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Master of Malt Blog

Tag: Port of Leith

The Nightcap: 16 August

Another busy week of booze news has occurred, and we’ve corralled it up into one handy blog for you to take into the weekend – it’s The Nightcap! The weekend…

Another busy week of booze news has occurred, and we’ve corralled it up into one handy blog for you to take into the weekend – it’s The Nightcap!

The weekend is fast approaching (or perhaps it is already here by the time you read this), and we wouldn’t dare step out of the house on a Saturday not armed with the booze news from the week that was. It would be like heading to the beach without a ridiculous hat, or heading to a bowling alley without grossly underestimating the difficulty of chucking a heavy ball at some wooden sticks. It’s just not the done thing. Luckily, you can acquire all the weekly news from the world of drinks right here in The Nightcap! We cannot, however, provide floppy sun hats or any good tips for bowling. You’re on your own for those things.

On the blog this week, our friend Ian Buxton popped by to champion the overlooked stars of the blended Scotch whisky world, blends, while Annie found out what botanical rum is and what the lovely people at CBD-infused spirits company Top Beverages are up to (infusing spirits with CBD, mostly). Kristy, meanwhile, shared the news of how Brora celebrated its 200th Anniversary (did someone say 40-year-old whisky?), before Henry sat down for a lovely chat with Dr. Don Livermore from Hiram Walker, made a spin on the classic Negroni his Cocktail of the Week and even found time to make a charming bottle of poítin Irish moonshine our New Arrival of the Week. Oh, and don’t forget we have still a competition going on and there’s a VIP trip to Salcombe Gin distillery up for grabs!

A busy week, but there’s more to come. In our best Huw Edwards voice, here is the news!

The Nightcap

We’re sure Port of Leith whisky will be worth the wait!

Port of Leith Distillery secures whisky production site

It’s all go for whisky-making in Edinburgh at the moment – and now Port of Leith Distillery has announced it has secured the site for its whisky production! Situated in Leith (as the name suggests), the distillery will be built next to the Royal Yacht Britannia and the Ocean Terminal centre. “The acquisition of our site took slightly longer than we anticipated. In fact, from start to finish, it’s taken us three years to get this incredibly complex land deal over the line,” the team wrote in an email on Monday, “We’re outrageously excited to announce the deal was completed at the end of July, which means we should be on site very shortly.” If all now continues on schedule, we should see Port of Leith spirit flow from the stills as soon as the first quarter of 2021! The news comes hot on the heels of The Holyrood Distillery kicking off whisky production in Edinburgh earlier this month. Can’t wait for a taste of Port of Leith? The team’s Lind & Lime Gin is available now!

The Nightcap

It’s good news for Irish whiskey, and we can raise a glass (or two) to that!

IWA gains protection for Irish whiskey in South Africa and Australia

Legal gubbins now – but of the good kind. Because this week, the Irish Whiskey Association (IWA) secured certified trade mark status for Irish whiskey in both South Africa and Australia! The news means that only whiskey actually distilled and matured on the island of Ireland (Northern and the Republic) can be sold as ‘Irish whiskey’ in those markets. It’s a big deal, especially as Irish whiskey grows in both volume and reputation – it stops rogues and scoundrels using its name in vain on lesser spirit. It’s also important because more than two million bottles of Irish whiskey were sold in Australia in 2018, up 9.1%, while South Africa collectively shifted 4.4 million bottles, growth of 4.5%. What more reason do you need to sip on a celebratory measure of Irish whiskey this Friday?!

The Nightcap

Roushanna Gray, founder of Veld and Sea, in Cape Town, will star in the film

The Botanist gets wild with new film mini-series

Islay gin The Botanist has unveiled a series of films to shine a light on wild foragers, chefs and bartenders around the world. Wild – A State of Mind depicts these “like-minded souls” as they explore their native landscapes on the hunt for food and flavour. Each five-minute film focuses on a different person: Nick Weston, director of Hunter Gather Cook, along the River Itchen; Philip Stark, professor and director of the Berkeley Open Source Food project, in downtown San Francisco; Roushanna Gray, founder of Veld and Sea, in Cape Town; Nick Liu, executive chef and partner at DaiLo and Little DaiLo Restaurant in Toronto; and Vijay Mudaliar, founder of Native, a foraged mixology bar in Singapore. “In creating The Botanist, we explored the flavours of our own backyard, the Isle of Islay,” said Douglas Taylor, CEO of Bruichladdich Distillery, which makes The Botanist. “The Botanist has its own full-time professional forager, James Donaldson, who sustainably hand-picks 22 local island botanicals to be used in the distillation of our Islay dry gin. Through our involvement in the foraging movement, we’ve been lucky enough to work with some of the most exciting foragers, chefs and bartenders from all over the world. Through these films, we hope to show people that there’s a world of flavour out there.” The films will be released one by one, so keep your eyes peeled and in the direction of The Botanist website.

The Nightcap

It’s about time somebody celebrated Eddie Murphy’s role in the animated Mulan film

Bowmore unveils China-exclusive 36yo Dragon Edition

Islay single malt distillery Bowmore has launched a shiny new 36-year-old expression exclusively in China, the first in a series of four releases. Initially unveiled at Whisky Live Shanghai, Bowmore 36-Year-Old Dragon Edition “pays homage” to Bowmore 30 Year Old Sea Dragon Decanter, an expression that celebrates an Islay myth and picked up quite the following when it launched. The new bottling builds on this, lauding the dragons that live on in Chinese culture. The liquid comes from Bowmore’s famous No.1 Vaults warehouse, selected from the same parcels of sherry casks used to create the 30 year old, and has been bottled at 51.8% ABV. Nosing and tasting notes include tropical fruit, toffee apple, caramelised orange, hints of pine needles, and a peppery tinge on the finish. “This new expression is a homage to the 30-Year-Old Sea Dragon that’s been much loved and collected by Bowmore fans across China,” said David Turner, Bowmore distillery manager. “Born from an island that is rich with heritage and legends, Bowmore is celebrating the legendary creatures of Chinese mythology that are the protectors of people – just as Bowmore has protected and matured this precious liquid for 36 years. We’ve taken this amazing legacy and renewed it for the next generation of whisky drinkers.” There are just 888 bottles of Bowmore 36-Year-Old Dragon Edition available, each priced at US$2,000. Keep an eye out if you’re in China!

The Nightcap

Grant’s 12 Year Old was a standout performer.

Grant’s blended Scotch boasts growth as others decline

Time to get the calculators out. An interesting press release crossed our desks this week, claiming that blended Scotch sales fell by 0.4% from 2013 to 2018. What’s more, the declines are set to continue by another 4% to 2022 (Edrington-Beam Suntory Distribution UK stats). Are we all turning to single malts? Shopping from countries further afield instead? It’s kind of irrelevant to Grant’s, which boasted 1.2% global growth over the period, and “double digit” gains across Africa, Eastern Europe, Latin America, and India. And the team seems particularly excited about Grant’s 12 Year Old. What sets it apart? “Our master blender Brian Kinsman, his unique expertise in choosing the malts that go into the blend, and the quality of the fresh bourbon cask finish,” said Danny Dyer, Grant’s global brand ambassador. “Grant’s 12 is a smooth whisky making it ideal to share with friends whether they are aficionados or newcomers to whisky.” Why do we care about all this? It’s always intriguing to see a brand doing well against the grain of a trend. Do you still love blended Scotch? Or why do you not drink it? Let us know on social or in the comments below!

The Nightcap

Look! It’s brand new Lagavulin whisky!

Lagavulin 10 Year Old makes travel retail debut

Spent all summer dealing with smug colleagues breezing off on their holidays, leaving you to do all the work and regretting your seemingly smart decision to avoid all children and jet off later in the year outside the school break? Well, we have some news to make that delayed gratification even sweeter. Lagavulin (yes, the very same Islay distillery that makes the iconic 16 year old expression) has launched a new 10 year old whisky exclusively in travel retail! Which means all those annoying, chilled, sunkissed people would have missed it, but you can bag a bottle when it’s your turn to head through the airport. “What makes this single malt unique is the combination of refill, bourbon and freshly-charred casks that we used in its creation,” said Dr Craig Wilson, master of malts (nothing to do with us) at Diageo. “The bourbon casks add a sweetness to the flavour and the freshly-charred casks add spicy and woody notes. The different wood types used have helped create a whisky with a fiery yet light and smoky yet smooth character – one that is filled with surprising contrasts.” It’s available now in UK Duty travel retail stores priced at £50, but will be available more widely later in the year. Now that really IS a reason to get to the airport early…

Tequila Avión teams up with 21 Savage for ‘borderless’ campaign

Agave fans and rap aficionados, listen up. Tequila Avión has signed Grammy-nominated artist and aspiring pilot 21 Savage to be the face of its new Mexico City-inspired ‘Depart. Elevate. Arrive’ campaign. It brings together a fancy new look for the brand, while highlighting its passion for aviation. The aim is to inspire adventurous sorts by highlighting “those who have forged their own paths by having a borderless mindset”, and it all kicks off with the Atlanta-based rapper. “I grew up wanting to fly and pursued my pilot’s license as soon as I was able,” he said. “When I’m in the air flying, there’s nothing like it. No traffic, no borders. With a borderless mindset, I’m able to bring everything I’ve seen, a worldly point of view, into my creative process. Into my art. It brings my art to an elevated space and that’s the heart of this partnership. Elevating creativity through being borderless.” We’ll take the Tequila over trying to fly… less alarming.

The Nightcap

A sight the UK wine drinker and tax officials both appear to enjoy…

‘Crisp white’ named as UK’s top wine

Wine Drinkers UK (a collection of wine lovers, makers and sellers, who, in their own words, are ‘fed up with being unfairly taxed’) have revealed the UK’s top wine preferences. Leading the pack? ‘Crisp white’ (Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Grigio), with 41% of those questioned saying they enjoy the selection. Full-bodied red (Malbec or Shiraz) ranked second with 38%, followed closely by Prosecco, at 34%. The least popular? In equal ninth, English sparkling wine and dry rosé (Southern French rosé or Pinot Grigio rosé), which, quite frankly, has caused uproar in the office as they are both bloody delicious. Are we Brits a tad ridiculous? We could just be blinded by the tax levied on wine, reckons Wine Drinkers UK. Despite wine’s status as being the most widely drunk and most popular alcoholic beverages, tax rises in the last 10 years (39%) have far outpaced those on beer (16%) and spirits (27%). Plus, only 5% of UK drinkers were aware of the tax they pay on wine. “As the number of people enjoying wine grows, so does their tax bill. Duty on wine has risen over twice as fast as beer over the past ten years,” said The Three Drinkers presenter, Helena Nicklin. “As a result, on average, the majority of wine drinkers are handing over more than 50 pence in every pound they spend to the taxman. After a decade of unfair increases, it is time to cut them a break and cut back wine tax.” As such, there’s a new campaign which kicked off on 12th August, now known as ‘Wine Tax Freedom Day’. The date is 61% of the way through the calendar year, and represents the 61% tax (duty +VAT) that is paid on a £5 bottle of wine. Did you know the tax levied on vino? Time for fairer booze duties, we reckon.

The Nightcap

Brockman’s Gin Autumn Reviver cocktail

Brockmans Gin signals changing of the seasons with autumn menu

Ok, ok… the sun’s certainly NOT got its hat on, and it’s more soggy than sunkissed (in the UK anyway…) but it’s still mid-August. Is it really time to unveil Autumn cocktails? We’ll forgive Brockmans though, because these ones look mega tasty, and they’re based around irresistible warming spices and berry notes. First up is the Autumn Reviver, made with 1 2/3 oz. Brockmans Gin (soz for the imperial measures), 2/3 oz. Lillet Blanc, 2/3 oz. freshly squeezed lemon juice, 1/2 oz. ginger syrup, 1/3 oz. orange liqueur, and a slice of dehydrated orange studded with cloves. Just fill a cocktail shaker with ice, add the first five ingredients and shake. Strain into a chilled coupe glass and garnish with the clove-studded orange slice. Voilà! Then there’s the slightly trickier Blackberry Sling, with 1 2/3 oz. Brockmans Gin, 10 fresh blackberries, a sprig of fresh rosemary, 1 2/3 oz. freshly squeezed lime juice, 2/3 oz. simple syrup, and chilled soda. Muddle the blackberries (save some for the garnish) and rosemary in a Highball glass, take the rosemary out, add the gin, lime juice and syrup and stir. Then fill half the glass with ice, top with soda and pop the saved blackberries (and the rosemary, if it still looks good) in as garnishes. “Our signature seasonal recipes were developed to highlight the combination of traditional gin aromas, bitter-sweet orange peel, coriander and top notes of blueberries and blackberries found in our gin,” said Neil Everitt, Brockmans co-founder and CEO. We know what we’re drinking on the next waterlogged summer evening. Oh, that would be tonight…

The Nightcap

We’ve needed a new hobby since our office games of ‘The Cones of Dunshire’ started getting too heated…

And finally. . . a whisky board game

They say you should never play with your food, but nobody ever said anything about playing with your drink. Which is just as well, as two Czech whisky aficionados have created a board game based around their favourite liquid. The idea came to them at a meeting of their whisky club which they call the Gentlemen of Tullamore, based on their early love for Tullamore D.E.W. “It took actually almost three years to develop,” Petr Pulkert, one of the duo, told us. He went on to say how helpful the industry has been with their project. “So far they, including legends like Nick Savage, John Quinn, Alan Winchester, Rachel Barrie, all helped us for free and with enthusiasm.” To play, you move your Glencairn glass-shaped counter around Scotland and Ireland, answering questions about whisky (and indeed whiskey) and collecting points. There are character cards featuring big whisky cheeses like Quinn, Barrie and Winchester. Each character has a special ability, such as Dave Broom with beard grooming, or Bill Lumsden with wearing snazzy shirts. We may be making this up a bit; we’re not precisely sure how the game works but it does sound like enormous fun, especially with a dram in hand (though this isn’t a drinking game). The Tullamore Boys are crowd-funding production: they’ve already raised £3,800 out of a target £6,622. So, if you like whisky and you like games, then sign up.

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Join us as we celebrate International Scottish Gin Day!

Today marks the very first International Scottish Gin Day! To celebrate the occasion, we’ve picked out 10 of the tastiest gins that hail from north of the border. Enjoy! Words:…

Today marks the very first International Scottish Gin Day! To celebrate the occasion, we’ve picked out 10 of the tastiest gins that hail from north of the border. Enjoy! Words: Victoria Sayers

3 August 2019 is the first ever International Scottish Gin Day. Juniper geeks, get ready to celebrate! No longer is the Scottish distilling scene only about whisky: now distilleries are embracing local botanicals to create a sense of place through gin, too. The reputation of Scottish distilling is sky-high, but instead of riding on Scotch’s coat tails, these gin producers are carving their own niche in the international spirits scene. Here’s our pick of some of the tastiest Scottish gins around – but it was actually a pretty tough call to make. Not only are there LOADS of them, they’re pretty delicious, too. These 10 not enough to whet your appetite? We’ve got a whole bunch more Scottish gins right here! 

International Scottish Gin Day

Theodore Pictish Gin

Theodore Pictish Gin

Inspired by the Picts, one of the first tribal settlers of Scotland, we introduce Theodore Pictish Gin! These body-painted warriors arrived on the eastern archipelago and had a sense of mystery about them. This clan inhabited the Scottish Highlands and documented their adventures through poetry, engravings and building fortresses across Scotland. A creative, enterprising bunch. Theodore Gin represents the curiosity of the Pict people, and is made with 16 botanicals to wet your whistle: honey, coriander, citric pomelo, bourbon vetiver, damask rose, pink pepper, angelica, chamomile, kaffir lime, ginger, orris, pine, lavender, cardamom, and oolong tea all mix in with the juniper to create something truly elegant. Try out this T&T in a highball glass: 50ml Theodore Gin and 125ml tonic water, built over ice and garnished with a slice of mango.

International Scottish Gin Day

Hendrick’s Midsummer Solstice

Hendrick’s Midsummer Solstice 

Deeply floral and lightly playful, it’s Midsummer Solstice Gin! A refreshing take on a classic Hendrick’s, this expression is infused with a tip-top secret recipe that has been made in a very small batch, so once it’s gone, it’s gone. Much like Midsummer Day itself, it’s meant to be a fleeting moment in time, hence the limited-run liquid. We’re big fans; it pairs especially well with sparkling wine and tonic.

International Scottish Gin Day

Orkney Gin Company Rhubarb Old Tom

Orkney Gin Company Rhubarb Old Tom

Orkney Gin Company, named after its namesake archipelago off the north coast of Scotland, released its Rhubarb Old Tom for the first time on World Gin Day 2017 (timing = excellent). Rhubarb is widely celebrated in Orkney, where families pass down their recipes to new generations of Orcadians. Old Tom gins are traditionally sweetened to give the liquid a smoother finish, and Orkney Gin Company believes this enhances the tartness of the rhubarb. Other botanicals that complement the rhubarb’s zesty flavour include the smooth juniper berries, citrus peel, rose petals and cinnamon. The team even uses seven-times distilled grain spirit, an updated version of the historical methods… The result? Pretty tasty!

International Scottish Gin Day

Rock Rose Gin

Rock Rose Gin

Made by Dunnet Bay Distillers (a tiny team of seven) in North Scotland, the alluringly smooth Rock Rose Gin is produced using local botanicals including rose root, coriander seed, cardamom, juniper, sea buckthorn, rowan berries and blueberries. The team’s very clever gardener, Dr Hana, can be found growing these weird and wonderful botanicals in the brand’s very own geodome which she built at the distillery. Wowzers. This is suitably tasty on its own due to the spritziness of the rose notes, but of course you can couple with tonic, too.

International Scottish Gin Day

Daffy’s Small Batch Premium Gin

Daffy’s Small Batch Premium Gin

Daffy is the goddess of gin (apparently) and was first written about over 300 years ago. The wheat grain spirit used in the expression hails from northern France, while the distillery Daffy’s Gin is made at is situated in Scotland’s Cairngorms National Park. Traditional botanicals like juniper, cassia bark and coriander are mixed in with Lebanese mint and a variety of lemons. The Daffy’s team believes that the balance of strength and flavour at 43.4% ABV results in a well-rounded and smooth finish, even when enjoyed straight. The design of the bottle is the work of artist Robert McGinnis, who created film posters for various James Bond films and Breakfast at Tiffany’s. The perfect D&T? 50ml Daffy’s Gin, 100ml tonic water, three wedges of lime and some mint leaves. You’re welcome!

International Scottish Gin Day

The Botanist Islay Dry Gin

The Botanist Islay Dry Gin

Islay is known for its rather wonderful whiskies, but now it’s the home of some gin brands, too! We’re fans of The Botanist (made at the Bruichladdich Distillery). It really does have one of the best bottles we’ve set our eyes upon. Plus, it’s a treat for your taste buds, too. A whopping 22 botanicals are squashed into The Botanist gin including some Islay natives. Are you ready for this list? The full list of is as follows: apple mint, chamomile, creeping thistle, downy birch, elder, gorse, hawthorn, heather, juniper, lady’s bedstraw, lemon balm, meadowsweet, mugwort, red clover, spearmint, sweet cicely, bog myrtle sweet gale, tansy, water mint, white clover, wild thyme and wood sage. Phew!

International Scottish Gin Day

Loch Ness Gin

Loch Ness Gin

Produced in Loch Ness (obvs), Loch Ness Gin is the product of a husband and wife team, Kevin and Lorien Cameron-Ross, whose family has resided on the bank surrounding the lake for over five centuries. They pick their own juniper and botanicals on their home estate, right on the shores of Loch Ness – very cool. At the heart of the distillery’s products is the Loch; its water is used in the whole range of spirits – we like to think it gives a bit of a magical, mysterious vibe. With all this nature on the doorstep, the family has a deep understanding of the region and respect the land highly; they say it makes their ingredients ‘real and rare’, with a taste like no other.

Lussa Gin

Lussa Gin

Lussa Gin is native to the Isle of Jura, situated off the west coast of Scotland. It was founded by a trio of adventurers; they grow, gather and distil using only local botanicals. Jura is super-remote, only 30 people live at the north end of the island, where the distillery is located. The team says ‘isolation is inspiration’; how could you not when you’re surrounded by mountains and water, and you can only reach the island by ferry (or by helicopter, if you happen to have a spare one of those). It is so free from air pollution that lichen can grow everywhere. The end product: a fresh, zesty, smooth gin with a subtly aromatic finish. 

Lind & Lime Gin

Lind & Lime Gin

The first tipple to come from Edinburgh’s Port of Leith Distillery – it’s Lind & Lime Gin! Inspired by Dr James Lind, who conducted clinical trials aboard HMS Salisbury to help find a cure for Scurvy back in the day. His findings helped sailors see a remarkable improvement in their health, and kept Britain a huge step ahead of enemies during times of naval warfare. As for the bottle design, inspiration was drawn from the 14th century, when wine was one of the most valuable items to pass through the local harbour.  Juniper, lime and pink peppercorns are the three key botanicals in this gin and they really work in harmony. We reckon it tastes as good as it looks.

International Scottish Gin Day

Eight Lands Gin

Eight Lands Gin

Eight Lands produces an array of spirits with Speyside spring water, distilled and bottled by the family-owned Glenrinnes Distillery. Featuring 11 different botanicals including cowberries and sorrel from the Estate gives this gin some berry good flavours (ha!). This shiny new distillery was purpose built to not make whisky (a shocker in Speyside, we know!) and was completed in 2018. The spirits are made using spring water drawn from the lowest slopes of Ben Rinnes – both pretty cool and sustainable. And it tastes really rather good in a classic G&T.

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A look at Port of Leith Distillery’s fabulous first booze bottlings

Mere months from breaking ground on what is set to be Edinburgh’s first single malt whisky distillery for more than 100 years, Port of Leith Distillery co-founders Paddy Fletcher and…

Mere months from breaking ground on what is set to be Edinburgh’s first single malt whisky distillery for more than 100 years, Port of Leith Distillery co-founders Paddy Fletcher and Ian Stirling have introduced their very first boozes. We took a peek inside the bottles…

When we heard that childhood friends Paddy Fletcher and Ian Stirling had designed Scotland’s first vertical distillery, our ears pricked up Alsatian-style. Set in (where else?) Edinburgh’s historic Port of Leith district, the project is a real labour of love, as Stirling told Kristiane on the blog back in April.

Now, eight months on, finance and planning permission has been secured, and an 18-month construction programme is scheduled to begin in March 2019, with an opening date of Autumn 2020. So far, so exciting.

As you can imagine, the Port of Leith Distillery’s inaugural single malt won’t emerge for a good few years, so to whet our collective appetites in the meantime, the duo has kicked off the range with Port of Leith Distillery Sherry and Lind & Lime Gin.

The curious among you may wonder how a distiller goes about distilling… without actually having built a distillery yet. Well, the gin is produced at The Tower Street Stillhouse near the site of the future distillery; a co-operative set-up shared by fellow local producer Electric Spirit Company (creator of Achroous Gin!).

Port of Leith’s sherry, meanwhile, is sourced from Bodegas Baron in Sanlúcar de Barrameda. The future distillery site is also home to the experimental whisky development programme, where the team will test yeast strains and fermentation styles over the coming months before settling on the final recipe.

Thirsty for more information, we asked Fletcher to talk us through the releases. Here’s what we learned…

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