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Master of Malt Blog

Tag: Feis Ile

The Nightcap: 23 August

In this every-changing world, few things are certain. One thing, however, you can rely on is that as long as there’s news about booze, there will always be the Nightcap!…

In this every-changing world, few things are certain. One thing, however, you can rely on is that as long as there’s news about booze, there will always be the Nightcap!

As another week comes to an end, it’s time to take off your workaday loose-fitting trousers and slip into your spandex weekend leggings. Don’t do this in the office in front of everyone or you might get a sternly-worded email from HR. Perhaps spandex legging like those worn by hair metal bands from the 1980s aren’t really your thing but it is important to mark the transition from work to play in some way. You could put on a pink stetson or adopt a comedy weekend accent. Actually, don’t do either of those things, just pour yourself a drink, we’ll have a Whisky Sour if you’re offering, sit back and read this week’s news from the world of booze.

On the blog this week we reported on the exciting news that Ardbeg has added a 19-year-old expression to its core range. It’s not a limited release. It’s new Ardbeg and it’s here to stay. We resisted the urge to go out all week and celebrate, however, and published more stories. Take Nate Brown, for example, who returned to ask why drinks have to be so hellish just because your at a festival, theatre or airport. Annie then provided a handy guide to decoding the seemingly endless marketing bumf that sadly is part and parcel of this industry of ours and got the low-down on some intriguing savoury liqueurs. Adam, meanwhile, rounded up a selection of booze for you all to enjoy this upcoming bank holiday before Henry made the delightful Le Rebelle Aperitif our New Arrival of the Week and then decided to mark the upcoming National Whiskey Sour Day over in America (Sunday 25 August) by making it our Cocktail of the Week. Not that we need an excuse to enjoy a good cocktail.

But there’s more going on in the world of drink than people drinking Whisky Sours in airports. There’s all kinds of boozy news to catch up on…

The Nightcap

The new shiny Kilchoman stills

Kilchoman doubles its production on Islay

Back in June, during the crazy days of Feis Ile, we spoke with Andrew Wills, founder of Kilchoman, about expansion plans. Well now they are official: the distillery has doubled its spirits production to 480,000 litres of pure alcohol per year. A wall was knocked out in the existing production space to create, in Wills’ words, “a mirror image of the original stillhouse” with a new mash tun, two fermenters and two new stills. He went on to say: “Without an increase in capacity we would be heading towards a situation where all Kilchoman would be sold purely on allocation. With my three sons heavily involved in the business we want to continue building on the success of the last 15 years without the risk of running out of whisky.” Expansion plans, however, are not yet done as a new shop, cafe and visitor centre is due for completion within the next four months. Never a dull moment at Kilchoman!

The Nightcap

The first two expressions from the Signature Blends series

That Boutique-y Rum Company launches Signature Blends

That Boutique-y Rum Company (TBRC) is ready to change your rum cocktail game with a new series of Signature Blends. The company’s first selection of continuous rums (ie. not one off batches), which also make for delicious standalone sippers, were developed by TBRC’s ‘Rum-guy’, Pete Holland (of The Floating Rum Shack fame). The first expression is Signature Blend #1 – Bright-Grass, a predominantly unaged blend of funky rum from Jamaica and fresh, fruity rhum from Martinique, with a touch of 4 year-old Jamaican rum for added depth. As you can imagine from its name, the profile is bright and grassy and should make a killer Daiquiri. Signature Blend #2 – Elegant-Dried Fruits, meanwhile, was created with the intention of making Holland’s Mai Tai’s (Pete that is, not the Netherlands). Combining rich molasses-vibe Guyana rum with heavier, funkier rum from Jamaica and a small amount of high-ester rum, this is a bold and full-bodied blend. For both expressions, you can check out our own tasting notes to get an idea of what you’re in for (spoiler alert: they’re both delicious). As with the rest of the TBRC range, the labels for the Signature Collection have been developed by Microsoft Paint artist and Twitter legend Jim’ll Paint It. “When tasked with creating rums that would be predominantly used in cocktails, I, firstly, had to think of the style of drinks that I’d like to enjoy, then set about working a blend that stood up to my idea of what the cocktail would taste like,” Holland said. “I don’t like the idea of trying to balance many different rum styles, a situation that overly complicates things. I much prefer the simplicity of two distinct styles working harmoniously together. Each displaying their strengths and contributions to the cocktail.”

The Nightcap

Plumpton College has hit back at claims made in the Daily Mail

Wine business course not Mickey Mouse, says Plumpton College

Feathers were ruffled at Plumpton College in East Sussex when Chris McGovern from the Campaign for Real Education branded its £9,000 a year wine business foundation course a ‘Mickey Mouse’ degree in an article in the Daily Mail. Dr Gregory M Dunn, curriculum manager of the wine division, hit back: “Plumpton’s wine business course allows students the opportunity to work closely with industry on various projects and initiatives and access to many wineries and wine-related businesses. This improves the employability of the students. We believe the content of the course is relevant, current and intellectually challenging”. Paul Harley, programme manager for wine business at Plumpton, went on to outline how in-demand graduates of the course are in the wine trade: “Last year our employment rate upon graduation from the FdA in 2018 was 60% with only one graduate without a job by the autumn. For 2019 we have 100% employment.” Plumpton graduates are currently working at such prestigious businesses as Berry Bros & Rudd, LVMH and Liberty Wine Merchants with none, as far as we can ascertain, wearing Mickey Mouse or Elsa costumes at Disneyland Paris.

The Nightcap

The inaugural meeting of the London Armagnac Club is the 4th September

Armagnac Club lands in London

London’s jolliest-named restaurant, Monsieur le Duck near Farringdon, has just launched the London Armagnac Club. Events will take place at the bar above the restaurant, the Duck’s Nest, on the first Wednesday of the month and concentrate on different aspects of this fascinating but little-known spirit eg. cask ageing, grape varieties or brandies from a particular house. The inaugural event on Wednesday 4 September from 7pm to 9pm features Château de Laubade, one of the region’s top producers. Naturally, Gascon snacks, probably featuring lots of duck, will be served alongside but a vegetarian option will be available. There’s something you don’t get in Gascony. So whether you’re an Armagnac aficionado or just love dark spirits, then head to Monsieur le Duck. You won’t be disappointed.

The Nightcap

There’s a lot of money in the beautiful landscapes

Cognac exports continue to grow for the fifth consecutive year (but UK sales down)

Good news for fans of all things French and fiery as the National Interprofessional Bureau of Cognac (BNIC) has announced that Cognac exports have continued to grow for the fifth consecutive year in 2018-2019, reaching their highest level in volume and value. Favourable conditions and trade in the NAFTA Zone (Canada, Mexico, and the United States) and the Far East are noted as the major reasons: 97.7 million bottles were shipped during this period (+8.8% in volume and +17.6% in value) in the US alone and shipments to the Far East stabilising at 60.0 million bottles, representing 28% of shipments (a small decline of -1.5% by volume and increase of 1.8% by value). In total, there were 211.1 million bottles shipped in 2018-2019, with exports accounting for 98% of sales, to the tune of €3.4 billion. That’s a lot of Sidecars. Cognac isn’t resting on its laurels, though. To support this growth, an additional 10,000 hectares (24,710 acres) of vineyards have been purchased over the course of three years, so thankfully there’s still more than enough to go around. However, shipments within Europe are down by -4.6% in volume and -6.4% in value, for a total of more than 39.4 million bottles and the United Kingdom is down by -6.0% and -6.7%, although it still leads the European Union market. Still, the lesson here is clear. We need to do our bit in the UK and buy more brandy. Now if only there was a good online retailer of booze around here that we could use…

The Nightcap

It’s a delicious celebration of all things Art Deco

Singapore’s Atlas unveils stunning Art Deco menu

Glorious cocktails alert! Singapore’s sumptuous watering hole Atlas has revealed its new menu Interbellum, and we’re in full drinks lust. Developed by head bartender Jesse Vida and his team, the menu celebrates all things Art Deco, taking elements from historical cocktails popular at the time, and Atlas’s Parkview Square home, which is mighty in-keeping with the theme. ‘Interbellum’ takes its name from the period between the two World Wars, a time of enormous change, and of course, the birth of the Art Deco movement. Split into five chapters, the menu plays a lot with gin and Champagne, showcasing all kinds of cocktails from the time. “Using fresh and house-made ingredients, each drink has been inspired by this most seductive of eras, while showcasing a blend of traditional European influences with an updated touch,” said Vida. “We look forward to welcoming guests to journey with us through the stories.” Serves include classics such as the French 75, as well as more modern twists such as the lower-ABV Art & Influence, and The Boy King, a Highball-style drink made with oloroso sherry, sweet vermouth and Aperol, which taps into all things “Tut-Mania” when Tutankhamun’s tomb was discovered. Beautiful all round.

The Nightcap

Only 6,000 bottles of Glenkinchie Tattoo were filled and you” have to go to Edinburgh to buy one

Glenkinchie releases special Edinburgh Military Tattoo single malt

No, it’s nothing to do with skin art, the Edinburgh Military Tattoo is an annual extravaganza of bagpipes, drums and marching performed by armed forces bands from around the world. It’s one of Edinburgh’s premier attractions so it’s a good fit with nearby Glenkinchie which is known as the capital’s very own single malt. Ramsay Borthwick, manager of Glenkinchie, filled us in on this new whisky: “This highly-prized release has been specially selected by our team at the distillery as a celebration of our heritage as ‘Edinburgh Malt’ and the unique partnership between two of the city’s greatest icons.” Glenkinchie Tattoo was matured in rejuvenated hogsheads and American oak barrels, and from the tastings notes of butterscotch, dried fruits and baking spices, sounds to us like a classic Glenkinchie. It’s bottled at 46% ABV and costs £65. A limited-edition of 6,000 bottles will be available only from the distillery, the Military Tattoo shop, or you can enjoy a dram or two while watching the Tattoo itself. So you’ll have to visit Edinburgh if you want to try it.

The Nightcap

No need to go in store, the Whisky Discovery experience comes to your doorstep

Waitrose launches at-home whisky tasting experience

UK supermarket Waitrose has attempted to follow up the success of its Gin O’clock initiative by introducing a two-hour Whisky Discovery experience to be enjoyed in the comfort of your own home. The guided masterclass will be led by a Waitrose whisky specialist who will invite guests to taste through five different whiskies neat: Maker’s Mark, The Chita, Highland Park 12, Jim Beam Double Oak and Laphroaig. The specialist host will then demonstrate how to make three cocktails, pair spirits with soft drinks, and give guests the chance to taste Jim Beam Double Oak with dark salted caramel chocolate and see how Laphroaig pairs with a range of cheeses. A complimentary Highball glass and a rocks glass is also yours to keep. The at-home whisky tasting experience, which was created by Waitrose Wine Tasting at Home, is available to book now and is priced at £400 (US$488) for a group of six to 10 people. “We’re thrilled to be bringing a truly memorable experience to people’s homes. Whisky is a drink that is often enjoyed with a fizzy accompaniment, with some finding the drink overpowering,” Andrew Riding, drinks experience manager at Waitrose Wine Tasting at Home. “This tasting shows just how versatile whisky can be by showing guests simple and delicious cocktails and delicious food pairings.” We always love to see people getting into whisky, so let us know if you’re thinking of signing up with your friends or family in the comments below.

The Nightcap

The Discount Suit Company’s El Pajaro cocktail, which we can confirm is most delicious

Ocho goes Subterranean for summer

Who doesn’t love a cocktail safari?! Exploring multiple settings, different approaches to drinks, all with one uniting theme… we’re sold. So when Ocho Tequila invited us down to Discount Suit Company in London’s Spitalfields to check out the first of five serves as part of its very own series, we were there in a flash. The Subterranean Summer Series brings together five of London’s best-loved underground bars in a collaboration to serve Ocho-based cocktails, all at the tasty price of just £5. The drinks and bars in question? Discount Suit Company’s El Pajaro (we thoroughly rate its Paloma-esque qualities), Bar Three’s Raspberry & Tequila, Hawksmoor Spitalfield’s Cherry Blossom Margarita, Ruby’s Bar & Lounge’s Corn ‘n’ Toil, and Nine Live’s #1 Jimador’s Remedy. Collect a stamp from all five bars and you get a bonus sixth cocktail at the bar of your choice entirely on Ocho! Plus you get to revel in the personality of five of London’s most characterful vibes. You’ve got until the end of the month to get involved – go, go, GO!

The Nightcap

The Dundee distillers pipped some tough competition to be awarded this opportunity

And finally . . . Dundee distiller to supply House of Commons gin

After all the hard work MPs do, sorting out Brexit and the like, they really deserve a nice glass of restorative gin. So we were pleased to discover that the contract to produce the official House of Commons Gin has gone to the award-winning Verdant Spirits of Dundee. Andrew Mackenzie, founder and managing director at Verdant, said: “We spent two years researching and finessing the perfect dry gin and we firmly believe in our product, but it still felt fantastic to win out in the taste test. To really show our commitment to the process, we didn’t want to simply add a logo or brand to the bottle, we wanted to create a truly co-branded product.” Apparently, it was a closely-fought contest to win the contract with five gins including Sipsmith in the running for this prestigious and, we imagine, lucrative listing. After all, politicians love their gin. . . allegedly.

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Relive all the fun of Fèis Ìle 2019!

Nine days, 12 distilleries and open events, and one magical island. It can only be Fèis Ìle! Join us as we relive all the Islay (and Jura!) whisky fun. Back…

Nine days, 12 distilleries and open events, and one magical island. It can only be Fèis Ìle! Join us as we relive all the Islay (and Jura!) whisky fun.

Back in May, an intrepid team of five headed north from MoM HQ to the island of Islay for Fèis Ìle. The annual spirits extravaganza (there was a lot more gin around than you might expect) takes in all nine distilleries, plus open days at the Port Ellen Maltings and Islay Ales, as well as a focus on neighbouring Jura. It really is a bucket-list trip for whisky-lovers!

Every day we packed the car (with a designated driver, obviously) and decamped with full film kit at each location. We got fully involved in distillery, tours, tastings, and even putting YOUR questions to the great and the good of the island distilling scene.

Missed the action? You can catch-up on our day-by-day reports, videos and more here. But why not get a taste for all things Fèis with our supercut?!

MoM HQ at the Port Ellen Maltings. Safety first!

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What’s going on with barley at Bruichladdich?

Islay’s Bruichladdich has built a bit of a reputation for its obsession with barley types and terroir. We hung out at the recently-purchased croft next to the distillery to get…

Islay’s Bruichladdich has built a bit of a reputation for its obsession with barley types and terroir. We hung out at the recently-purchased croft next to the distillery to get an exclusive update on the barley trials. 

Last September, Islay distillery Bruichladdich bolstered its barley focus when it bought a neighbouring croft to accelerate its work in whisky terroir. Part of its vision? To explore new and heritage barley varietals and ultimately amp up the flavour in whisky.

The croft is now being used to test how as many as 60 different varietals take to the Islay soil and climate – and what their resulting flavour and yield might be. We take a walk up to the croft with Bruichladdich’s communications manager – malts, Christy McFarlane.

Filming up at Bruichladdich

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We put your Ardbeg questions to Mickey Heads!

Join us as we put your questions about Ardbeg to distillery manager Mickey Heads during Fèis Ìle 2019! Hurrah for Ardbeg Day! We marked the occasion by heading to the…

Join us as we put your questions about Ardbeg to distillery manager Mickey Heads during Fèis Ìle 2019!

Hurrah for Ardbeg Day! We marked the occasion by heading to the distillery and asking Mickey Heads YOUR questions! Want to see all the Q&As from the island? Check out the Fèis Ìle tag on the blog or follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram! (@masterofmalt, if you didn’t know.)

Ardbeg Mickey Heads

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We put your Jura questions to Gregg Glass!

Join us as we put your questions about Jura to blender and whisky-maker Gregg Glass during Fèis Ìle 2019! Fèis Ìle isn’t entirely about Islay – Jura puts on a distillery day, too!…

Join us as we put your questions about Jura to blender and whisky-maker Gregg Glass during Fèis Ìle 2019!

Fèis Ìle isn’t entirely about Islay – Jura puts on a distillery day, too! We hopped on the ferry to put your questions to Gregg Glass – did we ask yours?

You can see all our Fèis Ìle videos using the blog tag, or check out our Facebook, Instagram and Twitter!

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We put your Bunnahabhain questions to Andrew Brown!

Join us as we put your questions about Bunnahabhain to distillery manager Andrew Brown during Fèis Ìle 2019! Bunnahabhain was another Fèis Ìle distillery day to see a LOT of rain –…

Join us as we put your questions about Bunnahabhain to distillery manager Andrew Brown during Fèis Ìle 2019!

Bunnahabhain was another Fèis Ìle distillery day to see a LOT of rain – but spirits were not dampened! As part of our video series we chatted to distillery manager Andrew Brown – for the full video complement, keep an eye on the Fèis Ìle tag on the blog or follow us on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram (@masterofmalt!). We’ll be posting videos every day until Friday!

Bunnahabhain Andrew Brown

A grey but still gorgeous Bunnahabhain

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We put your Kilchoman questions to Anthony Wills!

Join us as we put your questions about Kilchoman to distillery founder Anthony Wills during Fèis Ìle 2019! Fèis Ìle 2019 was pretty rainy – but that didn’t stop whisky geeks…

Join us as we put your questions about Kilchoman to distillery founder Anthony Wills during Fèis Ìle 2019!

Fèis Ìle 2019 was pretty rainy – but that didn’t stop whisky geeks across the island having a great time. One of the soggy days was Kilchoman – we caught up with the distillery’s founder Anthony Wills!

For more videos from Fèis Ìle follow the tag on the blog, or keep an eye on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. We’ll be posting videos every day up until 28 June!

Kilchoman Anthony Wills

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We put your Ardnahoe questions to Andrew Laing!

Join us as we put your questions about Ardnahoe to distillery owner Hunter Laing’s export director, Andrew Laing, during Fèis Ìle 2019! We stopped in at Islay’s newest distillery, Ardnahoe,…

Join us as we put your questions about Ardnahoe to distillery owner Hunter Laing’s export director, Andrew Laing, during Fèis Ìle 2019!

We stopped in at Islay’s newest distillery, Ardnahoe, as part of Fèis Ìle 2019. It’s all shiny and new with the most glorious views – but what does Andrew Laing make of it all, and of your questions? Don’t forget to follow the Fèis Ìle tag on the blog, and Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, for even more from Islay!

Ardnahoe Andrew Laing

Ardnahoe in all its glory

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We put your Bowmore questions to David Turner!

Join us as we put your questions about Bowmore to distillery manager David Turner during Fèis Ìle 2019! You sent us your questions ahead of Fèis Ìle – and we put them…

Join us as we put your questions about Bowmore to distillery manager David Turner during Fèis Ìle 2019!

You sent us your questions ahead of Fèis Ìle – and we put them to the great and the good at every distillery. Did we ask your question? Check out the videos, published here on the blog (follow the Fèis Ìle tag), Instagram, Twitter and Facebook, every day until 28 June! Up today: Bowmore’s David Turner.

The Nightcap

Hello, Bowmore!

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We put your Laphroaig questions to John Campbell!

Join us as we put your questions about Laphroaig to distillery manager John Campbell during Fèis Ìle 2019! Love Islay whisky? So do we! We took your questions with us…

Join us as we put your questions about Laphroaig to distillery manager John Campbell during Fèis Ìle 2019!

Love Islay whisky? So do we! We took your questions with us to Fèis Ìle and put them to the great and the good on the island. We’re sharing the resulting videos every day up until Friday 28 June. So follow the Fèis Ìle tag on the blog, Twitter, Instagram Stories and Facebook Stories, and see if we asked your question!

Laphroaig John Campbell

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