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Master of Malt Blog

Tag: Drinks by the Dram

Win a year’s worth of whisky or rum for Father’s Day!

Want the ultimate Father’s Day present? Well, our new competition is offering somebody the chance to win a year’s supply of whisky or rum! Dads are notoriously hard to buy…

Want the ultimate Father’s Day present? Well, our new competition is offering somebody the chance to win a year’s supply of whisky or rum!

Dads are notoriously hard to buy for. Every card has the same lame references to golf or beer. Every gift site has the familiar, tired collection of vaguely masculine, personalised paraphernalia. 

And with everything that’s been going on in the last year or so, plenty of people will be working on a budget. So in order to appropriately spoil the father figure in your life, you’ll need to find something spectacular that doesn’t break the bank. Sounds tricky, right? Wrong.

Because we’re giving you an opportunity to win a year’s supply of whisky or rum for the price of simply entering a competition.

Win a year’s worth of whisky or rum

All this could be your gift to dad this year…

We’ve teamed up with our friends at Drinks by the Dram to launch one of our most significant competitions yet. You see, the brand makes all kinds of delightful tasting sets, like the 12 Dram Premium Rum Collection or the 12 Dram Whisky Collection. They’re an amazing way to explore a spirit and make for excellent gifts.

Well, when you purchase either one now you’ll get entered into our competition, the prize of which is 12 full-size bottles of what is in either collection (winner’s choice). 

So, for example, if you win and are a fan of whisky, your dad will receive a bottle of Uncle Nearest 1856 Premium Whiskey one month, then Glenfiddich Experimental Series – IPA Cask Finish the next and so on (you can see exactly what’s in each tasting collection by clicking on the link to the products).

Win a year’s worth of whisky or rum

Just imagine getting a delivery of one of these beautifies every month!

Simply buy one of the tasting sets between now and 19 June and you’re in with a chance to win an incomparable prize. Oh, and the best part is, even if you don’t win, you’ve still got a fantastic collection set to give your dad!

Good luck everyone, and if whoever wins wants to share a celebratory dram with us, you know where we are…

MoM Father’s Day Competition 2021 open to entrants in the UK who are 18 years and over. Entries accepted from 12:00:01 GMT on 24 May to 23:59:59 GMT on 19 June 2021. Winners chosen at random after close of competition. Prizes not transferable and cannot be exchanged for cash equivalent. Postal route available. See full T&Cs for details.

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Looking for a top Burns Night dram?

Don’t miss out on your celebrations just because of the lockdown. You can still pick yourself a bottle of delicious Scotch whisky and toast Scotland’s favourite son in style. The…

Don’t miss out on your celebrations just because of the lockdown. You can still pick yourself a bottle of delicious Scotch whisky and toast Scotland’s favourite son in style.

The 25 January is the birthday of the great Scottish poet Robert Burns and usually at this time people around the world mark it with an extravagant affair of food, music and malt. Burns Night this year, however, is taking place smack bang in the middle of a lockdown. So, we’re going to have to do things a little differently.

That doesn’t mean we can’t have a brilliant time of feasting and festivities. There’s going to be a raft of virtual celebrations we can get involved in and there’s nothing stopping you from donning a kilt, picking up some haggis and ensuring you’ve got some tasty Scotch whisky to enjoy. That’s why we’ve put together this list of some delightful expressions perfect for a long night of drinking, dancing and entertainment.

Slange Var!

The perfect Burns Night drams

A perfect Burns Night dram!

Robert Burns Single Malt 

Drinking any Scotch whisky on Burns Night is a fitting way to celebrate the man himself. But, picking yourself up a bottle that bears his name? Now we’re talking. The Robert Burns Single Malt was produced by the Isle of Arran Distillers, who are patrons of the ‘Robert Burns World Federation’. So you can be sure this beauty was made with true reverence for the Bard.

What does it taste like?

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

A perfect Burns Night dram!

Seaweed & Aeons & Digging & Fire 10 Year Old Cask Strength (Batch 001) 

If you’ve tasted Seaweed & Aeons & Digging & Fire, you’ll already know it’s brilliant. But the clever clogs behind this cracking Islay single malt have taken things up a notch. How? By bottling the whisky at a cask strength 57.5% ABV. This is a Burns Night dram for those who really love their complex and smoky Islay whiskies.

What does it taste like?

Strong sea breeze, roasted barley, grounded by flame raisins, red apples, earthy peat, sherried richness, strong coffee with a dash of milk, charred oak and a flash of spicy yet fruity red pepper flake.

A perfect Burns Night dram!

Talisker 10 Year Old 

There are few better bang-for-your-buck whiskies than this classic Island dram from the Isle of Skye. Talisker 10 Year Old is one of those expressions that has a place in the heart of all whisky fans. Its versatile profile means it’s great neat, in cocktails and when paired with food, making it ideal if you’d like to enjoy your Scotch in different ways on the night.

What does it taste like?

Smoke, sweet pear and apple peels, maritime salt, seaweed, peat, black pepper, brine and dry barley. 

A perfect Burns Night dram!

Darkness 8 Year Old

One for fans of sherry bombs. This 8-year-old single malt Scotch whisky was matured initially in ex-bourbon barrels before being moved into tiny, custom-made Oloroso sherry octave casks for at least three months. When you use smaller casks you increase the intensity of wood’s influence on your spirit. And when you have beautiful hand-coopered sherry casks, this leads to most excellent results.

What does it taste like?

Candied orange peels, chocolate peanuts, cooking spice warmth, dried cherry, Amaretti biscuits, subtly toasty hints, powerful raisin and prune, just a touch of earthy oak lingers.

A perfect Burns Night dram!

Aerolite Lyndsay 10 Year Old 

There’s plenty of mystery about this dram. From its intriguing name (it’s an anagram, see if you can figure it out…) to the fact it’s sourced from an undisclosed distillery on Islay. But, one thing we know for sure is that it’s damn tasty. An approachable introduction to Scotland’s most distinctive collection of distilleries, Aerolite Lyndsay 10 Year Old captures the true taste of Islay with its smoky, sweet and maritime profile.

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.

Perfect for some Burns Night dramming!

Regions of Scotland Tasting Set 

There’s no better way to familiarise yourself with the wonderful world of Scotch whisky than this tasting set. The ultimate introduction to the famed whisky regions of Scotland, Islay, the Highlands, the Lowlands, Speyside and Campbeltown, this creation from Drinks by the Dram contains five 30ml samples of deliciousness. Which means there’s sure to be something you love inside. Why have one Burns Night dram, when you can have five?

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Whisky Advent 2020 Day #23: The Perspective Series 21 Year Old – Berry Bros. & Rudd

Are you giddy with festive glee? Because there’s just two more sleeps until Christmas! This calls for a dram. Luckily there’s a particularly excellent one behind window #23… It’s Christmas…

Are you giddy with festive glee? Because there’s just two more sleeps until Christmas! This calls for a dram. Luckily there’s a particularly excellent one behind window #23…

It’s Christmas Eve Eve (definitely a thing) and we’re so close to the big day you can almost smell it. And taste it. And hear it. Man, Christmas is a feast for the senses, isn’t it? But outside of all the food, songs and other festivities, there’s another tradition that whisky lovers get to enjoy, for a couple of more days at least, and that’s finding out what their Whisky Advent Calendar has in store for them. Behind today’s window is…

The Perspective Series 21 Year Old – Berry Bros. & Rudd!

There are only a couple more drams left in the Whisky Advent Calendar so naturally, our friends at Drinks by the Dram wanted to take things up a notch, which it certainly has done here. We’re big fans of this range, so much so we wrote a whole blog about it. And you know who else is a fan? Berry Bros. & Rudd assistant reserve spirits manager Jonny McMillan, who kindly agreed to tell us more about the brand and dram!

The Perspective Series 21 Year Old - Berry Bros. & Rudd

Merry Christmas Jonny McMillan!

Master of Malt: Berry Bros. & Rudd has a pretty storied history. Can you share a little tale from the brand’s past…

Jonny McMillan: For me, the best stories are those implied by the artefacts we have lying around in No.3 St James’s. We have some old ‘vest pocket price lists’ showing that in 1907 we were selling our own bottlings of 1885 Talisker!  Legend has it that these casks were kept in the cellars of St James’s and were bottled steadily as customers ordered them, but they seem to have been available for at least 3 years so I like to think perhaps we had a large stock of them, bought by some intrepid spirits buyer who made an expedition up to Skye to secure some casks from the wild Gaelic distillers! On the same list, we have 1897 Macallan, which was available by the gallon for 25 shillings…

MoM: What fun things have happened in the world of Berry Bros. & Rudd in 2020?

JM: Like most other whisky companies we’ve had to embrace the world of online tastings via Zoom and Streamyard etc… I must admit that at first I was pretty sceptical about how the comradery inherent in a physical tasting session can translate to a digital platform, but I’ve been pleasantly surprised at how much I’ve enjoyed tasting whisky with people on the other side of the planet.  Though, the time difference when hosting a tasting in Australia can be a challenge – it took true stoicism for the greater good of whisky to stick my nose in a glass of Caol Ila at 0730 GMT.

The Perspective Series 21 Year Old - Berry Bros. & Rudd

In the Berry Bros. & Rudd vaults, there’s all kinds of fascinating boozy history

MoM: What trends or developments do you think we’ll see in the world of whisky in 2021?

JM: I suspect the trend for online tastings will continue, ultimately I think a lot of people enjoy the ease and comfort of being able to taste drams in their own home while also getting expert advice via a live stream – it can be a better environment to really analyse a whisky too rather than a loud, beer charged tasting room. Beyond online tastings, I think the new distillers experimenting with different yeasts and barleys are going to start having more mature stock in the next couple of years, most of these being from outside of Scotland – the results from these casks could really shake things up.

MoM: What did you try to achieve with The Perspective Series and how was it received?

JM: There’s really nowhere better to enjoy a dram than in the great rugged wilderness of the Scottish Highlands, but alas we can’t take all our customers out to sip 40 year old whisky in Glencoe, so we opted to work with acclaimed landscape photographer Lindsay Robertson instead. We gave him samples of some glorious aged blends we’d be developing and asked him to pair them with photos of Scotland at her most majestic, and I think some of the images he chose work perfectly. The image of the beautifully desolate Sandalwood Bay up in Sutherland works wonderfully with the understated elegance of the 21-year-old.

MoM: What will you be drinking this Christmas?

A magnum of Berry’s Good Ordinary Claret… I might even share it.

The Perspective Series 21 Year Old - Berry Bros. & Rudd

The Perspective Series 21 Year Old – Berry Bros. & Rudd Tasting Note:

Nose: Sherried dried fruits, rich chocolate and a hint of leather, with a generous helping of baking spices.

Palate: Creamy vanilla builds into distinct oaky tones, alongside both fresh orchard fruit and dried fruit with a drizzle of honey.

Finish: Creamy notes continue into a lengthy finish with a hint of tannic oak and sherry.

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The winner of our #MissedMoment competition is…

Sound the new winner klaxon, because somebody is about to learn they’ve won a tremendously boozy prize. You may remember that back in November we decided to try and lift…

Sound the new winner klaxon, because somebody is about to learn they’ve won a tremendously boozy prize.

You may remember that back in November we decided to try and lift your spirits by giving you a tremendous prize if you just shared with us a moment you missed this year that you would like to recreate. The boozy goodies up for grabs included a choice of either a premium gin, rum or whisky (Pour & Sip’s December 2020 box) tasting set as well as entry to a private virtual tasting for up to 30 people (from different households!).

It’s quite the reward and the perfect pick-me-up after the year that was. And it’s all going to one person. Congratulations to…

#Missed Moment competition

Our victor chose the juniper-y delights of the gin tasting set!

Harv Sahota from London!

Enjoy your magnificent bounty Harv and thanks to all of you who submitted your #MissedMoments.

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Whisky Advent 2020 Day #22: Isle of Jura 18 Year Old

Just three sleeps until Christmas! By this point you really should have got that shopping sorted, food procured, and drinks menu planned. So kick back with a dram of something…

Just three sleeps until Christmas! By this point you really should have got that shopping sorted, food procured, and drinks menu planned. So kick back with a dram of something delicious! And right on cue, here to chat us through today’s Drinks by the Dram Whisky Advent Calendar tipple is Jura distillery manager, Graham Logan.

Ok, ok, that introduction may have been a tad optimistic. If, like many of us here at MoM Towers, you’re still in the panic zone, fret not! We’ve got all kinds of last-minute gifts to sort you out (think, gift vouchers, Pour & Sip subscriptions… all is not lost!).

With that in hand, now you really can sit back with a dram! And today’s whisky is a good one. It started life on the Isle of Jura, a picturesque island off Scotland’s west coast, and was aged for a whopping 18 years! No guessing needed today, it’s Isle of Jura 18 Year Old!

Time to find out more about this dreamy drop with Jura distillery manager, Graham Logan.

Whisky Advent 2020 Day #22: Isle of Jura 18 Year Old

Meet Graham Logan, Jura distillery manager!

Master of Malt: Jura is a stunning island. Tell us about what makes it special for you…

Graham Logan: Many things make Jura for me. The first is my wife, who I met on my first foray to the pub 33 years ago after being on the island for 12 hours. Then there’s the scenery, the wildlife, the remoteness, the community, my second job as a crofter (or a small farm) where I have two cows, eight sheep, and a goat, and my third job as a volunteer firefighter. If I hadn’t been a distiller, I would have been a firefighter. Also, the distillery staff. Who make my job a dream job.

MoM: How does its remote setting impact whisky-making on Jura?

GL: Jura distillery brings everything in and out via two ferries. Malted barley, yeast, casks, spare parts, and boiler oil in; and sending out spirit, spent grains and filled casks. That means we have to keep a stock of everything required, and if ferries go off to bad weather we can keep going. It usually means all the cows on Jura are happy as they get free draff (spent grains).

Whisky Advent 2020 Day #22: Isle of Jura 18 Year Old

The distillery is located on a beautiful, remote island

MoM: How would you describe the Jura distillery character?

GL: Jura has really tall stills. The wash stills are 26ft 1in (7.95 metres), and the spirit stills are 25ft 4in (7.72m) tall with the Lyne arms slowly rising to the condensers. As they are so tall only the lightest spirit vapours reach the condenser, and as we have so much copper in the still neck, the copper helps with reflux (or redistillation). All the heavy vapours that don’t get to the top of the still fall back down, and get re-distilled when they meet the new vapours that are rising. This makes your spirit strength slightly stronger and lighter in character with floral/cereal notes.

MoM: Jura 18 Year Old is today’s dram! Can you tell us how it was made?

GL: As I have been at Jura for 29 years, I have very much had a hand in making this. I was a mash and still operator for 24 years! All Jura spirit is made the same way, and is filled into first-fill ex-bourbon casks, even the peated spirit which gives the 18 Year Old a subtle smoke finish. Then the spirit is finished in a premier cru classe red wine cask for 18-24 months. It’s a beautiful dram with pear, marzipan, tropical fruits and baked apple on the nose, and vanilla, coffee, ginger syrup and black forest fruits to taste. A real Christmas winter warmer.

MoM: Money and availability no object, what would be your dream Christmas dram?

The distillery team had a tasting with Richard Paterson in the early 2000s and we were lucky enough to taste a 50-year-old Dalmore. If money was no object, it would definitely be anything of Dalmore over 50 years old. Sitting with a dram of that, next to an open roaring fire and watching the Queen’s speech would be heaven.

Whisky Advent 2020 Day #22: Isle of Jura 18 Year Old

Isle of Jura 18 Year Old Tasting Note:

Nose: Cinnamon, dried berries, Wine Gums, hickory.

Palate: Brandied cherries, Turkish delight, milky coffee and blackcurrant jam.

Finish: Chocolate chip cookies, a touch of hay, orange oil.

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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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Whisky Advent 2020 Day #18: Uncle Nearest 1856 Premium Whiskey

You might have noticed that there’s just a week left until Christmas, which means there aren’t many drams left in your Whisky Advent Calendar. Better savour the remaining ones, particularly…

You might have noticed that there’s just a week left until Christmas, which means there aren’t many drams left in your Whisky Advent Calendar. Better savour the remaining ones, particularly what’s behind window #18…

By now you’ve probably had your fair share of Christmas tales (I’ve watched The Muppets Christmas Carol every day since November 1st and have loved every minute of it) so today we’re going to tell you a different story in celebration of the dram behind window #18, which is…

Uncle Nearest 1856 Premium Whiskey!

The man the brand honours Nathan Green, known as Uncle Nearest to friends and family, who was the first African-American master distiller and taught a certain Jack Daniel how to distil. He was also instrumental in the evolution of the Lincoln County Process, and by association the creation of Tennessee Whisky itself. Cheers to you, Uncle Nearest!

We wanted to find out more about what’s going on with the brand, so we asked a few questions to Matt Neal, UK brand ambassador to see what’s going on in Tennessee!

Uncle Nearest 1856 Premium Whiskey

The wonderful Fawn Weaver, the founder of Uncle Nearest whiskey

Master of Malt: How would you describe the character of Uncle Nearest whiskey?

Matt Neal: What I find in our 1856 Premium Whiskey is toffee, vanilla and a touch of cinnamon on the nose, followed by a corn sweetness wrapped in oak spice with a healthy dose of orange stone fruit on the mid pallet, it has an oily creamy mouthfeel that coats the mouth and finally finishes with baking spice, nutmeg, cinnamon and clove and a dose of mint, and for me sage. It also has what our CEO calls a ‘Tennessee Hug’. An alcohol warmth that continues down into your chest. At 50% and 8 plus years old I guess that is to be expected.

MoM: What sets Uncle Nearest whiskey apart in your view?

MN:  The age is the first thing that stands out. It’s made up of 8-14 years old which is OLD for a whiskey aged in a climate like Tennessee. Next is the fact we ‘proof down’. We try to control the loss of water and alcohol in the ageing process making sure our spirit loses more alcohol than water. This means when it comes out of the barrel we can add as little water as possible to bring it to 100 proof, 50% ABV, which means we keep as much flavour in the bottle as we can.  Finally, there is the story behind the brand. I could talk for hours on the Friendship between Nearest Green and Jack Daniel that basically created the category of Tennessee whiskey. It’s an incredible history and one that is hard not to admire. 

Uncle Nearest 1856 Premium Whiskey

Uncle Nearest is the fastest-growing independent American whiskey brand in history

MoM: Can you share a little bit of that story? 

MN: Our Story is two-fold at Uncle Nearest. We have our history, the story of Nathan Green teaching Jack to distil back in the mid-1800s and his influence on Tennessee Whiskey, and American Whiskey in general. Then we have our current history. We were the most awarded whiskey of 2019 and 2020. We appointed the first female African-American master blender, Victoria Butler, a direct descendant of Uncle Nearest. We have done so much charity work this year I can barely keep up and have been at the centre of a lot of the big conversations at the heart of our industry. In fact, it’s got to the point where I’m torn between which ‘history’ excites me most.

MoM: What fun things have happened in the world of Uncle Nearest in 2020?

MN: 2020 has been a strange year all over, but there have been some great things happening for us at uncle nearest. Firstly our 1820 single barrel picked up double gold in San Francisco, Uncle Nearest 1856 Premium Whiskey was named in Oprah’s list of her ’Favourite Things’ of 2020 and we won Wine Enthusiasts Magazine Spirits Brand Of The Year Award. I thought it would be hard to stay positive during this time but with a team like ours, it’s been hard not too. That said I do miss drinking a dram with friends and ranting at strangers in bars about American whiskey over cocktails.

MoM: What’s next for Uncle Nearest? Any 2021 plans you can give us a hint about?

MN: Our Uncle Nearest 1884 Small Batch small-batch whiskey, blended by Victoria, should make its way to the UK as soon as the Americans stop drinking it all! We are also doing some innovative things with grains and messing about with production. We are a relatively new company and whiskey takes time, so when these things might hit the market is never certain. I am really excited though.

Uncle Nearest 1856 Premium Whiskey

Uncle Nearest 1856 Premium Whiskey Tasting Note:

Nose: Buttery vanilla and brown sugar, mixed with soft sultana and cinnamon sweetness.

Palate: Caramelised nuts, oat cookies, more brown sugar, sandalwood, authentic corn hints and a hint of cut grass.

Finish: Lingering mint leaf and milk chocolate notes, with a final touch of spicy oak.

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Whisky Advent 2020 Day #16: Fettercairn 12 Year Old

A mere nine days to go until the big man departs MoM HQ and embarks on his epic present-flinging voyage around the globe! It’s time to continue our own journey…

A mere nine days to go until the big man departs MoM HQ and embarks on his epic present-flinging voyage around the globe! It’s time to continue our own journey with Drinks by the Dram’s Whisky Advent Calendar. And on Day 16, we’re taking a trip up to the Highlands of Scotland with Andrew Lennie, brand specialist at Fettercairn Distillery.

And, just like that, we’re on the single-digit countdown to Christmas! It’s still not entirely clear what celebrations will look like this year (tiers, bubbles, households…), but one this is certain. Today’s dram hidden behind Door 16 is a treat indeed. It hails from a distillery that once slightly lesser-known is now often found at a pub or bar near you (when they’re open). But it’s still something of a discovery dram, and it’s got our mouths watering. Behold: Fettercairn 12 Year Old!

Here to share more about the dram and its distillery is Andrew Lennie, Fettercairn’s brand specialist! 

Fettercairn 12 Year Old

Say hello to Andrew Lennie!

Master of Malt: Tell us a little bit about Fettercairn’s history…

Andrew Lennie: Fettercairn is a beautiful distillery on the east coast of the Scottish Highlands. The name literally translates as ‘Foot of the Mountain’, which will give you an indication as to where our distillery is in relation to the Cairngorm mountain range, which provides a stunning backdrop. The distillery is truly picturesque: whitewashed walls, an iconic pagoda roof, and the rolling Grampian Hills in the background. If you asked anyone to paint or imagine a typical Highland distillery, I’m sure it wouldn’t look too dissimilar to Fettercairn.

North of the distillery is an old drovers route known as the Carin O Mount where, historically, farmers would march their cattle down into the market towns of the south. They were a thirsty bunch as you could imagine, and this area became infamous with illicit distilling. Fettercairn was the second legally registered distillery in Scotland. Founded in 1824 by Sir Alexander Ramsay who converted Nethermill cornmill into the distillery. Ramsay also brought with him the iconic unicorn, Scotland’s national animal, which was part of his family crest and now proudly adorns each bottle of our single malt whisky. Sir Alexander Ramsay capitalised on the popularity of illicit distilling in the area and employed a well-known illicit distiller named James Stewart to be the first whisky maker at Fettercairn.

MoM: Fettercairn has the most amazing stills! Give us the lowdown on the cooling rings…

AL: The cooling rings were invented in the 1950s by the distillery manager at the time, Alistair Menzies. He fitted a ring of copper around the head of the spirit still which would drench it with cold mountain water during distillation. This was his way of creating a lighter and cleaner version of the spirit. Today we have two spirit stills both fitted with copper cooling rings which are seen nowhere else in the industry. When I show guests around Fettercairn, this is a real focal point. The cold water slowly flowing down the stills and the hot steam rising upwards is quite hypnotic. It has also turned the copper almost black with beautiful hints of teal, cream and gold shining through.

Fettercairn 12 Year Old

Fettercairn is one of Scotland’s most unique distilleries

MoM: Can you describe the signature Fettercairn distillery character?

AL: I would describe our house style as funky tropical fruits. The new make spirit is vibrant and fresh with notes of ripe banana, mango, pineapple, and a malty spice which is derived through the ingenuity of the copper cooling ring distillation process. We predominantly mature this spirit in ex-bourbon American white oak casks. This helps retain and enhance as much of the distillery character as possible, and adds layers of vanilla, white chocolate, and soft spice.

MoM: Fettercairn 12 Year Old is today’s dram! How has it been produced? 

AL: Fettercairn 12 Year Old was released in 2018 as part of a new collection of single malts from the distillery. It is a celebration of our new house style: fresh, vibrant, and approachable. This is a non-peated whisky and is fully matured in ex-bourbon American white oak barrels. On the nose, the first thing that comes across for me is a fresh pear and green apple followed by dried pineapple and soft spice. If you hold this dram on the palate for 10-15 seconds there are loads of tropical fruit flavours dancing around, which begin to turn slightly creamy like passion fruit cheesecake or mango Panna Cotta. The finish brings in sweet vanilla and coconut with a lingering hint of cinnamon.

MoM: What will be in your tasting glass this Christmas Day?

AL: This Christmas I am very much looking forward to a few glasses of sherry or a wee Port in the evening. As long as Home Alone is on in the background, I’ll be happy with anything.

Fettercairn 12 Year Old

Tasting note from the Chaps at Master of Malt

Nose: Refreshing nectarine, white flowers and milk chocolate emerge initially. Black toffee and subtle roasted coffee provide darker notes underneath,

Palate: Tropical fruit and sticky Jamaican ginger cake add a sweet and spicy depth which a flicker of bitter herbs and vanilla complement.

Finish: Orchard fruits and soft spices linger.

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Whisky Advent 2020 Day #14: Macallan 12 Year Old Double Cask

We’re two weeks into advent, so it’s time to open door #14 of the Drinks by the Dram Whisky Advent Calendar. And to tell us more we have David Sinclair…

We’re two weeks into advent, so it’s time to open door #14 of the Drinks by the Dram Whisky Advent Calendar. And to tell us more we have David Sinclair from Macallan…

Before we get on to today’s whisky, I just want to tell you about a conversation I had with my daughter recently. She’s much too young for a whisky calendar so she has a chocolate one. I was trying to explain to her that when I was growing up advent calendars didn’t have treats in. There were just pictures behind the doors, and yet we would get all excited over what was behind the door. Oh look it’s a donkey! My brother and I would get so excited that we would fight for the chance to open that door. My daughter didn’t get it at all, and frankly I’m a bit mystified. Imagine getting all excited over a picture of a donkey. I suppose there wasn’t much else to do in the early ‘80s.

Anyway, there’s no donkey behind the 14th door of the Drinks by the Dram Whisky Advent Calendar, you’ll be pleased to hear. Instead we’ve got an expression from a distillery that needs no introduction to Master of Malt customers:

It’s the Macallan 12 Year Old Double Wood!

It gets its name because it’s aged in both American and European oak sherry casks. Makes sense. To tell us more we have brand ambassador and all round lovely fellow David Sinclair. 

It’s David Sinclair, in a swanky hotel, having a glass of Macallan. You’re living the dream, David!

Master of Malt: Can you tell us a bit about The Macallan 12 Year Old Double Cask and how it is matured?

David Sinclair: The Macallan Double Cask 12 Years Old forms part of our Double Cask range which marries the classic Macallan style and the unmistakable sweetness of American oak. This is a fully rounded single malt in perfect balance, with flavours of honey, citrus and ginger.

MoM: What makes The Macallan so special as a distillery?

DS: The Macallan distillery and visitor experience marries our whisky making heritage with the innovative vision that sits at the heart of The Macallan and guides our future. Designed by internationally-acclaimed architects, Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners, the iconic evolution of the home of The Macallan embodies the care, passion and superior craftsmanship that goes into every bottle of our single malt.

MoM: How has the distillery adapted to the unusual events of this year?

DS: An experience at The Macallan Distillery provides a truly immersive brand experience for our guests; bringing our brand to life and enabling us to tell the remarkable story. To ensure the safety of our staff and guests, we have adapted our guest experiences to create a safe environment and while there will be some changes, we have not compromised on the quality of the experience. In light of these changes, The Macallan has been accredited by the industry standard ‘We’re Good To Go’ – an official UK body which marks compliance with Covid-19 guidelines for hospitality and tourism businesses, along with the AA Covid-19 Confident certification. 

The Nightcap

Macallan’s Tellytubby-inspired new distillery opened in 2018

MoM: What do you think the world of whisky is going to look like in 2021?

DS: The world of whisky continues to thrive despite the many challenges the world is experiencing, we are seeing new distilleries starting to come of age bringing new innovations and excitement to the category whilst consumers demand for transparency and forensic detail on the values behind the labels will continue to become more important.

MoM: What will you be drinking over the festive period?

DS: After a long winter walk a hot toddy is always welcomed and I always make sure we have a good supply of maple syrup, bitters, oranges and “insert your favourite whisky here” to whip up an Old Fashioned if conversations are needing a change of direction.

Tasting Note by The Chaps at Master of Malt

Nose: Classic dried fruit territory, if less intense than the Sherry Oak expression. Aromatic butterscotch too.

Palate: Creamy and honeyed with some thick-cut marmalade, cinnamon and warm pastries.

Finish: Fruity with vanilla and sultana.

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Whisky Advent 2020 Day #11: Glenfiddich Experimental Series – IPA Cask Finish

On the 11th day of Advent, Drinks by the Dram decided to treat us with a category-crossing whisky that brings together the humble brew with the water of life. It’s…

On the 11th day of Advent, Drinks by the Dram decided to treat us with a category-crossing whisky that brings together the humble brew with the water of life. It’s Glenfiddich Experimental Series – IPA Cask Finish!

It’s Friday! Or ‘Fri-yay’ if you’re posting on Instagram, which you may well be – and don’t forget to tune into #WhiskyAdvent if you are. Anyway, there’s lots of reasons today is a ‘yay’ rather than just simply a ‘day’. But the main one is that there’s yet another delicious dram squirrelled away in your Drinks by the Dram Whisky Advent Calendar! Beer lovers, whisky lovers, it’s time for you to put your differences aside and come together with this top release from Glenfiddich, finished for three months in casks which previously held IPA. Is that a ‘yay’ we can hear? Of course it is.

Called Glenfiddich Experimental Series – IPA Cask Finish, it was released as part of the Speyside distillery’s Experimental Series – it’s not every day you see beer and whisky coming together so literally. We turned to brand ambassador Mark Thomson (whose official title is ‘ambassador to Scotland – Glenfiddich Single Malt Whisky’, which is awesome but must be hard to fit on a business card) to chat about this unique release, the year that was, and his favourite Christmas sipper!

whisky advent glenfiddich ipa cask

It’s Mark Thomson, everyone! Where can we get a tasting glass like that?

Master of Malt: An IPA-finished whisky! Can you talk us through this release?

Mark Thomson: Sounds strange doesn’t it? Well, we’ve had a long history of experimenting with whisky at Glenfiddich and this particular release fitted into our Experimental range launched in 2016. It came around from a conversation between a brewer and Brian Kinsman, our malt master. Rather than taking a beer cask, we infused a cask at Glenfiddich which had already contained our whisky with a bespoke-brewed hoppy ale. Then removed it from the cask and added back Glenfiddich whisky to allow a conversation between the two creations to begin. It’s a light style of Glenfiddich in general, being fully matured in American oak, there is sweetness with classic fruit notes. However, the influence of the ale is not lost with a hoppy, zesty overtone and delicious lingering aftertaste. It’s perfect enjoyed on its own, but I often find myself pairing it with a beer on the side. A traditional serve known as a Hauf ‘n Hauf in Scotland.  

MoM: You can only pick either beer or whisky – which one is it?

MT: Whisky of course, because it’s always appealing to me, can be mixed into cocktails or lengthened into a highball. Far more flexible than beer if I was to be forced down such a path – you have to play the long game. 

MoM: What was a 2020 highlight for Glenfiddich?

MT: I suppose in any other normal year it would be difficult to choose because we are always forging ahead with new releases, activations or events. As we all know, this year wasn’t anything close to “normal”. So I’d say our highlight was the charity drive we did over the year with fundraising events, challenges and auctions. Our own Standfast programme which was set up to support the hospitality workers of the UK to raise £300k and we are still coming up with other initiatives to support charities such as the Benevolent in Scotland and the Drinks Trust elsewhere in the UK. In addition to this, the ambassadors of William Grant & Sons all made a huge effort to support hospitality workers wherever possible. Even if that was simply having a coffee (safely) and letting them voice their concerns and worries. 

whisky advent glenfiddich ipa cask

Gaze upon the actual Glenfiddich distillery.

MoM: Can we expect more releases along these beer-y lines from Glenfiddich?

MT: Perhaps not so much beer related, but you never know. Brian has a number of experiments maturing in the warehouses of Glenfiddich and the Experimental Series was always a playground for us to try new things. We aim to always have three releases available in the series -there have been four so far, however Winter Storm, a 21 year old finished in Canadian ice wine casks, was a limited edition. There should have been a new release in the series for 2020, but we’ve popped that back in the warehouse for now until things return or settle to a new normal. Keep an eye out over the next year to 18 months for some new and exciting Glenfiddich releases. But I’m afraid my lips are sealed for now on what those may be.

MoM: Which Glenfiddich dram will we find you enjoying at Christmas?

MT: I’ll be celebrating Christmas this year with an indulgent drop of our luxurious Grand Cru whisky. A 23 yr old Glenfiddich allowed to rest for a time in French cuvée wine casks before being bottled. It’s fast becoming one of my favourite available whiskies in our range. The character is quite unlike anything else we have out at the moment. The whisky, before hitting those final French oak casks, is already delightful with a subtle sweet/salty note, delicate floral elements and classic Glenfiddich white fruit. Then it is elevated into an incredibly complex yet approachable whisky by those fabulous French casks. Quite simply, a perfect whisky for any celebration, not just Christmas.

whisky advent glenfiddich ipa cask

Tasting Note from the Chaps at Master of Malt

Nose: An elegant harmony of fresh green apple, William’s pear and spring blossom. Complimented with aromatic hops and fresh herbs.

Palate: Vibrant with a zesty citrus note followed by creamy vanilla and a hint of fresh hops.

Finish: Enduring sweetness with an echo of green hops.

 

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