Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Breakfast Whisky, Master of Malt 8yo

Not only have the good people of Master of Malt created a beautiful blended whisky for under £20 (to be tasted as a part of the malt mission at a later date) but they have asked some online whisky geeks to share their ideas for ways in which to consume it.

They invited Dr. Whisky to create a cocktail with their perfectly-lovely-as-is blended whisky. I told them, "I am not a mixologist." They said that was exactly why they were asking me. "But I am not a medical doctor!" Their response, "thank god."

So here it goes.

The "cocktail" is called Breakfast Whisky. Let's begin with what you will need to make it:

whisky blog cocktailYou will need NONE of the above items to make this cocktail.

But, you will need ALL of the below

I want to create something to balance the care, cost, and quality of this whisky. The whisky is full of cream soda, vanilla and grape juice. Really juicy whisky. I need to ride that wave. First I thought Ribena, but then the Aha! moment: Vimto! If equivalent in size, the Fizzy Vimto would cost £1.17 to the whisky's £20. Wow, the critics are right. Whisky IS expensive! Fizzy Vimto comes in this nice small bottle for only 39 pence. And for something so tiny and cheap, they sure pack a lot of ingredients in there! The whisky only has water, yeast, wheat and barley. Rip-off!

1 part Master of Malt 8yo Blended Scotch Whisky
2-4 parts Fizzy Vimto (depending what kind of morning* you desire)
Some ice
1 mint sprig
Jam (of your choosing)

Put your toast in the toaster. Mix the liquid ingredients together over ice (ice optional). Remove toast and apply jam. In turn, take gentle sips of the drink and slap yourslef in the face with mint sprig.

Good morning and enjoy!

* I am not actually suggesting that you drink alcohol for breakfast. However, if you do, I recommend it with vimto and a mint sprig slap to the face.

Friday, March 11, 2011

The Balvenie Whisky Academy

Although I try not to use this whisky blog as a platform for my job or to talk too much about my whisky work, I am so proud of what we have just completed that I just have to. Please excuse me.

Like a whisky-geek's dream fulfilled, we have completed a series of films on the history, production, and enjoyment of Scotch Whisky called The Balvenie Whisky Academy.

In working with film-maker Stuey Burnett, we initially imagined a series of films for the education of William Grant employees, sales and distribution partners. What we quickly realised was that we had something taking shape that would be of interest and benefit to the wider whisky drinking world, as well.

What I am most proud of is that The Whisky Academy is not a "brand" video, it is not an advertisement, it is an educational series of films about the wider category of Scotch Whisky featuring Charles MacLean, Sukhinder Singh, Eddie Ludlow, Arthur Motley, and Gavin D. Smith as well as colleagues, distillers, scientists, and, of course, yours truly.

Yes, in the process, I have developed an entirely new respect for TV presenters, and for my colleague David Mair who deftly hosts the bulk of the series. So a big thanks to David as well as the film crew of Stuey, John, and Anita.

The whole series goes live today for members of Warehouse 24 and comprises four modules, containing a total of 34 short films. We hope to expand and grow the content over time, but think that we are starting with a pretty impressive chunk of films.

The Balvenie Whisky Academy

I really hope you enjoy it and if you have any feedback, let me know!

Monday, March 07, 2011

Malt Mission 2011 #398

Arran 10yo, 10th Anniversary (1995-2005)
Single Malt Scotch Whisky
46% abv

Once the new kid on the block, Arran has settled in to its existence as the Harry Belafonte of malt whisky, the charming islander with mainland appeal. Day-O!

Now in its 16th year of production, Isle of Arran continues to show what a fine spirit they have been quietly making on "Scotland in minature." It has always been tasty and many have written about it's "potential," but age is allowing Arran to figure out who it is and wants to be at least as much showing folks that they were right.

For more distillery info or to see all the Isle of Arran malt that Dr. Whisky has enjoyed, click HERE.


Comes across like a classic speysider (which it is not) with great mellow fruitiness and soft oak influence. Raisins, apples and
salt taffy.

Spicy, bready rye notes, raisins and apples again, and a toasty oak impression of dry amontillado sherry casks and sweet treacly notes of oloroso. Nuts and fudge through the finish.


I loved this today just as I remember loving it when Ewan from Arran poured us some at a Water of Life Society meeting in Edinburgh back in 2005. That was the same night, after tasting new make, 3 year old, various 7 year olds and this Anniversary malt, that I uttered the classic "it is so cool tasting the progression, it is like a child growing in your mouth!" Umm...

I bought a bottle that I have lost somewhere between my moves to London, New York, and back again, although our running hypothesis is that they guy with whom we left other bottles for safe keeping (including JMR original Irish-only Smooth Sweeter and Hazelburn 8yo 1st edition, BOTH of which he consumed) may have had something to do with this disappearance. That's what friends are for.

Thursday, March 03, 2011

Malt Mission 2011 #397

Balvenie 8yo
Pure Malt Whisky (Single Malt Whisky)
70 Proof
26 2/3 Fl.oz

From today's perspective, with over 500(!) new single malt expressions launched in 2010 alone, it seems so strange to think that in the whisky boom period of the 1960s only a fraction of 1% was bottled as a single (read Dr. Whisky's blended whisky history). The likes of Macallan and Glenmorangie, leaders in the single malt category today, did not widely release their makes as single malts until 1980 and it took decades of Glen Grant (Italy), Glenlivet (Pullman railway in America) and Glenfiddich (exported as a single from 1963) to set the idea of single malts in the consciousness of the drinking public.

As far as I know, this was the first incarnation of The Balvenie released in small volumes as a single malt. For more distillery info and to see all Balvenies had on the mission, delve into the whisky blog past.


Fresh and light with a hint of depth and age. Perhaps some liquid older than 8? Chamomile, watered-down honey, hippie teas, damp wood or cardboard in there as well. Sweet white wine. Water releases a sweaty element along with coconut and hazelnut.

Moves from soft and sweet to hard and mineral, but all very weakly. Old bubble gum, baseball card cardboardy taste, coffee cake and walnuts. Ends burnt and toasty.


An interesting drop mainly for archival reasons. Although it appears that some bottle "maturation" has effected my sample, I imagine in the 1970s all the best Balvenie was ending up in Grants 12, Best Procurable, Grant's Royal, etc. In short, not something I would open to show "how much better whisky was in the old days." I'll stick with my Balvenie Signature, thank you very much.

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Malt Mission 2011 #396

Big Peat
Islay Blended Malt Whisky

46% abv
$85 (USD)

Welcome to March! I haven't seen you since 2010. I have to get back on the horse and gallop towards the 400 landmark!

I am sure by now you have already met or read about Big Peat. Brought to you buy the good people at Douglas Laing & Co., he was released back in September 2009 and has since received word-of-mouth acclaim and awards from Whisky Magazine (World Whisky Awards) for Best Blended Malt Scotch Whisky, Best Peated Malt Whisky(Daily Dram) 2009 by the Malt Maniacs, and Jim Murray called it Best Vatted Malt in his 2011 Whisky Bible.

Apparently, Fred Douglas Laing senior loved Port Ellen and thus invested heavily in casks from the now shuttered distillery decades ago. This legacy has left an emotional attachment to this distillery for his offspring with every nose of a Port Ellen likely reminding them of their father's goodnight kisses.

The vatting includes several anonymous malts but Bowmore, Ardbeg, Caol Ila, and the increasingly rare Port Ellen are all named in the mix with the youngest whisky coming in at 5 years old, the oldest at least 26.

Thanks to Kirsty and Fred for the sample and I will see you for a dram this weekend at WhiskyLIVE London. For other Douglas Laing bottlings enjoyed on the Malt Mission dig deep into this whisky blog's past.


Tarry, with some toffee, candied lemon, raw salmon, and a generally sweet core.

Salty and sweet, even more tarry than the nose suggested, earthy, but with only gentle smokiness wrapped in toffee and orange.


Extremely enjoyable drop that is at once industrial and sooty but equally confectionary with sweetness, creating a very well balanced whisky in a very 21st century package.

For other opions, JSMWS tasted Big Peat HERE, Whisky For Everyone HERE, Whisky Boys HERE, and Dramming share some tasting notes. In the medium of moving pictures, Ralfy shares his thoughts HERE and Dickie P and Fred Laing share a few HERE.

Malt Mission #395

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