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Tag: Midleton

The Nightcap: 25 February

On The Nightcap this week we’ve got a battle for the Peaky Blinders, a new Islay whisky distillery, and Spiderman making cocktails. It’s never nice when something you love changes…

On The Nightcap this week we’ve got a battle for the Peaky Blinders, a new Islay whisky distillery, and Spiderman making cocktails.

It’s never nice when something you love changes for the worse. If you’re a Wordle fan then you’ll have noticed that the site has gotten a new coat of paint with some troubling New York Times branding splashed all over the place. It won’t be long before it isn’t free anymore. Although maybe they could change the name to something that’s actually five letters. That always felt like a weird oversight. Anyway, you won’t find us slapping a price tag on The Nightcap. It’s going to be free and fun and full of boozy happenings like it was every week before.

As will the rest of our blog, which had the pleasure of reviewing Charles MacLean’s new book, continued our journey through whisky flavour, and took a ride on the Norwest Europe Express with That Boutique-y Whisky Company. We also visited some great distilleries, including Clynelish, Ramsbury, and The Oxford Artisan Distillery. Plus there was time to enjoy National Margarita Day with a cracking cocktail recipe and a new competition with Rooster Tequila.

Now, it’s time get on with The Nightcap: 25 February edition!

The Nightcap: 25 February

New Midleton Very Rare always makes us excited

Midleton Very Rare 2022 is en route

The 39th edition from the ever-popular Midleton Very Rare series is coming to town! Scores of casks have been sampled, a super-fancy bottle has been whipped up, and one tasty Irish whiskey has been blended from a selection of single pot still and single grain whiskeys to create the latest addition to the range that began over four decades ago. In the marketing bumf, Irish Distillers said this bottling was sourced with whiskey from Midleton’s “much-coveted ‘A2’ traditional stone warehouse”, which dates back to the 1860s, and that the final blend contains whiskeys aged between 12 and 33 years that were matured in lightly-charred first-fill and refill ex-bourbon American oak barrels before being bottled from a single vatting during January 2022 at 40% ABV. “Drawing predominantly from our historic A2 warehouse, we have selected a blend of whiskeys that work together beautifully – from superb grain whiskeys dating back to 1989 with beautiful floral and rosewater notes, to some truly wonderful pot still whiskeys from 2009 that offer a delightful fruit element with citrus,” master distiller Kevin O’Gorman says. Sounds delightful as always, and you’ll be even more delighted to learn that Midleton Very Rare 2022 will be here at MoM Towers very soon…

The Nightcap: 25 February

Everybody wants to cash in on Peaky Blinders!

Distilleries battle for Peaky Blinders trademark approval

It’s all heating up in the battle to capitalise on the success of the TV show Peaky Blinders. You’re probably aware Sadler’s Brewhouse already makes booze using the name, but this week Bushmills has also applied for approval to make a Peaky Blinders-themed whiskey. This is despite the fact that there’s a five-year legal dispute rumbling on between Sadler’s and Caryn Mandabach Productions, the production company for the hit show. Proximo Spirits, which owns Bushmills, made the application to the US Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau in January 2022. Caryn Mandabach Productions is thought to be mentioned on the proposed Bushmills label, which also allegedly says the whiskey is licensed by series distributor Banijay Group. Sadler’s first applied to the Intellectual Property Office for a US trademark and put plans in motion to create its own Peaky Blinders Distillery and Bar in 2017. A stern warning letter in 2018 from the show’s producer was the response, despite the former owner of Sadler’s being a descendent of a real gang member. This injunction was denied last year, however, with a judge ruling that Caryn Mandabach Productions Ltd was not able to prove that it owned a protectable trademark in the name, that Sadler’s Brewhouse Ltd’s products were likely to cause confusion, or that the alleged confusion caused it irreparable harm. The production company has its own plans to open a line of Peaky Blinders-themed bars and restaurants. It seems everyone wants a slice of the Peaky Blinders pie.

The Nightcap: 25 February

Two great whiskies from one brilliant brand!

Compass Box launches two new whiskies

This week we had the pleasure of popping two new Compass Box whiskies on our site. The first was Experimental Grain Whisky, which is composed of conventionally made grain whiskies aged in re-charred barrels and hogsheads paired with a parcel sourced from Loch Lomond Distillery that’s one 100% malt whisky, but has to be classified as a grain by SWA regulations because it is produced in a column still rather than a pot still. It’s a tasty number with label artwork that draws on technical distillation textbooks and Picasso doodlings, and is joined on our shelves by the mighty Vellichor. That’s actually a new word that describes the fragrance of old books, a personal touch from Compass Box whiskymaker and founder John Glaser, and Compass Box whiskymaker James Saxon, who both studied literature, and explains the aesthetic of aged, well-used paper. Compass Box combined sherry-matured malt whiskies from Highland Park and Macallan for this one, together with a small amount of very old whisky from the Caol Ila Distillery, which each component meant to represent a character in the story of Vellichor. It was the dustily smoky and tropical fruity nature of this set of casks from the famous Orkney Distillery that inspired the idea in the first place. We know how much people love a good Compass Box, so we suggest you get them while they’re hot, particularly as we’ve tasted them and we like. Very much.

The Nightcap: 25 February

If this opens by 2023 then it will be the 12th distillery on Islay by our reckoning

Plans submitted for new Islay whisky distillery

If you thought there was surely no more room on Islay for whisky distilleries, then think again. London practice Alan Higgs has applied to local planners to construct a new whisky distillery on the island of Islay. If it all goes ahead, Ili Distillery will overlook Loch Gearach near Port Charlotte on the island. According to the architect, it will be a drum-like building with roughly textured solid stone walls reclaimed from redundant structures on the farm where it will be located. That farm has been owned by Bertram Nesselrode for many years, who is the co-applicant with Scott McLellan, another local farmer. The proposed distillery will have a target capacity of 200,000 litres per annum (think Kilchoman pre-expansion), while on-site warehousing will be used. There is likely to be some peat on site and the plan is to abstract water directly from Loch Gearach, while the duo aim to make the distillery self-sufficient in its operation. If the project receives approval, construction work will begin in summer 2022, with a projected opening in summer 2023.

The Nightcap: 25 February

Just in time for the big Wales vs England match

Welsh rugby heroes launch low ABV ‘spirit’ Perthyn

We aren’t rugby experts here at Master of Malt, but what we do know is that you probably shouldn’t play after a stiff G&T. Not a good idea. But maybe you can now thanks to four former Wales internationals, Shane Williams, James Hook, Lee Byrne, and Mike Phillips. The quartet has just released a new drink called Perthyn (pronounced ‘pear thin’ – it’s a Welsh word meaning ‘belonging’) just in time for the Wales vs England match at Twickenham on 26 February. Produced by the Cardiff Distillery, it’s a citrus, cardamon, and thyme-flavoured botanical drink weighing in at 10% and designed to be drunk with tonic. So in two parts tonic to one part spirit G&T, that’s only 3.3%. Co-founder Shane Williams explained: “We created Perthyn Low Alcohol Spirit to find a sense of belonging and share that with other individuals who value authenticity, reciprocity, and quality. Perthyn is perfect for health focussed individuals who want to feel included without having to compromise on taste or well-being. Perthyn is a constant reminder of how you want to live, so you can try to embody that happiness and bring it with you every day.” Whatever that means. At the moment Perthyn is only available from the Cardiff Distillery for £21.95, but we will let you know if we get some in here at Master of Malt.

The Nightcap: 25 February

The Drinks Trust continues to be a force for good when our industry needs it

The Drinks Trust launches vocational hardship programme: Develop

The Drinks Trust’s new vocational programme, Develop, is officially open to applicants. For the first time in its 135-year history, The Trust has introduced an initiative to alleviate long-term hardship with a proactive funding and training programme that delivers opportunity and skills to those within and looking to enter our industry. Campari Group UK will be the Official Spirits Partner of the scheme, and Moët Hennessy UK will support it as Official Champagne Partner. “Since the announcement of the Develop initiative to the industry last year, The Drinks Trust has received funding and support from brands and operators who recognise the vital importance of the scheme for the welfare of the entire drinks hospitality industry and the many people living in hardship in the U.K,” says Ross Carter, CEO of The Drinks Trust. The Develop initiative aims to help around 750 beneficiaries in its first year of operation, with a variety of training and development options. These range from self-guided CV writing and interview skills workshops, through to sector-specific CPD accredited training with top industry providers, including Wine & Spirit Education Trust, Institute of Brewing & Distilling, Mixology and European Bartender School, amongst others. It’s another fantastic initiative from the group and we hope it gets lots of applicants.

And finally… did Tom Holland make your cocktail?

You might have noticed there’s a new movie about called Uncharted, which is based on the video game series and stars Tom Holland (the current Spiderman). His character is a bartender, and to prepare for the role the Hollywood star secretly worked shifts doing the same gig at a London bar. Holland revealed to Sirius XM’s Pop Culture Spotlight programme that he was so covert that even the bar’s general manager didn’t know about it… “I went to a bartending school. I ended up doing a few shifts at this bar in London, which was a lot of fun. I really enjoyed it. And it’s a nice little set-piece in the movie,” says Holland. He’s believed to have pulled off the stunt at Chiltern Firehouse by literally trading places with a bartender who was meant to be on shift. “I had to have a white tuxedo and everything. I would go in there and take the bartender’s clothes and be in there undercover,” Holland said. So, there’s a good chance if you went to this establishment in the last few months, you might have been served a drink by Spiderman. Fancy that.

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Master of Malt tastes… Midleton Very Rare 2019

Once again, those fab folks at Midleton Distillery have produced a spectacular blended whiskey in the Very Rare series. We were invited to Dublin to give it a taste… There…

Once again, those fab folks at Midleton Distillery have produced a spectacular blended whiskey in the Very Rare series. We were invited to Dublin to give it a taste…

There are certain annual releases that whiskey fans always mark on their calendars. Since 1984, The Midleton Very Rare series has been one of them. A creation of former Midleton master distiller Barry Crockett, it’s a collection of exceptional blends featuring liquid that is, as you’ve no doubt deduced by now, very rare.

What began as a passion project for Crockett has since become a matter of legacy for his successor Brian Nation, who was given the task of selecting the casks that make up each release in 2014. Nation often describes it as the pinnacle of Irish whiskey, and it’s no surprise that it’s the only regularly-produced bottling from Midleton that actually features the name of the famous distillery.

You can imagine how excited we were to try the 2019 edition at its launch at The Shelbourne Hotel in Dublin. That excitement quickly turned to elation when we realised we would not be tasting one Midleton Very Rare bottling, but five. Nation had arranged a ‘Tasting Through the Decades’, which featured Midleton Very Rare 1984, the first expression released, Very Rare 1989, which turned 30 this year, Very Rare 1997, the year Nation joined Irish Distillers and Very Rare 2014, the first released with Nation as the master distiller.

Midleton Very Rare

It’s the 36th edition in the renowned and highly collectable range

Only once we had enjoyed a dram of each did we then taste the 2019 edition of Midleton Very Rare. What the taste through the decades demonstrated that while every bottling in the series is made from special single pot still and single grain Irish whiskeys, each individual expression is markedly different from the last. Every year is a different story, a new revelation about the sheer quality of Midleton’s inventory and a personal statement from the master distiller. The only consistency is the quality.

So, what’s the story with Midleton Very Rare 2019? It’s a blend of whiskeys matured exclusively in lightly-charred ex-bourbon American oak barrels for between 13 and 34 years, making it the oldest collection of casks ever used to create a Midleton Very Rare. Nation described this as adding “a level of fruitiness you don’t tend to get from the other releases”. He also revealed that this year there were four or five iterations of the whiskey that were tested until he settled on the chosen blend before us, “you don’t normally get it right first time!” As usual, there won’t be much of it to go around, with Nation estimating there’s around 5000 cases of this edition. It’s notable that the number increases every year to cater for the demand.

The only question that remains is, how does this year’s dose of annual-awesomeness compare? First thing’s first, it’s delicious. But then, you already guessed that. Midleton Very Rare 2019 has an individual profile, like the other expressions, and there’s a raft of notes here that weren’t present in the other drams. Most notably tropical fruit, which Nation said is a result of the older casks. The genius of the blend, however, is that it doesn’t lose the distillery character, which is still present in every drop. It’s another sublime demonstration of what Midleton Distillery has to offer, and I’d happily fight each and every one of you for a bottle. Good thing it will be arriving at MoM Towers soon…

Midleton Very Rare

Midleton Very Rare 2019 Tasting Note:

Nose: Pot still spices – tannic oak, cinnamon and nutmeg – are straight out the block before they are tempered by creamy vanilla, rich toffee and plenty of ripe orchard fruit (green apple and Conference pear). A complex sweetness then builds underneath from muscovado sugar, tropical fruit in syrup and a touch of oak char.

Palate: More green apple, ginger root and just a flicker of tablet fudge sweetness, then sugary cereal and a prickle of oak spice before hints of pineapple and mango add another wave of tropical goodness. Charred vanilla oak also returns from the nose to provide the backdrop among a touch of creamy nuttiness.

Finish: An earthy element to the spice appears in the finish among more crisp, ripe and almost candied fruits and gentle tannins.

Overall: An artful, intriguing and well-integrated blend, the older casks have given this edition an almost rummy element (mostly tropical fruit), but its standout strength is the exceptional clarity of the distillery character that forms the core of the expression.

Midleton Very Rare

The 2019 Edition is a blend of whiskies matured lightly-charred ex-bourbon barrels between 13 and 34 years.

To partner the launch of Midleton Very Rare 2019, the brand announced that it has created an online members’ programme named the ‘1825 Room’, Made for discerning whiskey lovers to pay homage to Midleton Distillery’s influence on Irish distilling since its foundation in 1825, it will offer information and features about Midleton Very Rare. There’s also an exclusive online store that will have five rare vintages for sale from 2nd October for one month. “The new 1825 Room gives us a unique opportunity to offer rare releases, which we have acquired over time or released from our archives, to whiskey fans and collectors around the world,” explains Brendan Buckley, international marketing director at Irish Distillers.

Here’s where things get really interesting. To mark the new 1825 Room, Midleton has offered members the opportunity to purchase a bottle of the very first 1984 vintage at the price of £40 Irish punts, which equates to about £45 sterling or €50.80 now. As you can imagine, demand will be high, so purchasers will be selected through a ballot system. You can access the ‘1825 Room’ through midletonveryrare.com.

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We chat all things Irish whiskey with Billy Leighton!

St Patrick’s Day is almost upon us! In the spirit of the moment, we caught up with Irish Distillers master blender Billy Leighton to talk Spot Irish whiskey, the ace…

St Patrick’s Day is almost upon us! In the spirit of the moment, we caught up with Irish Distillers master blender Billy Leighton to talk Spot Irish whiskey, the ace cask samples we have up for grabs, new distilleries and innovations for the future.

It’s St Patrick’s Day on Sunday! 17 March brings with it a celebration of all things Ireland, and it would be highly remiss if that didn’t include a splash of something boozily delicious – Irish gin, Poitín, and of course, whiskey! And to help get in the celebratory spirit, we’ve not only taken £5 off each bottle of the marvellous Yellow Spot, but we’re running a competition to win two 700ml bottles of incredible Malaga cask whiskey, too. Hand drawn by Billy Leighton, Irish Distillers master blender, no less!

But Irish spirits are for life, not just St Patrick’s Day. With that in mind, we got Billy himself on the blower to quiz him not only on Yellow Spot and those delicious sample bottles, but the past, present and future of Irish whiskey, too. And from the historical single pot still style to the wealth of new distilleries opening up (Clonakilty became the 23rd earlier this month!), it’s looking bright indeed…

Master of Malt: Hello Billy! First off, in your own words, tell us about the history of Spot and how all the whiskeys came about?

Billy Leighton: I think the Spot range has a really good heritage. It goes back to the family, Mitchell & Son, and they’ve been in Dublin for generations now, close 240 years. And it’s still run by Mitchell and his son; we [Irish Distillers] have a very good relationship with them. They’re a lovely family, Jonathan and Robert are the current father and son. But when their family business started up back in the early 1800s, they were wine merchants, importing wine from all around the world. Casks of oak, fortified wine: sherry, Port, Madeira, Marsala, all those fortified wines. And then, about 1880, 1890, they then became whiskey bonders. They had all these empty wine casks, having the wine bottled, and where they’re left with the casks. So they then will have bought new-make spirit from the Jameson Distillery in Dublin and filled that into their freshly emptied fortified wine casks. I don’t know what spawned the colour-coding system, but it was a good idea to colour-code their casks, to designate the age of the whiskey they were going to bottle. For example, they would have put out a green dawb of paint on casks that were intended to be used at ten years old, and that became their ‘green spot’. And likewise, the yellow paint was 12 years old; the red paint was 15 years old. They had a ‘blue spot’ as well, which was a seven year old. So that’s how the whole Spot range came about.

Spot Irish whiskey family

The Spot family of Irish whiskeys

MoM: And that was in Irish whiskey boom time…

BL: Well certainly in the 1970s, 1976-ish I think it was, Irish pot still whiskey had gone through a very, very bad time. Between the early 1900s and right up until the 1960s, Irish pot still whiskey was almost dead and buried! It was brands like Green Spot and Redbreast, two single pot still brands, that endured the bad times. In the mid-seventies, Irish Distillers basically took over the Spot Whiskies – of which there was only one at the time! The Green Spot. It became an Irish Distillers brand but the distribution in Ireland remained with Mitchell & Son. Then we did a bit of a makeover on the brand, and it got a new lease of life. I think the interest in Irish single pot still whiskey was starting to gain a bit more traction again, so we decided then to extend the range. That’s when we re-introduced Yellow Spot with the 12 year old age-statement on it, and then just recently the Red Spot, with the 15 year old statement.

MoM: Why do you think the Green Spot survived and the others didn’t? Was it to do with the age or the flavour profile? Why did one endure when the others fell by the wayside?

You know, it could have been availability of stock. The Irish whiskey category had dwindled away to virtual extinction. They couldn’t have sustained or justified maintaining the full range. The Green Spot is no longer a ten year old, it doesn’t have an age statement. So I think it was just to keep that brand alive. And maybe more for sentimental purposes than anything else, you know?

Bill Leighton Irish whiskey

Billy does his thing

MoM: Sure. And today, aside from age statements, what separates the different Spots, and are they very similar at all to the historical ones?

BL: Well, we like to think so. But the wood management wouldn’t have been as sophisticated as what we have today. So they would have had all of those different fortified wine casks available – sherry, Port, Madeira, Marsala – they wouldn’t necessarily have… structured their formulations to call out any cask type in particular. What we have tried to do is stay as close to the heritage of the brand, but we tend now to call out the different fortified wine casks that we’re using. In the Yellow Spot we call out the Malaga cask inclusion, with the Red Spot it’s the Marsala cask, Green Spot has got oloroso sherry casks. It is the only fortified wine cask in there. The Yellow Spot and the Red Spot have a little bit of oloroso sherry in there, but again, it’s kind of doing what the Mitchells did. It wasn’t so much one particular cask type became Yellow Spot and a different cask type became Red Spot. There would have been a mix of casks. Back in the day, the age was the only differentiating factor.

MoM: So we’ve got these two Malaga cask bottles up for grabs, which is incredibly exciting. Tell us a little bit about what sets these apart, and how you go about choosing casks for bottling…

BL: Well for these special bottles that are up for grabs, we went and looked at what Malaga casks we’re currently using in Yellow Spot. We sampled a few of them, and picked out a good one that we felt had a nice balance of the single pot still character and also that Malaga component we’re using in Yellow Spot. How I see the Malaga cask manifesting itself in Yellow Spot is kind of heather-honey sweet note. It takes the sweetness you would see in Green Spot and it takes the sweetness up another level. The Malaga casks, whenever they’re seasoned in Malaga, the wine that’s used is 100% Pedro Ximénez. 30% of the Pedro Ximénez grapes would be sundried, so it’s concentrating the sweetness there. And I’m particularly partial to sweet wine, and the Malaga just fits the bill. Those honey-sweet notes very much complement and balance with the spiciness of the pot-still distillate itself. So it works, it works very, very well for me.

Red Spot Irish whiskey

Red Spot is a recent addition to the Irish pot still family

MoM: Fabulous. More broadly, Irish whiskey is obviously booming. Why do you think that is, and why do you think single pot still Irish whiskies are so popular again?

BL: Taking a step back a little bit, I think it’s fairly well-accepted within the Irish whiskey industry that the whole renaissance has been brought about by the success of Jameson. Around the world, you know?  And where people are getting a taste for Jameson, they’re more inquisitive; a lot of the flavour is being driven by that pot still component. People are always wanting to find out more, and Green Spot would be the opportunity for them to try that single pot still component. I think it’s consumer awareness brought about by the attention that Jameson is bringing to the Irish whiskey category as a whole. ‘Why do we talk about Irish single pot still whiskey, is it not just the same as Scotch malt, only it comes from Ireland?’ When they try it, they find out that Irish single pot still is a completely different style of whiskey from a Scotch malt. And once they get the experience of a single pot still, such as Green Spot, they want to know a little bit more about what other offerings there are. And then of course there are other brands, like Redbreast for example, which is a single pot still Irish whiskey but with a different expression of maturation. I really think the Irish single pot still whiskey is where the future is.

MoM: Absolutely. But Irish whiskey as a whole is changing, not just single pot still. I think one of the reasons is all the new distilleries coming online. And now we’re seeing a lot of new spirit coming into the market. Do you think we’re going to see significant shifts in the structure of Irish whiskey and the character of the category?

BL: There are lot of new distilleries and it’s exciting when you see so many opening up, and they’re all going to want to make their mark and have their own individual style. I think that’s only good for the whole category, consumers included in that. I think for a long time, like ten years ago when we had only four operating distilleries, we didn’t have such a selection. And neither did we need one, to be honest! But each new distillery coming on stream is going to want to make their own mark and do things their own way. The only thing maybe to add there is that [it’s great] as long as all these new styles of whiskey don’t compromise the quality standard that Jameson has set, you know? That’s one thing we want to be careful about, that the perceived quality of Irish whiskey doesn’t slip.

Yellow Spot Irish whiskey

Oh haiiii Yellow Spot

MoM: Yeah, it’s got to be good!

BL: And from that point of view, Irish Distillers has probably been in the business the longest, but our doors are always open. We have a mentoring scheme in place now where new distillers can come along, probably through the Irish Whiskey Association, and see how we do things. We’re not telling them how to make the whiskey because they’d probably all end up making the same sort of whiskey! But it’s just to highlight production methods, even cask procurement, things that people don’t even think about. Like how much freight on casks costs. We’re quite open to tell things as they are, because we want to see everybody succeeding in the Irish whiskey category, making their own contribution to future growth.

MoM: Through the mentoring programme, you and the team must meet a lot of new people and a lot of new minds with a lot of new ideas. Is there anything that particularly excites you?

BL: It’s early days, but a lot of the new brands that we’re seeing in the marketplace now are pretty much different maturation expressions. People are procuring some whiskey for themselves and then doing their own twist on it. That in itself is adding a bit of excitement, maturation styles and tweaks that wouldn’t have been done before. When we had the four operating distilleries [Midleton, Cooley, Bushmills and Kilbeggan], everybody was kind of just set in their ways. They had successful formulations, why mess with them? But now we have the Irish Whiskey Regulations, they’re out there, but they’re there to be tested. There will be opportunities for using different types of wood, for example; Irish regulations allow us to use wood other than oak. So there’s interest there at the moment. We’ve introduced a whiskey finished in chestnut casks with Method and Madness. Bushmills has introduced an acacia cask finish. But also, whenever the new distilleries are up and running there are loads of opportunities for using different cereal types rather than just barley; raw barley and malted barley. There are opportunities there for other grain types, maybe rye or oats, wheat, whatever. I would say in the not-too-distant future, we’ll be seeing a little bit more variation on the distillate type itself, driven by different cereals.

Billy Leighton Irish whiskey experiments

Billy being all experimental

MoM: That’s exciting. And how much of this might be happening at the Middleton microdistillery?

BL: Oh yeah, we do quite a lot of experimentation there in the micro. We have done some trials with various cereals over the past few years. Some of that will actually become whiskey in the next while – it will be over three years old. It’s going along and it’s working very nicely. But we wouldn’t be giving anything away on that or releasing anything until we’re happy that it’s of the quality and the style that we’re happy to share with the consumers.

MoM: And going back full circle to Spot Whiskeys, what’s next for the Spot brand? We don’t have a Blue Spot anymore, might we see a return of that?

BL: We get this on social media all the time: ‘when are you going to complete the family of Spots?’, and it’s not something that we have ignored at all. It’s been discussed, but we don’t have any solid plans at the minute to reintroduce a Blue Spot. There have been discussions. Maybe what could be more likely, I’m not saying it would happen, but we might look at other variants on Green Spot. For example, to add to the Léoville Barton and the Chateau Montelena expressions. So I think there’s a lovely story there that connects Irish families that have left Ireland to go and get involved in the wine business around the world. And the Mitchells are still wine importers, so they have contacts all around the world. So anything we may do in that direction would be in collaboration with the Mitchells. You probably will see maybe the odd single cask offering with the Green Spot label on it. But that’s as much as there is really at the minute.

MoM: Lots of potential developments in the future. Thanks so much, Billy!

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10 genuinely epic single grains from across the globe

If you’re of the opinion that single grain whisky is ‘all mouth, no trousers’ – as in, multiple cereals but zero flavour – you’re very sadly mistaken. Here, we’ve picked…

If you’re of the opinion that single grain whisky is ‘all mouth, no trousers’ – as in, multiple cereals but zero flavour – you’re very sadly mistaken. Here, we’ve picked out 10 of the most sumptuous single grains the world has to offer. Tasting glasses at the ready…

It’s quaffable, affordable, and forms the backbone of many a blended whisky: could it be time to cut single grain some slack? David Beckham obviously thinks so, and we’re inclined to agree (though this list is, we assure you, Haig-free).

In reality, the things that many would consider to be grain whisky’s biggest weaknesses – light in character, industrial, no grain off-limits – have been transformed into the category’s greatest strengths by diligent distillers.

Now, I’m pretty nosy, so I wanted to find out a little bit more about the kinds of grains you can expect to find in each bottling. Easier said than done, because this information generally isn’t readily available.

So, where possible I’ve included the variety of grain each distillery primarily dabbles in (or dabbled, should it now be silent), so you can draw your own conclusions if you so wish…

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The Nightcap: 23 November

Oh hi there! You’ve made it to Friday. Well done. Pull up a comfy chair, pour a dram, and give yourself a pat on the back. But before you go…

Oh hi there! You’ve made it to Friday. Well done. Pull up a comfy chair, pour a dram, and give yourself a pat on the back. But before you go into full weekend mode, we have one final thing for you. Yep, The Nightcap is here with the week’s booziest developments in one super handy digestif!

In case you hadn’t noticed, we’ve has LOADS on this week. MoM Towers has been buzzing. It all kicked off on Monday with #WhiskySanta’s Craigellachie 31 Year Old Super Wish! Then we received news that Brora’s stills have been whisked off for refurbishment ahead of the closed distillery’s reawakening. We kicked off our mega Ardbeg competition on Tuesday (want to visit the distillery? Check out the blog post and you could be away on a jet plane/train/ferry/alternative mode of transport and be Islay-bound!)

That’s not all. Henry got the lowdown on Dandelyan’s final cocktail menu (sob!), Annie caught up with New York Distilling Company’s Allen Katz, and we introduced our delicious Black Friday Deals. Oh, and we launched a tiny little thing called Master of Malt Auctions… Phew.

Enough for now, though. Here are the other need-to-know drinks stories from the week that was!

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The Nightcap: 2 November

The Nightcap is back once again to circulate the latest in booze news. This week we look at the Whisky Illuminati, how the Budget affects the drinks industry, and an…

The Nightcap is back once again to circulate the latest in booze news. This week we look at the Whisky Illuminati, how the Budget affects the drinks industry, and an actual whisky vending machine!

We have arrived in November, though we’re still cleaning up surplus jack-o’-lanterns and discarded fake vampire teeth (at least we hope they’re fake). As you prepare for a weekend of stockpiling woolly gloves and bobble hats for the coming frost, fill your head with the news of the booze with another edition of The Nightcap!

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Introducing: Two new Method and Madness bottlings!

Irish Distillers has expanded the Method and Madness range once more with two new and typically experimental Irish whiskeys… Anyone for Virgin Hungarian Oak finish or Ruby Port Pipe Single…

Irish Distillers has expanded the Method and Madness range once more with two new and typically experimental Irish whiskeys… Anyone for Virgin Hungarian Oak finish or Ruby Port Pipe Single Cask?

The very point of the Method and Madness brand, first launched in 2017, has always been to push boundaries and innovate. So it should be no surprise to any Irish whiskey fans that two fabulous and unconventional new bottlings are poised to launch from the famed Midleton Distillery: Method and Madness Single Pot Still Irish Whiskey Finished in Virgin Hungarian Oak and Method and Madness Single Pot Still Irish Whiskey 28 Year Old Ruby Port Pipe Single Cask.

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Midleton Very Rare 2017 and Cask Circle – own a bottle or a cask!

Midleton Very Rare 2017 launches in Ireland The distillery also launches The Midleton Very Rare Cask Circle, its new cask ownership club Jake tastes Midleton Very Rare from every decade,…

  • Midleton Very Rare 2017 launches in Ireland
  • The distillery also launches The Midleton Very Rare Cask Circle, its new cask ownership club
  • Jake tastes Midleton Very Rare from every decade, including some of these newly available whiskeys
  • Lots of Irish whiskey to talk about here, as well as a bit of a sign off from yours truly, but feel free to skip ahead to the 2017 release, or to find out about more the Cask Circle

    First off, a bit of housekeeping. Yes, I’m still alive! You’ll no doubt have noticed a plethora of posts from our awesome new content team hitting the blog lately. It’s a team made up of our new editor Kristiane Sherry, fellow new faces at MoM Towers Annie Hayes and Adam O’Connell, and the one and only Sam Smith (he of Tom Hanks’ Big fandom and aversion to flying).

    You’ll notice that my name didn’t feature on that there list. Ooh, mysterious. Suffice to say that I’m still busy doing all sorts at MoM Towers. Emphasis on the busy – that’s how I’m keeping (especially with national present day fast approaching!*). I may chip in with very occasional blog posts going forward (so what’s new, exactly?), but it does rather feel like a passing of the torch moment as I’m typing this. Fitting, then, that this is a post about Irish whiskey, which you may have noticed over the years is one of my favourite topics (see older posts such as Irish Whiskey – Everything You Need To Know! as well as the more recent Spotlight on… Redbreast and interview with Master Blender Billy Leighton).

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    Irish whiskey shifts 100 million bottles a year!

    The world has got a taste for Irish whiskey! With 2016 sales soaring by 11.3%, we explore the state of the market, from the new distilleries, to who is actually…

    The world has got a taste for Irish whiskey! With 2016 sales soaring by 11.3%, we explore the state of the market, from the new distilleries, to who is actually drinking it all…

    The Irish Spirits Association has issued the results of its first-ever market report. And it makes for very interesting reading. Even though alcohol consumption itself in Ireland has been steadily falling (take that, lazy stereotype) exports of Irish spirits are growing at an ever-increasing rate.

    “This is the first-ever industry and market report issued by the Irish Spirits Association and it comes at a time when our sector is undergoing vibrant growth and has a lot to be proud of,” said John Harte, chairman of the Irish Spirits Association. “Overall, the Irish spirits industry is delivering more exports, more jobs and unprecedented GDP growth. We are on target to exceed the Government’s FoodWise 2025 targets.”

    As you can see from this empirical evidence, people are drinking Irish.

    There’s no place like home…

    Irish people are not just spectators in the great Irish spirits revival. The report reveals that the majority of spirits consumed in Ireland were made there. Purchases in the off-trade made up two-thirds of all sales. The stats also show that 1.3 million people in the Republic of Ireland consumed a spirit drink in 2016 (welcome back, lazy stereotype). That’s a lot of money us Irish are putting back into our own economy.

    The strength of Irish agriculture has also been a key component of this story. Irish farmers sold 85,000 tonnes of Irish malted barley and 316 million litres of fresh cream to the Irish whisky industry in 2016. Sourced from 46,000, patriotic, green, white and gold dairy cows.

    Despite this, over the past 10 years the overall consumption of spirits in Ireland has fallen by 19.2%. Is anyone keeping score with that lazy stereotype? Ireland’s current success is ultimately due to the world’s appetite for Irish-made spirit. A trend that seemingly shows no signs of dissipating…

    Irish spirits sales are booming

    There’s no place like abroad…

    The Irish Spirits Association report revealed that, in 2016, the total value of Irish spirits exports increased by 6.1%. Gin is currently the spirit taking the Irish market by storm. It’s the fastest-growing spirit category among Irish consumers, growing by 31.6% in 2016. Similar levels of growth are being reported for the first half of 2017. But it’s the value of Irish whiskey exports to all international markets which remains unparalleled.

    According to the report, sales of Ireland’s GI spirits – Irish whiskey, Irish cream and poitín – totalled nearly 16 million cases (200 million bottles) globally in 2016. Irish cream had a torrid last decade, but 2016 saw a slight return to growth. Volumes increased to 7.241m in 2016, compared to 7.197 in 2015.

    Global sales of Irish whiskey increased by 11.3% alone in 2016, reaching a huge 8.7 million cases, (that’s more than 100 million bottles). Exports accounted for 8.2 million cases of that figure, itself an 11.8% annual increase. Premium Irish whiskey recorded growth of 135% in the last five years. And the combined value of sales of all premium, super- and ultra-premium Irish whiskey grew by a similar percentage, exceeding €330 million in 2016.

    Gaining ground

    Ireland, however, is not the current leaders of the whiskey export market. That distinction belongs to the United States. Its overseas case sales shot up more than 17.6% by 3.66 million. Yet Ireland placed second on this particular leader board, selling an extra 521,000 cases abroad – an improvement of 3.4%. They’re closing in!

    All jokes aside, this rate of total overall growth means Irish whiskey remains the world’s fastest expanding spirits category. The current export target, set by The Irish Whiskey Association’s ‘Vision for Whiskey’, is 12 million cases by the year 2020. But the current growth rates suggest it will comfortably exceed expectations.

    Pour another one, then…

    Whiskey tourism is the best tourism

    The Irish whiskey trade shows no signs of letting up. And the increase in the total number of distilleries in Ireland demonstrates this point. This is a key contributor to the industry’s success. It not only expands the range and type of Irish whiskey available to the consumer. But simultaneously provided jobs, infrastructure and tourism potential.

    It wasn’t that long ago that Ireland had only four operational whiskey distilleries. Bushmills, Cooley, Kilbeggan and Midleton. Since then, 14 new distilleries have been built. Including the likes of Dingle, Blackwater, Teeling, Tullamore, Slane Castle and Rademon Estate. That takes the total number of operational distilleries throughout Ireland to 18. And plans are afoot for another 14.

    Whisky-lovers have taken full advantage of the change in fortunes. In what will inevitably be termed at some point an ‘Irish Holiday’, whiskey distillery visitor centres in Ireland reported a total of 733,000 visitors in 2016. Up an incredible 12.2% from 2015. That’s already the equivalent of one-sixth of the population. And The Irish Whiskey Tourism Strategy aims to grow this figure to 1.4 million by 2020.

    Exciting times ahead for Irish whiskey…

    With the fastest-growing spirit in the world, the future of Irish whiskey is looking very bright. The excitement is genuinely palpable. And the potential for new and current producers to implement change and produce a variety of volumes and styles is limitless. Ireland doesn’t have the litany of established distilleries Scotch has. This means there is space – space to build, to innovate, and to enjoy!

    William Lavelle summarises that the report “paints a bright picture of a dynamic industry with a vast economic footprint,”. Adding, “the spirits sector is a major employer and a significant supporter of Irish farmers. It is an industry that can deliver even more exports, more jobs and more domestic sourcing if we’re allowed”.

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    An interview with Irish Distillers Master Blender Billy Leighton

    We speak to Irish Distillers Master Blender Billy Leighton about Redbreast, the latest Irish Distillers news including Jameson’s renovated Dublin home and the growing Irish whiskey scene.   Continuing from…

    We speak to Irish Distillers Master Blender Billy Leighton about Redbreast, the latest Irish Distillers news including Jameson’s renovated Dublin home and the growing Irish whiskey scene.
    Continuing from yesterday’s Spotlight on… Redbreast + WIN an incredible one-off Redbreast drawn straight from a single Sherry cask!, we had the chance to catch up Irish Distillers Master Blender Billy Leighton this week about all things Redbreast, recent developments at Midleton and in Dublin, their new brand Method And Madness and also the many burgeoning Irish whiskey distilleries. The interview was originally going to make up part of yesterday’s post but once we got Billy speaking passionately about single pot still Irish whiskey we knew this was going to be a post of its own. Are you sitting comfortably dear reader? Then let’s begin…

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