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Master of Malt Blog

Tag: Glenfarclas

It’s goodbye from #WhiskySanta

Well, it’s time for #WhiskySanta to disappear for another year after a bumper Christmas. But before he puts his feet up, he has one more thing to say… Ho ho…

Well, it’s time for #WhiskySanta to disappear for another year after a bumper Christmas. But before he puts his feet up, he has one more thing to say…

Ho ho ho! Merry Christmas!

Well, it’s been a funny old year, funny peculiar, that is, but luckily all the strangeness didn’t affect my ability to spread cheer this season. With a little help from my chums at Master of Malt, I’ve given away over £250,000-worth of boozy goodness, and eaten my bodyweight many times over in mince pies. I do love Christmas!

But now, like the boot cut jean, it’s over, and it’s time for me to say goodbye. Before I go, however, I want to take a moment to remember some of those amazing bottles I gave away including the snappily-titled Port Ellen 35 Year Old 1983 (Release No.11535) – The Stories of Wind & Wave (The Character of Islay Whisky Company), a Glenfarclas 1958 Family Cask, Balvenie’s magnificent 40 Year Old, Tamnavulin 48 Year Old 1970, or, all the way from the US of A, Woodford Reserve Baccarat Edition. Extraordinary, even if I do say so myself!

Those were just some of the big ‘uns. I also gave away tens of thousands of gifts large and small to lucky Master of Malt customers who placed orders. Some of you even received your orders completely free!

But all good things must come to an end and, to be honest, despite being a supernatural, omniscient being, I need a rest too. It’s not easy dispensing boozy cheer and writing amusing blog posts while keeping my enormous beard immaculately groomed. In January, I’m just going to put my feet up and put some time into that screenplay I’ve been working on: it’s about a supernatural, heavily-bearded being… Stop! I can’t say anymore, as I don’t want anyone to pinch this clearly entirely original movie premise… 

Merry Christmas and happy New Year, one and all!

#WhiskySanta

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#WhiskySanta’s Glenfarclas 1958 (cask 2065) Family Cask Autumn 2014 Release Super Wish

It’s the final Super Wish of the season! Has #WhiskySanta saved the best until last? Fans of spectacularly sherried Scotch single malt will think so… There aren’t many things that…

It’s the final Super Wish of the season! Has #WhiskySanta saved the best until last? Fans of spectacularly sherried Scotch single malt will think so…

There aren’t many things that can make an supernatural, omniscient being like myself feel old. But looking at a bottle of whisky from 1958 does make you recall a time when you could buy a cracking bottle of the good stuff and still have change left over to pick up a pack of Junior Mints and catch a late showing of the Attack of the 50 Foot Woman. Much like the start of this year’s gift-giving extravanganza, it feels like yesterday, and yet somehow we’re already in the last week of Christmas and I only have one Super Wish left to grant!

But this festive fellow isn’t feeling sorry for himself, because I have the joy of giving away the most sublime Scotch this week and there’s nothing I love more than treating you lovely lot to the best of the best. And this week’s Super Wish is certainly that. If this whisky had a Blind Date profile (that’s a contemporary reference, right?), it would say that it’s over 50 years young, it loves to slumber in Spanish oak sherry casks and spend time with its family at their distillery in Speyside. Folks, feast your eyes on the wonderful…

Glenfarclas 1958 (cask 2065) Family Cask Autumn 2014 Release!

#WhiskySanta’s Glenfarclas 1958 (cask 2065) Family Cask Autumn 2014 Release Super Wish

What a way to finish another year of amazing Super Wishes. If I do say so myself…

I have a bit of form for making the final Super Wish a spectacular bottle of Glenfarclas and if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it! This astonishingly exciting expression is a 1958 vintage Glenfarclas, which was aged in a single Sherry hogshead until July 2014 when it was bottled 40.2% ABV. There were only 138 bottles released and it’s worth over six reindeer rubles, or £6,000 in your currency. You simply know that this complex, refined and decadent dram is going to be the best Christmas present you get this year.

Now, for the last time, I’m going to explain how you make a Super Wish. I know everybody is familiar with the process by now, but it prolongs the experience so indulge me. To make your wish, you need to head to the product page and then give that big red ‘Wish’ button a mighty click (I like to say the word ‘click’ out loud when I do it because I’m tremendous fun). A box with options for a pre-populated Twitter or Facebook post will then appear on your screen, which you can publish on the platform of your choice. If Instagram is more your bag, then you also have the option of posting your wish on your feed using the #WhiskySanta hashtag. Just make that hashtag in the post. It’s how the lovely folk at MoM are able to find your wish. Plus, it’s really nice to see your name all over Instagram. It makes me feel like Kylie Jenner or that egg (ah, a simpler time). 

#WhiskySanta’s Glenfarclas 1958 (cask 2065) Family Cask Autumn 2014 Release Super Wish

For one last time this year, give that big red button a click

Don’t forget everyone, I may be wrapping up the Super Wishing but I’m still giving away plenty of goodies right up until Christmas Eve! Happy wishing and a very Merry Christmas to you all.

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Whisky Advent 2020 Day #20: Glenfarclas 15 Year Old

Door number nine holds behind it… Glenfarclas 15 Year Old! George Grant joins us once again for #WhiskyAdvent, and if it’s heavy reading you’re after, this… isn’t it. A man…

Door number nine holds behind it… Glenfarclas 15 Year Old! George Grant joins us once again for #WhiskyAdvent, and if it’s heavy reading you’re after, this… isn’t it. A man of few words, as always.

If it’s a sherried Speysider you’re looking for, Glenfarclas is right up there as a go-to. The distillery only uses sherry-seasoned casks to mature its whisky in, and for good reason. It’s absolutely delicious, and it’s a combination that’s worked since 1836! If it ain’t broke, and all that…

Glenfarclas 15 Year Old is what some might call one of the ultimate Christmas drams, as it is almost literally Christmas cake in liquid, malt-based form. It’s also bottled at 46% ABV, for no other reason that because that’s the strength that George Grant’s grandfather preferred it at. 

Speaking of, we grabbed a few (literally) words from George Grant himself, head of sales and the 6th generation of the family behind the whisky. If you’re in a rush then no worries, this won’t take long! 

whisky advent glenfarclas

Master of Malt: Describe Glenfarclas 15 Year Old in three words. 

George Grant: Big, bold, delicious.

MoM: What’s your favourite way to drink Glenfarclas? 

GG: A double.

MoM: What can we expect from Glenfarclas in 2021? 

GG: It’s our 185th Anniversary of legal distilling.

MoM: It’s Christmas Eve, and you’re sitting down with a Glenfarclas dram. Which one is it? GG: Glenfarclas 25 Year Old. It’s Christmas, in a glass.

MoM: Besides classics like mulled wine and (obviously) whisky, what’s your favourite Christmas tipple

GG: Pol Roger Cuvée Sir Winston Churchill 2009, in magnum, of course.

whisky advent glenfarclas

Tasting Note by The Chaps at Master of Malt

Nose: Intense, powerful sherry. Pedro Ximenez, perhaps? Almost… a touch of peppermint? An almost rancio quality to this. Smells older than 15.

Palate: Raisins, more sherry, orange peel, walnuts, dates.

Finish: Incredibly long, complex, more of the Walnuts again.

Overall: Water draws out sweetness. This is Christmas cake, not whisky. Simply astonishing.

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Top ten: Scotch whiskies under £50

From smoky single malts to the ultimate Highball blend, you don’t have to spend a lot of money to get some seriously good Scotch whisky. Here are ten of our…

From smoky single malts to the ultimate Highball blend, you don’t have to spend a lot of money to get some seriously good Scotch whisky. Here are ten of our favourites.

We love whisky at Master of Malt. Which means that everyone in the office has strong opinions on the subject so it was tricky to narrow this list down to just ten bottles. People are going to be upset that we didn’t include their favourite drams, especially Talisker 10, Laphroaig 10 or Bowmore 12. But we thought it would be a good idea to include alongside the old favourites some lesser-known whiskies as well as expressions that are so well-known you probably don’t notice them anymore. So without further ado, delay or general beating around the bush. Here are (some of) our favourite Scotch whiskies under £50. Tell us in the comments or on social why we should have included your dram of choice.

ardbeg-uigeadail-whisky

Ardbeg Uigeadail

Well, we had a bit of a discussion that got quite heated about which Ardbeg to include. The Ten would have been the obvious choice but instead we’ve gone with the spectacular Uigeadail ( pronounced “Oog-a-dal”) that melds the smoky lime-scented Ardbeg character with sweet sherry casks. And how!

What does it taste like?

There’s plenty of peat and smoke but it’s all wrapped up in muscovado sugar, honey and espresso coffee. Rich and pungent, Uigeadail is quite an experience.

arran-10-year-old-whisky

Arran 10 Year Old

This distillery was founded by former Chivas MD Harold Currie, the first on the isle of Arran on the West Coast since 1837. It might be the entry level whisky but this ten year old aged entirely in bourbon casks tastes pretty special, showing off the fruity, floral distillery character.

What does it taste like: 

Nutty and biscuity with fresh apple and lemon fruit plus floral summer hedgerow and honey notes. It’s packed full of character and really over delivers for the money.

balblair-12-year-old-whisky

Balblair 12 Year Old

Last year Balblair switched from vintage releases to a suitably impressive new range of age statements expressions. This is the baby of the bunch, aged in ex-bourbon and double-fired American oak casks, and it’s superb.

What does it taste like? 

The soft mango and peach distillery character really shines through, supported by spicy cedar and nutmeg, honey and barley. A great introduction to a great distillery. 

compass-box-spice-tree-whisky

Compass Box Spice Tree 

Originally made with oak staves which attracted the ire of the SWA, Spice Tree is now aged in especially-made casks with new French oak heads. It’s a stunning blend of Highland malts with the French oak adding masses of spice, hence the name. 

What does it taste like? 

Dried apricots, vanilla, cinnamon and toffee with pungent tobacco, cloves and pepper, it’s not called Spice Tree for nothing. Long, complex and totally harmonious. 

glenfarclas-10-year-old-whisky

Glenfarclas 10 Year Old

Glenfarclas is one of the very few family-owned distilleries in Scotland. That combined with its excellent sherry-soaked Speyside drams is why it is one of the the country’s best-loved distilleries. 

What does it taste like? 

On the nose there’s honey, toffee and Oloroso sherry. While the palate is full of baking spices with fruitcake, apples, nuts and even a little smoke.

glenmorangie-10-year-old-the-original-whisky

Glenmorangie 10 Year Old

We love the whole Glenmorangie range but it’s the 10 Year Old Original we keep coming back to. Entirely aged in ex-bourbon casks, it’s smooth, sweet and fruity but deceptively complex. No drinks cupboard should be without a bottle. 

What does it taste like? 

Full of lemons, nectarines and apples with vanilla, digestive biscuits and gentle baking spices. And honey! Lots and lots of honey. 

j-and-b-rare-whisky

J&B Rare 

J&B Rare is one of those whiskies so ubiquitous, you probably don’t even notice it behind the bar. Which is a shame because this is probably the ultimate Highball whisky. Just blend with soda, ice and maybe a dash of orange bitters for a refreshing pre-dinner drink. One sip and you’ll never go back to G&Ts.

What does it taste like? 

Yes, it’s light but there’s depth here too with appley fruit joined by richer notes of malt, cedar, vanilla and walnut with a lift of orange zest. Perfect with soda.

johnnie-walker-green-label-15-year-old-whisky

Johnnie Walker Green Label 15 Year Old

Well, we had to include something from Johnnie Walker. But rather than the Red or Black, we’ve gone with Green Label, a spectacular 15 year old all malt blend that combines whiskies from around Scotland. One to offer to people who say they only drink single malts.

What does it taste like? 

This is packed full of dark chocolate, oak spice, malty cereal notes, and coffee and walnut cake. An after-dinner whisky, if there ever was one. 

kilkerran-12-year-old-whisky

Kilkerran 12 Year Old

In 2004, Springbank reopened Glengyle distillery taking the number of working distilleries in Campbeltown to three. But Glen Scotia owns the Glengyle brand which is why this whisky is called Kilkerran. The quality is exceptional for the money and this expression has become something of a cult. 

What does it taste like? 

It melds citrus, cherries and orange peel with creamy vanilla, honey and butterscotch, with a saline note running through it. If you love the oily Springbank style, then you’ll adore this.

seaweed-and-aeons-and-digging-and-fire-10-year-old-whisky

Seaweed & Aeons & Digging & Fire 10 Year Old

An Islay single malt from an undisclosed distillery. The name makes sense as soon as you take a sip, it’s a smoky peaty Islay malt with 25% aged Oloroso sherry cask. This has proved an extremely popular malt with MoM customers.

What does it taste like? 

Does exactly what it says on the bottle: there’s woodsmoke, seaweed and charred meat combined with sweet sherry notes, red apple and vanilla. 

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Master of Malt tastes… Glenfarclas 60 year old single cask

We got to have a taste of one of the most impressive and exciting whisky releases of the year. A 60-year-old single cask whisky from Glenfarclas Distillery. It’s every bit…

We got to have a taste of one of the most impressive and exciting whisky releases of the year. A 60-year-old single cask whisky from Glenfarclas Distillery. It’s every bit as good as it sounds. And we’re getting some.

The year 1959 did not start well for Glenfarclas. At 2 am on New Year’s Day workers at the distillery discovered that the stillman had forgotten to open a valve on the wash still. You see, he’d overindulged a tad in the festivities, and that error had catastrophic consequences. When the valve was finally opened, the heat and volume of liquid broke the spirit safe, and boiling alcohol escaped everywhere. 

Fire hoses stopped the alcohol igniting, thankfully, but most of the wash had to be replaced. The insurance company suggested that perhaps closing over the Christmas period in the future, before presumably asking themselves why they’d ever taken on a booze factory as a client. Glenfarclas took the advice and 1959 was the last time the Speysiders distilled and filled on Christmas Day. 

While 1959 didn’t kick-off in the finest of fashions, it was a record production year for Glenfarclas. A new farm steading was completed that summer and work began on a new stillhouse to increase the number of stills from two to four, effectively doubling production by 1961. Before that was completed, one particular batch of whisky was distilled and placed in a first-fill oloroso sherry hogshead on the 2nd of June 1959. It remained there in the brand’s dunnage warehouse until November 2019, when it was bottled at 40.9% ABV.

Glenfarclas 60 Year Old

Behold, Glenfarclas 60 Year Old!

That whisky is the Glenfarclas 60 Year Old I sampled on Friday in the presence of sales director George Grant and production manager Callum Fraser, who hosted a virtual tasting from Warehouse 1 at the distillery. Just 105 precious bottles of this UK exclusive (until it’s inevitably flipped all over the world) have been made available, although, as Grant pointed out, we’re “bloody lucky to get 105”. Each one is made from hand-blown Glencairn Crystal and the gift boxes are produced by NEJ Stevenson, so it’s got all the luxury trimmings you’d expect for a whisky of this age.

Expectation is part of the territory when you release a whisky that’s been aged for six decades. First comes the excitement. I had to check I hadn’t accidentally started daydreaming when I got the invitation through to this tasting. This is whisky from the last cask left from 1959, for goodness sake. Then comes the intrigue. What happens to Glenfarclas distillate after all that time in the cask? Has the cask overwhelmed the spirit or created something truly special? 

Usually, you’d also expect a dram to show how the production process changed over sixty years. With Glenfarclas, however, there’s less to learn, because it has a well-established reputation for doing things differently. It has been owned by the Grant family since 1865, with over six generations handling the reins, making it one of the few independent family firms left. It heats its stills using direct fire as it has always done, believing that it adds weight to the distillate, and works with just one cooper in Jerez, Miguel Martin, to source its ex-Oloroso butts and hogsheads, all made from European oak. The whisky is stored in traditional dunnage warehouses and is only ever released at natural colour, often with an age statement and little in the way of marketing.

Glenfarclas 60 Year Old

Glenfarclas is known for its no-nonsense approach and commitment to sherry casks

All this means that Glenfarclas fans know what to expect when they indulge in the brand’s whisky: elegant, refined and sherry-tastic tipples. When it came to this tasting, I was of a similar mind.

Happily, I wasn’t disappointed. This is a stonking good whisky. It’s got all of the presence, weight and complexity you’d expect for a dram this age, but with a delightful vibrancy. The cask oozes noble, sherried goodness throughout and there’s still plenty of hallmark Glenfarclas characteristics to savour. I could have spent a fortnight just nosing it. It’s a real shame to think there will be bottles of this not opened in the name of flipping and collecting. It deserves to be shared and savoured.

It’s on its way to MoM Towers so keep an eye out on the New Arrivals page. However, as you’ve probably guessed, a whisky of this status has a price tag to match, close £20,000. You might have to live vicariously through the tasting note with this one…

Glenfarclas 60 Year Old Tasting Note:

Nose: Initially there’s Dundee cake, marmalade spread on soda bread, dark chocolate and dusty leather-bound books with a hint of sweet peat in the backdrop. Heaps of dried fruit as well as nectarines, blackcurrant coulis and apricot jam emerge, then thick molasses, drying Oloroso elements, sweet tobacco, clove, spent matches and warm gingerbread. 

Palate: Through a spark of woody tannins, some heathery smoke and a sight earthy funk comes some umami flavours of cured game, rancio, cigar ash and dried herbs which compliment citrus notes – lime peel and more marmalade – as well as red apples, Medjool dates, sour berries and an array of stewed black fruits. There’s an oily nuttiness present throughout along with ginger root, vintage cola, liquefied liquorice, bitter chocolate and a hint of Madeira cake.

Finish: Drying and bittersweet with tart dark fruit, marzipan, Earl Grey tea, menthol tobacco and just a hint of gingernut biscuits.

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The Nightcap: 26 June

The Nightcap is filled to the brim with all kinds of boozy news in a week that saw the UK government announce the return of pubs, bars and restaurants!  My…

The Nightcap is filled to the brim with all kinds of boozy news in a week that saw the UK government announce the return of pubs, bars and restaurants! 

My word, it was properly hot in Kent this week. The kind of heat that makes you think we need to rip up our infrastructure and immediately start installing air conditioning in all buildings, and making it law for gardens to have some kind of pool facility. Given that’s not likely to happen, we’re going to have to make do with what we have. We can always grab a suitably summery drink with plenty of ice, find some shade, and enjoy another delightful round-up of all things booze. Sounds lovely. 

On the MoM blog this week, Ian Buxton returned to tell a pretty remarkable story (it’s got whisky publicity stunts, Christo and Dewar’s World of Whisky. What else could you possibly want?), then Kristy made some delightfully simple Scotch cocktails with Stephen Martin from Whyte & Mackay. MoM Towers received some very special deliveries of whisky in the last few days, so naturally, we decided to write about them. The third Whiskymaker’s Reserve from the Lakes Distillery arrived, and Jess was on hand to talk us through the brand’s process; a delightful single cask release from John Crabbie & Co became our New Arrival of the Week; and Henry got the lowdown on what he described as being some of the most eagerly-anticipated expressions ever, Waterford’s Single Farm Origin whisky. If that wasn’t enough, Annie did an outstanding deep dive into the delights of yeast, the unsung hero of distillation, before compiling an easy guide to help you master blender cocktails. We then enjoyed the ultimate DIY cocktail as Adam talked to Alexander Gabriel to hear about how he made a craft gin way back in the 90s.

We’d also like to say thank you to all who entered last week’s virtual pub quiz, where so many of you were in sparkling form. There can only be one winner, though, and that accolade goes to Robbie Ingram, who now has a delightful £25 MoM gift voucher to put to good use! You can check out the answers to last Friday’s quiz below, and the final edition of MoM pub quiz will be on our blog from 5pm as always. That’s right. It’s the last one. Get entering! 

The Nightcap

We can’t wait to see this sweet sight again…

Pubs, bars and restaurants to open on 4th July

It’s the news this industry has been waiting for: the hospitality industry is back, baby! Well, sort of. The government has announced this week that the Covid-19 lockdown is set to be relaxed in England, and the 2-metre social distancing rule eased to the so-called ‘1 metre-plus’. This will allow a number of venues to reopen, including bars, pubs, and restaurants. But there are conditions, naturally. Places can open providing they follow safety guidelines, such as limiting table service indoors, minimising the contact between staff and customers, and keeping contact details of customers to help with contact tracing. People will be encouraged to use ‘mitigation’, such as face coverings and not sitting face-to-face when within 2m of each other. UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson warned that all these steps were “reversible” should there be spikes in coronavirus cases, while in Scotland and Wales the 2m rule will remain in place for the moment. Speaking on the developments, Nightcap homie and chief executive of the WSTA Miles Beale said that the opening up of our pubs, bars and restaurants comes as a huge relief to the businesses, and that it’s right that the move comes with caution. “This welcome news does not mean that the hospitality sector and their suppliers are no longer in need of Government support,” he said. “Recovery from the loss of trade over the last few months will mean that some businesses will not be able to open immediately or fully and others will take years to get themselves back on an even keel.” If you are going to head to a bar, pub, and/or restaurant on the 4th of July or after, please be safe, and enjoy!

The Nightcap

The brilliant initiative will hopefully lessen the impact of Covid-19 on the hospitality industry

Diageo launches £80m recovery fund for bars and pubs

In more good news for the hospitality sector, Diageo has announced a new global programme called Raising the Bar, which aims to help pubs and bars welcome customers back and recover following the Covid-19 pandemic. Through Raising the Bar, Diageo will provide £80 million ($100 million) to support the recovery of major hospitality centres such as New York, London, Sao Paulo, Shanghai, Delhi and more. The two-year programme, which is available from July 2020, was designed following a global survey of bar owners to identify what they need to reopen after lockdown. Top priorities included hygiene measures, digital support and practical equipment to transform how their outlets will work. In the UK, for example, Diageo will provide initial funding for ‘hygiene kits’ with high-quality permanent sanitiser dispenser units, medical-grade hand sanitiser, and a range of personal protection equipment (such as masks and gloves). Other support includes help setting up online reservations and cashless systems, plus mobile bars and outdoor equipment. If bar owners want to register their interest, they can do so via www.diageobaracademy.com globally and www.mydiageo.com in the UK and Ireland. Regular updates on best-practice training and resources are provided, and you can participate in global surveys to share insights. Ivan Menezes, Diageo chief executive, said the company is also calling on governments around the world to provide long-term recovery packages. “These businesses play an essential role in bringing people together to socialise and celebrate – something that we have all missed so much during this terrible crisis – and sustain hundreds of millions of jobs, which provide a first foot on the employment ladder for young people.” Bravo, Diageo!

The Nightcap

Meet Katherine Condon, distiller at Midleton Distillery!

Midleton Distillery appoints Katherine Condon 

Following the news that Irish Distillers has swapped in Kevin O’Gorman for outgoing master distiller Brian Nation, the Pernod Ricard-owned company has revealed another new addition to the distillation team. We’d like to say a big MoM Towers hello (it’s basically a usual hello but we’re holding a dram and we’ve paused Withnail and I) to Katherine Condon, who is now a distiller at Midleton Distillery in Co. Cork! Condon joined Irish Distillers back in 2014 as part of the Graduate Distiller Programme, and has since worked as a distiller at the Midleton Micro Distillery, Irish Distillers’ hub for innovation and experimentation. She’s also served as a process technologist and production supervisor at the main distillery, where she has been involved in innovations such as the Method and Madness range. She also picked up The Worshipful Company of Distillers award in 2018, and another gong in 2019 for outstanding achievement from the Institute of Brewing and Distilling. Condon also holds a Bachelor of Engineering Degree in Process and Chemical Engineering from University College Cork, and a Diploma in Distilling from the Institute of Brewing and Distilling. “I am honoured to be appointed as distiller,” she said. “This role represents a time-honoured craft, and it has been a privilege to learn about the art and science of distilling from icons of world whiskey like Brian Nation and Kevin O’Gorman.” She continued: “I look forward to using the wisdom and experience I have inherited to continue their legacy of quality while driving innovation as I continue my career in Midleton. I am incredibly excited about the future of Irish whiskey and the role I can play in it.” Gorman himself added: “Katherine has consistently demonstrated a passion and exceptional skill set for the art of distillation. Her inquisitive nature and constant pursuit of excellence has made her one of the rising stars of world distilling.” High praise indeed!

The Nightcap

Liana is described as ‘the world’s first interactive, at-home cocktail experience’

Liana Cocktail Company brings bartenders into your home 

Lockdown has been especially hard for the hospitality and retail but we’ve been so impressed by how businesses have adapted, there’s a tattoo parlour near me that turned into a fruit and veg shop, and is doing a roaring trade. Another feelgood story is that of drinks agency The Liana Collection. Director David Wood told us: “In mid-May, our entire revenue stream disappeared and the business we worked so hard to build over the last two and a half years was under real threat, to the point where I had a pretty emotional chat with the team informing them that I’d have to be letting people go on 1 July.” Instead, they rallied round and came up with a plan. The result is the Liana Cocktail Company, which launched last week. Wood describes it as “the world’s first interactive, at-home cocktail experience”. The way it works is this: the company will send you everything you need to make a delicious Manhattan, Negroni or something else, and then a bartender will show you how to make it perfectly at home through the magic of the internet, smartphones, satellites and stuff. So modern. Go here for more information. 

The Nightcap

Cheers to you, Colin!

We raise a dram to Colin Scott as he retires from Chivas Regal

We sipped on something of a bittersweet dram on Tuesday evening when we joined a celebration in honour of highly regarded Chivas Regal master blender, Colin Scott. He’s retiring from the blended Scotch brand after a whopping 47 years of service! Alongside other drinks writers and journalists, we chatted, heard stories from Scott’s career, and generally honoured the man who created Chivas Regal 18 Year Old. With that very expression in the tasting glasses, of course! Alex Robertson, head of heritage and education at Chivas Brothers, hosted the session (which took place via Zoom – in-person gatherings are still off), who not only drew attention to Scott’s blending achievements but his role as a pioneer of global brand advocacy, too. “Whenever you talk to blenders, behind it all, there’s a great passion,” Scott said, looking back over his career. On advice he would have given to a younger version of himself, he noted: “you can’t shortcut your road through blending”. He continued: “There’s a road to travel, and you have to get that encyclopaedic knowledge.” And we loved his take on casks management: “We’re the guardians of the past, present, and future.” And looking to the future, he leaves Chivas Regal in the wonderfully capable hands of Sandy Hyslop, already master blender at the likes of Ballantine’s and The Glenlivet.  We’ll for sure be raising a glass to both this weekend!

The Nightcap

James MacTaggart, Andy Bell, and the unique blended malt

Isle of Arran Distillers devise unique blended malt

Isle of Arran Distillers has revealed plans to create a blended malt in a pretty unique way. The plan is to fill casks with new make spirit from both of its distilleries, Lagg and Lochranza. ‘Project North & South’, as it’s been dubbed, is particularly interesting for two reasons. One, the independent Scotch whisky company is in the rare position of owning a Lowland and a Highland distillery both based on one island off the west coast of Scotland, Lochranza Distillery in the north and Lagg Distillery in the south. Two, these distilleries produce very distinct spirits and, while they share some island DNA, one of the spirits is heavily-peated and the other is unpeated. It’s a great way to get the stills up and firing again, as both distilleries underwent a period of closure starting in March due to the Covid-19 pandemic.  When the distilleries began production again on 11th May, the first runs of new spirit from each distillery were vatted together and filled into bourbon barrels, sherry hogsheads and sherry butts at Lochranza Distillery. “This is a first for Isle of Arran. We are aware of blended malts where the whisky from one distillery is married with that of another, or blended whiskies created by mixing grain with malt whisky, however, this is the first time that we know of malt whisky from two sister distilleries being blended at the spirit stage,” said director of operations and production for Lagg and Lochranza Distilleries, James MacTaggart. Isle of Arran sales manager, Andy Bell added: “I am proud to have played a part in creating this truly unique blend, and will follow with interest as these casks mature. The experimentation at the heart of this process speaks to the truly independent nature of our company.” We look forward to seeing the results!

The Nightcap

Is this the swankiest series of single malt whiskies we’ve ever seen? It might just be.

And finally… Fancy a sapphire with your whisky?

Speyside Scotch whisky distillery Glenfarclas has wrapped up its mega-fancy Glenfarclas Pagoda Series with something the world never knew it needed – an intricate sapphire-encrusted decanter. (It’s also filled with 63-year-old single malt from the distillery, just in case you were wondering.) It rounds off the line-up which also includes a Ruby design released earlier this year with 62-year-old contents. What’s staggering is that to make this new limited-edition vessel, 11,000 sapphires were ordered. Only those that matched in size, and in dark blue made the cut, with 36 of them adorning the age statement in each bottle. There are two editions (one with solid silver accents, the other with gold plating). Could these be the glitziest decanters ever? “It has been an absolute joy to work on this project as it has given us the chance to incorporate valuable gemstones into our decanters for the first time,” said Scott Davidson, Glencairn’s new product development director. “Each and every decanter created is a truly unique work of art to honour the quality of the whisky inside.” The Sapphire editions start at £23,783 ex-VAT – a sizeable investment, even for all those sapphires.

The Nightcap

Pub Quiz Answers

1) Tokaji wine is produced in which country?

Answer: Hungary

2) Nightcap regular Miles Beale is the face of which British trade body?

Answer: WSTA

3) Which spirit is used as a base for the Bee’s Knees cocktail?

Answer: Gin

4) Bain’s Whisky is distilled in which country?

Answer: South Africa

5) Which New York bar was named the no.1 in the world by The World’s 50 Best Bars in 2019?

Answer: Dante

6) Arbikie Distillery’s carbon-negative gin was made from which vegetable?

Answer: Peas

7) Towser the cat killed nearly 30,000 mice over a 24-year period at which Scotch whisky distillery?

Answer: Glenturret

8) Katharine Hepburn and Princess Margaret shared a love of which Scotch whisky brand?

Answer: The Famous Grouse

9) Which early member of the Royal Society is credited with the invention of the strong glass wine bottle?

Answer: Kenelm Digby

10) From which island does Commandaria wine come from?

Answer: Cyprus

 

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Sip on some superb Speysiders!

Sad about the cancellation of the Spirit of Speyside Festival? We’ve got just the thing to lift your spirits: a whole bunch of delicious whiskies from that very region! We…

Sad about the cancellation of the Spirit of Speyside Festival? We’ve got just the thing to lift your spirits: a whole bunch of delicious whiskies from that very region!

We were all disappointed to find out the Spirit of Speyside Festival had to be cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The event welcomes a huge number of visitors from across the globe each year to enjoy over 700 whisky-themed activities in a celebration of the biggest whisky-producing region in Scotland. But we can still champion Speyside and its huge variety of delicious whiskies by helping ourselves to a bottling from one of its many distilleries. We’ve done our bit by narrowing down your considerable choice. This selection features a wide range of some of the finest expressions from the region so you can get your hands on some delicious Speysiders with ease. Enjoy!

Speyside #2 25 Year Old (That Boutique-y Whisky Company)     

We begin our round-up with a delightful mystery. We know is that this a 25-year-old single malt from a Speyside distillery and that it was bottled by the wonderful folk over at That Boutique-y Whisky Company. We also know that’s it’s from a different distillery in the region to Speyside #1, which only increases the intrigue. What we can confirm, however, is that it’s very, very tasty.

What does it taste like?

Estery malt, candied fruit, nutty almond oil, barley sugars, a hint of Turkish delight, ginger, cinnamon, lemon citrus, white oak, praline, hazelnut, cedar, honey, dried apricot,  gingerbread, dark caramel, vanilla essence and maybe even a hint of rancio.

Aberlour A’Bunadh Batch 63      

Aberlour is one of those distilleries that has a passionate following who look forward to every release, in particular the excellent A’Bunadh batches. Well known for being made of whiskies with intense and complex profiles that are matured in Spanish oloroso sherry butts and bottled at cask strength and the 63rd edition is no exception. The series is incredibly popular and its expressions always end up selling out so you’ll want to get your hands on this one sooner rather than later.

What does it taste like?

Buttered malt loaf, sherried peels, spearmint, Christmas cake, dark chocolate mousse, cinnamon, white pepper, dried fruit and sugared almonds.

Balvenie 14 Year Old Caribbean Cask     

There are few distilleries that boast a range as consistently excellent and intriguing as The Balvenie, who demonstrated how to put ex-rum casks to good use with this tasty expression. The single malt Speysider was initially aged in traditional oak casks before it was finished in casks which previously held Caribbean rum, imparting some extra sweetness and warmth.

What does it taste like?

Tropical fruits, namely passion fruit, sweet vanilla, apples, mangoes, orange and creamy toffee.

Glenfarclas 15 Year Old        

Those who love sherried whisky love Glenfarclas whisky, and for good reason. The independent and family-owned distillery is well known for producing some spectacular sherry bombs and its 15-year-old expression maybe the standout from its impressive core range.  A fabulously complex and rich Scotch, Glenfarclas 15 Year Old is bottled at 46% ABV simply because this was the strength that George Grant’s grandfather preferred it at. 

What does it taste like?

Intense, powerful sherry, rancio, orange peel, walnuts, dates and peppermint.

Cardhu Gold Reserve      

A sweet, mellow and easy-drinking expression from one the region’s oldest distilleries, Cardhu Gold Reserve is an impressive no-age-statement release that represents seriously good value for money. It’s a whisky that’s delightful when mixed and we can tell you from experience that it makes a very good Hot Toddy.

What does it taste like?

Honeyed tinned stone fruits, toffees, strawberry, red apple, ginger and biscuity oak.

Master of Malt 10 Year Old Speyside Whisky Liqueur        

Something a bit different to conclude our list is a whisky liqueur that’s excellent over ice with a healthy helping of fresh orange peel, but more than good enough to drink neat. Our very own Speyside Whisky Liqueur was made exclusively using 10-year-old single malt whisky from one of Speyside’s most famous distilleries that was previously matured in sherry casks to give it that classic Speyside style. We emphasised this flavour by adding a host of tasty ingredients such as cinnamon, two different kinds of orange peel and cloves. Delicious.

What does it taste like?

Dried, aromatic fruit, nutmeg, cinnamon, anise, Angostura bitters, cola, peppermint, dark chocolate, dried ginger, crème brûlée, blood oranges, mint humbugs, sweet malty cereal and vanilla.

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Get some new and trending tipples!

Looking for what’s hot, new and next in the world of delicious drinks? Then we’ve got what you’re looking for. How do you like the sound of getting your hands…

Looking for what’s hot, new and next in the world of delicious drinks? Then we’ve got what you’re looking for.

How do you like the sound of getting your hands on the most exciting bottles on the shelves at MoM Towers? Hot-off-the-press fresh whiskies. In-demand gins and rums. Trending Tequilas. Everybody hates being out of the loop and we all love tasty things. That’s why we’ve created this selection of spirits to keep you up to date with the latest and greatest in the world of booze no matter if you’re self-isolating or in lockdown.

 

Get some new and trending tipples!

Jaffa Cake Gin

Jaffa Cake Gin is distilled with oranges, fresh orange peel and cocoa powder. Oh yeah, and jaffa cakes. Proper jaffa cakes. Full moon, half-moon, total eclipse. Jaffa cakes. Do you actually need any more information? The label claims it will make the best Negroni mankind has ever seen and I don’t doubt it for one single minute. 

What does it taste like?

Zingy orange (marmalade-esque), rich and earthy chocolate, vanilla-rich cake, a touch of almondy-goodness and a solid backbone of juniper. Also, Jaffa Cakes! 

Get some new and trending tipples!

Wormtub 

You don’t see too many worm tubs these days. Which is a shame. A lot of distilleries have opted to use efficient, easier to maintain condensers, but the muscular, complex profile it gives whisky is delicious. It’s that distinctive character that Wormtub whisky celebrates by blending together single malts made exclusively in distilleries still using traditional worm tubs. This is one for those who like their whisky to be full, rich and robust.

What does it taste like?

Sherry, leather, dates, cocoa, caramel, walnuts, wood-spice, fresh garden mint, ripe strawberries, candied cherry fudge and a wisp of smoke.

Get some new and trending tipples!

Dead Man’s Fingers Pineapple Rum 

Add the sweet, sour and tropical notes of pineapple to an already delicious rum and what have you got? Doubly tasty rum. That’s what. The folks over at Dead Man’s Fingers created this fun and fruity concoction using roasted and candied pineapple. It’s incredibly refreshing, particularly when paired with lemonade, lots of ice, a wedge of lime and a bunch of fresh mint.

What does it taste like?

Bright and almost tangy at first with fresh pineapple and ginger, followed by homemade caramel, nutmeg, cassia and mango.

Get some new and trending tipples!

Regions of Scotland Whisky Tasting Set 

It’s basically impossible to narrow down what the best thing about Scotch is, but the incredible range of different styles of whisky produced across all of its distinctive regions might just be it. This tasting set by Drinks by the Dram champions these regions with five 30ml samples from the peaty, smoky Islay; to the fruity, malty Highlands; the soft, floral Lowlands; and the honeyed, often Sherried Speyside and more!

What does it taste like?

Please don’t eat the box.

Get some new and trending tipples!

Aerolite Lyndsay 10 Year Old – The Character of Islay Whisky Company

There’s plenty of mystery around Aerolite Lyndsay 10 Year Old but one thing’s for sure, it’s bloody delicious. It was recently awarded the title of Islay Single Malt 12 Years and Under at the World Whiskies Awards 2020 for good reason. This Islay single malt from The Character of Islay Whisky Company was sourced from an undisclosed distillery on the island, but what we do know is that it was aged for 10 years in a mixture of bourbon barrels and Spanish oak sherry quarter casks. Plus the name is a fun anagram you can work out in your spare self-isolation time. 

What does it taste like?

Maritime peat, iodine, honey sweetness, paprika, salted caramel, old bookshelves, mint dark chocolate, espresso, new leather, soy sauce, liquorice allsorts, bonfire smoke and toffee penny, with a pinch of salt.

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Glenfarclas 25 Year Old

Glenfarclas 25 Year Old is just an absolute classic and whisky this good never goes out of fashion. The single malt Scotch whisky, which was matured 100% Oloroso sherry casks and bottled at 43% ABV, is probably the ultimate example of the kind of delightful sherried goodness that the Speyside distillery specialises in.

What does it taste like?

Classic Sherry notes, creamy barley, hints of gingerbread, nutty chocolate, smoke and a touch of menthol.

Get some new and trending tipples!

Beavertown Neck Oil Bundle (6 Pack)

Stocking up on good beer while in lockdown is a must and if you’re looking for a sublime session IPA then you won’t do better than Beavertown’s ever-popular Neck Oil beer. This bargain bundle will save you 10% versus buying them individually.

What does it taste like?

Light and crisp but full of flavour – citrusy and hoppy, slightly floral, very moreish.

 

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Whisky Advent 2019 #20: Glenfarclas 15 Year Old

Behind the door #20 of the Drinks by the Dram’s Whisky Advent Calendar lies a classic 15 year old Speyside single malt aged in sherry casks. Yum! Earlier this year…

Behind the door #20 of the Drinks by the Dram’s Whisky Advent Calendar lies a classic 15 year old Speyside single malt aged in sherry casks. Yum!

Earlier this year we attended a masterclass with George Grant from Glenfarclas where he talked us through five years of The Last Casks releases of rare whiskies. Well, masterclass isn’t quite the right word. What you’re not going to get from Grant is the slick brand ambassador act: on-brand, on-message and lots of well-honed schtick. Instead, we were treated to jokes, rambling anecdotes about peculiar goings on in a Las Vegas hotel and a startling admission that one bottle in the line-up just wasn’t very good. Everyone had a great time. It helped, of course, that the whiskies (even that particular one) were so good.

Grant can get away with being a bit unconventional because his family owns the distillery and have done since 1865 when George Grant bought the place. As Grant said to the group, it’s a very easy story to remember as pretty much everyone is called George Grant. He is the sixth generation Grant in the business.  There is no corporate hierarchy, no shareholders, and no mission statement. The distillery is a similar experience: it’s not glitzy and polished, the equipment neither particularly old nor brand new. The whiskies are matured in oloroso casks, the stills are direct-fired, a rarity now, and look at those labels, they’ve never been near a brand consultant.

George Grant - Glenfarclas

George Grant with faithful hound

The 15 Year Old lurking behind door number 20 offers much of the sherried goodness of the Last Casks but at a very reasonable price, especially when compared with a certain other Speyside distillery famous for its sherry casks. To tell us more, we spoke to George Grant himself:

Master of Malt: In what ways does being family-owned enable you to do things a little bit differently at Glenfarclas?

George Grant: Being family owned means we can react to things much quicker, can change direction, be a bit more adaptive.

MoM: You spend quite a bit of time on the road spreading the word about Glenfarclas. What’s your favourite place to visit and why?

GG: My favourite place to visit is home and my own bed. Because I sleep much better. I love watching those TV commercials about getting a new mattress and we are supposed to change them every 10 years. My mattress easily will last 30 years then.

Glenfarclas 15 Year Old

Glenfarclas 15 Year Old – sherry heaven

MoM: What has been your highlights of 2019 at Glenfarclas?

GG: Highlight must be the Glenfarclas Trunk, contain 50 x 200ml bottles of Glenfarclas every year from 1954 to 2003

MoM: What does the future have in store for the wide world of whisky?

GG: Continued enjoyment, education of future generations to enjoy such a wonderful spirit.

MoM: Which Glenfarclas will you be drinking at Christmas and why?

GG: Mmm, which ever one Master of Malt send me for answering your questions.1959 Glenfarclas, was the last year we distilled on Christmas day.

 

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#WhiskySanta’s Glenfarclas 50 Year Old Decanter Super Wish

It’s been an exciting year of #WhiskySanta, but he’s got one last Super Wish up his immaculately cuffed sleeve – and it’s a real showstopper! Well, I’ve certainly been a busy Blitzen,…

It’s been an exciting year of #WhiskySanta, but he’s got one last Super Wish up his immaculately cuffed sleeve – and it’s a real showstopper!

Well, I’ve certainly been a busy Blitzen, haven’t I? I’ve been giving out gifts to Master of Malt customers at the checkout, and I’m not really looking to slow down until the middle of next week (I’ve got something I’m contractually obliged to do that Tuesday night, you know…), so that means you shouldn’t slow down on doing wishes either! That being said, it is time for my very last Super Wish of 2019. However, never fear, because I’ve got my hands on something absolutely incredible indeed…

This week’s Super Wish is for a single malt whisky that has matured for half a century! Or 50 years, if you prefer your units of time to be more plentiful but smaller. It was distilled by a magnificent family-owned distillery in Speyside. It slumbered in Spanish oak sherry casks. It’s just awesome. That enough preamble for you? Good, because I’m extraordinarily excited to say that the Super Wish this week is for a bottle of Glenfarclas 50 Year Old!

Oh yes, chums. For the final Super Wish of 2019, I’ve managed to get my mitts on a bottle of Glenfarclas 50 Year Old Decanter, worth a massive £12,000! Oodles of years maturing in sherry casks has given this one a spectacularly rich, complex and decadent flavour profile – the sort of thing any whisky fan would be astonished to find wrapped up underneath the Christmas tree.

You should know the score with Super Wishes by now, but in case you don’t, let’s go over it one last time, eh? If you fancy being in with a chance to get this bottle, you’ll want to wish for it! Head on over to the Glenfarclas 50 Year Old Decanter page and slam dunk that zazzy red button that says “Wish” on it. Using magic, a box will pop up with a  pre-populated Twitter or Facebook post. Hit publish and ta-da – you’ve gone and wished! You can also wish over on that fancy Instagram, just ensure you use the #WhiskySanta hashtag, otherwise my elves won’t be able to see it.

There’s that button!

You’ve got until the end of Thursday to make your wish for this breathtaking bottle, so ensure that you do that! In the meantime, I’ll continue granting all sorts of delicious wishes across the social medias, and handing out gifts to Master of Malt customers! I’ve got to keep busy, y’know, otherwise I’ll get bored and end up helping myself to whatever the MoM folks have put in the fridge. They put their names on all the food in there so I know who to thank after I gobble it up. Very kind of them.

UPDATE: My final Super Wish of 2019 has been granted – I do hope you enjoy deliciously old Glenfarclas, Catriona McCaw!

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