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Master of Malt Blog

Tag: whisky advent

Whisky Advent 2021 Days 4, 5, 6 and 7

We’re back to peek behind the windows of our Drinks by the Dram Whisky Advent Calendar and feast on the delicious drinks inside. How’s everyone enjoying their Advent? By now…

We’re back to peek behind the windows of our Drinks by the Dram Whisky Advent Calendar and feast on the delicious drinks inside.

How’s everyone enjoying their Advent? By now you’ll have enjoyed a week of whisky surprises, with drams from Speyside, Islay, the Highlands, and even Finland lying behind each window of your calendars. This time we’ve got a hot newcomer and some criminally underrated distilleries providing us with a selection of welcome winter warmers. We’re even going to use one of them to make a cracking Old Fashioned.

So, let’s get to it and see what you’re drinking. Oh, and don’t be afraid to pick up a Drinks by the Dram Whisky Advent Calendar if you don’t have one yet, there’s plenty of time to catch up. 

Whisky Advent 2021 Days

Day 4: Glengoyne 12 Year Old

Glengoyne is a relentlessly reliable distillery home to rich and rewarding drams thanks to its insistence on long fermentation and slow distillation that maximises copper interaction and reflux to produce a gentle, sweet, and fruity spirit that’s elevated by hand-selected sherry casks. The 12 Year Old is so sophisticated for its age and makes a great Old Fashioned, as you’ll see very soon…

What does it taste like?

Toffee apples, a little acacia honey, nectarine in syrup and spice, vanilla, and coconut milk supported by toasted barley in the background.

Whisky Advent 2021 Days

Day 5: Nc’nean Organic Single Malt Whisky – Batch 7

One of Scotland’s most impressive new distilleries, Nc’nean’s considered process has led to some delightful first releases, from its gentle fermentation and distillation right down to the 100% recycled glass bottles. A combination of STR (shaved, toasted, and re-charred) red wine casks and bourbon casks enhance its fruity spirit, creating a vibrant tipple that really holds its own despite its young age.

What does it taste like?

Honeycomb, waxy peels, almond, strawberry jam on rye toast leading into a spicy hint of ginger and peppercorn.

Whisky Advent 2021 Days

Day 6: Tamdhu 12 Year Old

The fabulous Tamdhu doesn’t get anywhere near enough attention for our liking, but fans of the distillery know how much it has mastered the art of sherry-matured whisky. This particular expression was aged exclusively in a combination of first-fill and refill Oloroso sherry casks for 12 years, giving it oodles of fruit and spice. 

What does it taste like?

Orange Starburst, plum, juicy raisin, chocolate fudge, cinnamon swirls, and toasted oak, along with some mint chocolate.

Whisky Advent 2021 Days

Day 7: Singleton of Dufftown 15

Dufftown does easy-drinking and elegant whisky seriously well and this is one of its most quaffable releases. Matured in a mix of European and American oak casks, Singleton of Dufftown 15 has a beautiful balance of sweetness and spice.

What does it taste like?

Conference pears, green apple skin, golden syrup, and vanilla lead into a spicy, dry finish.

Whisky Advent 2021 Days

Old Fashioned with Glengoyne 12 Year Old

It’s one of the world’s simplest and oldest cocktails. If you’ve already finished your Glengoyne 12 Year Old then never fear as you can use any whisky. Click here for more Old Fashioned ideas.

30ml Glengoyne 12 Year Old or any whisky you fancy
1/4 teaspoon brown sugar (or more if you like it sweeter)
1 teaspoon hot water
1 dash Angostura Bitters

In a tumbler add the sugar, bitters, and hot water. Stir vigorously until most of the sugar has dissolved. Add half the whisky, keep stirring until there is no graininess left. Now add three or four big cubes of ice and stir. Finally, add the rest of the whisky, stir some more, and serve with a maraschino cherry. 

That’s all, folks. Your next Advent update will be on 10 December. See you then!

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Whisky Advent 2020 Day #24: Balvenie 14 Year Old – The Week of Peat

It’s Christmas Eve! But also, sadly, the last day of #WhiskyAdvent. One door closes, another opens and all that. But today we’re mainly opening doors, specifically #24. For our final…

It’s Christmas Eve! But also, sadly, the last day of #WhiskyAdvent. One door closes, another opens and all that. But today we’re mainly opening doors, specifically #24. For our final whisky of the countdown, we’ve got a rather unique smoky Speysider… It’s Balvenie 14 Year Old – The Week of Peat!

Back in 2019, Balvenie released The Balvenie Stories range, a trio of whiskies crafted to tell tales of the distillery’s history to its drinkers. The Week of Peat was one of such three, and is actually based on The Balvenie Peat Week Aged 14 Year Old, which was launched in 2017. So, what’s the story? A peated Speysider isn’t something you see every day, so you know it’s going to be a good one…

Cast your minds back to 2002. The very first film instalment of Spider-Man (and arguably the best – Tobey Maguire reigns the arthropod king, and I will take this outside) had just been released, and Balvenie distillery manager at the time Ian Millar had found a rare gap in the distillery’s production schedule. There was a whole week free! So, he decided to give drying barley with peat a go. Why not, eh? There’s a first time for everything, and it certainly wasn’t the last. This smoky dram was inspired by the fruits of that experimental week, with classic Balvenie florals and butterscotch supported by a delicate layer of smoke. But don’t take our word for it, we’ve got Balvenie’s global brand ambassador Gemma Patterson on hand to tell us all about it! 

whisky advent balvenie week of peat

It’s Gemma Patterson!

Master of Malt: Tell us about the history of The Week of Peat releases!

Gemma Patterson: The Week of Peat started back in 2002 when we cleared the production schedule for a week at Balvenie and ran a heavily peated batch of malt through the distillery. This is a tradition that continued and we have maintained an annual Peaty Week ever since. Ian Millar, distillery manager at the time was the brains behind the operation, he inspired a number of trials that ran through The Balvenie maltings in the years leading up to the first full week of peat. It was maltman/poet/songwriter Robbie Gormley who was responsible for experimenting with the malt, using Highland-grown barley that had been peated to around 28PPM. Brian Webster, mashman/raconteur, was responsible for milling, mashing, and fermenting the stuff and he lovingly refers to this variant as “that stinkin’ stuff!”. In the end, after 14 years resting in an American oak bourbon barrel the peat has mellowed to around 5PPM. The dram is still characteristically Balvenie with smooth honey undertones, only laced with a wisp of peat. Oh, and it is bottled at 48.3% ABV so it has a nice kick to it. I like to add a wee splash of water to this one. If you want to hear more from the people who made this whisky then head here and have a listen to our podcast.

whisky advent 2020 balvenie

MoM: What’s your favourite way to drink Balvenie?

GP: It depends on the dram, hand me a Caribbean Cask and I love a wee splash of water with it. If you’re generous enough to pour me a PortWood then I would sip this one slowly neat.

MoM: Has there been a Balvenie highlight of 2020?

GP: The highlight of 2020 was launching the next variant in our Stories Series, The Edge of Burnhead Wood. We did this virtually via Zoom, Teams, and live distillery tours. This involved connecting with our Balvenie families across the world, from our local ambassadors, the distillery team, and malt master David C. Stewart MBE from his home in Glasgow. Like the rest of the world, we’ve had a lot of ups and downs over the course of the year getting to grips with new technology and different ways to communicate, but overall it has been an enjoyable journey, keeping connected has been incredibly important for us all to keep sane. One day we may show you our blooper reels…

MoM: It’s Christmas Eve, and you’re sitting down with a Balvenie dram. Which one is it?

GP: The Week of Peat of course! You can’t beat a wee smoky dram in front of the fire at this time of year. 

MoM: Do you have a go-to Christmas cocktail?

GP: I’m going to experiment with making a Balvenie Caribbean Cask Eggnog, let’s see how that turns out…

whisky advent 2020 balvenie

Tasting note by The Chaps at Master of Malt:

Nose: Gentle sweet peat smoke, lighter floral notes and delicate butterscotch honey

Palate: Velvety and round to taste with the peat smoke balancing citrus flavours, oaky vanilla and blossom honey

Finish: Gentle smoke with a lingering and creamy vanilla sweetness.

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Whisky Advent 2020 Day #23: The Perspective Series 21 Year Old – Berry Bros. & Rudd

Are you giddy with festive glee? Because there’s just two more sleeps until Christmas! This calls for a dram. Luckily there’s a particularly excellent one behind window #23… It’s Christmas…

Are you giddy with festive glee? Because there’s just two more sleeps until Christmas! This calls for a dram. Luckily there’s a particularly excellent one behind window #23…

It’s Christmas Eve Eve (definitely a thing) and we’re so close to the big day you can almost smell it. And taste it. And hear it. Man, Christmas is a feast for the senses, isn’t it? But outside of all the food, songs and other festivities, there’s another tradition that whisky lovers get to enjoy, for a couple of more days at least, and that’s finding out what their Whisky Advent Calendar has in store for them. Behind today’s window is…

The Perspective Series 21 Year Old – Berry Bros. & Rudd!

There are only a couple more drams left in the Whisky Advent Calendar so naturally, our friends at Drinks by the Dram wanted to take things up a notch, which it certainly has done here. We’re big fans of this range, so much so we wrote a whole blog about it. And you know who else is a fan? Berry Bros. & Rudd assistant reserve spirits manager Jonny McMillan, who kindly agreed to tell us more about the brand and dram!

The Perspective Series 21 Year Old - Berry Bros. & Rudd

Merry Christmas Jonny McMillan!

Master of Malt: Berry Bros. & Rudd has a pretty storied history. Can you share a little tale from the brand’s past…

Jonny McMillan: For me, the best stories are those implied by the artefacts we have lying around in No.3 St James’s. We have some old ‘vest pocket price lists’ showing that in 1907 we were selling our own bottlings of 1885 Talisker!  Legend has it that these casks were kept in the cellars of St James’s and were bottled steadily as customers ordered them, but they seem to have been available for at least 3 years so I like to think perhaps we had a large stock of them, bought by some intrepid spirits buyer who made an expedition up to Skye to secure some casks from the wild Gaelic distillers! On the same list, we have 1897 Macallan, which was available by the gallon for 25 shillings…

MoM: What fun things have happened in the world of Berry Bros. & Rudd in 2020?

JM: Like most other whisky companies we’ve had to embrace the world of online tastings via Zoom and Streamyard etc… I must admit that at first I was pretty sceptical about how the comradery inherent in a physical tasting session can translate to a digital platform, but I’ve been pleasantly surprised at how much I’ve enjoyed tasting whisky with people on the other side of the planet.  Though, the time difference when hosting a tasting in Australia can be a challenge – it took true stoicism for the greater good of whisky to stick my nose in a glass of Caol Ila at 0730 GMT.

The Perspective Series 21 Year Old - Berry Bros. & Rudd

In the Berry Bros. & Rudd vaults, there’s all kinds of fascinating boozy history

MoM: What trends or developments do you think we’ll see in the world of whisky in 2021?

JM: I suspect the trend for online tastings will continue, ultimately I think a lot of people enjoy the ease and comfort of being able to taste drams in their own home while also getting expert advice via a live stream – it can be a better environment to really analyse a whisky too rather than a loud, beer charged tasting room. Beyond online tastings, I think the new distillers experimenting with different yeasts and barleys are going to start having more mature stock in the next couple of years, most of these being from outside of Scotland – the results from these casks could really shake things up.

MoM: What did you try to achieve with The Perspective Series and how was it received?

JM: There’s really nowhere better to enjoy a dram than in the great rugged wilderness of the Scottish Highlands, but alas we can’t take all our customers out to sip 40 year old whisky in Glencoe, so we opted to work with acclaimed landscape photographer Lindsay Robertson instead. We gave him samples of some glorious aged blends we’d be developing and asked him to pair them with photos of Scotland at her most majestic, and I think some of the images he chose work perfectly. The image of the beautifully desolate Sandalwood Bay up in Sutherland works wonderfully with the understated elegance of the 21-year-old.

MoM: What will you be drinking this Christmas?

A magnum of Berry’s Good Ordinary Claret… I might even share it.

The Perspective Series 21 Year Old - Berry Bros. & Rudd

The Perspective Series 21 Year Old – Berry Bros. & Rudd Tasting Note:

Nose: Sherried dried fruits, rich chocolate and a hint of leather, with a generous helping of baking spices.

Palate: Creamy vanilla builds into distinct oaky tones, alongside both fresh orchard fruit and dried fruit with a drizzle of honey.

Finish: Creamy notes continue into a lengthy finish with a hint of tannic oak and sherry.

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Whisky Advent 2020 Day #22: Isle of Jura 18 Year Old

Just three sleeps until Christmas! By this point you really should have got that shopping sorted, food procured, and drinks menu planned. So kick back with a dram of something…

Just three sleeps until Christmas! By this point you really should have got that shopping sorted, food procured, and drinks menu planned. So kick back with a dram of something delicious! And right on cue, here to chat us through today’s Drinks by the Dram Whisky Advent Calendar tipple is Jura distillery manager, Graham Logan.

Ok, ok, that introduction may have been a tad optimistic. If, like many of us here at MoM Towers, you’re still in the panic zone, fret not! We’ve got all kinds of last-minute gifts to sort you out (think, gift vouchers, Pour & Sip subscriptions… all is not lost!).

With that in hand, now you really can sit back with a dram! And today’s whisky is a good one. It started life on the Isle of Jura, a picturesque island off Scotland’s west coast, and was aged for a whopping 18 years! No guessing needed today, it’s Isle of Jura 18 Year Old!

Time to find out more about this dreamy drop with Jura distillery manager, Graham Logan.

Whisky Advent 2020 Day #22: Isle of Jura 18 Year Old

Meet Graham Logan, Jura distillery manager!

Master of Malt: Jura is a stunning island. Tell us about what makes it special for you…

Graham Logan: Many things make Jura for me. The first is my wife, who I met on my first foray to the pub 33 years ago after being on the island for 12 hours. Then there’s the scenery, the wildlife, the remoteness, the community, my second job as a crofter (or a small farm) where I have two cows, eight sheep, and a goat, and my third job as a volunteer firefighter. If I hadn’t been a distiller, I would have been a firefighter. Also, the distillery staff. Who make my job a dream job.

MoM: How does its remote setting impact whisky-making on Jura?

GL: Jura distillery brings everything in and out via two ferries. Malted barley, yeast, casks, spare parts, and boiler oil in; and sending out spirit, spent grains and filled casks. That means we have to keep a stock of everything required, and if ferries go off to bad weather we can keep going. It usually means all the cows on Jura are happy as they get free draff (spent grains).

Whisky Advent 2020 Day #22: Isle of Jura 18 Year Old

The distillery is located on a beautiful, remote island

MoM: How would you describe the Jura distillery character?

GL: Jura has really tall stills. The wash stills are 26ft 1in (7.95 metres), and the spirit stills are 25ft 4in (7.72m) tall with the Lyne arms slowly rising to the condensers. As they are so tall only the lightest spirit vapours reach the condenser, and as we have so much copper in the still neck, the copper helps with reflux (or redistillation). All the heavy vapours that don’t get to the top of the still fall back down, and get re-distilled when they meet the new vapours that are rising. This makes your spirit strength slightly stronger and lighter in character with floral/cereal notes.

MoM: Jura 18 Year Old is today’s dram! Can you tell us how it was made?

GL: As I have been at Jura for 29 years, I have very much had a hand in making this. I was a mash and still operator for 24 years! All Jura spirit is made the same way, and is filled into first-fill ex-bourbon casks, even the peated spirit which gives the 18 Year Old a subtle smoke finish. Then the spirit is finished in a premier cru classe red wine cask for 18-24 months. It’s a beautiful dram with pear, marzipan, tropical fruits and baked apple on the nose, and vanilla, coffee, ginger syrup and black forest fruits to taste. A real Christmas winter warmer.

MoM: Money and availability no object, what would be your dream Christmas dram?

The distillery team had a tasting with Richard Paterson in the early 2000s and we were lucky enough to taste a 50-year-old Dalmore. If money was no object, it would definitely be anything of Dalmore over 50 years old. Sitting with a dram of that, next to an open roaring fire and watching the Queen’s speech would be heaven.

Whisky Advent 2020 Day #22: Isle of Jura 18 Year Old

Isle of Jura 18 Year Old Tasting Note:

Nose: Cinnamon, dried berries, Wine Gums, hickory.

Palate: Brandied cherries, Turkish delight, milky coffee and blackcurrant jam.

Finish: Chocolate chip cookies, a touch of hay, orange oil.

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Whisky Advent 2020 Day #21: The Dalmore Cigar Malt

Can you believe it?! It’s the Monday before Christmas, and the festive spirit is REALLY kicking in. The whisky behind door 21 of Drinks by the Dram’s Whisky Advent Calendar…

Can you believe it?! It’s the Monday before Christmas, and the festive spirit is REALLY kicking in. The whisky behind door 21 of Drinks by the Dram’s Whisky Advent Calendar will particularly appeal to those partial to a cigar. Here to tell us more is Stephen Martin, Whyte & Mackay’s global single malt whisky specialist!

Right. Christmas is almost here. Whatever the big day is going to look like for you this year, it’s time to pause, sit down, and take a moment just for yourself. Yourself and a really rather tasty dram.

Today’s number was blended with cigar lovers in mind, to complement their smoke of choice. But fear not! It’s a delicious drop whether or not you’re planning on sipping while lighting up. It hails from the iconic Dalmore distillery in the Scottish Highlands, and it was actually brought back due to popular demand after being discontinued in 2009. So you know it’s got the backing of the masses! Today’s dram is…

The Dalmore Cigar Malt!

But that’s enough from us. Here to tell us more about it is Stephen Martin, Whyte & Mackay’s global single malt whisky specialist!

Whisky Advent 2020 Day #21: The Dalmore Cigar Malt

Give a big Advent welcome to Stephen Martin!

Master of Malt: The Dalmore is an iconic brand. What do you think sets the distillery apart?

Stephen Martin: Whisky is all about people and place and The Dalmore is such an amazing example of this. This is true from the Mackenzies, who arrived at the distillery in 1867 and introduced the Royal Stag to every bottle to remind us of their royal heritage dating back to 1263, right through to our current decorated master blender, Richard Paterson, who celebrated 50 years with us in September this year. We’ve always had a meticulous and innovative approach to making whisky and you need to have the right people in place to make this work.  

MoM: Lots of different cask maturations go on with Dalmore. What finishes work especially well with the spirit?

SM: The Dalmore matures exceptionally well in a number of different casks due to the body and weight of the new-make spirit. In particular, Matusalem sherry butts from Gonzalez Byass are incredible! These gems have held Matusalem sherry, a combination of oloroso and PX wines, for 30 years. A lot of the chocolate orange and sweet spice characteristics that we expect from The Dalmore come from these casks. Tawny port pipes from W&J Graham are a favourite of ours also!

Whisky Advent 2020 Day #21: The Dalmore Cigar Malt

Dalmore’s Richard Paterson is regarded as one of the true great master blenders

MoM: Any whisky and food- or cigar-pairing tips? What should we look for?

SM: Absolutely! Sherry plays such an important role in our whiskies and I love pairing the Dalmore with Andalusian cuisine. A bottle of The Dalmore 15 alongside some Iberico, manzanilla olives and manchego Iniesta is a real crowd pleaser and a bit out of the ordinary! In terms of cigars, I’m really enjoying the Davidoff Winston Churchill Late Hour just now. Medium to full-bodied, this cigar contains tobacco that has been aged for six months in single malt whisky casks, so it works really well The Dalmore Cigar Malt. 

MoM: What about Cigar Malt means it pairs particularly well with cigars?

SM: Flavour and body for me! The Cigar Malt is profoundly influenced by Matusalem sherry and red wine barriques, so there’s an abundance of deep, rich flavours that work well with the right cigar. The red wine barriques also contain a lot of tannins that contribute to a silky, velvety texture that dances with the cigar smoke on your palate as you draw. When you get the pairing just right there are not many better things in life!

MoM: What whisky will you be pairing with the Christmas festivities this year?

SM: Cheese is a big thing in my house at Christmas so I’ll be pulling out a bottle of the Port Wood Reserve after dinner! Delicious with a strong cheddar, creamy brie or salty Lanarkshire blue! I’ll also be making Christmas eggnog for the family with the Dalmore 12 Year Old, which works really well. 

Whisky Advent 2020 Day #21: The Dalmore Cigar Malt

The Dalmore Cigar Malt Tasting Note:

Nose: Caramel, shortbread, biscuits, coffee and chocolates. Simple, clean and moreish.

Palate: Yet more toffee, caramel edging towards the burnt cinder-toffee side of things. Flamed orange-zest, and perfectly integrated sherry.

Finish: Reasonably simple, Christingles (orange Zest and clove with a touch of cinnamon), more mid-palate than palate-coating.

Overall: Definitely meets the criteria of pairing with a ‘BIG’ cigar.

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Whisky Advent 2020 Day #20: Glenfarclas 15 Year Old

Door number nine holds behind it… Glenfarclas 15 Year Old! George Grant joins us once again for #WhiskyAdvent, and if it’s heavy reading you’re after, this… isn’t it. A man…

Door number nine holds behind it… Glenfarclas 15 Year Old! George Grant joins us once again for #WhiskyAdvent, and if it’s heavy reading you’re after, this… isn’t it. A man of few words, as always.

If it’s a sherried Speysider you’re looking for, Glenfarclas is right up there as a go-to. The distillery only uses sherry-seasoned casks to mature its whisky in, and for good reason. It’s absolutely delicious, and it’s a combination that’s worked since 1836! If it ain’t broke, and all that…

Glenfarclas 15 Year Old is what some might call one of the ultimate Christmas drams, as it is almost literally Christmas cake in liquid, malt-based form. It’s also bottled at 46% ABV, for no other reason that because that’s the strength that George Grant’s grandfather preferred it at. 

Speaking of, we grabbed a few (literally) words from George Grant himself, head of sales and the 6th generation of the family behind the whisky. If you’re in a rush then no worries, this won’t take long! 

whisky advent glenfarclas

Master of Malt: Describe Glenfarclas 15 Year Old in three words. 

George Grant: Big, bold, delicious.

MoM: What’s your favourite way to drink Glenfarclas? 

GG: A double.

MoM: What can we expect from Glenfarclas in 2021? 

GG: It’s our 185th Anniversary of legal distilling.

MoM: It’s Christmas Eve, and you’re sitting down with a Glenfarclas dram. Which one is it? GG: Glenfarclas 25 Year Old. It’s Christmas, in a glass.

MoM: Besides classics like mulled wine and (obviously) whisky, what’s your favourite Christmas tipple

GG: Pol Roger Cuvée Sir Winston Churchill 2009, in magnum, of course.

whisky advent glenfarclas

Tasting Note by The Chaps at Master of Malt

Nose: Intense, powerful sherry. Pedro Ximenez, perhaps? Almost… a touch of peppermint? An almost rancio quality to this. Smells older than 15.

Palate: Raisins, more sherry, orange peel, walnuts, dates.

Finish: Incredibly long, complex, more of the Walnuts again.

Overall: Water draws out sweetness. This is Christmas cake, not whisky. Simply astonishing.

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Whisky Advent 2020 Day #18: Uncle Nearest 1856 Premium Whiskey

You might have noticed that there’s just a week left until Christmas, which means there aren’t many drams left in your Whisky Advent Calendar. Better savour the remaining ones, particularly…

You might have noticed that there’s just a week left until Christmas, which means there aren’t many drams left in your Whisky Advent Calendar. Better savour the remaining ones, particularly what’s behind window #18…

By now you’ve probably had your fair share of Christmas tales (I’ve watched The Muppets Christmas Carol every day since November 1st and have loved every minute of it) so today we’re going to tell you a different story in celebration of the dram behind window #18, which is…

Uncle Nearest 1856 Premium Whiskey!

The man the brand honours Nathan Green, known as Uncle Nearest to friends and family, who was the first African-American master distiller and taught a certain Jack Daniel how to distil. He was also instrumental in the evolution of the Lincoln County Process, and by association the creation of Tennessee Whisky itself. Cheers to you, Uncle Nearest!

We wanted to find out more about what’s going on with the brand, so we asked a few questions to Matt Neal, UK brand ambassador to see what’s going on in Tennessee!

Uncle Nearest 1856 Premium Whiskey

The wonderful Fawn Weaver, the founder of Uncle Nearest whiskey

Master of Malt: How would you describe the character of Uncle Nearest whiskey?

Matt Neal: What I find in our 1856 Premium Whiskey is toffee, vanilla and a touch of cinnamon on the nose, followed by a corn sweetness wrapped in oak spice with a healthy dose of orange stone fruit on the mid pallet, it has an oily creamy mouthfeel that coats the mouth and finally finishes with baking spice, nutmeg, cinnamon and clove and a dose of mint, and for me sage. It also has what our CEO calls a ‘Tennessee Hug’. An alcohol warmth that continues down into your chest. At 50% and 8 plus years old I guess that is to be expected.

MoM: What sets Uncle Nearest whiskey apart in your view?

MN:  The age is the first thing that stands out. It’s made up of 8-14 years old which is OLD for a whiskey aged in a climate like Tennessee. Next is the fact we ‘proof down’. We try to control the loss of water and alcohol in the ageing process making sure our spirit loses more alcohol than water. This means when it comes out of the barrel we can add as little water as possible to bring it to 100 proof, 50% ABV, which means we keep as much flavour in the bottle as we can.  Finally, there is the story behind the brand. I could talk for hours on the Friendship between Nearest Green and Jack Daniel that basically created the category of Tennessee whiskey. It’s an incredible history and one that is hard not to admire. 

Uncle Nearest 1856 Premium Whiskey

Uncle Nearest is the fastest-growing independent American whiskey brand in history

MoM: Can you share a little bit of that story? 

MN: Our Story is two-fold at Uncle Nearest. We have our history, the story of Nathan Green teaching Jack to distil back in the mid-1800s and his influence on Tennessee Whiskey, and American Whiskey in general. Then we have our current history. We were the most awarded whiskey of 2019 and 2020. We appointed the first female African-American master blender, Victoria Butler, a direct descendant of Uncle Nearest. We have done so much charity work this year I can barely keep up and have been at the centre of a lot of the big conversations at the heart of our industry. In fact, it’s got to the point where I’m torn between which ‘history’ excites me most.

MoM: What fun things have happened in the world of Uncle Nearest in 2020?

MN: 2020 has been a strange year all over, but there have been some great things happening for us at uncle nearest. Firstly our 1820 single barrel picked up double gold in San Francisco, Uncle Nearest 1856 Premium Whiskey was named in Oprah’s list of her ’Favourite Things’ of 2020 and we won Wine Enthusiasts Magazine Spirits Brand Of The Year Award. I thought it would be hard to stay positive during this time but with a team like ours, it’s been hard not too. That said I do miss drinking a dram with friends and ranting at strangers in bars about American whiskey over cocktails.

MoM: What’s next for Uncle Nearest? Any 2021 plans you can give us a hint about?

MN: Our Uncle Nearest 1884 Small Batch small-batch whiskey, blended by Victoria, should make its way to the UK as soon as the Americans stop drinking it all! We are also doing some innovative things with grains and messing about with production. We are a relatively new company and whiskey takes time, so when these things might hit the market is never certain. I am really excited though.

Uncle Nearest 1856 Premium Whiskey

Uncle Nearest 1856 Premium Whiskey Tasting Note:

Nose: Buttery vanilla and brown sugar, mixed with soft sultana and cinnamon sweetness.

Palate: Caramelised nuts, oat cookies, more brown sugar, sandalwood, authentic corn hints and a hint of cut grass.

Finish: Lingering mint leaf and milk chocolate notes, with a final touch of spicy oak.

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Whisky Advent 2020 Day #16: Fettercairn 12 Year Old

A mere nine days to go until the big man departs MoM HQ and embarks on his epic present-flinging voyage around the globe! It’s time to continue our own journey…

A mere nine days to go until the big man departs MoM HQ and embarks on his epic present-flinging voyage around the globe! It’s time to continue our own journey with Drinks by the Dram’s Whisky Advent Calendar. And on Day 16, we’re taking a trip up to the Highlands of Scotland with Andrew Lennie, brand specialist at Fettercairn Distillery.

And, just like that, we’re on the single-digit countdown to Christmas! It’s still not entirely clear what celebrations will look like this year (tiers, bubbles, households…), but one this is certain. Today’s dram hidden behind Door 16 is a treat indeed. It hails from a distillery that once slightly lesser-known is now often found at a pub or bar near you (when they’re open). But it’s still something of a discovery dram, and it’s got our mouths watering. Behold: Fettercairn 12 Year Old!

Here to share more about the dram and its distillery is Andrew Lennie, Fettercairn’s brand specialist! 

Fettercairn 12 Year Old

Say hello to Andrew Lennie!

Master of Malt: Tell us a little bit about Fettercairn’s history…

Andrew Lennie: Fettercairn is a beautiful distillery on the east coast of the Scottish Highlands. The name literally translates as ‘Foot of the Mountain’, which will give you an indication as to where our distillery is in relation to the Cairngorm mountain range, which provides a stunning backdrop. The distillery is truly picturesque: whitewashed walls, an iconic pagoda roof, and the rolling Grampian Hills in the background. If you asked anyone to paint or imagine a typical Highland distillery, I’m sure it wouldn’t look too dissimilar to Fettercairn.

North of the distillery is an old drovers route known as the Carin O Mount where, historically, farmers would march their cattle down into the market towns of the south. They were a thirsty bunch as you could imagine, and this area became infamous with illicit distilling. Fettercairn was the second legally registered distillery in Scotland. Founded in 1824 by Sir Alexander Ramsay who converted Nethermill cornmill into the distillery. Ramsay also brought with him the iconic unicorn, Scotland’s national animal, which was part of his family crest and now proudly adorns each bottle of our single malt whisky. Sir Alexander Ramsay capitalised on the popularity of illicit distilling in the area and employed a well-known illicit distiller named James Stewart to be the first whisky maker at Fettercairn.

MoM: Fettercairn has the most amazing stills! Give us the lowdown on the cooling rings…

AL: The cooling rings were invented in the 1950s by the distillery manager at the time, Alistair Menzies. He fitted a ring of copper around the head of the spirit still which would drench it with cold mountain water during distillation. This was his way of creating a lighter and cleaner version of the spirit. Today we have two spirit stills both fitted with copper cooling rings which are seen nowhere else in the industry. When I show guests around Fettercairn, this is a real focal point. The cold water slowly flowing down the stills and the hot steam rising upwards is quite hypnotic. It has also turned the copper almost black with beautiful hints of teal, cream and gold shining through.

Fettercairn 12 Year Old

Fettercairn is one of Scotland’s most unique distilleries

MoM: Can you describe the signature Fettercairn distillery character?

AL: I would describe our house style as funky tropical fruits. The new make spirit is vibrant and fresh with notes of ripe banana, mango, pineapple, and a malty spice which is derived through the ingenuity of the copper cooling ring distillation process. We predominantly mature this spirit in ex-bourbon American white oak casks. This helps retain and enhance as much of the distillery character as possible, and adds layers of vanilla, white chocolate, and soft spice.

MoM: Fettercairn 12 Year Old is today’s dram! How has it been produced? 

AL: Fettercairn 12 Year Old was released in 2018 as part of a new collection of single malts from the distillery. It is a celebration of our new house style: fresh, vibrant, and approachable. This is a non-peated whisky and is fully matured in ex-bourbon American white oak barrels. On the nose, the first thing that comes across for me is a fresh pear and green apple followed by dried pineapple and soft spice. If you hold this dram on the palate for 10-15 seconds there are loads of tropical fruit flavours dancing around, which begin to turn slightly creamy like passion fruit cheesecake or mango Panna Cotta. The finish brings in sweet vanilla and coconut with a lingering hint of cinnamon.

MoM: What will be in your tasting glass this Christmas Day?

AL: This Christmas I am very much looking forward to a few glasses of sherry or a wee Port in the evening. As long as Home Alone is on in the background, I’ll be happy with anything.

Fettercairn 12 Year Old

Tasting note from the Chaps at Master of Malt

Nose: Refreshing nectarine, white flowers and milk chocolate emerge initially. Black toffee and subtle roasted coffee provide darker notes underneath,

Palate: Tropical fruit and sticky Jamaican ginger cake add a sweet and spicy depth which a flicker of bitter herbs and vanilla complement.

Finish: Orchard fruits and soft spices linger.

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Whisky Advent 2020 Day #11: Glenfiddich Experimental Series – IPA Cask Finish

On the 11th day of Advent, Drinks by the Dram decided to treat us with a category-crossing whisky that brings together the humble brew with the water of life. It’s…

On the 11th day of Advent, Drinks by the Dram decided to treat us with a category-crossing whisky that brings together the humble brew with the water of life. It’s Glenfiddich Experimental Series – IPA Cask Finish!

It’s Friday! Or ‘Fri-yay’ if you’re posting on Instagram, which you may well be – and don’t forget to tune into #WhiskyAdvent if you are. Anyway, there’s lots of reasons today is a ‘yay’ rather than just simply a ‘day’. But the main one is that there’s yet another delicious dram squirrelled away in your Drinks by the Dram Whisky Advent Calendar! Beer lovers, whisky lovers, it’s time for you to put your differences aside and come together with this top release from Glenfiddich, finished for three months in casks which previously held IPA. Is that a ‘yay’ we can hear? Of course it is.

Called Glenfiddich Experimental Series – IPA Cask Finish, it was released as part of the Speyside distillery’s Experimental Series – it’s not every day you see beer and whisky coming together so literally. We turned to brand ambassador Mark Thomson (whose official title is ‘ambassador to Scotland – Glenfiddich Single Malt Whisky’, which is awesome but must be hard to fit on a business card) to chat about this unique release, the year that was, and his favourite Christmas sipper!

whisky advent glenfiddich ipa cask

It’s Mark Thomson, everyone! Where can we get a tasting glass like that?

Master of Malt: An IPA-finished whisky! Can you talk us through this release?

Mark Thomson: Sounds strange doesn’t it? Well, we’ve had a long history of experimenting with whisky at Glenfiddich and this particular release fitted into our Experimental range launched in 2016. It came around from a conversation between a brewer and Brian Kinsman, our malt master. Rather than taking a beer cask, we infused a cask at Glenfiddich which had already contained our whisky with a bespoke-brewed hoppy ale. Then removed it from the cask and added back Glenfiddich whisky to allow a conversation between the two creations to begin. It’s a light style of Glenfiddich in general, being fully matured in American oak, there is sweetness with classic fruit notes. However, the influence of the ale is not lost with a hoppy, zesty overtone and delicious lingering aftertaste. It’s perfect enjoyed on its own, but I often find myself pairing it with a beer on the side. A traditional serve known as a Hauf ‘n Hauf in Scotland.  

MoM: You can only pick either beer or whisky – which one is it?

MT: Whisky of course, because it’s always appealing to me, can be mixed into cocktails or lengthened into a highball. Far more flexible than beer if I was to be forced down such a path – you have to play the long game. 

MoM: What was a 2020 highlight for Glenfiddich?

MT: I suppose in any other normal year it would be difficult to choose because we are always forging ahead with new releases, activations or events. As we all know, this year wasn’t anything close to “normal”. So I’d say our highlight was the charity drive we did over the year with fundraising events, challenges and auctions. Our own Standfast programme which was set up to support the hospitality workers of the UK to raise £300k and we are still coming up with other initiatives to support charities such as the Benevolent in Scotland and the Drinks Trust elsewhere in the UK. In addition to this, the ambassadors of William Grant & Sons all made a huge effort to support hospitality workers wherever possible. Even if that was simply having a coffee (safely) and letting them voice their concerns and worries. 

whisky advent glenfiddich ipa cask

Gaze upon the actual Glenfiddich distillery.

MoM: Can we expect more releases along these beer-y lines from Glenfiddich?

MT: Perhaps not so much beer related, but you never know. Brian has a number of experiments maturing in the warehouses of Glenfiddich and the Experimental Series was always a playground for us to try new things. We aim to always have three releases available in the series -there have been four so far, however Winter Storm, a 21 year old finished in Canadian ice wine casks, was a limited edition. There should have been a new release in the series for 2020, but we’ve popped that back in the warehouse for now until things return or settle to a new normal. Keep an eye out over the next year to 18 months for some new and exciting Glenfiddich releases. But I’m afraid my lips are sealed for now on what those may be.

MoM: Which Glenfiddich dram will we find you enjoying at Christmas?

MT: I’ll be celebrating Christmas this year with an indulgent drop of our luxurious Grand Cru whisky. A 23 yr old Glenfiddich allowed to rest for a time in French cuvée wine casks before being bottled. It’s fast becoming one of my favourite available whiskies in our range. The character is quite unlike anything else we have out at the moment. The whisky, before hitting those final French oak casks, is already delightful with a subtle sweet/salty note, delicate floral elements and classic Glenfiddich white fruit. Then it is elevated into an incredibly complex yet approachable whisky by those fabulous French casks. Quite simply, a perfect whisky for any celebration, not just Christmas.

whisky advent glenfiddich ipa cask

Tasting Note from the Chaps at Master of Malt

Nose: An elegant harmony of fresh green apple, William’s pear and spring blossom. Complimented with aromatic hops and fresh herbs.

Palate: Vibrant with a zesty citrus note followed by creamy vanilla and a hint of fresh hops.

Finish: Enduring sweetness with an echo of green hops.

 

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