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Master of Malt Blog

Tag: Glendronach

Chill-filtration: what’s all the fuss about?

Chill-filtration is such an emotive subject. So much so that we often condemn before we discuss. It’s as if the conversation is a bit cloudy. Let’s filter through it together…

Chill-filtration is such an emotive subject. So much so that we often condemn before we discuss. It’s as if the conversation is a bit cloudy. Let’s filter through it together and find out why it’s such a hot button issue for whisky fans.

Chill-filtration has been on whisky fans’ minds a lot recently. Ever since it was noticed that the words ‘non-chill-filtered’ had been removed from Glendronach’s packaging. This sparked a collective purist panic as Facebook groups, Twitter threads and YouTube videos filled with chatter and condemnation. 

Glendronach, for its part, released a statement addressing the situation: “We have removed ‘Non-Chill-Filtered’ from our packaging to provide the flexibility in our processes to optimise consistently exceptional quality, flavour, clarity and stability. The GlenDronach continues to be crafted to exceptionally high standards and of true Highland style, perfect for slow maturation in sherry casks. The change does not affect the flavour of our richly-sherried Highland single malts which continue to be of natural cask imparted colour from the sweet fruity flavours of the Pedro Ximénez casks or the dry and nutty notes of our Oloroso casks our master blender carefully selects.” 

Reading between the lines, it appears that Brown-Forman, the distillery’s owner, wants to leave its options open to sometimes filter certain batches. But why is that such a big deal? How come it prompted such an emotive response? And does chill-filtration really have that much of an impact on your dram? We’ve enlisted the help of some experts to wade through the issue. First, let’s start with a definition.

Chill-filtration

The debate around chill-filtration kicked off again when Glendronach made a big chance

What is chill-filtration?

Simply put, chill-filtration is a method of filtering whisky employed to remove residue and cloudiness which appears when the spirit drops below a certain temperature (usually following the addition of water or ice). It entails chilling the spirit to between -10 and 4°C and then passing it through a very fine filter. At such temperatures the fatty acids, proteins and esters compound as large clumps which are too large to pass through the filter. 

Brian Kinsman, master blender at William Grant & Sons Ltd explains that chill-filtration is only necessary if the bottling strength of a whisky is below 47% ABV. “This is due to the presence of long-chain ethyl esters (sometimes referred to as fatty acid esters) which occur naturally in whisky and are insoluble in alcohol less than 47% ABV. Once the whisky drops below that ABV these esters gradually drop out of solution and create a haze in the bottle”.  

It’s a common process that’s used widely in the industry, particularly for what you might term entry-level bottlings. The kind of bottles you’ll find on a supermarket shelf.  Ewan Gunn,  Diageo’s global Scotch ambassador says the technique is used with many of the brand’s best-selling Scotch whisky brands and means that it can be sure of the “liquid’s clarity, and bright appearance when it’s poured into the glass”. The theory is that if a person spends their hard-earned cash on a bottle of something tasty, they’ll be put off by the appearance of any haze which could result in bottles being returned as ‘faulty.’ And none of us wants that.

Jim Swan’s research

It’s difficult to know when exactly this became an issue that concerned whisky fans. Regular contributor Ian Buxton recalls interviewing Jim Swan in 2015 for an article in which he said one of the highlights of his long career was “the discovery of the chemical nature of chill haze”. At the time (the early nineties) Swan was at Tatlock and Thomson Ltd, Scottish-based beer, wines and spirits analysts involved in consultancy for maturation, filtration and stability of bottled products. Swan says his research “led to the widespread introduction of chill filtration and an understanding of what was going on when cloudy whisky with jellyfish-like floaters formed”. 

Chill-filtration

Brian Kinsman offers his thoughts from a producer’s perspective

Swan went on to say that “nowadays the aficionados may consider the process slightly detrimental to whisky flavour”. That’s the crux of the issue. The belief is that chill-filtration risks removing long-chain esters, which are large molecules that contribute to flavour and body. It’s not a concern without merit. Bruichladdich has a long post on its website about why it doesn’t chill-filter any of its whisky, reasoning that it would “rather have a haze in the glass than to lose the flavour and texture created all those years ago during fermentation and ameliorated over years of maturation”.

So what’s the issue?

But there’s a larger issue at play here, one ultimately concerned with whisky’s quest for authenticity. Concepts like provenance, terroir and sustainability are all the rage now. And in an age where the average whisky has more access to knowledge than ever, transparency is everything. No more hoodwinking the consumer.

This has led to the establishment of the idea that there are essentially four pillars that should give you an indication of quality. Whisky should have no colouring or additives, the bottling strength should be 46% ABV and higher, the casks should be of the highest quality and you never chill-filter. Whiskies that tick these boxes are appreciated by purists. And when a big multi-national corporation like Brown-Forman makes a change to a whisky like GlenDronach, it’s seen as a cynical attempt to try to cut its bottom line and woo the uneducated, underappreciating masses. 

Chill-filtration

Bruichladdich refuses to chill-filter any of its whisky

Valid concerns?

These are understandable points of contention. But all the outrage does make you wonder how many have experienced the ultimate test: assessing samples before and after chill-filtration. Ardent whisky fans will say they’ve seen what Glendronach is doing happen before and the whisky always suffers, testifying that they have noticed a drop off in quality when brands switch to chill-filtering. Though how much of this might be due to batch differences is hard to say. Another problem is that they know that the whisky they’re tasting was once bottled without filtration, so it’s not a fair test. How many have done a blind test, and how many would pass?

Whisky writer, Ian Wisniewski, says that the conversation is often simplified into a binary good/bad discussion which narrows the understanding of a process that is full of options. “There’s a lot of factors. The temperature to which whisky is chilled varies, from cooler to colder, and the colder the temperature the more stringent the process. The filter through which whisky passes can be tighter/looser, and filter out more/fewer fatty acid esters. And the flow rate of whisky through the filter matters, as a faster rate ‘pushes’ more fatty acid esters through the filter, while a slower rate catches more”. 

Wisniewski also raises the interesting point about consumer accountability. Would this even be an issue in the first place if we were educating people about why the haze occurs and not to be concerned about it? “Those of us who would return a bottle on this basis should bear some responsibility. Olive oil is prone to the same ‘clouding,’ though back labels explain this concisely and there doesn’t seem to be a problem. So, why not inform rather than chill-filter? Could the reasons be the expense, the time-scale involved and the results not being guaranteed?” 

What’s the impact on flavour?

From a producer’s perspective, Kinsman at William Grant & Sons believes the key is to ensure the process is done with “as light a touch as possible to remove the haze without stripping out any other flavour from the whisky”. This is because the main flavour compounds remain in solution at lower strengths so the filters need to be set up with the “correct surface area, flow rate and pressure drop to only focus on the long-chain esters that have formed a haze and to allow everything else to flow freely through the filter”. 

He concludes his statement by saying that, when done with the correct care and attention, he doesn’t think chill-filtration has any impact on the flavour of the whisky. “We regularly analyse pre and post-filter and also compare samples on a sensory level to ensure the filtration is working efficiently and preserving all of the flavour”. 

Chill-filtration

There are many ways to alter whisky once matured, but they’re not popular with purists

Much ado about nothing?

Ultimately, as somebody who has sampled an amount of whiskies I can’t even put a figure on (responsibly, of course) I can’t say that I’ve ever made a decision to purchase or not purchase a whisky based on whether it’s chill-filtered or not. And I’ve certainly enjoyed many a dram of whisky that has been. The idea of ruling out a drink based on this factor alone seems baffling to me, and just because a whisky hasn’t been chill-filtered doesn’t necessarily mean it’s any good.

I wonder whether the term has been reduced over the years to just another marketing tactic. “How can you tell my whisky is superior and more authentic? Because I don’t chill-filter”. I’m also sceptical that a great many who protest could truly tell the difference between a dram that has been chill-filtered and one that hasn’t.

Transparency is the key

But I do think those who take issue with GlenDronach’s move have a legitimate argument. They are, after all, the people who have paid good money to transform a once overlooked distillery into something worth Brown-Forman’s attention. From their perspective, they can see a slippery slope coming for a brand they love. This would be a good time for Glendronach to listen to its fans and be transparent about what it is doing rather than hiding behind opaque PR statements. 

But nobody should be judging the new Glendronach definitively until they actually taste the whisky. I certainly won’t.

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The Nightcap: 1 April

With the Easter weekend on the horizon, you might have thought there would be no new round-up this week. You’d be wrong because we’re doing it a day early. It’s…

With the Easter weekend on the horizon, you might have thought there would be no new round-up this week. You’d be wrong because we’re doing it a day early. It’s the Nightcap: 1 April edition.

Happy April Fool’s Day/long weekend everyone! Today we all had a good laugh when we pretended we aged some delicious whisky in a tonic wine cask. You know, like that infamous drink known as ‘wreck the hoose juice’. Expect it was no joke. Surprise! It was an April Unfool. We really did do it. The old switcheroo. It’s bonkers. It’s brilliant. And it’s totally real. What a rollercoaster. 

Once you’ve gotten over our double bluff, you might also want to enjoy some of our other scribblings this week. Like our guide on how to pair chocolate and booze for Easter, our refreshing recipe for a terrific Tequila-based cocktail, our top picks of blended beauties and a review on a tasty new Tennessee whiskey. We also had drinks advertisements on the mind this week as we considered both how they evolve and who takes a starring role.

But we’re not done yet. There’s Nightcapping to do! Let’s proceed.

On The Nightcap: 1 April edition, we pay tribute to Caroline Martin

Cheers to you, Caroline. Thanks for all the delicious booze

Diageo pays tribute to Caroline Martin

We kick things off this week by raising a glass to Caroline Martin, who is preparing to retire after a distinguished 35-year career. Since Martin began her whisky journey in 1986, she has made good use of her extraordinary whisky blending skills by working with brands like Johnnie Walker, J&B, Bell’s and Roe & Co Irish whiskey. As one of the company’s longest-serving whisky master blenders, Martin has become known for her sensory analysis skills, ability to lead training and panels, and judge prominent competitions, all while blazing a trail for women in whisky. Her achievements have led to honours like becoming a Keeper of The Quaich or winning ‘Blender of The Year’ for Roe & Co by The Spirit Business in 2019. It’s her last role at Diageo’s new Dublin-based distillery that might be her finest hour, re-launching the old brand after creating 106 prototype blends of Irish single malt and single grain to make an expression worthy of its historic name. Rhona Ferrans, Diageo whisky specialist team manager, paid tribute to Martin by acknowledging her “extraordinary contribution” and describing her as a “great example and source of inspiration to all of her colleagues”. Martin herself said, “The past 35 years have been an incredible journey and I am thankful to everybody at Diageo who have made it so memorable”. We sincerely hope you enjoy your retirement, Caroline. You deserve it. 

On The Nightcap: 1 April edition, we congratulate Stephen Woodcock

Congratulations, Stephen! We’re looking forward to seeing what you do with the distillery

Stephen Woodcock goes to Glen Moray

Glen Moray also has big news regarding personnel changes, announcing that Stephen Woodcock will take the helm at the Speyside single malt whisky distillery. His job title is actually ‘head of whisky creation & stocks’, and he’ll develop Glen Moray’s wide range of whiskies while also working with the other whisky brands owned by Glen Moray’s parent company La Martiniquaise-Bardinet like Cutty Sark, Label 5 and Sir Edward’s. He succeeds Dr Kirstie McCallum, who recently took up a similar role at Halewood International. There’s no word on why her stint with Glen Moray was so short, as she only joined in 2019. Regardless, Woodcock joins with plenty of experience in this industry, most recently with The Distell Group, where he was responsible for Deanston, Bunnahabhain and Tobermory single malts. Which will now be Brendan McCarron’s job. It’s quite the merry-go-round. For lovers of whisky trivia, Glen Moray is the world’s 8th biggest-selling Speyside whisky and the 16th best-selling single malt. A statement from the distillery said “we are thrilled to bring his talent and experience into the LM-B family”. Woodcock added that he’s “so excited to be joining Glen Moray” and that, together with its expert team, he hopes to build on the “legacy of maturing and marrying different casks, to craft great-tasting whiskies, which will be enjoyed by newcomers and connoisseurs alike.”  

On The Nightcap: 1 April edition, we take a look a certain notable grouse's makeover

What a hilarious April Fool’s. That’s clearly not a lion.

Famous Grouse changes name to celebrate the British & Irish Lions

Famous Grouse and rugby go together like Budweiser and one of those American sports that go on for hours and are baffling to non-Americans. The UK’s number one blended whisky brand has been involved with the sport for 30 years and is currently the sponsor of the British & Irish Lions. To celebrate this special relationship, the bottle has had a makeover which now reads ‘The Famous British & Irish Lions’ instead of ‘The Famous Grouse’. You see what they did there? Chris Anderson, head of Edrington brands, commented: “We are very proud to reaffirm our commitment to this great game with the launch of this limited-edition bottle. On sale throughout the British and Irish Lions tour the bottle will enable us to celebrate the pride and camaraderie we see on the rugby pitch every matchday.” This special bottle which is likely to become a collector’s item will go on sale mid-April ahead of the Lions’ summer tour of South Africa. It should be a belter. 

On The Nightcap: 1 April edition, we ask whether Glendronach has gone down a dreaded path...

Has Glendronach committed a cardinal sin in the eyes of certain whisky lovers?

Is Glendronach now chill-filtered?

There was a proper few Rory over on whisky Twitter this week when someone noticed the words “non-chill-filtered” had been removed from Glendronach’s packaging. One fan asked whether the whisky was indeed now chill-filtered and posted a message which appears to come from the brand saying: “We have removed ‘Non-Chill-Filtered’ from our packaging to provide the flexibility in our processes to optimise consistently exceptional quality, flavour, clarity and stability.” So sounds like a yes then. Not chill-filtering, a process to stabilise the spirit which some think removes flavour, is a badge of honour among many distilleries and highly prized by whisky lovers. We have asked Spey which looks after the PR for Glendronach and the rest of the Brown Forman stable for comment but have not heard back yet. We will be investigating further in an article coming soon.

On The Nightcap: 1 April edition, we look forward to a returning festival

Get your tickets now!

OurWhisky virtual whisky festival returns

There’s another virtual festival to pop in your calendars, folks. The team at OurWhisky say its celebration of the water of life will be back for a second year from 29 April to 27 May. The first festival, which took place in April 2020, was made in response to the Covid-19 crisis and tried to unite whisky makers and lovers while raising money for charity. Which it did. Over £12,000 was donated to The Drinks Trust. The 2021 festival will feature another series of fun and welcoming masterclasses, spread out across five sessions with unique themes. On 29 April is ‘Who Run The World?’, then ‘Club Tropicana’ on 6 May and ‘The Ryesing Tide’ on 13 May. Then, on 20 May there’s ‘New Kids on the Block’ and finally ‘WonkaVision’ on 27 May. While those category names are highly suggestive, you won’t actually know the full details until the day of the event, as the contents of each tasting pack, as well as those presenting them, will be a surprise. There are also five Golden Tickets hidden among the tasting packs this year. Lucky finders will be able to choose a full bottle of whisky of their choice from their tasting. Whisky retailer Milroy’s of Soho will partner with the festival to offer guests an exclusive discount on featured bottles featured. All profits from the event will go to The Drinks Trust. Tickets are on sale now for £30 and each includes a tasting pack of five 30ml whisky samples. The OurWhisky Virtual Whisky Festival will be live-streamed at 7 pm GMT on the brand’s Facebook, Twitter and YouTube channels.  

On The Nightcap: 1 April edition, we check out a new drinks website

It might have the aesthetic of a noughties nightclub, but Ooft! could be an invaluable resource for some

New drinks website launches: OOFT! 

A new platform has been made to embrace making the most of drinking in as well as drinking out. Introducing: OOFT! The site went live this month with videos, recipes, articles, masterclasses, events and advice from all corners of hospitality that focus on enhancing both the at-home and drinking out experience. OOFT! was made  by Leanne Ware, the founder of drinks marketing agency Distinctly Aware, in response to our altered drinking culture post-Covid-19. The idea is for it to be an evolving one stop place where you can learn to create cocktails (or get a good one delivered), see what’s happening in your favourite bars and learn about drinks that to expert contributions from the likes of JJ Goodman founder of The London Cocktail Club, Camille Vidal founder of La Maison Wellness and Hannah Lanfear of The Mixing Class. You can even find the perfect spirituous gift as OOFT! has partnered with some mighty fine retailers. Mighty fine, multi-award-winning retailers. Masters of their craft, you might say… Ok, it’s us. We’re talking about us. Anyway, be sure to check out the website.  

On The Nightcap: 1 April edition, we check out the drinks industry's April Fool's celebrations 

Everyone has a had good laugh today. Although, we actually want one of these.

And finally… it’s an April Fool’s or is it?

The booze world really got into the spirit of April Fool’s Day this year with some amusing japes. Top beard owner Blair Bowman and the World Whisky Day team came up with The Dunnage, a limited edition reed diffuser that’s designed to mimic the smell of dunnage warehouses. Bowman commented: “After a decade of celebrating World Whisky Day each year, we thought it was time to stop and smell the roses — and mark our tenth birthday with something special. We couldn’t be happier with the result.” South of the border, English Spirits tried to catch us out with the Cornish Pasty Rum, “rammed with sweet raisin flavours and smooth caramel notes, daringly paired with the savoury palate of a Cornish pasty.” We very nearly fell for that. Is it any sillier than a Brussels sprout gin? Meanwhile, Fake Booze came up with a whole raft of fake boozes including: ”Groanheuser Bush’s new hard seltzer Cacti in association with an American rapper we’ve never heard of. The Agave Spiked Seltzer is unique in the way it features three whole buzz words in the title.” Still, none of them are April Unfools. That takes real genius…

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The Nightcap: 28 August

Hollywood whisky, interactive distillery maps and the Black Forest coming to London. It’s just another regular week in the wonderful world of booze! It’s basically the last Bank Holiday weekend…

Hollywood whisky, interactive distillery maps and the Black Forest coming to London. It’s just another regular week in the wonderful world of booze!

It’s basically the last Bank Holiday weekend of the year (Christmas doesn’t count) in England and Wales and this is obviously incredibly exciting, because who doesn’t love a long weekend? It’s particularly good news if you’ve lost all sense of time like me and had no idea it was on the horizon. I feel like I’ve found a £5 note in an old coat pocket. A weekend as good as this deserves to be kicked off right. So, pour yourself a dram of something delicious and settle in with some delightful reading material. Like this lovely edition of The Nightcap…

It was another terrific week on the MoM blog as we announced that Drinks by the Dram’s delightful Advent Calendars have returned and also launched our incredible Bank Holiday weekend sale! Annie then kept the good times rolling by tasting new whisky from Tobermory, Deanston and Bunnahabhain and explored why coconut water has become the hot new mixer on the bar scene, while Jess cast an eye on a few awesome specialist bars that are pros in specific spirits, reported on BrewDog’s impressive environmental commitment and asked what’s the deal with bitters? Spoiler: they’re awesome. Adam then enjoyed the delights of a smoky summer sipper with an incredible backstory while Henry tasted an innovative rum that thinks it’s a gin. Oh, and we reviewed the 2020 edition of Diageo’s Special Releases. Spoiler: they’re also awesome.

Don’t forget that next weekend the incredible Scotch and Sofa will take place! Now, to The Nightcap! 

The Nightcap

The Glenlivet is helping to uncover illicit whisky past and highlight the impact of Scotch.

Glenlivet joins project to uncover whisky’s illicit past

Speyside whisky giant The Glenlivet has announced a first of its kind partnership this week with The National Trust For Scotland. The duo has launched the ‘Pioneering Spirit’ project, which pairs archive research with archaeological digs in a bid to highlight the impact that Scotch whisky production has had on Scotland’s cultural heritage and its modern way of life. Led by the Trust’s head of archaeology, Derek Alexander, and The Glenlivet’s archivist, Chris Brousseau, the digs will aim to uncover the illicit stills and forgotten bothies that were used to illegally produce and smuggle Scotch across the highlands in the early 1800s. “We are proud to be supporting the National Trust for Scotland and the amazing work they do to protect, and celebrate, what makes Scotland unique,” says Miriam Eceolaza, global marketing director of The Glenlivet. “As a brand that holds so much history in the distilling of Scotch whisky, we are looking forward to learning more about the illicit trade that our founder was involved in, as well as the lasting impact it has had on the country’s rich heritage”. Once underway, the project will enlist the help of visitors and Scottish residents alike to uncover more about the country’s illicit past and the role that whisky played in defining Scottish culture. To find out more, visit www.theglenlivet.com and www.nts.org.uk

The Nightcap

Are you a booze fan looking to holiday in Britain? Well, you’re in luck.

WSTA creates interactive distillery map

Do you know what would be handy for ‘staycationers’ who are also booze fans? An interactive map that showcases some of Britain’s best distillery and vineyard destinations. Oh, wait, that already exists thanks to The Wine and Spirit Trade Association! This week the WSTA launched its delightful map, which should prove useful for those who want to learn more about the art of wine and spirit making and see which locations offer tours, tastings and places to eat and stay on-site across the country. Currently, the map features over 50 distilleries and vineyards, which are marked by a spirit bottle and grape icon respectively. Simply click on them and you’ll get all the info you need about the brand and what experiences they offer. “The ginaissance has led to a huge wave of investment in exciting new distillery visitor centres and tours. There are now more English vineyards offering tours, tastings and dining experiences than ever before. To celebrate our great British distillers and winemakers we have launched the UK’s first digital wine and spirit map,” says Miles Beale, chief executive of the WSTA and Nightcap homie. “The pandemic means that more people are choosing to enjoy a staycation over the summer and this August Bank Holiday weekend. The WSTA’s interactive map has been designed to encourage people to find out more about the wave of exciting new wine and spirit experiences on their doorsteps.” Where will you go first? Britain now boasts over 763 vineyards and over 440 distilleries, so you’re spoilt for choice!

The Nightcap

Think you can make a delicious, locally-sourced cocktail? Then Jameson wants to hear from you!

Jameson launches new web series

Last year, Jameson brought bartenders, local farmers and producers from across the globe together to create locally inspired cocktails. Now fans can enjoy this adventure thanks to the brand’s new six-part web series. ‘Grow Your Own Cocktail’ will feature episodes from Dubai, Tel Aviv, Kuala Lumpur, Shanghai, Stockholm and Cork (home to Midleton Distillery) and aims to educate and inspire the global bar community. Alongside the series, Jameson is encouraging bartenders to proactively support their local community by launching a new competition that challenges them to create a Jameson cocktail using locally sourced ingredients. To enter you need to post your cocktail on Instagram, outlining the local ingredients used, the background to the collaboration, and explain why Jameson should support them, along with the hashtag #GrowYourOwnCocktail. A €1,000 cash prize will be split equally between bartenders and producers who work in collaboration and winners will also be encouraged to invest their prize back into their community through further local sourcing. “The bar community has faced serious challenges in 2020, so now, more than ever the industry needs solidarity, creativity and innovation to help it through these times. It’s Jameson’s mission to support this creativity and encourage bartenders to use their own environments in truly innovative ways,” says Irish Distillers’ international marketing director Brendan Buckley. Episodes of the web series will be released throughout August and September via @JamesonHosts and Jameson’s YouTube channel. For more information on how to enter the competition, head to Instagram. The deadline for entries is 14 September 2020. 

The Nightcap

German Gymnasium is bringing the Black Forest into the heart of London

The Black Forest comes to London 

There’s been a lot of teaming up this week, and German Gymnasium and Monkey 47 Dry Gin have got in on the act to bring a little slice of Black Forest charm to London through the wonder of gin cocktails. The duo presented A Schwarzwald Summer yesterday (Thursday 27 August), which is a two-month-long celebration designed to help people make the most of the many inevitable staycations that will take place this summer. The Schwarzwald, also known as the Black Forest, is where the Monkey 47 Gin brand is from. Naturally, it has created quite the cocktail list for the event, featuring two refreshing G&Ts, as well as variations on the Negroni, Spritz, Martini and a highball called the Schwarzwald Summer made up of Monkey 47 Gin, elderflower, mint, cucumber, lemon and tonic. There’s also going to be hearty German bar snacks like Black Forest ham and Currywurst, and for the duration of the partnership the outdoor bar will also be completely covered in vibrant pink, red, lilac and yellow flowers to reflect the traditional flower-laden houses seen throughout the Black Forest in the summertime. So, if you head on down, be sure to don your best Trachten, resist the urge to bring up gâteau every forty seconds and enjoy the Schwarzwald Summer!

The Nightcap

Cheers to 60 years of Macduff Distillery!

Macduff Distillery celebrates 60 years

Macduff has some celebrating to do next week as the Highland distillery marks 60 years since its official opening on 1 September 1960. Founded by four Glasgow businessmen, it was one of the first single malt distilleries to go into operation following the Second World War and its first whisky was released in 1968 – a five-year-old labelled ‘Macduff Pure Highland Malt Scotch Whisky’. You probably know the distillery best for creating The Deveron and Glen Deveron Scotch whisky brands, which were named in reference to the River Deveron, which runs alongside the distillery and its whisky has also been used in blends for William Lawson’s. The Macduff distillery, which is currently under Bacardi ownership following their acquisition of Martini Rossi in 1992, was designed to ensure it was as energy efficient as possible and the focus on sustainability and technology remains key for the distillery. “Production at Macduff was simple and compact, focusing on energy-saving techniques such as lagged pot stills which were also steam heated and the use of gravity instead of pumps. It’s fantastic to see that respect for the distillery’s beautiful natural surroundings still firmly in place today,” says Jacqueline Seargeant, global heritage manager for Bacardi, is responsible for archiving the rich history of Bacardi’s distilleries in Scotland. “From changes in ownership to adapting to changes in technology and whisky production techniques, it’s been a fascinating journey for Macduff over the last six decades, and I have no doubt there will be many more amazing stories to come.” There’s only one way to celebrate such an occasion, pick yourself up some Macduff whisky and raise a glass!

The Nightcap

The GlenDronach Kingsman Edition 1989 Vintage, looking very swanky indeed

GlenDronach announce new Kingsman whisky

Regardless of whether you’re a fan of the franchise or not, if you love whisky you’ve got to respect the Kingsman films because with each new movie comes delicious whisky! Delicious Glendronach whisky, to be precise. This week the GlenDronach distillery has announced that it will once again release a tie-in tipple in collaboration with director Matthew Vaughn to mark the upcoming release of The King’s Man: Tokyo Drift. The GlenDronach Kingsman Edition 1989 Vintage is a 29-year-old single malt matured in Oloroso sherry casks initially and finished in Pedro Ximénez casks. All 3,052 bottles have been labelled, numbered and wax-sealed by hand and each box comes with the Kingsman insignia and the signatures of both Barrie and Vaughn. This 1989 vintage is inspired by the oldest bottle of whisky housed at The GlenDronach Distillery — a twenty-nine-year-old whisky bottled in 1913, just before the outbreak of the First World War. According to Glendronach, three friends had each purchased a bottle before leaving for war, vowing to open the whiskies together upon coming home. Tragically, only one friend returned. Having never opened his bottle, his family later gifted it to the distillery, where it remains unopened and displayed in remembrance of fallen friends. “I have selected casks of the most exceptional character for this rare 1989 vintage, with smouldering aromas of dark fruits and sherry-soaked walnuts, vintage leather and cedarwood,” says The GlenDronach master blender, Dr Rachel Barrie. “On the palate, dense autumn fruits meld with date, fig and treacle, before rolling into black winter truffle and cocoa. In the exceptionally long finish, notes of blackberry, tobacco leaf and date oil linger to conclude the rich tasting experience”.

The Nightcap

We’re looking forward to the Android vs iPhone debates on which one can track blood alcohol better

And finally… Your phone could track your blood alcohol 

People joke about phones being able to do everything these days, but in reality, it looks like that really is becoming the case. The latest thing our gadgets are able to do is to track our blood alcohol concentration! Researchers over at the University of Pittsburgh discovered that the phone sensors can identify high blood alcohol concentration. If you’ve got a Nokia then, unfortunately, that won’t do the trick, you’ll need a smartphone for this one (though if you drop it that’s a whole different story). The devices were used to measure walking speed and movements after participants had been given a drop or two of the hard stuff, and it was all rather successful – the phones were more than 90% accurate in detecting when blood alcohol concentration had exceeded the legal limit for driving (which is 0.08%, for future reference). Obviously the hope for this is that it will discourage people from driving under the influence, seeing as they can check it themselves. But like we always say folks, sip, don’t gulp!

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Take a VR tour of GlenDronach Distillery with MoM!

Fans of sherried whisky will enjoy this week’s VR distillery tour as we peek behind the curtain at GlenDronach. Just because you’re self-isolating or on lockdown, it doesn’t mean you…

Fans of sherried whisky will enjoy this week’s VR distillery tour as we peek behind the curtain at GlenDronach.

Just because you’re self-isolating or on lockdown, it doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a good distillery tour. How is this possible? Thanks to the power of VR, of course. In this series we’re going to take you around some of the finest distilleries across England, Wales and Scotland from the comfort of your own home. This week we visit an innovative Highland distillery that creates some truly smashing whiskies. Enjoy!

Ever since GlenDronach Distillery was founded by James Allardice in 1826 it has been maturing whisky in Pedro Ximénez and oloroso sherry casks. This profile was maintained even though the distillery changed hands multiple times, with the likes of Walter Scott of Teaninich, William Grant’s son Charles Grant, William Teacher and Pernod Ricard all acquiring the distillery over the last two centuries. For much of this time, GlenDronach’s whisky was mainly used in blends such as Teachers and Chivas Regal. In 1968, GlenDronach was released as a single malt brand for the first time. The GlenDronach distillery was purchased by BenRiach’s owners in 2008 for £15 million, who invested £7 million, relaunched its core range and opened a new visitors centre in 2010 before selling to Brown-Forman for £285 million in 2016. The distillery features a traditional rake and plough mash tun as well as wooden washbacks, while its four stills which were coal-fired until 2005, making it the last in Scotland to be heated in this way. The wash stills are an interesting shape and the plain sides of the spirit still cut back on reflux, helping to build a heavy and robust spirit ensures that GlenDronach distillery character still shines even after lengthy maturation in sherry casks.

VR tour of GlenDronach Distillery

If you’ve enjoyed the look of Glendronach, then you’re probably intrigued about how its whisky tastes. We’d suggest you give The GlenDronach 18 Year Old Allardice a try. Named after the distillery’s founder, it matured completely in oloroso sherry casks and is an exceptionally fruity and complex single malt. 

The GlenDronach 18 Year Old Allardice tasting note:

Nose: Sherry notes so thick you need a knife to cut them! There’s a hint of old rum in there too, with pineapple and brown sugar in tow.

Palate: Christmas cake, rum again, chocolate-coated hazelnut, runny honey and a hint of Sauternes.

Finish: Fresh blackcurrant, blueberry pancakes with a generous helping of maple syrup.

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Win a VIP 2021 trip to The GlenDronach distillery!

We’ve got a prize today that will have lovers of sherried whiskies pricking up their ears with interest… a visit to The GlenDronach Distillery! While you should definitely not be…

We’ve got a prize today that will have lovers of sherried whiskies pricking up their ears with interest… a visit to The GlenDronach Distillery! While you should definitely not be travelling to any distilleries right now, in times like these it’s best to focus on things to look forward to. We reckon a whisky trip in 2021 should do a pretty good job. 

Nestled in the beautiful Aberdeenshire countryside and surrounded by shimmering fields of barley, it’s hard to think of a more perfectly-sited distillery than The GlenDronach. The distillery dates back to 1826 and then was expanded greatly in the 1960s. It was mothballed from 1996 to 2002, but it’s now safely in the hands of Brown-Forman with Rachel Barrie as master blender and Alan McConnochie as distillery manager. The whiskies, heavy on the sherry influence, are highly-prized by Scotch whisky lovers and there was much rejoicing when the 15 year old Revival expression returned last year after a hiatus. 

Win a trip to The GlenDronach distillery

One lucky winner will be here in 2021!

A visit to The GlenDronach must be high up on everyone’s whisky bucket list, so we’re delighted to be offering a VIP 2021 trip to the distillery for three lucky winners (plus one guest per winner). Final dates will be confirmed closer to the time due to the current global pandemic.  Day one will consist of travel from the UK to Aberdeen Airport, a visit to Speyside Cooperage, a whisky tasting, dinner and an overnight stay at nearby Glen House. The following day there will be a tour of the distillery where you will get to fill a bottle of whisky from the cask, and then return clasping your treasure tightly to Aberdeen Airport.

What a prize! “How do I get my hands on it?”, we hear you cry. Well, it’s quite straightforward. All you have to do is buy a bottle of The GlenDronach 12 Year Old and  you’re automatically entered. (For full details, see competition terms below). 

Win a trip to The GlenDronach distillery

It’s the scrumptiously sherried GlenDronach 12 Year Old!

‘Postponed’ may become the buzzword of 2020. Glastonbury, the Euros, and even Eurovision have all been delayed because of the current state of events (the last of which caused quite the heartbreak in MoM Towers). Now, our wonderful GlenDronach trip can be added to that list of awesome postponed events. Of course, when you will be able to take the trip is somewhat uncertain and the prize won’t be available until 2021, though rest assured that the winners will be making their way to the Highlands once it is considered safe.

Not only will three people (and three equally lucky plus ones) be in with a chance to win this amazing trip, but with a bottle of The GlenDronach 12 Year Old to see you through isolation, everyone’s a winner!

MoM GlenDronach Competition 2020 is open to entrants 18 years and over. Entries accepted from 6 April 2020 until 20 April 2020. Winners chosen at random after close of competition. UK travel only. Prizes not transferable and cannot be exchanged for cash equivalent. No purchase necessary. See full T&Cs for details. 

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Whisky Advent 2019 Day #10: The GlenDronach 12 Year Old

On the 10th day of Advent, Drinks by the Dram declared that we should drink delicious Highland whisky, from a wonderful distillery situated at the Dronach Burn. Go on people,…

On the 10th day of Advent, Drinks by the Dram declared that we should drink delicious Highland whisky, from a wonderful distillery situated at the Dronach Burn. Go on people, get that Advent door open already!

It’s the 10th day of advent! That’s a nice round number. As such, day 10 deserves a suitably well-rounded whisky (see what we did there). Luckily Drinks by the Dram’s 2019 Whisky Advent Calendar is on hand with all the goods.

Today’s dram is… The GlenDronach 12 Year Old!

For five sad years, the Highland distillery was mothballed from 1996 until 2001. Thankfully whisky stock was still maturing over that time, and the distillery reopened, and with it the 12 Year Old was born! It was first released in 2009, and the fruity single malt is aged in a combination of oloroso and Pedro Ximénez casks from Spain. 

The year that was 2019 saw The GlenDronach release the seventeenth batch of its Cask Bottling series, as well as a smashing 1993 Master Vintage! It’s not like we really need a reason to raise a dram of The GlenDronach 12 Year Old, though those endeavours are certainly worthy of one!

Glendronach 12 year old

Say hello to Stewart Buchanan!

We were lucky enough to grab a minute (and a chat) with GlenDronach brand ambassador Stewart Buchanan, to learn more about the wonderful Highland distillery.

Master of Malt: Can you talk us through the flavour profile of the sherry bomb that is GlenDronach 12 Year Old?

Stewart Buchanan: It really is a single malt for everyone. So many times I hear from consumers that it was the first whisky that sent them on their single malt journey; the harmony and balance of sherry maturation, oak spice and the rich Highland character combine perfectly together. From the first sip to the last it shows all off a richly sherried whisky at its absolute best – from the notes of sweet, creamy vanilla and ginger on the nose to spiced mulled wine and pear flavours, to the warming finish of rich oak and sherry sweetness bursting with raisins and soft fruits in the palate. Delicious!

MoM: What’s been a GlenDronach highlight of 2019?

SB: Goodness, that’s a tough one…! I suppose the most exciting release to launch and take round the world has been the 1993 Master Vintage – from Stockholm to Singapore and Tokyo to Taipei the reception was fantastic. GlenDronachs from 1993 have always captivated palates and with this particular Master Vintage, our Master Blender really has done it again – it truly is an extraordinary limited edition. Expect profound layers of depth and complexity, leading to an exceedingly long, voluptuous and memorable finish through its vibrant profile.

MoM: What’s your favourite way to drink GlenDronach 12 Year Old?

SB: The GlenDronach 12 Year Old is, I suppose, my most social occasion single malt of the range. Enjoying with friends whether at home or in a bar, its rich but simple flavours working in perfect harmony make it a great single malt to simply enjoy and savour without having to overthink – that for me makes a perfect social Scotch whisky.

Glendronach 12 year old

The Glendronach 12 Year Old looking suitably snug.

MoM: Can you give us any hints as to what we can expect from GlenDronach in 2020?

SB: As ever, our master blender Dr Rachel Barrie is constantly nosing, tasting, assessing and creating – we do have some special gems tucked away so watch this space.

MoM: It’s Christmas Eve, and you’re sitting down with a GlenDronach dram. Which one is it?

SB: I will be doing what I do every Christmas Eve – my mother brings out the Christmas cake which she has been preparing since September. She slices through the sugar icing and marzipan into the boozy, dark fruit-laden masterpiece and I pour everyone a warming measure of the GlenDronach 21 Year Old Parliament – it’s a match made in heaven!

Tasting notes

Nose: Rich cereals, struck match, raisin, cinnamon, caramelised sugar. Opens with some sweeter PX and lots of delicious raw ginger before becoming creamier with hazelnuts.

Palate: Fruits, peels, buttery. Pain au chocolat, a little marmalade on toast before becoming firmer and nuttier with spiced raisins.

Finish: Smoky toffee and nut brittle.

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Five minutes with… Billy Walker, owner and master blender at Glenallachie Distillery

The wonderful Billy Walker of GlenAllachie Distillery fame has joined us to talk about making his mark, what the future holds and winning the Scottish Whisky Distillery Of The Year…

The wonderful Billy Walker of GlenAllachie Distillery fame has joined us to talk about making his mark, what the future holds and winning the Scottish Whisky Distillery Of The Year award.

It’s been a whirlwind couple of years for Billy Walker since he took over GlenAllachie Distillery in 2017. In a preview he gave us back in October of that year, he outlined his ambitions for his new purchase and many have been achieved. Expressions have been added to the core range, including the recently released GlenAllachie 15 Year Old and in July the first Wood Finish range launched, which comprises of three expressions, the 12 Year Old Pedro Ximénez Sherry Wood Finish, the 10 Year Old Port Wood Finish and the 8 Year Old Koval Rye Quarter Cask Wood Finish. A visitor centre and shop were also unveiled in May which will welcome people to the distillery for the first time since it was built in 1967. Such has been the progress, The GlenAllachie even managed to pick up the Scottish Whisky Distillery Of The Year award at the Scottish Whisky Awards.

We thought it was high time we sat down once again with the veteran of the industry to discuss all the above, talk about what the future holds and more.

Billy Walker

Say hi to Billy Walker!

Master of Malt: Hi Billy! Congratulations on the Scottish Whisky Distillery Of The Year award.

Billy Walker: Thank you! It’s fantastic of course. It’s a pretty amazing award, but it doesn’t surprise me. That’s not a conceit, because it’s got nothing to do with me frankly, it’s got to do with the team and the available inventory, the shape of the inventory, the range of the inventory and indeed the spirit the distillery makes. Was it a surprise? Yeah, a little bit. We were delighted to be in the final choice, but yeah, to win it is fantastic.

MoM: How have the last two years been for you at GlenAllachie Distillery?

BW: The last two years have been all about interfacing and understanding, being really intimate with the individual casks, understanding what we have in the casks and working out if there is going to be enough for the direction we want to go in. It’s the case with all distilleries. You have to understand what the style of whisky is, the wood it’s in and what direction you want to take it. So, these last two years has helped us get an in-depth understanding of where we’re going and what we can release and the quality that we expect it to deliver.

MoM: What did you learn from your time at BenRiach, GlenDronach and Glenglassaugh?

BW: The one thing that was certainly brought home to me is that there is no shortcut to quality. It is important to understand the kind of vibrancy and the dynamism that is in the single malt sector in the last ten to 12 years. In that period we have learned that we need to be loyal to the routes to market through the private, independent sector. It’s a way for us to get visibility and loyalty without tiptoeing into the territory of big companies like supermarkets. We really don’t want to be in supermarkets in the short to medium term, if ever at all. And that’s the one thing we’ve learnt: build the brand, be patient, build the brand through the private independent retailers. Engage with informed consumers. Because these are the guys that will act as loyal and refreshing and honest ambassadors for our brand and indeed for other people’s brands.

Billy Walker

The Glenallachie Distillery

MoM: How would you describe the distillery to someone who didn’t know much about it?

BW: I always had an admiration for the spirit from Glenallachie because it was an extremely important contributor to some very, very famous blended whiskies. So we were familiar with the style, but we weren’t terribly familiar with the distillery infrastructure, but everything was perfect. The water supply is wonderful, it runs over granite and peat so it’s fantastic for both whisky and for fermentation generally. It’s a relatively big distillery. It can make 4.2 million litres of alcohol but we’ve tailored it down and we’re reaching about 800,000 litres at the moment. This has allowed us to do very important things like long fermentation (120 – 160 hours), which we’re big advocates of. We introduced it at the Ben Riach, we introduced it at Glendronach and we also introduced it at Glenglassaugh. With long fermentation, you get an extension of flavour development in the fermenter but more importantly, you bring a very benign, calm wash to the wash still so that the distillation process is much easier to control. The big bonus that we also have is warehousing capacity, we can store about 50,000 casks so we’re pretty well fully integrated. The only thing missing is a bottling plant but who knows… maybe that’s something we can do in the future. All-in-all, what we have inherited we are very, very happy with.

MoM: You’ve mentioned the possibility of creating a bottling plant. How likely is it that there will be any expansions or alterations of any of the distillery buildings or equipment in the near future?

BW: The bottling plant is certainly an idea at the moment. We would like to have the flexibility of having access to our own bottling unit, but it brings with it as many problems as solutions! But we’ll see. It’s too early, we’re too much in our infancy at the moment. We’re using a contract bottler with whom we are more than comfortable and it’s not on the horizon at the moment but it’s not off the radar. Well, one of the attractions of this distillery at Glenallachie is that it has terrific storage capacity, but I suspect that we will probably have a need to have some additional storage and that would certainly be something we would have to do sooner rather than later. It won’t be in the next 12 months, however, it wouldn’t surprise me if we did have to do it within the next 24 months.

Billy Walker

Walker is experimenting with different cask types

MoM: Can you describe the profile of the GlenAllachie new-make and what the distillery character is?

BW: We’re actually in the process of changing the character. Essentially what we’re looking for in the new-make is clean, sparkling fruits, vanilla, butterscotch, biscuity notes, the latter of which the long fermentation will deliver for us. We don’t want a dull, flat spirit. We want a full-bodied spirit that allows us to interface with rich wood. And we’re achieving that. We’ve done a lot of cask experiments and looked into various types of wood such as PX and oloroso and that’s exciting, just to see how you can change the direction of the flavour profile of the whisky as you go along. I go up to the distillery once or twice a week essentially to follow the development and note how each of the individual casks is developing and how the DNA of both young and mature spirit is moving along.

MoM: The distillery has a relatively recent history, is that liberating for you creatively to not have too much tradition and history to keep in line with?

BW: Oh unquestionably. It’s important to understand that back when this distillery was built the purpose of almost every single malt was to feed into one of the many famous and very good blended Scotch whiskies that existed then and indeed continue to exist now. If you reflect that when this distillery was built in 1960, it was at a time when there was a lot of activity in modernising and in building new distilleries that could become an integral part of some very important blended whiskies. The Glenallachie was made to feature in some of these blends, which I’m not going to name. You can contrast that to what we’re doing now because we have adopted a policy that we are not releasing any of our production to any third parties. We are focused on owning everything that we produce.

MoM: What does the future hold for GlenAllachie Distillery and what do you hope to achieve with the distillery?

BW: The important thing with any distillery is that you define and create your range of products to be compatible with the consumer base that you’re targeting. We’ve already discussed the importance of being a brand who aim to reach the market in a manner where they can be built and developed slowly, but in a way that where you are targeting and engaging with informed consumers who, in many ways, then become your ambassadors. We have to be patient; we know this is not a sprint, there are no shortcuts to quality. It’s a long term goal to deliver Glenallachie and we have ambition frankly. Our ambition is to be the best Speyside single malt in the region, and there are some competitors in there! But if we don’t have ambition we shouldn’t be creating.

Billy Walker

Walker wants Glenallachie to be the best single malt on Speyside

MoM: Back in 2017, you seemed open-minded when asked if you’d purchase another distillery, how do you feel now?

BW: We would not be against having another distillery in the stable. My only caveat in all of that is that it is becoming more and more difficult to actually acquire that kind of an asset. If something came up and it was the right fit and the price was right, then unquestionably we would be interested. But right now the prices are not really right! Of course, we would be comfortable having another distillery in-house and having the opportunity to work with another whisky would be fantastic. Playing with whisky is just such a wonderful obsession.

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The Nightcap: 22 February

Greetings and welcome to Friday – you’re tuned in to your weekly round-up of all things booze news, The Nightcap! Yes folks, it’s Friday once again! Not only that, it’s…

Greetings and welcome to Friday – you’re tuned in to your weekly round-up of all things booze news, The Nightcap!

Yes folks, it’s Friday once again! Not only that, it’s also National Margarita Day, so if you’re not reading this edition of The Nightcap with a freshly-prepared Margarita, please feel free to prod anyone in arm’s reach and ask them kindly if they’d like to make you one. Or go make one for yourself and the aforementioned person in arm’s reach. Either way, ensure a tasty lime-and-Tequila-based beverage is in-hand before proceeding to read The Nightcap.

So, what’s been happening on the MoM blog this week? Henry taught us how to make a Margarita for our Cocktail of the Week, and hopped over to Ireland to check out the Dublin Liberties Distillery opening. Annie showed us the best time-saving treats for your home bar, and dug into the history of the Rat Pack and its connection to J&B Rare. Adam looked to the west and picked out some terrific Welsh drinks to celebrate St. David’s Day with. Oh, and we launched a gin. And won the Icons of Gin Online Retail of the Year award. As you do.

On with the remainder of the news!

Your love of Jim Beam meant it exceeded 10 million case sales!

Japanese gin and Jim Beam bolster Beam Suntory’s 2018 results

It was Beam Suntory’s turn to unveil those all-important 2018 numbers this week, and they make encouraging reading. Bourbon first, and Jim Beam continued its “strong momentum” to exceed 10 million case sales, while Makers Mark posted “double-digit” gains, passing the two million case-mark for the first time (that’s a lot of bourbon). Cognac brand Courvoisier and Canadian Club whisky contributed “high single-digit growth”, with Hornitos Tequila also performing well. But gin is well and truly in for Beam Suntory. Sipsmith’s growth was in double figures, while ROKU Japanese Craft Gin, which entered 31 new markets, “inspired strong sales”. Overall, Beam Suntory posted “mid-single-digit” sales gains. Cryptic, but clearly all’s well at the American-Japanese drinks group. Looking to future growth, Takeshi Niinami, Suntory Holdings Limited president and CEO, said in the financial results: “The key will be to continue providing high quality products like The Premium Malts and Jim Beam, and creating strong brands that are loved by consumers. In order to do this, we need to develop and grow premium products that have new value, which our rivals cannot offer.” Bring it on!

So this is what the future looks like…

Penderyn gets the green light for its second distillery!

Exciting distillery news alert, especially with St. David’s Day approaching – Welsh whisky producer Penderyn has got the go-ahead to open a second distillery! Planning permission for the new Swansea site was granted earlier this week, meaning work to transform the historic Hafod Morfa Copperworks site can get under way later this year. “Penderyn is delighted to bring a copper-based industry back to this area,” said Stephen Davies, Penderyn’s chief executive. “Once opened, we hope to see up to 100,000 visitors a year, and it will become one of the major attractions in the area. This all helps us promote our whiskies from Wales to the world.” The Lottery Heritage Foundation awarded £3.75 million to the project, which will comprise an exhibition area detailing the history of the copperworks, shop, tasting bar, conference suite and, of course, the distillery It’s all expected to open in 2022. Llongyfarchiadau, Team Penderyn!

A work of art – and that’s just the whisky!

Compass Box releases Leonardo da Vinci-inspired whisky

Just to remind us that blended whiskies can be seriously swanky comes a new release from the master of mixing, Compass Box. Called Tobias & the Angel, it’s named after a work by Verrocchio-Leonardo (meaning that it was painted at the school of Andrea del Verrocchio by Leonardo) hanging in the National Gallery in London depicting the biblical story of Tobias. The whisky is a blend of 24 year old Clynelish aged in American oak hogsheads and a peated Caol Ila of “considerably older age”, according to Compass Box. Founder John Glaser said: “For nearly 20 years, since we created our malt blend called Eleuthera in 2002, we have held a special reverence for the two distilleries used in Tobias and the Angel. That’s when I first discovered how perfectly these single malts complement each other. When we were recently offered extremely old and special parcels of whiskies from these two distilleries, I was compelled to put them together again.” He went on to say: “For this whisky, the name of the biblical story Tobias & the Angel just felt right; it seemed to reflect the personality of the two whiskies in this recipe. Searching through the many depictions of the story over the centuries, the Verrocchio-Leonardo painting had the beauty and the gravitas we wanted for this special creation.” Only 2,634 bottles will be produced and they will retail for around £450 ($500).

It’s time to party like your distillery manager used to work at a rum distillery in the 60s.

Ardbeg Day 2019: Time to get out your maracas

Well, have we got news for you. It turns out that the Islay-based Ardbeg distillery actually has some old connections to the Caribbean. Hamish Scott, Ardbeg’s distillery manager from 1964 to 1967, used to fill the same role at a rum distillery! Ardbeg Day has quite a reputation, with locals transforming everything from tractors to wheelbarrows into magnificent floats. Hence, on 1 June, during the famed Fèis Ìle Festival, Ardbeg Committee Members from around the world will gather in celebration of this year’s limited edition bottling, Ardbeg Drum. Dubbed a “peaty excuse for a party”, the single malt whisky has been matured in bourbon casks and finished in rum casks from the Americas, which should make for a rather interesting dram. It looks like this bottling will be as flamboyant as the celebrations surrounding it! The Committee release will go on sale from 5 March, though only a limited number of bottles will be released – let the festivities begin!

The GlenDronach 1993 Master Vintage, in all its glory.

The GlenDronach announces limited release 1993 Master Vintage

If you’ve ever enjoyed the pleasures of a Scotch whisky from Highland distillery GlenDronach (if you haven’t you need to correct this ASAP), then you’ll know that the brand specialises in bold, rich and predominantly sherried single malts. The distillery’s new release, The GlenDronach 1993 Master Vintage, is no exception. The liquid in some sherry casks filled in 1993 proved so exceptional that the distillery did the sensible thing and bottled some of it! The GlenDronach master blender, Dr Rachel Barrie, personally hand-selected the Pedro Ximénez and oloroso sherry casks used in this twenty-five-year-old expression, which was bottled at 48.2% ABV without chill-filtration or additional colouring. “With a quarter of a century slowly maturing in our renowned Andalucían casks, The GlenDronach Master Vintage 1993 Aged 25 Years has developed profound layers of depth and complexity, leading to an exceedingly long, voluptuous and memorable finish,” said Dr. Barrie. “Fans of The GlenDronach’s traditional Highland Single Malt can expect rich brandy-laced fruitcake on the nose, cocoa-dusted coffee and sultana brioche on the palate and lingering pecan toffee notes in the finish. I hope sherry cask connoisseurs around the world enjoy The GlenDronach 1993 Master Vintage, as an example of the finest sherry cask maturation.” Well, that sounds amazing. Is anyone else salivating a little?

Behold: Balcones Texas Pot Still Bourbon

Balcones readies new pot still bourbon

Hang on to your hats, American whiskey fans! Waco-based distillery Balcones has a new addition to its core range. Behold: Balcones Texas Pot Still Bourbon! Made using the brand’s Forsyth pot stills and aged for 24 months in new charred oak barrels, the mash bill features roasted blue corn, Texas wheat, Texas rye and malted barley. The result? An intriguing straight bourbon bottled at 92 proof (46% ABV). “Texas Pot Still Bourbon is about inclusivity,” said Jared Himstedt, head distiller at Balcones. “We wanted to create something that both long-time Balcones enthusiasts and people who are experiencing us for the first time can appreciate. By delivering flavour complexity within an approachable taste profile, we can introduce more people to the nuance of what we do.” Balcones Texas Pot Still Bourbon should be with us in the second half of 2019, but if you really can’t wait and fancy a trip to the US, you can get it from Texas, Florida and California now, priced at US$29.99.

The Dalmore and Massimo Bottura Present The Dalmore L’Anima Aged 49 Years.

Folks, we have Dalmore news! There’s a new expression on the block, and this one comes with some significant age. The Dalmore L’Anima Aged 49 Years was created by master distiller Richard Paterson and Massimo Bottura, owner of three-Michelin starred Osteria Francescana in Modena (voted the best restaurant in the world by the World’s 50 Best Restaurant Awards in 2018). 49 years-matured. Michelin-star chef. Dalmore. This should be good. Dalmore L’Anima – meaning soul in Italian – was inspired by Bottura and Paterson’s shared love of creativity, innovation and flavour. The 41.5% ABV cask-strength, natural colour expression is a marriage of Dalmore expressions previously matured in freshly-emptied small batch bourbon barrels; Gonzalez Byass casks which previously held 40 year old Pedro Ximénez sherry; and Graham’s vintage Port pipes. How does it taste? Sunkissed raisins, bitter chocolate, old English marmalade; freshly brewed Java coffee, Demerara sugar, pecan pie and crème brûlée, according to the tasting notes. But the most pleasing aspect of this new expression? It will be auctioned at Sotheby’s later this year raising funds for Bottura’s non-profit Food For Soul, which tackles fight food waste through social inclusion. “Bottura’s approach to deconstructing and reinventing daring food pairings is very similar to the way I approach whisky making,” said Paterson. “The coming together of our passions allowed me to create a whisky that is bold, different, full of warmth and completely unforgettable – it is a true reflection of the love, blood and balsamic that unites us.” Delightful.

The House of Peroni is a fully immersive experience

Introducing The House of Peroni 2019

Peroni Nastro Azzurro has kicked off its House of Peroni 2019 activation! The multi-sensory immersive experience is set London’s Covent Garden and features eight different spaces, inspired by eight emerging fashion designers. For example, the Sicily space focuses on light that recreates the Sicilian sky, the Nature and Maximalism room is full of botanical scents and a wall of man-made flowers, and the Future and Sci Fi area transports visitors to a futuristic time through industrial city sounds. Then there is, of course, the bar! Visitors are invited to sip on a selection of Peroni-infused cocktails crafted by Manchester-based bartender Sam Taylor, who has been mentored by Peroni Nastro Azzurro’s master of mixology, Simone Caporale. Taylor was scouted from a nationwide search for the best bartending talent, so expect great things from his creations! Each tipple is inspired by each of the eight designers, plus there’s Peroni Libera 0.0%, an alcohol-free serve just as stylish as its boozy counterparts. Just goes to show the Italian beer brand can keep up with current low alcohol trends. 2019 marks the seventh outing for the House of Peroni concept, which runs until 9 March.

Congratulations Scott Gavin!

Scott Gavin appointed bar manager at The Bloomsbury Club Bar

The Bloomsbury Club Bar, London, has a new bar manager. It’s UK World Class finalist Scott Gavin! With over 10 years of international experience in high-end hotels, independent cocktail bars and immersive bar outfits, Gavin began his career in 2006 in sunny Malta at Twentytwo, the island’s most prestigious bar. He returned to the UK in 2012 to become head bartender at the award-winning Limewood Hotel in Hampshire, before spending two years as senior bartender at the sublime Scarfes Bar at the Rosewood London. His first managerial role was at industry haunt NOLA, where he helped relaunch the bar. He also frequently collaborates with Michelin-starred chef Tom Kerridge. That’s some career, and we’re looking forward to seeing what he can bring to The Bloomsbury Club Bar. “I’m thrilled to be joining the team,” said Gavin. “The Bloomsbury Club Bar has been really innovative in the way it works with brands and other bars across the world. This position will be a new challenge for me and I’m excited to help continue raising the profile of the bar in London and worldwide.” Best of luck, Mr. Gavin!

Golden Barrel LeClarc Briant

Behold! The golden barrel!

And finally… For the wine lover who has everything, how about Champagne aged in 24-carat gold?

Winemakers love experimenting with fermentation vessels. Wines can be made in oak casks, concrete tanks, stainless steel vats, and even clay amphora, just like in Roman times. But now one Champagne producer has come up with the blingiest way to make wine yet: in a gold barrel. According to The Drinks Business, Champagne house Leclerc Briant will be releasing a wine fermented and aged in a stainless steel barrel lined with 24-carat gold some time in 2021. When asked what was the point of a gold-plated barrel, winemaker Hervé Jestin talked about “a resonance between solar energy and the wine”. He then went on to say that the gold would “increase the level of solar activity during the first fermentation” and “makes a connection with cosmic activity”. We’ll have what he’s having!

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Master of Malt’s most read stories of 2018

As 2018 draws to a close, we reflect on the news and features that caught your eye the most this year. Well, we’ve reached the end of another year. The…

As 2018 draws to a close, we reflect on the news and features that caught your eye the most this year.

Well, we’ve reached the end of another year. The Earth has put in another hell of a shift in its orbit around the Sun. Now is the time where we reflect on all that happened in 2018.

It has been another 12 months filled with standout stories, all manner of incidents, and of course highs and lows. Among the articles you read most on our award-winning blog were round-ups of great booze, limited-edition whisky launches, and a sorry tale of a collapsing warehouse. We shed a tear for all that bourbon.

Without further delay, these are the top 10 stories that you read, shared and talked about the most in 2018.

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Whisky Advent Day #15: The GlenDronach 12 Year Old

We’ve reached day 15 of the Drinks by the Dram Whisky Advent Calendar, so what’s in store for us today? I think I can smell something sherried behind the window……

We’ve reached day 15 of the Drinks by the Dram Whisky Advent Calendar, so what’s in store for us today? I think I can smell something sherried behind the window…

After checking the calendar (the one which isn’t filled with delicious whiskies – the paper one that has a different picture of a pug for each month and is covered in birthday reminders), I discovered that we’ve only got 10 days left until Christmas. You can count that on your fingers. I promised myself that I wouldn’t get surprised by how quickly December is going, but gosh dang it I am shook. Let’s take some time now to look at what dram is behind window #15 of the Whisky Advent Calendar and later make a plan to get back to panic-buying gifts for… Well, for everyone.

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