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Master of Malt Blog

Tag: Gin

The Nightcap: 16 August

Another busy week of booze news has occurred, and we’ve corralled it up into one handy blog for you to take into the weekend – it’s The Nightcap! The weekend…

Another busy week of booze news has occurred, and we’ve corralled it up into one handy blog for you to take into the weekend – it’s The Nightcap!

The weekend is fast approaching (or perhaps it is already here by the time you read this), and we wouldn’t dare step out of the house on a Saturday not armed with the booze news from the week that was. It would be like heading to the beach without a ridiculous hat, or heading to a bowling alley without grossly underestimating the difficulty of chucking a heavy ball at some wooden sticks. It’s just not the done thing. Luckily, you can acquire all the weekly news from the world of drinks right here in The Nightcap! We cannot, however, provide floppy sun hats or any good tips for bowling. You’re on your own for those things.

On the blog this week, our friend Ian Buxton popped by to champion the overlooked stars of the blended Scotch whisky world, blends, while Annie found out what botanical rum is and what the lovely people at CBD-infused spirits company Top Beverages are up to (infusing spirits with CBD, mostly). Kristy, meanwhile, shared the news of how Brora celebrated its 200th Anniversary (did someone say 40-year-old whisky?), before Henry sat down for a lovely chat with Dr. Don Livermore from Hiram Walker, made a spin on the classic Negroni his Cocktail of the Week and even found time to make a charming bottle of poítin Irish moonshine our New Arrival of the Week. Oh, and don’t forget we have still a competition going on and there’s a VIP trip to Salcombe Gin distillery up for grabs!

A busy week, but there’s more to come. In our best Huw Edwards voice, here is the news!

The Nightcap

We’re sure Port of Leith whisky will be worth the wait!

Port of Leith Distillery secures whisky production site

It’s all go for whisky-making in Edinburgh at the moment – and now Port of Leith Distillery has announced it has secured the site for its whisky production! Situated in Leith (as the name suggests), the distillery will be built next to the Royal Yacht Britannia and the Ocean Terminal centre. “The acquisition of our site took slightly longer than we anticipated. In fact, from start to finish, it’s taken us three years to get this incredibly complex land deal over the line,” the team wrote in an email on Monday, “We’re outrageously excited to announce the deal was completed at the end of July, which means we should be on site very shortly.” If all now continues on schedule, we should see Port of Leith spirit flow from the stills as soon as the first quarter of 2021! The news comes hot on the heels of The Holyrood Distillery kicking off whisky production in Edinburgh earlier this month. Can’t wait for a taste of Port of Leith? The team’s Lind & Lime Gin is available now!

The Nightcap

It’s good news for Irish whiskey, and we can raise a glass (or two) to that!

IWA gains protection for Irish whiskey in South Africa and Australia

Legal gubbins now – but of the good kind. Because this week, the Irish Whiskey Association (IWA) secured certified trade mark status for Irish whiskey in both South Africa and Australia! The news means that only whiskey actually distilled and matured on the island of Ireland (Northern and the Republic) can be sold as ‘Irish whiskey’ in those markets. It’s a big deal, especially as Irish whiskey grows in both volume and reputation – it stops rogues and scoundrels using its name in vain on lesser spirit. It’s also important because more than two million bottles of Irish whiskey were sold in Australia in 2018, up 9.1%, while South Africa collectively shifted 4.4 million bottles, growth of 4.5%. What more reason do you need to sip on a celebratory measure of Irish whiskey this Friday?!

The Nightcap

Roushanna Gray, founder of Veld and Sea, in Cape Town, will star in the film

The Botanist gets wild with new film mini-series

Islay gin The Botanist has unveiled a series of films to shine a light on wild foragers, chefs and bartenders around the world. Wild – A State of Mind depicts these “like-minded souls” as they explore their native landscapes on the hunt for food and flavour. Each five-minute film focuses on a different person: Nick Weston, director of Hunter Gather Cook, along the River Itchen; Philip Stark, professor and director of the Berkeley Open Source Food project, in downtown San Francisco; Roushanna Gray, founder of Veld and Sea, in Cape Town; Nick Liu, executive chef and partner at DaiLo and Little DaiLo Restaurant in Toronto; and Vijay Mudaliar, founder of Native, a foraged mixology bar in Singapore. “In creating The Botanist, we explored the flavours of our own backyard, the Isle of Islay,” said Douglas Taylor, CEO of Bruichladdich Distillery, which makes The Botanist. “The Botanist has its own full-time professional forager, James Donaldson, who sustainably hand-picks 22 local island botanicals to be used in the distillation of our Islay dry gin. Through our involvement in the foraging movement, we’ve been lucky enough to work with some of the most exciting foragers, chefs and bartenders from all over the world. Through these films, we hope to show people that there’s a world of flavour out there.” The films will be released one by one, so keep your eyes peeled and in the direction of The Botanist website.

The Nightcap

It’s about time somebody celebrated Eddie Murphy’s role in the animated Mulan film

Bowmore unveils China-exclusive 36yo Dragon Edition

Islay single malt distillery Bowmore has launched a shiny new 36-year-old expression exclusively in China, the first in a series of four releases. Initially unveiled at Whisky Live Shanghai, Bowmore 36-Year-Old Dragon Edition “pays homage” to Bowmore 30 Year Old Sea Dragon Decanter, an expression that celebrates an Islay myth and picked up quite the following when it launched. The new bottling builds on this, lauding the dragons that live on in Chinese culture. The liquid comes from Bowmore’s famous No.1 Vaults warehouse, selected from the same parcels of sherry casks used to create the 30 year old, and has been bottled at 51.8% ABV. Nosing and tasting notes include tropical fruit, toffee apple, caramelised orange, hints of pine needles, and a peppery tinge on the finish. “This new expression is a homage to the 30-Year-Old Sea Dragon that’s been much loved and collected by Bowmore fans across China,” said David Turner, Bowmore distillery manager. “Born from an island that is rich with heritage and legends, Bowmore is celebrating the legendary creatures of Chinese mythology that are the protectors of people – just as Bowmore has protected and matured this precious liquid for 36 years. We’ve taken this amazing legacy and renewed it for the next generation of whisky drinkers.” There are just 888 bottles of Bowmore 36-Year-Old Dragon Edition available, each priced at US$2,000. Keep an eye out if you’re in China!

The Nightcap

Grant’s 12 Year Old was a standout performer.

Grant’s blended Scotch boasts growth as others decline

Time to get the calculators out. An interesting press release crossed our desks this week, claiming that blended Scotch sales fell by 0.4% from 2013 to 2018. What’s more, the declines are set to continue by another 4% to 2022 (Edrington-Beam Suntory Distribution UK stats). Are we all turning to single malts? Shopping from countries further afield instead? It’s kind of irrelevant to Grant’s, which boasted 1.2% global growth over the period, and “double digit” gains across Africa, Eastern Europe, Latin America, and India. And the team seems particularly excited about Grant’s 12 Year Old. What sets it apart? “Our master blender Brian Kinsman, his unique expertise in choosing the malts that go into the blend, and the quality of the fresh bourbon cask finish,” said Danny Dyer, Grant’s global brand ambassador. “Grant’s 12 is a smooth whisky making it ideal to share with friends whether they are aficionados or newcomers to whisky.” Why do we care about all this? It’s always intriguing to see a brand doing well against the grain of a trend. Do you still love blended Scotch? Or why do you not drink it? Let us know on social or in the comments below!

The Nightcap

Look! It’s brand new Lagavulin whisky!

Lagavulin 10 Year Old makes travel retail debut

Spent all summer dealing with smug colleagues breezing off on their holidays, leaving you to do all the work and regretting your seemingly smart decision to avoid all children and jet off later in the year outside the school break? Well, we have some news to make that delayed gratification even sweeter. Lagavulin (yes, the very same Islay distillery that makes the iconic 16 year old expression) has launched a new 10 year old whisky exclusively in travel retail! Which means all those annoying, chilled, sunkissed people would have missed it, but you can bag a bottle when it’s your turn to head through the airport. “What makes this single malt unique is the combination of refill, bourbon and freshly-charred casks that we used in its creation,” said Dr Craig Wilson, master of malts (nothing to do with us) at Diageo. “The bourbon casks add a sweetness to the flavour and the freshly-charred casks add spicy and woody notes. The different wood types used have helped create a whisky with a fiery yet light and smoky yet smooth character – one that is filled with surprising contrasts.” It’s available now in UK Duty travel retail stores priced at £50, but will be available more widely later in the year. Now that really IS a reason to get to the airport early…

Tequila Avión teams up with 21 Savage for ‘borderless’ campaign

Agave fans and rap aficionados, listen up. Tequila Avión has signed Grammy-nominated artist and aspiring pilot 21 Savage to be the face of its new Mexico City-inspired ‘Depart. Elevate. Arrive’ campaign. It brings together a fancy new look for the brand, while highlighting its passion for aviation. The aim is to inspire adventurous sorts by highlighting “those who have forged their own paths by having a borderless mindset”, and it all kicks off with the Atlanta-based rapper. “I grew up wanting to fly and pursued my pilot’s license as soon as I was able,” he said. “When I’m in the air flying, there’s nothing like it. No traffic, no borders. With a borderless mindset, I’m able to bring everything I’ve seen, a worldly point of view, into my creative process. Into my art. It brings my art to an elevated space and that’s the heart of this partnership. Elevating creativity through being borderless.” We’ll take the Tequila over trying to fly… less alarming.

The Nightcap

A sight the UK wine drinker and tax officials both appear to enjoy…

‘Crisp white’ named as UK’s top wine

Wine Drinkers UK (a collection of wine lovers, makers and sellers, who, in their own words, are ‘fed up with being unfairly taxed’) have revealed the UK’s top wine preferences. Leading the pack? ‘Crisp white’ (Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Grigio), with 41% of those questioned saying they enjoy the selection. Full-bodied red (Malbec or Shiraz) ranked second with 38%, followed closely by Prosecco, at 34%. The least popular? In equal ninth, English sparkling wine and dry rosé (Southern French rosé or Pinot Grigio rosé), which, quite frankly, has caused uproar in the office as they are both bloody delicious. Are we Brits a tad ridiculous? We could just be blinded by the tax levied on wine, reckons Wine Drinkers UK. Despite wine’s status as being the most widely drunk and most popular alcoholic beverages, tax rises in the last 10 years (39%) have far outpaced those on beer (16%) and spirits (27%). Plus, only 5% of UK drinkers were aware of the tax they pay on wine. “As the number of people enjoying wine grows, so does their tax bill. Duty on wine has risen over twice as fast as beer over the past ten years,” said The Three Drinkers presenter, Helena Nicklin. “As a result, on average, the majority of wine drinkers are handing over more than 50 pence in every pound they spend to the taxman. After a decade of unfair increases, it is time to cut them a break and cut back wine tax.” As such, there’s a new campaign which kicked off on 12th August, now known as ‘Wine Tax Freedom Day’. The date is 61% of the way through the calendar year, and represents the 61% tax (duty +VAT) that is paid on a £5 bottle of wine. Did you know the tax levied on vino? Time for fairer booze duties, we reckon.

The Nightcap

Brockman’s Gin Autumn Reviver cocktail

Brockmans Gin signals changing of the seasons with autumn menu

Ok, ok… the sun’s certainly NOT got its hat on, and it’s more soggy than sunkissed (in the UK anyway…) but it’s still mid-August. Is it really time to unveil Autumn cocktails? We’ll forgive Brockmans though, because these ones look mega tasty, and they’re based around irresistible warming spices and berry notes. First up is the Autumn Reviver, made with 1 2/3 oz. Brockmans Gin (soz for the imperial measures), 2/3 oz. Lillet Blanc, 2/3 oz. freshly squeezed lemon juice, 1/2 oz. ginger syrup, 1/3 oz. orange liqueur, and a slice of dehydrated orange studded with cloves. Just fill a cocktail shaker with ice, add the first five ingredients and shake. Strain into a chilled coupe glass and garnish with the clove-studded orange slice. Voilà! Then there’s the slightly trickier Blackberry Sling, with 1 2/3 oz. Brockmans Gin, 10 fresh blackberries, a sprig of fresh rosemary, 1 2/3 oz. freshly squeezed lime juice, 2/3 oz. simple syrup, and chilled soda. Muddle the blackberries (save some for the garnish) and rosemary in a Highball glass, take the rosemary out, add the gin, lime juice and syrup and stir. Then fill half the glass with ice, top with soda and pop the saved blackberries (and the rosemary, if it still looks good) in as garnishes. “Our signature seasonal recipes were developed to highlight the combination of traditional gin aromas, bitter-sweet orange peel, coriander and top notes of blueberries and blackberries found in our gin,” said Neil Everitt, Brockmans co-founder and CEO. We know what we’re drinking on the next waterlogged summer evening. Oh, that would be tonight…

The Nightcap

We’ve needed a new hobby since our office games of ‘The Cones of Dunshire’ started getting too heated…

And finally. . . a whisky board game

They say you should never play with your food, but nobody ever said anything about playing with your drink. Which is just as well, as two Czech whisky aficionados have created a board game based around their favourite liquid. The idea came to them at a meeting of their whisky club which they call the Gentlemen of Tullamore, based on their early love for Tullamore D.E.W. “It took actually almost three years to develop,” Petr Pulkert, one of the duo, told us. He went on to say how helpful the industry has been with their project. “So far they, including legends like Nick Savage, John Quinn, Alan Winchester, Rachel Barrie, all helped us for free and with enthusiasm.” To play, you move your Glencairn glass-shaped counter around Scotland and Ireland, answering questions about whisky (and indeed whiskey) and collecting points. There are character cards featuring big whisky cheeses like Quinn, Barrie and Winchester. Each character has a special ability, such as Dave Broom with beard grooming, or Bill Lumsden with wearing snazzy shirts. We may be making this up a bit; we’re not precisely sure how the game works but it does sound like enormous fun, especially with a dram in hand (though this isn’t a drinking game). The Tullamore Boys are crowd-funding production: they’ve already raised £3,800 out of a target £6,622. So, if you like whisky and you like games, then sign up.

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Cocktail of the Week: The Montenegroni

As any fule kno, Negroni = Campari + sweet vermouth + gin. But not always, this week we’re mixing things up a little by chucking the Campari and using Amaro…

As any fule kno, Negroni = Campari + sweet vermouth + gin. But not always, this week we’re mixing things up a little by chucking the Campari and using Amaro Montenegro instead.

The constant factor in most Negronis is Campari, so much so that Campari has owned the 100 years of the Negroni celebrations that took place this year. Italy, however, is full of amari (bittersweet liqueurs) which you can use in place. One such is Amaro Montenegro from Bologna, named after Princess Elena of Montenegro who became Queen of Italy in 1900. It has an elaborate production process involving over 40 botanicals including vanilla, eucalyptus, orange and cinnamon. Some are macerated, other boiled or distilled to a recipe perfected in 1885 by Stanislao Cobianchi. Today master herbalist Dr. Matteo Bonoli is in charge with keeping things consistent.

The flavours are sweet, rich and round with a distinct chocolatey note. Back in Bologna, it’s usually drunk as a digestif alongside a cup of espresso but for a while now, it has been a liqueur revered by the drinks cognoscenti. Last year it won a gold medal at the IWSC.

Montenegroni

The Montenegroni: can people this photogenic be wrong?

As part of the plan to raise its profile, Amaro Montenegro is backing the Vero Bartender competition, where bartenders from around the country will compete to create a cocktail with a maximum of five ingredients (based on Amaro Montenegro, naturally). There will be northern and southern heats in September, with the UK final at the Punch Room at the London Edition Hotel on 20 October. But that’s not the end of it, because 12 finalists from around the world will then compete in the global final in Italy on 19 November! So if you fancy yourself behind the stick (to coin a phrase) then you should enter.

To kick things off in style, this special Negroni has been created by Rudi Carraro, UK brand ambassador for Amaro Montenegro. In a bold move, Carraro has not only chucked the Campari, but he’s not using vermouth either. He plays by his own rules. Instead he’s using Select Aperitivo, a low-ish alcohol amaro (17.5% ABV) from Venice, not dissimilar to Aperol. It’s what many Venetians prefer to use in a spritz in place of the mighty orange beverage. He didn’t specify the gin, so we’re using delicious, lemony Brooklyn Gin for no particular reason except we like it. The result is something mellower and more complex, but less boozy than the classic Negroni. It would be equally at home after dinner as before.

Carraro originally designed this recipe as a punch as a nod to the bar at the London edition, but we’ve domesticated it into a single-serve version. Right, let’s get stirring.

40ml Amaro Montenegro 
25ml Brooklyn Gin
20ml Select Aperitivo 

Add ingredients to an ice-filled tumbler, stir and garnish with a slice of orange.

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Win a VIP trip to Salcombe Gin distillery!

Here at MoM, we’ve teamed up with Salcombe Distilling Co. to give you an incredible chance to win a trip down to the Devon distillery! Expect gin, stunning views and…

Here at MoM, we’ve teamed up with Salcombe Distilling Co. to give you an incredible chance to win a trip down to the Devon distillery! Expect gin, stunning views and boats, many many boats…

Gin lovers, boat lovers, this one’s for you. Salcombe’s stunning waterfront and plethora of coastal activities has drawn people to the coastline for years. Lucky for us, it now also has its very own gin! Two friends, Angus and Howard, who met while working as sailing instructors, decided to bottle what makes Salcombe so special. Behold, Salcombe Gin was born. It only opened three short years ago, in November 2016, but there’s boatloads of history down there, and the distillery and the gin itself were inspired by Salcombe’s shipbuilding heritage.

salcombe gin rose sainte marie

Salcombe Gin Rosé Sainte Marie spritzes

Salcombe Distilling Co. has been busy ever since, with new releases popping up left, right and centre, the most recent of which is the delicious Salcombe Gin Rosé Sainte Marie. With no added sugar and inspired by Provence rosé wine, it’s pink, it’s dry and it’s the perfect summer sipper.

Did you know the distillery even deliver their gin… by boat? To other boats? To sum up, these guys are cool, their gin is delicious, and they really like boats. On to the competition!

What do I win?

So many lovely things! A two-night stay for two (the lucky winner and the equally fortuitous plus one) at the beautiful Brightham House boutique B&B, which was named by The Times at one of its top 10 coolest places to stay in the UK. You’ll enjoy a scrumptious dinner for two at the stunning Salcombe Harbour Hotel as well! Of course, it would be rude not to have a wonderful distillery tour and attend the gin school with the lovely Salcombe Gin folks. The distillery is called ‘The Boathouse’, appropriately nestled in the boat-building quarter of Salcombe. Right on the waterfront, it’s one of only a handful of distilleries accessible by boat! Pretty cool, if you ask us. There you can meet the still named Provident, and enjoy some delicious gin while you admire the coastal views.

salcombe gin

Even the views inside the distillery are superb!

All this to be rounded off by a rambunctious rib (rigid inflatable boat) ride around Salcombe harbour!* (Weather and time of year permitting, of course.) It’s going to be quite the excursion.

I want in! How do I enter?

This is the fun part, and it’s so easy! All you have to do is buy a bottle from the following Salcombe Gin distillery range, and you’re automagically entered. (For the nitty gritty details, see the competition terms below.)

Start Point

This is the inaugural gin from the Devon distillery, boasting 13 botanicals including Macedonian juniper, chamomile, fresh lemon, lime and red grapefruit peels. It takes inspiration from the Salcombe fruiters, boats which brought exotic fruit into the humble bay from all over the world in the 19th century. The gin boasts notes of warming spice, peppery heat, a fruity note with piney juniper and a burst of citrus.

Rosé Sainte Marie

A pink expression from Salcombe, inspired by dry rosé Provence wine. That explains why it’s named after the Sainte Marie Lighthouse which marks the Southern entrance to the Old Port of Marseille, where the aftorementioned fruiters would pick up the haul destined for the UK. With no added sugar, it’s full of floral notes, peppery juniper and gentle notes of red fruit and citrus, without being overly sweet.

Guiding Star Voyager Series

Part of the Voyager Series, Guiding Star is a sloe and damson gin made in partnership with Niepoort, a fabulous Portuguese winery. The fruity spirit was finished in a Tawny Port cask from the winery, and is full of jammy Port, orange peel, oak spice and earthy juniper notes.

salcombe gin

The Salcombe Gin Distillery range, in all its glory

Arabella – Voyager Series

This expression was created in collaboration with renowned chef Michael Caines MBE, who was in fact born in Devon himself. Caines selected all the botanicals himself, including hibiscus, bitter almond, lemon thyme and verbena, taking inspiration from a garden in bloom in English summer. It was named Arabella after a famed fruiter built in 1860, and the gin is full of floral notes, with earthy spice, loads of citrus and hallmark juniper.

Island Queen Voyager Series

Another collaboration with Salcombe Gin and a famed chef, this time Monica Galetti influenced the spirit. This gin is super tropical, inspired by another Salcombe fruiter after the same name, with notes of fresh mango, pineapple and coconut, balanced by traditional juniper, citrus and aromatic spices.

Mischief Voyager Series

Made with the help of restaurateur Mark Hix MBE, Mischief contains 10 botanicals in honour of the 10th anniversary of the Hix Restaurant Group. Again, it’s named after a famous Salcombe fruiter built in 1856. With sea buckthorn and samphire, the maritime notes balance well with the supporting floral tones and lots of aromatic juniper.

Finisterre

A wonderful cask aged expression, Finisterre spent 11 months resting in an American oak casks which previously housed Fino sherry from Bodegas Tradición. It takes its name from the Spanish ‘finis terre’, which translates to ‘end of the earth’, which is how far the Salcombe Gin folks say they’ll go for the perfect botanicals!  The cask has imparted a hint of salinity and sweeter fruity notes to the already herbaceous and citrus forward gin.

Finisterre Gift Pack

Remember that Fino sherry we were just talking about from Bodegas Tradición? Well, in this ingenious Finisterre Gift Pack, a bottle of the cask aged gin is accompanied by a bottle of that very sherry! Now you can compare and contrast the two wonderful bottlings.

So that’s it: buy a bottle of gin, and you’re in. We know, it sounds too good to be true, but it is! 

Good luck, and happy gin-drinking to all! 

*Only available between April – September months. £50 spa voucher will be provided in the event the rib ride is not available

MoM Salcombe Gin Competition 2019 open to entrants 18 years and over. Entries accepted from 6 August to 20 August 2019. Winners chosen at random after close of competition. Prizes not transferable and cannot be exchanged for cash equivalent. See full T&Cs for details. 

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High end cannabis-infused spirits are here

While industry tastemakers have been keeping a close eye on the burgeoning CBD oil trend, relatively few producers dare to blend the tincture with booze. But then, the folks behind…

While industry tastemakers have been keeping a close eye on the burgeoning CBD oil trend, relatively few producers dare to blend the tincture with booze. But then, the folks behind CBD-infused spirits company Top Beverages are hardly your average distillers. We chatted with attorney-turned-entrepreneur Nick Pullen, the company’s co-founder, as their inaugural gin and spiced rum bottlings hit the market…

“We wanted to really pioneer something that’s never been done before,” explains Philadelphia native Pullen, who established Top Beverages with business partner Saf Ali back in January 2019. “A lot of folks out there have an existing range of alcoholic beverages and just throw in a [CBD-infused variant] to catch a fad or trend. Our core business is CBD spirits and that’s what’s really going to set us apart within the industry.” Pullen met English music industry and property Saf Ali at their childrens’ school bus stop in Barcelona – the city they call home – and the duo made it their mission to disrupt both the spirits and CBD industries.

For the uninitiated, CBD or cannabidiol is the non-psychoactive component of the cannabis plant, so it doesn’t make you feel “high” (that’s down to THC, one of 113 known cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant). Research suggests it offers a range of health benefits, from reducing chronic pain and inflammation to easing anxiety and epilepsy. You can buy ‘CBD isolate’, a pure, concentrated form of CBD with no other cannabinoids present, or opt for ‘full spectrum CBD’, which includes other naturally-occurring plant compounds, and it’s the latter Pullen and Ali chose to use in their range.

Top Beverage

No, not a new Calvin Klein advert, it’s One CBD-infused rum and gin

After months of research and trial-and-error testing, Top Beverages has bottled its first products, a gin and a spiced rum, each available in a limited run of 500 x 100ml bottles at a punchy 54.5% ABV. The RRP is pretty punchy at £30 a bottle, the equivalent of £210 for a standard 700ml bottle. One gin is distilled with juniper berries, coriander seeds, angelica root, orris root, elderflower, lemon peel, lime peel, and a fresh Valencian orange, while One spiced rum is made with cassia bark, orange peel, ginger, and Indian vanilla pods. Both variants contain 10mg of full-spectrum CBD, which injects “a little bit of flavour, but not much,” Pullen says. 

“It all comes down to finding the right CBD,” he outlines. “A lot of what people are calling CBD products are really hemp oil, which has a different flavour profile. We had to do a lot of research and tried dozens of CBD types from different suppliers from the UK, Europe and the US. It took us a long time to identify the best water-soluble product out there and then experiment with when to add it, how to blend it, how to filter it – getting to the end result was a labour of love.”

Top Beverages is working with legal and food safety professionals to guarantee the quality of its CBD, but aside from EU standards that regulate CBD and THC content, no industry-specific regulations exist. This is uncharted territory after all, which means there’s no lower or upper limit to the amount of CBD a producer is required to add to a given spirit, wine or beer. Where some companies may seek to capitalise on this by adding as little as possible, Top Beverages has “a more concentrated approach,” Pullen says, with every 10ml of spirit containing 1mg of CBD. 

Top Beverages

The thing that looks like a slug is actually a vanilla pod

“We view more regulation as a benefit because it’s going to weed out a lot of the potential bad actors,” he adds. “Compliance regulation is ultimately a good thing and the people that adhere to it end up becoming the cream of the crop because ultimately consumers want a trusted brand. It’s really important to communicate that you’re getting what you’re paying for, especially in this virginal market.”

One area there are regulations, however, are in regards to advertising. Communicating how a CBD-infused G&T might compare to a ‘regular’ one in terms of mood-altering effects is, well, a little tricky. I’m not a doctor or a medical professional,” Pullman clarifies. “We’re not allowed to make any kind of medical claims relating to CBD and alcohol, but here’s what I can say personally: About three to four weeks ago I had terrible back pain, I was really struggling. I opened up my gin to make a G&T and afterwards my wife said, ‘Wow, you’re almost dancing now’. 

“There’s a calming aspect and pain relief aspect for me,” he continues. “Obviously, people respond to it differently, and like all spirits, it should be consumed in moderation. But for our focus group, the reaction has been one of, ‘This is an amazing spirit and I feel really good after drinking it’. Whether that comes from the CBD, the alcohol, the natural flavours, or the whole combination, it makes people feel great.”

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The Nightcap: 9 August

Artificial tongues that can taste whisky? Vodka made from Chernobyl rye? The gin boom is still going?! These aren’t tales from 2054 – these stories all appear in this week’s…

Artificial tongues that can taste whisky? Vodka made from Chernobyl rye? The gin boom is still going?! These aren’t tales from 2054 these stories all appear in this week’s Nightcap!

Behind the scenes sneak peek at how The Nightcap comes together right here: sometimes this intro is written after the all the stories have been finished. Having a look at all the futuristic stuff in this edition of The Nightcap, you might think that time travel is real and MoM Towers has slipped through a dimensional rift and ended up in the year 2054. Stranded and working purely on instinct, we notice on the future calendar it’s a Friday, so we write up a new edition of The Nightcap, regaling the masses with tales of artificial tongues that can taste whisky and spirits made from crops in Chernobyl stories that these future folk see as perfectly normal, but to our minds are wildly out of this world. But it’s not. It’s today and stuff is just becoming more impressive by the day!

So, good people of 2019, what’s been happening on the MoM Blog? Henry kicked off the week with a gem of a rum from the Diamond Distillery for New Arrival of the Week, made a Pink Lady for Cocktail of the Week and spoke to Peter Lynch from WhistlePig about an oloroso-finished rye exclusive to MoM. Annie chatted to Bimber’s founder Dariusz Plazewski about where people can go wrong (and right) when starting a craft distillery, and then asked a very important question to us all: how do you make alcohol-free beer delicious? Guest columnist Nate Brown has opinions about drinks industry folk who RSVP for events then don’t turn up.

We also launched a new competition where you could win a trip down to Deven to visit Salcombe Distilling Co.! Take a look, pick up a bottle of excellent gin, and cross your fingers!

And now, the news of the future today!

Cardhu

How Cardhu will look when it’s been refurbished

Johnnie Walker gets the green light for Cardhu redevelopment

The final piece in the jigsaw is now in place. That jigsaw being Diageo’s £150m plan for whisky tourism in Scotland based around four key distilleries. As we have reported previously, developments at Glenkinchie, Caol Ila, Clynelish, and a Johnnie Walker HQ in Edinburgh have all been granted planning permission. Now it’s the turn of Cardhu in Speyside. This was the first distillery acquired by Johnnie Walker in 1893 and since then has been a key component in the blend. David Cutter, chairman of Diageo in Scotland, said: “Together these locations will create a unique Johnnie Walker tour of Scotland, encouraging visitors to the capital city to also travel to the country’s extraordinary rural communities.” Laura Sharp, brand home manager at Cardhu, added: “This announcement is very exciting and we want to thank Moray Council and all our neighbours for their continued support.” We love it when a plan comes together.

That’s what an artificial tongue looks like

Boffins baffle counterfeiters with artificial whisky-tasting tongue

Who can forget the story from 2017 when a Chinese businessman spent $10,000 on a glass of Macallan that turned out to be fake? Well, such occurrences might be a thing of the past thanks to a team of Scottish engineers from the universities of Glasgow and Strathclyde. A paper titled ‘Whisky tasting using a bimetallic nanoplasmonic tongue’ published this week in the Royal Society of Chemistry’s journal Nanoscale describes a metal ‘tongue’ that can be used to analyse whisky. The ‘taste buds’ are made up of gold and aluminium in a checkerboard pattern. It identifies whiskies from the statistical analysis of minute differences in how the metals absorb light. The device was tested on a series of single malts – Glenfiddich, Glen Marnoch and Laphroaig – and was able to tell the difference between them, as well as different expressions of the same malt with greater than 99% accuracy. The paper’s lead author, Dr Alasdair Clark (above), of the University of Glasgow’s School of Engineering, said:  “We call this an artificial tongue because it acts similarly to a human tongue – like us, it can’t identify the individual chemicals which make coffee taste different to apple juice but it can easily tell the difference between these complex chemical mixtures. In addition to its obvious potential for use in identifying counterfeit alcohols, it could be used in food safety testing, quality control, security – really any area where a portable, reusable method of tasting would be useful.” So next time you’re splashing out on the Macallan, don’t forget your artificial tongue. 

Clouded Leopard Gin bottle

This is gin, it’s still very popular in Britain

Gin still booming according to the WSTA 

There have been articles recently in the Spectator and the Financial Times saying that the gin boom is over, but figures just released by the WSTA seem to contradict this. As a trade body, the WSTA has an interest in bolstering the industry but nevertheless the stats make interesting reading. Retail sales up to March 2019 were up 43% by value on the previous year, worth nearly £1 billion. The off-trade is up 56% by volume on last year’s sales with nearly 6 billion bottles sold between March 2018 and 2019. Combining domestic and export sales, the British gin market is worth over £3 billion. WSTA chief executive Miles Beale commented: “It’s been another phenomenal 12 months for gin and, despite recent reports suggesting the gin bubble may have burst, our numbers suggest the exact opposite. Gin’s continued domestic popularity, and the growth in the spirits category overall, has no doubt been helped by the decision to freeze duty on spirits in the last Budget. We need further supportive action from the Government as we approach Budget time once more. Looking at the popularity of British gin overseas is also cause for celebration. £350 million, or around 46% of all British gin exports head to the EU, and so it is imperative that the Government works with the European Union to secure trade that is as seamless in the future as it is now.” What could possibly go wrong?

Firestone & Robertson TX whiskey, now just a tiny bit Frencher

Pernod Ricard bets on American whiskey with Firestone & Robertson buy

French drinks group Pernod Ricard, which owns the likes of Beefeater Gin, Absolut Vodka, The Glenlivet Scotch and Jameson Irish Whiskey, this week bolstered its presence in American whiskey by snapping up Firestone & Robertson Distilling Co. The Texas-based producer makes TX-branded whiskey and bourbon, and the deal includes its Whiskey Ranch distillery too. “This is an exciting day for all of us at Firestone & Robertson,” said Leonard Firestone and Troy Robertson, who co-founded the business. “Building our company and producing award-winning whiskeys has been a truly remarkable experience. We are so proud of our team, and grateful to the many people that supported our efforts over the years. It is an extraordinary opportunity to partner with Pernod Ricard, and we are confident this relationship will accelerate the growth of our brands while preserving our roots and shared core values.” Pernod chairman and CEO, Alexandre Ricard, said the (undisclosed) transaction was a “very promising venture” that “strengthens our portfolio and footprint in the United States”. If it means more tasty American whiskey to go round, we’re all for it. 

You can swap a tin of beans for one of these!

The Alchemist tackles food poverty with cocktail exchange

Foodbank use is soaring in the UK (charity the Trussell Trust recently reported a 19% increase in food supplies it’s donated in the last year). Loads of us are both donating to and accessing our local food banks (there’s a list on the Trussell Trust’s site), so when news reached us that UK bar group The Alchemist is encouraging people to bring supplies in return for a cocktail, we whooped and cheered. On 29 August, any customers who bring non-perishable donations (unopened and in date; tinned, dried and packaged foods) into one of the bars with them will get vodka-based serve The Colour Changing One for free! All collections will be donated to local food banks. “These are truly fantastic local charities tackling food poverty across the UK, which is an issue we’re particularly passionate about at The Alchemist,” said Hannah Plumb, head of restaurants at The Alchemist. “This activity is a fun and engaging way to encourage customers to donate to their local food banks, who are in need of donations now more than ever.” You can find The Alchemist in Birmingham, Cardiff, Chester, Leeds, Liverpool, London, Manchester, Newcastle, Nottingham and Oxford. You know what to do on 29 August!

Bruichladdich's Bere Barley

Bruichladdich’s bere barley

Bruichladdich reinforces barley focus with Exploration Series trilogy

Remember earlier this year when we checked out Bruichladdich’s trial barley plots? Well, the Islay distillery’s long-running focus on the grain has continued with new flavour-focused expressions, which will form a Barley Exploration series. Its focus on barley has become a bit of a USP for the distillery, which works with different local producers, and is currently trialling up to 60 different varieties. There are also plans to open its own maltings by 2023. So what does this new range look like? First up, Bruichladdich The Organic 2010 was distilled in 2010 (obvs) and made using barley from Mid Coul Farms harvested in 2009. It was matured in ex-bourbon American oak casks for at least eight years, and was bottled sans chill-filtration or caramel colouring at 50% ABV. Bruichladdich Bere Barley, made from Orkney-grown Bere, a variety considered “obsolete” by many distillers, was likewise distilled in 2010 and bottled at 50% ABV just as it is. Rounding off the trio is Bruichladdich Islay Barley 2011, made from Islay-grown barley, which spent 75% of its six-year maturation life in American ex-bourbon casks, and 25% on European ex-wine casks. “We want to support people who grow for flavour, those champions of heritage and natural crops,” said Bruichladdich head distiller, Adam Hannett. “By partnering with them we can find new and forgotten flavours, reconnecting our whisky with its vital raw ingredients.” Sounds great to us! 

Doesn’t it look jolly in Fentimans’ Secret Spritz Garden?

Fentimans kicks off Secret Spritz Garden

If The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett was one of your favourite books as a child, AND you now like refreshing summer sippers, then we have news. The Venn circles have officially crossed, courtesy of tonic brand Fentimans. Tucked away behind ivy-covered walls, away from the hustle and bustle of nearby Farringdon is (for the next three weeks, anyway) a little oasis of tranquility, aromatic plants, and a Spritz menu of dreams! The garden itself is overflowing with trailing greenery, herbs, and a 200-year-old olive tree, while Fentimans has added a lemon-filled fountain, highly-Instagrammable swing seat and the all-important bar into the mix. The menu (developed with the likes of Lillet and Martini Fiero) was created by Dino Koletsas (from The Langham, Bourne & Hollingsworth and Callooh Callay) and showcases the wonder of low- and no-alcohol cocktails, including the Rose Spritz, made with Fentimans Rose, lemonade, Martini Prosecco and fresh strawberries; and the Valencian Spritz, with Fentimans Valencian Orange Tonic Water, with Belsazar White Vermouth and peach liqueur. Head on down (you might even find yourself in a free guided workshop, from the Art of the Aperitivo to watercolour classes) Wednesday to Saturday up until 29 August to enjoy!

Aecorn range

Aecorn, a range of non-alcoholic aperitifs, has just been launched by Seedlip

Diageo acquires majority stake in Seedlip

In a move that will surprise no one, it was announced this week that Diageo has taken a majority stake (mmm, majority steak) in alcohol-free ‘spirit’ manufacture Seedlip. The brand was launched by Ben Branson in 2015 and created a new category of non-alcoholic drinks flavoured, packaged, and priced to rival premium gin. Distill Ventures, Diageo’s venture capital arm, took a minority investment in June 2016. Since then, Seedlip has gone global: it’s sold in top bars and restaurants in 25 countries, and comes in three varieties. It has also inspired legions of imitators such as Ceder’s from Pernod Ricard. Earlier this year, Seedlip launched Aecorn, a range of non-alcoholic vermouth-style aperitifs. We have been informed that Branson will still be involved with business. He commented: “We want to change the way the world drinks and today’s news is another big step forward to achieving this. Distill Ventures’ and Diageo’s shared belief in our vision has enabled us to build a business that’s ready for scale and I’m excited to continue working with Diageo to lead this movement.” John Kennedy from Diageo said: “Seedlip is a game-changing brand in one of the most exciting categories in our industry. Ben is an outstanding entrepreneur and has created a brand that has truly raised the bar for the category. We’re thrilled to continue working with him to grow what we believe will be a global drinks giant of the future.” And Shilen Pate from Distill Ventures added: “Supporting the vision of founders is what Distill Ventures was set up to do, and we’re proud of the impact Ben has had on our industry in such a short period of time.” With all that Diageo cash behind it, expect Seedlip’s upward trajectory to continue. 

GlenDronach

Mouth-watering malts

The GlenDronach’s new Cask Bottling releases will have whisky lovers salivating 

Prepare yourselves, The GlenDronach has just announced the seventeenth batch of its Cask Bottling series! It contains whisky drawn from fourteen casks ranging from the years 1990 to 2007, all of which have been selected by none other than master blender, Dr Rachel Barrie. What to expect? Each Highland expression has been bottled from a single cask from a selection of the distillery’s signature Pedro Ximénez and oloroso sherry casks alongside two Port pipes. Particularly special is a bottling from a rare vintage 1995 cask, one of the last remaining casks from that year still at the distillery. “The batch seventeen cask selection truly celebrates The GlenDronach house style; robust, elegant, fruity and full-bodied,” said Barrie. “Each cask individually explores the sophistication, powerful intricacy and rich layers of Spanish sherry cask maturation found in every GlenDronach expression; from layers of crème brûlée, treacle toffee and over-ripe banana in 1990 […] to toasted pain au raisin and butterscotch simmering beneath the surface in 2007.” Is your mouth watering as well? Then keep your eyes peeled for your favourite online retailer (us, duh) over the next few weeks.

Atomik Vodka

Don’t worry, it isn’t radioactive

And Finally… anyone fancy a Chernobyl Martini?

We’re no strangers to far-out spirits at Master of Malt, after all, we sell a gin distilled using botanicals that have been into space, but a new spirit might be the strangest thing yet. It’s called Atomik Vodka and it’s distilled using rye and water from the contaminated area around Chernobyl, site of the world’s worst nuclear energy disaster in 1986. Just this week, London bar Swift on Old Compton Street made the very first Atomik Martini with it. But before you start calling for Soho to be cordoned off, and send in the men in yellow suits, this vodka, despite its name, isn’t radioactive. The man behind it, Professor Jim Smith from the University of Portsmouth, told the BBC that though the rye was “slightly contaminated”, distillation has removed any impurities, and radioactivity levels are “below their limit of detection.” Only one bottle has been made so far but the Chernobyl Spirit Company, consisting of Smith, Ukrainain scientist Dr Gennady Laptev and others, plans to make 500 bottles per year. The team still has some legal hoops to jump through before production can start but when it does, 75% of the profits will go to help people in the region. Smith commented: “I think this is the most important bottle of spirits in the world because it could help the economic recovery of communities living in and around the abandoned areas. Many thousands of people are still living in the Zone of Obligatory Resettlement where new investment and use of agricultural land is still forbidden.” Sounds very worthwhile and, according to Sam Armeye, the vodka tastes good too. Atomik Martinis all round!

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Cocktail of the Week: The Pink Lady

This week we’re shaking up the pinkest thing in the known universe. Pinker than the Pink Panther, pinker than a pink shirt from Thomas Pink, Pinker even than the Pink…

This week we’re shaking up the pinkest thing in the known universe. Pinker than the Pink Panther, pinker than a pink shirt from Thomas Pink, Pinker even than the Pink herself, it’s the Pink Lady!

It has nothing to do with the Pink Ladies from Grease, but the Pink Lady is named after a musical. A show called The Pink Lady ran on Broadway before the First World War and it must have been a hit to have a cocktail named after it. The Pink Lady cocktail, however, would have to wait until Prohibition before is became a certifiable hit. The key ingredient, grenadine, is not only a pinking agent but it’s useful for disguising the taste of bad gin. Since its 1920s heyday, the Pink Lady has has fallen out of fashion. It’s seen as a rather kitsch drink. Jayne Mansfield, famous for her luridly decorated Los Angeles home known as the Pink Palace, was a fan. 

Originally, a Pink Lady would have been a very gin heavy cocktail. In Harry Craddock’s 1930 Savoy Cocktail Book, it’s basically neat gin (he specifies Plymouth) shaken with a tablespoon of grenadine and an egg white. Fierce! But by the 1940 and ‘50s it had evolved into something extremely sweet and somehow cream had crept into the recipe. That’s a step too far but nevertheless a properly-made Pink Lady should slip down a little too easily.

The Pink Lady

None more pink

The perfect version should fall between Craddock’s (too) basic recipe, and the more baroque constructions that came later. In David A. Embury’s The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks, the Pink Lady comes under variations of the sour. The key thing is the lemon juice which freshens it up and stops the grenadine becoming cloying. Embury includes applejack (American apple brandy sometimes made with the addition of neutral alcohol) in his recipe, something taken up by later drinks writers including Eric Felten and Richard Godwin. Very nice but today I’m just sticking with gin. In this case Bathtub to give it a bit of Prohibition glamour. If you want to do a light Charleston while shaking, then that’s all to the good. 

The results are absolutely delicious. Pink is having a bit of a moment, what with pink gins, pink wines and, err, all the other pink things. If it’s pink, it sells. So, I think the Pink Lady is long overdue a revival, don’t you? Here’s how to make it. 

50ml Bathtub Gin
15ml lemon juice
10ml grenadine

1 egg white

Dry shake all the components hard, add ice and then shake again. Double strain into a chilled coupe or Martini glass and serve with a maraschino cherry or a raspberry.

You can always make your own grenadine, see this recipe.

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The do’s and don’ts of opening a craft distillery

After three long years, London-based Bimber Distillery is (almost) ready to share its inaugural English single malt whisky with the world. As the team readies to release Bimber London Single…

After three long years, London-based Bimber Distillery is (almost) ready to share its inaugural English single malt whisky with the world. As the team readies to release Bimber London Single Malt this coming September, we speak to founder Dariusz Plazewski to find out what he’s learned over the last three years…

“Whisky has always been my passion,” enthuses Plazewski, a third generation distiller. “It was always my dream to open a distillery, and London really is the place to start the journey. English whisky as a category isn’t that strong yet, so there was the chance to create a bit of history.”

History, indeed, is in the making. Bimber’s first casks were laid down on the 26 May 2016, and right now, Plazewski and his team are diligently tasting their way through more than 550 barrels of single malt – among the first produced in London for more than a century – assessing the flavour and quality of each, before blending, vatting, and, eventually, bottling their liquid towards the end of August.

Dariusz Plazewski

Third generation distiller Dariusz Plazewski

The whisky’s DNA? Light, accessible, fruity new-make, shaped through the elements of Bimber’s exacting production process: seven-day fermentation, hand-made American oak washbacks, designer yeast strains, bespoke copper pot stills designed to maximise copper contact and a carefully-considered distillate cutting strategy.

The first release, limited to 1,000 bottles, has been busy maturing in first-fill Pedro Ximénez sherry casks, while the follow-up 5,000-bottle run has been aged in re-charred casks toasted in Bimber’s own on-site cooperage. We can hardly wait. But wait we must.

Amid the demands of a frankly life-changing month ahead, Plazewski took time out of his schedule to reflect on the last three years and share some distillery do’s and don’ts – interesting reading for aspiring brand owners and curious imbibers alike. Here’s what he had to say…

Do: Focus on building strong relationships

His grandfather distilled moonshine* in communist-era Poland, so as a third generation distiller, Plazewski already knew what he wanted to achieve when it came to the final liquid. The biggest challenge, he says, was identifying the right farmer to source barley from, and pinpoint the ultimate floor maltings for the task at hand. “Those are the two aspects we can’t do in our distillery,” he says, “we have to source those from someone else, so it was important to have a really good relationship with those partners.” And forge relationships he has. Bimber sources two-row barley varieties, Concerto and Laureate, from a single farm in Hampshire called Fordham & Allen – located around an hour’s drive from London – and partnered with Britain’s oldest maltster, Warminster Maltings, which has dedicated an entire malting floor to the distillery.

Do: Be self-sufficient where possible

“Nothing was easy,” says Plazewski. “Every step was quite challenging. However, I knew what I wanted to achieve and I just followed my instinct [about choosing] the right partners and the right equipment and the way we want to produce.” A background in engineering meant Plazewski was equipped with the skillset to design and build much of the distillery equipment himself with the help of his team. “That was the easiest and quickest part because I didn’t have to rely on anyone else,” he says. “The distillery was running in a short amount of time.”

Casks maturing at Bimber

Don’t just sit around waiting for these beauties to mature

Don’t: Rush the process

Let’s face it, no one makes whisky to earn a quick buck – it’s an investment that requires time, money, and above all, patience, in abundance. “Be patient and release when [the liquid] is ready,” says Plazewski. “Don’t rush. We’re waiting until September but ultimately we’ll release it when we think it’s good. The most rewarding thing is that people really like our product. That’s the most important thing for me.” After all, if you’ve been waiting three years for your pride and joy to mature, you can probably stand to wait another month or two.

Do: Use the time wisely

As tempting as it surely was to wile away the three-year whisky maturation period on a hammock in Hawaii, waiting for new make to come of age doesn’t pay the bills, unfortunately. Plus, by distilling on behalf of smaller brands, you’ll put your own spirits on the map. “We used the spare time to produce high quality gin, vodka and rum,” says Plazewski. “We’re a market service, and we made our name with that product.” So long as you’re churning out great liquid, your reputation will precede you.

*Fun fact: Bimber means moonshine in Polish.

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Join us as we celebrate International Scottish Gin Day!

Today marks the very first International Scottish Gin Day! To celebrate the occasion, we’ve picked out 10 of the tastiest gins that hail from north of the border. Enjoy! Words:…

Today marks the very first International Scottish Gin Day! To celebrate the occasion, we’ve picked out 10 of the tastiest gins that hail from north of the border. Enjoy! Words: Victoria Sayers

3 August 2019 is the first ever International Scottish Gin Day. Juniper geeks, get ready to celebrate! No longer is the Scottish distilling scene only about whisky: now distilleries are embracing local botanicals to create a sense of place through gin, too. The reputation of Scottish distilling is sky-high, but instead of riding on Scotch’s coat tails, these gin producers are carving their own niche in the international spirits scene. Here’s our pick of some of the tastiest Scottish gins around – but it was actually a pretty tough call to make. Not only are there LOADS of them, they’re pretty delicious, too. These 10 not enough to whet your appetite? We’ve got a whole bunch more Scottish gins right here! 

International Scottish Gin Day

Theodore Pictish Gin

Theodore Pictish Gin

Inspired by the Picts, one of the first tribal settlers of Scotland, we introduce Theodore Pictish Gin! These body-painted warriors arrived on the eastern archipelago and had a sense of mystery about them. This clan inhabited the Scottish Highlands and documented their adventures through poetry, engravings and building fortresses across Scotland. A creative, enterprising bunch. Theodore Gin represents the curiosity of the Pict people, and is made with 16 botanicals to wet your whistle: honey, coriander, citric pomelo, bourbon vetiver, damask rose, pink pepper, angelica, chamomile, kaffir lime, ginger, orris, pine, lavender, cardamom, and oolong tea all mix in with the juniper to create something truly elegant. Try out this T&T in a highball glass: 50ml Theodore Gin and 125ml tonic water, built over ice and garnished with a slice of mango.

International Scottish Gin Day

Hendrick’s Midsummer Solstice

Hendrick’s Midsummer Solstice 

Deeply floral and lightly playful, it’s Midsummer Solstice Gin! A refreshing take on a classic Hendrick’s, this expression is infused with a tip-top secret recipe that has been made in a very small batch, so once it’s gone, it’s gone. Much like Midsummer Day itself, it’s meant to be a fleeting moment in time, hence the limited-run liquid. We’re big fans; it pairs especially well with sparkling wine and tonic.

International Scottish Gin Day

Orkney Gin Company Rhubarb Old Tom

Orkney Gin Company Rhubarb Old Tom

Orkney Gin Company, named after its namesake archipelago off the north coast of Scotland, released its Rhubarb Old Tom for the first time on World Gin Day 2017 (timing = excellent). Rhubarb is widely celebrated in Orkney, where families pass down their recipes to new generations of Orcadians. Old Tom gins are traditionally sweetened to give the liquid a smoother finish, and Orkney Gin Company believes this enhances the tartness of the rhubarb. Other botanicals that complement the rhubarb’s zesty flavour include the smooth juniper berries, citrus peel, rose petals and cinnamon. The team even uses seven-times distilled grain spirit, an updated version of the historical methods… The result? Pretty tasty!

International Scottish Gin Day

Rock Rose Gin

Rock Rose Gin

Made by Dunnet Bay Distillers (a tiny team of seven) in North Scotland, the alluringly smooth Rock Rose Gin is produced using local botanicals including rose root, coriander seed, cardamom, juniper, sea buckthorn, rowan berries and blueberries. The team’s very clever gardener, Dr Hana, can be found growing these weird and wonderful botanicals in the brand’s very own geodome which she built at the distillery. Wowzers. This is suitably tasty on its own due to the spritziness of the rose notes, but of course you can couple with tonic, too.

International Scottish Gin Day

Daffy’s Small Batch Premium Gin

Daffy’s Small Batch Premium Gin

Daffy is the goddess of gin (apparently) and was first written about over 300 years ago. The wheat grain spirit used in the expression hails from northern France, while the distillery Daffy’s Gin is made at is situated in Scotland’s Cairngorms National Park. Traditional botanicals like juniper, cassia bark and coriander are mixed in with Lebanese mint and a variety of lemons. The Daffy’s team believes that the balance of strength and flavour at 43.4% ABV results in a well-rounded and smooth finish, even when enjoyed straight. The design of the bottle is the work of artist Robert McGinnis, who created film posters for various James Bond films and Breakfast at Tiffany’s. The perfect D&T? 50ml Daffy’s Gin, 100ml tonic water, three wedges of lime and some mint leaves. You’re welcome!

International Scottish Gin Day

The Botanist Islay Dry Gin

The Botanist Islay Dry Gin

Islay is known for its rather wonderful whiskies, but now it’s the home of some gin brands, too! We’re fans of The Botanist (made at the Bruichladdich Distillery). It really does have one of the best bottles we’ve set our eyes upon. Plus, it’s a treat for your taste buds, too. A whopping 22 botanicals are squashed into The Botanist gin including some Islay natives. Are you ready for this list? The full list of is as follows: apple mint, chamomile, creeping thistle, downy birch, elder, gorse, hawthorn, heather, juniper, lady’s bedstraw, lemon balm, meadowsweet, mugwort, red clover, spearmint, sweet cicely, bog myrtle sweet gale, tansy, water mint, white clover, wild thyme and wood sage. Phew!

International Scottish Gin Day

Loch Ness Gin

Loch Ness Gin

Produced in Loch Ness (obvs), Loch Ness Gin is the product of a husband and wife team, Kevin and Lorien Cameron-Ross, whose family has resided on the bank surrounding the lake for over five centuries. They pick their own juniper and botanicals on their home estate, right on the shores of Loch Ness – very cool. At the heart of the distillery’s products is the Loch; its water is used in the whole range of spirits – we like to think it gives a bit of a magical, mysterious vibe. With all this nature on the doorstep, the family has a deep understanding of the region and respect the land highly; they say it makes their ingredients ‘real and rare’, with a taste like no other.

Lussa Gin

Lussa Gin

Lussa Gin is native to the Isle of Jura, situated off the west coast of Scotland. It was founded by a trio of adventurers; they grow, gather and distil using only local botanicals. Jura is super-remote, only 30 people live at the north end of the island, where the distillery is located. The team says ‘isolation is inspiration’; how could you not when you’re surrounded by mountains and water, and you can only reach the island by ferry (or by helicopter, if you happen to have a spare one of those). It is so free from air pollution that lichen can grow everywhere. The end product: a fresh, zesty, smooth gin with a subtly aromatic finish. 

Lind & Lime Gin

Lind & Lime Gin

The first tipple to come from Edinburgh’s Port of Leith Distillery – it’s Lind & Lime Gin! Inspired by Dr James Lind, who conducted clinical trials aboard HMS Salisbury to help find a cure for Scurvy back in the day. His findings helped sailors see a remarkable improvement in their health, and kept Britain a huge step ahead of enemies during times of naval warfare. As for the bottle design, inspiration was drawn from the 14th century, when wine was one of the most valuable items to pass through the local harbour.  Juniper, lime and pink peppercorns are the three key botanicals in this gin and they really work in harmony. We reckon it tastes as good as it looks.

International Scottish Gin Day

Eight Lands Gin

Eight Lands Gin

Eight Lands produces an array of spirits with Speyside spring water, distilled and bottled by the family-owned Glenrinnes Distillery. Featuring 11 different botanicals including cowberries and sorrel from the Estate gives this gin some berry good flavours (ha!). This shiny new distillery was purpose built to not make whisky (a shocker in Speyside, we know!) and was completed in 2018. The spirits are made using spring water drawn from the lowest slopes of Ben Rinnes – both pretty cool and sustainable. And it tastes really rather good in a classic G&T.

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We head up to the Highlands for Caorunn Gin’s 10th birthday!

Gin and birthdays go together like bread and butter, and on 31 July the wonderful Caorunn Gin turns 10 years old! To celebrate, we scooted up to the Scottish Highlands…

Gin and birthdays go together like bread and butter, and on 31 July the wonderful Caorunn Gin turns 10 years old! To celebrate, we scooted up to the Scottish Highlands and had a look at what makes it so special.

As we arrive in Inverness, it seems we might get something of a rarity; a truly sunny day in the Scottish Highlands. It was short-lived, and we’re soon given a true Speyside greeting as we run, huddled under multiple umbrellas, into Balmenach Distillery, home of Caorunn Gin

Protected from the elements, Gin & Tonics are swiftly passed around, and we chat to gin master Simon Buley about his time at the distillery. The history of the site begins long before Caorunn Gin’s journey, though. Balmenach Distillery was founded in 1824 as one of the very first licensed Scotch whisky distilleries, and Buley has worked at Balmenach for 31 years, before Caorunn was even a twinkle in someone’s eye. 

Caorunn gin

Not a bad view from the distillery…

It wasn’t until August 2009, the very beginning of the gin boom, that Caorunn was launched, with production taking over what used to be the cask filling store. The Scottish gin boasts many points of difference, from its star botanicals down to the actual distillation process (more on that later). Within the 11-botanical recipe, five Celtic botanicals are hand-foraged by Buley himself, and he points just across the road to where the native plants are collected. It’s no more than a 10 minute walk to any of them, so when it says ‘locally-foraged’ you’re in for the real deal. Buley explains during the growing  season, botanicals are picked fresh just before distillation. At the end of season, they’ll pick enough to last them through until next year, ensuring they’re always locally-grown. The Celtic botanicals hold particular significance, as “Caorunn is all about the five,” Buley tells us. The bottle even has five sides, as well as sporting the five-pointed asterisk motif. The devil’s in the detail.

The star botanicals

First off, you have rowan berry. The name itself, Caorunn, is Celtic for ‘rowan berry’, which gives a somewhat Christmassy note. Then there’s heather. “Look where we are, it’s everywhere!” He laughs. “We’re going to use it if we can.” Heather brings those sweeter floral notes, and both the shoot and flowers are used.

Caorunn Gin

Gin master Simon Buley foraging some bog myrtle

Next, dandelion leaf, and Buley notes that foraging for this one isn’t too much of a task. “It grows wherever you don’t want it to grow!” Apparently, dandelion leaf is becoming a rather trendy salad ingredient these days, though we much prefer it in our gin. Then there’s bog myrtle, which was historically used flavour beer before hops, so you can imagine what it imparts to the gin.

Last but not least, you have Coul blush apple, which is native to northernmost Britain. There’s a very short growing season for these apples, in which there can be weather extremes, from rain to shine to snow. The apple trees surrounding the distillery have been there since around 1927, the hardy fellas. The other six botanicals will be much more familiar to gin lovers,  but hail from slightly further afield: juniper, coriander, lemon and orange peel, angelica root and cassia bark.

Copper Berry Chamber fun!

Once foraged, what does Buley do with these botanicals? He uses the world’s only (yes, really) working Copper Berry Chamber, infusing them into vapourised grain spirit. You’ll be forgiven for not knowing what on earth a Copper Berry Chamber is. The chamber was made in the US and previously used in the perfume industry. To make Caorunn, vapour enters the bottom of the chamber and passes up through four perforated trays, grabbing the flavours of each botanical on its way through. 

Caorunn gin

The Copper Berry Chamber, in all its glory!

Where each botanical is placed in the chamber is pivotal. The top only has 10 botanicals, missing heather because the flowers are so light that the vapour would pick them up and carry them into the final liquid! Although we’re sure it would look rather lovely, Buley most definitely won’t allow that to happen.

Not only is it important where each botanical is placed, there’s also an exact science to how full the trays are. “If it’s too deep, the vapours can’t pass through and condense back into a liquid and drop back into the bottom of the chamber,” Buley explains. “If it’s too shallow, the vapours pass through too quickly without picking up flavours.” Slow and steady wins the race with this distillation. The gin is also twice-distilled because some botanicals need rehydrating before they give off any flavour. When the spirit first comes off the still, “it’s basically a genever, all we can taste is juniper”. In the second distillation, the juniper gives off almost nothing at all, and the rest of the botanicals can start paying their dues. Finally, the delicious spirit is blended with Highland spring water, and voilà! You have Caorunn Gin.

What’s next?

After nearly 10 years of the original gin standing solitary, earlier this year the brand launched two new editions:  the Highland Strength and Raspberry expressions. Tweaks to the original formula are minimal (if it ain’t broke, and all that). Highland Strength has the exact same botanical recipe, only it stands at a handsome 54% ABV, with the higher strength amplifying the signature Celtic botanicals. Meanwhile, the Raspberry expression has the addition of infused fresh Scottish Perthshire raspberries, and that’s it. The fruity expression truly captures some of that natural tartness in there.

Caorunn Gin

A fairly rainy botanical garden!

So that’s the first decade, what’s next for Caorunn? The brand is evolving with the times, and currently uses a biomass boiler where previously it used an oil heater, which guzzled through an eye-watering 40,000 litres of oil a week. The team are in the process of building an anaerobic digestion plant, into which all the waste products from the distillery will be fed. When fully functional it will also generate electricity, allowing the distillery to be 80% self-sufficient. In the next six months, Buley tells us, they expect the whole site to be running off renewable energy. 

Buley is also eager to use more home-grown botanicals. As he points out, there’s no way that the small botanical garden could ever produce enough juniper for every batch of gin. However, juniper is of course quite literally the defining feature of gin, so if, in the future, even a tiny percentage of the juniper in Caorunn is Scottish then that’s most certainly a win. When the juniper is fully grown, “we’ll start using a handful of it, so we can actually say we’re using some of our own grown botanicals in it,” Simon tells us.

What better way to celebrate Caorunn’s birthday than with the gin itself?! The signature serve is simply with tonic and a slice of red apple to garnish, though if you’re feeling more experimental then here are some more outlandish serves. 

The Caorunn Raspberry Smash

What you’ll need:

1 part Caorunn Scottish Raspberry Gin

2 parts Pressed Apple Juice

Build both ingredients over ice and garnish with pink lady apple slices and fresh raspberries.

The Pale Highland Negroni 

What you’ll need:

25ml Caorunn Highland Strength

25ml Dry Vermouth

25ml Cocchi Americano 

Lemon Zest for garnish

Build in a mixing glass and stir until it’s chilled and diluted, then garnish with lemon zest.

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New Arrival of the Week: Clouded Leopard Gin

This week’s shiny new recruit is so new to the market that we just couldn’t wait to get our paws on it… and it’s all in a good cause, too!…

This week’s shiny new recruit is so new to the market that we just couldn’t wait to get our paws on it… and it’s all in a good cause, too! Say hello to Clouded Leopard Gin! Words: Victoria Sayers

We’re generally cat people here at MoM Towers. From the teeniest tabby up, we’re all on-board for feline-related content. Gastropub owner and chef Will Phillips seems to be no different, except his kitty of choice is the endangered clouded leopard (Neofelis nebulosa to be sciencey). He loves the cat so much, he’s launched an actual gin to raise money in its honour! 

Clouded Leopard Gin

Behold, the clouded leopard (aka Neofelis Nebulosa)

Clouded Leopard Gin doesn’t just do good, though; it’s pretty tasty, too. Botanicals are sourced from Southern Asia, home to the cautious leopardy one, and distilled in Bristol. This gin is produced from British wheat spirit using one-shot distillation in 30-litre copper pot stills. 15% of the profit will be donated to the Born Free Foundation, which works to protect the clouded leopard (if you do the sums, that means at least £1 from each bottle will go to the fund). It is important to Phillips that the quality of the product’s botanicals is as powerful as the message that the gin will deliver. 

Typically a rainforest resident, the clouded leopard can be found in Southeast Asia, just like the botanicals in this lively, energetic spirit. We have the classic London dry juniper (obviously), with coriander seeds, angelica root, cassia bark, tropical mango, fragrant black pepper and lemon zest. The recipe is then macerated in the wheat spirit for 24 hours pre-distillation. Basically, this gin is glorious with a slice of fresh mango if you can, and meets with a paw-some cause. 

Clouded Leopard Gin

In all its glory

We need to address the design of the bottle, too. Its frosted (or cloudy) glass features a silhouette of a leopard striding across a branch, designed by Sarah Rock and illustrated by Jonathan Gibbs. The wax seal is particularly pretty, with a print of leaves fluttering down. It would very happily star in a gin shelfie. Purrfect.

But what of the clouded leopard itself? It is a tiny carnivore, only measuring around 6ft from nose to the tip of its tail, weighing up to 50lbs. Named for its stunning spotted coat, it’s rarely even seen in the wild due to its mysterious habits. The cat is listed as vulnerable with populations decreasing rapidly due to habitat loss from industrial logging and land development. It’s also illegally hunted for its beautiful coat, and some wrongly believe clouded leopard bones and teeth have healing powers… Heartbreaking.

“The clouded leopard is a fantastic and elusive animal rarely seen in the wild, and in grave danger of extinction,” said Phillips “I really want to help save this fantastic animal in its natural habitat and riding the crest of the gin wave sounds like an ideal place to start.” We love gin.  We love leopards. Combine them, and you’re winning!

A fun fact to round off on: Malaysians call this cute cat the ‘tree tiger’. Possibly because of the unique markings, or the fact it’s double jointed, allowing for easy tree climbing mayhem. Bit envious, TBH.

Clouded Leopard Gin and mango

Clouded Leopard Gin – a treat with mango

Clouded Leopard Gin tasting notes:

Nose: Soft fruit, lots of tropical mango transitioning to spicy pepper with zesty lemon.

Palate: Juniper berries, citrusy lemon, Love Hearts sweets, mango and peppery spicy notes.

Finish: Medium-length and pleasantly warming.

Clouded Leopard Gin bottle

Get yours right here!

Clouded Leopard Gin is priced at £34.95, and a Phillips-approved serve involves Fever-Tree Indian Tonic, garnished with fresh mango and black pepper. You can even grab some now in time for 4 August, which is of course International Clouded Leopard Day!

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