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Master of Malt Blog

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Cocktail of the Week: The Whisky Sour

Sunday 25 August is National Whiskey Sour Day over in America. So, in honour of this auspicious occasion we’re looking at how to make the perfect Whisky Sour. Eagle-eyed readers…

Sunday 25 August is National Whiskey Sour Day over in America. So, in honour of this auspicious occasion we’re looking at how to make the perfect Whisky Sour. Eagle-eyed readers will note the missing ‘e’, that’s because we are using an English rye from Adnams. Good gravy!

Brewing towns like Southwold in Suffolk, home of Adnams, are wonderful places, the air alive with the smell of fermentation. Drive around Speyside, and you catch the same smell, yeasts working away to create alcohol. What whisky distillers call wash is just unhopped beer. Why then do beer and whisky production so rarely happen side by side?

In England it turns out there’s a very good reason for this, an old law dating back to the 19th century states that it is illegal for a brewery and a distillery to operate on the same site. So when Jonathan Adnams from the brewing family wanted to move into distilling, things turned out to be a bit more complicated than he had originally anticipated. He had the premises, but would he be allowed to open a distillery next to the brewery? Eventually, in 2010, he was granted a distiller’s licence and work could begin.

Adnams Copper House Distillery_1

The Copper House distillery with Southwold’s famous lighthouse visible through the window

Now the company produces a range of spirits at the Copper House Distillery including gin, vodka and some whiskies. The same yeast is used to make Adnams’ ales and the washes that will be distilled. Which brings us onto Adnams Rye Malt Whisky. This is made from rye grown on Jonathan Adnams’ own farm in Reydon, just outside Southwold. In fact the town’s name means rye (rey) hill (don) in Old English. How perfect is that? 

We tend to think of rye as a typically North American grain but it grows all over Britain and was used in the 19th century to produce grain whisky for Scotch. Now we are seeing a revival in its fortunes in the old country with St. George’s in Norfolk, the East London Liquor Company, and Arbikie in Scotland, not to mention Kyrö in Finland all turning out excellent rye-heavy whiskies. 

Adnams Rye Malt Whisky is made from a mixture of 75% malted rye and 25% malted barley, aged for at least five years in new French oak casks and bottled at 47%. The marriage of a high rye mash bill and high alcohol with virgin French oak means the spice levels are off the scale. American whiskey fans are going to love it. It’s good neat but those pungent flavours cry out for a little sweetness which means that it is a great mixing whisky (it’s particularly good in a Boulevardier). 

The classic cocktails of the golden age – the Manhattan, the Brooklyn and the Old Fashioned – would originally have been made with rye, not bourbon (though not an English rye of course). And then there’s the sour, that most versatile of cocktails: any spirit, be it gin, pisco, Grand Marnier or what have you can go into a sour. What is a Daiquiri but a rum sour? And indeed what is a Mai Tai (coming soon to Cocktail of the Week) but a souped-up Daiquiri? It all comes back to the sour. Get the balance between strong, sour and sweet right and the Sour is tremendously satisfying.

Adnams Rye Malt Whisky Sour cocktail

An English twist on an American classic

This recipe is a little unusual as rather than sugar syrup, it uses marmalade and maple syrup to sweeten it, like a sort of Canadian/British mash-up. We’re using an egg white to give it texture and fizz but feel free to leave it out.

So without further ado, here’s a Suffolk take on an American classic, the Whisky Sour:

50ml Adnams Rye Malt
25ml lemon juice
2 tsp orange marmalade
2 tsp maple syrup
1 egg white

Add all the ingredients to the shaker and dry shake vigorously for 15 seconds. Fill with ice and shake hard again, then double strain into a chilled tumbler and garnish with a piece of orange zest.

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Perfect booze for the bank holiday!

Come rain or shine, bank holidays are an ideal excuse to indulge in your favourite drinks. There’s nothing quite like looking ahead to a week of work and realising that…

Come rain or shine, bank holidays are an ideal excuse to indulge in your favourite drinks.

There’s nothing quite like looking ahead to a week of work and realising that there’s no need to set your alarm this Monday morning. This upcoming bank holiday (Monday 26th August) is one to take advantage of since this is the only one we’ve got left to enjoy before winter hits.

For some, a bank holiday means planning a long weekend away. For others, the day off equals a well-earned lie-in. But for our kind of people, the absence of work is a cause for celebration. One that involves a drink or two. Given this is meant to be a period of relaxation, allow us to save you the trouble of trawling the supermarkets, corner shops and virtual shelves online for alcohol. Instead, enjoy our round-up of delightful whiskeys, gins, rums, beers, wines and even craft cocktails!

That Boutique-y Gin Company Craft Cocktails Bundle (5 x 330ml)

That Boutique-y Gin Company knows that nobody really wants to spend their day off with more work to do so it created these ready-to-drink cocktails. No need to create your own serve. Including such wonderful combinations like Pineapple Gin Mule, Strawberry Gin Fizz, Gin and Tonic, Yuzu Gin Collins and Cherry Gin Cola, this bundle not only means great taste without the effort, but it will also save you precious monies versus buying each can individually!

J.J. Corry The Gael

A blended whiskey from the first new whiskey bonder in Ireland for over 50 years, J.J. Corry The Gael is a fruity, juicy and mixable expression made to represent what the brand felt was the classic Irish whiskey profile. The bottling is named after a bicycle the 19th-century whiskey bonder J.J. Corry (who the brand itself is named after) invented.

What does it taste like?:

Fresh hay, honeydew melon, fizzy strawberry laces, cinnamon, green apple, soft oak salinity and a bright hint of lime.

Gin Ting – Passionfruit, Mango & Elderflower

Take a tasty gin recipe featuring juniper, cassia, coriander, orange and lemon and add a refreshing and summery infusion of passion fruit, mango and elderflower and what do you get? The wonderful Gin Ting, a full-bodied, fruity number that’s perfect for those with a sweet tooth.

What does it taste like?:

Fresh fruit is right at the fore of this one, with tangy mango and a hint of passion fruit. Subtly spicy juniper and cassia in the background.

Woodford Reserve Kentucky Bourbon

If you ask a bourbon to fan to think of an affordable, approachable and tremendously tasty bottling that makes for a cracking Old Fashioned cocktail, there’s a good chance that Woodford Reserve Kentucky Bourbon will be on their mind. The distinctive drink features a mash bill that includes a weighty rye concentration (18% to be exact), adding a good kick of spice to contrast with its exceptionally smooth delivery.

What does it taste like?:

Honey, winter spice, leather, a touch of cocoa, espresso beans, plenty of rye, ground ginger, almond oil, a little smoke, toasty oak and vanilla cream with a hint of butterscotch.

Manchester Gin – Raspberry Infused

With any luck, we’ll see some evidence that it’s still summer this bank holiday. If the weather cooperates, you’ll need an equally appropriate sunshine-worthy drink. For this, we recommend Manchester Gin – Raspberry Infused, which takes the already delicious Manchester Gin recipe and add raspberries to the mix. Excellent for cocktails, mixed drinks, heck, even splashed in a glass of Champagne, it’s little surprise this beauty picked up a bronze medal in the Flavoured Gin category at the World Gin Awards 2019.

What does it taste like?:

Nutty juniper developing into soft waves of floral dandelion and lemon. Layers of sweet raspberry notes surround it.

Kona Big Wave Golden Ale Bundle (6 Pack)

Let’s face it, a good order of beer is a bank holiday essential and one that saves you a few quid is always going to be a winner. Take this bundle of Big Wave Golden Ale from the Hawaii-based Kona Brewing Co, for example. It’s filled with 6x 355ml bottles of the light, refreshing and delicious beer and it will save you a healthy 10% versus buying individually!

What does it taste like?:

Cereal, grapefruit, pineapple, toffee, bready malt and slightly pine-y hops.

Gin Mare

For the gin fan who wants an expression with a story behind it, Gin Mare is ideal. The Mediterranean gin is distilled in a thirteenth-century chapel in an ancient fishing village using a variety of botanicals including rosemary, thyme, basil and the arbequina olive. This final ingredient ensures that every bottle is unique, as every year the arbequina olive changes acidity.

What does it taste like?:

Herbal notes, coriander, tart juniper, citrus zest, berry fruits and hints of perfume.

Neptune Rum

For rum fans who want a bottling that’s delicious neat or when mixed, it’s hard to go wrong with Neptune Rum. A blend of eight, five and three-year aged golden rum distilled from pure sugar cane molasses at the revered Foursquare Distillery in Barbados, Neptune Rum was matured in American bourbon oak barrels, filtered using a specific cold filtration process, diluted with soft spring water and bottled at 40% ABV. For serving suggestions, you can check out this neat little feature from our blog!

What does it taste like?:

Maple syrup, fresh apricot, ripe peaches, shredded coconut, green banana, caramelised brown sugar, vanilla, spicy pepper, nutmeg, warm bourbon oak, sherried peels

Malfy Gin Con Limone

With its sheer cliffs, rugged shoreline and rustic charm, the Amalfi coast is a popular holiday destination for good reason. But for those who can’t make the trip to the southern edge of Italy’s Sorrentine Peninsula this bank holiday weekend, you can always enjoy a taste of the region with this delightful expression. Among the six botanicals used in the creation of Malfy Gin is an infusion of Italian coastal lemons, including some from the Amalfi coast.

What does it taste like?:

Very citrus forward and fresh, with touches of woody juniper bringing character. Lemon notes are authentic, bright and mouth-filling.

Gusbourne Rosé 2015

Rosé is always a phenomenally popular choice of drink among friends so having a good bottle on hand is essential. You can’t go wrong with this 2015 vintage from the sublime English vineyard Gusbourne, produced from hand-picked Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier grapes for a delicate, floral and fruity profile.

What does it taste like?:

Delicate fruity notes of cherry, strawberry and slightly tart cranberry with buttery notes of brioche and a hint of spice.

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New Arrival of the Week: Le Rebelle Aperitif

The most exciting product to land at MoM HQ this week is a lighter take on the aperitif that uses some of the techniques of the French perfumery industry in…

The most exciting product to land at MoM HQ this week is a lighter take on the aperitif that uses some of the techniques of the French perfumery industry in its production process. And it’s so pink.

The aperitif category has exploded in recent years with exciting brands including Kamm & Sons, big launches from big names like Martini Fiero, and even non-alcoholic versions such as Everleaf. One debut in particular has caught our eye, Rebelle Aperitif from Rebel Distillers. To learn more we spoke to one of the brains behind it, Matthew McGivern.

After a career with stints at Molson Coors, William Grant & Sons, the London Distillery Co. and, er, Durex, McGivern set up Rebellion Distillers in 2016. He’s been joined by distiller Toby Sims who has made spirits for Fortnum & Mason, Dodd’s Gin and Kew Gardens. The company works as a drinks consultancy as well as producing its own products like the genre-bending Rebel Rabbet range and now Rebelle Aperitif. McGivern filled me in on the idea behind it: “When I started the development of this product, I’ll be totally honest we took inspiration from Aperol and the Spritz and created a version we liked better. I really like the category, there are some great tasting liquids and it ticks a lot of the boxes which consumer trends suggest, whether that’s lower alcohol, photogenic for Instagram and to make sure it works in classic serves”, he said. All very canny, as we’ve noted before on the blog, pink sells.  

The other up-to-date thing about Rebelle Aperitif is lower sugar levels than certain big name aperitifs. “By using natural flavourings we’ve been able to develop a fantastic liquid and significantly reduce the sugar level”, McGivern told us. Getting the perfect balance wasn’t easy: “it was a challenge to get it right and used a lot of brainpower”, he said. The production process, inspired by French perfumiers, isn’t straightforward either: “we’re talking copper and vacuum distilling, multiple macerations and some natural flavourings which came from tastings with perfumers to get the balance”, he added.

So the big question is how to drink Rebelle Aperitif: well, the most obvious serve is the Spritz (mixed with sparkling wine and soda) but, according to Matt, “it makes a truly magnificent Negroni too.” He recommends using a juniper-forward gin and Noilly Prat rather than something sweet and Italian. We had a little advance taste and can confirm that Rebelle Aperitif is indeed much lighter, more delicate than some of the competition with cinnamon and floral notes but also plenty of that all important bitterness on the finish. It makes a great alternative to a G&T mixed with tonic water. And that tremendously vivid pink colour is sure to be a hit at infinity pools around Europe this summer (or what’s left of it). 

  

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Cocktail of the Week: The Montenegroni

As any fule kno, Negroni = Campari + sweet vermouth + gin. But not always, this week we’re mixing things up a little by chucking the Campari and using Amaro…

As any fule kno, Negroni = Campari + sweet vermouth + gin. But not always, this week we’re mixing things up a little by chucking the Campari and using Amaro Montenegro instead.

The constant factor in most Negronis is Campari, so much so that Campari has owned the 100 years of the Negroni celebrations that took place this year. Italy, however, is full of amari (bittersweet liqueurs) which you can use in place. One such is Amaro Montenegro from Bologna, named after Princess Elena of Montenegro who became Queen of Italy in 1900. It has an elaborate production process involving over 40 botanicals including vanilla, eucalyptus, orange and cinnamon. Some are macerated, other boiled or distilled to a recipe perfected in 1885 by Stanislao Cobianchi. Today master herbalist Dr. Matteo Bonoli is in charge with keeping things consistent.

The flavours are sweet, rich and round with a distinct chocolatey note. Back in Bologna, it’s usually drunk as a digestif alongside a cup of espresso but for a while now, it has been a liqueur revered by the drinks cognoscenti. Last year it won a gold medal at the IWSC.

Montenegroni

The Montenegroni: can people this photogenic be wrong?

As part of the plan to raise its profile, Amaro Montenegro is backing the Vero Bartender competition, where bartenders from around the country will compete to create a cocktail with a maximum of five ingredients (based on Amaro Montenegro, naturally). There will be northern and southern heats in September, with the UK final at the Punch Room at the London Edition Hotel on 20 October. But that’s not the end of it, because 12 finalists from around the world will then compete in the global final in Italy on 19 November! So if you fancy yourself behind the stick (to coin a phrase) then you should enter.

To kick things off in style, this special Negroni has been created by Rudi Carraro, UK brand ambassador for Amaro Montenegro. In a bold move, Carraro has not only chucked the Campari, but he’s not using vermouth either. He plays by his own rules. Instead he’s using Select Aperitivo, a low-ish alcohol amaro (17.5% ABV) from Venice, not dissimilar to Aperol. It’s what many Venetians prefer to use in a spritz in place of the mighty orange beverage. He didn’t specify the gin, so we’re using delicious, lemony Brooklyn Gin for no particular reason except we like it. The result is something mellower and more complex, but less boozy than the classic Negroni. It would be equally at home after dinner as before.

Carraro originally designed this recipe as a punch as a nod to the bar at the London edition, but we’ve domesticated it into a single-serve version. Right, let’s get stirring.

40ml Amaro Montenegro 
25ml Brooklyn Gin
20ml Select Aperitivo 

Add ingredients to an ice-filled tumbler, stir and garnish with a slice of orange.

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New Arrival of the Week: St. Patrick’s Moonshine

This week we are mostly drinking a traditional Irish spirit made to an old family recipe from St. Patrick’s Distillery in Cork. The Walsh family have been distilling a long…

This week we are mostly drinking a traditional Irish spirit made to an old family recipe from St. Patrick’s Distillery in Cork.

The Walsh family have been distilling a long time, though in the past they had to keep quiet about it because it wasn’t always strictly legal. Walsh’s great grandfather Patrick Walsh was involved in the illicit production of poitín and had some run-ins with the law. “My late father, also Patrick Walsh, often reminisced about hiding bottles in the cabbage patch as a child whenever a raid was rumoured”, said Cyril Walsh from St. Patrick’s Distillery. It now produces a spirit that is made to the old Walsh family recipe from Croagh Patrick mountain in County Mayo. “He [Walsh’s father] would have been immensely proud to see the family tradition acknowledged and finally legal”, Walsh went on to say.

The family-inspired spirit is a blend of pot-distilled malted barley and potato spirit. The result is sweet, rich and spicy with a creamy texture from the potato, and bottled at a punchy 45.7% ABV. It’s like drinking fine new make whiskey. As you might guess it makes a cracking Martini but it’s really designed for sipping on its own. According to Walsh it “is eligible to be sold as poítin [but] we have chosen to call our signature spirit Moonshine as the largest markets for St. Patrick’s Distillery are currently the USA and China, and this is much easier to understand and pronounce”. But in future they do intend to release some limited edition bottlings labelled poítin.

Moonshine is just part of a range of spirits produced by Cyril Walsh and partner Tom Keightley. Walsh looks after the technical side of things and Keightley, who has an MBA (from Harvard, no less) runs the business. The company’s first releases in 2015 were a gin and a vodka, both potato-based. These have been joined by a range of gins, an Irish cream liqueur, and both blended and single malt whiskeys (which really impressed me when I tried them at the Irish embassy in London a couple of years ago). As well as the US and China, the company exports to Germany, Canada and the UK.

St. Patrick’s Distillery has picked up so many gongs from the IWSC, Irish Whiskey Awards, and C2C Spirits Cup in Germany, that the website looks like a Soviet officer’s uniform. The name of the company is a bit of a misnomer because, though it does have a still, at the moment the team buys in all its spirits.

They plan to start distilling at some point but at the moment Walsh and Keightley’s skills lie in buying, blending and maturing spirits distilled to their specifications. Something they seem to be very good at. 

Moonshine, spooky!

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Cocktail of the Week: The Pink Lady

This week we’re shaking up the pinkest thing in the known universe. Pinker than the Pink Panther, pinker than a pink shirt from Thomas Pink, Pinker even than the Pink…

This week we’re shaking up the pinkest thing in the known universe. Pinker than the Pink Panther, pinker than a pink shirt from Thomas Pink, Pinker even than the Pink herself, it’s the Pink Lady!

It has nothing to do with the Pink Ladies from Grease, but the Pink Lady is named after a musical. A show called The Pink Lady ran on Broadway before the First World War and it must have been a hit to have a cocktail named after it. The Pink Lady cocktail, however, would have to wait until Prohibition before is became a certifiable hit. The key ingredient, grenadine, is not only a pinking agent but it’s useful for disguising the taste of bad gin. Since its 1920s heyday, the Pink Lady has has fallen out of fashion. It’s seen as a rather kitsch drink. Jayne Mansfield, famous for her luridly decorated Los Angeles home known as the Pink Palace, was a fan. 

Originally, a Pink Lady would have been a very gin heavy cocktail. In Harry Craddock’s 1930 Savoy Cocktail Book, it’s basically neat gin (he specifies Plymouth) shaken with a tablespoon of grenadine and an egg white. Fierce! But by the 1940 and ‘50s it had evolved into something extremely sweet and somehow cream had crept into the recipe. That’s a step too far but nevertheless a properly-made Pink Lady should slip down a little too easily.

The Pink Lady

None more pink

The perfect version should fall between Craddock’s (too) basic recipe, and the more baroque constructions that came later. In David A. Embury’s The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks, the Pink Lady comes under variations of the sour. The key thing is the lemon juice which freshens it up and stops the grenadine becoming cloying. Embury includes applejack (American apple brandy sometimes made with the addition of neutral alcohol) in his recipe, something taken up by later drinks writers including Eric Felten and Richard Godwin. Very nice but today I’m just sticking with gin. In this case Bathtub to give it a bit of Prohibition glamour. If you want to do a light Charleston while shaking, then that’s all to the good. 

The results are absolutely delicious. Pink is having a bit of a moment, what with pink gins, pink wines and, err, all the other pink things. If it’s pink, it sells. So, I think the Pink Lady is long overdue a revival, don’t you? Here’s how to make it. 

50ml Bathtub Gin
15ml lemon juice
10ml grenadine

1 egg white

Dry shake all the components hard, add ice and then shake again. Double strain into a chilled coupe or Martini glass and serve with a maraschino cherry or a raspberry.

You can always make your own grenadine, see this recipe.

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New Arrival of the Week: TBRC Diamond Distillery (Port Mourant Still) 10 Year Old

This week’s new arrival isn’t just a very special rum from Guyana bottled by That Boutique-y Rum Company, but it’s also a portal through time because it was distilled using…

This week’s new arrival isn’t just a very special rum from Guyana bottled by That Boutique-y Rum Company, but it’s also a portal through time because it was distilled using a wooden pot still dating back to 1732! 

We visit a lot of distilleries here at MoM. They come in all shapes and sizes but one thing they have in common is at the heart there will be a mass of gleaming metal (usually copper) where the magic happens. But they do things a little differently in Guyana. It’s the only English-speaking country in South America. Though it’s sandwiched between Suriname, Venezuela and Brazil, Guyana is closer culturally to Caribbean countries like Jamaica and Trinidad. 

Heavy Guyanese spirits formed the backbone of Navy rum, as they still do in blends like Pusser’s. These highly-prized rums get their magic from wooden pot stills. It sounds a bit dangerous, doesn’t it? Since distillation involves boiling highly flammable liquids, surely wood is the last thing you’d want to use? Yet originally this how many rums were made, but only in Guyana do they still use the technique.

Port Mourant stills

No gleaming copper here

The Port Mourant stills were constructed in 1732. Or at least parts of them are that old. The set-up is a sort of Heath Robinson contraption that bits have been added to and replaced over the years. It consists of two stills of 3,000 and 2,000 gallons, the pots are made from local hardwood to which copper necks have been attached, the columns are linked and lead to a retort and a condenser.

The wood does two things. Firstly, it’s not an inert substance so it preserves and transmits flavours from previous distillations going back hundreds of years. Secondly, there is much less copper contact than a normal pot still which preserves heavier alcohols and congeners.

The stills have had an interesting life which reflects the vicissitudes of Guyanese rum. Around the beginning of the 20th century there were seven great distilleries including Port Mourant in the country but, as with Irish whiskey, downturns in the industry led to consolidations, and one by one, distilleries closed. But so important were these old stills, that rather than being scrapped when the Port Mourant Distillery closed, they were first transported to the nearby Albion Distillery,and when that closed they went to Uitvlugt (Dutch word, pronounced ‘eye-flut’). It then closed in 2000 when all distilling in Guyana was consolidated at the Diamond Distillery belonging to Demerara Distillers Ltd. The stills’ slow journey around the country is commemorated on this rum’s label. The gleaming towers of the modern distillation equipment at Diamond can be seen on the horizon.

Diamond Distillery (Port Mourant Still) - Batch 3

The wooden stills on their way to the promised land, or the Diamond Distillery as its better known

The Port Mourant stills aren’t the only bits of living industry at Diamond. There’s another wooden pot still which came from the Versailles Distillery and an exact replica of the original Coffey still which came from the Enmore estate, but made from wood! So within one distillery in Guyana, there’s the heritage of the entire’s country’s rum industry and the ability to make an extraordinary range of spirits. There’s a good article about the place here

These rums usually go into blends but some are bottled under the El Dorado (the fabled city of gold that was thought to be in Guyana – it wasn’t) label, as well as independent bottlings like this 10 year old from That Boutique-y Rum Company. As you might have guessed, it’s a rum packed full of flavour with estery banana notes and no shortage of funk. Ten years in cask have rounded it off, giving it elegance but without losing that extraordinary character. It’s a remarkable bit of living history, and best drunk with just a little ice. 

Diamond Distillery (Port Mourant Still) 10 Year Old (That Boutique-y Rum Company)

Diamond Distillery (Port Mourant Still) 10 Year Old (That Boutique-y Rum Company)

Tastings note from The Chaps at Master of Malt:

Nose: Grassy initially and then the funky flavours come: overripe bananas, balsamic flavours and sun-baked earth.
Palate: Quite light body, dry and crisp with hot peppery notes, with a lingering banana and boiled sweet fruitiness underpinning it all.
Finish: Toffee with lingering vegetal notes.
Overall: Funky but elegant too.

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Join us as we celebrate International Scottish Gin Day!

Today marks the very first International Scottish Gin Day! To celebrate the occasion, we’ve picked out 10 of the tastiest gins that hail from north of the border. Enjoy! Words:…

Today marks the very first International Scottish Gin Day! To celebrate the occasion, we’ve picked out 10 of the tastiest gins that hail from north of the border. Enjoy! Words: Victoria Sayers

3 August 2019 is the first ever International Scottish Gin Day. Juniper geeks, get ready to celebrate! No longer is the Scottish distilling scene only about whisky: now distilleries are embracing local botanicals to create a sense of place through gin, too. The reputation of Scottish distilling is sky-high, but instead of riding on Scotch’s coat tails, these gin producers are carving their own niche in the international spirits scene. Here’s our pick of some of the tastiest Scottish gins around – but it was actually a pretty tough call to make. Not only are there LOADS of them, they’re pretty delicious, too. These 10 not enough to whet your appetite? We’ve got a whole bunch more Scottish gins right here! 

International Scottish Gin Day

Theodore Pictish Gin

Theodore Pictish Gin

Inspired by the Picts, one of the first tribal settlers of Scotland, we introduce Theodore Pictish Gin! These body-painted warriors arrived on the eastern archipelago and had a sense of mystery about them. This clan inhabited the Scottish Highlands and documented their adventures through poetry, engravings and building fortresses across Scotland. A creative, enterprising bunch. Theodore Gin represents the curiosity of the Pict people, and is made with 16 botanicals to wet your whistle: honey, coriander, citric pomelo, bourbon vetiver, damask rose, pink pepper, angelica, chamomile, kaffir lime, ginger, orris, pine, lavender, cardamom, and oolong tea all mix in with the juniper to create something truly elegant. Try out this T&T in a highball glass: 50ml Theodore Gin and 125ml tonic water, built over ice and garnished with a slice of mango.

International Scottish Gin Day

Hendrick’s Midsummer Solstice

Hendrick’s Midsummer Solstice 

Deeply floral and lightly playful, it’s Midsummer Solstice Gin! A refreshing take on a classic Hendrick’s, this expression is infused with a tip-top secret recipe that has been made in a very small batch, so once it’s gone, it’s gone. Much like Midsummer Day itself, it’s meant to be a fleeting moment in time, hence the limited-run liquid. We’re big fans; it pairs especially well with sparkling wine and tonic.

International Scottish Gin Day

Orkney Gin Company Rhubarb Old Tom

Orkney Gin Company Rhubarb Old Tom

Orkney Gin Company, named after its namesake archipelago off the north coast of Scotland, released its Rhubarb Old Tom for the first time on World Gin Day 2017 (timing = excellent). Rhubarb is widely celebrated in Orkney, where families pass down their recipes to new generations of Orcadians. Old Tom gins are traditionally sweetened to give the liquid a smoother finish, and Orkney Gin Company believes this enhances the tartness of the rhubarb. Other botanicals that complement the rhubarb’s zesty flavour include the smooth juniper berries, citrus peel, rose petals and cinnamon. The team even uses seven-times distilled grain spirit, an updated version of the historical methods… The result? Pretty tasty!

International Scottish Gin Day

Rock Rose Gin

Rock Rose Gin

Made by Dunnet Bay Distillers (a tiny team of seven) in North Scotland, the alluringly smooth Rock Rose Gin is produced using local botanicals including rose root, coriander seed, cardamom, juniper, sea buckthorn, rowan berries and blueberries. The team’s very clever gardener, Dr Hana, can be found growing these weird and wonderful botanicals in the brand’s very own geodome which she built at the distillery. Wowzers. This is suitably tasty on its own due to the spritziness of the rose notes, but of course you can couple with tonic, too.

International Scottish Gin Day

Daffy’s Small Batch Premium Gin

Daffy’s Small Batch Premium Gin

Daffy is the goddess of gin (apparently) and was first written about over 300 years ago. The wheat grain spirit used in the expression hails from northern France, while the distillery Daffy’s Gin is made at is situated in Scotland’s Cairngorms National Park. Traditional botanicals like juniper, cassia bark and coriander are mixed in with Lebanese mint and a variety of lemons. The Daffy’s team believes that the balance of strength and flavour at 43.4% ABV results in a well-rounded and smooth finish, even when enjoyed straight. The design of the bottle is the work of artist Robert McGinnis, who created film posters for various James Bond films and Breakfast at Tiffany’s. The perfect D&T? 50ml Daffy’s Gin, 100ml tonic water, three wedges of lime and some mint leaves. You’re welcome!

International Scottish Gin Day

The Botanist Islay Dry Gin

The Botanist Islay Dry Gin

Islay is known for its rather wonderful whiskies, but now it’s the home of some gin brands, too! We’re fans of The Botanist (made at the Bruichladdich Distillery). It really does have one of the best bottles we’ve set our eyes upon. Plus, it’s a treat for your taste buds, too. A whopping 22 botanicals are squashed into The Botanist gin including some Islay natives. Are you ready for this list? The full list of is as follows: apple mint, chamomile, creeping thistle, downy birch, elder, gorse, hawthorn, heather, juniper, lady’s bedstraw, lemon balm, meadowsweet, mugwort, red clover, spearmint, sweet cicely, bog myrtle sweet gale, tansy, water mint, white clover, wild thyme and wood sage. Phew!

International Scottish Gin Day

Loch Ness Gin

Loch Ness Gin

Produced in Loch Ness (obvs), Loch Ness Gin is the product of a husband and wife team, Kevin and Lorien Cameron-Ross, whose family has resided on the bank surrounding the lake for over five centuries. They pick their own juniper and botanicals on their home estate, right on the shores of Loch Ness – very cool. At the heart of the distillery’s products is the Loch; its water is used in the whole range of spirits – we like to think it gives a bit of a magical, mysterious vibe. With all this nature on the doorstep, the family has a deep understanding of the region and respect the land highly; they say it makes their ingredients ‘real and rare’, with a taste like no other.

Lussa Gin

Lussa Gin

Lussa Gin is native to the Isle of Jura, situated off the west coast of Scotland. It was founded by a trio of adventurers; they grow, gather and distil using only local botanicals. Jura is super-remote, only 30 people live at the north end of the island, where the distillery is located. The team says ‘isolation is inspiration’; how could you not when you’re surrounded by mountains and water, and you can only reach the island by ferry (or by helicopter, if you happen to have a spare one of those). It is so free from air pollution that lichen can grow everywhere. The end product: a fresh, zesty, smooth gin with a subtly aromatic finish. 

Lind & Lime Gin

Lind & Lime Gin

The first tipple to come from Edinburgh’s Port of Leith Distillery – it’s Lind & Lime Gin! Inspired by Dr James Lind, who conducted clinical trials aboard HMS Salisbury to help find a cure for Scurvy back in the day. His findings helped sailors see a remarkable improvement in their health, and kept Britain a huge step ahead of enemies during times of naval warfare. As for the bottle design, inspiration was drawn from the 14th century, when wine was one of the most valuable items to pass through the local harbour.  Juniper, lime and pink peppercorns are the three key botanicals in this gin and they really work in harmony. We reckon it tastes as good as it looks.

International Scottish Gin Day

Eight Lands Gin

Eight Lands Gin

Eight Lands produces an array of spirits with Speyside spring water, distilled and bottled by the family-owned Glenrinnes Distillery. Featuring 11 different botanicals including cowberries and sorrel from the Estate gives this gin some berry good flavours (ha!). This shiny new distillery was purpose built to not make whisky (a shocker in Speyside, we know!) and was completed in 2018. The spirits are made using spring water drawn from the lowest slopes of Ben Rinnes – both pretty cool and sustainable. And it tastes really rather good in a classic G&T.

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Master of Malt Dram Club – August 2019

Had quite enough of July and its roulette-wheel-style weather selection and slightly disappointing blockbuster movies? Well buckle up, bub – August is here, and it’s got a bunch of new…

Had quite enough of July and its roulette-wheel-style weather selection and slightly disappointing blockbuster movies? Well buckle up, bub – August is here, and it’s got a bunch of new Tasting Sets for Master of Malt Dram Club members!

We’re back for another month of decidedly delicious Master of Malt Dram Club escapades! If those words mean nothing to you, here’s the 411, folks. Sign up for Dram Club and every month you’ll receive a Tasting Set delivered to your door via the magic of the postal service (the actual postal service, not the indie band from the mid-2000s). You can choose between Whisky, Rum or Gin, or even get fancy with Premium Whisky or Old & Rare Whisky. You’re also able to gift a membership to someone who you reckon would love to immerse themselves in a particular spirit. If you want to know what sort of thing people are finding in these Tasting Sets, you’ve come to the right place – here’s what Dram Club members are receiving in August!

Dram Club Whisky for August:

Dram Club Premium Whisky for August:

Dram Club Old & Rare Whisky for August:

Dram Club Gin for August:

Dram Club Rum for August:

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Cocktail of the Week: The Moscow Mule

This week we have a cocktail that has nothing to do with horses or donkeys, and not much of a connection to Russia. It’s the Moscow Mule! The Moscow Mule…

This week we have a cocktail that has nothing to do with horses or donkeys, and not much of a connection to Russia. It’s the Moscow Mule!

The Moscow Mule owes its success to some very clever marketing. One of the drinks (possible) inventors, John G. Martin, would take photographs of customers drinking the Mule in its distinctive copper mug using the new-fangled Polaroid camera (launched in 1948). He would put one photo up on the wall of the bar, and take the other photo to another bar to show them what they were missing out on. Thus the Mule spread, customers would see photos of people enjoying a new drink and think: ‘maybe I’ll have one of those?’ 

That’s the marketing, but what about the origins of the drink itself? One plausible story concerns the serendipitous meeting of three people with an oversupply problem in a British-style pub in Los Angeles called the Cock and Bull. It was the 1940s, and Jack Morgan who ran the pub was trying without much success to launch his own brand of ginger beer. He had cases of the stuff in the basement gathering dust. One day he met the aformentioned Martin who had just acquired the rights to sell Smirnoff vodka in the US. It’s hard to imagine now, but vodka was considered a bit niche, and he was struggling to sell the stuff. You can just imagine the lightbulb moment when they both simultaneously thought: ‘why not mix them together?’ Brilliant! The result was the Moscow Mule.

Cocktail of the Week Moscow Mule

The Moscow Mule, all dressed up

Not exactly earth shattering stuff. People had been mixing rum, whisky and brandy with ginger beer for years and adding a little citrus. But the final piece in the jigsaw is the clever bit: Morgan’s girlfriend was a lady called Sophie Berezinski who has just inherited a factory that made copper mugs which. . . yes you guessed it, she couldn’t get rid of. A chilled spicy alcoholic drink in a distinctive shiny serving vessel with beads of condensation dripping down the side. Just the thing for a hot night in Los Angeles. Just add a Polaroid camera and a cocktail sensation was born. Special mugs were commissioned with the legend ‘kicks like a mule’.

The mule had arrived. Or so the story goes. Esteemed drinks writer Eric Felton thinks this story is a load of cock and bull, and the Mule was actually invented at the same pub but by the bartender, Wes Price. Perhaps more likely but less fun.

Anyway, the marketing is perhaps more interesting than the drink. But still, boozy ginger beer, what’s not to like? The most important ingredient is the ginger beer. For me, Fentiman’s is king, having a massive hit of ginger without being too sweet. Fever Tree also make a very nice ginger beer. And the vodka? Anything you like really. I suppose Smirnoff would be the most authentic choice but I’m using Wyborowa from Poland. Perhaps, it should be called a Warsaw Mule.

Right, let’s Mule!

60ml Wyborowa Vodka
180ml Ginger Beer
Juice of half a lime

Fill a Mule cup with ice, add all the ingredients and give it a good stir. Garnish with a lime wedge and a sprig of mint.

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