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Master of Malt Blog

Tag: Drinks by the Dram

Top 10 brilliantly boozy Mother’s Day gifts!

Make sure you’re her favourite this Mother’s Day – these are the most delicious gifts to put a smile on her face (and cement your position as top child) on…

Make sure you’re her favourite this Mother’s Day – these are the most delicious gifts to put a smile on her face (and cement your position as top child) on 22 March!

Choosing the perfect Mother’s Day gift can be a tricky game. You want to make her day. You want to be the generous one round the table. But, if you’re like us, you probably don’t want to spend a fortune either. Well, you’re in luck! We’ve scoured the warehouse shelves to pick out some of our favourite liquid pressies guaranteed to delight both your mum’s palate and your wallet. Hurrah! 

(Pssst… for the latest deals and even more gift ideas, check out our dedicated Mother’s Day page!)

Top 10 brilliantly boozy Mother’s Day gifts!

Silent Pool Gin Gift Pack, £62.95

If your mum adores all things juniper and is also partial to the prettier things in life, we can think of no better pressie than Silent Pool’s gorgeous Gift Pack. Not only is there a full-size bottle of delicious gin (botanicals include chamomile, lavender and honey locally sourced from the Surrey Hills), but there’s a pair of striking glasses, too! She’ll just have to share that G&T with you…

Top 10 brilliantly boozy Mother’s Day gifts!

Two Swallows Cherry & Salted Caramel Rum, £23.95

This flavoured rum is right up our street – and it could well be perfect for your mum, too! The rum base comes from Guyana’s Diamond Distillery (a MoM Towers’ fave), and with cherry and salted caramel too, it’s almost like a Bakewell Tart in a bottle! We also adore the 20s vibes the label is serving us. Winning all round!  

Top 10 brilliantly boozy Mother’s Day gifts!

Glenmorangie Lasanta 12 Year Old, £41.75

An absolute classic from the world of Scotch whisky, this 12 year old, sherry cask-finished Glenmorangie single malt is a joy to behold. The influence from the Oloroso and PX casks used in the latter stages impart delectable dark chocolate, honey and dried raisin notes – a highly giftable bottle, especially if your mum likes her whisky on the luxuriously creamy side…

Top 10 brilliantly boozy Mother’s Day gifts!

Manchester Gin – Raspberry Infused £33.95

If your ma likes to try her hand at mixing drinks, this is a marvellously versatile gin. Infused with oodles of raspberries, Manchester Gin’s fruity concoction works splendidly in a Bramble, a Gin Smash, a twist on a Martini, or even splashed into a glass of fizz. A perfect gift, or one to snap up now so you can make her a drink on Mother’s Day…

Top 10 brilliantly boozy Mother’s Day gifts!

Premium Gin Tasting Set, £19.95

What if your mum’s a bit of a drinks chameleon? Perhaps exploring a world of different tipples is her favourite pastime? We’ve got all sorts of solutions! This Premium Gin Tasting Set looks the part, and comes with five deliciously different 30ml expressions to keep her entertained. But what if she likes whisky, rum, Tequila, vodka, something else? We’ve got all bases covered with our Tasting Sets range. You could even build your own for something truly tailored!

Top 10 brilliantly boozy Mother’s Day gifts!

Bowmore 15 Year Old, £52.90

Perhaps your mum is of a peated whisky persuasion and you’re stuck for what to get her. We’re big fans of Bowmore 15 Year Old, a classic Islay expression that balances that signature smoke with the rich dried fruit sweetness from its sherry cask finish. She’d have to share a dram with you – which means she’d get the gift of a catch-up, too. Two pressies in one! 

Top 10 brilliantly boozy Mother’s Day gifts!

J.J. Corry The Sonas, £59.95

Ok, ok, we’re a bit biased on this one. But it’s our very own Irish whiskey, so how could we not be! Our editor Kristy actually blended this one with our buyer Guy, under the watchful eye of J.J. Corry founder Louise McGuane. A proper sunshine dram (‘Sonas’ means ‘happiness’ in Irish Gaelic), full of fresh fruitiness, creamy vanilla and caramelised pecan notes. And, if you buy a bottle from the J.J. Corry range, you could win a trip to Ireland to blend your very own bottling, too! That would make an epic Mother’s Day gift…

Top 10 brilliantly boozy Mother’s Day gifts!

Bathtub Gin, £28.95

A multi-award-winner, Bathtub Gin is made using a traditional cold compounding method which sees the likes of juniper, orange peel, coriander, cassia, cloves and cardamom-infused in copper pot-spirit for up to a week. The botanicals are depicted on the gift tin as well, which makes it as pretty as a bunch of flowers, but with the added bonus that you can actually drink it. What more could your mum possibly want?!

Top 10 brilliantly boozy Mother’s Day gifts!

Aske Stephenson Garden Bramble, £28.83

We’re well on-board with this pre-mixed cocktail delight. Take the traditional blackberry-based cocktail and add in a host of florals, including elderflower and clary sage, and you get this delectably refreshing sipper that you can simply serve over ice, or give it a go with tonic. Another one that makes a cracking gift, or alternatively it’s an easy solution for pre-Mother’s Day dinner apéritifs. We think of everything. 

Top 10 brilliantly boozy Mother’s Day gifts!

That Boutique-y Gin Company Fruit-y Gin Gift Set, £19.95 

Another splendid solution to Mother’s Day gifting dilemmas if your mum is into all things gin. This brightly colourful gift set features four 50ml bottles of four fabulously flavoursome expressions (Cherry Gin, Chocolate Orange Gin, Strawberry & Balsamico Gin and Spit-Roasted Pineapple Gin) from That Boutique-y Gin Company! It’s a taste extravaganza that’s highly giftable and we’re here for it. 

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Dram Club – March 2020

After an extra-long February, we’ve made it to March, and we’re ready to see what Dram Club members will be finding in their Tasting Sets (as well as spring –…

After an extra-long February, we’ve made it to March, and we’re ready to see what Dram Club members will be finding in their Tasting Sets (as well as spring – we’re very ready for spring).

Dependent on whether you follow Astronomical or Meteorological definitions of spring, that glorious season is either just around the corner or has just arrived. Either way, we’re 100% here for it. We’ve had quite enough of winter and its seemingly endless supply of storms that have the same names as people we know. It has started to test our friendship with folks called Ciara, Dennis and Jorge. But it’s March! The weather has the potential to clear up, and we’ve got another batch of Dram Club Tasting Sets to check out!

Dram Club Whisky for March:

Dram Club Premium Whisky for March:

Dram Club Old & Rare Whisky for March:

Dram Club Gin for March:

Dram Club Rum for March:

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Valentine’s Day gifts that they’ll love

Save yourself the panic of finding the perfect Valentine’s Day present by indulging in one of these brilliantly boozy gifts.  The day of enforced romance is upon us. And you…

Save yourself the panic of finding the perfect Valentine’s Day present by indulging in one of these brilliantly boozy gifts. 

The day of enforced romance is upon us. And you know that a box of chocolates isn’t going to cut it anymore. To truly set the stage for romance, you need something personal, something impressive. For those who have a passion for the stronger stuff, that means something boozy.

But, let’s be honest, finding that perfect something can feel impossible. Who has the time to rifle through all those waves of present ideas trying to figure what feels ‘right’? Well, don’t fret, because we’ve rounded up the most romantic expressions we have at MoM Towers to save you the stress of searching. Who knows, you might even get lucky – they might share some of their new booze with you!

If you’re still stuck, then you can always check out our gift ideas, pick yourself up a gift voucher, blend or personalise your own whisky or let our gift finder ensure that the perfect present will be yours. 

Valentine's Day gifts that they'll love

Valentine’s Day Tasting Set

The Valentine’s Day Tasting Set (above) is the obvious place to start for those in need of a pressie.  Within this set, you’ll find five different 30ml wax-sealed drams of gin, complete with a snazzy sleeve that leaves a space for you to write something original and romantic (or something you found while Googling) to your loved one.

Valentine’s Day Tasting Set contents:

Hernö Gin, Salcombe Gin – Start Point, Elephant Gin – Elephant Strength, Japanese Gin and Rhubarb Triangle Gin (That Boutique-y Gin Company)

 

Valentine's Day gifts that they'll love

Eden Mill Love Gin

Another ideal gift in gin form, Scottish craft brewer Eden Mill made the delicious Love Gin with juniper, coriander seed and angelica as well as rhubarb root, rose petal, goji berry, elderberry, marshmallow root and raspberry leaf, before infusing this tasty treat with hibiscus flowers post-distillation.

What does it taste like?

Floral, fresh and zesty with juniper, clean lime citrus, strawberries and cream, red berries, rose and slightly sweet hibiscus.

Valentine's Day gifts that they'll love

Compass Box Flaming Heart

If you’re stuck for something to get for the whisky-lover in your life, then Compass Box Flaming Heart ticks all the boxes: it’s delicious and it’s got a festive(ish) theme. This powerful and smoky expression was made by blending whisky from Caol Ila, Clynelish, Deanston and more before it was bottled at 48.9% ABV.

What does it taste like?

Coastal air, fiery peat, honey on toast, vanilla pod, drying Christmas spices, oatcakes, salted butter, orange, clove and a very slight touch of raisin cookies.

Valentine's Day gifts that they'll love

Mermaid Pink Gin

Pink is basically the official colour of Valentine’s Day (I’m a fuchsia man myself) so a delicious pink gin seems an appropriate present. We recommend this beauty from The Isle of Wight Distillery, a delicious variation of the excellent Mermaid Gin which was infused with island strawberries. This addition not only gives Mermaid Pink Gin a sweeter profile, but also that delightful pink hue.

What does it taste like?

Light and bright, the strawberry notes arrive right away, supported by citrus and slowly building juniper spice. Samphire gives is a coastal edge, while hints of liquorice root and coriander develop later on.

Valentine's Day gifts that they'll love

Four Roses Single Barrel 100 Proof

Giving your lover roses on Valentine’s Day can be bad or badass depending on how you play it. Lazily buying an old, wilted bouquet that 100 other people have bought from the same store because you’ve run out of ideas? That’s bad. Plumping for a bottle of the sweet, rich and intense Four Rose Single Barrel 100 Proof? That’s badass. You know what to do.

What does it taste like?

Chocolate, toffee, vanilla, tart stone fruits, prunes, baking spices, morello cherries, oak and butterscotch

 

Valentine's Day gifts that they'll love

The Lakes Rhubarb & Rosehip Gin Liqueur

At this time of celebration, you may be tempted to pop open a bottle of bubbly and toast your love. With the right liqueur, you can do that in style. Add The Lakes Rhubarb & Rosehip Gin Liqueur to a glass of sparkling wine (or tonic water, for that matter) and you’ll be rewarded with a subtle, balanced and delicately sweet drink that looks as good as it tastes.

What does it taste like?

Tart rhubarb starts things off, with a prickle of peppery juniper and creamy angelica to balance it out. Lighting floral fragrance develops throughout.

 

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Dram Club – February 2020

We’ve looked at the calendar, checked the star charts, and consulted the sundial – we’re definitely in a new month, and it’s time to see what Dram Club treats February…

We’ve looked at the calendar, checked the star charts, and consulted the sundial – we’re definitely in a new month, and it’s time to see what Dram Club treats February has in store!

The long month of January is finally over! We can do away with all the “Oooh, what’s 2020 going to be like?” mystery and just get on with the year – and frankly, we’re looking forward to the short month of February, to give us a bit of–… Oh, it’s a leap year this year, so February is longer than usual. OK, never mind then, let’s just get on with it and see what Dram Club members will be receiving in their Tasting Sets this month!

Dram Club Whisky for February:

Dram Club Premium Whisky for February:

Dram Club Old & Rare Whisky for February:

Dram Club Gin for February:

Dram Club Rum for February:

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Master of Malt Dram Club – January 2020

Just like we predicted, 2020 did in fact appear right after 2019 ended. And with that, another batch of Master of Malt Dram Club Tasting Sets is ready – what…

Just like we predicted, 2020 did in fact appear right after 2019 ended. And with that, another batch of Master of Malt Dram Club Tasting Sets is ready – what a way to start the New Year!

Like clockwork, a new year has arrived. This time it’s called 2020, following the same sequel naming format of ‘adding one to the number on the end’ that movies and video games pioneered. Predictable, but pleasing none the less. What wonders does 2020 hold? Will someone finally invent better crisps? Will there be hot new memes? Only time will tell. However, right now is the time for the first mystery of 2020 to be unveiled – let’s find out what drams are in January’s Master of Malt Dram Club Tasting Sets!

Dram Club Whisky for January:

Dram Club Premium Whisky for January:

Dram Club Old & Rare Whisky for January:

Dram Club Gin for January:

Dram Club Rum for January:

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Whisky Advent Day #24: Bourbon Whiskey #1 24 Year Old (That Boutique-y Whisky Company)

We’ve reached the final window of the Whisky Advent Calendar (meaning Christmas is totally tomorrow)! Let’s take a look at what’s hidden behind it… Well, this is it. The day…

We’ve reached the final window of the Whisky Advent Calendar (meaning Christmas is totally tomorrow)! Let’s take a look at what’s hidden behind it…

Well, this is it. The day before The Big Day, but really it’s Also Quite A Big Day in its own right. It’s Christmas Eve. A day of final preparations for Santa, who will likely be in the despatch depot right now, doing some last-minute checks – and there are a lot of them. He’ll be making sure all the toys have been correctly loaded into the sleigh to strict health and safety standards, checking all the electric reindeer are charged up, ensuring the sack trucks and pallet trucks are in working order and secured to the side of the sleigh, plugging in the Santa-Nav… The list goes on.

While that list may go on and on for Santa, we have reached the end of the Whisky Advent Calendar. It’s time to open the final window and see what will be our nightcap this Christmas Eve… Behind window #24 is Bourbon Whiskey #1 24 Year Old independently bottled by That Boutique-y Whisky Company! A 24 year old whiskey for the 24th of December! Not much we know about this one, other than it’s very well-aged for a bourbon…

Do you know who may know a touch more about this? That Boutique-y Whisky Company’s very own brand ambassador Dave Worthington! Let’s see if we can pry something out of him…

It’s Dave Worthington – again!

MoM: So, this is a rather mysterious bourbon. What’s going on with the label?

Dave Worthington: It’s one of our secrets. We like secrets at Boutique-y Whisky and have a number of mysterious malts and whiskeys in our catalogue. As we’re unable to name this long-aged Bourbon Whiskey we’ve covered our label in a few of America’s well-known mysteries. How many can you spot in our Area 51?

– Crop circles, including one that looks remarkably like a Boutique-y Whisky bottle. Others have pointed out that it looks a little more like a well known Bourbon bottle, and the four crop circles around the bottle could be roses (a clue, a red herring, or just a happy accident?

– That looks a little like a Bigfoot running into the cornfields.

– The aeroplane represents American aviation pioneer and author Amelia Earhart who mysteriously disappeared somewhere over the central Pacific Ocean near Howland Island during an attempt to make a circumnavigational flight of the globe in 1937.

– A Black Dahlia representing the mysterious death of Elizabeth Short, an American woman who was found murdered in Los Angeles, California. Her case became highly publicized due to the graphic nature of the crime, and she later became known as the Black Dahlia.

– Mysterious dead birds, or are they old crows (another clue or a red herring?)

– Oh and there’s an alien hiding behind the Area 51 sign.

MoM: Were you involved with the storming of Area 51 which happened earlier in the year?

DW: I could tell you, but that’s highly classified information… No, not really. I was far too busy waxing lyrically about our whisky at an event somewhere in the world.

MoM: What’s next for That Boutique-y Whisky Company? Any 2020 plans you can give us a hint about?

DW: There’s a lot of great whisky coming your way! There are still a few of the ‘old school’ Scottish distilleries we’d love to bottle, and we’re working our way through casks to find the right release for these. There’ll also be some really interesting ‘new world’ whisky coming to our bottling line too.

MoM: What’s the ultimate way to make roast potatoes for Christmas dinner?

DW: The ultimate way is to get an invite to a friend’s Christmas lunch, I’ll turn up with whisky and glasses for a post lunch whisky tasting. I’m waiting for the invites to start rolling in now. In the meantime, I’ll parboil my spuds and then ‘rough them up’ a bit by shaking them in the pot before putting them in hot oil. I’ll use sprigs of Rosemary, black peppercorns, and a handful of garlic cloves in the roasting tray too… All lies… Straight to Aunt Bessie’s frozen roasties…

MoM: What will you be drinking this Christmas?

DW: I always used to have a pint of Guinness with a cooked breakfast on Christmas morning, but for the last umpteen years I’ve celebrated Christmas lunch with friends so this ‘tradition’ has been moved to Boxing Day. With friends we’ll start with some fizz before moving on to wine with lunch. The whisky, and cards will come out once we’ve finished eating and we’ll play Blackjack for pennies, while making our way through a flight of whiskies that I put together – you can be sure of some Boutique-y belters in this lineup!

Bourbon Whiskey #1 24 Year Old (That Boutique-y Whisky Company)

Bourbon Whiskey #1 24 Year Old (That Boutique-y Whisky Company) Tasting Notes:

Nose: Rich, earthy vanilla pod and coffee bean notes arrive first, supported by vibrant notes of orange oil, brandy-soaked raisins and dark chocolate.

Palate: The vanilla notes continue on the palate, now with jammy red berries, maple syrup and freshly made pancakes.

Finish: A good kick of baking spices appear on the finish. Still enjoyably buttery.

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Whisky Advent Day #23: Balcones Texas Single Malt

Only a couple more sleeps until Christmas, which means only a couple more drams left in the Whisky Advent Calendar! Let’s see what’s behind window #23… Whether you consider today…

Only a couple more sleeps until Christmas, which means only a couple more drams left in the Whisky Advent Calendar! Let’s see what’s behind window #23…

Whether you consider today to be Christmas Eve Eve or simply just the 23rd of December, it really is very hard to deny that Christmas is a stone’s throw away. Santa is probably making a last-minute case to the HR department in the North Pole right now, arguing that he really should get a few more miniature Christmas puddings and an extra serving of roast potatoes in his lunch tomorrow, considering he’ll be working late. He might even be able to claim some time off in lieu as well, we reckon…

Oh great, now we’re thinking about Christmasy food again… Roast chestnuts, in particular… And cooked apples… And hints of softly smoky spices… Perhaps these flavours are on our mind because they’re all present in the dram that’s hiding behind window #23 of the Whisky Advent Calendar – it’s Balcones Texas Single Malt! This is a powerfully flavoursome American single malt whisky from Waco, Texas, and it’s exactly the kind of thing we want to be sipping on at this time of year.

We wanted to find out more about what’s going on with Balcones, so we asked a few questions to Balcones Distilling Head Distiller Jared Himstedt to see what are the haps in Texas!

Ta-da, it’s Jared Himstedt!

Master of Malt: What fun things have happened in the world of Balcones in 2019?

Jared Himstedt: Coming off our Tenth Anniversary in 2018, we had a lot to live up to in terms of releases. The first release of a Single Malt made from Texas-grown and malted barley happened this summer. We named it High Plains, for the region of Texas the barley is grown. It was a lot of fun to see and share the Texas-grown barley against our usual Golden Promise single malt. We have a lot more laid down from a couple of different maltsters and both drum and floor malted, so that will be fun to watch develop. We got to see our Peated expression from 2018 become a new regular annual malt expression. It is custom peated Golden Promise from Simpsons, and we have laid down 35, 65 and 95 ppms versions in both new casks and ex-bourbon so we have a lot of colours to blend with going forward. We have started selling our first white spirit with our white Texas Rum. Lots of fun esters and aromatics going on there.

MoM: You’ve recently been using interesting casks to age your whisky (including Brimstone and Tequila casks, released by TBWC). Are there any casks out there that you’d love to try maturing your whisky in that you haven’t yet?

JH: I am a huge fan of lighter dessert wines, and we are on the lookout for things like Lupiac, and have our eyes on some Ratafia casks, which is a Champagne based dessert wine. We are also looking into some larger sized casks to begin exploring how to make older whisky in Texas without ended up with an unbalanced and over-wooded product.

MoM: What’s next for Balcones? Any 2020 plans you can give us a hint about?

JH: Mirador, which is our all refill cask Single Malt will be making a return and becoming a regular annual release for us at higher volumes. The peated single malt that we have laid down in ex-bourbon barrels is coming along really nicely, and we’ll likely have a small release of that sometime this year. We will likely have another sherried release, and well as an expression finished in Madeira casks from a Texas winery. There are a couple of other projects that are likely to come to fruition this year.

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

JH: I am personally excited and invested in the continued growth of the American Single Malt category as well as the growth and success of Texas Whiskey. Both categories have a lot to offer and I only hope to see the awareness in the industry and among consumers keep increasing. Globally, we hope to see all the international tariff situation resolved in a way that benefits the industry and whisky drinkers everywhere.

MoM: It’s Christmas Eve and you’ve just remembered you need to buy a present for that whisky-obsessed friend of yours. What are you running out to the shops to pick up?

JH: Most likely a single barrel bottling of Glendronach, in the 19yr old range!

Balcones Texas Single Malt

Balcones Texas Single Malt Tasting Note:

Nose: Freshly baked banana bread with undertones of honey and vanilla and just the faintest hint of cedarwood at the back. Suggestions of roasted chestnuts and heavy cream.

Palate: Ester-y with apple and orchard fruits. Brown sugar makes an appearance and transforms into molasses.

Finish: Warm, woody spices and some breadiness, but not necessarily maltiness, completes this luscious single malt.

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Whisky Advent Day #21: Teeling Small Batch

The final Saturday before Christmas is here! After braving the shops, perhaps you’ll want to sit back and relax with the dram sat behind window #21… We are just a…

The final Saturday before Christmas is here! After braving the shops, perhaps you’ll want to sit back and relax with the dram sat behind window #21…

We are just a few days from Christmas, so we’re sure the Marketing department at the North Pole is running at full power. They might have even spent a few bob on social media advertising so that pictures of Santa flying his sleigh end up on your Twitter feed. To what end? We reckon it’s so that you remember to leave out a mince pie and a glass of something nice on the 24th. That right there is the power of marketing.

While it’s usually sherry that gets left out for Santa, perhaps he’d like something a little different this year? What if he’s partial to a drop of Irish whiskey? Well, you’d have to really love Santa to give up the dram you’ll find behind window #21 of the Whisky Advent Calendar – it’s Teeling Small Batch! Whoever gets to enjoy this one is in for a marvellous blended Irish whiskey that has been finished in rum casks, which should bring some tropical fruit warmth to a chilly winter evening!

To find out more about the terrific Teeling, we got in touch with one of the distillery’s co-founders, Stephen Teeling, to ask him a few questions…

Behold, Stephen Teeling!

Master of Malt: What fun things have happened in the world of Teeling in 2019?

Stephen Teeling: On March 28th 2019 we won the World’s Best Whiskey award at the 2019 WWAs in London. First time ever an Irish whiskey had been shortlisted for the award and first time in history that Ireland has been crowned the best whiskey in the world! It was also the same day I welcomed my second child into the world so will always be ingrained in my mind as one of the best days of life!

We have also recently welcomed our 500,000th visitor to the distillery in Dublin which is pretty phenomenal given there were no distilleries in the city for nearly 50 years prior to us rebuilding our family distillery in the heart of the city. The first new distillery in 125 years.

MoM: What’s next for Teeling? Any 2020 plans you can give us a hint about?

ST: We are incredibly passionate about innovation so 2020 will see us continue to push the boat out for Irish Whiskey. We will be launching an 18 Year Old Single malt called the Renaissance which will be a follow on from the Revival Series 1-5. This will be a Madeira cask finished non-chill filtered single malt limited to 9,000 bottles and also our vintage reserve range will be welcoming a 28 Year Old which is the bigger brother of the 2019 World’s Best Single Malt having spent an extra 4 years in the Sauternes cask. We also have been experimenting with some different mash bills at the distillery with a Dublin distilled Peated single malt looking to be released in the second half of 2020. No shortage of fun on the horizon so watch this space.

MoM: The Teeling Single Pot Still was a very exciting release, being the first whiskey completely distilled in Dublin for nearly 50 years! How was the reception to it?

ST: There is a huge amount of pride in the fact we have put the city back on the map as a whiskey producer. Dublin Single Pot Still was the gold standard in the Irish whiskey category back in the last golden era 150 years ago. It was the fastest-selling Irish whiskey we had ever produced with our first 3 batches sold out in record time! Luckily now moving into 2020 we won’t have the same supply constraints so our Dublin Single Pot Still can go a bit wider and be available ongoing in the UK. Single Pot Still is a completely unique style of whiskey that can only be produced in Ireland.

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

ST: People are going to continue to drink less but better. We are seeing a huge shift in consumption habits moving away from functional/binge drinking into a better space of enjoyment. Whiskey in particular Irish Whiskey is being enjoyed in much more social occasions which has opened it up to a much wider demographic through pairing it with food, enjoying it in a craft cocktail or neat consumption. We see it in our distillery every day. Whiskey is meant to be fun or good craic (as we say in Ireland) and I think this trend is going to continue with a new generation of people discovering brown spirits in different ways!

MoM: It’s Christmas Eve and you’ve just remembered you need to buy a present for that whisky-obsessed friend of yours. What are you running out to the shops to pick up?

ST: Lucky for me running my own distillery I have a whiskey vault in my house with some of the world’s best Irish whiskeys locked in it so won’t have to travel too far to please my whiskey obsessed friend! Depending on how nice this friend has been to me and for the year that’s in it I might just wrap him up a bottle of our 24 Year Old Single Malt aka ‘The World’s Best Single Malt for 2019.

Teeling Small Batch

Teeling Small Batch Tasting Note:

Nose: Cut grass and orange blossom. Allspice, hints of vanilla, apple pie and blackberries.

Palate: Spiced, rich palate with rose petal jelly and lemon curd. Creamy vanilla, hints of dried herbs and cinnamon.

Finish: Floral, herbal finish. Caramel on the tail.

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Whisky Advent 2019 Day #19: Balvenie 14 Year Old – The Week of Peat

The Drinks by the Dram Whisky Advent Calendar features something a little different from a familiar name today… There’s a lot of stress and mayhem that seems to come with…

The Drinks by the Dram Whisky Advent Calendar features something a little different from a familiar name today…

There’s a lot of stress and mayhem that seems to come with Christmas. But, underneath it all, it really is a very comforting, familiar celebration. The iconography, the food, the soundtrack – it’s pretty much the same year on year. You know exactly where you are with Christmas, and this has its merits. Change can be jarring.

However, change can bring out about new wonderful discoveries, as The Balvenie found out not long ago. The Speyside spirit-makers, renowned for making sublime Scotch whisky filled with those classic honey, vanilla and fruit notes, decided to trail drying its barley with peat for the first time in 2002. Not iodine-heavy, hardcore Islay peat, mind. The Balvenie favoured an earthier, more subtle peaty profile. The result was ruddy delicious. 

Which is good news, because behind window #19 is Balvenie 14 Year Old – The Week of Peat!

As you might have guessed already, The Week of Peat is an evolution of The Balvenie Peat Week Aged 14 Year Old and was launched as part of the Stories range in May 2019. This expression remembers when Stewart and former distillery manager Ian Millar experimentation with the smokier style for the first time after a week’s gap in the distillery’s production schedule provided the opportunity to use peat. 

We caught up with Gemma Paterson, global brand ambassador for The Balvenie, to talk more about this tale and more…

Balvenie 14 Year Old - The Week of Peat

Say hello to Gemma and Ian Miller (more on him coming up…)

So, we understand that this is a whisky with quite a story…

Yes! Back in 2002 our distillery manager at the time was Ian Millar. After having worked in the industry managing distilleries for a number of years already he was very excited to take the helm at Balvenie with our floor maltings (a big toy as he calls them…) and begin a series of experiments at the point of distillation. He went on a bit of a journey around Scotland visiting distilleries and garnering inspiration. This journey led him to Islay where he spent a bit of time thinking about peat. On his return to Balvenie he introduced a peat burner to the kiln (the large black metal burner to the side of the brick kiln for those who have visited us). This allowed the team to segregate the peat from the anthracite and so the peat trials began. There was quite a buzz on site. This was September 2002 and we hadn’t seen thick black peat smoke billowing out of the kiln like that since the 1950s. Everyone came down to check out the peat reek. Mashman Jim told us his wife complained about the peat reek lingering on his clothes at the end of a shift! Here we are now 17 years later and we still have an annual Week of Peat at the distillery. And the team still complain about the peat reek every year! All thanks to Ian’s legacy…

What happens to the profile of Balvenie whisky when it is peated?

We’ve experimented with a few different methods. Malt master David Stewart’s first foray into introducing a peated Balvenie was the 17yo Islay cask released in 2001 using an ex peated Islay hogshead to drive in that peated character, then in 2009 the 17yo peated cask we saw the first experiments using our own peated whisky, again another finish with that whisky having spent the first 17 years in a traditional American oak barrel to then be transferred to a barrel that had been seasoned with 7yo peated Balvenie. We find the profile of Balvenie in the American oak really still shines through – characteristically honeyed, malty and sweet with just a wee wisp of smokiness lingering there. The malt itself was peated to 28ppm but once in the bottle it’s mellowed right down to 5ppm.

Balvenie 14 Year Old - The Week of Peat

It was Ian’s experiment all those years ago that led to this delightful creation.

The Balvenie operates a working floor maltings, what impact does this have on the style of whisky you produce?

Every batch of Balvenie has a small percentage of our homegrown and malted barley blended into the mash bill, paying tribute to the legacy of generations of farmers and maltmen who have nurtured the barley in the fields and tended the malt on the floors from one generation to the next. When it comes to style we have a number of special casks that have been laid down over the years resulting from many experiments originating from the floor maltings. A few of these have been released and a few we will hopefully be able to share in the years to come!

What have been your 2019 highlights at The Balvenie?

What a year! The most exciting thing about 2019 has been the launch of our Stories Range. A year of discovery, working with our craftsmen, listening to their stories and having the opportunity to travel across the world and share them with our whisky community. We recorded podcasts for each of the whiskies, each one taking the listener on the journey of the whisky and meeting with the people who made the dram. So if you want to hear all about this whisky from Ian himself and the team who have nurtured the spirit in cask over the years then I would recommend seeking out the podcast online either via our website or searching your favourite podcasting platform.

What will you be drinking this Christmas?

I’ll be spending Christmas back home on the Isle of Lewis where the days this time of year are short and the nights are long. I’m looking forward to sitting around the table with friends and family and sharing stories with each other until the wee hours. Top of my list for dramming has to be the Balvenie 26 Year Old – A Day of Dark Barley. I also love some eggnog. Maybe I’ll try my hand at making some this year with some Balvenie DoubleWood….

Thank you very much to Gemma for taking the time to join us. Now go and enjoy your dram!

Balvenie 14 Year Old - The Week of Peat

Balvenie 14 Year Old – The Week of Peat

Balvenie 14 Year Old – The Week of Peat Tasting Note:

Nose: Gentle sweet peat smoke, lighter floral notes and delicate butterscotch honey.

Palate: Velvety and round to taste with the peat smoke balancing citrus flavours, oaky vanilla and blossom honey.

Finish: Gentle smoke with a lingering and creamy vanilla sweetness.

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Whisky Advent Day #18: Brenne Cuvée Spéciale

There’s only a week left until Christmas, so let’s make sure to savour these remaining drams in the Whisky Advent Calendar – particularly the one behind window #18… It’s a…

There’s only a week left until Christmas, so let’s make sure to savour these remaining drams in the Whisky Advent Calendar – particularly the one behind window #18…

It’s a week until Christmas. Officially. If you look at a calendar (the regular kind, not the kind filled with boozes), look at today’s date and then the one directly underneath it, that’s Christmas Day. All sorts of alarm bells are probably ringing at Santa’s workshop. Santa’s probably running into a meeting right as we speak (with his lunch – he’s just that dedicated) to discuss last-minute orders for different toys to be built, based off of various pivot tables on spreadsheets. Busy day indeed.

After a busy day like that, perhaps a fantastic drink is on the cards. As luck would have it, opening window #18 of the Whisky Advent Calendar reveals a wonderfully vibrant and fruity whisky that’ll suit being enjoying while relaxing at home – it’s Brenne Cuvée Spéciale! Brenne is a French single malt built from barley grown in the Cognac region, twice-distilled in an alembic Charente still and aged in a unique combination of new French Limousin oak and Cognac casks. The spirit of its hometown shines through every drop of this.

While you enjoy those delicious drops, perhaps you’d like to find out a little more about Brenne – and who better to than its very own founder, Allison Parc!

It’s Allison Parc, folks!

Master of Malt: What fun things have happened for Brenne in 2019?

Allison Parc: We released our new packaging!!! Brenne Estate Cask (or Cuvée Spécial as that expression is called in your Advent Calendar today!) now comes in our new signature glass bottle with an updated label and, might I add, a gorgeous gift box, making it even easier to give Brenne to your friends and families!

MoM: Have you felt any changes in the French whisky world as of late?

AP: Absolutely! The whisky-drinkers of the world now are now excited to try French Single Malts, like Brenne, where before, there was a decent dose of scepticism. Also, the category as a whole is rapidly expanding with new distilleries and old distilleries in France deciding to get into the whisky game. I’ll be really curious to see what’s being made in France for whisky over the next 5-10 years!

MoM: What’s next for Brenne? Any 2020 plans you can give us a hint about?

AP: Haha, no hints, but definitely some special things are coming! Be sure to follow us on social media at @BrenneWhisky for the latest and greatest!

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

AP: I think we’ll see more whiskies focus on what Brenne has been saying since the beginning: use local ingredients to show terroir in Single Malt whiskies. This is not only exciting from a taste perspective but also a way to reduce our carbon footprint.

MoM: It’s Christmas Eve and you’ve just remembered you need to buy a present for that whisky-obsessed friend of yours. What are you running out to the shops to pick up?

Brenne!!! Obviously. 🙂

Brenne Cuvée Spéciale

Brenne Cuvée Spéciale Tasting Note:

Nose: Vanilla flowers arrive on the nose first, paired with pear drops and dried mango.

Palate: Brandied cherry and red rope liquorice. More vanilla, a hint of cinnamon spiciness and Nutella.

Finish: Chocolate raisins, pineapple and coconut ice.

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