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Tag: Glen Grant

The Nightcap: 10 September

What to expect from this week’s round-up of boozy news: Midleton’s new rye whiskey, CAMRA’s plea to us to drink better cider, and the promise you can drink more if…

What to expect from this week’s round-up of boozy news: Midleton’s new rye whiskey, CAMRA’s plea to us to drink better cider, and the promise you can drink more if you exercise. It’s all in the Nightcap: 10 September edition!

What we love about the British summer is just when you think it’s over and autumn has definitely arrived, it’ll return for an encore. We’re making the most of the sunshine because before you know it, the darkness and gloom of winter will be here. But we need not be too sad because there’s a drink or drinks for every season. We’re looking forward to putting away the cold lagers, Margaritas, and Gin and Tonics, and moving on to the hot toddies, sherried single malts, and, best of all, lashing and lashing of Port. And to read with your seasonal beverages? Why, there’s always the Nightcap. Those winter months are just going to fly by.

Before we get stuck into the news from the world of booze, we have to tell you about all the excitement on the blog this week. And we mean excitement. The week began with a look at the long-awaited Johnnie Walker brand home on Princes Street in Edinburgh. Then Henry toasted the start of a new week with four limited-edition whiskies from Bunnahabhain, Deanston, Tobermory, and Ledaig. New columnist Lauren Eads spoke to Shannon Tebay, the first American to run the American Bar at the Savoy, while Adam knocked up Snoop Dogg’s favourite cocktail, the Gin and Juice. Ian Buxton returned with a look at the lost world of Australian and New Zealand whisky. Then we wrote about the oldest Japanese whisky ever released, a Yamazaki 55 Year Old! But that’s not all because Adam has just come back from Glenmorangie’s experimental new distillery. All in one week!

Now it’s on with the Nightcap: 10 September edition!

Dennis Malcolm at Glen Grant

Dennis Malcolm celebrates 60 years in whisky

Glen Grant launches 60-year-old whisky to honour Dennis Malcolm

Glen Grant sure knows how to mark an anniversary. The Speyside distillery is celebrating master distiller Dennis Malcolm’s six decades in the business with a 60-year-old single malt Scotch. The aptly-named Dennis Malcolm 60th Anniversary Edition comes from a single ex-oloroso Sherry cask, #5040, which was filled on 24 October 1960, making it the distillery’s oldest bottling in its 181-year history. It will launch globally in October this year and is made up of just 360 decanters designed by Glencairn Studio housed in a presentation box made from sustainable walnut. Each case is engraved with Malcolm’s signature and comes with a certificate of authenticity, signed by the master distiller himself. All this for €25,000. Malcolm was actually born at Glen Grant in 1946 and followed in his father and grandfather into the industry as an apprentice cooper when he was 15 years old. His work in whisky earned him recognition from Queen Elizabeth II in 2016, when he was named an Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (OBE). Bob Kunze-Concewitz, CEO of Campari Group, which owns Glen Grant, paid tribute to “the career of a true Scottish gentleman and globally recognised Scotch whisky craftsman,” adding that “Dennis has not only created some of the most-awarded single malts in the world, but also serves as an unwavering champion for the industry”. Hear, hear. Cheers to you Dennis!

Distillers Katherine Condon and Eva O'Doherty (2)

Katherine Condon and Eva O’Doherty look like they’re about to drop the folk electronica album of the year

Midleton Method and Madness Rye and Malt is here!

When we visited Midleton near Cork a couple of years ago, the highlight of the tour was the on-site experimental Micro Distillery. Now the first release from this hotbed of innovation is here and it sounds like a cracker. Called Midleton Method and Madness Rye and Malt, it was created by Katherine Condon who joined Irish Distillers as a graduate trainee back in 2014. It’s apparently inspired by 1857 notebooks from John Jameson III who was using rye at the time. Condon explained: “We have been inspired by the innovators in Irish whiskey who came before us. In turn, we have questioned tradition and challenged convention to follow their inspiration and drive the Irish whiskey category forward for a new generation of creators, consumers, and indeed, suppliers.” The mashbill is 60% rye and 40% malted barley. After fermentation, the grains were double-distilled, before going into ex-bourbon casks. It’s bottled at 46% ABV  with an RRP of €95. As massive fans of a) rye whiskey b) the Midleton distillery, to say we are excited would be an understatement. We’ll report back when we’ve had a little taste.

 

Fitness and alcohol

More of this and you can drink more of the good stuff, claim scientists

Fitter people can drink more and handle their booze better

Higher fitness levels are significantly related to greater alcohol consumption, according to a new study looking into people’s exercise and drinking habits. Regular exercisers drink more alcohol, but are less likely to be problem drinkers as stated in new research that appeared in Medicine & Science in Sports Exercise from a study at the Cooper Clinic in Dallas. According to the research, which looked at data from 38,000 healthy patients ranging in age from 20 to 86, there is a strong link between exercise and alcohol habits. The findings showed that “women within the moderate and high fitness categories had greater odds of moderate/heavy alcohol consumption in comparison to their low fitness counterparts. Similarly, moderate and high fit men had greater odds of moderate-to-heavy alcohol consumption in comparison to the low fitness group”. In addition, men who were heavy drinkers all displayed “higher fitness levels were related to lower rates of suggested alcohol dependence,” stated the findings. The subjects’ fitness was estimated with a treadmill test to exhaustion and transparency about their drinking habits, ultimately revealing how higher levels of cardiorespiratory fitness are related to increased alcohol consumption management among adults. In a similar study conducted by the University of Notre Dame, recent research found that people with a lower percentage of body fat will have lower ‘Blood Alcohol Concentration’ (BACs) than those with a higher percentage of body fat, debunking myths suggesting that if you are overweight you can handle your drink better.

Gabe Cook CAMRA and Cider

Gabe Cook says: drink better cider!

CAMRA calls on government to support UK cider makers

CAMRA (the Campaign for Real Ale) has teamed up with Gabe Cook, aka the Ciderologist, to try to get legislation changed to protect Britain’s independent cider makers. They are going to send a copy of Cook’s latest book Modern British Cider to all 70 MPs who sit for cider-making constituencies. The aim is to get them to change some of the laws governing cider and taxation in the UK. One is to introduce a progressive cider duty so that smaller cider makers looking to expand above the current 70hl duty exemption size won’t get clobbered. Next, they want to make ingredient labelling compulsory so that customers will know exactly what goes into their cider. Hint, it’s often not apples. At the moment ciders only need to be made from 35% apples, the rest of the alcohol can come from sugar. Many ciders are little more than apple-flavoured alcopops. So finally CAMRA and Cook are calling for a minimum 50% apple content in cider. In France, it’s 80%. Cook said: “I hope this book lends a voice to these causes and readers will join my calls to support the industry. Britain is blessed with so much cider heritage, which we desperately need to conserve, but also wonderful innovation, fun, and boundary-pushing boldness which we need to nurture. There truly is a cider for everyone.” It sounds like a worthwhile campaign. It should be more of a scandal how little apple content there is in most British ciders. 

Will Hawkes Fortnum & Mason drinks writer of the year

Congratulations to Will Hawkes (he’s the one in the middle)

The best drinks writers celebrated at Fortnum’s awards

To the glittering Royal Exchange outpost of Fortnum & Mason for the annual celebration of great food and drink writing. All the stars were there: Grace Dent, Claudia Winkleman, Stanley Tucci (!), and somehow Master of Malt managed to bag an invite. We were delighted that Will Hawkes won drinks writer of the year for his work in Pellicle and new drinks magazine Tonic. We were especially pleased to see Hawkes staying on brand by celebrating with a glass of beer rather than the Champagne that everyone else was knocking back. Man of the people. Another popular winner was Cas Oh for his snazzy cocktail book Co Specs which we covered on the blog earlier this year. It was great to catch up with him and discover that he’s as charming and stylish as his book. He snapped up the debut drinks book award while the main drinks book award went to Wine Girl by Victoria James. There were also some food awards with Fay Maschler, Jimi Famurewa and James Martin among the winners. Go here to see the full results. A great time was had by all and somehow we managed not to corner Stanley Tucci and bore him about how to make the perfect Negroni, though we did go a bit starstruck over Grace Dent. 

Joel McHale & Monkey Shoulder distill dry first dates

A new campaign for Monkey Shoulder has a revolutionary idea: whisky might help first dates be a bit less stuffy. In a bold move, William Grant & Sons’ mixable malt brand has enlisted Community actor and The Soup host Joel McHale to hit the streets of New York City to help daters drop the pretension and relax – preferably with a glass of Monkey Shoulder. The ‘Stick it to Stuck Up’ campaign attempts to remove the snobbery surrounding whisky as well as dating. It features McHale wearing a plaid suit with crystal lowball glass in hand playing “a person who’s trying way too hard to impress you,” before chucking the glass offstage and stripping down to a casual sweater. “To enjoy your whisky, you don’t need some guy with a handlebar mustache spewing a bunch of pompous tasting notes,” he quips. Anyone taking notes? As a part of the initiative, daters have the chance to have McHale crash their first dates by sharing stories of their most stuffy and stuck-up dating experiences. Go here to enter the contest. Not that anyone here at Master of Malt needs any assistance in the dating world. Now where’s my cravat, I’ve got a hot date tonight. 

Lockdown fine wine

Did you spend lockdown doing this? You’re not alone

And finally… Brits spent lockdown sipping fine wine

Did you learn another language during the many lockdowns? Or maybe get round to clearing the garage or grouting the bathroom? We didn’t do anything quite this dramatic but we did learn to make a killer chip shop curry sauce (the secret is to add apple, oddly). The other thing we did was drink better wine more often and it seems we weren’t alone. Bordeaux Index has just released figures showing that 75% of British wine drinkers saw their consumption of fine wine rise. Not only that but apparently 29% think of themselves as connoisseurs – presumably,  to paraphrase Basil Fawlty, they know a claret from a Bordeaux. It’s all great news for Bordeaux Index which has seen its wine and spirit sales increase by 44%, year on year. Director Matthew O’Connell explained: “Today’s findings show that the pandemic has significantly changed our approach to the way we consume fine wine, and the increasing desire to aspire to drink better at home. We have seen this in our own UK business, and interestingly have observed broadly similar patterns across our Asian and US offices.” He added that, if you can resist drinking the stuff, wine can be “a great investment option and we are seeing more and more investors enter the space.” As rumours fly of a fourth lockdown in the pipeline, or perhaps fifth, fine wine merchants across the country will be bracing themselves for deluge of orders. 

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Dennis Malcolm celebrates 60 years at Glen Grant

Last month master distiller Dennis Malcolm celebrated a scarcely imaginable 60 years in the business. We sat down over a virtual dram to discuss his long and varied career in…

Last month master distiller Dennis Malcolm celebrated a scarcely imaginable 60 years in the business. We sat down over a virtual dram to discuss his long and varied career in Scotch whisky, and his enduring love for Glen Grant.

People use the expression man and boy to describe a long career but in Dennis Malcom’s case it’s true because he started at Glen Grant at only 15 years old. This was back in 1961 when stills were coal-fired, dramming was a perk of the job and the filling process required a team of men. 

Glen Grant Distillery

Glen Grant Distillery, where it all began

A different time

For every cask that you filled, you would weigh the casks empty and then weigh them full,” he explained. Then you had to calculate, in the days before calculators, the “proof gallons of alcohol in the cask.” Furthemore, there were no forklift trucks, so each cask had to be man-handled. These included bourbon barrels, hogsheads and sherry butts which weighed half an imperial ton (around 500kg). “It was very, very labour intensive,” he said. That’s an understatement.

The two things that haven’t changed, though, are Malcolm’s love of Glen Grant and the quality of the whisky: “I’ve been here for 60 years and I can tell you that the process parameters and the procedures that we have in place have not changed,” he said. Even over Zoom, Malcolm’s energy and passion for the distillery that he calls home is palpable. Can he really be 75 years old?

To the manner born

He was literally born on the grounds of Glen Grant in 1946 so it was somewhat inevitable that he would follow in his father and grandfather’s footsteps and work at the distillery. Malcolm’s first job was an apprentice cooper. He found the whole idea of casks fascinating: “Purely because a cask is an odd shape and I was always intrigued, how did it hold a liquid which is thinner than water, with no glue!”

He did five years coopering and “I spent the next six years going through all the different process of the malting, the mashing, the distillation, the fermentation,” he said. A brilliant education in whisky making.

By the time he was 25, Malcolm was production manager which made him the boss of men much older than him. “I was the young boy really, so I had the energy and the willingness to do the job and they had all the experience, which was a big benefit for me,” he said.

Glen Grant Distillery

Look his tie matches the flowers! What a class act

Corporate shenanigans 

When he started, Glen Grant was a family business, part of a small group with Glenlivet and run by Douglas MacKessack, a descendant of the distillery’s founder John Grant. But the ‘70s and ‘80s was a time of mergers and multinationals. The company, now called Glenlivet Distilleries, joined with Longmorn and Benriach in 1970. Then in 1978, it passed into the hands of Canadian giant Seagram in what Malcolm called an: “unfriendly takeover.”

Despite this, Malcolm stayed on and in 1992 became general manager for all nine distilleries in Chivas Brothers group, under the Seagram umbrella, plus three farms, and an animal feed plant. “So I still had my link with Glen Grant, I never lost it.”

But he wasn’t so happy when Pernod Ricard took over in 1999 following the collapse of Seagram. “They wanted their own people there. And I didn’t really like that because I had been in production all my life,” he said. 

Malcolm is candid about how he thinks Glen Grant was neglected under Pernod Ricard ownership. The distillery was mainly used to provide malt for Chivas Regal with the only single malt visibility being the 5 Year Old for the Italian market and “the 10 Year Old in the visitors centre at the distillery. That was us, nothing else,” he said. “Glen Grant almost disappeared from the single malt arena”. 

A change of scene

So, Malcolm took some time away from his beloved Glen Grant and went to work for the Inver House at Balmenach Distillery. “It was a hands-on operation. It was eight people and if you wanted to move a cask you pushed it. If you wanted to turn the steam onto the stills you had to go and turn it on and turn it off. That appealed to me,” he said. There was a family connection too: “my wife is the great-great granddaughter of Janie Macgregor, who was the daughter of James Macgregor, who built and founded Balmenach Distillery.”

Campari takes over

In 2006, Campari bought Glen Grant, it’s first and only single malt Scotch whisky distillery. “They asked if I would come back and head up Glen Grant for them. Well, I didn’t need to think twice about that because I think the biggest part in my life and my heart is Glen Grant.” he said. “Campari were Italian, they’re very passionate people and I’m passionate about Glen Grant. It was a great combination.”

Malcolm set about turning the distillery into a single malt powerhouse. “Campari invested heavily behind it and allowed me to create new expressions.” There’s now a core range of  10, 12 and 15 year olds, plus various special editions. But it’s the all bourbon-cask 18 Year Old that has whisky fans in particular raptures and is considered the quintessence of the Glen Grant style with its combination of fruit, sweetness and delicate nutty complexity.

The stills at Glen Grant, the heart of that fruity taste

The stills at Glen Grant, the heart of that fruity taste

The Glen Grant style

I asked Malcolm to describe the style: “Glen Grant is very much a light, fruity, estery, whisky on the nose and on the palate it’s creamy and fruity. Because we’re using quite a high percentage of bourbon casks, you get this toffee-vanilla note from it. It’s got a fruity sort of nutty taste. When we see younger expressions it’s more like hazelnut and as it matures longer and gets softer and refines better, it’s more a soft almond, marzipan sort of note.” He describes really old Glen Grant as tasting of “Christmas cake.”

“The two important things for defining character in a single malt is the distillation style, the stills, and the wood that you put it into,” he said. His coopering background gives him an intimate knowledge of what makes a good barrel.” He was delighted, therefore, when Campari acquired Wild Turkey, giving him the first pick of ex-bourbon casks. “Bourbon does play a big part in Glen Grant and having our own bourbon distillery guarantees supply for us,” he said. 

Award-winning whisky

Glen Grant now has a groaning trophy cabinet most famously (or perhaps I should say infamously) from Jim Murray who named Glen Grant 18 Year Old Scotch Whisky of the Year three years in a row. Now, of course, Murray isn’t quite the name to conjure with that he was before last year’s accusations of sexism. Though, I noticed that the Jim Murray Whisky Bible logo still sits proudly on the box of the 18 Year Old that the distillery was kind enough to send me.

Malcolm was diplomatic when I brought up Murray, though I could see the PR people hovering nervously on the video call. “Jim Murray was very good at marketing Glen Grant,” he said. But, he went on to say, “the brand speaks for itself. You get press and you get recognition, which is really good, but it doesn’t matter what you do, if you’ve got a successful product it will always be there.”

Malcolm is particularly proud of how fondly Glen Grant is perceived in the industry. When the 15 Year Old Batch Strength won a best Speyside single malt award at the Spirit of Speyside Festival in 2019, “that one gave me more pleasure and accepting because it was all my peers in the industry that voted for it,” he said.

Casks at Glen Grant Dennis Malcolm

He knows a fair bit about casks

60 year old release

Later this year Glen Grant will be releasing a special limited edition 60 Year Old single cask bottling to celebrate Malcolm’s anniversary. Naturally, Malcom himself chose the particular barrel: “I looked at quite a few 60 year old casks there and selected one that I thought was the best. l selected one that I thought reflected or recognised the characteristics of Glen Grant base, this liquid Christmas cake, this fruitiness, the softness..” He was keen to find something that wasn’t too woody. “The aroma, the taste, has got to be in harmony.” It’ll set you back around €25,000.

To celebrate his 60 years on 3 April, however, Malcolm chose something a little more down to earth, the classic 18 Year Old. “It’s very, very delicate, it’s floral on the nose with nice fruitiness. There’s oaky overtones and hints of spices there but it’s got a long, sweet and a hint of nuts and spice in the finish.” He described it as “really sophisticated and refined.” In other words, classic Glen Grant.

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Jim Murray’s Whisky Bible 2021 winner announced

Jim Murray has spoken. The 2021 World Whisky of the Year is Alberta Premium Cask Strength Rye! If only it was available in the UK. Autumn is a very exciting…

Jim Murray has spoken. The 2021 World Whisky of the Year is Alberta Premium Cask Strength Rye! If only it was available in the UK.

Autumn is a very exciting time in the whisky world because everyone knows it’s when Jim Murray publishes a new version of the Whisky Bible. And with it comes the Whisky Bible Awards, where arguably the world’s most famous whisky writer announces his favourite drams of the year. And whether you’re a fan or not, his selections always provoke debate. This year is sure to be no different.

The theme of the 2021 edition (which will be arriving at MoM Towers very soon) is new releases, new distilleries and letting the past be the past: “But the one thing that tasting 1,250 whiskies a year for this book has reinforced in my mind, is that for people to really enjoy whisky of whatever type, then they have to let go of the past and learn to swim,” Murray says. 

But what you really want to know is which expressions make up the big four. For those who are new to all this, Murray doesn’t just announce a World Whisky of the Year, but a top three and single cask winner. So, here they are:

The 2021 World Whisky of the Year: Alberta Premium Cask Strength Rye! (Sadly not available in the UK. Boo!)

Second place: Stagg Jr Barrel Proof (64.2%)

Third place: Paul John Mithuna

Single Cask: Glen Grant 1956 Mr George Centenary Edition Gordon & MacPhail

Jim Murray's Whisky Bible 2021 winner

The 2021 Edition will be available here very soon

It’s a huge victory for the Canadian rye whisky, which scored an incredible 97.5 out of a 100, and marks the first time it has won the coveted top prize. The Alberta distillery has long supplied high-quality rye to such lauded American brands as Whistlepig but has only recently begun bottling such magnificent whiskies under its own label. Made from a mix of malted and unmalted rye, Alberta Premium Cask Strength draws its water from the Rocky Mountains and was bottled at a massive 65.1% ABV. It’s also received the Double Gold Medal at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition, so I’d chalk that up as being a pretty good year.

Murray, who tasted 1,252 new drams for the 2021 edition of the Whisky Bible, described the expression as being a “truly world-class whisky from possibly the world’s most underrated distillery. How can something be so immense yet equally delicate? For any whisky lover on the planet looking for huge but nearly perfectly balanced experience, then here you go. And with rye at its most rampantly beautiful, this is something to truly worship.” Alberta Premium was named Canadian Whisky of the Year in Murray’s 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2009 Whisky Bibles, so his love for the Canadian distillery is already well-established.

Fans of the Whisky Bible will have noted that, for the first time in five years, the US has been knocked off the World Whisky of the Year top spot. Kentucky distiller the Sazerac Company made have swept the board in 2020 with a unique 1-2-3, but the “mind-blowing” Stagg Jr Barrel Proof, had to settle for the runner-up spot in 2021. Arguably the most eye-catching podium entry of all is Mithuna, however. The Paul John expression, a distillery in the tiny Indian state of Goa, is the first South Asian whisky to have taken a top three gong in more than a decade. 

Jim Murray's Whisky Bible 2021 winner

Being named in Murray’s top list is a coveted award for whisky brands

All this means it’s another relatively barren year for Scotch as far as Murray’s awards go, although his love for Glen Grant clearly remains undiminished. The brand won three of the six categories Scotch whisky can compete in, including Scotch Whisky of the Year, Scotch Single Malt of the Year (Multiple Casks) and Scotch Single Malt of the Year (Single Cask). The category’s most significant win, however, was on the single cask side of things where the old and rare Glen Grant Mr George stole the show, which was dubbed Mr George Centenary Edition in honour of George Urquhart, creator of Gordon & MacPhail’s wonderful Connoisseurs Choice range.

The last time a Canadian won World Whisky of the Year was in 2016 when Murray selected Crown Royal Northern Harvest Rye. Not only did it spark renewed interest in the category, but caused the demand for the bottle to be so high that police in Toronto were called as drinkers fought over the last bottles still on the shelf. Hopefully, we don’t see a repeat of such antics this year. We’ve got plenty of lovely Candian whisky right here that you don’t have to fight over.

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The Nightcap: 12 April

A meeting of master distillers and blenders, $1,000 Mint Juleps and secret whisky history – The Nightcap has all these stories and more! It’s Friday once again, and, like clockwork,…

A meeting of master distillers and blenders, $1,000 Mint Juleps and secret whisky history – The Nightcap has all these stories and more!

It’s Friday once again, and, like clockwork, we’ve got another batch of news stories from the world of booze ready and waiting in The Nightcap. In fact, it’s almost as if we assembled a team of engineers and bribed them with the tastiest cocktails they could ever imagine to build us Nightcap-bot 3000 to produce these stories. Of course, that’s simply hogwash. We definitely have not done that, and we absolutely don’t disguise Nightcap-bot 3000 as a fridge when people visit the editorial team’s realm within MoM Towers to make it look like we’re very busy. We’re also not scared that Nightcap-bot 3000 will one day replace and potentially eat us all.

On the blog this week, guest writer Ian Buxton pondered whether whisky could crash in his first post for us, while Annie explored cocktails that have a way with words, then talked to Talisker about its new bartender competition Wild Spirit. Henry’s Cocktail of the Week was the classic Gin & Tonic in celebration of National Gin & Tonic Day, and Martini & Rossi’s new super fruity vermouth Fiero caught his eye for New Arrival of the Week. Kristy explored a fancy new Scotch from Glenmorangie, while Adam tasted a 47 Year Old Mortlach expression, then looked at Littlemill’s historical claim. If that wasn’t enough, here’s the rest of the week’s news!

The Nightcap

Take a look at Islay’s first new distillery for nearly 15 years!

New Islay distillery Ardnahoe opens its doors

The opening of a Scotch whisky distillery is always an event, but there’s something particularly special about a new one on Islay. Today Ardnahoe, the first new distillery on the island since 2005, was officially opened by the Rt Hon Lord Robertson of Port Ellen. Stewart Laing, managing director of Hunter Laing, the family-owned company which has invested £12m in the project, commented: “Since working as a teenager at Bruichladdich Distillery over 50 years ago, I have had a huge affinity with Islay and its malt whiskies. When we decided to build our own distillery, there was only one possible location. We have built a great team to manage the distillery and run the visitor centre and in a few years’ time we will be able to drink a great whisky in the classic Islay style, staying true to the island’s heritage with a heavily peated malt.” The spirit should be full of character as it will be made using wooden washbacks, Scottish-made lamp glass stills and worm tub condensers (the only distillery on the island to use them), and it will be aged in ex-bourbon and ex-sherry casks. The great master distiller Jim McEwan advised on the project. With such pedigree, it’s no surprise that Hunter Laing has already pre-sold 400 casks of spirit. Team MoM is flying out to Islay on Monday to bring you the full story. Watch this space.

Jameson unveils new commercial for Taste, That’s Why campaign

Jameson Irish Whiskey unveiled the next instalment of its sassy Taste, That’s Why advertising platform this week. New commercial The Bartenders’ Gathering is set in Dublin in 2016, and tells the true story of 200 global bartenders at the brand’s annual three-day immersive and educational summit of the same name. It all looks very trendy and fun, with shots of distilleries, whiskey, bars, food, music and some lovely Irish countryside, as well as an unexpected twist. Some of the bartenders interrupt a distillery trip to go to a library (we’re just kidding, that isn’t it). “As we unveil the next chapter in the Taste, That’s Why story, we wanted to highlight Jameson’s revered position among bartenders as they have been instrumental to our success in the USA and around the world over the past 29 years,” said Simon Fay, international marketing director at Irish Distillers. “The new spot conveys the true spirit of the annual Bartenders’ Gathering in a high octane but light-hearted manner with a twist of Irish humour – it’s exactly what you’d expect from Jameson, and will help us to further build the profile and personality of the brand supporting equity growth into the future.”

The Nightcap

The wonderful Joy Spence of Appleton Estate Jamaica Rum

Campari launches Meet the Master, bringing together four drinks luminaries

Where can you see the master distillers and blenders behind Wild Turkey, Appleton Estate, Grand Marnier and Glen Grant all in one place? At Carlton House Terrace in London’s Mayfair from 14-16 May, when Campari UK launches Meet the Masters. The event will bring together more than 140 combined years of talent and expertise in one location. The line-up includes Joy Spence of Appleton Estate Jamaica Rum, the first woman master blender in the spirits industry; Eddie Russell of Wild Turkey Bourbon, the third generation Russell to work at the distillery; Patrick Raguenaud of Grand Marnier, whose family has been involved in the Cognac industry since 1627; and Dennis Malcolm of Glen Grant, who has worked at the distillery for over five decades. The event will offer tasting sessions with each master, panel discussions, and an opportunity for guests from the drinks industry and beyond to get the masters’ view on the latest industry trends. “With over 140 years of shared experience in the spirits industry between them, Meet the Masters is a must-attend for those who are serious about spirits, the stories behind them, and hungry to know more, in a unique and intimate setting,” said Brad Madigan, managing director at Campari UK. Sounds enlightening!

The Nightcap

The Fèis Ìle 2019 Limited Edition!

Douglas Laing unveils 2019 Fèis Ìle Big Peat bottling

Here at MoM we’re getting very excited about Fèis Ìle, the Islay Festival of Music and Malt that runs from 24 May to 1 June. To celebrate this year’s bash, Douglas Laing will be releasing a very special whisky called Big Peat’s Pals. It’s a blended malt containing whiskies from Ardbeg, Bowmore, Caol Ila and even Port Ellen! So rare. Only 3,300 bottles will be available globally. It’s the 10th anniversary of the much-loved brand and so the packaging of this special edition features the photos of 400 “pals” from all over the world. “By marrying together a fine selection of our preferred single malts, only from Islay, we truly believe we have created the ultimate taste of Islay in Big Peat,” said Douglas Laing director of whisky Cara Laing. “His latest limited edition, the Fèis Ìle 2019 release, pays homage to his friends the world over, over 400 of whom feature proudly on the gift tube. This year, we celebrate 10 years since my father dreamed up Big Peat, and our extensive plans will ensure our Big Islay Pal celebrates in style all over the world!” These plans include a Facebook tasting during Fèis Ìle for members of the Big Peat community, so that fans who can’t get to the island can join in the festivities. Very modern.

The Nightcap

This man is basically Indiana Jones, as far as I’m concerned

Whisky distillery archaeology gets under way in Scotland!

It’s been quite the week when it comes to whisky history. First we heard evidence that Littlemill was Scotland’s ‘oldest’ distillery. Now we’ve got some archaeological goings on at Blackmiddens, an old steading on the border between Moray and Aberdeenshire. It was one of the first distilleries to nab a licence after the Excise Act of 1823. Now, The Cabrach Trust, which preserves the history of the area, is excavating the site to figure out exactly what went down when, with help from Forestry and Land Scotland and Historic Environment Scotland. “For decades local farmers secretly distilled whisky and smuggled it away under the noses of excisemen. Then, when the law was changed to make small-scale whisky production profitable, Blackmiddens was one of the first farms to take advantage of this,” said Anna Brennand, Cabrach Trust chief exec. “Despite the fact that farms like this were famous for their fine quality spirit, whisky production at Blackmiddens stopped just eight years after it began and the farm fell into ruin. We hope to uncover some of the secrets of early whisky making in the Highlands with this exciting dig.” We can’t wait to see what they discover!

The Nightcap

Small-batch Serata Hall gin, anyone?

Serata Hall comes to Old Street

Just a stone’s throw away from Old Street station, a new establishment called Serata Hall opened its doors this week, which we know because we attended the launch party! The new site is Albion & East’s fourth offering alongside sister sites Martello Hall in Hackney, and Canova Hall and Cattivo, both in Brixton. Like its siblings, Serata Hall will make all of its food on-site (we can personally recommend the pizzas), serve tap wine (the biggest selection outside the United States), and provide guests the option to either create their own cocktails or ‘Book a Bartender’, where mixologists conjure up inventive cocktails. There’s also a DJ booth, a daily bakery and hot-desk spaces. But the thing that stands out most for us here at MoM Towers? The in-house distillery. That’s right. Serata Hall features a bespoke still, called ‘Agnes’, which makes small-batch Serata Hall gin, available for visitors to drink at the venue and buy on-site. You can even sign up to gin blending masterclasses, where the master distiller will show you how to blend, bottle and hand-wax two gins, which you then get to name and take away. You also learn how to make three gin cocktails, too. Sounds like a good time to us!

The Nightcap

Move over coffee machines, at-home booze machines have arrived!

Can this at-home booze machine change how we drink?

The future is now, folks. Smart Spirits – a company that produces different types of spirits by mixing water, ethyl alcohol and flavour – has come up with an at-home dispenser designed to make more than 30 different drinks spanning all the major spirits categories using capsules. A bit like those coffee tabs but with actual booze. How does it work? The so-called ‘Taste Of’ flavour capsules mix with neutral grain spirit and/or water to mimic the flavours of different whiskies, gins, rums, vodkas and liqueurs. You can choose the alcohol content (0-40% ABV), and there’s even Bluetooth connectivity, so you can control the whole thing from your smartphone. “We’re delighted to introduce to the market an innovative new way to drink at home,” said Ian Smart, one of the Smart Spirits co-founders. “Smart Spirits taps into the desire of the increasingly sophisticated and tech-savvy consumer to have control of the alcohol in their drinks, at the same time also choice and convenience.” On the one hand, you’ve got an entire drinks cabinet in one. But we reckon we’d miss the sound of the cork popping out of the bottle… the jury’s out on this one. Let us know what you think!

The Nightcap

This is a $1,000 Mint Julep. No, really.

Woodford Reserve unveils $1,000 Julep for the Kentucky Derby

What’s the most you would spend on a cocktail? £9? £15? £21? Well, Woodford Reserve is hoping some punters will be prepared to spend significantly more. To celebrate the 145th Kentucky Derby on 3 and 4 May, the bourbon producer, which is also the race’s official sponsor, has unveiled a $1,000 Mint Julep. Yes, one thousand clams. For that money you’d expect it to contain unicorn tears or at the very least powdered griffin beak. But in reality it’s made with standard Woodford Reserve, a honey syrup that was aged in oak for 145 days, and mint grown at Churchill Downs racetrack where the Derby takes place. The packaging, however, is seriously swanky. For the money you get a silver cup alongside a flask of bourbon, and the whole thing is presented in a wooden box lined with jockey silks. If that’s not lavish enough, there’s a gold version available for $2,500. Only 125 silver and 20 gold will be made. You will be pleased to know that this is not just about conspicuous consumption, all the proceeds go to the John Asher Memorial Scholarship Fund to provide an education for deserving students at Western Kentucky University.

The Nightcap

I defy you not to imagine yourself drinking something wonderful and Japanese here

Nobu and Suntory team up for Hanami experience

How does a showcase of contemporary Japanese craftsmanship with a menu of exclusive cocktails, bespoke dishes and afternoon tea sound to you? Pretty great, right? Well, good, because that’s exactly what Nobu Hotel London Shoreditch and The House of Suntory have put together with Hanami. It’s a celebration of the annual bloom of the Japanese Cherry Blossom, or Sakura, inspired by the ancient practice of dining beneath the blossoming flower. Millions of people from all over the world travel to drink, dance and dine beneath the blossom, but Hanami will bring the spirit of this tradition to London at the newest Nobu restaurant. The bar team at Nobu, led by beverage manager Wilfried Rique, has worked closely with The House of Suntory to create an exciting original menu inspired by its range of premium Japanese spirits, including Toki and Chita Whisky, Roku Gin and the newly-launched Haku Vodka. These are presented with Japanese ingredients, teas and house-made infusions in a menu of seven bespoke cocktails, alongside Nobu-style bar snacks and world class sushi. Visitors to the terrace also have the opportunity to indulge in an exclusive Sakura-inspired Afternoon Tea menu, offering a twist on the classic British tradition. It’s open to the public now, so if this sounds like your cup of tea, then be sure to check it out.

The Nightcap

Marcos Ameneiros Zannone, who will presumably be looking to replace that sticky shaker…

And finally… Bartender gets stuck at Cointreau Margarita contest

There was a hairy moment at this week’s Cointreau Margarita competition at Century House in London, when one of the contestant’s cocktail shaker got stuck. Not an unusual occurrence when mixing cocktails, but after some frantic banging and jimmying from poor Marcos Ameneiros Zannone from Berners Tavern, it became clear that it was well and truly jammed. Meanwhile, the ice inside was slowly melting and diluting the cocktail. And so, the cream of British bartending stepped in and everyone in the room had a go at opening the bloody thing. But nobody could. It was like the sword in the stone from Arthurian Legend. Just in the nick of time, in stepped one of the barmen from Century who managed to prize the recalcitrant shaker open. Zannone poured out his Susanita (which was inspired by Crêpes Suzette), and won the competition. Our Henry was one of the judges, alongside Sandrae Lawrence from The Cocktail Lovers magazine, award-winning bartender Carl Anthony Brown, and Alfred Cointreau himself. The panel also picked a winner from outside London, with Nathan Larkin from Manchester’s plant-based bar Speak in Code taking the title with his Sicolo Mayahuel, a smoky complex drink with an Aztec twist. The two runners-up were Dean Railton from Feed in Leeds, and Leonardo Baggio from Mr Fogg’s Residence. The two winners won lots of Cointreau and a trip to Cannes. Congratulations to all who took part – the standard was sky high – and especially to Zannone for keeping his cool.

That’s it for The Nightcap this week, team. Have awesome weekends!

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Why Glen Grant stays true to its roots

What does it take to creating world-class Scotch? Consistency, consistency and consistency. At least, that’s the approach that has served Glen Grant well. Master distiller Dennis Malcolm joins us to explain. Once…

What does it take to creating world-class Scotch? Consistency, consistency and consistency. At least, that’s the approach that has served Glen Grant well. Master distiller Dennis Malcolm joins us to explain.

Once again, Glen Grant 18 Year Old has been awarded the prize of Scotch Whisky of the Year in the 2019 edition of 2019 edition of Murray’s Whisky Bible. For the third year in a row, in fact.

It’s no small feat. Over 5,000 whiskies, a thousand of which were new entrants, were rated by Murray. In the end, only the 2017 Buffalo Trace Antique Collection release of William Larue Weller ranked higher to scoop the coveted accolade of World Whisky of the Year. In an official statement, Murray declared: “Once more the stunning Glen Grant 18 Year Old single malt carried the banner for Scotland, displaying Speyside Whisky in its most sparkling light.”

Providing the world with a refined whisky is what Glen Grant has been all about since 1840. That’s when brothers John and James Grant founded the site in Rothes in Speyside. Some will tell you the secret to its style is the innovative tall slender stills. Others will point to the revolutionary purifiers that James ‘The Major’ Grant, son of founder James Grant, introduced over a century ago. It was one of the first to be installed in a Scotch whisky distillery.

Glen Grant 18 Year Old

Master distiller Dennis Malcolm

Malcolm appreciates the influence of both, but is keen to underline the importance of approach. “It’s all bout consistent quality through the whole process. I used to jokingly say milling, mashing and fermenting is an almost generic process! The secret is in your stills and your casks. Of course, they’re your big influencers. But you’ve also got to be consistent.” The distillery uses a standardised system so it’s easy to operate. Malcom explains that it’s broken into four pairs of stills. So one batch does a six-hour process from mashing into distilling. When the spirit comes off, the four pairs go into separate receivers and are checked individually. “Attention to detail is the secret”, he says.

Fans of the distillery will note how little it has changed over the years. That fruity, estery and refined spirit has been Glen Grant’s hallmark for decades. It’s one of the few distilleries where the DNA has remained constant. There aren’t many other distilleries that can boast that.

Nobody typifies the consistency at Glen Grant like the multi-award-winning Malcolm. He was actually born in the grounds of Glen Grant in 1946 and has worked for the distillery in various capacities for over five decades. “My grandfather worked at Glen Grant and worked for the son of the founder. Then my father worked there. I left school at the age of 15 and went to be a cooper”, Malcolm recalls, “I wanted to create casks. That’s helped me along my career. I know what casks are all about.”

Glen Grant 18 Year Old

The legendary Glen Grant stills

It’s clear how passionate Malcolm is that Glen Grant retains its identity and doesn’t change simply to satisfy the market. “You’ve got to hold your ground. You have to be careful it doesn’t just become a fashion item for that one year. I try to protect the DNA of Glen Grant,” Malcolm says. “The financial people obviously want to save money. So they say ‘use the casks four times. You’re using a million pounds for bloomin’ casks every year and that’s going on the bottom line! But I say, ‘hey, wait a minute. The only reason we’re here is because of our consistent quality. So we need to keep that’.”

The Campari Group were obviously wise enough to heed Malcolm’s advice. It acquired Glen Grant whisky distillery in 2006 for €115m. New expressions came with new ownership. Like the 12 Year Old and 18 Year Old. But It’s notable that these were additions, and not replacements.

So, how did it feel to be honoured with the title of Scotch Whisky of the Year? “Well, you can’t really print what I said when I heard it for a start!” Malcolm jokes, “I really liked it because I was going back in time with this one, back to our roots. It’s 100% bourbon cask. There’s no sherry there, there’s no colour correction there, it’s just natural single malt Glen Grant.”

Glen Grant 18 Year Old

Glen Grant Distillery

But what makes Glen Grant 18 Year Old stand out among all other Scotch whiskies for Jim Murray? Its complexity. He says it takes him longer to nose it then any other whisky. “You just watch every nuance come through. There’s a half-hour journey in every single glass. You never get it all on one nose”. Murray told us that the tasting note in the Whisky Bible is actually the shortened version. “You think ‘this could go over two pages, this is ridiculous’. Because it is that complex. That’s why it gets number two in the world.”

It’s clear that Murray feels a very strong connection to the Glen Grant distillery. “I’ve tasted a lot of Glen Grant over many, many years. I’ve tasted Glen Grants from before the Second World War, Everything about it is natural and it’s just utterly true to its roots. It is the true Speyside.”

It’s fascinating watching Murray be so intensely passionate about a Scotch whisky. Because he’s acutely aware of his and the bible’s reputation. “People say to me ‘oh Jim, you don’t like Scotch’ and I say ‘don’t I, really?! Have you ever seen what I’ve written about the 18 year old Glen Grant?’” he explains defiantly. “Scotland makes some of the best whisky in the world. Because there’s things like Glen Grant 18 that can just absolutely seduce you.”

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Celebrate World Whisky Day with the The Malt Whisky Trail

With World Whisky Day taking place this Saturday, here at MoM Towers we thought we’d showcase The Malt Whisky Trail, a wonderful trek through stunning Speyside featuring classic distilleries and…

With World Whisky Day taking place this Saturday, here at MoM Towers we thought we’d showcase The Malt Whisky Trail, a wonderful trek through stunning Speyside featuring classic distilleries and plenty of sublime Scotch whisky

How are you planning on spending this World Whisky Day (Saturday 19th May – come to think of it, I have a feeling there’s some big event on that day…*)? I’m sure we’ll all enjoy some great whisky first and foremost, maybe even schedule a distillery visit, or try a new expression or style.

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Colonel EH Taylor Four Grain 12yo top in Jim Murray’s Whisky Bible 2018

The “sheer undiluted beauty” of Colonel EH Taylor Four Grain Bottled in Bond Aged 12 Years has nabbed it the title of world’s best whisky in Jim Murray’s Whisky Bible…

The “sheer undiluted beauty” of Colonel EH Taylor Four Grain Bottled in Bond Aged 12 Years has nabbed it the title of world’s best whisky in Jim Murray’s Whisky Bible 2018.

Just as it says on the tin, the expression is made using a quartet of grains – corn, rye, wheat and malted barley – and scored 97.5 out of 100 in Murray’s nose-taste-finish-balance assessment system.

“Nothing could match the astonishing beauty of its surprisingly delicate weight and complexity combined,” Murray said of the whiskey. “It was though time stood still in the tasting room; I just knew…”

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Spotlight on… Connoisseurs Choice + Win a Bottle of Glen Grant 1952

Launched in the mid-1960s, Connoisseurs Choice is one of the world’s most comprehensive and fascinating ranges of independently bottled Scotch whisky on the market. The oldest vintage in the current…

Launched in the mid-1960s, Connoisseurs Choice is one of the world’s most comprehensive and fascinating ranges of independently bottled Scotch whisky on the market. The oldest vintage in the current selection dates all the back to 1938, and the whiskies come in all ages, from 5 to 75 years old! Today, we’re going to take an in-depth look at this phenomenal range, as well as try a few delicious expressions. In fact, we’re even giving away a very special sherry-matured 1952 Glen Grant from the same bottler, worth £2,120. First, however, a little history…
 

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Jim Murray’s Whisky Bible 2017 Winners

Jim Murray has announced the winners in this year’s Whisky Bible, with a rye claiming top spot for the second year running and a Scotch whisky in the top three…

Jim Murray's Whisky Bible 2017

Jim Murray has announced the winners in this year’s Whisky Bible, with a rye claiming top spot for the second year running and a Scotch whisky in the top three for the first time since 2014.

Following on from Crown Royal’s Northern Harvest Canadian rye, it’s an American rye whiskey that’s been named World Whisky of the Year in Jim Murray’s Whisky Bible this time around: Booker’s ‘Big Time Batch’, aged for 13 years, 1 month and 12 days. Laid down by the legendary Booker Noe himself in 2003, shortly before his death, his son continued to watch over the casks and they were finally released earlier this year. Booker’s first ever rye, it was already described by Beam as an “extremely rare, limited edition offering, made from a very limited number of barrels” and will now become an even more sought-after bottling.

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The Eccentric History of Berry Brothers and Rudd — Part III

In 1920, Berry’s was joined by Hugh Rudd, a lover of Bordeaux and German wines. Such an essential part of the business, Hugh Rudd’s name was officially added to the…

Berry Brothers and Rudd

In 1920, Berry’s was joined by Hugh Rudd, a lover of Bordeaux and German wines. Such an essential part of the business, Hugh Rudd’s name was officially added to the door when the firm became a limited company in the 1940s.

The Second World War raged on, and tragedy struck when two of the partners lost their sons: Francis Berry’s son George Gilbert died leading a charge against in the enemy in North Africa; and Hugh Rudd’s son Brian was killed in action in Italy at just 20 years of age.

No. 3 was never hit directly during the London bombings, though the top floors were badly burnt. The shop itself escaped too much damage thanks to the old wooden shutters which protected the shopfront. Years later, during the 2011 London Riots, these shutters were put to use for a second time (though, in my opinion, Pomerol probably wasn’t on the agenda).

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