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Tag: Islay Whisky

5 tips for pairing whisky with food

Whisky has long been overlooked as a food beverage, but Ghillie Başan is on a mission to change that with her latest cookbook, Spirit & Spice. Here, the Cordon Bleu-trained…

Whisky has long been overlooked as a food beverage, but Ghillie Başan is on a mission to change that with her latest cookbook, Spirit & Spice. Here, the Cordon Bleu-trained chef shares five tips for pairing Scottish single malts and blends with your favourite meals…

Typically, when you encounter whisky with food it’s either within a dish – added to a sauce, for instance, or in a pudding – or as part of a distillery tasting, which “tends to be a very easy style of pairing,” Ghillie Başan observes. “People go, ‘there are nutty flavours in there, so we’ll put a walnut out’ – it isn’t really about the depth of flavour and how you can enhance it so that the food and whisky are working together”.

There’s also the M factor. Marketing. Historically, whisky was positioned as an after-dinner drink, she adds, and for a very long time a drink solely for men. “It’s quite a recent thing, this idea of whisky being a drink of conviviality, a drink to enjoy your meal or put into cocktails, a drink for both men and women and a drink to market to young people.”

Ghillie Başan

Ghillie Başan!

Still, the concept of drinking a dram with food remains a little bit ‘out there’ for whisky purists. So what makes the spirit a worthy mealtime pairing? As well as its flavour pairing potential, whisky is exceptionally robust – which means its a great match for dishes from North and West Africa, the Middle East, India, South-east Asia and the Caribbean, where spice is used in abundance.

“Think about when you have a glass of red wine,” says Başan, “it fills your mouth with a kind of full-bodiedness and fruitiness that looking for. But the minute you have spicy food with that, it’s killed, and you’re left with something that ends up a bit more watery in your mouth, all of that full-bodiedness is gone, all of the fruit flavours have gone, because it’s a much more fragile product, it hasn’t had the same type of treatment that whisky’s had.”

In Spirit & Spice (Kitchen Press, £25), Başan unites exotic flavours from around the world with liquid from her own backyard in the Highlands of Scotland. The end goal is to prepare a dish that “does something very similar in your mouth to the whisky, so the two of them are enhancing one another and you end up with this incredible experience within your mouth,” Başan explains. “You’ve got all these flavours either contrasting or complementing one another – it’s a little journey you go on.”

gravadlax

Gravadlax + whisky = delicious

5 tips for pairing whisky with food
  1. Get to know your dram

You can’t match the dish without a flavour reference, so pour yourself a finger and get acquainted. The first step is to nose and taste to identify the key aromas, tastes and textures in the glass. Jot your musings down on paper so you can reference them later – the more detailed, the better.

  1. Consider the key whisky regions

You don’t have to start from scratch each time, suggests Başan – use regional similarities to your advantage. “One could say that there is in Speyside whiskies a general sense of fruitiness and toasted notes, perhaps burnt sugar and honey in some of these whiskies depending on the distillery and maturation,” she says. “You can compare that to something like Islay whiskies, which again are all different but often have a smokiness and saltiness running through – so there are a few things that you can generalise about.”

  1. Highlight background flavours

Don’t just plum for the obvious flavours. Sure, you might think about pairing an Islay dram with something smoked – aubergine, perhaps, or halibut – but by highlighting background flavours you could elevate both the dish and the dram. For example a smoky whisky might also have a hint of pineapple in it, Başan points out. You could combine that with the smoky element of the dish, or take the ingredient in a different direction entirely. The bottom line? Use whisky’s more subtle notes to complement and contrast.

  1. Experiment with cooking techniques

Smoking, curing, pickling, infusing, caramelising, conserving, smoking, barbequing, marinating and fermenting are just some of the ways you can take a specific ingredients and transform the flavour into something unique. Don’t be shy about playing with spices, too, whether roasting, grinding or creating a paste.

  1. Don’t forget texture

You always appreciate food more if it has texture, Başan explains. Take the humble smoked salmon and cream cheese sandwich. “Made with ordinary bread, it’s all soft and ends up cloying in your mouth, so you don’t get a real sense of appreciation,” she says. Add texture – switch the bread for toasted thin focaccia, or add a few slices of cucumber to give it a crunch – and you’ll enjoy it far more. The same applies to your dram. Is the whisky creamy or silky? Or is it perhaps watery or chewy? Bear that in mind when designing your dish.

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Fèis Ìle 2019: Day Eight, Ardbeg

The carnival finale of Fèis Ìle was at Ardbeg today! We caught up with Mickey Heads and got stuck into all the tropical fun and games. Also, don’t miss our special…

The carnival finale of Fèis Ìle was at Ardbeg today! We caught up with Mickey Heads and got stuck into all the tropical fun and games. Also, don’t miss our special Deal of the Day: Save 15% on Ardbeg 10 Warehouse Pack, Ardbeg Uigeadail and Ardbeg Corryvreckan until midnight tonight!

The theme for this year’s Ardbeg Day was built around their Drum festival release, matured initially in ex-bourbon casks before being “rested” in ex-rum casks (a first for the distillery). It made for a tropical-tastic event with live steel drum bands, a carnival atmosphere and plenty of fun as always!

We also spoke to distillery manager – and “drum major” for the day – Mickey Heads about the Islay and Caribbean flavour fusion that is Ardbeg Drum (which is available on the site now!)

It wasn’t all plain sailing for us today though! As the MoM team left the house – sans Kristy, who was already en route to Spice (Girls) up her life – we discovered a flat tyre! Not what you need when you’re on your way to a distillery day on the other side of the island!

Could the person who answered the hire car’s emergency number understand that the likelihood of them “being there in a minute” from the mainland was fairly low? Could we get hold of anybody from either a taxi firm or the local tyre fitters on an Ardbeg Day Saturday? No. Could we find a neighbour with a hand pump and then reach somewhere that stocked puncture repair spray sealant? Yes. On to Ardbeg!

Welcome to Ardbeg Day!

Once inside, many familiar sites could be found from bars to the pizza van we’ve visited almost every day, and live music from the trailer of a lorry. Ardbeg always go all out with their theme for the year, though, so all the distillery workers were in fancy dress with maracas and huge smiles, and the place was full of games including a pineapple shy and everybody’s favourite 2018 sensation: hoopla! (The first time we saw it this year!) They even managed to make the sun come out, and it really did feel tropical compared to the rest of the week. Of course, there was still space for Iain Spink’s famous Arbroath smokies, and the queue for those went right around the lawn.

It’s not just the staff who took it seriously (by not taking themselves too seriously) though, the number of appropriately colourful shirts on display was impressive. Not least from the Jesteśmy Boat City Whisky Club from Łódź, who were out in force all week, as they are every year!

We’ve seen these “unpaid whisky soldiers” every day and they were getting into the carnival spirit today!

If you’ve been following any of our social channels, or perhaps been on our shiny new Father’s Day page, you should also be aware that we’ve been offering a special Ardbeg Deal of the Day!

Save 15% on Ardbeg 10 Warehouse Pack, Ardbeg Uigeadail and Ardbeg Corryvreckan until midnight tonight, and check back for more Daily Deals in the lead up to Father’s Day!

And so, another action-packed Fèis Ìle has come to an end. It’s been an amazing week and we’ve loved meeting so many friends, old and new, throughout. Also, keep your eyes peeled for all the Q&A interview videos where we put your questions to distillery managers each day, which we’ll start publishing soon!

Better end on the last distillery doggos of the week.

The one on the right has little protective booties.

Until next time Islay!

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Fèis Ìle 2019: Day Six, Kilchoman

Shiny new distillery expansion, cocktails galore, and more drams than you could shake a stick at. It can only be the Kilchoman Open Day at Fèis Ìle 2019! The sunshine…

Shiny new distillery expansion, cocktails galore, and more drams than you could shake a stick at. It can only be the Kilchoman Open Day at Fèis Ìle 2019!

The sunshine couldn’t last forever. Fèis Ìle 2019 Day Six dawned mightily murky, with no end in sight to the drizzle. It was the dedicated Kilchoman day, and Islay’s self-styled farm distillery seems to have little luck with the weather – as I recall it was the only grey day of the Fèis last year. But! Festival goers are more than prepared for the elements. A little bit of Islay sogginess wasn’t going to put anyone off.

We rose moderately fresh – last night’s activities involved a brief jaunt to the Lochindaal Hotel, only to discover festival-goers had quite literally drunk the bar dry. Beer was off. After a swift one, we decamped to the Port Charlotte Hotel for beers. (Don’t worry, Rinns residents – we were assured the Lochindaal was due to be restocked today!) By the time we arrived at Kilchoman, situated right out west, towards Machir Bay, we were ready for a dram (anyone else now alarmingly comfortable with sipping whisky at 10am?!).

Kilchoman Feis Ile

Behold, Kilchoman’s 2019 festival bottling!

First thing on the day’s agenda was an interview with Kilchoman founder Anthony Wills. Kilchoman was born out of Wills’s vision and started producing spirit in 2005. Fast-forward to 2019, and the distillery has big news! Last year, Anthony shared distillery expansion plans with us. Today we were itching to see the results of the project in the flesh! The only thing standing in our way was a tasting of the Kilchoman Fèis Ìle 2019 release, and 11 year old, 54.4% ABV expression! A delicious distraction. Wills chatted us through it, and you can watch it below!

After the tasting and a Q&A with Wills (we put your questions to him), it was time to give away t-shirts and drams. The shiny new stills would have to wait a little longer! We’ve seen a handful of t-shirt selfies – do keep sending them our way, we’re @masterofmalt on social. We want to get your thoughts and tasting notes on our All Islay Blended Malt, too!

The Kilchoman team really had thought of everything today. As well has covering the courtyard with gazebos (useful, as the rain was flat refusing to stop), they had also made a handy guide to proceedings, complete with a map of where you could nose your way round the distillery, and grab a dram in the process!

Kilchoman Feis Ile

Mapping out the day!

We headed over to the Comraich Blend Bar (so named after a distillery-only expression) for a refreshing sipper to accompany our plan-making. The guys from Blend Whisky Bar, off of actual Italy, were on it! We sampled a few, but particularly recommend the Machir Bay serve, made with green tea and Abbott’s Bitters. Green tea really is the cocktail ingredient that keeps on giving!

Kilchoman Feis Ile

Ciao, Blend Whisky Bar chaps!

Cocktails done, and we plotted our route, making our way to the Kilchoman stillhouse with haste. Last year, Wills said the plan was to knock down the end wall of the existing production space and create a carbon copy, almost like a mirror image. That’s exactly what’s happened! Production capacity has soared from 240,000 litres of alcohol a year to 480,000 litres. Still tiny compared to the likes of Caol Ila, which produces in the region of 6.5 million litres! There’s a brand new mash tun, two fermenters, and two very sleek and shiny new stills. And we got to taste the new new make! So fruity, deliciously oily, and with that characteristic waft of Kilchoman smoke. We approve.

Kilchoman Feis Ile

Gorgeous new Kilchoman stills!

After the stillhouse, we meandered our way through to Warehouse No. 1, where myriad casks are maturing. We then popped in to check out the malting floor, which opened last year (our mini-tour was not in production order, but who cares?!). We even tried our hand at turning the locally-grown barley, with only medium levels of success!

Kilchoman Feis Ile

Inside Warehouse No.1

We popped back outside, dodging the raindrops, to explore the full Kilchoman line-up on the dram bar. Punters could choose from a whole range of liquid, including distillery-only bottlings, and the 2019 festival release! Such a treat to be able to sample from such a wide range!

Kilchoman Feis Ile

Dram time!

As we’ve come to expect on a distillery day, there was not only ace tunes from myriad bands, but also a whole host of excellent doggos!

Kilchoman Feis Ile

So many excellent poochies!

Before heading back we zipped along to take in the sights and sounds (and accompanying sea spray!) of Machir Bay. Gorgeous in the sunshine, but still bleakly beautiful in the rain, Kilchoman has named an expression after the huge expanse of sand – and rightly so, it’s a defining feature of the area.

Kilchoman Feis Ile

Machir Bay!

Kilchoman truly knows how to do a distillery open day. As well as all the fun and games we took part in, the team had all kinds of tastings on offer, plus farm tours. The best bit was being able to explore so much of the distillery, dram in hand, at our own speed without waiting for an organised tour. It was brilliant. Job well done, team – thank you for a tremendous day, and congrats on the distillery expansion!

Next up: a tasting at Ardnahoe this evening, before checking out both Bunnahabhain and Jura tomorrow. We’re excited!

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Fèis Ìle 2019: Day Five, Bowmore and Ardnahoe

We love a double Fèis Ìle distillery outing! And on the fifth day of the festival we joined the party in Bowmore, before taking in Islay’s newest whisky-maker, Ardnahoe. After…

We love a double Fèis Ìle distillery outing! And on the fifth day of the festival we joined the party in Bowmore, before taking in Islay’s newest whisky-maker, Ardnahoe.

After a moderately late night (an early morning for some in!), Fèis Ìle dawned on a fairly sedate note. The evening before we’d joined our good friends at The Whisky Lounge over at their Ellister abode for pizza, Negronis, drams, and a marvellously good time (although no hot tubbage this year). It was rather helpful, then, that we didn’t need to be in Bowmore until late morning! (Serious kudos to all of you who camped out in the legendary queue for the super-rare Bowmore bottling. We gather the line started at 10am yesterday when we were all sunning ourselves over at Laphroaig!)

Bowmore’s Open Day is always a lot of fun, and this year was no different. The distillery knows how to do it responsibly too though, handing out separate wrist bands to designated drivers (in fetching orange) and non-drivers (complete with dram tokens!) as people arrived on-site. Today, I can confirm I was NOT the Des, and swiftly made my way to the dram tent to suss out the bar. And I was not disappointed! Bowmore No.1 set the scene, with Bowmore 10 providing a tasty follow-up a little while later, both complimentary, with a whole haul of other drams on offer, too. Great stuff!

Bowmore Ardnahoe Feis Ile

What’s better than a dram? A complimentary dram!

Did you grab a dram and t-shirt from us at Bowmore? We were swamped! If you’re in possession of either (hopefully both!) we want to see you in your shirt, and hear what you think about our All Islay Blended Malt, made with our pals at That Boutique-y Whisky Company. Drop us a line on social or leave us a comment below. We’d love to hear from you!  

Back to the distillery day! Next on the agenda was checking out all the fun of the Fèis, and Bowmore was pretty much rammed. There was a coopering demo, which pulled in the crowds…

Bowmore Ardnahoe Feis Ile

Noisy lot, those coopers…

…a kind of cask bung shuffleboard-type challenge (we were rubbish).

Bowmore Ardnahoe Feis Ile

NOT winning

You could also engrave a bung, which seemed far more sensible to us! (Not sore losers at all…)

Better to engrave than slide…

And if that wasn’t enough of a souvenir, you could even get a group snap taken against a green screen! Who knows what those Bowmore folks might put in the background…

Bowmore Ardnahoe Feis Ile

But what’s behind you?!

After a super speedy prance about (and dance, the music was ace again!) we met distillery manager David Turner for a catch-up and a taste of both festival bottlings* (yep, folks – we got to sample both the highly sought after 1995 vintage, 55.2% ABV 23 year old sherried single cask, of which there are just 325 bottles, and the delectable 15 year old 51.7% ABV bourbon cask release). You can check out Turner’s assessment of them both right here!

We also put some of your questions to him – the Q&A vid will be out on the blog and the old socialz ASAP post-Fèis!

Bowmore Ardnahoe Feis Ile

Nom.

From the oldest warehouse to the newest distillery

The arrival of a new distillery on Islay doesn’t just mean more whisky. It means an even more tightly-packed Fèis schedule, too! After a quick bite (our Laura especially loved the paella on offer at Bowmore!) we packed the film kit into the car and hurtled up the island to Ardnahoe.

Bowmore Ardnahoe Feis Ile

Ardnahoe in all its glory

The distillery, founded by family-owned company Hunter Laing, only started production six months ago, and officially opened its doors in April (Henry even stopped by for a visit!). So 2019 is the team’s first Fèis Ìle! Nothing quite beats the excitement of visiting a distillery for the first time, and if it’s brand-spanking new, the thrill is somehow even more intense. And Ardnahoe lived up to the hype!

https://www.masterofmalt.com/blog/post/ardnahoe-a-closer-look-at-islays-newest-distillery.aspx

Goodie bag!

We were met with a goodie bag (hello drams!) and, with the sun just about still out, we made the most of the views. This distillery is in a seriously spectacular location (and Islay is so stunning it’s easy to get blasé). But the scenery across the Sound of Islay and across to the Paps of Jura is genuinely astonishing. We highly recommend popping over for a dram on the open-air terrace!

https://www.masterofmalt.com/blog/post/ardnahoe-a-closer-look-at-islays-newest-distillery.aspx

That view though…

We quizzed Hunter Laing export director Andrew Laing with your questions on plans for the distillery, and then had a good nose around. The still house makes the most of that incredible view – sadly it was raining by the time we popped our noses in; we’re desperate to return on a sunny day!

https://www.masterofmalt.com/blog/post/ardnahoe-a-closer-look-at-islays-newest-distillery.aspx

The newest stills on Islay!

After chilling in the bar, taking in the gift shop, and checking out the obligatory Fèis Ìle band, it was about time to head back to Port Ellen for an evening in. Cheese and drams are on the agenda. But we may head up to the Loch Indaal for a dram if we’re feeling adventurous enough to brave the rain. Cheers to both Bowmore and Ardnahoe for a mega Islay day!

Whatever you’re up to this evening, enjoy – and see you at Kilchoman tomorrow!

*Apparently there’s a mystery third bottling?! Let us know if you’ve spotted it in the wild!

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Fèis Ìle 2019: Day Four, Laphroaig

We go again! Laphroaig Open Day is known for its tasting experiences and mellow vibes – and 2019 was no different. The sun even came out for us! Team MoM…

We go again! Laphroaig Open Day is known for its tasting experiences and mellow vibes – and 2019 was no different. The sun even came out for us!

Team MoM had a quiet one last night, and we collectively woke up fresh as daisies for Fèis Ìle Day 4’s Laphroaig Open Day. Good job really – in order to nab some time with distillery manager John Campbell we needed to arrive before the gates even opened/the crack of dawn. He’s a popular man!

Laphroaig Feis Ile

It’s John Campbell! We chat to Laphroaig’s distillery manager

Made it we did, and the day started as all should – with a dram down on the beach in good company. John was on excellent form as he chatted us through this year’s distillery release. So the first drop of the day was Càirdeas Triple Wood Cask Strength, the 2019 festival bottling! It’s a no-age statement 51.7% ABV release matured in ex-bourbon barrels, quarter casks, and then European oak ex-Oloroso casks. An absolute bargain at £77. And there are 36,000 bottles available, from the distillery and through its members’ society, Friends of Laphroaig. The sheer number of bottles available really added to the relaxed setting – no queuing overnight here! Wondering what it tastes like? We’ve got it all in John’s own words:

John hung around with us a bit longer to answer the questions you all put to him via Twitter and Instagram – the Q&A will be released shortly after Fèis Ìle!

With the interviews in the bag, it was time to dish out some t-shirts and drams! We LOVE chatting to you all as we hand them out. We’d also really like to hear what you think about our All Islay Blended Malt, made with our pals at That Boutique-y Whisky Company. We’d be especially excited to see your t-shirt selfies, too. Just tag us in – we’re @masterofmalt on Instagram and Twitter, You’ll find us on Facebook as well!

Laphroaig Feis Ile

Drammage.

What next? Drams, of course! We checked out the bar (tip-top selection), and frequented the warehouse where you could even win a measure or two. Spot of bung tossing, anyone?! Then, two things caught our beady eyes. Firstly, VisitScotland’s Coo Van (have you ever seen such a vehicle in all your days?!)…

Laphroaig Feis Ile

Behold: Visit Scotland’s Coo Van!

…and a cheese tent! Yes, really! Campbeltown-based (and excellently-named) Scotcheese was there with its delicious wares, and we hoovered up all the samples going before nabbing some for later on. Already getting hungry thinking about it.

Laphroaig Feis Ile

Cheese? Yes, please, Scotcheese!

After all that cheese sampling we needed a refresher. Luckily Islay Ales was on hand! For those not into the beer, Laphroaig was on it with the cocktails (much like the other Open Days. Are consistently good cocktails the big Fèis trend of 2019? I reckon so). There were two Laphroaig Select-based, part pre-batched options: a Fruit of the Fèis, made with raspberry, lemon, apple, mango and lemon juice; and the Fizzy Ginger, with ginger cordial, sugar syrup, and an orange and lemon juice. We plumped for ginger, and it made a tasty refresher out in the sunshine.

Laphroaig Feis Ile

Cocktail hour at Laphroaig

The music was on point once more (shout out to The Coaltown Daisies who were especially excellent!), and sitting out in the sun you could have been almost anywhere in the world (once you take the pesky windchill factor out).

Laphroaig Feis Ile

Cheers, The Coaltown Daisies!

And it was another ace distillery day when it came to dog-spotting opportunities! Here are two of our faves from the day:

Laphroaig Feis Ile

Surely takes Sirius Stardust’s crown as the fluffiest poochie of the Isle?

Laphroaig Feis Ile

Our Laura makes a new friend

With an excellent day over at Laphroaig in the bag, our Jake had another mission: head off to catch fancy boat The Flying Dutchman for a voyage/tasting around the Scottish island distilleries with That Boutique-y Whisky Company! He was last seen rowing over from the distillery. The legendary Boutique-y fellow Dave Worthington even dressed as a pirate for the occasion. And we snuck our All Islay Blended Malt into the line-up, which also included a 22 year old Springbank*, 18 year old Highland Park, and a 22 year old Arran. Fab whisky, ace company and the high seas. There’s no better way to round off a distillery day!

Laphroaig Feis Ile Boutique-y tasting

All aboard the Boutique-y boat!

*apparently a canal cuts them off so the locals consider themselves islanders

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Fèis Ìle 2019: Day Three, Caol Ila and Islay Ales

A double dose of fun and games on the Isle! On the third day of Fèis Ìle we joined the craic at Caol Ila before chilling out with a refreshing…

A double dose of fun and games on the Isle! On the third day of Fèis Ìle we joined the craic at Caol Ila before chilling out with a refreshing pint at the Islay Ales Open Day. Great stuff all round!

We always try to bring you an authentic view of Fèis Ìle here on the blog. So, in the interests of full disclosure, we did not have an early night and hit the hay after we hit ‘publish’ yesterday evening. Adventure awaited. We scoffed our dinner down and headed out to experience the Islay nightlife! Our Laura headed into the evening in Bowmore, while Kenny, Jake and I headed all the way out to Portnahaven for a Rhythm & Booze Project pub gig. Don’t think the fun stops once the distillery gates close! We had a dead nice time, a particular highlight being percussion extraordinaire Paul’s washboard solo, before the guest horn section took centre stage for a battle. Team MoM could not control their feet.

Caol Ila Feis Ile

Rocking out with the Rhythm & Booze Project

After a bougie few days at The Machrie (we know, swish) Monday, AKA Fèis Ìle Day Three, saw Team MoM up sticks for pastures new. Don’t worry, it was planned – there was no epic catastrophe; in fact, we entirely recommend Islay’s luxe golf hotel. But before we could check into our new Port Charlotte home, we had a whole load of fun and games to attend to and not one but two distillery days: up north for Caol Ila, and then back to Bridgend for the Islay Ales Open Day!

Our advance party (oh haaiii, Kenny and Laura) headed off early to get the car with all the film kit down and back up the winding road to Caol Ila before the shuttle buses started their worthy work ferrying Fèis-goers to and fro. The rest of us followed shortly afterwards, making use of the handy field car park at the top of the hill. That was where we encountered our first surprise of the day – car park drams! The distillery team had brekkie measures of Caol Ila 12 ready to go for the bus queue. Huzzah and hurrah! And double huzzah, because there were even closed measures for designated drivers (AKA the Des) like me. MEGA!

Caol Ila Feis Ile

Car park drams!

Drams down, on the bus we went (intrigued by the journey down the hill? Check out the timelapse on our Instagram story. It’s worth it for that view. Caol Islay surely ranks highly in the distillery surroundings charts) and we arrived at the distillery in fine spirits, ready for the day ahead. After a brief mooch around, we decided to go in search of Pierrick Guillaume, Caol Ila distillery manager, our video victim interview subject for the day. We popped into the distillery office on our travels, discovering Georgie Crawford hard at work. Georgie is set to lead the team at the revived Port Ellen Distillery, an incredibly exciting new role. But there wasn’t much opportunity to gossip about that as someone else made her presence felt: adorable [unofficial] distillery cat, Sushi! She demanded lots of fuss and head scritches, before plonking herself down on non-cat person Georgie’s lap. We rate her sass highly.

Caol Ila Feis Ile

The gorgeous Sushi

After meeting and falling for Sushi, we found Pierrick! We also found a room with a glorious view – a little lounge space above the office (i.e. Sushi’s domain) overlooking the incredible Sound of Islay and on to the dramatically craggy Paps of Jura. The sun wasn’t quite shining, but the light was still bright enough to require all kinds of jolly japes from Kenny to get the shot. But persevere he did! We had a great chat with Pierrick, putting a whole bunch of your questions to him. And we got to taste the distillery bottling, a 58.4% ABV 22 year old which has spent time in sherry-treated freshly-charred American oak hogsheads. It costs £130 and there are just 3,000 bottles. What’s it like? Check it out the vid right here!

I cunningly got one of the team to enjoy my takeaway 12 Year Old Caol Ila from the car park so I could replace it with the festival release in my dram carrier – needless to say I am VERY excited to settle down properly with it later on once the Des duties are complete!

But that’s not all. Pierrick revealed (well, he first let the Sushi out of the bag on Instagram at the weekend) that there was a second Fèis Ìle bottling! Behold: a 180-bottle outturn, 55.3% ABV 28 year old, filled on 24 May by his own fair hand. Exciting stuff! Here’s a snap off of his Instagram (check out @pierrickatcaolila and give him a follow!). People had even been camping overnight to get their mitts on it.  

Caol Ila Feis Ile

Behold the secret festival bottling!

Post-interview we cracked out the drams and t-shirts, and had lovely chats with a whole bunch of you. Big shout outs to our Friends From Falkirk (not an official name) who shared some delectable Glen Keith with the team, and Connas off of The Whisky Lounge who found this old gem from somewhere!

Caol Ila Feis Ile

One of our new Friends from Falkirk with the mega-old MoM bottling!

The Caol Ila Open Day isn’t the largest of the week, but Fèis-goers are clearly a super-creative bunch. The drams were flowing, but instead of simply gathering up used cups, a group formed this incredible sculpture! Forget a sandcastle, I declare this a whisky citadel!

Caol Ila Feis Ile

Would the real king of the castle please stand up?

Then there was the dancing. We all know it’s not a distillery day at Fèis Ile without music, and we were especially impressed by a group of women who cracked out their synchronised dance routines before lunch. Props to you all! If you made the whisky citadel or can lay claim to dancing, do make yourself known on social or in the comments below!

Caol Ila Feis Ile

Dramming is on

Other highlights included a lively and loud coopering demo area (spoiler alert: it’s HARD), and, of course, the dram bar. Caol Ila was on point when it came to getting whisky to the good people! The cocktails were on too: we especially enjoyed the Banana Old Fashioned. Yum.

Bring on the Islay Ales!

After all that indulgence by the sea it was time to head back in land for a little bit of R&R. Which is what the Islay Ales Open Day feels like! Set in Islay Square, it’s a village fête-beer festival hybrid with music, pizza and crafts all spilling out in the space surrounding the brewery. We were welcomed by a very dapper pug, complete with bow tie. He definitely takes the title of dog of the day!

Across the square, we bumped into the team from Lussa Gin, a distillery on the neighbouring island of Jura. But never fear, whisky fans. Even among all the beer and gin, malt could be found. Just ask the Whisky Boys – we spotted Flatnöse and Bårelegs and Rona’s Cask among the super-relaxed mêlée. Winning!

Music makes the Islay Ales Open Day go round

Time for a quick stroll around the neighbouring Islay House Gardens (foxgloves, beekeeping, a garden kitchen and all-round enchantment behind a mysterious-looking wall) and we were away to check out our new abode! We’re now right by the waterfront in Port Charlotte. It’s feels most serene.

What’s on the agenda tomorrow? Laphroaig! See you there!

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Fèis Ìle 2019: Day Two, Bruichladdich

It’s party time on Islay! Fèis Ìle Day Two typically sees the entire island descend on Bruichladdich for a music-filled, dram-fuelled shindig. And 2019’s festival stayed true to form! “It’s…

It’s party time on Islay! Fèis Ìle Day Two typically sees the entire island descend on Bruichladdich for a music-filled, dram-fuelled shindig. And 2019’s festival stayed true to form!

“It’s always sunny on Bruichladdich Day.” It’s a saying often heard on Islay. And when we first set off this morning, windscreen wipers essential, it seemed this was going to be the anomalous year. We parked up early, all ready for Kenny, our filmmaker, to get set up, and the drizzle was ON (luckily for the hordes of festival release-seekers lining up down the street, there was no return to the deluge of Lagavulin Day).

First up: the Octomore Event Horizon masterclass with head distiller, Adam Hannett! We wandered up to Warehouse 12, located round the back of the distillery, and we were in for a right treat. We knew in advance that this year’s Fèis Ìle release was an Octomore, and, in fact, the whole day was largely Octomore-themed. What we didn’t know was that the distillery bottling was the oldest liquid ever released from the brand, and we certainly didn’t anticipate the other treats that were in store!

The masterclass drams. DELISH.

The Bruichladdich day masterclass has proved so popular that this year places were allocated via ballot. As you arrived, you were funnelled through a dark corridor filled with really rather ethereal sounds. Kind of fitting then that the audio setting the scene, a recording of the sounds actual stars make, was supplied by NASA (yes, off of the space agency)!

There were 250 other whisky geeks packed into the cathedral-like warehouse. Among us was none other than Valérie Chapoulaud-Floquet, CEO of Bruichladdich’s parent company, Rémy Cointreau! No pressure on Hannett, then..! The tasting was also streamed around the world on the distillery’s social channels. Do check out the Bruichladdich YouTube page if you fancy getting the full shebang!

He introduced the six cask-strength, natural colour drams for the session (practically breakfast) but declined to say much about two of them. Interest was certainly piqued at this point! Dram one, according to Hannett, was “too young, too peaty, too strong” – it was a tongue-in-cheek statement designed to provoke a response. We tasted the five year old expression, peated to 107 parts per million (ppm) and bottled at 59.8% ABV. I think it’s safe to say he got his response – one that confirmed that whisky can be seriously tasty at any age, ABV or ppm count.

Bruichladdich Feis Ile

Adam doing his thing

Dram 2 was similar to dram one – except it had been left to mature for another eight years, making it 13 years old. It had spent time in both ex-bourbon and ex-sweet wine casks, and was rich and oily, yet simultaneously confectionery-led with a subdued smoke element. It was peated to 167ppm and bottled at 57.5% ABV, proving the point that what you do with the liquid post production has a huge impact on how easily perceived peat is. Dram 3 was peated to a whopping 309.1ppm – the peatiest Octomore, and indeed Scotch single malt, ever. Distilled in 2011 and matured in both ex-bourbon and ex-red wine casks, the 60.7% ABV liquid was as complex as it was bewildering. Despite the hefty malt specification, the smoke was barely there on the nose; instead it was like a syrupy cinnamon bun. It did arrive on the palate, but it was much more relaxed than expected. Even the ABV contributed a textural prickle, rather than an all-out alcohol frazzle. What is this Octomore alchemy?!

The next dram was fully matured in virgin French heavily toasted oak for a smidge over three years – and again it proved confounding. Despite its youth, it was rich and rounded (the only thing to let slip its age was that rubbery bounce often found in younger spirits). And, despite the ppm measure only reaching a fraction of dram 3 at 88, it was a bit of a peat monster. “It challenges the convention” of three year old whisky, Hannett said. He is not wrong.

The final two drams were, for me, the absolute highlight. Dram 5 was the festival bottling! We collared Hannett himself for a chat about it afterwards – you can watch it all right here:

Then. Wow. What can be said about dram six?! “It’s a Black Art style of Octomore,” Hannett explained, meaning the cask type is kept largely under wraps. What he did disclose is that the youngest spirit was distilled in 2011, and, because of the range of casks its drawn from, the ppm measure is “impossible to calculate”. Here’s the fun bit: not only was it seriously delicious and really quite elegant (all coffee, toffee, vanilla notes, with apple pie, milk chocolate and cinnamon doughnuts, the 59.5% expression has a “backbone” from one of the only two Octomore casks filled in 2002. For that reason, it’s never going to be released. It’s magic though, and it was an honour to get to taste it.

Bruichladdich Feis Ile

Sunshine of Bruichladdich

Guess what? We emerged from the masterclass and the sun was shining! We descended to the main Bruichladdich yard with haste! The bands were on, there was all kinds of food (including both vegan and gluten-free options!) and, of course, the drams were flowing. Punters could go and check out the dram tent, with an array of complimentary options from across the Bruichladdich portfolio. Or, head up through the yard to the Botanist Cocktail Tent. The flower-filled space had garnish-your-own B*&T options and an enormous cocktail bar with whisky as well as gin serves (we highly recommend the Laddie Tea Time, made with Classic Laddie, lemon balm, Verveine tea, sorrel, and ginger. Yum). Opposite in the Malt Bar was almost the full Bruichladdich portfolio available to buy by the dram, plus an enormous range of Islay Ales – the perfect refresher after all that Octomore! (There was a whole host of local wares for sale in the Islay Arts & Crafts space, too. Ideal for gifts!) Speaking of gifts, we had our freebies for you lots too. We’re at every distillery open day this week giving away drams of our exclusive All Islay Blended Malt and matching t-shirts. Because everyone wants to co-ord with their drink. Come and find us to bag yours!

Cocktails! The Laddie Tea Time and a Bee the Botanist

It wouldn’t be Bruichladdich Open Day without a stellar music line up, and this year did not disappoint. Skerryvore kicked things off, before Trail West took to the stage. And then our Rhythm and Booze Project pals rounded things off once more! The whole yard was grooving. Add in the sunshine and that array of boozes, and there was nowhere else on the island to be! And as well as giving folks the best time, Bruichladdich also did its part for the local Port Charlotte primary school. A bunch of incredible bottles (and a clootie dumpling) were auctioned off to raise funds for the school, Marie Curie Cancer Care, and other brilliant causes. Great stuff, folks!

We were, of course, also on dog look-out once again. From a parade of very fancy poodles to the waggiest and fluffiest of mutts, and even an actual doge(!) the quality of hound was once again high. Bravo, whisky-loving poochie parents!

We even rounded off the day with a motoring feat**, Turns out, Kenny, our filmmaker, is not a one-trick pony. Not only can he shoot, cut, stitch together and the like, he’s also a car manoeuvring fiend. We all know parking is tight at distillery days, but he managed to wiggle the car out of the tiniest of spots. Well done, sir!

*The Botanist, obvs.

** No bollards were harmed in the making of this blog post.

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Fèis Ìle 2019: Day One, Lagavulin

It’s the first official day of Fèis Ìle 2019, so we did the only appropriate thing: headed south to Lagavulin to kick off the celebrations in some significant style! After…

It’s the first official day of Fèis Ìle 2019, so we did the only appropriate thing: headed south to Lagavulin to kick off the celebrations in some significant style!

After a day of sunshine yesterday (Bruichladdich, Port Ellen and Islay House looked amazing in the brightness), Saturday dawned murky and drizzly, with midges lurking about ominously. Grey, low visibility… typically Islay, perhaps, and the rain is certainly needed. Distilleries across the island are struggling with production due to low water levels. We* embraced the ‘greater good’ mentality, loaded up the car in full waterproofs, and jetted off back to Lagavulin for the first official distillery day of Fèis Ìle 2019!

Feis Ile Lagavulin

Whisky has arrived!

I say ‘back’ because after we hit ‘publish’ on Day 0’s post, we headed to the distillery for an absolute treat: a tasting of the full Game of Thrones single malt collection in the Malt Mill! Donald Colville, Ewan Gunn and newest ambassador recruit TJ talked the packed hall through the whole shebang, finishing on the House Lannister & Lagavulin 9 Year Old – I know whisky always tastes better where it was made, but this one truly was delectable! We rounded off the night with an array of Lagavulin-based cocktails; a dream way to round off Day Zero!

Feis Ile Lagavulin

Make way for the SMWS Tour of Islay!

But back to today! We parked up, grabbed the camera kit from the car (more on that shortly!) and made our way over to Lagavulin. But we didn’t get far because behold! The Scotch Malt Whisky Society peloton came through, fresh from starting their Tour of Islay challenge from Ardbeg. Lagavulin was stop number two. Thankfully they seemed fresh-legged and full of energy – we sent them off on their (not yet) merry way with a stash of our All Islay drams!

Lagavulin Feis Ile

All you need is Rhythm and Booze!

After waving the SMWS team off, the Ardview Inn pipe band arrived! Processing round the distillery, they kept the hordes Lagaqueuelin-ing for the official Fèis Ìle bottling (a 19 year old – more on that shortly) entertained. We then headed down into the yard. It was only 10:30 but the crowds had already gathered! Team Lagavulin was more than prepared for the soggy weather and were armed with free ponchos, so people could party and dram in the rain without a care in the world. Good job too – the bands, including The Rhythm and Booze Project, had everyone up on their feet.

Feis Ile Lagavulin

TJ wowing the crowd

Well – it was partly the blues, and definitely partly the drams. Lagavulin super-generously had free pours of its core range on offer. Plus an incredibly exciting 10 year old expression, not set to launch in the UK for another six months! Keep your eyes peeled – it’s a good one.

Feis Ile Lagavulin

PONCHO! (And Jake)

Adjacent to the dram hall was the cocktail bar – there was a major focus on mixed drinks this year, and rightfully so. Lagavulin is a great dram for mixing (we’ll send you to TJ if you even mutter the world ‘sacrilege’!) and the results were delicious. Ali Reynolds (off of Diageo Reserve and World Class) and the team cooked up some classics old and new, including the Smokey Cokey Floaty (with Lagavulin 16, complete with ice cream and a cherry!) and the really rather refreshing Queen of Islay, made with the 2017 Jazz Festival edition, ginger, hibiscus and soda. Yum. It was genuinely exciting to see cocktails properly take front and centre at a whisky festival – which they truly were in the (free!) cocktail sessions throughout the day, hosted by TJ and the legendary Colin Dunn!

Feis Ile Lagavulin

Our Laura with the Lagavulin Piña Colada and Queen of Islay!

It wasn’t all about the boozes, though – there was an epic selection of food available, including a number of delectable vegan options, much to our surprise and delight. Round of applause, Lagavulin! There were also free, reusable metal flasks given out along with loads of water stations, a welcome addition to various distillery open days in recent years. Responsible (sip, don’t gulp, folks!) and great for the environment (no plastic!).

We escaped from the melee to grab some time with Colin Gordon, Lagavulin’s distillery manager. You sent your questions for him on social, and we put a whole load to him! Keep your eyes peeled for the results. But also! He gave us a guided tasting through the 2019 Fèis Ìle bottling – a delectable 19-year-old expression. And we’ve got the footage with everything you need to know – and you can see it RIGHT HERE!

Aside from the brilliant crowd and the tip-top whisky, there was another major highlight. All the excellent doggos! Not put off by the rain, the hounds were out in force. A distillery really is an ace place to go if you want to make friends with a poochie!

Feis Ile Lagavulin

Gorgeous poochies!

Bravo, Lagavulin, and thanks for an epic day. We’re off for a hearty dinner and to dream of drams. Next stop tomorrow: Bruichladdich Open Day!

 

*An apology. In our blog yesterday, I neglected to introduce you to the 2019 MoM Fèis Ìle dream team! We are a five-strong band of whisky enthusiasts and media geeks, with the mission to bring all the fun of the Fèis to social, the blog and through the medium of video. We have Kenny, our film-maker, Dan, our social media manager, Jake and Laura from our campaign team and me, Kristy, our editor. If you see us out and about on Islay, come and say hi (and bag some whisky swag!).

 

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The Nightcap: 24 May

Powers, plastic straws and pineapples – plus a few things that don’t begin with ‘P’. It’s all here in yet another edition of The Nightcap! Today is Friday, and many…

Powers, plastic straws and pineapples – plus a few things that don’t begin with ‘P’. It’s all here in yet another edition of The Nightcap!

Today is Friday, and many of us will be heading into the final Bank Holiday weekend for a few months. There’s one at a seemingly random time in August, but the smattering of three day weekends throughout April and May occur in such a cluster that we almost become used to it. We must not become complacent! We must approach this three day weekend with the same vim and vigour as we did previous ones! Oh, and also we should start it as we do other weekends (extended ones or otherwise), with The Nightcap! Obviously.

In a week in which we announced that we’re going to Fèis Ìle 2019, we also launched two new competitions, one to win the entire Game of Thrones whisky range and the other to win a VIP trip to Bombay Sapphire’s distillery. Nate Brown then extolled the virtues of sherry, Jess took a look at Diageo’s new Italian gin, Villa Ascenti and Annie explored where to imbibe in Bowie’s old haunt, Berlin and who the up-and-comers of alcohol-free are. Adam enjoyed the latest chapter in Balvenie’s story, then picked Big Peat Fèis Ìle 2019 Edition to be his New Arrival of the Week, for obvious reasons, while Henry enjoyed Redbreast’s new expression, video masterclasses from Mortlach and Johnnie Walker and even manged to find time to make the Grand Sour his Cocktail of the Week. Phew…

Now, on with the news!

Nightcap

Our PR manager Mariella Salerno holds up our shiny new prize!

MoM named DB Awards Online Retailer of the Year!

It was celebration station on Tuesday afternoon at the DB Awards, hosted by the team over at trade magazine The Drinks Business. We were delighted to pick up the Online Retailer of the Year award! The ceremony took place as part of the London Wine Fair, so we got to join the jubilations early, enjoying some really rather marvellous tipples from across the world. They said loads of nice things about us, and we picked up a shiny trophy. Oh, and #WhiskySanta got a highly commended nod too, for his excellent work spreading festive spirit far and wide through the social realm. Cheers, Team DB – you made our week!

Nightcap

Look everyone, it’s Kent’s first single malt whisky!

Kent’s first single malt whisky is here

Kent is something of a booze hotspot with its hop gardens and breweries, orchards and cideries, vineyards and gin distilleries, and of course, it’s the home of a certain online retailer. Now the Garden of England has its first single malt. The whisky is a collaboration between Andy Reason and Norman Lewis of the Anno Distillery in Marden (who make a fine gin) and the Westerham Brewery. The mash was made with English barley and fermented with two strains of yeast comes from the brewery. It was then double distilled in a tiny 300-litre copper pot still named, appropriately enough, Patience. The spirit came off at 63.5% ABV into an ex-bourbon cask that previously held a Speyside single malt. After ageing, the resulting whisky was bottled at 40% ABV. Norman Lewis said of the partnership: “It’s been a wonderful experience working with Robert Wicks from Westerham Brewery. Our combined expertise has come together seamlessly and resulted in something which we’re extremely proud of. We hope those who are lucky enough to taste this limited-edition whisky enjoy savouring it as much as we enjoyed making it.” It’s such a limited edition that customers are being limited to three bottles (at £120 each) and it’s available directly from the distillery and Westerham Brewery. Hurry, while stocks last.

Nightcap

They might seem delightful, but they need to go.

England moves to ban plastic straws and stirrers

Great news, folks! The government this week confirmed it will ban plastic straws and stirrers in England (and plastic cotton buds, but less relevant to us) from April 2020. There are some sensible exemptions for those with medical needs or a disability (pubs and bars will still be able to give them out on request), but we can wave goodbye for good to unnecessary plastic in our drinks. The move follows a government consultation which found 80% back a ban on straws, and 90% on stirrers. About time, too. Apparently, we use 4.7 billion plastic straws and 316 million plastic stirrers each year in England alone! And yes, alternatives are available (we sipped through some fancy bamboo ones recently), but the government reckons a whopping 95% of straws are still plastic. Boo. Even more boo: it’s thought there are more than 150 million tonnes of plastic in the world’s oceans, and that every year one million seabirds and 100,000 sea mammals die from eating or getting trapped in plastic. This ban can’t come soon enough.

Nightcap

Introducing: Scarabus Islay Single Malt

Hunter Laing releases Scarabus Islay Single Malt at Fèis Ìle

Peat heads of the world, unite! A new release from Hunter Laing & Co. is always exciting news, especially when it’s an Islay single malt like Scarabus. Appropriately, the whisky is being released at this year’s Fèis Ìle. If you’re down that way then you’re in luck, because the very first drams will be poured (and tasted) throughout the festival at Hunter Laing’s newly-opened distillery on the island, Ardnahoe. Scarabus means ‘rocky place’ in Nordic, and the whisky is named after a mystical area of Islay, complete with equally mystical golden packaging. “We’re extremely proud of the Scarabus whisky and the Fèis Ìle Festival is the perfect place to release the first bottling”, said Stewart Laing, Managing Director. “We aimed to produce an expression that showcases a traditional Islay whisky style, and the unmistakable Islay smoke matches wonderfully with the rich, sweeter notes that linger on the finish.” If you’re not down Islay-way, fear not, as Scarabus will soon be available in the UK and beyond. Keep an eye on our social channels for updates.

Nightcap

Hit the books spirit nerds, we’ve got a new challenge up ahead!

WSET Level 3 Award in Spirits is live!

Great news, spirits geeks! There’s a new qualification in town, and it’s the toughest one yet. Developed in response to our collective (and global) thirst for all things spirits and subsequent desire to know all about them, the Level 3 Award builds on the Level 2 course (Team MoM highly recommends) but digs down into greater production detail while covering new spirits categories, like baijiu. It’s a much tougher assessment process, too, with a blind tasting exam as well as multiple choice and short-answer question paper. In all, candidates will need to put in at least 84 hours of graft. We’re excited! “The spirits industry has been crying out for a more advanced qualification in spirits,” said course developer Nick King. “Candidate numbers for WSET spirits qualifications (Levels 1 and 2) have grown significantly in the last 10 years (from 540 in 2009 to 6600 in 2019) and are now taught in 33 countries worldwide reflecting growing global demand. We are delighted to now be able to offer the industry a Level 3 Spirits qualification that develops candidates’ knowledge and understanding of the category in great depth and also builds their tasting skills, teaching them to identify the structural and aromatic elements that make up a spirit and to make a compelling quality assessment.” The first UK courses get under way in October!

Nightcap

All the delights of Powers Irish Whiskey with none of the effort? We’re in.

Powers Irish Whiskey’s first ever bottled cocktail

If stirring and, ugh, waiting aren’t for you, Powers Irish Whiskey has your back because the brand has just unveiled its first-ever pre-mixed cocktail, Powers Old Fashioned! Pow! The cocktail sees a combination of the classic Powers Gold Label, sugar syrup and bitter herbs flavouring. The recommended serve is, of course, over ice with a twist of orange peel – well, how else could you garnish an Old Fashioned? The bottle boasts a whole new look, with sleek modern packaging which you’d be hard-pressed to recognise as Powers. “A careful balance of the rich history of Powers with an eye on the future, we are confident that the refreshing ritual of ‘Ice, Pour, Twist’ will appeal to whiskey fans and the cocktail curious alike who are looking for simple and convenient ways to create new Irish whiskey experiences at home or in their local pub”, says Brendan Buckley at Irish Distillers. The cocktail will be launching in Ireland from the end of May, and if it finds success then hopefully we can expect to see it much further afield. Old Fashioneds all around!

Nightcap

Counting oysters by hand, that’s commitment to conservation

Glenmorangie & partners plan to return native oysters to Europe’s seas

Oyster-loving folk, gather round. In historic marine-related news, a landmark Native Oyster Restoration Alliance (NORA) conference on reef restoration was held in Edinburgh this week. It was hosted by The Glenmorangie Company and its partners, including Heriot-Watt University, bringing together conservationists, administrators and oyster producers from across Europe to develop a ‘blueprint’ for native oyster reef restoration. Oysters were overfished to the point of extinction in the 1800s, and it turns out oyster reefs are among the most endangered marine habitats on Earth. The restoration is going to be done through the Dornoch Environmental Enhancement Project (rather aptly abbreviated to DEEP), which was established in 2014 and has already returned 20,000 native oysters to the Dornoch Firth in the Scottish Highlands. The aim? To increase this population of 20,000 to four million (!) by 2025, and in turn the reef will become self-sustaining. “We are incredibly proud to be pioneering DEEP’s vital environmental work with our partners, not only protecting but enhancing Glenmorangie Distillery’s environment for future generations,” says Glenmorangie President and CEO Tom Moradpour. It looks like the world really is our oyster.

Nightcap

Happy Anniversary guys!

The Coral Room celebrates its first anniversary

We got our party shoes on this week and headed up to London to join The Coral Room’s first-anniversary bash! The sleekly cosy cocktail bar is part of The Bloomsbury Hotel, but very much comes with its own character, look and feel. And on Wednesday, that feel was celebration! There was cake, a confetti cannon, and even a sneak peek at the new cocktail menu, which includes such deliciousness as the May Day Spritz, made with Tanqueray, Italicus, orange blossom and honey bitters, and English sparkling wine; and the Drinking in Newquay, with Cîroc, Crème de menthe, Blue Curaçao and Belsazar Riesling Supreme. There was even a Rinomato Sorbet, too! Very festive. Do pop in raise a cocktail to the team – congrats to everyone at The Coral Room!

Licor 43 lays down cocktail and coffee challenge

There’s nothing more on-trend than putting coffee and cocktails together. So, it’s appropriate that Licor 43 has just announced the opening of the UK round of its Bartenders & Baristas Challenge 2019. Now in its third year, this competition lays down the gauntlet to both bartenders and baristas to create serves with coffee and Licor 43 (the details of how to enter are here). Winners will go to a grand final in Gran Canaria this autumn. UK brand manager Charlotte Oswald said: “There is a natural marriage of aromas and flavours between Licor 43 and coffee and we’ve been communicating this with our Carajillo 43 signature serve. We are often amazed at the creativity, knowledge and passion from contestants and this really went up a level with the introduction of the coffee element last year – bartenders who were very well-versed in all things spirits were finding a whole new world of cocktail creation. We can’t wait to see what they come up with this year!” Licor 43, a blend of spices and citrus fruits, is something of a cult drink in Spain. There’s now a special Liquor 43 Baristo made with coffee beans from the Canary Islands which the company has produced a film about (above). So, what are you waiting for bartenders and baristas, get experimenting!

Nightcap

Happy International Pineapple Day, folks!

And finally. . . shake your maracas cos it’s International Pineapple Day!

From the Piña Colada to Carmen Miranda, we all know that the pineapple is the most exotic of all the fruits. No wonder it has a special day devoted to it: 1 June is International Pineapple Day! To help things go with a swing, That Boutique-y Gin Company is putting on a Pineapple Gin Parlour pop-up at 15 Bateman Street, in Soho, London on 1-2 June. There will be masterclasses and food historian Tasha Marks on hand to explain the history of the king of fruit. In the 18th century pineapples were high-value status symbols: having a pineapple was the Regency equivalent of a Ferrari parked outside your house. The neighbours would say ‘oooh, get her, who does she think she is with that pineapple, Lord Byron?’ Thankfully, drinks at the pop-up will be rather more affordable. Simply say the code word ‘mule’ and your Pineapple Mule will cost you nothing at all. Isn’t the modern world brilliant?

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Watch out, Islay – Team MoM is Fèis Ìle-bound!

It’s that time of year again, folks – and we’re buzzing. Fèis Ìle is just around the corner, we’re going to Islay for the frivolities, and here’s how you can…

It’s that time of year again, folks – and we’re buzzing. Fèis Ìle is just around the corner, we’re going to Islay for the frivolities, and here’s how you can join in!

Ah, Islay. It really is a whisky-lover’s paradise. We returned to the Isle after a significant hiatus last year, and we loved it so much we bounced right back. In fact, two of our number are already on the road!

The best part? Whether you’re on the island for Fèis Ìle or not, we really, really want to make you part of the action. Why? Because whisky is way more fun when it’s shared. How?! Read on, friend!

Firstly, whether or not you’ll be at Fèis Ìle is irrelevant for this. We’ve got access to the island’s most exciting distillers, ambassadors, ops managers, blenders and more. We’re going to be quizzing them every single day. But we want YOU to ask the questions. That’s right! If you’ve ever dreamed of putting one of your Islay heroes on the spot, drop us a line. We’re videoing the whole shebang, and will give you a shout-out, too. Want in? Send us your questions on social or leave a comment below!

There’s more! Regardless of whether you’re on the Isle or not, you can still experience it all through the medium of taste with our fancy MoM-exclusive All-Islay – Islay Blended Malt bottling! Apparently we’re not allowed to say much, but I will just put the emphasis on its name: ALL-Islay. And it’s ALL been made possible thanks to our pals over at That Boutique-y Whisky Company. Oh, and it’s bloody lovely, too. It’s available right over here!

Feis Ile

Mouthwatering stuff

That’s all great, you may say, but what else is going on?

Boo. I’m not going

In the first instance, fret not. We’ve got your back! We’re going to be reporting every dram, tasting, tour, masterclass, adventure, dog (there were loads of excellent hounds last year) and more on our social channels, especially Instagram Stories. So follow with haste! (It’s @masterofmalt, FYI). There will, of course, be action over on Twitter and Facebook, too.

Want more? Good, because that’s just the start. You can also expect daily bulletins right here on the blog, plus video interviews, and more. MUCH more convenient than that epic journey.

Feis Ile

The whisky awaits…

I’m at Fèis Ìle!

Ace! See you there, pal! Seriously, we’re gearing up for a right fun knees up. We’ve got drams of our very own aforementioned All-Islay – Islay Blended Malt bottling, released with our friends over at That Boutique-y Whisky Company, to nab. We’ve got some pretty nifty MoM Islay 2019 t-shirts to give away, too. Want to get your mitts on the swag? We’ll be at every distillery day; come find us! We’re keen in selfies too, so why not snap yourself in your shiny new shirt and tag us in your post?

Phew! That’s it for now. We’ve got packing to do. Well, except for the bonkers duo of Dan and Jake who are literally driving all the way to Islay from MoM Towers in Kent… Godspeed, chaps.

All that’s left to say is stay tuned for all the fun of the Fèis right here on the blog and @masterofmalt on social!

1 Comment on Watch out, Islay – Team MoM is Fèis Ìle-bound!

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