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Master of Malt Blog

Tag: Loch Lomond

The Nightcap: 7 June

As we recover from another outstanding Fèis Ìle, the influx of booze news flowed in as usual – it’s The Nightcap! It’s Friday again, and, like always, we’ve got a…

As we recover from another outstanding Fèis Ìle, the influx of booze news flowed in as usual – it’s The Nightcap!

It’s Friday again, and, like always, we’ve got a fresh batch of news stories from the world of booze ready for you to drink up as we enter summer. That’s right, it’s summer already and, of course, it’s raining. But we won’t let that dampen our spirits, it’s the weekend for goodness sake! And we’re going to start this weekend the same way we always do. With another smashing edition of The Nightcap!

On the blog this week Jake regaled us with tales from Ardbeg, Bunnahabhain and Jura as Fèis Ìle 2019 concluded, while our June 2019 dram club also launched. Adam then found some fab treats to spoil the old man with on Father’s Day, Jess explored the world of fermented tea drinks with her New Arrival of the Week and Nate Brown played a game of booze-branding buzzword bingo in his guest column. Annie explained why the right glassware matters before casting her eye over 10 bottlings created with a chef’s sensibilities, while Henry met with the queen of rum, Joy Spence, enjoyed a Talisker video masterclass and picked The Toasted Nut Boulevardier as his Cocktail of the Week.

Now, to the news!

The Nightcap

Interesting times for Loch Lomond

Loch Lomond sold to Asian investment firm in $500m deal

Big Scotch whisky news! The Loch Lomond Group will be sold to Hillhouse Capital Management, an investment firm with offices in Beijing, Hong Kong, Singapore and New York. The distillery is unique in Scotland in producing its own single malt and single grain whiskies; it also produces the Glen Scotia whisky, Glen’s vodka and Ben Lomond gin. The distillery, which had been in the hands of the Bulloch family since 1834, was acquired in 2014 by UK-based Exponent Private Equity who very successfully concentrated on the export market. Overseas sales went up from 10% to 70% of business. The new owners are now looking to capitalise on this especially in the Asian market. Wei Cao, partner at Hillhouse Capital, said: “We are so excited to help Loch Lomond realise the potential of its outstanding brands in huge new consumer markets, such as Asia.” The deal is still to be finalised but is said by Scottish Field to be worth somewhere in the region of $500m. The current distillery’s management headed up by Colin Matthews will stay in place and will keep a minority stake in the business. Matthews commented: “Over the past five years we are proud to have transformed the Loch Lomond Group into a premium international spirits business with a strong focus on innovation and a portfolio of award-winning brands.” We look forward to seeing what comes next from one of Scotland’s most idiosyncratic distilleries.

The Nightcap

The US allowing these little guys is great news for small European distillers

America may allow 70cl bottles – huge news for small European distillers

Good news from America! You don’t often hear that one. The TTB (Tax and Trade Bureau), the people who regulate alcohol among other things, are proposing to change the rules on bottle sizes for spirits. In a move that smacks of good old-fashioned common sense, the release says, “TTB is proposing to eliminate all but minimum and maximum standards of fill for distilled spirits containers in order to provide industry members greater flexibility in production and sourcing of containers, and provide consumers broader purchasing options.” At the moment full-size spirit bottles have to be 75cl as opposed to 70cl in the European Union, so producers have to produce two separate bottlings. No problem, of course, for Diageo but prohibitively expensive for smaller producers. If this proposal goes through, and that’s a big if, then it could potentially open up the American market to some boutique spirits. If the EU would reciprocate to allow 75cl spirit bottles, or maybe just agree on a common standard, what a wonderful world it could be.

The Nightcap

No fancy packaging here

Glenlivet 1946 goes under the hammer in Chiswick

In these days of hand-blown decanters, boxes inlaid with mother-of-pearl and specially-commissioned books, it’s nice to be reminded of a simpler time when whisky just came in a bottle with a plain label on. Take the Glenlivet 1946 that’s going under the hammer at Chiswick Auctions wine and spirits sale on 11 June. It was distilled when rationing was still going on after the war, only a tiny amount was allowed to be made for the export market. Most would have been sold as soon as possible but some were kept in cask and bottled by Gordon & MacPhail of Elgin in the 1980s, so this is a roughly 40-year-old whisky. It’s been sourced by the new wine and spirits team at Chiswick Auctions Sam Hellyer, Chris Burr and Christopher Cooper. Look at that admittedly not terribly good label and compare it with the recent 50 Year Old Winchester Collection release from The Glenlivet. The latter will set you back $25,000 whereas this 1946 is only expected to sell for £800-1000. You don’t get a fancy box, but you do get a slice of history and at that price, someone might even drink it.

The Nightcap

A delightfully pink taste of history

Drink the original Pink Gin this World Gin Day with Angostura Bitters

Unless you’ve been living under a very large rock, you’ve probably noticed a little trend called pink gin. However, in reality, these sweet and fruity tipples are a far cry from the very first pink gin to pass our lips, which was created courtesy of Angostura bitters. As the story goes, back in 1824, Dr J.G.B Siegert created Angostura bitters as a kind of healing elixir for soldiers fighting in Venezuela. At the time, it was safer to drink alcohol on ships, as stagnant water was a rather perilous affair. Would you believe it, it took a whole 24 years for someone to mix these bitters with gin! It was in the year 1848 when a Royal Navy surgeon added the bitters to try and help with seasickness. Luckily, this happy accident of mixology also coincided with the rise of cocktail culture in the 1850s. The sailors returned from sea, and brought with them Pinkers, as they now affectionately called this pink gin. Health concerns went out the window and people simply loved the taste of it. Seeing as it’s World Gin Day this weekend, why not have a taste of history and make your own Pinkers? Tastes even better if you can find a ship to drink it on, though it’s not essential.

The Nightcap

Caskshare allows whisky lovers to reserve ‘shares’ of whisky casks from their favourite distilleries

Craft Whisky Club launches Caskshare

It goes without saying that anything which makes whisky more accessible is most definitely a Good Thing. So, great news for whisky geeks this week, as Craft Whisky Club (part of Edinburgh based whisky-technology company Uisge Tech Ltd) announced the launch of Caskshare. In a nutshell, Caskshare allows whisky lovers to reserve ‘shares’ of whisky casks from their favourite distilleries, and once matured the single cask bottlings will be sent directly to the lucky recipient – or as Caskshare calls them, ‘shareholders’. This is a brilliant new initiative, described as Crowdfunding for whisky casks, which will hopefully allow consumers to explore and buy a whole host of cask variations without breaking the bank. The first casks to feature on the platform are from the Raasay Distillery, and you can choose to age either your peated or unpeated spirit in ex-bourbon, Chinquapin (a type of oak native to North America) virgin oak, or Bordeaux red wine casks. Such choice! The first bottling will be ready in 2022, after its required three years of ageing. “Caskshare offers whisky fans a way to get closer to their favourite distilleries and wood types”, says co-founder David Nicol. “What’s more, you don’t need to part with the vast sums of money required to purchase a full cask.” It’s said that a few new distilleries are set to join Caskshare in the next few months, and these won’t just be limited to Scotland, so keep your eyes peeled!

The Nightcap

A record-breaking rum!

Wray & Nephew President’s Reserve breaks rum auction record fetching £31,500

A very rare Wray & Nephew rum has set a new world record for an individual bottle of rum sold at auction after it fetched £31,500 (just under $40,000). “We had high hopes for this stunning bottle but with so little sales history to reference it was difficult to predict how it might perform,” said Iain McClune, director at Whisky Auctioneer. “I think it is fair to say that it has exceeded expectations, however, the price achieved is more than deserving considering the historical significance and incredible rarity of this rum”. J. Wray & Nephew President’s Reserve rum, the fourth of 12 bottles created, went on sale in Whisky Auctioneer’s inaugural Rum Auction last month. The rum, which contains liquid from 1906, honours US president Ronald Reagan and his first and only visit to Jamaica in April 1982. The label bears the late president’s seal, and it is believed that two bottles were presented to Reagan with further bottles given to dignitaries and industry professionals in attendance during the visit. This particular bottle is thought to be the only known example to have come into the secondary market, with another bottle previously selling for £1,213 (US$1,542) at a Bonhams auction in New York in 2013. A representative from the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum said: “The first family received this wonderful gift commemorating their trip to Jamaica in April 1982. The bottle that we have is #1 and bears the Great Seal of the United States. The current locations of the remaining bottles are not known.” More than 50 bids from across the world were made for the historic bottling, with the winning bid coming from Italy. It’s sickening, isn’t it? There’s a person out there who gets to drink rare rum and live in Italy. Life isn’t fair. Anyway, we digress. . . The President’s Reserve was one of more than 600 rums sold in the auction and wasn’t the only big hitter. A pair of casks from the closed Caroni distillery in Trinidad fetched £25,000 (US$31,793) each.

The Nightcap

It’s hard to say what was better, the cocktails or the view!

London in the Sky with Cocchi

We headed down – or should we say up – to North Greenwich to London in the Sky for a spritz masterclass with Team Cocchi. London in the Sky is, in essence, a great big table on a crane which rises 100 feet into the air, giving you truly some stellar views of the Big Smoke while you sip. For those of you who think that may sound slightly hellish, fear not, as you’re securely strapped into a seat which looks a little like one you would find in a racing car – super safe. Once we had risen above the O2 Arena, we made (and tasted) four cocktails. First up was the Cocchi Rosa Spritz, made with Cocchi Rosa, tonic, fresh strawberries and basil, full of bittersweet pink berry notes. Next, a Cocchi Rosa Negroni, a take on the classic made with Cocchi Rosa, Pink Pepper Gin and Campari. Then, we moved (metaphorically) into the evening with the Vermouth di Torino Spritz, combining Cocchi Vermouth di Torino, rosemary and olive tonic water and a fresh sprig of rosemary. This was less fruity, and brought more of a spicy note, hence why it was more of an evening drink. Finally, a classic Negroni graced the floating table, made with Sipsmith gin, Campari and, of course, Cocchi Vermouth di Torino. If a spritz in the sky sounds good to you, then you’ll be thrilled to hear that Cocchi Spritzes are permanently on the menu for all of London in the Sky’s flights. However, the best part is, that with each cocktail only containing three ingredients, these are simple drinks to make, whether you’re 100 feet in the air over Canary Wharf, or just relaxing in your garden.

The Nightcap

A week of Negronis? We’re in

Campari unveils #N100, a week devoted to the Negroni

This year it’s the hundredth anniversary of that fateful day when a barman in Florence accidentally poured gin into Count Camillo Negroni’s Americano (a mixture of Campari and vermouth) instead of soda water, and created a classic. Or so the story goes (we’ll be looking into the drink’s history very soon). As you can imagine we’re quite excited, but not as excited as Campari: the Milanese company is launching #N100, over a week of events around Britain to celebrate the Count and his creation. It begins at the Vinyl Factory in London on 20 June and continues into Negroni Week beginning 22 June with events in Edinburgh, Manchester and London. To spice things up a little, the venues won’t just be offering the standard Negroni. At Hoot the Redeemer in Edinburgh, for example, you’ll be able to try the tastefully-named Skagliato made with Campari, Irn Bru and Buckfast! Sounds fierce. It looks like June is going to be sweet this year, and really really bitter.

The Nightcap

Gold has just opened on Portobello Road and we’re all very excited to see how they do

Notting Hill bar Gold opens in a blaze of talent

A swanky new bar and restaurant that goes by the name of Gold opened on Portobello Road this week. The new venture has drawn quite the host of talent, with head chef Theo Hill of The River Café, and front of house team Alex Ghalleb of Pizza East and Arez Akgundogdu of Soho House. The drinks don’t look bad either: Gold’s unique cocktail menu has been put together by Weapons and Toys, aka. Matt Whiley and Rich Woods, the fellas behind Hackney’s Scout. It’s already off to a flying (and talented) start. So, what to expect? Raw bohemian decor, with exposed brickwork, lots of indoor trees and the like, colourful seasonal sharing plates inspired by local produce and uncomplicated, delicious cocktails. All the cocktails look delicious, but we’re pretty sure we’d be hard pressed to choose between the Market Stall Spritz, comprised of raspberry-infused Hennessey brandy, crème de cacao, sweet tomato shrub, rosé and soda, or the Baklava Fizz, combining Don Julio Tequila, fig shrub, London honey, almond milk and soda. Gold will span over four floors, and will even boast a garden room with a retractable roof, perfect as we began our descent into summer. With such a great team in place, we can’t wait to see what other seasons will bring.

The Nightcap

Yep. That’s a shoe. With a cocktail inside

And finally. . . . a cocktail served in a shoe

Cocktail silly season has arrived in London early this year as the Ace Hotel announces a new cocktail menu at the Lobby Bar. The two that caught our eye were the Bangers and Daq’s, a Daiquiri with a salami (yes real salami, not some sort of dried fruit fangled to look like salami) and red wine twist, and the Drella’s Milk Punch, made from cornflake milk and vodka which sounds like the sort of thing Ozzy Osborne would have had for breakfast. However, these beverages are paragons of classical good taste in comparison with what the people from Filipino joint, Romulo Cafe in Kensington, are serving. It’s called the Imelda and it’s been designed in honour of former first lady of the Philippines, Imelda Marcos, who was famed for having a lot of shoes when most of her people didn’t have a lot to eat. The cocktail contains Stolichnaya vodka, crème de framboise, crème de mure and strawberry puree, and served, naturally, in a shoe. It’s all done in the best possible taste!

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The winner of The Open Championship tickets is…

We recently teamed up with Loch Lomond to give a lucky someone a pair of tickets to The Open Championship – and we have our winner! Television, refrigerators, Dolly the…

We recently teamed up with Loch Lomond to give a lucky someone a pair of tickets to The Open Championship – and we have our winner!

Television, refrigerators, Dolly the sheep, chicken tikka masala, kaleidoscopes, the Grand Theft Auto video game series – Scotland as a country has given the world so many wonderful things. However, for some, there are two suitably Scottish contributions to the world that stand out more than most: golf and Scotch whisky!

In this spirit, you may recall that we teamed up Loch Lomond to give away two tickets to The Open Championship for Friday 20 July, as well as two nights’ accommodation with dinner in Glasgow, a visit to the Loch Lomond Distillery and a bottle of Loch Lomond Carnoustie 1999 (RRP £150) signed by master blender Michael Henry (with arrangements for UK travel taken care of). Only one lucky winner (and an even luckier plus-one) would get to experience this smashingly Scottish treat first-hand. Well, we have our winner!

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Q&A: Loch Lomond master blender Michael Henry!

Michael Henry is a man with many hats. He might be a whisky blender by title, but he works across all aspects of spirit production at the Loch Lomond Scotch…

Michael Henry is a man with many hats. He might be a whisky blender by title, but he works across all aspects of spirit production at the Loch Lomond Scotch whisky distillery. We get our geek on and chat all things yeast, on-site cask rejuvenation, and that genuinely intriguing still set-up…

Loch Lomond prides itself on its flexibility – and it is indeed a chameleon in spirit form. Set up in 1966 to be as self-sufficient as they come, the distillery is perhaps the only one in Scotland able to simultaneously produce its own single malt and single grain. It’s a fascinating one, indeed.

To get under the skin of the distillery, find out how and why it makes the spirit it does, we caught up with master blender, Michael Henry. His background in beer and seeming obsession with yeast has set him in good stead to handle the ambidextrous producer and its multifaceted ways.

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Win a pair of tickets to The Open Championship with Loch Lomond!

WIN a pair of tickets to The Open Championship taking place this July, plus a signed bottle of Loch Lomond Carnoustie 1999! Enjoy £10 off Loch Lomond 12 Year Old…

  • WIN a pair of tickets to The Open Championship taking place this July, plus a signed bottle of Loch Lomond Carnoustie 1999!
  • Enjoy £10 off Loch Lomond 12 Year Old until June 28th!
  • How’s that for Father’s Day gifting made simple?
  • Love terrific Highland single malt and watching people wallop tiny spheres great distances with metal sticks? Then we’ve got a competition that’ll suit you down to a tee. We have teamed up with Loch Lomond to give you a chance to win a pair of tickets to The Open Championship at the Carnoustie Golf Links in July!

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    The Nightcap: 4 May

    It’s Friday, it’s cocktail o’clock (here in the UK anyway), so there’s only one thing for it. Bring on this week’s round up of all things booze news: it’s The…

    It’s Friday, it’s cocktail o’clock (here in the UK anyway), so there’s only one thing for it. Bring on this week’s round up of all things booze news: it’s The Nightcap!

    Happy Star Wars Day, folks! Yep, somehow it’s May already. But no need to fear, The Nightcap is here, bringing you the biggest and booziest news stories from the last seven days!

    But before we get into agave-fuelled business deals, new bottlings and all things baijiu, let’s recap the week that was. We kicked off proceedings on Monday with our latest charity auction: snap up the super-rare The Macallan 40 Year Old Sherry Oak and raise a marvellous chunk of moolah for our nominated charity, Malaria No More UK! On Tuesday, Adam reported back from the launch of The Singleton’s Malt Master’s Selection – a single malt looking to ‘do a Haig Club’ and make whisky accessible to new audiences. Will it be a success? Time will tell.

    Then it was time to reveal not just May’s Dram Club contents, but also the results of the epic Battle of the Blends: Challenge No. 3. Who was victorious? Did your favoured blend win? Find out in the post. And finally, we checked in with The Lakes Distillery’s whiskymaker-in-chief, Dhavall Gandhi, who lifted the lid on his liquid experiments. Intriguing…

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    ‘The Exceptional’ Whiskies Now Available!

    The Exceptional Malt, Grain and Blend from Don Sutcliffe and former Managing Director of The Macallan Willie Phillips launch in the UK. Available on Master of Malt today are three…

    The Exceptional whisky

    The Exceptional Malt, Grain and Blend from Don Sutcliffe and former Managing Director of The Macallan Willie Phillips launch in the UK.

    Available on Master of Malt today are three new Scotch whiskies from American independent bottler Sutcliffe & Son, brought to the UK by Number One Drinks. Called ‘The Exceptional’, the chaps behind them are none other than Willie Phillips, who was Managing Director of The Macallan between 1978 and 1996 (crucial years for the development of this famous single malt, of course) and Craft Distillers Managing Director Don Sutcliffe who worked with him to grow The Macallan in the US back in the late 1980s. Friends for 25 years, The Exceptional is something of a passion project for them both, working also with Master Blender Bill Arthur.

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    Father’s Day Tasting Sets!

    Pre-Order Drinks by the Dram’s new Father’s Day Whisky Tasting Sets now! Drinks by the Dram have released two new whisky tasting sets especially for Father’s Day 2016: The Father’s…

    Drinks by the Dram Father's Day

    Pre-Order Drinks by the Dram’s new Father’s Day Whisky Tasting Sets now!

    Drinks by the Dram have released two new whisky tasting sets especially for Father’s Day 2016: The Father’s Day Whisky Tasting Set and The Father’s Day Deluxe Whisky Tasting Set! Both of these fantastic gifts are now available for Pre-Order, despatching early next week.

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    We’re Indie Islands Bottler & Grain Bottler of the Year!

    After being named Highland Independent Bottler of the Year in 2014 at Whisky Magazine’s Independent Bottlers’ Challenge, we’re extremely proud to announce that for 2015 Master of Malt have picked…

    Independent-Bottlers-Challenge

    After being named Highland Independent Bottler of the Year in 2014 at Whisky Magazine’s Independent Bottlers’ Challenge, we’re extremely proud to announce that for 2015 Master of Malt have picked up two overall category wins, being named:

    Islands Independent Bottler of the Year 2015
    &
    Grain Independent Bottler of the Year 2015

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    Have Yourselves a Brilliant Burns Supper This Sunday!

    On Sunday the 25th of January, folk around the world will be taking part in a Burns Supper to celebrate the life and work of Robert Burns, one of Scotland’s…

    Robert Burns

    On Sunday the 25th of January, folk around the world will be taking part in a Burns Supper to celebrate the life and work of Robert Burns, one of Scotland’s most renowned and loved poets. Some might be very traditional, some less so, as Jake found out last year, but either way, these suppers are usually filled with three great pillars – poetry, haggis and Scotch whisky.

    Basically, Burns Suppers are good fun and a great excuse (if you needed one) to enjoy some lovely whisky. If you’ve never been to one, keep reading to discover what you could be in for. If you’re hosting one, good on ya!

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    Dramboree 2014 – Another Whisky Weekend in Scotland!

    Ah, Dramboree. A truly fantastic event, and one that’s difficult to convey in all its glory within a blog post. (One of the many reasons it’s taken me a little…

    Dramboree 2014

    Ah, Dramboree. A truly fantastic event, and one that’s difficult to convey in all its glory within a blog post. (One of the many reasons it’s taken me a little while to get round to this write-up.) For those who don’t know, Dramboree is a whisky weekend held in Scotland in early July that’s simply getting better and better with age. Next year it will be three years old. The requisite age for it to be referred to as the real deal? Well, based on the taste we had this time around, we think it’s getting pretty close to perfect already.

    The second ever Dramboree was attended by 64 people (that’s about double the number from the first year), most of which first descended upon Glasgow in order to hop aboard the Dramboree coach for a magical mystery tour the hour or so long journey to the shores of stunning Loch Lomond.

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