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Master of Malt Blog

Tag: top ten

Top ten: Independent spirits brands

Today, we’re striking a blow for independence with ten delicious bottlings from brands that aren’t part of big drinks companies. So, from a Maryland-style rye whiskey to single estate vodka,…

Today, we’re striking a blow for independence with ten delicious bottlings from brands that aren’t part of big drinks companies. So, from a Maryland-style rye whiskey to single estate vodka, here are some of the best independent spirits brands out there.

Most big booze brands are owned by huge multinational companies like Diageo and Pernod Ricard. Not that that’s a bad thing. We love Johnnie Walker Black Label and Beefeater, distilled by Desmond Payne in south London, is one of our go-to gins. But without a thriving independent scene, our drinks cabinet would be a lot less exciting. 

Happily, thanks to some pioneering distilleries such as Sipsmith, now part of Beam Suntory, there are now countless new brands turning out high quality, delicious and idiosyncratic boozes for all your drinking pleasure. From pungent mezcal to world-spanning Japanese blends, here are ten of the best independent spirits brands money can buy.

sagamore-spirit-signature-rye-whiskey

Sagamore Spirit Signature Rye

Much of the explosion in whiskey labels comes from independent bottlers who buy and blend spirits to create something a bit different. This is one case in point being a Maryland-style of rye which is sweeter than normal. It’s blended from two whiskeys sourced from Indiana, brought down to bottling strength with limestone-filtered water from Sagamore Farm.

How do I drink it?

Those sweet milky coffee and pistachio ice cream flavours are just crying out for an Old Fashioned

portobello-road-no-171-gin

Portobello Road No. 171 Gin

Portobello Road Gin is distilled on the actual Portobello Road in west London. It was founded by top bartender Jake Burger and Paul Lane in 2011. Alongside the distillery, the building called, naturally, The Distillery, houses two bars, a hotel and the Ginstitute where you can learn to make your own gin. Or if that sounds like too much work you could just buy this bottle.

How do I drink it?

With its elegant traditional flavours, this is great in all manner of ginny cocktails like the summery Gin Cup.

hatozaki-blended-whisky

Hatozaki Blended Whisky

If you’re a whisky fan, you probably read the recent news about the changing legislation for Japanese whisky which now excludes certain big names from the category. One company that has always been open about using imported spirits in its blends is Hatozaki. This mixes Japanese and imported whiskies and is aged in a mixture of sherry, bourbon and mizunara oak.

How do I drink it?

With those sweet flavours of honey, stone fruit and nutty cereals, this is a great one to put in a Whisky Highball with soda water and plenty of ice.

casa-noble-blanco-tequila

Casa Noble Blanco

The Casa Noble range of 100% agave Tequilas have proved quite a hit with Master of Malt customers. Agave spirits are a huge growth area as drinkers move away from the lime and salt image of yesteryear to bottles that major on flavour.  This is packed full of earthy, roasted agave notes on the nose and palate.

How do I drink it?

We’re very partial to a Sweet Orange Margarita which involves making the standard version but adding an extra part of fresh orange juice and serving it on the rocks with a splash of soda water.

new-riff-straight-bourbon-whiskey

New Riff Straight Bourbon

Those who like a spicier style of bourbon will love this. It’s distilled by New Riff distillery of Kentucky with a mash bill of 65% corn, 30% rye, and 5% malted barley. Then it’s aged in toasted and charred new oak barrels before bottling at a useful 50% ABV to accentuate all those big spicy flavours.

How do I drink it?

High rye strength bourbons like this one are perfect in a Manhattan. And may we recommend the Hotel Starlino vermouth rosso which is aged in bourbon casks?

east-london-liquor-co-louder-gin

East London Liquor Co. Louder Gin

The East London Liquor Co. (ELLC) is one of our favourite small distillers. Founded in Bow in 2015, it produces a big range of spirits including gin, vodka and whisky, as well as rums imported from the Caribbean. As you might guess from the name, this gin packs a flavour punch with oily juniper bolstered by lavender, fennel, lemon peel and more.

How do I drink it?

Some gins get lost in the flavour soup that is the Negroni but Louder can make itself heard above the noise of Campari and vermouth.

quiquiriqui-tobala-mezcal

QuiQuiRiQui Tobalá Mezcal

Ok, so the name is a bit of a challenge. Apparently, it’s what Mexican cockerells say instead of ‘cock-a-doodle-do.’ But it’s worth getting past the pronunciation to enjoy this delicious mezcal. It’s produced from wild Tobalá aged between 10 and 15 years of age in strictly limited quantities to ensure sustainability. 

How to drink it?

With it’s complex flavours of coconut, tangy pineapple, mint and butter, we think it’s best just sipped neat. But it’s also fabulous in place of gin in a Negroni.

merlet-creme-de-mure-liqueur

Merlet Crème de Mure

Every drinks cabinet should have a bottle of this in it. It’s made by Merlet in France from fresh blackberries steeped in neutral alcohol and sweetened.  This firm produces a great range of fruit liqueurs like creme de cassis, poire William and apricot brandy all made in the traditional way from fresh fruit. 

How do I drink it?

Well, the classic cocktail for Creme Merlet Crème de Mure is the Bramble but it’s also great in place of cassis in a Kir Royale. 

ramsbury-vodka

Ramsbury Vodka

We were so impressed with Ramsbury when we visited a couple of years back. It’s a distillery and brewery set in the beautiful Wiltshire countryside that only uses grains from the surrounding Ramsbury Estate. Each bottle tells you the provenance and variety of the wheat used and the quality really shows when you taste this creamy spicy vodka. 

How do I drink it?

This makes the best Vodka Martini, shaken not stirred, we’ve ever had. Serving it ice cold brings out that gorgeous creamy texture. 

colonel-foxs-london-dry-gin

Colonel Fox’s London Dry Gin

This is named after a war hero called Lieutenant Colonel Fox. Apparently, it’s based on his 1859 recipe that was recently rediscovered. We tend to roll our eyes a bit when we hear stories like this. There are a lot of them in the gin world. But there’s now denying the quality of this gin. That old Fox knew what he was doing.

How do I drink it?

People who like gin with plenty of flavour will lap this up. We think it’s perfect in a G&T but it’s a great all rounder, especially as it’s very reasonably priced.

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Top ten: New and exciting beers

A hoard of tasty beers have recently arrived here and we thought it was high-time we showed them off. Particularly as the sun appears to be making a comeback… The…

A hoard of tasty beers have recently arrived here and we thought it was high-time we showed them off. Particularly as the sun appears to be making a comeback…

The fact that we sell beer won’t come as a surprise to many of you, who will have noticed bottles and cans slowly accumulating on the site in the last few years. But recently we’ve decided to ramp things up a notch and increase and diversify our selection, adding even more top producers and embracing all kinds of styles and profiles. We are Master of Malt, after all…

To give you an idea of what to expect, we’ve rounded up some of our finest new arrivals, from bargain bundles, thirst-quenching pilsners, trendy pale ales and mouth-puckering sours. Beers perfect for enjoying in the sunshine in all those picnics you’re planning… 

We’ve rounded up some of the finest beers to recently arrive at MoM Towers

La Virgen Bundle (12 x 330ml) 

We’re kicking things off with a terrific bundle of beers from Madrid’s La Virgen. There’s four cans of its IPA, four cans of its Lager and four cans of its 360 Pale Ale, making it the perfect picnic accompaniment. Plus, you save some shiny coins versus buying all 12 cans individually!

We’ve rounded up some of the finest beers to recently arrive at MoM Towers

Belching Beaver Batch No.5 (Sour Series)

If you want a top sour beer, then you can’t really go wrong by picking up a bottle from a range named the Sour Series! Good thing Belching Beaver lives up to expectations by creating a delightful barrel-aged American ale with blackberries. It’s all about them tart fruity notes. 

What does it taste like:

Sour fruit leads into touches of sweetness, with toasty cereal notes, oak influence and a funky finish.

We’ve rounded up some of the finest beers to recently arrive at MoM Towers

Great Divide Denver Pale Ale (6 x 355ml)

For fans of American pale ale who loved that citrus-forward and hoppy style, we’ve got this tremendous six-pack from Great Divide. The Denver Pale Ale, a boozy ode to the brewery’s home city, also features the designs of local artist Scot Lefavor on its cans, so it looks as good as it tastes.

What does it taste like:

Floral hops, grapefruit zest and grassy pine, hints of honeyed malt and a pleasingly bitter finish.

We’ve rounded up some of the finest beers to recently arrive at MoM Towers

Wicked Weed Dark Age

Classic, chocolatey stouts don’t come much better than this bottle from the lovely folks at the Wicked Weed Brewing Co. Dubbed Dark Age, this boisterous brew benefits from a short spell in an ex-bourbon barrel, adding lighter, sweeter and oaky notes to complement those dark and bitter characteristics. 

What does it taste like:

Dark chocolate, cola cubes and coffee bitterness, with a drizzle of honey and vanilla.

We’ve rounded up some of the finest beers to recently arrive at MoM Towers

Bruery Terreux Oude Tart 

This jammy, sour brew from Bruery Terreux in California caught our eye because we love a good Flemish-style red ale. It was aged in oak barrels with raspberries, so you’re going to get all that berry goodness as well as the toasty vanilla notes from the cask.

What does it taste like:

Crushed tart raspberries and currants, with touches of oaky vanilla and berry jam bringing a smidge of sweetness.

We’ve rounded up some of the finest beers to recently arrive at MoM Towers

Siren Maltiverse Nitro 

This brew is a really cool little innovation by the fabulous Siren. It’s something between a dark mild and a porter, where one part is carbonated, and one part is nitrogenated. The colliding of these two worlds led to its nifty name. Welcome to the Maltiverse! 

What does it taste like:

Orange peel and pith, with yeasty bread, pepper and ginger spice, and a dash of balsamic.

We’ve rounded up some of the finest beers to recently arrive at MoM Towers

Goose Island Halia

It was hard to pick just one brew from the excellent Goose Island, but we settled on Halia because we love its lip-smacking summer style. It was aged in wine barrels alongside whole peaches, so you prepare yourself for an explosion of fruity flavours.

What does it taste like:

Somewhat sour, leading into red grape, fresh peach and apricot sweetness, and prickles of spice.

We’ve rounded up some of the finest beers to recently arrive at MoM Towers

Birra Del Borgo My Antonia

If pilsner is more your thing than check out this delightful Italian creation. My Antonia, which gets its name from the 1918 novel by Willa Cather, is made with a combination of American and European hops (Simcoe, Warrior, and Saaz), and it’s dry-hopped, too. This means Birra Del Borgo has brewed a tropical, hoppy and thirst-quenching beer.

What does it taste like:

Honey and resinous balanced hoppy bitterness, with pink grapefruit, tangerine, and tangy pineapple.

We’ve rounded up some of the finest beers to recently arrive at MoM Towers

Jester King Queen’s Order

Jester King in Austin is the kind of zesty, subtly sweet brew that’s both sessionable and ideal for pairing with food. Oh, and those bees on the label are there because this farmhouse ale was brewed with Texas Guajillo honey, along with Texas-grown Eureka and Ujukitsu lemons.

What does it taste like:

Zesty lemon, touches of funk, honey sweetness and bitter pithy notes, leading into a crisp, dry finish.

We’ve rounded up some of the finest beers to recently arrive at MoM Towers

Paulaner Weissbeir 0.0%

Finally, for those who’d like a solid zero-alcohol option, we’ve got this variation of Paulaner’s classic Weissbeir. It is brewed using malted wheat and malted barley, along with Herkules hops and after it’s matured, the alcohol is removed. But the flavour certainly isn’t!

What does it taste like:

Crisp and softly sweet with orchard fruit and juicy citrus

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Top ten: World whiskies under £50

Whisky is distilled to perfection across the globe and we’ll never tire from shouting all about it. That’s why we’ve made this list of some of the finest expressions from…

Whisky is distilled to perfection across the globe and we’ll never tire from shouting all about it. That’s why we’ve made this list of some of the finest expressions from outside Scotland, Ireland, the US and Japan. Oh, and these world whiskies are all great value too. Enjoy!

There are many wonderful things to love about the modern whisky world. Like how you can order delicious booze straight to your doorstep without moving from the couch. Or that there’s so much more information available at your fingertips than ever before so you can really get your geek on.

One of the best bits, however, is just how many countries are now producing the water of life to an amazing standard. Almost all of you will be familiar with whisky from Scotland, Ireland and the US. But there are now more than 30 countries producing the good stuff across all the continents. Apart from Antarctica. Unless penguins have become even more amazing recently and made some developments I wasn’t aware of.

New world whiskies have the advantage of being free from the traditions and legislation that defines the more established categories. Which means these countries are a hotbed of innovation. All kinds of raw materials, cask types and processes are being used. This not only adds a pleasant helping of local and cultural identity but also providing us with more variety and flavour to our already delightful whisky-soaked world. 

Here are just 10 examples of some of our fave world whiskies. Each one will cost you less than £50. Result!

Check out these bargain world whiskies:

Check out these bargain world whiskies!

Millstone 4 Year Old (That Boutique-y Whisky Company)

This whisky is from the terrific family-owned Zuidam Distillery in The Netherlands. Known for its Millstone single malt and rye whiskies, the Dutch distillery was founded by Fred van Zuidam in 1975 and today his two sons run it. It’s got a stellar reputation for producing interesting, delicious spirit, which is probably why That Boutique-y Whisky Company bottled this sucker up.

What does it taste like?

Dried fruit, brown sugar, orange blossom, garden herbs, chocolatey malt, milky coffee, cooked apples, nutmeg, Christmas cake and Pinot Noir in the backdrop.

Check out these bargain world whiskies!

Three Ships 12 Year Old

A brand that’s reputation increases with every expression, Three Ships is a South African single malt whisky from the much-loved James Sedgwick Distillery. Created by recent hall-of-famer Andy Watts, this particular expression was aged in a selection of American whiskey casks for a dozen years and bottled up at 46.3% ABV.

What does it taste like?

Sponge cake with cream and jam, apricot., fragrant vanilla, honey, apple, coffee and walnut cake and a touch of forest floor.

Check out these bargain world whiskies!

Kavalan Concertmaster – Port Cask Finish (50cl)

Established in 2005, Kavalan is Taiwan’s first whisky maker and has put the country on the map in style. This particular single malt whisky showcases ruby Port, tawny Port and vintage Port casks which are used to finish whiskies that were initially matured in American oak. It’s absolutely beautiful.

What does it taste like?

Red grapes, clove, vanilla, tobacco leaf, cookie dough, brown sugar, white oak warmth, raisins, prunes strawberry jam, ground cinnamon and white pepper, doused in good Port. A core of white oak warmth.

Check out these bargain world whiskies!

Cortoisie Exhalation

Not only is this French whisky, but it’s peated French whisky. Exhalation is a single malt from Cortoisie that was distilled in Lorraine (in north-eastern France), though the peat itself actually comes from Germany. The majority of the whisky is matured in French oak, a third of which are new, while the rest is aged in American oak. Expect a sweet, salty and peaty dram.

What does it taste like?

Red fruit, plum skin, ripe apple, sweet malt, cooked red fruit, cigar box, salty smoke and baking spices.

Check out these bargain world whiskies!

Paul John Nirvana

India is one of the largest whisky markets in the world. While it’s always been a huge importer of Scotch and others, recently its own distilleries have been making a mark, like the wonderful Paul John. Nirvana is a perfect introduction to one of the most exciting categories in the world and was actually made with those who are only just beginning to drink whisky in mind. Indian barley and charred American oak casks work in harmony here in a dram that tastes good and represents outstanding value-for-money, too.

What does it taste like?

Treacle and butterscotch, with baked pineapple, sweet malt, fig, vanilla, milk chocolate, honeyed cinnamon, barley sugar, with a smidge of salt bringing balance alongside ripe orchard fruit.

Check out these bargain world whiskies!

Penderyn Madeira Finish 

From the first Welsh distillery of the modern era comes a delightful dram. This beauty was aged in ex-bourbon barrels and finished in ex-Madeira wine casks to create a singular house style. As flagship expressions go, Penderyn Madeira Finish is one the finest.

What does it taste like?

Vanilla sweetness, resin, sultanas, toast, over-ripe grape, biscuits, custard and stem ginger.

Check out these bargain world whiskies!

Milk & Honey Classic Single Malt 

This is Israel’s first single malt whisky from Tel Aviv’s wonderful Milk & Honey Distillery, which we were so excited about we did a whole blog post on it. Benefitting from maturation in three different wood profiles, ex-bourbon, virgin oak and red wine-seasoned STR casks, the Classic Single Malt is a delicious and complex taste of history.

What does it taste like?

Caramel flapjacks, dark chocolate, lemon shortbread, vanilla, orange zest, gooseberries, melon, drying red grape skins, marzipan, nutmeg, creamy barley, Werther’s Originals, salty and sweet popcorn, red berries and Manuka honey drizzled on porridge.

Check out these bargain world whiskies!

Starward Two-Fold

Whenever new world whiskies are discussed it’s never long before the name Starward is mentioned. The brand is one of several that have flown the flag for Australian whisky, making full use of the country’s outstanding wine scene to source high-quality casks that help deliver a full-bodied, fruity profile that’s been a hit with consumers, critics and award-shows alike.

What does it taste like?

Plum, banana bread, caramelised dates, nutty malt, soft vanilla fudge, coffee and walnut cake, summer berries and stewed stone fruit.

Check out these bargain world whiskies!

Mackmyra Svensk Rök (Swedish Smoke) 

If you’re a fan of smokier whisky like an Islay but want to try something from further afield, then you won’t find something better than this fine offering from Swedish distillery Mackmyra. This fragrant, sweet and rich dram was made using Swedish-grown barley and peat drawn from the nearby Karinmossen (Karin bog), as well as brittle juniper twigs. 

What does it taste like?

Earthy peat, warm smoke, vanilla fudge, oak, bright juniper and a whisper of citrus.

Check out these bargain world whiskies!

The ONE Orange Wine Cask Finished 

The Lakes Distillery master distiller Dhavall Gandhi honed his craft at The Macallan and brought with him an expertise in utilising fine oak casks to full effect. For this particular bottling, he finished The ONE blended whisky in first-fill American oak casks which were seasoned with orange wine (made from white wine macerated with orange peel). It’s a bold, zesty and individual dram that we’re very fond of.

What does it taste like?

Orange marmalade, white grape, aromatic cigar box, fragrant peat smoke, tropical fruits and a pinch of tobacco.

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Top ten: Tequilas and mezcals under £50

Whether you’re in the market for a mixable Margarita base or a serious sipper, you don’t have to break the bank to get your hands on some terrific Tequila and mezcal….

Whether you’re in the market for a mixable Margarita base or a serious sipper, you don’t have to break the bank to get your hands on some terrific Tequila and mezcal. Here are ten we’re big fans of.

We love our agave-based spirits and we’re delighted to see that both the Tequila and mezcal categories are in rude health. The former is tossing aside its shots-led reputation with every new quality expression while the latter is rapidly helping itself to more of the spotlight as consumers develop a deeper understanding of the Mexican spirit. Now’s as good as time as any to add to your collection or see what the fuss is all about. And both can also be very affordable if you know what you are looking for. 

Lucky for you, we do. So to save you the trouble of trawling the interweb in search of bargain bottles, we’ve created another handy top ten selection. Whether you’re on the lookout for a dependable cocktail base, looking to broaden your horizons without breaking the bank or simply hoping to get your hands something tasty and agave-based, you’ll find it here.

Our top picks for bargain Tequilas and mezcals:

You don’t have to break the bank to get your hands on some seriously good Tequilas and mezcals

VIVIR Tequila Añejo

One of the most exciting new brands on the market, VIVIR has mastered the art of creating a sublime core range. The highlight, however, may well be the Añejo. Made with 100% Blue Weber agave harvested at around 12 years of age, it is aged in bourbon casks for at least 18 months, creating a profile that manages the difficult task of adding plenty of new tasty flavour without overpowering the character of the original Tequila.

What does it taste like?

Roasted agave, home-made salted caramel, BBQ char, dried fruit, fresh herbs, wet stone minerality, baked earth, vanilla fudge, cacao, orange rind and salted butter, with hints of agave underneath.

You don’t have to break the bank to get your hands on some seriously good Tequilas and mezcals

Ojo de Tigre Joven Mezcal 

This smooth, sweet and herbaceous unaged (or joven) mezcal from Ojo de Tigre was made using sustainable agave from the Tobala and Espadín plants. This profile has helped the brand gain numerous fans, including Pernod Ricard, which invested in Ojo de Tigre last year owing to its “authentic origins, mindful production and inviting taste”. If you haven’t embraced the increasingly popular world of mezcal yet, this would be a great place to start.

What does it taste like?

Apple blossom and toasted spice, with tangy kiwi, fresh herbs and cooked agave sweetness shrouded by subtle smoke.

You don’t have to break the bank to get your hands on some seriously good Tequilas and mezcals

El Sueño Tequila Silver

Affordable, great-tasting and sustainable Tequila will always catch our attention. This silver (or blanco, the unaged style of Tequila) expression from El Sueño benefits from five generations’ Tequila producing know-how and is ideal for mixing.

What does it taste like?

Beautifully smooth with a delicate floral quality, refreshing citrus and a prickle of pepper.

You don’t have to break the bank to get your hands on some seriously good Tequilas and mezcals

Dangerous Don Joven

There are few brands that can boast as awesome a name as Dangerous Don and fortunately, the brand has the spirit to match. The mezcal is produced in a traditional fashion and has a smoky, fresh and refined profile that’s enjoyable neat, but really comes alive in twists on traditional serves such as the Old Fashioned or Negroni.

What does it taste like?

Loads of green grass and fresh agave sweetness, with waves of aromatic smoke throughout and a touch of citrus on the finish.

You don’t have to break the bank to get your hands on some seriously good Tequilas and mezcals

Cazcabel Reposado 

Reposado Tequilas spend two months to one year in oak, a measured amount of ageing that rounds and softens the spirit into a style that can be more palatable for those more used to matured expressions like rum, brandy or whisky. Reposados are also perfect for Margaritas and this one, from the Cazcabel range, makes a particularly good cocktail.

What does it taste like?

Earthy at first, before light hints of cinnamon, caramel and dried fruit begin to appear. Vegetal agave still sits at the core of this expression, with the other notes supporting it handsomely.

You don’t have to break the bank to get your hands on some seriously good Tequilas and mezcals

Sin Gusano Espadín – San Luis del Rio

Sin Gusano is not a conventional brand. These are agave spirits, not technically mezcals, that founder Jon Darby sources from small producers. These truly extraordinary expressions wouldn’t ordinarily leave the village they are produced in, never mind the country! This particular bottling was produced over in San Luis del Rio, Oaxaca and is the perfect introduction into the brand’s diverse and delightful range, which is all about educating and preserving artisan agave spirits. An aim we’re happy to get behind.

What does it taste like?

Vegetal, slightly sweet notes of bell pepper, cucumber and white chocolate, shrouded by a layer of smoke.

1800 Cristalino Tequila

Cristalino is the trendy new style of Tequila and this is one of the finest examples. Cristalino is aged Tequila that has been filtered (often through charcoal) to remove the colour picked from the barrel and some of the harsher tannins without comprising the spirit’s flavours. Think of it as possessing the crisp, fresh notes of a blanco and the rich, sweet notes of an añejo. 

What does it taste like?

Buttery agave with a crack of black pepper, caramelised raisins and almonds, a touch of oak warmth, subtle vegetal salinity (think green bell pepper and lemongrass).

You don’t have to break the bank to get your hands on some seriously good Tequilas and mezcals

Pensador Mezcal

A beautiful, family-made mezcal, Pensador is crafted using methods which remain largely unchanged since the 16th Century. It’s also worth noting that it’s made from a combination of two popular strains of agave – Espadín and Madre-cuishe. This is one for Mezcal geeks to get really excited about.

What does it taste like?

Oak-y smoke, roasted apricot, black pepper and a mineral-rich earthiness supported by citrus and grape.

You don’t have to break the bank to get your hands on some seriously good Tequilas and mezcals

Pancho Datos Plata Tequila

A Tequila with a story, the Pancho Datos Plata brand was formed to champion the work of Ricardo Grijalva de León, a beloved historian and poet of the Mexican Revolution (Pancho Datos is a character he created). The spirit itself is traditionally made using Weber Tequilana Azul agave which was matured for eight years and then cooked in stone ovens for 48 hours. The agave syrup is then extracted with a train of roller mills and fermented.

What does it taste like?

Vegetable and herbal notes complement sweet vanilla and icing notes, as well as hints of toasted fruits.

You don’t have to break the bank to get your hands on some seriously good Tequilas and mezcals

Storywood Sherry Cask Reposado

Here we have something a little bit different to finish up with. Scottish chef and whisky lover Michael Ballantyne, who founded the Storywood brand, makes use of Speyside Scotch whisky barrels to add new flavours to Mexico’s national spirit. This 100% blue weber agave reposado Tequila was aged in Oloroso sherry casks for seven months, bringing heaps of bold, spicy and jammy dark fruit notes.

What does it taste like?

Cherry jam and dried berries, with roasted vegetal agave and peppery oak.

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Top ten: White wines under £25

Whether you’re a lover of rich oak-aged Burgundies or partial to a refreshingly zesty Sauvignon Blanc, we’ve got white wines for every palate. Here are some of our favourites: Earlier…

Whether you’re a lover of rich oak-aged Burgundies or partial to a refreshingly zesty Sauvignon Blanc, we’ve got white wines for every palate. Here are some of our favourites:

Earlier this month we tapped in the formidable knowledge in our buying team to pick the best reds under £25 on the Master of Malt shelves. Now, it’s the turn of the white wines. 

We’ve travelled all over the world for this selection from countries that are likely to be familiar to wine lovers like France and South Africa, to more obscure places like Greece and AustriaThe grape varieties too run the gamut from the household names, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc, to the barely pronounceable, Hondarrabi Zuri. All of them are delicious and really over-deliver for the money. 

Our pick of white wines under £25:

These white wines are delicious and available at bargain prices!

Céline et Vincent Dureuil Bourgogne Blanc 2016

One of the tricks with buying white Burgundy is to find a top producer, like this one, and then buy its everyday Bourgogne Blanc. It’s likely to punch well above its lowly appellation, just as this one does. 

How does it taste?

Honeydew melon with a refreshing citrus acidity and a long finish of hazelnuts and dark spicy notes. Try with fancy fish like turbot or Dover sole. 

These white wines are delicious and available at bargain prices!

Laurent Tribut Chablis 2017

Chardonnay is such a versatile grape variety making everything from lush oaked wines to lean refreshing numbers like this Chablis. It’s produced by the excellent Laurent Tribut, a family-run French winery. 

How does it taste?

Bone dry but packed with notes of pear and lemon peel with a flash of almonds on the finish. This would make a fine partner to some tasty shellfish. 

These white wines are delicious and available at bargain prices!

Cantina Terlan Winkl Sauvignon Blanc 2019

Here’s something you don’t see every day, a Sauvignon Blanc from Italy. This is made in the Sud Tyrol in the far north of the country. It spends 12 months in large oak barrels at the winery before bottling.  

How does it taste?

Zingy fresh with elderflower, peach, limes, peaches and aromatic fresh mint. This would be delicious with a rich goat’s cheese tart.

These white wines are delicious and available at bargain prices!

Schatzel Riesling 2016 

German Rieslings today tend to be much drier than in the past. There’s just a tiny bit of sugar here but it’s so fresh and invigorating that it tastes bone dry. It’s made by an old family estate in the Rhine region, Germany’s wine heartland. 

How does it taste?

Lots of white peach and citrus fruit character. Clean, with mouth-watering acidity, this would be great with fatty food like roast pork with apple. 

These white wines are delicious and available at bargain prices!

Centopassi Grillo Rocce di Pietra Longa 2018 

Grillo is a variety native to western Sicily and in the past was in fortified wine, Marsala, but it also makes superb dry whites like this one. The grapes in this are organic and were aged in steel to preserve those fruit flavours. 

How does it taste?

Zesty, with pink grapefruit, lemon and lime, and a hint of salinity on the finish. The perfect wine to go with spaghetti vongole. 

These white wines are delicious and available at bargain prices!

Lyrarakis Dafní Psarades 2019

If you can taste a herbal note in here, don’t be surprised, because the grape Dafní means bay leaf in Greece. It’s native to the island of Crete, home to some increasingly good wines like this delicious little number from the Lyrarakis winery.

How does it taste?

Green and herbaceous notes of rosemary, pine and indeed, bay, followed by a zing of lemon peel. Bring on the Greek salad!

These white wines are delicious and available at bargain prices!

Lockhart Chardonnay 2017 

California’s Lockhart has brought us this Chardonnay, made with grapes sourced from vineyards in Napa and Sonoma. The grapes were fermented in both stainless steel tanks and oak barrels for two weeks, so the oak influence here is very subtle.

What does it taste like?

Lemon curd, nuts and cantaloupe, with a hint of flinty minerality alongside nectarine and citrus blossom. We think it would be nice with a buttery roast chicken.

These white wines are delicious and available at bargain prices!

Eschenhof Holzer Wagram Grüner Veltliner 2018

This organic white wine is the work of Eschenhof Holzer, produced exclusively with Grüner Veltliner, Austria’s signature white grape, in the Wagram region. Sommeliers love GV, as it’s known, because it’s such a versatile food wine. 

What does it taste like?

Lime zest and green apple skin, nectarine sweetness and subtle spice. It’s a great partner to spicy Thai food. 

These white wines are delicious and available at bargain prices!

Bat Gara Txakoli Uno 2018

Txakoli or Chacoli as it’s sometimes spelt makes one of the world’s most refreshing wines in the Basque country. This example is made by Bat Gara predominantly from the Hondarrabi Zuri with a small amount of Riesling.

What does it taste like?

With its subtly flinty notes, with ripe green apples, and fresh hay, it’s a great seafood all-rounder with dishes like gambas a la plancha.

These white wines are delicious and available at bargain prices!

Eekhoring White Blend 2018

This is what’s known as a Cape blend, a uniquely South African mixture of grapes, usually with Chenin Blanc in the majority. Eekhoring White Blend is harvested from old vines and the grapes are fermented in a mixture of stainless steel and old oak barrels. 

What does it taste like?

Apple blossom, lime citrus and waxy hints, with under-ripe peach appearing on a dry finish. Good with rich vegetable dishes like ratatouille. 

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Top ten: Low- and zero-ABV drinks

Yes, it’s Dry January, for some, anyway. But whether you’re cutting out the booze completely or just fancy a change, here are the most delicious low- and no-alcohol spirit substitutes…

Yes, it’s Dry January, for some, anyway. But whether you’re cutting out the booze completely or just fancy a change, here are the most delicious low- and no-alcohol spirit substitutes rated by Master of Malt customers.

The low/ no ABV ‘spirit’ category is now firmly established. All it needs is a snappy name, we can’t go on calling them spirit substitutes or zero ABV gin-style drinks. Any suggestions on a postcard to MoM HQ, or you could comment below. Rather than pick our favourites as we normally do, this January we’ve picked the ones with the highest ratings on the Master of Malt website. So these are the drinks that our customers liked enough to leave a rating. There’s some five star products here…

bax-botanics-sea-buckthorn-spirit

1) Bax Botanics Sea Buckthorn

A non-alcoholic spirit from Yorkshire’s Bax Botanics. The main flavour is sea buckthorn and distilled alongside herbs and Seville orange. With absolutely no sugar added, the spirit boasts a complex and satisfyingly bittersweet fruity profile. 

How does it taste?

Highly aromatic, with rich savoury herbal notes and bittersweet fruit. Serve on ice and garnish with a ribbon of orange peel.

everleaf-bittersweet-aperitif-spirit

2) Everleaf Bittersweet Aperitif

Everleaf Bittersweet Aperitif is an apero, like Aperol or Campari, only with no alcohol. It’s made with a medley of 18 marvellous ingredients including gentian, iris, saffron, vanilla, vetiver, orange blossom and more. 

How does it taste?

Enjoyable herbal bitterness, with hints of anise, lemongrass, honey and caraway in support. Exceptional in a spritz with ice, tonic water and a fair whack of fresh orange. 

aecorn-bitter-spirit

3) Æcorn Bitter

Æcorn is a range of non-alcoholic aperitifs created by the Seedlip team.  The bitter version is made from Pinot Noir, Meunier and Chardonnay grapes flavoured with citrus fruits, bay leaf, oak and quassia.

How does it taste?

Bitter peels and juicy grapefruit, balanced by earthy herbs and a touch of pine resin. Try it in a Nogroni with Seedlip Spice (below) and Aecorn Aromatic.

william-fox-juniper-syrup

4) William Fox Juniper Syrup

From Liverpool-based William Fox, this delightful syrup uses juniper, the base of all gins as it flavour, so it’s sure to be popular. Add to a variety of drinks for reassuring gin-like flavour. 

How does it taste?

Slightly bitter, warm and savoury, with a tangy citrus-y backdrop. Try mixed with pink grapefruit juice and soda water. 

xachoh-blend-no-7-spirit

5) Xachoh Blend No. 7

Here we have Xachoh’s (pronounced ‘Za-ko’) second non-alcoholic spirit, Blend No.7. It contains botanicals inspired by the Silk Road, including ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon, crystal dark malt, star anise, saffron and sumac. 

How does it taste? 

Full of fragrant spicy notes, namely ginger, nutmeg and cinnamon, accompanied by sweet malty notes. Mix with ginger ale and a good squeeze of lime. 

lyres-non-alcoholic-american-malt-spirit

6) Lyre’s Non-Alcoholic American Malt

This is a bourbon substitute made by an Australian brand that makes a huge range of non-alcoholic drinks to use instead of rum, gin, amaretto etc. The brand is named after the Australian Lyrebird, which is renowned for being able to mimic the calls of other birds. 

How does it taste?

Smooth caramel and a hint of oak with a slightly spicy finish. Makes a great Old Fashioned substitute, see here for more recipes. 

pentire-adrift-spirit

7) Pentire Adrift

A uniquely maritime spirit, this is inspired by the North Cornish coastline and made from botanicals including rock samphire, sea fennel, sage, citrus and Cornish sea salt, either sustainably sourced or organically grown. 

How does it taste?

A hint of anise, salty and herbaceous notes intertwine, with a dash of lively citrus and mineral sea salt, with a warming finish. It’s great with tonic and a twist of lemon peel.

three-spirit

8) Three Spirit Social Elixir

After much experimentation, the Three Spirit team of botanical alchemists settled on 11 plant-based ingredients from around the world, including lion’s mane, cacao, damiana, and yerba mate. 

How does it taste?

Stewed fruit and banana aromas fade into rich notes of dark chocolate and coffee. Makes a great Espresso Martini, details here

feragaia-spirit

9) Feragaia

Feragaia is a Scottish alcohol-free spirit marrying 14 botanicals including seaweed, bay leaf and chamomile. Before bottling, it’s then blended with Scottish water. Feragaia means ‘wild earth’, taken from Fera in Latin meaning ‘wild’, and ‘Gaia’ in Greek mythology translating to ‘earth’.

How does it taste?

A floral top note leads into earthier root flavours, with a balanced salty note and a warming, spiced finish. Try it with ginger ale and a sprig of mint to make what Feragaia calls a Winter Wanderer. 

seedlip-spice-94-spirit

10) Seedlip Spice 94 

We had to include the mighty Seedlip, the brand that started it all. Some people love it, it has five star ratings galore, and some people don’t, but there’s no denying its influence. This version is based around allspice, cardamom, grapefruit, lemon and oak.

How does it taste?

Warming (almost Christmas-y) notes of nutmeg and clove, with a balancing sweetness of fresh citrus. Serve over ice with tonic and a pink grapefruit twist.

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Top ten: Red wines under £25

It’s January and it’s raining but don’t worry because we’ve got some splendidly affordable red wines to brighten up the saddest month of the year.  Did you know that Master…

It’s January and it’s raining but don’t worry because we’ve got some splendidly affordable red wines to brighten up the saddest month of the year. 

Did you know that Master of Malt sells wine? Well, we do. Compared with our spirits range, it’s a small selection but everything we stock is something that our buyer Mr Guy Hodcroft personally loves. Whether you want to spend £12 or £25, whether you like a big comforting wine from the Rhone or something chic and elegant from Piedmont, this list has something for everyone. As long as you like red wine, that is, we’ll be doing whites in a couple of weeks. So, rather than face the queues at the supermarket, why not add some bottled sunshine to your Master of Malt basket?

Red Wines

Rioja La Vendimia Palacios Remondo 2017

Rioja is one of the world’s favourite reds and with examples like this, you can see why. It’s made from a blend of Tempranillo and Garnacha which is aged for five months on French oak, and is beautifully balanced between fruit and oak. And isn’t the label pretty, too?

What does it taste like?

Ripe strawberries with cloves, tobacco and vanilla. This would be just the thing with roast lamb with lots of rosemary and garlic. 

Red Wines

Langhe Nebbiolo Oddero 2018

Do you love Barolo but don’t fancy spending a lot of money on a bottle? Then you need Langhe Nebbiolo, it’s made from the same grape grown in slightly less prestigious vineyards in the same region, Piedmont. This wine from family firm Oddero offers much of the magic of its big brothers but without having to drain your bank account.

What does it taste like?

Rose petals and strawberries with firm tannins that will appreciate a mushroom risotto made with lots of parmesan cheese or suitably hearty meat dish.

Red Wines

Koerner The Clare 2019

Made in the cool-climate Clare Valley in South Australia, this is a blend of classic Bordeaux varieties: Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot, Malbec and Cabernet Franc, with some Grenache. It’s aged in stainless steel and old oak, and the winemakers describe its  as being in a “Loire style”, so expect lots of freshness and red fruit rather than oak and spice

What does it taste like?

Delightfully perfumed nose with rose petals, fresh blackcurrants and mint. The palate is light, for an Australian wine, but intense with red fruits, herbs, tobacco and a slatey refreshing edge. 

Red Wines

Ver Sacrum Garnacha 2018

Garnacha, or Grenache as the French call it, is a grape that originally comes from Aragon in Spain and it’s unusual to see one from Argentina. It can make rather alcoholic wines but this one at 12.5% majors on freshness and ripe fruit. It’s aged in a mixture of concrete eggs and used wood to keep that fruit as fresh as possible. 

What does it taste like?

Crammed with fresh red fruit like raspberries and red cherries, there’s an aromatic menthol quality with a citrusy lift at the end. This would be good served lightly-chilled with seared tuna. 

Red Wines

Côtes-Du-Rhône Mon Coeur Jean-Louis Chave 2018

Monsieur Chave makes some of the best and most expensive wines in the northern Rhone. If you’re feeling flush, try his Hermitage. But he also makes a more affordable range under the JL Chave Selection label. A blend of Grenache, Shiraz and Mourvedre, this is consistently one of the best Cotes du Rhones on the market.

What does it taste like?

Raspberry and blueberry leading into floral violet, liquorice and white pepper, with touches of baked earth. Try this with sausages and mash, you won’t be disappointed. 

Red Wines

Dão Niepoort Rótulo 2016

The Dão region has been called the Burgundy of Portugal making joyful perfumed wines at a very good price. Niepoort is best known for its Ports but it makes wine all over Portugal as well as in Austria, for some reason. A blend of native grapes, Touriga Nacional, Jaen, Tinta Pinheira and Alfrocheiro, this Dão is delightful now but will age for many years.

What does it taste like?

Pungent floral nose with dark fruit, rosemary and fennel. A bite of tannin gives way to autumn fruits, violets, black olive and a hint of bitter dark chocolate. Try with spicy pork stew. 

Red Wines

Badenhorst Family Secateurs Red 2015

This is made in Swartland, an area of the Cape that was almost unknown ten years ago but now makes some of South Africa’s finest wines. It’s a blend of Rhone varieties like Shiraz, Carignan, Cinsault and Grenache, from very old vines. With five years age, it has developed some real complexity but still with plenty of fresh fruit.

What does it taste like?

Blackberries and blackcurrants with lavender-like floral notes, a slatey refreshing edge and a little nutty roundness on the finish. Try with boeuf bourguignon. 

Red Wines

Yves Cuilleron Syrah Les Vignes d’a Cote 2019 

The Rhone valley in France really does offer unbeatable value which is why we’ve included another example in our line-up. Yves Cuilleron makes some fine and fancy wines in St. Joseph but puts just as much care and attention into this more everyday Syrah. It really delivers for the money.

What does it taste like?

Maraschino cherries, black pepper and a strong whack of violets. Fairly light-bodied but packed full of flavour. This would be excellent with herb-scented roast chicken.

Red Wines

Barbera d’Asti Casareggio, Agostino Pavia & Figli  2018 

Piedmont is rich in grapes. There’s Nebbiolo for when you’re feeling serious but when you fancy a night of fun down the trattoria, then reach for Barbera. It produces some of the most straightforward delicious wines in Italy. This is made by the family firm Agostino Pavia & Figli and though there’s plenty of fun, there’s complexity here too. 

What does it taste like?

Bittersweet black cherries, and a crackle of crunchy acidity, this is probably the ultimate pizza or pasta with tomato sauce wine. 

Red Wines

Raúl Pérez La Vitoriana La Vizcaina 2017

If you think Spain is all about big oaky reds (not that there’s anything wrong with big oaky reds), then think again. This is made in the cool wet north of the country, Galicia, from Mencia. This indigenous grape makes fresh, perfumed and hugely distinctive and this example from a single vineyard shows how impressive it can be in the right hands.

What does it taste like?

A brilliant balance of balsamic, berries and spice, this has a freshness and lightness that would be great with oily fish like sardines or mackerel. 

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Top ten: American whiskeys under £50

We’ve picked out some beauties from across the pond that are so cheap you’ll think we forgot to convert the price from dollars to pounds! The United States tends to…

We’ve picked out some beauties from across the pond that are so cheap you’ll think we forgot to convert the price from dollars to pounds!

The United States tends to do everything bigger so it’s no surprise that, when it comes to American whiskey, we’re pretty spoilt for choice. But with so many options it can be hard to know where to start when it comes to picking up the finest bottle of bourbon or rye whiskey. That’s why we’d like to help out. This selection is full of some of our favourite expressions and the best part is, they all cost less than £50. Perfect, really, if you’re still on the lookout for presents…

American whiskies for under £50

Jim Beam Double Oak Gift Pack with 2x Glasses 

As it’s Christmas time we thought we’d kick things off with a terrific little gift set from Jim Beam! It not only includes a bottle of the delicious Double Oak bourbon, which was initially matured in freshly charred American oak barrels before being moved over to a fresh set of freshly charred American oak barrels, but also two very swanky looking branded tumblers. Perfect for enjoying with a pal (potentially virtually). Isn’t that what this season is all about?

What does it taste like?

Full-bodied vanilla, milk chocolate, a kick of cardamom, fruity malt and charred oak toastiness.

American whiskies for under £50

Buffalo Trace

A classic example of what a Kentucky straight bourbon should be, this is the kind of bourbon you need to have in your home bar. The award-winning core Buffalo Trace expression is a personal favourite of mine thanks to its incredible value, delicious taste and versatility, which has also made it a go-to for many bourbon lovers over the years. It’s also a great one for beginners if you’re new to the category.

What does it taste like?

Spicy and sweet with caramel, creamy toffee eclairs, hints of cinnamon, rum spice, cereal sweetness, brown sugar, toffee apple, sweet oak, custard, oily espresso beans, a touch of chocolate-covered raisins and toasty wood.

American whiskies for under £50

Woodford Reserve Kentucky Bourbon

The official bourbon of the Kentucky Derby and the only bourbon which is triple-distilled in copper pot stills, Woodford Reserve is a firm favourite of American whiskey fans for good reason. It’s also notable for being made with a mash bill that features a high percentage of rye (72% corn, 18% rye and 10% malt) and for having the lowest proof upon entering the barrel, which creates a creamy, refined and full-bodied whiskey that’s delicious neat and in an Old Fashioned.

What does it taste like?

There are notes of honey, leather, a touch of cocoa, a little smoke, toasty oak, vanilla cream, butterscotch, espresso beans, winter spice, cereal sweetness, plenty of rye, ground ginger, almond oi and a little rum.

American whiskies for under £50

Sazerac Straight Rye 

You can’t have a round-up of American whiskey without a great rye bottling and this is one truly tasty rye whiskey. It’s a category that’s synonymous with the cocktail and, while you might have enjoyed some of these serves with bourbon, the likes of the Manhattan, the Old Fashioned and the Sazerac were all created with rye whiskey. It seems fitting, then, to recommend an expression that was named for the Sazerac Coffee House in New Orleans, the birthplace of the famous cocktail.

What does it taste like?

Sweet with spices and stem ginger in syrup, orange zest, freshly ground black pepper, Seville orange marmalade, allspice, peanut butter, toffee and barrel char develop later on.

American whiskies for under £50

Black & Gold 11 Year Old Bourbon Whiskey

Bourbon with an age statement is not something you see much of, neither is bourbon from Tennessee for that matter. But Black & Gold is no ordinary bourbon. This showstopper was distilled from a corn-forward mash bill, (84-8-8, corn-rye-barley) and aged in slowly-charred barrels to create a rich, complex and slightly savoury profile, with enough of that classic American oak sweetness to keep it honest. As the bottle says, “Fire made it good”. 

What does it taste like?

Dense vanilla, toasted brown sugar atop apple pie, gingersnaps, cinnamon sticks, caramelised nuts, cask char, earthy cigar box, a touch of maple syrup, forest floor richness and chocolate sweetness.

American whiskies for under £50

Maker’s Mark 46

The classic Maker’s Mark is an all-time favourite for any sound-of-mind bourbon lover, but today we thought we’d draw your attention to the brand’s first line extension since the ’50s. Maker’s 46 is essentially the original bumped up a notch, with a bolder, spicier profile that was attained by inserting seared French oak staves into the barrels (with the stave profile “number 46” – thus the name). We can confirm it worked a treat.

What does it taste like?

Dense vanilla, toasted brown sugar atop apple pie, gingersnaps, cinnamon sticks, caramelised nuts, cask char, earthy cigar box, a touch of maple syrup, forest floor richness and chocolate sweetness.

American whiskies for under £50

Balcones Baby Blue Corn 

Corn Whiskeys are one of the oldest styles of American whiskey and for a good while, they took a backseat and had to watch as their cousin bourbon stole the show (the difference between the two is that the mash bill for corn whiskey must be at least 80% corn, whereas for bourbon it’s 51% , if you were wondering). Recently, however, their production has enjoyed a renaissance and one of the finest examples is this beauty, which is not only the first Texan whiskey, but the first whiskey to be distilled from blue corn! If you want to understand this historical style and what all the fuss is about, then this is a great place to start.

What does it taste like?

Soft vanilla, candied peel, caramelised bananas, toasted oak, dark caramel, baked apple, salted apple, baking spices and a little creamy cereal sweetness.

American whiskies for under £50

Rebel Yell French Oak

We love a bit of Rebel Yell, almost as much as Billy Idol, and it was hard to pick out a favourite from its range. But, given you don’t often see bourbon finished in toasted French oak barrels which previously held wine for six months, we thought this made for an interesting inclusion.  Expect dark fruits, spice and chocolate galore.

What does it taste like?

Cherry jam, cinnamon swirls, mocha, treacle toffee, vanilla sponge, caramelised nuts, very dark chocolate, cooked plum, grated nutmeg, golden syrup and toasty oak spices, with a touch of espresso and forest fruits.

American whiskies for under £50

James E. Pepper 4 Year Old – Ale Cask Finish (That Boutique-y Whisky Company)

Another one for fans of intriguing cask finishes, this is a rye whiskey that spent some time in barrels that used to hold delicious ale. Distilled by the fabulous James E. Pepper and bottled by our good friends at That Boutique-y Whisky Company, this is the perfect dram for those who want to explore the spirit beyond bourbon.

What does it taste like?

Fudge, toasted barley. floral honey, malty vanilla notes, dense brown sugar, buttery corn, sawdust, oak spice, orange zest and black peppercorn.

American whiskies for under £50

Wild Turkey Longbranch

From one of the finest old school bourbon distilleries around comes a collaboration between master distiller Eddie Russell and Matthew McConaughey. You might know him from such films as Dallas Buyer Club and Magic Mike. This bottling has more than star power though, thanks to its production process, which entailed filtering eight-year-old Wild Turkey whiskey through charcoal made of both Kentucky white oak and Texas mesquite. Which is where Russell and McConaughey are from, respectively. Pretty neat, huh?

What does it taste like?

A sweet blend of buttery caramel, creamy vanilla, orchard fruits, lemon zest, smooth toffee and honey lifted by spicy notes of nutmeg, black pepper and drying oak.

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Top ten: Rums under £40

The only thing we love more than great rum is great rum than you can get for an amazing price. Everything on this list costs less than £40. Lovely. Rum…

The only thing we love more than great rum is great rum than you can get for an amazing price. Everything on this list costs less than £40. Lovely.

Rum is finally getting the attention and love it deserves and that makes us very happy indeed. The diverse and historical category truly has something for everyone, whatever your taste. But one thing that unites us all is that we love a good bargain. In this selection of budget-friendly bottles, you’ll find rums of all styles: ones that you can sip neat or use to mix up a storm. There are classics and expressions that connoisseurs love as well as rums that are perfect introductions to this delightful drink. So, what are you waiting for? There’s delicious rum to be had!

Behold: the best rums under £40

bargain rum

Rumbullion! 

One of the finest cockle-warming spiced rums you’ll ever have the pleasure of imbibing, the award-winning Rumbullion! is the ideal festive treat. It’s produced using Caribbean rum, Madagascan vanilla and orange peel as well as cloves, cinnamon and a touch of cardamom so you can be sure it’s packed full of flavour. Rumbullion! mixes brilliantly, but if you like your rum neat it’s more than capable of standing up on its own.

What does it taste like?. 

Intense, sweet vanilla, flamed orange zest, cardamom, old-fashioned cola, manuka honey, molasses, candy floss, toffee apples, crème brûlée and a fabulous mix of thick cut bitter orange marmalade and tingling, zinging spices from cloves and cinnamon.

bargain rum

Dunderhead Rum

Dunder is the leftovers in the pot after distillation which is added to fermentation vats. It’s full of bacteria and wild yeasts, and creates big funky high ester flavours that rum fans love.  This dark blended rum uses that signature production process to full effect, combining high ester Jamaican pot still spirit with other rums from around the Caribbean to create a full-bodied, fruity drink that’s terrific in a wide variety of cocktails, but especially the Mai Tai.

What does it taste like?

Brown sugar, banana, orange zest, honey, toffee, cassia, molasses, poached fruit flambé and some grassy funk.

bargain rum

Veritas Rum 

If you want a versatile, tasty white rum then there’s plenty of classic names you could go for, but we think there’s a lot to be said about Veritas. It’s a collaboration between Foursquare distillery of Barbados and Hampden in Jamaica, and then bottled by Italian spirits distributor Velier, so plenty of expertise has gone into creating this expression, which is a better sipper than many bottles in its price range and makes a sublime Daiquiri.

What does it taste like?

Vanilla pod, custard and fresh tropical fruit with some vegetal elements lead. Sticky molasses, banana and a little creamy nuttiness develop.

bargain rum

Plantation Pineapple Stiggins’ Fancy

Born from a collaboration between Plantation founder Alexandre Gabriel and cocktail historian David Wondrich, Plantation Pineapple Stiggins’ Fancy is perfect for those who want a quality flavoured rum. No syrupy, artificial notes here.  It’s made by macerating the flesh of actual pineapples in an aged rum, which is then combined with white rum which was distilled with the rind of the same fruit to create an authentic, refined and subtle pineapple profile. Sip it neat, sure, but don’t be afraid to experiment with this. It makes a tremendous Rum Old Fashioned. 

What does it taste like?

Honeydew melon, cola cubes, Jamaican ginger cake, spiced molasses tart, crumbly shortbread, cassia spiciness, vanilla, lemon, mango and spearmint.

Check out this bargain rum!

Neptune Rum

An awards-show darling, Neptune Rum is a beautiful golden pot and column still rum, created from a blend of eight, five and three-year-old rums made from pure sugar cane molasses. It was distilled and matured in ex-bourbon casks at the esteemed Foursquare in Barbados, so you know we’re talking about a quality rum here. It’s got a terrifically refined and versatile profile that makes a cracking Espresso Martini or Old Fashioned.

What does it taste like?

Maple syrup, fresh apricot, vanilla, nutmeg, warm bourbon oak, sherried peel, ripe peaches,  shredded coconut and green banana.

bargain rum

Issan (That Boutique-y Rum Company)

Rhum Agricole is the style that above all else really intrigues spirits enthusiasts thanks to its complex, raw profile. If you’re in the market for one, That Boutique-y Rum Company has picked out an absolute corker of a bottling you have to try. Sourced from the Issan distillery in the northeast region of Thailand, who place a big focus on sustainability and community, the spirit is made with the juice from red sugar cane, which is distilled in the copper pot still that you see on the label to create an expression that’s fascinating and delicious in equal measure

What does it taste like?

Grassy and herbaceous, with green olive water, damp hay, black fruit, tinned sweetcorn water, sweet vanilla, touches of aromatic vanilla, butterscotch and dark berries.

bargain rum

Grander 8 Year Old 

If you’re not familiar with the delights of Panamanian rum you’re missing out. If you’re up for a little exploration, we prescribe Grander 8 Year Old, a lighter, sweet-tasting Spanish style-rum matured in first-fill American white oak ex-bourbon barrels. Try and mix it the way you would whisky and marvel at the results.

What does it taste like?

Sponge cake and earthy vanilla, leading to a subtly floral hint later on. Citrus fruit freshness develops, soon to be joined by a restrained hint of peppery spice.

bargain rum

Pull The Pin Spiced Rum 

Former Royal Engineer Thomas Foster founded Pull The Pin Spiced Rum after leaving the army in search of a new challenge and we salute his new choice of career! Foster created his own spice blend to infuse the rum with, adding butterscotch and roasted hazelnuts into the mix to complement the warmth and natural sweetness of the spices. Try sipping it over ice with a ribbon of orange peel and crystallised ginger.

What does it taste like?

Silky notes of butterscotch supported by aromatic baking spice, with prominent cinnamon, brown sugar and tobacco.

bargain rum

Cut Overproof Rum 

Bottled at a breathtaking 75.5% ABV, this is not a rum for the faint of heart. But don’t be fooled, this jacked-up version of Cut Rum’s standard spiced rum has plenty of flavour and, even when diluted, stands up mighty well in a number of serves.

What does it taste like?

Heavy vanilla and burnt sugar, with a powerful kick of cardamom.

bargain rum

O.V.D. Demerara Rum

A classic dark rum with an almost cult status, O.V.D is a perfect introduction into the delicious world of Demerara rum. O.V.D stands for Old Vatted Demerara, a style of rum blending unique to the Demerara region of Guyana. This particular rich and creamy bottling was distilled from molasses in a wooden Coffey still (yes, really!) in Guyana before it was blended and bottled in Glasgow.

What does it taste like?

Buttery, toffee-rich aromas, dried peels, stone fruit, sweetened coffee and banana sweets.

And if you want more where that came from, we’ve got more of the best rum here!

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Top ten: Scotch whiskies under £50

From smoky single malts to the ultimate Highball blend, you don’t have to spend a lot of money to get some seriously good Scotch whisky. Here are ten of our…

From smoky single malts to the ultimate Highball blend, you don’t have to spend a lot of money to get some seriously good Scotch whisky. Here are ten of our favourites.

We love whisky at Master of Malt. Which means that everyone in the office has strong opinions on the subject so it was tricky to narrow this list down to just ten bottles. People are going to be upset that we didn’t include their favourite drams, especially Talisker 10, Laphroaig 10 or Bowmore 12. But we thought it would be a good idea to include alongside the old favourites some lesser-known whiskies as well as expressions that are so well-known you probably don’t notice them anymore. So without further ado, delay or general beating around the bush. Here are (some of) our favourite Scotch whiskies under £50. Tell us in the comments or on social why we should have included your dram of choice.

ardbeg-uigeadail-whisky

Ardbeg Uigeadail

Well, we had a bit of a discussion that got quite heated about which Ardbeg to include. The Ten would have been the obvious choice but instead we’ve gone with the spectacular Uigeadail ( pronounced “Oog-a-dal”) that melds the smoky lime-scented Ardbeg character with sweet sherry casks. And how!

What does it taste like?

There’s plenty of peat and smoke but it’s all wrapped up in muscovado sugar, honey and espresso coffee. Rich and pungent, Uigeadail is quite an experience.

arran-10-year-old-whisky

Arran 10 Year Old

This distillery was founded by former Chivas MD Harold Currie, the first on the isle of Arran on the West Coast since 1837. It might be the entry level whisky but this ten year old aged entirely in bourbon casks tastes pretty special, showing off the fruity, floral distillery character.

What does it taste like: 

Nutty and biscuity with fresh apple and lemon fruit plus floral summer hedgerow and honey notes. It’s packed full of character and really over delivers for the money.

balblair-12-year-old-whisky

Balblair 12 Year Old

Last year Balblair switched from vintage releases to a suitably impressive new range of age statements expressions. This is the baby of the bunch, aged in ex-bourbon and double-fired American oak casks, and it’s superb.

What does it taste like? 

The soft mango and peach distillery character really shines through, supported by spicy cedar and nutmeg, honey and barley. A great introduction to a great distillery. 

compass-box-spice-tree-whisky

Compass Box Spice Tree 

Originally made with oak staves which attracted the ire of the SWA, Spice Tree is now aged in especially-made casks with new French oak heads. It’s a stunning blend of Highland malts with the French oak adding masses of spice, hence the name. 

What does it taste like? 

Dried apricots, vanilla, cinnamon and toffee with pungent tobacco, cloves and pepper, it’s not called Spice Tree for nothing. Long, complex and totally harmonious. 

glenfarclas-10-year-old-whisky

Glenfarclas 10 Year Old

Glenfarclas is one of the very few family-owned distilleries in Scotland. That combined with its excellent sherry-soaked Speyside drams is why it is one of the the country’s best-loved distilleries. 

What does it taste like? 

On the nose there’s honey, toffee and Oloroso sherry. While the palate is full of baking spices with fruitcake, apples, nuts and even a little smoke.

glenmorangie-10-year-old-the-original-whisky

Glenmorangie 10 Year Old

We love the whole Glenmorangie range but it’s the 10 Year Old Original we keep coming back to. Entirely aged in ex-bourbon casks, it’s smooth, sweet and fruity but deceptively complex. No drinks cupboard should be without a bottle. 

What does it taste like? 

Full of lemons, nectarines and apples with vanilla, digestive biscuits and gentle baking spices. And honey! Lots and lots of honey. 

j-and-b-rare-whisky

J&B Rare 

J&B Rare is one of those whiskies so ubiquitous, you probably don’t even notice it behind the bar. Which is a shame because this is probably the ultimate Highball whisky. Just blend with soda, ice and maybe a dash of orange bitters for a refreshing pre-dinner drink. One sip and you’ll never go back to G&Ts.

What does it taste like? 

Yes, it’s light but there’s depth here too with appley fruit joined by richer notes of malt, cedar, vanilla and walnut with a lift of orange zest. Perfect with soda.

johnnie-walker-green-label-15-year-old-whisky

Johnnie Walker Green Label 15 Year Old

Well, we had to include something from Johnnie Walker. But rather than the Red or Black, we’ve gone with Green Label, a spectacular 15 year old all malt blend that combines whiskies from around Scotland. One to offer to people who say they only drink single malts.

What does it taste like? 

This is packed full of dark chocolate, oak spice, malty cereal notes, and coffee and walnut cake. An after-dinner whisky, if there ever was one. 

kilkerran-12-year-old-whisky

Kilkerran 12 Year Old

In 2004, Springbank reopened Glengyle distillery taking the number of working distilleries in Campbeltown to three. But Glen Scotia owns the Glengyle brand which is why this whisky is called Kilkerran. The quality is exceptional for the money and this expression has become something of a cult. 

What does it taste like? 

It melds citrus, cherries and orange peel with creamy vanilla, honey and butterscotch, with a saline note running through it. If you love the oily Springbank style, then you’ll adore this.

seaweed-and-aeons-and-digging-and-fire-10-year-old-whisky

Seaweed & Aeons & Digging & Fire 10 Year Old

An Islay single malt from an undisclosed distillery. The name makes sense as soon as you take a sip, it’s a smoky peaty Islay malt with 25% aged Oloroso sherry cask. This has proved an extremely popular malt with MoM customers.

What does it taste like? 

Does exactly what it says on the bottle: there’s woodsmoke, seaweed and charred meat combined with sweet sherry notes, red apple and vanilla. 

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