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Master of Malt Blog

Tag: IWSC

The Nightcap: 15 February

Had quite enough love-themed media to last the rest of 2019? Good, because there is no room for emotions here – time to get down to cold, hard, newsy facts…

Had quite enough love-themed media to last the rest of 2019? Good, because there is no room for emotions here – time to get down to cold, hard, newsy facts with The Nightcap!

Valentine’s Day has been and gone. All the vibrant pink balloons and ribbons in the shops have all been replaced by some very early Easter displays. While the shape of the novelty chocolate may have changed from hearts to eggs in your local supermarket, one thing doesn’t change – The Nightcap and its dedication to bringing you weekly bundles of booze news! This may have been one of the most tenuous ways to introduce The Nightcap yet, and honestly, I’m OK with that.

So, what’s been going down on the MoM Blog this week? Well, Kristy gave us some insight into what happens when you take part in American Distilling Institute’s 2019 Judging of Craft Spirits. Henry chatted to one of the Asterley Bros. about his upcoming Britannica London Fernet, delivered good news from HMRC on the growth of British gin exports, and showed us how to make a great punch with a kick of orange for the Cocktail of the Week. Annie looked at the big, wide world of minimalist cocktail bars from across the globe. Tequila was the order of the day on Wednesday for Adam, and he also found out about a new batch of cask strength Jameson

Phew! Best crack on with The Nightcap.

MBWS had a difficult 2018

MBWS waves goodbye to turbulent 2018 with 6% sales decline

French drinks group Marie Brizard Wine & Spirits (MBWS) has had a sorry time of late, as regular readers of The Nightcap will know. After a 25% profits slump and ongoing troubles in its home market, we’re sure the company won’t be sad to see the back on 2018. A sentiment surely underlined by its full-year results, released this week, which showed that sales fell 6.3% over the course of the year to €389 million (about £342 million). But while the French market continued to slow, there was at last some good news in the fourth quarter: sales climbed 17.1% in Poland, signalling a “progressive recovery”, and there was “solid sales growth” in Spain. Let’s hope the tide has now turned for the Sobieski, William Peel and Gautier Cognac-maker.

An artist’s impression of the Johnnie Walker Edinburgh store

A fancy Johnnie Walker store is coming to Edinburgh!

Earlier this week, Diageo formally submitted plans for a flagship Johnnie Walker visitor centre in Edinburgh, the focal point of Diageo’s £150 million investment in Scotch whisky tourism. Well, we’ll certainly drink to that. Johnny Walker’s new home will be a rather remarkable seven-floor space on Princes Street. The project will see the grand building renovated, with heritage features preserved wherever possible. David Cutter, chairman of Diageo in Scotland, stated that they hope to “restore it to its former glory as a cornerstone of the city”. The exciting space is set to include a multi-sensory immersive experience across three floors, allowing visitors to experience the 200-year history of the brand. As well as a flexible events area for music, theatre, arts and more, at street level there will be a retail space. Its interior is inspired by the stunning Johnnie Walker retail flagship in Madrid, which opened in November. Meanwhile, there will also be rooftop bars (yes, plural) so you can enjoy some of the best views of Edinburgh while you sip your Scotch. Excuse us, we’re just off to book some flights…

Say hello to Big Peat 10 Year Old!

Big Peat celebrates 10 years with commemorative bottling

Independent bottler Douglas Laing & Co had a big birthday this week. Big Peat is now a decade old. Where does the time go? The family firm behind the blended malt from Islay, made with whiskies from Caol Ila, Bowmore, Ardbeg and Port Ellen, marked this occasion with a new, commemorative 10 Year Old bottled without colouring or chill-filtration at a punchy 46% ABV. According to the brand’s tasting notes, you can expect “peat smoke, damp earth, smoked barley, BBQ ash, streaky bacon, tobacco, toasted marshmallows and a sea-salt tang balanced by a leathery sweetness”. The label features a collection of emblems, stamps and hand-drawn illustrations inspired by a vintage scrapbook in honour of Big Peat’s Islay home. A platinum-foiled (no expense spared here) book telling the legend of Big Peat and his whisky adventures will accompany each bottle. Fred Laing, chairman at Douglas Laing, said: “Back in 2009, I dreamt up a feisty Ileach fisherman who would later become Big Peat, a brand that would grow at an average of 29% year on year, and subsequently be joined by Scallywag, Timorous Beastie, Rock Oyster, The Epicurean and The Gauldrons to deliver what we so modestly designate our ‘Remarkable Regional Malts: The Ultimate Distillation of Scotland’s Malt Whisky Regions’.” Just 850 cases of Big Peat 10 Year Old will be available globally, priced at around £65.

Congratulations Alessandro Palazzi!

Legendary Duke’s bartender Alessandro Palazzi, honoured at CLASS Awards

On Tuesday night, the cream of the British booze world met for the annual CLASS Bar Awards. The winners were chosen by the CLASS Collective, a group of over 70 bar experts from all over the country. Lots of well-known venues scooped awards including Callooh Callay, Three Sheets, the American Bar at the Savoy, Coupette and Dandelyan. Individuals honoured included Max Venning, who won Bartender of the Year, and Declan McGurk from the Savoy, who picked up Bar Manager of the Year. But the biggest cheer of the evening went to Alessandro Palazzi from Duke’s Bar in London who won the Lifetime Achievement Award. Anyone who has experienced the Palazzi magic knows what a fine bartender he is, mixing great drinks, but also making one feel like the most important person in the world, if only for half an hour. His fearsomely strong Martinis were described by the San Francisco Chronicle as the “best in England”. We hope that he let someone else make the drinks on Tuesday night. Congratulations Alessandro!

The Future 50 initiative champions the next big things in wine and spirits.

WSET and IWSC seek out awesomeness in booze with The Future 50

Are you an incredible human-type under the age of 40 who works in booze? Know someone who is? If so, the Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET) and the International Wine & Spirit Competition (IWSC) want to hear from you! To celebrate their coinciding 50th anniversaries, the organisations have palled up to create The Future 50, an initiative that champions the next big things in wine and spirits. The list, set to be revealed in November, aims to recognise people from across the industry, from product development, design and distribution to marketing, journalism, hospitality, and everything else. As such, WSET and IWSC are calling on folk to nominate themselves and their talented colleagues! The judging panel includes the likes of Joe Fattorini (off of The Wine Show), Stephanie Macleod (Dewar’s master blender), Christine Parkinson (group head of wine at Hakkasan), Richard Paterson (Whyte & MacKay master blender), and Xavier Rousset MS (restaurateur), so there are some big names to impress. “As 2019 marks 50 years of success for each of our organisations, it offers the perfect opportunity to emphasise the importance of developing new talent through education and awards to secure an equally prosperous future for the industry,” said WSET chief executive Ian Harris. “At WSET we are delighted to be looking to the future and showcasing the next generation of talent in the wines and spirits industry through our joint Future 50 project.” For more information or to submit a nomination, head to future50.wsetglobal.com.

Sotheby’s enjoyed a fruitful 2018

Asia continues to dominate wine auctions according to Sotheby’s

Auction house Sotheby’s has just released its 2018 market report which shows the auction market for fine wine is in robust health. It was a record-breaking year for Sotheby’s, with auction sales up 50% on the previous year. Total sales of wines and spirits topped $100 million for the first time. The Asian market continues to expand, up from a 58% share in 2017 to 63% of the market this year, followed by North America and Europe. This is reflected in Hong Kong’s dominance with 53% of sales, followed by New York at 29% and London at 18%. Of the big names in wine, the number one producer by value was Burgundy’s Domaine de la Romanée-Conti at $24 million with 21% of sales. Indeed, one bottle of Romanée-Conti sold for $558,000 last year at auction in New York. Wine is all very well but Master of Malt readers will be pleased to hear that the most expensive bottle sold was a whisky, a Macallan 1926 with a label by Sir Peter Blake which went for $843,200. Yeah, whisky!

The initiative includes a fiery Flambé Masterclass!

D&D London Launches My Hospitality World

Starting on Monday 25 February, restaurant group D&D London will launch a two-week initiative called My Hospitality World, to encourage young people into the industry and demonstrate that opportunities are not confined to front of house or kitchen staff. This is in response to the industry’s growing skills gap. The initiative aims to encourage talented youngsters to see hospitality as a viable career path by offering a series of events in D&D London restaurants. There will be a full restaurant takeover of the Blueprint Café by students from London South East College, giving students an authentic taste of what goes on in the professional kitchen. There is even a dedicated event in support of International Women’s Day (8 March), to inspire more young women to become professional chefs! D&D London chairman & CEO Des Gunewardena commented: “Working in restaurants is viewed by many people as not being an occupation to aspire to and we want to change that.” Good luck to them!

Keep an eye out for The Hendrick’s LOVE Campaign

Hendrick’s seduces travellers with LOVE Campaign

Love is in the air! Well, almost – love is in the airport! The Hendrick’s LOVE Campaign is taking place throughout February and, in some places, into March in bars and shops at airports in the UK, Europe and across the Middle East and Asia. Under the headline, ‘Sublimely SIMPLE, yet curiously COMPLICATED – a gift much like LOVE’, Hendrick’s is charming travellers with a giant sharing teacup, a heart glorifier (thing that shows off the bottle), and copious amounts of rose petals and cucumbers. A surefire way to anyone’s heart. However, the most exciting part of the campaign is the exclusive airport serve named ‘A Rose Story’: a delightful combination of Hendrick’s gin with rose and elderflower syrup, and tonic, garnished with – to nobody’s surprise – rose petals and a cucumber slice. And there’s more potential Hendrick’s-themed fun on the horizon because on the 14th June, it’s World Cucumber Day. We’re rather intrigued to see how Hendrick’s will celebrate its favourite green salad fruit.

I beg your pardon, I never promised you a gin garden

Visit Britain’s first Gin Garden

Gin distillery tours are two-a-penny these days. You know the drill: admire the gleaming copper, try the gin and then buy a bottle. One distillery though, The Old Curiosity in Edinburgh, has come up with something a little different. From 23 March, you can visit its Gin Garden, located by the Pentland Hills to the south west of the Scottish capital. There you will be able to smell all those wonderful living botanicals that go into gin, witness the entire process from picking to distillation, and, of course, try the gin (it would be a pretty poor gin garden if there was no gin to drink). Not only is it a fun day out, but for gin nerds, it’s a great way to train your palate. The distillery has produced a video with distillery owner and top herbologist Hamish Martin that explains everything. It sounds like this Scottish distillery has raised the bar for gin-based experiences in Britain.

Bitters, Boulevardiers and big left entorhinal cortexes is how we roll at MoM Towers

And finally… Bitter-loving people are cleverer, say scientists

We lovers of bitter things like Campari or IPA have always felt ourselves to be somewhat superior, but now research by actual scientists shows that our tastes might not only show sophistication, they might also be linked to intelligence. Research into tonic water by Dr Daniel Hwang from the University of Queensland and published in New Scientist suggests that how people perceive bitterness is linked to brain size: “Researchers scanned the brains of 1,600 people and asked them to rate the bitterness of a quinine solution. Those who found the drink less bitter tended to have a bigger left entorhinal cortex”. In other words, if you like bitter things, you probably have a bigger brain. So next time someone tells you that adding Fernet Branca to your Negroni is neither big nor clever, point them to this study, and assume your genius face.

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The Nightcap: 27 July

As a bevy of drinks companies post their full-year results, let’s get down to business with this week’s The Nightcap. Greetings from another Friday! You’ve made it through a week,…

As a bevy of drinks companies post their full-year results, let’s get down to business with this week’s The Nightcap.

Greetings from another Friday! You’ve made it through a week, which is always an achievement of note and worthy of commemoration. As you settle into the weekend, do so with a brain full of booze news – get ready for another edition of The Nightcap!

Firstly, let’s look at the week that was here at MoM Towers. Our Annie chatted to whisky industry legend Charles MacLean, and then got us ready for London Mezcal Week by interviewing festival co-founders Thea Cumming and Melanie Symonds. Kristy introduced yet another whisky-based excursion to add to our ever-expanding bucket list with the Hebridean Whisky Trail. Sam said goodbye to Rum Month with a run-down of ace dark rums. Henry showed us why we shouldn’t fear the sommelier, and gave us a look at the new range of Mortlach whiskies due to hit shelves later this year. And finally Sam drilled down into Diageo’s results. On that note, on with The Nightcap booze news and those all-important numbers!

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The Nightcap: 25 May

Happy Friday, team! It’s a wrap on the week that was, which means we have another edition of The Nightcap for you! Read on for news of distillery developments, brilliant…

Happy Friday, team! It’s a wrap on the week that was, which means we have another edition of The Nightcap for you! Read on for news of distillery developments, brilliant new bars, and intriguing product developments…

It’s Friday, Friday, gotta get down on Friday… (you’re welcome for the earworm). It’s time to down tools for the weekend and reflect on another seven days in drinks.

Before we crack on with The Nightcap proper, let’s recall another stellar week on the blog. On Monday we got set for the Chelsea Flower Show with Annie’s round-up of deliciously floral whiskies – whether plants are your thing or not, it’s a sublime list of sunny-day sippers. Then on Tuesday we were VERY excited. We got to share a sneak peek inside Macallan’s new distillery following our secret visit back in April. It’s definitely one to add to the bucket list!

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Q&A: Dalmore master blender Richard Paterson

Scotch whisky personality, author, educator, expert, and, most importantly, accomplished master blender. Richard Paterson – the man behind Dalmore, Jura, Fettercairn and more – talks independent bottlers, auction houses, and…

Scotch whisky personality, author, educator, expert, and, most importantly, accomplished master blender. Richard Paterson – the man behind Dalmore, Jura, Fettercairn and more – talks independent bottlers, auction houses, and why the “cask is king”…

He secured the title of master blender at Whyte & Mackay at the age of 26, and earned the nickname, ‘The Nose’, for his exemplary olfactory skills. He’s a key figure in wine cask finishing innovation and is one of the Scotch whisky’s greatest evangelists. It can only be Richard Paterson, one of the industry’s best known luminaries.

In 2017 – his 50th year in the Scotch whisky industry – Paterson was honoured with the Lifetime Achievement Award at the International Wine and Spirit Competition Awards. MoM speaks to the revered whisky showman to discover what it means to be a modern-day master blender…

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What will we be drinking in 2018? The IWSC looks ahead…

While 2017 might not be over quite yet – there are trees to be decorated, gifts to be wrapped, and many, many mince pies to be scoffed – we can’t…

While 2017 might not be over quite yet – there are trees to be decorated, gifts to be wrapped, and many, many mince pies to be scoffed – we can’t help but ponder what we’ll be drinking in 2018. Luckily for us, the International Wine & Spirit Competition has pinpointed the key spirits trends that will shape the year ahead.

Last week, the International Wine & Spirit Competition (IWSC) hosted its Annual Awards Banquet at Guildhall, recognising the best producers in the biz for their exceptional bottlings. Since the folk behind the competition assess a phenomenal selection of spirits spanning all manner of categories, they’re particularly well-placed to identify the emerging trends that will inform what we fill our glasses with.

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Master of Malt named IWSC Online Retailer of the Year!

We’re beyond thrilled to announce that we’ve been awarded the Online Retailer of the Year Trophy at the International Wine & Spirit Competition for the second time in three years!…

IWSC Online Retailer Trophy

We’re beyond thrilled to announce that we’ve been awarded the Online Retailer of the Year Trophy at the International Wine & Spirit Competition for the second time in three years!

Just days after our last pieces of exciting awards news from the DEAs and Icons of Whisky – and capping off a truly extraordinary year – last night we received the Online Retailer of the Year Trophy at the 47th annual International Wine & Spirit Competition Awards Banquet.

This is the second time we’ve received this extremely prestigious IWSC title in the trophy’s three year history, having picked up the inaugural online retailer award in 2014. To be recognised once again by such a well-respected authority across all of wine and spirits is an incedible, slightly dizzying acheivement, and one that obviously makes us burst with pride!

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Public Voting Open Now! – IWSC Best Online Retailer Award

Vote For Us as International Wine & Spirit Competition Best Online Retailer now! It’s that time of year once again when we turn to our wonderful customers to help us…

IWSC Online Retailer

Vote For Us as International Wine & Spirit Competition Best Online Retailer now!

It’s that time of year once again when we turn to our wonderful customers to help us claim a place on the final shortlist for the International Wine & Spirit Competition’s Online Retailer of the Year award.

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Public Voting Open Now! – IWSC Online Retailer of the Year Award

Readers of this blog and those who follow us on social media will know that we’ve been fortunate enough to win an astonishing number of awards over the last few…

IWSC Online Retailer

Readers of this blog and those who follow us on social media will know that we’ve been fortunate enough to win an astonishing number of awards over the last few years, many of them retailer awards within and even beyond the drinks industry. When we do, we always make sure to thank you all. Quite simply, without you – our customers – none of it would be possible.

Last year we were able to make the shortlist for Online Retailer of the Year Award at the International Wine & Spirit Competition as a direct result of your votes. We then went on to take home the inaugural Online Retailer Trophy, something we’re incredibly proud of.

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Public Voting Open Now! – IWSC Best Online Retailer Award 2014

It always means an awful lot to us when we win retailer awards at Icons of Whisky (Whisky Mag), or indeed the eCommerce Awards (that one wasn’t even limited to…

IWSC best indie

It always means an awful lot to us when we win retailer awards at Icons of Whisky (Whisky Mag), or indeed the eCommerce Awards (that one wasn’t even limited to the drinks industry!), and when we do win awards like these, we always make sure to thank all of you, our beautiful customers, for making it possible. We really do love you all.

Fortunately for us, you seem to rather like us too, as we get to see every single day as we read through your amazing feedback! It makes the jobs we all do here at MoM all the more rewarding to see just how much you enjoy using the site for your delicious drinks purchases. Now, if you are of the opinion that we’re a rather good retailer (one worthy of awards, perhaps) then there is one little thing you could do for us…

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Our International Wine & Spirit Competition 2014 Winnings

The folks here at MoM Towers aren’t going to win the World Cup anytime soon. Our team, Bitter Bastards FC, are just a few players short of a full squad…

International Wine & Spirit Competition 2014

The folks here at MoM Towers aren’t going to win the World Cup anytime soon. Our team, Bitter Bastards FC, are just a few players short of a full squad and therefore wouldn’t qualify, so the German team has nothing to be worried about… Yet. We’re also not going to win Wimbledon, despite a small subset of us being pretty gosh-darn good at squash (they’re basically the same sport, one just has more passive aggressive connotations and a wall). Oscars? Probably not. Grammys? Unlikely. Nobel Peace Prize? Doubtful at best. Medals for making stunning drinks? Now you’re talking!

That’s right, that little preamble is leading up to us proudly showing off the medals our products scooped up at the prestigious International Wine & Spirits Competition 2014. We’re always immensely excited and grateful when the products we make are commended by the highly knowledgeable tasters behind these awarding bodies – it really does mean the world to us.

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