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Top ten experimental cask-finished whiskies

Remember that time we made a list of some of our favourite strange and sensational cask-finished whisky? Well, we couldn’t fit everything we loved on one list. So we made another…

Remember that time we made a list of some of our favourite strange and sensational cask-finished whisky? Well, we couldn’t fit everything we loved on one list. So we made another one.

Innovation in whisky often leads to distilleries and bottlers taking already tremendously tasty spirit and finishing it in unusual, intriguing, and/or rarely-seen casks. And we all can’t help but be tempted by the promise of something new and different. What does a Marsala cask bring to the table? Or Scottish oak? The possibilities are endless.

So we’re back again to enjoy the spoils of those who dare to do it differently, celebrating some of the most unusual cask-finished whiskies around. Enjoy!

Our pick of experimental cask-finished whiskies

cask-finished whisky

Whisky Works King of Trees 10 Year Old

The Whisky Works range is an independent arm of Whyte & Mackay that gives blender and whisky maker Gregg Glass free rein to try all kinds of interesting things out, like finishing whisky in a cask made from native Scottish oak. That’s exactly what he did with King of Trees, taking a portion of the 10-year-old blended malt he made with Highland whiskies and popping it into the local oak to accentuate the whisky’s fresh orchard fruit character. The experiment obviously worked, because the brand says we’ll be seeing plenty more Scottish oak in the future…

What does it taste like?

White grapes, green apples, dark fruit compote and butterscotch, then sherbet lemons, golden barley, vanilla, and a flicker of nutmeg.

cask-finished whisky

Langatun Marsala Cask Finish

Swiss whisky giant Langatun knows how to make booze that catches your eye and is no stranger to using an array of different cask profiles to finish its single malt. This particularly enticing dram first spent eight years maturing in a Chardonnay wine cask, which is intriguing enough, before finishing up for 10 months in a French oak Marsala-fortified wine cask. We’re talking double grapey cask goodness, folks. Expect a wonderfully fruity, nutty character, with a glorious lingering finish.

What does it taste like?

Fragrant oak, warming pepper spice, and fermented fruits with sweet notes of toasted almonds, tobacco, and burnt marzipan.

cask-finished whisky

Balmenach 18 Year Old Moscatel Cask Finish (Darkness)

Taking the finest Scotch whisky and pairing it with exquisite quality sherry casks is pretty much the whole point of Darkness whisky. But there’s no reason why the brand should only play with the classic sherry varieties, like Oloroso. In this case, a single malt from the Balmenach Distillery was housed for a stint of its 18-year-maturation in a Moscatel sherry octave cask. Octaves are much smaller than your standard cask, which means there’s a greater surface area to volume ratio, leading to more interaction between the wood and the whisky. The sherry influence isn’t shy in this one.

What it tastes like: Wonderfully chocolatey, with lighter hints of zesty orange, vanilla, biscuit, and festive spices leading to a hint of mulled wine, with the malty notes once again keeping it grounded.

cask-finished whisky

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

Distilled by the fabulous James E. Pepper and bottled by our good friends at That Boutique-y Whisky Company, this is a rye whiskey that spent some time in barrels that used to hold delicious ale. The relationship between beer and whiskey means this pairing is becoming increasingly common (just ask Jamesons), but since Grant’s Ale Cask Finish has been discontinued, your options, for now, are still rather limited. Particularly if you’re a rye whiskey fan. Fortunately, this bottling is absolutely cracking. Although, there isn’t much of it left either…

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.

cask-finished whisky

Chivas Regal Mizunara

A special edition of Chivas Regal blended Scotch whisky originally released for the Japanese market, it’s only in recent years we’ve all been able to enjoy this beauty. A good thing too, as part of the blend was matured in Mizunara oak casks, a rare breed that grows incredibly slowly and imparts unique aromas. You would usually expect to pay a pretty penny to enjoy whisky associated with this mysterious, magical wood, making this expression something of a bargain too.

What it tastes like: White peach, toffee-coated pears, vanilla-rich cream, with a hint of aniseed hiding within.

cask-finished whisky

Kinahan’s The Kasc Project

Innovative stuff from Ireland, Kinahan’s The Kasc Project is essentially a complex blend marrying all different types of cask. You see, each cask (kasc?) has been constructed from a different type of wood, including Portuguese, American, French and Hungarian oak, as well as chestnut. If you’d like a chance to see what impact using casks from different regions has on whiskey, then this is the dram for you.

What it tastes like: Juicy autumnal fruit, rich caramel, charred oak, fruit and nut chocolate and Christmassy notes of nutmeg and clove, orange oil and brown sugar with barbecued mango, and more caramelised tropical fruit with a scattering of vanilla pod underneath.

cask-finished whisky

Tomatin 12 Year Old 2008 Monbazillac Cask Finish – French Collection

Ever had whisky finished in casks that previously held Monbazillac? For most people, the answer would be no. Luckily, Tomatin’s French Collection, which was launched in mid-2021 and explores a variety of cask finishes featuring French wines and spirits, has given you the chance to see what effect this type of sweet wine produced in south west France has on Tomatin’s high-toned and fruity spirit.

What does it taste like?

Honeycomb and banana fritters, with apricot green apple, candied grape, peanut brittle, cinnamon, and toasty oak develop.

cask-finished whisky

The Matsui Sakura Cask

Ok, full disclosure: this single malt Japanese whisky from the Kurayoshi Distillery wasn’t actually finished in an exciting cask. Instead, it spent its full maturation in Sakura, or cherry wood, casks. Which is cool, right? It seemed deserving of a spot regardless. So here it is. What a pretty bottle, too.

What it tastes like: Almond, faint hints of fresh orange and melon, vanilla sponge cake, baking spices, and a light whiff of spring blossom later on.

cask-finished whisky

GlenAllachie 8 Year Old Koval Rye Quarter Cask Wood Finish

GlenAllachie Distillery has one of the most diverse and interesting wood programmes so it’s no surprise to see it do something as experimental as this expression. Master distiller Billy Walker popped an 8-year-old single malt initially aged in American oak barrels in small quarter casks that previously held Koval Rye. The small casks have an intense influence that imparts a host of rich, sweet, and earthy spices from the rye.

What does it taste like?

Nutmeg and cinnamon offer up warming, oaky elements, while honeycomb, melted chocolate, orange, runny honey, and cooked apple give it some balancing sweetness.

cask-finished whisky

26 Year Old Whisky – Maple Syrup Cask Finish (Defilement)

What we have here is a 26-year-old whisky, which was given a finishing period in a Pedro Ximénez sherry octave cask that previously held maple syrup, released as part of the Defilement range. This is experimental and controversial booze at its finest, with the resulting spirit proving so wacky we can’t tell you where this whisky is from. Only that the country of origin is strict about casks. So, yeah. You know where it’s from.

What it tastes like: Freshly picked pears, buttered apples, runny caramel, cigar box, earthy peat, charred oak, heather, vanilla, fresh cantaloupe, ginger, and just a pinch of sea salt.

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Top ten bottles from independent distilleries

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

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

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

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

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

Top ten bottles from independent distilleries

edradour-10-year-old-whisky

Edradour 10 Year Old 

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

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

Drumshanbo Single Pot Still

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

Wilderness Trail Bourbon

Wilderness Trail Single Barrel Bourbon

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

Hayman's London Dry Gin & Tonic

Hayman’s London Dry Gin

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

Masons-Gin

Masons Dry Yorkshire Gin

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

Botanivore Gin

St. George Botanivore Gin 

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

O Reizinho Rum

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

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

Scratch Patience Rum

Scratch Patience Rum

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

Frapin 1270

Frapin 1270 Cognac 

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

Tequila Fortaleza

Fortaleza Tequila Reposado 

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

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Ten bottles to transport you

It looks like most of us won’t be travelling very far in the near future because of that ongoing pandemic thing. But never fear, you can still travel through the…

It looks like most of us won’t be travelling very far in the near future because of that ongoing pandemic thing. But never fear, you can still travel through the magic of booze. From dry sherry to pungent cachaça, here are ten bottles to transport you to faraway lands. 

Nobody wants to go on holiday at the moment because it means that you might have to spend two weeks in quarantine stuck in a Travelodge at Gatwick airport. A bit like Alan Partridge, but less funny.

But it’s not all bad. There’s so much to see and do in Britain, from the mountains of Scotland to the sandy beaches of Kent. The summer holidays should be boom time for the country’s hospitality industry, which let’s face it, could do with the business. Next week, we’ll be looking at some of this country’s top boozy destinations.

And don’t forget that you can always take a holiday in a glass. Sip a Negroni in the sunshine, close your eyes and you could be in Rome. A glass of chilled sherry and some high quality ham, and you could be in a bar in Jerez. Who needs aeroplane travel when you’ve got next day delivery? 

Here are ten bottles to transport you to your favourite country

The Nightcap

Portugal: Taylor’s Chip Dry White Port

There’s no better place to watch the sun go down over Porto than on the terrace of the Yeatman Hotel, especially with a White Port & Tonic in your hands. This week on the blog, Lucy Britner looked at all the great things you can do with white Port, but you can’t beat an old classic. With its rich fruity and nutty taste, Taylor’s Chip Dry goes brilliantly with tonic, just make sure you use plenty of ice and add a sprig of rosemary and a slice of orange.

Tio Pepe Fino En Rama

Spain: Tio Pepe Sherry En Rama

Every year Gonzalez Byass releases a small quantity of Tio Pepe En Rama. This is dry Fino sherry pretty much as it tastes straight out of the barrel in Jerez, bottled with minimal filtering. It’s always a treat but this year’s release is absolute dynamite. It walks a bold line between big flavours of apples and hazelnuts, and the elegance that you’d expect from Tio Pepe. Just add some olives and cheese, and you’re in Andalucia. 

These delightful cocktails will transport you to your favourite holiday destination

Italy: Select Aperitivo

Aperol and Campari might be better known, but you can’t beat a drop of Select Aperitivo when you want some Italian magic. Select is the choice of Venetians, it’s been made in the city since the 1920s. The flavour profile is bitter and grown-up but a bit more delicate than Campari. We love drinking it in a Bicicletta – a mixture of ice, white wine and fizzy water. It’s the perfect lazing in the sun kind of drink.

Mijenta Tequila

Mexico: Mijenta Tequila Blanca

Well, we had to put a Tequila in there somewhere, we’re agave mad here at Master of Malt. We were particularly taken with this recently-launched brand. It’s made by Maestra Tequilera, Ana Maria Romero, and it’s a tasty drop laden with flavours of green olives, cinnamon spice and a delicious creamy texture. It does good, too, with some of the proceeds going to various charities in Mexico. Try it in a Blood Orange Margarita

Ricard Pastis

France: Ricard Pastis

Now this one is likely to be controversial because some people hate, really hate, the taste of aniseed. But for those who don’t, nothing is more evocative of the south of France than Ricard Pastis. Drink it slowly with ice and a jug of water on the side, and before you know it you’ll be contemplating buying a beret and one of those blue jackets that old French farmers wear, and whiling away the evening playing boule and discussing politics.  

Plantation XO

Barbados: Plantation XO rum

This has proved itself a favourite among Master of Malt customers over the years. It’s a well-aged Barbados rum from spirits master Alexandre Gabriel. It spends its first few years in ex-bourbon barrels in the Caribbean before being shipped to France for secondary maturation in Cognac casks. It’s then sweetened before bottling to make a mixing rum par excellence. We love it in a Mai Tai.

caipirinha Ableha Cachaca

Brazil: Abelha Cachaça

Brazil’s national drink, the Caipirinha, calls for cachaça, which is made from sugar cane juice rather than molasses to produce a pungent, grassy spirit that’s a bit like a rhum agricole. Much of the production is industrial but there are some smaller high quality producers like Abelha using organic sugar cane for something with a bit more character. 

Woodford Reserve Bourbon

America: Woodford Reserve bourbon

If you’re into cocktails, then you need at least one bottle of American whiskey in your drinks cabinet to make Manhattans, Old Fashioneds et al. Woodford Reserve is a great all-rounder. Unlike most bourbons it’s distilled in a pot rather than a column still. It also contains a high percentage of rye, 18%, with 72% corn and 10% malted barley, giving it a spicy, smooth and dry taste.

Inverroche Cocktail

South Africa: Inverroche Classic Gin

Many drinks claim to be a certain country in a bottle but Inveroche is literally South Africa in a bottle. It’s made by mother and son duo Lorna and Rohan Scott who use native South African plants called fynbos as botanicals to give you a gin that is infused with the taste of the Cape. This is the classic version, a dry gin, that makes a killer Martini, or a delicious Bramble.

Ming River

China: Ming River Sichuan Baijiu

If you really want to experience a different culture in a glass, there’s no better spirit than baijiu. It is one of the world’s most distinctive spirits, from the raw materials, sorghum, rice, millet and others, and production techniques involving fermentation over weeks and complex distillation methods. Some types can be a bit much for European taste buds, but Ming River produces a baijiu that is accessible and cocktail friendly.

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Top ten whiskeys for BBQs

Today, we’re rounding up some of our favourite bottles from the US of A. They’re perfect to enjoy while eating outdoors, in cocktails on their own. Here are our top…

Today, we’re rounding up some of our favourite bottles from the US of A. They’re perfect to enjoy while eating outdoors, in cocktails on their own. Here are our top ten whiskeys for BBQs.

America is a booze superpower. The country’s influence on what we drink is vast. Without America, there would be no Manhattan, no Old Fashioned, no cocktails at all. The very word ‘cocktail’ is almost certainly an American invention.

And to make these quintessentially American concoctions, you need American whiskeys like rye or bourbon. So as Americans gear up to celebrate their Independence Day by doing baffling things like throwing tea in the river (they do do this, don’t they?) and watching their own peculiar type of football, we picked our favourite whiskeys from across the pond. 

So, let’s raise a glass and say cheers, and thank you for all the great whiskey

Top ten whiskeys for BBQs

Peaky Blinder Bourbon

Peaky Blinder Bourbon

Those crazy cats at Peaky Blinders (nothing to do with the hit TV series, nothing at all) have branched out from Irish whiskey into bourbon country. This is a sweet simple whiskey with plenty of big flavours of vanilla, toffee and buttered popcorn. If the sun comes out this 4 July, we’ll be drinking it in a Lynchbourg Lemonade – a mixture of bourbon, triple sec and, yes, you’ve guessed it, lemonade.

american-eagle-4-year-old-whiskey

American Eagle 4 Year Old 

This tasty bourbon is the work of American Eagle, distilled from a mash bill of 84% corn, so you can be sure there’s buttery notes galore in here. The whiskey has been matured in American oak barrels for four years, and was treated to charcoal-mellow filtration before it was bottled at 40% ABV. Superb sipped neat, but also great for mixing. Bourbon Sour, anyone?

Whisky - Charcoal & - Closeup

Charcoal & Cornmeal & Rickhouses & a Decade 10 Year Old

Bourbon matures quickly in the heat of Kentucky, so it’s unusual to find bottles with age statements, so we were delighted when our colleagues at Atoms Labs managed to get their hands on this liquid. From an undisclosed distillery, this is loaded with flavours of peanut brittle, liquorice, cooked apple and more spices than you can shake a stick at. This is a great one just to sip neat and appreciate all that age. 

Michters Whiskey

Michter’s US*1 Straight Rye

A straight rye whiskey from the Michter’s Distillery in Louisville, Kentucky. Every bottle of their excellent rye comes from a single barrel, highlighting the quality of their craft. It’s loaded with big spicy flavours like cumin, cinnamon and ginger balanced with a brown sugar sweetness. No wonder it’s such a huge hit with bartenders, this is a cocktail whiskey par excellence. We like it best in a Sazerac. 

Angel's Envy

Angel’s Envy

Angel’s Envy is the brainchild of former Brown Forman master distiller Lincoln Henderson and his son Wes. The idea was to take Henderson’s years of experience in bourbon, and shake up the category a little. So, they have taken a leaf out of the Scotch whisky handbook and got into cask finishes, in this case Port which brings a big helping of red fruit and dark chocolate to the bourbon party. Fancy bottle, too. 

Stateside Whiskey

Stateside Heaven Hill 11 Year Old 2009 (cask 152735 Heroes & Heretics)

The folks at Heroes & Heretics know how to sniff out a great whiskey, and this one they’ve bottled exclusively for Master of Malt. It was distilled back in 2009 at the great Heaven Hill in Kentucky. After 11 years ageing (old for a bourbon), they bottled it at a generous 51% ABV, without any chill-filtration or additional colourings, for a rich, powerful experience. 

Wilderness TRail range

Wilderness Trail Single Barrel Bourbon

This Single Barrel release from Wilderness Trail is made from a mash bill of 64% corn, 24% wheat and 12% malted barley, aged in toasted and charred barrels. It’s also bottled in bond, meaning that, as laid out in the Bottled-in-Bond Act of 1897, it must be aged between five and six years and bottled under the supervision of the U.S. Government at 100 proof, or 50% ABV in British English.

Balcones-Day-Single malt

Balcones Texas Single Malt (cask 17581)

And now for something completely different. This is a single malt whiskey, no corn or rye in sight, but it’s a single malt from the place where everything is bigger. Yes, it’s from Texas, yeh haw! So it’s going to be a bit different from something from Scotland or Japan. It’s also bottled at a mighty 61.1% ABV. Expect massive flavours of toasted oak, Demerara sugar, orange liqueur, roast chestnuts and fried banana. 

new-riff-straight-bourbon-whiskey

New Riff Straight Bourbon

A Kentucky Straight Bourbon from the ever-wonderful New Riff. There’s a fairly generous amount of rye in the mash bill, 65% corn, 30% rye, and 5% malted barley, so expect a good helping of spice alongside the sweeter, buttery notes. It’s aged in toasted and charred new oak barrels before bottling at 50% ABV. Perfect for when you can’t decide between rye and bourbon.

whistlepig-12-year-old-oloroso-cask-old-world-master-of-malt-whiskey

WhistlePig 12 Year Old Oloroso Cask

Another Master of Malt exclusive and another unusually old American whiskey. This is from WhistlePig, the masters of rye whiskey and unusual cask ageing. This 12-year-old bottling was finished in Oloroso sherry casks before bottling at 43% ABV. You get all the spice you want in a rye but it’s been joined by mature notes of dried fruit, leather and tobacco. Simple cocktails like an Old Fashioned suit this best. 

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Top ten gins for 2021

We’ve picked some of our favourite new gins and some classics to drink this summer, with tips on how to enjoy them. So, whether you’re a Martini lover or adore…

We’ve picked some of our favourite new gins and some classics to drink this summer, with tips on how to enjoy them. So, whether you’re a Martini lover or adore a G&T, here are our top ten gins for 2021.

The gin world does not stand still. Every week, we are inundated with great offerings from new producers and new offerings from great producers. It’s an exciting time to be a gin lover. But all that choice can be a bit daunting. So, we’ve rounded up some of our favourite gins both new and classic to enjoy in the sun this summer.

There’s everything here from vibrant Mediterranean-style gins to complex port cask-aged spirits; we’ve included tiny producers and global brands. If it’s delicious and contains juniper, then it’s a contender. So without further ado, here are our top ten gins for 2021.

Top Ten gins for 2021

hyke-gin-very-special-gin

Hyke Very Special Gin

We loved everything from Foxhole Spirits. The team uses leftovers from wine production in their distinctive gins. This gives the base spirit an unmistakable floral character. Combine that with other botanicals including grapefruit and Earl Grey tea and you have a gin of great elegance and smoothness that’s worth treating with a bit of care.

What does it taste like?

A well-rounded, luxurious spirit carries notes of delicate citrus, herbal tea, crisp juniper leading into warming cubeb and ginger spiciness. Perfect Martini gin.

portobello-road-savoury-gin

Portobello Road Savoury Gin

If you like your gin to taste like gin, then you’ll love this latest release from London’s Portobello Road. It majors on the juniper which combined with Calabrian bergamot peel, Seville green gordal olives, rosemary and sea salt produces a deeply dry gin that positively reeks of Mediterranean. It’s the next best thing to going on holiday. Gorgeous bottle too.

What does it taste like?

Powerful juniper, pungent herbs and refreshingly bitter citrus notes. This might be the ultimate G&T gin but it’s a great all-rounder. 

port-barrelled-pink-gin-salcombe-distilling-co-that-boutiquey-gin-company-gin

Port-Barrelled Pink Gin – Salcombe Distilling Co (TBGC)

And now for something completely different. This was produced by Devon’s Salcombe Distilling Company in collaboration with Port house Niepoort and bottled by That Boutique-y Gin Company. The base spirit is a pink gin, steeped with sloes, damsons, rose and orange peel post-distillation. It’s then aged in a cask which once held a 1997 Colheita Port to produce something of great complexity and deliciousness.

How does it taste?

Fragrant and fruity with plum and orange oil. Lovely sipped neat on ice or with fresh raspberries in a seriously fancy G&T.

bathtub-gin

Bathtub Gin

Alongside all the exciting new products, we’ve included a few old favourites like the mighty Bathtub Gin. It’s made with a very high quality copper pot-still spirit infused with ingredients including juniper, orange peel, coriander, cassia, cloves and cardamom to produce a powerful gin with a creamy viscous mouthfeel. 

How does it taste?

The initial focus is juniper, but the earthier botanicals make themselves known in the initial palate too with the most gorgeously thick mouthfeel. Negroni time!

dyfi-original-gin

Dyfi Original Gin

Dyfi gin was set up in Wales by two brothers, Pete Cameron, a farmer and beekeeper, and Danny Cameron, a wine trade professional, in 2016. It took them two years of research and tasting to come up with the recipe which includes bog myrtle, Scots pine tips, lemon peel, coriander, juniper and more. A very special gin. 

How does it taste?

Drying juniper and coriander spiciness, powerful pine notes with a touch of oiliness, bright bursts of citrus keep it fresh and light.

cotswolds-no-2-wildflower-gin

Cotswolds No.2 Wildflower Gin

The Cotswolds Distillery was set up to make whisky but the team began making gin to help with cash flow. And they turned out to be rather good at it. This is based on the distillery’s classic dry gin which is then steeped with botanicals including elderflower and chamomile to create a floral flavoured gin inspired by the wild flowers of the Cotswolds. 

How does it taste? 

Earthy liquorice, a crackle of peppery juniper, softly sweet with candied peels, just a hint of clean eucalyptus lasts. This would make a splendid Tom Collins.

fords-london-dry-gin

Fords Gin

Created by bartender Simon Ford in conjunction with Thames Distillers in London to be the ultimate all-rounder gin. For the botanical selection, they use a varied selection from around the world, including grapefruit peel from Turkey, jasmine from China, angelica from Poland, lemon peel from Spain, as well as juniper from Italy.

What does it taste like?

Herbal rosemary and thyme meet floral heather and juniper, pink peppercorns, and grapefruit pith. Try it in a freezer door Martini

gin-mare-gin

Gin Mare

No, the name is not a reference to the bad dreams you have after a night on the sauce. It’s the Spanish word for sea, pronounced something like ‘mar re’, and it’s another Mediterranean stunner featuring rosemary, thyme, basil with lots of zest, and the start product, arbequina olive. This is the gin of Barcelona. 

What does it taste like?

A fragrant, perfume-like gin majoring, very herbal and aromatic with notes of coriander, juniper and citrus zest. 

dingle-original-gin

Dingle Original Gin

It’s another ‘while we wait for the whiskey’ gin, but it’s no afterthought. Containing rowan berry, fuschia, bog myrtle, hawthorn and heather, this gin from the Dingle Distillery in Kerry won World’s Best Gin at the 2019 World Gin Awards. And when you taste it, you’ll understand why. 

What does it taste like?

Juicy and sweet with authentic summer berry notes, followed by fresh herbs (think mint leaf and fennel).

finders-fruits-of-the-forest-gin

Finders Fruits of the Forest Gin

Made by the the Finders team just outside York in a town that rejoices in the name Barton-le-Willows, this Fruits of the Forest Gin provides a burst of berry sweetness alongside juniper, orange peel, lavender and sage. A fruity, floral treat, which should shine when paired with a Mediterranean tonic.

How does it taste?

Prominent violet and lavender florals, alongside summer berries and leafy sage. Could there be a more perfect gin to make a Bramble?

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Top ten Cognacs for Father’s Day

Cognac makes a wonderful present for awkward fathers. So to help you narrow down the choice, we’ve rounded up some of our favourite bottles, from easy mixers to serious after…

Cognac makes a wonderful present for awkward fathers. So to help you narrow down the choice, we’ve rounded up some of our favourite bottles, from easy mixers to serious after dinner sippers. Here are ten Cognacs for Father’s Day.

Lovers of malt whisky or aged rum should really be exploring the Cognac region. If old sherried single malts like Glenfarclas or Macallan float your boat, then you’ll love long-aged vintage or XO Cognac. If Spanish-style rums are more your thing, then you’ll love some fruity VSOPs. Love cocktails? Well, you’ll need a good VS to make a Sazerac, Horse’s Neck etc.

You don’t need to spend the earth, there’s a Cognac for everyone but if you do want to splash out, there are vintage Cognacs available that make Scotch whisky prices look distinctly silly.

Cognac is usually a blended spirit. Giant merchants houses like Hennessy or Remy Martin buy in spirits and age and blend them. Producers are allowed to sweeten and add boise (oak essence). There are also smaller producers who produce Cognacs from their own vineyards as well as companies that specialise in bottling rare casks of mature Cognac. Most Cognac will come with a designation like VS, VSOP or XO (see below) but there are some rare vintage brandies available. 

The region just north of Bordeaux is divided into six parts: Grand Champagne, Petite Champagne, Borderies, Fin Bois, Bon Bois, Bois Ordinaires. The first two are the most highly-regarded but you can find spirits of real character and style from all the sub-regions. About 90% of grapes grown are Ugni Blanc.

Right, that’s enough information. Without further ado, here are ten cognac for Father’s Day. If your old man doesn’t like one of these, is he even a booze enthusiast?

Here are our top ten Cognacs for Father’s Day

seignette-vs-cognac

Seignette VS

Fun, fruity and a little sweet, this is the perfect mixing Cognac. It’s a revival of an old brand recently relaunched by the Sazerac company. So yes Sazeracs are very much in order with this one, but it also makes a mean Brandy and Soda, and others. VS stands for Very Special and means that it has been aged for a minimum of two years but will contain older spirits. 

chateau-de-montifaud-vsop-petite-champagne-cognac

Château de Montifaud VSOP Petite Champagne

Château de Montifaud has been in the Vallet family for six generations. All their Cognacs come from the Petite Champagne region. The young eaux-de-vie spend a year in new oak before transferring to older casks to mature. This is much older than most VSOP brandies and it shows in its exceptional smoothness and length with lingering notes of apricots, pears and almonds. 

hine-rare-vsop

Hine Rare VSOP 

VSOP stands for Very Special Old Pale and has to be aged for a minimum of four years though Hine prides itself on ageing much longer. It only uses fruit from the Grande and Petite Champagne regions, including grapes from Hine’s own vineyards. This shows off the fruity elegant Hine house style to the max. When you buy a bottle before 20 June 2021 you will be entered into a competition to win a trip to visit Maison Hine! Full details here.

Leyrat vsop-premium-cognac

Leyrat VSOP Reserve

Cognac Leyrat comes from the Domaine de Chez Maillard estate and uses fruit from the Fine Bois region. The family really looks after their vines using no artificial fertilisers etc. and all the grapes are picked by hand. After ageing in French oak for a minimum of four years, there are no additions except water to bring it down to drinking strength. The result is a floral, fresh Cognac that really reflects its origins. 

jean-fillioux-tres-vieux-cognac

Jean Fillioux Très Vieux XO 

This is an XO but it’s much older than the minimum six years. This small house makes some of the most highly-regarded spirits in the region – the Très Vieux took a double gold medal at the San Francisco spirits competition in 2016. Expect orchard fruits with candied peels, spice and Madeira on the nose, with honey, marmalade and spicy oak on the palate. 

delamain-pale-and-dry-xo-cognac

Delamain Pale and Dry XO 

Using only grapes from the Grand Champagne region, Delamain Pale and Dry has long been a favourite, particularly among the British wine trade who appreciated its fragrant, wine-like style. Unusually, for Cognac, it’s bottled with no added sugar or boise, hence why it’s called ‘Pale and Dry’. If you think Cognac is meant to be big and heavy, then think again. This is terribly sophisticated stuff. 

frapin-15-year-old-cask-strength-cognac

Frapin 15 year old cask strength

Though Frapin probably wouldn’t say so, this is aimed at the whisky drinker with its easy-to-understand age statement and its even bottled at cask strength. It’s made only from grapes grown in Grand Champagne, and the resulting eaux-de-vies are aged in both humid and dry cellars, the former for elegance, the latter for bigger flavours. They are then blended together with no additions to create this beauty. 

hermitage-1990-grande-champagne-cognac

Hermitage 1990

Hermitage sniffs out rare parcels of Grand Champagne Cognac including some from the 19th century which are extraordinary experiences with prices to match. This is one of its more affordable offerings and it’s a belter. It’s still in cask so every batch is a little older and better. The nose is all tropical fruits with furniture polish, and then in the mouth there’s that fruit but also marzipan, butterscotch and chocolate. It’s also a bargain – think of what Macallan would charge for a 31 year old whisky. 

martell-cordon-bleu-cognac

Martell Cordon Bleu XO

A multi-award-winning classic from one of the big boys of Cognac. It was originally created by Edouard Martell in 1912. Apparently, the recipe hasn’t changed since then. It’s made up of over 150 eaux-de-vie with the majority coming from one of the lesser known Cognac regions: the Borderies. The result is a rich luxurious Cognac packed full of roasted nuts, chocolate and dried fruits. 

hennessy-xo-cognac

Hennessy XO 

Hennessy is the original XO. The designation meaning Extra Old was first bottled for family and friends by Maurice Hennessy in 1870 before later being used for commercial releases. An XO must be aged for a minimum of six years. Hennessy’s is blended from 100 eaux-de-vie from the Grande and Petite Champagne, Borderies and Fins Bois regions to create a rich and spicy Cognac that would be splendid with a cigar. 

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Top ten malt whiskies for Father’s Day

If your old man is a whisky fan, he’s going to love one of these bottles turning up on his doorstep on Sunday 20 June. In our top ten malt…

If your old man is a whisky fan, he’s going to love one of these bottles turning up on his doorstep on Sunday 20 June. In our top ten malt whiskies for Father’s Day, there’s a bottle for every dad, as long as he likes whisky. 

Father’s Day is coming, and it’s an especially big Father’s Day as some of us haven’t seen our dads for months. In some cases years. 

We know that it can be hard to find gifts for awkward dads. Now, you could send him some socks or a mug that says ‘world’s best dad’ on it. But what we reckon he’ll really enjoy is a nice bottle of whisky. So for all your Father’s Day gifting requirements we’ve picked some of our favourite malt whiskies. 

And we’re not just sticking to Scotland either, we’ve ventured to Ireland, Japan, and even south of the border, to England! Just remember, a whisky isn’t just for Father’s Day, it’s for life, or at least until you’ve finished the bottle.

Here are our to ten malt whiskies for Father’s Day

glenfiddich-15-year-old-solera-whisky

Glenfiddich 15 Solera

Hats off to Glenfiddich, it pretty much invented the modern market for single malt whiskies in the 1960s, when everyone else was betting on blends. It’s so ubiquitous that whisky aficionados often overlook it, which is a shame because the distillery produces some great bottlings. We’re particularly partial to this sherry-soaked 15 year old. 

What does it taste like?

Unmistakable sherry notes on the nose with fruitcake and orange peel, and then on the palate it’s all about candied fruit and raisins. 

balvenie-doublewood-12-year-old-whisky

Balvenie DoubleWood 12 Year Old

Balvenie is Glenffiddich’s shy sibling. While its brother is a global celebrity, Balvenie just gets on quietly turning out some of the best whiskies in Speyside. The DoubleWood is a long time favourite  of ours matured first in refill American oak casks before it was treated to a finish in first fill European oak Oloroso sherry butts for an additional nine months.

What does it taste like?

Perfect blend of bourbon and sherry. Vanilla and nutmeg notes mingle with dried fruit and nuts. A classic. 

bushmills-10-year-old-whiskey

Bushmills 10 Year Old 

Bushmills has been distilling a long time. Since 1784 to be precise though the site’s whiskey heritage stretches back to 1608. Along with Midleton in Cork, it kept the flame burning for Irish whiskey during the dark times turning out delicious triple-distilled single malts. The 10 year old is a great place to start. 

What does it taste like?

Sweet notes like banana and chocolate pudding with plenty of orangey and floral notes, and gorgeous creamy texture. 

caol-ila-12-year-old-that-boutiquey-whisky-company-whisky

Caol Ila 12 Year Old (That Boutique-y Whisky Company) 

We love the classic Caol Ila 12 year old but instead we’ve gone for something a bit different. It’s a special bottling from That Boutique-y Whisky Company, bottled at cask strength and with quite a bit of sherry character which mingles deliciously with the smoke from the whisky. Only 468 bottles have been filled of batch 20 of this whisky.

What does it taste like?

Jammy red berries and rich coffee, with a generous helping of phenolic smoke. Almonds, dates, and yet more sweet peat smokiness. 

cotswolds-single-malt-whisky

Cotswolds Single Malt Whisky

The late Jim Swan consulted for the Cotswold distillery and you can taste it in how they managed to get so much flavour into what is a young whisky. It’s aged ex-bourbon and STR (shaved, toasted and recharred) red wine casks.  Since it was released in 2018, this NAS expression just keeps getting better and better as the distillery builds up its mature blending stock.  

What does it taste like?

The first thing you notice are spicy cereal notes, then comes the fruit, orange peel and lemon. On the palate it’s creamy and round with sweet citrus fruit and black pepper.

highland-park-12-year-old-viking-honour-whisky

Highland Park 12 Year Old – Viking Honour

Once just known as Highland Park 12 Year Old, now it’s called Viking Honour. Fearsome! The whisky, happily, is the same as it ever was with that classic honey, floral and wood smoke profile. The Orkney distillery does things the time-honoured ways with floor maltings, peat, sherry casks and cool climate maturation. If it ain’t broke and all that. 

What does it taste like?

Honey and floral notes abound on the nose with some wood smoke. On the palate it’s peppery with notes of orange and wood shavings. 

seaweed-and-aeons-and-digging-and-fire-and-sherry-casks-and-cask-strength-10-year-old-whisky

Seaweed & Aeons & Digging & Fire & Sherry Casks & Cask Strength 10 Year Old (Batch 01)

Yes, the name is a bit of a mouthful but it’s worth taking the time to pronounce because this is a very special whisky. It’s a 10 year old Islay from an undisclosed distillery, finished in sherry casks and bottled at cask strength. If you like your smoke sherried, then you’re in for a treat. 

What does it taste like?

Coffee beans, madeira cake and chocolate on the nose with seaweed and cigars. Sweet dried fruit on the palate lifted by a smoky sea breeze. 

nikka-coffey-malt-whisky

Nikka Coffey Malt Whisky

In Scotland this would not be allowed to be called a single malt because though it is made from 100% malted barley, it’s distilled  in a Coffey still rather than a pot. A technique usually used for grain whisky. Happily, it’s made in Japan not Scotland at Nikka’s Miyagikyo distillery. It was launched in 2014 and has proved a firm favourite ever since.  

What does it taste like?

There’s toffee, fruitcake, orange and milk chocolate on the nose, and the palate is sweet and spicy with that citrus note keeping it fresh.

masthouse-single-malt-whisky

Masthouse Single Malt

We were very excited to try this first single malt from the Copper Rivet Distillery in Chatham, Kent as we’d tasted some aged new make. It’s fair to say that we were more than impressed as it manages to be vibrant, smooth and packed full of flavour despite only being three years old. It’s made only from Kentish barley, distilled and aged in ex-bourbon and virgin American white oak barrels.

What does it taste like?

The fruit on the nose jumps out of the glass with apple and peaches followed by creamy cereal, sweet spices and vanilla. 

bruichladdich-scottish-barley-the-classic-laddie-whisky

Bruichladdich Scottish Barley – The Classic Laddie

If you think Islay is all about smoke and TCP, then you must try the Classic Laddie. It was created by the great Jim McEwan when Bruichladdich was brought back from the dead in 2001 to showcase the distillery’s unique unpeated style. It’s made from 100% Scottish barley and aged in American oak casks. For those who crave smoke, the distillery also makes peated whisky under the Port Charlotte (quite peaty) and Octomore (very extremely peaty) labels.

What does it taste like?

This is all about elegance with honey, barley and orange blossom joined on the palate by apples with a dusting of cinnamon and brown sugar, all with a faint sea breeze lurking in the background. 

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Top ten: Bottlings to immerse you in the world of rum

From white rums, aged rums and gold rums, to spiced rums, flavoured rums and beyond, there’s a whole world of rum to explore. So, here are our top bottlings to…

From white rums, aged rums and gold rums, to spiced rums, flavoured rums and beyond, there’s a whole world of rum to explore. So, here are our top bottlings to help you get under the skin of this wondrously diverse category.

We love a bit of rum here at MoM Towers. And why not? Whether it’s got a molasses or sugar cane juice base, a fun mixer or a serious sipper, or something completely quirky all together, there’s so much deliciousness to be found in the wide world of rum. And we’re pretty proud of our enormous offering!

That said, it can be a fairly tricky category to navigate. The flavour experience between each style can be vastly different – which can make choosing the perfect bottling for you (or as a gift) a little tricky. So this is why we’ve picked out ten of our favourite bottlings (ok, there’s a tasting set in there, too) to serve as a useful place to start.

Browse on, and bring on the rums Oh, and made a new discovery recently? Let us know in the comments or on social. We’re @masterofmalt everywhere!!  

spiced-rum-tasting-set

Spiced Rum Tasting Set 

So you know you like spiced rums. But even within this rapidly growing and ever-expanding style there are a whole load of discoveries to be made. Which is why we put together this fabulous tasting set! You’ll get 30ml tasters of five different expressions from an array of different producers. Sip, mix, and be [responsibly] merry!

eminente-reserva-7-year-old-rum

Eminente Reserva 7 Year Old

Aged rum more your thing? You’ll be in super safe hands with this seven year old expression, which hails all the way from Cuba. It’s big, round and mouth-filling, with notes like tobacco and coffee adding depth to the fruity sweetness. A great one for springtime sipping, or why not try it in a Rum Old Fashioned?

the-duppy-share-caribbean-rum

The Duppy Share 

Did you know that Duppies are the mischievous spirits said to travel from island to island across the Caribbean, pinching their share of the ageing rum reserves? That’s what this brand pays homage to with its blend of five year old bourbon-barrel-matured rum from Barbados, and Jamaican three year old liquid!

tidal-rum

Tidal Rum 

Reckon flavoured rums are only ever sweet? Think again! Tidal Rum brings together a blend of rums from Jamaica, Barbados, Trinidad and the Dominican Republic, with oak-smoked dulse seaweed from Jersey! It’s a green, herbal, slightly vegetal rum with a wisp of smoke running through it – just divine!

project-173-chocolate-rum

Project #173 Chocolate Rum

But if sweeter flavoured rums are your thing, you won’t be disappointed with Project #173 Black Chocolate! It’s tangy, vibrant, and bursting with authentic chocolate notes. Possibly most delicious with cola, this expression also works over ice as a sipper. We also reckon a splash over ice cream would make the most decadent dessert…

el-destilado-rum

El Destilado Rum 

Like your rums on the grassier side? This is a bottling you’ll want in your collection. Hailing from Mexico, El Destilado is made using raw sugar cane juice that’s been wild fermented for all kinds of lush, green notes. The label tells you everything you could ever want to know about the spirit you’re drinking – we love the transparency. And the rum!

o-reizinho-3-year-old-that-boutiquey-rum-company-rum

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

And if you’re after the vegetal vibes of sugar cane juice rums and a cask influence, we recommend you check out Madeira’s O Reizinho’s 3 Year Old! This is full of fabulous funk (green olive and banana) plus the vanilla and treacle notes associated with cask ageing. Both irresistibly delicious and fabulously fun.

discarded-banana-peel-rum-70cl-rum

Discarded Banana Peel Rum

Like your rum to be tasty and do good? Step forward Discarded Banana Peel Rum! Its creators have taken an aged Caribbean rum and then infused it for a fortnight with banana peel. Here’s the good bit: the peel comes from a flavour house that would otherwise have chucked it away! Hurrah for sustainable sourcing. 

el-dorado-3-year-old-white-rum

El Dorado 3 Year Old White Rum

Did you know that lots of producers will sometimes age their spirits and then filter out the colour? This is how El Dorado 3 Year Old was made! The result? An award-winning sipper that combines the citrus, icing sugar and fruity notes of molasses rum with subtle coconut, vanilla notes of oak ageing. Win-win!

east-london-liquor-co-rarer-rum

East London Liquor Co. Rarer Rum

We love rum. We also love puns. East London Liquor Company has brought the two together with its Rarer Rum. How so? ‘Rare’ as in ‘Demerara’, its base! This Guyana-made beauty was distilled in the world’s last remaining wooden Coffey still, and was then matured in ex-bourbon barrels. Delicious indeed.

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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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