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Master of Malt Blog

Tag: Havana Club

The Nightcap: 1 October

This week’s Nightcap stars Skepta, two MoMers who are in contention to be the IWSC Spirit Communicator for 2022, and some truly rubbish wine. October. It’s October. October 2021. How…

This week’s Nightcap stars Skepta, two MoMers who are in contention to be the IWSC Spirit Communicator for 2022, and some truly rubbish wine.

October. It’s October. October 2021. How is this even possible? Time is making a shambles of us all. Our 2021 to-do lists mock us. Halloween is this month. Christmas is on the horizon. It’s all too much, isn’t it? Well, we’ve got just the tonic. Lots of gin. Just kidding. Although we do have lots of gin, our actual solution is light reading about all the goings-on in the world of booze. It’s called The Nightcap. Here it is.

Things were extra exciting on the blog these last few days because it just so happens to be MoM Week! Amazing, and exclusive to us, Glengoyne, Hermitage Cognac, and more are here and ready to be enjoyed. 

Oh, and we have a 71-year-old Macallan knocking around. Plus, news on Diageo’s Special Releases 2021 as well as some fascinating insights into why whisky can break the bank, how Crabbie’s is restoring a whisky legacy and why St. James Bar is so great. We also made a delicious cocktail called The Brooklyn and reported on the shock news that John Campbell is leaving Laphroaig. All in a week’s work. A MoM week’s work. Do check it out.

We also crowned one distillery as our Whisky Icon. Who was it? Click here to find out. Then click here to see the world’s greatest reaction video.

Now, let’s crack on. It’s the Nightcap: 1 October edition!

The Nightcap: 1 October

Hoorah for Kristy, Millie, and all other nominees!

Two MoMers make the IWSC Spirit Communicator 2022 shortlist!

If you’re aware of the IWSC Spirit Communicator 2022 award (sponsored by Chivas Brothers), you’ll know that it’s a pretty big deal in our industry. The award aims to recognise someone who is making an “exceptional contribution towards promoting spirits to the public”, and “reward those who have succeeded in using an omnichannel approach to communicate their spirits message to their audience”, according to the IWSC. For 2022, applications were at an all-time high, so it’s especially impressive to make the list of nominees, which is just five outstanding candidates. We are delighted to say that on the shortlist for this year’s Spirits Communicator of the Year award are former MoM editor Kristiane Sherry and current MoM contributor Millie Milliken! Ok, so technically Kristy is now head of spirits at Fine & Rare, but she spent part of this year here at MoM Towers so that counts as far we’re concerned (and she still hosts Pour & Sip tastings), while Millie has been writing all kinds of outstanding content for our blog in the last year. The other nominees are the excellent Moa Nilsson, or the ‘Swedish Whisky Girl’ as you probably know her best, the wonderful Felipe Schrieberg of ‘The Rhythm and Booze’ project and Forbes fame, and Billy Abbott from the enemy (just kidding, we love you really Billy). For more information on each nominee, visit here. Congratulations to all of them for making the shortlist, it’s a stellar lineup and any one of the five would be a worthy winner. You will forgive us if we have a couple of people we’re rooting for though…

The Nightcap: 1 October

That bottle is still sealed, my guy.

Havana Club unveils limited-edition rum with grime star Skepta

Havana Club and international music icon Skepta are proud to announce the next chapter of their global collaboration, a limited-edition rum created by the artist himself. The collaboration began in 2019, when Skepta first visited Havana, Cuba, and noticed parallels in Cuban traditions and those of his own West African Yoruba heritage through paths of migration. The first two chapters of the collaboration – a pair of redesigned Havana Club 7 Rum bottles – captured this cultural infusion in their labels, which featured traditional Nigerian symbols. But this is much more swanky. In fact, it’s described as “a truly unique spirit for the next generation of rum drinkers”, which was made as a “celebration of excellence and the cultural links between Cuba and Skepta’s homeland of Nigeria.” It’s also £85. Which is swanky, right? The rapper himself is also said to have been involved in the creation, collaborating with maestro del ron Cubano Asbel Morales, to make Rum of Skepta in a limited-edition batch of just 3,000 bottles. The press shots are a tad goofy, given Skepta appears to be drinking from a sealed bottle (maybe he’s just that good?), but we actually think this could prove very fruitful. If it opens the world of rum to a diverse set of new people, then that’s always welcome. As is the fact that I can do a Super Hans impression to anyone who brings this rum up in conversation and say “the secret ingredient is grime”. 

The Nightcap: 1 October

Some classic podcast posing on show here

The Scotch Malt Whisky Society (SMWS) launches new podcast with Vic Galloway

The Scotch Malt Whisky Society (SMWS) has partnered with Vic Galloway for a special podcast series dedicated to great music and stunning whisky. You might remember they collaborated before, but now they’re taking things to the next level, with the Whisky Talk: Malts & Music podcast series. Along with a tasting pack of five Society single cask malt whiskies, each of Vic’s guests will explore their creative loves, their passion for whisky, and most importantly, how each of the five Society drams has inspired a favourite piece of music. Hosted in the Tasting Room at The Vaults, the Society’s home in Leith, the podcast will feature a whisky-fuelled chat with well-known whisky fans from Scottish cultural life like Norman Blake from Teenage Fanclub, writer Val McDermid, Justin Currie from Del Amitri and Stina Tweeddale of Honeyblood. Whisky Talk: Malts & Music kicks off on Thursday, 7 October with crime writer Ian Rankin, who pairs his Society drams with tunes from John Martyn, James Yorkston, and more. “Good whisky and good music go hand in hand. I had such a great time pairing 12 music genres with the 12 Scotch Malt Whisky Society flavour profiles earlier this year, and that gave us the idea for Whisky Talk: Malts & Music,” says Galloway. “Asking a whisky-loving creative person to match five malts with five pieces of music and chat to our guests about the experience was a huge amount of fun. As the whisky flows, we go off on unexpected tangents about creative work, opinions, and life in general. Join us for a good chinwag and spectacular drams!” Whisky Talk: Malt & Music is on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, iTunes, Google Podcasts, and Stitcher, or you can watch the videos of the conversations on the SMWS YouTube channel.

The Nightcap: 1 October

Congrats to you Nancy!

Santa Teresa 1796 announces first female master blender

News this week from Santa Teresa rum reveals that Nancy Duarte will take over as its new master blender, the first woman to hold this position within the company, and just the fifth altogether in the history of the brand. Holding a Superior Technical degree in food and beverage, specializing in wines and fermented drinks, since 1990 Duarte has held several positions in the production area of Ron Santa Teresa, including the supervision of quality control, development, and formulation of liquids as well as innovations in the productive process and new products for the company portfolio. Couldn’t be more qualified, by the sounds of it. A vital part of her responsibilities has been to supervise the entire production process, from raw materials obtained at the Hacienda Santa Teresa to the finished product, to guarantee the quality and consistency of the blends. Duarte points out that, out of all the areas she is in charge of, the aging stage is one of her great passions because it is where the transformation of alcohol into rum takes place and where the mastery of the rum blender helps create exceptionally aged rums.

The Nightcap: 1 October

Our new favourite cocktail has to be the Espresso Martini made with this

Sipspresso Coffee Gin released for World Coffee Day

Did you know that today, 1 October, is World Coffee Day? We only knew because last night we were at the launch for Sipspresso Coffee Gin at the Artesian Bar in London. We were fortunate enough to chat with Mr. Sipsmith himself, Jared Brown, who seems to have more ideas in 10 minutes than most people have in a lifetime. But his wife seems even more interesting. Apparently, she’s uncovered some startling revelations about the history of gin in England. We can’t say anymore. But back to the point of the evening, Brown commented:  “We crafted Sipspresso Coffee Gin to our exacting standards. We ensured the same level of uncompromising commitment to quality and sustainability in our coffee supplier – Pact Coffee – who work with farmers from three continents to ethically source the finest ingredients for their premium coffee. Layering Pact’s Brazilian and Rwandan ground coffee with cinnamon and fresh vanilla on top of our original London Dry Gin base creates a delightfully rich, warm, and indulgent gin with a smooth and balanced finish.” Naturally, we tried it in Espresso Martinis but even better was the Coffee Negroni served with peach which has to be one of the most delicious things we’re ever tried. So hats off to the Artesian team for such amazing drinks. Sipspresso will be landing at Master of Malt very soon.

The Nightcap: 1 October

Distinguished chef Emily Roux will put together quite a menu

Emily Roux and The Balvenie create immersive dining experience

The Balvenie has come up with a nifty way to celebrate its newest release, 25 Year Old – Rare Marriages, by teaming up with distinguished chef Emily Roux to create a one-off immersive experience. On Friday 8th October, Harvey Nichols in London’s Knightsbridge, will host a gastronomic experience in a forest-like space featuring a six-course menu Roux made to perfectly complement the liquid and tell the story of how the whisky was made. Expect smoked beetroot tartelette, fresh Scottish langoustines tartare, roast venison saddle, and more deliciousness, along with specially concocted Balvenie cocktails and a tasting of The Balvenie Twenty Five. Paper quilling artist, Yulia Brosdskaya has also made a three-dimensional artwork that will be on display at Harvey Nichols as a full window display for the month of October. Tickets are £45.00 and are redeemable against £45.00 off a purchase of The Balvenie Twenty-Five in-store or online at Harvey Nichols.  We also wrote a feature on the 25 Year Old – Rare Marriages if you’d like to get an idea of what to expect.

The Nightcap: 1 October

Want to blend your own whiskey? You know where to go.

The Whiskey Thing at The Distillery Portobello Road

This week we went over to the rainbow streets of Portobello Road to (finally) try The Whiskey Thing, the newest experience from Jake Burger (of Portobello Road Gin) and the team behind The Ginstitute at The Distillery. Over three hours, Burger took us through everything you need to (and could) know about whisk(e)y, with the evening culminating in the chance to blend your own creation and take home the bottle. There’s no actual whisky distilling going on here – rather, Burger has selected 18 whiskies from around the world to showcase all that the spirit has to offer. Beginning with a journey through the production, from fermentation to maturation, it’s a fun and interactive experience. Peat is set alight with a blowtorch, and foam banana sweets are presented to mirror ripe ester-y flavours, as is shortbread to demonstrate the flavours of American oak. A mini crème brûlée is brought out alongside a Mexican corn whisky to amplify those buttery notes – and all of this is before we get to the official tasting! There are 18 whiskies to create your blend from, and we taste nine of them (18 glasses would be a little intimidating, we all agreed). The tasting is blind, and only after we’ve created the blend does Burger reveal what we’ve been sipping. No spoilers here, but ours was a mix of Irish, Indian, Scotch malt, and grain whiskies. All in all, a thoroughly enjoyable, refreshing evening. Huge thanks to the whole team – if you want to brush up on your whisky knowledge and tasting skills, head on down!

The Nightcap: 1 October

Irish whiskey sales were down, but we’re confident they’ll bounce back

Irish whiskey sales slumped in 2020

The Irish Spirits Market Report 2022 from Drinks Ireland is here and it makes sobering reading for the country’s whiskey business. Global sales by value were down by 4% mainly due to Covid and the resulting collapse of global travel retail, the second biggest market for Irish whiskey, and the closure of bars and restaurants. Though whiskey seems more resilient than other categories – overall spirit exports were down 16%. Bryan Fallon, chairman of Drinks Ireland commented: “The report shows that the spirits sector did not escape unscathed from the Covid-19 pandemic. Irish hospitality venues are a vital component to the continued growth and prosperity of Ireland’s spirits and craft spirits sector, allowing companies to engage with consumers, so their closure was very much felt.” To help the country’s industry, Drinks Ireland is calling for a cut in excise tax, Ireland has the third-highest tax on spirits in the EU. Fallon explained: “While 2020 has shown that our sector is resilient and adaptable, this resilience and adaptability will be tested in the post-Covid world, and the government must support our sector’s recovery through an excise cut.”

The Nightcap: 1 October

Thanks to the largesse of William Borrell from Vestal Vodka, it’s here!

Award-winning drinks magazine Tonic celebrates its second issue

Many people talk of starting their own magazine, but husband and wife team Robert Ellison and Benita Finanzio made their dream a reality when they founded Tonic, a magazine devoted to drinks and travel. They got some money together, commissioned some articles and the first issue landed last year… just in time for Covid. It’s been a struggle as Ellison admitted at the launch party for the second issue last night. But at his lowest point when he was thinking of jacking it all in, he got a phone call from someone saying he loved the magazine and wanted to help out financially. It was none other than William Borrell from Vestal Vodka who had a bit of spare cash after selling half his business to Halewood. Not only that but Halewood sponsored the launch at their City of London Distillery. The first issue has proved a triumph: lighting up awards lists up and down the country with contributors, Juliet Rix and Claire Dodd both shortlisted for awards, and Will Hawkes winning a Fortnum & Mason award for best drink writer. Plus the magazine is a finalist in the Travel Media Awards for the Consumer Publication of the Year. All this from a team with a lot of passion but no publishing experience at all. Now there’s a second issue out (go here to buy), and it’s even better. Moral of the story: dare to dream.

The Nightcap: 1 October

Rubbish wine, it’s the future.

And finally… rubbish wine anyone?

We love making use of leftovers here at Master of Malt. Rarely a week goes by when we don’t have bubble & squeak for breakfast but we’re recycling amateurs compared with two Aberdeen students. For a couple of years now, Elliott Martens and Lasse Melgaard have been taking advantage of the amount of perfectly edible food that supermarkets chuck out every day. Dubbing themselves Two Racoons, the pair told the Daily Record that they could “eat like kings” on food that had been binned. Now, they’re taking their Womble-tendencies up a notch with a range of wines made from surplus fruit. Varieties include ‘Strawberry Feels Forever’ and the not-quite-so-catchy ‘Overripe Raspberries Make Good Wine’. It’s worth following them on Instagram @tworaccoonswinery and see the Press & Journal for the full story. These lads have turned more than four tons of unwanted fruit into 10,000 bottles of wine that’s literally rubbish. 

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Cocktail of the Week: The Cuba Libre

From classic cars to crumbling buildings, Cuba carries the faded beauty of an old movie. Famous for revolutions, communism and its delicious drinks, country’s political history often goes hand-in-hand with…

From classic cars to crumbling buildings, Cuba carries the faded beauty of an old movie. Famous for revolutions, communism and its delicious drinks, country’s political history often goes hand-in-hand with its liquid one. Today we’re making one the island’s classics, the Cuba Libre.

While classic concoctions such as the Daiquiri, the Mojito and El Presidente might require a little more skill (or a good bartender), this week we turn our attention to a much more simple drink: the Cuba Libre. On the face of it, the Cuba Libre is just rum and Coke with a bit of lime. But dig deeper, and it becomes so much more. This is not just a spirit/mixer, this is a cry for freedom.

Cuba Libre Bacardi advert

Free Cuba

The Cuba Libre (which means Free Cuba) became a popular drink on the island following Cuba’s war of independence with Spain in the late 1800s. Before the arrival of Coca-Cola to the island, reports suggest the original Cuba Libre was a mix of honey or molasses with water and rum, or just water and brown sugar.

But by 1900, Coca-Cola was well-established in the country and no doubt a welcome sight for American soldiers still garrisoned there, following the war.

Bacardi, which at that time was still making its rum in its native Cuba, calls the Cuba Libre “part cocktail, part rallying cry”. And original recipes call for Bacardi in the mix.

The rum brand’s archivist Rachel Dorion says that in August 1900, a messenger to Roosevelt’s commander General Leonard Wood, who was later appointed the Military Governor of Cuba, witnessed a new incarnation of the Cuba Libre that used Coca-Cola.

The messenger, Fausto Rodriguez, said that shortly after the war in Cuba, with military intervention still in effect, two Americans opened The American Bar on Neptuno Street in Havana.

The invention of the Cuba Libre

“Rodriguez remembered meeting an American member of the Signal Corps named Russell who ordered Rodriguez a Coca-Cola. He himself ordered his Coca-Cola with Bacardi Gold rum and a wedge of lime,” says Dorion. “The drink became extremely popular among the American soldiers who regularly gathered at the bar.”

The story goes that Russell and his soldier friends decided the cocktail deserved a name. They went for ‘Cuba Libre’, since the phrase ‘Free Cuba!’ was a cry embraced by both Cuban revolutionaries and sympathetic American soldiers.

Rodriguez later affirmed under oath in the State of New York that the event was the first time the phrase Cuba Libre was applied to an alcoholic drink, and that the ingredients were Bacardi Gold rum and Coca-Cola.

Records from the Bacardi archives show that the Cuba Libre cocktail made with Bacardi rum has been mentioned in publications as early as 1928 and in recipe books in the late 1930s. The earliest advertisement that mentions the Cuba Libre cocktail in the Bacardi archive dates back to the 1930s and it reads: “Say ‘make mine with Bacardi’. Try our Bacardi Cuba Libre.”

Cuba Libre advert

Refreshers to lamb chops

In fact, the Cuba Libre has been advertised in several different ways over the years. In a 1946 LIFE magazine ad, the drink was hailed for being refreshing and by 1953, it was all about calorie counting. This ad claims a Cuba Libre has fewer calories than a lamb chop! Good to know, I guess. 

Besides Bacardi, Pernod Ricard’s Havana Club also champions the Cuba Libre. The rum is made in Cuba and in 2018, Havana Club relaunched its Añejo Especial, with a big push for the Cuba Libre cocktail.

“Not to be confused with a basic rum and cola, the authentic Cuba Libre needs a generous squeeze of lime to even out the drink’s sweetness,” says Havana Club.

First taste of ‘freedom’

Balance is always important in a drink. And, as it happens, when you’re standing up on a train.

My first Cuba Libre  – and not just a plain old rum and Coke – was 2009, on board an old Hershey’s Chocolate train that rattled through the sugar cane fields near Havana to Hershey station. US chocolate magnate Milton Hershey had set up business in Cuba in the early part of the 20th century, establishing a railway for the transportation of his sugar.

Anyway, nearly 100 years later, I was on the train in Cuba with Havana Club rum and about 15 bartenders.

It turns out that besides rum, cola and the necessary citrus, you need three other things to make a good Cuba Libre on the back of a rickety old train: pre-cut limes, plastic glasses and a steady hand. Of course, it also helps if you’re surrounded by bartenders.

So, without further ado, here’s how to make it:

Rum and Cola Cuba Libre

How to make a Cuba Libre

50ml Bacardi Carta Oro rum
100ml Coca-Cola
2 lime wedges

Fill a glass with ice, squeeze over the lime and drop the wedges into the glass. Add the rum and cola. Give it a gentle stir and garnish with more lime. Raise a toast to Cuba Libre!

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New Arrival of the Week: Havana Club Cuban Spiced

Havana Club’s first spiced variant has just arrived at MoM Towers. So we decided to take a look and see what to expect from the new expression. The fact that Havana…

Havana Club’s first spiced variant has just arrived at MoM Towers. So we decided to take a look and see what to expect from the new expression.

The fact that Havana Club is entering the spiced rum market is not particularly surprising, given that the category is enormous. The Wine and Spirit Trade Association (WSTA) revealed in 2019 that sales of flavoured and spiced rum in the UK shot up from less than six million bottles in 2014 to more than 10m in 2019. The only real surprise is why the Cuban rum giants took so long to get involved.

Rum can be confusing

Perhaps Havana Club was reluctant due to the stigma attached to the spiced rum category. Saccharine products laced with artificial flavourings and colouring have led to an association with them being inferior. In fact, its newest addition is technically a spirit drink, not a rum. According to EU law, rum may not be flavoured. Therefore ‘spiced rum’ is not technically rum, but a category in its own right. Confusing, isn’t it? As consumers become more knowledgeable and demanding, the lack of authenticity and transparency is becoming an issue.

Producers, however, are reacting to the thirst for more transparency. More and more rums are being released that prioritise quality, story and provenance over volume or cost, often with a price tag to match. A new generation of distillers and bottlers has been key to this dynamic shift. But innovative products can also come from big global brands too.

Havana Club Cuban Spiced

Havana Club Cuban Spiced has arrived at MoM Towers!

Distinctive flavours from Cuba’s tropical climate

This brings us to Havana Club Cuban SpicedAnne Martin, global marketing director at Havana Club International, explains that the concept behind Havana Club Cuban Spiced was to create a product that would appeal to the “growing audience of spiced fans,” while revealing that more than two-thirds of young adults that purchase rum opt for spiced offerings. 

The press release also wastes no time in telling us that the brand wants to create something different from other nautical-inspired spiced rums on the market. How? By showcasing the “innovation and craftsmanship in Cuban rum production” and celebrating “the provenance of Havana Club with distinctive flavours from Cuba’s tropical climate”.

A Cuban rum recap

So, let’s talk about how Havana Club makes rum. The process begins with sugar cane. It grows a-plenty in Cuba’s fertile soil (just ask cigar fans about the quality of crop the country grows). To create molasses your squish the harvested cane to extract the juice and then boil it.  Then you add water and yeast to the molasses in tanks to ferment for about one and a half days. It’s a short amount of time. In places like Jamaica, fermentation lasts for five days to a week.

Havana Club Cuban Spiced

Cuban rum has a long history and its production is full of tradition and pride

That’s because Cuba is one of the pioneers of what is often described as Spanish-style rum, which refers to light, fresh and crisp rum made in Spanish-speaking countries thanks to a request from the Spanish Crown, which preferred its spirits delicate in flavour. You’re not going to find those big funky Jamaican-style rums here. 

After fermentation, the liquid is distilled in a mix of pot and column stills before being placed into American white oak barrels for ageing. By law, it must age for at least two years.  Charcoal-filtration and then some more blending and ageing typically occurs after this, but it’s not a legal requirement. Maestros roneros (or master rum makers) watch over this entire process and it takes 15 years of work to become one.

There has been rum in Cuba since the introduction of the sugarcane crop to the Caribbean and access to it and the tropical climate the rum matures in has led to Cuba getting the nickname “the isle of rum” and ensured the spirit has become an essential part of the nation’s culture.

Havana Club Cuban Spiced

Be sure to have some fun with this one and so plenty of mixing!

A spirit drink not a rum

It’s this rum that forms the bedrock Havana Club’s new spiced spirit drink, which has been infused with “natural tropical flavours” like vanilla, aromatic spices, ripe guava, toasted coconut and fresh pineapple. Three Cuban fruits alongside the typical vanilla and spice mix demonstrate the brand is living up to its billing of utilising local flavours. There’s no information about sugar levels, however. The bottle’s label clearly states that it’s a spirit drink at least, which is refreshing, and the pricing is fair. As far as expressions in this category go, Havana Club Cuban Spiced certainly has promise.  

Which shouldn’t be too much of a surprise. The exceptional distilling pedigree outlined earlier and some strong branding has helped Havana Club become one of those rare producers that has an entire core range worthy of keeping in stock. Which most bars and supermarkets around the world make a habit of doing. Excluding the US, of course, thanks to its embargo on Cuban products. 

The producer’s tasting notes suggests there will be rich, fresh tropical fruit, light honey, vanilla and warm spices to enjoy. But it will be interesting to see if the additional flavours overwhelm the light rum at the core of this expression or enhance it. Of course, most people will mix it anyway. Ginger beer, cola or coconut water and other tropical fruit juices will all work well as mixers, but don’t be afraid to experiment with cocktail classics. A Spiced Daiquiri or a Spiced Espresso Martini sounds pretty good to me. 

Havana Club Cuban Spiced is now available from Master of Malt.

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Six yummy rums you need to try

Fancy a tipple with a tropical twist? These six rums are complex, mixable and tremendously tasty. Rum is in vogue right now. 2020 has been tipped as rum’s moment in…

Fancy a tipple with a tropical twist? These six rums are complex, mixable and tremendously tasty.

Rum is in vogue right now. 2020 has been tipped as rum’s moment in the sun, and, frankly, it’s about time. But with such a vast range of brands, styles and source regions, it can be really difficult to choose the right one. That’s where we come in to lend a helping hand. Whether you’re a fan of dark or white, spicy or sweet, this selection of rum will have something you love, and hopefully something you haven’t tried before… Enjoy!

Havana Club Añejo 3 Year Old        

Havana Club has long been a standard-bearer for Cuba’s outstanding rum-making heritage and for good reason. This Havana Club expression, which makes a particularly good Daiquiri, was aged for three years in bourbon casks and then filtered which gives it a distinctive light straw yellow hue.

What does it taste like?

Marzipan, citrus, allspice, ground ginger, vanilla, a little lime, gentle oak and a delicate nutty note.

Horizon Black [Hole] Spiced Rum        

I don’t know anything about black holes, but I do know a good rum when I taste one and this expression is a very, very good rum. Horizon Black [Hole] Spiced Rum was built around a blend of Caribbean rums, and flavoured with black pepper, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, orange (both sweet and Curaçao), star anise and vanilla to give it a big, complex profile that makes it as delicious neat as it is mixed. 

What does it taste like?

Curaçao, red cola cubes, stewed dark fruits, toasted cardamom and clove, vanilla, dark chocolate, rich molasses, root beer, treacle, Seville orange marmalade, espresso, liquorice, star anise and a hint of spent fireworks underneath.

Rumbullion!        

A versatile, tasty and distinctive spiced rum from Ableforth’s, Rumbullion! is perfect for a number of rum cocktails, but on these balmy spring evenings, its best enjoyed ice and a good whack of lime. It features Madagascan vanilla, orange peel, cassia, clove and cardamom alongside the high-quality Caribbean rum. The label gives a shout-out to the nearly forgotten grog tubs, a robust vessel from which tots were dispensed to Royal Navy crew up until 1970.

What does it taste like?

Intense, sweet vanilla, flamed orange zest, cardamom, old-fashioned cola, manuka honey, molasses, candy floss, toffee apples, crème brûlée and a fabulous mix of thick cut bitter orange marmalade and tingling, zinging spices from cloves and cinnamon.

O Reizinho (That Boutique-y Rum Company)        

Unaged rhum agricole is the underappreciated star of the rum world, so if you haven’t given it a fair crack of the whip, then you know what to do. O Reizinho is an intense and funky expression from Madeira, Portugal that was bottled by the fab folk over at That Boutique-y Rum Company and was recently declared the winner of the Pot Still Rum category at the World Rum Awards 2019. And yes, that is a funky olive king on the label.

What does it taste like?

Super vegetal, pungent unripe banana, fresh green olives, saline seaweed, lively black pepper.

Wood’s Old Navy Rum        

A classic name in rum, Wood’s has long been regarded for its singular profile, killer cocktail potential and reasonable price. It’s Old Navy Rum was distilled in Guyana, South America from sugar cane and bottled at 57% abv, making it one of the highest percentage volume dark rums out there.

What does it taste like?

Muscovado sugar, soft toffee and spice from cinnamon, cloves and pepper.

Plantation XO Barbados 20th Anniversary        

You may not know of many rums matured in Cognac casks, but given the fabulous French-owned Plantation brand was founded by Alexandre Gabriel (of Maison Ferrand fame), it’s little surprise to see this technique employed here. Plantation XO Barbados 20th Anniversary was initially matured in bourbon barrels, the spirit was then shipped to France for a secondary maturation in Cognac casks from the Ferrand house. It’s picked up numerous awards and is particularly delicious in a cocktail.

What does it taste like?

Spicy oak, guava, a little desiccated coconut, dried banana, sweet vanilla and caramel. 

 

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The Nightcap: 20 September

Your order of bite-sized bits of booze news has been filled once again, courtesy of The Nightcap! This week we’ve got stories about beer from 1936, colourful Macallan whisky and…

Your order of bite-sized bits of booze news has been filled once again, courtesy of The Nightcap! This week we’ve got stories about beer from 1936, colourful Macallan whisky and the return of a drink-filled Amazon Prime TV series.

We’ve spent some time in the office this week talking about how Jeff Goldblum is pretty much the perfect person. To be honest, we spend a lot of weeks doing that. In a way, he’s quite like the booze industry. We enjoy what they produce, we’re excited to see what they come out with next and they both make us thirsty. Only one, however, can be the true focus of The Nightcap. Sorry, Jeff. But needs must.

So what’s been going on here on the MoM Blog? Well, we announced winner of our Salcombe Gin competition, so congratulations are in order. Elsewhere, Jess witnessed the journey of a whisky from tree to barrel to glass courtesy of Jura Seven Wood and Henry enjoyed some Rum Punch as this is International Punch Day (happy IPD, folks!). Annie, meanwhile, had an eco-themed week, first dispelling some eco myths and then looking at some the finest eco distilleries. Adam’s theme was more sherry-tastic as he rounded-up some delicious and delightful sherried whiskies and then made an amontillado sherry cask-finished Tomatin single malt Scotch whisky our New Arrival of the Week, before finding time to talk about the new Jameson Caskmates release.

Despite all of that boozy goodness, there’s still more news stories to cover. It’s The Nightcap!

The Macallan Edition No. 5 launches in collaboration with Pantone

Sound the ‘New Macallan‘ alert folks, because the Speyside distillery has just launched a bottling as a “homage to the diversity and complexity of natural colour.” It may sound more Pantene then Pantone, but the expression is supposed to champion the spectrum of natural colour you’ll find across the Macallan range and features a collaboration with the Pantone Color Institute. The company created the shade of purple you’ll see on the label especially for this particular release, which has been named The Macallan Edition Purple. The Macallan Edition No.5 was matured in American oak casks and is said to have notes of caramel, vanilla, lemon basil and fresh fruit combined with oak spices, but more importantly, it’s a colour the brand describes as “sunlit barley” (I’m thinking of having my spare room painted that). “We can find much common ground between whisky making and colour creation and with Edition No.5 we have been able to explore and celebrate these two art forms,” said Sarah Burgess, The Macallan whisky maker. “Whilst colour development starts with mixing basic colours with precision to achieve different shades, for whisky-making, it is the knowledge and understanding of a specific palette of colours from the cask which is the starting point. From here we can craft the desired character and specific colour of the final whisky”. Laurie Pressman, vice president of the Pantone Color Institute, added: “As the rainbow’s most complex colour, purple naturally felt like the ideal shade to highlight the equally complex process involved in The Macallan’s whisky-making”.

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The remarkable historical beers

Britain’s earliest surviving canned beers go for £2,250 at auction

We’re used to old bottles of whisky selling for thousands of pounds but with beer less so. Which is why we were surprised when two old cans went for £2,250 at Chiswick Auctions in London yesterday. That’s a lot of bread for beer. But these weren’t just any cans. Oh no, these babies date back to 1936 and come from the Felinfoel Brewery in Llanelli which was the first brewery in Britain and the second in the world to produce a canned beer. Similar cans were shipped out to North Africa to keep General Montgomery’s army aka the Desert Rats refreshed. Handily at the time, the brewery also owned a tinplate works. The cans were lined with wax to stop the beer corroding the metal. It seems to have worked because both the contents of one can are entirely intact, whereas the second has suffered some evaporation. Not bad for 83-year-old beer cans. As for the taste of the beer, we are unlikely to find out whether they are drinkable as the cans were snapped up by the very company that brewed them (still in family hands after all these years) to go into its museum.

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Havana Club Tributo 2019, which we can confirm is very tasty

Havana Club brings Tributo 2019 to the UK

At The Churchill Bar & Terrace in Portman Square, London we were treated to live Cuban music, delicious cocktails, a sublime menu and, best of all, the 2019 edition of Havana Club Tributo this week. The fourth bottling in Havana Club’s Tributo range, which was first launched in February 2019 at the Habanos Festival in Havana, Cuba, was created by three generations of masters of Cuban rum (maestros del ron Cubano) including Don José Navarro, Asbel Morales and Salomé Aleman, the first and only female maestra del ron Cubano, who each selected a rare and extra-aged rum base which were first left to mature in the 1970s, 1990s and 2010s respectively. These were then blended together with a rum that was matured for more than 25 years in French oak barrels to form the 2019 edition of Tributo. “Once again, the Havana Club Tributo collection praises the richness and variety of styles that form the base of the authentic Cuban rum category,” said Morales. “Each rum in the Tributo range uniquely focuses on a different element of the production process, from our ancient rum bases to cask experimentation and the 2019 edition continues this story by honouring the craftsmanship of three of the maestros del ron Cubano.” Rich, refined and intense, Havana Club Tributo 2019 possesses notes of dark chocolate, dried fruit, baking spice, coffee, brown sugar and exotic fruit. It certainly earns our seal of approval and will be available at MoM Towers soon…

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A delightful cause, courtesy of a delightful beer!

Beer for good! Camden Town Brewery heads to London for UK’s first Can-for-Can Swap with The Felix Project

We’re all lucky enough to be able to enjoy delicious food and mouth-watering drinks on a regular basis, though it’s a harsh reality that that’s not true for everyone. That’s why we were super stoked to hear that Camden Town Brewery has launched a new autumnal seasonal beer, dubbed Harvest Hells Lager, in partnership with The Felix Project, a charity with a mission in raising awareness for food poverty in the UK. This is a problem which affects 8.4 million people nationally. Harvest Hells gets its autumnal notes from darker roasted speciality malts, making for a richer flavour while poetically turning its summery yellow hue to the reddish-brown of autumn leaves. Mmm, autumn leaves… But how does lager help food poverty, you ask? Well, from 24 September there’s going to be a Harvest Hells van gallivanting between London, Leeds, Manchester and Liverpool with the UK’s first ‘Can-for-Can’ swap initiative! Bring a can of any tinned food and you’ll secure a can of Harvest Hells lager in return, while your tins will be donated to local food banks in each city. The when and whereabouts of the Harvest Hells Van can be found here. What’s more, Camden Town Brewery is donating 20p from every can of Harvest Hells Lager sold within the first month to The Felix Project. “Food poverty in the UK is a growing problem, with many people struggling to afford fresh and healthy food for themselves and their families,” Mark Curtin, CEO of The Felix Project, says. “We are delighted that Camden is not only helping to raise awareness of these crucial issues and the work we do at The Felix Project to tackle them, but also getting people involved in supporting the cause to help to reduce waste and eradicate food insecurity.” If there was ever a more appropriate time to do the can-can, it would have to be now.

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Distillation here will begin in 2021. We’d like all artist’s impressions to include dogs, on another note.

Ardgowan releases Coppersmith malt inspired by the Clyde’s shipbuilding heritage

This week Ardgowan announced the first in a series of limited-editions whiskies. The company has received planning permission for a new distillery to commence operation in 2021 but in the meantime will be selling blended whiskies created by Max McFarlane. CEO Martin McAdam described McFarlane, former whisky maker for Edrington looking after brands such as Famous Grouse, Cutty Sark, Bunnahabhain, Tamdhu and Highland Park, as a “whisky legend.” The first release is called Coppersmith and it’s a blend of Speyside and Highland distilleries wholly matured in first-fill oloroso sherry casks. McFarlane, who is from Inverkip on the west coast, said: “Coppersmith is the first in the Clydebuilt series of whiskies which Ardgowan Distillery will release in the years ahead. Each bottle in the series will celebrate the pride shown by generations of workers on the Clyde, who together built some of the world’s most illustrious ships.” He went on to say: “I wanted to produce a top-drawer blended malt and I believe that is what we have achieved.” It will be available from the distillery for £49.99 and from a certain online retailer soon.

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The Three Drinkers return to Amazon Prime, and indeed to Scotland!

The Three Drinkers returns to Amazon Prime

The Three Drinkers are back, and this time it’s personal. We were pleased to learn this week that the irreverent boozy Amazon Prime show is back for another series. The Three Drinkers are, for those who don’t know, actress and wine buff Helena Nicklin, journalist and social media sensation Adrian Smith, and whisky writer and photographer Colin Hampden-White. The first series was called The Three Drinkers do Scotch whisky and for the second series they haven’t travelled very far, it’s called The Three Drinkers Return to Scotland. At this rate it’s going to be years before they even leave the British Isles. Anyway, we aren’t complaining as there’s a lot of good booze in Scotland; the dynamic trio will be visiting: Dalmore, Jura, Fettercairn, Glen Scotia, Glen Moray, Loch Lomond and Firkin Gin distilleries. “We’ve been blown away by how well the series has done in such a short time,” Nicklin commented. “We’re looking forward to playing up the fun side of our travels with more experimentation with food and drink, eerie ghost stories, ridiculous challenges and all the weird and wonderful tidbits people never knew about Scotland and whisky.” The new series will be available to view on your TV, tablet or one of those computer watches that are all the rage these days from early December.

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This is Tails, the downstairs, at what we presume is Harvey Dent’s favourite bar

West Hampstead’s Heads + Tails bar channels two sides of a coin

If you’ve ever flipped a coin to try and decide which bar you should venture to, then Heads + Tails may be just what you’ve been waiting for. The West Hampstead bar was created by London mixologists Will Partridge and Chris Dennis, with the idea of having two complimenting counterparts to the bar: Heads, the top floor, and Tails, the downstairs. Each bar has a different menu, and we started off upstairs in Heads where there are spritzes galore and lighter cocktails, surrounded by light blue decor, filament light bulbs and a marble bar. We went for the Corpse Reviver No. 175, which marries Fords Gin, Dolin Blanc, Italicus and Chocolate & Mace Flower Bitters. Now, we weren’t with any corpses, though if there’s one cocktail that could revive the dead, it may well be this one. Beautifully light and citrussy, with a subtle rich creamy back note from the bitters. Then, there was Smoke on the Water, which takes Olmeca Altos Plata Tequila, mezcal verde, lime and watermelon syrup. Again, wonderfully well balanced, with juicy fruit tempered perfectly by the rich smokiness and grassy notes of the agave spirits. Then, you head downstairs to Tails, covered in dark oak and moodily lit by candles. It’s literally darker down there, and so are the spirits. Here we tried Twist of Fate, comprised of Wild Turkey bourbon, ginger and cinnamon syrup topped off with orange blossom water. Richer without being heavy, you can feel and certainly taste the difference between the two floors. A unique idea and a wonderful spot, and if you can’t decide from the list of delicious drinks you could always… flip a coin.

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If it’s good enough for TripAdvisor, it’s good enough for us!

Rum experience comes to Manchester

The Manchester Rum Experience sounds like the most exciting experience to come to Manchester since the Jimi Hendrix Experience played at the Twisted Wheel in 1967. It’s the brainchild of Dave Rigby from the City of Manchester Distillery, the city’s premier attraction according to never-wrong website Tripadvisor. Tell us more Dave! “Our motivation with the new ‘Rum Experience’ was to pay homage to some of the influences which drove us to build the distillery at the outset. As a collective, we have been on an amazing journey over the last few years and as such, we wanted to share some of these incredible experiences, stories and some of the fun we’d had, through a range of new and diverse, interactive events at the distillery”, Rigby said. Tickets have now gone on sale for the experience which consists of a three-hour immersion in all things rum with Dave Marsland from the Manchester Rum Festival including history, cocktails and the opportunity to fill your own min barrel in ‘The Lab’. Best of all, the new experience is being supported by some of our favourite brands including Chairman’s Reserve, Bacardi, Don Q, Appleton Estate, Diplomatico, Pussers, Wray & Nephew, Doorly’s, Plantation and Gosling’s. Beat that Jimi!

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Munich comes to London, only without any of the tradition. Still lots of beer, though

Inclusive Oktoberfests arrive in London

Once upon a time, you knew what you were letting yourself in for if you decided to go to the Oktoberfest. There would be men in leather shorts, mile after mile of pork sausages, oceans of beer, oh and you’d have to go to Munich to experience the whole thing. Well not anymore because this autumn there are three London Oktoberfests happening at Doc X in Surrey Quays: a fancy one, a gay one and a spooky one for Hallow’en. Go to http://www.doktoberfest.co.uk for more information. These differ from the original Bavarian festival in other ways: you don’t have to drink beer as there will be Champagne and non-alcoholic drinks served, or indeed eat traditional German sausages as at all three events there will be halal, kosher and vegan options. You don’t even have to wear leather shorts but you must be tolerant of those who choose to.

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Asparagus this, Brussels sprouts that… you can’t beat a good ol’ G&T!

And finally… asparagus becomes latest wacky gin flavour

In what has essentially become our, ‘look at this weird gin’ slot, an asparagus-flavoured expression has added to the endless nonsense of novelty-flavoured gins. It’s one of the spirits on offer at the inaugural Malvern Gin Show which showcases “some of the finest spirits from the Three Counties region” and giving visitors the opportunity to sample a wide range of drinks from local and surrounding gin distilleries. A competition will even declare one distillery ‘the people’s champion’. The event, part of the Malvern Autumn Show, runs the weekend of September 28 and 29, and will include a brand new Gin Pod Theatre to host to gin-tastic talks and for visitors to get inspiration for recipe ideas. Some of the confirmed distilleries at the show include Hussingtree Gin (who are responsible for the asparagus gin), Brennan and Brown and Haven Distillery. “The Malvern Gin Show is a new addition and we’re all rather excited about it,” said Richard Heath, show executive responsible for the new classes “We have a rich selection of distilleries which are local to the Three Counties, and what better way to celebrate than to hold a series of classes, and of course give our visitors ample opportunity to do some tasting.” Run in association with Westons Cider Mill, the Malvern Autumn Show will host over 65,000 people at the two-day celebration right in the heart of the beautiful British countryside, and you can get your tickets now at malvernautumn.co.uk.

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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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Ten delightful dark rums to enjoy beyond Rum Month

Similar to how dogs are not just for Christmas, rum is not just for Rum Month. As July nears its end, we take a look at ten terrific dark rums…

Similar to how dogs are not just for Christmas, rum is not just for Rum Month. As July nears its end, we take a look at ten terrific dark rums for you to enjoy now and savour during months that aren’t quite lucky enough to be officially designated as Rum Month.

All good things must come to an end, and that includes Rum Month. However, there is nothing stopping you from taking the things you have learnt during Rum Month and applying these lessons to other months of the year. Y’know, months like August, March, November, et cetera. We may not have mentioned your favourite month there, but rest assured, other months do exist.

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The Nightcap: 20 July

New distilleries on the horizon, new head bartenders at the ready and new record-breaking gins ahoy – The Nightcap keeps you stocked up on the newest in new this week….

New distilleries on the horizon, new head bartenders at the ready and new record-breaking gins ahoy – The Nightcap keeps you stocked up on the newest in new this week.

It’s been a week since the last Nightcap update, which can only mean one thing… Well, honestly, it could mean a lot of things. However, only one of those things is important for this compulsory blog preamble – it’s time for another edition of The Nightcap.

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Master of Cocktails – The Hemingway Daiquiri

After a break from Daiquiris on #MasterofCocktails last week, they’re back in force with probably the finest evolution of the drink – maybe with the exception of Artesian’s Frozen Banana…

Master of Cocktails Hemingway Daiquiri

After a break from Daiquiris on #MasterofCocktails last week, they’re back in force with probably the finest evolution of the drink – maybe with the exception of Artesian’s Frozen Banana with Caviar… and I’ll be having a crack at recreating that one in a few weeks’ time incidentally… but this week we’re going with The Hemingway Daiquiri.

He liked a drink or two did old Ernie, and this recipe is a fine legacy indeed. The theory here is essentially unchanged from the standard, only we’re going to be replacing boring old sugar syrup with Maraschino. The original recipe also calls for a splidge of Grapefruit Juice. Not convinced it needs it myself but we’ll stick it in anyway and you can easily omit it if you’ve not got grapefruits in (who does, usually?).

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Master of Cocktails – The Cosmopolitan

As a big bunch of whisky fans finally went their separate ways after another ace-looking Dramboree (Jake will tell you more soon, but I hear the barbecue was pretty special…),…

Master of Cocktails Cosmopolitan

As a big bunch of whisky fans finally went their separate ways after another ace-looking Dramboree (Jake will tell you more soon, but I hear the barbecue was pretty special…), and a Serbian was embraced in the final throes of an epic battle with a Swissm’n somewhere in southwest London, it was also time for another Sunday night #MasterofCocktails on the twittersphere.

This week we made a Cosmopolitan. Controversial? Shouldn’t really be. They’re yummy if made correctly, and definitely a ‘proper cocktail’. So here we go…

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