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Master of Malt Blog

Tag: Glenfiddich

MoM Loves: Our exclusive Glenfiddich Tasting Collection!

Missing whisky tastings? Hankering after a distillery visit? We teamed up with Glenfiddich to put together a rather delectable, limited edition Glenfiddich Tasting Collection packed with some of its fanciest…

Missing whisky tastings? Hankering after a distillery visit? We teamed up with Glenfiddich to put together a rather delectable, limited edition Glenfiddich Tasting Collection packed with some of its fanciest expressions, including the new Glenfiddich Grande Couronne 26 Year Old! There will even be a series of virtual tastings, too…

We love a whisky tasting. And we love tasting sets! That’s why we have a whole load of them available (a way to experience a whole bunch of samples for less than the price of a bottle? Winning!). So when our pals at Scotch whisky distillery Glenfiddich got in touch about teaming up to create a really very special – and exclusive! – tasting set… Well, we were hardly going to decline!

Cracking Glenfiddich Tasting Collection contents

This one is especially cool (and, while we would say that, we do actually mean it). Not only is it filled to the brim with five different 30ml whiskies from the distillery, but it’s packed with tasty newness, too. You might have heard about a very special new release from the iconic Speyside producer. Last month, we got wind of a new addition to The Grand Series. Say hello to Grande Couronne!

It’s a 26 year old single malt that brings together Scotland and France through its production. And this is where we get super geeky, as Brian Kinsman, Glenfiddich’s malt master (what a job title!), explains.

“The Grand Series perfectly encapsulates Glenfiddich’s spirit of innovation and our ability to experiment with aged liquid and intriguing finishes,” he says.. “Grande Couronne is the latest to exemplify that approach. It is the only Glenfiddich single malt that has matured in American and European oak casks and finished in rare French Cognac casks. 

“The length of the finish, two years, is highly unusual and adds extra layers of sweet toasted oak and velvety aromas of café crème, brown sugar and soft spice.”

So far, so delectable. But it doesn’t stop there! The Glenfiddich Tasting Collection also features the other two drams in The Grand Series: Glenfiddich 21 Year Old Reserva Rum Cask Finish, and Glenfiddich Grand Cru 23 Year Old.

Glenfiddich Tasting Collection Set with drams

We love our exclusive Glenfiddich Tasting Collection!

A taste of Glenfiddich

We’re all about bringing the distillery to life as best as we can (seeing as we can’t actually visit right now), so there’s the classic Glenfiddich 18 Year Old in there, too, with the set completed by Glenfiddich Virgin Oak 2010. From innovative finishes to that classic distillery character, if you’re into your Speyside whiskies (or know someone who is!) we reckon it’s worth checking out. 

What’s also worth checking out are Glenfiddich’s live tastings, where brand ambassador Struan Grant Ralph will chat you through each dram in detail via the wonderful medium of Zoom. Tastings are set to take place on 8, 15, 22 and 29 April at 8pm UK time. Dial-in deets are in the box, along with your five drams!

Want in? The Glenfiddich Tasting Collection is available now, exclusively from us, while stocks last. (Once they’ve gone, they’ve really gone!)

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Whisky Advent 2020 Day #11: Glenfiddich Experimental Series – IPA Cask Finish

On the 11th day of Advent, Drinks by the Dram decided to treat us with a category-crossing whisky that brings together the humble brew with the water of life. It’s…

On the 11th day of Advent, Drinks by the Dram decided to treat us with a category-crossing whisky that brings together the humble brew with the water of life. It’s Glenfiddich Experimental Series – IPA Cask Finish!

It’s Friday! Or ‘Fri-yay’ if you’re posting on Instagram, which you may well be – and don’t forget to tune into #WhiskyAdvent if you are. Anyway, there’s lots of reasons today is a ‘yay’ rather than just simply a ‘day’. But the main one is that there’s yet another delicious dram squirrelled away in your Drinks by the Dram Whisky Advent Calendar! Beer lovers, whisky lovers, it’s time for you to put your differences aside and come together with this top release from Glenfiddich, finished for three months in casks which previously held IPA. Is that a ‘yay’ we can hear? Of course it is.

Called Glenfiddich Experimental Series – IPA Cask Finish, it was released as part of the Speyside distillery’s Experimental Series – it’s not every day you see beer and whisky coming together so literally. We turned to brand ambassador Mark Thomson (whose official title is ‘ambassador to Scotland – Glenfiddich Single Malt Whisky’, which is awesome but must be hard to fit on a business card) to chat about this unique release, the year that was, and his favourite Christmas sipper!

whisky advent glenfiddich ipa cask

It’s Mark Thomson, everyone! Where can we get a tasting glass like that?

Master of Malt: An IPA-finished whisky! Can you talk us through this release?

Mark Thomson: Sounds strange doesn’t it? Well, we’ve had a long history of experimenting with whisky at Glenfiddich and this particular release fitted into our Experimental range launched in 2016. It came around from a conversation between a brewer and Brian Kinsman, our malt master. Rather than taking a beer cask, we infused a cask at Glenfiddich which had already contained our whisky with a bespoke-brewed hoppy ale. Then removed it from the cask and added back Glenfiddich whisky to allow a conversation between the two creations to begin. It’s a light style of Glenfiddich in general, being fully matured in American oak, there is sweetness with classic fruit notes. However, the influence of the ale is not lost with a hoppy, zesty overtone and delicious lingering aftertaste. It’s perfect enjoyed on its own, but I often find myself pairing it with a beer on the side. A traditional serve known as a Hauf ‘n Hauf in Scotland.  

MoM: You can only pick either beer or whisky – which one is it?

MT: Whisky of course, because it’s always appealing to me, can be mixed into cocktails or lengthened into a highball. Far more flexible than beer if I was to be forced down such a path – you have to play the long game. 

MoM: What was a 2020 highlight for Glenfiddich?

MT: I suppose in any other normal year it would be difficult to choose because we are always forging ahead with new releases, activations or events. As we all know, this year wasn’t anything close to “normal”. So I’d say our highlight was the charity drive we did over the year with fundraising events, challenges and auctions. Our own Standfast programme which was set up to support the hospitality workers of the UK to raise £300k and we are still coming up with other initiatives to support charities such as the Benevolent in Scotland and the Drinks Trust elsewhere in the UK. In addition to this, the ambassadors of William Grant & Sons all made a huge effort to support hospitality workers wherever possible. Even if that was simply having a coffee (safely) and letting them voice their concerns and worries. 

whisky advent glenfiddich ipa cask

Gaze upon the actual Glenfiddich distillery.

MoM: Can we expect more releases along these beer-y lines from Glenfiddich?

MT: Perhaps not so much beer related, but you never know. Brian has a number of experiments maturing in the warehouses of Glenfiddich and the Experimental Series was always a playground for us to try new things. We aim to always have three releases available in the series -there have been four so far, however Winter Storm, a 21 year old finished in Canadian ice wine casks, was a limited edition. There should have been a new release in the series for 2020, but we’ve popped that back in the warehouse for now until things return or settle to a new normal. Keep an eye out over the next year to 18 months for some new and exciting Glenfiddich releases. But I’m afraid my lips are sealed for now on what those may be.

MoM: Which Glenfiddich dram will we find you enjoying at Christmas?

MT: I’ll be celebrating Christmas this year with an indulgent drop of our luxurious Grand Cru whisky. A 23 yr old Glenfiddich allowed to rest for a time in French cuvée wine casks before being bottled. It’s fast becoming one of my favourite available whiskies in our range. The character is quite unlike anything else we have out at the moment. The whisky, before hitting those final French oak casks, is already delightful with a subtle sweet/salty note, delicate floral elements and classic Glenfiddich white fruit. Then it is elevated into an incredibly complex yet approachable whisky by those fabulous French casks. Quite simply, a perfect whisky for any celebration, not just Christmas.

whisky advent glenfiddich ipa cask

Tasting Note from the Chaps at Master of Malt

Nose: An elegant harmony of fresh green apple, William’s pear and spring blossom. Complimented with aromatic hops and fresh herbs.

Palate: Vibrant with a zesty citrus note followed by creamy vanilla and a hint of fresh hops.

Finish: Enduring sweetness with an echo of green hops.

 

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The Nightcap: 27 November

On the Nightcap this week we applaud some forward-thinking brands, celebrate 750 years of Frapin and look at some intriguing new releases, including one made to honour Her Majesty… This…

On the Nightcap this week we applaud some forward-thinking brands, celebrate 750 years of Frapin and look at some intriguing new releases, including one made to honour Her Majesty…

This week there was presumably plenty happening in the worlds that exist outside of booze, no doubt misery-filled and relentless bits of news about how terrible everything is. But here at MoM Towers, this was a good week. A great week, in fact. Because he’s back: Whisky Santa has returned! That’s right, the dram-loving do-gooder is here once again to give away £250,000 worth of booze in the name of Christmas cheer! You know the drill, get wishing now and you could get everything you want this year with just the click of a button. 

Being the lovely omniscient, festive, heavily-bearded thing he is, he’s already popped up on the MoM Blog this week to name his first Super Wish: a £1,500 bourbon from Woodford Reserve! And there are even more bargains to be found in our Black Friday 2020 sale. Was November always this busy?  Elsewhere, Adam virtually ventured to Mexico to the country’s first whisky distillery and then turned our MoM-branded spotlight on Satryna Tequila, while Annie also cast her eye on another fine Central American brand, the family-owned Flor de Caña. Jess then explored how you can get your cocktail fix without even leaving your home as Henry enjoyed the rumification of a burger joint classic, a new Springbank whisky so good it sold out before you could say ‘Hey, look everyone, new Springbank!’ and then put together a list of ten of his favourite budget-friendly bottles of Scotch. Hey, speaking of Scotch… 

The Nightcap

Michelle Dockery “being both feminine and strong, while enjoying whisky.” Photo credit: Misan Harriman

Glenfiddich challenges stereotypes in campaign with Michelle Dockery

Giants of the category Glenfiddich has announced this week that it plans to use its prominent position to “progress the perception of whisky to new audiences” and break the mould to “encourage greater gender inclusivity”, which we like the sound of very much. The Speyside distillery has launched a new campaign featuring the award-winning actress Michelle Dockery, star of Downton Abbey and The Gentlemen in a shoot that attempted to reimagine the whisky imagery through a contemporary lens, with each image chosen to reflect a modern woman making her own choices. The whisky featured was Glenfiddich Grand Cru 23-Year-Old, which you can find here. “I am thrilled to be a part of Glenfiddich’s new campaign which celebrates mavericks. That’s what drove me to be a part of this latest campaign,” Dockery said. “The shoot is authentic, it reflects a modern woman making her own choices: being both feminine and strong, while enjoying whisky.” While more and more women are making whisky their drink of choice and working in the industry, the sad truth is that too many still see it as a man’s drink, which marketing companies and campaigns can address. It’s good to see Glenfiddich do that here.

The Nightcap

Cheers to another 750 years!

Frapin celebrates 750 years with vintage Cognac

Cognac house Frapin is celebrating 750 years in the business. 750 years! The first Frapin recorded was a vine grower called Albert Frapin way back in 1270. At the time the Cognac region would have been part of the Duchy of Aquitaine, a possession of the English crown. Ah, happy days! Anyway, Frapin is celebrating in the most appropriate way possible by releasing some fine Cognacs. These include the Château Fontpinot XO 750, and a special vintage Cognac. No, not from 1270, that would be ridiculous. No, it’s a 40-year-old from 1979. This is the first vintage that the house ever released, in 1988. One cask, however, was kept back to be bottled at a later date. Cellar master Patrice Piveteau commented: “A limited edition of only 180 bottles coming from one cask jealously kept since four decades in our dry cellars…” He went on to describe the taste as “going off like a firework. Pow!” We were fortunate enough to be given a sample and can only concur. It’s an impossibly complex Cognac and we’re delighted to have some in stock. But that’s not all, we also have the 1992, 1990, and 1988. Why not collect the set? 

The Nightcap

The rum has just arrived at MoM Towers and we’re happy to say we’re big fans

La Hechicera releases rum aged in banana casks 

We sampled a delightfully distinctive rum this week with La Hechicera for the launch of the second expression in its ‘Experimental’ range. Led by co-founder and managing director Miguel Riascos, we enjoyed the playful new limited-edition bottling, which is a blend of rums aged up to 21 years in American white oak barrels that were infused with organic sun-dried banana flesh before being bottled at 41% ABV. It pays homage to the brand’s history as three generations of the Riascos family’s original traded bananas, before moving in to the rum business. “Serie Experimental No. 2 is an amazing liquid that we are proud to share with the world,” said Riascos. “Rum is a category that is continuing to gain popularity and Serie Experimental No. 2 is a unique product that will help drive interest in the category by recruiting new consumers to the category and offering rum consumers something new.” We very much enjoyed our tasting, it’s a beautifully balanced rum, mixing refined sweetness of vanilla, toffee and hazelnut with notes of freshly baked banana bread, coffee, tobacco, dark chocolate and some salty minerality. If you fancy trying it for yourself, Serie Experimental No. 2 is available from MoM Towers now!.

Diageo launches ten-year sustainability action plan 

Diageo has announced this week a range of 25 bold goals as part of its ‘Society 2030: Spirit of Progress’ plan. Designed to make a positive impact on the world by 2030, Diageo has broken down its ambitions into several achievable key goals. The first is to reach 1 billion people with messages of moderation, partly through ‘SMASHED’, its award-winning alcohol education awareness programme, and to increase representation by ensuring that, by 2030, 45% of its leaders are from ethnically diverse backgrounds and 50% are women. Diageo has also committed to working towards a low-carbon future by harnessing 100% renewable energy to achieve net-zero carbon emissions across direct operations, making sure 100% of its packaging will be widely recyclable and making every drink it produces with 30% less water to make than it does today to achieve a net positive water impact. Alongside the ‘Society 2030: Spirit of Progress’ plan, Diageo has also introduced Sustainable Solutions, a global platform that will provide non-equity funding to start-up and technology companies in order to help Diageo continue to embed sustainability in its supply chain and brands. “As a global business, we are committed to playing our part to protect the future of our planet and to leading the way for others to follow,” CEO Ivan Menezes said. “I am immensely proud of Diageo’s sustainability and responsibility achievements to date, and this new, ambitious action plan will challenge us even further to deliver more over the critical decade to 2030.” 

The Nightcap

Is this the go-to gin glass?

Glencairn presents the gin goblet

You probably know Glencairn as the brand behind the official glass for whisky, which sells over 65,000 units every week around the world, but the family-owned crystal glassware company has now set its sights on the world of gin too. Responding to the huge rise in the popularity of the spirit in recent years and consumer demand for a dedicated gin glass, Glencairn used its Mixer Glass, originally developed in consultation with the Canadian whisky industry, as a starting point and adapted it make something that considered the needs of the gin drinker, bar staff and distillers. The result? The Gin Goblet. The new glass has plenty of classic Glencairn features you’d expect, it’s made from crystal to enhance the clarity of the drink, it’s curvy in shape to help focus and enhance aroma and it was designed to require less ice, meaning that your gin doesn’t become too diluted. “At Glencairn we are proud of our innovative history, having been at the forefront of ground-breaking crystal design and creation for nearly forty years,” says Scott Davidson, new product development director. “We always strive to listen and respond to customer demand with the ultimate aim of enhancing the spirit lover’s drinking experience. We hope that we have delivered the perfect glass for gin lovers worldwide.” Sounds like the perfect present. If only there was some gift-giving occasion coming up…

The Nightcap

We love this gorgeous new drink and travel magazine. Great work, guys!

New drink magazine is just the Tonic

A couple of weeks ago we announced the sad news of the demise of Imbibe, so we were especially pleased when we received a copy of a brand new magazine called Tonic. It’s a drinks magazine with a difference, you won’t find articles about Glenmorangie’s newest expression or quotes from Miles Beale from the WSTA. Instead, it combines travel and drinks writing with gorgeous photography and very high production values. As well as hardened drink professionals like Imbibe founder Chris Losh, Will Hawkes, Claire Dodd and our very own Henry Jeffreys, there’s more off-beat stuff such as Douglas Rogers on how his parents tried to start a vineyard in Zimbabwe, Father Thomas Plant on holy wine, and Juliet Rix on boozing in North Korea.  It’s edited by travel writer Tristan Rutherford, and the publishing team are Robert Ellison and Benita Finanzio. They wrote: “The genesis of Tonic is our fondness for convivial, communal experiences with friends and strangers alike, sharing drinks and stories.” Just what we need in these difficult times when many of us can’t even go to the pub. We can’t wait for the next issue.

The Nightcap

Look out for this beauty, it will be at MoM Towers soon…

Coming soon: Glen Moray Sauternes Cask expression

It just doesn’t stop over at Elgin distillery Glen Moray. Head of whisky creation Dr Kirstie McCallum is always hunting around the warehouses for rare and unusual barrels to release as limited editions. Now it’s the turn of some Sauternes casks. This latest release is made up of five special sweet Bordeaux French oak barrels, filled in 2006 and left for 14 years. It’s bottled at cask strength with none of that chill-filtering or colour added. McCallum commented: ‘We’re very proud to be releasing our Sauternes Cask Matured expression in time for the festive season – and as the first whisky in our new Warehouse 1 Collection. This is an absolute cracker of a dram, and a perfect marriage of Glen Moray’s spirit with all the rich, deliciously sweet flavours you would enjoy in a glass of Sauternes. It’s a real celebration of flavour and Glen Moray’s passion for unusual cask maturation.” We have to agree with the good doc, the marmalade and spice character from the Sauternes casks is indeed a happy fit with the fruity Glen Moray style. Just 1248 bottles have been filled and as usual with these rare Glen Moray releases, it’s a bit of a bargain with an RRP of £79.95. Watch the New Arrivals page for its imminent arrival at Master of Malt.

The Nightcap

The brand says the plans will ensure The Old Mill is at “the heart of the Kilmacthomas community once again”

Another new Irish whiskey distillery is on the way

It appears that not even a global pandemic can slow down the growth of the Irish whiskey industry as another new distillery is reported to be in the works. Gortinore Distillers, which was co-founded by Aidan Mehigan, along with two friends and his father and markets the Irish whiskey brand Natterjack, has revealed in a post on the brand’s Facebook that it has been granted planning approval for the construction of the €8 million project, which will entail renovating The Old Mill in Kilmacthomas, County Waterford. Gortinore Distillers acquired the lease of the building, which started life as a woollen mill in the 1850s and was later the home to Flahavan’s Irish porridge, back in 2016 and plan to install three copper pot stills and create warehouse space to store whiskey casks. A visitor centre, also said to be in the works, will add further value to the local tourism industry. Once complete, the distillery will have the capacity to produce one million bottles every year and will create 15 full-time jobs. “We are delighted to say that we have been granted planning approval for a distillery to be built at the site of The Old Mill in Kilmacthomas, Co. Waterford. It has been a long process, but big plans deserve big consideration and we are honoured to be taking this stunning piece of history on its next adventure,” Gortinore Distillers announced in the Facebook post. “We may have big plans, but the premises, sitting on the banks of the River Mahon in County Waterford already has a story all of its own.”

The Nightcap

Congratulations, Michael!

Michael Urquhart appointed as 2021 president of IWSC

Former Gordon & MacPhail managing director Michael Urquhart has taken up a high-profile industry position after being named the 2021 president of the prestigious International Wine & Spirit Competition (IWSC). He replaces 2020 president Tamara Roberts, CEO of English wine producer Ridgeview, and is tasked with promoting the production of quality wines and spirits throughout the world. Urquhart retired as managing director of Elgin-based Gordon & MacPhail, the fourth-generation business owned by the Urquhart family, in 2014 and stepped down from the board in 2017 after serving over 36 years in the company. In 1999 when he was made a Keeper of the Quaich and in 2012 a Master of the Quaich in recognition of services to the promotion of Scotch whisky worldwide. “It’s a real privilege, and I’m humbled, to be chosen as president of such a prestigious organisation as the IWSC. “I’ve always had the greatest respect for the IWSC and the excellent work it does in maintaining and developing the high-quality reputation of the global wine and spirits industry,” Michael Urquhart said. “I’m very much looking forward to getting behind the IWSC and ensuring it continues to work in the best interests of the entire industry.”

The Nightcap

The Queen is known to be a gin lover, but this is getting a bit much

And finally… the Royal Family gets another gin!

The Royal Family really do love their gin. Not only is Charles partial to a Martini and the Queen a Gin & Dubonnet, but both launched their own brands this year, Highgrove Gin and Buckingham Palace Gin (see Nightcap 17 July) Well, now it seems that two gins are not enough because we have just learned about the arrival of a Sandringham Celebration Gin. It’s made on the Norfolk estate by local distiller Whatahoot using botanicals from the gardens including sharon fruit and myrtle. Apparently, it is “a full-bodied gin with rich juniper tones and a lingering citrus finish” and the price is suitably regal too, £50 for a 50cl, available direct from the estate. So what next for the gin-loving Royal Family? A Balmoral gin? Or perhaps Harry and Meghan will ape their LA celebrity pals with the release of a Sussex Tequila. Watch this space!

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Brill bottles for Bonfire Night!

Here at MoM Towers, Bonfire Night means peaty treats and smoky spirits and so we’ve rounded up some of our favourites right here. Tempted? Of course you are. Like pretty…

Here at MoM Towers, Bonfire Night means peaty treats and smoky spirits and so we’ve rounded up some of our favourites right here. Tempted? Of course you are.

Like pretty much every event in 2020, Bonfire Night is going to be a little strange. But you can still make the most of the occasion by stocking up on warming, smoky and tasty spirits. And we’re happy to help you pick out some corkers, from peated whisky, to gin made with smoked botanicals and a sensationally smouldering mezcal.

Brill bottles for Bonfire Night

Seaweed & Aeons & Digging & Fire 10 Year Old 

This beauty has fire in the name, which is already a good start. A 10-year-old single malt from an undisclosed distillery on Islay, with 25% of it having been finished in first-fill Oloroso sherry octaves, Seaweed & Aeons & Digging & Fire 10 Year Old is a smoky, sherried, coastal dram perfect for those who love uncompromising Islay whisky.

What does it taste like?

Rich, powerful sherry, peat, red apple sweetness, oaken-vanilla goodness and chargrilled well-aged steak.

Brill bottles for Bonfire Night

Smoked Rosemary Gin (That Boutique-y Gin Company) 

Rosemary won’t just make your steak taste fantastic, it also makes a great gin botanical, particularly when smoked. If you love the idea of making all kinds of bonfire-based cocktails, then this herbaceous treat from That Boutique-y Gin Company is for you.

What does it taste like?

There’s a strong herbal note, plenty of juniper, saline seashore smells, lemon, cracked black pepper and a hint of smoked bacon.

Brill bottles for Bonfire Night

Burnt Ends Blended Whiskey 

If love burnt ends, which you should do, then you’re going to be salivating at the prospect of this whisky. Inspired by those charred, smoky morsels, Burnt Ends Blended Whisky marries Tennessee rye whiskey and sherry cask-finished peated single malt Scotch whisky to make one meaty, smoky, rich and satisfying expression.

What does it taste like?

Deliciously rich and spicy with peat, apple juice, rye, barbecue sauce and smoky sausage all the way. 

Brill bottles for Bonfire Night

Dangerous Don Joven 

Firstly, can we appreciate what an amazing name Dangerous Don is? Straight out of El Beano. Secondly, let’s acknowledge how awesome mezcal is. If you’re not familiar with it then here’s what you need to know: this is a smoky, zesty and smooth spirit that was made exclusively from Espadín agave using traditional production methods. Be sure to try this one in a mezcal Negroni or Old Fashioned.

What does it taste like?

Loads of green grass and fresh agave sweetness, with waves of aromatic smoke throughout and a touch of citrus on the finish.

Brill bottles for Bonfire Night

Lagavulin 16 Year Old

When you need a smoky single malt whisky for sippin’ on Bonfire Night, then look no further than Lagavulin 16 Year Old. Unless you don’t like the sound of a profile so rich and complex it stole the heart of Ron Swanson….

What does it taste like?

Lapsang Souchong tea, iodine, sweet spices, figs, dates, sherry and creamy vanilla.

Brill bottles for Bonfire Night

Mackmyra Svensk Rök (Swedish Smoke) 

Swedish distillery Mackmyra makes plenty of delicious whisky and this bottling demonstrates that it’s not just the Scots who know how to make cracking smoky, peaty dram. In fact, Svensk Rök actually means Swedish Smoke. Don’t expect an Islay powerhouse, though. This is a fragrant, sweet and fruity bottling.

What does it taste like?

Earthy peat, warm smoke, vanilla fudge, bright juniper and a whisper of citrus.

Brill bottles for Bonfire Night

Glenfiddich Experimental Series – Fire & Cane 

What happens when you take peated Glenfiddich single malt and finish it for three months in rum casks selected from a variety of South American countries? You get this delightful expression and the ideal Bonfire Night dram.

What does it taste like?

Billowing soft peat notes, rich sweet toffee, zesty fresh fruit, Highland peat campfire, sharp green fruit, sweet baked apple and soft smoke.

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Mythbusting: How important is water in spirits-making?

Whether it’s been filtered through ancient volcanic rock, siphoned from a mountain glacier, or collected from the tears of fertile mountain goats (hypothetically speaking), water is an essential ingredient in…

Whether it’s been filtered through ancient volcanic rock, siphoned from a mountain glacier, or collected from the tears of fertile mountain goats (hypothetically speaking), water is an essential ingredient in every spirit, typically making up more than half of your bottle of booze. The question is, does specially-sourced water actually make for a better quality spirit? MoM investigates…

That water makes up most of the liquid in your favourite spirit should come as little surprise. The amount is even stated on the bottle, albeit inadvertently. If the label on your gin bottle reads 42% ABV, then 58% is water. Even if your cask strength whisky comes in at 63.5% ABV, the remaining 36.5% is water – more than one third. Given that water is such a prominent and essential ingredient, it must be a relatively important aspect of the production process.

And it is, but not for the reason you might think. Water is “one of the most important parts of a distillery and the spirit quality,” acknowledges Brian Kinsman, malt master at Glenfiddich Distillery, which sources its water solely from the Robbie Dhu Spring. “We only have three ingredients – water, malted barley and yeast – and the water quality will influence flavour formation in fermentation, which is where much of the final distillery character is formed.”

Each water source has its own unique chemical makeup, depending on the geology of the local area. The levels of trace metals or ‘minerals’ like chromium, cobalt, copper, iron, magnesium, selenium, and zinc can have a profound effect on the distilling process. “During fermentation, different trace metals will influence yeast metabolism, which directly impacts our yield and sensory profile of the wash,” Kinsman says.

High-mineral water – particularly calcium and magnesium – helps enzymes in the mash break starch down into simple sugars, explains Brendan McCarron, head of maturing whisky stocks at ‎The Glenmorangie Company. “It makes the mashing more effective, and allows the fermentation to be more active,” he says. This kicks off “a whole lot of other chain reactions, so you produce more fruity, ester-style flavours during the fermentation period.”

water in spirits-making

Buffalo Trace’s location along the Kentucky River was chosen for its abundance of springs

For this reason, the different mineral make-up is important for each distillery to have their own characteristics, says Harlen Wheatley, master distiller at Buffalo Trace Distillery in Frankfort, Kentucky. The site was chosen “due to its location along the Kentucky River and abundance of springs in the area,” he explains. “Typically in Kentucky, due to the limestone the water is iron-free and rich in nutrients such as magnesium and calcium.”

However, not everyone shares the same view when it comes to sourcing water. For some distilleries, the ethos is ‘the purer, the better’. “Our view is that the water used for the distillation part of the process should be as bland and as neutral as possible,” says Arturo Illán Illán, global brand manager for Martin Miller’s Gin. “This ensures that any impurity in the water does not impair the delicate process of distillation.” The team use Icelandic water sourced from deep aquifers beneath a dormant volcanic caldera, which Illán says is “as close to pure, naturally occurring H2o as it is possible to get”.

Either way, it’s important to point out that we’re talking about barely-detectable effects here. “You wouldn’t pick up a whisky and nose it and go, ‘Ah, now that’s a mineral-rich whisky right there, I can really smell the magnesium’,” McCarron says. “It’s nuanced. And this is where the marketing B.S. has come into water in whisky. In the 1970s, 1980s, you’d hear ‘it’s the water that makes the whisky’ – which is true, it’s massively important. But I think a lot of people started attributing lots of the flavour to water.”

Certain whisky myths persist around the use of water in whisky to this day. One of the biggest, he says, is that the reason Ardbeg Distillery makes such smoky whisky is because it has a peaty water source. “That’s just not true,” he says. “Another belter was about a certain distillery up in the Highlands, which used to say that the water – which it did – ran through a hill of heather into a Loch before it went into the distillery, and that’s why the whisky was so heathery in the bottle. Again, it’s a great sounding story, but a complete fabrication.”

water in spirits-making

Glenfiddich Distillery sources its water solely from the Robbie Dhu Spring.

It’s easy to see why certain hypotheses came to exist. “A lot of the flavours, a lot of the spirit character, a lot of the aromas that were contributing to the water were actually coming from fermentation,” he continues. “So it’s almost like it wasn’t untrue that the water was making that heather [note], it was helping, but we’ve come down a level or two of detail – we’ve more understanding of how fermentation works. These debunked myths, there’s a grain of truth in them, but it’s much more about ‘what does the water help the fermentation do?’. Definitely mineral-rich water has a huge effect. Extra-peaty water has no effect.”

It’s only recently that we’ve started to understand that not all water is the same, says Ronald Daalmans, environmental sustainability manager for Chivas Brothers. “It would be nice to think we’ve gone around and found lots of water supplies, decided which ones matched the product we wanted to make, and then chose the location,” he says. “But historically I don’t think that’s how any site has come about, it’s generally linked to the fact that there is a large supply available. We probably didn’t have the chemistry at that time. And it’s part of the legacy of why the product is the way it is… The location has a story to tell in terms of what’s under your feet and why the water is there, and that’s then reflected in the chemistry.”

The chemical make-up of water isn’t the only variable to affect the distilling process. Perhaps more important is the temperature. Not only does having lots of cold water help you condense your spirit – allowing lots of copper contact and preventing sulphury notes, McCarron says – but it’s crucial for the fermentation stage. The starting temperature is dictated by the weather, and when it’s too high (during a particularly hot summer, for example) it results in a drop in yield.

“June, July and August are a nightmare for distillers, it takes loads more work because there’s a double whammy,” McCarron says. “It’s hotter outside, which means your fermentations are going to heat up quicker, and also your cooling water is warmer than it usually is. If you speak to any man or woman in the industry who makes the stuff, they’re much more focussed on ‘what’s the temperature of the water in the summer’ than they are ‘what’s the exact mineral composition’.”

water in spirits-making

If you’re going to build a distillery from scratch, you need a good quality source of water.

So far, we’ve spoken about the water distilleries use during fermentation and distillation. In the case of dark spirits, the next stop for new make is the cask. “We often adjust the strength with water before that happens, and then again [after maturation] before it goes into the bottle,” explains Daalmans. “At both of those stages in the process we are very wary of changing the character in any way, so we use demineralised water. It has no minerals – nothing that’s going to alter the flavour, the mouthfeel, any of those factors.”

The water used at this stage absolutely has to be made neutral and homogeneous. “If you use any water that isn’t, it goes bang – there’s an explosion of reactions and you create these salts and hazes,” says McCarron. “It would start to shimmer, like in a film where somebody’s stuck in a desert and they’re crawling on their hands and knees, and off in the distance, you can see an oasis and a camel appears. It’s called haze because it looks like a heat haze.” You’d also get floc, which looks like “tiny little bits of cotton wool floating about in the whisky.”

The de-mineralisation process usually occurs at a de-mineralisation plant using a rather clever scientific process called reverse osmosis. But not always, as is the case with Martin Miller’s water, which is naturally stripped of its mineral content as it slowly filters through the volcanic rock, says Illán Illán. “The water is claimed by the Icelanders to be the purest in the world, having an average of only 8 to 30 parts per million of dissolved solids,” he says. “The purest non-Icelandic bottled waters, for example, contain upwards of 400ppm.”

Ultimately, how important is water in spirits-making? “Massively,” says McCarron. “It is massively important. If you’re going to build a distillery from scratch, you want to find a really good quality source of water. You want to have lots of it, and you want it to be quite cool because you’re going to use it to ferment, to condense your distillate and stuff like that. Having good quality drinking water, lots of it, and at a good temperature is key. If you don’t have that, don’t build a distillery.”

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Gaze upon our exceptional whiskies and more!

With payday on the horizon after working hard all month, you deserve a reward for all your efforts. It’s time to treat yo self. January is nearly over, folks. It…

With payday on the horizon after working hard all month, you deserve a reward for all your efforts. It’s time to treat yo self.

January is nearly over, folks. It might feel like it’s taken forever, but the end is in sight. You’ve pushed through the drab and dreary, shaken off those winter blues and made peace with your lack of New Year’s resolutions. Who needs ‘em anyway? Not you.

Now you want to celebrate the approaching payday with a little well-earned indulgence. Perhaps an experimental Scotch whiskey, or the World’s Best Gin 2019? Maybe a legendary Guyanese rum or a marvellous mezcal? You might even want something new and shiny… Whatever you’re in the mood for, you’re bound to find it here. Enjoy!

Sazerac Straight Rye

Sazerac Straight Rye was named after the Sazerac Coffee House in New Orleans, the birthplace of the eponymous cocktail. This spicy rye whiskey from the Buffalo Trace distillery is ideal for said serve, but is equally delicious neat. 

What does it taste like?:

Sweet spices, stem ginger in syrup, orange zest, freshly ground black pepper, mixed peels, peanut butter, toffee and barrel char.

Glenfiddich – Fire & Cane

We all like to embrace our experimental side every now and again, and for those who want Scotch with a point of difference, the Glenfiddich Experimental Series is an obvious place to start. Fire & Cane was created by malt master Brian Kinsman by giving some of the distillery’s peated single malt a three-month finishing period in rum casks that were selected from a variety of South American countries. 

What does it taste like?:

Rich sweet toffee, zesty fresh fruit, Highland peat campfire, toffee and sweet baked apple.

El Dorado 12 Year Old

The desire for rum to get more of the spotlight has been palpable for some time in this industry, but with so much competition in the market and such a variety of styles and expressions, those who want to upgrade their rum game might not know where to start. We recommend this outstanding 12-year-old Demerara rum from El Dorado, which has won numerous awards and accolades for its complex and refined profile.

What does it taste like?:

Toffee, vanilla, smoke, cocoa, caramel, prunes and sweet spices.

Benromach 10 Year Old

Benromach 10 Year Old is one of the finer entry-level expressions you find in the Scotch whisky market and thanks to its singular profile. Inspired the classic pre-1960s Speyside character, it makes for an intriguing dram even for seasoned Scotch drinkers. The fruity, balanced profile with a light touch of smoke comes from the fact that it was lightly peated to 12-14ppm and then matured in a combination of ex-bourbon and ex-sherry casks.

What does it taste like?:

Dry barley, sweet spices, puckering prune, maple fudge, slightly herbal, grassy, ground ginger and dry sherry.

 

Montelobos Joven Mezcal

An ideal expression for mezcal lovers and newcomers to the category alike, Montelobos Joven Mezcal was created by biologist and distiller Iván Saldaña and Mescalero Don Abel Lopez with espadín agave using traditional production methods. It’s also got a bottle with a cool-looking wolf on the label. What more could you want?

What does it taste like?:

Gentle wood smoke, green bell pepper, underripe green apple, blue cheese, a delicate mineral streak, subtle smokiness and ripe tropical fruit.

 

Dingle Original Gin

The winner of the World’s Best Gin at the 2019 World Gin Awards, Dingle Original Gin was made with locally foraged botanicals, including rowan berry, fuschia, bog myrtle, hawthorn and heather from the south-west coast of Ireland. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a better G&T than the one you’ll make with this beauty,

What does it taste like?:

Juicy and sweet with authentic summer berry notes, followed by fresh herbs (think mint leaf and fennel).

 

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These were the most read posts of the year

By popular demand, it’s time to look back at our most-read blog posts of 2019. Well, maybe there hasn’t been that much demand, but we’re interested, so here they are,…

By popular demand, it’s time to look back at our most-read blog posts of 2019. Well, maybe there hasn’t been that much demand, but we’re interested, so here they are, the posts that grabbed your attention this year. 

It’s that time of the year when we look back at the year in booze. And what a year it’s been with trade wars, ghost distillery revivals and the SWA getting all funky with new cask types. There’s four words you never expect to see in one sentence, Scotch Whisky Association and funky. From crunching the numbers, it’s clear that what you, dear reader, love is whisky. Whether it’s whisky news, whisky comment or whisky snark, all the top posts this year are about whisky. So here they are in ascending order of popularity:

Jim Murray

You can bet that dear old Jim will be in here somewhere

Number 10:

The Macallan unveils new expression: The Macallan Estate  – A new Macallan expression is always of interest. And this latest release is particularly special being made from barley grown on the Macallan estate. 

Number 9:

Unusual Scotch ahoy! SWA widens permissible cask types – In June the Scotch Whisky Association revised it rules to allow new types of casks for maturing Scotch whisky including Tequila, mezcal, Calvados and Baijiu barrels. 

Number 8: 

Was Glenfiddich really the first ever single malt whisky? – Here our columnist Ian Buxton pulls apart some rather outlandish PR claims from Glenfiddich.

Number 7: 

Diageo Special Releases 2019 details are here! – It’s that wondrous time of the year when Diageo releases some rare and unusual whiskies from its unparalleled portfolio of distilleries. 

Number 6: 

Our take on booze trends for 2019! – Here MoM editor Kristiane Sherry peers into her crystal ball to see what we would be drinking in 2019. You can see here how much she got right. 

Number 5: 

1792 Full Proof is Jim Murray’s World Whisky of the Year 2020 – Another perennial popular event, the release of Jim Murray’s new guide and the crowning of a new World Whisky of the Year.

Number 4:

Behold: Fancy Brora 40-Year-Old 200th Anniversary incoming! – With Brora due to come back on stream in 2020, we had an opportunity to try a very special old expression to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the distillery.

Number 3:

The Balvenie Stories launches with three special whiskies – Three key figures at Balvenie have each created a whisky to celebrate human tales of endeavour, craft and surprise.

Number 2:

Ardbeg adds 19 year old expression to core range – A new core addition to the Ardbeg range is always going to be of interest so no wonder that this is the second most read post of the year.

And at number 1 

Tears before bedtime: are we heading for a whisky crash? – It’s Ian Buxton again, and apparently “we’re dooooomed!”

 

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Wonderful whiskies from curious casks

From Château Léoville Barton to Rhum Agricole, taking in a combination of Tequila and mezcal, these are some of the most strange and sensational cask-finishes used to mature whisky you’ll…

From Château Léoville Barton to Rhum Agricole, taking in a combination of Tequila and mezcal, these are some of the most strange and sensational cask-finishes used to mature whisky you’ll find at MoM Towers.

Cask-finishing has become a popular phenomenon in the whisky industry over the last couple of decades as experimental producers seek to add a touch of something different and delightful to their distillates. But despite there being a glut of great expressions on the market that benefit from secondary maturation already, there’s always room for innovation and this leads some to choose a road that’s less travelled, but very rewarding.

To celebrate those who dare to do it differently, we’ve decided to shine a light on some of the most unusual cask-finished whiskies around. Enjoy the selection!

Glen Moray Rhum Agricole Cask Finish Project

Glen Moray loves a good experiment, to the joy of fans of all things unusual and writers who need ideas for a blog like this. The distillery in Speyside has finished this single malt Scotch whisky in casks that previously held rhum agricole from Martinique for around 24 months, a style that should bring a lot of grassy, fruity sweetness to the dram.

What does it taste like?:

Candied lemon peel, honey, white pepper, toffee apple, dried grass, toasted brown sugar, walnut, cherry and banana.

J.J. Corry The Battalion

From Chapel Gate whiskey bonders comes J.J. Corry The Battalion, a blend of 60% grain and 40% malt whiskey that was initially aged in bourbon casks. Then the grain portion continued its maturation in a combination of Tequila and mezcal casks for seven months, while the malt portion continued maturing in just mezcal casks for seven months. Ever had a whiskey matured in both Tequila and mezcal casks? Of course, you haven’t! This bottling gets extra badass brownie points for being named after the Battalion San Patricos, a group of Irish soldiers who fought for Mexico in the Mexican-American war

What does it taste like?:

Fresh leafy notes, apple skin, tangy pineapple, ripe pear, green grass, vegetal agave, oak spice, sea salt, dried herbs, lemon curd and a slight oily nutty note.

Talisker 2007 (bottled 2017) Amoroso Cask Finish – Distillers Edition

The Distillers Editions from Talisker are always sure to deliver some true delights and this expression is no exception. Finished for a period in casks that previously held amoroso (a blend of oloroso and sweet Pedro Ximénez)  sherry, the profile pairs wonderfully with the distinctive maritime salinity of this single malt.

What does it taste like?:

Toffee, seaweed, a sharp hint of fresh citrus fruit, milky coffee, juicy pineapple, apple and some light vegetal hints of fresh thyme and basil balanced by a kick of sea spray, lingering smoke and dried fruit.

Penderyn Madeira Finish

Not many brands would make its original ‘house style’ such a distinctive profile, but then Penderyn has proved itself to be quite the experimental distillery since it first began distilling back in September 2000. This bottling was aged initially in ex-bourbon barrels before it was finished in ex-Madeira wine casks, an idea that speaks to the influence the late Dr. Jim Swan had on the Welsh whisky makers.

What does it taste like?:

Herbs, vanilla sweetness, resin, sultanas, toast, over-ripe grapes, custard and stem ginger.

Glenfiddich Experimental Series – IPA Cask Finish

You’d expect Glenfiddich’s Experimental Series to have a few single malts with a point of difference and this IPA Cask finish doesn’t disappoint. Created from a collaboration between Glenfiddich Malt Master Brian Kinsman and IPA expert Seb Jones, the IPA which was in the casks before the whisky was specially brewed for this expression by the Speyside Craft Brewery.

What does it taste like?:

Fresh green apple, William’s pear, spring blossom, aromatic hops, fresh herbs, zesty citrus and creamy vanilla.

Midleton Method and Madness Single Pot Still

Another highly innovative series from an exceptional distillery, Method and Madness Single Pot Still was perhaps the most intriguing release from the first batch of Midleton’s experimental range. You won’t find many single pot still whiskies, matured initially in ex-sherry and bourbon barrels and finished in French chestnut, believe us!

What does it taste like?:

Red liquorice laces, fresh rosemary mint, grated root ginger, sweet fruit, aromatic green tea, cinnamon toast, rich wood and ripe banana.

Jefferson’s Grand Selection Château Pichon Baron Cask Finish

Jefferson’s Grand Selection range demonstrates that the Americans are no strangers to the joys of cask-finishing with a selection of excellent Jefferson bourbons finished in a variety of wine casks. This particular bottling was finished for a period in casks that previously held Bordeaux red wine from Château Pichon Baron, and it’s as downright delicious as it sounds.

What does it taste like?:

Red apples, raspberries, buttered corn, honey, heavy cinnamon heat, fresh floral notes and dense red berry elements supported by waxy peels and earthy oak.

Green Spot Château Léoville Barton

This beauty is certainly a treat. We’re always suckers for all things Spot (Red, Yellow, Green – they’re all great), but this happens to be the first-ever single pot still Irish whiskey finished in Bordeaux casks! The Bordeaux wine takes its name from the Irish wine merchant Thomas “French Tom” Barton and the grand cru Château is still run by his descendants to this day, so this is a real celebration all things awesome and Irish.

What does it taste like?:

Wild raspberry, a little potpourri, crab apple, toffee, lemon peel, warming spice, vanilla, honey and gingerbread.

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Superb Fireside Sipping

Celebrate Bonfire Night this year with a selection of booze appropriately bursting with deliciousness. Remember, remember the fifth of November… No, seriously. Check your calendars. It’s approaching fast. Maybe you’re…

Celebrate Bonfire Night this year with a selection of booze appropriately bursting with deliciousness.

Remember, remember the fifth of November… No, seriously. Check your calendars. It’s approaching fast. Maybe you’re planning to watch all things sparkly and spectacular illuminate the sky. Or perhaps you can’t wait to get into your dressing gown and comfy slippers to wrap up warm indoors. Both sound good to us, but whether you’ll be in front of a bonfire or fireplace, we can surely all agree that it’s the perfect time to indulge in some cockle-warming drinks.

For those who need inspiration, we’ve made things nice and easy by selecting this smashing selection of spirits. Expect smoke, spice and everything nice from this round-up of bonfire-themed booze!

Smoked Rosemary Gin (That Boutique-y Gin Company)

Smoked rosemary is an absolute winner in many a cocktail, ask any good bartender. But who wants to bother with the hassle of setting fire to some fresh rosemary themselves? Save the flames for an actual bonfire and instead enjoy this delightful gin from That Boutique-y Gin Company! Sensationally smoky Martinis await…

What does it taste like?:

Well, there’s no doubt that this contains rosemary, as well as plenty of juniper, saline seashore smells, cracked black pepper, lemon, a hint of smoked bacon.

Glenfiddich Experimental Series – Fire & Cane

The Experimental Series has produced some corking expressions, and Fire & Cane is no exception. Malt master Brian Kinsman created this bottling by finishing some of the distillery’s peated single malt for three-months in rum casks from a variety of South American countries. The cask complements the peated profile perfectly and makes this one an ideal fireside sipper.

What does it taste like?:

Billowing soft peat notes, rich sweet toffee, zesty fresh fruit, oak and sweet baked apple.

Ancho Reyes Chile Liqueur

Ever had a liqueur made with chile ancho (dried poblano chiles) before? No? Well now is the perfect opportunity to acquaint yourself with the delights of this Mexican liqueur. It was made by macerating chile ancho in neutral cane spirit for half a year, which was then blended with a selection of other ingredients and allowed to rest a little longer for the flavour to marry. An ideal liqueur for those who want to add smoke and spice to their cocktails.

What does it taste like?:

Plenty of woodsmoke and dry, warming spice is complemented by a touch of liquorice.

Drumshanbo Gunpowder Gin

Drumshanbo Gunpowder Gin gets its name from its star botanical, gunpowder tea, which is distilled with juniper, angelica, orris, caraway, coriander, meadowsweet, cardamom, fresh grapefruit and star anise as well as vapour infused oriental lemon and lime! Now try and tell me you don’t like the sound of a Gunpowder G&T.

What does it taste like?:

Bright citrus and green tea notes are complemented by the spices.

Smokehead Sherry Bomb

Spice and smoke feature again as a deadly duo in this whisky, made using well-peated single malt from an undisclosed Islay distillery which was then matured in Oloroso sherry casks. Smokehead Sherry Bomb is unashamedly a powerhouse of a dram and every drop of it seems tailor-made to enjoy beside a fire.

What does it taste like?:

Dark chocolate, seaweed, a hint of medicinal peat smoke, BBQ smoke, stem ginger, sherried peels, sea salt, rum-raisin ice cream, red chilli flake, treacle, prunes and clove.

Cut Smoked Rum

Cut Rum range added an extra dimension of flavour to this Jamaican rum by smoking it using oak chips, which not only made it very tasty but also perfectly appropriate for Bonfire Night! This is one you can enjoy both in cocktails or neat.

What does it taste like?:

Struck match, coffee bean bitterness balanced by vanilla.

Black Fire

Liqueurs are extremely popular at the moment, so plenty of you will be looking for a bottling that adds some heat to your Bonfire-themed cocktails. The awesomely named Black Fire was made by combining the flavours of Blanco tequila, coffee and a kick of chilli. As well as cocktails, this is superb when splashed into some good quality coffee.

What does it taste like?:

Chocolate with red chilli mixed in, slightly earthy notes of agave and red pepper, smoky at points.

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The Nightcap: 6 September

Super cereal, whisky drawn from sparkling wine casks, and… Brussels sprout gin?! All this and more, this week on The Nightcap! When September rolls around, there’s something in the back…

Super cereal, whisky drawn from sparkling wine casks, and… Brussels sprout gin?! All this and more, this week on The Nightcap!

When September rolls around, there’s something in the back of our heads that says we should be stockpiling things. Maybe it’s a leftover from when humans used to be squirrels (pretty sure that’s how evolution works), but the urge to stockpile summery gubbins is in the air – otherwise we won’t get to enjoy them until June next year! You should see the stack of flip-flops, salad that inexplicably contains more grapes than leaves, and those tiny paper cocktail umbrellas we have amassed at MoM Towers. What we’re not stockpiling is booze news – we share all the stories from the world of drink with you in The Nightcap each week! Let’s get to it!

On the blog this week we launched a new competition with Mackmyra that gives you chance to win your own maturing cask of soon-to-be-whisky! We then gave you an exclusive video tour around Glenfiddich Distillery, including the Robbie Dhu Spring water source, the still house, the bottling process, as well as the maltings and the role of copper at The Balvenie Distillery. Elsewhere, Kristy regaled us with tales from Kyrö Distillery, Ian Buxton put on his sceptic’s hat and pondered the future of Chinese single malt and Annie returned to give us five essential tips to make the most of our distillery tours. Henry, meanwhile, chose the intriguing Hayman’s Small Gin to be our New Arrival of the Week before doing his best Fancy Dan impression by making The Made in Chelsea Coupe our Cocktail of the Week. For Dram Club members, we also revealed what to expect from September 2019.

But there’s still more boozy news to cover, and there’s no time to lose! It’s The Nightcap…

The Nightcap

Dr Peter Morris and Dr Ross Alexander working on the potential miracle barley

Gene for drought-resistant cereal discovered in Scotland

Scientists at Heriot-Watt University have uncovered a gene that helps drought resistance in crops which could be of huge benefit to the Scotch whisky industry. According to the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) which funded the research, 90% of the barley used in Scotch whisky comes from Scotland. The results which were published in Plant Physiology and Biochemistry showed that a particular gene, HvMYB1, controls stress tolerance in barley. Dr Peter Morris from Heriot-Watt University said: “This is a significant finding that will allow more drought resistance crops to be bred in the future. Drought is already impacting yields with the European cereals harvest hit particularly hard in 2018. A prolonged, dry and hot summer significantly impacted yields and quality. As climate change gathers pace and we experience more extreme seasons, it is essential that we can maintain continuity of supply. This is significant for key industries like Scotch whisky, one of the UK’s leading export items.” It was the result of over five years work, because, Morris went on to say, “barley has over 39,000 genes, almost double the number for humans, so characterising one particular gene which promotes drought resistance has been a considerable challenge.” Dagmar Droogsma, director of industry at the Scotch Whisky Association, commented: “The SWA works closely with specialists at Heriot-Watt University, and others in the sector, to ensure that the industry is equipped to adapt to any changes that may arise from a changing climate. We, therefore, welcome this research which helps to provide resilience against the effects of climate change and to sustain the diversity of barley varieties used for Scotch whisky.” So as the planet warms up, at least there will still be Scotch whisky, which is a comfort.

The Nightcap

Glenfiddich Grand Cru will be arriving at MoM Towers very soon!

Glenfiddich’s new premium malt has a sparkling heritage

Some companies launch a new whisky. Not Glenfiddich, its latest release “redefines celebrations.” How does it do that, you might ask? Well, it’s got pedigree, that’s for sure. Called Grand Cru, it is 23 years old, matured in European and American oak, and then finished in “rare French cuvée oak casks”. These casks “contained the liquid that goes on to become some of the world’s most extraordinary sparkling wines.” We think they mean Champagne. Only very few houses, including Bollinger, Roederer and Krug, still use oak so these casks are likely to have held some exceptional liquid. Why is Glenfidicch being so coy then? Well, the wine in the barrels was still and therefore not legally allowed to be called Champagne. Glenfiddich malt master, Brian Kinsman, commented: “Breaking category conventions once more, this unusual collaboration presented an exciting opportunity to create a spirit that further elevated our unique Glenfiddich style. We experimented with the maturation time and hand-selected the right balance of 23-year-old Glenfiddich casks out of our unique collection of old age malts. The further influence from the oak of the French cuvée casks added an extra layer of complexity thanks to the liquid they once held”. So this is a premium malt meets Grand Cru Champagne which, if not exactly “redefining celebrations”, certainly sounds swanky. RRP is £220; stock should be landing at your favourite online retailer 20 September.

The Nightcap

This geographical protection is huge for Irish whiskey and brands like Tullamore D.E.W.

Irish whiskey secures geographical protection for the Indian market.

Good news for Irish whiskey as it has secured geographical protection for the Indian market. This is the world’s largest whisky market with over 2.3 billion bottles sold last year (though much of what is called whisky would be labelled rum in Britain as it’s distilled from molasses). Thanks to this agreement, now only whiskeys from Ireland can bear the legend “Irish Whiskey” on the label. This is great news for the Indian whiskey drinker and, of course, for the rapidly-expanding Irish whiskey industry. Carleen Madigan, legal advisor to the Irish Whiskey Association said: “Securing the geographical indication for Irish Whiskey in India is another landmark for the Irish Whiskey category. Like similar registrations achieved earlier in the year in Australia and South Africa, this is another major success in our efforts to protect the integrity of Irish Whiskey on a worldwide basis. We will now be able to take much tougher enforcement action against fake Irish whiskey products on sale in India. This protection will also enable us to maximise opportunities to increase sales in this crucial whiskey market as it is an important selling point for the Indian consumer knowing they can enjoy Irish Whiskey confident in the quality and authenticity of the product”. India is still a relatively untapped market for Irish whiskey, only 34,000 cases were sold in India, double the previous year but a long way behind Scotland at nearly 10 million cases sold. This geographical protection should see sales take off.

The Nightcap

Larissa Marrichi, Finbarr Curran and the two new experimental whiskeys

This year’s Method and Madness whiskeys from Irish Distillers are the maddest yet

The Method and Madness series of releases from Irish Distillers is a chance for the team at Midleton to let their hair down and go a bit mad in the on-site microdistillery. This year’s two releases are particularly envelope-pushing, game-changing and mind-blowing as they are part-aged in wood that isn’t oak. Utter madness! Both are single pot still whiskeys, one finished in cherry wood and one in acacia. Cherry wood, sourced from France, is particularly porous resulting in some big bold flavours. Kevin O’Gorman, master of maturation at Midleton Distillery, commented: “The rare, porous wood is different to anything that we have handled before, so it has been a real achievement to create the perfect balance of flavour – the result is a world-first in Irish whiskey, with a nose of coconut fibre and ginger, a palate of fresh green herbs, black tea and unmistakable pot still spices and a long, fresh finish with prickly spice and hazelnut.” Acacia is quite the opposite, having a tight grain. Finbarr Curran, from the maturation research team explained: “The density of the acacia wood presented a challenge in contrast to the wild cherry wood as the maturation process was much slower and required a close eye and nose to achieve the perfect balance. But it was well worth the wait. This stunning single pot still Irish whiskey has a nose of sugared almonds and wood spice, a palate of coffee beans, dark chocolate and chilli and a finish with fading spice, charred wood and barley husk.”The releases will be on sale for RRP of €92. We’ll let you know when they come in.

The Nightcap

Trois Rivières and La Mauny are produced on the island paradise of Martinique

Campari purchases Trois Rivières and La Mauny

The Campari Group has signed an agreement with Chevrillon Group to buy French firm Rhumantilles for a cool $66 million USD. Rhumantilles owns 96.5% of Martinique-based Bellonnie & Bourdillon Successeurs (BBS) Group, which produces the Trois Rivières and Maison La Mauny brands, as well as Duquesne rum, which is made for the local market. The deal not only includes those brands, but also the landholdings, the distilleries, the visitor centres and the inventory of high-quality aged rum, adding to the Italian spirits giant’s already considerable rum portfolio which includes the fantastic Appleton Distillery in Jamaica. The company, who said the deal was expected to close during the fourth quarter of this year in a statement released this week, clearly believe in the future of rhum agricole, which already boasts a strong reputation among spirits fans, but still occupies a tiny share of global rum production. The injection of Campari’s financial and marketing could prove a huge boost for the category. Campari said the move would “add prestigious agricole rum brands to its offering and enhance its exposure to rum, a premiumizing category currently at the heart of the mixology trend and growing cocktail culture.”

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We sail, for rum and country more rum!

Captain Morgan brings the highs seas to Birmingham

Ahoy there rum lovers! We bring you news of a rather exciting nautical adventure. Over in Birmingham, Bompas & Parr has joined forces with Captain Morgan to curate the Lost Lagoon, an immersive and boozy treasure hunt inspired by none other than the buccaneer Captain Henry Morgan himself. Those who choose to explore this mysterious land (or sea) can expect cocktails while they sail through an indoor ocean past a series of islands. In true naval style, at each island they’ll be given rum rations and instructions on how to make a swashbuckling punch. The ultimate goal? To use your wits to eventually find Captain Morgan’s hidden bounty, which (spoiler) is a tiki bar full of delicious rum and nibbles. The aquatic adventure is based at Bullring & Grand Central, running from 26 September to 22 December. “Expect a mix between your best desert island fantasy with punch quests and neo-tiki party vibes,” says Bompas & Parr’s Harry Parr. We hope your nautical navigation skills are up to scratch.

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Littlemill 29 Year Old

Littlemill and Glencairn join forces for latest Private Cellar Collection bottling

Littlemill’s Private Cellar collection has produced some stellar expressions and this latest bottling should prove no exception. Littlemill 29 Year Old, the third release from the series, was crafted by master blender Michael Henry from liquid selected from some of the last remaining casks to be laid down at the Littlemill Distillery, which was recently recognised as the oldest licensed distillery in Scotland. The distillery fell silent in 1994 and was destroyed by fire in 2004, making this liquid rare and highly collectable. Only 600 bottles will be released across the world. The bottling, which is said to possess the traditional Lowland floral profile, is also notable for its presentation, a limited edition bespoke Glencairn decanter. Glencairn worked closely with Littlemill on every detail, which includes an etched illustration of the River Clyde and a silver star signifying the Littlemill distillery’s location. Each decanter is one of a kind and is individually-numbered. The presentation box also includes a 5cl miniature of the liquid, a piece of an original Littlemill cask, and a booklet sharing the history of the Littlemill distillery with tasting notes from Henry, who commented on the release: “The latest expression in the Private Cellar collection helps to tell another piece of the Littlemill story. Littlemill has always represented the traditional Lowland ‘floral’ style, and over the years the distillation and maturation processes evolved to maintain this flavour profile”. He added: “Littlemill 29 year old, our 2019 release, focuses on the influence of wood. The original liquid was laid down in refill bourbon casks in 1990. Seven of these were selected and combined, then finished in first-fill oloroso sherry and Limousin oak casks. The oloroso sherry adds further floral notes, similar to the traditional sherry casks used at the Littlemill distillery, while the Limousin oak provides the European oak influence. The result is unmistakably Littlemill, with delicious caramel sweetness layered with spice.”

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The Coral Room is celebrating Sete de Setembro in style!

The Coral Room celebrates Brazilian Independence Day with Capucana Cachaça

Brazilian Independence Day has made its way over to London, more specifically, The Coral Room! The Brazilian national holiday, commonly referred to as Sete de Setembro (for those of you who aren’t so familiar with Portuguese, also known as Seventh of September) commemorates Brazil’s independence, won in 1815 after three years of war against Portugal. Hence why, on 7 September, the bar has teamed up with Capucana Cachaça to put on a lavish celebration of cocktails, DJs and sambaing (yes, it’s a word). The selection of drinks takes its inspiration from the vibrant colours of the Brazilian flag, so expect a thoroughly colourful and delicious evening. It’s not all just fun and games, as The Coral Room will also be donating £1 from every Brazilian Independence Day cocktail to Rainforest Alliance. Good times and good causes. Make sure you don’t miss out on the after party at The Bloomsbury Club either. Dia Da Independence is sure to be a night to remember!

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Jagermeister Cold Brew Coffee is the first new permanent addition to the brand in 80 years

Introducing Jagermeister Cold Brew Coffee

Jägermeister just can’t seem to keep itself away from caffeinated drinks! The latest release from the German brand is perhaps somewhat more refined than the iconic Jägerbomb, but also (hopefully) won’t be replacing your morning brew. Enter Jägermeister Cold Brew Coffee. The first new permanent addition to the brand in 80 years, the new liqueur sees the original secret Jägermeister recipe paired with cold-brewed Arabica coffee and a dash of cacao. In classic Jägermeister style, the recommended serve is straight from the freezer at a frosty -18°C. “Coffee has become such a huge part of everyday consumer culture,” says UK innovation controller (someone’s got to control the innovation, don’t want it getting out of hand), Tim Hawley. “Jägermeister Cold Brew Coffee is perfect for moments of celebration in or out of the home, offering an intricate coffee flavour profile complemented by the classic Jägermeister taste – served perfectly as an ice-cold shot.” Did you know the translation of the Italian word ‘barista’ is ‘barman’? Seems pretty fitting!

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There is no caption that can do this picture justice. I retire.

And finally. . . . Brussels sprout-flavoured gin? Don’t all rush at once

We’ve seen some strange spirits here at MoM, like whiskey flavoured with beaver glands or vodka distilled from milk, but the latest release from Pickering’s Gin might be the strangest yet. Looking to cash in on the Christmas market the distillery has launched six festive gins including one flavoured with Brussels sprouts. Yes really, everyone’s least favourite part of Christmas (apart from the now traditional Brexit discussion) is one of the botanicals. Over 10,000 of the little blighters have been used to create this batch limited edition. Matt Gammell, head distiller and co-founder said: “It was an interesting challenge trying to balance the unmistakable flavour of Brussels sprouts to get the taste just right – and the distillery had a very distinct aroma while the gin was being distilled!” Apparently the resulting gin has a uniquely “sprouty” flavour. Gammel added: “We love the end result and it is the ideal tipple for friends and family to share together this Christmas”. Well perhaps, if you don’t want them to visit next year.

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