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Master of Malt Blog

Tag: Whyte & Mackay

The Nightcap: 10 July

The weekend is here, your drink is poured and you’re ready to settle down with another batch of all things newsy and boozy. It’s The Nightcap! Given that July is…

The weekend is here, your drink is poured and you’re ready to settle down with another batch of all things newsy and boozy. It’s The Nightcap!

Given that July is Rum Month and Saturday is World Rum Day (11th July), there’s been a fair amount of rum-based news land at MoM Towers this week. So much so that the word rum is starting to lose all meaning. I’ve said it too much now. Rum. Rum. Rum. Yep, it sounds weird. I know what I need to do. Take a break, have a sit-down and enjoy my Friday evening with a dram of something delicious. I might have some rum.

On the MoM blog this week you might have noticed that Motörhead made an appearance. On our blog. The band Motörhead. Not only did we launch a new competition with the legendary rockers that means you could win a bundle of merch and booze, but Mikkey Dee even stopped by for a quick chat. As in Mikkey Dee from Motörhead. Did I hallucinate this week? I can’t have done, because I remember all the delicious rum, like our two new arrivals, the six expressions we picked out to mark the month of rum and Cleo Farman’s delightful Diablesse Rum. Elsewhere, the likes of Jamaica, Mexico and err… Tonbridge were on the list of places team MoM would love to go when we can travel normally again, Annie talked to Rémy Martin about its climate change-ready grape trials and Henry enjoyed The Dude’s favourite beverage The White Russian

The Nightcap

Its’ the world’s First European Online Rum Festival

Tickets now available for European Rum & Cocktail Online Festival

Earlier this week, we wrote about where we would like to visit now that the world is opening up. In all likelihood, however, we won’t be going to Jamaica any time soon. But that doesn’t matter! Because the Caribbean can come to you in the form of the European Rum & Cocktail Online Festival on Saturday 8 August. This event is run by the cool cats at RumCask and features distilleries from Trinidad, Barbados, Bermuda, Martinique and Guadeloupe, as well as cocktail classes from top bars like Duke of Tokyo in Amsterdam and El Del Frente in Havana. But you won’t just be watching people talk about rum, you’ll be drinking it too as the ticket includes 25 20ml samples of rums from distilleries including La Hechicera, Foursquare, Angostura, Rhum Damoiseau and rare bottlings from Single Barrel Selection. Plus the non-perishable ingredients to make four cocktails. That’s a lot of booze for your buck. Events run from 12 noon until 8pm (BST). There are early bird tickets available until 10 July for £50 (plus postage), after that it’s £60 up until 29 July which is the cut-off date for sending the rum. Go here to buy tickets. You won’t regret it. 

The Nightcap

The crowdfunding campaign offered you the chance to help name a rum brand

Silk Road Distillers rebrands as Offbeat rum

Another one of the standout rum stories from this week is that Silk Road Distillers has chosen its new name. After a public crowdfunder campaign to rebrand the producer has revealed its new name is Offbeat. Founder George Agate picked Offbeat as the winner after people from all over the globe submitted more than 70 name ideas. The crowdfunder also achieved 102% of its target in just 14 days, raising £5,139. Agate chose Offbeat as he felt the name demonstrated “the exciting direction the brand continues to take, challenging the norms and celebrating the offbeat”. For those who were fans of the original Silk Road rum, there’s no need to worry, the liquid inside the bottle is still a botanical rum featuring a blend of ginger, lemongrass, cinnamon, hibiscus, rosehip and pink peppercorns which are vapour infused into white rum from Guyana and bottled without any added sugar at 42% ABV. New name, same delicious rum and tonic waters.

The Nightcap

Lee Morris was victorious with his gaff The Albert Arms

Britain’s best home bar revealed

Have you ever pondered the question, who has the best home bar in Britain? No? We did, especially during the lockdown. Now the answer is in, thanks to Liberty Games. The games room specialist has just announced the winner of its competition and it’s Lee Morris from Albrighton in Shropshire with his gaff The Albert Arms. Morris commented: “The pub is all handmade by myself using a lot of recycled materials.” He went on to say: “I homebrew a lot of beers and use traditional hand pulls to give a real pint feel. Inside the pub, I have a fully stocked bar with spirits and optics.” There’s also a log burner, dartboard, TV and, for some reason, a drum kit. Not ideal if you’re trying to enjoy a quiet pint. Morris may have been the winner, but we were particularly taken with one of the runners-up, Greg Rhodes in Cheshire from Cheshire with his note-perfect Tik bar. Morris wins a year’s supply of beer as well as the glory in being the owner of Britain’s Best Home Bar 2020. We’re going to start working on our basement for next year’s competition. 

The Nightcap

Whyte & Mackay employees are walking, cycling or rowing all for charity!

Whyte & Mackay employees globetrot 29,000 miles for charity 

It seems like most of the UK, if not the world, was in awe at the achievements of Captain Tom Moore back in April. The folks at Whyte & Mackay were so inspired they decided to create their own challenge, dubbed Whyte & Mackay Cares. Well, a virtual challenge. Participants have to collectively walk, run, row or cycle enough miles to travel around the globe (which apparently is around 29,000 miles) over the next eight weeks. Day one saw the team clock enough miles to travel from Glasgow to London, so just the rest of the world to go! The goal is, of course, to raise money, with an aim of £50,000, which will go towards charities nominated by the team, including the Scottish Association for Mental Health. Thanks to its virtual nature, the challenge is also serving as a way to keep people connected. “That we stay connected and support our community and our friends further afield is really important, especially now,” said Nick Garland, chief commercial officer at Whyte & Mackay. “The role charities play in keeping people connected, and providing access to the support that is needed is vital. We are delighted to play our part by raising funds to support their work.” You can keep track of their (virtual) progress on their Instagram!

The Nightcap

Sandy McIntyre and Gordon Dallas will answer viewer questions and offer expert views

Tamdhu hosts virtual whisky tasting

Following a number of hugely popular live-streams, Tamdhu Distillery has announced that it will introduce its latest bottlings via a live-streamed virtual tasting. The event will allow viewers an opportunity to learn more about the Speyside distillery, as distillery manager, Sandy McIntyre, whisky experiential ambassador, Gordon Dallas and global brand ambassador Gordon Dundas offer their expert opinion on the new drams and answer questions that viewers can ask both ahead of time as well as during the live-streamed event. During the tasting, the panel will sample Dalbeallie III, a distillery exclusive named after the famous Dalbeallie train station, and the Iain Whitecross Single Cask, which is the assistant distillery manager’s debut single cask whisky. £1 from the sale of each bottle purchased from www.tamdhu.com will go to The Drinks Trust and The Ben to help support its hospitality colleagues. They will also sample a final, mystery dram that will be revealed during the stream. The event will be streamed on Tamdhu’s Facebook and YouTube channels from 7:30pm BST on Thursday 16 July.

The Nightcap

Fans of antique bourbons and all things Pappy Van Winkle should enjoy this exhibit

Pappy Van Winkle exhibit opens at the Frazier History Museum

Yesterday an exhibit about the life, family, and brand of bourbon whiskey icon Julian ‘Pappy’ Van Winkle opened at the Frazier History Museum in Louisville. Is that the best name in whiskey? It just might be. Pappy Van Winkle: The Van Winkle Family Collection features over 500 pieces of family memorabilia that Van Winkle, Sr.’s grandchildren donated, including personal items such as his walking cane, two of his golf clubs, and his cigar table, the feet of which are carved to resemble his boots. There’s also original photographs and photo albums, hand-written letters, newspaper columns, distillery tour brochures, holiday recipe booklets, minutes from W. L. Weller & Sons’ first stockholders and board of directors meetings, 1908; and an original copyright certificate for Old W. L. Weller Bourbon, 1914. Fans of American whiskey will probably be most intrigued by the selection of rare and vintage decanters and bottles of bourbons and rye whiskeys on loan from Julian Van Winkle III, including bottles of Pappy Van Winkle’s Family Reserve, Old Rip Van Winkle, Old Fitzgerald, Very Very Old Fitzgerald, Very Xtra Old Fitzgerald, Weller’s Antique Reserve, W. L. Weller’s Cabin Still, and Mr. Weller’s Pure Limestone Water. There’s even a barrel sample taken from the 500,000th barrel produced at the Stitzel-Weller Distillery on display. Custom wallpaper made of replicas of vintage Weller and Van Winkle whiskey bottle labels has been installed in the gallery and a monitor that plays a video about Pappy has been mounted nearby. The exhibit will run until July 2021 and for more info just visit fraziermuseum.org.

The Nightcap

Looks delightful, but what happened to the other ⅓?

And finally… Free pints from Estrella (well, nearly)

To celebrate the opening of a new London restaurant, Brat at Climpson’s Arch, on 11 July, top Spanish brewer Estrella Galicia is offering the first 50 diners through the doors a free ⅔ pint of its World Lager. The new summer residency at this Hackney venue sees Michelin-starred chef Tomos Parry cooking classic northern Spanish food like Basque fish stew, and the only beer on tap will be from Estrella. It sounds perfect, great food and free beer. We don’t want to look a gift horse in the mouth but we do have one question, what happens to the rest of the pint? Is someone pulling a fast one and skimming off ⅓ of a pint? We need to be told. 


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Six super-simple Scotch cocktails!

Missing bars? Us too! While it’s not all that long to wait until some in England reopen, there’s still going to be ample in-garden drinking opportunities this summer. And we…

Missing bars? Us too! While it’s not all that long to wait until some in England reopen, there’s still going to be ample in-garden drinking opportunities this summer. And we reckon Scotch whisky-based cocktails are the way to impress, even from a social distance.

Full disclosure: cocktails seem slightly scary to us. Historically, we’re Scotch sippers rather than mixers. And getting all the kit, mixers and garnishes out can feel like a bit of… a faff. But no longer! Stephen Martin, global single malt whisky specialist from Whyte & Mackay joined us for an Instagram Live, and well and truly busted the myths that cocktails are a challenge. If we can manage to make six different serves, you can, too!

The drinks range from twists on the classics (Mules, Ice Teas, even an Espresso Martini), to original serves (the Jura 10 Sunset is especially mouth-watering). You can watch the how-to video right here, with the recipes in full below. 


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Cocktails with Shackleton:

Scotch cocktails

The Explorers Iced Tea

Explorers Iced Tea

25ml Mackinlay’s Shackleton Blended Malt

12.5ml Triple Sec

20ml lemon juice

10ml sugar syrup

Pop it all in a shaker with loads of ice. Prep your tall glass with even more ice. Shake hard and strain into the glass, top with premium cola and garnish with a lemon wedge.

The Antarctic Mule

Antarctic Mule

50ml Mackinlay’s Shackleton Blended Malt

25ml fresh lime juice

Build in a Mule mug or tall glass over loads of ice. Top with ginger beer and garnish with a lemon wedge 

Jura cocktails

Jura 10 Sunset

25ml Isle of Jura 10 Year Old

25ml Aperol

Top up with premium tonic

Build over loads of ice in the biggest wine glass you can find. Garnish with a large orange wedge.

Scotch cocktails

The Island Coffee

The Island Coffee (Espresso Martini twist)

50ml Isle of Jura 12 Year Old

25ml Cointreau

25ml coffee liqueur

25ml chilled espresso

Pop it all in a shaker, and shake hard with ice. Double strain into a chilled Martini glass.

Cocktails with The Woodsman

Woodsman Highball Twist

Woodsman Highball Twist 

50ml The Woodsman


Fresh lime juice

Build in a tall glass and garnish with a lime wedge and generous mint spring

Scotch cocktails

Maple Syrup Old Fashioned

Maple Syrup Old Fashioned

50ml The Woodsman

1 dash maple syrup

1 dash bitters

Stir everything together with loads of ice in a rocks glass. Garnish with an orange twist

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The Nightcap: 31 May

It might have been our final short week until August, but the barrage of booze news didn’t let up – it’s The Nightcap! This week for us, and we’re sure…

It might have been our final short week until August, but the barrage of booze news didn’t let up – it’s The Nightcap!

This week for us, and we’re sure for many of you, was Fèis Ìle week. A seven-day extravaganza of delicious Islay-based booze, bands and banter. You’ve probably noticed on the blog this week Kristy and co. enjoying the spoils of another fantastic Fèis Ìle, from an action-packed ‘Day 0’, to all sorts of wonderful adventures with Lagavulin, Bruichladdich, Caol Ila and Islay Ales, Laphroaig, Bowmore and Ardnahoe and Kilchoman. And there’s still more to come!

Elsewhere on the blog we announced the winner of our Cotswolds Distillery competition! Adam then reported on the new Macallan whisky that has entered the world, before enjoying the fourth batch of Dingle single malt, our New Arrival of the Week, and finding time to celebrate Ableforth’s eighth birthday. Meanwhile, Annie talked Ketel One vodka and Henry made The Long Sloe Summer his Cocktail of the Week. Ian Buxton also asked some big questions in his guest column inspired by The Macallan Archival Series.

Now, onto the news!

The Nightcap

Introducing: Whyte & Mackay Light

Whyte & Mackay Light launches low-ABV ‘spirit drink’

Yes, you read that correctly. This is not new whisky from Whyte & Mackay. Instead, this is a spirit drink, created in an attempt to appeal to new consumers in a reaction to the growing popularity of lower ABV drinks. It’s a trend we’ve certainly noticed here at MoM Towers, so it’s little surprise to see more and more drink producers embrace it. The new product, Whyte & Mackay Light, was bottled at 21.5% ABV, which means that it cannot be legally labelled as whisky, which has a minimum ABV requirement of 40%. Hence the term ‘spirit drink’ being used in this case. “We’re continually looking at trends in drinks and listening to our consumers across the UK, which is why we’re delighted to announce the launch of Whyte & Mackay Light,” said Ruairi Perry, head of brand at Whyte & Mackay. “It’s a different product, built with the same younger, lighter consumer in mind. We see a different type of drinking occasion emerging – and Whyte & Mackay Light has been developed to satisfy that occasion.” Whyte & Mackay Light will launch in early June, and is expected to set you back £12.

The Nightcap

The fabulous Craft Cocktails range!

That Boutique-y Gin Company launches ready-to-drink Craft Cocktails

That Boutique-y Gin Company has launched a new canned range of craft cocktails made using the brand’s delicious gins mixed with a host of interesting ingredients. Craft Cocktails, which will be available this summer, will also come in keg form so the on-trade can take advantage of the growing opportunities found within draught cocktails. An initial wave of five variants will be released, including Moonshot Gin and Citrus Tonic, Spit-Roasted Pineapple Gin Mule, Cherry Gin and Craft Cola, Strawberry & Balsamico Gin Fizz and Squeezed Yuzu Gin Collins. The Boutique-y team has briefed that it will embrace an approach to the category akin to craft brewing and so expect the range to continuously evolve with future variants, one off batches, collaborations and seasonal lines in the pipeline. “We want more people to have access to interesting drinks in more places. We know that drinkers are looking for increasingly exciting and sophisticated flavour combinations, and that putting these in cans or on draught will allow both retailers and bars to satisfy the demands of convenience and ease of service without compromising on flavour,” TBGC’s Selina Raggett explains. “For the cans, we’ve embraced the true Boutique-y style at its boldest, moving away from the traditional gin in a tin look and feel. That Boutique-y Gin Company is well known for pushing the boundaries with exciting releases and new flavours, and the Craft Cocktails will continue this ethos. We’re already working on an exciting wave of new releases!” While the Craft Cocktails range has launched with gin, we will also get to see That Boutique-y Whisky Company and That Boutique-y Rum Company get a chance to shine in a ready-to-drink format in the future.

The Nightcap

The future is here. And it’s boozy

Grey Goose launches world’s first sub-zero draught cocktail tap system

Grey Goose has its pioneering boots on this week, it seems. The vodka producers have responded to the current trend for ‘tapped’ and ‘draught’ cocktails by creating the world’s first sub-zero draught tap system. In a move designed to put premium vodka at the forefront of innovation within the drinks industry, Grey Goose has attempted to come up with an innovative solution to revolutionise cocktail culture with a system that can provide consistently delicious cocktails for any occasion. The draught cocktail tap system was designed to allow for a variety of drinks to be served with quickly and with ease to exacting standards, all at sub-zero temperatures. It can be charged with nitrogen to add a rich and creamy texture to your Espresso Martini, for example. “We began with the desire to be able to create innovative drink serves in a way that has never been seen or done before,” commented Marc Plumridge, the European programming director at Bacardi who drove the development of the draught tap system. “The cutting edge technology used delivers spectacular cocktails, dispensed at speed, all housed within a transparent casing – allowing individuals to have a full view of the technology at work.” To launch this new technology, Grey Goose has invited consumers to see the system in action at The 12th Knot rooftop bar on London’s Southbank from Friday 31st May – 2nd June.

The Nightcap

Limited edition private cask bottlings could be yours…

Bimber Distillery debuts founder’s club

This week, London’s Bimber Distillery announced that it’s formed its very own Founders’ Club, and they’re taking applications now! Very swanky. This means that it will release a limited number of private casks for members to purchase. All of this is in celebration of the distillery’s first whisky casks finally reaching their third birthday. If you sign up, you can expect your first exclusive cask strength single malt in December this year. Among other treats, members will also be able to purchase their own 30 litre cask (for the meagre price of £895), filled with either Bimber’s peated or non-peated new make spirit, which after maturing at the distillery for three years, will eventually set them up nicely with around 49 bottles of whisky. The club aims to bring together people who “want to be part of a distillery whose mission is to produce true handcrafted whisky”, says sales director Farid Shawish. “Our members will always be welcome for a chat, and their input will play an important part in shaping the future of Bimber Distillery.” Membership will set you back £395.

The Nightcap

Miles Beale, CEO of the WSTA

WSTA claims the drinks industry is ‘vulnerable’ to no-deal Brexit

Following the announcement that Theresa May will step down as UK prime minister on 7 June, with no replacement named, The Wine and Spirit Trade Association (WSTA) has warned that the industry “remains vulnerable to a disastrous no-deal scenario”. The latest Brexit deal was overwhelmingly rejected in the House of Commons three times in the weeks running up to the original scheduled exit date at the end of March. Miles Beale, CEO of the WSTA, has branded May’s Brexit approach as “neither clearly defined nor successful”, adding that “as a result we remain vulnerable to a disastrous ‘no-deal’ scenario. A change of leadership neither provides our industry with the answers it needs, nor change the WSTA’s long stated position – which is for the government to deliver an outcome that allows this industry to continue international trade in its products without delays, barriers or additional costs.” Beale also commented that a no-deal scenario “has never been categorically taken off the table” and that it is “imperative that a new leader confirms that the UK will not leave without a deal and moves quickly to find a solution”. As a result of the current situation, Beale has claimed that nearly 80% of the trade body’s members had made preparations for the original exit date of 29 March and will have to prepare again ahead of the new Brexit date on 31 October. He said: “It’s difficult for businesses to determine the exact cost of Brexit contingency planning, including stockpiling and other measures, but we have heard estimates ranging from £20,000 to £5 million.”

The Nightcap

Maison Brillet, a family vineyard in the heart of the Cognac region

Rémy Cointreau to buy Maison de Cognac JR Brillet

French drinks group Rémy Cointreau has announced this week that it has entered into negotiations to purchase Maison de Cognac JR Brillet from the Brillet family. While financial terms have not been disclosed, it is understood that the deal would also include part of the Brillet family’s vineyard estate which is located in the village of Graves-Saint-Armant and has a history which dates back to the 17th century. Rémy Cointreau’s interest in Maison JR Brillet is motivated by the chance to “integrate spirits with genuine development potential into its portfolio” and increase its inventory of eaux-de-vie and vineyards “of the highest quality”. The signing of the deal, which is subject to administrative procedures, is expected to take place in autumn 2019. The news comes off the back of positive full-year sales that Rémy Cointreau posted last month which showed a growth of 7.8% in 2018/19, driven by a double-digit gain for its Cognac portfolio, with the Rémy Martin Cognac brand proving to be the standout.

The Nightcap

The new Plymouth Gin bottling, which we enjoyed a delightful tasting session!

Plymouth Gin launches special edition craft gin from 177-year-old recipe

There are so many new gins emerging all the time it can be difficult for a drinks producer to stand out amongst the crowd. Plymouth Gin may well have just done that, however, with Mr King’s 1842 Recipe, the first special edition in a series of craft gins made to celebrate the spirit of exploration. It was distilled using a recipe found deep within the vaults at the Plymouth Black Friars distillery (the oldest gin distillery in England) that dates back to 1842. That was 177 years ago, people. Master distiller Sean Harrison has reimagined the recipe to create a new product and thanks to the technological advancements in gin production today, he was able to replicate the distillation process that was attempted in 1842, with even more precision. Mr King’s 1842 Recipe was made with just two ingredients – orris root and handpicked juniper from a single harvest day in the mountains of Frontignano, Italy, after Plymouth uncovered the original sales record that linked the purchase of juniper to the renowned Italian region over 170 years ago. Due to the hyper-local sourcing of the ingredients, this one of a kind gin cannot be reproduced. “Mr King’s 1842 Recipe is a truly one-off craft gin that we will never be able to recreate again. Even if we were to visit the same Italian hillside next year, the climate and harvest conditions would affect the juniper resulting in a different taste profile,” Harrison explained. “At a time when other brands are using many different botanicals throughout the distillation process, Mr King’s 1842 Recipe focuses on just two and the result is something very special.” We went to a tasting of this delightful drink and can confirm that it’s as delicious as it sounds!

These tariffs are not good news for the booze industry

US tariffs impact agave-based spirits and EU booze

In concerning news this week, US president Donald Trump announced plans to impose a 5% tariff on all imported goods from Mexico from 10 June, including Tequila and Mezcal, in response to what was termed the “illegal migration crisis” at the US-Mexico border. Trump was quoted in a statement posted on the White House website saying he was “invoking the authorities granted to me by the International Emergency Economic Powers Act” in order to “address the emergency at the southern border”. The US president has also warned that if the ‘crisis’ persists, tariffs will be raised to 10% on July 1, 2019, 15% on 1 August, 20% on 1 September and 25% on 1 October if the US is still not satisfied that Mexico has taken the action it requests. This follows news from just yesterday, which revealed that trade bodies in the US have called for the removal of EU spirits from proposed retaliatory tariffs from the States in response to an ongoing dispute with the World Trade Organization (WTO). The US has been embroiled in a “long-standing” spat with the WTO over civil aircraft subsidies and, on 8 April, the United States Trade Representative (USTR) revealed a draft list of EU products that could be hit by retaliatory tariffs which included alcohol. Trade groups representing the alcohol industry in the US, including the Distilled Spirits Council, have made it clear they oppose such tariffs, however, commenting that they “strongly oppose the inclusion of beverage alcohol production” and that they are “gravely concerned that this escalation would compound the negative impact of the tariffs on a sector that is already feeling the damaging impact resulting from unrelated trade disputes.” The groups, which include alcohol suppliers, wholesalers, importers and retailers, have quoted industry analysis which warns the proposed retaliatory tariffs could affect almost US$6.8 billion worth of imports and could result in a loss of between 6,600 and 45,800 US jobs. Hopefully we’ll have better news on these matters in the future.

The Nightcap

The Johnnie & Ginger, a light and summery treat

Johnnie Walker celebrates National BBQ Week with Berber & Q

Johnnie Walker and East London BBQ restaurant Berber & Q have teamed up to create a new cocktail for National BBQ Week (it’s a thing, a very important thing). The limited edition Johnnie & Ginger, made by barbecue pioneer and Berber & Q founder Josh Katz, was designed to complement al fresco dining, summer sunshine and BBQ food, particularly Berber’s Joojeh Chicken Kebab, as Katz explains, “the smokiness of the charred chicken is offset by the smooth whisky and is given a spicy lift by the inclusion of ginger ale.” The light and summery Johnnie & Ginger cocktail is available at Berber & Q Grill House from 27th May – 2nd June and priced at £9. Katz describes it as “a taste experience and the perfect start to a barbecue.” But don’t fear if you don’t manage to get a table at Berber & Q, the Johnnie & Ginger cocktail is easily recreated at home. All you need to do is mix 50ml of Johnnie Walker Black, 15ml of lime juice, 35ml of pressed Granny Smith apple juice and a little pinch of Zaatar, which you’ll shake with one ice cube for no longer than 5 seconds. Then place the mix in a highball glass filled with ice and top with 35ml of ginger ale. Garnish with a dehydrated apple wheel and mint sprig, and there you have it!

The whisky takes its name from Lake Samilpo

And finally… North Korea launches its own whisky

Reports have emerged this week that suggest that North Korea has distilled its own brand of whisky and plans to launch it at the end of this year. According to the South Korean Hankook Ilbo newspaper, this would be the first time the country has produced whisky, although it’s worth noting that it has not been mentioned yet in North Korea’s own media. The source of the story is the Young Pioneer Tours tourism company, based in China, which specialises in visits to North Korea and other places that “your mother would rather you stay away from”. The tour operator claims to have laid its hands on a couple of bottles of the elusive spirit and described Samilpo’s design as “closely resembling” that of Johnnie Walker, a “well-recognised whisky in North Korea”. According to Pioneer Tours, Samilpo, which takes its name from the lake near Mount Kumgang, will launch three expressions: a ‘40% ABV black label edition, a 42% ABV red label edition and a 45 edition which has not been bottled yet. It is not known what types of grain that goes into the spirit, or how old it is. It has also been reported that the owner of Samilpo hopes to export the whisky to other countries once North Korea’s ‘political situation’ improves. You’re not likely to get your hands on some anytime soon, for those who might have been intrigued.

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Q&A: Gregg Glass, founder of The Whisky Works

Innovation in Scotch whisky is now everywhere, with numerous brands taking creative steps to stand out from the crowd. The Whisky Works from Whyte & Mackay (W&M) is one such…

Innovation in Scotch whisky is now everywhere, with numerous brands taking creative steps to stand out from the crowd. The Whisky Works from Whyte & Mackay (W&M) is one such approach; we spoke with its creator Gregg Glass to learn what it’s all about.

It’s not every day we hear about a new blending and bottling house focused on producing intriguing small-batch Scotch whisky, so when we do, we sit up and take notice here at MoM Towers. It’s safe to say our curiosity has been piqued by The Whisky Works, the newly-launched independent arm of Whyte & Mackay which operates under the watchful eye of W&M blender and whisky maker Gregg Glass.

We were fortunate enough to speak to the man himself about how The Whisky Works works, how it came to life and what to expect from the two delicious launch expressions: the King of Trees and the Glaswegian.

The Whisky Works

Gregg Glass holding a glass

Master of Malt: What is The Whisky Works?

Gregg Glass: The Whisky Works has been on my mind for a number of years. It was probably about five years ago I started to think about what sort of company would I like to build and what would be the best method to make that happen. Then, literally, the first week that I joined Whyte & Mackay, it was a discussion that we had. That’s why you’ll see in our logo ‘established in 2017’ because it was very early on in 2017 I actually started to action a lot of these cask laydowns and cask selections. What we created is an innovation hub where there’s complete creative freedom but it’s within the structure of Whyte & Mackay. What’s really great about that, certainly from my point of view as a whisky maker, is that I can utilise the real skill base that is here both in human resource but also the depth and breadth of our whisky stocks as well in creating exciting new whiskies. Part of where the name ‘The Whisky Works’ came from was my love of motorsports. A works team for a rally are the people on the ground. They have that freedom to explore different avenues and innovate in different ways that can then also feed back into the parent company, the manufacturer. The Whisky Works is an opportunity to also engage with everyone who works at the company and for them to feel part of the process too. It was a way of spending time with the guys on the ground and band about ideas.

MoM: What are you trying to achieve with The Whisky Works?

GG: I want to create unique and different characteristics both from a flavour profile point of view and perhaps methodology in making whisky through new innovative practices. We’re really a flavour-led company. Through The Whisky Works, we can look at doing things on a small scale with responsible risk-taking within this structure, almost like a test hub. When Richard Paterson (W&M master blender) and I work alongside each other on a variety of projects, we experiment with concepts that might be interesting to use or try out. Through The Whisky Works, we can test these ideas here, maybe at a smaller scale. Some of these concepts will then go out to maybe some of the other brands, once we’ve successfully tested or trialled them within the Whisky Works.

MoM: You’ve said the inspiration for The Whisky Works was your collaborations with wine and spirit producers, coopers and sawmills. How did those experiences inspire you?

GG: Through my career path, this year is going to be my 20th year in the industry, I’ve been very fortunate to work one-on-one with different people not only within the Scotch whisky industry but also with winemakers. When Richard Paterson and I travel the world we make a point to go out and see cask suppliers or other producers. It gives me a lot of creative inspiration. I’m a bit of a sponge for information, and these opportunities provoke me to go off and think about innovative things and do my own testing based on that.

The Whisky Works

King of Trees is a Highland single malt matured in native Scottish oak

MoM: The first Modern Whisky Experiment expression is the King of Trees (a 10 year old Highland blended malt whisky). Can you talk us through how you created it?

GG: The concept behind the King of Trees began with the thought of using native Scottish oak. Although other people have used Scottish oak before, for me this is actually part of a bigger process and this is not a one-off idea or use. I’m actually building a bigger programme around that, about which we’ll be disclosing a little bit more in the coming months. But essentially what happened was that I found myself spending a lot of my own time researching and sourcing Scottish oak, going to sawmills close to where I grew up in the Highlands and trying to investigate how to utilise them. This was the inspiration behind the cask we used to finish the King of Trees. It was built from two windfall trees from the same estate in the Highlands that were between 160 and around 220 years old. We used windfall trees as we didn’t want to be cutting down trees unless they were necessarily having to be done so for forest management.

Now in terms of the flavour profile, what I really wanted to try and achieve with King of Trees was a lovely freshness in the recipe that allowed the core orchard fruit characters in the apple/pear notes to really come through. So I wanted to use the Highland oak to really accentuate that, but not to overpower the recipe. That’s why, in terms of the proportion, the Scottish oak is a roundabout 14% of the overall recipe. It expands the aftertaste and the longevity of the whisky, so what you find is that lovely soft spice will build up and come through in the finish really nicely. It’s very much a fresh, almost summery style of whisky, which is exactly the style I wanted to create.

The Whisky Works

The Glaswegian is the first Classic Whisky bottling

MoM: The other launch expression is the first Classic Whisky bottling, the Glaswegian (a 29-year-old single grain whisky). What can we expect from it?

The 29-year-old Glaswegian, for me, is beautiful, it’s fresh and, while it’s an older expression and it’s got depth, it’s also got the elegance and balance within there. I wanted to bring out the butterscotch type of characters and custard notes, crème brûlée and retain some of the exotic fruit characteristics that are within there. That’s something you’ll see with all of the projects that I work on. What I’m trying to do is build in depth and complexity but also at the same time harmony and balance to the recipes as well. All of our expressions are non-chill filtered, natural colouring and, if it’s not natural cask strength, then they are bottled at an alcohol level that was chosen very much specifically for the flavour delivery and the flavour experience that comes through there.

I’ve been a great lover of grain whisky for many years. Look at my experience working at Compass Box and some of the grain whiskies that I had exposure to there! What I found when it came to grain whiskies throughout my career was that I was drawn to casks from particular parts of our dunnage warehouse that were imparting a lovely freshness to whisky. So the majority of the casks for the Glaswegian came from dunnage warehousing. When it comes to the Glaswegian, we can’t talk too much about the spirit itself as it came from a closed distillery that was in Glasgow and we’re not disclosing the distillery name. But, what we can talk about is the cask maturation side of things, and hopefully, that provides a different message and insight into whisky creation that may act to help to educate people who are maybe newer into whisky or wanting to try and explore new flavours.

The Whisky Works

The King of Trees

the King of Trees 10 Year Old Tasting Note:

Nose: White grapes, green apples and butterscotch, then sherbet lemons, golden barley and a flicker of nutmeg. There’s a note of Victoria sponge cake with fresh raspberries present too before dried fruit and woody tannins emerge.

Palate: Dark fruit compote, dried citrus peels and a helping of barley sugar at first, with a little vanilla, a hint of balancing wood spice and a touch of creamy nuttiness.

Finish: Slightly drying, a little spicy and a lingering syrupy sweet.

The Whisky Works

The Glaswegian

Whisky Works Glaswegian 29 Year Old Tasting Note:

Nose: Strawberry cheesecake, tangy fruit salad and a little candy floss initially. Creme brûlée, milky coffee and a dollop of vanilla buttercream follow, then ginger snaps and supple woody tannins.

Palate: Through ancient oak furniture and damp malt come thick helpings of melted toffee, faintly sharp green apple and cooking chocolate. Black cherries and marmalade add a tart sweetness.

Finish: A final lick of caramel and a touch of minerality.



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Q&A: Dalmore master blender Richard Paterson

Scotch whisky personality, author, educator, expert, and, most importantly, accomplished master blender. Richard Paterson – the man behind Dalmore, Jura, Fettercairn and more – talks independent bottlers, auction houses, and…

Scotch whisky personality, author, educator, expert, and, most importantly, accomplished master blender. Richard Paterson – the man behind Dalmore, Jura, Fettercairn and more – talks independent bottlers, auction houses, and why the “cask is king”…

He secured the title of master blender at Whyte & Mackay at the age of 26, and earned the nickname, ‘The Nose’, for his exemplary olfactory skills. He’s a key figure in wine cask finishing innovation and is one of the Scotch whisky’s greatest evangelists. It can only be Richard Paterson, one of the industry’s best known luminaries.

In 2017 – his 50th year in the Scotch whisky industry – Paterson was honoured with the Lifetime Achievement Award at the International Wine and Spirit Competition Awards. MoM speaks to the revered whisky showman to discover what it means to be a modern-day master blender…

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Will Grain Whisky be promoted to the Big League as David Beckham signs for Haig Club?

Ah, David Beckham. What a fine figure of a man. And now one who’s set to join the whisky industry as the face of Haig Club single grain whisky (from…

David Beckham

Ah, David Beckham. What a fine figure of a man. And now one who’s set to join the whisky industry as the face of Haig Club single grain whisky (from Cameronbridge distillery) as well as becoming actively involved in the marketing of the brand along with his manager Simon ‘Spice Girls’ Fuller. A couple of stories here then – massive celebrity endorsement of a Scotch whisky, and the planned launch of another single grain following William Grant & Sons’ Girvan Patent Still.

You may have seen the Girvan range launch at the end of last year – it’s the first single grain from William Grant, or the first official bottling from Girvan, or the first bottling “under the emblem” of the Girvan still… or something.

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Feis Ile 2012, Day 6

Thursday was Jura Day. It started far too early for any of our liking, and lack of sleep is beginning to play heavily on people’s sanity; that and the midges….

Thursday was Jura Day. It started far too early for any of our liking, and lack of sleep is beginning to play heavily on people’s sanity; that and the midges.

We left in a hurry to catch the ferry at 8.30am, at the other side of the Island. You know, over there.

It is not a long journey. In fact we reached Jura in about 4 and-a-half minutes, the malt mobile rolling off the boat and onto the rugged shore.Force of habit made us reach for the sat nav, to aid us in our navigation of the Island’s one, single track road. We were going the right way.

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Dalmore Cigar Malt – Back for good.

Last Tuesday evening, I was invited to the salubrious surroundings of the Four Seasons hotel on Park Lane, to sample the re-invention of a classic Dalmore Dram. This whisky provoked…

Last Tuesday evening, I was invited to the salubrious surroundings of the Four Seasons hotel on Park Lane, to sample the re-invention of a classic Dalmore Dram. This whisky provoked more controversy through its ousting and subsequent reinvention a couple of years ago than perhaps any other spirit, save perhaps that which we do not mention:

I’m talking of course, about The Dalmore Cigar Malt.

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Shackleton’s Whisky

Last year there was an astonishing discovery in Antarctica, just outside of what was once Ernest Shackleton’s hut. The discovery was several cases of Mackinlay’s Rare Old Highland Malt whisky,…

Richard Paterson

Last year there was an astonishing discovery in Antarctica, just outside of what was once Ernest Shackleton’s hut. The discovery was several cases of Mackinlay’s Rare Old Highland Malt whisky, which had been left behind after a failed attempt to reach the South Pole between 1907 and 1909.

Whyte and Mackay, who own the Mackinlay’s brand, leapt at the incredible opportunity to try and recreate a whisky from a bygone era, under the lead of their inimitable Master Blender, Richard Paterson.

“It’s a beautiful colour. It’s that lovely rich golden colour and what’s more important at this early stage, it’s beautifully clear.” Richard describes the whisky, adding: “It’s telling you that it’s not contaminated — that’s very important.” 

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Our Movember Whisky gets a Pop Art Twist

Everyone knows the mighty moustache is the greatest bastion of masculinity; it’s a symbol of true manhood. Once a year, the chaps in the Master of Malt offices are granted…

Richard Paterson Movember Whisky

Everyone knows the mighty moustache is the greatest bastion of masculinity; it’s a symbol of true manhood. Once a year, the chaps in the Master of Malt offices are granted the tremendous opportunity of being able to relentlessly rip on the one or two gentlemen incapable of growing anything more than a bumfluffy disgrace, all thanks to Movember.

(The writer of this post is sporting a handsome development, even after just a few days of growth…)

For those of you who aren’t familiar with the name of the game…

Movember (the name is a portmanteau of “Moustache” and “November”) was founded in 2004 as a charity which raises awareness and money for various men’s health issues. It’s also a perfect trump card for our anti-tache other halves because, at the beginning of November every year, men must shave, then grow a moustache for the duration of the month, in order to spread the word of a very good cause.

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