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Master of Malt Blog

Tag: Gin

Beefeater parent Pernod Ricard snaps up Malfy Gin

Pernod Ricard has got a taste for juniper! The drinks group released a statement this morning confirming it’s about to buy Italy-based Malfy Gin, growing its gin portfolio to six….

Pernod Ricard has got a taste for juniper! The drinks group released a statement this morning confirming it’s about to buy Italy-based Malfy Gin, growing its gin portfolio to six.

“This acquisition is true to our long-standing strategy of investing in brands with strong potential in growing categories,” said Christian Porta, MD of Pernod Ricard’s Global Business Development arm.

Malfy Gin is made by the Vergnano family in Moncalieri, and is available in four varieties: Originale, Con Limone, Con Arancia and Con Rosa. It’s produced using genuine Italian ingredients including juniper, coastal-grown lemons, Sicilian blood oranges and pink grapefruits.

It has already proved popular in big drinks markets around the world, including the US, Germany, and here in the UK.

Pernod Ricard hasn’t said how much it has paid for the brand, which will join the likes of Monkey 47, which it partnered with in 2016, and Ungava, a 2018 acquisition, once the transaction goes through.

“We are excited to see Malfy Gin move to the Pernod Ricard family of brands,” said Elwyn Gladstone, founder of Biggar & Leith, which launched Malfy in 2016.

“We believe that with their stewardship and expertise in building super-premium spirits brands, Malfy will continue to flourish.”

The deal is expected to close shortly – and it seems likely we will see more brand-buying from the drinks giant. “In line with the launch of our ‘Transform and Accelerate’ strategic plan, we will continue actively managing our fantastic portfolio of brands,” Porta added in the statement.

Malfy Gin Pink Lemonade

Malfy Gin Pink Lemonade

Malfy is pretty popular here at MoM Towers. If the news is giving you a bit of a hankering for a gin cocktail, why not give this super simple Pink Lemonade a go, made with Malfy Gin Rosa.

Take an ice-filled Highball glass and mix two parts Malfy Gin Rosa with one part Limoncello. Top with three parts soda water and garnish with a slice of lime and a raspberry (if you’re feeling fancy). Enjoy!

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Superb and surprising sweets for Easter

With Easter just around the corner, you’ll want to make the most of the long weekend. These sweet and sublime expressions from the world of booze should do the trick….

With Easter just around the corner, you’ll want to make the most of the long weekend. These sweet and sublime expressions from the world of booze should do the trick.

You know how every Easter we eat a ridiculous amount of chocolate and then comfort ourselves in the knowledge that it’s a tradition? Yeah, I love that. What an amazing time of year.

But it doesn’t always have to be egg-shaped confectionery that we indulge ourselves in. There are plenty of other sweet treats just waiting to be enjoyed, and some of them are delicious drinks. To save you the trouble of going on a easter egg hunt yourselves, we’ve created a selection of superb and surprising sweets for Easter.

So, what are you waiting for? Tuck in!

Liquid Intellect Jam Doughnut Negroni

It’s a scientific fact that jam doughnuts are delicious, so it’s about time somebody distilled them. The creative folks at Liquid Intellect did just that, making the doughy, jammy and sugary treats into a pre-bottled cocktail in the form of a Negroni. It’s an idea we can only applaud. Then drink.

What does it taste like?:

Oodles of sweet and fresh strawberry jam and doughy jam doughnut, with a fabulous balancing bitterness of Campari.

Mozart Gold Chocolate Cream Liqueur

Named after some bloke called Mozart, this creamy chocolate liqueur from Austria is a go-to for bartenders wanting to add chocolatey goodness to an array of cocktails for good reason. It was made using cocoa from West Africa, Madagascan vanilla, gourmet Belgian chocolate and a blend of cream and cocoa butter, and it’s as tasty as it sounds.

What does it taste like?:

Chocolate truffle, creamy vanilla and a pleasant touch of dark chocolate bitterness.

Aske Stephenson Peanut Butter & Jam Old Fashioned

Peanut butter and jam (AKA PB&J) doesn’t just make a great sandwich, but a wonderful Old Fashioned bottled cocktail too! Made by Aske Stephenson, the creation of Thomas Aske and Tristan Stephenson, this is best enjoyed in a rocks glass over ice. Oh, and the bottle was sealed with raspberry jam-scented wax. What a treat!

What does it taste like?:

Peanut butter and jam, nutty rye, fruity rye, corn sweetness and rich caramel.

Zymurgorium Extra Io’s Footsteps Sweet Violet Gin Liqueur (Quintessential Range)

The enigmatic distillers at Manchester’s The Zymurgorium have a reputation for creating all kinds of weird and wonderful delights, and this sweet violet gin liqueur is no exception. Ideal in an Aviation cocktail, Zymurgorium Extra Io’s Footsteps Sweet Violet Gin Liqueur also shines in desserts. It was named after an Ancient Greek mythological figure, in case you were wondering.

What does it taste like?:

Fragrant and sweet, with plenty of pastel Parmas.

Chocolate Orange Gin (That Boutique-y Gin Company)

Chocolate and orange go together like jam doughnuts and Negronis, so it’s little wonder That Boutique-y Gin Company made this flavoured gin treat. Crafted using bitter orange peels, roast cacao nibs and a host of traditional gin botanicals, this Chocolate Orange Gin blends all the creamy richness we love from chocolate and the tart, refreshing qualities of oranges in a winning combination.

What does it taste like?:

Chocolate cake, peppery juniper, fresh clementine, floral elements and lingering dark chocolate elegance.

Bakewell Gin

The Bakewell tart is an institution, don’t let anybody tell you otherwise. Thanks to a humble family-run distillery in the peak district, you can now enjoy said institution in the form of a tasty gin! Distilled in a small copper pot still using six botanicals, cherry, almond, juniper, cardamom, cubeb pepper and hibiscus flowers, Bakewell Gin is exactly as delicious as you would expect from a tribute to the classic English confection.

What does it taste like?:

A spicy and floral opening keep things interesting before the awaited ground almonds and cherry jam reveal. There’s a touch of custard in there too.

Bob’s Chocolate Bitters

From Bob’s Bitters range comes a way to chocolatify (it’s a word) your cocktail in style, with this single-botanical Chocolate Bitters. You can just picture Willy Wonka and the orange fellas using this when they’re enjoying a well-earned drink after a shift in the factory.

What does it taste like?:

Chocolate bitters, to be honest.

Boekenhoutskloof The Chocolate Block 2017

We saved something a little different for the end, a top South African red wine made with a blend of wine types, predominantly Syrah supported by Grenache, Cinault, Cabernet Sauvignon and Viognier. The 2017 vintage from Boekenhoutskloof spent over a year resting in French oak before being bottled up for wine enthusiasts that know that Easter is the best time to enjoy a rich, chocolatey red.

What does it taste like?:

Raspberry and blackcurrant, cacao, mince pie and just a touch of smoke.

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Cocktail of the Week: The Gin and Tonic

As I am sure you all were aware, yesterday was National Gin & Tonic Day. Any excuse to look a little closer at a drink that is often made extremely…

As I am sure you all were aware, yesterday was National Gin & Tonic Day. Any excuse to look a little closer at a drink that is often made extremely badly…

I’ve had many terrible Gin and Tonic experiences, so to get me in the right frame of mind for this article, I thought back to three particularly great ones:

1) A bar in Barcelona in the mid ‘90s, I’ve just ordered a Gin Tonica. The barman fills a tall Collins glass with ice, then free pours Larios Gin almost to the top, adds a slice of lime, adds a splash of tonic on the side, and I marvel as the UV light turns the drink blue (something to do with the quinine) while Ritmo de La Noche bangs away.

2) Sunset over Lake Malawi, the heat of the day has faded a bit, I’m sipping a G&T made with the local gin (which is excellent, why does nobody import it?) and thinking about dinner. The drink is extremely cold and alive with limes that taste as if they’d just come off the tree. Probably because they had.

3) At my grandfather’s house. Him explaining to me in his pedantic grandpa way how to make a G&T. The method involved Beefeater gin, lots and lots of ice, good quality heavy tumblers and Schweppes tonic water out of tiny bottles so that they were bursting with fizz. My grandfather made a mean G&T, much better than my father.

Gin Mare

The Spanish do make a cracking G&T (photo courtesy of Gin Mare)

These stories illustrate how a G&T should be: majestic, refreshing and invigorating. Now think of those pub versions you’ve had: watery ice, flat tonic, and sad dried out lemon, if you get any citrus at all. The whole thing tasting sickly sweet. Here I turn to the words of the great Victoria Moore in her book How to Drink (it was published in 2009, we really need an updated version): “Some people think that there is no need for instruction when it comes to making Gin and Tonic. Those people are wrong.” Making a good G&T isn’t difficult but it does require care.

When it comes to ingredients, we’re now spoiled for choice. You can go for classic gins with a big whack of juniper (Tanqueray) or floral lighter ones (Bombay Sapphire) or even ones that don’t really taste like gin (looking at you, Gin Mare). I’m using Ramsbury Gin from Wiltshire which contains quince as one of its botanicals. Tonic water has exploded recently with every variety under the sun from Fever Tree and its rivals. Don’t, however, ignore Schweppes. For many G&T fanatics, it’s the only one that will do. Which gin or tonic you use, however, is largely a matter of taste.

What isn’t a matter of taste is the proper way to make the thing. First the glass: use a heavy tumbler, a Collins glass or one of those Spanish fishbowl things. You need lots of ice, the cubes should be as large as possible. Try to avoid ice bought in bags as the cubes have holes in which makes them melt quicker. Both your gin and tonic should be chilled. I keep a bottle of gin in the freezer for emergency Martinis. Now the citrus fruit: it can be lemon, lime, grapefruit or orange (particularly nice with Brighton Gin) but it must be freshly cut. It sounds a bit pretentious but you will really notice the difference with Amalfi or Sicilian lemons as they have a floral perfumed quality rather than just being sharp.

Got your ingredients ready? Is your gin in the freezer? Let’s have a bloody Gin Tonica!

50ml Ramsbury Gin
100ml 1724 Tonic Water
Quarter of lemon

Fill a Collins glass or tumbler with ice, pour in the gin and top up with half the tonic water. Rub a quarter of lemon around the rim, drop in and stir. Serve with the rest of the tonic on the side so you can dilute to taste. Don’t forget the salty snacks.

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New Arrival of the Week: Martini Fiero

Martini & Rossi have big plans for Martini Fiero, a new super fruity vermouth that the company hopes will be the drink of the summer. We take a closer look……

Martini & Rossi have big plans for Martini Fiero, a new super fruity vermouth that the company hopes will be the drink of the summer. We take a closer look…

The press bumf describes Fiero as “the biggest new product launch undertaken by Martini in years”. And there can be no doubt at the sizeable market Fiero is aimed at: Aperol drinkers. Those bright orange spritzes are so ubiquitous now it’s hard to remember that until 2009/10, Aperol had little presence outside Italy. I think like many Londoners I had my first taste of it at Polpo on Beak Street, which proved so influential when it opened in 2009. By 2014, the Aperol Spritz was everywhere from country pubs in Wiltshire to seaside towns in Spain. It was a stunning example of how to market a product.

Martini Fiero

Martini Fiero, looking very pretty

It’s easy to see the appeal because, though there is a certain amount of bitterness, with its sweet orangey taste and low alcohol (11% ABV), Aperol is almost Kia-Ora for grown-ups. Not that that’s a bad thing. I think it tastes particularly fine mixed with fizzy water and grapefruit juice. Aperol’s success has led to a vogue for spritzes. To my knowledge, however, there haven’t been any mainstream products aimed squarely at Aperol (though I did try a supermarket own-label version a couple of years ago which was pretty revolting). Until now…. 

Martini Fiero has been available on the continent for a couple of years now, but this month it is being officially released in Britain. It’s actually a very different product from Aperol. Though it doesn’t say so on the front label, it’s actually a vermouth, which means that it’s made from white wine rather than the neutral alcohol that goes into Aperol. It’s also higher in alcohol at 14.9% ABV. Martini informed us that it’s made from 100% natural flavours and colours, including orange and two types of wormwood (artemisia absinthium and artemisia pontica, for vermouth geeks).

Martini Fiero

“Go on, I dare you to ask for a beer”

So how does it taste? Rather delicious, I thought. It feels a lot less sugary than Campari or Aperol; the overwhelming flavour is of sweet oranges with some bitter orange peel notes at the end and a certain medicinal tang. You can also really taste the wine base. Perhaps it’s the  bright red colour, but it reminded me a bit of Panda cherryade which used to be sold at my local cinema in the 1980s (interestingly, the same local cinema has been poshed up and now sells Aperol Spritzes). I liked it mixed half and half with soda water, with grapefruit juice and soda, and it makes a cracking Gin and It. Martini recommends drinking Fiero with tonic water which worked beautifully, the bitterness in the tonic chiming with the subtle bitter notes in the vermouth (though I did add a splash of soda to lessen the sweetness).

Just as Campari lovers can be a bit sniffy about Aperol, I think some vermouth fans are going to turn their noses up at Fiero. The flavours are clean and simple, it doesn’t have the complexity of the Martini Riserva range or the power of the standard Martini Rosso (hard to beat in a Negroni). But, of course, it is not aimed at vermouth nuts. According to Martini, “Fiero & Tonic provides a younger adult audience with a refreshing new way to enjoy vermouth as part of the aperitivo occasion”. As a sweet, fruity drink with enough bite to keep it interesting, it’s the perfect uncomplicated drink for a summer’s day. Rather like another orangey Italian drink I could name.

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Five new Scotch distilleries we can’t wait to explore

With around 30 new Scotch whisky distilleries in the planning or construction phases, it’s an exhilarating time to be a dram fan. Here, we’ve picked out five of the most…

With around 30 new Scotch whisky distilleries in the planning or construction phases, it’s an exhilarating time to be a dram fan. Here, we’ve picked out five of the most hotly-anticipated producers preparing to join the fold…

The last few years have been a ride, haven’t they? Scotland’s best-known distilleries are expanding, new players are making waves and old favourites like Port Ellen, Brora, and Rosebank are en route to resurrection.

While there are many more Scotch whisky distilleries in progress and no doubt plenty others to be announced over the coming year – we’ve picked out five we’re particularly excited about. What’s yours? Let us know where and why in the comments below…

port of leith distillery

Port of Leith Distillery (it doesn’t quite look like this yet)

Port of Leith Distillery, Edinburgh

We’ve had a soft spot for Port of Leith Distillery for a little while now. A whisky crush, if you will. Not only will the Leith-based site be Edinburgh’s first single malt whisky distillery for more than 100 years, but its ground-breaking design means it’ll be Scotland’s very first vertical distillery too. It’s expected to be up and running by autumn 2020, with the first whisky bottles slated for release in 2023, but that hasn’t stopped co-founders Paddy Fletcher and Ian Stirling from giving us a flavour of what’s to come. Last year the duo released Port of Leith Distillery sherry, sourced from Bodegas Baron in Sanlúcar de Barrameda, and Lind & Lime Gin, produced at nearby The Tower Street Stillhouse which will later house the Port of Leith’s whisky development programme. Expect unusual yeast strains, fermentation experiments, and a whole new world of flavour.

Clutha Distillery

Clutha Distillery

Clutha Distillery, Glasgow

Situated at Glasgow’s Pacific Quay development on the south side of the River Clyde, Douglas Laing’s project Clutha – meaning Clyde in Gaelic – isn’t just a single malt whisky distillery. Oh, no. The £10.7m building will also house a bottling complex, visitor centre, whisky laboratory, whisky archive, bar, bistro, and corporate head office. The family-owned business plans on producing whisky with a heavy sherry influence that will differ from traditional Lowland styles: think macerated fruit, dark fruit, chocolate and cocoa character. Last year, third generation family member Cara Laing told MoM to expect a “down-to-earth, very honest distillery” that focuses on “everything from the barley to the finished bottle”.

Cabrach Distillery

Cabrach Distillery as it will look when finished

Cabrach Distillery, Moray

While the stills at Inverharroch Farm in the Highlands – home to Cabrach Distillery and its accompanying heritage centre – are new, the 150,000-or-so bottles of single malt they’ll produce each year will “made with historical methods” according to “the blueprint of an early 19th-century distillery”. The project, operated by The Cabrach Trust, aims to essentially produce Cabrach whisky as it would have been produced in the area in 1820, when wild, remote and rural Moray was at the centre of illicit whisky-making and smuggling. Cabrach Distillery is expected to release its first mature bottling in 2024.

Ardgowan Whisky Distillery

Ardgowan Whisky Distillery visualised by digital artist Tom Barnett

Ardgowan Distillery, Inverkip

Lowlands liquid with a maritime touch is what the good folks at Ardgowan Estate (around 30 miles from Glasgow, FYI) plan on serving up at their site, which will nestle across a cluster of ancient farm buildings on their Bankfoot site. The original Ardgowan Distillery was founded in 1896 in Greenock, and made grain spirit and industrial alcohol until it was destroyed during the Second World War. A £12 million distillery and visitor centre, Ardogowan 2.0 will produce three separate whisky styles – heavily peated, lightly peated, and unpeated – which will be available for sale as four, five, and seven-year old drams. In September 2018, the team released their inaugural whisky, the Ardgowan Expedition: a 20-year-old blended Scotch made with liquid that has travelled to the South Pole and back.

Ardross Distillery

Shadowy figures lurking at Ardross Distillery

Ardross Distillery, Inverness

Located in the Averon Valley, 30 miles north of Inverness, Greenwood Distillers’ Ardross Distillery is set on a 50-acre farm complex that dates back to the 19th century. The two-storey still house, tun room, mash house, milling area, blending and product development lab, vaulted cask storage area, tasting room, marketing suite, offices, and staff accommodation will split across steading buildings, farmhouse and cottages that once made up Ardross Mains Farm. Keen to get distilling, the folks at Greenwood recently unveiled Theodore Gin, created with guidance from olfactory expert and perfumier Barnabe Fillion. Our very own Jessica popped along to the launch in London read all about it here.

That’s it, folks! Five new Scotch whisky distilleries we’d love to visit. Which next-gen distilleries are on your bucket list? Let us know in the comments below, on social.

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Whiskey to return to Donegal with Ardara Distillery!

Irish whiskey (and gin) fans, we bring you good tidings. Sliabh Liag Distillers has unveiled plans for its new Ardara Distillery in Donegal – yes, Ireland looks set to get another whiskey…

Irish whiskey (and gin) fans, we bring you good tidings. Sliabh Liag Distillers has unveiled plans for its new Ardara Distillery in Donegal – yes, Ireland looks set to get another whiskey maker!

The company has acquired the Show Field in Ardara, and will be formally submitting a planning application to Donegal County Council for the new distillery this week. This is the beginning of its ambitious plan to return whiskey distilling to Donegal for the first time in 177 years. Now that’s a long old time. Company directors James and Moira Doherty and James Keith stated that the construction of Ardara Distillery is scheduled to start later this year (subject to planning approval, of course), and if all goes to plan distilling operations will commence in 2020. Exciting stuff!

The brand already produces some familiar names, including Dúlamán Irish Maritime gin, and also The Legendary Silkie Irish whiskey. The company is also planning to create a number of new brands at the new distillery. We can expect to see a couple of peaty treats, such as Ardara and Sliabh Liag single malt and pot still whiskeys, which will remain faithful to the style of 19th century whiskeys from the county.

With a €6 million investment, Ardara Distillery will employ at least 40 people, and will have the capacity to produce 400,000 litres of pure alcohol a year. That’s the equivalent of around 1,700 filled casks, and over 1.2 million bottles of whiskey. Our mouths are already watering.

It’s not just the whiskey itself which is impressive here. The company has put a lot of thought into the design of the new Ardara Distillery building, with a particular focus on how best to complement the village and its natural surroundings. CornerStone Architecture has been called on for the task, and has designed a building that will make use of traditional shapes and materials. It will be “truly unique but will look very much part of the town”, according to Gavin Shovelin of CornerStone.

Ardara Distillery

The shiny proposed Ardara Distillery!

The An Dúlamán gin still, named Méabh, currently resides just outside the village of Carrick at the existing production site, and will be moved to the Ardara Distillery so whiskey and gin are both under one roof. A visitor centre has also been planned, and featuring a Poitín museum, exhibition space, tasting bar and shop. In a rather interesting but admirable move, there will be no café or restaurant, as the directors wanted to encourage visitors to make use of all that the local village has to offer.

“The design of the development is a mix of contemporary and traditional finishes which complement the village of Ardara,” said James Doherty, Sliabh Liag Distillers managing director.

“It is important to us that local businesses benefit from the foot fall, and if we can get visitors walking in the village, increasing their dwell time, then it’s so much the better for the entire community.” We wholeheartedly agree. As well as supporting the village itself, a large portion of the land surrounding the new distillery will be kept as an open green space for anyone to enjoy. Sliabh Liag Distillers clearly has huge respect for its natural surroundings and community, and it’s great to see a company so invested in preserving both.

There was a public consultation in Ardara yesterday (2 April) and the Planning Application is due to be submitted tomorrow (4 April). We’ll keep our fingers crossed!

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How (not) to launch a drinks product

Today, we are delighted to announce a new series of columns from writer and former bar owner Nate Brown. This week he takes a not entirely serious look at how…

Today, we are delighted to announce a new series of columns from writer and former bar owner Nate Brown. This week he takes a not entirely serious look at how to launch a new drinks brand…

There has been an explosion of new products launched over the last couple of years. Every week we are introduced to something ‘new’. From so-called craft distilleries to the big boys, any excuse to launch a new expression will be hunted down and executed. We’re bombarded with whisky from TV shows (we definitely needed those), more pink gin expressions (really?) and so many cask finishes it’s a wonder there are any trees left standing.

There is one thing all these newbies have in common, and that’s the launch night. Get it right and the entire industry will be abuzz. Get it wrong and the entire industry, well, will be abuzz also. With so many launches to ‘enjoy’, you’d think the industry would have arrived at a fairly formulaic process: invite guests, show off, have a nice time. Everyone leaves a little wiser and a little happier. But oh no. No, no, double no. Again and again, a product launch party rolls around that makes my jaw drop, and not because someone is pouring something delicious. You’d think the hospitality industry would be better at hospitality. You’d be wrong.  

To illustrate this, I have collated a few steps of how not to launch a product. All of these have happened. Most of these have happened more than once. Some are repeated again and again and for the love of Christ, I have no idea why. Please don’t try this at home.

Nate Brown

Nate Brown in his natural habitat

Step 1

Choose a suitable location for the launch. Chances are you won’t have bothered with your own distillery, and instead contracted out production. Without a distillery, the world is your oyster. How freeing! Choose your favourite zeitgeist bar, preferably somewhere in whatever suburb of London you live. Just make sure that it’s a blank canvas, or at least has an identity of its own that has nothing whatsoever to do with yours. You know how confused journalists get, must be all that drinking! A cunning trick is to send the stock as late as possible, or maybe not at all, to make sure those pesky bartenders don’t drink any beforehand. Sure, you could partner with someone whose brand story overlaps with yours, and they could bring a host of folks to your party, but this is your party, why let them steal your limelight? Exposure is measured in seconds, people!

Step 2

It’s important to remind everyone of how cool you are, and how hard you’ve worked. This should be a party, and when do parties happen? Why, Friday nights of course! It’s not as if people will have anything better to do.

Step 3

With your raison d’être, a date and neutral location sorted, next is the guest list. There are two schools of thought: one is to invite industry players, although bar managers, bartenders, bar owners are all too flaky to come to things like this. I mean, if they can’t be trusted to sack off the bar for a Friday party celebrating how hard you’ve worked and how cool your brand is, then to hell with them. What do they know? The second, time-honoured approach is to invite the stalwarts of the trade press. It’s their job to report on what you do, which makes it a doddle. They won’t even need explanations, hosting or entertaining, and they’ll still pop a lovely little mention of how cool you are and how hard you’ve worked online. Everyone’s a winner, especially you. Now that’s value.

One thing we can agree on is do not, under any circumstances, invite those with a social media presence. Sure, they may have thousands of eager followers who hang on their every word and buy the most ridiculous skincare placebos for buckets of cash, but they don’t work in the industry, so you’d have to spend your entire evening curating some sort of explanation of the processes behind your wonderful brand. If they don’t know how exactly a Coffey Still works they’re beyond help.  Nah, just ignore them. This social media fad has no power and will never catch on anyway.

Having a great time!

They’re lovin’ it!

Step 4

That’s the guest list sorted. Now the easy bit the running of the evening. It’s a product launch; all your guests know the score and each other. Just have them turn up around 7pm and your work here is done. Better make sure they get some drinks, but this spirits game is an expensive business, so don’t go crazy. If you have a cheaper expression, offer them that instead. Bespoke cocktails are overrated. And bartenders all of a sudden seem to know their worth, so any Tom or Dick will do. Better still, just put an arbitrary cash tab behind the bar, that way your guests don’t even have to drink your brand. Remember, the slower the drinks flow, the longer the free bar lasts, the cooler this party looks. Simples.

Step 5

It is wise to avoid looking like you (or anyone for that matter) are in charge. Keep people guessing, it’ll give the guests something to talk about. Otherwise, you’ll spend the entire evening answering questions and putting out fires. It’s your job to start the fires. Look hot. Maybe get your flirt on. Alternatively, have that one member of your team you dislike the most wearing a branded tee (you can get these done super cheap online). That way they can act as question fodder for the annoyingly curious attendees, leaving you free to chat up the cool kids and the hotties.

Step 6

Do not even consider hiring a photographer. You want people to loosen up and let their hair down. Who wants that on record? No, in fact, don’t do anything that stands in the way of a boozy one. Think about instead confiscating people’s phones. We don’t want any embarrassing pictures online.

Step 7

If you really must, make some sort of speech to introduce the brand. But personally, I wouldn’t bother. Who likes to have their evening interrupted with a speech? This isn’t a wedding. Besides, these hermit-like journalists probably haven’t seen each other since yesterday’s launch, and will have plenty of catching up to do without you sticking your nose in. Just get drunk, get your team drunk, and have well-deserved blow-out. Lead by example. Better for everyone to talk about that totally epic party you had than to walk away sober.

Nate Brown

You want opinions? Nate Brown’s got ’em

Step 8

If things go according to plan, your guests will be so drunk that they’ll struggle to remember their own coats, so I wouldn’t bother with any takeaways or gift bags, they’ll only get left in the Uber.

Step 9

By which stage, you’ve achieved what you set out to do. You’ve unleashed your product to the world. Leave the journalists to do whatever it is journalists do, then wait for the orders to come rolling in. You’re a game changer. It’s time to enjoy yourself. Get your friends to come, just make sure they get there before the bar tab has run dry. Maybe even get on the old winking app and swipe right a few times. You’ll never look so glamorous to a stranger as when you’re hosting your own product launch. Guaranteed lay.

And there you have it. At least until next week’s launch.

Nate Brown has owned and operated spirit specialist cocktail bars in London for the better part of a decade. He’s a regular speaker on industry panels, a judge for various spirit awards and has been known to harbour an opinion or two.  

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The Nightcap: 29 March

Carbon neutral distilleries, robots that scare birds away from grapes and a farewell to vintages. It’s a particularly varied week for The Nightcap. You’re tuned in to The Nightcap, Master…

Carbon neutral distilleries, robots that scare birds away from grapes and a farewell to vintages. It’s a particularly varied week for The Nightcap.

You’re tuned in to The Nightcap, Master of Malt’s round-up of booze news stories from the week that was. If there was a way to make sound happen automatically when you open The Nightcap in a way that wasn’t completely terrifying (it scares us every time a website just randomly decides that we’d love for a video to make noise right away, or that we just have to hear this royalty-free classical music while reading about something on the internet), you bet it would be one of those cool ‘dun-dun-dun-da-daaaah’ type melodies that all good news shows on TV have.

So, what have been the happenings on the MoM Blog this week? Adam got a taste for new releases, firstly showing off HYKE Gin, and then even more lip-smacking new arrivals to MoM Towers. Annie got out a magnifying glass to check out what could be the smallest gin distilleries in Britain, and followed it up with a look at the rise of cocktail-specific booze. Henry mixed up a French 75 for Cocktail of the Week, and met with Glenlivet’s Alan Winchester to taste a 50 year old single malt. Jess headed to London for a night of perfume and cocktails with Theodore Pictish Gin. Kristy was lucky enough to try something completely new from Tobermory – a gin!

More news? More news!

Balblair

No more vintages: the new Balblair core range

Balblair replaces vintages with age-statement whiskies

Some of us thought we’d never see the day. Age statements instead of vintages at Balblair? That’s the news this week from the Highland distillery, who confirmed a departure from the distillery’s ‘vintage-only’ approach in favour of four age-statement expressions. The new collection of single malt Scotch whiskies will be available in the UK this month and globally from April 2019. It consists of: a 12 Year Old, matured in American oak ex-bourbon and double-fired American oak casks; a 15 Year Old, aged initially in American oak ex-bourbon casks, followed by first-fill Spanish oak butts; an 18 Year Old, matured initially in American oak ex-bourbon casks, followed by first-fill Spanish oak butts; and finally, the standout in the range is a 25 Year Old that was initially aged in American oak ex-bourbon casks then re-casked in Spanish oak oloroso casks. John MacDonald, Distillery Manager at Balblair, said: “As one of the oldest working distilleries in the Scottish Highlands, Balblair has a long and rich history of crafting premium single malt Scotch whisky. Our new collection is intrinsically linked to our heritage and is testament to the place and the people behind our whisky, while being emblematic of our ‘True Highland Spirit’.” We’re sad to see the vintages go, but we’re looking forward to seeing what’s to come from this new era for Balblair – and tasting those age-statement whiskies!

don julio

The ‘world’s first’ Añejo Claro Tequila in a White Negroni

Don Julio brings ‘world’s first’ Añejo Claro Tequila to the UK

As everyone who is studying for the WSET Level 2 knows, or should know, Tequila Añejo is aged for a minimum of one year in oak so that it takes on colour and flavour from the cask. Well, that was true up until now because Don Julio Tequila has just launched an Añejo Claro into the UK market. It is aged for 18 months in American oak barrels but then filtered, rather as with some white rums, so you have all (or most) of the flavour of an aged spirit but without that pesky colour. It’s called Don Julio 70 and, coincidentally, will retail for around £70. Richard Larkin, head of Diageo Reserve GB, said: “This first-of-its-kind Tequila showcases the talent and skill of master distiller Enrique de Colsa who has created an Añejo Claro to challenge conventions and support the growth of super premium tequila in the UK. It’s a masterpiece of innovation.” First of its kind? Masterpiece of innovation? We’re always a bit sceptical when we hear that. So we did some investigating. It’s certainly new to the UK, although it sounds very much like a product called Hornitos Cristalino, also a filtered colourless Añejo. The folks at Diageo got in touch to tell us Don Julio 70 was first conceived in 2011 though, so it does indeed have claim to the ‘first-ever’ Añejo Claro title after all.*

ailsa bay

The new technological tipple

Ailsa Bay unveils blockchain whisky bottle

News that will please whisky geeks and, well, geeks in general came from William Grant & Sons this week, which announced the launch of a new Ailsa Bay expression that features blockchain technology. For those of you scratching your head, blockchain is a list of registers, or blocks, that contain information about the previous block and transaction data between the two blocks. Essentially, it acts as an open ledger to track authenticity and (in this case) allows shoppers to digitally track the whisky’s production journey. This new whisky features data acquired from William Grant & Sons including cask types, filling dates and bottling dates. The brand’s use of blockchain captures the full distilling and manufacturing process, allowing customers to track their whisky from source to store and trace the origins of their whisky via a web experience, which is individually tailored to each bottle. All you have to do is scan the QR code and you’ll be presented with a visual history of your whisky. William Grant & Sons partnered with specialist blockchain technology company Arc-Net to create this bottling. Dominic Parfitt, head of E-commerce at William Grant & Sons, said: “Innovation is a key part of our business. We’re constantly looking to evolve our offering and learn new things in order to push the boundaries within the drinks industry. We’re doing something now that we hope will set the bar for the future experience of spirits, and we look forward to seeing how other brands follow suit as innovation within the industry continues to develop in the next few years.”

greensand ridge

Greensand Ridge becomes carbon neutral

Kent-based Greensand Ridge is the UK’s first carbon neutral distillery

It’s 2019, and with environmental concerns becoming more pressing than ever we are happy to announce that craft distillery Greensand Ridge in Kent has become carbon neutral. It’s the first distillery in the UK to achieve this milestone, so we’ll certainly raise a glass to that! When the distillery opened in 2015, it already had the goal of having as little impact on the environment as possible, and it’s taken the last four years of hard work to reach this point. It uses surplus produce from local farmers that supermarkets won’t take, which is why you’ll see a fair few fruit spirits from the distillery such as Apple Brandy or Raspberry Ghost. With a zero target for chemical use and non-recyclable waste, and powered by 100% renewable electricity, Greensand Ridge truly has its eye on the sustainability ball. Greensand Ridge founder and distiller Will Edge says that becoming carbon neutral “doesn’t change our spirits, but it’s a statement of what is important to us as a new and growing business.” If you happen to be in the area, you can visit the distillery and even make your own bottle of carbon-neutral gin! Let’s hope more follow suit.

patron

Best of luck and many thanks to Dave Wilson!

Patrón global president and chief operations officer Dave Wilson to retire

Bacardi Limited has announced this week that Dave Wilson, global president and chief operations officer of Patrón Spirits International and the Patrón Spirits Company, will retire as of 1 April 2019. During his tenure, Wilson helped establish Patrón, which was acquired by Bacardi Limited in April 2018, in the ultra-premium Tequila category and to become one of the most recognisable agave-spirit brands around. With Wilson’s retirement, Pete Carr, president of Bacardi North America, will now lead both the Bacardi and Patrón organisations for North America, while Wilson will continue as a senior adviser to Patrón. Mahesh Madhavan, CEO of Bacardi Limited commented: “During his tremendously successful 40-year career, Dave has made an everlasting imprint in the spirits industry driving pioneering marketing, world-class operations, and innovative environmental programs. On behalf of Bacardi and our newest colleagues from Patrón, I thank Dave for his contributions to the industry and for supporting the union of two incredible organisations that are Bacardi and Patrón.” Best of luck in all future endeavours, Mr. Wilson!

valour

Is there anything more fashionable these days than gin?

Fashion designer partners with start-up distillery to launch bespoke designer gin

It seems that fashion and booze go hand-in-hand these days. Fashion designer Scott Henshall has partnered with Cooper King Distillery as part of Henshall’s new ‘Valour’ brand which launched during York Fashion Week. Don’t worry, we didn’t forget any prefixes, this is Yorkshire’s very own fashion week. Henshall, who has worked with the likes of Victoria Beckham and Paris Hilton, became, at the age of 22, the youngest designer to show during London Fashion Week. Originally from York, he wanted to celebrate his 21st year in the fashion industry by going back to his roots. The Valour range urges people to ‘be courageous in all you do’. Co-founder of Cooper King Distillery Chris Jaume said that it had been great fun working on “a unique gin which articulates the luxury and courage which Scott’s Valour brand signifies”. Among the botanicals is local honey from Cooper King’s own beehives, and lemongrass. With at least 1% of all proceeds going to the Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust as part of Cooper King Distillery’s 1% for the Planet initiative, the gin not only looks fabulous and tastes amazing, but even has a positive environmental impact. If that’s not fashionable, we don’t know what is.

luxardo

Gareth Franklin, Luxardo global brand ambassador

Luxardo launches ‘Modify This’ masterclass tour

Italian drinks company Luxardo is taking its products on the road with a series of guest nights and masterclasses at bars around the country. The initiative is called ‘Modify This!’ and it’s fronted by global brand ambassador Gareth ‘G’ Franklin. The journey begins in Wales at Pennyroyal in Cardiff on 10 April and will take him all over this great country of ours. The point is to encourage bartenders and customers alike to look at liqueurs like Luxardo Maraschino or Bitter Bianco as the headliner rather than the supporting act. Mr G said: “Liqueurs are by far the largest and most diverse category out there, but they are often seen as a lower priority on the list and in terms of the location where they are placed at the bar. I want to change this. With fresh thinking, bartenders will re-discover the benefits, authentic style and distinctive flavours of liqueurs, and how they can transform popular, simple spirit plus mixer drinks into original cocktails.” To make his point, G has come up with a special serve called the Iceberg Slim consisting of Luxardo Bitter Bianco mixed with tonic, lemon essential oils and fresh dill. Sounds like a definite contender for Cocktail of the Week.

Yeah, you can chuck those out

Gin: from mother’s ruin to Mother’s Day

It’s Mother’s Day on Sunday, but on the same day the clocks go forward meaning less time in bed. What’s that all about? Better make sure you have a good present for the mother in your life to make up for that extra hour awake. According to the WSTA, gin is now the gift du jour on Mothering Sunday. Figures released yesterday show that in the last two years gin sales spiked in March. In the first quarter of 2017, 6.4m bottles of gin were sold in UK shops, and of that 2.6m, 41%, were sold in March. Last year was even stronger, with 9m bottles of gin sold in January, February and March of which 4.7 million, 52%, of those were sold in the run up to Mother’s Day. Marcus Pickering of Pickering’s Gin whose company offers a personalised gin wrapping service said: “After years of giving flowers and chocolates we have discovered what mums really want is gin”.

bombay sapphire

Bombay Sapphire Limited Edition English Estate is a summer-inspired gin

Bombay Sapphire launches new gin inspired by the English countryside

Bombay Sapphire announced this week that it planned to release more gin-based deliciousness in the form of Bombay Sapphire Limited Edition: English Estate. It’s a gin inspired by the landscape surrounding the brand’s home at Laverstoke Mill in the Hampshire countryside. The first in a series of limited editions, Bombay Sapphire English Estate was made with an infusion of three new botanicals: Pennyroyal mint, rosehip and toasted hazelnut to create a summery profile. But be warned, this gin will only be available for 12 months from April 2019. Two bespoke cocktails were created to showcase this drink, ‘The Secret English Garden’, which blends English Estate gin with Fever-Tree ginger ale and cloudy apple juice served long with lemon, apple, thyme and ice, as well as a twist on the classic G&T, combining English Estate gin with Fever-Tree tonic over ice, garnished with mint and a lemon wedge. Ivano Tonutti, Bombay Sapphire master of botanicals, commented on the expression: “Each botanical in our gin is carefully balanced to create a smooth and complex taste and the new Bombay Sapphire English Estate is no different. Hand-selected from the English countryside and drawing creative inspiration from the Hampshire home of Bombay Sapphire, the additional botanicals produce a summer-inspired vibrant gin.”

bird that hates grapes

It’s saying: “I’m gonna eat your graaaaaaaapes!”

And finally… Drone to deter birds from stealing wine grapes

Grapes have made a few enemies over the years. Phylloxera, for example. One grape enemy you may be more familiar with is birds. Birds have trouble resisting those little globes of deliciousness, and while making sure birds enjoy a balanced breakfast is a noble cause, we can all agree that this should not come at the cost of wine. In a report from The HeraldDarren Fahey, the viticulture development officer for NSW Department of Primary Industries, estimated that birds cause $300 million-a-year crop and winegrape losses in Australia. That’s where Zi Wang, a Sydney University School of Aerospace Mechanical and Mechatronic Engineering PhD candidate, comes in with his plan to use a drone to scare away the hungry birds from Australian vineyards. The drone, which is being trialled in Hunter valley, Hilltops and Orange vineyards, can be piloted remotely, and the aim is to make it so the system can detect birds and automatically launch into action. It can emit mimicked bird distress calls, and even has a dummy crow attached to it, to make it look like the drone has just caught it. Perhaps if Heathrow starts having drone problems again, the way to defeat them is to send out a rival drone with another drone attached to it…

That’s it for The Nightcap this week, folks. Have a good one!

*An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that Hornitos Cristalino was first to market – apologies, folks. 

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Distell unveils super-local Tobermory Hebridean Gin!

Are you a gin magpie with an eye for shiny, new juniper-based concoctions? Then listen up. Mull-based distillery Tobermory is in the process of releasing its first gin expression. Behold –…

Are you a gin magpie with an eye for shiny, new juniper-based concoctions? Then listen up. Mull-based distillery Tobermory is in the process of releasing its first gin expression. Behold – Tobermory Hebridean Gin!

Tobermory Distillery has been closed for a two-year renovation period, and the first fruits of that investment were on display at an event in London last night (27 March).

Not only did the distillery reveal its new Tobermory 12 Year Old, an unpeated bourbon cask-matured, virgin oak-finished Scotch whisky expression, but it surprised guests with a sneak peek at the new gin, too.

Tobermory Hebridean Gin

Tobermory Hebridean Gin – Tobermory’s first gin!

Tobermory Hebridean Gin is a 46.3% ABV small-batch-distilled gin made with local botanicals including elderflower, tea and wild heather, and a dash of Tobermory new-make spirit.

The new-make is used more as another botanical rather than the full base. The result means the oily, cereal character is a flavour contributor, rather than overwhelming the whole expression.

We were particularly impressed by the bottle, which showcases the iconic, colourful houses that border the shore in Tobermory, the island’s biggest town. The clear glass and label design are in line with a sleek brand refresh for the wider spirits range. 

Dr Kirstie McCallum, Distell’s master blender, told us that the gin release was the result of the investment in the distillery. It’s currently being produced in 60-litre still named Wee Betty, with a larger dedicated gin still set to be installed in the new spirits stillhouse (separate from the existing whisky-producing space) later this summer.

Once the larger still is in situ, the gin will be released more widely.

Tobermory 12 Year Old

The shiny new Tobermory 12 Year Old!

McCallum also confirmed Tobermory 10 Year Old has been discontinued with the launch of the 12 Year Old expression, and that we can expect to see more changes to the distillery’s core Scotch whisky range soon. In addition to the unpeated Tobermory range, the site also produces heavily-peated Scotch whisky under the Ledaig name.

Keep an eye on the blog for our full interview with McCallum, including further details on Tobermory Hebridean Gin and Tobermory 12 Year Old, coming soon!

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Cocktail of the Week: French 75

For Mother’s Day we have a special cocktail that combines mummy’s two favourite things: gin and Champagne. Yeah, it sounds a bit odd but we can assure you the French…

For Mother’s Day we have a special cocktail that combines mummy’s two favourite things: gin and Champagne. Yeah, it sounds a bit odd but we can assure you the French 75 tastes delicious.

It might seem heretical to our modern tastes to add sugar and lemon juice let alone gin to Champagne but the Victorians were less precious. Dickens (who was a keen cocktail and punch enthusiast) would entertain guests with a mixture of gin and Champagne; and Queen Victoria’s drink of choice was whisky combined half-and-half with red Bordeaux. Sounds revolting but when you’re the Empress of India, who’s going to tell you you’re doing it wrong?

While I wouldn’t recommend going the full Queen Vic, we can learn from Dickens’ attitude to alcohol. I had a wonderful experience at the St Pancras Renaissance Hotel a few years ago courtesy of Joe Stockoe of drinks company Heads, Hearts and Tails. First he made a chilled fruit punch in a large silver bowl and then for the pièce de résistance, poured in a magnum of Veuve Clicquot to finish it off. The sparkling wine made the contents of the bowl fizz and froth like a magic potion. It tasted pretty magic too.

The result was not dissimilar to this week’s cocktail. The French 75, or as they call it in France the Soixante-quinze, is named after a French artillery gun, the 75 millimetre. It (the cocktail not the gun) was invented by Harry MacElhone at Harry’s Bar in Paris just after World War One. Perhaps hoping to make a point about diminished French military might, one of the German officers in the film Casablanca orders it at Rick’s Bar. The French, however, get their revenge later by beating the Germans in a singing contest.

So, which Champagne to use in your Soixante-quinze? It’s probably a waste to use anything too expensive like Krug or Dom Pérignon (unless you’re feeling particularly swanky) but at the same time you do need a sparkling wine with the body to stand up to all those additions. I find Veuve Clicquot ideal for this purpose. After some experimentation I think it works best with a good amount of lemon juice, and the orange bitters really lifts the whole thing and brings out orangey notes in the Champagne. For the gin, I’ve chosen Barentz, a lavender-heavy little number named after a Dutch explorer (but distilled in Britain). 

French

It should look at bit like this

I can’t think of a better cocktail to make your mother feel appreciated, though some flowers too wouldn’t go amiss. . . and would it hurt to call once in a while?

35ml Willem Barentsz Premium Gin
15ml fresh lemon juice
5ml sugar syrup
100ml Veuve Clicquot Yellow Label
Dash of Fee Brothers Orange Bitters

Shake the first three ingredients with ice and strain into a Champagne flute. Top up with chilled Champagne, stir, add a dash of bitters and garnish with a lemon twist. Some of the creative types at Master of Malt have created a snazzy little film (above) to show you exactly how it should be done.

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