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Master of Malt Blog

Tag: Talisker

Diageo Special Releases 2020: Details are in!

It’s that time of year again – Diageo has just released the details of its Special Releases 2020 haul and we’ve had a taste! Here’s everything you need to know….

It’s that time of year again – Diageo has just released the details of its Special Releases 2020 haul and we’ve had a taste! Here’s everything you need to know.

It’s always a big day in the whisky calendar when the embargo lifts for Diageo Special Releases. A collection of unusual and generally pretty rare cask-strength single malt Scotch whiskies (no grain this year – obsessives of that style collectively stifle a sob), Special Releases celebrate distillery character, notable firsts, and often, pleasing quirks. 2020’s haul is no different!

The Rare by Nature theme returns, which is a deliberate throwback to 2019. And the eagle-eyed among us will note that the distillery line-up is a repeat from last year, too. The liquid, however, is all new. 

“The first selection we did of Rare by Nature was really well received,” explained Ewan Gunn, Diageo’s global Scotch whisky master, when he introduced the Special Releases 2020 line-up on a Zoom call. “People liked that they were all related to each other, the spread of piece points.” 

Diageo Special Releases 2020:

Eight delicious whiskies, the highlight of which for our money is that young Talisker…

Stand-out highlights? The first pot still Jamaican rum-finished Talisker expression – hello! – and a 20-year-old Cragganmore, the first release of that age from the distillery. It was also an absolute treat to get to sample a 30-year-old Pittyvaich, liquid from the ghost distillery. 

“For those who enjoy spicy flavours, my recommendation would be to try our Cardhu,” Dr Craig Wilson, Diageo’s master blender, who curated the collection, said in a statement. “For those who favour rich, intense and smooth flavours my choice would be Mortlach 21-year-old.”

But enough of the recommendations! Here’s the glorious line-up in full, complete with our tasting notes.

Cardhu 11-Year-Old

ABV: 56.0%

Region: Speyside

Cask: From refill, new, and ex-bourbon American oak

Availability: Limited quantities worldwide 

RRSP: £85

On the nose, this is a pretty juicy, wood-forward wonder, rounded out with loads of green fruit (mouth-watering apple especially), and some boiled sweets – pear drops and rhubarb and custard. On the palate, it’s creamy, buttery and lifted by a smidge of pepper. The finish is long, lingering and warming.

Diageo Special Releases 2020:

Cragganmore 20-Year-Old

ABV: 55.8%

Region: Speyside

Cask: From refill casks and new fresh-charred casks.

Availability: Limited quantities worldwide 

RRSP: £130

A pretty relaxed dram for the ABV, with banana, pear and vanilla pods on the nose, along with a cedar wood quality. The palate is more savoury than you might think with toasted bread, black pepper and some pecan nuttiness. On the finish, there’s sweet chilli and more toast.

Diageo Special Releases 2020:

Dalwhinnie 30-Year-Old

ABV: 51.9%

Region: Highland

Cask: From refill hogsheads 

Availability: No. bottles available: 6,978

RRSP: £550

A mega-aged Dalwhinnie, often thought of as the gentle dram. And this continues its reputation! The nose is soft, herbal and shortbread-led, while the palate comes through with soft sweet spices – a smidge of cinnamon with a helping of orchard fruit. The finish plays up on the spices.

Diageo Special Releases 2020:

Lagavulin 12-Year-Old

ABV: 56.4%

Region: Islay

Cask: From refill American oak casks

Availability: Limited quantities worldwide  

RRSP: £125

An earthy delight! This packs an ashy punch, with pronounced smoky notes, but with lashings of boiled sweets, too. It’s lively, packed full of sweet spices, and there’s a vanilla ice cream cone note in with all the medicinal qualities. The finish is super long, with waft after waft of smoke. 

Diageo Special Releases 2020:

Mortlach 21-Year-Old

ABV: 56.9%

Region: Speyside

Cask: From Pedro Ximenez & Oloroso Sherry seasoned casks

Availability: No. bottles available: 7,692 

RRSP: £575

According to Dr. Wilson, this is “the Beast of Dufftown tamed”. But fear not – if you like robust whiskies, this still more than stands up. The PX and Oloroso casks preserve the meatiness, while on the palate there are loads of tannins to make the mouth water. The finish is bursting with savoury notes. 

Diageo Special Releases 2020:

Pittyvaich 30-Year-Old

ABV: 50.8%

Region: Speyside

Cask: From first-fill ex-bourbon casks

Availability: No. bottles available: 7,056

RRSP: £400

An absolute gem, overflowing with tropical fruits on the nose, plus a linseed oil quality and forest-floor leaves. The palate holds up fruit-wise, with peppery vanilla and a mouth-filling oiliness keeping it complex. While the finish is on the shorter side, it gives a surprisingly spicy warmth. 

Diageo Special Releases 2020:

Talisker 8-Year-Old

ABV: 57.9%

Region: Isle of Skye 

Cask: From pot-still Caribbean rum casks. 

Availability: Limited quantities worldwide 

RRSP: £90

The expression of Special Releases 2020 for us. And the first from the distillery to be matured in ex-pot still Caribbean rum casks! It’s aromatic and smoke-led, but with pear drop, seaweed and even a meatiness on the nose, too. The palate adds in tropical fruit hints and peppery spices, while the finish blends in chilli pepper, too. 

Diageo Special Releases 2020:

The Singleton of Dufftown 17-Year-Old

ABV: 55.1%

Region: Highland

Cask: Matured only in refill American oak hogsheads.

Availability: Limited quantities worldwide  

RRSP: £110

A more chilled out expression, but still all-round delicious. The nose is waxy with honeycomb and magnolia vibes, while on the palate there’s a cream soda suggestion, along with British orchard fruits. The medium finish has hints of ginger, too.

What’s on your shopping list? Any expressions you can’t wait to try? Let us know in the comments – and keep an eye on the New Arrivals feed for availability!

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The Nightcap: 7 August

It’s the weekend! How do we know that? Because The Nightcap is here. Those are the rules. We always recommend you have a tasty drink in hand before you start…

It’s the weekend! How do we know that? Because The Nightcap is here. Those are the rules.

We always recommend you have a tasty drink in hand before you start Nightcapping. A dram of whisky is a classic option for those who like to kick it old-school, or maybe you like to mix-up and create a homemade cocktail. Today it might be a good idea to grab a beer, seeing as it’s International Beer Day. Also, the weather here is roasting hot and it’s the law to have a cold lager in-hand on the weekend when it’s this warm (probably). Whatever your drink of choice, it’s perfect because you’re pairing it with The Nightcap. It’s a belter this week.

This week on the blog we launched our super Summer Sale, so if deals on whiskies, gins, rums, Tequilas and loads more sound great to you we suggest giving that blog a visit. Elsewhere, Lucy Britner looked back on an incredible 47 years in the whisky industry with Chivas Brothers legend Colin Scott while Annie enjoyed a virtual tour and tasting of Warner’s Distillery and a refreshing drop of Mint Julep. Adam, meanwhile, had the pleasure of trying the delicious new Ardbeg beer as well as an unaged Australian Agricole made on a family-owned farm distillery. He then grabbed five minutes of Swift co-founder Bobby Hiddleston’s time to chat about what it’s like to open a bar during the COVID-19 pandemic before speaking to the founders of Lindores Abbey about 500 years of distillation history. Now, to The Nightcap!

The Nightcap

Grab a tasting set and join us on Saturday 5th September for the world’s greatest virtual whisky festival!

Join us for Scotch & Sofa, the ultimate virtual whisky festival!

As you may have read over on the blog, we’ve teamed up with Diageo to bring you Scotch & Sofa, a one-day extravaganza on Saturday 5 September celebrating all things whisky. Due to, well, we all know why, there just aren’t any whisky festivals on right now. This makes us sad. We love the chance to discover new drams, catch up with whisky friends, and generally geek out about all things delicious. So… we’re bringing you the next best thing! We’ve got eight sessions running from 12pm covering almost everything from campfires on Skye and a boat trip to Islay, to deconstructing Johnnie Walker and whisky Highballs. And the best part? You can actually join in! We’ve got tasting sets galore. Check out the programme and then snap up a tasting set. Then all you need to do is tune in on our Facebook page, and join in the festivities. See you there!

The Nightcap

The name’s More. Bowmore.

Bowmore and Aston Martin unveil £50,000 whisky 

This week an iconic Islay whisky brand and a legendary car manufacturer announced that they were buddying up for a new release of an exceptionally rare Scotch whisky worth £50,000, and we pushed the ‘Nightcap this sucker’ button faster than somebody who owns an Aston Martin can bring up the fact they own an Aston Martin in conversation. The two brands say the exceptionally rare Black Bowmore DB5 1964 is a celebration of time. You see, the new whisky was distilled back in 1964, the same time the distillery traded coal fires for steam to heat the stills with the arrival of a new boiler. Not the most exhilarating event in the world, but interestingly enough the first distillation produced spirit which went on to become iconic Black Bowmore whisky. This particular beauty was first distilled on 5 November 1964 and matured for 31 years in a Williams & Humbert walnut brown Oloroso sherry butt. It’s said to have notes of ripe exotic fruits, creme caramel, soft tobacco smoke, rich black cherry and acacia honey and has an outturn of just 25 bottles. Inside your string-grain calfskin handmade presentation box, you’ll also find a genuine Aston Martin DB5 piston integrated into the bottle. The mid-60s was also something of a golden era for Aston Martin as it launched the Aston Martin DB5 in 1963. Just a year later it was being driven by that 007 fella. “1964 represents a significant date in the modern history of the distillery. Not only a key moment in how we distilled our spirit, but perhaps even more significant as this very spirit went on to create Black Bowmore,” said David Turner, distillery manager at Bowmore. “These defining moments are fundamental to the history of Bowmore. This collaboration with Aston Martin has allowed us to once again showcase this iconic single malt in the most incredible way.” 

The Nightcap

It’s truly the finest way to enjoy Talisker whisky

Talisker teams up with Loch Fyne Oysters to raise money

Talisker has long had an association with oysters. You can find the tasty little treats all along the beaches of Skye and a suggested serve from Diageo’s premium Scotch whisky brand has been to shuck and eat an oyster and then pour Talisker in the shell and drink it. This week has taken its love of seafood even further by creating a campaign of support by partnering with Loch Fyne Oysters Ltd to offer a new at-home whisky and oyster pairing experience that will raise funds for The Fishermen’s Mission. The initiative, which launched on National Oyster Day (5 August) means that you can now buy a limited edition Talisker & Oyster Signature Pairing Kit through Loch Fyne Oyster’s at-home delivery service, which consists of two Talisker 5cl bottles along with one dozen oysters for the cost of £12 (if you don’t know how to shuck the oysters, this video should help). Furthermore, each time a photo of the signature pairing kit is shared via social media, using the hashtag #SHUCKTOGETHER, Talisker has confirmed it will pledge £1 to The Fishermen’s Mission, to help support the economic recovery of coastal communities that have been severely impacted in recent months following the impact of the pandemic. Talisker UK brand manager, Nick Moore, commented: “We have always known that Talisker pairs brilliantly with oysters, but we are thrilled to be able to bring this ritual to people’s homes whilst being able to support the fantastic work of The Fishermen’s Mission in supporting the recovery of coastal communities across the UK through these challenging times”

The Nightcap

The remarkable sunken Scotch should fetch a hefty price at auction

Scotch salvaged from 80-Year-Old shipwreck to be auctioned

This week a pretty special whisky went on sale on The Grand Whisky Auction’s site, a Scotch that was salvaged from a shipwreck that occurred more than 80 years ago! Lot 160320 was rescued from the SS Politician, which ran aground off the shores of Eriskay in the Outer Hebrides in 1941 on its way to Jamaica. Nearby islanders attempted to retrieve the 28,000 cases of Scotch it was carrying when it foundered on rocks, a ‘whisky rescue’ that eventually led to a protracted battle between tax collectors and the islanders in a story that I’m sure is sounding increasingly familiar to you. That’s because it’s Whisky Galore. Yep, that novel and British comedy that is surely known to every whisky fan. This is Scotch from that ship. However, this particular bottle isn’t part of that controversially recovered booty, it was actually raised more than fifty years later by George Currie. The deep-sea repairman was able to recover a VAT 69, Ballantine’s and four bottles of a now-defunct brand known as Gibbey’s. Back in 2013, a pair of similarly aged whisky from the SS Politician sold together for £12,050, to give you an indication of the kind of price such a bottling can fetch. This expression is believed to be a blended Scotch whisky but there is no labelling of any sort so its distillery, age statement and tasting notes are unknown. Nonetheless, the airtight wax top and high fill-level suggest that there’s been little oxidation here, which means there’s a fair chance the spirit will taste much like it originally did nearly 80 years ago. Not that there’s any chance of this bottle being opened. From being lost to the deep to being lost to the sealed glass case. Still, the collector may get to enjoy the other spoils of Lot 160320, such as the diving helmet, bricks from the actual SS Politician and an original movie poster for Whisky Galore (the 2016 remake).

The Nightcap

Are you a spirits lover? Think you know a thing or two about the subject? Get involved!

People’s Choice Wine Awards opens to spirits – and you could be a judge! 

Booze lovers and producers alike, consider this a PSA. The People’s Choice Spirits Awards is now open for entries! It’s also the first time the wine awards have a separate section for spirits, and we’re excited. And not just because our very own Kristiane is part of the judging panel! While distillers, blenders and bottlers head off in a flurry to prep their entries, everyone else, listen up. If you’ve ever fancied yourself as a spirits judge, now is the chance! The organisers are on the hunt for people to join the assessment panel. If you buy whisky, gin or rum, and love tasting all kinds of different boozes, this is an opportunity for you. If you can get to Manchester in mid-November, tell your blended Scotch from your bourbon, then keep your eyes and your tasting glasses peeled. The People’s Choice Spirits Awards will want to hear from you! The application process will be unveiled soon, and check out the website for more. But as this is the only awards in the business to take drinks fans’ views into account, it’s a big deal. We hope to see you there later this year!

The Nightcap

Food, Rémy Martin cocktails and noted chef Kwame Onwuach. It’s a winning combination.

Rémy Martin teams up with chef Kwame Onwuachi for flavour series

Feeling peckish? Well, look away now. Cognac brand Rémy Martin has signed award-winning chef Kwame Onwuachi for a year-long contract celebrating flavour and hospitality across drinks and gastronomy! It’s kind of a zhuzhed up cocktail and food-pairing partnership, and we’re here for it. Onwuachi has kicked things off with a video called Flavor by the Grill, which brings together regional grilling dishes with Cognac based serves (with Rémy Martin, obvs). The whole point is to highlight the versatility of Cognac, especially Rémy Martin 1738 Accord Royal and Rémy Martin VSOP. His inspiration comes from his travels across the US, most notably Northease, South, West and Midwest. “Rémy Martin’s commitment to excellence is something that I am truly excited about being a part of,” said Onwuachi. “Rémy resonates with me on a personal level because it’s part of my heritage and has been a favourite drink in my family for generations. I am looking forward to growing with this amazing brand and creating authentic experiences!” Ian McLernon, president and CEO Americas at Rémy Cointreau, added: “Chef Kwame’s wholehearted dedication to excellence in his craft and the culinary space inspires us and is celebrated here at Rémy Martin. We are excited to see his culinary prowess in action with our liquid and look forward to his talent being spotlighted in this partnership.” Keep an eye on remymartin.com for more, including deets of masterclasses and culinary events! The brand has also discontinued gift boxes for its Remy Martin VSOP Cognac as part of a wider initiative to “protect the environment with each and every action it undertakes.” Quite the busy week for our friends over at Remy Martin!

The Nightcap

The Green Glitter and Paloma Sky were highlights. As was going to an actual bar.

And finally… Team MoM finally goes to a real bar!

Something really rather exciting happened in Team MoM this week. That’s right, we went to our very first bar opening since lockdown began! It felt so good to get back out there (responsibly, of course). We picked quite the location for it, as we headed to Deli Cat & Sons, a shiny new riverside bar that sits right across the river from the Tate Modern. It was originally set to open back in March, so it’s been a long wait! Its name is a little nod to the word Délicat, meaning refined in French, and if you say it really fast it sounds like ‘delicatessen’. By day, it’s a cafe serving sourdough sandwiches and salads inspired by local farmers. By night, it turns into a rather chic evening destination, with music and a sprawling outdoor area that couldn’t be closer to the river unless you decided to start paddling. It boasts six signature cocktails and, well… We had a taste of all of them. A couple of firm favourites were the Tequila, chilli and cucumber-based Green Glitter, and the floral lavender, grapefruit and gin-based Paloma Sky. You’ll also find spritzes and rum-based concoctions as well as cheese, mezze and charcuterie sharing boards, so there is truly something for everyone. Especially while the sun shines, we can’t think of a better place to spend an evening. 

 

The Nightcap

Bonus: Can you name these 10 popular beers from their emojis?

Given that it’s International Beer Day tomorrow (7th August) Liberty Games has decided to mark the occasion by creating the Popular Beer Brands Emoji Quiz. The game is simple: you have to name the ten popular brands from the emoji. It’s like that Whisky Emoji Challenge we did on our social channels back when nobody was allowed outside, remember? The fastest time to get all 10 is 1 minute 46 seconds, so that’s your target to beat. Answers are below. No cheating. 

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Come and join us for Scotch & Sofa!

** MISSED OUT ON SCOTCH & SOFA?** Don’t panic! You can still snap up a set and taste along with the action by clicking right here. Pining for whisky festivals?…

** MISSED OUT ON SCOTCH & SOFA?** Don’t panic! You can still snap up a set and taste along with the action by clicking right here.

Pining for whisky festivals? Us too. But fear not! Join us on Saturday 5 September for the ultimate virtual whisky festival: it’s Scotch & Sofa!

Nothing beats the vibe of a whisky festival. Old friends, new faces, and oodles of new drams to be discovered (responsibly of course!). One of the (many, let’s say) downsides to the current, ahem, unusual situation is the lack of whisky festivals. But never fear. We’re here to save that aspect of summer with Scotch & Sofa!

We’ve teamed up with our friends at Diageo to bring you the ultimate virtual whisky festival. We’ve put together a full-day fiesta of all things whisky. Get set for eight sessions, filled to the brim with delicious drams and ace folks, streaming live on Facebook. You’ll even be able to nab a tasting set to really immerse yourself in all things festival.

Charge the tasting glasses!

Pour a dram and tune in

Yes! From 12pm on Saturday 5 September, we’ve got an action-packed programme of tastings, chats and general fun and frivolity, and you’ll be able to join from the comfort of your sofa. 

Each 45-minute session will see a group of experts explore a theme, with three different samples specially picked for the occasion. Seven of the eight sessions have a specially curated tasting set too – snap one up and you’ll be all set to take part! But you’ll need to be quick; there’s only a limited number of each available. 

Missed out? Never fear! Just check out our Facebook page, and you’ll be able to follow all the fun of the festival. Pour one of your favourite drams and join in the chat anyway. Everyone is welcome!

Scotch & Sofa

It’s the ultimate virtual whisky festival. Get set for Scotch and Sofa!

The all-important programme

So what has Scotch & Sofa got in store? Here’s how the day is shaping up. 

Scotch & Sofa

12pm: Ghost & Rare Distilleries

And we kick off proceedings with something really special indeed! TJ Littlejohn, malt whisky ambassador, Colin Dunn, whisky ambassador, and Ewan Gunn, global whisky master, join our editor, Kristiane Sherry, to taste through Johnnie Walker Blue Label – Ghost & Rare Glenury Royal, Johnnie Walker Blue Label – Ghost & Rare Port Ellen and Caol Ila Unpeated 15 Year Old from the 2018 Special Release collection. Exceptional stuff all round. 

Nab a tasting set here.

Scotch & Sofa

1pm: Campfire at Skye

Can’t travel this summer? No problem! We’re taking a trip to the stunning Isle of Skye through the medium of our tasting glasses, and a Talisker exploration. Join Jason Clark, Talisker brand ambassador, Diane Farrell, distillery manager, and our very own campaigns manager, Laura Carl, as they indulge in and discuss Talisker 10 Year Old, Talisker 18 Year Old, and Talisker Port Ruighe.

Get your tasty ticket to Skye here.

Scotch & Sofa

2pm: Boat Trip to Islay

The island-hopping continues! This time, TJ, Colin Dunn, Pierrick Guillaume, Caol Ila distillery manager, and Henry Jeffreys, our features editor, check out the spoils of two great Islay distilleries: Lagavulin and Caol Ila. The line-up features Lagavulin 16 Year Old, the wonderful Lagavulin 8 Year Old, and Caol Ila Unpeated 15 Year Old from Special Release 2018. 

All aboard with the Boat Trip to Islay tasting sets here!

Scotch & Sofa

3pm: Johnnie Walker Deconstructed 

Partial to a drop of Johnnie Walker? Intrigued by how the constituent parts of a blend come together for the finished product? Wonder no more! Ali Reynolds, luxury Reserve brand ambassador, Tom Jones, global Scotch whisky ambassador, Emma Walker, Johnnie Walker master blender, and our editor Kristiane Sherry delve behind the scenes and into the secrets of Johnnie Walker Black Label 12 Year Old, through Cardhu 12 Year Old and Caol Ila 12 Year Old!

Grab your component parts with a tasting set right here.

Scotch & Sofa

4pm: The Ultimate Johnnie Walker Tasting Experience

If you enjoy the finer whiskies in life, then this trio of tantalizing blends will be right up your street. Join Ali Reynolds, Georgie Crawford, Port Ellen distillery manager, Jim Beveridge, Johnnie Walker master blender, and Kristiane Sherry as they jump right into some of the most decadent bottlings to be found under the Johnnie Walker name. Drams include The John Walker King George V, The John Walker, and Johnnie Walker Blue Label!

You can find the ultimate tasting set here!

Scotch & Sofa

5pm: Before & After: Lower proof serves and small plates

We reckon we’ll be up for a bit of a snack by this point, so it’s perfect timing for Lauren Mote, Diageo’s global cocktailian, and Mark Moriarty, global gastronomer, to take over! They’ll be celebrating the spirit of Scotland in digestif and aperitif form, with accompanying small plates. Featured whiskies include Talisker and Johnnie Walker Gold! Prepare to be inspired. 

Scotch & Sofa

6pm: Mixing Whisky: Highballs

What’s easy peasy, extra delicious, and all-round extraordinary? The great whisky Highball! Don’t believe us? Then tune in to see TJ, Ervin Trykowski, global Scotch whisky ambassador for The Singleton, Ali Reynolds and Laura Carl celebrate and generally revel in the finest of whisky serves (we’re not biased at all…). Whiskies include Talisker Skye, Singleton of Dufftown 12 Year Old, and Johnnie Walker Black Label 12 Year Old. Delightful!

Grab your Highball whisky set right here!

Scotch & Sofa

7pm: Speyside Flora and Fauna

We wrap up the Scotch & Sofa festivities with a session devoted to the love of Speyside, and a dip into the delicious Flora and Fauna series. TJ, Colin Dunn, Jason Clark and Henry Jeffreys will sip and savour Benrinnes 15 Year Old, Dailuaine 16 Year Old, and Linkwood 12 Year Old, while reminiscing about the magic of Speyside. Come join in!

Pick up a tasting set here.

Phew! What a day. Grab a tasting set (or two), ready the glassware, charge the laptop, and join us on 5 September over at Master of Malt’s Facebook. We can’t wait to see you!

 

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Get a head start on Father’s Day!

Father’s Day is on the horizon and you know it always comes around too fast. Get ahead of the curve by sorting out a brilliantly boozy gift that can be…

Father’s Day is on the horizon and you know it always comes around too fast. Get ahead of the curve by sorting out a brilliantly boozy gift that can be delivered straight to his home.

You know it’s only a few weeks until Father’s Day, right? These occasions have a habit of creeping up on you and it’s easy to panic buy and be the child who buys dad another pair of silly socks or branded mug. We sympathise. Father’s Day is arguably the most difficult occasion to shop for. Dads always say they don’t need anything. And that’s probably true. So you need to buy him something he really wants. A bottle of something special may just be your best bet in your quest to remind your dear old dad how much he’s appreciated. Where can you find one of those? Right here. That’s where.

Get a head start on Father's Day!

The Father’s Day Whisky Tasting Set 

Our very own Father’s Day Whisky Tasting Set is very much a home-run when it comes to great Father’s Day gifts. It says Father’s Day on it, for a start. It really looks like you made an effort when you buy something like this. Especially as we guarantee there are five 30ml drams of superb whisky from world-class producers in this exclusive set. Plus, right now it’s over 25% off. 

The Father’s Day Whisky Tasting Set Contents:

Scallywag

Aerolite Lyndsay 10 Year Old – The Character of Islay Whisky Company

The ONE Sherry Expression

Colonel EH Taylor Small Batch

Loch Lomond 12 Year Old

Get a head start on Father's Day!

Balvenie 14 Year Old Caribbean Cask

Warming, spicy and utterly delicious, this well-rounded single malt from The Balvenie was initially aged in traditional oak casks before it was finished in casks which previously held a select blend of Caribbean rums chosen by malt master David C. Stewart MBE. Perfect for those who love a good Scotch and for those who want something with a touch of the tropical to mark all this good weather we’re having.

What does it taste like?

Tropical fruits, namely passion fruit, sweet vanilla, apples, mangoes, orange and creamy toffee.

Get a head start on Father's Day!

Talisker 10 Year Old 

If sweet maritime peatiness, orchard fruit and pleasant spice sounds like the kind of profile your pops would enjoy, then you’d have a hard time bettering this classic Island dram from the Isle of Skye. Talisker 10 Year Old is one of those classic expressions that’s always got a welcome spot in any good drinks cabinet.

What does it taste like?

Smoke, sweet pear and apple peels, maritime salt, seaweed, peat, black pepper, brine and dry barley. 

Get a head start on Father's Day!

Jaffa Cake Gin

What if your father isn’t fussed with whisky? For those who have something of a sweet tooth, we recommend Jaffa Cake Gin. Yep. It’s a gin made to taste like Jaffa Cakes and even includes the timeless treat in its botanical selection. Now we’re talking. An insanely delicious Negroni awaits. Extra dad points are awarded if they position an actual Jaffa Cake on the glass in the style of a citrus wheel garnish.

What does it taste like?

Zingy orange (marmalade-esque), rich and earthy chocolate, vanilla-rich cake, a touch of almondy-goodness and a solid backbone of juniper. Also, Jaffa Cakes!

Get a head start on Father's Day!

Diplomático Reserva Exclusiva 

If rum is more your dad’s thing, then you’ll want a good premium expression that boasts a large number of fans and a trophy cabinet like Michael Jordan. Diplomático Reserva Exclusiva is a delightful blend of dark rums distilled from molasses in ancient copper pot stills before being matured in small oak casks for up to 12 years. This Venezuelan treat is delicious served neat or in cocktails like an Old Fashioned or Daiquiri.

What does it taste?

Dark chocolate, vanilla cream, espresso, orange peel, liquorice and sweet toffee fudge.

Get a head start on Father's Day!

Faustino I Gran Reserva 2008 

It’s hard to underestimate the brilliance of a seriously good bottle of red wine, which is exactly what we have here. This Gran Reserva comes from one of the most famous producers in the Rioja region, Bodegas Faustino and the 2008 vintage was crafted from Tempranillo, Graciano and Mazuelo grapes. By law Gran Reserva Riojas have to age for at least five years (two of them in oak). All that time means that by the time you reach for the corkscrew the wine has taken on some seriously complex flavours, which are best enjoyed when paired with roast lamb.

What does it taste?

Rich and subtly oak, but still manages to show off some bright summer fruit sweetness.

Get a head start on Father's Day!

Bathtub Gin

If you’re on the lookout for classic juniper-forward gin, you might as well go for a serial award winner. From Ableforth’s comes this year’s World’s Best Compound Gin at the World Gin Awards, Bathtub Gin. It was named for the 1920s Prohibition method of infusing botanicals in a bathtub, but don’t worry, this tastes a little more sophisticated than that. It was crafted with six botanicals using an interesting technique known as cold compounding. The result? An aromatic, rich profile filled with notes of orange citrus, fragrant spices and a good core of juniper. 

What does it taste?

Juniper-rich bouquet, cardamom, orange blossom and cinnamon.

1 Comment on Get a head start on Father’s Day!

The Nightcap: 3 April

This week on The Nightcap you can look forward to stories about Easter eggs, Hollywood stars and… reaction to the lockdown. Obviously. Lockdown has not stopped the booze news from…

This week on The Nightcap you can look forward to stories about Easter eggs, Hollywood stars and… reaction to the lockdown. Obviously.

Lockdown has not stopped the booze news from making its way to… Well, I was going to say MoM Towers, but we’re currently writing this from our homes. Metaphorical MoM Towers? The MoM Towers of the Cloud? Electronic MoM Towers? Whatever. Booze news ain’t stopped, and neither has The Nightcap. Go on, get stuck in.

On the MoM blog this week, Annie returned to provide some pro tips to make bar-quality cocktails at home, and then demonstrated the kind of deliciousness you can make with minimal fuss with our Cocktail of the Week. Henry, meanwhile, was on-hand to recommend some terrifically tasty drinks, including a new pink gin with a difference, and a delicious Colombian rum, before Adam got in on the act by shining a spotlight on some of the finest new and trending tipples (Jaffa Cake Gin, anyone?). Elsewhere, our virtual reality tour series took us to Craigellachie Distillery and Chase Distillery, we suggested some quality podcasts to keep you amused when you’re self-isolating, and Ian Buxton paid tribute to Scotch whisky industry expert Alan Gray.

Also, a big thank you to all who entered our virtual pub quiz last Friday. This week’s edition is en route, so pour yourself a drink and remind yourself there’s no glory in Google. Good luck!

With no further ado, here’s The Nightcap for this week!

The Nightcap

Join us for some terrific tastings over on Instagram!

Join us for live tastings!

First up this week is a little plug for how you can join us for some tastings over on Instagram! Yes, the vast majority of Team MoM is too in isolation, and we miss tasting with our pals. We also love sharing some of our classic favourites (now known as isolation sippers) and shiny new things, so we figured the best course of action was to take to the socials! Fancy joining us? Here’s the line-up for the next few weeks. We’ll go live on Mondays at Wednesdays at 7:30pm over on our Instagram  – and here are the drinks to get your mitts on if you fancy joining!

Monday 6 April: How delicious gins are made

We explore how production techniques influence flavour. On the line-up we’ve got Sipsmith London Dry Gin, Hernö Old Tom, and Bathtub Gin!

Wednesday 8 April: Essential isolation whisky sippers

The best accompaniment to an evening book, film, or Netflix documentary (Tiger King, obvs) during this time? A dram, of course! We’ve picked our isolation essentials for this tasting: Lagavulin 16 Year Old, Balvenie 14 Year Old Caribbean Cask, Auchentoshan The Bartender’s Edition, Auchentoshan American Oak, and Glen Scotia Victoriana!

Wednesday 15 April: Sherry Monsters Tasting Set

We’re joined by Sam Simmons (aka Dr. Whisky) to explore some of the most mouth-watering sherry bombs from the world of whisky! Tasting sets available now. We’re excited!

Monday 20 April: World Gin Award Winners 2020

Come and discover the best gins in the world! Grab your tasting set in advance, and join us to taste through these delectable award winners!

Wednesday 22 April: That Boutique-y Whisky Company does Scotch!

Brand ambassador Dave Worthington will take us through That Boutique-y Whisky Company’s Scotch Whisky Collection Gift Set – a delish treat to mark mid-week!

And there’s more to follow… check back each week for further details!

 

Actor Mark Strong narrates Kraken audiobook

As the UK enters its second week of lockdown, Kraken rum continues to do its bit to relieve cabin fever with the second instalment of Krakenory. Inspired by CBBC’s Jackanory, the weekly series features famous faces retelling some of literature’s greatest nautical tales. The first episode featured The Libertines’ front man Carl Barat, who donned a smoking jacket to read from the Jules Verne classic 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. This week features three readings from Mark Strong, who you probably recognise from his work in 1917, The Imitation Game, and an episode of EastEnders from 1989 where he played a telephone engineer. He’ll lend his voice to The Kraken by Alfred Lord Tennyson, Dover Beach by Matthew Arnold and Part II of The Rime of the Ancient Mariner by Samuel Coleridge.  “I’ve played some villains in my time, but when it comes to bad guys, nothing compares to the mighty Kraken, as viewers of Krakenory will soon find out,” Strong said. “So come join us on a voyage to the unknown. Once you’re lost in the pages, you never know where you’ll end up.” The Kraken is also commissioning a team of UK bartenders to create bespoke rum-based cocktail each week, releasing ingredients for each cocktail ahead of each episode to give followers enough time to stock up on supplies ahead of each reading. Episodes of Krakenory are released every Friday at 12pm, with viewers able to watch on the brand’s Instagram and Facebook pages.

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The egg is filled with bespoke Talisker whisky sea salted caramels

Talisker Whisky launches first-ever Easter Egg 

It’s the little things that get us through tough times, and at MoM Towers, those little things are generally whisky and chocolate. For the festive season (also known as Easter), Talisker has gone and teamed up with Edinburgh based chocolatier COCO to create its first-ever Easter egg! Let us be clear, the whisky isn’t in an egg (although we’d certainly be behind that idea), rather you’ll be treated to an egg of sea-salted dark chocolate, filled with bespoke Talisker whisky sea salted caramels. You’ll never guess where the sea salt comes from… the Isle of Skye! “As a whisky fan first and foremost, and a chocolate fan a very close second, this has been a great collaboration to work on,” says Jason Clark, British Talisker brand ambassador. “The use of the sea salt from the Isle of Skye in both the egg itself and the sea salted caramels connects them with Talisker’s homeland, and its deliciously distinct made by the sea character.” If like us, you’re uncontrollably salivating at the thought of smoky whisky and decadent dark chocolate combined, you can grab yourself an egg right here! Should make for a… cracking pressie. (Sorry.)

The Nightcap

Wine merchants such as Yapp Brothers have never been busier

Online booze sales surge during lockdown

The 20 March was a black day in history as the Prime Minister announced the closure of all pubs and bars. The great British public has responded in the only way they know how, by ordering loads of booze online. Across the land, people are reporting soaring sales for at-home consumption. Wine merchants such as Yapp Brothers have never been busier. Jason Yapp commented: “Our online business is certainly booming. There has been a huge spike in sales since the lockdown was announced on 23rd March. We have subsequently experienced our largest ever volume of wines dispatched by carrier in a single day and our busiest month in our 50-year trading history.” Charles Lea from Lea & Sandeman agreed: “Web and shop sales are significantly up, despite operating curtailed hours and non-contact delivery and collection.” Rebellious Goods, an online beer and wine merchant, has reported 11 times the number of orders in March compared with February, according to City AM. Supermarkets are also selling more booze than normal, up 22% according to figures released by Kantar. Things are certainly extremely busy here at Master of Malt with volumes up almost 200%! According to our numbers boffins, it seems that Britons aren’t necessarily drinking more to deal with isolation, it’s just sales that would have gone to the hospitality trade and supermarkets (which, in some cases, are limiting how much people can buy). So it seems that the country isn’t actually going on an isolation-induced bender. If you need [sensible volumes of] supplies, folks, we’re here for you!

The Nightcap

Look, it’s sparkling red wine!

Lockdown fun: DIY sparkling wine

Drinking (responsibly, naturally) isn’t the only fun wine-based activity you can do while self-isolating. You can try making it, too! Well, maybe not making wine from start to finish, but definitely helping. London-based urban winery Renegade is offering you the chance to riddle and disgorge your very own sparkling wine. ‘Rhythm and what?’, we hear some readers say. This is the process where dead yeast cells are removed from a sparkling wine to create a clear, bright finished product. It was invented in Champagne by Veuve Clicquot herself. Now you can do it at home. Renegade will send you a bottle of its sparkling grenache made in London from Spanish-grown grapes. Yes, it’s a sparkling red wine. Groovy! In order to finish it off, turn the bottle upside down and wait for all the sediment to collect by the cap (that’s your riddling) and then quickly remove the cap and a small amount of wine will be ejected along with the sediment (disgorgement). At least that’s the theory (see video here). It’s probably best done in the garden as it can be a messy process. Don’t forget to post your attempt not matter how pitiful on Instagram tagging @renegadeurbanwinery . Finally, drink the wine with an enormous sense of achievement. 

The Nightcap

And that’s a wrap on The Nightcap this week. Now, it’s time to reveal the answers to last week’s pub quiz. Thanks again to all who entered and congratulations to Mark OPray, the winner of the grand prize last week!

1) What cocktail would F. D. Roosevelt offer to every head of state who visited him?

Answer: Martini

2) On The Simpsons, what is the biggest beer brand in Shelbyville?

Answer: Fudd Beer

3) Which country has a grape variety known as ‘dog strangler’?

Answer: Portugal

4) What is The Dude’s go-to drink in The Big Lebowski? 

Answer: White Russian

5) Which whisky personality is famous for insuring his nose for £2 million? 

Answer: Richard Paterson

6) What is the Lincoln County Process? 

Answer: Filtering whiskey through sugar maple charcoal prior to ageing

7) Which Scottish region was once known as the Whisky Metropolis? 

Answer: Campbeltown

8) The Black Velvet cocktail was created in 1861 to mourn the death of which English royal? 

Answer: Prince Albert

9) What is Ron Swanson’s favourite drink on Parks and Recreation? 

Answer: Lagavulin 16

10) What is the most popular spirit in China?

Answer: Baijiu

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The Nightcap: 17 January

In the Nightcap this week we’ve got reinvented bar tools, Dry January discounts and news of victors in the World’s Toughest Row.  We’re officially back into the swing of things….

In the Nightcap this week we’ve got reinvented bar tools, Dry January discounts and news of victors in the World’s Toughest Row. 

We’re officially back into the swing of things. Not simply in sense of The Nightcap, but just in general. Those first couple of weeks following that gift-giving occasion and that world-kept-spinning celebration can be somewhat rocky, but we are firmly back in the saddle, and the saddle is back on the horse, and the horse is back on track, and the track is… OK, actually, yeah, that sentence is over, but not because our ducks aren’t in a row, but really it just went on a bit long. Never-the-less, The Nightcap is ready!

On the blog this week announced the return of the Burns Night poetry competition, while also revealing the winner of our Starward competition. Elsewhere, Henry explored the effect of the iStill on distillation and enjoyed a distinctive beer for our New Arrival of the Week. Jess then talked to Reyka Vodka’s Fabiano Latham before Annie looked at how Australia’s wine industry is reacting to the recent bushfires and the new wave of no-and-low-alcohol drinks. Adam then learned the story behind the revival of James E. Pepper and rounded-up some of the finest new arrivals at MoM Towers, before enjoying a Cocktail of the Week that was both trendy and tropical.

The Nightcap

A very moody looking Monkey Shoulder ‘Trigger Jigger’

Monkey Shoulder gets jiggy with it with the ‘Trigger Jigger’

Monkey Shoulder has made a big claim this week by stating it has reinvented one of the most popular bar tools on the planet – the jigger. Coined ‘The Trigger Jigger’, the Scotch whisky brand has said it guarantees 100% accuracy per pour and will save every bartender an average 4 hours and 42 minutes per year. For those unfamiliar with the tool, the jigger is used to measure and pour spirits and you’ll be sure to find them in any good bar across the globe. However, Monkey Shoulder has commented that inferior jigger designs are inaccurate by as much as 20% because of the likelihood for spirits to spill whilst being measured. A statement that will have many a bartender nodding knowingly. Lab technicians at Monkey Shoulder have put this new tool to the test and the results show that while standard jiggers produce one pour per 0.86 seconds, the Trigger Jigger has recorded speeds of one pour per 0.789 seconds. The design is the brainchild of Monkey Shoulder global brand ambassador Joe Petch, who commented: “Some jiggers are just not good for business and can result in slower serving speeds. So inspired by a nickel- and silver-plated jigger from the late 1880s and through countless hours of research with bartenders around the world, I set about righting some wrongs.” He went onto explain that the key was to streamline the design to ensure maximum liquid velocity: “By engineering a piston valve mechanism, I’ve ensured an accurate cut start and stop flow rate. Pour in the liquid and apply some pressure on a trigger using a good old-fashioned finger. The spirit streams out at an optimum rate into the drinking vessel.” The launch of the Trigger Jigger follows previous Monkey Shoulder inventions such as the extendable ‘iSpoon’, cocktail mixer the Konga Shaker and The Claw ice tong. Bars such as The Artesian, Swift Bar, The Beaufort Bar and Callooh Callay have already started using The Trigger Jigger, and others who want to get in on the act can get their hands on the limited stock by getting in touch with either John Wayte (@BarMonkey_ ) or Jody Buchan (@JodySpiritual).

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Duvel Batch No. 4

Duvel launches Batch No. 4 aged in bourbon barrels 

Beer and whisk(e)y share many things, from the base materials, the fermentation process, and even that time those whiskies were put into an IPA cask. Well, now awesome Belgian beer Duvel Moortgat has released Batch No.4 which has been treated to a nine-month maturation in oak barrels which previously held delicious bourbon. And not just any bourbon either, but liquid from Heaven Hill, Woodford Reserve, Four Roses, George Dickel and Jack Daniels. The limited-edition brew was matured in more than three hundred barrels shipped over to Belgium, with 80,000 bottles released at a burly 11.5% ABV. “The Duvel brewers have not been sitting still in recent months, but our speciality beer has been doing just that,” says Hedwig Neven, brewmaster at Duvel Moortgat. “Lovers of beer, Duvel, and whiskey can once again enjoy Duvel Barrel Aged now that the barrels are opened after their long rest and the bottles have finally been filled!” With toasted flavours of toffee, vanilla and obvious bourbon influence, Batch No. 4 even stole a gold medal in the Brussels Beer Challenge. Said to be a great pairing with raw or smoked fish, sushi, grilled or smoked meat, cheeses, exotic fruit and chocolate, it’s hard to think of an occasion when it wouldn’t fit in!

The Nightcap

2020 looks like another big year for the family firm

Hayman Distillers launches spirit merchant arm, Symposium 

2019 was a big year for Hayman Distillers with the launch of its fiendishly clever Small Gin and Merser & Co. Double Barrel Rum, and 2020 looks every bit as exciting as the London distiller has announced a new venture: Symposium, an independent spirits merchant. Named, no doubt, after the top 90s punk band, Symposium. This arm will involve a variety of spirit brands in categories including gin, vodka, Scotch whisky, rum, Tequila and sambuca. The portfolio will be divided into three parts. At the top is the Heritage range compromising of in-house products, Hayman’s Gin, Small Gin and Merser & Co rum; then the Challenger range with products like Bush Rum, Firean Scotch Whisky, Red Griffin Vodka and Half Crown Gin; and finally the House range. There is also talk of bringing in some agency brands in the future but nothing has been confirmed yet. James Hayman explained: ‘Our mission at Symposium is to create and to sell the finest range of spirits available.” He went on to say: “Symposium will operate at every level of the market with our Challenger brands, in particular, offering an exciting alternative for those who are no longer content to settle for ‘big-name’ brands from large producers and who seek a quality, independent option with a partner they can rely on for the long-term.” It’s all go at Hayman’s.

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We’ll certainly raise a glass to this good news!

The great pub and bar bounce-back is on!

After fifteen years of decline, we have some good news if you like pubs and bars (that’ll be all of us, then…). According to Office for National Statistics paper Economies of ale: changes in the UK pubs and bars sector, 2001 to 2019, the number of such drinking establishments in the UK is on the up once more! (Thumbs up to whoever came up with the name.) Sure, it’s just a 0.4% increase, but at the end of 2019, there were 85 more across the country than in 2018. Taking in larger sites (11+ employees) and chains, the total increase stood at 815. Cheers to that! Some of the trends behind the headline stats: we’re increasingly becoming a nation of foodies, with pubs and bars employing more people on the eating than drinking side of things as we all spend more on eating out than drinking out. But despite that, turnover is at the highest level since the financial crisis. Long live the pub!

The Nightcap

The beautiful original Bar Douro near London Bridge

Bar Douro to open branch in the City

Do you work in the City of London? Do you love Portuguese wine and food? Well, we have good news because Bar Douro is opening a branch in Finsbury Avenue on 28 January. The original opened in 2016 by Max Graham from the family that owns Churchill Port. It quickly picked up rave reviews from critics including Marina O’ Loughlin in the Guardian who wrote: “I have to restrain myself from licking the plate”. The new restaurant will offer food and wines from all over the country. Spirit lovers won’t be short-changed with a selection of specially imported Portuguese spirits including gins and Maven Aguardente aged brandy. And don’t forget, the best White Port & Tonics this side of Oporto. Graham commented: “We have only just scratched the surface of Portugal’s rich culinary traditions and with our second, larger space we are excited to further explore the wealth of Portuguese cuisine”. There will be a soft launch from 28 January until 11 February. Email city@bardouro.co.uk for a reservation. You won’t be disappointed. 

The Nightcap

The team of four Brits made it into safe harbour after winning the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge 2019

Brits crowned champions in Talisker Atlantic Challenge

Remember when Talisker sent teams of intrepid sorts off across the Atlantic Ocean on the World’s Toughest RowWell… we have a victor! Or a team of four victors, to be precise. British team Fortitude IV was the first to make it from La Gomera in the Canary Island to Antigua in the Caribbean in an impressive time of 32 days 12 hours and 35 minutes! They braved 12-metre waves, a capsizing incident, broken oars, and “some of the scariest moments of [our] life”. Not for the faint-hearted, and especially impressive when you realise some teams expect to take eight more weeks to cross. Yikes. We raise our tasting glasses to Ollie Palmer (who also happens to work for Talisker parent company, Diageo), Tom Foley, Hugh Gillum and Max Breet, Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge 2019 champions! “Being on the ocean in quite an extreme context, strips back all the noise and makes you realise what is really important to you,” said Gillum. “You have a lot of time to think out there – with no distractions – and that inspires you in different ways. It was an amazing thing to have done – we set off thinking it was a once in a lifetime thing and we can certainly maintain that position. The sum of all the parts is incredible – from seeing the shooting stars, to the arrival here tonight, and the support from all of our family and friends. There are tough times that we perhaps would wish away slightly but standing here now [in Antigua] we just think that the sum of all those parts is incredible.” Time for a well-earned dram, we think. Talisker, of course… 

The Nightcap

The Suntory Group will donate $500,000 AUD in support of those impacted by the bushfires

Suntory pledges AUD$500k to Australia bushfire relief

The devastating bushfires in Australia have broken hearts around the world – but individuals and companies are stepping forward to offer support in all kinds of ways. The latest to join the relief effort is Suntory Group, which makes the likes of Jim Beam bourbon, Hibiki Japanese whisky and Courvoisier Cognac. It’s committed to donating AU$500,000 (about £264,000) to the Australian Red Cross, the New South Wales Rural Fire Service and the New South Wales Wildlife Information Rescue and Education Service. “We have all been deeply saddened by the spread of these immense fires, which have destroyed lives, towns, homes and wildlife,” said Andrea Parker, managing director at Beam Suntory Oceania. “We are committed to helping rebuild these communities along with the rest of the Suntory Group.” The pledge follows another AU$500k donation from Diageo-owned Bundaberg rum to the Australian Red Cross earlier this week. Want to know more about the bushfires and how you can help? Check out the blog right here for more.

The Nightcap

The new partnership is for those who manage a team behind the bar and want to boost wellbeing

Small Batch Learning and Healthy Hospo team up on wellbeing initiative

Bartenders, (or indeed, anyone who works in hospitality) listen up! Smart-learning company Small Batch Learning has partnered with Healthy Hospo, a non-profit wellness education provider, to offer bars, restaurants and hotels an online tool to promote mental and physical health. Level 1 content is totally free to access and will be inserted into existing Small Batch materials, while Level 2 plans are paid-for, with proceeds reinvested in Healthy Hospo. “A healthy mind, body and workplace should be a non-negotiable, and we’re proud to partner with Healthy Hospo to help address these topics,” says Duncan Campbell, COO of Small Batch Learning. “As we continue our mission to make hospitality training accessible and relevant, this partnership will shine a light on serious issues facing the industry that are often pushed aside or laughed off. We’re thrilled to support Healthy Hospo scale up and help further the impact of its crucial training.” Tim Etherington-Judge, Healthy Hospo founder, added: “From chronic rates of sleep deprivation and substance abuse, to sky-high issues with mental health, we are not a healthy industry – and we often suffer in silence. It’s time to change the conversation and stop putting our health, and that of our colleagues, at the bottom of the to-do list.” If you manage a team in hospitality, check out Small Batch Learning!

The Nightcap

The choice of headline sponsor at SXSW is an example of the rise of hard seltzer

White Claw lines up South by Southwest partnership

If you needed any more indicators that hard seltzers are going to be A Very Big Thing, here’s another for you. White Claw, the US’s best-seltzer brand, has just taken over ‘super sponsorship’ of South by Southwest (SXSW). The actual interesting bit? It’s binned off a beer brand to nab the top spot. All eyes will be on the music, film and tech event, which takes place in Austin, Texas, from 13-22 March, and to have a hard seltzer over a beer marks a shift indeed. “We’re thrilled to bring White Claw to life at SXSW,” said Phil Rosse, president, White Claw Seltzer Works. “This brand has been built through the great passion and celebration by our fans, connecting the brand to culture and sharing it through their social channels. We are excited to support SXSW, an event that has always been ground zero for innovation in culture and technology.” Roland Swenson, SXSW CEO and co-founder, added: “SXSW is excited to work with White Claw. As one of the fastest-growing brands, their sponsorship of SXSW reflects the independent and innovative spirit that SXSW is known for.” Bring on the seltzers!

The Nightcap

Alain Ducasse opposes Dry January, and we salute him

And finally… Alain Ducasse fights Dry January with discount fine wine

Are you getting a bit bored of Dry January? The pious friends who won’t go to the pub, your favourite drinks website brimming with articles about non-alcoholic drinks instead of whisky and the dreaded word ‘mocktail.’ Well, Alain Ducasse feels your pain. He told the Guardian this week: “I’ve noted that trend but I don’t want to see or hear of it, I am opposed to it.” And so, he has put his money where his mouth is and slashed the prices of some of his best bottles of Bordeaux and Burgundy in an effort to get diners drinking again. So get down to your local Ducasse restaurant, like Alain Ducasse at The Dorchester in London, order something fancy, and sip away those January blues.

 

No Comments on The Nightcap: 17 January

The Nightcap: 13 December

In a week with an election (think we can all agree the true winners were the pooches at the polls), the world of booze still managed to churn out plenty…

In a week with an election (think we can all agree the true winners were the pooches at the polls), the world of booze still managed to churn out plenty of news. And it’s all in the Nightcap!

With Christmas on the horizon, you’d think the world of booze news might slow down, that schedules get filled up with gravy tastings, awkward extended family small talk planning meetings and scheduled downtime to watch gift wrapping tutorial videos on YouTube. Nope. The news keeps happening, and we keep on compiling it every week in The Nightcap. Here’s another edition of it. Please, enjoy. 

Before we talk about all the amazing goings-on in blog land, just a quick reminder that there’s still time to enter our fantastic Starward competition, where you’ll visit the actual distillery in actual Australia! Hope you’ve been working on your knifey-spoony game…

Now, back to the fabulous features, you might have missed this week what with that election thing happening. #WhiskySanta announced what this week’s SuperWish would be (it’s another absolute corker, folks), but, not to be outdone, the Drinks by the Dram Whisky Advent Calendar also gave us some great whisky over the course of the week. Check out days #7, #8, #9, #10, #11 and #12 if you don’t believe us. Elsewhere, plenty of our pals stopped by to revel in the festivities. Diageo brand ambassadors TJ Littlejohn and Colin Dunn tasted their way through the 2019 Diageo Special Releases, Black Rock co-founder Matthew Hastings talked whisky with Annie and Edrington-Beam Suntory’s David Miles caught up with Adam to predict this season’s Christmas trends. Neil Ridley and Joel Harrison (or Noel and Jeal, to their friends) even popped by to talk all about their latest book with Henry, who also enjoyed some exceptional rum and his very first Snowball cocktail

Now, let’s get stuck into the Nightcap!

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The collection is made up of 3,900 bottles worth £8 million. Yes, you read that right,

World’s largest private whisky collection to go to auction unveiled

Earlier this week, the largest private collection of whisky ever to go to auction was revealed! What quantifies the largest, we hear you ask? Well, this particular collection is the most significant by both value and volume, having been dubbed ‘The Perfect Collection’. The impressive array of whisky is courtesy of Mr Richard Gooding, with over 3,900 bottles, primarily consisting of Scotch, estimated to be collectively worth around £8 million. Whisky Auctioneer will be selling the collection next year. You can be sure there are a few iconic names among the thousands of bottles, with The Macallan, Bowmore and Springbank making appearances, as well as some lost distilleries such as Stromness and Dallas Dhu. Some individual bottles are valued at over £1 million! Would you believe it, until recently this magnificent collection was just sitting in the Gooding’s house in Colorado? “It was clear to us as a family that collecting Scotch was one of Richard’s greatest passions,” said Nancy Gooding, wife of the late Mr Gooding. “He was always so pleased to acquire the bottles that he was searching for over the years – his mission was to collect a bottle that represented every single distillery, but his favourite was always Bowmore.” The Perfect Collection by Mr Richard Gooding will go live on Whisky Auctioneer in two separate auctions, from 7 to 17 February and 10 to 20 April 2020, so collectors, get it in your diaries! 

The Nightcap

Lovers of Scotch will wince at the latest development

US threatens to increase Scotch tariffs

In a continuation of a story determined to prove that we can’t have nice things, the US has been talking tariffs in regard to Scotch whisky again. Following the imposition of a 25% import tariff on EU products, including single malt Scotch whisky, single malt Irish whiskey and liqueurs on 18 October, the US is now considering increasing tariffs again in response to an ongoing feud regarding aircraft subsidies (we’ve covered this dispute in greater detail here and here). In early December, the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) said a World Trade Organization (WTO) compliance panel rejected the EU’s claims that it complied with WTO rules by making adjustments to Airbus subsidies, adding that the WTO recently valued the “harm caused by these subsidies at US$7.5 billion”. As a result, the existing tariff rates are being assessed and additional EU products could be targeted, with tariff hikes focused on imports from France, Germany, Spain and the UK – “the four countries responsible for the illegal subsidies,” according to the USTR. The Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) has reiterated the importance of removing tariffs for Scotch, which it previously warned could result in a 20% decline in exports to the US. “We have been clear that the removal of the tariffs on both Scotch and American whiskies should be the highest priority for governments on both sides of the Atlantic,” said a spokesperson for the SWA. “We continue to urge all parties to get round the table and agree to de-escalate these trade disputes, which are damaging unrelated sectors.” I think I speak for all of us on this issue when I say: Booooooooooooooo!

The Nightcap

It’s another winner from Last Drop Distillers

Last Drop Distillers releases ghost grain whisky from Dumbarton

Specialists in rare spirits Last Drop Distillers has announced another gem. This 17th release from the company is a 1977 single grain from the lost Dumbarton distillery on the banks of the Clyde. The distillery was opened by Canadian firm Hiram Walker in 1938 to produce a maize spirit for its Ballantine’s blends. After changing hands a number of times, it was closed in 2002 and its famous tower was finally demolished in 2017 to make way for houses. A sad day for Scotch whisky. But Last Drop Distillers has managed to get hold of a few lost casks from Dumbarton. One of these yielded just 150 bottles to go into this 1977 releases which will sell for £2,500 ($3,000).  Managing director Rebecca Jago (this week’s Nightcap is quite Jago heavy) commented: “1977 is an extraordinary year in our collective memory, as it is the year that our founders James Espey and my late father, Tom Jago, first met. The two became life-long colleagues and trusted advisors to each other, moving between industry roles, largely in tandem. Our 1977 Dumbarton Single Grain seems a fitting tribute to such an unusually rare and special friendship and will be remembered as a truly rare and covetable gem.” But you don’t have to take her word for it, Jim Murray (for it is he) gave it 97 points and made it his Single Grain of the Year in his 2020 Whisky Bible. So there you go. 

The Nightcap

Which was your favourite? Let us know in the comments below

Shortlist announced for André Simon Food & Drink Book Awards

It’s a bit like the Oscars only much more glamorous; yes, it’s the annual André Simon Food & Drink Book Awards, and the shortlist has just been announced. On the drinks side, we are pleased to see a couple of our favourites chosen: A Brief History of Lager by Mark Dredge and The World Atlas of Wine by Jancis Robinson and Hugh Johnson. Joining them are: Christie’s Encyclopedia of Champagne and Sparkling Wine (4th edition) by Tom Stevenson and Essi Avellan MW, Drinkology by Alexis Willett, Tales of the Tea Trade by Michelle and Rob Comins, Wines of the French Alps by Wink Lorch, Wine Simple by Aldo Sohm with Christine Muhlke. There are also some food books but we’re not quite so interested. The judging of the drink books was presided over by former Berry Bros. & Rudd CEO Dan Jago who knows a thing or two about drinks. Johnson and Robinson have to be the favourites but Lorch has form at Simons so might worth having a flutter at Ladbrokes. The winners will be announced on Monday 20 January at the Goring Hotel in London. Time to start planning your outfit. 

The Nightcap

That’s a Copper Gnome Shaker Gift Box, inspired by the gnomes (or ‘tomtar’) featured in traditional Swedish folklore

Absolut Elyx launches pop-up boutique and cocktail bar in Copenhagen’s Magasin du Nord

If you’re in Copenhagen between December 9th – 22nd, then be sure to pop-in to high-end department store Magasin Du Nord to enjoy an exclusive pop-up from Absolut Elyx! Visitors to The Absolut Elyx Pop-up Boutique and Cocktail bar can purchase items from the boutique’s winter 2019/2020 holiday collection, check out the new Absolut Elyx bottle design for the first time and frequent a beautifully decorated copper Absolut Elyx bar, which will serve signature Elyx Martinis and the tropical, coffee-infused Horsepower cocktail, between 4pm-8pm on December 12th-14th and December 19th-21st. The popup boutique’s collection includes industry-standard bartender essentials kits and bespoke glasses, including the Copper Owl Drinking Cup inspired by wildlife found in the forests of Sweden. Because whose life wouldn’t be improved by the addition of a copper owl drinking cup?

The Nightcap

Look at the bloody size of it!

Largest ever bottle of whisky goes to auction

It looks like it’s been a week of fun-filled auction news this week! This large auction is a rather large one, though it’s just one bottle of 14 Year Old Tomintoul. Here’s the best bit: it’s 105.3 litres! That means the bottle itself is around 1.5 metres tall and would fill 5,250 drams. Even the cork is 20cm long! Why does a bottle so large exist, you’ll be wondering? It was commissioned by four Tomintoul residents “who wanted to create something iconic to promote the village and the distillery on a global stage”. Well, that’s certainly been achieved. The bottle was filled at the Speyside distillery on 29 August 2009 and took a team of 14 people led by distillery director Robert Fleming. “Every now and then the opportunity to purchase a truly unique bottle of whisky occurs – this is one of those times,” said Graham Crane, director and co-founder of Just Whisky. Bids for the whisky are open until 8pm on Sunday 15 December at auctioneer Just Whisky’s Christmas auction. Whoever leaves the auction victorious with the bottle will have a fun time getting it home, with it weighing more than 180 kilograms! 

The Nightcap

Good luck to all taking part!

Talisker Atlantic rowing challenge sets off

And they’re off! Competitors in the Talisker Atlantic Whisky Challenge, the world’s toughest rowing race, set off from La Gomera in the Canary Islands today. Their destination Nelson’s Dockyard in Antigua, 3,000 miles away. It’s the biggest edition of the event yet with over 100 people taking part and 35 teams. Competitors include a team made up of American veterans called, natch, Fight Oar Die, a group of four German women inspired by the Four Women On a Boat documentary and the only man who could play both Doctor Who and Prince Phillip, Matt Smith. The day before the start, Talisker created an island wilderness accessible only by sea with wild cocktails from Giorgio Lupi, winner of Talisker’s Wild Spirit Bartender competition, accompanied by foraged food cooked on a FireTable which was created by Guy Ritchie. Yes, that Guy Ritchie, truly he is a man of many talents. Natalia Montigny, head of global marketing for Talisker commented: “For the sixth year, Talisker is proud to be the title sponsor of the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challengeone of the world’s most challenging and exhilarating adventures. Our founders, the MacAskill brothers, rowed from Eigg to Skye to found the Talisker Distillery in Scotland almost 200 years ago and so as a brand we share the same sense of passion and adventure as the participants. It’s been incredible to hear the rowers’ stories first hand this week and share special moments with them and our tribe of wild spirited adventurers who joined us at the Talisker Wilderness Bar experience and other events this week. We wish all rowers success as they undertake this incredible journey.” The fastest teams are likely to take around 40 days to make the crossing subsisting entirely on powdered food. You’ll really want a dram after that. 

The Nightcap

These syrups will revamp your Hot Toddy

Aberfeldy teams up with World of Zing to launch Hot Toddy Syrups

There are few things as enjoyable as a good Hot Toddy in the winter months, an opinion Highland Scotch whisky brand Aberfedly and pre-batched cocktail specialist World of Zing clearly shares if its recent collaboration is anything to go by. The duo has created three new interpretations of this traditional cocktail with a range of syrups that, rather pleasingly, are made with a base of British honey to support local beekeepers. The first expression is the Classic, a traditional hot-toddy with seasonal spices, including allspice, star anise, nutmeg, cinnamon and Earl Grey  tea which, when mixed with Aberfeldy 12 Year Old, creates an aromatic and warming profile with “crisp apple notes and a smooth honeyed finish”. There’s also Chilli Mocha, a syrup blend that builds on the Classic with the addition of coffee, cacao and smoky chipotle chillies. When mixed, you can expect notes of “rich, robust dried fruit with a gentle chilli warmth and a smooth honeyed finish.” Finally, there’s the fabulously festive Gingerbread expression, again which builds on the Classic with the seasonal favourite flavours of gingerbread using ginger and galangal root. Pair it with the same whisky again and expect a character that is “aromatic and bright with gentle ginger warmth and a smooth honeyed finish.” Part of the appeal of the syrups will be how easy they are to use. Just add 15ml of each syrup into 35ml of Aberfeldy 12 Year Old and top up with hot water and you’re set. Georgie Bell, global malts ambassador for Aberfeldy, commented: “The Hot Toddy is such an iconic whisky serve, it really is a great winter warmer. Each syrup blend we’ve created with World of Zing melds harmoniously with Aberfeldy 12’s honeyed flavour profile to give three different variations on this traditional and sometimes forgotten serve.”

What should you do with waste banana peel? Infuse it into a lip-smacking rum, of course!

Discarded creates rum infused with waste banana peel

Are you tired of leaving rogue banana peels out for your enemies to slip on? Do you think you could be doing something more sustainable with those slippery yellow scoundrels? Enter Discarded, the very same folks who made vermouth from the waste flesh of the fruit from coffee berries, have now created a Banana Peel Rum! The banana peel comes from a flavour house that uses the fruit but throws away the skins. Well, no longer! Now the peel is snatched up by the Discarded folks, dried out, fermented and then steeped in alcohol for two weeks. Then, the rum and banana peel extracts are left for another two days and matured in whisky casks before it’s bottled. Described as ‘liquid banana bread’ by Tom Stannard, global marketing manager, innovation at William Grant & Sons (a catchy title), you can expect notes of toffee, spice and of course, banana sweetness. Daiquiris at the ready, people!

The Nightcap

At last, what we’ve all been waiting for, a gadget that stops ice hitting your teeth when sipping a G&T.

And finally. . .  new gadget prevents ice from touching your teeth

Don’t you just hate it when you’re swigging a drink and the ice hits your teeth? No, you don’t? Well, we can assure you that some people at MoM get quite irate when this happens and they’re very excited about a new gadget called IceBloc designed to prevent this from happening. It’s the creation of Adrian Potter of Hampshire who became irritated with ice preventing him from taking a good swig from his G&T. His invention consists of a bit of plant-based material rather like a bib that holds ice in the glass while letting the boozy goodness out. It turns your glass into a kind of sippy cup for grown-ups and unlike a drinking straw, it’s reusable. Potter commented: “Whilst I wanted to come up with a practical and useful design, the environmental element was also key to me. The IceBloc is made of plants and is completely re-usable, however, I still wanted to contribute more.” All yours for £4.99 for six. We expect to see it next year sitting in G&Ts at the smartest venues in the land.

Correction: 8/1/2020: We originally reported wrongly that the Icebloc was made of plastic. This has now been updated accurately to ‘plant-based material’. We apologise for the error.

2 Comments on The Nightcap: 13 December

Whisky Advent 2019 Day #3: Talisker 10 Year Old

On the third day of Advent, my Whisky Advent Calendar gave to me… an enticingly smoky dram indeed! Discover what Drinks by the Dram has hidden away for us today……

On the third day of Advent, my Whisky Advent Calendar gave to me… an enticingly smoky dram indeed! Discover what Drinks by the Dram has hidden away for us today…

Feeling the festive vibes yet? If not… WHY?! We’ve already had two liquid treats this Advent. And now we’re ready to crack open the third door of Drinks by the Dram’s 2019 Whisky Advent Calendar.

And the dram behind window #3 is…

Talisker 10 Year Old!

One of Diageo’s most-loved single malt Scotch distilleries, Talisker is located on the Isle of Skye, off Scotland’s stunning west coast. Its history stretches all the way back to 1830, when brothers Hugh and Kenneth MacAskill kicked off distillation. Today, the distillery takes a thoroughly modern approach to all things whisky, encouraging us to drink the stuff in whatever form we like, championing whisky cocktails, and even hosting a Race to Skye bartender competition.

We got hold of Diane Farrell, senior site manager, up at Talisker, to tell us more…

Talisker 10 Year Old Dianne Farrell

Say hello to Talisker’s Dianne Farrell!

Master of Malt: Talisker is located on the Isle of Skye! What impact does this have on the style of whisky you produce?

Diane Farrell: Talisker is such a fantastic representation of place – you taste it and you are transported right here; sitting by a campfire by the sea with your dram of Talisker. We are able to capture a lot of the flavour and character of our environment through our production process. It’s prevalent in our new make spirit and continues to shine through after its maturation period and into your glass. Talisker has been battered by the elements on the windswept cost which means our whisky has a uniquely maritime flavour that means we are uniquely ‘Made by the Sea’.

MoM: Tell us a bit about island life. What challenges does this hold for whisky-making?

DF: Talisker is one of the most remote distilleries in Scotland, located on the west coast of the Isle of Skye. Since it was founded in 1830 it has been in near-constant operation which truly shows the resilience of our people, past and present. In the early 1900s our own pier was built along with a purpose-built tramway to make bringing supplies to the distillery easier. Of course, now that we have the Skye Bridge it makes bringing supplies to the distillery much more straightforward than ever before!

Talisker 10 Year Old Distillery

The gorgeous Talisker Distillery

MoM: What have been your 2019 highlights at Talisker?

DF: 2019 has been an incredible year with so many highlights, including the second release in the Talisker Bodega Series, Talisker 41-year-old Single Malt Scotch Whisky, one of the oldest from Skye’s oldest distillery. We hosted the finalists of the Diageo World Class Competition in September where the four elements of the wild were truly embraced during the Talisker Mystery Box Challenge. The Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge, the premier event in ocean rowing, starts on 12 December which is set to be the biggest and best to date, and we cannot wait to follow the action – we wish all of the rowers the very best of luck out there in the Atlantic facing the elements!

MoM: What trends or developments do you think we’ll see in the world of whisky in 2020?

DF: The increasing number of new serves for Scotch in bars. Whisky cocktails on menus are becoming more and more popular, reaching the next generation of Scotch whisky drinkers. This is a big evolution and it’s exciting!  

MoM: What will you be drinking this Christmas?

DF: Most definitely a Talisker Old Fashioned! Being warm and cozy indoors, sipping a Talisker Old Fashioned and spending time with loved ones – you can’t beat it!

Talisker 10 Year Old Tasting Note:

Nose: Lively and aromatic, there’s all sorts going on. Alongside the pronounced bonfire smoke there’s pear and apple too, seaweed, and almost a brine note, too. 

Palate: The bonfire smoke leaps from the glass, with a malty barley note, too. Dashes of black pepper give a warmth, but it’s balanced well with orchard fruit sweetness. 

Finish: Long and lush. The sweetness and bonfire embers go on and on.

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Wonderful whiskies from curious casks

From Château Léoville Barton to Rhum Agricole, taking in a combination of Tequila and mezcal, these are some of the most strange and sensational cask-finishes used to mature whisky you’ll…

From Château Léoville Barton to Rhum Agricole, taking in a combination of Tequila and mezcal, these are some of the most strange and sensational cask-finishes used to mature whisky you’ll find at MoM Towers.

Cask-finishing has become a popular phenomenon in the whisky industry over the last couple of decades as experimental producers seek to add a touch of something different and delightful to their distillates. But despite there being a glut of great expressions on the market that benefit from secondary maturation already, there’s always room for innovation and this leads some to choose a road that’s less travelled, but very rewarding.

To celebrate those who dare to do it differently, we’ve decided to shine a light on some of the most unusual cask-finished whiskies around. Enjoy the selection!

Glen Moray Rhum Agricole Cask Finish Project

Glen Moray loves a good experiment, to the joy of fans of all things unusual and writers who need ideas for a blog like this. The distillery in Speyside has finished this single malt Scotch whisky in casks that previously held rhum agricole from Martinique for around 24 months, a style that should bring a lot of grassy, fruity sweetness to the dram.

What does it taste like?:

Candied lemon peel, honey, white pepper, toffee apple, dried grass, toasted brown sugar, walnut, cherry and banana.

J.J. Corry The Battalion

From Chapel Gate whiskey bonders comes J.J. Corry The Battalion, a blend of 60% grain and 40% malt whiskey that was initially aged in bourbon casks. Then the grain portion continued its maturation in a combination of Tequila and mezcal casks for seven months, while the malt portion continued maturing in just mezcal casks for seven months. Ever had a whiskey matured in both Tequila and mezcal casks? Of course, you haven’t! This bottling gets extra badass brownie points for being named after the Battalion San Patricos, a group of Irish soldiers who fought for Mexico in the Mexican-American war

What does it taste like?:

Fresh leafy notes, apple skin, tangy pineapple, ripe pear, green grass, vegetal agave, oak spice, sea salt, dried herbs, lemon curd and a slight oily nutty note.

Talisker 2007 (bottled 2017) Amoroso Cask Finish – Distillers Edition

The Distillers Editions from Talisker are always sure to deliver some true delights and this expression is no exception. Finished for a period in casks that previously held amoroso (a blend of oloroso and sweet Pedro Ximénez)  sherry, the profile pairs wonderfully with the distinctive maritime salinity of this single malt.

What does it taste like?:

Toffee, seaweed, a sharp hint of fresh citrus fruit, milky coffee, juicy pineapple, apple and some light vegetal hints of fresh thyme and basil balanced by a kick of sea spray, lingering smoke and dried fruit.

Penderyn Madeira Finish

Not many brands would make its original ‘house style’ such a distinctive profile, but then Penderyn has proved itself to be quite the experimental distillery since it first began distilling back in September 2000. This bottling was aged initially in ex-bourbon barrels before it was finished in ex-Madeira wine casks, an idea that speaks to the influence the late Dr. Jim Swan had on the Welsh whisky makers.

What does it taste like?:

Herbs, vanilla sweetness, resin, sultanas, toast, over-ripe grapes, custard and stem ginger.

Glenfiddich Experimental Series – IPA Cask Finish

You’d expect Glenfiddich’s Experimental Series to have a few single malts with a point of difference and this IPA Cask finish doesn’t disappoint. Created from a collaboration between Glenfiddich Malt Master Brian Kinsman and IPA expert Seb Jones, the IPA which was in the casks before the whisky was specially brewed for this expression by the Speyside Craft Brewery.

What does it taste like?:

Fresh green apple, William’s pear, spring blossom, aromatic hops, fresh herbs, zesty citrus and creamy vanilla.

Midleton Method and Madness Single Pot Still

Another highly innovative series from an exceptional distillery, Method and Madness Single Pot Still was perhaps the most intriguing release from the first batch of Midleton’s experimental range. You won’t find many single pot still whiskies, matured initially in ex-sherry and bourbon barrels and finished in French chestnut, believe us!

What does it taste like?:

Red liquorice laces, fresh rosemary mint, grated root ginger, sweet fruit, aromatic green tea, cinnamon toast, rich wood and ripe banana.

Jefferson’s Grand Selection Château Pichon Baron Cask Finish

Jefferson’s Grand Selection range demonstrates that the Americans are no strangers to the joys of cask-finishing with a selection of excellent Jefferson bourbons finished in a variety of wine casks. This particular bottling was finished for a period in casks that previously held Bordeaux red wine from Château Pichon Baron, and it’s as downright delicious as it sounds.

What does it taste like?:

Red apples, raspberries, buttered corn, honey, heavy cinnamon heat, fresh floral notes and dense red berry elements supported by waxy peels and earthy oak.

Green Spot Château Léoville Barton

This beauty is certainly a treat. We’re always suckers for all things Spot (Red, Yellow, Green – they’re all great), but this happens to be the first-ever single pot still Irish whiskey finished in Bordeaux casks! The Bordeaux wine takes its name from the Irish wine merchant Thomas “French Tom” Barton and the grand cru Château is still run by his descendants to this day, so this is a real celebration all things awesome and Irish.

What does it taste like?:

Wild raspberry, a little potpourri, crab apple, toffee, lemon peel, warming spice, vanilla, honey and gingerbread.

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Team MoM tastes Diageo Special Releases 2019!

MoM Towers received a very important delivery yesterday: The Diageo Special Releases 2019! Naturally, we had a taste of the Rare by Nature-themed collection… There are certain annual releases of…

MoM Towers received a very important delivery yesterday: The Diageo Special Releases 2019! Naturally, we had a taste of the Rare by Nature-themed collection…

There are certain annual releases of whisky that makes everybody stand up and pay attention, like a dram-thirsty meerkat. The Buffalo Trace Antique Collection. The Midleton Very Rare series. The Master of Malt Single Cask Series (ahem). The Diageo Special Releases is certainly one of those stellar collections.

This year, the theme is ‘Rare by Nature’, a concept inspired by the surroundings of each distillery, the distillers and blenders who made them, and “the whisky lovers who will enjoy them.” The line-up includes bottlings from Mortlach, The Singleton of Glen Ord, Cragganmore, Cardhu, Lagavulin, Talisker, Pittyvaich and Dalwhinnie. Noticeably, there’s no Port Ellen, no Brora, no single grain of any kind, and no new creation like Cladach or Collectivum XXVIII. There is, however, eight different, but delicious cask-strength Scotch whiskies to enjoy.

And in that spirit of sharing, we decided to divvy up the drams among Team MoM. That means there’s eight different reviews from a variety of people within our office badass tower. Now, let’s see what the Diageo Special Releases 2019 has to offer!

The dram: Cardhu 14 Years Old

ABV 55.0%
Region: Speyside
Cask: Double matured in ex-Amontillado hogsheads
No of bottles: 4,860
RRSP £120

Diageo Special Releases 2019

Look, it’s Mariella!

Tasted by: Mariella Salerno, PR Manager

When I first nosed it, it seemed very mild and sweet, but then it started to open up, becoming floral and somehow crisp. Its deep golden appearance brings some richness, which adds to the elegant experience. It feels autumnal with the softly spiced orchard fruits. A treat!

Appearance: Clear and deep gold

Nose: Clean – initially sweet fruity aromas – after adding water it becomes more flowery

Palate: Medium – smooth – pear orchard – hint of vanilla

Finish: Medium with some complexity – very good to outstanding

The dram: Cragganmore 12 Years Old

ABV 58.4%
Region: Speyside
Cask: From medium peated, refill American oak casks
Limited quantities worldwide
RRSP £85

Diageo Special Releases 2019

Say hi to Adam!

Tasted by: Adam O’Connell, Writer

Cragganmore is often regrettably overlooked but there’s simply no excuse not to indulge in this expression. There’s heaps of distillery character here, from the lightly peated malt to the complex blend of citrus, orchard fruit and dry spice. It’s quintessentially Cragganmore, and all the better for it.

Appearance: Light gold.

Nose: Lemon peel, Conference pear and rhubarb and custard sweets lead, with tanned leather, sandalwood and a hint of earthy peat in support. With water, there’s grilled pineapple, marmalade, soft toffee and a hint of green cardamom add depth.

Palate: More orchard fruit, some drying spice and a little honey initially, then water reveals a savory hint of gamey meat is followed by a note of peppery oak and then a sweet layer of vanilla sugar.

Finish: A beautiful balance of sweetness, smokiness and spice lingers, with a faintly tart citrus element underneath.

The dram: Dalwhinnie 30 Years Old

ABV 54.7%
Region: Highland
Cask: From refill hogsheads and butts
No of bottles: 7,586
RRSP £500

Diageo Special Releases 2019

Here’s Jess!

Tasted by: Jess Williamson, Content Assistant

At first nosing, I thought it would be creamier and slightly sweeter than it was on the palate! Then, taking the first sip, the hit of spice just gets you right on the tongue, and it just builds and builds. It’s creamy, mouth-filling and subtly fruity, with a really interesting smoky hint. My tongue was literally left tingling for minutes after the last sip. A fresh, sweet and thoroughly warming dram!

Appearance: Golden, like clear honey, with a very subtle amber tint.

Nose: Fairly spicy, with root ginger, clover honey, a slight mineral hint and subtle smoky, ashy notes, a touch of Lotus biscuits and a buttery caramel undertone. With water, it’s much more creamy, with sweet malt, condensed milk, vanilla cheesecake and prominent floral honey this time, and a very subtle grassy note.

Palate: A huge hit of spice straight off, with peppery oak, a continued flinty mineral note, set honey and just a hint of tinned pear. With water, it’s all cream soda, fresh hay and just a hint of sea salt, with the spice more tempered this time, and dried apple.

Finish: A mineral finish, with white pepper, dried apricot, waxy vanilla and a gentle lingering smoke…

The dram: Lagavulin 12 Years Old

ABV 56.5%
Region: Islay
Cask: From refill American oak casks of high peating levels
Limited quantities worldwide
RRSP £110

Diageo Special Releases 2019

Chris enjoyed a warming dram

Tasted by: Chris Wood, Spirit Buyer

A classic in the line-up, and much loved every year. And I was not disappointed at all! If you like Lagavulin, you’ll love this expression.

Appearance: Light gold.

Nose: Everything you would expect from the annual Lagavulin 12 Year Old. Sweet peat smoke like a recently extinguished bonfire accompanied by memories of sparklers on 5th November. Salty sea breeze, shellfish and seaweed. Tangy fruity aroma, like Bramley Apples ready for a homemade apple pie. Add a little water and you get freshly cut wet grass and autumn leaves after a downpour.

Palate: Citrusy, spicy and smoky. Like taking a drag on your Grandad’s cigar. Intense ashes to start, smooth in texture with a warm finish. Being at natural strength allows the water to not diminish the character.

Finish: A nice warming sweet smoke with lemony tones. A dash of salt through the smoke.

The dram: Mortlach 26 Years Old

ABV 53.3%
Region: Speyside
Cask: From fresh-toasted first-fill Pedro Ximenez & Oloroso Sherry seasoned casks
No. of bottles: 3,883
RRSP £1,500

Diageo Special Releases 2019

That’s Henry and a hint of office!

Tasted by: Henry Jeffreys, Features Editor

One look at the colour and you know you’re in for a treat. And it doesn’t disappoint on the nose. Pow! Chocolate, walnuts, tobacco, they’re all here but there’s also more delicate notes of apple and orange peel. In the mouth, it’s absolutely sumptuous, full and creamy, lovely texture full of sweet sherried notes with classic clubland aromas of cigars and leather. Sweet fudge and chocolate finish goes on for a good 15 minutes

Appearance: Look at the deep copper colour on that! They don’t call it the Beast of Dufftown for nothing. What a beast!

Nose: Leather, polished wood and furniture polish, it’s like an antique shop in here. There’s also walnuts, cooked peaches, dried apricots and dates. Water brings out more aromatic notes like tobacco as well as cooked and fresh apple notes.

Palate: Full creamy texture, oily even, with savoury notes of leather and tobacco, joined after some time with sweeter fudge, chocolate and vanilla with a touch of wood tannin and some dark cherry fruit. Water does tame the beast to some extent, highlighting the fruit and sweeter elements.

Finish: Very long; to begin with its pepper and orange peel but the lingering taste is sweeter, chocolate and salted caramel note that goes on and on.

The dram: Pittyvaich 29 Years Old

ABV 51.4%
Region: Speyside
Cask: Double matured in Pedro Ximenez & Oloroso sherry seasoned bodega casks
No of bottles: 4,976
RRP £330

Diageo Special Releases 2019

Say hello to Avi!

Tasted by: Avi Karia, PPC Executive

This is a beaut of a whisky from a closed distillery! When first nosing all I could pick up was baked apples, after a brief moment I found myself discovering more tannic notes of tea along with dried flowers. The palate is sweet, but not cloying, dried fruits first with potpourri at the back. The finish is wonderful and spicy; it just goes on and on. A whisky I could sit and drink over hours. Truly wonderful!

Appearance: Clear – golden amber.

Nose: Clean, light-medium intensity. wonderful fresh malt, followed by cooked apples, hints of sultanas, light fruit, a little spicy ginger, dried flowers, searching further I find buttered sponge. With water, the flowers are very apparent, more toffee.

Palate: Dry, warm and mouth-filling, very smooth, more sultanas on the palate, a little toffee, followed by a hint of black tea. With water, a little more delicate now, more toffee notes

Finish: Long and smooth, quiet complex now with woody notes more apparent, more spicy ginger, baked apple in a puff pastry with a dusting of powdered sugar. With water, it’s still long and complex, but perhaps a little smoother.

The dram: Talisker 15 Years Old

ABV 57.3%
Region: Skye
Cask: From freshly charred American oak hogsheads
Limited quantities worldwide
RRSP £110

Diageo Special Releases 2019

It’s Kristiane, everyone!

Tasted by: Kristiane Sherry, Editor

Oh, I do like to be beside the seaside! And this dram is the embodiment of that. It’s got sea-breeze freshness, but also a depth and warmth that comes with a sunny day on the coast. It’s richly textured too, with lovely sweet spice notes adding interest throughout. And don’t forget that signature Talisker smoke! A treat indeed.

Appearance: Bright gold

Nose: A seaweed iodine note is the first to spring from the glass – but it’s sunny and inviting, not industrial and heavy. Kelloggs Cornflakes, honey-roasted cashews, tangy cinnamon, warm nutmeg, and caramel notes build on the sense of sunshine, while an undercurrent of peat smoke brings depth. Water rounds it all out a bit and gives more of a velvety impression.

Palate: The rush of sweetness is a real surprise – on the front of the palate there are peach notes, raisin and perhaps red cherry. Then it’s all about that rich spice, along with the peat – a delicious abutment of pepper heat, bright allspice and rolling smoke. With water, it gets even sweeter and a little quieter, but still really tasty and mouth-filling.

Finish: Long and rich, but with a happy lightness, too.

The dram: The Singleton of Glen Ord 18 Years Old

ABV 55.0%
Region: Highlands
Cask: From fresh charred American oak hogsheads
Limited quantities worldwide
RRSP £130

Diageo Special Releases 2019

And last, but not least, Charlotte!

Tasted by: Charlotte Gorzelak, Email and Social Marketing Assistant

The Singleton of Glen Ord has a nice gold colour, and it is perfect for sipping. Pretty smooth but still warming which is good for autumn. Adding a bit of water brings out the underlying flavours and gives it more body.

Appearance: Bright gold.

Nose: orange peel and berry fruits. Post water is more fruity with more orange coming through.

Palate: warming orange with a prickle of spice. Smooth mouthfeel and long finish. Chocolate and caramel notes. Post water is sweeter and smoother and first dip is still quite warming. Still spice but more orange and berry fruits.

Finish: long finish, warming taste. Drying mouth feel. But in a good way. Post water still a long finish, smooth and spicy on the tongue.

The Diageo Special Releases 2019 will be available from MoM Towers soon…

Which dram appeals most to you? Let us know in the comments below or on social!

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