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Master of Malt Blog

Tag: Rhum Agricole

The Nightcap: 6 September

Super cereal, whisky drawn from sparkling wine casks, and… Brussels sprout gin?! All this and more, this week on The Nightcap! When September rolls around, there’s something in the back…

Super cereal, whisky drawn from sparkling wine casks, and… Brussels sprout gin?! All this and more, this week on The Nightcap!

When September rolls around, there’s something in the back of our heads that says we should be stockpiling things. Maybe it’s a leftover from when humans used to be squirrels (pretty sure that’s how evolution works), but the urge to stockpile summery gubbins is in the air – otherwise we won’t get to enjoy them until June next year! You should see the stack of flip-flops, salad that inexplicably contains more grapes than leaves, and those tiny paper cocktail umbrellas we have amassed at MoM Towers. What we’re not stockpiling is booze news – we share all the stories from the world of drink with you in The Nightcap each week! Let’s get to it!

On the blog this week we launched a new competition with Mackmyra that gives you chance to win your own maturing cask of soon-to-be-whisky! We then gave you an exclusive video tour around Glenfiddich Distillery, including the Robbie Dhu Spring water source, the still house, the bottling process, as well as the maltings and the role of copper at The Balvenie Distillery. Elsewhere, Kristy regaled us with tales from Kyrö Distillery, Ian Buxton put on his sceptic’s hat and pondered the future of Chinese single malt and Annie returned to give us five essential tips to make the most of our distillery tours. Henry, meanwhile, chose the intriguing Hayman’s Small Gin to be our New Arrival of the Week before doing his best Fancy Dan impression by making The Made in Chelsea Coupe our Cocktail of the Week. For Dram Club members, we also revealed what to expect from September 2019.

But there’s still more boozy news to cover, and there’s no time to lose! It’s The Nightcap…

The Nightcap

Dr Peter Morris and Dr Ross Alexander working on the potential miracle barley

Gene for drought-resistant cereal discovered in Scotland

Scientists at Heriot-Watt University have uncovered a gene that helps drought resistance in crops which could be of huge benefit to the Scotch whisky industry. According to the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) which funded the research, 90% of the barley used in Scotch whisky comes from Scotland. The results which were published in Plant Physiology and Biochemistry showed that a particular gene, HvMYB1, controls stress tolerance in barley. Dr Peter Morris from Heriot-Watt University said: “This is a significant finding that will allow more drought resistance crops to be bred in the future. Drought is already impacting yields with the European cereals harvest hit particularly hard in 2018. A prolonged, dry and hot summer significantly impacted yields and quality. As climate change gathers pace and we experience more extreme seasons, it is essential that we can maintain continuity of supply. This is significant for key industries like Scotch whisky, one of the UK’s leading export items.” It was the result of over five years work, because, Morris went on to say, “barley has over 39,000 genes, almost double the number for humans, so characterising one particular gene which promotes drought resistance has been a considerable challenge.” Dagmar Droogsma, director of industry at the Scotch Whisky Association, commented: “The SWA works closely with specialists at Heriot-Watt University, and others in the sector, to ensure that the industry is equipped to adapt to any changes that may arise from a changing climate. We, therefore, welcome this research which helps to provide resilience against the effects of climate change and to sustain the diversity of barley varieties used for Scotch whisky.” So as the planet warms up, at least there will still be Scotch whisky, which is a comfort.

The Nightcap

Glenfiddich Grand Cru will be arriving at MoM Towers very soon!

Glenfiddich’s new premium malt has a sparkling heritage

Some companies launch a new whisky. Not Glenfiddich, its latest release “redefines celebrations.” How does it do that, you might ask? Well, it’s got pedigree, that’s for sure. Called Grand Cru, it is 23 years old, matured in European and American oak, and then finished in “rare French cuvée oak casks”. These casks “contained the liquid that goes on to become some of the world’s most extraordinary sparkling wines.” We think they mean Champagne. Only very few houses, including Bollinger, Roederer and Krug, still use oak so these casks are likely to have held some exceptional liquid. Why is Glenfidicch being so coy then? Well, the wine in the barrels was still and therefore not legally allowed to be called Champagne. Glenfiddich malt master, Brian Kinsman, commented: “Breaking category conventions once more, this unusual collaboration presented an exciting opportunity to create a spirit that further elevated our unique Glenfiddich style. We experimented with the maturation time and hand-selected the right balance of 23-year-old Glenfiddich casks out of our unique collection of old age malts. The further influence from the oak of the French cuvée casks added an extra layer of complexity thanks to the liquid they once held”. So this is a premium malt meets Grand Cru Champagne which, if not exactly “redefining celebrations”, certainly sounds swanky. RRP is £220; stock should be landing at your favourite online retailer 20 September.

The Nightcap

This geographical protection is huge for Irish whiskey and brands like Tullamore D.E.W.

Irish whiskey secures geographical protection for the Indian market.

Good news for Irish whiskey as it has secured geographical protection for the Indian market. This is the world’s largest whisky market with over 2.3 billion bottles sold last year (though much of what is called whisky would be labelled rum in Britain as it’s distilled from molasses). Thanks to this agreement, now only whiskeys from Ireland can bear the legend “Irish Whiskey” on the label. This is great news for the Indian whiskey drinker and, of course, for the rapidly-expanding Irish whiskey industry. Carleen Madigan, legal advisor to the Irish Whiskey Association said: “Securing the geographical indication for Irish Whiskey in India is another landmark for the Irish Whiskey category. Like similar registrations achieved earlier in the year in Australia and South Africa, this is another major success in our efforts to protect the integrity of Irish Whiskey on a worldwide basis. We will now be able to take much tougher enforcement action against fake Irish whiskey products on sale in India. This protection will also enable us to maximise opportunities to increase sales in this crucial whiskey market as it is an important selling point for the Indian consumer knowing they can enjoy Irish Whiskey confident in the quality and authenticity of the product”. India is still a relatively untapped market for Irish whiskey, only 34,000 cases were sold in India, double the previous year but a long way behind Scotland at nearly 10 million cases sold. This geographical protection should see sales take off.

The Nightcap

Larissa Marrichi, Finbarr Curran and the two new experimental whiskeys

This year’s Method and Madness whiskeys from Irish Distillers are the maddest yet

The Method and Madness series of releases from Irish Distillers is a chance for the team at Midleton to let their hair down and go a bit mad in the on-site microdistillery. This year’s two releases are particularly envelope-pushing, game-changing and mind-blowing as they are part-aged in wood that isn’t oak. Utter madness! Both are single pot still whiskeys, one finished in cherry wood and one in acacia. Cherry wood, sourced from France, is particularly porous resulting in some big bold flavours. Kevin O’Gorman, master of maturation at Midleton Distillery, commented: “The rare, porous wood is different to anything that we have handled before, so it has been a real achievement to create the perfect balance of flavour – the result is a world-first in Irish whiskey, with a nose of coconut fibre and ginger, a palate of fresh green herbs, black tea and unmistakable pot still spices and a long, fresh finish with prickly spice and hazelnut.” Acacia is quite the opposite, having a tight grain. Finbarr Curran, from the maturation research team explained: “The density of the acacia wood presented a challenge in contrast to the wild cherry wood as the maturation process was much slower and required a close eye and nose to achieve the perfect balance. But it was well worth the wait. This stunning single pot still Irish whiskey has a nose of sugared almonds and wood spice, a palate of coffee beans, dark chocolate and chilli and a finish with fading spice, charred wood and barley husk.”The releases will be on sale for RRP of €92. We’ll let you know when they come in.

The Nightcap

Trois Rivières and La Mauny are produced on the island paradise of Martinique

Campari purchases Trois Rivières and La Mauny

The Campari Group has signed an agreement with Chevrillon Group to buy French firm Rhumantilles for a cool $66 million USD. Rhumantilles owns 96.5% of Martinique-based Bellonnie & Bourdillon Successeurs (BBS) Group, which produces the Trois Rivières and Maison La Mauny brands, as well as Duquesne rum, which is made for the local market. The deal not only includes those brands, but also the landholdings, the distilleries, the visitor centres and the inventory of high-quality aged rum, adding to the Italian spirits giant’s already considerable rum portfolio which includes the fantastic Appleton Distillery in Jamaica. The company, who said the deal was expected to close during the fourth quarter of this year in a statement released this week, clearly believe in the future of rhum agricole, which already boasts a strong reputation among spirits fans, but still occupies a tiny share of global rum production. The injection of Campari’s financial and marketing could prove a huge boost for the category. Campari said the move would “add prestigious agricole rum brands to its offering and enhance its exposure to rum, a premiumizing category currently at the heart of the mixology trend and growing cocktail culture.”

The Nightcap

We sail, for rum and country more rum!

Captain Morgan brings the highs seas to Birmingham

Ahoy there rum lovers! We bring you news of a rather exciting nautical adventure. Over in Birmingham, Bompas & Parr has joined forces with Captain Morgan to curate the Lost Lagoon, an immersive and boozy treasure hunt inspired by none other than the buccaneer Captain Henry Morgan himself. Those who choose to explore this mysterious land (or sea) can expect cocktails while they sail through an indoor ocean past a series of islands. In true naval style, at each island they’ll be given rum rations and instructions on how to make a swashbuckling punch. The ultimate goal? To use your wits to eventually find Captain Morgan’s hidden bounty, which (spoiler) is a tiki bar full of delicious rum and nibbles. The aquatic adventure is based at Bullring & Grand Central, running from 26 September to 22 December. “Expect a mix between your best desert island fantasy with punch quests and neo-tiki party vibes,” says Bompas & Parr’s Harry Parr. We hope your nautical navigation skills are up to scratch.

The Nightcap

Littlemill 29 Year Old

Littlemill and Glencairn join forces for latest Private Cellar Collection bottling

Littlemill’s Private Cellar collection has produced some stellar expressions and this latest bottling should prove no exception. Littlemill 29 Year Old, the third release from the series, was crafted by master blender Michael Henry from liquid selected from some of the last remaining casks to be laid down at the Littlemill Distillery, which was recently recognised as the oldest licensed distillery in Scotland. The distillery fell silent in 1994 and was destroyed by fire in 2004, making this liquid rare and highly collectable. Only 600 bottles will be released across the world. The bottling, which is said to possess the traditional Lowland floral profile, is also notable for its presentation, a limited edition bespoke Glencairn decanter. Glencairn worked closely with Littlemill on every detail, which includes an etched illustration of the River Clyde and a silver star signifying the Littlemill distillery’s location. Each decanter is one of a kind and is individually-numbered. The presentation box also includes a 5cl miniature of the liquid, a piece of an original Littlemill cask, and a booklet sharing the history of the Littlemill distillery with tasting notes from Henry, who commented on the release: “The latest expression in the Private Cellar collection helps to tell another piece of the Littlemill story. Littlemill has always represented the traditional Lowland ‘floral’ style, and over the years the distillation and maturation processes evolved to maintain this flavour profile”. He added: “Littlemill 29 year old, our 2019 release, focuses on the influence of wood. The original liquid was laid down in refill bourbon casks in 1990. Seven of these were selected and combined, then finished in first-fill oloroso sherry and Limousin oak casks. The oloroso sherry adds further floral notes, similar to the traditional sherry casks used at the Littlemill distillery, while the Limousin oak provides the European oak influence. The result is unmistakably Littlemill, with delicious caramel sweetness layered with spice.”

The Nightcap

The Coral Room is celebrating Sete de Setembro in style!

The Coral Room celebrates Brazilian Independence Day with Capucana Cachaça

Brazilian Independence Day has made its way over to London, more specifically, The Coral Room! The Brazilian national holiday, commonly referred to as Sete de Setembro (for those of you who aren’t so familiar with Portuguese, also known as Seventh of September) commemorates Brazil’s independence, won in 1815 after three years of war against Portugal. Hence why, on 7 September, the bar has teamed up with Capucana Cachaça to put on a lavish celebration of cocktails, DJs and sambaing (yes, it’s a word). The selection of drinks takes its inspiration from the vibrant colours of the Brazilian flag, so expect a thoroughly colourful and delicious evening. It’s not all just fun and games, as The Coral Room will also be donating £1 from every Brazilian Independence Day cocktail to Rainforest Alliance. Good times and good causes. Make sure you don’t miss out on the after party at The Bloomsbury Club either. Dia Da Independence is sure to be a night to remember!

The Nightcap

Jagermeister Cold Brew Coffee is the first new permanent addition to the brand in 80 years

Introducing Jagermeister Cold Brew Coffee

Jägermeister just can’t seem to keep itself away from caffeinated drinks! The latest release from the German brand is perhaps somewhat more refined than the iconic Jägerbomb, but also (hopefully) won’t be replacing your morning brew. Enter Jägermeister Cold Brew Coffee. The first new permanent addition to the brand in 80 years, the new liqueur sees the original secret Jägermeister recipe paired with cold-brewed Arabica coffee and a dash of cacao. In classic Jägermeister style, the recommended serve is straight from the freezer at a frosty -18°C. “Coffee has become such a huge part of everyday consumer culture,” says UK innovation controller (someone’s got to control the innovation, don’t want it getting out of hand), Tim Hawley. “Jägermeister Cold Brew Coffee is perfect for moments of celebration in or out of the home, offering an intricate coffee flavour profile complemented by the classic Jägermeister taste – served perfectly as an ice-cold shot.” Did you know the translation of the Italian word ‘barista’ is ‘barman’? Seems pretty fitting!

The Nightcap

There is no caption that can do this picture justice. I retire.

And finally. . . . Brussels sprout-flavoured gin? Don’t all rush at once

We’ve seen some strange spirits here at MoM, like whiskey flavoured with beaver glands or vodka distilled from milk, but the latest release from Pickering’s Gin might be the strangest yet. Looking to cash in on the Christmas market the distillery has launched six festive gins including one flavoured with Brussels sprouts. Yes really, everyone’s least favourite part of Christmas (apart from the now traditional Brexit discussion) is one of the botanicals. Over 10,000 of the little blighters have been used to create this batch limited edition. Matt Gammell, head distiller and co-founder said: “It was an interesting challenge trying to balance the unmistakable flavour of Brussels sprouts to get the taste just right – and the distillery had a very distinct aroma while the gin was being distilled!” Apparently the resulting gin has a uniquely “sprouty” flavour. Gammel added: “We love the end result and it is the ideal tipple for friends and family to share together this Christmas”. Well perhaps, if you don’t want them to visit next year.

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A botanical white rum? Brilliant! Why has no one done this before?

Sound the innovation klaxon and ready your tasting glass, because last week Amsterdam’s Spirited Union Distillery debuted what it believes to be the world’s first botanical white rum. Here, founder…

Sound the innovation klaxon and ready your tasting glass, because last week Amsterdam’s Spirited Union Distillery debuted what it believes to be the world’s first botanical white rum. Here, founder Ruben Maduro gives MoM the lowdown on his lemon and blue eucalyptus-spiked agricole bottling and explains why flavour innovation and transparency are crucial in the mission to broaden rum’s reach…

When it comes to deciphering the meaning behind a distillery name, there’s no ambiguity when it comes to Spirited Union. At the Amsterdam-based site, the team brings rum and botanicals real ones, no artificial flavours in sight together in one pioneering bottling, ‘til drinks do them part. The most recent nuptials? Union Lemon & Leaf Rum, launched just last week, brought together in holy matrimony by founder and rum aficionado Ruben Maduro.

“We started about three and a half years ago on a mission to add a new approach to the rum category,” explains Maduro, who grew up on the Caribbean on the island of Aruba. “I’ve always been disappointed with the amount of sickly-sweet and artificially-flavoured rums, and really wanted to combine flavours with rum in an honest way completely transparent, with real botanicals, so I started looking for rums from specific distilleries and regions that have certain flavour characteristics.”

Spirited Union

Spirited Union HQ: where botanical magic happens

By adding botanicals, Maduro wanted to evolve those flavours and shake up the category by creating an entirely new rum style. With Union Lemon & Leaf Rum he sought to create a “fresher drinking experience” and set about pairing vegetal, earthy rhum agricole from Mauritius made by distilling sugar cane juice with citric, herbal botanicals. “We infused the agricole with Amalfi lemons and then redistilled it to create a citrus rum distillate,” he outlines. 

They did the same with Blue Mountain eucalyptus from Australia, which introduces menthol notes, and again with Uva Highland black tea, a Sri Lankan tea grown at high altitudes. “It’s very similar to white tea in terms of flavour and it’s a great flavour conductor,” Maduro continues. The mix was rounded out with kina bark, sarawak pepper and sarsaparilla root, to “bring a bit of that robust spiciness you want and expect from an agricole”.

The bottling follows the launch of Union Spice & Sea Salt (originally known as Union 55 Rum – same recipe, but recently rebranded) earlier this year, which sees cask-aged rum from Barbados macerated with Madagascan vanilla and cloves, Guatemalan cardamom, raw Peruvian cacao and mineral-rich Añana sea salt for 55 days. Regardless of whether they’re experimenting with dark, golden or light varieties, allowing the rum to shine is key, he says.

Spirited Union

Smell those lovely botanicals!

When formulating the recipe, the team starts by picking out the most prominent characteristics of the base spirit. “Rum is very diverse, there’s a lot of different styles, so we look at the flavour notes and aim to amplify those with the botanicals,” says Maduro, as opposed to working towards a designated botanical profile. Since no single standard exists for what constitutes rum – the category is revered for many reasons, but consistent rules and regulations certainly aren’t among them – there aren’t any definitive legislative hurdles for Spirited Union to overcome. Instead, “the challenge for us is, like any start-up brand, going against the status quo established by the bigger brands,” he adds, “being creative about the category and introducing new approaches to broaden rum’s reach.”

In moving away from the traditional spices and ingredients associated with flavoured rums, the team hopes to tap into a different drinking occasion, he continues. “Most rums are dark, heavy, indulgent and rich, so we’re trying to add some excitement to the white rum end of the category,” says Maduro. “There’s a lot going on already in terms of ageing and traditional authentic rums but not much in the lighter segment.”

This, in turn, will no doubt broaden the category’s appeal for rum newbies. For the devout G&T drinker, a botanical white rum and tonic will taste far more familiar and appealing than a neat finger or two of its oak-aged counterparts. Speaking of serves, how to imbibe Union Lemon & Leaf Rum? Maduro suggests grabbing a copa glass, filling it with plenty of ice and topping a measure with your favourite tonic. Alternatively, try mixing with a botanical soda, or get creative with a cocktail: Highballs, Sours, or any refreshing long drink you fancy – just don’t forget to raise a toast to the happy couple.

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A lip-smacking round up for Rum Month

It’s been a busy ol’ Rum Month, so we thought we’d take some time to have a look at a few of our favourites to round the month off deliciously….

It’s been a busy ol’ Rum Month, so we thought we’d take some time to have a look at a few of our favourites to round the month off deliciously.

Some people know July as “I’m going to see that one big movie and maybe I’ll go to a park to kick a ball” month. Others know it as “my boss won’t look at me funny for coming to the office wearing shorts” month. Ice cream van owners probably know July as “aw beans, I’m going to need to order more flakes” month. While these all may be correct, they are all missing one important thing. July is Rum Month. That important fact is the catalyst for this blog post’s existence, because we’re taking a moment to show off some of our favourite rums that we enjoyed during Rum Month!

Pusser’s ‘Gunpowder Proof’ Black Label

Pussers Gunpowder Proof Black Label

Pussers Gunpowder Proof Black Label

The last day of July is Black Tot Day, which commemorates the last ever daily rum ration issued by the Royal Navy on 31 July 1970. Though the bosun’s call of ‘Up Spirits’ no longer rings out, Navy rums are still very much a thing. As such, it’s only right that we kick off this rum round up with the incredible Pusser’s ‘Gunpowder Proof’ Black Label, produced in accordance with the Admiralty’s recipe and bottled at a generous 54.5% ABV. You can expect all sorts of dark fruit, brown sugar and dry spice notes running through this one.

Pineapple Grenade Spiced Rum

Pineapple Grenade

Pineapple Grenade

If you’re looking for a particularly punchy rum for… Well, for punches and the like, then Pineapple Grenade is exactly what you’re after. Built around a molasses-based rum from the ever-excellent Diamond Distillery in Guyana, Pineapple Grenade is flavoured with a secret mix of spices as well as salted caramel and the eponymous pineapple. It’s bottled at 65% ABV, which we agree, is rather strong indeed. You’ll want to dilute it well in your mixed drinks – speaking of which, this stuff goes excellently with ginger ale.

Issan (That Boutique-y Rum Company)

Issan That Boutique-y Rum Company

Issan That Boutique-y Rum Company

When you think of countries where rum is produced, Thailand probably doesn’t spring to mind. Which is too bad, because it turns out that tucked away in the north-east of Thailand, there’s a distillery making some fascinating rum with an eco-friendly approach. This rum from the Issan Distillery was bottled by That Boutique-y Rum Company, and made using the juice from red sugar cane (as seen on the label). It’s full of classic rhum agricole funkiness, with hints of fresh berries and vanilla coming through later on.

Havana Club Máximo Rum Extra Añejo

Havana Club Máximo Rum Extra Añejo

Havana Club Máximo Rum Extra Añejo

Got a hefty wodge of cash that you’re looking to turn into a very special bottle of rum? Havana Club can certainly help with that endeavour. Máximo is an extra añejo Cuban rum expertly crafted by maestro ronero Don José Navarro using some incredibly well-aged stocks, with only 1,000 bottles produced each year. You might be thinking “Gosh, that sounds nice, I bet it comes in a very fancy bottle…”, and you’d be absolutely right. Máximo is presented in a handmade crystal decanter alongside a sufficiently weighty crystal stopper.

Rumbullion!

Rumbullion!

Rumbullion!

We’re finishing things off here with another reference to Black Tot Day – this time it’s a shout-out to the grog tub, the robust vessel from which tots were dispensed up until 1970. You’ll see one of these on the label of Rumbullion!, a marvellous spiced rum featuring the likes of Madagascan vanilla, orange peel, cassia, clove and cardamom alongside the high-quality Caribbean rum. A terrific cockle-warmer, but more than suitable for enjoying on a warm evening with ice and a good whack of lime.

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The Nightcap: 26 July

You know what Friday means by now, it can only be the Nightcap! This week we’ve got all the digs on The Macallan’s newest release, Coupette’s mouthwatering Summer menu, the…

You know what Friday means by now, it can only be the Nightcap! This week we’ve got all the digs on The Macallan’s newest release, Coupette’s mouthwatering Summer menu, the rise of the Tequila cocktail and even a Jack Daniel’s shoe.

Happy Friday, folks! But before we get into the thick of all the wonderful booze news of the week that was, we thought we’d have a quick chat about the weather. Because, we don’t know about you, but nobody has mentioned the weather this week. At all. Was it warm? Was there sun? We tried to enjoy a refreshing Spritz here at MoM Towers, but apparently the whole of the UK had run out of ice. All we know is that it’s now raining again and the quintessential British summer is back on. Thank goodness for that. It was a steamy few days. Step away from the SPF 50 and settle down with a drink, the Nightcap is here!

On the blog this week, we kicked off Monday with a recap of all the Fèis Ìle 2019 fun, while Kristy chose a sherry-tastic single malt for our New Arrival of the Week, took a peek at the mysterious 2019 Diageo Special Releases, and reported back on a magic trip to Tel Aviv’s Milk & Honey Distillery! Meanwhile, Henry mixed up a Tequila Sunrise for his Cocktail of the Week, chatted rum with Alexandre Gabriel from Plantation, and found out what on earth Uncle’s Day is with Uncle Nearest’s Fawn Weaver. Last but not least, Annie gave the 411 on where to grab a drink in Amsterdam, Nate Brown scooted over to Dublin’s Roe & Co, and our Jess carried on the Tequila and mezcal fun with a round up of agave spirits. Phew. But that’s not all – on with the news!

Beam Suntory

Behold, The Fred B. Noe Distillery!

Beam Suntory breaks ground James B. Beam distillery

In big American whiskey news, Beam Suntory announced this week that it’s investing a whopping $60 million to build a new craft distillery and bring back The James B. Beam Distilling Co. name to Clermont! The James B. Beam Distilling Co. was the company’s name immediately after Prohibition, and will now serve as the name of Beam Suntory’s Clermont operations, as well as encompassing the production operations for the Jim Beam brand and small-batch brands such as Booker’s and Knob Creek. This investment will also build the Fred B. Noe Craft Distillery on the Clermont site, named after seventh generation master distiller Fred Noe, which will house the exploration of exciting new fermentation and distillation techniques. “Beam Suntory is excited to honour our roots by investing in the James B. Beam Distilling Co., and setting ourselves up for a bright future in Kentucky and around the world,” commented Albert Baladi, President and CEO for Beam Suntory. “With nearly 225 years behind us, we are proud of our history of entrepreneurialism, craftsmanship and innovation. As the world leader in bourbon, we are thrilled to be laying the foundation for the next 225 years.” Goodbye Beam Suntory, hello The James B. Beam Distilling Co.!

Campari Rum

Campari takes on rum/rhum

Campari Group eyes up Rhum Agricole brands

Got a taste for the vegetal pronouncedness of Rhum Agricole? You are not alone. Campari Group, one of the world’s biggest drinks players, wants in, too. This week it was announced that the owner of the likes of Campari (obvs), Aperol, Wild Turkey and Bulldog Gin entered into “exclusive negotiations” with the parent company of Trois Rivières and Maison La Mauny (and Duquesne rum, too) to acquire the Martinique-based brands. While no price was revealed, the deal would include the brands themselves, the land they sit on, the distilleries and visitor centres, plus the aged rhum stocks. Yes please. In the press release, Campari Group said that if the deal goes through, it will “enhance its exposure to rum, a premiumising category currently at the heart of the mixology trend and growing cocktail culture”. It already owns Appleton Estate and Wray & Nephew, so it would make Campari a significant force for all things rum (and rhum). Ready the Ti Punches, folks!

Diageo

Cheers to a bumper year for Diageo!

Tanqueray and Don Julio drive Diageo sales

It’s that time of year again – financial results are in! And for Diageo, they make for pretty buoyant reading. Sales for the full year to 30 June hit £12.9 billion, up 5.8%, with profits hitting £4bn, (+9.5%). Why such strong results? Two words: gin and Tequila. Gin as a whole grew by 23% in value, with Tequila soaring by a whopping 37%. Brand-wise, Don Julio was a total stand-out, with sales climbing by an incredible 30%, while Tanqueray posted 21% gains. Which brands didn’t do quite so well? The biggest name to see a drop was Cîroc Vodka (-5%), although vodka as a whole actually saw 4% growth, a big deal seeing as the category has fared pretty poorly in recent times. And Scotch? All-in-all, things are going well! The category grew by 6%, with Johnnie Walker seeing values climb 7% on the previous year, and the Scotch malts collectively making 12% gains. Winning!

The Macallan Estate

The Macallan Estate, delicious and super popular

The Macallan unleashes home-grown Estate to the world

We had a thoroughly lovely Wednesday this week. Not only did The Macallan get its new Estate edition ready to ship, the brand also treated us to an utterly delightful lunch! We gathered at the incredible Hide in Piccadilly with Sarah Burgess, The Macallan’s whisky maker, and David Sinclair, brand ambassador to learn about (and of course, taste) the new expression. Burgess told us all about the production process – one week a year, mashing, fermentation and distillation is given over to barley grown exclusively on The Macallan estate. And the sensibly-named The Macallan Estate is the result! It’s an addition to the core range, and more bottles will be released each year (although Burgess stressed to us that she’s working to keep the flavour profile consistent over time). So, what’s it like? Tremendously autumnal, filled to the brim with appley, orchard fruit notes, plus lashings of marmalade on burnt toast, and a wash of sweet spices. Tasty.

Coupette Shimmer

Coupette’s mesmerising Shimmer cocktail

Coupette launches new menu ‘Summer’

Ah, Coupette. Something of a hole in the wall, to the uninitiated the award-winning bar may seem rather unsuspecting from the outside. We excitedly made our way down as just this week, founder Chris Moore launched the new menu in collaboration with local sign writer, Ged Palmer, titled ‘Summer’! One such epitome of the season was Strawberries & Cream, taking inspiration from Wimbledon and seasonal picnics. With strawberry eau de vie, rosé vermouth, wine and a vanilla-scented, clarified milk punch finish, served with a brush of white chocolate around the rim of the glass, it’s totally delicious without being overly sweet. This serve was just flying out from behind the bar, and no wonder in 34-degree heat! There’s a story behind each serve, and an intriguing one was Shimmer, marrying 30&40 Eau de Vie, green apple and sage, wine, genepi and sage soda, served in a mesmerising blue ceramic vessel on a blue geode coaster. Designed to be reminiscent of holidays and blue oceans it certainly accomplishes that, in flavour and aesthetic. Other delicious serves included the Bloody Martini with vodka, vin jaune, a clear tomato consommé and chive oil, part of a series of cocktails which mashes together two iconic drinks. There’s also a take on a Kir Royale, which sees a fabulous serving of blackcurrant sorbet in the cocktail glass. Slightly heavier serves include Obsidian, channelling a Rum Old Fashioned with the addition of cocoa and tangy passion fruit. We’ll certainly be back to try out the rest. Leave any expectations at the door, and prepare to be absolutely blown away with this stunningly complex and yet unpretentious menu. Bravo, Coupette.

Dalloway Terrace

Dalloway Terrace has cocktails on tap… from a flower wall!

Dalloway Terrace unveils new look for summer ’19

On Wednesday, we got to visit what is described by Vogue as “one of London’s most Instagrammable restaurants”. The Dalloway Terrace is now offering a taste of summer with the launch of its Summer Estate, in partnership with Ramsbury Distillery. Master florist, Nikki Tibbles, recreated the English countryside, transforming the Terrace with wild meadow flowers, blending silk daisies, cosmos, larkspur, delphiniums and foliage with embellishments of coral quince blossom. Flower walls are massive right now, and she created possibly the best one ever for the occasion:  a flower wall complete with botanical cocktails on tap. There’s also a bar for G&T drinkers where they can garnish drinks themselves with produce fresh from Ramsbury Estate. The seasonal cocktail menu will offer a selection of summer serves priced at £13. No reservations allowed at the Terrace, so be sure to get in quick – it’s open from 08:00am to11:00pm every day until mid-September.

Slane Irish Whiskey

Delicious and sustainable Slane Whiskey

Slane Irish Whiskey announces trio of winners in sustainable cocktail comp

Earlier this summer, Slane Distillery’s UK brand ambassador, Michael Brown, set a challenge to bartenders to create the most ‘suSLANEable’ cocktails. And this week, not one, not two but THREE winners were selected! Slane is located in the heart of Boyne Valley in Ireland and, inspired by Earth Day, had tasked bartenders across the UK to follow in its green footsteps. And they are big shoes to fill:  the distillery has already installed a “catchment system” to collect rainwater off the roofs of the distillery buildings to reduce the volume of water needed for production drawn from the Boyne River. Cool stuff! Joint winner Jack Riley from Present Company, Liverpool, says, “We should all be taking small steps to help the impact on the environment.” He worked with local coffee shops to create his nameless ‘suSLANEable’ cocktail: 45ml Slane Irish Whiskey, 20ml Spent Coffee-infused Martini Bitter, 15ml Tropical Cordial and 2 dash Bitter. Fellow champ Tom Sutton from H.M.S.S challenged himself to find and use leftover produce to create his “Castaway”, from just 40ml Slane Irish Whiskey, 30ml reclaimed cordial and stir into a frozen embassy. Simples. Finally, we have Leon Back and his recipe for “Little Winner”; 50ml Slane Irish Whiskey, 40ml ghetto cold brew (spent coffee grinds), coconut syrup, 10ml Martini ambrato, 10ml P.X. Sherry and 2 dashes Angostura bitter with some tonic water over ice.  Delicious. Evolving and improving every year, Slane is working to become one of the most environmentally-friendly whiskey distilleries in Europe… Check out this video for more inspo to make eco-friendly drinks.

Patron Tequila

Goodbye Tequila shots, hello Paloma!

Shots are out: Brits now prefer Tequila cocktails, according to Patrón

Step away from the salt and lime: Tequila is now officially preferred in cocktail form, rather than as a shot, in new research from Patrón. In a study that suggests Tequila has finally shaken off its hard-partying image, more than 65% of drinkers said they enjoy Tequila cocktails on a night out, over slammers. It makes sense: Tequila is the fastest growing spirit in the UK, according to Euromonitor. Despite the upgraded drinking habits, Tequila knowledge is at a bit of a low. Only 23% of those questioned knew Tequila was made from agave, while just 10% showed knowledge of aged Tequilas. One response? To get tasting! You can find an array of Tequila drams for that purpose right here. What’s your Tequila of choice? Let us know in the comments below!

Nelsons distillery

Nelson’s carbon neutral distillery from the skies

Nelson’s Distillery bags eco award

More green news! Word reached us this week that Nelson’s Distillery & School in Uttoxeter, Staffordshire, won a Green Impact Award for its eye-popping efforts to reduce, reuse and recycle. The award itself is the Signal 1 Radio Green Award, given out to recognise and celebrate local businesses making great strides in sustainability. Striving to be totally “off-grid” since 2016, Nelson’s is based at a flashy, futuristic and carbon neutral site with numerous green energy sources, including a wind turbine and super-snazzy anaerobic digester power plants. The site sells energy back to the grid, the team live in the local village to reduce traffic and pollution, they have their own natural water source, and use the reed beds to filter the water used in gin and rum. If this doesn’t sound amazeballs enough, then what about the 10% customer discount you get if you returning or repurposing the bottles?! More distilleries take note.  

Flor de Caña

No lunch, but lots of Flor de Caña!

Boisdale celebrates Nicaraguan rum

Last Friday, we were invited by Ranald MacDonald from Boisdale for an intimate lunch at his Belgravia restaurant with her excellency Guisell Morales-Echaverry, Nicaraguan Ambassador to the United Kingdom, in honour of Ron Flor de Caña. How could we refuse? When we arrived, the intimate lunch was a room heaving with dignitaries including the Bulgarian ambassador. So many ambassadors. It was like a Ferraro Roche advert. Only with less to eat. Of lunch there was no sign. We were whisked upstairs by Matro Ortiz Lima, the Chilean brand ambassador with a strong Scottish accent, to sample three rums, a 12 year old, 18 year old and a 25 year old. According to Lima, Flor de Caña these are minimum ages, as with Scotch whisky and indeed Jamaican rum. Apparently, the company has unparalleled stocks of mature spirit because during the revolutionary period from 1970 to 1990, the family who own the brand hid rum all over the country. We finished with the coffee and tobacco-scented 25 year old, which went beautifully with a big cigar. Something else this country does superbly. But of the promised lunch, there was no sign. 

Jack Daniel's Shoes

Jack Daniel’s takes on footwear

And finally… Jack Daniel’s-inspired… shoes?

Jack Daniel’s has made its first foray into the world of footwear! The whiskey giant has teamed up with the awesomely-named Shoe Surgeon, aka Dominic Chambrone, and together they’ve created seven Jack Daniel’s-inspired trainers (or rather, ‘sneakers’, as they’re calling them across the pond). “Craftsmanship is the ultimate common detonator between what I do and those who make Jack Daniel’s,” Chambrone commented. Each of the seven shoe designs was inspired by an iconic element of the Jack Daniel’s brand. These are grain, Cave Springs, the distillery, charcoal, the barrel, honey, and the Jack Daniel’s bottle. If you want in, then you’ll have to vote online in August, with only 10 lucky voters in to win a pair. We don’t like those odds… Our only question is, can you drink out of them?

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Springtime treats for Mother’s Day

Struggling for Mother’s Day presents? In need to replace the winter warmers with refreshing, spring-tastic booze? Well then you’ve come to the right place. With Mother’s Day fast approaching (it’s…

Struggling for Mother’s Day presents? In need to replace the winter warmers with refreshing, spring-tastic booze? Well then you’ve come to the right place.

With Mother’s Day fast approaching (it’s Sunday 31st) and spring very much in full flow, it’s the perfect time to indulge in some seasonal spirits and splash out on great gift ideas.

Fortunately for you, we’re on hand to give you a, err… hand. Not only have we put together a show-stopping list of perfect presents on our Mother’s Day gifts page (where you’ll find gin gifts, whisky gifts, tasting sets, gift sets and gift vouchers), but we’ve also picked out a super selection of spring-themed tipples that we reckon you and the matriarch in your family would most certainly love to sip on a warm evening.

So, what are you waiting for? Brilliant booze is just a scroll away…

The Epicurean

One of Douglas Laing’s Remarkable Regional Malts, The Epicurean is an expression created to highlight the best of Scotland’s Lowland region and tell the story of a 1930s Glaswegian maverick, who is pictured on the bottle’s label. A small-batch bottling that’s presented without any additional colouring or chill-filtration, The Epicurean is another winner from the ever-reliable Douglas Laing that’s delicious neat or in a variety of serves.

What does it taste like?:

Apples, pears and white grapes, chocolate fudge, cloudy lemonade, honey’d barley and a thin layer of thyme honey are joined by notes of elegant lemongrass, grist and cereals, as well as a pinch of pepper.

Spring-tastic serve: The Epicurean Horse’s Neck

Douglas Laing created this cocktail to highlight all that’s great about The Epicurean’s light, sweet and grassy profile. To make, simply add ice, lemon peel and 3 dashes of Angostura Bitters to a tall glass. Then add 25ml of The Epicurean and top with a good quality ginger ale. Stir and then serve, while preparing yourself for any number of Godfather-based dad jokes.

Whitley Neill Rhubarb & Ginger Gin

Who doesn’t look at this beauty and immediately think of sprucing up their G&Ts or creating any number of delicious cocktails? You may know Whitley Neill as the English gin with an exotic, African inspired flavour profile, but the brand has looked closer to home for its inspiration with this expression. This Rhubarb & Ginger Gin pairs two rustic and distinctive flavours in delicious gin-tastic harmony, to the extent that the World Gin Awards 2018 felt it deserved a silver medal in the Flavoured Gin category!

What does it taste like?:

Subtly tart with clear rhubarb influence. A twist of orange sweetness and herbaceous coriander brings balance to the palate.

Spring-tastic serve: The Rhubarb and Ginger Spritz

This cocktail is spring and simplicity in a glass, metaphorically of course. To make, simply take a highball glass and fill with cubed ice. Pour 50ml Whitley Neill Rhubarb and Ginger Gin and 15ml of lemon juice into the glass and give it a quick stir to infuse. Top with a good quality tonic water, then garnish with fresh orange slices and serve to your guests who are no doubt picking flowers or birthing lambs or whatever people do when it’s springtime.

Glenmorangie Allta Private Edition

A rich, fruity and intriguing expression, Allta (Scots Gaelic for ‘wild’) was released as part of the pioneering Private Edition series. It’s the very first whisky to be created from a bespoke strain of wild yeast growing on local barley and the resulting spirit was matured in ex-bourbon barrels. Classic Glenmorangie style meets experimental flair. What’s not to love?

What does it taste like?:

Rounded, with biscuity, yeasty tones, floral notes of carnations, vanilla, butter candy, soft raisins, gentle mint and sweet mandarin orange.

Spring-tastic serve: The Old Fashioned

The Old Fashioned is delicious and simple. What more could you ask from a cocktail? To create, start by putting a level teaspoon of brown sugar into an Old Fashioned glass. Then add a splash of hot water and a two dashes of Fee Brothers Orange bitters. Stir vigorously so that the sugar dissolves, then add 80ml of Glenmorangie Allta Private Edition. Stir a bit more, add ice cubes, stir a bit more and garnish with a piece of orange peel. Serve while trying to keep the yeast-based facts to a minimum. It’s not much of a crowd pleaser for those who aren’t whisky geeks like us.

Issan (That Boutique-y Rum Company)

For those who want an introduction to the superb category of cane juice spirits, this complex and characterful Rhum Agricole should do the trick. It was sourced by That Boutique-y Rum Company from Issan, a Thai distillery that places a pleasing emphasis on sustainability and community. The spirit is made with the juice from red sugar cane, which is distilled in the copper pot still that you see on the label. Intriguing, tasty and perfect for enjoying in cocktails or on its own, this is one for the adventurous types.

What does it taste like?:

Grassy and herbaceous, with green olive water, damp hay, tinned sweetcorn water, aromatic vanilla, butterscotch, dark berries and a hint of honey blossom lingers.

Spring-tastic serve: Neat

It’s really worth trying this one on its own before you indulge yourself in the wonderful world of Agricole rum cocktails. The connoisseurs of this style of spirit will be rewarded with the kind of profile they adore, while newcomers will get a chance to experience the delights of its unique character in all of its naked glory.

Glenkinchie 12 Year Old

The flagship expression from the Glenkinchie distillery and a sublime introduction to the Lowland region, Glenkinchie 12 Year Old was declared the winner of the Best Lowland Single Malt at the World Whiskies Awards 2016 for good reason. Full of light, sweet and creamy notes, this is one to have fun and play with in a number of serves.

What does it taste like?:

Light and aromatic with hints of barley malt, almonds, hazelnuts, stewed fruits, dessert wine, apple peels and manuka honey/beeswax.

Spring-tastic serve: The Whisky Sour

It’s a classic for good reason, the Whisky Sour. To create your own barnstorming edition, you’ll need to add 45ml of Glenkinchie 12 Year Old, 25ml of fresh lemon juice and 25ml of simple syrup (if you want to make your own, it’s one part water to one part sugar) to a shaker filled with ice. Then shake the mix and strain it into a tumbler filled with fresh ice. Finally, garnish with a single Luxardo Maraschino Cherry and a lemon wedge, then serve and raise a glass to whisky, springtime, whisky, Mother’s Day and great whisky!

Monkey 47 Dry Gin

An ever-popular, wonderfully unusual and utterly delicious gin from the Black Forest in Germany, Monkey 47 contains a total of 47 botanicals (actual monkeys, or indeed any member of the band The Monkeys aren’t one them, relax) and was bottled at a healthy 47%. No prizes for guessing why it’s called Monkey 47 (also presumably because monkeys rock). Among the 47 botanicals are the likes of Acorus calamus, almond, angelica, bitter orange, blackberry, cardamom, cassia, chamomile, cinnamon, lemon verbena, cloves, coriander, cranberries, cubeb, dog rose, elderflower, ginger, Grains of Paradise, hawthorn berries, hibiscus abelmoschus, hibiscus syriacus… you get the idea.

What does it taste like?:

Fresh grassy citrus, sweet liquorice, plenty of spice, juicy berries, cardamom, pine and herbal juniper.

Spring-tastic serve: Schwarzendorff Martini

A brilliant Black Forest-inspired twist on the universally adored cocktail, the Schwarzendorff Martini couldn’t be simpler to make. All you have to do is combine 45ml of Monkey 47 Dry Gin, 45ml of Schatzel Riesling 2016, two dashes of Angostura Orange Bitters and a little ice together in a cocktail shaker. Shake this mix and then strain it into a chilled Martini glass. Garnish with lemon zest and a dash of cinnamon, and have a few monkey-based puns ready for when you serve. If you don’t do it, somebody else will.

Cazcabel Honey Liqueur

One for the mothers or mother figures that are sweeter than sugar, this superb honey liqueur from Cazcabel was made using its Blanco Tequila as a base and honey sourced from local bees. An individual, distinctive liqueur, this is a bold and crowd-pleasing tipple that’s simply begging to be put to good use in a cocktail.

What does it taste like?:

Rich, sweet and full of honey and caramel with earthy and smoky notes.

Spring-tastic serve: Honey I’ve Made Margaritas!

A refreshing, warm and street treat, you can make this take on the classic Margarita by combining 55ml of Cazcabel Honey Liqueur, 20ml of fresh lemon juice and 40ml of Gran Marnier in a cocktail shaker. Stir vigorously then add a cup of ice and shake for 10 seconds. Pour straight into a Margarita glass, garnish with a lemon wheel and serve. If you want a salted rim, then before you make the cocktail you’ll need to take a lemon wedge and coat the rim of the glass. Then dip it in margarita salt, rotating until coated.

Compass Box Hedonism

Smooth, creamy and really very tasty, Hedonism represents Compass Box trying to create a decedent dram, as the name suggests. It’s a blended grain whisky featuring liquid (depending on batch variation) from Cameronbridge, Carsebridge, Cambus, Invergordon, Port Dundas or Dumbarton that was matured in 100% first-fill American oak barrels or rejuvenated American oak hogsheads. Equally delicious neat or in a multitude of classic cocktails, Hedonism is also amazing with a caramel-based dessert.

What does it taste like?:

Fraises des bois, sponge cake, red pepper, black cherry, milk chocolate, toasted oak and sweet spices with some cereal notes.

Spring-tastic serve: The Rob Roy

In this delightful Rob Roy the vanilla-rich Hedonism mirrors the bourbon-based profile of the cocktail’s inspiration, The Manhattan. To create, stir 50ml of Compass Box Hedonism with 20ml Cocchi Vermouth di Torino, a dash of Angostura Bitters and ice. Then strain and serve up in a coupe glass garnished with a Luxardo Maraschino Cherry before toasting your mother/mother figure because they’ve almost certainly earned it!

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The best January refreshments!

The annual season of overindulgence has ended. You’re probably in need of some good refreshment. These fab tipples ought to do the trick. It’s time to face up to facts….

The annual season of overindulgence has ended. You’re probably in need of some good refreshment. These fab tipples ought to do the trick.

It’s time to face up to facts. We overdid it last festive season. Again. There’s no point denying it. We spent most of December non-stop consuming. We put away more pigs in blankets than a fairytale wolf. Our plates were more potato than ceramic. Cheese boards and selection boxes trembled in our wake. It was the best of times. But it could never last.

Now we need some refreshment. To swap indulgence for invigoration. The kind of booze we treat ourselves to is a fine place to start. So, feast your eyes upon these fresh and fun tipples, a list of drinks we think make up some of the best January refreshments around!

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Ten awesome Agricole rums you need in your life

We’re more than halfway through Rum Month, people! It’s time we showed a little bit of love to the category’s hipster alias, Rhum Agricole. We’ve picked out ten top-notch bottlings…

We’re more than halfway through Rum Month, people! It’s time we showed a little bit of love to the category’s hipster alias, Rhum Agricole. We’ve picked out ten top-notch bottlings to acquaint you – single-speed bikes and tiny dogs remain optional.

You could consider Rhum Agricole as the mezcal of the Tequila world, or the rye of American whiskey. Much like mezcal and rye, it’s rooted in history and tradition, considered ‘challenging’ to the uninitiated palate, and cherished by die-hard category fans and trendsetting millennials alike.

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