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Master of Malt Blog

Tag: Kentucky Whiskey

The Nightcap: 14 February

It’s 14 February, so you know what that means – it’s time for The Nightcap! Yep, that’s it. Nothing else. People all across the country got out of their beds…

It’s 14 February, so you know what that means – it’s time for The Nightcap! Yep, that’s it. Nothing else.

People all across the country got out of their beds this morning, took a look at their calendars on the wall and said “Oh look, it’s 14 February! That means there’s another edition of The Nightcap today!” As you can clearly tell, this is meant to be a joke. It’s obviously a joke because no one has a physical calendar on the wall anymore. We have phones to remember the date and what’s going on for us. For example, I’m looking at the calendar on my phone for the first time today right now and it’s telling me that it’s a Nightcap day, as well as being Valent… Oh, I have to go to the shop. For no reason. I’ll go after The Nightcap.

Over on the MoM blog this week Ian Buxton championed English fruit brandies with Capreolus Distillery while Annie was particularly inspired this week by a perfume-inspired liqueur and a Bordeaux-inspired cocktail. Adam then tasted a 51-year-old Dalmore single malt (no, really), talked Tequila with VIVIR and made a case for you to explore the world of London dry gin before Henry shone a spotlight on a Cuban rum and Nordic-Aussie gin.

Now, on to the Nightcap!

 

The Nightcap

The two single cask whiskies were distilled the very same year the distillery closed!

Rosebank Distillery returns with two rare single cask expressions

Prepare yourselves, whisky lovers. In huge news, this week the much-loved Rosebank Distillery announced the release of two limited edition, vintage single cask whiskies, distilled the very same year the distillery closed, 1993. Though both cask strength bottlings spent their days in a refill bourbon hogshead, that’s where the similarities end. For Cask Number 433, at 53.3% ABV with a release of 280 bottles, you can expect cranachan and lemon, with gentle floral notes, marzipan, ripe fruit and oak. Contrastingly, Cask Number 625 boasts warm banana loaf, shortbread, chamomile tea, dried herb and citrus, tropical fruit, lime and gentle spice finish, at 50.4% ABV and an outturn of 259 bottles. The most exciting part is, you have a chance to get your hands on the liquid! With only 100 bottles of each expression available, the folks over at Rosebank want to keep things fair, so you can apply for a bottle direct from the website via a ballot process. The ballot launched today (14 February) for Rosebank subscribers, while general release will have to wait until 18 February, and will remain open for two weeks. Whichever expression you go for, a bottle will set you back £2,500. Robbie Hughes, Rosebank distillery manager said: “We are incredibly excited and proud to be releasing our first official bottlings of Rosebank since the distillery’s closure in 1993 – a pivotal milestone for us in bringing back to life this quintessential Lowland malt.” If you manage to get your hands on a bottle (as if that wasn’t lucky enough), you’ll be invited to collect it at a private event in London on 18th March, with the chance to meet Robbie Hughes himself, and even sample the single casks. What a way to get back in the game from the iconic distillery ahead of its long-awaited reopening!

The Nightcap

All hail the Grouse!

Famous Grouse now no. 1 whisky in Britain

Britain has a new champion whisky. The invincible-looking Jack Daniel’s has been unseated from its no. 1 spot and knocked back to no. 2 (though it would be fitting if it was the seventh best-selling brand, think about it). The new winner is a home-grown little blend you may have heard of called. . . the Famous Grouse! The Edrington Group’s flagship blend had a great Christmas in the off-trade with sales over £71m, up 2.6% on the previous year. Whereas its rival from Tennessee dropped by a shocking 9.3%, perhaps a reflection of the so-called Trump tariffs from the US/ EU trade war. Overall the mighty Grouse is bucking the trend for the blended Scotch category which was down 4.1% by value after Christmas (figures are from Nielsen ScanTrack based on off-trade sales for 12 weeks up to 4 January 2020). Mark Riley, managing director at Edrington-Beam Suntory UK commented: “The Famous Grouse for years has been the UK’s favourite whisky and driving force behind the blended Scotch category, so we are delighted to have reclaimed our number one spot in the UK’s largest spirits category. It’s fantastic to see a Scotch back in the top spot.” The Grouse is back!

The Nightcap

The ongoing EU/US trade war isn’t doing wonders for the American whiskey business

Tariffs cause US spirits exports to drop 27% to EU 

That’s right, we bring you more bad tariff news, folks. According to figures just released by Distilled Spirits Council of the US (Discus), the ongoing EU/US trade war is hitting the American whiskey business hard. In 2019, global exports of American whiskey fell by 16%, to $996 million. What’s more, American whiskey exports to the EU plummeted a whopping 27%, falling to $514m. This crash also comes after years of strong growth in the market. Discus president and CEO Chris Swonger noted that, “while it was another strong year for US spirits sales, the tariffs imposed by the European Union are causing a significant slump in American whiskey exports.” It’s easy to see this when we look at export declines for American whiskey in specific EU countries, with the UK falling 32.7%, France 19.9%, Germany 18.2% and Spain 43.8%. Swonger continued, “if this trade dispute is not resolved soon, we will more than likely be reporting a similar drag on the US spirits sector, jeopardising American jobs and our record of solid growth in the US market.” Politicians, sort it out!

The Nightcap

Better than tap? The jury’s out. At least they were. Then they said it was better.

Larkfire Wild Water triumphs in whisky taste test

This week Master of Malt was invited to the launch of a new water which is meant to be enjoyed with whisky called Larkfire at Boisdale of Belgravia in London. It’s the softest water imaginable as it is collected from Isle of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides. The local rock, Lewisian gneiss, is incredibly hard and insoluble meaning that the water doesn’t pick up any minerals. It’s about as pure as water can be. The company was so confident in its purity that it put on a little test. A panel of drinks people, experts, journalists and someone from Master of Malt tried a selection of whiskies supplied by LVMH: Ardbeg 10 Year Old, Ardbeg Corryvreckan, Glenmorangie 10 Year Old and Glenmorangie Lasanta with two types of water. One row was Larkfire and the other was Belgravia’s finest tap water. But which was which? There was much sipping, gurgling, swallowing and pontificating, it was totally scientific. Then it was time to hand in our papers. After a slap-up Scottish lunch of haggis and venison, the results were revealed: 14 votes for Larkfire wild water; 7 votes for Belgravia tap. So Larkfire the clear winner. Sadly, Master of Malt’s reputation was in tatters as our representative preferred the tap water.

The Nightcap

Congratulations guys!

Family-run pub named the best in the country for the second time

The Bell Inn in Aldworth, Berkshire, which has been run by the same family for 250 years, has been crowned the Campaign for Real Ale’s (CAMRA) Pub of the Year. The Bell Inn previously won the award in 1990 when it was run by current landlord Hugh Macaulay’s parents. “Since my grandfather retired nothing has changed about the pub at all, I think that might be one of the things that impressed,” says Macaulay, who added that it was “a wonderful thing to be recognised for driving quality year after year” at the Grade-II listed hostelry. Macaulay also attributed the success to the fact The Bell Inn is a free house, meaning it is not owned by a particular brewery and it is free to sell a variety of beers. “The judges were impressed with how a stranger entering the pub was treated like a regular straight away,” said Pub of the Year competition organiser Ben Wilkinson. “It’s clear that the local customers use the pub as a community centre as well as a place to drink, and the warm welcome and knowledgeable staff made us feel right at home. Nothing can beat the combination of good beer, great food and a warm, heritage pub”. Each year volunteers from more than 200 CAMRA branches select their Pub of the Year, before a winner is chosen in each region and they are whittled down to three runners-up and one winner. Runner-ups to the award, which has been running since 1988, include the Swan With Two Necks in Pendleton, Lancashire, the George and Dragon in Hudswell, North Yorkshire, and the Red Lion in Preston, Hertfordshire. Congratulations to everyone at The Bell Inn!

The Nightcap

Cognac and hip-hop – a combination that never fails

Courvoisier and Pusha-T partner to open US pop-up

The Maison Courvoisier activation, an immersive experience that “pays homage to the brand’s château in France”, is set to open in Chicago this weekend. Those who visit the event will be able to sample the latest offerings from Courvoisier, while experiencing live performances, interactive art galleries, fashion exhibits and a capsule collection from fashion designer, Rhuigi Villaseñor, and contemporary artist, Al-Baseer Holly. Oh, and also the first instalment of Maison Courvoisier was curated by multi-platinum rapper Pusha-T. “Beyond music, I am passionate about fashion and art, so I’m proud to collaborate with Courvoisier to highlight two of my favourite creators,” he said. “I’ve been a fan of Rhuigi and Al-Baseer for years, and I’m excited to be able to highlight their success through Maison Courvoisier.” This is the first in the series of activations taking place throughout 2020 at US cities including Los Angeles, Chicago, Detroit, Miami, Atlanta, Washington, Houston and Philadelphia. The next experience is planned for New York Fashion Week in September. “We’re excited to open the doors to Maison Courvoisier, as it brings our château in France and portfolio of award-winning liquid to our fans in a modern and interactive way,” said Stephanie Kang, senior marketing director for Courvoisier. “The event also embodies our core value that success is best shared and allows us to give these creative innovators the opportunity to honour their favourite artisans and their work.”

The Nightcap

Happy birthday, Kentucky Bourbon Trail

Happy 21st birthday, Kentucky Bourbon Trail!

In the words of Charli XCX, we do occasionally want to go back to 1999. It was a good year! Toy Story II, Britney Spears, the millennium bug fear… what a time to be alive. It was also the year the Kentucky Distillers’ Association kicked off the Kentucky Bourbon Trail, and for that we are truly grateful. And we shall celebrate its 21st birthday in fine form! The timetable of festivities was announced this week, getting underway with an 18-stop pop-up party tour in May and culminating in September with a closing do at the Kentucky Bourbon Trail Welcome Center at Whiskey Row’s Frazier History Museum in Louisville. A whole bunch of distilleries are participating, including Bulleit, Evan Williams, Heaven Hill, Jim Beam, Woodford Reserve, and more. “We invite everyone to come out and celebrate with us.” said Adam Johnson, senior director of the KDA’s Kentucky Bourbon Trail experiences. “This is a momentous occasion and we wouldn’t be here without the millions of devoted fans who have made the pilgrimage to the various KBT destinations and the birthplace of bourbon.” And in 2019, the number of visits stood at almost two million – that’s a significant number of whiskey pilgrims. Happy birthday, Kentucky Bourbon Trail – we’ll be raising many glasses to you this year!

 

Tullamore D.E.W. debuts new short film in Beauty of Blend campaign 

Tullamore D.E.W.’s ‘Beauty of Blend’ campaign, which began in 2017, continues with a new short film! Ever wondered what motivates people to craft the perfect blend? Well, the world’s second largest Irish whiskey is giving us an insight into the answer, and in short, it’s to bring people together (we assume delicious liquid is also a byproduct of this). Beauty of Blend was shot by the acclaimed director Valentin Petit, enlisting the help of up and coming MCs and poets such as Genesis Elijah, a UK-based spoken word artist, asking them to express their own interpretation of the power of blend. The film shows a single bottle of Tullamore D.E.W. being passed between people throughout different places and cultures, to demonstrate the “connective thread that exists in us”. Very heartwarming indeed. “Tullamore D.E.W. is on a mission to encourage the world to blend. What is true of our whiskey, we are a blend of three types of different Irish whiskeys, we also believe is true of humanity,” global brand director, Chin Ru Foo said. “When we blend with other people and ideas, then we become richer as individuals and in turn, the world becomes a wiser, richer and more open place”. If you happen to be passing through Times Square, you’ll find it there on a giant billboard (is there any other kind in New York?), though seeing as it’s the 21st century, the internet is your first port of call if you’re elsewhere.

The Nightcap

Jameson sales have hit a new high

Jameson whiskey hits 8 million cases sold in 2019

The Jameson juggernaut shows no sign of slowing down. Figures just released by Irish Distillers shows that it sold 4.6 million cases of Jameson in the last six months of 2019 taking total sales for the year up to 8 million. Over the Christmas period, the company sold an astonishing 940,000 cases in one month. Sales are up 9% on the previous year. Growth in the last 25 years has been rapid: 1996 was the first year the company sold more than a million cases a year, by 2010 it was triple that. The US market dominates, as you might expect, taking 2 million cases of Jameson in 2019 but there’s growth across the board: UK up 10%, Germany up 34%, and Canda up 13%. The emerging markets are rocking too with China up 76%, India up 37% and Nigeria up a massive 185% (probably from quite a low base, it has to be said.) It’s not only Jameson though, Irish Distillers reports that Redbreast sales grew by 24% and visitor numbers are booming at Bow Street in Dublin and Midleton in Cork. It will be interesting to see what 2020 will bring.

The Nightcap

It’s a 75-minute journey through a century of cocktails. Fingers crossed the flux capacitor can handle it.

And finally. . . Are you telling me you built a time machine. . . out of a bar?

Think of the great time machines from popular culture like the DeLorean in the Back to the Future films, the time machine in HG Wells’ The Time Machine or, greatest of all, the phone box from Bill and Ted’s adventures. All great time machines, no doubt, all useful for messing with the space-time continuum but one thing was missing from all of them: booze. Everything is better with a drink in your hand, right*? Well, at the Timeless Bar in East London, this has been remedied. The team will be firing up their very own Cocktail Time Machine on the day that comes but once every four years, 29 February (that’s a Saturday.) The experience has been created by Funicular, creators of amazing immersive experiences, and consists of a 75-minute journey through a century of cocktails (see video here for a flavour of what to expect) from the Hanky Panky in the 1920s to the Appletini in the ‘00s. Food will be provided by Masterchef finalist Louisa Ellis. To travel on the Cocktail Time Machine, you need to book. All sounds enormous fun as long as you don’t get stuck in the 70s with nothing to drink but Tequila Sunrises. 

*Disclaimer: many things such as driving a car, operating heavy machinery, flying an aeroplane or delivering babies should be done sober.

1 Comment on The Nightcap: 14 February

The story behind the revival of James E. Pepper Whiskey

We explore the comeback of James E. Pepper with new owner Amir Peay, who talks about rebuilding a historic distillery from the ground-up, the legacy he loves and why his…

We explore the comeback of James E. Pepper with new owner Amir Peay, who talks about rebuilding a historic distillery from the ground-up, the legacy he loves and why his love of boxing led to his new role.

You’ve almost certainly heard of the name James E. Pepper if you’re a fan of American whiskey. But the reason why you’re able to purchase whiskey of that name today is thanks to Amir Peay, a former bartender whose passion for history and the good stuff led him to revive the brand and rebuild its distillery. 

The brand did not begin with James E. Pepper, however, but rather his grandfather Elijah. Back in 1780, when most were concerned with the American Revolutionary war, Elijah Pepper built his first distillery. By 1790 he’d built another distillery in Kentucky and in 1812  he built a distillery on a site that today belongs to Woodford Reserve. Elijah was a very successful man and created a popular brand that was secure enough to withstand the fallout from the Whiskey Rebellion.

After Elijah’s death in 1838, the distillery was left to his son, Oscar, who continued the family tradition, building a larger distillery on the same site  and making notable improvements to the sour mash process with Scottish chemist by the name of Dr. James C. Crow (you may be familiar with Old Crow Bourbon, which was his creation). Old Pepper bourbon became so popular it was the favourite brand of noted Americans, including Presidents Andrew Jackson, William Henry Harrison and Ulysses S. Grant, prompting Abraham Lincoln to once reply to critics of Grant, “By the way, gentlemen, can either of you tell me where General Grant procures his whiskey? Because, if I can find out, I will send every general in the field a barrel of it!” 

James Pepper

The man himself, James E. Pepper

In 1867, the distillery passed to James E. Pepper. “The Peppers ran their distillery for three family generations, well over a hundred years, and there were a lot of very notable achievements there, such as the perfecting of the sour mash process,” Peay explains. “James inherited what the oldest whiskey brand made in Kentucky at fifteen, a very young age, so the family brought in an old family friend and guardian and business partner to help guide young James. That guy’s name was Colonel E.H. Taylor you might have heard of him?”

Taylor advised James E. Pepper to expand the distillery and he lent him money to do so. When Pepper couldn’t pay the loan back Taylor seized the property and later sold it. Undeterred, Pepper raised capital and came back to Kentucky and built a new distillery in 1879. “That distillery at the time was the largest and most advanced distillery in the United States. He continued to produce old Pepper whiskey using his grandfather Eljah’s Revolution-era recipes. For that reason he called the brand Old 1776,” says Peay. “He was quite the promoter and James was able to take the brand to another level. The Old Fashioned cocktail, legend has it, was created in his honour at the Pendennis Club in Louisville and then he brought it to the Waldorf Astoria in Manhattan in the 1890s and from there it was introduced to the world”. 

Pepper was a bit of a character. He travelled in a private rail car and was a huge name in the world of thoroughbred horse racing, even bringing his horses to England to beat the King’s horses in the Doncaster Cup. Unfortunately, he had no children so when he died in 1906 the Pepper line died with him. His wife sold the distillery to a group of investors who continued to run it and make Pepper whiskey. “The distillery actually was one of the few in Kentucky that was allowed to sell its whiskey for medicinal purposes through Prohibition. The brand stayed alive, but that old distillery burned down in a fire in 1933,” says Peay. “On the exact same footprint, we know this because we’ve got all the old site plans and architectural drawings, a new distillery was built in 1934 and whiskey was produced there under the same old recipes. It thrived all the way up to the 50s and 60s, but overproduction in the American whiskey industry and the popularity of vodka caused a lot of distilleries to shut down and the Pepper distillery was one of them”. 

James E. Pepper

The image that prompted the revival

By 1961 the distillery was abandoned. That’s how it remained until 2008. “Until I came along! I’m a big American history buff, I really loved whiskey and I was a bartender for a lot of years. When I learned about this amazing brand I just couldn’t believe it had been abandoned, like a piece of garbage that no one cared about. So I thought ‘How cool would it be to relaunch this great iconic old brand?’ And that’s what I did,” Peay explains. 

Despite his previous work in the bars, the wine business in California and his great love of whiskey, it was actually his job as a boxing journalist that led Peay to James E. Pepper. “I was looking at some photos of a very famous old boxing match with the first African American Heavyweight Champion of the World, Jack Johnson and this fight he was in July 4th 1910, ‘The Fight of the Century’, against opponent Jim Jeffries”, Peay explains. “In the middle of them both was a big banner that says: ‘James E. Pepper Whiskey – Born with the Republic’. I started looking into it. The more I discovered, the more intrigued I became. I uncovered so much about the history of the James E. Pepper, a lot of which we won’t have the time to go into now in detail. But it is on our website and in our museum at the distillery”. 

Peay’s initial plan to bring the James E. Pepper brand back was to contact every distillery in Kentucky and ask for assistance. “I sent them a PowerPoint about why I thought this was such an amazing brand. I managed to get some amazing meetings with some pretty interesting people such as CEOs of big companies and distilleries. This approach wasn’t easy, but Peay eventually saw results. “After ten years of working with other distillers, reinvesting; trying to be smart about my business and I’ve really built an independent, bootstrapping whiskey company. To this day I’m the sole owner,” says Peay. “I’ve acquired hundred-year-old bottles full of the original whiskey, perfectly preserved from before, during and after prohibition, as well as old letters, recipes, the exact grain bills, production methods from James E. Pepper’s era and the era after prohibition. We’re making the same historic mash bill and we dug the historic limestone around the property from two hundred feet below ground to get our pure limestone-filtered water, the same water source the Peppers used”. 

James E. Pepper

The James E. Pepper Distillery prior to restoration

After Peay was able to revive the James E. Pepper name, he brought back the 1776 brand. But the biggest obstacle was restoring the old distillery. It had fallen into a state of disrepair, changing hands a few times with different real estate developers but remaining derelict. It took years of lobbying and negotiation, but once again Peay was eventually successful. On May 4 2016, it was announced that the distillery was to be rebuilt with a museum on the remains of the historic distillery. The first barrel was filled on December 21st, 2017. “Since then we’ve been in full-scale production, making everything in-house in our full-scale distillery! We have our museum here, we give tours and we’re proudly doing it all right in the heart of what’s known as the Lexington Distillery district,” explains Peay. “We’re also very proud that we were able to get back the federal distillery permit for the distillery: DSP-KY-5 (Distilled Spirits Permit Kentucky, Number 5), the 5th license ever issued in the state of Kentucky when it was given to the original distillery. If you build a new distillery in Kentucky today your DSP number will be in the twenty thousands. For us to have number 5 speaks to the heritage of this brand and its place in Kentucky history. There’s just a few of us in the single-digit club”. 

The James E. Pepper distillery rebuild was soon joined by restaurants, breweries, coffee shops, bars and even one of the places where you can throw axes (rad) in the thriving ‘Distillery District’, a 25-acre entertainment district in downtown Lexington. “All these other great independent Lexington entrepreneurs built thriving businesses and it’s become one of the hottest neighbourhoods in the city, it’s actually caused a parking crisis!” says Peay. He might not be a native, but his pride for the local area speaks volumes about the manner in which he has approached the restoration of James E. Pepper.

The fact that the new stills are in the same location where the previous stills were and were even made by the same company speaks to that desire for historical authenticity. “Our solid copper still system was built by Vendome Copper, the Louisville company that builds all the stills for every Kentucky family-owned company. One of the cool things that I uncovered in my research was seventeen pages of detailed mechanical engineering drawings of the still system that was built at our distillery in 1934 by Vendome,” says Peay. “So I went to Vendome with those old drawings and that old manway cover from the old still, which was thrilling for them because their family was almost put out of business by prohibition and they didn’t even have one from that date. It was really exciting to work with them to rebuild the system inspired by the old one, although we did make some improvements. We ended up with a state of the art, advanced distillery and we’re very happy with the distillate coming off the stills”.

James Pepper

The Vendome copper stills

There is no warehouse facility at the distillery so the maximum storage capacity there is around 200 barrels, meaning the majority are shipped off-site for storage. The few that are kept on-site are essentially there so the team can taste the progress and the whiskey matures, although all secondary-finishing is done at the distillery. “There is no long term storage at the distillery, instead we work with a few different distillers who have large rickhouses out in wide-open spaces in the middle of a field somewhere. We are in an urban area,” says Peay. “People ask why we don’t build our own or use the old rickhouse, but imagine if I go to the city & state and I say I want to store thousands of barrels of whiskey in a densely packed, residential urban area next to all these businesses? It’s just too much of a hazard, so it’s not possible for us”.

The barrels are brought back to the distillery once the whiskey is matured as bottling occurs on-site, another important factor for Peay as he wanted to honour the fact that the Pepper distillery was the first in Kentucky to bottle its own whiskey (Old Forester were technically rectifiers not distillers). “It was actually illegal in Kentucky for distilleries to bottle their own whiskey in 1890. Rectifiers would bottle so if you were a distillery you had to sell by the barrel to somebody who would bottle off-site, but James E. Pepper hated that because there are a lot of counterfeiters and fraudulent people and no consumer protection laws,” Peay explains. “He sued the state of Kentucky to allow him to bottle at his distillery and got the law changed to allow him to do it and he was also an instrumental advocate for the Bottled Bond Act of 1897. He was one of these guardians of the purity and quality of American whiskey early on”.

While Peay may have been the man who brought the James E. Pepper brand back, he’s the first to admit he’s no whisky maker. That’s why he brought in Aaron Schorsch as master distiller. “You see a lot of people who build distilleries and last year they were an accountant and this year they’re a master distiller, that’s kind of a big leap, right? I know a lot about making whiskey, but Aaron knows how to turn an idea into a reality. He came to us with about almost twenty years experience, his first ten years were at the Lawrenceburg Distillery when it was owned by Seagrams and he also spent time at Jim Beam and Sam Adams,” says Peay. “Today you see a lot of distillers who are essentially marketing people. If you’re out on the road a hundred days a year or two hundred days a year always doing interviews, how are you actually running a distillery? Aaron really runs that distillery and is on-site. He’s super knowledgeable and he’s worked side-by-side with some very big names in the industry. He actually came on board before our distillery was operating and was there for the entire construction process. I’ve been really impressed with his knowledge and his expertise. He’s the real deal”.

James Pepper

The revived James E. Pepper Distillery today

Though the plan is very much for all James E. Pepper whiskey to be made on-site, initially that wasn’t possible, of course, so Peay sought help from elsewhere. “Our 1776 Rye, our best selling product, was made at the Lawrenceburg Distillery. I really like them as a partner because they’re an ex-Seagrams distillery, which was by far the best whiskey producer in the United States during a very dark era of American whiskey,” Peay explains. “They have high-quality distillate and a great team of people there. But most importantly, they made a rye whiskey that had 95% rye in the mash bill and 5% malted barley, a very unique mash bill at that time. But James E. Pepper used to make a pure rye whiskey, 100% rye, and I loved that. None of the big guys in Kentucky made that, pretty much everybody made a rye whiskey with corn in the mash bill. So I loved that connection”. 

The extent of Peay’s historical research and the abundance of surviving records means that he knows an awful lot about the kind of whiskies that James E. Pepper made, from the exact grain bills, to the type of stills and fermentation he used. “We wanted to maintain that flavour profile so when we distil 1776 at the distillery we’re making it exactly as Pepper did. We are also distilling the actual historic bourbon mash bill that was produced there when the distillery was shut down in 1961,” Peay explains. “The tradition and the heritage are very important to us and we want to honour that, but at the same time, we don’t want to be limited by it. I would say at least a third of what we do is innovative mash bills and oak cooperage that I developed along working with Aaron. We’ve established that we will always do a minimum of eighteen months air seasoning, for example. We have sherry casks, we have ale casks. We’re excited to share that stuff when it’s ready to be bottled with everybody and that will be at least another couple of years”.

It can be difficult to balance ambition and progression without compromising your ability to create innovative, interesting whiskey. Peay does feel that pressure to uphold the legacy and the heritage, but early signs for the revive James E. Pepper brand are promising. “We’ve won a lot of awards and got a lot of recognition. I feel pretty good about what we’re making. I know that we use high-quality grain. Our water’s great. Our fermentation and our chemistry are great. Our distillations are perfect. The new-make tastes good,” he says. “For us, the future is going to be all about continuing to be a producer of high quality and unique whiskies. To honour and respect the tradition and the heritage, but also to innovate. We love making whiskey and we want to share our passion for it. We’re not trying to take over the world; we are happy being a decent sized independent producer. We don’t need to make tens of millions of cases of whiskey, we’re fine doing it the way we do it, with a lot of attention paid to quality”. 

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The Nightcap: 20 December

It’s the final Nightcap of 2019, so for the last time year let’s all enjoy a fresh batch of boozy news! Christmas is just around the corner, and then New…

It’s the final Nightcap of 2019, so for the last time year let’s all enjoy a fresh batch of boozy news!

Christmas is just around the corner, and then New Year’s Eve will happen, and then we’ll be in a brand new decade. Yes, another one. They just keep on happening, don’t they? There won’t be a Nightcap next week, for reasons that have nothing to do with being full of pigs within blankets. So, for the very last time of the 2010s, let’s check out what’s going on in the world of boozes with a plethora of brilliant bite-sized news chunks. It’s The Nightcap!

On the blog this week we launched our fabulously festive Where’s #WhiskySanta? competition in which you can win a £250 MoM voucher! Speaking of competitions, you’ve only got a few days left to enter the Starward competition, so be sure to pick yourself up a bottle from the Starward distillery range if you fancy a free boozy holiday down under… Elsewhere, #WhiskySanta announced his final SuperWish, the incredible Glenfarclas 50 Year Old Decanter, while the Drinks by the Dram Whisky Advent Calendar continued to impress with its selection of spirits on days #14, #15, #16, #17, #18 and #19. Adam meanwhile rounded-up some cracking Christmas table tipples to ease your shopping woes, before checking out Amazónico, a new rainforest-inspired bar and restaurant in Mayfair. Henry then enjoyed the company of Cognac maverick Alexandre Gabriel and the spicy, bold WhistlePig Ten Year Old – Pitt Cue Exclusive. Annie made a case for The Alpine Toddy to be your winter warmer of choice this year, and cast her eye on an upcoming trend, the rise of the mini Martini.

Now, for the last time in 2019, let’s motor on with the Nightcap!

The Nightcap

The West Indies Rum Distillery issued a statement this week. Also, look at that view!

Barbados rum GI conflict hots up

The ongoing debate over the proposed geographical indication (GI) for Barbados rum has just gone to DefCon 3, after the West Indies Rum Distillery (WIRD) issued a statement this week. It was signed by Andrew Hassell, managing director of the distillery, and Alexandre Gabriel, owner and master blender, and makes a few notable (and potentially controversial) points about what should be allowed in Barbados rum. Here we go: 1) Ageing off the island. They want a mandatory year’s ageing in Barbados, but the allowance of secondary maturation elsewhere like Cognac or England. “The 350-year-old double ageing historical practice must also be preserved,” they say. 2) Sugar additions should be allowed. “History shows that Barbados rums have been made for centuries both with and without the inclusion of sugar and caramel,” the statement reads. 3) Wood varieties: WIRD wants to continue using varieties of wood other than oak: “We are currently using seven types of sustainable wood for our rums and are studying further with local and international historians and established barrel-makers. Limiting Barbados to American oak barrels would be a great mistake that would obliterate historic practices,” they say. 4) Still types. In addition to pot and column stills, WIRD uses an archaic chamber still which they think should be allowed in the GI. Phew. This statement will no doubt be noticed by Richard Seale from the Foursquare Distillery, who has been vocal in the past about sugar additions, off-island ageing and described maturation in other woods in a recent interview as “marketing novelty”. There are stories of heated online debates over some of these issues. The statement from WIRD ends: “The future of the diversity of Barbados rum depends on this GI outcome.” Looks like this is an argument that will run and run.

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Hendrick’s does love a good pop-up

Hendrick’s Gin brings a giant snow globe to Heathrow Terminal 3

We know that we can always count on Hendrick’s Gin for a marvellously quirky pop-up, and the latest one is a rather festive activation in London Heathrow’s Terminal 3! It takes the form of a giant snow globe that’ll reside there until 7 January, with an army of aproned brand ambassadors ready to talk all things Hendrick’s. Get to the gin already! Alright, alright, yes, you can grab a free sample of either a Hendrick’s G&T, or a Gin Buck, which is paired with ginger ale and lime juice. That’s not all though. If you’re passing through the terminal, you can turn the ‘Key of Curiosity’, and you’ll be treated to a Hendrick’s cracker filled with either a 50ml bottle, a cucumber pin badge, or a Little Guide to Conjuring magic book. It’s like Hendrick’s read our Christmas list! Oh, but we haven’t even got to the best part yet. At some mystery point, one lucky traveller will get to pull an extra special cracker containing the rare stainless steel Hendrick’s penguin pourer, with his top hat on and all. Manjot Riyait, head of marketing for William Grant & Sons GTR, said of the T3 snow globe’s activation: “There has been a constant buzz of passengers around the globe, taking photos and enjoying a Hendrick’s and tonic, and we look forward to delighting many more happy travellers over what we expect to be a busy and fruitful festive period for global travel retail.” Who even needs to go on holiday after you’ve had all this festive fun?

The Nightcap

I think we can all agree that the Safe Ride KY coalition is a superb initiative

Kentucky revellers get free taxis

Here’s a good idea. The Kentucky Distillers Association (KDA) has put $10,000 in a kitty so that party-goers can get a free or discounted ride home from a night out (depending on where they live). The initiative, run by the Safe Ride KY coalition, runs from 5pm on Friday 20 December until 5am on Wednesday 1 January. All you have to do is download the Lyft app on your phone, enter promo code SAFERIDEKY2020, and claim $10 in ride credit (more information here). KDA president Eric Gregory said: “We are proud to lead the coalition in offering discounted safe rides this holiday season for the third consecutive year. We encourage all who will be venturing out to celebrate to do so responsibly and plan your transportation ahead of time.” So if you’re going out in Kentucky this Christmas, you can have that Old Fashioned or two, and get home safely. Would be great if someone introduced something similar in Britain. We’re looking at you SWA.

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The delightful 2019 Distillery Exclusive

Royal Lochnagar launches distillery-exclusive bottling for 2019

As the year comes towards an end, Royal Lochnagar has gone and released its 2019 Distillery Exclusive! The Highland distillery matured the single malt in European oak and refill casks, bottled at 48% ABV. What to expect? The distillery tells us there are notes of warming wood spice, green apple, vanilla and toffee, with burnt cocoa and candy floss in there too. The limited-edition bottling has been released with a run of only 5,004 bottles. “This special liquid perfectly captures the spirit of Royal Lochnagar distillery character, with a wide range of outstanding flavours and aromas which are inspired by the experience of being out in the open landscape of our home in the Cairngorm mountains,” Neil Murphy, the senior site manager at Royal Lochnagar said. “This rare and exclusive single malt has been selected by our expert team and represents a rare memento of whisky history for visitors to take and enjoy.” Here’s the catch: if you want a bottle, you’ll have to go to the distillery itself to nab it. Trip to the Highlands, anyone?

The Nightcap

The WSTA feels consumers in the UK pay too much tax on their Christmas booze

WSTA calls for cuts to wine and spirit duty

This time of year might be one for giving, but sharing the boozy love will set you back a pretty penny if you’re in the UK, according to The Wine and Spirit Trade Association (WSTA). Your basket of Christmas booze is set to cost an all-time high this year, with 49% of consumers’ cash going straight to the taxman. The French, by comparison, will pay just 21% tax. In fact, the UK alcohol industry is one of the most heavily taxed in Europe, with British drinkers paying an extraordinary 69% of all wine duties collected by all 28 EU member states and 25% of all spirits duties. This is by far the most of any member state despite accounting for only 11 per cent of the total EU population. That’s why the WSTA is calling on the government to cut alcohol duty. Wine is the UK’s most popular drink, enjoyed by 33 million Brits, but income from wine receipts actually decreased from last year’s take by 2.1% according to the HMRC Alcohol Bulletin figures released last month. If the 2.1% drop plays out for the whole year then Treasury would be set to lose £92 million compared to 2018. The WSTA attributes this to the chancellor’s decision to single out wine for a duty increase at the last Budget, and claims these figures are proof that raising alcohol duty is not only bad for business and consumers but also bad news for the Treasury. It’s worth remembering that the wine and spirit industry supports some 369,000 jobs and generates £49 billion in economic activity. “Comparing the wine and spirit tax regime in the UK to that in France puts the UK’s excessively high rate of excise duty firmly in the spotlight. The Treasury will be taking more money than ever from British businesses and consumers this Christmas while our French cousins’ booze bill will be much more palatable,” says Miles Beale, chief executive of the WSTA and certified Nightcap legend. “We are calling on the Chancellor, Sajid Javid, to support British consumers, pubs and the wider hospitality trade by cutting alcohol duty.”

The Nightcap

William Borrell, founder of Ladies and Gentlemen and knitwear model

Ladies and Gentlemen goes dry for January

Yes, Dry January’s a thing. And yes, we’re thanking the booze(-free) gods that there are delicious low- and no-ABV alternatives out in the world. And now, London bar Ladies and Gentlemen is doing a full-on alcohol-free takeover, complete with Mindful Thursdays, throughout the month. From 10-31 January, no drink will have a higher ABV than 0.5%, with a menu based on Willow, a low-alcohol spirit that brings together CBD with the flavour of pineapple, star anise, blue agave and cherry tomatoes. Low-alcohol wines and beers with also be available. Feeling especially stressed? Pop down on a Thursday for Lego-based therapy, a mindful activity that will also raise money for The Toy Project, which recycles toys and distributes them globally. There will even be low- and no-ABV cocktail-making workshops, too! “The no & low-alcohol category has kept growing with no sign of slowing since 2001. said William Borrell, Ladies and Gentlemen founder. “With more products available on the market, we wanted to cut through those questions we are asked on a daily basis to help build this exciting category. I believe that no and low is perfect for those who want to hold off on alcoholic beverages and don’t need to miss out on the experience of enjoying a beer with friends or a non-alcoholic cocktail with all the cues of alcohol. What better place to host a month of wine , spirit and beer than a rock and roll dive bar.” Hurrah!

The Nightcap

Big shoes: hip-hop icon Future

Hip-Hop artist Future and 1800 Tequila present ‘1800 Seconds Vol 2.’

1800 Tequila and Grammy award-winning hip-hop artist Future have partnered together to curate 1800 Seconds Vol. 2 as part of an initiative to support up-and-coming talent. Seven rising artists chosen by Future and the A+R team were given the platform to write and release new tracks with major label resources and one major co-sign. The seven artists are Aurora Anthony (New York, NY), Herion Young (Memphis, TN), Juiicy2xS (Cincinnati, OH), Lihtz (Philadelphia, PA), Seddy Hendrinx (Jacksonville, FL), Shaun Sloan (Los Angeles, CA) and Test (Baltimore, MD). All beats and executive production came from Nick Papamitrou (aka Papamitrou or Nick Papz), who created the album in one week with Future in November, with the latter guest appearing on a number of tracks. The album, which is being distributed by UnitedMasters, is available now on all music streaming platforms. “When I got into music, I did it my own way, I made a path for myself. I’ve created shoes to walk down my path and I made them big enough for someone else to walk after me,” says Future. “Curating this project with 1800 Tequila gives me a platform to find and collaborate with young artists, help them shape their voice and push their vision.  Everyone has a different vision for themselves – real success and magic happens when we come together and work collectively.” To download the full 1800 Seconds album, meet the artists and watch the behind-the-scenes documentary, you can visit 1800seconds.com. So, grab yourself a Margarita and enjoy the sounds of the future…

The Nightcap

Anyone for a J&B Rare Manhattan?

The Rex Whistler at The TATE Britain reveals the J&B Rare Manhattan

Now, it’s not proven that cocktails that are only available for a limited time taste better, but knowing that not everyone will have the chance to try something may add that extra pizzazz. Which brings us to The Rex Whistler restaurant at The TATE Britain, which has created a J&B Rare Manhattan! Mind you, it’ll only be on there for the next month or so only, until January 2020. If you’re not sure what The Rex Whistler is, it’s been open since 1927 and was described as ‘The Most Amusing Room in Europe’ when it opened because of its unique mural, ‘The Expedition in Pursuit of Rare Meats’. Nearly a century on, we wonder if it would still uphold its title. Matthew Randall, General Manager at The Rex Whistler has put his own unique twist on the classic cocktail, having aged in a sherry barrel for two weeks. “The Rex Whistler is a classic restaurant, and we wanted to create a classic cocktail to showcase the different elements of J&B Rare,” Randall said. The barrel-aged sweet sherry matches this timeless whisky to create a delicious seasonal cocktail.” Well, certainly sounds like the kind of treat we’d want after gazing at art for a few hours. Or maybe we’ll just skip that part altogether…

The Nightcap

The seductive Scent of Stilton

And finally… Eau de Stilton

Ah, the seductive scent of. . . . cheese?! Yes, at a Christmas party this year you might be sitting next to someone with a uniquely seasonal smell. No, it’s not because they have some horrible fungal infection, it’s a new limited edition range of fragrances from PerfumeDirect.com. There’s Eau de Christmas Pudding, Pigs in Blanket Parfum and the Stench, sorry, Scent of Stilton. We certainly wouldn’t mind getting close to someone wearing the Christmas pudding perfume containing as it does notes of berries, citrus, almond and apple, vanilla, clove and Cognac, and carnivores might go wild for some of that piggy goodness. But even Jonny Webber from Perfume Direct sounds a bit sceptical about the last one: “The Stilton perfume is certainly different and will probably turn a few heads when the wearer walks past.” And probably not in a good way. But really, who are we to judge. It’s nearly 2020, man, whatever blows your hair back.

And and finally… how do you feel about a lickable beer igloo?

In the spirit of Christmas, we felt it appropriate to have not one, but TWO And Finallys this week. (Also, it’s clearly silly season and neither of these stories are sensible enough to make The Nightcap proper.) News reached MoM Towers this week of a new structure to come to Southwark in London. It comes complete with sleeping bags. You can fit two adults in it. And… you can lick it?! Yes! The Anchor Bankside pub has commissioned an actual igloo made from 1,000 litres of its new Ice Breaker ale. “We’ve never seen a real frozen igloo, particularly one where the walls are made from real beer,” said Matt Starbuck, Greene King managing director. “If it’s successful, we might even roll it out to our pubs up and down the country – it could be the ideal overnight stay for people who don’t fancy getting a taxi home at closing time!” We’re all up for sharing a pint, but licking walls that have been enjoyed by goodness knows how many others… we’re not sure we’re ever going to feel that festive. But if you are? Get to Southwark with haste, the igloo’s only there until it melts…

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Five minutes with… Jackie Zykan, master taster for Old Forester

Jackie Zykan has what sounds like one of the world’s best jobs, master taster for Kentucky bourbon firm Old Forester. But what exactly is a master taster? Does she just…

Jackie Zykan has what sounds like one of the world’s best jobs, master taster for Kentucky bourbon firm Old Forester. But what exactly is a master taster? Does she just spend all her time tasting whiskey and mixing up Old Fashioneds? We spent some time with her to find out more.

Jackie Zykan, by her own admission, fell into her role at Old Forester. She previously worked as a beverage director for a company in Louisville, Kentucky. Before that, she bartended her way through a chemistry and biology degree, picking up every side gig going and becoming familiar with local bourbon brands. When Old Forester expressed an interest to bring her on board, Zykan said it was a no-brainer. We were delighted to have some times with her to learn about her experiences behind the bar, he thoughts on the industry in general and just what it takes to be a master taster. Here’s what she had to say:

Old Forester

Say hello to Jackie Zykan!

MoM: Can you explain your role as master taster and what your day to day looks like? 

JZ: It’s a hybridisation between global marketing and production. Some days I am in a warehouse, some days I’m at the distillery, some days I’m in our corporate office, some days I’m in a plane heading to see people and do presentations. There’s an education side of it, a new product development side, quality control, drink strategy, it all falls onto my lap. It touches every single angle of Old Forester. There is not a single day that is the same, that is for sure. 

MoM: I understand you also handle cocktail strategy and the single barrel programme, can you talk about those aspects of the role as well? 

JZ: We have a line of cocktail provisions from Old Forester and that was my project, those are my children! It’s very, very important, not every single person looking to get into whiskey is going to be a purist. Cocktails are a fantastic way to introduce people to the spirit in a way that’s familiar to them. Then for the single barrel programme, I oversee the inventory. I keep a nice diverse pool because not everybody’s after the same kind of barrel and that’s kind of the beauty of a single barrel, that they’re all different.

Old Forester

The Old Forester Distillery in Louisville, Kentucky

MoM: Talking about your role in product development, can you give us an idea of what it’s like to create a new product?

JZ: You look at your portfolio and you say “What is it that we don’t have that we could have?” “What would be fun to do?” “‘What’s going to help to tell the story of this brand?” We innovate in a historically relevant way. The Whiskey Row series is a great example of that, where every expression is geared towards telling a pertinent year of the Old Forester history. It’s not about what kind of shock value we get out of a new product or how weird can we make it, it’s always about making a quality balanced product. The process is long, by the time you see a bottle on the shelf we have been talking about it for probably seven years in the office! That’s probably a much longer process then people realise. We’re always thinking of what is coming next for sure.

MoM: Can you give us a brief background on the distillery? 

JZ: Old Forester as a brand was started in 1870 by George Garvin Brown, who saw an opportunity to make things a little bit different and a little bit safer for the general consumer. Back then buying whiskey meant filling up whatever vessel you had from a barrel at a retailer. You weren’t going in and buying a bottle off of a shelf. In the late 1800s here, in America, the whiskey was known as a pharmaceutical. There was a lot of doctors that heard their patients complain that what they’re being prescribed made them sicker or was too inconsistent. This was the Wild West of whiskey production which predated modern-day bourbon regulations. George sees this opportunity to ensure consistency by blending. Old Forester was actually the first bourbon that was blended from multiple distilleries together. Then, to ensure the quality you seal it in a glass bottle so no one can mess with it. With a barrel you can refill it with anything and spread and stretch profits and no one is going to know. That made Old Forester the first bottled bourbon, and it was the first to be sold exclusively in a sealed glass vessel. That changed everything. We’ve been running ever since, all through prohibition, consistently under Kentucky permit number three. It was around before, during and after prohibition and it’s the longest-running family-owned brand of bourbon. It’s definitely a product of Louisville, Kentucky. Our whiskey is made start to finish completely in Louisville, from mashing, fermentation, distillation, maturation, bottling, mostly consumption. We think of it as ‘the hometown bourbon of bourbon’s hometown’.

Old Forester

Old Forester back in ye olden days

MoM: You returned home to 119 Main Street recently, that must have such a huge moment for you guys

JZ: Oh absolutely, it’s a very exciting moment to be able to literally come home as a brand into the same space you started in. We’ve modernised and we’ve kept up with all the trends of the alcohol industry, but the one thing we’ve never forgotten is where we started and it was always quality and consistency foremost. To be able to come back into that same space, you really are sticking true to the roots of a brand that was started by a man who just had a vision of doing things the right way. It’s so meaningful.

MoM: Do you find that it can be a little difficult to innovate when you’ve got this name and history to live up to? 

JZ: Think of it this way, Old Forester came out as a brand in a different way. We really revolutionised how quality was ensured for the industry, so we think of our innovation in all sorts of different ways. It’s not about just doing a different finishing on this product, you want to innovate in a manner that’s going to impact the entire industry. Through sustainability measures. Through packaging. Our history isn’t weighing us down and limiting us because we’ve always been a brand of firsts, and they haven’t always been to do with the actual liquid. It’s a very, very respected company in the industry and there is a good reason for that. We’ve led the way in the pursuit of making sure that everything is very credible and always done with quality and transparency.

Old Forester

Zykan believes that Old Forester has led the way in making its production process credible and transparent

MoM: How would you describe the character of the new make and the distillery character in the spirit from Old Forester?

JZ: What you’re getting from the new make is a really good display of the grain attributes. The mash bill for all Old Forester bourbon is the same: it’s 72% corn, 18% rye, 10% malted barley. That new-make distillate that’s being pulled off the still has a rye backbone coming through for it, so it’s got a nice rye spice to it, but there’s a lot of really good fruit notes that come through and a lot of that is driven by the proprietary yeast strain that we use for Old Forester. You’re gonna get a lot of apple, you’re gonna get a lot of citrus, everybody finds banana in there. We do a quality check on our distillate as soon as it comes off of the still to make sure that it’s always coming out the same and that it’s right on point. If what goes into the barrel isn’t good, what comes out isn’t good.

MoM: Tell us about the creation of your rye whiskey and why it was so exciting.

JZ: It was the first time we’ve ever offered a different mash bill for Old Forester when we released that rye whiskey in February of 2019. The recipe for it is based on a historic recipe from a product that used to be made at the Brown Forman Distillery back in 1940, so it’s a 65% rye, 20% malted barley and 15% corn. That malted barley is giving us a lot of floral and fruit notes to a rye whiskey which usually you just sort of think of as being spiced, or in my mind I always think of it as being incredibly savoury. But this is incredibly balanced because you’re taking a heavier malt mash bill and putting it into a brand new charred oak barrel to create a completely different experience. I honestly think we have one of the most unique ryes in the category.

Old Forester

The mash bill for all Old Forester bourbon is the same: it’s 72% corn, 18% rye, 10% malted barley.

MoM: You’ve said that bartenders have been responsible for some of the resurgence in whiskey’s popularity, how?

JZ: In rye specifically, a lot of the interest in rye came back through the craft cocktail resurgence. People were using these classic cocktails as templates and rye whiskey was getting called for quite a bit, especially with recipes that were developed during prohibition because it was available. The demand was always for something that was a little bit higher proof and that wasn’t going to break the bank and crash your entire cocktail programme. That’s the reason our rye is 100 proof and the price it is, because we recognised that that’s what was driving the interest in it in the first place.  In general, the craft cocktail scene has been huge for a lot of distilled spirits, from the explosion of gin brands on the market to the resurgence of some sort of esoteric stuff that a lot of people haven’t paid attention to in a really long time, like cachaça, bitters etc. The craft cocktail movement has changed the perspective that you’ll ruin a distilled spirit if you throw it into a cocktail. It’s opening a gateway for people to experience in a way that’s familiar to them. Long live the cocktail!

MoM: How did being a bartender affect your approach now and inform the job you do now?

JZ: When working behind a bar you’re seeing it from a totally different angle. Price affects things, for sure, but you also realise how important the right packaging and things being ergonomically feasible for fast service is. This definitely affects conversations we have at Old Forester. It helps you gain a different perspective and it certainly helps you develop your palate. I didn’t necessarily recreationally drink when I was a bartender but you learn to balance and you get to learn a lot of flavour profiles. That has really helped me as far as articulating flavour notes that are in our whiskey, for sure.

Old Forester

Zykan’s role as master taster entails more than product development

MoM: What industry trends have caught your eye? 

JZ: The biggest one that we’ve seen is honestly the lower-to-no alcohol trend. It can be hard for me to answer this question because my role is a global role, so the trend in the UK is different than the trend in Minneapolis, Minnesota, but lower alcohol and being more health-conscious and mindful is definitely not going to go anywhere anytime soon. There’s also a massive trend with the bourbon boom of losing this purist mentality and that’s fantastic. Whiskey as a category can be quite intimidating. For a very long time it was sort of put up on this pedestal and it was as if you could only appreciate it in its pure form. Which isn’t the case, whatsoever. You don’t ruin whiskey by putting it in a cocktail. You make your cocktail better by using a good whiskey as opposed to a bad whiskey. This isn’t the early 1900s anymore, you’re not trying to cover up swill liquor with sugar and such. You’ve got more quality and more regulated products out there and it’s a very exciting time to be able to mix things around a bit. We need that shift to make it a much more approachable category for everybody all over the place.

MoM: Next year is Old Forester’s 150th anniversary. I presume you guys are already working on some stuff to mark the occasion? 

JZ: Oh you know that we have, for many, many years! We’re excited to finally get it out there and in the hands of the people who love this brand so much. So yes, you’ll be seeing some special stuff coming out next year. It’s going to be a big year for us.

MoM: What’s your go-to bottle of Old Forester and then your go-to cocktail? 

JZ: Our 1910 Expression is really having a moment, I am absolutely in love with that one. As far as cocktails go, it is a harder question to answer. What I drink the most of is the 100 proof signature and it’s always in an Old Fashioned. I’m an Old Fashioned die hard!

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Love bourbon? Heading to Kentucky? Make this your first stop…

Unless you’re lucky enough to live in or around the Bluegrass State, a visit to the birthplace of bourbon is something akin to a pilgrimage. As it readies to open…

Unless you’re lucky enough to live in or around the Bluegrass State, a visit to the birthplace of bourbon is something akin to a pilgrimage. As it readies to open the Kentucky Bourbon Trail Welcome Center and The Spirit of Bourbon interactive exhibition, MoM reveals why The Frazier History Museum needs to be your first port of call…

If you’re hoping to cram in all 23 stops on both Kentucky Bourbon Trail tours, your whiskey-filled trip will require meticulous planning. Where to begin? It’s a question many have pondered. Thankfully, the good people at The Frazier History Museum, located in the heart of the Bourbon District of downtown Louisville, have been working hard on a solution. And come 25 August it will be open to the public.

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Whisky Santa’s Whisky Advent Day 3: Evan Williams Single Barrel

Time to open the third window of our Whisky Advent Calendars and see what surprise lies behind it… why I think this is a bourbon… Yes, it’s Evan Williams Single…

Evan Williams Single Barrel

Time to open the third window of our Whisky Advent Calendars and see what surprise lies behind it… why I think this is a bourbon… Yes, it’s Evan Williams Single Barrel Kentucky straight bourbon whiskey!

They’ve been producing Evan Williams at family-owned Heaven Hill since 1959 you know, and it’s named after the chap who was purportedly Kentucky’s first ever commercial distiller. I remember young Evan very well, of course, but as an omniscient supernatural being I’m not allowed to clear up these little historical facts for you I’m afraid. Rules is rules. Besides, there’s some delicious bourbon to taste…

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Samples from the Buffalo Trace stable…

All you small batch bourbon fanatics are going to be in whiskey heaven with the hellz-a-poppin’ fun we have in store for you today… We’ve just added some extraordinary whiskey…

Buy Buffalo TraceAll you small batch bourbon fanatics are going to be in whiskey heaven with the hellz-a-poppin’ fun we have in store for you today…

We’ve just added some extraordinary whiskey samples to our Drinks by the Dram range, including a corking selection of American classics.

We thought we’d give you a quick rundown of highlights from the new additions…

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Bourbon and American Whiskey

The American whiskey fraternity is enjoying the burgeoning success and ever-increasing popularity of a thing called craft-distilling. There’s always been something intrinsically exciting that surrounds artisan food and drink, and…

 Small Batch Bourbon

The American whiskey fraternity is enjoying the burgeoning success and ever-increasing popularity of a thing called craft-distilling. There’s always been something intrinsically exciting that surrounds artisan food and drink, and whiskey is no exception. In fact, the spirits industry is abuzz with new releases of wonderfully packaged and gloriously quaint bourbons and other American whiskeys and we thought we’d throw in our two cents. You see, whiskey really is a spirit of provenance and it requires great attention to detail. You simply can’t go about mass-producing the stuff without due care and diligence, and that’s exactly what the new breed of craft distillers are tapping into, and they’re creating some of America’s best exports.

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