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Master of Malt Blog

Author: Master of Malt

The Nightcap: 7 August

It’s the weekend! How do we know that? Because The Nightcap is here. Those are the rules. We always recommend you have a tasty drink in hand before you start…

It’s the weekend! How do we know that? Because The Nightcap is here. Those are the rules.

We always recommend you have a tasty drink in hand before you start Nightcapping. A dram of whisky is a classic option for those who like to kick it old-school, or maybe you like to mix-up and create a homemade cocktail. Today it might be a good idea to grab a beer, seeing as it’s International Beer Day. Also, the weather here is roasting hot and it’s the law to have a cold lager in-hand on the weekend when it’s this warm (probably). Whatever your drink of choice, it’s perfect because you’re pairing it with The Nightcap. It’s a belter this week.

This week on the blog we launched our super Summer Sale, so if deals on whiskies, gins, rums, Tequilas and loads more sound great to you we suggest giving that blog a visit. Elsewhere, Lucy Britner looked back on an incredible 47 years in the whisky industry with Chivas Brothers legend Colin Scott while Annie enjoyed a virtual tour and tasting of Warner’s Distillery and a refreshing drop of Mint Julep. Adam, meanwhile, had the pleasure of trying the delicious new Ardbeg beer as well as an unaged Australian Agricole made on a family-owned farm distillery. He then grabbed five minutes of Swift co-founder Bobby Hiddleston’s time to chat about what it’s like to open a bar during the COVID-19 pandemic before speaking to the founders of Lindores Abbey about 500 years of distillation history. Now, to The Nightcap!

The Nightcap

Grab a tasting set and join us on Saturday 5th September for the world’s greatest virtual whisky festival!

Join us for Scotch & Sofa, the ultimate virtual whisky festival!

As you may have read over on the blog, we’ve teamed up with Diageo to bring you Scotch & Sofa, a one-day extravaganza on Saturday 5 September celebrating all things whisky. Due to, well, we all know why, there just aren’t any whisky festivals on right now. This makes us sad. We love the chance to discover new drams, catch up with whisky friends, and generally geek out about all things delicious. So… we’re bringing you the next best thing! We’ve got eight sessions running from 12pm covering almost everything from campfires on Skye and a boat trip to Islay, to deconstructing Johnnie Walker and whisky Highballs. And the best part? You can actually join in! We’ve got tasting sets galore. Check out the programme and then snap up a tasting set. Then all you need to do is tune in on our Facebook page, and join in the festivities. See you there!

The Nightcap

The name’s More. Bowmore.

Bowmore and Aston Martin unveil £50,000 whisky 

This week an iconic Islay whisky brand and a legendary car manufacturer announced that they were buddying up for a new release of an exceptionally rare Scotch whisky worth £50,000, and we pushed the ‘Nightcap this sucker’ button faster than somebody who owns an Aston Martin can bring up the fact they own an Aston Martin in conversation. The two brands say the exceptionally rare Black Bowmore DB5 1964 is a celebration of time. You see, the new whisky was distilled back in 1964, the same time the distillery traded coal fires for steam to heat the stills with the arrival of a new boiler. Not the most exhilarating event in the world, but interestingly enough the first distillation produced spirit which went on to become iconic Black Bowmore whisky. This particular beauty was first distilled on 5 November 1964 and matured for 31 years in a Williams & Humbert walnut brown Oloroso sherry butt. It’s said to have notes of ripe exotic fruits, creme caramel, soft tobacco smoke, rich black cherry and acacia honey and has an outturn of just 25 bottles. Inside your string-grain calfskin handmade presentation box, you’ll also find a genuine Aston Martin DB5 piston integrated into the bottle. The mid-60s was also something of a golden era for Aston Martin as it launched the Aston Martin DB5 in 1963. Just a year later it was being driven by that 007 fella. “1964 represents a significant date in the modern history of the distillery. Not only a key moment in how we distilled our spirit, but perhaps even more significant as this very spirit went on to create Black Bowmore,” said David Turner, distillery manager at Bowmore. “These defining moments are fundamental to the history of Bowmore. This collaboration with Aston Martin has allowed us to once again showcase this iconic single malt in the most incredible way.” 

The Nightcap

It’s truly the finest way to enjoy Talisker whisky

Talisker teams up with Loch Fyne Oysters to raise money

Talisker has long had an association with oysters. You can find the tasty little treats all along the beaches of Skye and a suggested serve from Diageo’s premium Scotch whisky brand has been to shuck and eat an oyster and then pour Talisker in the shell and drink it. This week has taken its love of seafood even further by creating a campaign of support by partnering with Loch Fyne Oysters Ltd to offer a new at-home whisky and oyster pairing experience that will raise funds for The Fishermen’s Mission. The initiative, which launched on National Oyster Day (5 August) means that you can now buy a limited edition Talisker & Oyster Signature Pairing Kit through Loch Fyne Oyster’s at-home delivery service, which consists of two Talisker 5cl bottles along with one dozen oysters for the cost of £12 (if you don’t know how to shuck the oysters, this video should help). Furthermore, each time a photo of the signature pairing kit is shared via social media, using the hashtag #SHUCKTOGETHER, Talisker has confirmed it will pledge £1 to The Fishermen’s Mission, to help support the economic recovery of coastal communities that have been severely impacted in recent months following the impact of the pandemic. Talisker UK brand manager, Nick Moore, commented: “We have always known that Talisker pairs brilliantly with oysters, but we are thrilled to be able to bring this ritual to people’s homes whilst being able to support the fantastic work of The Fishermen’s Mission in supporting the recovery of coastal communities across the UK through these challenging times”

The Nightcap

The remarkable sunken Scotch should fetch a hefty price at auction

Scotch salvaged from 80-Year-Old shipwreck to be auctioned

This week a pretty special whisky went on sale on The Grand Whisky Auction’s site, a Scotch that was salvaged from a shipwreck that occurred more than 80 years ago! Lot 160320 was rescued from the SS Politician, which ran aground off the shores of Eriskay in the Outer Hebrides in 1941 on its way to Jamaica. Nearby islanders attempted to retrieve the 28,000 cases of Scotch it was carrying when it foundered on rocks, a ‘whisky rescue’ that eventually led to a protracted battle between tax collectors and the islanders in a story that I’m sure is sounding increasingly familiar to you. That’s because it’s Whisky Galore. Yep, that novel and British comedy that is surely known to every whisky fan. This is Scotch from that ship. However, this particular bottle isn’t part of that controversially recovered booty, it was actually raised more than fifty years later by George Currie. The deep-sea repairman was able to recover a VAT 69, Ballantine’s and four bottles of a now-defunct brand known as Gibbey’s. Back in 2013, a pair of similarly aged whisky from the SS Politician sold together for £12,050, to give you an indication of the kind of price such a bottling can fetch. This expression is believed to be a blended Scotch whisky but there is no labelling of any sort so its distillery, age statement and tasting notes are unknown. Nonetheless, the airtight wax top and high fill-level suggest that there’s been little oxidation here, which means there’s a fair chance the spirit will taste much like it originally did nearly 80 years ago. Not that there’s any chance of this bottle being opened. From being lost to the deep to being lost to the sealed glass case. Still, the collector may get to enjoy the other spoils of Lot 160320, such as the diving helmet, bricks from the actual SS Politician and an original movie poster for Whisky Galore (the 2016 remake).

The Nightcap

Are you a spirits lover? Think you know a thing or two about the subject? Get involved!

People’s Choice Wine Awards opens to spirits – and you could be a judge! 

Booze lovers and producers alike, consider this a PSA. The People’s Choice Spirits Awards is now open for entries! It’s also the first time the wine awards have a separate section for spirits, and we’re excited. And not just because our very own Kristiane is part of the judging panel! While distillers, blenders and bottlers head off in a flurry to prep their entries, everyone else, listen up. If you’ve ever fancied yourself as a spirits judge, now is the chance! The organisers are on the hunt for people to join the assessment panel. If you buy whisky, gin or rum, and love tasting all kinds of different boozes, this is an opportunity for you. If you can get to Manchester in mid-November, tell your blended Scotch from your bourbon, then keep your eyes and your tasting glasses peeled. The People’s Choice Spirits Awards will want to hear from you! The application process will be unveiled soon, and check out the website for more. But as this is the only awards in the business to take drinks fans’ views into account, it’s a big deal. We hope to see you there later this year!

The Nightcap

Food, Rémy Martin cocktails and noted chef Kwame Onwuach. It’s a winning combination.

Rémy Martin teams up with chef Kwame Onwuachi for flavour series

Feeling peckish? Well, look away now. Cognac brand Rémy Martin has signed award-winning chef Kwame Onwuachi for a year-long contract celebrating flavour and hospitality across drinks and gastronomy! It’s kind of a zhuzhed up cocktail and food-pairing partnership, and we’re here for it. Onwuachi has kicked things off with a video called Flavor by the Grill, which brings together regional grilling dishes with Cognac based serves (with Rémy Martin, obvs). The whole point is to highlight the versatility of Cognac, especially Rémy Martin 1738 Accord Royal and Rémy Martin VSOP. His inspiration comes from his travels across the US, most notably Northease, South, West and Midwest. “Rémy Martin’s commitment to excellence is something that I am truly excited about being a part of,” said Onwuachi. “Rémy resonates with me on a personal level because it’s part of my heritage and has been a favourite drink in my family for generations. I am looking forward to growing with this amazing brand and creating authentic experiences!” Ian McLernon, president and CEO Americas at Rémy Cointreau, added: “Chef Kwame’s wholehearted dedication to excellence in his craft and the culinary space inspires us and is celebrated here at Rémy Martin. We are excited to see his culinary prowess in action with our liquid and look forward to his talent being spotlighted in this partnership.” Keep an eye on remymartin.com for more, including deets of masterclasses and culinary events! The brand has also discontinued gift boxes for its Remy Martin VSOP Cognac as part of a wider initiative to “protect the environment with each and every action it undertakes.” Quite the busy week for our friends over at Remy Martin!

The Nightcap

The Green Glitter and Paloma Sky were highlights. As was going to an actual bar.

And finally… Team MoM finally goes to a real bar!

Something really rather exciting happened in Team MoM this week. That’s right, we went to our very first bar opening since lockdown began! It felt so good to get back out there (responsibly, of course). We picked quite the location for it, as we headed to Deli Cat & Sons, a shiny new riverside bar that sits right across the river from the Tate Modern. It was originally set to open back in March, so it’s been a long wait! Its name is a little nod to the word Délicat, meaning refined in French, and if you say it really fast it sounds like ‘delicatessen’. By day, it’s a cafe serving sourdough sandwiches and salads inspired by local farmers. By night, it turns into a rather chic evening destination, with music and a sprawling outdoor area that couldn’t be closer to the river unless you decided to start paddling. It boasts six signature cocktails and, well… We had a taste of all of them. A couple of firm favourites were the Tequila, chilli and cucumber-based Green Glitter, and the floral lavender, grapefruit and gin-based Paloma Sky. You’ll also find spritzes and rum-based concoctions as well as cheese, mezze and charcuterie sharing boards, so there is truly something for everyone. Especially while the sun shines, we can’t think of a better place to spend an evening. 

 

The Nightcap

Bonus: Can you name these 10 popular beers from their emojis?

Given that it’s International Beer Day tomorrow (7th August) Liberty Games has decided to mark the occasion by creating the Popular Beer Brands Emoji Quiz. The game is simple: you have to name the ten popular brands from the emoji. It’s like that Whisky Emoji Challenge we did on our social channels back when nobody was allowed outside, remember? The fastest time to get all 10 is 1 minute 46 seconds, so that’s your target to beat. Answers are below. No cheating. 

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Come and join us for Scotch & Sofa!

Pining for whisky festivals? Us too. But fear not! Join us on Saturday 5 September for the ultimate virtual whisky festival: it’s Scotch & Sofa! Nothing beats the vibe of…

Pining for whisky festivals? Us too. But fear not! Join us on Saturday 5 September for the ultimate virtual whisky festival: it’s Scotch & Sofa!

Nothing beats the vibe of a whisky festival. Old friends, new faces, and oodles of new drams to be discovered (responsibly of course!). One of the (many, let’s say) downsides to the current, ahem, unusual situation is the lack of whisky festivals. But never fear. We’re here to save that aspect of summer with Scotch & Sofa!

We’ve teamed up with our friends at Diageo to bring you the ultimate virtual whisky festival. We’ve put together a full-day fiesta of all things whisky. Get set for eight sessions, filled to the brim with delicious drams and ace folks, streaming live on Facebook. You’ll even be able to nab a tasting set to really immerse yourself in all things festival.

Scotch & Sofa

Be sure to pop this date in your diary. You don’t want to miss it.

Pour a dram and tune in

Yes! From 12pm on Saturday 5 September, we’ve got an action-packed programme of tastings, chats and general fun and frivolity, and you’ll be able to join from the comfort of your sofa. 

Each 45-minute session will see a group of experts explore a theme, with three different samples specially picked for the occasion. Seven of the eight sessions have a specially curated tasting set too – snap one up and you’ll be all set to take part! But you’ll need to be quick; there’s only a limited number of each available. 

Missed out? Never fear! Just check out our Facebook page, and you’ll be able to follow all the fun of the festival. Pour one of your favourite drams and join in the chat anyway. Everyone is welcome!

Scotch & Sofa

It’s the ultimate virtual whisky festival. Get set for Scotch and Sofa!

The all-important programme

So what has Scotch & Sofa got in store? Here’s how the day is shaping up. 

Scotch & Sofa

12pm: Ghost & Rare Distilleries

And we kick off proceedings with something really special indeed! TJ Littlejohn, malt whisky ambassador, Colin Dunn, whisky ambassador, and Ewan Gunn, global whisky master, join our editor, Kristiane Sherry, to taste through Johnnie Walker Blue Label – Ghost & Rare Glenury Royal, Johnnie Walker Blue Label – Ghost & Rare Port Ellen and Caol Ila Unpeated 15 Year Old from the 2018 Special Release collection. Exceptional stuff all round. 

Nab a tasting set here.

Scotch & Sofa

1pm: Campfire at Skye

Can’t travel this summer? No problem! We’re taking a trip to the stunning Isle of Skye through the medium of our tasting glasses, and a Talisker exploration. Join Jason Clark, Talisker brand ambassador, Diane Farrell, distillery manager, and our very own campaigns manager, Laura Carl, as they indulge in and discuss Talisker 10 Year Old, Talisker 18 Year Old, and Talisker Port Ruighe.

Get your tasty ticket to Skye here.

Scotch & Sofa

2pm: Boat Trip to Islay

The island-hopping continues! This time, TJ, Colin Dunn, Pierrick Guillaume, Caol Ila distillery manager, and Henry Jeffreys, our features editor, check out the spoils of two great Islay distilleries: Lagavulin and Caol Ila. The line-up features Lagavulin 16 Year Old, the wonderful Lagavulin 8 Year Old, and Caol Ila Unpeated 15 Year Old from Special Release 2018. 

All aboard with the Boat Trip to Islay tasting sets here!

Scotch & Sofa

3pm: Johnnie Walker Deconstructed 

Partial to a drop of Johnnie Walker? Intrigued by how the constituent parts of a blend come together for the finished product? Wonder no more! Ali Reynolds, luxury Reserve brand ambassador, Tom Jones, global Scotch whisky ambassador, Emma Walker, Johnnie Walker master blender, and our editor Kristiane Sherry delve behind the scenes and into the secrets of Johnnie Walker Black Label 12 Year Old, through Cardhu 12 Year Old and Caol Ila 12 Year Old!

Grab your component parts with a tasting set right here.

Scotch & Sofa

4pm: The Ultimate Johnnie Walker Tasting Experience

If you enjoy the finer whiskies in life, then this trio of tantalizing blends will be right up your street. Join Ali Reynolds, Georgie Crawford, Port Ellen distillery manager, Jim Beveridge, Johnnie Walker master blender, and Kristiane Sherry as they jump right into some of the most decadent bottlings to be found under the Johnnie Walker name. Drams include The John Walker King George V, The John Walker, and Johnnie Walker Blue Label!

You can find the ultimate tasting set here!

Scotch & Sofa

5pm: Before & After: Lower proof serves and small plates

We reckon we’ll be up for a bit of a snack by this point, so it’s perfect timing for Lauren Mote, Diageo’s global cocktailian, and Mark Moriarty, global gastronomer, to take over! They’ll be celebrating the spirit of Scotland in digestif and aperitif form, with accompanying small plates. Featured whiskies include Talisker and Johnnie Walker Gold! Prepare to be inspired. 

Scotch & Sofa

6pm: Mixing Whisky: Highballs

What’s easy peasy, extra delicious, and all-round extraordinary? The great whisky Highball! Don’t believe us? Then tune in to see TJ, Ervin Trykowski, global Scotch whisky ambassador for The Singleton, Ali Reynolds and Laura Carl celebrate and generally revel in the finest of whisky serves (we’re not biased at all…). Whiskies include Talisker Skye, Singleton of Dufftown 12 Year Old, and Johnnie Walker Black Label 12 Year Old. Delightful!

Grab your Highball whisky set right here!

Scotch & Sofa

7pm: Speyside Flora and Fauna

We wrap up the Scotch & Sofa festivities with a session devoted to the love of Speyside, and a dip into the delicious Flora and Fauna series. TJ, Colin Dunn, Jason Clark and Henry Jeffreys will sip and savour Benrinnes 15 Year Old, Dailuaine 16 Year Old, and Linkwood 12 Year Old, while reminiscing about the magic of Speyside. Come join in!

Pick up a tasting set here.

Phew! What a day. Grab a tasting set (or two), ready the glassware, charge the laptop, and join us on 5 September over at Master of Malt’s Facebook. We can’t wait to see you!

 

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Our super Summer Sale is here!

Roll, up, roll up! It’s time to give the at-home bar a bit of a boost. Our Summer Sale is here, and it’s filled to the brim with all things…

Roll, up, roll up! It’s time to give the at-home bar a bit of a boost. Our Summer Sale is here, and it’s filled to the brim with all things delicious! 

Ok, we know that summer 2020 isn’t shaping up to be what we would have wanted. But that doesn’t mean we can’t have delicious things in our tasting glasses! Our epic Summer Sale is now on, which means you can save a bargain on a whole host of whiskies, gins, rums, tequilas and oodles more. Boozes that please your palate as much as your wallet? Consider summer back on!

As well as the lush load of delectable spirits we’ve got at amazing prices until Sunday 16 August, our Weekly Deals and Daily Deals are back by popular demand! Every day we’ve chosen some of our favourite bottlings available with even more dosh off. Keep your eyes peeled – and head over to our Special Offers page now to see the whole lot!

Can’t be bothered to sift through all the bottlings and just want the highlights? Here are some of our top bottlings to star in the Summer Sale, some in the first week (3-9 August). Happy sipping, folks!

 

Summer Sale

Nikka Coffey Grain Whisky – was £53.90 NOW £44.90

Right here we have really rather delicious single grain whisky from Japan’s Miyagikyo distillery! Coffey stills changed the whisky game, and now you can enjoy this expression’s syrupy, bourbon-like vanilla, vibrant fruit and fresh biscuit notes for an absolute bargain price!

 Summer Sale

Jaffa Cake Gin – was £27.95 NOW £24.95

A gin that does exactly what it says on the tin: a boozy treat that takes just like Jaffa cakes! It’s divinely defined by a jammy orangeness, cocoa deliciousness and a junipery oiliness. The perfect summer treat, ideal over ice, and especially delectable in a Negroni. 

 

Summer Sale

Tomintoul 23 Year Old 1996 (cask 103) – Celebration Of The Cask (Càrn Mòr) – was £128.95 NOW £88.95

Single cask Scotch fans, listen up! We’ve got an absolute treat for you right here. This beaut was aged in one single hogshead from November 1996 to January 2020 – and it is a cask-strength delight. Single casks are always the happy home of fun flavour experiences, and this one doesn’t disappoint. 

Summer Sale

El Dorado 15 Year Old – was £52.95 NOW £47.95

If you adore boldly beautiful Caribbean rums, then you need El Dorado 15 Year Old in your life. It was rated best rum in the world at the IWSC for four years on the bounce, for goodness’ sake! It brings together spirit from the Enmore and Diamond Coffey stills, the Port Mourant double wooden pot still, and the Versailles single wooden pot still, and it is delightful indeed. 

Kyrö Dark Gin – was £35.95 NOW £29.95

Fan of cask-aged gins? Then you need to check out this expression from Finnish distillery, Kyrö. The rye base contributes a lively warmth, while 17 (yes 17!) botanicals add both complexity and intrigue. Then the whole lot spends 12 months in American oak barrels! It’s zingy and delicious – and wonderful with apple juice.

Snapped up a bargain? Let us know what you got and what you think of it over on social! We’re @masterofmalt on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.

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The Nightcap: 31 July

It’s Friday and you must know what that means by now, it can only be The Nightcap!  Sometimes you see something wonderful and it restores your faith in the world….

It’s Friday and you must know what that means by now, it can only be The Nightcap! 

Sometimes you see something wonderful and it restores your faith in the world. This week we had probably the best thing that’s ever been featured on our humble collection of boozy stories. It’s a story all about distillery pets. Do you want to see the cats and dogs (and a surprise animal) that reside at your favourite flavour factories? Of course, you do. It’s just the second feature from our new guest writer Lucy Britner and honestly, I don’t know how she tops it. Once you see those loveable animals you’ll feel ready to enjoy the weekend in all its glory. Grab a drink, settle down and kick it off with The Nightcap.

In another tip-top week on the MoM blog, Johnnie Walker kicked things off by announcing it releases four celebratory 200th-anniversary whiskies, while Henry had the pleasure of picking the brain of Elwyn Gladstone, the marketing guru behind such brands as Sailor Jerry rum, Hendrick’s, Malfy Gin and Hotel Starlino. Annie then did some trademark myth-busting on the role of water in spirits before Adam spoke to Michael Kain about 10 years of 6 O’Clock Gin. Fans of our regular posts will have noted that our Cocktail of the Week was the terrifically tasty Grasshopper, while our New Arrival of the Week was a delightful Japanese single malt whisky that was part-aged in an apple brandy cask.

The Nightcap

Founders of Sliabh Liag Distillers, James and Moria Doherty, with their first cask of Donegal whiskey

First Donegal whiskey launched

When we spoke to James Doherty of Sliabh Liag Distillers back in 2019, he told us about his desire to distil peated whiskey and make Donegal to Ireland what Islay is to Scotland. Well, this week the brand has taken its first big step forward to fulfilling this ambition by filling its first cask with a peated single malt new-make. Marking the first time that legal whiskey distillation has taken place in Donegal since the closure of Burt Distillery in 1841, the small-batch production took place at Sliabh Liag Distillers’ Carrick facility while the business’s new whiskey distillery at Ardara is under construction and on Wednesday the brand launched a new crowdfunding campaign to help raise €1.5m of capital for the project. The new make was distilled twice in SLD’s copper pot still, known as Méabh, from peated Irish Craft Malts barley grown in Meath, mirroring the profile of the spirit that was being distilled in Ulster 200 years ago, before it was filled into a first-fill bourbon oak cask. “While Burt Distillery ceased production in 1841, we know illegal distilling continued during the intermittent years, not least by my grandfather who was creating a smoky, double-distilled spirit under the authorities’ radar on the hills ‘up the glen’ in Kilcar. I think my grandfather would approve that we are now distilling the first legal whiskey in Donegal for nearly 200 years, and there’s a lovely sense of coming full circle,” commented Doherty. “There has been a fair amount of blood, sweat and tears to get to this point – especially last week in hand-mashing 500L of wort for brewing – but it’s given us a huge lift as we embark on the next stage in both our and Donegal’s history. Once we are up and running there, the future of Donegal Irish Whiskey will be even brighter.” 

The Nightcap

If everything goes well the tiny Hebridean island of Benbecula should have a distillery by 2022!

Plans unveiled for Benbecula distillery

New whisky distillery alert! Well, potential distillery. This week, The Uist Distilling Company revealed plans for a £6.5 million site at Gramsdale on the tiny Hebridean island of Benbecula! If it gets the green light, the distillery will make rum and gin alongside single malt, and will also feature a visitor centre and food outlet, where visitors can snap up all manner of freshly made local products. What’s especially exciting is that low-carbon tech will be used from design and build all the way through to distillation. Green(er) whisky incoming! 25 jobs will be created, alongside another 60-70 indirect jobs in the supply chain. Good stuff all round. “The new distillery aims to be a champion of all things Hebridean and Scottish and will provide a huge boost to tourism in the area,” said Angus A McMillan, Uist Distilling Company chairman and chief executive. “We want to produce whisky, rum and gin that will put Benbecula and the Hebrides firmly on the whisky tourist trail, while introducing the products we make to a national and international clientele.” The planning application is due for submission imminently, and, if all goes to plan, production will kick off in early 2022. Godspeed, folks!

The Nightcap

Scottish barley being harvested for Bruichladdich whisky

Bruichladdich continues transparent drive with No Hidden Measures campaign 

Islay-based distillery Bruichladdich has long committed itself to transparency. Back in 2016, it stood with whisky blender Compass Box in its drive for clearer labelling rules when it comes to the constituent parts of whisky expressions. Now Bruichladdich is honing in on accountability, with a focus on the prevalence of raw materials in whisky-making. Through its No Hidden Measures initiatives, it ‘hopes to bring a new level of transparency to single malt Scotch’ by publishing the provenance of and recipes for its flagship Classic Laddie and Laddie Eight bottlings on its website. Details include where the barley was grown (on the island of Islay or near Inverness), its maturation details of first- or second-fill casks, and the age of its youngest component part. Interestingly, the distillery also states how EU law restricts its transparency (the subject of the first campaign with Compass Box). “Never before have businesses been in such a privileged position to share the detail in all they do,” said Bruichladdich CEO Douglas Taylor. “Our customers are engaged with us across our big picture thinking down to the granular detail of how our whisky is made. Our aim has always been to make the most thought-provoking spirit possible, and we couldn’t do that without nurturing the same sense of curiosity in our consumers, as we allow ourselves.” He continued: “We’re determined to highlight the complexity behind every batch of The Classic Laddie and The Laddie Eight. There are no shortcuts taken in their creation, therefore we have no secrets… that’s what’s meant by ‘No Hidden Measures’. Some may dismiss this level of detail as unnecessary, but it’s important for us to make whisky accessible AND allow a more sophisticated conversation to take place.” To discover how their bottle was made, customers can pop a code found on the back of the bottles into Bruichladdich’s website. Happy tracking!

The Nightcap

Smeaton’s Gin is the latest brand to do their bit to support the on-trade

Smeaton’s Gin to boost Hospitality Action funds with new cocktail

We all know we’re living in challenging times, and that despite lockdown’s largely easing, the hospitality industry continues to struggle. Loads of brands and retailers alike have pulled together to support the on-trade, the latest being Smeaton’s Gin. The Bristol-based producer ran a cocktail competition to find a fabulous new serve. The winning concoction will be sold in bars and restaurants across the UK, with Smeaton’s making a donation to Hospitality Action for every cocktail sold. The winner? Gin blogger and judge Meme Toor with her serve The Hospitality. The pineapple-based drink “tastes delicious, shines in the glass, and will offer bars an easily-replicable, relatable, value-added cocktail to offer their patrons returning from lockdown,” according to brand ambassador Alex Williams. Smeaton’s owner Michael Palij MW added: “Bars and restaurants embraced Smeaton’s Gin when we launched. Now it’s our turn to help and at this immensely challenging time for the On-Trade, we are committed to supporting Hospitality Action – a charity which supports hospitality workers in times of hardship.” Good work all round!

The Nightcap

Cheers to 10 years of William Grant and Tullamore Distillery’s partnership!

William Grant & Sons Celebrates “10 Years of Tully”

Can you believe we’ve had 10 whole years of Tullamore D.E.W. deliciousness? This month marks an entire decade since it joined William Grant & Sons’ portfolio! Over that time it’s become the world’s second-largest triple blend Irish whiskey, which is pretty groundbreaking stuff. If you want to mark the occasion with more than just a dram (though that will certainly do), then you’ll be thrilled to know that Tullamore D.E.W. visitor centre reopened its doors to the public this month! We love a celebration. Anyway, we’ll leave you with a fact, the kind that’s going to come in handy at dinner parties. Here goes: across the world, 10 shots of Tullamore D.E.W. are consumed every second. Yes, really! Now, go and get yourself a glass of Tully and spread the word. 

The Nightcap

Yamazaki-55 Year Old, the oldest Japanese whisky ever produced.

Oldest Japanese whisky ever distilled goes to auction in August

If you want to see a little piece of whisky history made next month then mark the 21 August (Friday) in your calendar as it’s the day the Bonhams Hong Kong auction of Fine and Rare Wine & Whisky will take place. The highlight of this sale? A bottle of Yamazaki-55 Year Old, the oldest expression ever produced by the prestigious brand and the oldest Japanese whisky in history. The blockbuster of a single-malt was only released in June this year by Suntory, via a customer lottery system applicable only to residents from within Japan. The expression was distilled in the 1960s and matured in both Japanese Mizunara oak cask from 1960 and white oak cask from 1964 before it was bottled at 46% ABV. The whisky, which had an exceedingly-limited outturn of 100 bottles, is said to have a complex agarwood and sandalwood nose, rich in fruity scents with a sweet aftertaste. Excitingly, it’s even older than the coveted Yamazaki-50 Year Old, which – on several occasions over the years – has set the world auction record for a single bottle of Japanese whisky. Other wine and spirits highlights of the sale include a bottle of Saburomaru 1960 55-year-old, which means the auction will feature the two oldest Japanese whiskies currently available to the market, as well as Macallan Lalique 55-Year-Old, Karuizawa 1974 (40-year-old) Blue Geisha and Karuizawa 1974 (40-year-old) Gold Geisha and Bowmore 1955 (40-year-old). “We are thrilled to be the first international auction house to offer this historic and extremely popular bottle to the worldwide audience, which already has a strong appetite for the finest Japanese whisky,” Daniel Lam, Bonhams’ director of wine & spirits, Asia, commented. “One of only 100 that were produced, this amber joy by one of the most prestigious whisky distilleries is as rare as its quality is unmatched.”

The Nightcap

It’s wholesome escapism, Tobermory-style

And finally… need some soothing colouring? Tobermory’s got your back

Remember a couple of years ago when colouring-in books for grown-ups were the thing? Well, Mull-based Tobermory Distillery reckons it’s time for a come-back. After all, lockdowns around the world have inspired many of us to get in touch with our artistic sides, so why not? As such it has launched a Tobermory colouring book, featuring 10 hand-drawn designs by artist Lydia Bourhill depicting the charm of the island, from its technicolour harbour to dramatic landscapes. “Our colourful home on the island of Mull is ample inspiration for those looking to keep up the enriching, artistic hobbies many have started in lockdown,” said Amy Burns, Tobermory Distillery’s global marketing manager. “It’s thanks to this nourishing artistic community and the island’s stunning natural beauty that Tobermory Distillery is expressive by nature, and this is reflected in the spirits we craft.” She continued: “It is this expressive creativity which formed the inspiration for our colouring-in books, designed to let you relax, unwind and unlock your artistic passions over a gin and tonic or dram of whisky.” The colouring books are available from Tobermorydistillery.com – soothing weekend plans sorted!

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Johnnie Walker announces four 200th anniversary releases

It’s the 200th anniversary of the foundation of the world’s best-selling whisky brand. And Johnnie Walker is celebrating the best way possible, with the announcement of four new releases. Today,…

It’s the 200th anniversary of the foundation of the world’s best-selling whisky brand. And Johnnie Walker is celebrating the best way possible, with the announcement of four new releases.

Today, Diageo announced four new releases for Johnnie Walker. Three are all new blends and one is a redesigned limited edition release of Blue Label. It’s a double celebration as these bottles commemorate John Walker’s birthday, he was born on 25 July 1905, and 200 years since he first opened a grocer in Kilmarnock and began selling his own blend of Scotch whisky. The rest is history…

Here are the four releases:

Johnnie Walker Blue Label 200th Anniversary Limited Edition

A special edition of the classic premium blended Scotch whisky that pays homage to the brand’s global appeal with pictures of great cities and countries that are part of the Johnnie Walker story. 

RRP: around £135 for 70cl

Johnnie Walker Blue Label Legendary Eight

Whiskies for this special bottling come only from eight great distilleries that were all around when John Walker’s story began. These include rare spirits from long-closed ghost distilleries. 

RRP: £233 for 70cl

John Walker & Sons Celebratory Blend

This release takes as its inspiration Old Highland Whisky, the blend that put John Walker & Sons on the world map in the 1860s. Only distilleries that were around at that time go into the Celebratory Blend and the packaging features the only existing image of that original Kilmarnock grocery store. 

RRP: £50 70cl.

John Walker & Sons Bicentenary Blend

John Walker’s shop was a general grocer’s shop, it didn’t just sell whisky, so would have picked with goods from all over the world. This blend is inspired by the rich and exotic flavours that Walker himself would have been surrounded with as he worked. It’s made with some seriously rare whiskies including some from ghost distilleries including Pittyvaich, Cambus and Port Ellen. 

RRP: £740 for 70cl.

Johnnie Walker master blender Jim Beveridge commented: “Each of these exclusive releases bring a fresh perspective to our 200th anniversary story and are the perfect way to celebrate this huge moment for Johnnie Walker. It feels very apt to be announcing them this week to coincide with John Walker’s birthday.” 

John Williams, Diageo global Scotch director, added: “Our 200th anniversary releases are inspired by the moment our founder, John Walker, first opened the door to his grocer’s store in Kilmarnock taking the first step on an incredible journey for Johnnie Walker. John’s spark, vision and entrepreneurial fire were the impetus to growing the John Walker name, our business and ultimately a new future for Scotch whisky. This year we’re celebrating the steps he first took steps that have inspired generations of our whisky makers and are at the heart of everything we do today and will do tomorrow.”

For more information go to the Johnie Walker websiteWhiskies should be arriving at Master of Malt in October. Watch this space for more information. 

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The Nightcap: 24 July

Well, another week bites the dust. It’s time to put your feet up, pour yourself a drink and immerse yourself in some fresh booze news. This week, Ardbeg brings you the…

Well, another week bites the dust. It’s time to put your feet up, pour yourself a drink and immerse yourself in some fresh booze news. This week, Ardbeg brings you the thrill of the grill, Glen Moray unveils some single cask expressions, and Jose Cuervo debuts an automatic Tequila button.

Greetings, weary traveller. You have stumbled upon an everlasting tome of knowledge, one that is reborn anew once a week, refreshed, revitalised, brimming with new information. This rejuvenating opus tells tales of people who use the elements to create deliciousness where the once was none. These descriptions sound like myths and legends, but they are in fact true reports. What could this regularly regenerating work be?! Well, weary traveller, it’s The Nightcap!

We kicked off the week with an irresistible competition to win some sustainable booze from our neighbours at Greensand Ridge Distillery. Henry highlighted a rare single grain bottling from the now-demolished Port Dundas in Glasgow, before shaking up some sherry and cassis with Alex Williams from the Great Scotland Yard Hotel for our Cocktail of the Week. On Tuesday, we welcomed a new writer to our blog, Lucy Britner, who looked at pre-mixed cocktails. Welcome Lucy! Annie had a busy week, she spoke to a company looking at distillation from a molecular point of view, and interviewed Ron Welsh master blender and strategic inventory manager for distilleries including Bowmore, Laphroaig and Auchentoshan. Finally, Adam got all excited about cocktail bundles, and who can blame him? That was the week, now on with the news!

Ardbeg and DJ BBQ team up for online grill sessions

This summer you can experience the thrill of the grill online as Ardbeg teams up with diffident TV cook DJ BBQ for the Ardbeg Smoke Sessions. DJ BBQ (aka Christian Stevenson) will be hosting a series of online classes showing whisky lovers how to up their grill game as well as making delicious smoky drinks using Ardbeg 10, An Oa and Wee Beastie. Joining him will be everyone’s favourite head of maturing whisky stocks, Brendan McCarron, aka DJ PPM. Mr BBQ commented: “My smoky barbeque recipes share so many characteristics with the flavours of Ardbeg whisky, and they complement each other perfectly. The laws of wood, heat and smoke are so important to barbecue and single malt alike, and once mastered, you’ll become a barbeque boss! The taste of braided beef fillet alongside an Ardbeg 10 Old Fashioned is just awesome, and a sip of hot Wee Beastie punch with a slow smoked pork shoulder is unrivalled!” The series launched on 21 July on Ardbeg’s social channels (you can watch the first episode here), and there will be a special Instagram Live event on Friday 24 July (tonight!) at 8pm BST. Furthermore, things will be happening in the real world too, as you can order DJ BBQ’s Maple and Bacon Old Fashioned via Mothership on the Drinks At Home platform. Looks smoking!

Lovely wine cask whiskies are just a phone call away

Glen Moray releases three wine cask whiskies

She’s been at it again. Dr Kirstie McCallum has clearly been having a whale of a time in the warehouses of Glen Moray since she joined the distillery as head of whisky creation in 2019. Earlier this year, it was a 2006 Madeira cask, and now there are three new single casks Distillery Editions available: a 2004 Chenin Blanc, a 2003 Chardonnay, and a 2004 Burgundy. All have been fully matured in wine casks and bottled at cask strength. The team at Master of Malt was given a wee taste, and not only did we love these distinctive whiskies, we were impressed with the very reasonable pricing, £85 a bottle. They would normally be available only from the distillery which reopened last week. But if you can’t make it, you might still be able to get your hands on a bottle. Just give them a ring. Visitor centre manager Iain Allan commented: “Buying a bottle of Glen Moray from our annual Distillery Edition is as much about the experience of a visit to the distillery as it is about buying a wonderful new whisky. For the many people who would normally make the trip and take away one of these special bottles, we wanted to find a way to make the range available but avoid making it just a basic transaction over email or the internet. Everyone working at the distillery enjoys nothing more than talking about whisky with fellow enthusiasts, answering questions and sharing behind the scenes stories of how Glen Moray is made.” So dial Glen Moray for a nice blether about whisky. 

Totally fabulous, darling

Harrods opens luxurious basement Baccarat Bar 

News just in: swanky basement bar has just opened in Harrods. Though wouldn’t it be more newsworthy if a dingy pub opened in the Knightsbridge department store instead, offering £2 a pint Wednesdays and wall-to-wall football? Anyway, Harrods went for the more obvious swanky option: the new venue has been created in partnership with Baccarat, the crystal glass maker. It’s called… The Baccarat Bar! With social distancing in place, there’s room for 23 guests only, so it’s pretty exclusive. The totally fabulous interior, a symphony in glass and marble, was created by Fabled Studio and is inspired by Baccarat’s creations. The menu, put together by bar manager Cameron Attfield, is no slouch either, with 16 signature drinks made using state of the art techniques. He commented: “We have approached the drinks in a unique manner, with the design of the bar and its playful yet exquisite elegance and form setting the tone of our menu, but then applying multiple flavour extraction techniques, including fermentation, vacuum distillation, ultrasonic homogenisation and carbonation to make it a reality.” Each drink comes in its own special glass. You can probably guess the manufacturer.

Al fresco drinking will be all the rage this summer

It’s going to be the summer of the garden party, says Bacardi

Top drinks company Bacardi commissioned a survey of Britain’s plans for summer drinking, and you won’t be surprised to learn that it involves being outside… a lot. Out of a survey group of 1,000, 39% said that they will be socialising outdoors more than last year. You’d think, though, that it would be more like 100%. Much of this al fresco frolicking will be taking place at home, with 71% planning on attending or hosting a garden party, and 44% preferring their own gardens to outdoor spaces at venues. So some way to go before Britain’s pub-going returns to normal. But 59% did say that an outdoor space would entice them back to a pub or restaurant with socially-distanced tables (57%), hand sanitiser at the bar (53%), and contactless payments (52%) all cited as important. And what will we be drinking this summer according to the survey? Happily for rum giant Bacardi, the answer seemed to be rum-based cocktails with the most popular being the Mojito and Piña Colada (both picked by 24%). Let’s hope the weather holds up.

Safe and snazzy: Boë Gin’s masks

Boë Gin gives away face masks as coverings become law in the UK

If you’re reading this in the UK you’ll know that as of today, it’s a legal requirement to wear a face covering in enclosed public spaces, including shops, banks, and public transport hubs. There are a number of options, from the surgical to the homemade, if you’re one of the craftier among us. But if, like us, you’d rather someone else puts the leg work in, then look no further than Boë Gin! The Scottish producer is giving away snazzy reusable face coverings to bartenders and hospitality workers around the country. The purple masks feature a floral pattern inspired by the brand’s violet gin, and can be washed and reused. “We hope these face masks can help people look great and stay safe at the same time,” said Andrew Richardson, Boë director. “The stylish masks are designed to be worn regardless of the occasion – whether that’s a trip to the shops or working behind a bar making some of our delicious signature cocktails. As always, we encourage everyone to stay safe – even while they are enjoying themselves.” Taken by the masks? Head to the Boë site and to see how you can get your mitts on your own! 

Aberlour is one of four Chivas Brothers distilleries welcoming visitors back

The Glenlivet, Aberlour, Scapa and Strathisla get set to reopen

Wonderful news reaches us! And it will be especially welcome if you’re planning on a spot of Scotch whisky tourism this summer. Chivas Brothers has announced it will reopen four of its Scotch brand homes as lockdown eases in the UK! The Glenlivet, Aberlour and Scapa will throw open their (highly sanitised) doors on 29 July, with Strathisla allowing visitors back in from 7 August. Pre-booking online is essential, your temperature will be zapped on arrival, social distancing measures will be strictly enforced, and you should bring your own face mask (although there will be supplies on-hand if you forget yours. But face coverings are the new normal, people. Get with the times.). “After four challenging months, we’re delighted to be able to reopen the doors to our brand homes to give visitors the chance to safely enjoy our whiskies and the beautiful surroundings in Speyside and Orkney,” said Gordon Buist, Chivas Brothers production director. We have had substantial best-in-class Safe System of Work processes in place across all of our operational sites over the last few months, and we have been working closely with our local Speyside and Orkney communities to enable us to take significant steps in implementing these strict social distancing and sanitation measures in our visitor centres as well, ensuring we’re able to welcome visitors safely, protect our colleagues and neighbours, and support Scottish tourism. Whether a discerning drinker or discovering drams for the first time, the team and I look forward to welcoming visitors safely back to our homes to uncover more about our rich Scotch heritage.” We can’t wait to get back inside a distillery – just no sharing drams, obvs.

Avallen Calvados

Avallen’s on a £250k crowd-funding drive

Calvados brand Avallen kicks off Seedrs crowdfunding drive

Every so often, the chance to own a little bit of a booze brand comes along. If you’ve fancied yourself as the next Cameron Diaz or Post Malone but without the singing, we have news for you. As of this week, Calvados brand Avallen is looking for investors! The sustainability-focused brand launched in spring 2019 and it’s notched up more than 1,000 case sales since launch. The brand’s philosophy is all about creating planet-positive drinks that taste delicious – and now we can be part of it, too. Avallen’s founders are looking to raise £250,000 through crowdfunding platform Seedrs, with the funds put towards hiring sales and marketing directors, and securing carbon-neutral certification. Fancy splashing out? Head over to Seedrs and check it out!

Certainly presses our buttons

And finally… press a button for Jose Cuervo Tequila

The best thing about being rich is being able to press a button and get exactly what you want. Who hasn’t dreamed of being Mr Burns from The Simpsons who, at the touch of a button, can summon a team of top lawyers, a flight of winged monkeys, or drop his enemies down into a bottomless pit? No? Just us? Well, top Tequila brand Jose Cuervo is about to make someone’s button-based dreams come true, though sadly it doesn’t involve bottomless pits or winged monkeys. Just in time for National Tequila Day on Friday 24 July (as in, today!), the company is launching a competition to win a ‘Push for Tequila’ button. One lucky person will win a button and a year’s supply of Tequila (one bottle per month). Simply press the button, and a bottle of Tequila will be sent to you to enjoy with your friends (responsibly, natch). You can enter via Jose Cuervo’s UK Instagram @josecuervouk and Facebook pages. Good luck!

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The Nightcap: 17 July

Innovation, celebrities, festivals, invisible portions of chips… It’s just another week in the bonkers world of booze. Happily, we’ve stuffed it all into another fabulous edition of The Nightcap! As…

Innovation, celebrities, festivals, invisible portions of chips… It’s just another week in the bonkers world of booze. Happily, we’ve stuffed it all into another fabulous edition of The Nightcap!

As lockdown eases, I’ve noticed that a number of articles advising how we can still make the most of a prohibited summer are starting to pop-up all over the place. The recommendations for socially-distanced summer experiences include watching a film at an open-air cinema, taking a break in a remote cabin or hosting a virtual festival at home. All decent suggestions. But there’s a sorry lack of anybody acknowledging that pouring yourself a dram, finding a comfortable seat and opening up another lovely new edition of The Nightcap is the finest way to spend a Friday night. It beats going outside and being harassed by flying ants.

On the MoM blog this week, we launched a new competition with our neighbours at Greensand Ridge to give you the chance to win a VIP trip to the distillery! Ian Buxton then returned with part two of his look at how the spirits business is coping with the COVID (spoiler, there is some good news!), as Annie gave us the lowdown on cooking with booze and the philosophy behind Japanese spirit giant Suntory. Our New Arrival of the Week was a blended Irish whiskey aged in Basque wines casks from one of the country’s newest and smallest distilleries, and for our Cocktail of the Week, Henry made the ultimate Jazz Age gin serve. It’s the Bee’s Knees. Literally.

The Nightcap

The new design will debut with Johnnie Walker in early 2021

Diageo develops first 100% plastic-free bottle 

Diageo has had a busy week, first announcing that it has created the world’s first-ever 100% plastic-free paper-based spirits bottle. The move comes after the makers of Johnnie Walker, Smirnoff and Guinness formed a partnership with Pilot Lite to launch Pulpex Limited, a sustainable packaging technology company. The ‘first-of-its-kind’, fully recyclable bottle is made from sustainably sourced pulp to meet food-safe standards and is said to have 30% less CO2 emission than PET (plastic bottles) and 90% less than glass. The new design will debut with Johnnie Walker in early 2021. “We’re proud to have created this world first. We are constantly striving to push the boundaries within sustainable packaging and this bottle has the potential to be truly ground-breaking. It feels fitting that we should launch it with Johnnie Walker, a brand that has often led the way in innovation throughout its 200 years existence,” says Ewan Andrew, chief sustainability officer, Diageo PLC.

… and a digital cask-filling system

The brand has also partnered with the University of Strathclyde to create a digital whisky cask-filling process that is projected to save Scotland’s whisky sector millions annually in inventory costs. The new digital design aims to tackle the problem of inconsistent cask-filling levels resulting from overspill, underfill and foaming by accounting for every drop that goes into each cask, allowing producers to achieve more than 99% fill consistently on a 200-litre cask in under one minute. Cask production accounts for 10% to 20% of the overall cost of whisky making and Diageo itself holds more than 11 million casks in maturation at one time. The new system hopes to “revolutionise” industry equipment and enable a “high degree of repeatability” as well as improvements to health and safety, and reduce waste.

The Nightcap

We’re not sure what ‘clean wine’ is. But we definitely know who Cameron Diaz is.

Cameron Diaz releases a ‘clean wine’

Another day, another celebrity wine, this time it’s the turn of Cameron Diaz who you may remember from such films as ‘My Best Friend’s Wedding’ and ‘There’s Something about Mary’. With her business partner Katherine Power (CEO of fashion company Who What Wear), she’s unveiled a range of wine called Avaline. But these are not just any wines, according to the press bumf the wines, a white from Spain and a rosé (natch) from France are ‘clean wines’. What does this mean? The term itself has no legal meaning but looking more closely, they appear to be fairly standard commercial bottlings, though they are made with organic grapes. Production methods include cultured rather than wild yeasts, added sulphur and finings with bentonite clay, pea protein and cream of tartar (good article here looking into this more closely). All these are completely normal things in wine production and are in no way unhealthy, but it looks like Avaline are no more ‘natural’ than most supermarket wines. Still, they might taste nice and also Cameron Diaz!

The Nightcap

Meet your wonderful host, Peter Holland!

The Scottish Rum Festival reveals day of virtual celebration

Got any plans for Saturday 25th July? Because there’s a lovely Scottish rum festival taking place that’s definitely going to be better than anything you have planned. The Scottish Rum Festival will feature tastings and masterclasses from the distilleries and independent bottlers in a showcase of the nation’s thriving rum scene. Expect delightful brands from all over Scotland, including Ninefold, Devil’s Point, Matugga, Rumburra Orach, SeaWolf, Banditti Club, BrewDog, J. Gow and Sugar House. The Floating Rum Shack and That Boutique-y Rum Company’s Peter Holland will host the event, leading you through a jam-packed day of talks and tastings with Dave Broom offering his expert opinion and entertainment from Glasgow’s Mungo’s HiFi sound system. The innovative virtual event, which is supported by Scotland Food & Drink, Scottish Distillers Association, Glencairn Crystal, and Alba Cola, aims to raise the profile of Scottish rum at a time when the rum category is increasingly in the spotlight and welcomes both rum newcomers and seasoned connoisseurs alike. If you’ve managed to get your hands on a ticket, you’ll get access to all the virtual rum sessions, as well as a tasting pack featuring 10 x 30ml Scottish rums, branded Glencairn tasting glass and a charitable donation to The BEN. For more information, you can go to the Scottish Rum Festival website.

The Nightcap

We dare say the gin is royally good… haha but all jokes aside it sold out immediately so we have no idea.

Buckingham Palace gets its very own gin 

Whether it’s Prince Charles with his Martinis or the Queen with a gin and Dubbonet, it’s well-known that the Royal Family is partial to a drop of (Queen) mother’s ruin. Now, the Firm has its very own gin partly made from botanicals grown in Buckingham Palace’s garden including lemon verbena, hawthorn berries, bay leaves and mulberry leaves. It’s a London Dry Gin from a mystery distiller and bottled at 42% ABV. Naturally, Miles Beale from the WSTA had something to say: “It is fantastic to hear that hot off the heels of the success of the English sparkling wine made from vines grown in Great Windsor Park we will now be able to try gin made from botanicals grown in the grounds of Buckingham Palace. We couldn’t really ask for a better ambassador for these great British drinks than Her Majesty the Queen. Last year British gin sales, at home and abroad, reached a record-breaking £3.2 billion. The new royal gin adds another jewel in the crown amongst an established collection of highly sought-after quality British gin brands.” All profits go to help fund the care and conservation of the Royal Collection. The only snag is the £40 gin, which was available only from Royal Collection Trust, sold out in a matter of hours but happily, MoM has plenty of alternatives.  

The Nightcap

Imagine getting this and some Nandos straight to your door. The night-in of dreams…

Asterley Bros. cocktail service is here!

While some people are getting all excited that Nando’s has started home delivery, for us, the delicious things brought to your door news is all about Asterley Bros.’ Cocktail Club. Yes, this week South London’s finest fraternal booze alchemists announced a monthly cocktail subscription service. Sign up and each month you will receive a giant cocktail pouch containing 10 servings. Each month’s offering will be seasonal and champion small producers. First, up is a Pink Negroni containing Schofield’s Dry Vermouth and Cabby’s London Dry Gin; we were given a little sample and it’s one of the most delicious things on the planet. But that’s not all, you will also receive two 50ml samples from independent brand partners to introduce you to new tastes, plus limited edition artwork, a video of Asterley Bros. creative director Joe Schofield doing some drinks magic and some nibbles to consume while drinking that month’s cocktail. All this for under £45 a month and 10% of the profits goes to Hospitality Action. Oh, and when you sign up, you will get a unique code to share and when someone signs up with your code, you will both receive a double 100ml cocktail pack totally free. It sounds like a drinks service that really delivers. 

The Nightcap

The brand ensures that its production is sustainable and that its mezcal is very tasty indeed!

Pernod Ricard ‘partners’ with Ojo de Tigre Mezcal

Got a taste for Mezcal? So does supersize drinks group Pernod Ricard. After taking a majority stake in Del Maguey in 2017, it’s at it again, this time forming a “partnership” with Ojo de Tigre. The artisanal mezcal producer uses sustainable Tobala and Espadín agave varietals to create joven and reposado expressions. The result is a sweet, herbal taste profile that Pernod Ricard reckons will ‘strengthen’ both its place in the fast-growing mezcal category, and its ‘Transform and Accelerate’ strategic plan. Details of the deal, including the size of the stake or its value, haven’t been disclosed, but Ojo de Tigre co-founder and CEO, Moises Guindi, thinks it will “recruit the next generation of drinkers”: “We believe Ojo de Tigre is well suited to this task and Pernod Ricard is the perfect partner for this mission.” Pernod Ricard’s chairman and CEO, Alexandre Ricard, added: “Ojo de Tigre’s authentic origins, mindful production and inviting taste contribute to its strong appeal among consumers. We look forward to a successful collaboration toward the brand’s future development.” Exciting times ahead!

The Nightcap

Remember when we used to do this together? Good times. Apart from the pandemic, obviously.

Natural born quizzers

Just because the pubs were closed didn’t mean that the great British public was going to miss out on a pub quiz. No global pandemic was going to curb our passion for trivia. At MoM we put on a virtual pub quiz for customers which proved extremely popular. While in-house Zoom meet-ups were enlivened by some extremely difficult quizzing (though with rather too many questions about Star Wars, who knew there were so many films?) Well, it seems we weren’t the only ones because the numbers are in from UK commercial print company Where The Trade Buys and they are big. How big? Well, there were 1.3 million searches for ‘pub quiz questions’ in the UK this year, up 932% on last year and 229,000 searches for ‘virtual pub quiz’, that’s up 381,767% on last year. No, there isn’t an extra digit in there, an increase of over three hundred thousand per cent! Didn’t we promise you big numbers? Looking closely at the data reveals that football questions were the most searched for followed by music. And the nation’s quizzing capital? Newcastle-upon-Tyne, with a 954% increase in searches for quiz questions. Howay the lads!

The Nightcap

Fred Sirieix is one of the hospitality giants supporting the initiative.

And finally. . . fancy a portion of ‘Invisible Chips’?

Hospitality Action has launched a fundraising campaign to support the hospitality industry through the magic of Invisible Chips. That’s right, you, the public, can help those working in the hospitality sector by buying a portion of ‘invisible chips’, which food outlets will add to their menu at the same price as their edible counterpart, with all proceeds going to the charity. Essentially, you buy a portion of nothing to do some good. BrewDog, Hawksmoor and Gaucho have already signed up and Invisible Chips are also available to purchase online. The initiative, which has been backed by top chefs including Fred Sirieix, Heston Blumenthal and Tom Kerridge, attempts to alleviate the struggle of workers in the industry, who have seen their place of employment close or show no signs of reopening, or position has been made redundant. Official predictions suggest unemployment will hit 10% by the end of 2020, with the hospitality industry being one of the worst affected. The campaign has assured consumers that the chips are “0% fat, 100% charity” and “simple to prepare, take up zero freezer space and never go past their use-by date”. Mark Lewis, chief executive of Hospitality Action added: “To anyone who has missed eating out these past few months, I urge you to order a portion of Invisible Chips to help those people we’ve perhaps taken for granted up until now. The hospitality industry is built on resilience and creativity and I’m confident we will recover, however, the people within it need a helping hand in the interim.”

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The Nightcap: 10 July

The weekend is here, your drink is poured and you’re ready to settle down with another batch of all things newsy and boozy. It’s The Nightcap! Given that July is…

The weekend is here, your drink is poured and you’re ready to settle down with another batch of all things newsy and boozy. It’s The Nightcap!

Given that July is Rum Month and Saturday is World Rum Day (11th July), there’s been a fair amount of rum-based news land at MoM Towers this week. So much so that the word rum is starting to lose all meaning. I’ve said it too much now. Rum. Rum. Rum. Yep, it sounds weird. I know what I need to do. Take a break, have a sit-down and enjoy my Friday evening with a dram of something delicious. I might have some rum.

On the MoM blog this week you might have noticed that Motörhead made an appearance. On our blog. The band Motörhead. Not only did we launch a new competition with the legendary rockers that means you could win a bundle of merch and booze, but Mikkey Dee even stopped by for a quick chat. As in Mikkey Dee from Motörhead. Did I hallucinate this week? I can’t have done, because I remember all the delicious rum, like our two new arrivals, the six expressions we picked out to mark the month of rum and Cleo Farman’s delightful Diablesse Rum. Elsewhere, the likes of Jamaica, Mexico and err… Tonbridge were on the list of places team MoM would love to go when we can travel normally again, Annie talked to Rémy Martin about its climate change-ready grape trials and Henry enjoyed The Dude’s favourite beverage The White Russian

The Nightcap

Its’ the world’s First European Online Rum Festival

Tickets now available for European Rum & Cocktail Online Festival

Earlier this week, we wrote about where we would like to visit now that the world is opening up. In all likelihood, however, we won’t be going to Jamaica any time soon. But that doesn’t matter! Because the Caribbean can come to you in the form of the European Rum & Cocktail Online Festival on Saturday 8 August. This event is run by the cool cats at RumCask and features distilleries from Trinidad, Barbados, Bermuda, Martinique and Guadeloupe, as well as cocktail classes from top bars like Duke of Tokyo in Amsterdam and El Del Frente in Havana. But you won’t just be watching people talk about rum, you’ll be drinking it too as the ticket includes 25 20ml samples of rums from distilleries including La Hechicera, Foursquare, Angostura, Rhum Damoiseau and rare bottlings from Single Barrel Selection. Plus the non-perishable ingredients to make four cocktails. That’s a lot of booze for your buck. Events run from 12 noon until 8pm (BST). There are early bird tickets available until 10 July for £50 (plus postage), after that it’s £60 up until 29 July which is the cut-off date for sending the rum. Go here to buy tickets. You won’t regret it. 

The Nightcap

The crowdfunding campaign offered you the chance to help name a rum brand

Silk Road Distillers rebrands as Offbeat rum

Another one of the standout rum stories from this week is that Silk Road Distillers has chosen its new name. After a public crowdfunder campaign to rebrand the producer has revealed its new name is Offbeat. Founder George Agate picked Offbeat as the winner after people from all over the globe submitted more than 70 name ideas. The crowdfunder also achieved 102% of its target in just 14 days, raising £5,139. Agate chose Offbeat as he felt the name demonstrated “the exciting direction the brand continues to take, challenging the norms and celebrating the offbeat”. For those who were fans of the original Silk Road rum, there’s no need to worry, the liquid inside the bottle is still a botanical rum featuring a blend of ginger, lemongrass, cinnamon, hibiscus, rosehip and pink peppercorns which are vapour infused into white rum from Guyana and bottled without any added sugar at 42% ABV. New name, same delicious rum and tonic waters.

The Nightcap

Lee Morris was victorious with his gaff The Albert Arms

Britain’s best home bar revealed

Have you ever pondered the question, who has the best home bar in Britain? No? We did, especially during the lockdown. Now the answer is in, thanks to Liberty Games. The games room specialist has just announced the winner of its competition and it’s Lee Morris from Albrighton in Shropshire with his gaff The Albert Arms. Morris commented: “The pub is all handmade by myself using a lot of recycled materials.” He went on to say: “I homebrew a lot of beers and use traditional hand pulls to give a real pint feel. Inside the pub, I have a fully stocked bar with spirits and optics.” There’s also a log burner, dartboard, TV and, for some reason, a drum kit. Not ideal if you’re trying to enjoy a quiet pint. Morris may have been the winner, but we were particularly taken with one of the runners-up, Greg Rhodes in Cheshire from Cheshire with his note-perfect Tik bar. Morris wins a year’s supply of beer as well as the glory in being the owner of Britain’s Best Home Bar 2020. We’re going to start working on our basement for next year’s competition. 

The Nightcap

Whyte & Mackay employees are walking, cycling or rowing all for charity!

Whyte & Mackay employees globetrot 29,000 miles for charity 

It seems like most of the UK, if not the world, was in awe at the achievements of Captain Tom Moore back in April. The folks at Whyte & Mackay were so inspired they decided to create their own challenge, dubbed Whyte & Mackay Cares. Well, a virtual challenge. Participants have to collectively walk, run, row or cycle enough miles to travel around the globe (which apparently is around 29,000 miles) over the next eight weeks. Day one saw the team clock enough miles to travel from Glasgow to London, so just the rest of the world to go! The goal is, of course, to raise money, with an aim of £50,000, which will go towards charities nominated by the team, including the Scottish Association for Mental Health. Thanks to its virtual nature, the challenge is also serving as a way to keep people connected. “That we stay connected and support our community and our friends further afield is really important, especially now,” said Nick Garland, chief commercial officer at Whyte & Mackay. “The role charities play in keeping people connected, and providing access to the support that is needed is vital. We are delighted to play our part by raising funds to support their work.” You can keep track of their (virtual) progress on their Instagram!

The Nightcap

Sandy McIntyre and Gordon Dallas will answer viewer questions and offer expert views

Tamdhu hosts virtual whisky tasting

Following a number of hugely popular live-streams, Tamdhu Distillery has announced that it will introduce its latest bottlings via a live-streamed virtual tasting. The event will allow viewers an opportunity to learn more about the Speyside distillery, as distillery manager, Sandy McIntyre, whisky experiential ambassador, Gordon Dallas and global brand ambassador Gordon Dundas offer their expert opinion on the new drams and answer questions that viewers can ask both ahead of time as well as during the live-streamed event. During the tasting, the panel will sample Dalbeallie III, a distillery exclusive named after the famous Dalbeallie train station, and the Iain Whitecross Single Cask, which is the assistant distillery manager’s debut single cask whisky. £1 from the sale of each bottle purchased from www.tamdhu.com will go to The Drinks Trust and The Ben to help support its hospitality colleagues. They will also sample a final, mystery dram that will be revealed during the stream. The event will be streamed on Tamdhu’s Facebook and YouTube channels from 7:30pm BST on Thursday 16 July.

The Nightcap

Fans of antique bourbons and all things Pappy Van Winkle should enjoy this exhibit

Pappy Van Winkle exhibit opens at the Frazier History Museum

Yesterday an exhibit about the life, family, and brand of bourbon whiskey icon Julian ‘Pappy’ Van Winkle opened at the Frazier History Museum in Louisville. Is that the best name in whiskey? It just might be. Pappy Van Winkle: The Van Winkle Family Collection features over 500 pieces of family memorabilia that Van Winkle, Sr.’s grandchildren donated, including personal items such as his walking cane, two of his golf clubs, and his cigar table, the feet of which are carved to resemble his boots. There’s also original photographs and photo albums, hand-written letters, newspaper columns, distillery tour brochures, holiday recipe booklets, minutes from W. L. Weller & Sons’ first stockholders and board of directors meetings, 1908; and an original copyright certificate for Old W. L. Weller Bourbon, 1914. Fans of American whiskey will probably be most intrigued by the selection of rare and vintage decanters and bottles of bourbons and rye whiskeys on loan from Julian Van Winkle III, including bottles of Pappy Van Winkle’s Family Reserve, Old Rip Van Winkle, Old Fitzgerald, Very Very Old Fitzgerald, Very Xtra Old Fitzgerald, Weller’s Antique Reserve, W. L. Weller’s Cabin Still, and Mr. Weller’s Pure Limestone Water. There’s even a barrel sample taken from the 500,000th barrel produced at the Stitzel-Weller Distillery on display. Custom wallpaper made of replicas of vintage Weller and Van Winkle whiskey bottle labels has been installed in the gallery and a monitor that plays a video about Pappy has been mounted nearby. The exhibit will run until July 2021 and for more info just visit fraziermuseum.org.

The Nightcap

Looks delightful, but what happened to the other ⅓?

And finally… Free pints from Estrella (well, nearly)

To celebrate the opening of a new London restaurant, Brat at Climpson’s Arch, on 11 July, top Spanish brewer Estrella Galicia is offering the first 50 diners through the doors a free ⅔ pint of its World Lager. The new summer residency at this Hackney venue sees Michelin-starred chef Tomos Parry cooking classic northern Spanish food like Basque fish stew, and the only beer on tap will be from Estrella. It sounds perfect, great food and free beer. We don’t want to look a gift horse in the mouth but we do have one question, what happens to the rest of the pint? Is someone pulling a fast one and skimming off ⅓ of a pint? We need to be told. 

 

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Win a bundle of Motörhead merch and booze!

We’ve launched a new competition in collaboration with the writers of what is surely the only rock anthem to feature the word ‘parallelogram’. Yep. It’s the legendary Motörhead. We’re not…

We’ve launched a new competition in collaboration with the writers of what is surely the only rock anthem to feature the word ‘parallelogram’. Yep. It’s the legendary Motörhead. We’re not kidding. The actual Motörhead.

You might have noticed that early in the week we had a little chat with drummer Mikkey Dee of Motörhead fame. As you do. Boy did we learn a lot. He told us how the band got involved in the drinks world, what his tipple of choice is when he’s gigging and how Lemmy felt cheated when his Kinder eggs had ready-built toys in them. It’s everything you could ever want from a chat with Mikkey Dee.

We don’t have mega-famous rockstars on the MoM blog every week, as you probably know. There’s a very good reason why Dee made an appearance. It involves one of you lucky individuals reading this blog right now having an incredible bundle of Motörhead goodies turn up at your door. It’s competition time, folks!

Motörhead

Gambling’s for fools. Stick to friendly MoM competitions.

Up for grabs is a Motörhead merch package so good that even Enya fans will be tempted to embrace the world of eardrum crushing rock. Read ’em and weep:

Entry to this competition is ridiculously easy and you’ve got nothing to lose. After all, the pleasure is to play! Here’s how you do it:

That’s it. Good luck!

MoM Competition 2020 open to entrants 18 years and over. Entries accepted from 9th July to 12th July 2020.  Competition exclusive to UK residents. Winners chosen at random after close of competition. Prizes not transferable and cannot be exchanged for cash equivalent. See full T&Cs for details.

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New Arrival of the Week: Plantation Fiji 2005

Today, we’re looking at a brand of rum, Plantation, that announced last week it is in the process of changing its name because of the word’s unsavoury connotations. We’re shining…

Today, we’re looking at a brand of rum, Plantation, that announced last week it is in the process of changing its name because of the word’s unsavoury connotations. We’re shining the spotlight on two particularly interesting bottlings, one from Fiji and the other from Jamaica. 

Before telling you about the rums that have just arrived at MoM HQ, we’re going to start with the news that Plantation is in the process of changing its name. “As the dialogue on racial equality continues globally, we understand the hurtful connotation the word plantation can evoke to some people, especially in its association with much graver images and dark realities of the past,” says the brand’s founder Alexandre Gabriel. “We look to grow in our understanding of these difficult issues and while we don’t currently have all the details of what our brand name evolution will involve, we want to let everyone know that we are working to make fitting changes.” We will let you know as soon as we learn more.

When you think of rum, your mind probably goes to Caribbean and Latin America, but sugar cane spirits are made all over the world. According to Alexandre Gabriel from Plantation rum (as the brand is still called for the time being), sugar cane which is native to Asia would have been planted in Fiji long before it was brought to the Caribbean. The country is made up of over 300 islands which together have a landmass about twice the size of Jamaica and produce about 160,000 tonnes of sugar annually. The variety planted, which Gabriel calls ‘noble cane’, was wiped out by disease in the Caribbean in the late 19th century but still thrives in Fiji.  

It’s hard to say how long rum has been made in Fiji though. Gabriel thinks it dates back a long time: “You cannot help human beings from making booze, it’s been happening throughout the world. It’s a rule that’s never been broken.” He has found evidence of distilling from the early 1800s but thinks it goes back further. 

The distillery that our New Arrival of the Week comes from, however, is more recent. It was built about 50 years ago by the Fijian government at Lautake on Viti Levu, the largest island (which is roughly the same size as Jamaica) to process molasses from the nearby plantations. In 1980, it was bought by a private consortium, the Rum Co. of Fiji

One of the pot stills at the Rum Co. of Fiji

As well as using exclusively Fijian sugar cane, Gabriel said: “The yeast you use, how you ferment, how you distill, how you handle it is as important as your raw material. The sense of terroir in a holistic way including the local know-how that perpetuates itself from that one generation to the other.” He then filled us in on production methods: “The Rum Co. of Fiji uses both wild yeast and cultured yeast, depending on what they’re trying to achieve.” Fermentation of the molasses takes around five days depending on the batch. The distillery has two pot stills, both adapted with double retorts to produce rum by John Dore & Sons, and an old column Canadian column still which produces spirit a little over 80% ABV. Gabriel describes the country’s style as combining some of the weight and intensity of Jamaica with the elegance and balance of Barbados. 

The team at the distillery are all Fijian except head distiller Liam Costello. An Australian, his background is in wine but he married a Fijian woman and moved to the island: “And fell in love not only with a wonderful Fijian woman, but also with the country and became the master distiller at the distillery,” said Gabriel. 

Today, the distillery produces two brands Ratu and Bounty (not to be confused with the brand of the same name from St. Lucia) as well as selling bulk rum. Which is where Gabriel stepped in. He explains: “I met Liam five or six years ago, I knew about his rums and I really liked them. I said one day: ‘I think we should do something together’ and he says ‘yes’. So we kept on communicating until one day he called me and he says: ‘You know I sold some of the bulk here and there and I was very often disappointed with what they did with my rum.’”

Gabriel & Costello, a great double act

So Gabriel and Costello hatched a plan to bottle some spirits that will show off the Fijian style to the full. There’s a popular blend but Plantation also bottles some special vintage offerings. The latest batch of which comes only from the column still. According to Gabriel, even with just the column, you still get that intensity but, as he puts it “in a very elegant way.”

The rum was aged for 14 years in Fiji in ex-bourbon barrels before being shipped in cask to France: “The interaction with the wood and the elements is incredible,” he said. This is how rum was shipped in the old days, and Gabriel thinks it really makes a difference and this is apparent not just in taste but through analysis with gas chromatography.  “I can show you a chromatography before and after you’ve shipped the rum,” he said, “the ester elements, the fruit elements are totally boosted, you have wood extractions that’s 10% more, just during that journey.”  Once in France, it is transferred to old Cognac casks and aged a further year. It’s bottled at 50.2% ABV with 4 grams per litre of sugar added. The result is something that is elegant and fruity with notes of toffee, mint, apples and crème brûlée with spicy ginger and cinnamon. A gorgeous luxurious rum that pays tribute to a rum tradition that deserves to be better known.

But today’s excitement doesn’t stop there: in addition to this exclusive Fijian rarity, we’ve got something very special from Jamaica. It’s a rum from Clarendon distillery distilled in 2003. It’s a high classic high ester style (422 g/hl)  known as a Monymusk Wedderburn (a designation created in the 19th century by rum blenders) produced from a two week ferment followed by distillation in a Vendome pot still. It’s aged for 16 years in Jamaica in American oak before spending a year in Cognac. It’s bottled unsweetened at 49.5% ABV. “I do a dosage depending on what I’m trying to showcase,” Gabriel said, “Here I wanted to really bring forward this rustic, in a good way, feel”. As you would hope, it’s packed full of high ester goodness like overripe banana and pineapple melded with chocolate and spice cask flavours. 

So there we have it: two utterly different, unique Plantation rums.

Plantation Fiji 2005 and Jamaica 2003 are now available from Master of Malt.

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