat to mark mid-week!

And there’s more to follow… check back each week for further details!

 

Actor Mark Strong narrates Kraken audiobook

As the UK enters its second week of lockdown, Kraken rum continues to do its bit to relieve cabin fever with the second instalment of Krakenory. Inspired by CBBC’s Jackanory, the weekly series features famous faces retelling some of literature’s greatest nautical tales. The first episode featured The Libertines’ front man Carl Barat, who donned a smoking jacket to read from the Jules Verne classic 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. This week features three readings from Mark Strong, who you probably recognise from his work in 1917, The Imitation Game, and an episode of EastEnders from 1989 where he played a telephone engineer. He’ll lend his voice to The Kraken by Alfred Lord Tennyson, Dover Beach by Matthew Arnold and Part II of The Rime of the Ancient Mariner by Samuel Coleridge.  “I’ve played some villains in my time, but when it comes to bad guys, nothing compares to the mighty Kraken, as viewers of Krakenory will soon find out,” Strong said. “So come join us on a voyage to the unknown. Once you’re lost in the pages, you never know where you’ll end up.” The Kraken is also commissioning a team of UK bartenders to create bespoke rum-based cocktail each week, releasing ingredients for each cocktail ahead of each episode to give followers enough time to stock up on supplies ahead of each reading. Episodes of Krakenory are released every Friday at 12pm, with viewers able to watch on the brand’s Instagram and Facebook pages.

The Nightcap

The egg is filled with bespoke Talisker whisky sea salted caramels

Talisker Whisky launches first-ever Easter Egg 

It’s the little things that get us through tough times, and at MoM Towers, those little things are generally whisky and chocolate. For the festive season (also known as Easter), Talisker has gone and teamed up with Edinburgh based chocolatier COCO to create its first-ever Easter egg! Let us be clear, the whisky isn’t in an egg (although we’d certainly be behind that idea), rather you’ll be treated to an egg of sea-salted dark chocolate, filled with bespoke Talisker whisky sea salted caramels. You’ll never guess where the sea salt comes from… the Isle of Skye! “As a whisky fan first and foremost, and a chocolate fan a very close second, this has been a great collaboration to work on,” says Jason Clark, British Talisker brand ambassador. “The use of the sea salt from the Isle of Skye in both the egg itself and the sea salted caramels connects them with Talisker’s homeland, and its deliciously distinct made by the sea character.” If like us, you’re uncontrollably salivating at the thought of smoky whisky and decadent dark chocolate combined, you can grab yourself an egg right here! Should make for a… cracking pressie. (Sorry.)

The Nightcap

Wine merchants such as Yapp Brothers have never been busier

Online booze sales surge during lockdown

The 20 March was a black day in history as the Prime Minister announced the closure of all pubs and bars. The great British public has responded in the only way they know how, by ordering loads of booze online. Across the land, people are reporting soaring sales for at-home consumption. Wine merchants such as Yapp Brothers have never been busier. Jason Yapp commented: “Our online business is certainly booming. There has been a huge spike in sales since the lockdown was announced on 23rd March. We have subsequently experienced our largest ever volume of wines dispatched by carrier in a single day and our busiest month in our 50-year trading history.” Charles Lea from Lea & Sandeman agreed: “Web and shop sales are significantly up, despite operating curtailed hours and non-contact delivery and collection.” Rebellious Goods, an online beer and wine merchant, has reported 11 times the number of orders in March compared with February, according to City AM. Supermarkets are also selling more booze than normal, up 22% according to figures released by Kantar. Things are certainly extremely busy here at Master of Malt with volumes up almost 200%! According to our numbers boffins, it seems that Britons aren’t necessarily drinking more to deal with isolation, it’s just sales that would have gone to the hospitality trade and supermarkets (which, in some cases, are limiting how much people can buy). So it seems that the country isn’t actually going on an isolation-induced bender. If you need [sensible volumes of] supplies, folks, we’re here for you!

The Nightcap

Look, it’s sparkling red wine!

Lockdown fun: DIY sparkling wine

Drinking (responsibly, naturally) isn’t the only fun wine-based activity you can do while self-isolating. You can try making it, too! Well, maybe not making wine from start to finish, but definitely helping. London-based urban winery Renegade is offering you the chance to riddle and disgorge your very own sparkling wine. ‘Rhythm and what?’, we hear some readers say. This is the process where dead yeast cells are removed from a sparkling wine to create a clear, bright finished product. It was invented in Champagne by Veuve Clicquot herself. Now you can do it at home. Renegade will send you a bottle of its sparkling grenache made in London from Spanish-grown grapes. Yes, it’s a sparkling red wine. Groovy! In order to finish it off, turn the bottle upside down and wait for all the sediment to collect by the cap (that’s your riddling) and then quickly remove the cap and a small amount of wine will be ejected along with the sediment (disgorgement). At least that’s the theory (see video here). It’s probably best done in the garden as it can be a messy process. Don’t forget to post your attempt not matter how pitiful on Instagram tagging @renegadeurbanwinery . Finally, drink the wine with an enormous sense of achievement. 

The Nightcap

And that’s a wrap on The Nightcap this week. Now, it’s time to reveal the answers to last week’s pub quiz. Thanks again to all who entered and congratulations to Mark OPray, the winner of the grand prize last week!

1) What cocktail would F. D. Roosevelt offer to every head of state who visited him?

Answer: Martini

2) On The Simpsons, what is the biggest beer brand in Shelbyville?

Answer: Fudd Beer

3) Which country has a grape variety known as ‘dog strangler’?

Answer: Portugal

4) What is The Dude’s go-to drink in The Big Lebowski? 

Answer: White Russian

5) Which whisky personality is famous for insuring his nose for £2 million? 

Answer: Richard Paterson

6) What is the Lincoln County Process? 

Answer: Filtering whiskey through sugar maple charcoal prior to ageing

7) Which Scottish region was once known as the Whisky Metropolis? 

Answer: Campbeltown

8) The Black Velvet cocktail was created in 1861 to mourn the death of which English royal? 

Answer: Prince Albert

9) What is Ron Swanson’s favourite drink on Parks and Recreation? 

Answer: Lagavulin 16

10) What is the most popular spirit in China?

Answer: Baijiu

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Early payment programme for smaller suppliers

We understand how difficult things are for many of our smaller suppliers right now, so we’re implementing an early payment programme to help you out with your cash flow. If…

We understand how difficult things are for many of our smaller suppliers right now, so we’re implementing an early payment programme to help you out with your cash flow.

If we owe you money, even if it isn’t due for a month or two, and getting paid sooner would make a significant difference to your ability to operate, please drop us an email at [email protected] and we will get whatever we owe you across in the next few days.

Together, we’ll get through this.

Cheers,

Justin Petszaft
CEO

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