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Tag: Dalmore

Whisky Advent 2020 Day #21: The Dalmore Cigar Malt

Can you believe it?! It’s the Monday before Christmas, and the festive spirit is REALLY kicking in. The whisky behind door 21 of Drinks by the Dram’s Whisky Advent Calendar…

Can you believe it?! It’s the Monday before Christmas, and the festive spirit is REALLY kicking in. The whisky behind door 21 of Drinks by the Dram’s Whisky Advent Calendar will particularly appeal to those partial to a cigar. Here to tell us more is Stephen Martin, Whyte & Mackay’s global single malt whisky specialist!

Right. Christmas is almost here. Whatever the big day is going to look like for you this year, it’s time to pause, sit down, and take a moment just for yourself. Yourself and a really rather tasty dram.

Today’s number was blended with cigar lovers in mind, to complement their smoke of choice. But fear not! It’s a delicious drop whether or not you’re planning on sipping while lighting up. It hails from the iconic Dalmore distillery in the Scottish Highlands, and it was actually brought back due to popular demand after being discontinued in 2009. So you know it’s got the backing of the masses! Today’s dram is…

The Dalmore Cigar Malt!

But that’s enough from us. Here to tell us more about it is Stephen Martin, Whyte & Mackay’s global single malt whisky specialist!

Whisky Advent 2020 Day #21: The Dalmore Cigar Malt

Give a big Advent welcome to Stephen Martin!

Master of Malt: The Dalmore is an iconic brand. What do you think sets the distillery apart?

Stephen Martin: Whisky is all about people and place and The Dalmore is such an amazing example of this. This is true from the Mackenzies, who arrived at the distillery in 1867 and introduced the Royal Stag to every bottle to remind us of their royal heritage dating back to 1263, right through to our current decorated master blender, Richard Paterson, who celebrated 50 years with us in September this year. We’ve always had a meticulous and innovative approach to making whisky and you need to have the right people in place to make this work.  

MoM: Lots of different cask maturations go on with Dalmore. What finishes work especially well with the spirit?

SM: The Dalmore matures exceptionally well in a number of different casks due to the body and weight of the new-make spirit. In particular, Matusalem sherry butts from Gonzalez Byass are incredible! These gems have held Matusalem sherry, a combination of oloroso and PX wines, for 30 years. A lot of the chocolate orange and sweet spice characteristics that we expect from The Dalmore come from these casks. Tawny port pipes from W&J Graham are a favourite of ours also!

Whisky Advent 2020 Day #21: The Dalmore Cigar Malt

Dalmore’s Richard Paterson is regarded as one of the true great master blenders

MoM: Any whisky and food- or cigar-pairing tips? What should we look for?

SM: Absolutely! Sherry plays such an important role in our whiskies and I love pairing the Dalmore with Andalusian cuisine. A bottle of The Dalmore 15 alongside some Iberico, manzanilla olives and manchego Iniesta is a real crowd pleaser and a bit out of the ordinary! In terms of cigars, I’m really enjoying the Davidoff Winston Churchill Late Hour just now. Medium to full-bodied, this cigar contains tobacco that has been aged for six months in single malt whisky casks, so it works really well The Dalmore Cigar Malt. 

MoM: What about Cigar Malt means it pairs particularly well with cigars?

SM: Flavour and body for me! The Cigar Malt is profoundly influenced by Matusalem sherry and red wine barriques, so there’s an abundance of deep, rich flavours that work well with the right cigar. The red wine barriques also contain a lot of tannins that contribute to a silky, velvety texture that dances with the cigar smoke on your palate as you draw. When you get the pairing just right there are not many better things in life!

MoM: What whisky will you be pairing with the Christmas festivities this year?

SM: Cheese is a big thing in my house at Christmas so I’ll be pulling out a bottle of the Port Wood Reserve after dinner! Delicious with a strong cheddar, creamy brie or salty Lanarkshire blue! I’ll also be making Christmas eggnog for the family with the Dalmore 12 Year Old, which works really well. 

Whisky Advent 2020 Day #21: The Dalmore Cigar Malt

The Dalmore Cigar Malt Tasting Note:

Nose: Caramel, shortbread, biscuits, coffee and chocolates. Simple, clean and moreish.

Palate: Yet more toffee, caramel edging towards the burnt cinder-toffee side of things. Flamed orange-zest, and perfectly integrated sherry.

Finish: Reasonably simple, Christingles (orange Zest and clove with a touch of cinnamon), more mid-palate than palate-coating.

Overall: Definitely meets the criteria of pairing with a ‘BIG’ cigar.

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#WhiskySanta’s Dalmore 35 Year Old Super Wish

It’s time for the penultimate Super Wish from that bearded dispenser of boozy magic #WhiskySanta. It’s the majestic Dalmore 35 Year Old! The two questions I get asked the most…

It’s time for the penultimate Super Wish from that bearded dispenser of boozy magic #WhiskySanta. It’s the majestic Dalmore 35 Year Old!

The two questions I get asked the most are: 1) Is Die Hard really a Christmas film?, and 2) What’s your favourite Christmas film? Well, the answer to the first one is a big yes, Die Hard is indeed a Christmas film. So that’s that one cleared up. Now the second one is harder because, whisper it, I don’t really like most overtly-Christmassy films. There’s nothing worse than some second rate Hollywood actor hamming it up with a beard and red suit. I have depth, I have soul, in the words of Walt Whitman, “I contain multitudes”, and frankly there are very few films that do me justice. Instead, I prefer to watch films that are synonymous with Christmas rather than being actually Christmassy like The Great Escape, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory and, best of all, Casablanca. That bit where they sing the Marseillaise never fails to bring a tear to my eye. The other thing that makes me well up is the sheer gorgeousness of today’s Super Wish, part of my £250,000 festive bonanza

Dalmore 35 Year Old! 

Oohh, I do love a bit of Dalmore. All that dark sherried Highland goodness. But this is one I only get out for very special guests. This Dalmore was created in 2016 to celebrate 50 years in whisky for ‘the Nose’ himself, master distiller Richard Paterson. It was aged in bourbon, Matusalem sherry and colheita Port casks for 35 years before bottling in a super swanky Baccarat crystal decanter bearing a stag produced by Royal Warrant-holding Scottish silversmiths Hamilton & Inches. Only 1,000 were released each year, over the last five years and if you want one, it’ll set you back £4,500. 

Or you could wish for one, and you just might get it for free! Here’s how: simply visit the product page, hit the ‘Wish’ button, which will produce a box ready to whisk you off to pre-populated Twitter or Facebook posts. Hit publish and Bob’s your uncle! If Instagram is your platform of choice you can pop a wish on your feed there too, just be sure to use the #WhiskySanta hashtag. This is very important. As the people at MoM are not omniscient beings like me, they work using hashtags. 

I wish you the best of luck. Well, that’s all from me until Monday. I hope I’ve cleared up many family arguments by settling the Die Hard Christmas film debate once and for all. See you next week!


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Richard Paterson ‘steps back’ from Whyte & Mackay

Big news at Whyte & Mackay as Richard ‘the Nose’ Paterson celebrates 50 years at firm and announces that he will give up his current role to concentrate on The…

Big news at Whyte & Mackay as Richard ‘the Nose’ Paterson celebrates 50 years at firm and announces that he will give up his current role to concentrate on The Dalmore.

There’s about to be some big shoes to fill at Whyte & Mackay as it has been announced that Richard Paterson will be stepping back from his role at the Glasgow whisky makers. Today marks exactly 50 years since Paterson joined the firm, 14 September 1970. Since then he’s gone on to be one of the most respected master distillers in the business, known as ‘the Nose’ for his unerring palate. We at Master of Malt have had the privilege of tasting with him on more than one occasion and can attest not only to his amazing senses but his natural showmanship that has made such a successful ambassador for Scotch whisky.

But Paterson isn’t going to be golfing full time. He will remain at the company’s flagship distillery, The Dalmore. There’s plenty going on: back in December we reported on a very special 60 year old expression which will go under the hammer this December at Harrods in London. And next year will see the release of six whiskies called “The Decades of The Dalmore”, part of an ongoing series of whiskies that have been nurtured by Paterson over his long years at the company. We’ll bring you more on them as we know more. 

The Dalmore Aged 51 Years

Paterson will be staying on at The Dalmore

Paterson commented: “I have been fortunate to have enjoyed each and every one of my 50 wonderful years. I have had the opportunity to work with many incredible people down through the years, and incredible whiskies too of course. I am truly proud of what we have achieved together as Whyte and Mackay. For myself, I have the great honour to care for the truly extraordinary whisky we create at The Dalmore. I look forward to sharing some very special releases of The Dalmore in 2021”. 

Whyte & Mackay CEO, Bryan Donaghey, added: “To work for one company for 50 years is a fantastic achievement that few will repeat. Through all those years Richard has made an outstanding contribution to the continued success of Whyte & Mackay, and especially The Dalmore.  His energy and passion for what he does is remarkable and an inspiration to all of us. My thanks and congratulations to Richard on this incredible achievement.”

With Paterson concentrating on the Dalmore, this means that there is a very big nose-shaped hole at Whyte & Mackay. That noise you can hear is distillers and blenders throughout Scotland (and further afield) polishing their CVs.

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More Deals of the Day this weekend!

Another weekend, another round of delightful deals. We’re back with even more bargains. Which is very handy with Father’s Day coming up… Last week we brought back our Deals of…

Another weekend, another round of delightful deals. We’re back with even more bargains. Which is very handy with Father’s Day coming up…

Last week we brought back our Deals of the Day for the weekend. But that wasn’t a one-off, this is a series. Which means that right now you can find all kinds of spirits with cracking savings here, all of them just waiting to be delivered straight to your doorstep after just a few simple clicks. Fancy a show-stopping bottle of classic whisky? Click. You’ve got one. Desire a new gin to broaden your horizons? Click. It’s in the basket. You can even make a clicking sound as you do it and make it more fun. The world’s your oyster. Except your oyster is filled with delicious booze, not gross sea goop.

deals of the day this weekend

Chivas Regal 18 Year Old

If you know anyone foolish enough to think that blended whisky is some kind of inferior product, then slam this beauty down in front of them and laugh heartily. A serial award-winner and a favourite of bartenders and connoisseurs alike, Chivas Regal 18 Year Old was created by master blender Colin Scott and includes over 20 single malts from around Scotland.

What’s the deal?

It was £58.95, now it’s £46.95.

deals of the day this weekend

Hendrick’s Lunar Gin

One for the summer evenings, Hendrick’s Lunar Gin is another winner from the well-respected gin brand. It was made by Hendrick’s master distiller Leslie Gracie, who was inspired by a moonlit evening tending botanicals in the hothouse. She created this warming, spicy expression that’s filled with notes of soft orange, rosewater, vanilla blossom and lemongrass.

What’s the deal?

It was £34.95, now it’s £29.95.

deals of the day this weekend

Dalmore 18 Year Old

Some whiskies are just made to be spectacular gifts. Can you imagine your father figure opening this beauty on Father’s Day? You’d instantly become the favourite child, which is what we’re all in it for, really. The Dalmore 18 Year Old is a spectacular single malt whisky that was aged for 14 years in American oak, followed by three years in Matusalem sherry butts, before a final year in sherry butts, giving it an impressive rich, fruity and spicy profile.

What’s the deal?

It was £110.00, now it’s £89.00.

deals of the day this weekend

Plantation Isle of Fiji 

Plantation rum is held in high regard for good reason and Isle of Fiji is no exception. A colourful celebration of the stunning island in the South Pacific, it was distilled from Fijian molasses and initially aged for around three years in the tropical climate in bourbon casks. It was then sent over to Cognac for a secondary maturation in French oak for a year. Not only is it absolutely delicious, but there’s a pretty amazing iguana on the label, too.

What’s the deal?

It was £32.95, now it’s £25.95.

deals of the day this weekend

Malfy Gin Con Rosa

This terrific gin from Malfy was built around the delightful Sicilian pink grapefruit and features a hint of rhubarb too. This beauty is tart, refreshing and light but still has a great depth of flavour. It’s smashing in a number of cocktails and should give you a welcome spin on your G&T. It will also look beautiful on any back bar or drinks cabinet.

What’s the deal?

It was £26.59, now it’s £23.59.

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Master of Malt tastes… The Dalmore Aged 51 Years

The Dalmore has launched a 51 Year Old expression and we were lucky enough to be one of the first to taste it. No, really. Here’s what we thought. Any…

The Dalmore has launched a 51 Year Old expression and we were lucky enough to be one of the first to taste it. No, really. Here’s what we thought.

Any Scotch whisky lover will tell you The Dalmore is no stranger to extravagant expressions. Bottlings such as The Dalmore L’Anima Aged 49 Years, The Dalmore 60 Year Old and The Dalmore 45 Year Old have cemented this reputation. It’s not surprising then that the Highland distillery’s first major release of 2020 is a whisky fit to join this illustrious list: The Dalmore Aged 51 Years. 

A launch event to taste and talk all about it took place at the Hotel Café Royal in Piccadilly, London this week, where master distiller Richard Paterson was on dapper and dandy form as usual to present his latest source of pride. It was all very exciting, as I’m sure you don’t need telling. This would be my only opportunity to sample The Dalmore Aged 51 Years as only 51 bottles (neat) will go on sale and the pleasure of its company in the future would set me back £55,000. As you would expect for a whisky of this type, there’s a glossy hand-crafted presentation case (black sycamore wood, don’t you know) which houses the crystal decanter and stopper. But, in the immortal words of Shania Twain, that don’t impress me much. Even if the 12-point ‘Royal’ stag is looking particularly resplendent in sterling silver.

The whisky itself is far more compelling. Bottled at a natural cask strength of 40% ABV and presented without any additional colouring, it was initially matured in ex-bourbon casks before it was distributed between Port Colheita 1938 casks, Matusalem sherry casks and first-fill bourbon casks. The spirit was then reunited in bourbon barrels for a final flourish. The press release notes that this demonstrates “how deeply The Dalmore treasures the sanctity of the cask”. 

The Dalmore Aged 51 Years

The Dalmore’s Richard Paterson with his latest source of pride

The official quote from Paterson in the marketing bumf drove this point home further. “The Dalmore 51 Year Old is a noble single malt of rare profundity and it has been my pleasure to closely follow its maturation over five decades. I am always looking towards the future and I carefully consider how each distillation will evolve, moving our spirits to new wood to transform their conclusion. The Dalmore 51 Year Old is a fine example of this.” At the event Paterson reiterated this, explaining that long maturation and cask innovation has been part of The Dalmore DNA since the Mackenzie brothers owned the distillery.

The fact that The Dalmore’s stringent wood policy across its thousands of casks and the guiding principle that the ‘cask is king’ took centre stage was particularly interesting. The classic issue with whisky matured for this long is that the profile becomes too woody. As I made my way to the event the question of how you successfully mature a whisky for 51 years was on my mind. In this case, Paterson clearly feels the answer lay in utilising multiple casks. He made a point early on at the event to say that by “using the right cask you rejuvenate the whisky, then it goes over like silk”.

In a presentation before dinner, Paterson told stories about the distillery and its history, but it wasn’t long before casks became the focus of the conversation. Paterson describes the maturation process of The Dalmore Aged 51 Years like a journey, one that begins in ex-bourbon casks that “provide the base of the whisky and allows it to settle down”. He then explained that in order to make something special he used Port Colheita 1938 casks for four years. “This took that American white oak and gave it body and character with those plummy notes you get with this style of the Port wine”. The spirit was then added to exclusive 30-year-old Matusalem sherry casks from Gonzalez Byass for five years, which Paterson explains was to bring notes of “old English marmalade, grapes, sultanas and Christmas cake. This, mixed together with that Port wine, comes together in a perfect assemblage”. 

The Dalmore Aged 51 Years

The Dalmore distillery

We were then invited to taste The Dalmore Aged 51 Years, I didn’t need telling twice. I was conscious that your perception of a whisky can be influenced by the setting, so I took a portion of my designated glass away to taste at home in order to compare and contrast my thoughts. You’ll be pleased to know what across both sets of notes, there’s hardly a mention of woodiness. Instead, my two separate tasting notes both concluded that this was a complex dram. In fact, I thought The Dalmore Aged 51 Years was utterly sublime.

The vibrancy of the fruit is striking, as is the heaps of flavour despite the low strength. It’s chock-full of Dalmore distillery character and each cask plays its part without every truly veering into dangerously tannic territory. Paterson described it as a whisky “that deserves every splendour, it’s something very different and something unique”. I’d add that it’s very, very delicious. For more detail, the customary MoM tasting note is below.


The Dalmore Aged 51 Years

The Dalmore Aged 51 Years

The Dalmore Aged 51 Years Tasting Note:

Nose: Homemade blackberry compote, lime marmalade, roasted espresso beans and a litany of dried fruit – dates, figs and sultanas – drenched in spiced molasses lead. Elements of dusty oak furniture, soft toffee pennies and vanilla cream develop among touches of golden tobacco, chocolate orange, Turkish delight and diced almonds. As the nose progresses notes of Conference pears, stewed plums and rich dark chocolate make their mark as lemon meringue, Bakewell tart (with the cherry), honey roasted peanuts and Bassett Allsorts emerge in the backdrop. 

Palate: A faint rasp of woody tannins quickly make way for bold notes of sticky Jamaican ginger cake, stewed dried fruits, Madagascan vanilla and Manuka honey spread liberally on wholemeal toast. A tart hint of Morello cherry compliments the sweeter elements of damson plums, muscovado sugar, thick-cut orange marmalade and syrup sponge. A dash of festive cinnamon emerges in the mid-palate among complex notes of roasted pineapple, balsamic vinegar, liquorice lace, cacao, earthy red chilli and a hint of cinder toffee.

Finish: Long, resinous and full of dark fruits. There’s also a hint of floral perfume and soft caramel notes.

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Brilliant Burns Night bottles? We’ve got them!

For Scotch whisky fans, Burns Night is the ultimate celebration of the drink they love. Find the perfect bottle to mark the occasion from our line-up. It’s not long until…

For Scotch whisky fans, Burns Night is the ultimate celebration of the drink they love. Find the perfect bottle to mark the occasion from our line-up.

It’s not long until we raise a glass to honour the Bard of Ayrshire, Robert Burns, on his birthday, 25 January. Maybe you’ll fancy donning a kilt. Maybe you’ll carry out an Address to a Haggis with an appropriately theatrical cutting of the haggis with the ceremonial knife. Whatever you do, I think we can all agree the highlight of the night is a hearty dram of the good stuff.

Burns Night is perhaps the best excuse we get all year to splash out on a seriously good bottle of Scotch, which is why we’ve rounded up this delightful range of festive fancies. 

Happy Burns Night all.

Wi’ usquabae, we’ll face the devil!!


Robert Burns Single Malt

What better to mark the night than with a whisky that bears the name of the man himself. The Robert Burns Single Malt was produced by the Isle of Arran Distillers, who are patrons of the ‘Robert Burns World Federation’ and as a result, are able to officially carry his name. The single malt was produced at Arran Distillery in Lochranza and matured in ex-bourbon casks. 

What does it taste like?:

Pear juice, coconut, custard, vanilla, panna cotta, lime peel, apple strudel and cinnamon.

Aerolite Lyndsay 10 Year Old

If a whisky of mystery and intrigue sounds right up your street you then you’ll be more than happy to get stuck into this bottling from The Character of Islay Whisky Company. The peaty whisky has been sourced from an undisclosed distillery on Islay where it was matured for 10 years in a mixture of bourbon barrels and Spanish oak sherry quarter casks. The name is actually an anagram of the words ‘ ten-year-old Islay’, which is something you feel like Burns himself would appreciate.

What does it taste like?:

Maritime peat, iodine, honey sweetness, paprika, salted caramel, old bookshelves, mint dark chocolate, espresso, new leather, honey, liquorice allsorts, bonfire smoke and toffee penny, with a pinch of salt.

Timorous Beastie

Even casual Burns fans will know of his classic poem To a Mouse, which features an unfortunate field mouse he describes as a “tim’rous beastie”. Douglas Laing has paid tribute to this unlikely hero with this expression which has a distinctly Highlands profile thanks to a marriage single malts from the region, including whisky from Blair Athol, Dalmore, Glengoyne and Glen Garioch.

What does it taste like?:

Acacia honey, creamy boiled strawberry sweets, dried apricots, white grapes, coastal air, dried fruits, green apples, anise, sweet grist, malt loaf, pebble beaches, hot cinnamon and classic Highland heather, too.

Bowmore 18 Year Old

A legendary Islay dram that’s every bit as distinctive and delicious as you would expect it to be. Bowmore 18 Year Old is a perfect indulgence for Burns Nights for those who enjoy the peatier things in life.

What does it taste like?:

Stewing fruit, hints of damp wood, very soft smoke, perfume, plum jam, grapey, Seville marmalade and blossom.

Robert Burns Blended Scotch Whisky

Robert Burns Blended Scotch Whisky is a delicious blend that was made with a high percentage of the Arran Single Malt. It’s light, sweet and fruity profile make an ideal mixing whisky, perfect for long drinks and cocktails.

What does it taste like?:

Fresh apple peels, vanilla cream, juicy pear, custard and warm pastry, some tart citrus.

The Dalmore 12 Year Old

Few can boast an entry-level single malt as good as this beauty from the historic Dalmore Distillery, with its instantly recognisable stag’s head logo on the bottle. The Dalmore 12 Year Old was matured in American white oak ex-bourbon casks and finished in rare and aged oloroso sherry casks.

What does it taste like?: 

Coffee beans, oily nuttiness, malt, cereal, butter, Seville marmalade, triple sec, winter spices, zesty cocoa, milk chocolate and fruitcake.


The Macallan 12 Year Old Sherry Oak

Sherried Macallan’s are a favourite around the world for good reason and The Macallan 12 Year Old Sherry Oak is no exception. Part of the Sherry Oak range, this 12 Year Old its entire maturation in sherry-seasoned oak casks from Jerez before it was bottled at 40% ABV.

What does it taste like?: 

Sultanas, fresh apple blossom, calvados, tropical fruit, golden syrup, hot pastries, marmalade and barley sugar.

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The Nightcap: 6 December

The countdown is on. It’s December and there are only so few editions of The Nightcap left for 2019 – let’s enjoy them! December has arrived, and while some people…

The countdown is on. It’s December and there are only so few editions of The Nightcap left for 2019 – let’s enjoy them!

December has arrived, and while some people are counting down to Christmas, other people are counting down to something completely different, though the event occurs on the same day. I am of course talking about Roast Potatocalypse. The day roast potatoes fear the most. So eagerly I await the day, but to pass the time, let us indulge in another edition of The Nightcap!

Over on the blog #WhiskySanta was feeling particularly festive as he made Bunnahabhain 40 Year Old his Super Wish this week, while we began to tuck into our Drinks by the Dram’s Whisky Advent Calendar. Check out each day (#1, #2, #3, #4, #5) to see which delightful dram hid behind each window and for a fabulous Q&A with a key figure at the distillery. Elsewhere, we announced the winner of our Jarrod Dickenson competition and revealed what Dram Club members can expect from December, before Adam cast a spotlight on Ron Izalco. Henry, meanwhile, got stuck into some of 2019’s best drink books and an exotic flavoured gin inspired by a Dutch explorer for our New Arrival of the Week as Annie Hayes hung out with Sir Ranulph Fiennes to talk rum, as you do, and still found time to enjoy a Hard Seltzer.

Now let’s press on, the Nightcap awaits!

The Nightcap

Richard Paterson created the impressive bottling from two ex-sherry casks filled in 1951!

The Dalmore unveils rare 60 Year Old single malt Scotch whisky

There is only one way to celebrate 180 years of creating delicious whiskies, with a limited-edition pink gin. Just kidding. The Dalmore has marked the occasion by releasing a spectacular 60-year-old single malt whisky. The Dalmore 60 Year Old was created by master distiller Richard Paterson, who reunited two extremely rare ex-sherry casks from six decades ago which were first filled with spirit first distilled on 7th June 1951. The two twin casks were the last of the Mackenzie era when the Mackenzie clan owned the distillery, which ended in 1988 when Colonel Hector ‘HAC’ Mackenzie passed away. Under their stewardship, The Dalmore established long-standing relationships with suppliers to source casks that remain to this day and took the decision to adorn each decanter with the distinctive Royal stag. “Over the course of the past 180 years, The Dalmore has constantly strived for perfection, setting the standards for many other whisky makers today. The Dalmore 60 Year Old is a fitting tribute to the masterful talents of our distillers past and present, who have all helped to create an incredible body of work,” said Paterson. “For me personally, nurturing and caring for these two casks has been a true labour of love. The reunion of the two spirits has produced an unforgettable whisky that is truly greater than the sum of its parts.” The Dalmore 60 Years Old is limited to just one decanter, which will be unveiled at an exclusive celebration at The Dalmore’s Highland home, before embarking on a global tour to Shanghai, Los Angeles, Taipei, and London. Further details will be announced in due course, which you can find on the Dalmore website.

The Nightcap

The Times Series 52 Year Old Single Cask Finish

Royal Salute launches The Times Series 52 Year Old Single Cask Finish

Royal Salute and insanely old whisky fanatics, hold onto your hats. “Amplified and way more luxurious than anything before,” is how master blender Sandy Hyslop introduced the brand new Royal Salute expression, The Times Series 52 Year Old Single Cask Finish. This has been a labour of love and immense skill, periodically sampled every 18 months. At 38 years old, Hyslop decided not to bottle the whisky, oh no. He decided it was time to move it to another cask to be finished for 14 more years in American oak. “I desperately didn’t want the cask influence to be too much here,” Hyslop tells us. You’d be forgiven for thinking that over five decades in oak would result in a dry and woody whisky, but this is anything but. It dances between sweet and spicy, with the hallmark Royal Salute syrupy pear notes in there too. When we headed to a mysterious clock tower in St. Pancras to try it (Time Series, clock tower… we see what you did there Royal Salute), we were the only group outside Hyslop and his blending team to try have tasted the liquid in its finished form, which is pretty mind-boggling. Enough of that, we’re sure you’re eager to know how it tastes. The nose is sweet, thick and juicy, with plums, dark chocolate, ginger, cinnamon. The palate is mouth-coating to another level, revealing sweet liquorice, pears in syrup, orange marmalade and candied ginger, with a finish which goes on for almost as long as the whisky was aged itself! Of course, the spectacular whisky is presented with in an individually-numbered hand-blown Dartington Crystal decanter, alongside a stunning box featuring five layers of wood, each representing a decade of the blend. Whisky collectors, this one’s for you. There’s only 106 bottles, and if you have a spare $30,000 burning a hole in your bank account, we’d thoroughly suggest trying it.

The Nightcap

Wright Brothers gin, worth shelling out for

Wright Brothers launch Half Shell Gin

When sustainability and delicious boozes come together, it makes us very happy here at MoM Towers. So, when we were invited to try the new Half Shell Gin from Wright Brothers, made with reused oyster shells from the London-based restaurant group, we jumped at the chance, hook, line and sinker! To create the spirit, Wright Brothers partnered with The Ginstitute distillery of West London, using the thousands of oyster shells which the restaurant goes through each year. “We use Carlingford oyster shells, which are cold-macerated in neutral spirit and then distilled,” says Ivan Ruiz, Wright Brothers beverage manager. “We then add a percentage of the distillation to the gin. The oyster-shell taste is then balanced with a kelp seaweed, and other ingredients like juniper and Amalfi lemon. The result is a savoury gin with high mineral notes and a pink pepper finish.” We can absolutely vouch for that, it was thoroughly delicious. The outstanding seafood was accompanied by a G&T and a Martini, both showcasing Half Shell Gin. The Martini is an absolute winner, slightly savoury, well-balanced and exceptionally smooth. Visually, it’s an absolute joy, and seeing hundreds of oysters served up while we were sitting at the bar sipping on the very gin made from the shells is pretty cool. “We’d thought about creating our own wine, but we feel gin, especially this gin, reflects both our restaurants and the city we call home,” says Robin Hancock, co-founder of Wright Brothers. You can grab a bottle of your own at Wright Brothers restaurants, or choose to sip it in their wonderful cocktails.

The Nightcap

Congratulations, guys!

Irish Distillers takes home the World Whiskey Producer of the Year trophy

It’s fair to say Irish Distillers had a good time at the International Wine and Spirits Competition in London last week. It scored the highest number of medals across its portfolio of Irish whiskeys throughout the 2019 awards season, beating distillers from Japan, Ireland and the USA. Midleton Distillery claimed 24 award wins, including the Worldwide Whiskey Trophy for Redbreast 12 Year Old, while there was gold medals for the Powers Three Swallows release, Powers John’s Lane 12 Year Old, Redbreast 15 Year Old and Red Spot 15 Year Old. Jameson Cooper’s Croze and Midleton Barry Crockett Legacy also scored 98 points out of 100, as Irish Distillers ended the evening with the most Gold Outstanding honours within the Irish whiskey category. But above all that, the Irish whiskey producers were given the prestigious title of World Whiskey Producer of the Year. “We are honoured to be recognised as World Whiskey Producer of the Year by one of the most respected awards bodies, and to see such outstanding results across the portfolio,” said Tommy Keane, production director at Irish Distillers. “This trophy is a tribute to the incredibly hard-working passionate and skilled craftsmen and women at Midleton – 2019 has truly been a landmark year for Irish Distillers.”

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Now that’s what we call an immersive floral installation

St. Germain at Heddon Street Kitchen

We know that it’s dark and cold, but one of the best things about winter is all the awesome festive pop-ups! The latest one we popped along to was St-Germain’s Winter Bloom Experience at Gordon Ramsay’s Heddon Street Kitchen. The immersive floral installation is golden, shiny and full of fairy lights and all things elderflower. We were told that the semi-dried flowers even have to be touched up every couple of weeks, which is more attention than we give our house plants. Each of the four serves has a suggested food pairing, created in collaboration with the team at Heddon Street Kitchen. Our personal favourites were the cockle-warming Cidre Chaud (St. Germain, Calvados, cider, star anise and lemon) and the light, refreshing Winter Spritz (St. Germain, Prosecco and soda). If you love elderflower like nothing else, this is the spot for you, though serves like Le Grand Fizz (St. Germain, Grey Goose vodka, lime and soda) aren’t overwhelmingly floral if you’re not mad for it. You’ll find the cosy floral hideaway at the restaurant all throughout the month of December. Perhaps a spot to keep in mind to treat yourself to a post-Oxford Street Christmas shopping session. 

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Responsible and festive, you don’t often pair those two together!

Beer brewed with recycled Christmas Tree needles launched

Being both sustainable and festive isn’t easy, but Lowlander Beer has managed with a Winter IPA brewed with recycled Christmas tree spruce needles. Part of the zero-waste ‘From Tree to Tipple’ campaign from the award-winning Netherlands Botanical Brewery, The Winter IPA is the result of last year’s initiative which collected unwanted Christmas trees to turn into beer. This year the brand has gone one further and made its Christmassy creation available to purchase as a gift pack from Not On The High Street and from other retailers throughout December. The profile of the beer isn’t dark and heavy as you would suspect from a wintery beer, but instead, it’s a light, refreshing White IPA brewed with juniper berries alongside the unconventional spruce needles. Expect a piney aroma alongside the hoppy & light citrus character. Over six hundred kilos of needles were needed to produce the 2019 batch of Winter IPA. Although only the needles were needed to brew Lowlander’s Winter IPA, the brewery reused every piece of the donated trees in limited-edition products, including bottles of a new creation: Lowlander Botanical Brut, a limited-edition sparkling beer made with spruce and Champagne-inspired Riesling yeast, available in the UK from 2020. Commenting on the release, chief botanical officer Frederik Kampman said, “Every December, about 2.5 million real trees bring Christmas spirit into our homes. By New Year, most of these end up in the chipper, on bonfires or piled at the roadside. We have found another use for them: in beer.” 

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The lovely, lovely Brora whisky on offer made us excited for the silent distillery’s future

Brora ramps up 200th-anniversary celebrations

What a year it’s been for silent Highland Scotch whisky distillery Brora. The momentum first got going back in 2017 when parent company Diageo announced it was going to reopen both Brora and Port Ellen, the iconic distillery over on Islay. Then, in August this year, we got word of a very special 40-year-old expression, developed to commemorate Brora’s 200th birthday (more on this shortly). And just last month, the distillery’s historic stills were whisked away for refurbishment – bringing that all-important reawakening a significant step closer. So when we were invited to a dinner earlier this week to celebrate it all, we just had to be there. Also in attendance were senior archivist, Jo McKerchar, and the Brora master distiller to be, Stewart Bowman. We looked at plans for the restored site (pop September 2020 in the diaries, folks), historical documents from the old distillery, and basically, had a thoroughly lovely time (and yes, we did get to taste that 40 year old – it’s rounded, and elegant, and like the robust smokiness of Brora but dressed up in a black-tie gown or tuxedo. We liked. A lot.). 2019 shall forever be known as the Year of Brora – until 2020 comes around and the closed distillery reawakens from its slumber. Bring it on!

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The biodegradable drinking straw is made from up-cycled agave

Jose Cuervo unveils ‘sustainable’ agave straws

We all now know plastic is the scourge of the earth (all hail David Attenborough), and that single-use bits and bobs are now about as welcome as the common cold. But sometimes straws are just, well, needed. Step forward Tequila brand Jose Cuervo, with has teamed up with scientists at BioSolutions Mexico and production types at Mexico-based PENKA to create agave-based straws! They’re made from upcycled agave fibres (the raw material in Tequila and mezcal) and are biodegradable. More than a million of them will be sent out across the US and Mexico in 2020. “The past, present, and future of Jose Cuervo is tied directly to the agave plant – without it, we would not exist,” said Alex Coronado, Cuervo’s master distiller and head of operations. “As the Tequila industry worldwide booms, it is our company’s responsibility as the leader to take care of the agave plant and ensure that we are producing tequila sustainably. It takes an average of six years to grow an agave plant before it is mature enough to harvest for Tequila production, and we have to be committed to finding more ways to use the agave fibres once that process is complete. The debut of our biodegradable, agave-based drinking straws is a new step in utilising the full potential of this very special Mexican agricultural product.” Now, agave is far from the most sustainable raw material for spirits (think: monocrop issues and all the energy requirements for all that processing), but it certainly seems like a mammoth step in the right direction. Good riddance, plastic!

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Head winemaker at Graham’s Charles Symington

Graham’s releases 1940 tawny Port

Now you have the chance to taste a little bit of history as Port house Graham’s, part of the Symington group, has announced the release of single harvest tawny from 1940, a blend of two exceptional casks. Wine from this period are extremely rare not just because of their great age but because with Port’s principal markets at war, very little was made.  Head winemaker at Graham’s Charles Symington commented: “It’s not often we have the privilege of releasing a wine that is eight decades old and bears such unique historical significance. The 1940 Single Harvest really is remarkably refined and balanced, offering a reflection not only of the quality of the original wine but the skilled care and attention it received from our forebears.” Yours for around £800. Interest in old single harvest tawny Ports (aged in barrel as opposed to vintage Ports that are aged in bottle) has been increasing in recent years. The 1940 is the final part of Graham’s Cellar Master’s Trilogy of old tawnies, joining the 1994 and 1963. It’s old but not as old as the special 90 year old tawny the company released in 2016, a blend of three years 1912 , 1924 and 1935, released to celebrate the Queen’s 90th birthday.

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Keep your gin safe with an Edinburgh Gin Safe

And finally. . . protect your precious boozes with the Edinburgh Gin Safe

Tired of flatmates or relatives pilfering your favourite gin? Well, the boffins at Edinburgh Gin have come up with the answer: a gin safe. Available directly from the distiller, your safe consists of a clear box containing a full bottle of gin with the contents safely secured with a padlock. The only way to open it is to solve a cryptic puzzle which will reveal the combination for the lock. Neil Mowat, UK marketing director of Edinburgh Gin, commented: “Given Christmas is the most wonder-filled time of the year, we wanted to bring some of our own distinctive magic to the concept of gift wrapping with our gin safes. Designed with the ultimate gin fan in mind, they’ll be able to see the reward that’s waiting for them, but they’ll need to have a little fun first to unlock the wonder within.” All great fun but we can see a problem that owners might forget the code after too much eggnog. . . or perhaps that’s the point. 

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Whisky Advent 2019 Day #9: Dalmore Cigar Malt

There’s no Monday blues here with Drinks by the Dram’s Whisky Advent Calendar Day 9. Hidden away behind today’s door is Dalmore Cigar Malt! We get the scoop from Richard…

There’s no Monday blues here with Drinks by the Dram’s Whisky Advent Calendar Day 9. Hidden away behind today’s door is Dalmore Cigar Malt! We get the scoop from Richard Paterson himself.

The Dalmore is as much a brand in its own right as a Highland single malt distillery. Its highly recognisable 12-point stag has become an iconic motif, and some of its expressions are highly prized. Old and rare bottlings even command record prices, both on the primary and secondary markets.

Today’s dram from our Whisky Advent Calendar carries that same pedigree – and was specifically blended to be enjoyed with a cigar. It’s a no-age-statement dram, but don’t let that put you off. It’s rich, flavourful, and has that signature Dalmore doughy texture. It’s Cigar Malt!

This dram was discontinued to much uproar in 2009 – but thankfully it’s back, in full bottle size, and in Advent calendar form. We understand this new blend is made with slightly older liquid and it’s a right treat.

And here to tell us more about it is The Nose himself – Dalmore’s Richard Paterson.

Dalmore Cigar Malt

The Nose himself, Richard Paterson!

Master of Malt: The Dalmore is one of the most recognisable brands in single malt Scotch. What do you think sets you apart? 

Richard Paterson: The Dalmore is enduringly recognisable, in part due to our unique bottle shape, and striking packaging, but not least because of the iconic silver ‘Stag’ marking a royal heritage for the distillery that dates to 1263. We are fortunate too that our founding fathers and chain of custodians through the years had a wonderful vision, and we have many aged expressions up to the rare Dalmore 64 Years Old and others that we have released over the years. This is coupled with our consistent ‘wood enhancement’ programmes in which we use only the finest exclusive Sherry, Port and wine casks to provide the highest quality possible, and of course the relentless passion of our dedicated quality team.

MoM: Cigar Malt was originally discontinued but you brought it back! What makes it such a good match with cigars? 

RP: The rich full body of The Dalmore Cigar Malt, with its chocolate orange spice flavours, makes it the perfect accompaniment to the finest Cigars, in particular, “Partagas number 4 & Hoyo de Monterrey Epicure No 2. Taken along with hot Colombian or Java coffee you will soon be in heaven!

Dalmore Cigar Malt

Bottura and Paterson, who raised over £108k for charity this year!

MoM: What have been your 2019 highlights for The Dalmore? 

RP: This year marks the beginning of celebrations marking the 180th anniversary of The Dalmore. I’ve hosted many special tastings around the world, in particular, highlighting the rare Dalmore 45 years old and many more different expressions. I cannot forget, our wonderful partnership with Massimo Bottura, raising over £108k for his charity Food For Soul.

MoM: What trends or developments do you think we’ll see in the world of whisky In 2020? 

RP: With there being so many discerning consumers around the world today particularly in the Far East, the thirst for Scotch whisky especially, Single Malt whisky is set to continue for many years to come. However, we in the Scotch whisky industry must never be complacent, we must continue to innovate, evolve and excite our consumers with the finest quality whiskies and superb packaging.

MoM: What will you be drinking this Christmas? 

RP: Many different wines but there will always be an aged Dalmore, Jura, Fettercairn, Tamnavulin and a Whyte & Mackay close at hand! Slainte Meath.

Dalmore Cigar Malt

Dalmore Cigar Malt

Dalmore Cigar Malt Tasting Notes:

Nose: Loads of shortbread, rich tea biscuit notes, caramel, and chocolate orange. It’s highly tempting for the sweet-toothed.

Palate: toffee and more caramel, with some delicious marmalade-on-burnt-toast in there, too. Lashings of sherry-cask notes.

Finish: Relatively straightforward, but sweet Christmas spices come through towards the finish.

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Chefs with boozes

As the link between kitchen and bar strengthens and their approaches to ingredients and flavour further align, certain highly-acclaimed chefs have switched their aprons for lab coats to dabble in…

As the link between kitchen and bar strengthens and their approaches to ingredients and flavour further align, certain highly-acclaimed chefs have switched their aprons for lab coats to dabble in distilling and brewing. Looking across whisky, gin, beer and beyond, we’ve championed 10 bottlings created with a chef’s sensibilities…

I’ve heard it said that if you want to know what the next cocktail trend will be, you should look at techniques used 10 years ago in fine dining kitchens across the world. This might sound like an insult on paper, but it’s a testament to how rapidly the industry has progressed, and the immensely high standard it’s held up to. Today’s bartenders approach their creations like artists, crafting complex, thought-provoking drinks that could rival the finest Michelin-starred dish – or better yet, find a place on the table alongside it.

Developing a botanical combination for a spirit, or a mash for a beer involves inventing a recipe after all, so it’s unsurprising that celebrated distillers, blenders and brewers have explored collaborations with cooks. Some chefs have even made the leap from dish to distillery full-time. Take Copenhagen’s Empirical Spirits, founded in 2017 by Lars Williams and Mark Emil Hermansen – before turning their eyes to spirits, the duo headed up Noma, which won the title of world’s best restaurant a casual five times. No biggie.

Looking to the future, we can only foresee more collaboration between the worlds of food and drink. The 10 distilleries and breweries that follow flung open their doors to celebrated chefs and together, they cooked up some seriously special boozes…


Salcombe Gin’s Voyager Series features an eclectic range of collaborations

Salcombe Distilling Company’s Voyager Series

The Devon-based producers of Salcombe Gin have partnered with not one but three culinary geniuses for its ongoing Voyager Series, a collection of limited edition bottlings developed in collaboration with a winemaker or chef. To date, Michael Caines (not to be confused with the star of Get Carter and Jaws: The Revenge), Mark Hix, and Monica Galetti have flexed their botanical brains to design a characterful gin unique to them.

Anspach & Hobday x Tom Sellers

Michelin-starred chef Tom Sellers – the man behind London’s Restaurant Story – teamed up with Anspach & Hobday to create farmhouse-style ale Story Saison, which is infused with clementine preserves made in his very own restaurant kitchen. Incidentally, he’s worked with the craft brewery before on a smoked brown ale.


L’Anima raised £108,900 for Food for Soul, a non-profit that works to counter food waste through social inclusion.

The Dalmore x Massimo Bottura

Earlier this year, single malt Scotch whisky The Dalmore joined forces with Massimo Bottura – Michelin-starred chef and owner of revered Modena-based eatery Osteria Francescana – to release The Dalmore L’Anima Aged 49 Years (l’anima means ‘soul’ in Italian, FYI). The liquid combines whiskies aged in small-batch bourbon barrels, Graham’s vintage Port pipes, and González Byass casks that formerly contained 40-year-old Pedro Ximénez Sherry. Phwoar.

Cornish Gin x Tom Brown

Produced at The Wrecking Coast Distillery, juniper-forward Cornerstone Rare Cornish Gin has been developed to complement the dishes at Tom Brown’s fish-centric Hackney Wick restaurant, Cornerstone. Flavour-wise, we’re talking “generous coriander notes, strong citrus influences” and an injection of hedgerow rosehip and rowan berries – a tip of the hat to the gin’s Cornish roots.


Ducasse & Co. approached creating this vodka as a dish rather than as a liquid.

Grey Goose x Alain Ducasse

Grey Goose cellar-master Francois Thibault teamed up with Michelin-starred chef Alain Ducasse to create a “gastronomic vodka” for the brand’s 20th anniversary – approaching the spirit as a dish rather than as a liquid. The result, Grey Goose Interpreted By Ducasse, is made by blending distillates of French wheat that have undergone light, medium and heavy toasting.

Hepple Gin x Valentine Warner

When TV chef and forager Valentine Warner partnered with Moorland Spirit Company to create Hepple Gin, he enlisted tried-and-tested culinary techniques to achieve the flavour he sought – including vacuum distillation and a CO2 extraction process. The final recipe contains three types of juniper, Amalfi lemon, liquorice, douglas fir and bog myrtle, among others.


The sublime Oldstead Garden Spirits

Cooper King Distillery x The Black Swan

Last year, Yorkshire’s Cooper King Distillery created a series of bespoke distillates for nearby Michelin-starred restaurant The Black Swan using flowers and plants grown in the venue’s kitchen garden. Marigold, lemon verbena, fennel pollen and chicory root were picked, delivered to the distillery and vacuum-distilled on the same day to create four variants, known collectively as Oldstead Garden Spirits.

Sharp’s Brewery x Rick Stein

TV chef and restaurateur Rick Stein created Chalky’s Bite – made from Cornish fennel, Cornish malted barley and three different hops – at Cornwall’s Sharp’s Brewery, naming the bottling after his beloved Jack Russell Terrier. Unfortunately Chalky paid his dues at the great dog park in the sky before the bottling could hit the shelves, so the beer, designed to be paired with seafood, was released in tribute. Excuse me, I’ve got something in my eyes…


Bonkers botanicals galore can be found in Slingsby bottlings!

Slingsby Gin x Michael O’Hare

You might be wondering where the all the madcap, slightly bonkers ingredients are. Thankfully, British chef Michael O’Hare – of Michelin-starred restaurant The Man Behind The Curtain – and Yorkshire-based Slingsby Gin have served up the goods with a savoury gin containing local botanicals, Exmoor caviar and even more bizarrely, plankton.

Hackney Brewery x Pip Lacey

Great British Menu 2017 winner Pip Lacey and long-time business partner Gordy McIntyre got together with the good folks at London’s Hackney Brewery to design a unique beer for the opening of their first eatery, Hicce, a wood-fired restaurant in King’s Cross. Smooth and light, Hicce by Hackney Session IPA is hopped like an IPA but lower in alcohol.

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The Nightcap: 10 May

Another week with a bank holiday, but as we’ve seen before, that won’t stop the influx of information that we know as news – specifically about tasty booze! The season…

Another week with a bank holiday, but as we’ve seen before, that won’t stop the influx of information that we know as news – specifically about tasty booze!

The season of short weeks continues, keeping us on our toes when it comes to Monday plans. You have to be rather on the ball in April and May, otherwise you could end up at work all alone, or equally alone on a presumably sunny beach. One of those is probably more preferable than the other…

Anyway, you’re tuned in to The Nightcap, so let’s see what has been happening in the world of booze this week. On our very own blog, our very own Adam took a look at the continuing rebirth of Port Ellen, and then got a little musical with some Eurovision-themed tipples. Jess’ New Arrival of the Week was actually a double-header with the duo of new Nelson’s Rums. Ian Buxton’s guest column this week looked at both delicious and questionable innovations in whisky, while Henry recalled his adventure at Ramsbury Estate. Annie checked out five of the world’s most sustainable bars, and then took us through the story of the Bloody Mary for Cocktail of the Week.

And now, the news!

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This dream is one step closer to becoming a reality

Johnnie Walker Edinburgh attraction secures planning permission

If you talk to Diageo people, they are beyond excited about plans to open a Johnnie Walker venue on Princes Street in Edinburgh (as we revealed back in February). Now the dream is one step closer as this week planning permission was granted by Edinburgh Council. The venue on Princes Street will be more than just a shop: it will include a brand storytelling experience, an events space, and a training academy. It’s part of £150m investment in whisky tourism by the drinks giant. David Cutter, chairman of Diageo in Scotland, said: “We have had great support for our proposals from local stakeholders and businesses in Edinburgh and we are grateful to everyone who has helped us to get to this stage. We will continue to work with the local community as we now progress with construction and with making our plans a reality.” Cristina Diezhandino, Diageo Global Scotch whisky director, added: “We have ambitious plans to make this a truly world-leading attraction, drawing people from the four corners of the globe to Scotland and to give them an unforgettable experience in Scotch whisky and Scottish culture.” Construction work on the period building on Edinburgh’s grandest shopping street will begin very soon. The next step is for the City of Edinburgh Licensing Board to grant an alcohol licence. Let’s hope they do, or it’ll be a pretty sad whisky experience.

The Macallan kicks off ‘Experiences’ video series

Speyside-based Scotch whisky distillery The Macallan has unveiled a new video-based campaign to celebrate ‘innovative, interactive and engaging whisky serves’. The series, called The World’s Best Scotch Experiences, sees the whisky-maker team up with leading chefs and bartenders to give behind-the-scenes glimpses at all kinds of drinks creations. Featured in the series are everything from four-course tasting menus to 3D-printed serving vessels, from the likes of Manhattan and Mexico City. “As the leading single malt Scotch whisky, we strive to lead the way when it comes to new, immersive experiences, which in turn creates memorable moments and long-lasting success for The Macallan,” said Alexis Calero, key city and spiritual homes manager at The Macallan. “Through The World’s Best Scotch Experiences series, we were able to create and collaborate with chefs and mixologists that share the same passion we have for creating unique experiences and memories that bring The Macallan to life in an unforgettable way.” Check out US Macallan YouTube, Facebook, Instagram pages, or search the hashtag #DestinationMacallan to check it all out!

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Absolutely beautiful. That bourbon looks nice too.

Matthew McConaughey taps into Texas roots with Wild Turkey

Celebrities getting involved in the world of booze is nothing new. From George Clooney and Conor McGregor, to Derek Zoolander, it feels like half of Hollywood has tried to add some star-power to their chosen spirit (most impressive from Zoolander, given he isn’t actually real). Sometimes these launches can leave a lot to be desired, other times they can turn out alright, alright, alright. (I apologise for nothing). Wild Turkey will be hoping it can achieve the later with Longbranch, a bourbon launched in collaboration between master distiller Eddie Russell and creative director Matthew McConaughey. Longbranch, named to mark the friends that form the longest branches of our family trees, was inspired by the Academy Award-winning actor’s Kentucky and Texas roots. The small-batch release was made with eight-year-old Wild Turkey bourbon and refined with two separate charcoal filtration methods using American white oak and Texas Mesquite wood. It’s said to possess notes of vanilla, caramel, pear, citrus, pepper, toasted oak and a subtle, smoky finish. “Longbranch, in its simplest form, is an extended hand, inviting a friend into your family,” said McConaughey. “So the branch that was extended to me from the Russells was a long one, one that reached from Kentucky to Texas and back again. I offered the Mesquite from my great state to add to their legendary Kentucky whiskey and together we made Longbranch.” Wild Turkey Longbranch will be available in the UK in June for £40, and if it’s as good as McConaughey was in Magic Mike True Detective, then you’ll want a dram.

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Congratulations to Jonny!

Sotheby’s hires first spirits specialist

Unless you’ve been living under some kind of rock, you’ll know whisky auctions have become a Proper Thing in recent times. It’s a fact not lost on the team at Sotheby’s – in light of the zeitgeist, it’s hired its first dedicated spirits specialist. Say hello to Jonny Fowle! Born and raised in Edinburgh, Fowle founded his own whisky training business in 2012 and worked with companies including Mandarin Oriental, JW Marriot and The Peninsula. He also spent time as an ambassador for booze brands across Japanese whisky, gin and rum. More recently, he’s brokered deals on casks and rare whisky bottles. Rather well-qualified, then! “I am very excited to have joined Sotheby’s as the company strengthens its footing in the spirits market,” said Fowle himself. “It is an incredibly exciting time for a growing industry, and alongside the hugely talented Sotheby’s Wine team, we hope to place ourselves at the centre of that growth.” Congrats, Jonny!

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Anyone for an Aviation?

Pickering’s Gin and British Airways create ‘first’ gin for sipping in the sky

How many gins have you come across that were botanically engineered to be enjoyed at 30,000ft? Presumably none, because Pickering’s Gin claims it has achieved a world first. It’s worked with British Airways to launch its Pickering’s British Airways Centenary Gin! The gin was developed at Edinburgh’s Summerhall Distillery using a balance of 10 botanicals specially selected to combat the suppression of our taste and aroma receptors due to in-flight low air pressure and lack of humidity. The botanicals also celebrate British flora and fauna, with juniper, rose petals and heather used alongside Pickering’s signature ingredients of lime, lemon, cardamom and cinnamon. The new release will be available onboard economy flights and as part of a limited-edition triple ‘Gin Flight’ miniature gift pack. Pickering’s British Airways Centenary Gin actually comes with two different tasting notes, depending on the altitude you’re at when you drink it. At 30,000ft, the citrus and sweet spice of cinnamon and cardamom are said to be more prominent, while at 10,000ft and below, the bold, floral juniper and delicate hints of rose and Scottish heather are more accentuated. “To banish so-called airplane ‘taste blindness’, we have carefully designed a botanical flavour profile that enhances what you lack when you’re soaring in the sky,” said Pickering’s head distiller and co-founder, Matt Gammell. “We trialled multiple iterations of the recipe in the air until we were confident that it would taste as good in the sky as it did on the ground.” It’s one small step for gin and one giant leap for enjoyable in-flight refreshments!

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Holyrood Distillery has it all, from cask programmes to a delightfully dapper dog!

Holyrood Distillery intros personalised cask programme

Edinburgh-based Holyrood Distillery – one of the producers in the mix to make the city’s first whisky for almost 100 years – has announced a fancy cask programme where customers can create their own barrel from scratch. How does it work? In consultation with head distiller Dr Jack Mayo and co-founder David Robertson, interested parties can buy a cask, choosing pretty much everything from the type and oak species to previous fill. Not only that, but they’ll be able to shape the production process too! Why not decide how long the barley is dried and roasted for, which yeast should be used during fermentation, and even have a say in distillation approach and date?! It really is the full customisation shebang! 100 casks have been made available in the programme, and production will start shortly after the distillery opens in July. Prices start from £4,500 for a 200-litre barrel, including flavour consultation, whisky creation, storage for ten years, sampling, insurance, labelling and bottling. “Everything we do at Holyrood is driven by flavour,” said Dr Mayo. “That’s why our Cask Programme gives people the unique chance to tailor a cask of our whisky to suit their flavour preferences.” Head to the Holyrood Distillery site to register your interest!

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Yann Bouvignies’ first menu at Scarfes is hitting all the right notes.

Scarfes Bar new cocktail menu

We headed over to the lovely Scarfes Bar at the Rosewood Hotel in London for a chat with head bartender Yann Bouvignies about the latest cocktail menu which combines music and drinks! Scarfes Bar is one of the few London hotel bars to boast live music every night, so it was only a matter of time until music made its way into the drinks list. The menu is an interactive journey through the genres, with one famous face representing each style, drawn by caricaturist Gerald Scarfe himself. Each genre is given two cocktails representing the music from the artist. For example, Tupac is the face of hip hop, and the two drinks were named Poetic Justice, a nutty, whisky-based cocktail reflecting the gentler, earlier days of his art, and Tradin’ Old Stories, a somewhat more assertive drink mirroring the development of Tupac’s music. It really is a fabulous idea: Aretha Franklin is the face of soul, Prince of funk, Louis Armstrong representing jazz, even the Spice Girls make an appearance in the name of pop. The new menu focuses more on sustainability (which is always good), and on many of the minimalist cocktails there is no garnish (especially if Bouvignies doesn’t deem it necessary and thinks it will simply be thrown away). With 18 cocktails in total, there is quite literally something for everyone, music and drinks lovers alike.

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Massimo Bottura’s (L) non-profit Food for Soul will receive a windfall from The Dalmore

Dalmore L’Anima raises £108,900 for Food for Soul

Remember when we brought you news of (and then got to taste!) The Dalmore L’Anima Aged 49 Years, the mega-fancy bottling set to be auctioned for charity? Well, bidding closed at Sotheby’s yesterday [9 May] at £108,900! A phenomenal amount of money. The full proceeds are going to Food for Soul, the non-profit founded by Massimo Bottura, Chef-Patron of Osteria Francescana, who also co-created the expression. Food for Soul, which he runs with his wife, Lara Gilmore, works to counter food waste through social inclusion. “We are honoured to be part of this great collaboration with The Dalmore, which displays the excellent features of this world-renowned whisky together with an Italian touch,” Bottura said. “I’m even more enthusiastic that this unique project, together with Sotheby’s precious help, will support Food for Soul to build projects that celebrate the culture and the potential of communities around the world.” Good work all-round, folks, and congrats to the winning bidder, who along with that incredible bottle, also gets to enjoy dinner for two at Bottura’s Modena restaurant, Osteria Francescana – voted the world’s best restaurant in 2016 and 2018. Buon Appetito!

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Fans of all things Japanese and boozy will surely be seeing more of James

Suntory appoints James Bowker as first UK ambassador

Hibiki, Yamazaki, Chita, Roku, Haku (check the blog on Monday for more!)… The House of Suntory certainly has deliciousness aplenty in its portfolio of Japanese tipples. And now there’s a dedicated UK brand ambassador to help them shine even brighter! Meet James Bowker, the man in the brand-new role. He’s tasked with spreading the spirit of Japan far and wide through the land and coming up with all kinds of education plans and cocktails. He’s been a bartender for more than 10 years, and developed a passion for Japanese whisky in particular at The Edgbaston Hotel in Birmingham. He then spent time making drinks in actual Tokyo, deepening is knowledge of Japanese cocktail techniques and visiting distilleries. “I’ve always had a passion for spirits and grew very fond of The House of Suntory whisky portfolio during my early days behind the bar,” Bowker said. “I can’t wait to become the face of The House of Suntory in the UK, building strong partnerships with bartenders and venues across the country to broaden the appeal for Japanese spirits, serves and the brands’ founding principles for continued perfection.” Congrats!

The Nightcap

The future is here. And it’s slightly confusing.

And finally… Mackmyra and Microsoft create ‘AI whisky’

Hands up if you’re an expert in artificial intelligence (AI)? Us neither (though if you are, and can shed some light on what our ‘And finally…’ this week means for whisky in general, please drop us a line!). Swedish whisky-maker Mackmyra has become an expert in the field after teaming up with Microsoft, of off computers, and Fourkind, a Finnish tech consultancy, to create the ‘world’s first’ AI whisky. Here’s what we think it means: the whisky recipe has been engineered using data based on consumer flavour preferences. According to the distillery, AI is used to “augment and automate the most time-consuming processes of whisky creation” with the possibility to create more than “70 million” recipes. “We see AI as a part of our digital development, it is really exciting to let AI be a complement to the craft of producing a high-quality whisky,” said Angela D’Orazio, Mackmyra’s master blender. “It is a great achievement to be able to say that I’m now also a mentor for the first ever created AI whisky in the world.” According to a Microsoft spokesperson, AI-generation can have an impact in multiple industries. “These new AI solutions can be used to generate products that retain the spirit, look and feel of the brands behind them, while at the same time being new and unique.” It stressed, however, that AI isn’t designed to replace a master blender, who should always have a curation role in the process. Mackmyra’s AI-generated whisky will be available from Autumn 2019 – but it very much seems like the future is now. The robots are coming!

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