Master of Malt Whisky Blog

Benromach Distillery reveals warehouse expansion plans!

Benromach

It might be Speyside’s smallest working distillery, but Big Things lie ahead for Benromach. The Gordon & MacPhail-owned single malt Scotch whisky producer has detailed plans to boost its warehousing capacity after experiencing a tremendous 27% surge in sales last year.

Ever since the Forres-based site was brought back to life by the Urquhart family some 20-odd years ago, its whisky range – led by benchmark single malt, Benromach 10 Year Old – has experienced double-digit sales growth every year without fail.

The distillery was subject to a reinvigorating five-year refurbishment period before it re-opened in 1998, but with demand skyrocketing (bolstered by “particularly strong” overseas growth), the time has come to ramp things up a notch.

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Categories : Scotch Whisky
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The Nightcap: 12 January

Nightcap

A sober tone presides over this week’s Nightcap, as the industry mourns the passing of Bruichladdich’s Carl Reavey, and Old Monk rum founder Kapil Mohan. Meanwhile, International Scotch Day is set to return for 2018, and XO Cognac’s classification is bumped up to 10 years.

On the blog this week, we highlighted eight progressive wine cask finished whiskies, announced the winner of a two-night trip to the Isle of Skye with Talisker, and chatted all things American brandy-related with Joe Heron, founder and CEO of Copper & Kings, after US wine and spirits giant Constellation Brands snapped up a minority stake in his Kentucky-based business.

Producers on the Emerald Isle had a bumper week after it emerged that Irish whiskey distilleries welcomed a whopping 814,000 of us through their doors in 2017, while exports of those dreamy drams grew by 20% to total a whopping €600 million. Excellent news, we’re sure you’ll agree. Unfortunately, not all news was good news in the spirits world this week…

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Categories : News
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The Yamazaki Mizunara 18 Year Old: Lotteries and Charity Auctions

Yamazaki Mizunara 18

Hello, fellow whisky lover. You might’ve heard about a little thing called The Yamazaki Mizunara 18 Year Old. Well, we’ve been lucky enough to get our hands on six bottles – and this is what we’re gonna do with ’em.

Want to find out when this is all going down? See the timeline below.

If you’re not sure what all the faff is about, let us explain. This extraordinary bottling is a blend of single malt whiskies aged entirely in Mizunara casks for at least 18 years. Mizunara oak is only found in a few regions in Japan, so it’s pretty hard to come by; it’s also soft and porous, so it’s not particularly great at retaining liquid. Suntory Whisky persevered, and released just 1,000 bottles of this unbelievable whisky worldwide – of which we’re delighted to have six.

To say this bottling is highly sought-after is an understatement. It has an RRP of £1,000, but a quick Google search confirms that it’s going for way more than that already (Think double that price, or even more…), which is why we’ve decided to split our allocation between a 30ml dram lottery, a bottle lottery, and a charity auction.

This has been the case with rarities like this for the past few years (most recently, the hotly-anticipated Buffalo Trace Antique Collection 2017, and before that, the Yamazaki Sherry Cask Release, to name just a few). If you’re wondering what the hell we’re on about, we invite you to read this post for an in-depth explanation.

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Categories : Uncategorised
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Five Irish whiskey innovations as exports soar by 20% in 2017!

Irish whiskey exports

Luck of the Irish? As 2017 Irish whiskey exports reach a staggering €600 million, we select five of the category’s most creative bottlings to demonstrate why its success is anything but chance…

Mere days ago, we brought you news that Irish whiskey tourism was booming, with recent figures revealing 814,000 of us charged through the island’s distillery doors in 2017. Frankly, it doesn’t take a genius to work out there’s a reason why we’re all packing our bags for the next flight to Dublin – it’s because we can’t get enough of the stuff!

Yesterday, Bord Bia (Ireland’s food agency) revealed the full scope of our obsession in its latest export performance report. For scale, total Irish beverage exports (alcoholic and non-alcoholic – everything) were worth €1.5 billion last year, and Irish whiskey accounts for more than one third of that.

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Categories : Irish Whiskey
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Talisker competition: And the winner is…

Talisker competition

Cast your mind waaaay back, before you hit the gym to sweat out those New Year’s resolutions, before you pilfered the last of the roast potatoes on Christmas Day, and before you elbowed someone in the face to claim the last inflatable unicorn horn gift for your cat.

In those calm November days before chaos ensured, we teamed up with single malt Scotch whisky Talisker to offer one lucky winner and their plus-one a two-night trip to the Isle of Skye.

Not just any old stopover either. This extraordinary adventure included travel within the UK, two nights full board on Skye, a distillery tour, a day of action-packed activities tailored to the winner’s choosing, personalised bottles of whisky for each guest, plus a special signed bottle of Talisker 30 Year Old to boot.

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Categories : News
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Copper & Kings: The American brandy revival

Copper & Kings

Earlier this week, US wine and spirits giant Constellation Brands snapped up a minority stake in independent Kentucky distillery Copper & Kings American Brandy Company. Following the news, we chatted to Joe Heron, founder and CEO of the innovative brandy maker, to discuss the past, present and future of a category that his business seemingly single-handedly reinvigorated.

“I’ll give you an analogy,” Heron tells me, as we deliberate the distillery, the deal, and the wider American brandy category over the phone. We’re speaking immediately after news of his company’s transaction with Constellation Brands broke. “We’re the Leicester City [Football Club] of spirits*, because we are relentless. We have no money, but we are relentless, and we are very, very fast. We pass well from the middle, so that’s what we do. We innovate at a pace that’s unheard of. Once we’re in, we’re running and gunning and it’s very hard to keep up with that.”

If this brilliant description sounds somewhat business-like, it’s because Heron and his wife are established entrepreneurs who have always sought to capture what he calls “the vacant space”. And they’re bloody good at it. Nutrisoda, a line of health-and-wellness soft drinks, was their first endeavour, launched during a period when energy drinks reigned supreme. They sold it to PepsiCo in 2006. When everyone was raving about craft beer, they launched Crispin Hard Cider Company, which was bought by MillerCoors in 2012.

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Categories : News
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Irish whiskey distilleries attract more than 800,000 visitors!

Irish whiskey

Did you take a trip to the Emerald Isle last year? Irish whiskey distilleries welcomed a whopping 814,000 of us through their doors in 2017 – proving once again that our ardour for Ireland’s finest cannot be quelled.

2017 was a cracking year for the Irish whiskey category. A wealth of thrilling new brands burst onto the scene, global sales hit more than 100 million bottles (cementing its place as the world’s fastest-growing spirits category), and we visited the island’s distilleries in our droves. Footfall grew by 11% compared to the previous year, according to fresh data from the Irish Whiskey Association, with the majority of whiskey fans hailing from the US and the UK as well as Germany, France and northern Europe.

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Categories : Irish Whiskey
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Eight extraordinary wine cask finished whiskies!

wine cask

While wine cask finishing is a relatively new phenomenon in the grand scheme of whisky history, it’s one that has changed the taste of our drams for good. Step away from the sherry bombs – we’re shining a light on eight progressive wine cask finished whiskies…

Wine cask finishing: Where the worlds of wine and whisky collide in (mostly) joyous harmony. Over the last few decades, producers have been whipping out their world maps and exploring traditional grape-touting territories as they seek to round off their tasty, tasty whisky in a curious cask. And let’s be honest, it’s all rather exciting isn’t it?

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Categories : Whisky, Wine
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The Nightcap: 5 January

Nightcap

The Nightcap is back for 2018! In our first bulletin of the year, we cover the theft of the ‘world’s most expensive’ bottle of vodka, Diageo comes under fire for a boozy Snapchat ad, and a bartender collective gears up to explore the concept of ‘perfection’ in drinks…

Come on then, let’s be having those New Year’s Resolutions. Perhaps you’re planning on joining a vegetable orchestra, or have resolved to loosely base your life on Steve Zissou of 2004 Wes Anderson film The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou? Maybe you’d like 2018 to be the year you finally learn how to operate a combine harvester?

As for us? We’re resolving to champion those lesser-known spirits categories (aquavit, you’re next…), meet more distillers, brands, bartenders, and industry bods than ever before to keep you fully updated with the latest goings-on, and, ultimately, pack this magnificent blog with the best and brightest of the spirits world for your literary entertainment.

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Categories : News
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Q&A: Dalmore master blender Richard Paterson

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 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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Categories : Scotch Whisky
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