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

Master of Malt Blog

Tag: Speyside Whisky

Train your nose with The Balvenie’s Alwynne Gwilt

Do you love whisky but struggle to put what you taste and smell into words? Then read on, as we have some tips from Miss Whisky herself Alwynne Gwilt on…

Do you love whisky but struggle to put what you taste and smell into words? Then read on, as we have some tips from Miss Whisky herself Alwynne Gwilt on how to get the most out of your olfactory system.

It was a tasting at Milroy’s of Soho in 2011 that changed Alwynne Gwilt’s life forever. Originally from Canada, she was not a whisky drinker but that fateful evening she fell in love with the spirit, and, rather as Peter Parker became Spider Man thanks to a bite from a radioactive spider, Gwilt was transformed into. . . Miss Whisky! She set up her own website that same year and began to immerse herself (not literally, of course) in whisky full time. Since then, she has written for numerous newspapers and magazines, appeared on TV and radio, and won awards including International Whisky Ambassador of the Year at the Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival, She now works as a brand ambassador for William Grant, representing The Balvenie.

Alwynne Gwilt

Alwynne Gwilt in the still room at The Balvenie

We caught up with Gwilt at The Wigmore, a bar in London, for a nasal tune-up. Her view is that we don’t make full use of our sense of smell because we are so visually-oriented. But we do actually have a fine nasal system from our hunting and gathering days which just needs to be used properly. “Humans have become generally quite lazy when it comes to the nose, but our noses would have been a thing. Before we were cooking meat and we were processing food, we would have been much more aware of the wider environment around us and using our nose to help keep us safe,” she said. “Now our eyesight has taken over but the ability of the nose to learn things and to understand aroma is just as great as it always has been.”

Smells helps us remember things, Gwilt explained. “Your aroma receptors are close to the amygdala and the hippocampus, which is where you start thinking about emotion and memory. So, more than sight, more than sound, when you smell an aroma and you categorise that in your head, you’re much more likely to remember that moment, that time, that place.” What a piece of work your nose is! Now here are some tips on how to use it better:

Free your mind, and your nose will follow

Even people who’ve been drinking whisky for years can be extremely reticent about trying to describe smells. Gwilt explained to me:  “I can stand up there as someone who’s been drinking whisky for years and go, ‘I get aromas of raisins and chocolate’, and someone might look at you like you’re absolutely nuts because they’re like, ‘well it just smells like whisky!’.” So, don’t be embarrassed; try to put what you smell into words, and remember there are no right or wrong answers. A great way to do this, according to Gwilt, is to try to become aware of the smells around you when you’re out walking.

Alwynne Gwilt Balvenie

Building her flavour vocabulary

Build your aroma vocabulary

“Aroma is based hugely around vocabulary, “ Gwilt told me. “Just like we learn language, your brain does the same thing when it’s learning different aromas. If I were to say to you ‘this smells like curry leaves’, for instance, and you’ve never smelled a fresh curry leaf, then that’s not in your vocabulary. So you have to experience an aroma before you can then process it, understand it and recognise it in another scenario.” A great way to build that flavour vocabulary when you’re smelling whisky is to pretend you are in a supermarket, she said. “Imagine you’re walking through the fruit aisle and you’re picking out your fruit, and then you’re walking through the veg aisle. And then in each section, as you smell the whisky you think to yourself, ‘visualise it’. Say, ‘is this an orange, is this an apple, is this a banana, is this a carrot?’. Start going through those things individually, and if you go ‘no, no, no, I smell something sweet’, then go to the baking aisle. Is it a baked good? Is it a pastry? Or is it a Haribo?’. A lot of people will say, ‘I get sweet, I get spicy, I get smoke’, and it’s about continuously breaking everything down.”

Smell with your mouth open

You will look a bit like a goldfish but this really helps. “When you first start smelling whiskies, keep your mouth open, because that helps to circulate things,” Gwilt explained. “If you keep your mouth open, it helps to circulate the air, stopping you from just getting the alcohol.” We smell in two ways, she continued: direct olfaction (right up your nose), and retronasal olfaction (the back of the nose through the mouth).  If your mouth isn’t open, you’re not getting the full effect.

Hold it in your mouth  

You’ve seen wine tasters do it: swilling it around their mouths and making weird sucking noises. Well, it all helps get the flavour out. “A huge amount of what you taste is actually aroma; it’s the nose doing its job. It is not your taste buds,” she continued. “So when you go to taste a whisky, always hold it on your palate for ten or 15 seconds. That gives enough time for your brain to register what’s happening and start to pick out some of those aromas.”

Alwynne Gwilt at the Balvenie

Gwilt with this year’s must have accessory, the malt shovel

And finally, just to prove how hard it is to put smells into words without practise, Gwilt gave me a little test. I had to smell three essences which commonly crop up in whisky vocabulary.

The first was anise, which I correctly identified immediately. The second was coffee, which I guessed as roasted nuts. And finally, Gwilt gave me something to smell which initially smelt of vanilla, at least to me, and then of lemons. Apparently it was actually blackcurrant leaf. D’oh! C-, must try harder.  

No Comments on Train your nose with The Balvenie’s Alwynne Gwilt

Whisky Advent 2018 Day #13: Cardhu Gold Reserve

The thirteenth might be unlucky for some – but not if you’re following Drinks by the Dram’s Whisky Advent Calendar! Continuing with the theme, there’s another delectable whisky hidden away…

The thirteenth might be unlucky for some – but not if you’re following Drinks by the Dram’s Whisky Advent Calendar! Continuing with the theme, there’s another delectable whisky hidden away behind today’s window…

Phew! After all the smoke of yesterday’s Kilchoman, you’d think it might be time to chill those taste buds out. Not so. While it doesn’t pack a peaty punch, today’s dram is a much-loved expression, bursting with Speyside charm and all-round honeyed, fruity, luscious loveliness. The whisky in question?

It’s Cardhu Gold Reserve!

Cardhu is a key component in blended Scotch behemoth Johnnie Walker, and in recent times hasn’t been all that active on releasing its own single malts. This was partly due to being a victim of its own success – back in the early 2000s, so much single malt from the distillery was being consumed by our thirsty neighbours in continental Europe that demand put pressure on Johnnie Walker supplies! A period of confusion followed when Cardhu became what’s today recognised as a blended malt (with single malt liquid from multiple distilleries), but that’s all been and gone. Today, Cardhu has a core range of age statements in its portfolio and this tasty little number, Cardhu Gold Reserve, is a no-age statement expression celebrated for its smooth grassiness and honeyed fruit richness.

Enough from us. We caught up with Ewan Gunn, Diageo’s global whisky ambassador, to get the Cardhu particulars in full.

No Comments on Whisky Advent 2018 Day #13: Cardhu Gold Reserve

The Macallan Whisky Trolley & Cheese Pairing in Oblix at The Shard

With World Whisky Day around the corner, The Macallan have announced their latest collaboration with Oblix bar and restaurant on the 32nd floor of The Shard in London.   Walking…

With World Whisky Day around the corner, The Macallan have announced their latest collaboration with Oblix bar and restaurant on the 32nd floor of The Shard in London.
 
Walking through the dark corridors of Oblix, having just been through The Shard’s airport-style security and then thrown up 32 floors in 15 seconds, is like being inside a Goa’uld mothership from Stargate. Once you turn the corner to enter the bar, however, everything opens up and panoramic views of London are revealed. On a bright day the effect as you emerge must be fantastic, but even on a particularly grey Thursday afternoon there’s reassurance that you’re still on earth and haven’t actually been kidnapped by symbiotic ancient aliens. Enough nonsense from me though – on to the whisky!

1 Comment on The Macallan Whisky Trolley & Cheese Pairing in Oblix at The Shard

Spotlight on… Benromach + Win a Bottle of Benromach 1974

This week, we’re taking an in-depth look at Benromach – a distillery which oozes that truly classic Speyside style. And, for a limited time only, we’re giving away a staggering…

This week, we’re taking an in-depth look at Benromach – a distillery which oozes that truly classic Speyside style. And, for a limited time only, we’re giving away a staggering single cask bottle of Benromach 1974 worth £1,200!
 
Today, with its malty, slightly smoky, rich single malt, Benromach is an innovative distillery, boasting a wide variety of styles and creations, despite its fairly small scale. There’s heavily peated malt; the world’s first organic-certified single malt whisky; some tremendous Jim Murray Whisky Bible scores (he described the 30 Year Old as “magnificent”); and all produced by hand by a team of just four distillers. With no computer automation and complete reliance of distilling by sight, sound and smell, there is a great deal of room for nuance and character. As Distillery Manager, Keith Cruickshank, says, “sometimes it’s those tiny inconsistencies that make a whisky so beautifully consistent.”

12 Comments on Spotlight on… Benromach + Win a Bottle of Benromach 1974

ISC Trophies for our 40 Year Old Speyside & #WhiskySanta!

Master of Malt 40yo Speyside and #WhiskySanta pick up Trophies at the International Spirits Challenge 2016! Last night we were bursting with pride as we picked up two massive shiny…

Master of Malt #WhiskySanta ISC

Master of Malt 40yo Speyside and #WhiskySanta pick up Trophies at the International Spirits Challenge 2016!

Last night we were bursting with pride as we picked up two massive shiny trophies at the International Spirits Challenge (ISC) 2016 awards dinner. Firstly, our Master of Malt 40 Year Old Speyside was named Best Single Malt Scotch Over 21 Years Old! An absolutely colossal and humbling win, beating hundreds of fantastic whiskies to the prize. Our 50 Year Old Speyside also picked up a Gold medal.

The tasting trophies are shaped like big ‘ol tasting glasses. You could drink award-winning speyside whisky out of them if you were so inclined (and we were).

No Comments on ISC Trophies for our 40 Year Old Speyside & #WhiskySanta!

6 New Master of Malt Single Cask Series Bottlings!

We’ve got 6 brand new Master of Malt Single Cask Series bottlings! Independent bottlings are always very exciting, and we’re particularly excited about these ones – because they’re ours! Yes,…

Master of Malt Single Cask Series

We’ve got 6 brand new Master of Malt Single Cask Series bottlings!

Independent bottlings are always very exciting, and we’re particularly excited about these ones – because they’re ours! Yes, we’ve been very busy indeed and bottled 6 new whiskies for our Single Cask Series.

These newest 6 releases include a pair of Aberlours, a very old Bunnahabhain, an Ardbeg, a Speyside and a Benrinnes! Feast your eyes on all of them below!

No Comments on 6 New Master of Malt Single Cask Series Bottlings!

‘The Exceptional’ Whiskies Now Available!

The Exceptional Malt, Grain and Blend from Don Sutcliffe and former Managing Director of The Macallan Willie Phillips launch in the UK. Available on Master of Malt today are three…

The Exceptional whisky

The Exceptional Malt, Grain and Blend from Don Sutcliffe and former Managing Director of The Macallan Willie Phillips launch in the UK.

Available on Master of Malt today are three new Scotch whiskies from American independent bottler Sutcliffe & Son, brought to the UK by Number One Drinks. Called ‘The Exceptional’, the chaps behind them are none other than Willie Phillips, who was Managing Director of The Macallan between 1978 and 1996 (crucial years for the development of this famous single malt, of course) and Craft Distillers Managing Director Don Sutcliffe who worked with him to grow The Macallan in the US back in the late 1980s. Friends for 25 years, The Exceptional is something of a passion project for them both, working also with Master Blender Bill Arthur.

No Comments on ‘The Exceptional’ Whiskies Now Available!

Father’s Day Tasting Sets!

Pre-Order Drinks by the Dram’s new Father’s Day Whisky Tasting Sets now! Drinks by the Dram have released two new whisky tasting sets especially for Father’s Day 2016: The Father’s…

Drinks by the Dram Father's Day

Pre-Order Drinks by the Dram’s new Father’s Day Whisky Tasting Sets now!

Drinks by the Dram have released two new whisky tasting sets especially for Father’s Day 2016: The Father’s Day Whisky Tasting Set and The Father’s Day Deluxe Whisky Tasting Set! Both of these fantastic gifts are now available for Pre-Order, despatching early next week.

No Comments on Father’s Day Tasting Sets!

That Boutique-y Whisky Company Adds Age Statements

That Boutique-y Whisky Company has announced that they’re introducing age statements to all future releases with immediate effect and, right on cue, they have a raft of new and exciting…

That Boutique-y Whisky Company

That Boutique-y Whisky Company has announced that they’re introducing age statements to all future releases with immediate effect and, right on cue, they have a raft of new and exciting releases on the way!

All the new releases are listed below and are also available to buy or pre-order from Master of Malt now.

1 Comment on That Boutique-y Whisky Company Adds Age Statements

It’s 105 Day! Get Free Shipping plus Win Signed Bottles of Glenfarclas 105!

It’s the 14th April 2016 and that means just one thing… it’s the 105th day of the year! So why not celebrate with the fabulous 105 Cask Strength from our…

Glenfarclas 105 Day

It’s the 14th April 2016 and that means just one thing… it’s the 105th day of the year! So why not celebrate with the fabulous 105 Cask Strength from our good friends at Glenfarclas, we hear you ask? Well that’s jolly well what we’ve gone and done!

We have 16x bottles of Glenfarclas 105 Cask Strength signed by George Grant to give away, here’s how you can get involved today-only:

3 Comments on It’s 105 Day! Get Free Shipping plus Win Signed Bottles of Glenfarclas 105!

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