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Master of Malt Blog

Tag: Glenlivet

Say cheese, with whisky

From rich crumbly blues with peated Islays to Parmigiano-Reggiano with a cask strength Highlander, the world of Scotch whisky and cheese pairing is rich and (ful)filling. Lucy Britner talks match…

From rich crumbly blues with peated Islays to Parmigiano-Reggiano with a cask strength Highlander, the world of Scotch whisky and cheese pairing is rich and (ful)filling. Lucy Britner talks match pointers and favourite combinations with a handful of whisky experts 

A great whisky and cheese pairing is one of life’s little pleasures. And let’s face it, we could all do with a few of those at the moment.

The rules of cheese and whisky pairing

Like many food and drink pairings, there are a few basic rules to observe when it comes to getting your dram and your dairy to dance. Of course, once you have observed them, you can enjoy breaking those rules or making up new ones of your own.

Gordon Dundas, international brand ambassador at Ian Macleod Distillers, says the old adage of looking for a complement or a contrast is the first port of call. Matthew Cordiner, global brand ambassador for Bacardi’s single malts concurs and demonstrates both a complement and a contrast in his pairings (below).

Beyond that, Dundas says “peat level, cask maturation and alcohol strength are the three things you should be looking out for” when choosing a cheese. 

He says stronger whiskies generally have a more robust mouthfeel, meaning hard cheeses are usually a good match, whereas peated whiskies need big flavours, such as blue cheeses.

In Islay, Jackie Thomson, Ardbeg Distillery visitor centre manager, says pairing cheese and whisky is a “win-win challenge, as the fat of the cheese balances the strength of the alcohol”. 

Thomson says there are a few other things that can cement a match: “It is important to find a ‘bridge’ – a fruit, a spice, a nut, a type of bread or biscuit – which will facilitate the marriage between the solid and the liquid.”

Cheese dreams: Top picks from our experts
Ardbeg and cheese tasting

Ardbeg and cheese, these are two of our favourite things

Jackie Thomson, Ardbeg Distillery visitor centre manager

Ardbeg Uigeadail, 54,2% ABV, with blue Stilton

Thomson suggests serving the two with a salad of green leaves, chopped walnuts, dressing with orange juice and zest and olive oil.

“The tanginess of the blue cheese meets the smoky profile of the whisky. The walnut and orange are an echo to the sherried maturation of Uigeadail – this is a truly flavoursome matching.”

Ardbeg Wee Beastie 5 year old, 47.4% ABV, with a Taleggio

To be enjoyed with an olive or bacon focaccia.

“Taleggio is a smear-ripened Italian cheese with a strong flavour and a creamy texture. The rind is washed during the ageing process and is edible,” Thomson explains. “It reveals some fruity and buttery notes and a slight acidity in the finish. There is an interesting combination of flavours with the meaty character of the whisky and the soft texture of the cheese tames the whisky’s spicy outburst at mid-palate.”

Aberfeldy and Craigellachie with cheese 2

Cheese and whisky gang thegither

Matthew Cordiner, global brand ambassador for Bacardi’s single malts

Cordiner keeps things local with his selection of cheeses from Edinburgh’s I.J. Mellis.

Aberfeldy 12 year old, 40% ABV, with Hebridean Blue

“The sharp, salty notes of the Hebridean Blue worked well with the honeyed sweet notes of the Aberfeldy giving a rich, rounded and creamy mouthfeel overall.”

Craigellachie 13 year old, 46% ABV, with Auld Reekie – a smoked cows’ cheese from Aberdeenshire

“Unlike the Aberfeldy which was more of a reverse pairing, the Craigellachie and Auld Reekie was a perfectly complementary pairing, with the creamy tropical fruit notes and wisp of bonfire smoke from the whisky working beautifully alongside the creamy and smoky taste of the cheese, which is itself smoked in Aberdeenshire over old whisky barrels.”

Sandy McIntyre and Gordon Dundas

Sandy McIntyre and Gordon Dundas

Gordon Dundas, international brand ambassador at Ian Macleod Distillers

Glengoyne Cask Strength Batch 8, 59.2% ABV, with aged Parmigiano-Reggiano

“A harder, flavoursome cheese, like an aged Parmigiano-Reggiano, will really cut through that high strength. The whisky is matured in both sherry and bourbon casks, so it’s not overtly rich, more fruity although strong and intense. As a result, it contrasts the strong crystal style of the cheese but balances out flavour-wise, giving a long combined finish.”

Glengoyne 12 year old, 43% ABV, with Brie

“For a lighter, bourbon-influenced whisky, such as Glengoyne 12 year old, you want something that complements. Brie is light and creamy and will appear sweeter with the vanilla and calm the zestiness of the whisky.”

 

Ian Logan, international brand ambassador, Chivas Brothers

Glenlivet XXV, 43% ABV, with Camembert and chutney

“This was a creation of John Williams at The Ritz. With the XXV being finished in first-fill Oloroso casks for a couple of years, we managed to get a cheese that complemented perfectly. The chutney was made up of raisins, almonds, spices, apricots, dates and with the sweetness of the coconut, it couldn’t be a better match for those sherry casks. It was served with rye bread on the side for a little extra spice. A wonderful memory of a wonderful evening at The Ritz.”

Glenlivet 15 year old French Oak Reserve, 40% ABV, with Parmigiano-Reggiano

“Those new French oak casks are bringing heaps of sweetness and spice to the game, lots of lactones and vanilla from the Tronçais oak. Often as Parmigiano gets older, there is more spice to be found and that was the perfect foil for the sweetness of the casks and a complement to the spice from the wood. This match was proposed by Martine Nouet.”

GlenDronach-Reviva

The mighty Revival, great with cheese

And here’s one of my own

GlenDronach 15 year old Revival, 46% ABV, with vintage cheddar 

“It is customary in my house to enjoy Christmas cake with a slice of mature cheddar. For this reason, I’d go for something like GlenDronach 15 year old Revival, which is matured in Oloroso and Pedro Ximénez casks, paired with a crumbly mature cheddar cheese. The tang of the cheddar is the perfect match for rich, dried-fruity whiskies and the GlenDronach also has some great caramelised walnut flavours that work well with the rich and bold flavour of the cheese. Extra points for older cheddars with crystals, for extra mouthfeel.”

The beauty of whisky and cheese pairing is that you can go totally bonkers and spend a fortune on artisan cheeses and rare whiskies – or you can go totally Tesco and do it all on a more modest budget. There are perfect partners for every dram and no doubt there’s even a match for the DairyLea Dunker. 

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Our top drinks trends for 2021!

From agave spirits to the advent of at-home cocktails, 2021’s drinking trends look set to cement this year’s seismic shifts, rather than usher in a spirits revolution. It’s that time…

From agave spirits to the advent of at-home cocktails, 2021’s drinking trends look set to cement this year’s seismic shifts, rather than usher in a spirits revolution.

It’s that time again – time to get out the [Glencairn] crystal ball and look ahead to what we’ll be drinking in 2021! And if this year taught us anything, it’s that you literally cannot predict what will happen… but in terms of what will be in our glass, we’ll give it a good go..!

We’ve picked out our forecast based on sales patterns here at MoM HQ, plus we’ve kept an eye on social media hubbub, and checked out Google Trends’ search analysis. If you could sum it up in one, we reckon we’ll see more of the same: 2020 largely forced us away from bars, meaning if we wanted a cocktail fix we had to get it at home. At the same time, we all got a little more comfortable with shopping online for spirits (wine and spirits have lagged behind other eCommerce sectors for a while now – think about fashion or electronics). And with a far wider range to shop from than the traditional supermarket aisle, smaller brands and lesser-known categories have got more of their fair share of airtime. 

With all that in mind, here’s what we reckon we’ll see in 2021. Onwards and upwards, folks! 

We made a lot of cocktails at home in 2020

More at-home cocktails

Remember when we were all afraid of getting it a bit wrong when it came to mixing cocktails at home? Now, we’ll literally try anything! From Instagram Live tutorials to dedicated TikTok accounts, we’ve become emboldened when it comes to mixing our own drinks. It’s something we’ve seen in bottle sales, too – vermouth was one of our fastest-growing categories this year to date. Sales of mixers have soared, too. Even the less adventurous among us are buying into pre-bottled cocktails for at-home treats. We think this trend will continue on into 2021 (although let’s face it, as soon as we can, we’re heading back to bars. We miss you!).

The Nightcap

Gin boom – not over yet!

Don’t write off gin – yet

For the last three years it’s been the same question: is the gin boom over? In word, no. But growth is flattening significantly. Could 2021 be gin’s last hurrah? We think there’s still a little more longevity than that. Instead of seeing a proliferation of outlandish flavours, we’re seeing a small but significant return to classic styles, and a few much-loved flavours. This is partly driven by a change in shopping habits – why brave the supermarket for longer than necessary if you can order your favourite gin online instead? A pattern we noticed from Google Trends that’s worth highlighting is a sharp uptick for ‘gin’ searches in the UK as the first lockdown was announced. In tough times we apparently turn to juniper – and long-live classic gins!

bargain rum

Rum was big this year

The continued rise of rum

If flavour fans are deserting gin, where are they heading? The answer continues to be rum. Our rum sales more than tripled in 2020 – driven in large part by the continued taste for spiced and flavoured concoctions. Some of the biggest sellers for the year included Chairman’s Reserve Spiced Rum, Two Swallows Cherry & Salted Caramel Rum, and sister company Atom Labs’ Jaffa Cake Rum. Sweet stuff indeed. The question for us is, will the wider rum category benefit, and do we need some tighter definitions for what makes a rum a rum? Even if they exist in terms of labelling, do we as drinkers understand them? One thing’s for sure, rum is set to get even hotter in 2021.

Storywood Tequila

Blue Weber agave (photo courtesy of Storywood Tequila)

All hail agave spirits!

Here’s an interesting one. We’ve talked a lot about the fast-growing mezcal category, and asked whether it could ultimately upend Tequila. Turns out, in 2020 Tequila’s growth slightly outpaced that of its smoky cousin! We think Tequila has finally outgrown its shots-led reputation, and is growing into itself as a serious sipping and mixing drink. And about time, too – Tequila is thoroughly delicious! It also makes sense in line with wider drink-less-but-better consumption trends. 2021 looks to be Tequila’s year as this trend continues to develop, and we are here for it. 

The Nightcap

Glenmorangie’s striking new campaign

A new age of single malt Scotch

For some time now, single malt Scotch whisky has been trying to reinvent itself. With one eye on the developments of world whisky, American whiskey, and the growing interest in other categories, there’s been a sense of needing to up its game to stay relevant and attract new drinkers. Some of our favourite recent moves in this direction include Glenmorangie’s gorgeous It’s Kind of Delicious and Wonderful ad, and Glenlivet’s Original Since 1824 spot. Marketing is increasingly featuring women, people who aren’t white, and single malt being enjoyed long and in cocktails. There’s genuine excitement around whisky again. Just check out Instagram to see who’s posting about the category, and the imagery put out by this new generation of drinkers. We’re excited to see what 2021 holds for the category.

Stop trying to make hard seltzers happen

… And did our 2020 predictions come true?

As we do each year, twelve months ago we posted our trend predictions for 2020. Did they come true? After a quick glance, we’d give ourselves a solid 8/10 (while cutting ourselves some slack – it’s hardly been a regular year!). Rums were just getting started, world whisky has increased its airtime, vodka continues to grow here at MoM HQ, American whiskeys beyond bourbon are proving popular, we’ve seen more unusual cask finishes come through, and liqueurs have turned a little more traditional. Calvados sales have even soared by almost 300%! However, hard seltzers didn’t make the huge breakthrough promised (although summer parties were off… maybe next year), and while Aquavit and mezcal sales are in significant growth, they didn’t fly quite as predicted. There’s always next year…

What do you think? What are your trends for 2021? What will you be drinking? Let us know on social @masterofmalt, or leave a comment below!

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The Nightcap: 28 August

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

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

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

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

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

The Nightcap

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

Glenlivet joins project to uncover whisky’s illicit past

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

The Nightcap

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

WSTA creates interactive distillery map

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

The Nightcap

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

Jameson launches new web series

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

The Nightcap

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

The Black Forest comes to London 

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

The Nightcap

Cheers to 60 years of Macduff Distillery!

Macduff Distillery celebrates 60 years

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

The Nightcap

The GlenDronach Kingsman Edition 1989 Vintage, looking very swanky indeed

GlenDronach announce new Kingsman whisky

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

The Nightcap

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

And finally… Your phone could track your blood alcohol 

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

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New Arrival of the Week: The Glenlivet Spectra

A new and mysterious limited edition Glenlivet has just arrived exclusively at MoM HQ. Or rather three new Glenlivets have arrived in one package with very little information attached. We…

A new and mysterious limited edition Glenlivet has just arrived exclusively at MoM HQ. Or rather three new Glenlivets have arrived in one package with very little information attached. We spoke with master distiller Alan Winchester to try to find out more. . .

Normally when we write about new releases from well-known distilleries, it’s all about the cask. Our customers want to know as much as possible about how their whisky has been aged: Were the casks first fill or refill? Were they made with European or American oak? What did the casks hold before? Bourbon? Rum? Marsala? Sherry? What kind of sherry? From which bodega? Were they recharred? And most importantly, how long did the whisky spend in barrel?

But Glenlivet with its series of  cryptic annual releases has decided to spoil things for all the whisky nerds out there by not telling us anything at all. Last year there was Enigma with Code, Alpha and Cipher preceding it. Do you detect a theme in the naming? According to master distiller Alan Winchester: “Each whisky in the series plays with the senses and challenges drinkers to go on a journey of exploration to uncover the tasting notes”. Very tantalising.

These bottles contain whisky, beyond that the team at Glenlivet won’t tell us any more

And now there’s Spectra, it sounds like something to do with James Bond but it’s actually a trio of Scotch whiskies in 20cl bottles filled at 40% ABV. Winchester commented: “The Glenlivet Spectra is the first limited edition we’ve created that comes as a trio of single malts. We wanted to craft a series of whisky expressions that stretch the smooth and fruity house style into three different directions.” The idea is that without knowing anything about them, you just appreciate the spectrum of flavours. Oh, that’s where the name comes from, it’s the plural of spectrum. Very clever Glenlivet.

To guide you on your journey through flavour there’s a digital experience-type thing that you can access via your portable telephone device. Winchester explained: “The Glenlivet Spectra builds on the digital experiences we started with The Glenlivet Code, a previous limited edition in this series, although I’m not a floating hologram in this one! The experience invites our fans to join a digital journey through a spectrum of flavours during which they will try and decode the mysterious tasting notes.” Sounds modern!

Fancy online thing

We then tried to get Mr Winchester to reveal a little about the oak treatment but he kept schtum. The company isn’t even publishing tasting notes at the moment. You’ll have to buy Spectra, and work them out for yourself. He commented: “We’re deliberately releasing The Glenlivet Spectra without any information so that we don’t give anything away. We want whisky drinkers to challenge their senses and really put their taste to the test when taking part in the digital experience. Tasting notes will be revealed towards the end of the year so keep your eyes peeled.”

It also sounds like just the kind of thing that will make those lockdown hours fly by. After all, you can’t drink whisky all day. Winchester agreed: “We know lots of people are looking for some light and levity right now amongst the dark.” He went on to say: “We’ve had this whisky planned for a while but debated long and hard about launching it now, and ultimately, although it may be a little bit quieter on our stills in Speyside these days, we didn’t want to let that delay us sharing some positive news with our whisky loving fans out there.”

Glenlivet Spectra is available exclusively from Master of Malt.

 

 

 

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The Nightcap: 7 June

As we recover from another outstanding Fèis Ìle, the influx of booze news flowed in as usual – it’s The Nightcap! It’s Friday again, and, like always, we’ve got a…

As we recover from another outstanding Fèis Ìle, the influx of booze news flowed in as usual – it’s The Nightcap!

It’s Friday again, and, like always, we’ve got a fresh batch of news stories from the world of booze ready for you to drink up as we enter summer. That’s right, it’s summer already and, of course, it’s raining. But we won’t let that dampen our spirits, it’s the weekend for goodness sake! And we’re going to start this weekend the same way we always do. With another smashing edition of The Nightcap!

On the blog this week Jake regaled us with tales from Ardbeg, Bunnahabhain and Jura as Fèis Ìle 2019 concluded, while our June 2019 dram club also launched. Adam then found some fab treats to spoil the old man with on Father’s Day, Jess explored the world of fermented tea drinks with her New Arrival of the Week and Nate Brown played a game of booze-branding buzzword bingo in his guest column. Annie explained why the right glassware matters before casting her eye over 10 bottlings created with a chef’s sensibilities, while Henry met with the queen of rum, Joy Spence, enjoyed a Talisker video masterclass and picked The Toasted Nut Boulevardier as his Cocktail of the Week.

Now, to the news!

The Nightcap

Interesting times for Loch Lomond

Loch Lomond sold to Asian investment firm in $500m deal

Big Scotch whisky news! The Loch Lomond Group will be sold to Hillhouse Capital Management, an investment firm with offices in Beijing, Hong Kong, Singapore and New York. The distillery is unique in Scotland in producing its own single malt and single grain whiskies; it also produces the Glen Scotia whisky, Glen’s vodka and Ben Lomond gin. The distillery, which had been in the hands of the Bulloch family since 1834, was acquired in 2014 by UK-based Exponent Private Equity who very successfully concentrated on the export market. Overseas sales went up from 10% to 70% of business. The new owners are now looking to capitalise on this especially in the Asian market. Wei Cao, partner at Hillhouse Capital, said: “We are so excited to help Loch Lomond realise the potential of its outstanding brands in huge new consumer markets, such as Asia.” The deal is still to be finalised but is said by Scottish Field to be worth somewhere in the region of $500m. The current distillery’s management headed up by Colin Matthews will stay in place and will keep a minority stake in the business. Matthews commented: “Over the past five years we are proud to have transformed the Loch Lomond Group into a premium international spirits business with a strong focus on innovation and a portfolio of award-winning brands.” We look forward to seeing what comes next from one of Scotland’s most idiosyncratic distilleries.

The Nightcap

The US allowing these little guys is great news for small European distillers

America may allow 70cl bottles – huge news for small European distillers

Good news from America! You don’t often hear that one. The TTB (Tax and Trade Bureau), the people who regulate alcohol among other things, are proposing to change the rules on bottle sizes for spirits. In a move that smacks of good old-fashioned common sense, the release says, “TTB is proposing to eliminate all but minimum and maximum standards of fill for distilled spirits containers in order to provide industry members greater flexibility in production and sourcing of containers, and provide consumers broader purchasing options.” At the moment full-size spirit bottles have to be 75cl as opposed to 70cl in the European Union, so producers have to produce two separate bottlings. No problem, of course, for Diageo but prohibitively expensive for smaller producers. If this proposal goes through, and that’s a big if, then it could potentially open up the American market to some boutique spirits. If the EU would reciprocate to allow 75cl spirit bottles, or maybe just agree on a common standard, what a wonderful world it could be.

The Nightcap

No fancy packaging here

Glenlivet 1946 goes under the hammer in Chiswick

In these days of hand-blown decanters, boxes inlaid with mother-of-pearl and specially-commissioned books, it’s nice to be reminded of a simpler time when whisky just came in a bottle with a plain label on. Take the Glenlivet 1946 that’s going under the hammer at Chiswick Auctions wine and spirits sale on 11 June. It was distilled when rationing was still going on after the war, only a tiny amount was allowed to be made for the export market. Most would have been sold as soon as possible but some were kept in cask and bottled by Gordon & MacPhail of Elgin in the 1980s, so this is a roughly 40-year-old whisky. It’s been sourced by the new wine and spirits team at Chiswick Auctions Sam Hellyer, Chris Burr and Christopher Cooper. Look at that admittedly not terribly good label and compare it with the recent 50 Year Old Winchester Collection release from The Glenlivet. The latter will set you back $25,000 whereas this 1946 is only expected to sell for £800-1000. You don’t get a fancy box, but you do get a slice of history and at that price, someone might even drink it.

The Nightcap

A delightfully pink taste of history

Drink the original Pink Gin this World Gin Day with Angostura Bitters

Unless you’ve been living under a very large rock, you’ve probably noticed a little trend called pink gin. However, in reality, these sweet and fruity tipples are a far cry from the very first pink gin to pass our lips, which was created courtesy of Angostura bitters. As the story goes, back in 1824, Dr J.G.B Siegert created Angostura bitters as a kind of healing elixir for soldiers fighting in Venezuela. At the time, it was safer to drink alcohol on ships, as stagnant water was a rather perilous affair. Would you believe it, it took a whole 24 years for someone to mix these bitters with gin! It was in the year 1848 when a Royal Navy surgeon added the bitters to try and help with seasickness. Luckily, this happy accident of mixology also coincided with the rise of cocktail culture in the 1850s. The sailors returned from sea, and brought with them Pinkers, as they now affectionately called this pink gin. Health concerns went out the window and people simply loved the taste of it. Seeing as it’s World Gin Day this weekend, why not have a taste of history and make your own Pinkers? Tastes even better if you can find a ship to drink it on, though it’s not essential.

The Nightcap

Caskshare allows whisky lovers to reserve ‘shares’ of whisky casks from their favourite distilleries

Craft Whisky Club launches Caskshare

It goes without saying that anything which makes whisky more accessible is most definitely a Good Thing. So, great news for whisky geeks this week, as Craft Whisky Club (part of Edinburgh based whisky-technology company Uisge Tech Ltd) announced the launch of Caskshare. In a nutshell, Caskshare allows whisky lovers to reserve ‘shares’ of whisky casks from their favourite distilleries, and once matured the single cask bottlings will be sent directly to the lucky recipient – or as Caskshare calls them, ‘shareholders’. This is a brilliant new initiative, described as Crowdfunding for whisky casks, which will hopefully allow consumers to explore and buy a whole host of cask variations without breaking the bank. The first casks to feature on the platform are from the Raasay Distillery, and you can choose to age either your peated or unpeated spirit in ex-bourbon, Chinquapin (a type of oak native to North America) virgin oak, or Bordeaux red wine casks. Such choice! The first bottling will be ready in 2022, after its required three years of ageing. “Caskshare offers whisky fans a way to get closer to their favourite distilleries and wood types”, says co-founder David Nicol. “What’s more, you don’t need to part with the vast sums of money required to purchase a full cask.” It’s said that a few new distilleries are set to join Caskshare in the next few months, and these won’t just be limited to Scotland, so keep your eyes peeled!

The Nightcap

A record-breaking rum!

Wray & Nephew President’s Reserve breaks rum auction record fetching £31,500

A very rare Wray & Nephew rum has set a new world record for an individual bottle of rum sold at auction after it fetched £31,500 (just under $40,000). “We had high hopes for this stunning bottle but with so little sales history to reference it was difficult to predict how it might perform,” said Iain McClune, director at Whisky Auctioneer. “I think it is fair to say that it has exceeded expectations, however, the price achieved is more than deserving considering the historical significance and incredible rarity of this rum”. J. Wray & Nephew President’s Reserve rum, the fourth of 12 bottles created, went on sale in Whisky Auctioneer’s inaugural Rum Auction last month. The rum, which contains liquid from 1906, honours US president Ronald Reagan and his first and only visit to Jamaica in April 1982. The label bears the late president’s seal, and it is believed that two bottles were presented to Reagan with further bottles given to dignitaries and industry professionals in attendance during the visit. This particular bottle is thought to be the only known example to have come into the secondary market, with another bottle previously selling for £1,213 (US$1,542) at a Bonhams auction in New York in 2013. A representative from the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum said: “The first family received this wonderful gift commemorating their trip to Jamaica in April 1982. The bottle that we have is #1 and bears the Great Seal of the United States. The current locations of the remaining bottles are not known.” More than 50 bids from across the world were made for the historic bottling, with the winning bid coming from Italy. It’s sickening, isn’t it? There’s a person out there who gets to drink rare rum and live in Italy. Life isn’t fair. Anyway, we digress. . . The President’s Reserve was one of more than 600 rums sold in the auction and wasn’t the only big hitter. A pair of casks from the closed Caroni distillery in Trinidad fetched £25,000 (US$31,793) each.

The Nightcap

It’s hard to say what was better, the cocktails or the view!

London in the Sky with Cocchi

We headed down – or should we say up – to North Greenwich to London in the Sky for a spritz masterclass with Team Cocchi. London in the Sky is, in essence, a great big table on a crane which rises 100 feet into the air, giving you truly some stellar views of the Big Smoke while you sip. For those of you who think that may sound slightly hellish, fear not, as you’re securely strapped into a seat which looks a little like one you would find in a racing car – super safe. Once we had risen above the O2 Arena, we made (and tasted) four cocktails. First up was the Cocchi Rosa Spritz, made with Cocchi Rosa, tonic, fresh strawberries and basil, full of bittersweet pink berry notes. Next, a Cocchi Rosa Negroni, a take on the classic made with Cocchi Rosa, Pink Pepper Gin and Campari. Then, we moved (metaphorically) into the evening with the Vermouth di Torino Spritz, combining Cocchi Vermouth di Torino, rosemary and olive tonic water and a fresh sprig of rosemary. This was less fruity, and brought more of a spicy note, hence why it was more of an evening drink. Finally, a classic Negroni graced the floating table, made with Sipsmith gin, Campari and, of course, Cocchi Vermouth di Torino. If a spritz in the sky sounds good to you, then you’ll be thrilled to hear that Cocchi Spritzes are permanently on the menu for all of London in the Sky’s flights. However, the best part is, that with each cocktail only containing three ingredients, these are simple drinks to make, whether you’re 100 feet in the air over Canary Wharf, or just relaxing in your garden.

The Nightcap

A week of Negronis? We’re in

Campari unveils #N100, a week devoted to the Negroni

This year it’s the hundredth anniversary of that fateful day when a barman in Florence accidentally poured gin into Count Camillo Negroni’s Americano (a mixture of Campari and vermouth) instead of soda water, and created a classic. Or so the story goes (we’ll be looking into the drink’s history very soon). As you can imagine we’re quite excited, but not as excited as Campari: the Milanese company is launching #N100, over a week of events around Britain to celebrate the Count and his creation. It begins at the Vinyl Factory in London on 20 June and continues into Negroni Week beginning 22 June with events in Edinburgh, Manchester and London. To spice things up a little, the venues won’t just be offering the standard Negroni. At Hoot the Redeemer in Edinburgh, for example, you’ll be able to try the tastefully-named Skagliato made with Campari, Irn Bru and Buckfast! Sounds fierce. It looks like June is going to be sweet this year, and really really bitter.

The Nightcap

Gold has just opened on Portobello Road and we’re all very excited to see how they do

Notting Hill bar Gold opens in a blaze of talent

A swanky new bar and restaurant that goes by the name of Gold opened on Portobello Road this week. The new venture has drawn quite the host of talent, with head chef Theo Hill of The River Café, and front of house team Alex Ghalleb of Pizza East and Arez Akgundogdu of Soho House. The drinks don’t look bad either: Gold’s unique cocktail menu has been put together by Weapons and Toys, aka. Matt Whiley and Rich Woods, the fellas behind Hackney’s Scout. It’s already off to a flying (and talented) start. So, what to expect? Raw bohemian decor, with exposed brickwork, lots of indoor trees and the like, colourful seasonal sharing plates inspired by local produce and uncomplicated, delicious cocktails. All the cocktails look delicious, but we’re pretty sure we’d be hard pressed to choose between the Market Stall Spritz, comprised of raspberry-infused Hennessey brandy, crème de cacao, sweet tomato shrub, rosé and soda, or the Baklava Fizz, combining Don Julio Tequila, fig shrub, London honey, almond milk and soda. Gold will span over four floors, and will even boast a garden room with a retractable roof, perfect as we began our descent into summer. With such a great team in place, we can’t wait to see what other seasons will bring.

The Nightcap

Yep. That’s a shoe. With a cocktail inside

And finally. . . . a cocktail served in a shoe

Cocktail silly season has arrived in London early this year as the Ace Hotel announces a new cocktail menu at the Lobby Bar. The two that caught our eye were the Bangers and Daq’s, a Daiquiri with a salami (yes real salami, not some sort of dried fruit fangled to look like salami) and red wine twist, and the Drella’s Milk Punch, made from cornflake milk and vodka which sounds like the sort of thing Ozzy Osborne would have had for breakfast. However, these beverages are paragons of classical good taste in comparison with what the people from Filipino joint, Romulo Cafe in Kensington, are serving. It’s called the Imelda and it’s been designed in honour of former first lady of the Philippines, Imelda Marcos, who was famed for having a lot of shoes when most of her people didn’t have a lot to eat. The cocktail contains Stolichnaya vodka, crème de framboise, crème de mure and strawberry puree, and served, naturally, in a shoe. It’s all done in the best possible taste!

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Celebrating Speyside!

The Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival kicks off next Wednesday, but even if you don’t have a ticket you can still enjoy the spoils of the historic region. Speyside is…

The Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival kicks off next Wednesday, but even if you don’t have a ticket you can still enjoy the spoils of the historic region.

Speyside is home to some of the best distilleries in all of Scotland and to some of our favourite drams. From Glenfiddich, Macallan, Glenlivet and more, the region boasts some of the industry’s biggest names as well as a variety of styles – not just the classic honeyed and sherried single malts (though it does have plenty of those, and they are mightily marvellous, of course).

With The Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival on the horizon, it seemed only right that we took the time to celebrate the most prolific whisky-producing region in Scotland with a selection of some of its most magnificent whiskies. Enjoy!

The Macallan 12 Year Old Sherry Oak

Macallan produces some of the most revered, sought-after Scotch whiskies in the world that can sell for eye-watering sums. The Macallan 12 Year Old Sherry Oak might not grab the headlines like some its older, rarer drams, but it’s one of the most impressive bottlings around in its age group and makes for a perfect introduction into what has become the modern Macallan style.

What does it taste like?:

Sultanas, fresh apple blossom, tropical fruits, golden syrup, hot pastries, barley sugar, marmalade and a solid oaked notes.

Balvenie 14 Year Old Caribbean Cask

A terrifically tasty and well-rounded single malt from The Balvenie, the distillery perhaps best known for its use of secondary maturation (or finishing). This bottling was initially aged in traditional oak casks before it was finished in casks which previously held a select blend of Caribbean rums chosen by malt master David C. Stewart MBE, imparting additional notes of toffee, spice and dried fruit.

What does it taste like?:

Tropical fruits, creamy toffee, sweet vanilla, apples, baking spice and mangoes.

Scallywag

Scallywag from Douglas Laing is a blended malt made from a host of whiskies sourced from some of Speyside’s finest, including Mortlach, Macallan and Glenrothes, many of which were matured in Spanish sherry butts. Some bourbon cask whisky is also in the blend for balance, making this a go-to expression for many Scotch whisky lovers. Also lovers of dapper little Fox Terriers. It’s wearing a monocle for goodness sake!

What does it taste like?:

Icing sugar, sultanas, candied ginger, vanilla, cinnamon, oak spice, nutmeg and cereal.

Tomintoul Tlàth

Tlàth (pronounced “Tlah”) means gentle or mellow in Gaelic, which gives you a clue as to what to expect from this non-age statement whisky which was matured in ex-bourbon barrels. The Speyside distiller’s Scotch is often described as ‘the gentle dram’ and this expression boasts plenty of distillery character and makes for a perfect introduction into all things Tomintoul.

What does it taste like?:

Sweet toffee, toasted vanilla, shortbread citrus peel, hints of mint leaf, lively white pepper and some oak-driven spiciness.

Mortlach 12 Year Old

The Mortlach distillery is known for its robust, muscular malts which proves a delightful reminder that Speyside is as varied as it is spectacular. Its 12-year-old expression, drawn from bourbon and sherry casks, features the subtitle The Wee Witchie, which comes from the name of the tiny still that distils a portion of the whisky.

What does it taste like?:

Warming oak, damson, soft raisins, toasted almond, cinder toffee and heavy barley with some lingering citrus oils cutting through.

Tamdhu 10 Year Old

Since its return to the Scotch whisky scene, Tamdhu has established a principle of ageing all of its whisky exclusively in Oloroso sherry seasoned oak casks. That distinctive, well-sherried profile, and the fact that it’s rather lovely, makes Tamdhu 10 Year Old the perfect go-to dram for those who desire a classic sherried Speysider.

What does it taste like?:

Dried orange peel, red wine, pecan, soft red fruit, brown sugar, chocolate-covered Brazil nut, crystallised ginger, cacao, spicy clove and raspberry jam.

Speyside 26 Year Old (That Boutique-y Whisky Company)

That Boutique-y Whisky Company independently bottled this 26-year-old single malt from the Speyside distillery in the Speyside region. Imagine celebrating The Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival with a dram of Speyside Scotch from a distillery actually named Speyside. That’s commitment, people. Oh, and it’s a seriously delicious whisky, in case you were wondering.

What does it taste like?:

Lemon peel, chocolate, oily barley, honey, strawberry jam, clove, ginger and apple strudel, topped with brown sugar and cinnamon.

Glenfarclas 25 Year Old

Last, but certainly not least, is a classic of the genre. You say Speyside and many will immediately think of this long-time family-owned distillery and its magnificent 25-year-old single malt. Glenfarclas 25 Year Old, which spent its entire maturation period in 100% Oloroso sherry casks, is a refined, complex and delicately peated dram that’s sure not to disappoint.

What does it taste like?:

Sherry and creamy barley, hints of gingerbread and nutty chocolate, oak rich, smoke and cocoa.

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First taste of Glenlivet 50 Year Old Winchester Collection

We were given a very special personal tasting with master distiller Alan Winchester ahead of the release of Glenlivet 50 Year Old Winchester Collection Vintage 1967, the distillery’s new $25,000 expression….

We were given a very special personal tasting with master distiller Alan Winchester ahead of the release of Glenlivet 50 Year Old Winchester Collection Vintage 1967, the distillery’s new $25,000 expression.

The Glenlivet was still in family hands when the youngest component in this 50 year old whisky was distilled in 1967. It was run by the great Captain Bill Smith Grant, descendent of distillery founder George Smith. In those days the stills would have been direct-fired by coal, and yet, according to the current master blender, Alan Winchester, the spirit has the same character today.

Alan Winchester, Glenlivet

Alan Winchester with very old cask

We met in the Punch Room at the London Edition Hotel along with Bethan Gray, the noted furniture designer, who has created a spectacular box for this very special Glenlivet. It’s inspired by the distillery, the landscape and her father, who was raised in the Cairngorms. It features stained maple wood inlaid with copper representing the charred casks and the stills, and mother of pearl, a nod to the freshwater mussels in the Spey. The whisky is housed in a hand-blown bottle by Brodie Nairn. It’s a work of such extraordinary craftsmanship that I didn’t dare touch it.

I felt the same about the contents; I was reluctant to risk spilling a precious drop (only 150 bottles have been filled) until Winchester picked his glass first and began describing it to me: “The whisky started life in European oak but spent most of its life in Amerian oak casks, it was then taken out and put in a refill ex-bourbon hogshead, that‘s why there’s still so much distillery character,” he said.

On the nose I could see what he meant. It was dominated by sweet peachy fruit followed by notes of apricot jam and toffee. On the palate there’s dark chocolate and orange peel. It’s very smooth despite the high alcohol. The finish has toffee, coconut, and “banoffee pie”, according to Winchester.

He went on to say, “at 48% ABV, it’s kept a lot of strength in maturation, and retained lots of Glenlivet flavours. It’s full of sweetness and has not been dominated by European oak”. Adding water brought out aromatic floral notes and spices like cardamom. Winchester put it more poetically: “it’s like heather after a shower of rain, everything is fragrant.” He reckoned the release is “in keeping with the fruity floral Glenlivet style. This is how it was produced a few generations ago and this is how we are producing it today, they were right and we’ve followed them. Good news!”

Glenlivet

Ah! the smell of heather after rain

Winchester is a native of Morayshire. His father had a farm that supplied barley for Glenfarclas and indeed, that is where Winchester got his start in whisky. He moved to Glenlivet in 1979 and became master distiller a short 40 years later in 2009. It’s an immense responsibility. “Glenlivet is the holder of the Speyside style,” Winchester said, “and it’s been handed over to me. You can change everything if you like but you must make sure the whisky doesn’t change.” When this whisky was distilled two generations back, the master distiller was Bob Arthur. It was a more formal time, “you called the manager Mister, it’s all Christian names now,” he said, with perhaps a tinge of regret.

After a period with Seagram, the distillery was bought by Pernod Ricard in 2000. Production at Glenlivet has been ramped up in recent years. “Glenlivet has been expanded three times in my career, the last two I was heavily involved in,” Winchester told me. “This has given us more capacity to meet the demands of anticipated growth”. But, he said, “though it’s a large distillery we speak about things in terms of craft.”

This Glenlivet 50 Year Old Winchester Collection Vintage 1967 (which will be released later in spring at $25,000 per bottle!) is part of the Winchester Collection of rare whiskies named, of course, after the master distiller himself, who is due to retire soon. I asked Winchester about retirement but he corrected me: “semi-retirement.” He was cagey about who was lined up to replace him (“there’s a few folk being groomed to take over, I hope they’re jostling for position”). He seems reluctant to leave (and who can blame him?), but soon the responsibility for this famous name will be in someone else’s hands.

 

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The Nightcap: 8 March

The weekend is almost here, and we wouldn’t want you to go into a wonderful Saturday without a whole heap of booze news – hence, The Nightcap! It has been…

The weekend is almost here, and we wouldn’t want you to go into a wonderful Saturday without a whole heap of booze news – hence, The Nightcap!

It has been a long ol’ week, despite being around the same number of hours as every other week for about… Well, since weeks were invented. Whoever did that should have made them shorter, because then you would get more editions of our weekly round-up of stories from the world of boozes. Maybe write a letter to the week inventor. See if they can get rid of a day or two somewhere. Thursday has always felt a bit extraneous.

Anyway, what’s been happening on the MoM Blog this week? Well, Kristy has been chatting to some of the amazing women who work here at MoM Towers in celebration of International Women’s Day (it’s today, by the way) – you can read all of those interviews right here. Annie once again did her best Mystic Meg impression and looked at the bars of the future that exist today. Henry watched whisky on the big screen, found out more about Israel’s Milk & Honey distillery and brewed up something tasty for Cocktail of the Week – the Espresso Martini. Adam greeted the new season with open arms and tasty garnishes as he looked at delicious spring spirits. We also did some more winning, this time at the UK eCommerce Awards.

Say hello to Diageo’s first women apprentice coopers

Diageo recruits first women apprentice coopers!

In case it had escaped your attention, today is International Women’s Day. And there was some exciting news from Diageo this week which makes a fitting top Nightcap post! The drinks group has recruited the world’s first female coopering apprentices at its Cambus Cooperage in Scotland. Angela Cochrane and Kirsty Olychick are part of a 16-strong team of apprentices at the Coopering School, where traditional coopering skills are taught over the four-year course. Both women are in their 30s, not just shattering the stereotype that coopering is exclusively a career for men, but also that apprenticeships are only open to school-leavers. “I’ve never been put off by gender stereotypes,” said Cochrane. “I don’t think that should stop anyone from doing what they want to do. And knowing you’re contributing to the growing whisky industry is an amazing feeling.” Olychick added: “Coming into a male-dominated workplace didn’t put me off at all, in fact I found it really empowering to be one of the first women to take up the craft and make my mark in history. It’s such an exciting prospect to think that I’ll be contributing to the next generation of Scotch.” We’re raising a dram to them both – while hoping that at some point soon stories like this won’t be newsworthy as there will be genuine equal representation across the spirits industry.

We should celebrate, with some Aperol of course!

Aperol sales soar by 28% as Campari Group reports ‘strong’ results

Financial results time! And Campari’s full-year stats make for interesting reading. Vibrantly-hued Aperol continued its global charge, with sales soaring by more than 28% over the year, while Campari saw sales climb by 5.1% (Negronis are still ON). Wild Turkey (+7%), Grand Marnier (+5.2%), Bulldog Gin (+7.2%), and the Jamaican rum portfolio (+8.3%, includes the likes of Appleton Estate and Wray & Nephew Overproof) all did very well. Not so good for Skyy vodka though, which saw 8.1% declines, blamed on weaknesses in the US, or Glen Grant, which saw sales fall by 5.7%. An agave price hike impacted profitability, although its Espolòn Tequila brand posted emphatic 26.1% gains. Overall, total group organic sales climbed by +5.3%, and CEO, Bob Kunze-Concewitz, is happy. “We remain confident in achieving a positive performance across the key underlying business indicators in 2019,” he said.

Meet Igor Boyadjian!

All change at the top: The Macallan names new MD

Single malt Scotch brand The Macallan is about to get a new managing director! Following news that Scott McCroskie, current MD, is off to lead parent company Edrington, Igor Boyadjian has been named as his successor. Boyadjian leads Asia Pacific & India at Edrington, and will take up his new post – and a spot on the Edrington executive team – from 1 April. He first joined Edrington in 2017 to lead the travel retail operations, but had partnered with the company for more than a decade before that as part of its Edrington-F.I.X. Middle East joint venture. “I am thrilled to have been given the opportunity to help chart the next stage in the journey of The Macallan,” Boyadjian said. “Under Scott’s leadership, The Macallan has demonstrated a constant pursuit of excellence and dedication to creating the finest single malt Scotch whisky. It is both an honour and a privilege to work alongside a dedicated and talented group of people all over the world, whose mastery, creativity and pride for the brand have helped push the boundaries to make The Macallan what it is today.” Congrats, Igor!

These bourbon and rye whiskies were distilled before Prohibition.

Rare 1920s bourbon for sale in Kentucky

Lovers of good old time sippin’ whiskey should head to the Frazier Museum in downtown Louisville, Kentucky. Thanks to a change in the state alcohol laws, the museum is now allowed to sell some of its collection of rare whiskeys. Known colloquially as “dusty bottles”, they are likely to get bourbon lovers salivating. The first releases of what will become a regular thing are pint bottles of Old Hickory Canadian Rye bottled in 1925, Old Jim Gore Bourbon, distilled 1912 and bottled in 1925, and John Poindexter Old Bourbon, distilled in 1916 and bottled in 1928. The last two were distilled by Wigglesworth Brothers of Harrison County, Kentucky. The bourbons are $2,000 a pop, with the rye a snip at $1,500. Andrew Treinen from the museum told us: “There was a guy waiting to buy one of all three when we opened the morning after the release. We have a small inventory of all brands still available and hopefully more on the way.” Readers will note that they were bottled during Prohibition. How was this even possible? Well, to get around the law forbidding the sale of alcohol, at the time they were sold for medicinal use only. We imagine that doctors were pretty popular people in 1920s America.

The value of rare Scotch whisky has increased by a staggering 600%.

Whisky now a better investment than art, cars or coins

If you’ve got some spare cash to invest, then you could do a lot worse than ploughing it into rare whisky, according to The Wealth Report 2019, released this week. Whisky currently tops the Knight Frank Luxury Investment Index (KFLII) which tracks the value of assets including cars, art and rare coins. The whisky index, based on the auction values of 100 bottles of rare Scotch, has increased in value by 40% in the last 12 months. In the past ten years, prices have risen by nearly 600%! That’s a lot of moolah. Much of this growth is driven by the Asian market. “The stunning price growth of rare single malt whiskies shows that the appetite for new ‘alternative’ asset classes remains strong among high-net-worth investors,” said Andrew Shirley, editor of The Wealth Report and the Knight Frank Luxury Investment Index. Andy Simpson, co-founder Rare Whisky 101 added: “While rare whisky remains a somewhat fledgling asset class compared to some other passion investments, the market for rare and vintage bottles has witnessed extraordinary growth over the past ten years.” We should point out, of course, that assets can go down in value as well as up. Nothing is guaranteed. However, the great thing about whisky is that if prices do collapse, at least you will have something to drown your sorrows with.

Even more Irish whiskey to come!

Ireland officially has another working distillery – welcome to the party, Clonakilty!

We all know Irish whiskey is booming, and now there’s another distillery to add to the must-visit list. On 5 March, the waterfront Clonakilty Distillery and Visitor Experience in West Cork opened its doors! In addition to its three-still stillhouse and whiskey and gin production, the site has a story room which tells the tale of Clonakilty town’s brewing and smuggling history, a gin school, a bistro, and a fancy gift shop. The distillery is open to the public from Tuesday through to Sunday, and tours can be booked on the distillery website. Clonakilty becomes Ireland’s 23rd operational distillery, and reckons it will attract as many as 35,000 visitors a year. Congrats, all!

Say hello to Tamdhu’s new 15 Year Old!

Raise a glass to Tamdhu’s new 15 Year Old

It wouldn’t be the Nightcap if there wasn’t news of delicious new whisky. Scotch single malt distillery Tamdhu has done the decent thing this week and launched a new limited edition 15-year-old annual release. Fans of the Speyside drop will be pleased to know it’s as sherry-tastic as ever, having been matured in American and European oloroso-seasoned casks for the full 15 years. Tamdhu 15 Year Old was bottled at 46% ABV without any chill-filtration or additional colouring, and is said to be a complex and rich dram that delivers notes of apple pastry, spiced currants, orange zest, juicy apricot, vibrant raspberry, almonds, malt biscuit, cream sherry and vanilla. The bespoke bottle sports Tamdhu’s new packaging, which tells the history of the distillery and highlights the significance of sherry casks in its maturation. “We’re extremely proud of our new Tamdhu 15 Year Old,” said Sandy McIntyre, Tamdhu distillery manager. “When you taste a dram of Tamdhu 15 Year Old, you can really taste the time and care that has gone into creating this incredible whisky. We hope Tamdhu drinkers around the world will savour it as much as we do.” You’ll be pleased to know that Tamdhu 15 Year Old is on its way to MoM Towers, so keep an eye out…

The Signature Range has arrived!

Glasgow Distillery Company to launch all kinds of new whisky!

The Glasgow Distillery Company, founded in 2014, has made the sort of announcement that makes us geek out in excitement here at MoM Towers. Glasgow’s first independent single malt whisky distillery since 1902 is poised to release not one but three new Scotch whiskies! Alongside the return of its 1770 Single Malt Scotch Whisky in the form a 2019 edition, meet peated and triple-distilled expressions, 1770 Peated and 1770 Triple Distilled. Most excitingly, these three together will form one awesome collective, like the Power Rangers, except this one is called the Signature Range. The first 1770 release sold out in 2018, so many will be delighted to welcome it back. Matured in first fill ex-bourbon casks, finished in virgin oak and non-chill filtered, the new 1770 Single Malt is available to pre-order now from the brand’s website. The first peated expression will follow in late 2019 and the triple-distilled bottling will appear in early 2020. “Innovation is very important to us, and the announcement of the 1770 Signature Range is no different,” said Liam Hughes, CEO and co-founder. “We’re proud to be one of a select few distilleries in Scotland to have three different styles of single malt as part of their core whisky offering.” Exciting stuff!

Congratulations to Hannah Lanfear!

Hannah Lanfear is the new Armagnac educator for the UK

The wonderful Hannah Lanfear (who we spoke to as part of last year’s International Woman’s Day series) now has another exciting role: she is the new Armagnac educator for the UK! Working closely with Amanda Garnham of the BNIA (Bureau National Interprofessionnel de l’Armagnac), Lanfear will present Armagnac masterclasses and training sessions over the next few months to take Armagnac to thrilling new brandy-based heights. The Mixing Class founder has a wealth of experience as a spirits educator for the Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET) up her sleeve. She’s previously hosted WSET classes on Armagnac at Brooklyn Bar Convent in the US, and is an Armagnac judge at spirits competitions. There’s an ever-growing interest in the category, particularly within the bar community, and the versatile, complex brandy looks set for a bright future. “Since travelling to Gascony during distillation season I have completely fallen for this historic brandy,” said Lanfear. “Not only is it an immensely interesting spirit to study the production of, it has a wonderful depth of flavour and is utterly enigmatic in a cocktail. I am thrilled to be able to share the story of Armagnac in London.”

The London Classics

Bimber celebrates London with new drinks range!

Introducing The London Classics, a collection of spirits from Bimber Distillery featuring a London Vodka, a London Gin and a London Rum, all distilled, packaged and labelled by hand at the brand’s West London site. This means the London Classics are 100% made in London, which is very pleasing. The trio was created to offer an alternative to the standard house spirits found in the speed rail of many a bar, pub, restaurant and hotel. Bimber set itself the challenge of rallying against a perceived lack of creativity, individuality and value for money in these tipples. The plan was to create a new range based on character and flavour, housed in stylish, minimalist and convenient bottles that are easy to pour, while being affordable and fun. A lofty ambition, but seeing as we already stock the vodka, gin and rum, you can decide for yourself if these handcrafted, small-batch spirits live up to it.

The Winchester Collection Vintage 1967. The Glenlivet has wowed us.

The Glenlivet teams up with British designer for 50 year old(!) bottling

Today, just literally today, The Glenlivet unveiled The Winchester Collection Vintage 1967, a super-rare 50 year old limited-edition single malt whisky worth $25,000 (around £19,000), with a bottle and display case designed by award-winning British designer Bethan Gray. The whisky marries malts from a number of casks, the youngest of which was filled in December 1967. That’s right, the youngest. With whiskies this old, around 60-80% of the liquid has been lost to the angels’ share – what remains is like gold dust. Or liquid gold, perhaps. No wonder only 150 bottles have been released worldwide. Gray’s grandfather lived and worked in the Cairngorms, close to The Glenlivet, and the misty landscape around the valleys inspired the Dhow pattern that adorns the case. The glass bottle is hand-blown, while the ombré glass mirrors the ageing process of the whisky. The hand-stained maple case, decorated with mother-of-pearl, is made using solid copper overlays, reflecting The Glenlivet’s copper stills, crafted with a technique that was specially invented for this curved case – now try telling us that isn’t special! This is certainly a collector’s item, though beneath all of this is simply some truly outstanding whisky!

The launch of Rémy Martin’s cigar terrace at Dukes didn’t go entirely to plan… (It wasn’t us).

And finally… Rémy Martin smokes out Dukes Bar. Accidentally.

We try to make sure that there’s a Master of Malt representative at all the swankiest events, so naturally we sent someone to cover the opening of the Rémy Martin Cognac and Cigar Garden at Dukes London Mayfair. But while everyone was sipping Rémy XO and puffing on a Romeo Y Julieta, there was trouble brewing. Someone (not us, we hasten to add) had left the door to the terrace open. Consequently, the waft of fine cigar smoke was permeating the entire hotel, including the famous bar presided over by Alessandro Palazzi (winner of the Lifetime Achievement Award at the recent Class Bar Awards). He came striding through the hotel and told us firmly and politely to keep the door shut. Normally the most genial and relaxed of hosts, it’s the only time we have seen Palazzi looking the tiniest bit flappable. A newsworthy moment indeed. Everyone assumed the naughty schoolkid pose. Sorry, Alessandro!

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36 New Master of Malt Single Cask Series Bottlings!

Hear ye hear ye! We have a brand new selection of Master of Malt Single Cask Series Bottlings, so flock to MoM Towers my fellow whisky-lovers – you don’t want…

Hear ye hear ye! We have a brand new selection of Master of Malt Single Cask Series Bottlings, so flock to MoM Towers my fellow whisky-lovers – you don’t want to miss out on this lot…

Our Single Cask Series is bigger than ever, with a whopping 36 new whiskies for our Single Cask Series!

Who wouldn’t want to savour the joy of a single cask whisky? The following editions have spent years maturing in a specific cask and now each idiosyncrasy is ready for you to interpret and enjoy. Each and every bottling here is truly unique. Once that cask is emptied, there is no more, people!

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How did The Glenlivet, Chivas Regal and Jameson perform in 2018?

With Pernod Ricard’s full-year sales results hot off the press, we take a peek at how the likes of Scotch whiskies The Glenlivet and Chivas Regal, Ireland’s Jameson, Cognac brand…

With Pernod Ricard’s full-year sales results hot off the press, we take a peek at how the likes of Scotch whiskies The Glenlivet and Chivas Regal, Ireland’s Jameson, Cognac brand Martell and Absolut vodka fared in 2017/18. Spoiler alert: Scotch wasn’t the star of the show…

It’s results season, folks! Big companies left, right and centre are publishing their annual (or quarterly) reports, giving us an insight into how they’re getting on sales-wise. Today it’s the turn of Pernod Ricard to disclose its full-year data to the end of June. We had a nose through the docs and crunched the numbers to see how some of the world’s biggest drinks brands got on…

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