Review: Drinks by the Dram

There’s a liquor retailer in the UK called Master of Malt, and despite its name, it sells more than just whisk(e)y. In the summer of 2010, they started a program called Drinks by the Dram, wherein they’ll sell you little sample bottles of many of their products–from low-end to high. The samples are 3cl/30ml, or a little over an ounce.

The goal is to provide a try-before-you-buy program, allowing consumers to buy small drams at reasonable prices, so that they may sample unique and hard-to-find bottlings without paying possibly hundreds of dollars for something they may not like.

Someone from MoM contacted me a couple of weeks ago, and offered to send me a package of them if I was interested in covering this program. Wanting to learn more about Irish and Scotch whiskies, I agreed. So just before Christmas, I got these:

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Edradour 1998 Sassicaia

Highland malt. Bottled at cask strength, 56.9%. Distilled and matured in 1998, bottled in 2009.

[Edradour 1998 Sassicaia - Straight from the Cask sample; £4.45 for 30ml, or about $7.35 US]

Sassicaia is an Italian wine, so this means it’s aged in wine barrels to pick up some of that flavor. Fewer than 500 bottles of this were released.

Color: A pale amber with reddish undertones.

Nose: Floral, spicy, sweet but not cloying.

Tasting notes: Well-balanced scotch. Hot, in keeping with its barrel strength. Drying. Notes of chocolate and stone fruit, the latter probably from the wine barrel. The stone fruit reminds me a bit of cherry. At this strength, it definitely needs some water. Moderately creamy texture. Subtle smoke.

Final word: At the price point (£41.97, or about $70 US) for a 500-ml bottle, there are better scotches on the market.

Johnnie Walker Blue

Nuff said. Does this require a review? I think they’re including it mainly to show that their samplers cover a range of whisk(e)y styles, including high-end blends.

[Johnnie Walker Blue Label sample; £8.45 for 30ml, or about $13.95 US]

Master of Malt 12 Year Old Lowland

I know next to nothing about this. It’s from something called Master of Malt’s Secret Bottlings Series, which bottles scotches from undisclosed distilleries.

[Master of Malt 12 Year Old Lowland sample; £3.45 for 30ml, or about $5.75 US]

Lowland malt, 40% abv.

Color: Honey/amber.

Nose: Walnut, pecan. Butterscotch, toffee, honey.

Tasting notes: Candied nuts, hint of smoke, honey, malt. Fresh and light, with hints of lemon and grass. Moderately bitter on finish.

Final word: Tasty example of Lowlands style. At £34.95 (or about $58 US) for 700ml, might make a nice present for a scotch lover who’s a completest, or at the opposite end of the scale, for someone fairly new to scotch, since the Lowlands style tends to appeal to beginners.

Tyrconnell 10 Year Old Sherry Cask Finish

Single-malt Irish whiskey is a category that seems to be little-known among US consumers. Shame, if this one’s any indication.

[Tyrconnell 10 Year Old Sherry Cask Finish sample; £3.95 for 30ml; or about $6.50 US]

Single-malt Irish whiskey, 46% abv.

Color: Copper, dark amber.

Nose: Malt, hint of spice, caramel, chocolate, white pepper. Nose opens up over time.

Tasting notes: Not winey, despite the sherry finish, but there is a hint of stone fruit and sherry-nuttiness, possibly from the cask. Dried fruit–apricot, maybe. Rich, well-balanced.

Final word: Delicious. I’d drink this often, if I could find and afford it. I want to linger over the precious grams that remain in my glass.

Master of Malt offers this for £49.14 for 700ml, or about $81 US.

Greenore 15 Year Old

Single-grain Irish whiskey, 43% abv.

[Greenore 15 Year Old sample; £4.45 for 30ml; or about $7.35 US]

Color: Light amber, honey.

Nose:

Tasting notes: Chocolate, vanilla, honey, bourbon.

Final word: Would recommend for bourbon drinkers branching out into single malts. Very smooth whiskey. Definitely lighter and sweeter than most single malts, so a good stepping stone to single-malt Irish and Scotch bottlings. The grain here is corn, with just a little bit of malted barley to start the fermentation process, according to the Cooley Distillery website. Aged in bourbon casks. The 15-year retails for £52.45 for 700ml, or about US$86, but Greenore also makes an 8-year that goes for about $50.

Drinks by the Dram: The Takeaway

I really enjoyed sampling through these whiskeys, so I think Masters of Malt has a good program going here. These wee bottles would make great individual stocking stuffers. A multi-bottle sampler box would be perfect for the aficionado who’s looking to try new bottlings.

5 thoughts on “Review: Drinks by the Dram

  1. Sound like they a running a very interesting program there.
    A box like this would definitely be a great gift.
    I´d just be cautious about the red wax seal, if I were them. :)

  2. Did you have problems with shipping to the US. I was interested in buying from them, but am worried about customs and such. Thanks

    1. Good question.

      I have never bought anything from Master of Malt. Both times I received packages from them, MoM sent them to me as free samples for promotional purposes. However, if you go here (http://www.masterofmalt.com/delivery/) and click Frequently Asked Questions, they address the customs issue, under the heading “Do we ship to your country?” Namely, it seems to be the case that most MoM shipments make it into the U.S. without Customs even being aware that there’s booze inside the box.

      Good luck!

      1. Thank you! I think I will order but am nervous I am going to lose money! But if you got your samples, Im assuming they were overlooked. Did the box clearly state it was alcohol? Sorry so many questions!

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