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Master of Malt Blog

Tag: whiskey

World spirits: fabulous flavours from far off lands

This week, we’re gathering a whole host of delicious spirits from all over the globe, so you can get a taste of far flung lands and intriguing botanicals wherever you…

This week, we’re gathering a whole host of delicious spirits from all over the globe, so you can get a taste of far flung lands and intriguing botanicals wherever you are!

Travelling the world is fun. This is something we generally all agree on. However, quite frankly we just don’t have time to visit each and every continent and try the local boozy delicacies, however much we’d like to. Enter our fabulous compilation of spirits from many lands, including gin, rum and whisk(e)y! We’ve gathered this wonderful selection to tickle your tastebuds and transport you to all corners of the globe, all without leaving the safety of your sofa. Because sofas are nice, and sometimes they have cats on them, and cats are always a good thing. Anyhow, we digress. Onto the spirits!

Angostura 7 Year Old

Where’s it from?

Trinidad and Tobago

What is it?

A classic, tasty molasses-based rum from the Angostura company, produced in a continuous still. The liquid is aged in bourbon barrels for seven years before it’s filtered. The ideal dark rum for whacking into a cocktail, be it a Mai Tai, Daiquiri or even a Rum Old Fashioned! If you fancy it neat, definitely serve this one with a good wedge of juicy orange to balance the richer creamy notes.

What does it taste like?

Bittersweet dark chocolate balanced by cinnamon, burnt caramel, mocha, creamy crème brûlée, vanilla fudge and a hit of spice on the finish.

St Germain Elderflower Liqueur

Where’s it from?

France

What is it?

An iconic elderflower liqueur made with fresh elderflowers hand-harvested only once a year, for a few weeks in the late spring. Each bottle contains around 1,000 elderflower blossoms! The flowers are macerated, and the infusion is then strained and blended with eau-de-vie de vin, water, sugar, and neutral grain spirit. Splash it in a glass of Prosecco for a floral fizzy treat.

What does it taste like?

Sweet and floral notes of elderflower (of course), supported by lychee, tart lemon, a hint of buttery sweetness and a lengthy elderflower-filled finish.

Nikka Whisky From The Barrel

Where’s it from?

Japan

What is it?

An incredibly delicious, award-winning blended whisky from Nikka! It marries single malt and grain whiskies from the Miyagikyo and coastal Yoichi distilleries. The liquid is aged in a massive range of casks, including bourbon barrels, sherry butts and refill hogsheads.

What does it taste like?

Full of chai spice, buttery caramel and vanilla cream, with sweet cereal notes, raspberry, orange peel and drying oak spice alongside a spicy, warming finish.

Basil Hayden’s

Where’s it from?

Kentucky, America

What is it?

Distilled in Clermont, Kentucky, Basil Hayden’s Bourbon really was created by master distiller Basil Hayden himself, all the way back in 1796. He added rye into a traditional corn-based mashbill, and this innovative risk certainly paid off. The sweetness of corn balances brilliantly with the spiciness of rye, making for a brilliant Whiskey Bramble.

What does it taste like?

Fairly light and spicy, with vanilla and honey balanced by pepper and peppermint, with corn and dark berries on the finish.

Le Tribute Gin

Where’s it from?

Barcelona, Spain

What is it?

From the family-run distillery in Vilanova, a tiny fishing village close to Barcelona comes Le Tribute Gin. It’s a tribute (shocker) to the pioneers, processes and the heritage behind the spirit, and is inspired by the distillery’s history. There are seven botanicals, all distilled separately: juniper, lime, kumquat, lemon, pink and green grapefruit, tangerine, cardamom, bitter and sweet oranges and lemons, and the seventh is lemongrass. Wow, that was a lot. All are distilled in wheat spirit except lemongrass, where water is used in place of spirit to maintain freshness. 

What does it taste like?

Citrus and sherbet sweets, with an amalgamation of vibrant and loud fresh fruity notes. Juniper takes something of a backseat, but still plays a major role here.

Konik’s Tail Vodka

Where’s it from?

Poland

What is it?

It’s 20 years in the making and the vision of one man, Pleurat Shabani, who single-handedly harvests and bottles the vodka himself. Inspired by the elusive Polish Konik horses which, if they are spotted, will promise a good harvest (according to Polish superstition). Shabani had plenty of setbacks and harsh nights sleeping rough, but found a sense of purpose after buying a one-way ticket to escape the conflicts back home in Croatia. Determined to create something people would appreciate, he chose three grains to create this delicious vodka, Spelt (the happy grain), Rye (the dancing grain) and wheat (the smiling grain) – suggesting that the aim in life is to laugh, dance and smile.

What does it taste like?

Nutty, with burnt black pepper, spice and a sweet finish.

Lot 40 Rye Whisky

Where’s it from?

Canada

What is it?

A no-age statement rye whisky from Lot 40. The expression is in fact a revival of a whisky from the 1990s, and is named for the plot of land which used to belong to Joshua Booth, grandfather of the now-retired master distiller, Mike Booth, who created the whisky. In the 2000s, the expression was discontinued, but luckily it returned to us! The mashbill is 90% rye and 10% malted rye, so you can be sure this is sufficiently spicy.

What does it taste like?

A gentle floral start builds into all of those warming spicy notes, with black pepper, cardamom and oak spice, followed by roasted coffee bean and brown sugar on a finish of cigar box. 

 

Dancing Sands Dry Gin

Where’s it from?

Takaka, New Zealand

What is it?

This is the flagship gin from the Dancing Sands Distillery! The brainchild of husband and wife duo Ben and Sarah Bonoma, the gin takes eight hand-crushed botanicals, including manuka, almond, cardamom and liquorice, which are vapour infused. After it’s blended with water sourced from the Dancing Sands Spring over in Golden Bay, which the founders refer to as the ninth botanical, the spirit is bottled. The colours on the bottle represent each of the different botanicals. It also just looks amazing. 

What does it taste like?

Juniper straight away, followed by delicately floral manuka, warming cardamom and a subtle hint of chocolate, creamy nuttiness and a spicy peppery finish. 

Westerhall No.10 

Where’s it from?

Grenada, Caribbean

What is it?

Westerhall No.10 is, would you believe it, a 10 year old rum from the Westerhall Estate! We did not see that one coming. The estate is located on what’s called the ‘Spice Isle’ of Grenada, and this is certainly reflected in its flavour profile. If you happen to get your hands on any, try it with fresh coconut juice for a more local serve.

What does it taste like?

Spiced apple, waxy honey and rich maple syrup, creamy oak and fudge. 

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Jigger Beaker Glass bartender roadshow returns

Jigger Beaker Glass returns with a wealth of industry luminaries to explore the themes of creativity, hospitality and productivity – a.k.a. the holy trinity of bartending. We get the lowdown…

Jigger Beaker Glass returns with a wealth of industry luminaries to explore the themes of creativity, hospitality and productivity – a.k.a. the holy trinity of bartending. We get the lowdown from Rebecca Sides, London and South UK trade ambassador for Bacardi Brown Forman Brands…

The third instalment of Bacardi Brown Forman Brands’ bartender education roadshow Jigger Beaker Glass is very much upon us, and don’t quote us, but it might be the best one yet. Loaded with thought-provoking presentations, interactive sessions and the wise words of a few bonafide bartending legends, the UK-wide tour will make eight pit stops in total across the likes of Edinburgh, Bristol and beyond, beginning in Liverpool on 18 June and concluding in London, Leeds and Belfast in early 2020.

For the unacquainted, the annual roadshow has three core pillars – Jigger, which focuses on skills; Beaker, which covers innovation; and Glass, which shines a light on drink-making. Marking a departure from previous years, for 2019’s event the distinct disciplines have been split across three individual rooms to make the whole thing a little more immersive.

Rebecca Sides

Rebecca Sides in action

So, who’s on the roster? Joe Schofield – formerly of the Tippling Club and The American Bar at The Savoy – will be taking ‘creativity’; Paul Johnson, formerly of Annabel’s and Chiltern Firehouse, is the ‘hospitality’ wizard, and both Joe Stokoe, founder of Heads, Hearts & Tails, and Joseph Hall, of Satan’s Whiskers, will be channelling ‘productivity’.

As the tour gets well and truly underway, we chatted with Rebecca Sides, London and South UK trade ambassador for Bacardi Brown Forman Brands, to glean a few tips, tricks and takeaways about each theme. Here’s what we learned…

Master of Malt: What are the key tools or traits an ambitious bartender should possess if they want a career in the industry, whether by opening their own bar, becoming a brand ambassador, or simply being known for their creativity or progressive work?

Rebecca Sides: The wonderful thing about hospitality is that it’s an ever-evolving field, and so there’s always something to learn. You see time and time again that those who move fastest or furthest are those who are humble and curious; constantly striving, pushing themselves, self-disciplined and self-motivated. 

You need strong arms to be a bartender

MoM: As part of the Jigger Beaker Glass 3.0 tour, the Bacardi Brown Forman Brands advocacy team will ‘explore the theory behind the complex world of creativity’. Could you share some tips for unlocking creative potential behind the bar?

RS: As bartenders we don’t tend to work to the usual business hours – which is a good thing! The number one tip for harnessing your creativity is identifying your most creative time. We tend to not listen to our inner clock, but planning a creative session between a meeting and a delivery just because you have that hour free doesn’t really work and won’t result in the best ideas. Figure out when it is, use that time wisely, build your day around it and use the rest of your time for easy tasks.

MoM: There’s also a focus this year on enhancing hospitality for guests outside of direct interactions with them. Could you talk about some of the tips the Bacardi Brown Forman Brands advocacy team will share and how they reflect the ways in which bars are changing?

RS: Good hospitality meets the needs that they articulate; great hospitality anticipates those needs before they are articulated; and the best hospitality anticipates needs that guests are not even aware of. The key is knowing your guest, which is sometimes easier said than done. Without giving too much away, the session takes a pretty scientific approach to how we can engineer atmospheric hospitality. Did you know 75% of the emotions we generate on a daily basis are affected by smell? Or that there are four parts of the brain that interact with music? This knowledge is key to understanding your guests needs.

Tattoos help too

MoM: Finally, the roadshow will delve into the history, science and psychology of productivity. Could you share some pointers on staying focused and keeping your finger on the pulse in the bar industry?

RS: Staying focused and off Instagram is a constant battle, but did you know that battle is much easier to fight at the start of your working day than at the end? When we have a task to do, we’re often told to just “get it out of the way” and there’s some real science to that. We’ll learn in this session how willpower is a muscle to be trained. For now, the biggest tip to being productive is to start with your hardest task and end on the easiest or most rewarding.

 

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5 reasons why you should try a kegged cocktail

Kegged cocktails, draught cocktails, taptails or simply ‘cocktails on tap’; whatever you want to call them, pre-batched carbonated serves are slowly commandeering bar space where beer taps once dominated. If…

Kegged cocktails, draught cocktails, taptails or simply ‘cocktails on tap’; whatever you want to call them, pre-batched carbonated serves are slowly commandeering bar space where beer taps once dominated. If regular old cocktails really aren’t your bag, here are five very good reasons to consider ordering your next tipple on tap…

“We sat down with Jack Daniel’s about four years ago and said, ‘we’ve got this crazy idea, we want to take a Jack Daniel’s and Coke and put it into a keg and serve it like an Espresso Martini through nitro’,” explains Robin Honhold, head of operations at Mr Lyan and author of the Nitro Legacy Handbook. “They said, ‘that sounds like fun, let’s do it’.”

Tennessee Nitro Martini small

Simply everyone’s drinking the Tennessee Nitro Martini these days

Initially, Team Lyan “literally took a fridge, drilled a hole out the side of it and put some kegs inside”, he says, but the project soon transformed into a full beer system – with the help of “a few real science-y people” – and then eventually into a portable trolley that quite literally toured Europe. Now, the team is sharing the knowledge they picked up along the way with the launch of the Nitro Legacy Handbook; a guide to draught cocktails created by bartenders, for bartenders.

“All the learning we’ve done from, essentially, a standing start has been in conjunction with Jack Daniel’s,” Honhold continues, “they supported us in creating that knowledge in the first place, so we thought it was best to share it with the rest of the [bartending] community by putting it into a book. It should benefit all of us and benefit our customers as well.”

We’re all about bang for buck at MoM Towers, so we waded through the technicalities and fancy jargon in the Jack Daniel’s x Mr Lyan Nitro Legacy Handbook to ascertain whether kegged cocktails really are all they’re cracked up to be. Here’s what we learned…

Jack Daniels

Jack Daniel’s, that’s the stuff

  1. They’re served quickly

If you’re usually of the “I’ll just have a pint, cocktails take too long” school of thought, kegged cocktails might be the solution you’re looking for. When you consider the preparation time for your average cocktail – with all the measuring, pouring, shaking, straining and garnish-arranging – the draught variety is said to be twice as speedy, if not three or four times quicker than a super intricate and exacting drink. It’s literally as simple as pour, garnish and go.

  1. They’re sustainable

It might not seem like it at times, but your local bartender isn’t actually a wizard. They’re only human, and as such, make regular human mistakes, like grabbing the wrong glass or shaking a cocktail that’s meant to be stirred. Unfortunately, blunders like these result in waste, and lots of it. When it comes to kegged cocktails, the mix is pre-batched, so not a single drop will go to waste. Bonus points if the bar has already done away with straws, too.

  1. They’re consistent

There’s nothing worse than sinking a fantastic drink in a bar, only to be disappointed later down the line when a different member of staff makes it (and goes a little OTT with the simple syrup). Consistency really is king, and this is where the taptail shines. Since the ingredients were carefully measured out in the sanctity of a closed bar, there’s no room for error when the team are unexpectedly slammed on a Tuesday night.

  1. They’re interesting

Let’s be honest, designing a taptail recipe is a seriously advanced bar flex. As well as making a cocktail that, y’know, people actually want to drink, there are a bunch of really crucial scientific elements to consider, like how the alcohol and sugar within the drink will interact with the gas and evolve the flavour over time. You can’t just whack a classic cocktail in a keg, charge it with nitrogen and expect it to taste nice. Speaking of…

  1. They taste delicious

Whatever the serve – be it the Lyan Tennessee Nitro Martini or something even more madcap – you can order a kegged cocktail safe in the knowledge that the recipe has been tweaked and fine-tuned to within an inch of its life. If the bar you’re frequenting has gone to the expense and effort of installing cocktails on tap, rest assured they care enough to make that drink as perfect as possible by the time it reaches your lips. All you need to do is sit back and enjoy it.

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Redbreast’s new 20 year old Dream Cask is PX sherry heaven

Well, Irish Distillers told us “Something special was coming soon. . .” in a mysterious video released this week. Then a package arrived at MoM towers that explained everything. It…

Well, Irish Distillers told us “Something special was coming soon. . .” in a mysterious video released this week. Then a package arrived at MoM towers that explained everything. It was something special indeed, the new limited edition 20 year old Redbreast Dream Pedro Ximénez Edition! Here’s the full story.

To celebrate World Whisky Day (that’s today!), Irish Distillers have released a whiskey that has been over 20 years in the making. It’s drawn from a single Pedro Ximénez butt where four different single pot still whiskeys from the Midleton Distillery have been marrying. The first component was distilled in 1998 matured in an ex-bourbon barrel and re-casked into a Pedro Ximénez sherry butt in 2012; the second was distilled in 1995, matured in an ex-bourbon cask and re-casked into an oloroso sherry butt in 2012; the third was distilled in 1985 and matured in a second-fill ex-bourbon barrel; and the final component was distilled in 1997 and matured in a second-fill ex-bourbon barrel. After marrying, the whiskey was bottled at 52.2% ABV and only 924 50cl bottles will be released.

From left, Dave McCabe and Billy Leighton

We were lucky to try a sample: as you’d expect the flavour it’s a symphony of dried fruit with that pot still spice and creamy texture (full tasting notes below.) The casks were chosen by master blender, Billy Leighton, in collaboration with blender, Dave McCabe. Billy Leighton said: “Rather than try to seek out another extraordinary cask from the Midleton inventory like the inaugural Redbreast Dream Cask, we set out to create a new Redbreast Irish whiskey like you have never tasted before. The coming together of three exceptional casks, originally destined for Redbreast 21, and a rare Pedro Ximénez butt is a first for Midleton, and the careful balance of sweet, spice and sherry flavours offers a new and complex take on the classic Redbreast Christmas cake flavour profile – it’s sure to add an extra cheer to your World Whisky Day celebrations this year!”

‘Right! where do I sign?’ we hear you say. Well, not so fast. This very special Redbreast retailing at 380 is only available from the Redbreast online members’ club, The Birdhouse, from 3pm on Monday 27th May. We hope that Irish Distillers have some top IT people on standby because we expect the site to crash with the demand. Last year’s 32 year old Dream Cask sold out in six hours!

Redbreast Dreamcask

Look at the colour on that!

Tasting notes by The Chaps at Master of Malt:

Nose: Like you’ve died and gone to PX heaven: malt extract, molasses, rum, toffee, raisins  and marmalade.

Palate: Very full-textured and rich, dates, dark chocolate, and coffee. Plus rum and raisin ice cream. Yummy! That high ABV keeps it all together with a peppery bite.

Finish: Orange peel, honey and walnuts, sweet and lingering

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