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Master of Malt Blog

Tag: rum

The Nightcap: 26 November

This week’s Nightcap is wall-to-wall amazing Scotch from the likes of Glenfiddich, Johnnie Walker, Lagavulin and more. Plus a whiskey barrel Christmas tree and chilli bacon vodka… Do you know…

This week’s Nightcap is wall-to-wall amazing Scotch from the likes of Glenfiddich, Johnnie Walker, Lagavulin and more. Plus a whiskey barrel Christmas tree and chilli bacon vodka…

Do you know what today is? The day when it really hits home how close Christmas is. December, and Advent with it, is next week. This time next month it will be over. We have officially entered the season to be jolly. But you don’t need to panic and suddenly force yourself to feel the Christmas spirit. It’s Friday, relax and take in a nice bundle of stories from the world of booze first.

Other stories we covered this week include our guide to Black Friday 2021, word on Aston Martin and Bowmore’s latest collaboration, the reforming of Delamain Pale and Dry XO, and shining a spotlight on Brandy de Jerez. We also stirred up a seasonal drink inspired by the ancient Druids rounded up our top 10 Christmas drinks, and found out what #WhiskySanta’s latest Super Wish is.

The Nightcap: 26 November edition!

The Nightcap: 26 November

The first of our amazing whiskies this week

Glenfiddich auctions 42-year-old Scotch whisky

Glenfiddich and Goodwood are teaming up for a pretty special whisky release, which we’re lucky enough to taste. Just three decanters of a 42-year-old Glenfiddich have been released to be auctioned by Bonhams to raise funds for Race Against Dementia at 11:00 on 7 December 2021. The whisky is taken from cask #11136 from Warehouse 8, which is a refill American oak hogshead barrel that has been maturing since 13 April 1979. It’s a celebration of Goodwood’s historic whisky connection, which can be traced back to 1836 when a chance inheritance handed Gordon Castle and its estate to the fifth Duke of Richmond, who was alarmed by his tenant’s illicit distilling and used political influence and commercial nous to ensure distilling became legal; paving the way for  William Grant to build the Glenfiddich Distillery. Each decanter is paired with a VIP experience at a renowned Goodwood motorsport event and a photograph taken and signed by renowned Formula 1 photographer Rainer Schlegelmilch as well as motor racing legend Sir Jackie Stewart OBE.  Master distiller Brian Kinsman says about the dram that cask #11136 is “a stunning example of Glenfiddich, with an oaky, sweet and long-lasting taste. It has reached a perfection that few casks will ever achieve and is the ideal whisky to celebrate our long-standing relationship with Goodwood.” Each liquid is contained in a hand-blown crystal decanter by renowned French crystal maker Baccarat, and Bonhams have given a low estimate for each lot of £6,500. It’s a great cause and we can confirm the whisky is worthy of the plaudits. Its elegance and balance are astounding. We do hope whoever buys it actually drinks it.

The Nightcap: 26 November

Master of Flavours is made up of whiskies aged for at least 48 years from distilleries like Brora and Glenury Royal.

Johnnie Walker ends series in style with Master of Flavour

In one of his final releases before he retires at the end of the year, Johnnie Walker master blender Jim Beveridge has put together the final edition of the cracking Masters range. Johnnie Walker Masters Of Flavour has an ABV of 41.8% and was made with whiskies aged for at least 48 years from ghost distilleries like Glyn Albyn, Port Dundas, Brora, and Glenury Royal, which was balanced together with whisky from Cameronbridge, Blair Athol, and Dalwhinnie. No wonder there’s only 288 bottles priced at £20,000. To create the special release, Beveridge teamed up with previous collaborators Donna Anderson, malt master, James Carson, cask master, and Douglas Murray, distillation master, to pay tribute to the skill of whisky-making. It’s the third and final whisky in the Johnnie Walker Masters series, which includes Ruby Reserve, a celebration of Jim Beveridge’s 30 years working in whisky, and the John Walker Masters’ Edition, a whisky crafted using Scotch aged for a minimum of 50 years from distilleries that were operational during the lifetime of Johnnie Walker founder John Walker. Much like both of them, Masters of Flavour is presented in a Baccarat crystal decanter within a bespoke oak cabinet. Although, it has to be said it does look like a bottle of Haig Club made especially for the Green Goblin. Still, we imagine the whisky itself is outstanding, and excitingly we’ll have a chance to find that out soon…

The Nightcap: 26 November

The new mezcal cask Islay Jazz Festival bottling is sure to get whisky fans chattering

Lagavulin new Jazz Festival bottling is aged in mezcal casks!

The world does slowly seem to be getting back to normal but sadly this year’s Islay Jazz Festival will once again be online only this year. But never fear because sponsor Lagavulin’s annual festival bottling is happening and you can drink it IRL. It’s one that fans won’t want to miss because after initial maturation in refill bourbon casks it then spends an unspecified time in American oak barrels that previously held mezcal! Highly unusual. It’s bottled at a cask strength of 54.8% with a 13-year-old age statement, and will cost you £160. Distillery manager Pierrick Guillaume described it as “The first Lagavulin to be finished in mezcal casks with a distinctive and unusual flavour profile is sure to intrigue and excite Lagavulin fans and beyond.” “Distinctive and unusual” is just right. You probably wouldn’t guess that it had been aged in ex-mezcal casks, but it is hugely spicy and meaty with a strong lingering saline seaweedy finish. There’s also creamy toffee and vanilla lurking beneath stopping it all from getting too much. It’s a fascinating, highly complex dram, that’s sure to get whisky fans chattering. At the moment it’s a distillery-only release but we will let you know if we can get hold of a bottle or two.   

The Nightcap: 26 November

We tried this $30,000 51-year-old whisky. It’s pretty tasty.

Royal Salute releases $30k 51-year-old limited edition

We’ve had some packaging on whisky samples at Master of Malt but still, the arrival of Royal Salute 51 Year Old managed to cause a stir at the office. The 50ml sample came in a solid wooden box wrapped in gold (not real gold, sadly) chains with a combination padlock. It’s the second release in Royal Salute’s ‘Time Series Collection’ made up of casks filled before 1970 including some from ghost distilleries. Only 101 crystal decanters are available. Master blender Sandy Hyslop described it as “an undeniably special expression that blends exceptional style with high-aged whisky. Crafting a Scotch of that age requires intense care and attention to ensure the cask characteristics are perfectly absorbed without being overpowering, and the moment I tested the final blend will stay with me forever; the masterful role that time has played over a minimum of five decades of slow maturation really blew me away. This release is a one-of-a-kind expression, and I am honoured to contribute to the legacy that the outstanding Royal Salute Time Series Collection is making in the world of rare and collectable whisky.” There’s no doubt that it’s a special drop of quite jaw-dropping complexity. On the nose, there’s toffee, peaches, dark chocolate, cinnamon and cardamom with a distinct waxy note like you find in Brora (could this be one of the ghost distilleries in the blend?). The palate is spicy and lively with menthol, manuka honey, Jamaica cake, and a lingering waxy texture. We feel lucky to have had a wee taste especially as at $30,000 a pop we are very unlikely to ever taste it again. Well, we suppose that explains the packaging. 

The Nightcap: 26 November

It’s a masterclass from Ian worth seeing

Ian Burrell takes Equiano on UK rum tour

Global rum ambassador and co-founder of The Equiano Rum Co Ian Burrell is taking to the road this winter with A Tale of Two Rum Islands, a fascinating presentation of the rum-producing histories of Barbados and Mauritius. The event also gives guests the opportunity to taste Equiano Original and Equiano Light and learn the story behind its name, honouring the legacy of African-born writer, entrepreneur, abolitionist and freedom fighter Olaudah Equiano, as well as learn about the brand’s philanthropic endeavours. The session concludes with a Q&A, a rare chance to get geeky with one of the industry’s leading authorities. Burrell’s first UK tour in five years kicked off in London on 22 November, and we attended and had a blast. He then headed to Brighton (23 November) and will visit Nottingham (30 November) and Manchester (1 December) next, before continuing the tour in January 2022 in Liverpool, Sheffield, Leeds, Bristol, Cardiff, London, Newcastle, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Oxford, and Birmingham. We highly recommend it. Equiano is also marking International Day for the Abolition of Slavery (2 December) by teaming up with London bar Duchess of Dalston (from the team behind Callooh Callay) to create an exclusive cocktail and raise money for Anti-Slavery International

The Nightcap: 26 November

No need to panic yet but we do want to see some progress here

Wine and spirits firms warn of Christmas alcohol shortage in UK

There’s no need to panic but… a group of 48 wine and spirits companies have told transport secretary Grant Shapps that Britain will suffer a Christmas alcohol shortage unless the government does more to address the lack of HGV drivers. Businesses including Pernod Ricard, Moët Hennessy, and the Wine Society raised concerns over rising costs and supply chain “chaos”, raising the risk that supermarkets will run dry and festive deliveries arrive late. Members of the Wine and Spirit Trade Association (WSTA), which coordinated the letter, reported that importing products is taking five times longer than a year ago and that small businesses are struggling to compete as delivery firms have had to raise HGV drivers’ wages. Unpredictable arrival times are also resulting in goods being either not ready or are left waiting for collection. The call is for Shapps to extend a temporary visa scheme for HGV drivers, which expires in February 2022, to a year, and for the government to smooth congested freight routes from ports, as well as providing regular updates on how many HGV driver licences are being processed by the DVLA. “Government needs to be doing all it can to ensure British business is not operating with one hand tied behind its back over the festive season and beyond,” Miles Beale, the WSTA chief executive, summarised. Let’s hope the resolution is forthcoming, and if you do need any booze for Christmas, we might have an idea of where to get some….

The Nightcap: 26 November

Want to serve draught pints at home right in time for Christmas? Now you can

Guinness launches £750 home beer tap

Guinness is launching a limited-edition at-home tap to serve draught pints right in time for Christmas. Following the successful rollout of the technology in pubs, bars and restaurants across the UK earlier this year, the system should help you attain a better pint in your own home, although we all know how hard it is to get Guinness right regardless. The new technology is thankfully simple. Just pop a Guinness Microdraft into the pint puller, and the technology itself guides the user on how to conduct the perfect two-part pour. “Guinness Microdraft enables people to enjoy a beautiful looking and delicious tasting Draught Guinness on tap in a completely new setting for the first time ever,” said head of Guinness GB, Neil Shah. “Whether it’s to pour the perfect drink at a festive gathering, a Christmas gift for a friend or family member, or simply to enjoy an iconic drink of the black stuff at home with loved ones, Guinness Microdraft is sure to be a hit among beer lovers.” The Guinness Microdraft Bar Tap will be available to purchase for £750 from 6 December and arrives with four Guinness Microdraft cans and two Guinness pint glasses.

The Nightcap: 26 November

Should we be doing more to enjoy the vast array of different wines available?

The most popular wines in the UK revealed

A new survey, which looked at the preferences in wine varieties of adults of drinking age has revealed the top 10 most popular wines in the UK. Winemaking simulator game Hundred Days, which allows players to “embark on a journey of winemaking,” found the favourite varieties, although there’s not much in the way of surprises. Coming in first place is Pinot Grigio, then Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc. Merlot and Rosé rounded up the top five, with Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, Zinfandel, Malbec, and Rioja having to settle for places in the top 10. “Britain is one of the largest importers of wine, taking in over $4 billion worth of crates, bags and bottles in 2020. Yet, our research shows that the nation is largely shying away from expanding their wine repertoire and are stuck in a wine rut – making the same purchases over and over again,” says Yves Hohler, lead designer and co-founder of Broken Arm Games. Typically, they feel their game can make a difference by showcasing the vast array of different wines available. Of course, you could save yourself the effort and just click here

The Nightcap: 26 November

The Christmas tree from 150 repurposed Irish whiskey barrels

Hinch Distillery makes barrel Christmas tree

Getting truly into the festive spirit is Hinch Distillery, which has unveiled a 24ft Christmas tree made from up-cycled whiskey barrels. Topped off with sparkling lights and a big bow, the one-of-a-kind ‘tree’ was made from 150 repurposed Hinch Irish whiskey barrels and took 48 painstaking hours to do. It took a team of eight under the helm of Co Down decoration installer to create the structure, which pays homage to the whiskey distilling process at Hinch, including a globe made from strips that hold the barrels in place. After Christmas, the plan will be to repurpose it for furnishings including chairs and plant pots to make it a year-round installation. Hinch Distillery, which will celebrate its one year anniversary this month, lies between Belfast and Ballynahinch on the Carryduff Road and is nestled in the grounds of the beautiful Killaney Estate, so if you want to see it for yourself, you know where to go. Be sure if you’re interested to see The Whiskey Barrel Christmas Tree light switch-on, which we imagine will be quite a sight. The distillery, which has not yet got its own whiskey, has also bottled a 12-year-old Amarone Cask Finish expression. But that’s just not as impressive as a big barrel tree, is it?

The Nightcap: 26 November

Ever tried Chilli Bacon Vodka before? Now you can. Huzzah.

And finally… Baller launches chilli bacon vodka 

The ‘And finally…’ section of The Nightcap has featured many a mad product before, from the strangest of gins to the most confusing of creations. This week we’ve got a chilli bacon vodka to cast a suspicious eye on, straight from London-based distillery Doghouse. The creators of Baller Vodka, which claims to be the capital’s only vodka made from scratch, dreamt up the new flavour to “disrupt the category” thanks to its “first-of-its-kind” chilli and bacon combination. It’s produced using the brand’s wheat vodka as a base, with Mexican-grown Habanero chillies and a secret ingredient, which apparently isn’t actual bacon, to give it a bacon sweet smokiness. Could be vegan then. Not that I’d imagine that’s the target market. The distillery says to enjoy Baller Chilli Bacon Vodka with dry ginger ale and a squeeze of lime juice, or in a Bloody Mary cocktail – which in fairness I can see working. Mostly this will be bought by people needing a joke present or something to shot on stag-dos you’d think. And more power to them. We are, after all, the folks behind this monstrosity

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Top ten Christmas drinks

In need of the perfect festive tipples? We thought you might be so from mulled wine to advocaat, we’ve rounded up our top ten Christmas drinks. Christmas is arguably the best time…

In need of the perfect festive tipples? We thought you might be so from mulled wine to advocaat, we’ve rounded up our top ten Christmas drinks.

Christmas is arguably the best time of year to have a drink. From office parties, festive fizz opportunities, or a dram of whisky to keep out the cold, there’s no end to the excuses to have a cheeky tipple. Then there are certain drinks like sloe gin or mulled wine that just scream Christmas.  

From Gingerbread Rum to gin made with festive botanicals and even Brussel Sprout Vodka we’ve got the best selection right here, for your convenience. Perfect if you need to do a little present shopping too…

Top ten Christmas drinks

Christmas drinks

Christmas Mulled Cup

Christmas is a cup is what is promised in this delightful creation. Created as the perfect base for simple, delicious mulled wine, Winter Mulled Cup is produced with a mix of VSOP Cognac, fine Port and festive spices. Then, this is combined with cold-distilled orange and lemon peels and cold-distilled fresh root ginger. It’s not just great for mulled wine, you can make all kinds of wonderful things with this beauty and even sip it neat.

Christmas drinks

Christmas Cake & Dark Chocolate & Medjool Dates & Cinnamon 8 Year Old

Whisky that tastes like Christmas is something none of us should pass up and this bottling hits the nail on the head. Featuring festive flavours like Christmas cake, dark chocolate, medjool dates, and cinnamon, the aptly named Christmas Cake & Dark Chocolate & Medjool Dates & Cinnamon is a superb Speyside single malt Scotch whisky, aged for eight years and boasting a sleighful of Yuletide elements. Any whisky fan will be thrilled to find a bottle under the tree with their name on it.

Christmas drinks

GINgle All The Way (That Boutique-y Gin Company)

You might not be a big fan of puns, but seasonal gin is something we can all agree on as being a wonderful thing. That Boutique-y Gin Company’s GINgle All The Way come complete with a festive snow globe on the label that is filled with the gin’s botanicals, and you can see the likes of spot cocoa, bitter orange, ginger and cardamom. Note, the baubles aren’t botanicals. The recommended festive serve is to add a splash of grapefruit tonic, which sounds absolutely amazing, doesn’t it?

Christmas drinks

Project #173 Gingerbread Rum

Let’s face it, we all love a good drink that’s based on a classic flavour. Jaffa Cakes. Chocolate. Even gingerbread. It’s a bedfellow of rum anyway, as both are spicy and sweet, but the folks behind Project #173 have ramped things up a notch by taking a good quality rum as a base and bringing in all those yummy aforementioned flavours you’ll find in gingerbread to pair with it. The bottle even features a flake of 23 karat gold leaf, making this one extra-giftable. 

 

 

Christmas drinks

Shanky’s Whip 

If you are looking for an alternative to your favourite cream liqueur this Christmas, then why not try Shanky’s Whip? This affordable and versatile Irish whiskey-based liqueur is based on a combination of Irish spirits, and aged pot still whiskey, blended in with the natural flavour of vanilla-infused with caramel. Smooth, rich and creamy, it’s the perfect drink to serve to guests this festive season as an after-dinner digestif, well chilled over ice or even as an indulgent liquid dessert! 

Christmas drinks

Tiptree Christmas Pudding Rum Liqueur

Did you know you can distil Christmas puddings? Well, you can. And Wilkin & Sons did for the wonderful boozy arm of its Tiptree range. This small-batch English rum was distilled alongside hand-made Tiptree Christmas puddings to create the ultimate festive liqueur. Play around and make all kinds of wonderful seasonal cocktails, or enjoy as an after-dinner sipper.

Christmas drinks

Big Peat at Christmas 2021

We love a bit of Big Peat and don’t need an excuse to enjoy it at Christmas, but creator Douglas Laing has given us one anyway. This limited edition bottling of Big Peat follows something of an annual tradition for the fab independent bottler, who make the blended malt with malt whiskies from a medley of marvellous Islay distillery, and boasts a full-bodied peaty profile. Titular character Big Peat is naturally the star of the label, enjoying a spot of sledding. 

Hayman's Sloe Gin

Hayman’s Sloe Gin

Were you out in November collecting sloe berries to make your own gin liqueur? No, we weren’t either. Instead we rely on Hayman’s to do it for us, blending their classic gin with sloes and sugar to make a classic winter drink. You can sip it neat, rather as you would Port, but it also makes a great addition to various cocktails like the Negroni (or Sloegroni), Bramble, or combine it with English sparkling wine for a British take on a Kir Royale.

Advocaat

Advocaat Warninks

Advocaat is a traditional Dutch liqueur made from a mixture of egg yolks, vanilla, sugar and alcohol. It’s essentially boozy custard and who doesn’t like boozy custard? Warninks, the leading brand is part of the De Kuyper group. This can be used to make such classic cocktails as a Green Monster, a Fluffy Duck, a Broken Nose, and, of course, a Squashed Frog. Oh and don’t forget the mighty Snowball.

Christmas drinks

Nelson’s Brussel Sprout Vodka

What a way to round things off, right? And don’t think we’re trying to fool you, this is real. Nelson’s used a whole load of Brussels sprouts to create the most festive and ludicrous of vodkas. Oh, and if it wasn’t Christmassy enough, if you shake it, it also sparkles. Perfect as something of a joke for the office Christmas party or as an after-dinner surprise.

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Master of Malt tastes… That Boutique-y Rum Co. Wine Cask series

Tomorrow we’ve got a whole bunch of brilliantly Boutique-y releases, both whisky and rum that are uniquely finished in a variety of wine casks. Today we’re going to preview the…

Tomorrow we’ve got a whole bunch of brilliantly Boutique-y releases, both whisky and rum that are uniquely finished in a variety of wine casks. Today we’re going to preview the wonderful rums with help from the man himself, Peter Holland.

Mark it in your diary folks, tomorrow is a big day. Because we’ve got all kinds of delightful booze landing here. Both That Boutique-y Whisky and That Boutique-y Rum Co. are releasing a collection of small-batch spirits that share a common theme: wine casks have been used, for finishing, or full maturation. 

That Boutique-y Rum’s Wine Cask series

The whisky

Today we’re giving more of a spotlight to the rum, but it would be wrong not to talk about the whisky at all. This series is a collection of ten whiskies from Scandinavia, USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and more, featuring four brand new distilleries to Boutique-y including its first first-ever Canadian and Italian whiskies, complete with labels from the pen of Emily Chappell. There’s also the usual array of kick-ass Scotch single malts, as well as a single grain from a closed distillery. 

And every single one features a wine cask in its maturation process, including Sauternes, Pinot Noir, Marsala and Oloroso sherry. Boutique-y Dave, or Dave Worthington if you want to get all official, told us that this was inspired by whisky’s long history of utilizing wine casks. 

Highlights include the brand’s second batch from France’s first whisky distillery, Armorik, which was matured in a Sauternes wine cask, a three malt mash bill whisky from Puni in Italy aged in an ex-bourbon barrel and finished in a Pinot Noir Cask, the first Boutique-y Teerenpeli release from Finland with full maturation in a Spanish ex-Oloroso sherry cask, and a drink that technically can’t be called whisky (it was matured outside of Canada but distilled there, nice and confusing), but is in effect the first corn whisky produced in Canada to be given the Boutique-y treatment. It’s a 5 Year Old corn whisky that was finished in ex-Oloroso casks.

The rum

As for the rum, the four-strong selection hails from across the Caribbean and Europe, including That Boutique-y Rum’s first-ever Dutch rum. Peter Holland tells us that, with every release, he hopes to push the corners of the Rum map out a little further to “bring something new to our loyal fanbase, attract new followers, and challenge some conventions for the sheer bloody-minded pleasure of it”. 

He adds that the Wine Cask series is perfectly suited to the season, and offers the perfect balance of being “really very approachable and attractive to the relatively inexperienced, and yet still offering a geeky angle for the experienced rummies out there”. He continues: “Excited doesn’t quite cover it, and I really can’t wait to get these rums in front of folks. Regrettably, the only issue will be grabbing one while we can as they are sure to sell out fast.” 

The first of the new series is another addition to the Secret Distillery line, this time a deliciously-easy-drinking Dominican Republic rum, the first bottling from the country. There’s also a Foursquare Sauternes Cask and, if you’re of a mind to explore, a fabulously fruity Engenho Novo da Madeira Amarone Cask as well as a phenomenal Pedro Ximénez Cask matured rum from Zuidam Distillery named the Flying Dutchman. Let’s get to know them a bit better.

That Boutique-y Rum’s Wine Cask series

Secret Distillery #5, 7 Year Old – Batch 1

The Dominican Republic is regarded for its lighter distilled style rums, the flavours of which are characterised by time in oak cask, and then blended for complexity. This single cask release was distilled from a multi-column set up using molasses and spent five years maturing in the DR, before being moved to the UK, and transferred into ex-Madeira wine cask for a further two years. 

Stylistically you should expect a lot of cask driven flavours with dark fruit (blackcurrant), plenty of zestiness and balance as well as a chewy texture. This one is ideal for anyone just getting into cask strength rums, it’s a more comfortable, approachable profile compared to some of the ‘heavy’ Boutique-y releases, and is a safe bet for gifting. Particularly as more seasoned rum drinkers will enjoy the interesting Madeira cask finish.

The label: Created by Grace J Ward, the label depicts a glorious day in the Dominican Republic, with the classic white sand and the beautiful blue Caribbean sea twinkling in the bright sunshine. Former Boutique-y brand manager Jennifer Meredith is present, enjoying a glass of rum and admiring the view. Which appears to include a humpback whale…

Tasting Note:

Nose: A complex array of liquorice, lots of coconut, vanilla, ripe peach, bright zesty lemon, dried stone fruits dates, raisins and sultanas. Cane sugar, and gentle notes of cacao. A touch of dried grass.

Palate: A creamy mouthfeel, with a tart raspberry lead that reveals molasses, and vanilla custard.

Finish: Lots of dates and raisins, along with a sweet anise vibe. A warming finish. Lip Smacking, astringent, but not too long.

That Boutique-y Rum’s Wine Cask series

Foursquare Distillery, 10 Year Old – Batch 4

This is the fourth batch from the consistently award-winning Foursquare Distillery in Barbados. Going by the Gargano Classification (as the distillery does), this is a single blended rum, meaning it’s a blend of pot still and column still marques produced at the distillery. It was aged initially for five years in ex-Jack Daniel’s casks before being shipped to the UK for a further five years in ex- Sauternes cask, a sweet wine from Bordeaux. 

To date, Foursquare Distillery hasn’t bottled a production release that features this cask type. Regardless, it’s still In the style of expressions that have gone before and comes with a well-known point of origin, meaning it’s collectable as well as damn-well-drinkable. It’s unmistakably delicious and works across a broad selection of Rum drinkers.

The label: This is one that is a real game of spot the hidden reference to all the distillery labels produced there. Picturing a beach scene in Barbados, there’s Macaws, a certain doctor is in the house and an ominous-looking cave that looks like it might lead to the underworld. The batch four label also appears to include some new headwear. Whatever can that mean?

Tasting Note: 

Nose: All the coconut on the nose, ice cream, raisins and sultanas. Lots of fruit, green apple, a touch of tamarind, guava, and peach. Basically a big slice of cheesecake. An unshakable vibe of cough medicine.

Palate: Sweet onto the palate. Ripe pear, salted caramel, lots of lovely jammy notes, cheesecake.

Finish: All sorts of sultanas, and tart gooseberry, green note, leads into a long dry, astringent tannic finish.

That Boutique-y Rum’s Wine Cask series

Engenho Novo da Madeira, 3 Year Old – Batch 1

The third Madeira Rum producer to join the Boutique-y family. Engenho Novo da Madeira are one of the big three producers on the island (the others being Engenhos do Norte and Sociedade dos Engenhos da Calheta), and the newest in that they broke ground on the distillery in 2006. 

The company was founded by a descendant of William Hinton, a famous sugar producer in the late 19th, early 20th century on the island. The facility is modern with exceptionally efficient sugarcane crushing equipment, but the beautiful 15-16 plate copper still on which they produce the amazing Agrícola da Madeira is over a hundred years old.

It makes an amazing characterful Agricole-style rum, which has been wholly matured in an ex-Amarone cask, a rich, dry Italian red wine that enhances the naturally fruity notes of the new-make. This is one for the explorers, as Madeira is one of the rum world’s best-kept secrets. On a personal note for Peter, this release means he’s bottled three of the four regular rum producers on the island, and has a step closer to his personal goal of bottling the clean sweep!

The label: Mr William Hinton (and his dog), feature in this montage of scenes that trace rum production in Madeira from field to cask. Starting with sugarcane crops to the commonplace sight during harvesting season and then it’s to the Engenho (distillery) for milling, fermentation, distillation and finally on to the ageing house, where racks of casks patiently while away the years.

Tasting Note: 

Nose: Bright and complex. Ripe, sweet cherries, plums, and mango. Vanilla ice cream, candied orange and lemon. A perfumed note of rose petals.

Palate: A fruity, creamy nose packed full of maple syrup, and vanilla custard.

Finish: Long and lasting. All manner of dark chocolate, prunes are tart and tangy. It’s all red grape skins and black tea.

That Boutique-y Rum’s Wine Cask series

The Flying Dutchman Rum, 4 Year Old – Batch 1

Not only the first rum release from The Netherlands for Boutique-y Rum, but it’s first from mainland Europe in general. And it’s quite the introduction. The outstanding Zuidam Distillery has already supplied Boutique-y Whisky and now is bringing its hallmark attention to detail throughout production, authentic techniques, and (obviously) delicious booze to the rum side of things.

This rum starts with imported molasses (sugarcane doesn’t grow in The Netherlands, but they would if they could), which goes through long fermentation utilising multiple yeast strains before being double distilled in its fabulous pot stills. Maturation occurs for four years at the source using an ex-Pedro Ximénez cask and is bottled with The Flying Dutchman name, which is consistent with the own-label rums released from the distillery.

Peter is particularly excited by this one, describing it as “not like any PX cask rum you’ll ever taste” and being a release that “really knocks back the bullsh*t marketing surrounding the suspicious added-sugar sweetness of a number of PX cask mainstream brands”. 

The label: Patrick van Zuidam stars in full Willy Wonka garb and an eyepatch among a roiling sea of fermenting molasses underneath a nightmarish sky. A member of the crew hands him his telescope, as he always has one eye on the future. A pitched battle appears to be won by the crew of the Howard Pyle as the nearest ship to them has been holed, and is slipping below the waves, with the inept, cowardly Captain clinging to the mast. Another ship has turned tail and is making off like a bat out of hell. Despite appearances, we can’t be far from The Netherlands, as that must be a windmill in the background?

Tasting Note: 

Nose: All the Army and Navy sweets and fruitcake as the spices collide with this one. Lots of cinnamon, fresh ginger, and cardamom, with a touch of white pepper. Orange peel, roasted pineapple and a little rhubarb. Salted caramel.

Palate: Ginger, mango, sweet-jammy, sweet rose floral notes. A touch of fennel.

Finish: Roasted pineapple, lots more cinnamon, baking spices and plenty of grip.

The Wine Cask series will be going live on Friday 19 November. Check the New Arrivals page.

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Five minutes with… Peter Holland, rum explorer

As That Boutique-y Rum Company celebrates its third birthday, we talk to rum sniffer outer extraordinaire Peter Holland on how he got the rum bug, why the category could do…

As That Boutique-y Rum Company celebrates its third birthday, we talk to rum sniffer outer extraordinaire Peter Holland on how he got the rum bug, why the category could do with more transparent labelling and falling down the sugar cane rabbit hole.

Peter Holland’s love of rum started, appropriately enough, with “meeting the lady who is now my wife.” Her family is from Barbados and it was seeing her “swigging a neat rum” that piqued Holland’s rum curiosity. If you’re marrying into a West Indian family, then it would be rude not to take an interest. Previously his experience had begun and ended at navy rum “which didn’t appeal.”

peter-holland-october-2017-2

Peter Holland, one of only six men in England who looks good in a Hawaiian shirt

Rum epiphany

But it was a trip to Rumfest in London in 2008 that Holland described as an “epiphany moment.” He realised that “that world of rum was much bigger than Mount Gay Eclipse. Rum wasn’t just the Caribbean, it was world wide. It sparked the journey.”

At the time, premium rum was still something of a niche category. There was a small group of bartenders centred around bars such as Trailer Happiness in London who appreciated the good stuff. Holland found himself pulled ever deeper into the world of rum which would end up with him becoming involved with That Boutique-y Rum Company in 2018, which celebrates its third birthday this month.

Following his sugar cane awakening, Holland began regularly blogging on his Floating Rum Shack website and his free time was spent at tastings and rum events. His first post was in Feb 2009 and “within a year or two you get invited to Cuba, a glorious time to start a blog,” he said. The website got loads of traffic, before Google changed the algorithms. 

Time to jump

By 2014, Holland had reached the point where he could not take his rum odyssey further with a full time job as an engineer working in product development. “My job was pretty stressful, it was making me ill,” so it was an obvious decision to turn his hobby into a job. “If I don’t jump now, it’s never going to happen,” he thought.

Many people have tried to do something similar, Holland succeeded. First Richard Seale from Foursquare in Barbados got in touch, he needed a part time brand ambassador. This suited Holland down to the ground, he never wants to be an employee again. “I don’t want to be in a position when someone has to sign my holiday card,” he explained. 

Then, “once you’ve got time people come to you with more offers,” he said. The next person to come knocking was Ben Ellefsen from Atom (Master of Malt’s parent company). In 2017 he was looking to set up an independent rum bottler to go alongside That Boutique-y Whisky Company and needed an expert. 

Diamond Distillery (Port Mourant Still) - Batch 3

That Boutique-y Rum Company: great rum with brilliant labels by Emily Chappell

The birth of That Boutique-y Rum Company

“He gave me a huge bag of samples and asked why he shouldn’t just release all of these.” Holland gave Ellefsen his professional view, “some were past their best,” and by October they were ready to launch That Boutique-y Rum Company.

The range is now huge, taking in all the major rum producing countries like Jamaica and Barbados but also quirky stuff from Thailand and Madeira. There are funky agricole rums, single still bottlings from Guyana and blends that are perfect for mixing. Below Holland has come up with some of his current favourites.

I asked Holland how he managed to track down interesting and unusual rums. Apparently “stumbling over a forgotten cask in a distillery is not going to happen for the bigger producers. You are just not going to have access. Foursquare, for example, doesn’t sell direct.” You have to go through third parties. But with smaller players, you can still visit and have a rummage.  

Holland is particularly excited about a single cask from William Hinton on Madeira that was aged in an Amarone (Italian red wine) cask. Coming soon to That Boutique-y Rum Company. “People think older and more expensive is better,” he said. But there are bargains to be had with younger and more obscure distilleries. He’s a particular fan of another Madeira producer: O Reizinho.

Fortified wine

Madeira, some great rums found here (photo credit: Madeira Wine Company)

No way back

Despite being full time in the drinks business for seven years, Holland tries to keep a rum lover’s perspective: “I think back to what it was like being a wide-eyed enthusiast blogger and not lose that sense. I like being on the consumer side of the bar.”

He sees it as his job as a sort of rum tourist guide. “There are always new people to bring on board, people who are drinking Bacardi & Coke or Malibu & pineapple and thinking they’re great rum drinkers. If they’re receptive, they can carry on that journey. When you get people down to a blanc agricole then they’re really screwed. There really is no way back.”

He’s a particular fan of rums made from sugar cane juice like Clairin from Haiti but also excited about less traditional rum countries like England and Scotland, though both have a much longer rum making heritage than you might imagine. There were two Scottish and one English rum released as part of Boutique-y’s home nation series released earlier this year. Holland thinks part of the appeal is like with gin – people like buying the bottle that’s made just down the road from them.

He loves experimenting with rum in cocktails and recommends swapping out the Cognac in a Vieux Carré for an aged rum. His favourite cocktail, however, is the Daiquiri made with Signature Blend No 1, though he did add that it would have to be served with a side order of Gaviscon to combat the acidity.

A confusing category

The sheer variety, however, within rum can make it confusing especially for beginners. “People like Woods and Coke but give them blanc agricole from Martinique and they would not recognise it as rum. Rum is such a tiny word but it covers so much.”

Holland admits that inconsistent rules among the various rum countries adds to the confusion. “The messaging on age statements would be such a useful thing to move forward with. People will continue with solera blending but drop the ‘23’ please, it’s highly misleading.” He pointed to brands like Mount Gay who don’t have age statements at all. He’d also like to see more obvious labelling of additions such as sugar rather than hiding them away on the website like some big Venezuelan brands. But, he doesn’t think this will do much to change tastes, “it’s easy to drink neat spirit when it has 40g of sugar.” People like sweet things.

It’s a long road from sweetened rum to rhum agricole. Holland says: “My first taste of agricole rum or cachaça, I just didn’t get it. What the fuck is this in my glass?” It was a similar story with Caroni, a now closed distillery in Trinidad that is sometimes called the Port Ellen of rum. Holland found it “too big and dirty” but the next day “I woke up after drinking Caroni and thought ‘now I get it.” There are, however, some bottlings that are too much even for Holland like some of Jamaican single marks from Velier, rum which were created for blending rather than drinking neat: “if anyone claims it’s their favourite rum and it’s all they drink at night, I’m calling bullshit.” Too funky for Holland? That makes me want to try it.

Three rums to try

To help you along your rum journey, Holland has picked three from the Boutique-y range, one for people at the beginning of their rum journey, one gateway bottling and one for confirmed rum nuts.

secret-distillery-2-10-year-old-that-boutiquey-rum-company-rum

Secret Distillery #2 Batch 1 10 year old – An aged rum from Panama, Holland describes this “as an easy going getting started type of rum”.

secret-distillery-1-9-year-old-batch-1-that-boutiquey-rum-company-rum

Secret Distillery #1 Batch 1 – “A rum for those well on their way. Well for me, that’s going to be something much more full bodied like a well aged (9 year old) pot still rum from Jamaica,” he explained.

issan-that-boutiquey-rum-company-rum

Issan Batch 1 – From Thailand, according to Holland, it’s “a rum for those in deep nerd mode, something unaged, something entirely about the distillation, something that can’t hide behind the years in a cask. In this case. It’s a pot still rum made from a monovarietal of sugarcane.”

 

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Cocktail of the Week: The Dominican Double

This week we’re stirring up a booze heavy cocktail with Brugal 1888 rum from the Dominican Republic. It’s called the Dominican Double and to tell us more we have brand…

This week we’re stirring up a booze heavy cocktail with Brugal 1888 rum from the Dominican Republic. It’s called the Dominican Double and to tell us more we have brand ambassador Jamie Campbell.

When you have a high quality spirit, the best thing to do when mixing it is to keep things simple. You don’t want to drown the flavour in sugar syrups or fruit juice. Which is just the case with Brugal 1888 Gran Reserva Familiar rum from the Dominican Republic in the Caribbean.

Double-matured rum

It’s a classic smooth Spanish-style rum that will appeal to lovers of Santa Teresa or Diplomatico from Venezuela. Made from sugar cane molasses grown on the island, it’s fermented and distilled in a column still, and then treated to prolonged cask ageing. First it spends some time ex-bourbon barrels before secondary maturation in Oloroso-seasoned European oak casks. 

Jamie Campbell has just been appointed ambassador for the brand, and talked us through what this double maturation achieves: “The first ageing process provides a lot of the flavours and aromas you expect from a rum, for example vanilla, cinnamon and chocolate, but for me, it is the second maturation in European Oak casks where the magic really happens. Here, we start to get flavours like figs, raisins and bananas which complement the flavours from the American oak ageing and elevate the complexity of the rum to new levels – the liquid is constantly evolving on the palette and has this incredibly long finish and mouthfeel.” Sounds pretty tasty, doesn’t it?

The year on the bottle, 1888, isn’t the vintage, sadly, but the year the brand was founded by Don Andres Brugal Montaner, who was originally from Sitges in Spain. In 2008, the Edrington Group, acquired a majority stake in the company. Nevertheless, it’s still family run. In fact, only family members can become maestro roneros – rum maestros. There are currently two, Jassil Villavueva Quintana and Gustavo Ortega Zeller. Campbell explained that the distillation “process has been passed down through each of the five generations of master rum makers and the exact specifications and process are a closely guarded secret between them.”

Jamie Campbell , Brugal 1888 rum (1)

Jamie Campbell: barman, ambassador, rum lover

The story behind the cocktail

So you can understand why you don’t want to muck about with it too much. Campbell is particularly keen on something called a Double Dominican. So-called because it combines the rum with a banana liqueur from the same island plus some dry vermouth. The result is something not far from a Palmetto – but with a tropical twist. And who doesn’t enjoy a tropical twist of an evening? We’ll show you how to make one below.

Campbell has been working in the hospitality business since he was 14. “I quickly fell in love with all things restaurant and bar related. When I moved away to university, I landed my first ever bartending job and began to get more involved in the cocktail side of things, when I eventually took over as the bar manager, redesigning the cocktail menu and style of service.” From here he moved into the brand side of the business with a stint working with Lucas Bols before he was made brand ambassador for Brugal 1888 earlier this year. He’s “super excited and passionate about building the brand and the super-premium rum category in the UK.”

Campbell thinks that high quality rums are having a bit of a moment, especially sipped neat or, as he puts it “nearly neat” like in a Dominican Double. He continued: “I love that you can still taste the rum and the complexities of the liquid as typically, rum can often be overshadowed in cocktails and smothered by lots of additional ingredients such as fruit juices. In this cocktail, we simply use a small amount of crème de banane to enhance the tropical flavours of the rum, as well as some dry vermouth to provide a dry, refreshing end taste. It’s a simple cocktail on paper, but the flavour and finish are truly delicious.”

Right, that’s enough introduction, let’s cocktail! 

Dominican Double with Brugal 1888 rum

How to make a Dominican Double

50ml Brugal Gran Reserva Familiar 1888
15ml Briottet Crème de Banane or similar
10ml Noilly Prat dry vermouth

Method: Add all ingredients to a mixing glass with cubed ice and stir, before straining into a chilled coupe glass. Garnish with banana chips on the side.

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Courage and grit: Montanya Rum makes its mark

It’s not hard to see why the words ‘trailblazer’, ‘vanguard’ and ‘pioneer’ frequently follow entrepreneur Karen Hoskin, the woman behind Montanya Rum. The values she has instilled at her Colorado…

It’s not hard to see why the words ‘trailblazer’, ‘vanguard’ and ‘pioneer’ frequently follow entrepreneur Karen Hoskin, the woman behind Montanya Rum. The values she has instilled at her Colorado Distillery are three-fold: an unwavering commitment to sustainability, a strong voice on female empowerment, and sensational rum.

It was a sip of aged rum in 1989 that led her into the world of distillation. “It just spoke to me,” recalls Hoskin. “I spent the next 20 years learning about rum, how it’s made and the different traditions. I became geeky about rum and sugar cane.”

Karen-Hoskin - Montanya Rum

It’s Karen Hoskin!

A germ of an idea

But it would be another 20 years (in 2008) until she founded Montanya Distillery, located 9,000 feet in Crested Butte, in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, with personal savings and no outside investment.

Back then, she was the only female majority owner of a craft distillery in the US, with many assuming she was “somebody’s wife” when attending conferences at the American Distilling Institute. Sustainability in the world of rum was in its infancy, with Hoskin outspoken on the environmentally irresponsible practices of some of the world’s largest rum producers.

Today, Hoskin is not only a leading voice for women in the world of spirits and founder of the Women’s Distillery Guild, but the owner of a B-Corp certified distillery and repeat keynote speaker at the American Distilling Institute.

What’s a B-Corp? “It means we meet the highest third-party verified sustainability, social, philanthropy and employment standards anywhere in the world, and we are ranked in the top 5% of B-Corps” explains Hoskin. “It’s about how we use business as a force for good in the way we handle waste, our supply chain and green energy.” Montanya offsets 100% of its carbon production and is 100% wind powered, while its water is sourced from a snowmelt-fed aquifer underneath the distillery.

Montanya’s pot-distilled “Mountain Rums” are well decorated too. In 2015, its Platino won ‘World’s Best White Rum’ at the World Rum Awards in the UK. In 2017 its Oro won USA ‘Rum of the Year’ at the Berlin International Spirits Competition.

What’s a mountain rum?

The origins of mountain rum are rooted in Central and South American countries including Colombia, Guatemala and Nicaragua, which is where Hoskin’s approach to distilling originates. Altitude is the key factor, with rum aged in cool mountain top warehouses allowing for a long and slow ageing period, compared to the rapid tropical ageing in a hot and humid climate, such as the Caribbean.

Hoskin never adds sugar to her rums and only uses sugar cane grown at a family-owned farm in Louisiana, which also upholds her high standards on sustainability (no chemical pesticides, no cane burning in the field, a biomass operated mill) and is also non GMO. She takes it in two forms; dehydrated granulated cane and molasses, then puts it “back together again” at the distillery.

“Some people say Montanya is reminiscent of an agricole rum, which is made from fresh-pressed sugar cane juice, and that’s because I’m using 100% of what’s in the sugar cane, minus the water and solids (known as bagasse).”

Montanya Distillers

The stills at Montanya in Colorado

What makes a Montanya rum?

Montanya’s four single barrel rums – Platino, Oro, Exclusiva and Valentia – are distilled in small batches in copper pot stills and aged in American white oak ex-whiskey barrels. They are differentiated through their length of ageing and cask finish.

Platino spends 12-18 months in a cask previously used to age Montanya’s Oro rum. It’s then filtered through a coconut-husk charcoal filter to remove the colour. The result is a bright, light and clean rum with notes of biscotti, cream soda, cardamom, coffee, vanilla, pepper, bell pepper, chilli pepper and a little spice.

“In the rum world you see an 8 or a 12, but that might only be a small portion of what’s in the bottle,” says Hoskin. “This is a single barrel rum which means it’s 100% of the age we say it is. I can’t cheat and add other rums to correct anything. I leave it in the barrel until it has the characteristics that I want.”

The Oro spends 12-18 months in an ex-whiskey barrel. “Most of that character of the barrel is going into the Oro. While the Platino is a little brighter, lighter, cleaner, the Oro is darker, richer, oilier and a touch sweeter because of the contributions of the whisky.”

Expect red chilli, coffee, caramel, vanilla, pineapple and chocolate. “Pineapple is about as fruity as we get in our tasting notes,” says Hoskin. “A lot of Caribbean distillers are producing esters associated with fruit. We tend to be more associated with rich, baking flavours.”

Exclusiva is aged for three years in American oak, with its final six months in an ex-Port and Cabernet Sauvignon French oak barrel. It finishes a little drier and “more tannic” than most rums in general, says Hoskin, with notes of cinnamon, honey and vanilla.

The Montanya range

The Montanya range

An ode to women

The final bottling, Valentia, meaning courage or grit in Spanish, is touched by women at every step, from fermenters and distillers to bottlers and bartenders. It’s an “ode to what it took to overcome the barriers in the business” says Hoskin, and a celebration of the progress made by women in rum.

“It’s sad that we even have to talk about the fact that we are women in this industry, but if we don’t women don’t see it as a viable career and we just reinforce the absence of women,” explains Hoskin. “Elevating and making visible women in the business who are thriving attracts more women to the business.”

Aged for four years in American oak, it’s final 6-12 weeks are spent in an ex-rye barrel from Catoctin Creek, Virginia. This rum is mellow, smooth and all about vanilla, cardamon, ginger, honeysuckle, white flowers and spice.

Not the next big thing

Right now Hoskin is working on getting her rum in the hands of fans around the world, not turning it into ‘the next big thing’.

She explains: “10 years ago I was sitting in 67 Colebrook Row when it won best bar in London. They get out of the awards ceremony and everyone mobbed there. It was this small intimate setting and within 30 minutes the entire demographic shifted. Everyone wanted to be at this hot bar and it lost its je ne sais quoi. It would be my dream that rum never gets its day. I would love for it to be a place for connoisseurs; it doesn’t need to be for everyone. Just for people who have a reason to fall in love with it.”

Montana rums are available from Master of Malt. Click here for more information. 

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New Arrival of the Week: TBWC Home Nations Series

Normally for this slot we highlight one product. This week, however, we’ve got a whole raft of exciting new whiskies (and some rum) from Britain and Ireland bottled exclusively for That…

Normally for this slot we highlight one product. This week, however, we’ve got a whole raft of exciting new whiskies (and some rum) from Britain and Ireland bottled exclusively for That Boutique-y Whisky Company. It’s TBWC Home Nations Series! 

It’s fair to say that there’s a lot of whisky talent in Britain and Ireland. Obviously Scotland and Ireland are world leaders, both vying for the position as the first place whisky (or whiskey) was made. Quick aside, why don’t the Scots, the Irish, and the Americans just sit down and just agree on a spelling for ‘whisky’ so we don’t have to use tortured constructions like whisk(e)y? This has gone on too long.

Anyway! It’s not just in the old countries, England and Wales now have serious strength in depth when it comes to whisky with the English Whisky Company in Norfolk turning 15 this year and Penderyn in the Brecon Beacons turning 21 in September. These pioneers have been joined by a legion of innovative distilleries making bold, distinctive whiskies.

British & Irish Lions, but with booze

So to celebrate all this talent, That Boutique-y Whisky Company is releasing the Home Nations Series. The idea of the ‘home nations’ is inspired by rugby where England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales put aside their rivalries to play together as the British & Irish Lions, usually with magnificent effect.

Lineup- Home Nations TBWC/ TBRC

The whiskies include a six year old Penderyn from Wales, a cask strength three year old from Scotland’s Nc’Nean Distillery, and a very special 29 year old Irish single malt from an undisclosed distillery (though you can probably guess which it is.)

Meanwhile, team England fields a 12 year old from the English Whisky Company in Norfolk, a 7 year old from Adnams in Suffolk, a 3 year old single grain from the Oxford Artisan Distillery, and a 3 year old from the Cotswolds Distillery. Meanwhile we have two nearly whiskies from Circumstance in Bristol and White Peak in Derbyshire

There’s rum too!

But that’s not all! The Home Nations series includes three rums: a 17 month rum from Ninefold in Scotland, an 18 month rum from Greensand from Kent ,and a 2 year old from J. Gow on Orkney! Plus a selection of rare single malt Scotch whiskies bottled exclusively for That Boutique-y Whisky Company – see the full range here.

I’ve pulled out three that I particularly liked below. These are largely single barrels and bottled at cask strength or high ABV. All come in 50cl bottles. Numbers are extremely limited so hurry, catch the home nations while you can.

Circumstance TBWC

Circumstance 40 Days Old Batch 1

Type: Wheat spirit

Cask types: Matured in a drum with charred English oak spindles

ABV: 59.8% 

We visited this distillery a couple of years ago and were amazed by the innovations going on with yeasts, fermentation times and, most of all, ageing. This shows how you can get masses of flavour into a young spirit without it tasting over-worked. Extremely clever.

Nose: Super sweet, chocolate digestives and ginger nuts. It’s like a party in the biscuit aisle at Sainsbury’s!

Palate: Sweet toffee and chocolate and then spicy. Really really spicy with black pepper, chilli and bitter minty notes – like Fernet Branca. Some massive spicy wood action happening here.  

Finish: Spices go on and on, seriously intense!

English Whisky Co B3

English Whisky Company 12 Year Old Batch 3

Type: Single malt

Cask: first-fill bourbon

ABV: 63.4%

Wow! This is a mighty dram. This English whisky pioneer just keeps getting better and better. Can you imagine how excited we are to try a 15, an 18 or even a 21 from this distillery?

Nose: Toffee, chocolate, dried fruit, vanilla and creamy cereal notes, water brings out sweeter notes and peachy fruit.

Palate: Big spice, wood tannin, dark chocolate, savoury, and bitter coffee with a full texture like chestnuts. Water brings out aromatic tobacco notes, and with time a distinct apricot taste emerges. 

Finish: Layered and very complex, that apricot note goes on for a good ten minutes.  

Penderyn TBWC

Penderyn 6 Year Old Batch 1

Type: Single malt

ABV: 50% 

Cask type: This is from a single STR red wine hogshead.

Distilled in Penderyn’s unique Faraday still – like a cross between a pot and a column (read more about it here). It’s been a while since I’ve had Penderyn, this bottling shows how beautiful it is at a higher strength. 

Nose: Sweet cereal notes with apples, caramel, butter and toffee.  

Palate: Creamy marzipan texture, there’s a gentle sweetness with baking spices like cinnamon and creamy patisserie notes with orchard fruit. Lovely balance, no water needed here.

Finish: Gentle sweetness and spice. 

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Discovering El Salvador’s Ron Colón

El Salvador has long been known for its excellent coffee. Now, with the growing popularity of Ron Colón Salvadoreño, there’s a rum brand making waves, too. El Salvador is a…

El Salvador has long been known for its excellent coffee. Now, with the growing popularity of Ron Colón Salvadoreño, there’s a rum brand making waves, too.

El Salvador is a small country bursting with flavour. Flanked by Guatemala and Honduras, and with a Pacific coastline, it is vibrant, volcanic, and verdant with rainforest. Some of its biggest exports are coffee and sugar. And, since the country’s first distillery started producing in 2004, its aged rum is becoming noted, too.

Ron Colon

Felicity Gransden from Ron Colon (centre)

El Salvador is a really interesting place,” says Ron Colón co-founder, Felicity Gransden, when we chat over the phone. It’s a tricky one – Google the country and you’re more likely to find negative news headlines, but it deserves to be on the map for more than that. “It’s such a shame because it’s such a beautiful country.” She talks about its 23 volcanoes, its fertile slopes, that it’s surprising that despite being surrounded by such significant rum producing nations (Costa Rica, Guatemala), El Salvador really has no distilling history. “The distillery we work with, Cihuatan, only produced their first rum five years ago, so it’s pretty new.”

Ron Colón founders

Perhaps surprisingly, you can trace Ron Colón’s roots to vodka. Gransden got involved with the project after two colleagues from her time at Pernod Ricard-backed Our/Vodka, 

Pepijn Janssens and Thurman Wise got her on board to work on the coffee element. [“I spent a lot of time on strategy and flavour and working out how we could get people excited about vodka, which was quite hard!” She quips.] They had travelled to the country and fallen in love with it.

There was also a realisation that while they adored the country, very few people from Europe would be able to travel to El Salvador and see it for themselves (and this was before Covid restrictions meant that often travelling beyond our front door was tricky..!). “It was important to us to bring something from El Salvador, but also work with people from El Salvador so that we could understand ourselves or to educate ourselves about the history of the country,” she says. It starts with the name ‘Colón’, which is the country’s currency.  

Currently the range spans three expressions, with coffee at the heart. Ron Colón Salvadoreño Rum is joined by Ron Colón Salvadoreño Coffee Infused Rum, which is also available at a hearty 55.5% ABV as Ron Colón Salvadoreño Coffee Infused High Proof Rum

“We always wanted to make a high-proof spirit,” Gransden explains. “We all come from a bar industry background, and for us it was important to create something that would work for them.” In her view, that’s intense flavour, and something that can be mixed and sipped.

Ron Colon cloud image

This is what El Salvador looks like! (all images courtesy of Ron Colón)

The blending process

Transparency is important for Gransden, and she happily discloses that the Ron Colón blend isn’t 100% sourced from El Salvador. It’s heart, its largest component part, is column still liquid from Cihuatan – “which has a female distiller, which is amazing” – which is then bolstered by small amounts of Jamaican pot still rum. “We are Salvadoran with a funky element,” she says. 

The result? Something that remains light and citrus-forward, but with overripe fruit esters, macadamia nuts and earthy spice tying it together. Then sample the coffee expression, and Ron Colón amps up the darker notes even more. It’s an authentic aroma; deep and complex. This is not just a sweetened spiced-type rum. 

How to best drink Ron Colón, or indeed other aged rums? For Gransden, it’s all about the Highball. “They sound super simple, but for our aged rum, it’s a really, really nice way to drink it. It’s super fruity, quite light, and you have hints of these citrusy flavours.” She recommends trying Ron Colón with a yuzu soda, topped with a lemon zest.

What about the coffee-infused expressions? “It works nicely in stirred drinks with its decadent, richer, creamier texture, for sure in something like an Old Fashioned,” she continues. “But at the same time I drink it in a coffee Highball, just with tonic and orange on the top.”

With travel off for now, and at-home drinking still a bit of a reality, why not take a little trip to El Salvador via a Ron Colón Highball from the comfort of your garden? I’ll see you on the imaginary plane. 

The Ron Colón Salvadoreño range is available from Master of Malt.  

Ron Colon

 

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TBRC’s Foursquare rum raises money for Trailer Happiness

You may have heard that our friends at Trailer Happiness have had a truly rough time of it recently after flash floods wreaked havoc at the London bar. So we’re…

You may have heard that our friends at Trailer Happiness have had a truly rough time of it recently after flash floods wreaked havoc at the London bar. So we’re releasing a new That Boutique-y Rum Company bottling to raise funds to repair the damage.

On Monday 12 July, parts of London received a month’s worth of rain in just 90 minutes, causing  flood waters to pour through the streets, into homes, shops and restaurants. Aggravated by poor drainage plus burst pipes, several premises across the UK capital were ravaged, including the wonderful Trailer Happiness in Notting Hill, just as it was gearing up to reopen July 19.

Sly Augustin, Trailer Happiness managing director and owner said the bar took a “pretty big hit,” and that, while they’ve had to deal with water before, “it’s never come in through the ceiling”. The good news is, nobody was seriously injured. Plus the water did subside relatively quickly. The bad news is that the damage is significant, with Augustin saying the water was also dirty so “much of the bar will need to be stripped out or professionally sanitised before it is rebuilt”.

The timing couldn’t have been worse. The venue used the first lockdown in 2020 to refurbish the bar and toilets, and the second lockdown to revamp the kitchen. Trailer Happiness was just a week away from fully reopening along with the rest of the on-trade in England, as remaining Covid-19 restrictions in England were lifted on Monday 19 July. It’s desperately unlucky and undeserved.

Helping Trailer Happiness Boutiquey Rum-style

Now the award-winning bar is crowdfunding via Go Fund Me looking to raise £50,000 as it endeavours to restore the acclaimed watering hole. Insurance is unlikely to cover loss of earnings based on what the bar expected to make post-restrictions and it’s too early to establish a realistic timeframe for rebuilding. Given the plan is also to keep the team together and find a temporary home, that’s going to require capital.

We’d like to help how we can, which leads us to our plan to put together a rum to raise money for the bar. We’re delighted to announce That Boutiquey Rum Company has selected a cask with Augustin to be released, with 80% of the profits going directly to Trailer Happiness.

Trailer Happiness

Trailer Happiness in happier days

A unique rum for a worthy cause

The rum is the bottler’s fourth release from the consistently award-winning Foursquare Distillery in Barbados. It’s highly regarded and highly collectible spirit seemed a logical choice. The expression is a single blended rum (to quote the Gargano Classification), a blend of pot still and column still marques from this one distillery. 

Foursquare 10 Year Old (That Boutique-y Rum Company) was matured initially for five years in ex-Jack Daniels whiskey casks before being shipped to the UK for a further five years in ex-Sauternes (a sweet wine from Bordeaux) casks. So being finished in Sauternes, partially matured in the UK, and being released to raise funds for Trailer Happiness makes this the kind of unique expression that should get rum fans all hot and bothered. See below for details of how to buy.

The label

The bottling, which was already lined up for release at Trailer Happiness and has been brought forward to aid fundraising, features another classic Boutique-y graphic novel-style label. On it you’ll see The Trailer Happiness team have relocated to Barbados for the ultimate pop-up cocktail experience with a few key items from their Notting Hill basement bar. Looks like they haven’t escaped the waterfall entirely though. 

Sergio can be found behind the stick, while Augustine props up the bar. They’re joined by an array of guests enjoying a cocktail, including the ‘Chinese Lady’, the star of painting by Tretchikoff in 1952, a print of which hangs in Trailer Happiness. The other lady is the almost as famous Bianca, an unmissable life size carving looking wonderfully tropical in her grass skirt, island shirt, and lei.

TBRC x Trailer Happiness

Support the cause

We hope you all enjoy the rum and agree that supporting this great bar is a worthy cause. Augustine says that he hopes Trailer Happiness will return “better than ever” and that the team is “incredibly grateful for all your support” and to “watch this space, we’ll be popping up wherever and whenever we can.” Fingers crossed everything goes well. Once again, the fundraising link is here if you want to donate.

Tasting note

Nose: All the coconut on the nose, ice cream, raisins and sultanas. Lots of fruit, green apple, a touch of tamarind, guava, and peach. Basically a big slice of cheesecake.

Palate: Sweet onto the palate. Ripe pear, salted caramel, lots of lovely jammy notes, cheesecake.

Finish: All sorts of sultanas, and tart gooseberry, green note, leads into a long dry finish.

Foursquare 10 Year Old (That Boutique-y Rum Company) will be available from 8am on Wednesday 28 July in 5cl and 50cl size. Be warned, stocks are limited and this rum is likely to be highly in demand so it will sell out quickly. Please note, bottles will be dispatched at the end of October.

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Top ten bottles from independent distilleries

This week we’re celebrating the small fish, the mavericks, the start-ups and the long-established family businesses of the drinks industry. From single malt whisky to craft gin, here are our…

This week we’re celebrating the small fish, the mavericks, the start-ups and the long-established family businesses of the drinks industry. From single malt whisky to craft gin, here are our top ten bottles from independent distilleries.

It’s not easy being an indie in a drinks industry dominated by giants like Diageo, Pernod Ricard or Beam Suntory. These behemoths have marketing budgets bigger than some countries. How do you compete with that? Then there’s always the possibility that one of the big boys will make you an offer you can’t refuse. Pernod Ricard, in particular, seems to be constantly snapping up craft gin distilleries.

Yet, we’re glad that so many independent distillers are not only surviving but thriving. They are able to react more quickly than the giants, be more individual, or just do things as they’ve always done without having to worry about shareholders.

An independent could be a hungry start-up bursting with innovation, or a family business that’s been honing its craft for generations. Either way, you’re getting something a bit different when you go independent. So, we’ve rounded up some of our favourites from the world of whisky, gin, rum, Cognac and Tequila. Let’s raise a glass to the small fish of the drinks industry!

Top ten bottles from independent distilleries

edradour-10-year-old-whisky

Edradour 10 Year Old 

Edradour is one of Scotland’s smallest distilleries and at the heart of the range, this 10 year old Eastern Highlander is a highly distinctive single malt, a decidedly rum-like dram with a thick mouthfeel. The distillery’s methods of production remain virtually unchanged in the last 150 years, and we can see why. If it ain’t broke and all that. This single malt’s decade of ageing was spent in a combination of Oloroso sherry and bourbon casks. This is one sherry monster and we love it.

drumshanbo-single-pot-still-inaugural-release-whiskey

Drumshanbo Single Pot Still

The single malt still is Ireland’s great gift to the whiskey world. Until recently, if you wanted some of that creamy magic, there was only one game in town, Irish Distillers. Now though, independent distillers are beginning to release spirits like this splendid one from Drumshanbo. The mash bill is a mixture of malted and unmalted barley with 5% Barra oats. It’s triple distilled before being matured in a combination of Kentucky bourbon and Oloroso sherry casks, making for a glorious balance of cream and spice.

Wilderness Trail Bourbon

Wilderness Trail Single Barrel Bourbon

Many small American whiskey brands buy in spirits from larger distillers. Wilderness Trail, however, did things the hard way when the founders Shane Baker and Pat Heist (great name) built their own distillery at Danville, Kentucky in 2013. This Single Barrel release is made from a mash bill of 64% corn, 24% wheat and 12% malted barley, aged in toasted and charred barrels. It’s also bottled in bond, meaning that, as laid out in the Bottled-in-Bond Act of 1897, it must be aged between five and six years and bottled under the supervision of the U.S. Government at 100 proof, or 50% ABV in British English.

Hayman's London Dry Gin & Tonic

Hayman’s London Dry Gin

The Hayman family are descended from James Burrough, the founder of Beefeater Gin. They have been distilling for five generations but it’s only in recent years that the family name has appeared on bottles. These days, their gin is produced in Balham in South London (following the Hayman’s base of operations moving from Essex in 2018), only four miles from where the company was founded by Burroughs. This classic London Dry Gin is produced to a family recipe which is over 150 years old but the company also makes innovative products like the fiendishly clever Small Gin.

Masons-Gin

Masons Dry Yorkshire Gin

Mason’s is back from the brink. In April 2019, the distillery burnt to the ground in a freak fire. It was utterly destroyed. But founders Catherine and Carl Mason did not give up. They had their gin made at another distillery before rebuilding and reopening in 2020 (read more about the story here). Their distinctive London Dry Gin uses Harrogate spring water along with juniper, a proportion of which is from their own bushes, and a combination of secret botanicals including citrus, fennel and cardamom. Produced in small batches, each bottle has hand written batch and bottle numbers.

Botanivore Gin

St. George Botanivore Gin 

As you might be able to tell from our visit in 2019, we’re pretty keen on everything from California distilling pioneers St. George. The team makes whiskey, vodka, various types of gin, liqueurs, eaux-de-vie and more. But we can only pick one thing so we’ve gone for the Botanivore Gin. It’s made with 19 different botanicals, including angelica root, bay laurel, coriander, Seville orange peel, star anise and juniper berries, among others. It’s like a greenhouse in a bottle.  This would make a superb Martini with just a splash of vermouth and a green olive.

O Reizinho Rum

O Reizinho 3 Year Old (That Boutique-y Rum Company) 

This has proved a hit with customers and staff alike. It’s a rum from the Portuguese island of Madeira, located off the coast of West Africa, made by O Reizinho and bottled by our very own That Boutique-y Rum Company. The distillery uses fresh sugar cane rather than molasses so expect lots of vegetal funkiness with green banana, olive and red chilli, tamed somewhat by three years in oak barrels bringing toffee, vanilla and peanuts to the party. And what a party it is! This is now the second batch; only 1936 50cl bottles were filled at 52.6% ABV. 

Scratch Patience Rum

Scratch Patience Rum

British rum, distilled in Hertfordshire by one man spirits maverick Doug Miller. Read more about him here. A great deal of patience has gone into this one. The rum is double distilled, spending time in whisky casks between distillations, before further maturation in ex-bourbon and new oak casks. Finally, the matured rums are blended for perfect balance and bottled in small batches. Wonderful stuff, expect flavours of toffee and butter fudge, tropical hints of banana with rich, oaky vanilla, combined with dried fruits and soft wood spice prickle. It just goes to show that patience does pay off!

Frapin 1270

Frapin 1270 Cognac 

Whereas most Cognac is made from bought-in grapes, wine or eau-de-vie, Frapin only uses fruit from the family’s estates in the Grand Champagne region. They ferment and distill everything themselves too. After distillation, 1270 was matured for six months in new oak barrels and then moved to older casks for extended ageing. The name is something of a tribute to the long history of Frapin. A refined and fruity Cognac that was created by Frapin to work as an aperitif, served over ice, or as a base for cocktails. 

Tequila Fortaleza

Fortaleza Tequila Reposado 

The brand Fortaleza was launched comparatively recently, back in 2005, but Guillermo Sauza’s family have been making Tequila for five generations. Apparently his ancestor, Don Cenobio, was the first person to export “mezcal de tequila” to the United States, shorten the name to simply ‘Tequila’, use steam to cook the agave rather than an earthen pit, and specify blue agave as the best to use. Quite a legacy! This reposado bottling spends a short time in ex-bourbon barrels where it takes on popcorn, caramel and wood spice to go alongside those fruity, herbal agave flavours. 

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