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Master of Malt Blog

Category: News

The Nightcap: 15 February

Had quite enough love-themed media to last the rest of 2019? Good, because there is no room for emotions here – time to get down to cold, hard, newsy facts…

Had quite enough love-themed media to last the rest of 2019? Good, because there is no room for emotions here – time to get down to cold, hard, newsy facts with The Nightcap!

Valentine’s Day has been and gone. All the vibrant pink balloons and ribbons in the shops have all been replaced by some very early Easter displays. While the shape of the novelty chocolate may have changed from hearts to eggs in your local supermarket, one thing doesn’t change – The Nightcap and its dedication to bringing you weekly bundles of booze news! This may have been one of the most tenuous ways to introduce The Nightcap yet, and honestly, I’m OK with that.

So, what’s been going down on the MoM Blog this week? Well, Kristy gave us some insight into what happens when you take part in American Distilling Institute’s 2019 Judging of Craft Spirits. Henry chatted to one of the Asterley Bros. about his upcoming Britannica London Fernet, delivered good news from HMRC on the growth of British gin exports, and showed us how to make a great punch with a kick of orange for the Cocktail of the Week. Annie looked at the big, wide world of minimalist cocktail bars from across the globe. Tequila was the order of the day on Wednesday for Adam, and he also found out about a new batch of cask strength Jameson

Phew! Best crack on with The Nightcap.

MBWS had a difficult 2018

MBWS waves goodbye to turbulent 2018 with 6% sales decline

French drinks group Marie Brizard Wine & Spirits (MBWS) has had a sorry time of late, as regular readers of The Nightcap will know. After a 25% profits slump and ongoing troubles in its home market, we’re sure the company won’t be sad to see the back on 2018. A sentiment surely underlined by its full-year results, released this week, which showed that sales fell 6.3% over the course of the year to €389 million (about £342 million). But while the French market continued to slow, there was at last some good news in the fourth quarter: sales climbed 17.1% in Poland, signalling a “progressive recovery”, and there was “solid sales growth” in Spain. Let’s hope the tide has now turned for the Sobieski, William Peel and Gautier Cognac-maker.

An artist’s impression of the Johnnie Walker Edinburgh store

A fancy Johnnie Walker store is coming to Edinburgh!

Earlier this week, Diageo formally submitted plans for a flagship Johnnie Walker visitor centre in Edinburgh, the focal point of Diageo’s £150 million investment in Scotch whisky tourism. Well, we’ll certainly drink to that. Johnny Walker’s new home will be a rather remarkable seven-floor space on Princes Street. The project will see the grand building renovated, with heritage features preserved wherever possible. David Cutter, chairman of Diageo in Scotland, stated that they hope to “restore it to its former glory as a cornerstone of the city”. The exciting space is set to include a multi-sensory immersive experience across three floors, allowing visitors to experience the 200-year history of the brand. As well as a flexible events area for music, theatre, arts and more, at street level there will be a retail space. Its interior is inspired by the stunning Johnnie Walker retail flagship in Madrid, which opened in November. Meanwhile, there will also be rooftop bars (yes, plural) so you can enjoy some of the best views of Edinburgh while you sip your Scotch. Excuse us, we’re just off to book some flights…

Say hello to Big Peat 10 Year Old!

Big Peat celebrates 10 years with commemorative bottling

Independent bottler Douglas Laing & Co had a big birthday this week. Big Peat is now a decade old. Where does the time go? The family firm behind the blended malt from Islay, made with whiskies from Caol Ila, Bowmore, Ardbeg and Port Ellen, marked this occasion with a new, commemorative 10 Year Old bottled without colouring or chill-filtration at a punchy 46% ABV. According to the brand’s tasting notes, you can expect “peat smoke, damp earth, smoked barley, BBQ ash, streaky bacon, tobacco, toasted marshmallows and a sea-salt tang balanced by a leathery sweetness”. The label features a collection of emblems, stamps and hand-drawn illustrations inspired by a vintage scrapbook in honour of Big Peat’s Islay home. A platinum-foiled (no expense spared here) book telling the legend of Big Peat and his whisky adventures will accompany each bottle. Fred Laing, chairman at Douglas Laing, said: “Back in 2009, I dreamt up a feisty Ileach fisherman who would later become Big Peat, a brand that would grow at an average of 29% year on year, and subsequently be joined by Scallywag, Timorous Beastie, Rock Oyster, The Epicurean and The Gauldrons to deliver what we so modestly designate our ‘Remarkable Regional Malts: The Ultimate Distillation of Scotland’s Malt Whisky Regions’.” Just 850 cases of Big Peat 10 Year Old will be available globally, priced at around £65.

Congratulations Alessandro Palazzi!

Legendary Duke’s bartender Alessandro Palazzi, honoured at CLASS Awards

On Tuesday night, the cream of the British booze world met for the annual CLASS Bar Awards. The winners were chosen by the CLASS Collective, a group of over 70 bar experts from all over the country. Lots of well-known venues scooped awards including Callooh Callay, Three Sheets, the American Bar at the Savoy, Coupette and Dandelyan. Individuals honoured included Max Venning, who won Bartender of the Year, and Declan McGurk from the Savoy, who picked up Bar Manager of the Year. But the biggest cheer of the evening went to Alessandro Palazzi from Duke’s Bar in London who won the Lifetime Achievement Award. Anyone who has experienced the Palazzi magic knows what a fine bartender he is, mixing great drinks, but also making one feel like the most important person in the world, if only for half an hour. His fearsomely strong Martinis were described by the San Francisco Chronicle as the “best in England”. We hope that he let someone else make the drinks on Tuesday night. Congratulations Alessandro!

The Future 50 initiative champions the next big things in wine and spirits.

WSET and IWSC seek out awesomeness in booze with The Future 50

Are you an incredible human-type under the age of 40 who works in booze? Know someone who is? If so, the Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET) and the International Wine & Spirit Competition (IWSC) want to hear from you! To celebrate their coinciding 50th anniversaries, the organisations have palled up to create The Future 50, an initiative that champions the next big things in wine and spirits. The list, set to be revealed in November, aims to recognise people from across the industry, from product development, design and distribution to marketing, journalism, hospitality, and everything else. As such, WSET and IWSC are calling on folk to nominate themselves and their talented colleagues! The judging panel includes the likes of Joe Fattorini (off of The Wine Show), Stephanie Macleod (Dewar’s master blender), Christine Parkinson (group head of wine at Hakkasan), Richard Paterson (Whyte & MacKay master blender), and Xavier Rousset MS (restaurateur), so there are some big names to impress. “As 2019 marks 50 years of success for each of our organisations, it offers the perfect opportunity to emphasise the importance of developing new talent through education and awards to secure an equally prosperous future for the industry,” said WSET chief executive Ian Harris. “At WSET we are delighted to be looking to the future and showcasing the next generation of talent in the wines and spirits industry through our joint Future 50 project.” For more information or to submit a nomination, head to future50.wsetglobal.com.

Sotheby’s enjoyed a fruitful 2018

Asia continues to dominate wine auctions according to Sotheby’s

Auction house Sotheby’s has just released its 2018 market report which shows the auction market for fine wine is in robust health. It was a record-breaking year for Sotheby’s, with auction sales up 50% on the previous year. Total sales of wines and spirits topped $100 million for the first time. The Asian market continues to expand, up from a 58% share in 2017 to 63% of the market this year, followed by North America and Europe. This is reflected in Hong Kong’s dominance with 53% of sales, followed by New York at 29% and London at 18%. Of the big names in wine, the number one producer by value was Burgundy’s Domaine de la Romanée-Conti at $24 million with 21% of sales. Indeed, one bottle of Romanée-Conti sold for $558,000 last year at auction in New York. Wine is all very well but Master of Malt readers will be pleased to hear that the most expensive bottle sold was a whisky, a Macallan 1926 with a label by Sir Peter Blake which went for $843,200. Yeah, whisky!

The initiative includes a fiery Flambé Masterclass!

D&D London Launches My Hospitality World

Starting on Monday 25 February, restaurant group D&D London will launch a two-week initiative called My Hospitality World, to encourage young people into the industry and demonstrate that opportunities are not confined to front of house or kitchen staff. This is in response to the industry’s growing skills gap. The initiative aims to encourage talented youngsters to see hospitality as a viable career path by offering a series of events in D&D London restaurants. There will be a full restaurant takeover of the Blueprint Café by students from London South East College, giving students an authentic taste of what goes on in the professional kitchen. There is even a dedicated event in support of International Women’s Day (8 March), to inspire more young women to become professional chefs! D&D London chairman & CEO Des Gunewardena commented: “Working in restaurants is viewed by many people as not being an occupation to aspire to and we want to change that.” Good luck to them!

Keep an eye out for The Hendrick’s LOVE Campaign

Hendrick’s seduces travellers with LOVE Campaign

Love is in the air! Well, almost – love is in the airport! The Hendrick’s LOVE Campaign is taking place throughout February and, in some places, into March in bars and shops at airports in the UK, Europe and across the Middle East and Asia. Under the headline, ‘Sublimely SIMPLE, yet curiously COMPLICATED – a gift much like LOVE’, Hendrick’s is charming travellers with a giant sharing teacup, a heart glorifier (thing that shows off the bottle), and copious amounts of rose petals and cucumbers. A surefire way to anyone’s heart. However, the most exciting part of the campaign is the exclusive airport serve named ‘A Rose Story’: a delightful combination of Hendrick’s gin with rose and elderflower syrup, and tonic, garnished with – to nobody’s surprise – rose petals and a cucumber slice. And there’s more potential Hendrick’s-themed fun on the horizon because on the 14th June, it’s World Cucumber Day. We’re rather intrigued to see how Hendrick’s will celebrate its favourite green salad fruit.

I beg your pardon, I never promised you a gin garden

Visit Britain’s first Gin Garden

Gin distillery tours are two-a-penny these days. You know the drill: admire the gleaming copper, try the gin and then buy a bottle. One distillery though, The Old Curiosity in Edinburgh, has come up with something a little different. From 23 March, you can visit its Gin Garden, located by the Pentland Hills to the south west of the Scottish capital. There you will be able to smell all those wonderful living botanicals that go into gin, witness the entire process from picking to distillation, and, of course, try the gin (it would be a pretty poor gin garden if there was no gin to drink). Not only is it a fun day out, but for gin nerds, it’s a great way to train your palate. The distillery has produced a video with distillery owner and top herbologist Hamish Martin that explains everything. It sounds like this Scottish distillery has raised the bar for gin-based experiences in Britain.

Bitters, Boulevardiers and big left entorhinal cortexes is how we roll at MoM Towers

And finally… Bitter-loving people are cleverer, say scientists

We lovers of bitter things like Campari or IPA have always felt ourselves to be somewhat superior, but now research by actual scientists shows that our tastes might not only show sophistication, they might also be linked to intelligence. Research into tonic water by Dr Daniel Hwang from the University of Queensland and published in New Scientist suggests that how people perceive bitterness is linked to brain size: “Researchers scanned the brains of 1,600 people and asked them to rate the bitterness of a quinine solution. Those who found the drink less bitter tended to have a bigger left entorhinal cortex”. In other words, if you like bitter things, you probably have a bigger brain. So next time someone tells you that adding Fernet Branca to your Negroni is neither big nor clever, point them to this study, and assume your genius face.

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Jameson launches second Bow Street 18 Years Cask Strength

The only cask strength Jameson is back! It pays homage to Jameson’s Dublin heritage by being matured at Bow Street, home of the old distillery. We travelled to Ireland to…

The only cask strength Jameson is back! It pays homage to Jameson’s Dublin heritage by being matured at Bow Street, home of the old distillery. We travelled to Ireland to learn more. . . 

Irish whiskey fans, rejoice! From August 2019, you will be able to get your hands on a new batch of Jameson Bow Street 18 Years Cask Strength. Bottled at 55.1% ABV without chill-filtration, the blend of pot still and grain Irish whiskeys was produced by Irish Distillers in Midleton Distillery where it was matured initially for 18 years in both ex-bourbon and ex-sherry casks under the watchful eye of master blender, Billy Leighton.

In January 2018, the expression was then re-casked in first-fill ex-bourbon American oak barrels to finish its maturation for a final six to 12 months in Dublin’s only live maturation house in the brand’s original home in Bow Street. The warehouse, which you can see for yourself if you tour what is now an award-winning visitor centre, can only hold 84 casks at any one time. Now that’s small batch.

Bow Street 18 Years Cask Strength

The whiskey is a celebration of Jameson’s Dublin heritage

Leighton commented on the process: “As a tribute to the Jameson distilling legacy in Smithfield, we’ve introduced some methods that would have been employed in days past. The final maturation period in Bow Street is our nod to the traditional ‘marrying’ method – I like to think of the whiskey getting engaged in Midleton and then ‘married’ in Dublin! It brings the provenance and heritage back to where it started. It is the ultimate expression of Jameson.”

Jameson Bow Street 18 Years Cask Strength comes in a luxury bottle that features 18 facets, one for each year of maturation, housed in a wooden box that references the traditional pot stills used in distillation. A special copper coin underneath the bottle provides fans with the opportunity to access an exclusive online portal where they can explore the whiskey’s story.

Bow Street 18 Years Cask Strength

Good cheesy fun at Bow Street Distillery

To mark the launch, Jameson has partnered with artisan Dublin cheesemonger Loose Canon to create a luxurious whiskey and cheese pairing and you’re encouraged to do the same this St. Patrick’s Day.

Leighton commented: “I hope that together with our cheese and whiskey pairings, we can inspire the world to match the strong flavours of the Jameson 18 family with the perfect Irish cheese to make a truly unique St. Patrick’s Day experience.”

Jameson Bow Street 18 Years Cask Strength will be available in the USA, Europe and Asia at an RRP of €240.

Bow Street 18 Years Cask Strength

Jameson Bow Street 18 Years Cask Strength Batch 2

 

Tasting note by Billy Leighton, master blender at Midleton Distillery:

Nose: Rich wood-driven influence with deep toffee notes and spice.

Taste: Toffee and oak remain consistent with hints of leather and vanilla along with a subtle sherry nuttiness creating depth and complexity.

Finish: Long and full with the sweet toffee notes slowly fading while the toasted oak and spice linger throughout until the very end.

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British gin exports double in value

Is the gin boom over? Not by a long way, according to figures just released by HMRC. We take a closer look at this great British export success story. It’s…

Is the gin boom over? Not by a long way, according to figures just released by HMRC. We take a closer look at this great British export success story.

It’s not often you get good news from HMRC, but something that landed today made us smile. British gin is booming. Export sales in 2018 reached a record £612 million, meaning that they have doubled in value since 2010, and increased by 15% on 2017.

The EU is the biggest market for British gin worth nearly £290 million and up 14% on 2017. Next comes the USA, worth £191 million and up £13 million since 2017. Other places that can’t get enough of that good old British gin include Australia (£24 million, up 100%), South Africa (£14.5 million up 222%) and Switzerland (£6.6 million, an increase of 38%). With the EU such an important market, one hopes that some sensible arrangement can be reached post-Brexit. Miles Beale from the Wine and Spirits Education Trust (WSTA) commented:

“Europe represents a huge market for British gin, therefore it essential that the UK does not leave the EU without securing a deal which allows frictionless trade. It is hugely important that Government also secures free trade deals with the rest of the world and we are encouraged by mutual recognition agreements already signed with countries like Australia and Switzerland. However more must be done, and quickly, so that we maintain our position as the world’s largest spirits exporter and further boost the UK economy and provide more jobs.”

Meanwhile back at home, we’re no slackers when it comes to drinking gin. In 2018, the British got through 66 million bottles of gin, up 41% on the previous year. That’s a lot of Martinis. Put together, the domestic and export markets for gin are more than £2.5 billion.

Here at Master of Malt, gin sales in 2018 were up 50.5% by volume on 2017. Much of this growth comes from fun, sweeter products like flavoured and pink gins. Our 2018 top ten bestselling gins included: Peaky Blinder Spiced Dry Gin, Aber Falls Orange Marmalade Gin, Whitley Neill Blood Orange Gin, and Malfy Gin Con Arancia. According to the WSTA, the flavoured gin category is now valued at £165 million up 751% (no that’s not a typo) on 2017. Some people might sneer at flavoured gin, but clearly the public disagrees.

Haymans Gin

Where some of that British gin is made, the stills at Hayman’s in South London

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The Nightcap: 8 February

Bee-saving beer, new Bladnoch, Brexit gubbins and more stories about things that don’t start with B. The Nightcap is here! Hmm… Something seems different around here… Why does everything feel…

Bee-saving beer, new Bladnoch, Brexit gubbins and more stories about things that don’t start with B. The Nightcap is here!

Hmm… Something seems different around here… Why does everything feel much sleeker and generally cooler? Has the MoM blog had a haircut? Maybe it’s wearing a new pair of shoes that really complements its digital eyes? Anyway, I’m sure someone will say something about that in due course – right this moment, The Nightcap is at the forefront of our minds!

Here’s a recap of what’s happened on the MoM blog this week. Annie investigated how Aussie distillers are using the work of Mother Nature to make whisky, then had a look at the buzz surround CBD cocktails. Henry’s Cocktail of the Week was the Brandy Sour – and when he wasn’t busy mixing up tasty drinks, he was talking to Rod Eslamieh about how to run a bar and recapping the night of Master of Malt winning Online Retailer of the Year at the Drinks Retailing Awards 2019. Adam added some brilliant beers to our “Must Try” list (which is already pretty long – thanks Adam), and Kristy explored the Craigellachie distillery in all its worm-tub awesomeness.

What an interesting week, and how attractively presented, don’t you think? Enough hints, if you haven’t noticed by now, you’ll never notice. It’s time for the Nightcap!

Finally, some good Brexit news

Good Brexit news! The US and UK agree divorce-proof booze terms

Forget the stalemate, ignore the sagas. We have good Brexit news! Some of our most beloved boozes were safeguarded last week after the US and UK agreed they would protect names and the definitions attached to them. The mutual agreement means that post-Brexit, Scotch whisky, Irish whiskey (which is made in both Northern Ireland and the Republic), Tennessee whiskey, and bourbon will all be recognised in bilateral trade. This might not sound like a big deal, but it can take years to secure protection for spirits, and the protections that do exist are largely arranged with the EU, rather than the UK. The Continuity Agreement, as it is known, has been welcomed across the industry and beyond. “Ensuring that our flagship spirits exports – bourbon and Tennessee whiskey – will continue to be protected provides our companies much-needed assurances as the UK negotiates its departure from the EU,” said Distilled Spirits Council president and CEO, Chris Swonger. Meanwhile, Scotch Whisky Association international director, Sarah Dickson, commented: “Scotch Whisky already enjoys legal protection in the US Federal Code, but this agreement mirrors the protection currently offered under the US-EU agreement and secures the continued recognition of all UK and US whiskies. This will give US consumers the confidence that after Brexit the Scotch whisky they enjoy is distilled and matured in Scotland in accordance with UK law.” Hurrah all round!

Andy Simpson and David Robertson from Rare Whisky 101

Whiskey auction market up by over 60% according to Rare Whisky 101

A report just published by Rare Whisky 101 shows that the value of Single Malt whisky sold at auction rose by a staggering 62.7% from 2017. The report is packed with fascinating stats (for whisky nerds anyway). Over 100,000 bottles of rare whisky were sold at UK auctions last year. The top end of the market looks particularly strong with the number of bottles going for £10,000 or more increasing from 91 in 2017 to 265 last year. Who can forget the record-breaking Macallan 1926 which sold for £1 million? Investing in whisky still looks like a good bet for the time being. The Apex 1000 Index (which tracks the values of rare whiskies) was up 30% this year, out-performing the FTSE, fine wine, crude oil and gold. Andy Simpson, director and co-founder of Rare Whisky 101, said: “The secondary market for rare whisky continues to outperform our expectations. With the average bottle price increasing by around 15% from the half-year stage to year-end…. Across the board, we’re seeing an increased number of valuable bottles selling for greater value than ever before resulting in phenomenal growth within the market for over £1,000 bottles.” Gazing into his whisky crystal ball, co-founder David Robertson said: “The UK auction market remains the biggest and most active market worldwide, and there’s nothing to suggest that will change. However, with the uncertainty of Brexit hanging over us, it is extremely difficult to second guess what will happen with cross border trade and access to bottles. From both a volume and value perspective, 2019 is very difficult to predict!”

Martell was a star performer for Pernod Ricard

Martell bolsters Pernod Ricard’s H1 sales

This week it was French drinks group Pernod Ricard’s chance to crunch the numbers. The company, which owns the likes of Jameson, Chivas Brothers (think: Chivas Regal, The Glenlivet, Ballantine’s), Martell, Beefeater and more, saw its sales climb 7.8% to €5.18 billion (about £4.53bn) for the six months to 31 December 2018. Its ‘Strategic International Brands’ (featuring Martell, Jameson, Scotch, gin and the Champers brands) contributed 10% gains, while Lillet, Monkey 47 and Altos were specifically named as giving the ‘Speciality Brands’ division an 11% boost. While the Americas region showed ‘robust’ growth, Asia-Rest of World soared by 16%. Pernod didn’t have it all its own way, with Europe ‘stable’ as Western Europe failed to shine. Looking ahead, chairman and CEO Alexandre Ricard said, “For full year FY19, in an environment that remains uncertain, we aim to continue dynamic and diversified growth across our regions and brands.”

Oz Clarke didn’t win, despite our prediction. Here he is with judge, Victoria Moore.

André Simon drink book winner announced

The great and good of the food and drink world (and your features editor Henry) turned out at the Goring Hotel in London for the annual André Simon food and drink writing awards. You may remember last year we tipped Oz Clarke to win in the drink category with Alex Maltman’s book on vineyard soils as dark horse. We got it hopelessly wrong. Drink Book of the Year went to The Sommelier’s Atlas of Taste by Rajat Parr and Jordan Mackay. Oh well, we can’t always be right. The most emotional moment of the evening was when Together: A Community Cookbook won the Special Commendation. This book was created by a group of London women affected by the Grenfell Tower fire and they turned out in force to collect it. Food Book of the Year went to Diana Henry’s How to Eat a Peach which was described tantalisingly by judge Meera Sodha as, “as good in bedroom as in the kitchen”. Blimey!

Fiery stuff from Douglas Laing

Douglas Laing releases collection inspired by fire, air, earth and water

Leading Scotch whisky specialist Douglas Laing & Co has announced a series of Old Particular single cask limited edition bottlings for 2019, inspired by the four elements of fire, air, earth and water. Each expression will be bottled at natural cask strength without colouring or chill-filtration. The series launches with the “fire” bottling which, very aptly, is a mocha-spiced Craigellachie 12 Years Old from a well-fired and characterful sherry butt. The specialist bottlings will each be packaged with designs that depict an intricate illustration of each of the four elements. Cara Laing, Douglas Laing’s director of whisky, who selected the whiskies, commented on the new collection: “Our cask selection and packaging design pays tribute to the natural elements that contribute so significantly to the production of Scotch whisky. From oak trees to charred casks, peat and of course water, this specialist single cask collection celebrates the role of the elements in the whisky-making cycle.” What an exciting release! So exciting, in fact, it sold out in a day. It probably deserves a few flame emojis, but we can’t do those so you’ll just have to imagine them yourselves.

Congratulations to Martin Siska

Martin Siska from Rosewood London

Martin Siska appointed as director of bars at Rosewood London

Rosewood London announced this week that Martin Siska has taken on the role as director of bars, effective 5 February! Originally from Slovakia, Siska first moved to London twelve years ago and ever since has worked across the luxury bar scene, including stints at Le Pont De La Tour, HUSH, and The Donovan Bar at Brown’s Hotel. He spent four months working with the legendary Javier de las Muelas of Dry Martini in Barcelona in 2015, which led to him launching its first UK outpost, Dry Martini London. Siska, who we spoke to back in May 2018, was appointed bar manager at Scarfes Bar in September 2016. This has led to nominations for industry awards, including Tales of Cocktail’s Best 10 Hotel Bars in the World; Imbibe’s Drinks List of the Year; and Class Awards’s Best Cocktail Menu. Scarfes Bar is inspired by the atmosphere of a drawing room and features canvases by renowned artist and caricaturist Gerald Scarfe, most famous for his political cartoons that have been featured in newspapers from The Sunday Times through to The New Yorker.

Say hello to Bladnoch 17 Year Old!

New year, new Bladnoch Single Malt!

Lowland distillery Bladnoch has kicked off 2019 in style with a new single malt Scotch. Bladnoch 17 Year Old, which was bottled to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the distillery, was crafted using locally-sourced barley and pristine water from the River Bladnoch, the inspiration for the distillery’s name. The most recent release from the southernmost distillery in Scotland was originally filled into ex-bourbon barrels in 2001. It was then disgorged and re-filled into Californian ex-red wine casks over two operations in March 2016 and January 2017. A blend of two vattings, the expression was bottled at 46.7% ABV without chill-filtration. Bladnoch Distillery describes the new release as being “rich and composed on the nose, with dried fruit, coffee, cherries, toffee, vanilla and sweet oak; lively but smooth on the palate, with spicy oak, prunes, orange marmalade, cherries, with hints of liquorice and cinnamon and quite complex on the finish, with malty, dried fruits, shortbread and spicy lightly peppery oak”. Sounds delicious!

The Cosmopolitan marks the Chinese New Year in style!

The Cosmopolitan in Vegas unveils Year of the Pig cocktail (it’s suitable for vegetarians)

The Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas is celebrating Chinese New Year the only way it knows how: decadent cocktails, delicious food and a lion dance! Celebrations to commemorate The Year of the Pig kick off on 7 February. Guests can indulge themselves with a 10 course (that’s right, 10!) ‘Emperor’s Feast’ for dinner. Of course, we’re more interested in the Year of the Pig Cocktail, created by chef mixologist Mariena Mercer. Capturing the traditional tastes of Chinese culture, the signature drink mixes a plethora of ingredients: Whistlepig rye, Umeshu plum sake, ceremonial-grade matcha tea, maraschino liqueur, lemongrass ginger syrup, lemon juice and egg white, all topped off with an edible pig garnish (which consists of paper made from potato and tapioca starches rather than a piece of pork). Alternatively, guests can celebrate with the Grass is Always Green cocktail, a concoction of Hong Kong Baijiu, Bombay Sapphire East, yuzu, orgeat, shishito and Szechuan pepper. Happy Year of the Pig to all those in Sin City!

Bee saving beer is a cause we can get behind.

Bumble Beer looks to crowdfund £50k to launch its bee saving bee-r!

Bumble Beer has created quite a buzz with the announcement of its Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign to raise £50,000 to kickstart its eco-beer. The aim is nothing less than to help save the bees! Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ll know that our pollinating friends are very much in trouble, though the facts are still shocking: 97% of Britain’s wildflower habitats have been destroyed since the 1940s, and nearly 10% of Europe’s wild bee species are facing extinction. Bumble Beer to the rescue! The inaugural product is a vegan 5% premium Pilsner, brewed with organic ingredients grown completely without any harmful pesticides, the most direct risk to bees. You can register pre-launch interest here, with the campaign going fully live on 1st March. Sustainability is at the forefront of every production stage; even its beer crates contain around 30 wildflower seeds, while the brewery has also developed wildflower-seed-infused recycled paper coasters. We love to see packaging that does more good than harm, for a change! Hopefully these ingenious brewers will inspire more to follow in their footsteps. So, join founder Jason Winter on his “beer loving, bee-friendly revolution” – well, it would be rude not to! Who knew ethics would taste so good?

Behold, the Negroni Segreto!

Free Negronis!

Well, that certainly got your attention. To celebrate the launch of ‘Entering Red’, a new short in Campari’s Red Diaries film series, the company is giving away 1,000 Negronis. But these aren’t just any Negronis, oh no. They have been created by award-winning bartender Joe Schofield to celebrate the 100th birthday of this legendary cocktail. The special version is called a Negroni Segreto and it contains Campari (naturalmente), Bulldog Gin, Cinzano Rosso 1757 vermouth, rosewater and fresh raspberries. Sounds splendid! There are ten bars participating in London and Manchester. Each bar has 100 Negronis to give away. In order to claim your free drink, just watch the film and then say the phrase that the Ana de Armas character says when she enters the bar for the second time. The offer is open from Friday 8 February (that’s tonight!) until Sunday 10 February from 6pm (see here for full details.) Time to watch that film.

Raasay distillery Head distiller Iain Robertson

Head distiller Iain Robertson with a wee cask

And finally… Raasay Distillery launches baby whisky casks. Awwwwwww, cute.

Many distilleries, especially the newer ones trying to raise funds, allow customers to buy casks but they tend to be quite expensive. So, for the (comparatively) budget-conscious Scotch lover, the Raasay Distillery is something a little smaller. Distillery co-founder Alasdair Day said: “We wanted to make our first single malt more accessible in these new smaller casks. Depending on the angels’ share, after three years we expect to get around 40 bottles from the 30 litre casks, each offering a distinctly different character of Raasay whisky to our other bottlings.” A little cask costs £999, compared with £5000 for a 150 litre one (though you will have to pay VAT and duty on delivery). We were rather hoping that you’d be able to take your cask home after filling. Sadly, SWA rules don’t allow this, so it has to remain on Raasay while it matures. But you can visit it at the distillery, and maybe sing to it or just tell it your problems. Whisky casks are good listeners. Then, after bottling, you get to take your empty cask home with your bottles so you could then decant the whisky back into the cask and then you’d have your very own little cask to mature in your cellar, shed, or by your bed so you can say good night to it.

And on that sweet thought, it’s time to say goodbye, and have a great weekend!

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Master of Malt wins at the 2019 Drinks Retailing Awards

Exciting news just in as Master of Malt adds another gong to its already groaning trophy cabinet (we do actually have a trophy cabinet). Forget the Oscars, Baftas or Cigar…

Exciting news just in as Master of Malt adds another gong to its already groaning trophy cabinet (we do actually have a trophy cabinet).

Forget the Oscars, Baftas or Cigar Smoker of the Year, they cannot compare with the sheer glamour of the Drinks Retailing Awards which took place last night at The Dorchester in London. The great and good of the business were out in their best bib and tucker to celebrate excellence in flogging booze.

According to Martin Green at Drinks Retailing News, the judges looked at “retailers’ strengths and weaknesses in the digital sphere” as well as using data from Nielsen and polling 2,000 consumers through YouGov. Green went on to say: “To be nominated for a Drinks Retailing Award is a tremendous achievement, and to win one is a stamp of the ultimate quality.”

It was a hard-fought contest, but we are delighted to tell you that Master of Malt won Online Retailer of the Year beating off some tough competition. This is the first time we have won this category since 2013 five years of hurt, never stopped us dreaming. Presenting the prize was Joe Fattorini off ITV’s ‘The Wine Show’ and representing MoM were Nick Murden and Jake Mountain.

They partied responsibly long into the night.

 

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Despite everything, American whiskey is booming in Britain

With the Super Bowl taking place this weekend, we take a look at how American whiskey sales are growing in the UK, and pick some of our favourites for you…

With the Super Bowl taking place this weekend, we take a look at how American whiskey sales are growing in the UK, and pick some of our favourites for you to enjoy in front of the big game.

Due to recent, ahem, disagreements between the European Commission and the current US administration, there’s currently a whopping 25% tariff imposed on American whiskey (you may have noticed how your favourite bourbon isn’t quite as good value as it once was). People were predicting catastrophe for American whiskey exports – and yet, the UK market is not only holding up, it is positively booming.

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The Nightcap: 1 February

We welcome February with stories of distillery reopening progress, new Glenmorangie deliciousness, and whisky coming to the big screen. Time for The Nightcap! Greetings to all from your favourite pals…

We welcome February with stories of distillery reopening progress, new Glenmorangie deliciousness, and whisky coming to the big screen. Time for The Nightcap!

Greetings to all from your favourite pals at Master of Malt, and welcome to another edition of The Nightcap – our weekly round-up of all the booze news from the week that was. It’s a bit like a neater version of someone taking all the interesting stories about all the tastiest drinks, loading them into a cannon and firing them at your PC/phone/tablet/eyeball computer. Is our lack of a cannon the only reason we aren’t doing this in that way? Maybe!

Here’s what’s been happening on the MoM Blog this week. Annie checked out some nutrient-rich (and protein-packed) serves from JJ Goodman and explored the ongoing rise of Japanese gins. Our newest writer Jess had a look at Allta, the most recent Private Edition bottling from Glenmorangie (more on that later). Adam helped you get prepared for Valentine’s Day with a selection of lovely treats. Kristy had a nose around Glenglassaugh, and then looked at the crucial training aspects of cocktail-making. Henry checked out Kingsbarn’s first commercial whisky launch, gave us the background on The Bramble cocktail, and offered up some tasty drinks recommendations for all of you watching the Super Bowl this weekend.

Now. On with the news!

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Glenmorangie marks a decade of Private Edition with Allta

Glenmorangie has unveiled Glenmorangie Allta, the 10th release in its annual Private Edition series of pioneering whiskies. This is the story of a love affair between Scotch whisky and humble…

Glenmorangie has unveiled Glenmorangie Allta, the 10th release in its annual Private Edition series of pioneering whiskies.

This is the story of a love affair between Scotch whisky and humble yeast. Or, perhaps not as humble as we thought. Glenmorangie’s director of distilling, whisky creation and whisky stocks, Dr. Bill Lumsden is brandishing the potential of yeast in the latest Private Edition’s rich, fruity release – Glenmorangie Allta (Scottish Gaelic for ‘wild’, pronounced ‘al-ta’). Not only does it mark the 10th anniversary of the Private Edition series, it’s also the distillery’s first expression created using wild yeast.

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The Nightcap: 25 January

The time has come once again for your favourite pals at Master of Malt to dive in to the news stories of the week from the world of booze –…

The time has come once again for your favourite pals at Master of Malt to dive in to the news stories of the week from the world of booze – it’s another edition of The Nightcap!

You have technically made it through the final full work week of January 2019. That in itself is a triumph. High-fives and fist-bumps all around – your choice which you receive. Personally, I enjoy the nonchalant and relaxed nature of a fist-bump, but others might prefer the exuberant bravado of a high-five. Either way, you’ve done all well. Also, since it’s a Friday, it’s time for our weekly round-up of the stories from the drinks world. Bonus.

Here’s what’s been doing down on the MoM Blog this week. The Buffalo Trace Antique Collection happened again – in fact, it’s still happening, as our charity auctions for bottles of these exciting whiskeys are continuing on over the weekend! Annie chatted with The Three Drinkers off of the TV about whisky being on the TV, and then had a look at Aussie whisky in honour of Australia Day (which is tomorrow). Henry sat down with Conor Hyde from Hyde Whiskey to find out about whiskey bonding and more, then took us through the foundations a classic with the Cocktail of the Week – the Martini. Kristy talked to Jon Purcell about his new book, The Art in Whisky, and has been having a nose around some of California’s best distilleries – check out our Instagram stories to see what she’s been up to. Adam showed off oddles of delicious treats based around coffee and tea, then took a look at Auchentoshan’s New Malt Order and how bartenders help shape some of the distilleries whiskies.

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Buffalo Trace Antique Collection 2018: lotteries and charity auctions

Set the excitement controls to very extremely exciting because the 2018 Buffalo Trace Antique Collection is here! As we have done in the past, we will be splitting each allocation…

Set the excitement controls to very extremely exciting because the 2018 Buffalo Trace Antique Collection is here! As we have done in the past, we will be splitting each allocation between a 30ml dram lottery, a bottle lottery, and a charity auction.

To find out when and where the action will take place, see the timeline below.

The release of the annual Buffalo Trace Antique Collection is one of the most eagerly-awaited events in the whiskey lover’s calendar. We were lucky enough to receive a small allocation (see below) and demand is likely to be bananas. Therefore, as in the past few years, we will be using our patented ‘least-worst’ three-pronged approach.

For more information on our approach see this post from 2016, which explains everything in great detail. Here are the prongs:

Prong 1) A third of the allocation will be turned into 30ml Drinks by the Dram samples (drams) so that as many people as possible can taste these whiskeys. These drams will be allocated for sale by lottery.

Prong 2) Another third will be sold as full bottles, again allocated by lottery, with the following statement on the back of each: “I, [your lucky winning name], hereby swear not to sell this bottle – but to drink it with my chums. May my taste-buds and olfactory bulb shrivel and die if I should break my word.

Prong 3) The final third will be sold via auction with everything over RRP (net of any applicable VAT) going to Malaria No More UK. Last year these Buffalo Trace auctions alone raised over £3,000 towards eradicating a disease that is especially deadly to children under five. Your love of whiskey can help save lives. You can find out more about our chosen charity here.

Right, all clear? Let’s have a look at the whiskeys:

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