fbpx
£

We're just loading our login box for you, hang on!

Master of Malt Blog

Tag: New Arrival of the Week

New Arrival of the Week: Taylor’s Very Very Old Tawny Port

Our New Arrival of the Week is a great way to celebrate the Queen’s 70 years on the throne and would also make a great Father’s Day gift for the…

Our New Arrival of the Week is a great way to celebrate the Queen’s 70 years on the throne and would also make a great Father’s Day gift for the Port-loving dad in your life. It’s a bit special, it’s Taylor’s Very Very Old Tawny Port – Platinum Jubilee Edition!

Earlier this year, our columnist Ian Buxton was complaining about the lack of special bottlings to commemorate the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee. Well, now they have arrived, and how! We’ve even had to construct a whole new inbox to deal with the press releases detailing special commemorative gins, whiskies, cocktails, and all manner of things. 

Perhaps the worst one we received was from one London bar which is putting on a special Jubilee-themed cocktail menu called, wait for it: ‘Yas Queen.’ We are not amused, as the Queen’s great grandmother might have put it. 

The Nightcap: 4 March

Yas Queen! Sorry, yes ma’am.

Very very old Port

Much more up her street, we think, is an old Tawny Port that has just been released by Taylor’s. How old? Well, we don’t have an exact figure but apparently, it is ‘very very old.’

The Queen and extremely old Ports have history. To celebrate her 90th birthday in 2016, the Symington family released Graham’s 90 Year Old Tawny. It was a blend of three old casks, from 1912, 1924, and 1935. They had to get special dispensation from the Port authorities to give it a 90 year old age statement. Previously only 10, 20, 30, and 40 year olds were allowed but the Queen was considered such a good ambassador for the wine that she got a number all of her own.

This latest Taylor’s release doesn’t have an age statement but it does contain some extremely old and rare casks as the firm’s CEO Adrian Bridge explained: “This exceptional Port is drawn from our extensive reserves of the finest wood-aged wines, which have been maturing in seasoned oak casks since the Queen succeeded to the throne, silently attesting to Her Majesty’s extraordinary reign as the longest-serving monarch in British history. We are delighted to celebrate such an exceptional commemoration with the launch of a unique Port wine”.

Immortal wine

Port, like other fortified wines such as sherry and Madeira, keeps extremely well in cask. Previously these very old wines were either blended into 40-year-old tawnies or more likely kept by the producers for private consumption. But in the last few years, firms such as Taylor’s have begun releasing special old bottlings. These include tawnies from a particular year, known as colheitas, including the extraordinary 1896 that we tried last year which was fresh as a daisy. It was also extremely expensive but happily this latest wood-aged special is much more affordable at £350.

We were sent a little sample to try and can confirm that it is an extraordinary experience mingling lively cherry and raspberry fruit with exotic notes of dark chocolate, menthol, and tobacco. If you love an old Cognac or sherried single malt whisky, then you’re going to love this. It’s particularly good with some old hard cheese like a Cheddar or Comte.

It’s the perfect way to celebrate Britain’s longest-reigning monarch. Certainly much better than a ‘Yas Queen’ cocktail menu. Shudders. And don’t forget that Father’s Day is coming up soon, Saturday 16 June to be precise. This would be the perfect gift for the Port-loving Dad, or the spirits enthusiast who wants to try something a bit different. 

Taylor’s Very Very Old Tawny Port – Platinum Jubilee Edition is available from Master of Malt. Click here to buy. 

Taylor's Very Very Old Tawny Port - Platinum Jubilee (1).jpg RS

Tasting note from the Chaps at Master of Malt

Nose: Very very spicy with tobacco, menthol, strawberry jam, chocolate, and furniture polish.

Palate: Super tangy, lively acidity, just a whisper of tannin, and then vivid raspberry and cherry fruit. Really intense.

Finish: Very long with toffee and walnuts. 

No Comments on New Arrival of the Week: Taylor’s Very Very Old Tawny Port

New Arrival of the Week: Glen Scotia Festival Release 2022

Festival bottlings are always exciting, and in honour of this year’s Campbeltown Malts Festival Glen Scotia has released a very special whisky!  To celebrate the return of the Campbeltown Malts…

Festival bottlings are always exciting, and in honour of this year’s Campbeltown Malts Festival Glen Scotia has released a very special whisky! 

To celebrate the return of the Campbeltown Malts Festival this year (24-26 May), Glen Scotia has unveiled its Festival Release 2022. If you’re lucky enough to be heading to the festival, then have a wonderful time (not one bit jealous. Nope.), but if you’re stuck at home then this unique whisky is likely to make up for it.

The Campbeltown Malts Festival really is the event of the year for the town. It’s a time to come together, drink great whisky, and celebrate the exceptional whisky-production capabilities of the fifth whisky region. Its three distilleries (Springbank, Glen Scotia, and Glengyle) get a platform to show off how good they are at whisky making, while the town gets to fondly recall when it was once the whisky capital of the world.  

Especially after, like most events in the last couple of years, it’s been a while since we’ve got a chance to celebrate the event in person. Due to the restrictions of Covid-19, the festival has been held online but now hundreds of whisky fans are expected to make the trip to Scotland’s west coast for a series of exclusive tours, tastings, and celebrations including talks and experiments with whisky writers, Charles Maclean and Becky Paskin. 

Glen Scotia Festival Release 2022

Look, it’s the Glen Scotia Festival Release 2022!

Glen Scotia Festival Release 2022

Glen Scotia will be primed to convert new drinkers and treat long-time fans as usual, but it must be said the distillery appears to be in a rich vein of form recently. Just last year, Glen Scotia’s 25-Year-Old was awarded ‘Best in Class’ at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition out of more than 3,800 entries, and in December it was crowned Distillery of the Year at the Scottish Whisky Awards.

As usual, the distillery is marking the return of the festival with a new whisky, and this one’s a corker. It’s a vibrant, bold 8-year-old expression that has been matured in heavily peated, first-fill bourbon barrels before a twelve-month finish in Pedro Ximénez hogsheads. What a combo! We can tell you to expect fragrant smoke, treacle, and spice which play beautifully with the gentle seaside flavours we know and love from Glen Scotia.

“The limited-edition release is an intriguing mix of characteristics, picking up our signature maritime style and the rich sticky sweetness from the Pedro Ximénès hogsheads,” says Iain McAlister, distillery manager and master distiller at Glen Scotia. “It is a liquid that has been crafted by our talented team and is a fantastic dram to enjoy while soaking up Campbeltown and all it has to offer.”

Glen Scotia Festival Release 2022 was bottled without chill-filtration at a boisterous cask strength, 56.5% ABV. Excitingly, this limited edition is available right here, right now for just £55. Better get your hands on it before it’s all gone!

No Comments on New Arrival of the Week: Glen Scotia Festival Release 2022

New Arrival of the Week: Château du Tariquet Armagnac

It’s double trouble this week as we’re shining the New Arrival spotlight on two great Armagnacs from Château du Tariquet, the single varietal cask strength 12 Year Old Pure Folle…

It’s double trouble this week as we’re shining the New Arrival spotlight on two great Armagnacs from Château du Tariquet, the single varietal cask strength 12 Year Old Pure Folle Blanche and the mighty Legendaire, made from three grape varieties. We think both will appeal in particular to single malt lovers. 

Château du Tariquet is one of the largest family-owned wine producers in south west France. If you’ve ever tried a bottle of Côtes de Gascogne, the region’s aromatic white wine, then it was more than likely made by Château du Tariquet. In fact, the family head, Yves Grassa, pioneered this style of wine in the 1980s by taking the aromatic grapes used in Armagnac production like Ugni Blanc or Colombard, and making a modern cold-fermented white wine out of them.

A virtue out of necessity

It was a bold move necessitated by a slump in Armagnac consumption in France, the main market. You can blame fashion, health or stricter drink driving laws, but whatever it was, the habit of taking a digestif at the end of a meal became rarer and rarer. 

Grassa’s move succeeded beyond his wildest dreams. Tariquet now produces a range of wines using both Armagnac grapes as well as better known varieties like Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc. It’s a vast operation. Behind the chateau, yes they do actually have a little chateau (see header), hidden by some artfully grown trees, are vast stainless steel tanks, twice the height of a three story house. I climbed to the top on a visit a few years ago and rather nervously enjoyed the magnificent views across the rolling hills of Gascony.

Tariquet Armagnac

This little still makes all of Tariquet’s Armagnac. Photo credit: Greg Buda

Still got it

But despite wine making up most of the business today, Armin Grassa, the firm’s technical director told me: “we are distillers first, winemakers second.” While wine making is high tech, the equipment the family uses to make its Armagnac is more rudimentary. The alembic, traditional continuous still used in the region, is a battered old thing that once used to travel around the region, distilling growers’ wines. Almost unbelievably, it’s fuelled by wood. I assumed it was mainly for show but Armin Grassa assured me there was no gleaming stainless steel column kept out of sight. 

Production might be ultra-traditional, but the firm’s marketing is more innovative. Rather than compete with the bling of Cognac, Tariquet produces a range of brandies that are aimed squarely at single malt lovers with age statements rather than terms like XO or VSOP, and very whisky-esque packaging. 

Single malt lovers pay attention 

In fact, everything about Armagnac should get single malt lovers excited: family firms, direct-fired stills that look like something out of Jules Verne, and no colouring. Many are also cask strength, something that is quite common in Armagnac, it’s just that until recently nobody thought of making a selling point out of it. That’s just how things are done.

The flavours are very whisky-like too. I’ve had peppery brandies that have something of the Islay about them, rich rancio-laden ones like old Macallan, and light fruity numbers that remind me of Lowland malts. 

I’ve picked two bottlings in particular that I think appeal to lovers of distinctive aged spirits. They are both fiery and spicy and show how different Armagnac is to Cognac. Traditionally, these would be sipped neat with no dilution but those big spicy flavours would be superb in simple cocktails like an Old Fashioned or a Harvard. However you drink them, these both offer a huge amount of flavour and character for the money. 

domaine-tariquet-12-year-old-pure-folle-blanche-armagnac

Château du Tariquet 12 Year Old Pure Folle Blanche

Folle Blanche was once a dominant variety in Cognac but after phylloxera devastated the regions’ vineyards, most were replanted with Ugni Blanc because it was less susceptible to diseases. It’s still common in Armagnac though. This is 100% Folle Blanche and bottled at 48.2% ABV to produce a rich pungent style of brandy. 

Tasting note

Spicy floral nose with cedar and wood polish. In the mouth, there’s big toffee flavours with nuts, liquorice and tobacco. Very long and pungent with a sweet finish. 

chateau-du-tariquet-le-legendaire-armagnac

Château du Tariquet Le Légendaire

This is a blend of three grape varieties: Folle Blanche, Baco, and Ugni Blanc, roughly a third each. It’s described as Hors D’Age, which means a minimum of ten years old, but I think the minimum age here is actually 13. It’s bottled at 42% ABV and it’s an absolute spice bomb. 

Tasting note

Powerful nose, fiery spicy, tobacco and wood. Take a sip and there’s black pepper, chillies, fresh floral notes plus sweeter flavours like vanilla, toffee and some wood tannin. This would be cigar heaven. 

Click here to see the full range of brandies from Château du Tariquet. 

4 Comments on New Arrival of the Week: Château du Tariquet Armagnac

New Arrival of the Week: Lindores Abbey The Exclusive Cask (cask 579)

Lindores Abbey Distillery is back with a single cask Oloroso sherry-matured beauty that just so happens to be a Master of Malt exclusive. It’s Lindores Abbey The Exclusive Cask (cask 579)!…

Lindores Abbey Distillery is back with a single cask Oloroso sherry-matured beauty that just so happens to be a Master of Malt exclusive. It’s Lindores Abbey The Exclusive Cask (cask 579)!

One of the many joys of being a whisky lover is seeing a new distillery pop up. We love our classic 19th-century giants and old school blends, of course. But a fresh face means the opportunity to watch the growth of a distillery and its spirit in real-time. And more excitingly, you get to be an active participant, experiencing the process of evolution from new make to first whisky and beyond. Each time you taste and research, you establish more connection, until you have an ongoing relationship. 

Getting to know you

With Lindores Abbey, I’ve already written about the distillery reviving a legacy half a millennia old, and then got to taste its inaugural whisky. Charting these moments in time means that, on each occasion the brand releases something new, I get to revisit and update my own records, witnessing how the liquid, message, and process adapts and grows. How’s the spirit progressing over the years? Is it reacting well to different cask styles? Have they realised they’ve picked a really stupid brand name yet?

Today, we get to answer those questions and more (the latter is a firm no in this case. Abbeys are cool.) because we’ve got the distinction of launching a hot-off-the-press Lindores Abbey expression all on our own. That’s right, our New Arrival of the Week is a Master of Malt exclusive, words I feel obliged to write in bold. It’s exciting because a) it’s all ours; b) it’s a single cask; c) we’ve got an opportunity to do some comparing and contrasting to Lindores Abbey MCDXCIV; d) it’s all bloody ours. 

Lindores Abbey The Exclusive Cask (cask 579) (Master of Malt Exclusive)

We’re back at Lindores Abbey!

The single cask showcase

Both the inaugural whisky and today’s dram have the same production process until they were placed into casks, which begins with barley sourced from two neighbouring farms a quarter of a mile radius from the distillery. The water source is the same supply the monks would have used centuries ago, and both will have benefited from a long 117-hour fermentation in traditional wooden washbacks. The two whiskies are also distilled in three Forsyths copper pot stills, one large wash still and two smaller spirit stills, which are designed to ensure maximum copper contact, and they are bottled, as always with Lindores, with no chill-filtration or colouring.

Where things differ is that the inaugural whisky was matured in a combination of ex-bourbon, ex-sherry, and STR ex-Burgundy red wine casks for just over three-and-a-half years. Our new arrival, by contrast, was matured in a single 500-litre oloroso sherry butt, cask no. #579. It was filled on 2 August 2018 and bottled on 7 March of this year after spending three years and seven months in pure sherry bliss. It was bottled at a cask strength of 59.6% ABV (compared to the 46% ABV of the first release), and there’s less than 700 bottles in total.

Transparency 

That single cask is made from American oak which was seasoned with 10-year-old Oloroso sherry for a total of two years by Miguel Martin. He’s something of a cask supplier extraordinaire in the whisky industry, regarded for providing incredible consistent quality oak casks from Jerez in Spain. Murray Stevenson, UK sales manager and brand ambassador at Lindores Abbey, says that the distillery has a fantastic relationship with Miguel Martin, one that the great Dr Jim Swan helped establish. Just as a note to other producers, the transparency with which Lindores Abbey gave me all the information I needed on this dram was first-rate. It makes a big difference.

Lindores Abbey The Exclusive Cask (cask 579) (Master of Malt Exclusive)

It’s all ours!

As I’m tasting two Lindores whiskies we have side-by-side, I’ll be looking to see how the distillery DNA fares in contrasting environments. It’s hard not to have high expectations because I enjoyed the inaugural whisky, I’ve tasted the new make and it’s superb, and that rigorous production process will rarely let you down. Stevenson says the New Make Spirit has a malty, caramel, hedgerow fruit profile with a luxurious soft creamy texture that, even at 63.5 % ABV with zero oak influence, is incredibly palatable with no burn or rough edges. “I think the cask has a fairly easy job with our spirit as it is not working hard to mask or polish off rough edges that don’t exist in our spirit,” he explains.

In the glass

His own review begins by noting the deep dark, attractive colour of Lindores Abbey The Exclusive Cask (cask 579), which is all-natural and absolutely enticing. Stevenson says to expect a “bounty of rich complex fruit and spice notes,” adding that the dram is well balanced and even though the sherry cask influence is at centre stage, it is not overpowered. “It’s still holding true to its own identity with the DNA of Lindores evident in every drop,” he explains. “This whisky brings a new string to the Lindores bow when evoking feelings of an environment, setting, pairing etc to enjoy this dram. Perhaps this darker, slightly richer dram having more of a later evening feel to it, ideal for rounding off an evening meal or whisky tasting/flight”. 

Agreed. When tasting the core MCDXCIV Whisky, you’re enjoying something malty and crisp that’s full of orchard fruit, dairy cream, vanilla, gooseberries, and floral notes. The Lindores MoM exclusive whisky is richer, with those classic Oloroso notes (nutty, chocolatey, baking spice, and dark fruit goodness) shining on the nose in particular. There’s still a hint of immaturity on the palate which is what you expect for a dram of this age, and at cask strength that’s elevated a touch, but there’s also some beautiful flavours developing. Where before there was light citrus, there’s now thick slabs of marmalade. That biscuity, malty, creamy new make demonstrates it’s robust enough too as it hasn’t dissipated in the cask strength, single cask environment either. If Lindores Abbey MCDXCIV is a bright, summery treat, the Lindores MoM exclusive whisky is a soothing winter warmer. It’s perfectly delicious at cask strength, but I think you’ll have fun adding a drop of water or two and seeing where the dram takes you. Lindores Abbey is proving to be a very capable producer. I look forward to the next chapter of this journey. 

You can buy Lindores Abbey The Exclusive Cask (cask 579) (Master of Malt Exclusive) now.

Tasting note for Lindores Abbey The Exclusive Cask (cask 579)

Nose: Marmalade, ginger, and Dark Chocolate Digestives merge with stewed plums, figs, caramel and hazelnut. Throughout there’s notes of condensed milk, foam bananas, apples, and a touch of marzipan.

Palate: The delivery is oily and thick with some cask strength heat that brings some baking spices along for the ride. More dark fruits appear with fresh herbs (peppermint), cherry, coffee cake, cacao powder, biscuits, orange rind, and black pepper in support. 

Finish: There’s touches of cinnamon, lime marmalade, dried fruit, and some maltiness.

No Comments on New Arrival of the Week: Lindores Abbey The Exclusive Cask (cask 579)

New Arrival of the Week: Auchroisk 12 Year Old 2009 Storm (Fable Whisky)

This week we’re shining the New Arrival Spotlight on an independently-bottled whisky from one of Speyside’s more obscure distilleries. It’s Auchroisk 12 Year Old 2009 Storm (Fable Whisky). It was…

This week we’re shining the New Arrival Spotlight on an independently-bottled whisky from one of Speyside’s more obscure distilleries. It’s Auchroisk 12 Year Old 2009 Storm (Fable Whisky).

It was the arrival of some interesting single casks from Mossburn which put Auchroisk on the map for me. Before that I don’t think I’d ever thought much about this distillery apart from, oh Christ, how do you pronounce that? According to some sources it should be pronounced ‘orth rusk’ or here it says ‘ar thrush’ but then in the accompanying video they pronounce it: ‘och (as in loch) risk.’ So not ‘oh Christ’ then. 

Handily, my latest secondhand bookshop find, Iain Banks’ Raw Spirit: In Search of the Perfect Dram (2003) has a pronunciation guide at the back. Here it says it’s pronounced: ‘och roysk’ with the emphasis on the second syllable. I’m not going to argue with one of Granta magazine’s best young novelists 1993.

Auchroisk_Distillery (1)

A modern distillery

Say it again: ‘och roysk’. That wasn’t so difficult, was it? It means ‘ford across the red stream’ in Gaelic. That poetic name hides a distinctly modern distillery which only started distilling in 1974. It was built at the height of the last whisky boom when the industry thought there was no end to demand for its products. Sound familiar? The idea was to produce lots of light fruity whisky to go into J&B, then a massive brand for IDV (Independent Distillers and Vintners, a forerunner of Diageo.)

But unlike some other distilleries that were either built or revamped in the 1960s and ‘70s, google Loch Lomond if you want to see a distillery that will make you go ‘wow’, it does look like some effort has gone into the design (above). It’s a modern take on traditional white-washed distillery architecture. Iain Banks writes:

“Auchroisk distillery is quite beautiful in a modernist kind of way, all steep roofs and interesting angles. There’s a slightly gratuitous-looking sort of ground-floor turrety thing that I’m not so sure about but otherwise visually it’s a peach.”

Sadly, it’s not open to the public so you won’t be able to examine it close-up for yourself. The set-up consists of eight lantern-head pot stills combined with shell and tube condensers and a relatively long fermentation time, 80 hours, to produce an elegant fruity new make. Perfect for lighter blends. It’s usually matured in ex-bourbon casks with a light sherrying at the end. In fact, Auchroisk was a pioneer in cask finishing. Iain Banks describes the taste as: “a very pleasant, smooth, medium-bodied dram, like an allsort that’s been briefly dipped in sherry”.

Single malt bottlings

In the ‘80s, single malt from this difficult to pronounce distillery was marketed as Singleton, a brand now saved for Dufftown, Glenord and Glendullan. Allow me to go off on a tangent, I’ve never been able to understand why Diageo markets three distilleries and no others under the Singleton brand. It’s certainly not a name that resonates with customers. Somebody in house speculated it was so that Diageo could claim to have one of the biggest single malt brands in the world, by combining three distilleries. Answers and thoughts in the comments below or on a postcard to MoM Towers.

Anyway, as you’d expect from a workhorse distillery, Diageo doesn’t exactly pull out all the stops marketing Auchroisk. There’s the classic 10 year old Flora & Fauna bottling. Plus it crops up occasionally in the annual Special Releases. But this very obscurity makes it something of a gift to independent bottlers.

STORM. Auchroisk

A good story

Our New Arrival comes from a relatively new company, Fable, which is packaging its releases in an innovative way. So as well as great whisky, you get a good story. This release is dubbed ‘Storm’ and features artwork (above) by Hugo Cuellar, inspired by the folk tale ‘The Ghost Piper of Clanyard Bay’.

Daryl Haldan, creative director from the company, explained: “We’re passionate about showcasing distilleries that don’t always get enough love, so when you get whisky from places you don’t get to taste every single day you have a responsibility to present them at their best”.

This particular Auchroisk was distilled in 2009 and spent its entire life in a refill hogshead before bottling at 56.5% ABV. There’s a full tasting note below but in brief you’re getting masses of fruity distillery character combined with subtle American oak. And the best thing is you can order it online, no need to make a fool of yourself mispronouncing it in a whisky shop. 

Auchroisk 12 Year Old 2009 Storm (Fable Whisky) is available from Master of Malt. Click here to buy. 

Tasting Note by The Chaps at Master of Malt

Nose: Cut grass and subtle floral heather hints, with creamy fragrant vanilla over the top.

Palate: White chocolate, peppercorn, sherbet lemon sweeties, still subtly grassy.

Finish: Drying spiciness, with a smidge of oak.

2 Comments on New Arrival of the Week: Auchroisk 12 Year Old 2009 Storm (Fable Whisky)

New Arrival of the Week: Canerock Spiced Rum

Continuing our season of drinks created by spirits maestro Alexandre Gabriel, we have a very special spiced rum that combines the finest Jamaica rum with coconuts, ginger and vanilla. It’s…

Continuing our season of drinks created by spirits maestro Alexandre Gabriel, we have a very special spiced rum that combines the finest Jamaica rum with coconuts, ginger and vanilla. It’s Canerock Spiced Rum and it’s a Master of Malt exclusive. 

It’s fair to say that many rum aficionados rather turn their noses up at spiced rum. In the past, the category was awash with cheap unaged rums, artificially flavoured, packed full of sugar and coloured to make them look aged. Fine for drowning in Coca-Cola, but not drinks that get lovers of authentic Caribbean spirits excited.

The changing face of spiced rum

But the market is changing rapidly. There are all kinds of great flavoured products available which start with high quality rum and then add natural flavours like honey, spice or even smoke. There are also so-called ‘botanical rums’ like Spirit Union Lemon & Leaf or Mad City which ape the clean flavours of London Dry Gin. The spiced rum category is now hugely diverse. 

For his first foray into spiced rum, called Canerock, we knew that Alexandre Gabriel from Maison Ferrand, long time friend of this blog, would do things a bit differently. He’s the man behind Citadelle Gin, Ferrand Cognac (both covered recently in the New Arrival slot) and the wonders of the Plantation rum range. 

Just listen to the production process of his pineapple rum, Plantation Pineapple Stiggins’ Fancy. It involves infusing the rinds of Queen Victoria pineapples in white rum for a week. They then distil it, and infuse the fruit of the pineapples in dark rum for three months. These are married together and left to age in casks for three months. The recipe is based on 19th century flavoured rums and was created in conjunction with drinks historian David Wondrich. A bit different to most pineapple-flavoured spirits. 

Jamaican rum

Clarendon Distillery in Jamaica. It’s not pretty but it does make amazing rum

Take some of Jamaica’s finest rums…

The production process for Canerock is no less elaborate. It took Gabriel and the team more than three years and 90 experiments to perfect the recipe. The base consists of pot and column still rums from two of Jamaica’s greatest distilleries: Clarendon and Long Pond. Both produce classic high ester rums laden with flavours of pineapple and green banana. The blend also includes some long-aged flavouring rums. These are often so highly-flavoured that they are practically impossible to drink neat but in tiny amounts add complexity to blends.

Gabriel has access to these in-demand distilleries because he owns them. Well, sort of. Maison Ferrand owns Barbados’s West Indies Distillery, and it has a third share in National Rums of Jamaica which owns Long Pond and Clarendon. 

And add natural ingredients

To this high quality Jamaican base, Gabriel and the team add Madagascan vanilla pods, Caribbean coconut, Jamaican ginger, and other spices. Only natural ingredients are used. No artificial flavours here. The flavoured rum is then aged in American oak barrels and then 10-16% of the blend is finished in PX sherry casks adding a layer of sweet dried fruit character. As with all of Ferrand’s products, Gabriel is totally open about sweetening. Canerock has a dosage, addition of sugar solution, of 25 grams per litre. 

The result is a taste sensation – a highly-flavoured spiced rum that’s good for all kinds of cocktails or just sipping neat with ice and a slice of lime. Maison Ferrand recommends drinking it slowly in a Highball made with  fresh coconut water and ice. It’s the next best thing to a trip to Jamaica. 

Canerock Spiced Rum is available only from Master of Malt. Click here to buy.

Canerock 1 cocktail RS

Tasting note for Canerock Spiced Rum

Nose: Rich and complex with pastry notes of vanilla, coffee beans, dark chocolate and coconut.

Palate: Opening with sweet caramel, soft spices and raisins, then allspice and delicate oak tannins developing with each sip.

Finish: Hot and sweet at the same time with poppy seed pie, dark cherry, prune, coconut and fresh notes of mint, ginger and cloves.

No Comments on New Arrival of the Week: Canerock Spiced Rum

New Arrival of the Week: The Darkness Sherry Collection

The team at the Darkness has put together a phenomenal collection of sherry cask whiskies from distilleries including Bowmore, Glenrothes, and the Dalmore plus a mystery bourbon from Tennessee that’s…

The team at the Darkness has put together a phenomenal collection of sherry cask whiskies from distilleries including Bowmore, Glenrothes, and the Dalmore plus a mystery bourbon from Tennessee that’s exclusive to Master of Malt. It’s the Darkness Sherry Collection!

They’ve been at the sherry over at the Darkness. No, we don’t mean knocking back the Harvey’s Bristol Cream with their elevenses. They’ve just landed some fascinating whiskies from Scotland and two from Tennessee. All of them have been finished in octave casks which are an eighth of the size of a standard sherry butt – around 64 litres. This means more wood and, most importantly, more sherry! The casks used include ones seasoned with PX, Oloroso and Moscatel – a rare kind of sherry that’s generally used for sweetening blends. 

So, if you love a sherry bomb, you’re going to love the Darkness Sherry Collection. These are all limited editions in 50cl bottles. Once they’re sold out, they’re gone, never to return. Here’s what you can buy. If you’re quick enough.  

The Darkness Sherry Collection

DARKNESS Tennessee rye

Tennessee Rye 5 Year Old Pedro Ximénez Cask Finish (Darkness) 

Sherried rye whiskey isn’t something you see every day, but that’s exactly what we’ve got here. This is a five-year-old rye from an undisclosed distillery in Tennessee, which has been given a finishing period in Pedro Ximénez sherry octave casks before bottling at 49.6% ABV. The PX brings notes of chocolate and molasses to those classic spicy American rye flavours of chilli, mint and caraway.  

DARKNESS Tennessee bourbon

Tennessee Bourbon 12 Year Old Oloroso Cask Finish (Darkness) (Master of Malt Exclusive) 

Another mystery distillery! They do love a mystery over at the Darkness. It’s a 12-year-old Tennessee bourbon finished in Oloroso sherry octave casks! This has introduced a huge dollop of rich, intense sherried notes to the spirit while keeping its distinctive vanilla and baking spice at the core. Always fascinating to see whisky from the USA go through similar finishing processes as expressions from closer to home. 52.4% ABV. This is a Master of Malt exclusive!

Dalmore 14 sherry cask

Dalmore 14 Year Old Oloroso Cask Finish (Darkness)

Dalmore is another famously sherried single malt but this is a Dalmore with bells on after finishing in Oloroso sherry octave casks and bottled at a punchy 49.1% ABV. Expect flavours of stewed apples, fresh ginger, loads of dried fruit notes with a dusting of cinnamon and waves of chocolatey sweetness, toffee, orange peel rum, and raisin.  

Bowmore Darkness Sherry

Bowmore 18 Year Old Moscatel Cask Finish (Darkness) 

There’s something magical about the mixture of smoke and sherry, and for our money, nobody does it better than Bowmore, and this is a particularly special offering from the Islay distillery. It’s an 18-year-old single malt finished in sweet floral Moscatel casks, and bottled at 54.9% ABV. With its flavours of salted lemons, toasted almonds, tobacco and sea breeze, this is a malt worth saving for special occasions. 

Whitlaw Darkness Sherry

Whitlaw 16 Year Old Moscatel Cask Finish (Darkness)

Whitlaw is the name used for an undisclosed Orkney distillery. Seeing as until very recently there were only two distilleries on Orkney, then you don’t have to be Charlie Maclean to take a guess at where this comes from. It was aged in Moscatel casks and bottled at 55% ABV. We think you will enjoy its combination of delicate coastal peatiness with orange peel, vanilla and Christmas pudding. 

Benrinnes Sherry Darkness

Benrinnes 14 Year Old Pedro Ximénez Cask Finish (Darkness)

Benrinnes is based in Aberlour in the heart of Speyside. It’s in the Diageo stable and most of its whisky goes into blends like Johnnie Walker though there is a classic 14 year Flora & Fauna bottling. This Darkness offering is the same age but finished in Pedro Ximénez sherry octaves and comes in at a punchy 55.3% ABV. Expect to find notes of vanilla, biscuits, chocolate peanuts, dried cherry, and mince pie filling.

Blair Athol Darkness sherry

Blair Athol 14 Year Old Oloroso Cask Finish (Darkness)

The picturesque Pitlochry-based distillery is owned by Diageo and lies close to Edradour. It is unconnected with the similarly spelt town, Blair Atholl. This expression matured for 14 years, and enjoyed a finishing period in Oloroso sherry octave casks, which bring flavours of chocolate with flashes of tangy red fruit, plums, pine cones and softly earthy malt. It’s bottled at 52% ABV.

Glenrothes Darkness sherry cask

Glenrothes 12 Year Old Oloroso Cask Finish (Darkness)

And finishing up The Darkness Sherry collection, it’s a single malt from Glenrothes. Whisky from this Speyside distillery does go particularly well with sherry casks. This particular 12-year-old single malt was given a finishing period in Oloroso sherry octave casks, offering a whole host of rich dried fruit and festive spice notes to the whisky. It was bottled at 61.1% ABV. 

No Comments on New Arrival of the Week: The Darkness Sherry Collection

New Arrival of the Week: Citadelle Juniper Décadence

Citadelle gin is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year with a special spirit that has been aged in casks made from juniper wood. It’s called Citadelle Juniper Décadence and it’s…

Citadelle gin is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year with a special spirit that has been aged in casks made from juniper wood. It’s called Citadelle Juniper Décadence and it’s only available from Master of Malt.

The founding of Sipsmith in 2009 is generally considered the beginnings of the British gin boom, along with the loosening of regulations around the size of stills that gin producers were legally allowed to use. This opened the floodgates to the cornucopia of gins that were now take for granted.

Before the gin boom

Things were very different back in 1997. Most pubs would have stocked Gordon’s and Beefeater, Tanqueray if you were lucky, generic house gin if you weren’t. The consensus within the industry was that nobody needed any more gin brands. LIke British Rail, it was about managed decline.

This was the year that Cognac producer Alexandre Gabriel decided to launch a new gin called Citadelle (read the full story here). He was ahead of his time: “It was like a moon landing!” he said. ”There was nobody on the gin planet. In 1996 I thought the world was waiting for an artisanal delicious gin. It was not!”

Citadelle Gin

“Who’s laughing now?” – Alexandre Gabriel at home in France

A French gin, que c’est?

“I remember our importer in America looking at me like I must have gone mad. A French gin?! This decision was made purely out of passion and it was almost disastrous to our business. I have made many mistakes and I hope I am going to make less,” he says. “It looked like Citadelle wouldn’t work because it was out of time and it was financially painful. But, in the end, the two wrongs became a right. Now there is a new gin every week, right?” he continues.

The thing that put Citadelle on the map was when super chef Ferran Adrià from El Bulli, the world’s best restaurant, endorsed the brand.  “In about 1997/98 Adrià was on TV. He said that Gin and Tonic is a gastronomic act and a beautiful aperitif and that you should use a great gin. He whipped out a bottle of Citadelle. We were like ‘wow’. That made a difference,” Gabriel says. 

25 years of fine gin

Gradually, the rest of the world caught up with Grabriel’s vision. Now, as Citadelle celebrates its 25th anniversary, the gin landscape looks very different. The market is probably saturated with gins at all price points – I wouldn’t want to be launching a new product now – but Citadelle is well-established as one of the best premium products on the shelves. 

It gets its distinct flavour from a unique process which Gabriel calls ‘progressive infusion.’ He uses a mixture of 19 botanicals including French juniper berries, orris root, French violet root, Moroccan coriander, almonds, Spanish lemon peel, and Mexican orange peel. According to Gabriel: “Each botanical is infused in neutral alcohol of French wheat for different lengths of proof and time, according to its aromatic function. While some require a strong degree of alcohol and a long infusion such as juniper berries, others infuse better in a weaker degree of alcohol, in a shorter time like star anise”.

Citadelle Juniper Décadence

Citadelle Juniper Décadence is aged in juniper wood casks

Introducing Citadelle Juniper Décadence

To commemorate 25 years of juniper-infused excellence, Citadelle has released a new gin called Juniper Décadence. It’s made with the brand’s signature 19-botanical recipe but then the gin is aged for a period of time in casks made from juniper wood, before bottling at 44.4% ABV. This imparts a gentle smokiness alongside the bright, herbaceous gin notes. We think the subtle woodiness would work brilliantly with sherry in something like a Palo Cortado Martini. Only 84 bottles are available to the UK market and only from Master of Malt. 

It’s the perfect way to celebrate Alexander Gabriel’s persistence and prescience. As the man behind Plantation rum and Ferrand Cognac, he’s one of the most innovative people in the drinks business and we make no apologies for the blog being somewhat Gabriel heavy at the moment – there’s a lot going on and more to come. 

Let’s raise a glass to Citadelle’s silver anniversary. Santé!

Citadelle Juniper Décadence is only available from Master of Malt. Click here to buy. This is a strictly limited edition product, once it’s gone, it’s gone.

Tasting Note by The Chaps at Master of Malt

Robust oaky juniper, liquorice, grapefruit, a hint of dry smoke, toasted seeds.

No Comments on New Arrival of the Week: Citadelle Juniper Décadence

New Arrival of the Week: Slane Special Edition

It’s all about Ireland this week with St. Patrick’s Day coming up and a Slane Special Edition, only the second ever bottling from one of our favourite producers. But that’s…

It’s all about Ireland this week with St. Patrick’s Day coming up and a Slane Special Edition, only the second ever bottling from one of our favourite producers. But that’s not all! Buy a bottle and you can win a trip to Slane Castle in Ireland. 

Slane whiskey was created by Alex Conyngham whose family have been at Slane Castle in Co. Meath since the 17th century. Their house is famed for its rock concerts. The first took place in 1981 and 30,000 people turned up to watch U2 and Thin Lizzy. Since then such names as The Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, Queen and David Bowie, through to Oasis, Robbie Williams, Kelis, PJ Harvey, Madonna, The Foo Fighters and Eminem have all graced Slane Castle.

Alex Conyngham from Slane Irish Whiskey

Alex Conyngham from Slane Irish Whiskey

40 years of music

To celebrate 40 years of rock ‘n’ roll, Slane has released a special bottling which is only the second ever release from this brand. Yes, we do realise it’s now 41 years but the global pandemic rather put the kibosh on birthday celebrations.

But before we take a look at the new bottling, a brief recap on the history of Slane whiskey. Alex Conyngham’s background is in whiskey rather than music. He worked as a brand ambassador for Jameson in Australia. In 2015, he launched his own whiskey, a blend with an interesting triple-cask ageing technique. In 2018, the brand was bought by Brown-Forman giving Slane access to some extremely high quality wood. 

They use a mixture of virgin American oak, heavily toasted and made specifically for Slane at the Brown-Forman cooperage, ex-Jack Daniel’s barrels, and finally ex-Oloroso sherry butts. “That’s kind of influenced by my granddad, because he loved his ex-sherry Irish whiskeys,” Conyngham told us. “The balance between them as we blend back together is where Slane lands.”

At the moment Slane is a blend of bought-in whiskey but in 2018 with help from Brown-Forman, Conyngham installed a distillery at Slane Castle. We’ll have to wait a bit until we taste something from there but in the meantime, there’s a delicious new 40th anniversary bottling to try. 

Slane Special edition is inspired by the 45 rpm single so the quotient of new oak casks has been upped from 35 to 45% making this extra spicy. It’s also bottled at punchy 45% ABV compared with the standard’s 40% ABV.

Global - Slane Special Edition - MG_7358.jpg RS

Tasting note for Slane Special Edition

Nose: Bold toasted oak and vanilla spice with subtle hints of orchard fruit.

Taste: Toasted marshmallow and rich dark fruit with layers of oak.

Finish: Warm and lingering with the sweet flavours  of smouldering wood

Sounds pretty tasty doesn’t it?

Win a trip to Slane Castle!

Well that’s not all because if you buy a bottle of Slane Special Edition Irish Whiskey or Slane Irish Whiskey, you will be automatically entered into a competition to win a trip for two to Slane Castle in Ireland. All you have to do is buy a bottle!

Here’s what the prize consists of:

-Standard or economy flight travel for 2 people from an airport closest to the winner’s usual residence in the United Kingdom to Dublin Airport in Ireland;

-Standard accommodation one double room in Slane at the Slane Castle for one night for two people (subject to availability and to be arranged by prize provider); 

-Complimentary Slane Distillery tour including whiskey tasting for 2 people at Slane Distillery;

-Complimentary dinner for two people on the night of arrival;

-Complimentary breakfast at the Slane Castle on the next morning for 2 people;

-Complimentary transportations to Dublin Airport from Slane on the return leg

-Complimentary Walking Tour at the Rock Farm Slane – for 2 people (subject to availability).

Sounds pretty amazing doesn’t it? All you have to do is buy a bottle of Slane Special Edition or Slane Irish Whiskey and you will be automatically entered. You must be over 18 to enter and a UK resident, excluding Northern Ireland. Competition opens at 10am GMT on 14 March  2022 and closes at 23:59:59 GMT on 20 March 2022.

Full T&C’s below.

Slane Special Edition is available from Master of Malt. Click here to buy.

No Comments on New Arrival of the Week: Slane Special Edition

New Arrival of the Week: Howler Head banana bourbon

What do you get if you mix bourbon and banana? No, it’s not a joke. It’s Howler Head banana bourbon and it has just arrived at MoM towers. But that’s…

What do you get if you mix bourbon and banana? No, it’s not a joke. It’s Howler Head banana bourbon and it has just arrived at MoM towers. But that’s not all, buy a bottle of Howler Head and you will be automatically entered into a draw to win a trip to the UFC in London on 19 March. Fierce!

We love a flavoured spirit here at Master of Malt. From Jaffa Cake Gin to Bourbon Bourbon (not that’s not a typo, it’s bourbon whiskey blended with real bourbon chocolate biscuits), we can’t get enough of those crazy flavours. Now, there’s a new game in town. It’s called Howler Head and, after taking America by storm, it’s now available in Britain exclusively from Master of Malt.

Totally bananas

The key to making delicious flavoured spirits is to start with delicious spirits and add natural flavours. Sounds simple, but you’d be surprised by how many brands get this wrong. The base of Howler Head is a bourbon made by master distiller Ron Call at Green River Distilling Co. in Kentucky using a 100-year-old Vendome copper column still. That’s proper old timey. The spirit then spends two years in American oak barrels with a #4 ‘alligator’ char in traditional wood rick houses. So this is quality stuff. It’s then blended with natural banana flavour to create Howler Head banana bourbon and bottled at 40% ABV (or 80 proof in American).

It’s a great one to sip neat in a shot alongside a beer but it’s also a very versatile cocktail ingredient. We reckon a banana Old Fashioned garnished with a piece of dried banana would be absolutely delicious.

Howler Head Old Fashioned wBottle Med Res

Competition time

Since its launch, Howler Head has proved immensely popular in America with over 130,000 followers on social media. That might have something to do with being a partner for the UFC. No, that doesn’t stand for ‘unlimited free cocktails’, though wouldn’t that be brilliant? Instead, it’s the Ultimate Fighting Championship, the world’s premier mixed martial arts organisation.

As an incentive to try our New Arrival, two of you can win a pair of tickets to the UFC event at the London O2 on 19 March. All you have to do is buy a bottle of Howler Head and you will be automatically entered. 

The two winners will each receive two VIP tickets to the UFC at the O2 in London UK on the 19 March, with priority/fast track entrance, access to the VIP lounge before, during and after the event where you can purchase food and drinks, and great seats. Competition is only available to those over 18 in the UK excluding Northern Ireland. There are T&C’s below for the whole thing below.

Good luck!

Howler Head banana bourbon is available only from Master of Malt. Click here to buy.

THIS COMPETITION IS NOW CLOSED

We ended up giving away three pairs of tickets instead of the two advertised. Congratulations to the winners Matt Jones, Jim Smith and Joel Cross, and to everyone else who entered, we hope you are enjoying your Howler Head.

 

No Comments on New Arrival of the Week: Howler Head banana bourbon

Type on the field below and hit Enter/Return to search