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Master of Malt Blog

Tag: Laphroaig

Whisky Advent 2021 Days 1, 2 and 3

It’s the first of our Drinks by the Dram Whisky Advent Calendar blogs for 2021, taking a closer look at what is behind doors one, two and three. There’s some…

It’s the first of our Drinks by the Dram Whisky Advent Calendar blogs for 2021, taking a closer look at what is behind doors one, two and three. There’s some tasty drams in there.

Advent has begun which means we have entered the season where it’s completely acceptable to have a mince pie and a glass of Harvey’s Bristol Cream while still in your dressing gown. No wonder it’s called the most magical time of the year. 

But we’re all whisky fans here, so instead of sweet sweet sherry we’ve got delicious drams to wash down seasonal treats. If you’re the proud owner of Drinks by the Dram Whisky Advent Calendar, then these drams below are the ones you are enjoying at the moment, or have already polished off. 

If you don’t have a Drinks by the Dram Whisky Advent Calendar, don’t worry as there’s plenty of time to buy one and catch up. And finally, if you’re after some drinking inspiration, we’ve included a cocktail recipe at the bottom.

Advent 2021

Day 1 Aerolite Lyndsay 10 Year Old

There’s plenty of mystery about this wee dram. From its peculiar name (it’s an anagram, see if you can figure it out…) to the fact it’s sourced from an undisclosed distillery on Islay. But, one thing we know for sure is that it’s damn tasty and makes a great introduction to Scotland’s most distinctive collection of distilleries.

What does it taste like?

Maritime peat, iodine, honey sweetness, paprika, salted caramel, old bookshelves, mint dark chocolate, espresso, new leather, honey, liquorice allsorts, bonfire smoke and toffee penny, with a pinch of salt.

kyro-malt-rye-whisky

Day 2 Kyrö Malt Rye Whisky

Rye is really enjoying a moment. With it’s bold spicy flavours, it’s the cocktail whiskey par excellence. The heartlands of rye are the USA and Canada, but we’ve tasted superb examples from England, Holland and this Kyro Rye Malt from Finland. It’s made from 100% malted wholegrain rye and makes a damn good Old Fashioned (see below).

What does it taste like?

Honeyed apricot, orange and sultana, baked earth spiciness, a hint of chocolate and coffee hiding in there too. Deliciously sweet and spicy. 

Brilliant Burns Night whiskies

Day 3 Laphroaig 10 Year Old

Another Islay treat and one of Scotland’s most distinctive whiskies. With its smell of iodine, TCP and wood smoke, there’s no mistaking Laphroaig 10 Year Old. It’s one that people tend to either love or hate, so much so that the distillery cleverly built a marketing campaign around its divisive nature. Let us know what you think.

What does it taste like?

You’ll find seaweed, smoke and TCP with supporting notes of vanilla ice cream and a massive spicy surge, think cardamom/black pepper/chilli.

Manhattan

How to make an Manhattan

When the Manhattan was first created back in the 19th century, it would have been a mix of rye and vermouth. But don’t worry if you’ve finished your Kyro Rye Malt because you could use bourbon, or even Scotch whisky in which case it becomes a Rob Roy. 

30ml Kyro Rye Malt
15ml Cinzano Rosso 1757 (or any sweet vermouth)
Dash of Angostura bitters

Stir ingredients with lots of ice in a shaker and strain into a cold Martini glass (you can use a coupe or a Nick & Nora instead). Express a piece of orange zest over and drop into the glass. Add a cherry if you’re feeling hungry.

That’s it for now. Your next Advent update will be on 7 December. See you then!

 

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John Campbell is leaving Laphroaig

We have just learned that after more than 25 years in charge of one of Islay’s icons, distillery manager John Campbell is leaving Laphroaig.  The Scotch whisky world woke up…

We have just learned that after more than 25 years in charge of one of Islay’s icons, distillery manager John Campbell is leaving Laphroaig

The Scotch whisky world woke up to a shock this morning as we learned one of Islay’s stalwarts is leaving the island. John Campbell, an Islay native, is the longest running distillery manager in Laphroaig’s history with over 25 years in charge. 

It's John Campbell from Laphroaig

John Campbell is hanging up is Laphroaig-branded leisurewear after more than 25 years in charge

Leaving Laphroaig

In a statement on Twitter he wrote:

“After more than 25 years, I have decided that the time has come for me to step down as Laphroaig’s distillery manager, and I will be relocating from Islay in mid-November. That was not an easy decision, but I believe that the time has come to be closer to my family on the Mainland and to begin a new chapter in my career. 

I have been at Laphroaig for more than a quarter century, and I’m proud to have been the longest-serving distillery manager in its history. Following in the footsteps of legends like Ian Hunter and Bessie Williamson has been the privilege of my life. 

I’ll be working closely with our expert distillery team to hand over the reins and a new distillery manager will be announced soon, who will guide Laphroaig into the future.

Laphroaig is an amazing whisky and brand that has and will continue to be a part of my life, just as Islay will. I w am so proud of our entire team – our Laphroaig family – and in their care, I know that Laphroaig will remain the most renowned and beloved peated single malt on the planet for many years to come. Slainte”

Thank you John. We can’t wait to find out what you have planned for the future. 

We spoke with Campbell at Feis Ile back in 2019 and made this video.

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Whisky icons – we have a winner!

Whether they’re bourbons, single malts or blended whiskies, some brands are so famous that they’re iconic. But which is the biggest whisky icon? We’re running a poll on social media…

Whether they’re bourbons, single malts or blended whiskies, some brands are so famous that they’re iconic. But which is the biggest whisky icon? We’re running a poll on social media to find out, and this is the page to follow the results.

The Oxford English Dictionary defines the word ‘icon’ as: “A person or thing regarded as a representative symbol or as worthy of veneration.”

So, what makes a whisky an icon? Well, it has to be a great whisky to start with. One that’s revered across the world. But more than this, it has to have a strong memorable image. Say the name of a particular distillery or brand, and it should instantly resonate. 

Worthy of veneration

Now this could be a globally famous brand like Johnnie Walker or Jack Daniel’s. Many people who have never even drunk whisky will have heard of these brands. Jack Daniel’s for its association with music, and Johnnie Walker because it’s an icon of consumer capitalism (as well as a great whisky). Then there’s Macallan, a symbol of luxury up there with Rolls Royce or Cartier. 

But lesser-known names can be iconic among the whisky cognoscenti. Take Springbank, for example. You have to know a bit about whisky to have heard of it but it’s undoubtedly “worthy of veneration.” We’ve seen grown men and women go all tearful at the thought of a rare bottle of Springbank. 

But your whisky icon might be Lagavulin from Islay, Four Roses from Kentucky or even a newer distillery like Mackmyra from Sweden. So to decide this once and for all, we’re giving Master of Malt customers the opportunity to shout about their favourite brands. 

Vote for your whisky of icon

Social polls will be posted on a @masterofmalt Instagram story Monday to Friday this week (simply view our story and tap on the distillery/brand you wish to vote for). Or alternatively you can vote over on the @MasterOfMalt Twitter page where a poll will be posted to our feed.

The tournament will end on Monday 27 September with the winner announced that day. This is how it will work:

Monday 20 September – first round with 32 whiskies

Tuesday 21 September – second round with 16 whiskies

Wednesday 22 September – quarter finals 

Thursday 23 September – semi finals 

Friday 24 September – finals

Saturday 25 September – voting closes

Monday 27 September – announcement of the winner

Get voting so we can say once and for all what the greatest icon of whisky is! And then we find something else to argue about. 

UPDATE, 27 September:

The winner was… Bunnahabhain with Lagavulin as the runner-up.

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Master of Malt Islay Festival 2021 Day 5: Laphroaig

It’s Master of Malt Islay Festival 2021 Day 5: Laphroaig! Today’s we’re using words like TCP and phenolic as we take a look at one of Islay’s most uncompromising distilleries…

It’s Master of Malt Islay Festival 2021 Day 5: Laphroaig! Today’s we’re using words like TCP and phenolic as we take a look at one of Islay’s most uncompromising distilleries while Millie Milliken will take a look at matching different whiskies with food. 

Located in the south of Islay near Port Ellen, Laphroaig has been making heavily-peated whisky since 1815 when it was founded by Donald and Alexander Johnston. It’s now part of the Beam Suntory group and makes much of its divisive character. People who love Laphroaig, it has fans in high places such as Prince Charles, really love it, while some whisky drinkers can’t stand the stuff. 

Today, we’re taking a look at what’s going on at the distillery today, while Millie Milliken delves into the complicated matter of pairing peaty whiskies with food. They can surprisingly food friendly. As we can’t be there in person, we’ve posted a video we made in 2019 with distillery manager John Campbell. And you can listen to our Islay memories playlist on Spotify to get you in the mood.

What’s going on today

You need to register on here to get the full rundown. There will be four events four events which include two sessions with distillery manager John Campbell, a food and drink masterclass and the unveiling of Laphroaig Cairdeas 2021. Events will take place at 2pm, 4pm, 6:15pm and 11:30pm all Islay time. 

Look for daily deals on Laphroaig on the Master of Malt site.  And now Millie Milliken takes a look at how to pair whisky with food – and even cook with it –  with advice from the experts, though not from anyone at Laphroaig as they didn’t get back to us in time. 

Laphroaig 10 Year Old goes brilliantly with seafood

Laphroaig 10 Year Old goes brilliantly with seafood

Whisky + food: How to pair and cook with whisky

Sweet, savoury; smoky, spicy: whisky comes with plenty of flavours to pair and cook food with. How do the pros do it? We headed into both the bar and the kitchen to find out

Have you heard of luging? No, not the Olympic sport, but in the world of food and drink, it means to use a previously food-filled vessel to consume alcohol. My most recent luging experience was at The Savoy’s pop-up Solas restaurant. In honour of the new art-deco style food offering from the hotel, Bowmore whisky rocked up and was being paired with oysters as a showcase starter.

We began by sipping oyster brine, then the whisky (Bowmore 12yo), we swallowed both, followed by the oyster and finally a rinse of the shell with more whisky. It was revelatory, with the whisky’s smoke, citrus and oily notes working wonders with the medley of Carlingford, Jersey and Maldon bivalve molluscs.

Whisky and food have a long-standing relationship, but where does one start? And with so many flavours to choose from, how do you pick out the ones that make all the difference?

Pairing principles

For Raffaele Di Monaco, bars manager at London’s The Berkley, pairing whisky and food comes with a few simple parameters. “Knowing the flavour profile of the whisky and its provenance is really important and will help you decide… and, of course, tasting is extremely important.”

From there, it’s a case of identifying which foods stand up to what styles of whisky. For example, Di Monaco thinks that peated whiskies can be both sweet and salty, so can be paired with savoury dishes as well as cheese. With drier styles, perhaps something more fatty and meaty. For Islay whiskies though, he thinks their versatility means they work best with seafood (oysters, langoustine, lobster) as well as mature cheeses or pear tarts – even, perhaps, banana bread (Di Monaco has made a banana cocktail with Laphroaig).

Specifically with Laphroaig, Di Monaco has had some great experiences: “I’ve been on Islay a couple of times and I’ve actually had a seafood platter with Laphroaig 10 Year Old, which is an amazing pairing. Its really balanced saltiness and sweetness goes really well with those delicate seafood flavours – it’s one of the best pairings I’ve ever had with Laphroaig.”

Roberta Hall from the Great British Menu

Roberta Hall cooks with whisky, but doesn’t drink it

Hot out the oven

Anyone who watched this year’s Great British Menu will remember two finalists who championed whisky in their competing dishes. One was Irishman Phelim O’Hagan whose main course featured a 100-day whiskey-aged côte de boeuf. The other, however, was Roberta Hall, owner of The Little Chartroom in Edinburgh who made it to the final banquet with her fish dish. It was however, her dessert course (which she lost out on getting to the banquet by one point) that championed whisky, namely Arbeg 10 Year Old, in homage to the invention of penicillin: “The peatiness worked so well for that dessert,” she said of her choice.

Despite not drinking much whisky, as a Scottish chef, it does however pop up regularly in Hall’s kitchen. She mentions the obvious choices – “I’ve worked in lots of places where you have haggis with whisky sauce, and chocolate works fantastically with it – they really balance each other out” – but for Hall, barbecue food and whisky is starting to excite her.

BBQ time

“It’s something I‘m starting to see more of, for sure, as I’ve got a business now which does barbecue food. With Texan style in America, they use a lot of bourbon, so there are definitely whiskies out there that can provide the same flavours.” She suggests going down the glaze or sauce route, adding adding some sweetness to some whisky for a glaze before brushing some meat near the end of cooking and charring it at the end – “you could use a sweeter whisky, maybe something that’s used Caribbean casks.”

But the tried and tested method will, for Hall, always be desserts. She recalls a collaboration with a chef who made a warm chocolate mousse dessert and added a dash of neat Glenfarclas (which had been aged in Sauternes casks for eight years) on top. To be honest, I could make an Olympic sport out of eating that.

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The Nightcap: 16 April

It’s Friday and that means The Nightcap cometh. What has caught our eye from the world of booze this week? Read on to find out what’s in The Nightcap: 16 April…

It’s Friday and that means The Nightcap cometh. What has caught our eye from the world of booze this week? Read on to find out what’s in The Nightcap: 16 April edition.

You may have seen the news already, but this week is a big one here at Master of Malt as we’re saying a tearful goodbye to our wonderful editor, Kristiane Sherry who is moving on to pastures new. This humble blog wouldn’t be what it is today without her contribution and we hope you’ll join us in wishing her all the best in her new role. Thanks for everything, Kristy.

Elsewhere, we launched two different competitions, each one offering you a chance to get your hands on some delicious booze. So, if you’re a fan of Darkness and/or River Rock whisky, be sure to check them out. Adam then cast our MoM-branded spotlight on Black Cow Vodka, Henry spoke to Lady Armagnac herself, Amanda Garnham, Kristy heard from Jake Burger about his new book and how the bar trade will endure and Scott Davidson from Glencairn Crystal spoke to Lucy Britner about 40 years of making exceptional glassware. We also enjoyed new Kilchoman whisky, the El Presidente cocktail and ten delightful drinks from independent distillers

Now, on to the Nightcap!

The Nightcap: 16 April Edition

5/10, it’s the Mitre in Holland Park,

These are London most mediocre pubs

We’re used to listicles outlining people’s favourite venues; we’ve even seen round-ups of worst places, but The Fence Magazine (an extremely funny newish magazine that we’d highly recommend subscribing to) has come up with an entirely new kind of clickbait when this week it published its top 25 most mediocre pubs in London. The thinking behind it was that the capital’s best pubs would be rammed, what with lockdown restrictions easing in England, so here are some places that nobody in their right mind would queue to get into. The list included such legends of mediocrity as the Mitre in Holland Park, “an archetypal non-place”, the Zetland Arms in South Kensington, “the kind of place you end up going to regularly for a few months, never develop feelings about and, occasionally, go again”, and the World’s End in Finsbury Park, “an adequate place to drink a few pints.” It might be because we’ve been deprived of pubs for so long, but the mention of these ordinary boozers made us feel moderately nostalgic. 

The Nightcap: 16 April Edition

This is one for the gin lover in your life

Beefeater celebrates 200 years with snazzy new book

The Beefeater story begins in 1820 when James Burrough began distilling in Chelsea. Since then, the brand that became Beefeater gin has stayed true to its London roots being based since 1958 in Kennington. To celebrate 200 years, Joel Harrison and Neil Ridley, the Ant and Dec of drinks writing, have produced a lavish new book. Murielle Dessenis, global brand director for Beefeater, explained “This book is not a time capsule but a creative visualisation of Beefeater’s history, and its future, told by those who have helped shape it.” We were fortunate enough to see an advance copy and it’s very snazzy indeed as it’s laid out as ‘triptych’ so the book opens up three ways. But it’s much more than a pretty face, the book contains a history of the company, insights from master distiller Desmond Payne MBE and evocative old adverts and photos from Beefeater’s long history. The lads commented: “It is London, this city of contrasts, that has provided the backdrop for Beefeater’s greatest moments and achievements. This was a fantastic project to work on as we were able to take a look at what gin means to the people behind Beefeater and to the location in which it is crafted.” It’s something that no gin lover should be without so you’ll be pleased to know it’s available from the Beefeater shop for £50.

The Nightcap: 16 April Edition

Fining dining comes to Chatham’s historic dockyard

Copper River Distillery in Chatham opens fine dining restaurant

You don’t often hear the words ‘fine dining’ and ‘Chatham’ in the same sentence but all that is about to change as the Copper River distillery has just announced that it will be opening a fancy new restaurant. Called the Pumproom, after the beautiful Italianate building (above) housing the distillery in Chatham’s historic dockyard, it’s first service will take place today, Friday 16 April, with diners distanced on a deck overlooking the historic River Medway. Copper Rivet Distillery’s commercial director, Stephen Russell, explained a little about what to expect: “Outstanding food creations by head chef Will Freeman are complemented by expertly curated wines from Kent and from around the world, as the Russell family has had expertise as wine buyers for over 40 years.” And maitre d’ Dom Schefferlie added: “Our team at the Pumproom will be using seasonal ingredients to maximum effect and, in keeping with the ethos of the distillery, will be taking a keen interest in provenance – using local ingredients wherever possible, be they locally grown-vegetables, locally-reared meat or locally-landed fish such as Rye Bay cod. Both the restaurant and the distillery count food miles and the minimising of waste as key deliverables.” There’s both tapas and more formal dining. We have to say that the menu sounds delicious with the thought of a starter of bone marrow, chicken crackling, smoked eel, cockles, radish & toast really getting our juices going. Sounds worth a visit.

The Nightcap: 16 April Edition

Great Islay whisky and delicious Scottish beer have come together in a joyous union once more

Innis & Gunn launch Islay whisky cask beer with Laphroaig Distillery

Any fan of Scottish brewer Innis & Gunn will know it loves to do a bit of innovation and its new limited-edition beer demonstrates just that. Islay Whisky Cask is a 7.4% amber ale aged in ex-Laphroaig 10 Year Old casks. During its 12-week maturation in barrel, the beer is said to have extracted some hallmark Laphroaig notes of peat smoke and brine, as well as cask influences of vanilla and floral aromas. Combine that with the rich, warming malty flavours from the malted barley and it sounds like something that’s right up our alley. Like when Ardbeg made peaty beer. Dougal Gunn Sharp, founder of Innis & Gunn, says the collaboration is a perfect example of the “quality that can be achieved when you work innovatively with your craft and unite with other complimentary talents”. He also comments that the beer “truly evokes the island that inspires both our brew and the iconic Laphroaig” and that the result is evident “even before you take your first sip, as you open the bottle, you’re welcomed with the distinctly peaty, complex aroma that defines Laphroaig”. Just 3,400 bottles of Islay Whisky Cask have been available to buy in the UK from today via the Innis & Gunn online shop, so you might want to hurry if you want to get your hands on one.

The Nightcap: 16 April Edition

The research project which could inform future barrel experiments.

Buffalo Trace Distillery begins oak research project

This week we learned that two Kentucky giants, Buffalo Trace Distillery and the University of Kentucky, are teaming up to learn more about white oak. This is handy, seeing it’s the wood bourbon is matured in. The two are joining forces on a 15-year research project called the White Oak Initiative. The idea is to ensure the long-term sustainability of America’s white oak by studying the genetic responses of trees from various regions to different white oak forest establishment techniques in a rural field application. The study kicked off with the planting of 1,066 trees on the farm at Buffalo Trace Distillery this week featuring seedlings from 40 different parent trees from Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Maryland, Missouri, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia. Dennis Walsh, homeplace manager for Buffalo Trace Distillery, explains further, “We’re excited to partner with University of Kentucky on this project. It’s important that we look towards the future and how we can contribute to the sustainability of the white oak industry. The project will also assess the cost per board foot required to maintain a sustainable supply of new white oak long into the future”. Buffalo Trace is considering adding tours in the future of its farm, which would include education about its participation in the White Oak Initiative. Long term, Buffalo Trace may be able to use some of the oak trees it has planted for future barrel experiments.  

The Nightcap: 16 April Edition

Anyone else hungry?

Jose Cuervo helps you celebrate Cinco de Mayo at home

With the Mexican holiday Cinco de Mayo coming up (5 May in case your Spanish is a bit rusty), you can expect to see a host of Tequila and mezcal brands marking the event in the next few weeks. For Jose Cuervo, 2021’s festivities will include teaming up with award-winning chef James Cochran to launch the Around the Cluck X Jose Cuervo Cinco de Mayo at-home-kit. Featuring Cochran’s signature Around the Cluck fried chicken, his favourite Sauce Shop condiments, and exclusive Margarita pairings from Jose Cuervo, the restaurant kit looks like ideal way to celebrate at home with loved ones. The Twisted Piña Margarita combines Jose Cuervo Especial Silver Tequila, with pressed pineapple juice, fresh lime juice, coriander, jalapeño and agave nectar with garnishes of cracked black pepper and a fresh lime wheel. Oli Pergl, Tequila educator at Jose Cuervo, says: “Cinco De Mayo is an important date in the Mexican calendar so what better way to celebrate than a partnership between award-winning chef, James Cochran, his restaurant 12.51 and Jose Cuervo Tequila. Delicious food complemented with perfectly paired cocktails will transport you, figuratively not literally, to Tequila Valley… enjoy!” The kits are available to order from this week until the 3rd May at https://www.1251.co.uk/

The Nightcap: 16 April Edition

Is it madness or brilliance?

And finally…. Crisp-flavoured beer??! WTF?!

Crisps are wonderful things. We’re particularly partial to salt & vinegar flavour Chipsticks here at MoM. And beer is brilliant too. These are things we can all agree on. But what about if you put them together? No, not beer-flavoured crisps, that would be too straightforward. We’re talking crisp-flavoured beer. It’s taken an all-Yorkshire partnership of Seabrook’s crisps and Northern Monk brewery to make this unholy creation come true. The idea was first aired on 1 April so was widely thought to be a joke, but they did the old switcheroo and made their joke a reality. There’s two versions: a 5.4% ABV Cheese & Onion lager which is said to have “notes of cheese and onion”, and a 5% Prawn Cocktail Gose “with the tang of prawn cocktail.” Northern Monk founder Russell Bisset commented: “After one of the most challenging periods in recent history, we decided to take this quest into uncharted territory, creating an experience that would make people laugh – or grimace actually – as lockdown lifts.” We’re not going to knock them until we’ve tried them but, let’s face it, they sound horrible. We’ll stick with a pint of Landlord and a packet of salt & vinegar Golden Wonder, thank you very much.

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The winner of our VIP trip to Bowmore and Laphroaig is…

One of our finest competitions to date has come to a close and somebody very lucky is about to find out that they will be heading to both Bowmore and…

One of our finest competitions to date has come to a close and somebody very lucky is about to find out that they will be heading to both Bowmore and Laphroaig distilleries. 

Ok, folks, cast your mind back to 2020. We know we all want to put that awful year behind us, but the reason why we bring it up is actually all kinds of merry and marvellous. You see, back in December, we offered you the chance to win a VIP trip to two iconic Islay distilleries, Bowmore and Laphroaig, including flights for you and a chosen travel buddy to Scotland, accommodation and dinner for two nights and tours of both distilleries and the beautiful island itself. Plus a bundle of merchandise. 

The winner of our VIP trip to Bowmore and Laphroaig is...

Our lucky winners will see all this and more…

Now, of course, 2020 has been and gone, as has our exciting competition. And it’s time to announce the winner of this incredible prize. It’s…

Guy Williams!

Congratulations and thanks to everyone who took part. If you didn’t win, at the very least you got to enjoy something delicious, like Laphroaig 10 Year Old or Bowmore 12 Year Old, which is still pretty great, right?

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Whisky Advent 2020 Day #15: Laphroaig Triple Wood

With less than ten days to go until Christmas, it’s time to open door 15 of the Drinks by the Dram Whisky Advent Calendar, and welcome John Campbell from Laphroaig…

With less than ten days to go until Christmas, it’s time to open door 15 of the Drinks by the Dram Whisky Advent Calendar, and welcome John Campbell from Laphroaig onto the blog. Again. 

Right, getting a bit panicky now. There’s still so much to do before the big day: presents to buy, food to order, and decorations to put up. What if we leave buying the tree too late and they’ve all gone? This nearly happened last year. The only tree left in all of East Kent was enormous, taking up about half the space in our dining room. It was like a very large relative had come to stay. We won’t make that mistake again. Anyway, let’s put all the Christmas stress to one side as it’s time to open the 15th door of our advent calendar. What’s inside?

It’s Laphroaig Triple Wood!

This consists of the classic super peaty medicinal Laphroaig new make which then goes through a triple ageing process. Hence the name! First it is matured in bourbon barrels, then quarter casks before finishing off in European oak Oloroso sherry casks. To tell us more we have a man who is no stranger to this blog. In fact, he’s probably a bit sick of us cos we keep asking him questions when he really wants to get on with his main job of managing the distillery. It could only be the laconic John Campbell!

It’s John Campbell, again

Master of Malt: Can you tell us a bit about Laphroaig Triple Wood and how it is matured?

John Campbell: Laphroaig Triple Wood has a consecutive maturation profile whereby we get new spirit into fresh bourbon cask and mature for ages of 5-11 years. We decant the bourbon barrels and marry the liquid together and then fill into quarter casks and mature for 6-7 months. We then decant the quarter  casks and marry this liquid together and put into Oloroso sherry-seasoned hogsheads for two years. Then it’s ready and so we decant the 7.5-13.5 year old liquid and marry before bottling.

Master of Malt: What makes Laphroaig so special as a distillery?

JC: The location on Islay and the process that we use at the distillery makes Laphroaig unique.

Master of Malt: How has the distillery adapted to the unusual events of this year?

JC: We have completed more online events to engage our consumers in 2020.

Master of Malt: What do you think the world of whisky is going to look like in 2021

JC: Hopefully get to see first-hand what it’s looking like, I miss travelling. Virtual events will be here to stay short term.

Master of Malt: What will you be drinking over the festive period?

JC: I fancy cracking something special open at Christmas to savour the festive period. Maybe an older vintage of Laphroaig 25 year old or maybe a 30 Cairdeas. This year needs to end with something special.

Tasting Note by The Chaps at Master of Malt

Nose: Molasses and oily toffee. Dates, walnuts, notes from the Maker’s Mark barrels (vanilla, toastiness, sweetness etc). We got oodles of butter, zest, cool wood smoke, almond, and passion fruit.

Palate: Dry and medicinal, with exotic spices, perhaps even some turmeric. The palate is surprisingly savoury at first, with what John described as “dry dampness” (taste and it’ll make sense!) – think musty wood sheds and hints of moist autumnal forest floor. The sherry notes are there too, but rather than being the big Christmas pudding flavour one often expects from Oloroso-aged whisky, we are instead treated to a much more restrained iced fruitcake, graced with hints of Laphroaig’s classic smoke.

Finish: Oaked. The mustiness carries into the finish, which lasts for a good while, with oily spices and dried fruit.

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Five minutes… with John Campbell from Laphroaig

Laphroaig is one of Scotland’s most iconic whisky producers. We catch up with distillery manager John Campbell to chat still quirks, iconic figures from the past, and that all-important Christmas…

Laphroaig is one of Scotland’s most iconic whisky producers. We catch up with distillery manager John Campbell to chat still quirks, iconic figures from the past, and that all-important Christmas dram!

It’s a classic Islay producer with one of the most distinct palates in whisky. Love it or hate it, you can’t deny that Laphroaig holds a very special place in the collective whisky consciousness. We catch up with John Campbell, the brand’s long-serving distillery manager, and get a renewed taste for the mega-peated dram. 

John Campbell contemplating a dram

Master of Malt: Laphroaig is such a distinct, expressive single malt. Can you describe the distillery character for us in your own words? 

John Campbell: It’s a very traditional operating process at Laphroaig, so this impacts the flavours we produce. The floor maltings add a lovely peatiness that’s unique to Laphroaig. Our distillation also helps define the flavours, with the longest foreshot run in the industry before we collect the spirit, with the two different sizes of stills in the second distillation running at different speeds. This in turn provides two different flavours which are married together continuously. We also mature on Islay too, which provides a different flavour profile as the climate here is different to mainland Scotland. We are right beside the sea so the air is different and the temperature profile is different, so it matures differently. These key processes help to give Laphroaig the character it has.

MoM: Opinions Welcome is back! The new campaign asks people to taste Laphroaig for the first time. What was the first Laphroaig you tried, and what were your initial thoughts? 

JC: Well, my initial thoughts were not repeatable! As a 24 year old, I just wondered how and why it tasted this way. That is the exact moment we want to embrace with our consumers. It’s never really a moment you forget! And so many people have great first-time Laphroaig stories, so we want to share these.

MOM: You’ve recently released the next instalment in the Ian Hunter range. Tell us a bit about Ian Hunter, and why he’s so important to Laphroaig. 

JC: Ian Hunter is so important as he believed and delivered on what he thought Laphroaig could be. He had a plan, and took Laphroaig from being the smallest producer on the island to the biggest. He re-invested all the profits in the infrastructure that is still here to this day. He understood that the recipe needed to improve, so he searched for the casks to mature his spirit in. Ian is the person that set up the site in most of the ways we run to this day. His legacy still lies before every visitor to the distillery over 100 years later.

The still house at Laphroaig

MoM: Another iconic figure you’ve celebrated with a bottling is Bessie Williamson. Tell us about her!

JC: Yes! Laphroaig was lucky enough to not only have one amazing person lead us in the 20th century, but two, and back to back! Bessie took over from Ian in the 1950s and built on the success of the previous generation. Bessie was hugely influential, both within Laphroaig and Islay, but also across the wider Scotch whisky industry. She travelled the Americas as the Scotch Whisky Association’s ambassador in the 1960s, just as single malt started to come to the fore. On Islay, she understood the importance of social and environmental impact long before her time. She was an amazingly generous person with the team, but you also a great leader. You understood when you stepped over the line!

MoM: What’s coming up for Laphroaig in 2021? Are there any cask experiments, distillery developments, or anything else you can share?

JC: We have some new things coming next year, yes. We will have the new Cairdeas for 2021, which I think folks will love, and cask strength 10 and 25 year old releases. We also will have a different slant on the 10 Year Old for our Friends of Laphroaig [the distillery’s members’ club] to see. It will be fully oloroso sherry-matured, so I’m excited to see what our consumers think of this.

MoM: 2020’s been quite the year! There have been lots of negatives, but also lots of opportunities to share drams and chat in the virtual space. What have been highlights for you?

JC: It sure has been a year! It’s been very tough for us all in so many ways. It’s amazing to think we are having discussions about changing our society; that’s never easy, but amazing. The internet can be a place from time to time too, and the positive side of this has been a bonus. I have tried to understand this more and more, and support better and better, as the year has progressed.  I think the support within, and for, consumers from the industry on the virtual platforms has been amazing. We have all supported each other, stepped up our game, and it’s been very entertaining.

The classic 10 year old expression

MoM: You grew up on Islay. How does it feel to be managing such an iconic Islay distillery?

JC: Yeah, I sure did! It’s pretty cool to be managing the distillery that is the island’s biggest single malt. It’s not something you take for granted. It doesn’t weigh heavy; it’s more of a privilege.

MoM: Peated whisky continues to grow in popularity. Why do you think it holds such appeal?

JC: It’s just so tasty! It just offers a depth of flavour that people really enjoy.

MoM: Tell us a little bit about your life outside whisky. What excites and inspires you?

JC: I like to travel, play golf, visit art galleries, attend live events from sport to opera, meet friends and enjoy good food and good drinks. If I can do all the above in the same day, even better.

MoM: What dram will be in your tasting glass this Christmas?

JC: There will be Laphroaig 10 for sure, as it’s my favourite Laphroaig. But there will also be a good Champagne, and a new red wine to try. And I would like to wish everybody a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

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Win an incredible VIP Trip to Bowmore and Laphroaig!

All of our competitions have great prizes, but this one should really excite whisky fans. Two legendary Islay distilleries await.  If you ever have the chance to put smiles on…

All of our competitions have great prizes, but this one should really excite whisky fans. Two legendary Islay distilleries await. 

If you ever have the chance to put smiles on people’s faces, you should take it. This year, of all years, doing just that feels particularly important, so we decided to team up with our pals at Edrington Beam Suntory and put together something seriously special for all our lovely readers.

It’s a competition. Now, all of our competitions are cool, but we have a feeling this one will really excite you. Because it could see you heading to two of the most fantastic and famous distilleries on planet earth. It just happens, in this case, they’re both located on the same island. Islay. Are you shaking with excitement already? Good, you should be. Because you’re a few clicks away from potentially packing a bag to visit Bowmore Distillery and Laphroaig Distillery

VIP Trip to Bowmore and Laphroaig

Ever wanted a dram of Islay whisky on the island itself? Now’s your chance!

You’re probably trying to dance around the room while hyperventilating at this point, so we’re going to outline exactly what you win nice and simple for you: First, you and your chosen travel buddy will get flown out to Scotland. There you will enjoy complimentary accommodation for two nights, as well as dinner. Plus, tours of both Bowmore and Laphroaig distillery and the beautiful island of Islay. Oh, and Edrington-Beam Suntory is also going to throw in some merchandise (for more info see the competition terms below). 

May we assume you’d like to enter? Lovely, here’s how you do it: just buy a bottle from the following range. It’s that simple. Take a look here at the full list of eligible expressions (once again, for any more info the T&Cs are your friend).

The lovely Laphroaigs:

The beautiful Bowmores:

VIP Trip to Bowmore and Laphroaig

Simply pick up one of these beauties and you’re in it to win it!

It’s the perfect set-up. If you win, you get a VIP trip to Islay. And if you don’t, you’ve still got some delicious Islay whisky to enjoy. There’s no reason not to enter! So go on, put your name in your hat. You never know whose name will be drawn… Good luck!

MoM Bowmore and Laphroaig VIP Trip Competition 2020 open to entrants 18 years and over. Entries accepted from 12:00:01 GMT on 1 December 2020 until 23:59:59 GMT on 31 December 2020. Winners chosen at random after close of competition. Date and travel restrictions apply. Postal route available. See full T&Cs for details. 

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The Nightcap: 30 October

It might be the spookiest time of year, but that can’t stop us from rounding up the latest happenings from the world of booze. It’s The Nightcap! Happy Halloween, folks!…

It might be the spookiest time of year, but that can’t stop us from rounding up the latest happenings from the world of booze. It’s The Nightcap!

Happy Halloween, folks! However you’re choosing to mark it this strangest of years, we hope you’re able to make the most of the sweet treats, pageantry and gothic pomp of it all as safely as possible. And for those who have absolutely no interest in Halloween, we’d like to think you’ve found some alternative entertainment in the form of The Nightcap. It’s filled with all the best kinds of spirits.

This week on the MoM blog some of the finest names in whisky featured, with the Buffalo Trace Antique Collection 2019 and Ardbeg Wee Beastie making their way to MoM Towers (eek!), Chris Morris filling-us-in on all things Woodford Reserve and Nicholas Morgan giving us a glimpse of the story behind the world’s no. 1 Scotch whisky. We also captured our time at The Lakes Distillery on video and spoke to Victoria Eady Butler about her incredible family legacy, but not before we made sure you can indulge in style for Halloween and Bonfire Night, make the most of overproof spirits and imbibe mindfully.

The Nightcap

See the Chase Distillery for yourself with our amazing VR tour!

Diageo acquires Chase Distillery

Spirits giant Diageo loves nothing more than adding brands to its swelling portfolio, so it was little surprise to see that Chase Distillery has become its latest acquisition. The premium British vodka and gin distillery based in Herefordshire was founded by potato farmer William Chase in 2008, after he created and sold upmarket crisp company Tyrrell’s. Unsurprisingly, the distillery’s spirits are made from scratch using British-grown potatoes, as well as apples and botanicals on the Chase Farm, which also employs steam energy to power the distillery thanks to a biomass boiler fueled by apple orchard prunings. The portfolio is made up of seven gins, four vodkas and an elderflower liqueur, including the very popular Chase GB Gin, Pink Grapefruit & Pomelo Gin and Aged Marmalade Vodka. William Chase said the acquisition, which is tipped to close in early 2021, is “inspiring” and that Diageo “believe in the potential of our field to bottle spirits and will build on our mission to develop our sustainable distillery in Herefordshire.” Diageo certainly believes in gin, given that it’s already bought Ryan Reynold’s Aviation Gin and invested in German craft gin maker Rheinland Distillers GmbH this year. As for William Chase, he’s kind of running out of potato-based business ventures. Maybe I can interest him in an experiment I did at age six when I powered a lightbulb with a humble potato. It’s sustainable energy, after all…

The Nightcap

Rum was the drink of choice for many of you, and a fine choice it is!

WSTA figures reveal rum is the drink of lockdown 

The Wine and Spirit Trade Association (WSTA) has crowned rum the “drink of lockdown”, as the latest figures show it enjoyed the biggest growth across all spirits during the lockdown. In the three months from April to June 2020, 38% more rum was sold than in the same period in 2019, while total rum sales were worth £119 million in the quarter alone. Rum now places behind only whisky, vodka and gin in value terms. The flavoured & spiced rum category was the biggest mover and shaker, growing 53% by volume between April and June, and outselling white rums over a three month period for the first time. Even though pubs and bars couldn’t open, total alcohol sales in supermarkets and shops are up 8% over 12 months and 35% over the lockdown period. The figures show, however, that the growth in off-trade sales did not off-set the losses seen by the closure of the on-trade – total alcohol sales slumped 20% by volume, showing that, despite all the stories, the British did not booze their way through the lockdown. “Our latest numbers show that rum is lockdown’s champion, as the experimentation Brits liked to enjoy in pubs and bars carried over to their homes. However, this also underlines the importance of on-trade venues as the shop window for new innovations in the spirits category,” explains Miles Beale, chief executive of the WSTA. “With news just last week of further restrictions being placed on the hospitality sector, the climate for our distillers, many of whom are SMEs and have come to represent such a great British success story of recent years, continues to get tougher”. 

Our favourite feature of the new-look Glenkinchie? The psychedelic Johnnie Walker

Revamped Glenkinchie Distillery reopens

We’ve reported before on Diageo’s £185 million investment in whisky tourism in Scotland. With perhaps not the best timing, it has just been announced that phase one of the plan has been completed and the refurbished Glenkinchie distillery near Edinburgh is once open to the public. The elegant Victorian brick warehouses have been turned into a visitor experience with a landscaped garden and a distinctly psychedelic statue of Johnnie Walker complete with dog. Visitors will be able to purchase a special commemorative release called the first in the Four Corners of Scotland collection, a 16 year old Glenkinchie bottled at 50.6% ABV with just 2,502 available at £150. Barbara Smith, managing director of brand homes (they do love a grand job title at Diageo) commented: “We are acutely aware of the difficult times many people are going through, particularly our colleagues in the tourism and hospitality sector across Scotland. We know there’s a long way to go and a lot of uncertainty ahead. Still, we believe in the resilience of our business and our communities, and we will be doing all we can through our investment to sow the seeds of recovery and future growth.” Distillery manager Ramsay Borthwick added: “Glenkinchie will give people a thrilling first taste of the new visitor experiences we are creating across Scotland. We will be offering people an experience like no other distillery in Scotland at Glenkinchie and that will be followed as we transform Clynelish, Cardhu and Caol Ila over the coming months, and as we build towards the opening of our global Johnnie Walker Princes Street attraction in Edinburgh next summer.” Let’s hope they all open as planned.

The Nightcap

Book Two, ‘Building an Icon’, will be available here soon…

Laphroaig expands the Ian Hunter series

Following the huge success and popularity of Ian Hunter Book One, Laphoraig has launched the second instalment in the Ian Hunter Story, which consists of five annual releases and honours the legacy of the last founding member of the Johnston family to run the distillery. Book Two, which is entitled ‘Building an Icon’ and is limited to just four hundred cases, was matured in sherry casks for 30 years before it was bottled at 48.2% ABV without chill-filtration. Hunter, who joined the distillery in 1908, had a lasting legacy, doubling production and managing to sell Laphroaig to America during Prohibition by leveraging the spirit’s unique character, which meant that it could be sold for medicinal purposes. “You cannot enjoy Laphroaig’s exquisitely smokey and complex liquid, without paying homage to the legendary Ian Hunter,” says John Campbell, Laphroaig distillery manager. “His influence in our whisky production techniques and our iconic brand as a whole is undeniable. The second book in our Ian Hunter Story celebrates his legacy in shaping Laphroaig to what it is today.” The limited-edition whisky will be available from MoM Towers soon…

The Nightcap

It’s been quite the week for impressive expressions!

Gonzalez Byass releases sherry from 1878

Tio Pepe isn’t just the world’s bestselling fino sherry, he was also a real person, a winemaker and uncle of the company’s founder Manuel Maria Gonzalez Anger. Now, Gonzalez Byass has released a wine made by Uncle Joe (for some reason Pepe is the diminutive of José) himself. It’s a very special Pedro Ximinez laid down in 1878 to celebrate the investiture of a new pope, León XIII. It was recently uncovered in the company’s vast cellars (think that last scene in Raiders of the Last Ark) by current head blender Antonio Flores. It comes from a single butt containing, after all these years, only 80 litres of super-sweet wine.  It’s unusual because it was made in the days before sherry was routinely fortified so it comes in at only 9% ABV, yet because of all that sugar, it’s has lasted all these years. Mauricio González Gordon, current chairman and fifth-generation family member, said, “This wine was created in the mid-19th century: a Pedro Ximénez, made before phylloxera arrived in Jerez. We are delighted to be able to release this jewel of a wine as part of our rare Finite Wines Collection, but there will only be 78 bottles for sale – the remaining 20 will be stored in the González family’s bottle archive, El Aljibe.” The price is suitably papal at €1800 a bottle. 

The Nightcap

Once you start thinking of Spocktail ideas, it’s hard to stop. Captain Kirsch, anyone?

And finally. . .  Jim Beam me up, Scotty

If you made a Venn diagram of cocktail lovers and fans of Star Trek (Trekkingtons, we believe they’re called), we wonder how big the overlap between the two categories would be. Well, the people behind a new book called Star Trek Cocktails: A Stellar Compendium clearly think there’s a large market. It’s been put together by cartoonist and writer Glenn Dakin in conjunction with ‘mixology consultants’ Simon Pellet and Adrian Calderbank, and with photos by David Burton and Jess Esposito. It’s full of fairly standard cocktails given a Star Trek twist with names like Ferengi Wallbanger or Guinan Fizz. We’re sure they will go down a treat with hardcore fans but we can’t help feeling that the whole thing is something of a missed opportunity in the punning department. So the team here at Master of Malt had a lot of fun coming up with our own Spocktails (see what we did there?) like Star Trek: the next Gineration, Deep Space Wine or the irresistible Captain Kirsch. Live long and Vesper!

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