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Master of Malt Blog

Tag: Glenmorangie

New Arrival of the Week: Glenmorangie X

Glenmorangie has just released a brand new single malt specifically designed for cocktail use. It’s called Glenmorangie X, and we put it through its paces behind the (home) bar. Makers…

Glenmorangie has just released a brand new single malt specifically designed for cocktail use. It’s called Glenmorangie X, and we put it through its paces behind the (home) bar.

Makers of single malts nowadays will trip over themselves to show how cocktail friendly their products are. They’re trying to give Scotch whisky a fresh urban down-with-the kids image in contrast to the tweed, spaniels and slippers marketing of yore. Though, on a cold winter night, don’t those three things sound very appealing?

The Nightcap

Groovy new image

Single malt cocktails

There’s no doubt that single malts can be great in cocktails. Recently, I had a Espresso Martini at Boisdale restaurant in Belgravia made with Ardbeg Uigeadail that was pretty much unbeatable. 

But, I wonder, how many people spending £50 or more on a bottle of single malt are going to mix it. It would be interesting to read some market research on this but I’d wager that at least 90% of malts are still sipped reverentially with some water on the side, and perhaps some tweed, spaniels and slippers.

When people do make cocktails with Scotch, most people will reach for a blend, which is a problem for a whisky company that wants to tap into the cocktail market, like Glenmorangie. It’s already got the hip new image, now it just needs a mixable whisky. 

The company used to market a wonderful blend called the Bailie Nicol Jarvie which contained a high malt percentage, around 60%. I remember it being the whisky of choice for the impecunious connoisseur when I worked in Oddbins in the late ‘90s. 

Sadly, it was discontinued in 2014 though there were rumours of a revival in 2016, which came to nothing. Glenmorangie’s head of whisky creation Dr Bill Lumsden told me a few years ago that he was very fond of the blend and would love to revive it, but at the moment Glenmornagie could not spare the stock. 

Glenmorangie X

A mixable Glenmorangie

Now, however, the company has whisky that might be able to fill that BNJ-sized hole. It’s a NAS single malt called Glenmorangie X, and it’s specifically designed for mixing. 

Dr Bill explained: “X by Glenmorangie came from our dream of creating even more flavour possibilities, with a single malt that’s made to mix. Consulting with top bartenders, we crafted this sweeter, richer single malt for all those enjoying mixing at home.”

The PR team sent me a little sample to play around this and really enjoyed it. It’s light, sweet and fruity with flavours of peach, honey. vanilla and orange. In fact, it’s very much the 10 year old’s baby brother with similar flavours but without the depth or complexity, and with a little youthful spirityness. In short, perfect for mixing.

I was planning to give it a thorough road test in an Old Fashioned, Rob Roy etc. but it was only a little sample so I ended up just drinking it with soda, orange bitters and a slice of orange in a Highball. A test it passed with flying colours. GM also sent me a delightful batched cocktail called Glenmorangie X Grapefruit.

I have one reservation, however, the price. It’s only £5 less expensive than the 10 year old. From experience, I know that the 10 is a good mixer too but it’s also got the complexity to sip on its own. If I was spending around £30 on a Glenmorangie, I know which one I’d take home. Also, it’s bottled at 40% ABV and when mixing a little more alcohol would stop it getting lost when diluting. 

But, if you’re running a bar and getting through cases of the stuff, then £5 will make a huge difference. And that is, ultimately, who Glenmorangie X is aimed at; it should be a huge hit with the pros. 

For us home bartenders, though, please bring back the BNJ, Dr Bill!

Tasting notes from the Chaps at Master of Malt

Nose: Honeyed malt with underlying lemon and apple, plus a touch of nutmeg bringing oaky warmth.

Palate: Lots of vanilla and apricot notes, with more apple coming along too. A hint of flaked almond later on.

Finish: The honeyed orchard fruit theme continues on the finish, with a pinch of peppercorn.

Glenmorangie X is available from Master of Malt. Click here to buy.

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Brendan McCarron to leave Glenmorangie for Distell

Brendan McCarron, head of maturing whisky stocks at The Glenmorangie Company, has announced he will leave the role to take up the mantle of master distiller at Distell.  Pretty huge…

Brendan McCarron, head of maturing whisky stocks at The Glenmorangie Company, has announced he will leave the role to take up the mantle of master distiller at Distell

Pretty huge news emerged on Instagram yesterday as Brendan McCarron revealed that his time with The Glenmorangie Company is drawing to a close after seven years. The former head of maturing whisky stocks will be moving to Distell to become the brand’s new master distiller, where he’ll work with its considerable Scotch whisky cohort. This includes Bunnahabhain, Tobermory and Deanston distilleries as well as Black Bottle whisky.

It’s a striking revelation as it appeared that he would be the natural successor to Dr Bill Lumsden, Glenmorangie’s director of whisky creation and because he’s enjoyed so much success with the brand. Both Glenmorangie and Ardbeg Distillery have released all kinds of wonderful new expressions over the years under the duo’s stewardship. We’ve also heard that the news came as a surprise to Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton (LVMH), the owner of The Glenmorangie Company.

In a post on his personal Instagram account, McCarron commented “So I have a bit of news. I’ve just accepted an offer to be the master distiller for Distell. I’m going to work with the team responsible for Bunnahabhain, Tobermory and Deanston distilleries as well as blends such as Black Bottle and my first time working on gin too”. McCarron added that he is “beyond excited to get started”, and has been enjoying his “research“ recently, in particular tasting Tobermory 12 Year Old. He signed off by stating that he was very sad to leave the Glenmorangie company after “7 great years”, but that he can’t wait to get started in the new role.

Brendan McCarron has announced he will take up the mantle of master distiller at Distell. 

McCarron is one of the most respected whisky producers in the industry

We reached out to McCarron and he informed us that he’ll likely start working in his new role next month. He’s based near Deanston and will split his time between there, Tobermory and, of course, Islay, as well as Distell’s new multi-million-pound blending and disgorging centre in East Kilbride. “I am becoming like a proper west coast distiller,” McCarron remarked to us. He also says the role he’s taking will mean more time working in distilleries. “One thing I do miss is production, the hiss and singing of the stills as the steam goes through them. There’s an energy to production which I haven’t had in this role which has been nosing, blending and travelling. I’ve always missed the connection to the distilleries. So this ticks every box. I’ll be directly in charge of production.”

Ultimately, the allure of the new gig and what it entails is what has sold McCarron. “I’ve done stuff I wouldn’t have imagined being a working-class boy from Coatbridge, I’ve drunk Krug in five-star hotels, drunk amazing whiskies with incredible people in China, Russia and various parts of the States. And got to work on incredible whiskies. But it’s been seven years. Bill’s still got lots that he wants to achieve. I could continue to work under Bill but I love the idea of Distell saying, here’s what we want to do, here’s what our plans are, here are our liquids,” he explains. “I’ve always loved Deanston, Bunnahabhain and Tobermory. It was the distilleries, the liquids, and seeing the investment that’s going into the company. All this appealed to me. My boss, Julian Patton, told me about his plans, how much he believed in the whiskies. And I do too. Being the master distiller of three distilleries you love, it’s hard to say no.”

McCarron was also keen to thank everyone for the response he’s had, commenting. “My phone was dead this morning, I had so many missed calls and messages that it drained the battery. There have been lots of lovely messages coming in.” He also said that Bill is sad to see him go, but is excited for him too, saying that it’s “an amazing role but they are lucky to have you”. McCarron added that he “didn’t anticipate me leaving. I didn’t anticipate me leaving. But, when a role like this appears, you can feel the energy in the company. It’s impossible to say no.”

Brendan McCarron has announced he will take up the mantle of master distiller at Distell. 

McCarron will split his time across the distilleries he’ll work with, which will include trips to his beloved Islay

Before working for The Glenmorangie Company, McCarron had managed Oban Distillery, was the group manager of Lagavulin, Caol Ila, and Port Ellen Maltings on Islay, and helped to design Roseisle Distillery – the first distillery to be built in Speyside for 30 years. His new employer Distell is a South African-based producer and marketer of spirits, wines, ciders and ready-to-drink products (RTDs). The company was formed in 2000 by the merger of Stellenbosch Farmers’ Winery (SFW) and Distillers Corporation. In 2013, Distell purchased the Scotch whisky business of Burn Stewart Distillers from CL Financial for £160m and took on its impressive portfolio, which includes the aforementioned distillery giants as well as brands like Black Bottle and Scottish Leader

We wish him all the best and can’t wait to see what he does at Distell. Slainte, Brendan!

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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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Our most-read posts of 2020!

It’s the time of the year to look back to see what you the reader was most interested in on the blog. Spoiler alert: it was mainly whisky. With 2020…

It’s the time of the year to look back to see what you the reader was most interested in on the blog. Spoiler alert: it was mainly whisky.

With 2020 almost over, and thank heavens for that, we decided to look back at what posts garnered the most amount of interest. So, we fired up our old analytics computing device – it’s very similar to the machine used by Turin traffic management in classic caper flick The Italian Job. Yes, we could just use Google or WordPress analytics, but where would be the fun in that? We just love watching those old reels of magnetic tape roll, listen to the random bleeps, and then after a couple of hours, it spews the answers out on computer paper with a satisfying whirring noise. 

What was interesting about this year’s results compared with 2019, is how cocktails have invaded the top ten. Because we couldn’t go out, 2020 was the year the home bar really took off. Right, in ascending order of popularity, here’s what you were most interested in this year: 

boulevardier

10 – Cocktail of the Week: The Boulevardier 

Searches for cocktails went through the roof in 2020 as seemingly everybody tried their hand at home bartending. We were delighted to see one of favourites in the top ten (above).

9 – Out of Africa, Procera gin 

The quest to make the world’s best gin in Kenya clearly caught your imagination. It helps that the gin really is superb. 

8 – New Arrival of the Week: Bombay Bramble 

No surprise here, take one of the world’s biggest gin brands, add a modern classic cocktail and people are going to be interested. 

7 – Cocktail of the Week: Dark ‘n’ Stormy 

It was 40 years ago this year that Gosling’s rum in Bermuda took the bold step of trademarking the island’s drink, the Dark ‘n’ Stormy.

6 – Hurry… popular Nikka whiskies to be discontinued 

News that two Japanese favourites including an age statement 12 year old would be disappearing really had people reaching for their wallets. 

5 – Diageo Special Releases 2020 

It’s always one of the biggest events in the whisky calendar for us, and clearly for you too. We were not surprised to see this one in the top ten.

4 – Macallan unveils Red Collection 

Macallan is a contender for the world’s most famous distillery, so when it unveils a collection including a 78 year old expression, people will sit up and take notice. 

3 – Master of Malt tastes… Glenmorangie a Taste of Cake 

This was great fun and a delicious dram, a Glenmorangie finished in sweet Tokaji casks to give it a cakey taste plus some great pics of Dr Bill Lumsden covered in icing (see header).

2 – Ardbeg releases its first ever beer 

More fun from the LVMH stable as Adam tries a beer brewed by the Islay distillery. Well, they do a thing or two about brewing as well as distilling.  

And the most read post of 2020 was. . .

1 – Master of Malt tastes. . . Ardbeg Blaaack 

Another great dram and funny story from Ardbeg, with a bottling inspired by the sheep of New Zealand and aged in Pinot Noir casks. Delicious!

The Nightcap

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The Nightcap: 18 December

It’s the final Nightcap of the year and to round-off 2020 we’ve put together one last batch of bonkers boozy news, a fitting tribute to the year that was. There’s…

It’s the final Nightcap of the year and to round-off 2020 we’ve put together one last batch of bonkers boozy news, a fitting tribute to the year that was.

There’s just one week until Christmas and only two weeks left in the whole year. How, exactly, has that happened? This truly has been the strangest, suckiest and most surreal collection of 12 months most of us have ever experienced. The good news is that this decade can only get better. Right? Well, we can confirm that The Nightcap will return in 2021, so that’s at least one positive thing in the bag already. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. 2020 still has some time on the clock and it’s chosen to spend some of its last moments making the world of booze a whole fresh batch of news to report on.

As we get ever closer to the big day #Whisky Santa has been ramping things up with his super wishes, giving away a bottle each of Dalmore 35 Year Old and Port Ellen 35 Year Old 1983, while those of you working your way through your Whisky Advent Calendars will have helped yourself to a feast of Scotch, American and World whisky thanks to the selection of drams that were hidden behind doors number #12, #13, #14, #15, #16, #17 and #18.

Elsewhere on the blog, we welcomed a new range of tasty spirits from, well… us! Then we reported on the incredibly exciting return of whisky distilling to Karuizawa in Japan, learned from Nate Brown what it’s like to launch a cocktail company during COVID and tasted the first whisky from Copper Rivet Distillery. We also found time for a quick chat with David Turner, Bowmore distillery manager, managed to pick out some delightful fortified wines to drink across the festive season, sample a peated Irish whiskey and make a delicious steaming hot cocktail

Now, onto the last Nightcap of 2020. We hope all our lovely readers have a safe and Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

The Nightcap

If the trials are successful we could be seeing a lot more of Blondie

Johnnie Walker to launch new whisky: Johnnie Blonde

News on Johnnie Walker is rarely in short supply but this week’s announcement is particularly exciting. The Diageo-owned Scotch whisky brand has revealed its plans to launch a new whisky in 2021 called Johnnie Blonde. The new expression was made to “appeal to current and new whisky drinkers alike” and is designed to be consumed in long serves, with the brand suggesting lemonade as its go-to mixer. Johnnie Blonde, which is a blend of bright wheat whiskies matured in sweet American oak and fruity malt whiskies, is very much a response to the evolving way Scotch is being consumed, with Michael Ward, head of innovation at Diageo commenting, “Johnnie Walker has always been built on progress, on a desire to constantly push boundaries and explore new flavours, experiences and serves. Johnnie Blonde is borne out of that same philosophy”. The expression, which has already won an International Spirits Challenge Gold Medal, isn’t getting a full rollout and instead will be piloted in a small number of cities around the world, including Monterey (Mexico), Curitiba (Brazil), Bangkok (Thailand), Sofia (Bulgaria), and Houston (USA) as well as with a number of partners throughout Germany, in March 2021, priced at RRP US$24.99. We look forward to seeing how it does. While we wait, we might as well make a nice long drink with one of the brand’s other delicious whiskies, right?

The Nightcap

The last we thing we need to be doing is making things harder for this amazing industry

 Tariffs on Scotch whisky move closer to removal

Things appear to be going in the right direction for those of us who want to see an end to the damaging 25% tariff on single malt Scotch whisky that was set by the U.S. over a year ago as part of a wider trade war between the U.S. and European Union. Following last week’s update on the study, new reports suggest that the U.K. government and the outgoing Trump administration are currently in negotiations to secure a ‘mini’ trade deal. In an interview with the BBC, US trade representative Robert Lighthizer said: “It’s extremely likely that we have an FTA, free-trade agreement, with the United Kingdom before long,”  and, when asked specifically about lowering tariffs on certain products including Scotch whisky, added “we have the advantage in that both the US and the UK – particularly the current government of the UK – are not big subsidisers, where some other countries are more inclined to subsidise. So it would be helpful if we could come to some kind of agreement. We are in discussions, we’ll see how that works out.” Trade body the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) said it was “encouraging” to hear Lighthizer indicate that a UK-US ‘mini deal’ could be achieved to remove Scotch whisky tariffs. Karen Betts, chief executive of the SWA, also remarked that she would like to see the US reciprocate by suspending tariffs, commenting: “Suspension on both sides would, we believe, create a positive environment for intensified settlement talks to take place. A settlement would enable everyone – aircraft manufacturers, Scotch whisky and other industries caught up in this – to focus on economic recovery rather than losing revenue to punitive tariffs”.

Guinness releases first new TV ad in 12 years

It’s always an event when Guinness releases a new television advert. This brand is synonymous with wonderful advertising, just think of those ‘80s adverts featuring Rutger Hauer or, of course, the ‘Surfers’ advert from 1999, judged the greatest TV advert of all time in a poll conducted by The Sunday Times and Channel 4. The new advert highlights the beauty of Draught Guinness in a can, something we’ve all been having more of us since the pubs were closed. Neil Shah, head of Guinness GB explained: “People love to savour delicious Guinness Draught and we wanted to remind people that they can enjoy the smooth and refreshing taste whether they choose to drink it in a pub or at home. The popularity of Guinness Draught beer in a can has naturally increased in recent months, and we wanted to celebrate that despite Christmas being different this year, Guinness Draught  doesn’t have to be.” The 20-second film titled “Pull. Pour. Settle. Enjoy.” was created by agency AMV BBDO with director Scott Lyon, and is rather functional. Yes, it makes you want to have Guinness, so it works, but it also makes you long for the sheer artistry of its forebears. Must try harder. 

The Nightcap

Let’s hope this move helps more people enjoy the distillery’s delicious whiskey

Whistlepig sells minority stake

Whistlepig has revealed that it has sold a minority stake to Moët Hennessy in a bid to help the brand expand internationally. While financial terms of the agreement have not been disclosed, we do know that the Vermont-based rye whiskey producer has been exploring options to help build its whiskey brand outside of North America, so it would be safe to assume we’ll be seeing more of Whistlepig thanks to the new partnership. “The arrangement with Moët Hennessy marks a significant moment for Whistlepig,” said Jeff Kozak, Whistlepig CEO. “We could not be more pleased to align our brand with the leader in luxury wines and spirits and are excited about future collaboration with Moët Hennessy’s team in the international market.” According to IWSR 2019 data, Whistlepig holds the top position in the ultra-premium and luxury rye whiskey category (sold at US$45 or over) in North America, so it’s a move that comes with a lot of for Moët Hennessy, the wine and spirits division of LVMH. “We are convinced that Whistlepig fits well within Moët Hennessy’s portfolio,” said Philippe Schaus, president and CEO of Moët Hennessy. “This rye whiskey house has done a remarkable job distinguishing itself among the emblematic and iconic craft distilleries in the United States with an ultra-premium standing in terms of identity, quality and price positioning.”

The Nightcap

Look at it. Just beautiful.

Bushmills unveils its oldest single malt whiskey

When Bushmills launched its Causeway Collection earlier this month we were very excited. Firstly, because it comprises of 10 cask-finished single malt whiskies that vary in age from nine to 30 years old. But also because the Irish whiskey brand is only releasing details of one bottling at the time. Which makes it even more exciting. Particularly when Bushmills follows up the debut of a single malt matured in Oloroso sherry butts and bourbon barrels for 17 years before being finished for two years in a rare Burgundy cask with the launch of its oldest single malt whiskey. The second expression in the range, the 30 Year Old New American Oak Cask single malt was initially matured in Oloroso sherry butts and bourbon barrels, and finished in new American oak casks for an ‘unprecedented’ 16 years. The non-chill-filtered single malt was bottled in September 2020 at cask strength (48.4% ABV) and is said to have notes of honey malt with the virgin oak providing ‘intense flavours of vanilla, chocolate and warm wood’. “It’s a privilege to work with such rare whiskeys in The Causeway Collection. This 30 Year Old New American Oak Cask, our oldest single malt to date, is a truly special Irish single malt,” says Bushmills master blender Helen Mulholland. “I’m immensely proud of how we’ve been able to create such sensational waves of flavour in a 30-year-old whiskey. Like the whole Causeway Collection, it’s a celebration of our passion for single malts, our rare and unique casks and our 400 years of whiskey-making heritage.” Sadly, getting your hands on this is going to be pretty tricky. Firstly, because only 100 bottles of the single malt have been released (the remaining 332 bottles are coming next year.). Secondly, because it’s available exclusively at The Irish Whiskey Collection at The Loop in Dublin and Cork airports in Ireland. Still, it’s a welcome boost for travel retail and a window in the kind of delights that lie in Bushmill’s warehouses…

The Nightcap

Shades are advised for this one

Glenmorangie’s new ad campaign is very colourful

Dig out your sunglasses because Glenmorangie has unveiled a new brand campaign and it’s not what you would call subdued. It was created by DDB Paris agency with top photographer Miles Aldridge and features six scenes of people enjoying Glenmorangie with the tagline, “It’s kind of delicious and wonderful”. And did we mention the colours? Holy moly, they are bright, awash with the boldest oranges and vivid blues. These technicolour dreams will be appearing on social media and various billboards across London this month. Alexander Kalchev, chief creative officer at DDB Paris, explained: “We set out to reimagine everyday experiences – a camping trip or a train journey – all made more wonderful, to reflect Glenmorangie’s perspective. Inspired by the brand’s signature orange colour, we decided to use colour as a metaphor to open up the whisky’s world. And of course, as a master of colour, Miles Aldridge was the obvious talent to bring our vision to life.” Louise Dennett, global head of brand at Glenmorangie, added: “We make whisky because we want people to enjoy it. There are many technicalities as to how we make it taste so good. But ultimately, what matters is that our single malt is delicious, and we think there’s a simple joy in that. Through our collaboration with Miles Aldridge and DDB Paris we have created a visual feast of a campaign. We hope it will welcome more people into our delicious and wonderful world.” But that’s not all: as well as being striking, the images contain little jokes including references to giraffes (the distillery’s mascot) and anagrams of the word Glenmorangie, like ‘A Ginger Lemon’ in the train and ‘Mango Reeling’. Endless fun! 

The Nightcap

The gin numbers for the off-trade were something to smile about, at least

British gin sales hit hard by lockdown

For the final news round-up of the year, it seems fitting to include the man who has graced more Nightcaps than anyone… Miles Beale! According to Beale, CEO of the WSTA, “Gin has proven to be a real tonic for shoppers wanting to enjoy a bit of downtime at home during a turbulent 2020. It’s fantastic to hear that some distillers will have benefited from a boost in retail sales, but we have to look at the bigger picture which shows overall gin sales are down by £400 million following the hit taken by the hospitality sector due to the pandemic this year.” He was commenting on news that because of the enforced closure of much of the on-trade, gin sales declined from £2.6 billion in 2019 to £2.2 billion this year. Retail was up 22%, worth £1.2 billion, but it wasn’t enough to make up for the lost business. As you would expect from Beale, he had words for the British government: “British spirit makers, many of whom are SMEs, need greater support from government to continue to grow and recover from the loss of hospitality sales. That is why, as a first and easy step, we are calling on the Chancellor to cut duty and boost British business at the spring Budget.” You tell ‘em, Miles.

The Nightcap

British people enjoying the odd drop of drink on a lunch break? Scandalous!

And finally. . . Shock horror! People enjoying alcohol during the day

Data produced by the health and safety software company Protecting.co.uk shows that more than 90% of workers say that they have been consuming alcohol while working from home. Hardly surprising, many of us enjoy a glass of wine or a pint with our lunch. The problem with the survey is that it doesn’t differentiate between responsible and heavy drinking, seeing both as problematic. Mark Hall from Protecting.co.uk commented: “It ranges from just a glass for two with lunch, to getting through a whole bottle of wine a day, but the health implications are clear.” He goes on to say: “It’s alarming to employers to hear that staff feel like they can get away with all kinds of behaviour while they are out of office.” It’s health and safety gone mad! We would hardly describe having a drink on a lunch break as ‘alarming’. Before lockdown, if you visited any town or city in the country you would see people enjoying an alcoholic drink with their lunches before returning to work. The press release from Protecting.co.uk goes on to say: “Most workplaces will have a robust alcohol and substance abuse policy to keep staff in check when they are at work.” Perhaps, but this is irrelevant in this instance. Unless you’re operating heavy machinery or conducting brain surgery, then a small amount of alcohol, a pint or a Gin & Tonic, is not a problem for most employers or employees. Lockdown has been hard for everyone, and if you are worried about your drinking, then you should seek professional help (DrinkAware is a really great place to start). But we see nothing wrong with some responsible daytime imbibing. Cin cin!

No Comments on The Nightcap: 18 December

Top ten: Scotch whiskies under £50

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

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

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

ardbeg-uigeadail-whisky

Ardbeg Uigeadail

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

What does it taste like?

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

arran-10-year-old-whisky

Arran 10 Year Old

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

What does it taste like: 

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

balblair-12-year-old-whisky

Balblair 12 Year Old

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

What does it taste like? 

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

compass-box-spice-tree-whisky

Compass Box Spice Tree 

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

What does it taste like? 

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

glenfarclas-10-year-old-whisky

Glenfarclas 10 Year Old

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

What does it taste like? 

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

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

Glenmorangie 10 Year Old

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

What does it taste like? 

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

j-and-b-rare-whisky

J&B Rare 

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

What does it taste like? 

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

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

Johnnie Walker Green Label 15 Year Old

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

What does it taste like? 

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

kilkerran-12-year-old-whisky

Kilkerran 12 Year Old

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

What does it taste like? 

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

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

Seaweed & Aeons & Digging & Fire 10 Year Old

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

What does it taste like? 

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

4 Comments on Top ten: Scotch whiskies under £50

The Nightcap: 6 November

The first Nightcap of the second lockdown has arrived just in time to provide some much-needed cheer and levity. It’s packed full of boozy goodness so enjoy! As we all…

The first Nightcap of the second lockdown has arrived just in time to provide some much-needed cheer and levity. It’s packed full of boozy goodness so enjoy!

As we all brace for Lockdown 2 (or 2 Lockdown 2 Furious), the team at MoM Towers has been searching for silver linings. Maybe we’ll have some more time to try to understand the electoral college system and even more time to watch old James Bond films after we’ve inevitably given up. We’ll also be able to do some important research, like finding out what the implications of Sam’s snack grid are (someone grab some dark rum and popcorn for the Bond marathon, while I think of it) and why we haven’t done more coverage of distillery pets. Of course, with Black Friday, Christmas and who knows what else on the way we probably won’t have any more free time, but we can guarantee that there will always be a fresh, warm Nightcap ready every Friday evening, just how you like it. That’s a pretty good silver lining, at least.

Things might have ground to a halt around us but the MoM blog was as busy as ever this week as we launched another #BagThisBundle competition, this time with the wonderful folks at Cointreau. Then, as it’s #SherrryWeek, Annie looked at the vibrant vermouth scene in Jerez and the rest of Spain, before learning about the story behind a gin created to raise money for a historic endeavour and how Nikka is spoiling us by launching not one, but two new Japanese whiskies. Henry then shook up a special seasonal cocktail for Bonfire Night and created a shopping list of the essentials bottles you need to make your home bar the envy of your friends. As for Adam, he had a pretty whisky-soaked week, finding out what makes Scandi spirit-makers Stauning so stellar and tasting a 60-year-old single cask whisky from Glenfarclas Distillery. 

Johnnie Walker film coming soon

First, there was the whisky, then there was a book, and now we’ve just got the news that there’s going to be a Johnnie Walker documentary. Slated to appear on the 12 November we don’t know terribly much about it, only to say that it’s the story of the world’s most famous whisky brand. Called ‘The Man Who Walked Around the World’, it features contributions from Cappadonna from the Wu-Tang Clan, advertising guru John Hegarty, and noted booze enthusiast Alice Lascelles. It’s been directed by award-winning filmmaker Anthony Wonke for independent production company Something Originals and Partizan films. Check out the jazzy trailer above. When we know more, we’ll let you know. 

The Nightcap

We can now officially say this is an artist’s representation of The Cairn

Gordon & MacPhail unveils The Cairn 

Do you remember that distillery that Gordon & MacPhail was building in Cairngorms National Park? Well, the family-owned whisky specialist has given it a name: The Cairn. Which makes sense. Must have been a short meeting. The brand has said it was chosen to honour the stunning surroundings of the park (it really is glorious) and that it wanted a brand that would be easy to communicate globally, which presumably rules out any hard-to-pronounce Scottish Gaelic and prevents them from stepping on the toes of its other distillery, Benromach. “We wanted the new brand to complement, not compete. It’s eye-catching and contemporary and the approach to developing it put the consumer at the centre of our thinking,” said Ian Chapman, The Cairn brands director. “It is the same approach we have taken to designing The Cairn Distillery itself. The modern building takes advantage of the outstanding views across the River Spey to the Cairngorms and has been designed with the customer at the centre of the experience.” An icon has been developed to symbolise the brand; the fragmented shape representing the coming together of many pieces to form a cairn. Scheduled to open in spring 2022, The Cairn Distillery will include a visitor experience, tasting rooms, retail space and coffee shop.

The Nightcap

It was bottled at 95% ABV, folks. 95%. You read that right.

Anno Distillers launches world’s strongest gin

Our Kent-based neighbours Anno Distillers informed us of some pretty astounding news this week, it has created what is believed to be the world’s strongest gin. Anno Extreme was bottled at a frankly alarming 95% ABV Gin, smashing the previous record of 82.5% ABV and made in Sweden. Naturally, the gin is available in smaller bottles, just 20cl, and even comes in a presentation box with a 25ml scientific measuring beaker, perfect for accurate measurements with the suggested serves. There’s the Light G&T, a 5ml measure of Extreme poured over ice and served with premium tonic and a slice of grapefruit which is said to deliver “full flavour G&T with 75% less alcohol” (so a Hayman’s Small Gin kind of deal) and the Strong G&T, a 25ml measure of gin poured over ice and topped up with at least 120ml of premium tonic (the equivalent of an ordinary double measure, Anno says), garnished with a sprig of bruised thyme. “We wanted to make a gin which packs more punch and flavour drop-for-drop than any other spirit in the world,” says Dr Andy Reason, co-founder of Anno Distillers. “As scientists we really wanted to push the limits of possibility and create the spirit of alchemy, turning something ordinary into something extraordinary.” 

The Nightcap

Of course Sam Neill makes booze, he’s so awesome.

Sam Neill meets Samuel Gelston’s whiskey

Samuel Gelston’s has announced the launch of its latest expression and it’s honestly one of the coolest collaborations ever. You see, Johnny Neill, who runs the brand, teamed up with his cousin who owns a vineyard in New Zealand called Two Paddocks and matured the single pot still Irish whiskey in Pinot Noir casks. Who is that cousin, you ask? Sam Neill. The Sam Neill. The actual star of Jurassic Park, Peaky Blinders and more. Amazing. Anyway, back to the liquid, it was triple distilled and matured for 19 months in ex-bourbon casks, before spending a further 21 months maturing in the French oak casks and is said to have notes of strawberry, nutmeg, tropical fruit, blackcurrant and more. “The Neill family have been making quality spirits for generations. My great, great grandfather Harry Neill set up the successful McCallum Neill & Co in Australia in 1851, and Percival, one of his younger brothers set up Messrs Neill & Co in 1882 – Percival was Sam’s great grandfather,” said Johnny. “Sam and I have continued this legacy in our respective sides of the world. For the first time in 150 years, we’re bringing together the expertise from both sides of the family  – the result being an incredibly exciting sweet, honeyed and very inviting single pot still whiskey”.

The Nightcap

The World’s Best Bar has been announced, just as we can’t visit!

Connaught in London named World’s Best Bar

In a bit of cruel timing as much of Europe goes back into lockdown, the World’s Top 50 bars have been revealed just as we can’t visit them. Oh well! Sitting astride the world is the Connaught Bar in London. Mark Sansom, content editor for The World’s 50 Best Bars, commented: “Hats off to Connaught Bar, undoubtedly one of the finest cocktail bars of our time. The institution has earned a place on the list every year since 2010 and it has gradually grown in stature to become the world-beating bar it is today. Ago Perrone and his team are dedicated to excellence and look at every element of the guest experience to choreograph a faultless service.” Runners up were last year’s winner Dante in New York followed by the Clumsies in Athens. It’s been a great year for London with three in the top ten: Tayēr + Elementary were at number five and newcomer Kwant at number six. All in all the list features bars from 23 countries: the Best Bar in Asia award went to Atlas, Singapore; the Best Bar in Australasia is Sammy in Sydney; Zuma, Dubai picked up Best Bar in the Middle East and Africa, while Florería Atlántico, Buenos Aires, is The Best Bar in South America. Elisa Gregori from main sponsors Perrier added: “The pandemic has heavily impacted the entire hospitality industry and the situation remains shaped by uncertainty, yet the industry is adapting quickly and we believe it will return stronger after these difficult times.” Congratulations to everyone who made the list and we’re hoping that we’ll be able to visit some of them in the not too distant future.

 

The Nightcap

Dr Bill says Glenmorangie Malaga Cask Finish is an “indulgently sweet and rich” dram

New small-batch Glenmorangie is on the way

We can never hear the words ‘Glenmorangie’s launches new whisky’ too much so we were obviously delighted to learn that a small batch edition was on the way (keep an eye out for it). The 12-year-old bottling was finished in Malaga wine casks, which aren’t the most common sight in Scotch whisky. Dr Bill Lumsden, Glenmorangie director of whisky creation, sourced the rare handful of first-fill Malaga ‘dulce’ casks (which once contained wines at the sweeter end of Malaga’s range), then filled them with an eight-year-old whisky initially aged in bourbon casks. After four years of finishing, Dr Bill chose the best of these casks in July 2020 to be bottled for the Distillery’s Barrel Select Release. “The honeyed aromas and fruity, chocolatey tastes of Glenmorangie Malaga Cask Finish take me straight to the sun-kissed south of Spain, where Malaga’s famed fortified wines are made,” said Dr Bill. “By finishing our soft, creamy whisky in Malaga ‘dulce’ casks, we’ve created an indulgently sweet and rich small-batch single malt. Our Barrel Select Release is a delicious treat for whisky lovers old and new.” You can see for yourself if Dr Bill is on the money, as Glenmorangie Malaga Cask Finish will be available soon from Master of Malt. 

The Nightcap

The industry needs support like this from those who have the resources to provide it

Diageo relaunches Learning for Life

This is a critical time for the hospitality industry with COVID-19 restrictions set to have a continued impact on the sector, so now would be the moment for some big players to step up. Diageo has set its sights on doing just that this week by relaunching Learning for Life, an award-winning bartender and hospitality training programme that aims to assist the sector to meet the demands of dealing with COVID-19. Learning for Life has been designed to help to develop and engage the industry’s hard-pressed staff, including those on furlough, by providing key training, alleviating isolation, improving practices and updating ways of working during these challenging times. The £1m-per-year programme will work alongside Diageo’s Raising the Bar programme, which pumps £30 million into the UK hospitality trade to create a safer infrastructure, for example through the introduction of hand sanitiser units or personal protective equipment for staff. “People and businesses in the hospitality industry across the UK are fighting for their future and we stand alongside them in that fight,” said Nicola Reid, Diageo Learning for Life Manager. “That’s why we’ve refocussed our Learning for Life programme so it offers the best training opportunities possible to support bar staff and businesses with skills that will help them weather the current storm”.

The Nightcap

Ten expressions from The Glenlivet form the bulk of the range

Chivas Brothers unveils 2020 Distillery Reserve Collection

Chivas Brothers latest single malt collection is on the way! There are 48 new single cask expressions ranging from four to 29-years-old that were sourced from 13 of Pernod Ricard’s distilleries, including The Glenlivet, Strathisla, Aberlour and Scapa. The full Distillery Reserve Collection is now available for purchase from visitor centres of the aforementioned distilleries (visit here for full information on opening times and restrictions to operations) but, due to the current travel restrictions, for the first time, a smaller selection of bottlings will also be available from The Glenlivet website. “Our distilleries are the beating heart of Chivas Brothers and the Distillery Reserve Collection celebrates the heritage, innovation and style that make each one unique. This one-of-a-kind collection has been hand-selected to showcase the breadth of character and bold flavours single malt distilleries can achieve,” says Miriam Eceolaza, marketing director, single malts at Chivas Brothers. “I’m thrilled to be able to invite whisky lovers to join us in celebrating the stories of Speyside and delve even deeper into the vast world of single malt whiskies.”

The nation’s favourite on-screen boozers revealed

Liberty Games has done some vital research this week and conducted a survey to find out the nation’s favourite on-screen boozer, as well as analysing the price of a pint, the location and the IMDb score of each pub. The games retailer can reveal that The Nag’s Head from Only Fools and Horses is the nation’s favourite on-screen boozer in the UK. with 17.2% of Brits saying they would love to have a drink there, although it does tie with Harry Potter’s The Leaky Cauldron for having the most expensive pint, costing £5. Typical London prices. The cheapest pint can be found in the pub from Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps’, the Archer Hotel, at just £3.20. Liberty Games also found London has the most on-screen pubs, but that Yorkshire has the majority of the nation’s favourite on-screen pubs. It is God’s own county, after all. The Woolpack from Emmerdale and the Leaky Cauldron are the second and third favourite fictional pubs with 13.4% and 12.6% of respondents agreeing they are the pub they would most like to have a drink in. The Crab & Lobster from Doc Martin, Heartbeat’s The Ainsfield Arms, The Drovers Arms from All Creatures Great and Small, Life on Mars’ The Railway Arms, The Boatman from Four Weddings and a Funeral and The Slaughtered Lamb from An American Werewolf in London also made the top ten. Which fictional pub would you like to visit? Let us know in the comments.

The Nightcap

If any of our family are reading this, then yes we want one of these

And finally… Bacardi combines a bar with a turntable

According to Bacardi, a fifth of British people will be hosting a virtual cocktail party this Christmas while 60% will be celebrating with friends and family over Zoom. And in the best marketing tradition of revealing a problem and then solving it, Bacardi has the antidote to all this enforced staying at home. Designed by “famed furniture designer” Hugh Miller (surely, you’ve heard of him?), it’s called the Mixing Console, and it’s a freestanding bar with a walnut top and an actual turntable and speakers built-in. And not just any turntable but an “attractive and well-engineered” Fluance RT80. Not my words but the words of What HiFi magazine. So you can mix your drinks while spinning your records. Just be careful you don’t get the two confused or it could get messy. Also, this magnificence doesn’t come cheap, £1700. But Bacardi’s research also stated that: “treating yourself, family and friends more are top 2021 New Year’s resolutions”, so come on family, treat me!

No Comments on The Nightcap: 6 November

Master of Malt tastes… Glenmorangie A Tale of Cake

On Friday evening we were fortunate enough to taste and learn all about Glenmorangie A Tale of Cake, the Highland distillery’s latest release which is aged in Hungarian Tokaji casks….

On Friday evening we were fortunate enough to taste and learn all about Glenmorangie A Tale of Cake, the Highland distillery’s latest release which is aged in Hungarian Tokaji casks.

Dr Bill Lumsden, Glenmorangie’s director of whisky creation, has been innovating and experimenting his way to new delights at the Highland distillery for a quarter of a century now. Over the last 25 years, he has challenged himself and his team to take whatever captures their imaginations and turn it into whisky, from a cup of coffee (Glenmorangie Signet), a long balmy day in Madeira, (Glenmorangie Bacalta) the beautiful barley fields near the distillery (Glenmorangie Allta) and more. 

Recently the good doctor (he has a PhD in biochemistry, this isn’t a Doctor Who situation) found himself musing over how some of his most joyful memories involved cake, from baking with his granny to the pineapple upside-down cake his daughter made him for his birthday. So, Dr Bill did what he does best. He created a whisky that could encapsulate the joy of cake in a single malt whisky. It’s called Glenmorangie A Tale of Cake. 

“Like so many of us, some of my favourite memories come from cake, whether it be helping my granny in her kitchen, or the pineapple birthday cake my daughter surprised me with one year. By finishing whisky in Tokaji wine casks, I’ve captured the joy of those indulgent cake moments in Glenmorangie A Tale of Cake,” said Dr Bill. 

Glenmorangie A Tale of Cake

Glenmorangie and Dr Bill aim to celebrate the joy of a ‘cake moment’ with its latest single malt.

It begins with the classic Glenmorangie fruity, fragrant new make, distilled in the brand’s towering copper stills, the tallest in Scotland (the necks are the same height as an adult male giraffe). Brendan McCarron, head of maturing whisky stocks at The Glenmorangie Company, explains that this expression began life essentially as Glenmorangie 10 Year Old – The Original. “It’s very much the Original turned and twisted into something else. Baked, if you like…” he said. “We deliberately didn’t change the cut points or use a different strain of barley because it was all about making that classic Glenmorangie house style and using the casks to build extra layers and flavours”. 

Speaking of casks, you won’t be surprised to learn that the spirit has been initially matured in bourbon casks for a period before Dr Bill transferred into a style of cask that could make things a bit cakeier. For that, he turned to Tokaji casks. They might sound like a species of Japanese wood but actually, Tokaji is a highly-prized dessert wine from the Hungarian region of Tokaj, created using noble rot grapes. This noble rot fungus (Botrytis cinerea, for those who like to get geeky) causes the grapes to shrivel up and concentrate their sugars. 

It’s a pretty singular style of wine. It has a deep gold colour which gives it an almost single malt appearance and balances a high sugar content with plenty of acidity. Unsurprisingly, Dr Bill had quite the fascination with the cult status of these wines and their sweet and distinctively honeyed and citrus notes. He sourced a range of largely Hungarian oak Tokaji wines casks from a leading producer. McCarron said that he’s not allowed to say which one but did drop a hint that it’s a ‘regal’ one. So work that one out. A Tale of Cake is the result of his Tokaji tinkering.

Glenmorangie A Tale of Cake

The brand’s signature tall stills help create a light, fruity and fragrant new male

You might be wondering at this point if this single malt tastes particularly delicious alongside real cake? Well, Dominique Ansel, a pastry chef hailed as “the Willy Wonka of New York” and the creator of the ‘world-famous’ Cronut® (a doughnut-croissant hybrid that I’m pretty sure I invented after a night out at uni but I’ll let sleeping dogs lie) seems to think so. He’s created a twist on a pineapple boat cake inspired by A Tale of Cake and paired with a pineapple Old Fashioned cocktail made by expert mixologist Jeremy Le Blanche. Welcome to the world of ‘caketails’, folks, it’s sure to be as fun as it sounds. 

“When I first tried Glenmorangie, it opened my senses to this amazing world of colour, texture, taste, and aroma. It’s a new adventure each time,” says Ansel. “I never guessed I could enjoy whisky this much, but there is a friendliness to the way Glenmorangie tastes. Baking and whisky making are different worlds but they have a lot in common. If you stir Dr Bill’s passion for single malt with my love for cake, you get the best of both our worlds!” The duo has also invented ‘caketail’ pairings for The Original, The Lasanta and The Quinta Ruban. These delights will be available to a lucky few from his bakery in New York, but to ensure everyone can indulge, they’ve released the recipes so you can recreate them at home. We’ve popped The Cake Old Fashioned recipe below so you can partake. 

I can’t speak to the cocktail’s taste because I haven’t made one yet, but I can confirm that Glenmorangie A Tale of Cake is a really lovely dram. It’s well balanced, moreish and super-interesting. The cask finish suits and enhances the Glenmorangie profile, similar to the effect the Sauternes wine casks have on Nectar d’Or. It doesn’t taste like any one particular cake, but there are plenty of sweet, fruity and creamy elements for those who are expecting a dessert of a dram to enjoy.

Glenmorangie A Tale of Cake is available from MoM Towers now! If you get your hands on a bottle, be sure to let know what you think in the comments.

Glenmorangie A Tale of Cake

Glenmorangie A Tale of Cake Tasting Note: 

Nose: There’s plenty of classic Glenmorangie goodness here, orchard fruits, acacia honey and creamy vanilla initially, followed by stewed orange, golden sultanas and a little Amalfi lemon. Then there’s white chocolate and crème brûlee with hints of elderflower, a fresh wholemeal loaf and a little mint among an array of fruity elements like nectarines in syrup, dried mango and apricot yoghurt.

Palate: The palate is complex, tart and has some slightly tannic wood notes which cut through flinty minerality tones as well as tinned peaches, orange chocolate, apricot croissant and more vanilla. There are honey roasted almonds and a little dark fruit underneath. 

Finish: The finish lingers for an age with notes of marmalade, honeycomb and some fresh pear.

The Cake Old Fashioned (at-home version) 

50 ml of Glenmorangie A Tale of Cake
7.5 ml of coconut water
7.5 ml of pineapple syrup
1 dash of Peychaud’s bitters
1 pinch of black pepper 

Stir all ingredients with ice and strain into a rocks glass over block/ cubed ice. Garnish with a twist of orange zest and a walnut.

2 Comments on Master of Malt tastes… Glenmorangie A Tale of Cake

The Nightcap: 14 August

We’ve got important causes, distillery expansions, trade tariff news and a Scotch whisky distillery asking fans to pick its new whisky from the cask. This week’s Nightcap is a corker….

We’ve got important causes, distillery expansions, trade tariff news and a Scotch whisky distillery asking fans to pick its new whisky from the cask. This week’s Nightcap is a corker.

Seeing as the UK enjoyed a week of Caribbean-esque weather I’d say that’s the perfect excuse to make some classic summer cocktails this weekend. Particularly given that it’s International Rum Day on Sunday (16 August). The only problem is narrowing down which serve to choose. Maybe the tropical delights of a Piña Colada? Or perhaps the zesty refreshment of a Mojito? All I know for sure is, if it’s got tasty rum and can be sipped while reading The Nightcap then it’s the right choice. 

This week we kicked things off on the blog with the news that our summer sale is very much still going before we welcomed the new arrival of a gin with a purpose to support the hospitality industry. Ian Buxton’s then turned his focus to maturation and whether it can ever be manipulated or accelerated as Annie distinguished the difference between Canadian and American rye whisk(e)y and gave us the first instalment of her two-part series on Icelandic spirits. Adam, meanwhile, made the most of the glorious weather by enjoying some gin with some weird and wonderful botanicals and then an indulgent, summery serve which we recommend you make up a glass (or pitcher, it’s the weekend!) of while viewing our fabulous new video tour of Kent’s own Anno Distillery.

Before we proceed to The Nightcap, don’t forget that Scotch and Sofa is just over a month away and tasting sets are available now! 

The Nightcap

Want to help pick the latest Glengoyne single cask bottling? Then take part in the interactive tasting!

Glengoyne invites fans to pick latest single cask

Glengoyne announced this week that it wants you to decide what whisky will become a part of the distillery’s latest ‘Cask of the Moment’ single cask bottling. As long as you tune in to its live stream event at 8pm on Friday 28 August. ‘Casks Unlocked’ features a panel of industry figures join distillery manager Robbie Hughes and global brand ambassador Gordon Dundas tasting and discussing four single casks samples that were chosen from Glengoyne’s Warehouse #8 – including a Port pipe, hogshead, bourbon barrel, and Madeira cask. The truly exciting part is that you can join in at home by purchasing a tasting kit filled with each sample. At the end of the event the panel, viewers, and Glengoyne community will cast a vote for their preferred cask and the winner and the eventual whisky will be available to purchase at the newly reopened distillery shop and online via the Glengoyne website. “At Glengoyne, we’re incredibly fortunate to have some of the most loyal fans in the whisky world. That’s why, to show our appreciation for their ongoing support, we decided to host ‘Casks Unlocked’ – a special opportunity for our community to select Glengoyne’s latest single cask whisky,” says Hughes. “Some of the liquid in the sample kits may have never been released for sale, so this truly is a one-of-a-kind experience that we’re excited to offer our community.” Click here to purchase your Glengoyne ‘Casks Unlocked’ tasting kits.

The Nightcap

Buffalo Trace should meet the high demand for its bourbon soon thanks to the $1.2 billion expansion.

Buffalo Trace Distillery Continues $1.2 Bil Expansion

Despite the pandemic, Buffalo Trace Distillery has made great strides in its $1.2 billion infrastructure investment over the past year. Four new 22-foot-tall cookers with 80,000 gallons of cooking capacity were installed, as were four new fermenters with 93,000-gallon capacity and a new cooling tower. A new $50 million, 110,000-square-feet high-speed bottling hall opened just in time to package essential hand sanitizer, while three more barrel warehouses each with the capacity to hold 58,800 barrels were recently built and three more are on the way. Also in the works at the 247-year-old distillery are eight more fermenters, a new dry house (the area where spent mash is dried and shipped out), a water treatment facility, a second stillhouse, more barrel warehouses, and in the future, another craft bottling hall. Another craft bottling hall will allow Buffalo Trace to produce more single barrel and small-batch bourbons. Since tours resumed on July 1, guests have also been able to see the expanded visitor centre which includes additional tasting rooms and more retail space. The work will be welcome news to fans of the brand, as demand for much of the whisky Buffalo Trace creates exceeds its supply. “We promise we are doing everything we can to make more, as evidenced by our progress we’ve made in the past year with our expansion,” said master distiller Harlen Wheatley. “But great bourbon does take time to age, and we won’t compromise age, taste, or proof just to fill more bottles. We’re just asking our fans to remain patient as we wait for our stocks to mature.” To see a video of the progress Buffalo Trace has made on its $1.2 billion expansion in the past year, click here.

The Nightcap

A rum can now only be labelled as ‘Dominican’ if it meets certain production criteria

‘Dominican rum’ registered as denomination of origin

Some really intriguing news this week that landed at the doorstep of MoM Towers was that the application for the ‘Dominican rum’ denomination of origin has finally been granted. While you may associate the beautiful island with golden beaches, fine cigars and Merengue music, the Caribbean island is also home to a number of delightful rum brands such as Ron Barceló, Brugal and Atlantico and thanks to its geographical location, the island has a vast fauna and flora and the most varied climate of the Antilles. The World Trademark Review revealed that it’s these particular characteristics – “quality, reputation and geographical, including natural and human factors” – that are the foundation of the denomination of origin. A rum can now only be labelled as ‘Dominican’, if producers harvest the sugarcane locally and ferment, distil and age the alcohol in oak barrels for a minimum of one year, all within the borders of the Dominican Republic territory. It’s been a long road for the Dominican Association of Producers of Rum to achieve this milestone as it applied for the denomination of origin way back in July 2014. Third parties had opposed the application on the ground that it contained technical deficiencies but all the oppositions filed were eventually rejected. However, this resolution is not final and an appeal has been lodged by certain parties. For now, Dominican rum has its denomination of origin. The Distinctive Signs Department of ONAPI, in Resolution No 00204 dated 29 May 2020, stated that: “the application for the ‘Dominican Rum’ denomination of origin fulfils all the technical requirements, as it clearly describes the human and environmental conditions required in the cultivation area, as well as the type of sugarcane from the Dominican Republic that must be used and the ageing process required”. And just in time for International Rum Day as well.

The Nightcap

Great drinks, friends and raising funds for a worthy cause. There are worse ways to spend an afternoon

Cocktails in the City returns with Community Spirit Edition

Cocktails in the City is back! On Friday 11 and Saturday 12 September 2020 an alfresco summer garden party at the Bedford Square Gardens will celebrate the city’s best bars that are now reopening, raising money and awareness for the industry. In total, 30 of the city’s most innovative bars will gather at the socially distanced event, including Callooh Callay, 68 & Boston, Nightjar, Trailer Happiness and more. Brands including Moët & Chandon, Belvedere Vodka, The London Essence Company, Campari, Hennessy, Glenmorangie and more will also be making an appearance and guests will be treated to live music from Nightjar and The Piano Works. There will be tasting sessions hosted by The Mixing Class, and complimentary interactive demonstrations throughout the weekend including the Art of the Aperitivo and cocktail making sessions hosted by TT Liquor. This year’s event partners are the wonderful folks at The Drinks Trust and all profits from tickets will be donated to further their outstanding work. Cocktails in the City is the brainchild of Sophie Bratt and Sly Augustin, who created the initiative in the wake of the Grenfell Towers fire in 2017 to raise funds for worthy causes and bring the hospitality industry together. “Boasting nearly two acres of wide-open space, Bedford Square Gardens is the perfect place to bring people together in a safe and socially distanced environment,” says Andrew Scutts, the organiser. “It is a unique opportunity to rediscover the venues that have been forced to close for so long, take part in a series of interactive experiences and enjoy great drinks with friends whilst raising money for a worthy cause”.

The Nightcap

The stunning Glenmorangie House is back open and ready for Highland whisky lovers to enjoy

Glenmorangie House reopens to the public

Highland whisky fans, you can visit Glenmorangie House once more! The 17th-century country house is back open for business as of today, so long as you’re a group of between six and 10 people. Groups of six will have to shell out £1,500 per night, though this gets you a private chef, waiting staff and concierge, and of course, the run of an absolutely breathtaking house. “Prior to our reopening we have introduced additional, rigorous health and safety procedures to ensure social distancing can be adhered to,” said Glenmorangie brand home manager Stuart Smith. “Our team are fully ready to host guests and deliver the very best luxury retreat, accompanied by the finest Highland hospitality all with the aim of restoring our guests’ tranquillity.” If lockdown all got a bit much and you fancy a Highland escape, then this could do the trick. The rest of us will just have to settle for a delicious dram instead.

The Nightcap

The Bekaa valley, home of Lebanon’s wonderful wines

Wine auction to raise money for Lebanon

Following what Anglo-Lebanese writer Michael Karam described as: “a perfect storm of revolution, financial crash, Covid-19 and now this terrible blast,” Lebanon faces a worrying future of food shortages, poverty and political turmoil. Many of us are asking what we can do to help. Madeleine Waters, who knows the country well from organising the award-winning Wines of Lebanon publicity campaign, is organising a charity auction to raise money. She commented: “Wine is pretty much Lebanon’s only export, and one which is bringing much-needed export dollars into a country in the midst of a financial crisis. I would love this to all be about Lebanese wine, but that will limit what we can achieve – so I want it to be a celebration of all wine-producing countries, acting in solidarity with Lebanon.” Expect rare vintages of Chateau Musar and Ksara as well all manner of boozy goodies. Proceeds will go to the re-building Kamal Mouzawak’s Souk el Tayeb & Tawlet, a farmers market and restaurant in Beirut where Lebanese of all religious denominations sell food side-by-side, and Impact Lebanon, which distributes funds to vetted NGOs. The online auction will take place over four days from 28-31 August. Click here if you want to get involved. Or just buy some of Lebanon’s wonderful wine or arak. You won’t regret it.

The Nightcap

It’s a relief that British gin has been excluded from the ongoing US trade tariff saga says Miles Beale

US trade tariffs will not extend to British gin

There’s a new development in the seemingly ongoing US/EU trade war saga! No, don’t scroll down, this time it’s good news: the US will not be extending the tariffs which apply to Scotch whisky, among other things, to British gin. With exports of £672 million, gin is a big money-spinner for the British economy. As you might expect, Miles Beale from drinks industry body WSTA had something to say: “The news that the US has decided not to escalate tariffs is encouraging. This will come as a huge relief to the growing UK British gin sector which has seen distilleries more than double in number in the last five years. Our innovative British distillers, particularly those working in the SME distilleries that the WSTA represents, can breathe easy and raise a glass to America. This is the first important step in what should prove to be a closer trading relationship, and should provide the necessary space for constructive discussions between the US and UK Governments, and for both administrations to work to remove the remaining tariffs against liqueurs, bourbon and Scotch products – and all wine products affected as well. Industry’s voice on both sides of the Atlantic for a free and fair trade agenda is being listened to and that is good for business and good for consumers.” See, we told you it was good news.

The Nightcap

How rebellious is Smokehead’s latest release? Imagine Billy Idol singing Rebel Yell x Bowie’s Rebel Rebel.

And finally… Drink whisky on International Rum Day?

As we are sure you are aware, it’s International Rum Day on the 16 August, so you have to admire the sheer chutzpah of the team at Smokehead who are using the day as an excuse to push their latest Islay single malt; almost as bold as the English whisky distillery who tried to muscle in on Burns Night earlier this year. A Sassenach whisky on the Bard’s own night? Is nothing sacred? At least there is a proper hook as this latest Smokehead is aged in an actual rum cask. Iain Weir, brand director, explained: “We are overwhelmed by the boldness of flavour in our new bottling and can’t wait to see our Smokeheads’ reaction. When our rich, smoky, salty Islay Smokehead collides with spicy, sweet Caribbean rum casks, carnage is inevitable.” We can confirm that not only is Rum Rebel delicious, the sweetness and smoke combining into an exquisite hell broth, but also that it’s coming soon to MoM. Furthermore, on International Rum Day itself, this coming Sunday, top bartender Mikey Sim will be showing you how to make a special Smokito on Facebook and Instagram, go to @smokeheadwhisky. So rebellious.

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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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