Step aside limp supermarket mint. Few things are more gratifying than picking and eating homegrown produce. What better way to raise your cocktail game than by incorporating your very own herbs? Even better, it’s a lot easier than you think. Some creative thinking and vertical planning can do a lot, even in a small backyard or balcony. Read on to learn some of the easiest and most efficient cocktail garnishes and ingredients that you can grow in your own backyard this spring.

Cocktail Herbs

Herbs are not only amazing additions to your cooking, but can take your mixology to the next level as well. The following herbs are easy to grow and offer a wealth of flavour and garnish opportunities. Most can also be propagated from cuttings (taken only responsibly and with consent from the plant’s owner, of course), for a complete DIY solution!

Rosemary
Rosemary smells and tastes great, and can often be a pleasantly surprising element in a cocktail. A rosemary twig offers a unique garnish and stirring stick in one, while the needles can be muddled on their own to give a stronger flavour impression, or even added to spirits as flavouring. Rosemary is hardy but slow-growing, so remember not to over-harvest when it’s small or in winter.

Mint
Mint is a cocktail no-brainer. It goes well in nearly every glass, so don’t be afraid to grow lots of it! That said, mint is a weed, so beware of letting it loose in your garden bed. Consider confining it to a ceramic or plastic pot it cannot Houdini out of. Or let it roam free if you’re an anarchist and really into mint, who are we to judge?

Thyme
Too many home bartenders don’t know that thyme can add a little unexpected something-something to a cocktail. Believed to produce courage since ancient times, consider adding thyme to clear-spirited, fruity cocktails to add warmth and depth of flavour.

Edible flowers
You’ve done the rosemary and your mint is absolutely knocking it out of the park – now it’s time for something that will really stand out. For those special occasions, garnishing your cocktails with a couple of edible flowers is such a simple, yet underutilised trick. Not only do edible flowers smell and look great in the garden and in your glass, but they also attract, house, and nourish bees and other insects we rely on. Double win!

Citrus
What’s a cocktail without some zesty citrus? We love squeezing some freshness into our drinks and using the peels as garnish, so having a lemon or lime tree is key to keeping up with demand.
Tip: We find that once ripe, our lemon tree produces more than we can use. To preserve them, we press them and freeze the juice in ice cube trays. Once set, plop the cubes in a box or a ziplock bag for later use in drinks or food.

A cosy lounging area

Spring is on our doorstep, and summer is not far behind. We think a cocktail enthusiast and entertainer needs to have a cosy outdoor area. What better place to enjoy your home-mixed, home-grown cocktails than the great outdoors? It doesn’t take much – a bench or two and a table, a few throw pillows and some plants. Our favourite hack for making a good backyard area great is a large, hardy rug as it offers that perfect indoor-outdoor feel. And remember – decent fairy lights make anything look pretty!

Don’t lose heart if it goes a little wrong


Gardening, like all worthwhile endeavours come with their own perils. There is such a thing as over-watering, and basil can catch aphids like a house on fire. Perhaps you’ll one day reconsider your anarchistic ways, but by then your free range mint has taken over the entire yard! Take it with ease, every hurdle is another chance to learn!

Have fun with it!


Gardening is addictive. You may soon find yourself chatting to your plants, or squeezing in a little backyard visit before work just to see that your cocktail herbs are doing well. If this is the case, there’s no reason not to lean into your new obsession. Gardening is good for your health, good for the environment, good for your wallet, and a great hobby!

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Feature: The Macallan – the world’s best single malt whisky

Small-Macallan – Easter Elchies House – -9

Founded in 1824, The Macallan was one of the first distilleries in Scotland to be legally licensed. Since then, The Macallan has built a reputation as one of the world’s truly great single malt whiskies.

From its founding by Alexander Reid, through the subsequent owners of The Macallan distillery in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries and into the present, The Macallan has been recognised for the quality of its product above all else. This is the foundation for the worldwide fame of The Macallan, and its why The Macallan is so revered.

The Macallan’s fame and character are based on 6 pillars. They encompass the strong sense of place at the heart of the distillery and the estate, together with our long experience of distilling and maturing a single malt whisky with a reputation for product excellence and distinctive character. These, in combination, contribute to the essential character of The Macallan.

THE MACALLAN SIX PILLARS

    1. Spiritual Home; Easter Elchies House, built in 1700, lies at the heart of The Macallan estate.
    2. Curiously Small Stills; contribute to the distinctively rich, fruity ‘new make’ spirit of The Macallan.
    3. Finest Cut; we take only 16% of the final distillation from the spirit stills to fill into our oak casks. This is the best of the best.
    4. Exceptional Oak Casks; The Macallan spends more on sourcing, building, seasoning and caring for its casks than any other single malt whisky.
    5. Natural Colour; the rich range of colours in The Macallan whiskies is drawn only from the wood of our exceptional oak casks.
    6. The Macallan itself; the peerless spirit – one of the world’s greatest whiskies.

The Macallan has grown from a small local enterprise to global recognition, based on a constant and determined attention to quality. The Master Whisky Maker and her team nose thousands of samples every year to create The Macallan expressions recognised around the world. This exacting task, together with the ‘marrying’ of different casks for many of the expressions, is the last step in creating this, one of the world’s truly great whiskies.

The Macallan recently appointed Kirsteen Campbell, renowned throughout the industry for her expertise and knowledge, as Master Whisky Maker for its Single Malt Whisky.

She leads a newly strengthened Whisky Mastery Team, enhanced to continue delivering the outstanding quality, natural colour and distinctive aromas and flavours of The Macallan.

The team now also incorporates the role of Master of Wood to reflect the complete whisky making process and the vital influence of wood on the character of The Macallan whisky. It seamlessly combines innovation with craftsmanship and heritage to continue The Macallan’s commitment to exceptional quality since 1824.

The six-strong Whisky Mastery Team includes: Kirsteen Campbell, Master Whisky Maker; Stuart MacPherson, Master of Wood; Sarah Burgess, Lead Whisky Maker; Polly Logan, Whisky Maker; Steven Bremner, Whisky Maker; and Russell Greig, Sample Room Assistant.

The Macallan’s oak maturation casks are the single greatest contributors to the outstanding quality, natural colours and distinctive aromas and flavours of The Macallan. Because of this, The Macallan spends more per cask than any other distillery in sourcing, crafting, seasoning and caring for its casks. It’s this investment and emphasis on the casks that make The Macallan so unique.

THE MACALLAN WOOD STORY

Around 100 years ago, the call was made to use sherry oak casks. At the time, it wasn’t a big decision because these types of casks were widely used, and sherry was being shipped to Scotland. Over time that changed and continuing to use sherry oak casks became more expensive, as they cost ten times what the standard whisky cask would cost.

The Macallan spend more per cask than any other distillery in sourcing, crafting, seasoning and caring for their casks. For The Macallan, investing the time and effort in the meticulous process of cask preparation, ready to house the new make spirit and let it slumber for 10, 20, 30 plus years, is key – up to 80% of the spirit’s character and flavour is determined by the cask quality.

The Macallan have continued to make the call over the years, and it was clearly the right one to make.

With an unflinching commitment to put sherry casks at the heart of The Macallan single malt, their reputation for the extraordinary is a testament to the exceptional oak casks in which they mature their spirit. Sourced, crafted, toasted and seasoned under the watchful eye of The Macallan Master of Wood, these hand-picked casks are delivered to the demanding specifications of The Macallan Master Distiller and his team. Once filled, the maturing spirit remains undisturbed in the same casks for the necessary number of years it needs to be worthy of its destined Macallan expression. It is these oak casks that make the greatest contribution to the quality, natural colour and distinctive aromas and flavours which lie at the heart of The Macallan single malt whisky.

The Macallan’s American oak is harvested in Ohio, Missouri and Kentucky when they are approximately 70 years old. As American oak is denser than its European relative, it is perfectly suited for creating both bourbon and sherry casks.

In contrast, the European sherry seasoned oak is more porous and contains more tannins than American oak, which although they take longer to mature, play a pivotal role in the colour and flavour of spirits. In fact, the European wood has up to five times more tannins, which provide the distinct astringency often associated with wines and spirits. Heavy rainfall provides the perfect climate conditions for the European oak trees to slowly grow, and these are harvested in the Spanish regions of Cantabria, Galicia and across the Pyrenees into France when they’re around 100 years old.
Drying the wood is an integral part of the cask making. The Macallan dry the wood to ensure the heavy oils (which are very astringent) from within the wood, don’t spoil the precious spirit they wish to mature. Wood can be dried in two ways: kiln dried, which is faster but can have a negative impact on the qualities we need for maturation, or air dried which takes longer, but preserves the distinct characters of the wood needed for maturing whisky. At The Macallan, they appreciate and value the exceptional. It is a conscious choice to air dry the wood. It is worth the cost and a wisdom of wood worth having. For both wood types The Macallan air dry the entire logs for a year at the place of harvest. This reduces the moisture content of the oak, cutting down on weight for transport and moisture for sawing.

Once the moisture content of the wood has been reduced, the wood is cut into individual ‘staves’. Any wooden vessel that is intended to contain liquid will be ‘quarter sawn’ to ensure the nature of the wood is used to create a quality cask. The American oak staves are then transported to Jerez de la Frontera in Spain. Before being crafted into casks, these staves are left to dry for another year in the Spanish sun. Once the wood reaches between 12-16 percent moisture content, it can be passed to the coopers for ‘the rising’ of the cask. It takes approximately six years to create a Macallan Sherry-Seasoned cask, from harvesting the tree to filling with our Macallan spirit.

Macallan – Wood – American Barrel Flames

Overseeing this process is their Master of Wood, Stuart MacPherson. This is an integral role as the influence of the wood on the final character of The Macallan is critical. They choose this significant investment in the journey, from the acorn to the cask, due to the leading role wood plays in delivering the distinctive character, aromas and flavours of The Macallan.

Typical flavours associated with American oak are vanilla, lemon citrus and coconut.

THE NEW MACALLAN DISTILLERY

MAC-2018-The Macallan Distillery 37

The new distillery and visitor experience are located on the stunning Easter Elchies estate, which has been home to the leading luxury single malt since 1824. From humble beginnings, the brand has risen to become the leading international single malt by value and enjoys leading positions in some of the world’s most significant Scotch whisky markets including The USA, Taiwan, and Japan.

It is the first distillery in Speyside to be designed by an internationally acclaimed architect, Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners, who was selected to lead the project after an international competition. Edrington is investing £500 million in the brand of which the £140 million distillery is the centrepiece. This programme increases investment in whisky, warehousing, and particularly in The Macallan’s signature sherry-seasoned oak casks.

The new distillery will enable the production of The Macallan to increase by a third if required. The new stills were crafted by Scottish coppersmiths Forsyths, who have been making the brand’s distinctive, ‘curiously small’ stills for The Macallan since the 1950s. The striking piece of contemporary architecture is cut into the slope of the land, taking its cues from ancient Scottish hills and maximising the aesthetic beauty of the building whilst minimising the visual impact on the Speyside landscape, which has been classified as an ‘Area of Great Landscape Value’. The undulating timber roof structure is one of the most complicated timber roof structures in the world, comprising 380,000 individual components.

Ian Curle, Chief Executive, Edrington, said: “This is an exciting occasion for Edrington and The Macallan. The unsurpassed quality of The Macallan is in high demand and we face the future confidently with this new distillery. It’s an authentic, abiding, ambitious investment that will match consumer expectations for generations to come.

WORLD BREAKING RECORD HISTORY

Macallan-1926-Valerio-Adami-The-Perfect-Collection

The last few years have seen a constant shattering for the record of the most expensive bottle of whisky ever purchased. In 2018 The Macallan broke the record with its 60-year-old whisky and in 2019 it surpassed its own previous record for a bottle of 60-year-old Macallan originally distilled in 1926 by another bottle that came from the same cask. The difference is that the first bottle featured a hand-painted design by Irish artist Michael Dillon, while the latter was part of an official series, The Macallan Fine and Rare.

The Macallan Fine and Rare 60-Year-Old fetched a staggering $1.9 million USD. Why so much? Well, the 1926 vintage malt was drawn from a legendary barrel, prized by collectors for its near-mystical characteristics. Just a year earlier, liquid matured in that same oak sold for $1.2 million at a London auction house. Since 2018, no less than six examples of that 1926 spirit have cleared the million-dollar threshold.

Only 40 Bottles were produced from this esteemed cask, (cask 263) now known as ‘The Holy Grail’ of whisky for high end collectors.

To learn more on The Macallan visit: https://www.themacallan.com/

Your Guide to Hosting an Adult Sleepover For Your Friends

Who doesn’t feel nostalgic for childhood sometimes?

Childhood was a wonderful responsibility-free time when hanging out was mostly about spending time with your friends. What activity you did wasn’t as important. Well, sleepovers were the epitome of childhood, and as such, hosting one is the easiest way to get transported back into that pre-adult life before responsibilities and bills, careers, and such. But an adult sleepover can have alcohol too, so it’s actually heaps better. Here’s how you make it a great one!

Be careful about who you invite

It’s so so easy to get loose in the invitation phase and invite a few people who might change the mood you’re trying to set for the night. Perhaps your sleepover plans are at the top of your mind when you bump into an acquaintance at a cafe, and before you know it you blurt out “Wanna come?” and immediately wanna kick yourself in the shins.

Remember, you really don’t have to invite everyone, it’s not your 4th grade birthday party. Don’t be mean about it obvi, but it’s fine to only invite your closest friends.

Boring adult sleepover logistics


Make sure you’ve got enough sleeping space/food/booze for everyone invited. If you don’t, ask people to bring their own. We can also pop by with cold drinks if you’re running low!

Consider the mood you want to set

Ask yourself these two questions:
How do I want people to feel during the sleepover?
How do I want them to feel after the sleepover?

Let the answers to these two guide your choices and you’re a long way towards nailing an adult sleepover.

Make it a little magical

Adult sleepovers should feel a little like regressing back to childhood. Check your worries at the door and chill the fuck out. Changing up your place a little can help your friends do this heaps faster. How? Hang those fairy lights that 14-year-old you flipped out over, and drag your mattress into the living room. Cover it in blankets and pillows and make a blanket fort.

Plan some entertainment

Every friend group is different, and we’re not gonna pretend like we know yours. But what we do know is that everyone needs some entertainment. Whether that’s board games, karaoke, drinking games, face masks, dancing, chats, video games, or movies all night – that’s up to you. Just make sure you’ve got ample options available to keep everyone happy.

Plan super easy foods and drinks (and a TON of it!)

No one wants to be in the kitchen when fun’s being had in the living room. Easy does it, so stock up on frozen pizzas, entertainer spring rolls, garlic bread, and all the crisps and chocolate in the known universe.

For drinks, think premixers, wine and beer, or perhaps even a jumbo bowl of punch! Running low on alcohol is the bane of any adult sleepover, so be the Host With the Most and order top ups until 11pm!

No adult sleepover is complete without breakfast mimosas

Your gang awakes in the morning, either smooth skinned and glowy from a night of pampering, or bleary-eyed and headachey from one too many tequila shots, to a MIMOSA BREKKIE! Yep, it’s the best and not very expensive. Your mimosas can even be delivered cold to your door, so you don’t have to worry about fridge space.

Have fun

The best way you can make sure your guests have fun is to have fun yourself, and don’t get too frustrated if plans change or if people chat through the movie. Hey, listen, you’ll knock it out of the park.