Forget the Monday blues. Drinks by the Dram has a right tasty treat hidden behind door number 3 of the Whisky Advent Calendar!
Welcome to the first working day of Advent 2018! And what a fine pair of drams there were to discover over the weekend. After a corker of a Lost Distilleries Blend on Day 1, there was Starward New World Malt Whisky all the way from Australia on Day 2!
Want to avoid spoilers? Waiting until this evening before you tear open that Advent calendar window? Then consider this fair spoiler alert warning. Because tucked away waiting to be discovered on Advent Day 3 is…
Last month we joined Diageo to taste the Special Releases 2018 cohort – but there was one expression we were asked to keep under wraps. Until now. The mysterious 10th Scotch whisky expression is… Cladach!
‘What IS Cladach?’, we hear you cry. No, it is not the first release from a secret new distillery (although like many new releases it doesn’t carry an age statement). It is a blended malt from six coastal distilleries: Caol Ila, Clynelish, Lagavulin, Oban, Inchgower and Talisker. And it’s delicious.
Diageo and HBO have announced The Game of Thrones Single Malt Scotch Whisky Collection, with more details to come over the coming months.
It’s all a bit mysterious at the moment – like that bit in seasons five and six where Arya Stark spent what seemed like centuries in the Hall of Faces – but Diageo has released a short film on social media announcing a Game of Thrones single malt collection. It will feature eight whiskies: Lagavulin, Oban, Singleton, Talisker, Cardhu, Royal Lochnagar, Dalwhinnie and Clynelish.
Master of Malt meets Malt Master through a new Singleton expression from Dufftown Distillery: The Singleton of Dufftown Malt Master’s Selection!
For us whisky-loving folk, there are few things we adore more than a big product launch to get all excited about. Diageo Reserve observed this fact, and so threw a big event to launch its latest labour of love: The Singleton of Dufftown Malt Master’s Selection!
The label design has been reinvigorated, the palate has been tweaked and the motive is clear: this is a spirit that will try to appeal to a wider, modern and perhaps whisky-shy consumer base. “This isn’t supposed to be patronising – it’s supposed to be welcoming and engaging,” summarised Ervin Trykowski, global Scotch whisky ambassador at Diageo. “It’s supposed to be the opposite of how you’ve talked about Scotch whisky before.”
Time for us all to open the 21st window of our Whisky Advent Calendars! And inside it’s… a new look single malt Scotch whisky from Dufftown in Speyside. A whole new expression from Mortlach to be precise, a distillery that was founded back in the 1820s and you may know best from their 16yo ‘Flora & Fauna’ release featuring a Goldeneye duck. (James Pond, anyone?)
With past distillery releases few and far between, Mortlach (or ‘duck massacre’) now has its own shiny new core range! Time to jump in with Rare Old, which has a greater bourbon cask influence than you may expect alongside the more familiar Sherried spirit.
Well would you look at that – it’s the first day of Whisky Advent everybody! This is my very favourite time of the year as we all get to count down to Christmas Day with Drinks by the Dram’s wonderful Whisky Advent Calendars!
In fact, I’m so delighted I’m going to bring you some Whisky Advent treats each and every day (see below).
Don’t have a Whisky Advent Calendar yet? Well it’s certainly not too late, you’re only one day behind so get your order in right away! For the rest of us it’s time to open the first window… behind which you’ll find… Haig Club single grain whisky! Yes indeed, the David Beckham one. Ho ho!
On Tuesday evening I found myself the nearest thing to a corner possible at a curvy and buzzing Magazine Restaurant in Kensington Gardens on a cold, rainy November night. Here I would attempt to write some meaningful tasting notes for 11 limited edition cask strength single malts in a couple of hectic hours, including the time it would take to fight through the crowd each time I needed to move on to new whiskies, and the time it would take for the smell of prawn hors d’oeuvres to dissipate each time the diligent waitresses came over to offer them.
Meanwhile, our Spirits Buyer Toby Cutler (he’s nice, you’d like him – he really enjoys a good picture of Kevin Costner, or Chris Tucker for that matter) was having no such problem as he enjoyed a range of whiskies, some quite valuable, in a leisurely fashion alongside some pleasant conversation. Add all of this up, and it can only mean one thing: it was the launch of Diageo’s much-anticipated 2014 Special Releases!
The Singleton of Dufftown recently launched two new NAS expressions. You may have seen them, they’re the ones named after
hot rod car paints fishing flies (in keeping with the Singleton logo): Tailfire and Sunray. The colours correspond to the flavour profiles of the whiskies, which makes it a little easier for folk who may otherwise find choosing from a shelf of single malts a daunting proposition.
The new releases are set to be celebrated at The Singleton Whisky Night Market on Thursday May 15th (18:30-22:30) down at Southbank, where they will be paired with specially made chocolates (Cocomaya), cheeses (Pong), and whisky marshmallows (The Marshmallowists) alongside theatrical presentations (no doubt involving the one and only Colin Dunn), comedy (Tom Sandham* off of Thinking Drinkers), some top grub (Forza Win and Mark Hix) and whisky cocktails from the excellent Andrea Montague (of Callooh Callay fame, now Diageo’s in-house ‘malt mixologist’).
Back in December I visited the Worship Street Whistling Shop for a very special, two hour long ‘multi-sensory experience’: the final Diageo Whisky Theatre of the year. The project is the work of irrepressible Diageo brand ambassador Colin Dunn and the Fluid Movement duo of Tristan Stephenson and Tom Aske who have presented similar experiences in the past, for example with rum, but the mention of whisky certainly caught our attention immediately! I believe Tristan also has a whisky book coming out this year too – one to watch out for.
There is (just) room for nine people but I was joined by a fab four of Gin Monkey, Imbibe’s Laura Foster (recent winner of the Alan Lodge Young International Spirits Writer of the Year), Siobhan Payne from Difford’s Guide and London Cocktail Week and Alex Kratena off of The Artesian (named The World’s Best Bar for the second year running in 2013).
THE SPECIAL RELEASES ARE NOW LIVE AND CAN BE FOUND HERE!
Got a letter from Diageo the other day. Opened and read it. It was about their Special Releases. They wanted us for their tasting, or whatever. Picture me turning down drams, I said “Hell yeah!”.
We will indeed be stocking all of the 2013 Diageo Special Releases shortly – and yes – they will all be available as 3cl Sample Drams too. You’re welcome. They should be with us any day now, but for more details as they land be sure to keep your eyes glued to the @MasterOfMalt twitter account.
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