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Master of Malt Blog

Author: Master of Malt

Burns Night poetry competition 2020 – we have a winner!

The judges have consulted, conferred, and, finally, concurred. So, we are delighted to announce the winner of our Burns Night competition who will receive a bottle of Aerolite Lyndsay Islay…

The judges have consulted, conferred, and, finally, concurred. So, we are delighted to announce the winner of our Burns Night competition who will receive a bottle of Aerolite Lyndsay Islay single malt.

When we launched our poetry competition last year, we didn’t know what to expect. Would anyone enter? Would the entries be any good? Well, we need not have worried as clearly Master of Malt customers are a talented bunch. This year we had over 52 entries from all over the world. Admittedly, there were some stinkers, some that were, how can we put this, not suitable for a family audience, and many that rhymed whisky with frisky. But there were also plenty of top quality stuff. 

But what would Rabbie think?

So, without further ado, it’s time to announce the winner. It’s Neil Mackenzie! Readers may remember him from last year where he was one of the runners-up. Well, now he’s only gone and snatched the winner’s crown with a Scots ode to whisky makers. Metaphorically speaking that is, there is no actual winner’s crown, but he will win a bottle of Aerolite Lyndsay Islay single malt.

Runners up were: Anne Greengrass, Kyle Kenneth Moonsamy and Laurence Smith. Congratulations, you all win a dram of the Aerolite. The winning entry and runners-up are below. Thank you to everyone for taking part. The competition will be back next year so there’s plenty of time to practise your scansion.

The winning entry:

The Greatest O’ Folk

Each nation has her ain great folk,
That freed her frae oppressors yoke,
Or brichtened monie a dull heart,
Wae great inventions, words an’ art,
Mozart and Bach wae papers strewn,
Ha’e jotted monie a gallant tune,
All Socrates and Plato thought,
Were gifts to they wha knowledge sought,
Rembrandt and Monet wae sure hand,
Captured the charms o’ sky an’ land,
Alexander earned the title “Great”,
Lang ‘fore he took the Persian gate,
Ev’n Scotia’s humble shores sae braw,
Whan threatened wae her ain downfa’,
By tyrants that wid her ensnare,
Rais’d up mair than her fair share,
The Black Douglas wae Bruce and Wallace,
Won our battered land brief solace,
Tho’ fac’d wae pay’n’ that highest price,
They hearkened not tae fears advice,
Said folk, their tales, whan heard, impart,
Sic inspiration tae my heart,
The words come streaming frae my pen,
Verse upon verse time an’ again,
But yet, I trow, truly I speak,
Wae tongue firmly away frae cheek,
That nane o’ them the boots could fill,
Of those wha gi’e their time and skill,
Tae fill my glass wae somethin’ proper,
Born of barley, oak and copper.

Neil Mackenzie

Runners-up:

Islay malt so warm,
Shields me from the winter’s chill.
One more for the road?

Laurence Smith

 

Islay – A Malty Sonnet

This wind-wracked isle of seaweed salt and storm,
Of treeless boggy mire beneath oor feet,
Has ay kent how tae keep a biddy warm,
By hernessin’ the glory o’ the peat.

When next ye raise a dram tae toast the bard,
Think lang on Islay’s place in Alba’s past,
This land o’ smoke and smugglers unco hard,
Whaur drouthy neebors brav’d th’Atlantic blast.

Whaur bogles creepit in thru ev’ry door,
And Hebridean kelpies their weans steal,
Their best defence? Ben Bracken or Bowmore,
Laphroaig or bold Ardbeg to quate the deil.

Yet sic auld-fashioned drams upon Burns nicht
Are far oot-stripped by Lyndsey Aerolicht!

Anne Greengrass

 

The sky is black, no star in sight,
Oh what a beautiful rainfall night,
I sit all by myself contemplating my life…
Am I really doing what’s right for me,
Or am I just going with what the flow of life wants me to be,
I walk to my cupboard and pull out a bottle,
Pour myself a dram I guess I’ll make it a double,
Out on the porch I throw myself on a chair,
Breathing in the smell of rain that so sweetly scents the air,
I lift up my glass and there swirls a light golden elixir,
Amazing to think water, yeast and barley can make such a beautiful mixture,
But it’s not just the ingredients that are in here, It’s the type of cask as well as the year,
So I bring the glass slowly up to my nose,
Vanilla, Citrus and Mint begin to show causing my eagerness for a taste to grow,
I take a sip and try to pick out every detail,
And thereafter swallowing with a gentle exhale,
Lemon cake, Vanilla, Apples and Pears, beautifully balanced and so smooth,
As my chest starts to warm from that magnificent prelude,
I lift up my glass once more to the night,
Sip number two goes down as I think of what to write,
Whiskey to me is more than just alcohol,
The way people look at it as if it’s going to be my downfall,
I believe it improves you as a man because you truly have to take your time,
And that’s a brilliant virtue in this world because of how life just flies by,
So for one final time I lift up my glass to the reader of this poem,
A toast to you good Sir, may you never drink alone. 🥃Sláinte!

Kyle Kenneth Moonsamy

 

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The Nightcap: 24 January

Need a break from practising your Burns Night speech? Tune into The Nightcap, your weekly source of bite-sized booze news! We sell whisky here at Master of Malt. That shouldn’t…

Need a break from practising your Burns Night speech? Tune into The Nightcap, your weekly source of bite-sized booze news!

We sell whisky here at Master of Malt. That shouldn’t come as a surprise. As such, it also should not be a surprise that we quite enjoy said spirit. A third thing that shouldn’t be a surprise is that Burns Night is happening this weekend – that one shouldn’t be a surprise because we’ve been nattering about it for a little while now, along with everyone else that has an affinity for whisky. If you’re in the same boat and heading to a Burns Night celebration, pack that brain full of booze news in case small talk situations arise between bursts of poetry and toasts.

On the blog this week we turned our attention to all things Burns Night, unsurprisingly, rounding-up some sensational Scotch to enjoy on the night, enjoying a Bobby Burns and reminiscing about the worst Burns Night celebrations ever, all while enjoying your poetic entries to our Burns Night competition… Thank you to all who entered, the competition is now closed and the winner will be announced on Monday!

Elsewhere, we launched a new #BagThisBundle competition, Adam heard Black Lines’ case for why you shouldn’t write off draft cocktails and Henry cast his eye on a baijiu producer that wants to land the spirit in the Western market and a bourbon from the Lone Star state. Annie, meanwhile, checked out the UK’s first sake brewery before going down under to learn about Australian wine and the Archie Rose Distillery.

So, what are you waiting for? There’s boozy news to enjoy!

The Nightcap

Hidden haggis, bingo, London’s first whisky wall and more. It’s must be Burns Night!

Burns Night celebrations in full flow this week

With Burns Night tomorrow, there has been a raft of events this week in celebration, as you can imagine. But plenty are forgoing the tradition to mark the day in all kinds of wacky ways, such as The Scotch Malt Whisky Society (SMWS), who are planning to hide 18 mini haggises around Glasgow city centre in celebration of their new Members’ Room opening on Bath Street in March 2020. The lucky folk who find them have a chance to win an annual membership to the Society, SMWS bottles or tasting glasses. DrinkUp London, meanwhile, is offering all kinds of deals for its Scotch Whisky Weekend, while still finding time to host BenRiach’s ‘painting by tasting notes’ workshop with landscape artist Ellis O’Connor and master blender Rachel Barrie, in which you can create your own artwork inspired by tasting notes. A night full of bingo shenanigans from Bobby’s Burns Bingo awaits those who go to New York bodega-inspired bar Liquorette, which is celebrating Burns Night with an American twist with Chivas global brand ambassador Rhys Wilson. He will be calling the numbers and handing out the prizes ranging from Chivas 12 and 18 year old bottles, home whisky blending kits, nights out at Liquorette and tickets to Chivas Blend experience. London’s oldest whisky specialist Milroy’s is doing its own more traditional Burns Night in Spitalfields tonight with complimentary drinks thanks to Crabbie Whisky alongside haggis, poetry and music. One event we know for sure was a success was Mac & Wild’s Burns Warm Up Party with Copper Dog last night, which featured live entertainment, masterclasses, London’s first whisky wall, Bone Marrow Whisky Luge experiences and all kinds of tasty Scottish street food. Oh, and Paul Young has been making signature Burns Night chocolate in collaboration with Glen Moray (we can vouch for its deliciousness), proving that chocolate belongs at every occasion. It’s great to see so many so keen to toast Scotland’s national bard. Slange var!

The Nightcap

This could be yours. For free. No, really.

Silk Road Distillers is giving away free rum

This is not a drill. It’s not a scam. There are no pirates involved in this rum, folks. No, free samples of rum (excluding post and package) can truly be yours thanks to the marketing initiative of a startup rum brand in London. Silk Road Distillers is backing 2020 to be the year of rum (it’s not alone) and the spirit producers are so keen to show off their new creation that they are charging absolutely nothing (excluding post and package) for the pleasure. This isn’t any ordinary rum, no. The sample you’ll receive is full of white spiced rum. A white rum that was infused with six botanicals. It truly is a brave new world. “2020 is going to be all about rum, and we can’t wait to be a part of it”, says George Agate, founder of Silk Road Distillers, “We’re hoping to get loads of samples out for Try-January, and we know once someone tries it, it will be their go-to drink for the year”. Silk Road Distillers also wants you to ditch Rum and Coke for this one and instead try out a Rum and Tonic, which admittedly is an often overlooked serve. Each 50ml is only available until the end of the month, 31st January 2020 from hereNow get ordering!

The Nightcap

A section of bookcase opens to reveal this secret bar, James Bond villain-style.

‘Secret’ bar opens in Great Scotland Yard Hotel

When we turned up, rather late, it has to be said, for the launch of a new bar at the Great Scotland Yard Hotel, we were a little confused as there was nobody to be seen. Maybe, we’d got the wrong day. All became clear, however, when the bartender from the hotel’s other bar, 40 Elephants, pressed discreet button and, James Bond villain-style, a section of bookcase opened to reveal a secret bar. It’s called Sibín, as in an Irish drinking den (sometimes spelt shebeen). The drinks menu takes a turn for the unexpected too with old classics given a tune-up. The Rusty Nail is made with two types of Talisker and Drambuie is left to oxidise for two days to mellow. Bars manager Michal Mariarz adds a little PX to his Smokey Cokey, Lagavulin 16 year old and Coke. Most innovative of all was bartender Alex Williams’ concoction, the Clear Conscience. Based on that old classic the Grasshopper, it’s made with poitin, Branca Menta and all kinds of scientific stuff to make something that smells just like a Matchmaker mint. For the more classically-inclined there are unusual whiskies like a 2005 Caol Ila part-matured in Hermitage red wine casks. The hotel located just off Trafalgar Square and housed in the former HQ of the Metropolitan Police, opened last year and already feels like a classic venue.  

Record number of ‘visitations’ at Buffalo Trace

Whiskey tourism in Kentucky is now a big thing: Buffalo Trace has just released figures that show that 294,996 people visited the distillery last year, 35% up on last year and a massive 466% up on 2010. The press release describes it as a “record-breaking visitation streak” which makes it sound like Kentucky has had an unusual number of divine interventions. All these visitors (divine or otherwise) have come during a $1.2 billion investment scheme. Yes, you read the right. 1.2 billion dollars. This includes a new visitor (or should that be visitation) centre, 22 foot (6.7 metres) cookers that required raising the roof of the mash house, four 92,000 gallon (420,000 litre) fermenters, a new cooling tower and six new warehouses which each hold 58,800 barrels. That’s a lot of bourbon. There’s even a special ‘hard hat’ tour so that you can see the work being done. “The growth we are seeing in all aspects of the distillery is really exciting,” Meredith Moody, director of homeplace development said. “We are eager to show all of our distilling upgrades to new and returning guests on our updated Hard Hat Tour. It’s a whole new experience, whether you are a first time visitor or have toured many times.” Oh, and talking of Buffalo Trace, it’s almost time for our annual parcel of Antique Collection rare bourbons from the distillery to arrive. Watch this space.

The Nightcap

The fantastic Passport menu takes you to all corners of the world

We taste St James Bar new Passport cocktail menu 

It’s around about that point in January that we all start getting a bit of wanderlust around MoM Towers. It’s rainy, it’s cold, and suddenly I’m having to resist the urge to book a holiday somewhere. Our wanderlust dreams were answered when we heard about the new Passport menu at St James Bar, Sofitel St James, so we headed over to try it out. The idea is to take you on a journey, and the menu looks like an actual British passport (for now…) boasting 12 cocktails from 12 different countries. We started, appropriately with a 5 to 7, a beautifully balanced bitter aperitif straight from Italy made with Campari-infused coffee, presented in a cafetière. Where would you like to go next, bar manager Kostas Bardas asked us. America! The Maker’s Mark and sherry-based cocktail, 1st Step, comes in a smoking rocketship. How could we not?! Then, to Thailand, where we tried Megong, a blend of Mekhong Thai Spirit, rum and Earl Grey presented alongside a mini gong. Heaven Howler was a tribute to Iceland’s Prohibition period from 1915 to 1989, a unique marriage of Himbrimi Old Tom, Martin Miller’s Westbourne Strength, homemade rhubarb and thyme liqueur, pale ale and beer soda. We certainly wouldn’t mind sipping this refreshing serve in a geothermal spring… Then, on recommendation from quite literally everyone behind the bar, we tried the Victory Martini, inspired by Winston Churchill. Well, we are in London after all. A sophisticated blend of Plymouth Gin, Cognac and a brilliant homemade pine honey and wine leaf cordial made this little number outrageously easy to drink. The brilliantly conceived and engaging Passport menu took us to all corners of the world, though all from the luxurious blue plush interior of the bar. Bon voyage!

The Nightcap

I’ve never been so proud of the Brits before. Well in, guys.

British drinking more beer despite Dry January claims Wowcher

You may have noticed that it has become popular in the last few years to give up alcohol in January, a bit like a Lenten fast but without the Christianity. With all the noise in the media about Dry January, you might think that alcohol sales would be seriously affected but, according to figures just released by Wowcher, the discount voucher people, this is not the case. In fact, there has been a 71% increase in beer sales compared with January 2019. It has to be said, that this is based only on data from Wowcher’s website and app so could hardly be described as definitive. Nevertheless, it does seem to suggest that even with all the newspaper articles, TV segments, advertising and general media hubbub, Dry January is still very much a minority pursuit. Britons, never change. 

The Nightcap

It’s a fine donation to a good cause.

Diageo rolls out the barrel for Scottish Rugby charity 

Diageo has announced that it donated a cask of Scotch whisky to raise money for Doddie Weir’s My Name’5 Doddie Foundation to find a cure for MND. The rugby legend and inspirational Motor Neuron Disease campaigner Doddie Weir visited the brand’s new Scottish headquarters in Edinburgh on Monday 20 January to accept the donation. This is also marked the official opening of the offices and reaffirmed Diageo’s support for Scottish Rugby ahead of the forthcoming Six Nations, which will be the first to feature Johnnie Walker as Scottish Rugby’s official whisky partner. “Doddie Weir is an inspiration to people everywhere with the remarkable bravery of his campaign. It was a privilege to welcome him to our new offices and to share his incredible campaign with our people,” said Ewan Andrew, president of global supply & procurement at Diageo. “We have a powerful connection with rugby through our Guinness Title Partnership of the Six Nations Championship and our Johnnie Walker partnership with Scottish Rugby. What better way to celebrate these partnerships and to mark our move to our new office than by supporting Doddie and his campaign.” Doddie Weir added: “I am delighted to accept the donation of this cask of Glenkinchie single malt whisky for my foundation. The momentum behind the campaign keeps growing and it’s terrific to see companies like Diageo and brands like Johnnie Walker stepping up to show their support and to raise funds.” Diageo will now work with the My Name’5 Doddie Foundation team to select a cask of Glenkinchie single malt and to have it bottled for the charity. We wish all involved the best luck in fighting for this fantastic cause.

The Nightcap

The Big Drop Brewing founders are hoping to raise a pretty penny

Big Drop Brewing Co. launches crowdfunding for major expansion

Launched in London in 2016, Big Drop Brewing Co. is shaking up the alcohol-free beer game as one of the very few totally dedicated alcohol-free brewers. In its portfolio, you’ll find stout, pale ale, IPA, lager and other brews, along with a range of gluten free and vegan beers too. For its brews, Big Drop uses a method which removes the need to extract alcohol after fermentation, which is often what affects the taste and mouthfeel of alcohol-free beer. It’s launching a crowdfunding campaign in February, and investors will become a part of the company as well as receiving a few perks alongside, from brand merch to a day with the master brewer. The perks get better depending on how much more you’re willing to invest, of course. The point of the crowdfund is to help it expand into markets outside the UK, as well as within its home country. “We knew there were a lot of people who felt exactly the same way as we did,” says co-founder Rob Fink. “We realised we could create not just the beer we wanted, but a community of like-minded people too. What if we could do for alcohol-free beer what the craft beer revolution had done for, well, beer?” Well, if you want to find out and want a piece of the action, then head over to the site

The 2020 Tap Takeovers at the Tate will feature the likes of Cloudwater Brew Co., Tiny Rebel and more.

Tap Takeovers at the Tate

Lovers of contemporary art, good beer and alliteration are in for a treat as the latest Tap Takeovers at the Tate have just been announced. These consist of an evening at the Tate Modern in London devoted to a particular brewery. The first event on 30 January features Manchester’s very own Cloudwater Brew Co. with its delicious range of beers including a mighty 8.5% ABV Double IPA. And don’t worry if you don’t like beer or alcohol, as the brewery produces a range of zero ABV sodas. Be warned, though, you can’t just turn up and have access to delicious brews, that would be too easy, you need to book in advance here. Tap Takeovers will be running monthly throughout the year with breweries such as Tiny Rebel, Verdant Brewing and Northern Monk Brew, so there’s sure to be something that tickles your fancy.

The Nightcap

Yep. That’s a haggis lasagne alright.

And finally. . . It’s getting Scot in here! Aldi makes Burns Night lasagne with haggis.

Burns Night is, of course, founded on tradition. And tradition is fun, you know what you’re going to get. But this year, Burns Night 2020 will be known as the year that Aldi, everyone’s favourite discount supermarket, really shook things up because it has given Scotland’s national dish, the haggis, an Italian twist with a recipe for haggis lasagne. Yes, really! Literally lasagne with haggis, it’s the greatest Scots-Italian mash-up since Peter Capaldi. Imagine serving that at a traditional Burns Night. If this kind of culture collision isn’t your thing, then you can just buy the haggis from Aldi and enjoy it in its pure form. But if we could time travel, the only place we’d be going is back to the late 1700s to ask Robert Burns himself what he thinks of this. Salute! No, wait. Slange var!

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#BagThisBundle – Win a bundle from The Glasgow Distillery Company!

Check it out, it’s our first #BagThisBundle competition of 2020! Getting into the spirit of Burns Night, we teamed up with The Glasgow Distillery Company to bring you all kinds…

Check it out, it’s our first #BagThisBundle competition of 2020! Getting into the spirit of Burns Night, we teamed up with The Glasgow Distillery Company to bring you all kinds of delicious treats, all through the power of social media!

Now, these folks up in the largest city in Scotland have been up to some pretty cool business. It was named for one of Glasgow’s original distilleries, The Glasgow Distillery Company, which was founded in 1770 at Dundashill. Alas, it closed at the beginning of the 20th century, though in 2014 The Glasgow Distillery Company reopened, becoming the first single malt whisky distillery in Glasgow for over 100 years! 

So, what’s in this fabulous bundle? Well, we’re glad you asked, dear reader. There’s two bottles of smashing Glasgow single malt whisky, with a bottle of the 1770 Peated – Release No.1, as well as the 1770 Original 2019 Release. Then, for when you’re on the go, there’s a 1770 Hip Flask, as well as a handcrafted stave pen (actually made from 1770 Whisky staves!), a hand-blown glass whisky dropper, and for when you’re hosting, six tulip-shaped Glasgow 1770 Glencairn Whisky glasses.

#BagThisBundle Glasgow Distillery Company

You could win all these fabulous Glasgow Distillery Co. goodies!

We’re sure you’re raring to go, so here’s how you can enter! 

  1. Follow @masterofmalt Instagram account.
  2. Follow @glasgowdistillery Instagram account.
  3. Tag a friend you’d like to share the bundle with on our Competition post.
  4. Like the post!

Simple, isn’t it? Complete those steps by midnight on Thursday 23 January, and you’re in with a chance to win! 

MoM ‘Bag This Bundle’ Competition 2019 open to entrants 18 years and over. Entries accepted from 20 January to 23 January 2020. 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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The Nightcap: 17 January

In the Nightcap this week we’ve got reinvented bar tools, Dry January discounts and news of victors in the World’s Toughest Row.  We’re officially back into the swing of things….

In the Nightcap this week we’ve got reinvented bar tools, Dry January discounts and news of victors in the World’s Toughest Row. 

We’re officially back into the swing of things. Not simply in sense of The Nightcap, but just in general. Those first couple of weeks following that gift-giving occasion and that world-kept-spinning celebration can be somewhat rocky, but we are firmly back in the saddle, and the saddle is back on the horse, and the horse is back on track, and the track is… OK, actually, yeah, that sentence is over, but not because our ducks aren’t in a row, but really it just went on a bit long. Never-the-less, The Nightcap is ready!

On the blog this week announced the return of the Burns Night poetry competition, while also revealing the winner of our Starward competition. Elsewhere, Henry explored the effect of the iStill on distillation and enjoyed a distinctive beer for our New Arrival of the Week. Jess then talked to Reyka Vodka’s Fabiano Latham before Annie looked at how Australia’s wine industry is reacting to the recent bushfires and the new wave of no-and-low-alcohol drinks. Adam then learned the story behind the revival of James E. Pepper and rounded-up some of the finest new arrivals at MoM Towers, before enjoying a Cocktail of the Week that was both trendy and tropical.

The Nightcap

A very moody looking Monkey Shoulder ‘Trigger Jigger’

Monkey Shoulder gets jiggy with it with the ‘Trigger Jigger’

Monkey Shoulder has made a big claim this week by stating it has reinvented one of the most popular bar tools on the planet – the jigger. Coined ‘The Trigger Jigger’, the Scotch whisky brand has said it guarantees 100% accuracy per pour and will save every bartender an average 4 hours and 42 minutes per year. For those unfamiliar with the tool, the jigger is used to measure and pour spirits and you’ll be sure to find them in any good bar across the globe. However, Monkey Shoulder has commented that inferior jigger designs are inaccurate by as much as 20% because of the likelihood for spirits to spill whilst being measured. A statement that will have many a bartender nodding knowingly. Lab technicians at Monkey Shoulder have put this new tool to the test and the results show that while standard jiggers produce one pour per 0.86 seconds, the Trigger Jigger has recorded speeds of one pour per 0.789 seconds. The design is the brainchild of Monkey Shoulder global brand ambassador Joe Petch, who commented: “Some jiggers are just not good for business and can result in slower serving speeds. So inspired by a nickel- and silver-plated jigger from the late 1880s and through countless hours of research with bartenders around the world, I set about righting some wrongs.” He went onto explain that the key was to streamline the design to ensure maximum liquid velocity: “By engineering a piston valve mechanism, I’ve ensured an accurate cut start and stop flow rate. Pour in the liquid and apply some pressure on a trigger using a good old-fashioned finger. The spirit streams out at an optimum rate into the drinking vessel.” The launch of the Trigger Jigger follows previous Monkey Shoulder inventions such as the extendable ‘iSpoon’, cocktail mixer the Konga Shaker and The Claw ice tong. Bars such as The Artesian, Swift Bar, The Beaufort Bar and Callooh Callay have already started using The Trigger Jigger, and others who want to get in on the act can get their hands on the limited stock by getting in touch with either John Wayte (@BarMonkey_ ) or Jody Buchan (@JodySpiritual).

The Nightcap

Duvel Batch No. 4

Duvel launches Batch No. 4 aged in bourbon barrels 

Beer and whisk(e)y share many things, from the base materials, the fermentation process, and even that time those whiskies were put into an IPA cask. Well, now awesome Belgian beer Duvel Moortgat has released Batch No.4 which has been treated to a nine-month maturation in oak barrels which previously held delicious bourbon. And not just any bourbon either, but liquid from Heaven Hill, Woodford Reserve, Four Roses, George Dickel and Jack Daniels. The limited-edition brew was matured in more than three hundred barrels shipped over to Belgium, with 80,000 bottles released at a burly 11.5% ABV. “The Duvel brewers have not been sitting still in recent months, but our speciality beer has been doing just that,” says Hedwig Neven, brewmaster at Duvel Moortgat. “Lovers of beer, Duvel, and whiskey can once again enjoy Duvel Barrel Aged now that the barrels are opened after their long rest and the bottles have finally been filled!” With toasted flavours of toffee, vanilla and obvious bourbon influence, Batch No. 4 even stole a gold medal in the Brussels Beer Challenge. Said to be a great pairing with raw or smoked fish, sushi, grilled or smoked meat, cheeses, exotic fruit and chocolate, it’s hard to think of an occasion when it wouldn’t fit in!

The Nightcap

2020 looks like another big year for the family firm

Hayman Distillers launches spirit merchant arm, Symposium 

2019 was a big year for Hayman Distillers with the launch of its fiendishly clever Small Gin and Merser & Co. Double Barrel Rum, and 2020 looks every bit as exciting as the London distiller has announced a new venture: Symposium, an independent spirits merchant. Named, no doubt, after the top 90s punk band, Symposium. This arm will involve a variety of spirit brands in categories including gin, vodka, Scotch whisky, rum, Tequila and sambuca. The portfolio will be divided into three parts. At the top is the Heritage range compromising of in-house products, Hayman’s Gin, Small Gin and Merser & Co rum; then the Challenger range with products like Bush Rum, Firean Scotch Whisky, Red Griffin Vodka and Half Crown Gin; and finally the House range. There is also talk of bringing in some agency brands in the future but nothing has been confirmed yet. James Hayman explained: ‘Our mission at Symposium is to create and to sell the finest range of spirits available.” He went on to say: “Symposium will operate at every level of the market with our Challenger brands, in particular, offering an exciting alternative for those who are no longer content to settle for ‘big-name’ brands from large producers and who seek a quality, independent option with a partner they can rely on for the long-term.” It’s all go at Hayman’s.

The Nightcap

We’ll certainly raise a glass to this good news!

The great pub and bar bounce-back is on!

After fifteen years of decline, we have some good news if you like pubs and bars (that’ll be all of us, then…). According to Office for National Statistics paper Economies of ale: changes in the UK pubs and bars sector, 2001 to 2019, the number of such drinking establishments in the UK is on the up once more! (Thumbs up to whoever came up with the name.) Sure, it’s just a 0.4% increase, but at the end of 2019, there were 85 more across the country than in 2018. Taking in larger sites (11+ employees) and chains, the total increase stood at 815. Cheers to that! Some of the trends behind the headline stats: we’re increasingly becoming a nation of foodies, with pubs and bars employing more people on the eating than drinking side of things as we all spend more on eating out than drinking out. But despite that, turnover is at the highest level since the financial crisis. Long live the pub!

The Nightcap

The beautiful original Bar Douro near London Bridge

Bar Douro to open branch in the City

Do you work in the City of London? Do you love Portuguese wine and food? Well, we have good news because Bar Douro is opening a branch in Finsbury Avenue on 28 January. The original opened in 2016 by Max Graham from the family that owns Churchill Port. It quickly picked up rave reviews from critics including Marina O’ Loughlin in the Guardian who wrote: “I have to restrain myself from licking the plate”. The new restaurant will offer food and wines from all over the country. Spirit lovers won’t be short-changed with a selection of specially imported Portuguese spirits including gins and Maven Aguardente aged brandy. And don’t forget, the best White Port & Tonics this side of Oporto. Graham commented: “We have only just scratched the surface of Portugal’s rich culinary traditions and with our second, larger space we are excited to further explore the wealth of Portuguese cuisine”. There will be a soft launch from 28 January until 11 February. Email city@bardouro.co.uk for a reservation. You won’t be disappointed. 

The Nightcap

The team of four Brits made it into safe harbour after winning the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge 2019

Brits crowned champions in Talisker Atlantic Challenge

Remember when Talisker sent teams of intrepid sorts off across the Atlantic Ocean on the World’s Toughest RowWell… we have a victor! Or a team of four victors, to be precise. British team Fortitude IV was the first to make it from La Gomera in the Canary Island to Antigua in the Caribbean in an impressive time of 32 days 12 hours and 35 minutes! They braved 12-metre waves, a capsizing incident, broken oars, and “some of the scariest moments of [our] life”. Not for the faint-hearted, and especially impressive when you realise some teams expect to take eight more weeks to cross. Yikes. We raise our tasting glasses to Ollie Palmer (who also happens to work for Talisker parent company, Diageo), Tom Foley, Hugh Gillum and Max Breet, Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge 2019 champions! “Being on the ocean in quite an extreme context, strips back all the noise and makes you realise what is really important to you,” said Gillum. “You have a lot of time to think out there – with no distractions – and that inspires you in different ways. It was an amazing thing to have done – we set off thinking it was a once in a lifetime thing and we can certainly maintain that position. The sum of all the parts is incredible – from seeing the shooting stars, to the arrival here tonight, and the support from all of our family and friends. There are tough times that we perhaps would wish away slightly but standing here now [in Antigua] we just think that the sum of all those parts is incredible.” Time for a well-earned dram, we think. Talisker, of course… 

The Nightcap

The Suntory Group will donate $500,000 AUD in support of those impacted by the bushfires

Suntory pledges AUD$500k to Australia bushfire relief

The devastating bushfires in Australia have broken hearts around the world – but individuals and companies are stepping forward to offer support in all kinds of ways. The latest to join the relief effort is Suntory Group, which makes the likes of Jim Beam bourbon, Hibiki Japanese whisky and Courvoisier Cognac. It’s committed to donating AU$500,000 (about £264,000) to the Australian Red Cross, the New South Wales Rural Fire Service and the New South Wales Wildlife Information Rescue and Education Service. “We have all been deeply saddened by the spread of these immense fires, which have destroyed lives, towns, homes and wildlife,” said Andrea Parker, managing director at Beam Suntory Oceania. “We are committed to helping rebuild these communities along with the rest of the Suntory Group.” The pledge follows another AU$500k donation from Diageo-owned Bundaberg rum to the Australian Red Cross earlier this week. Want to know more about the bushfires and how you can help? Check out the blog right here for more.

The Nightcap

The new partnership is for those who manage a team behind the bar and want to boost wellbeing

Small Batch Learning and Healthy Hospo team up on wellbeing initiative

Bartenders, (or indeed, anyone who works in hospitality) listen up! Smart-learning company Small Batch Learning has partnered with Healthy Hospo, a non-profit wellness education provider, to offer bars, restaurants and hotels an online tool to promote mental and physical health. Level 1 content is totally free to access and will be inserted into existing Small Batch materials, while Level 2 plans are paid-for, with proceeds reinvested in Healthy Hospo. “A healthy mind, body and workplace should be a non-negotiable, and we’re proud to partner with Healthy Hospo to help address these topics,” says Duncan Campbell, COO of Small Batch Learning. “As we continue our mission to make hospitality training accessible and relevant, this partnership will shine a light on serious issues facing the industry that are often pushed aside or laughed off. We’re thrilled to support Healthy Hospo scale up and help further the impact of its crucial training.” Tim Etherington-Judge, Healthy Hospo founder, added: “From chronic rates of sleep deprivation and substance abuse, to sky-high issues with mental health, we are not a healthy industry – and we often suffer in silence. It’s time to change the conversation and stop putting our health, and that of our colleagues, at the bottom of the to-do list.” If you manage a team in hospitality, check out Small Batch Learning!

The Nightcap

The choice of headline sponsor at SXSW is an example of the rise of hard seltzer

White Claw lines up South by Southwest partnership

If you needed any more indicators that hard seltzers are going to be A Very Big Thing, here’s another for you. White Claw, the US’s best-seltzer brand, has just taken over ‘super sponsorship’ of South by Southwest (SXSW). The actual interesting bit? It’s binned off a beer brand to nab the top spot. All eyes will be on the music, film and tech event, which takes place in Austin, Texas, from 13-22 March, and to have a hard seltzer over a beer marks a shift indeed. “We’re thrilled to bring White Claw to life at SXSW,” said Phil Rosse, president, White Claw Seltzer Works. “This brand has been built through the great passion and celebration by our fans, connecting the brand to culture and sharing it through their social channels. We are excited to support SXSW, an event that has always been ground zero for innovation in culture and technology.” Roland Swenson, SXSW CEO and co-founder, added: “SXSW is excited to work with White Claw. As one of the fastest-growing brands, their sponsorship of SXSW reflects the independent and innovative spirit that SXSW is known for.” Bring on the seltzers!

The Nightcap

Alain Ducasse opposes Dry January, and we salute him

And finally… Alain Ducasse fights Dry January with discount fine wine

Are you getting a bit bored of Dry January? The pious friends who won’t go to the pub, your favourite drinks website brimming with articles about non-alcoholic drinks instead of whisky and the dreaded word ‘mocktail.’ Well, Alain Ducasse feels your pain. He told the Guardian this week: “I’ve noted that trend but I don’t want to see or hear of it, I am opposed to it.” And so, he has put his money where his mouth is and slashed the prices of some of his best bottles of Bordeaux and Burgundy in an effort to get diners drinking again. So get down to your local Ducasse restaurant, like Alain Ducasse at The Dorchester in London, order something fancy, and sip away those January blues.

 

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The winner of our Starward competition is…

It’s about time we announced the winner of our competition to visit the spectacular Starward Distillery in Melbourne, Australia! Drum roll at the ready… Sitting here in 2020, it may…

It’s about time we announced the winner of our competition to visit the spectacular Starward Distillery in Melbourne, Australia! Drum roll at the ready…

Sitting here in 2020, it may feel like a lifetime ago, but think back to November 2019. Before that New Year’s thing occurred, and before that Christmas stuff took place, a different incredibly exciting situation happened – we announced that someone would win a trip of a lifetime to visit the Starward Distillery in Melbourne, Australia! The prize included a seven night stay in Melbourne, a private tour and drinks at the distillery, a distillery bottling of their phenomenal Australian whisky, and £500 spending money. “A cool prize” would be an understatement. Crack out the thesaurus (or just Google “other words for rad” like we all do since no one owns a physical thesaurus anymore) and whack in a few other fun adjectives and you’ll be more on the right lines.

The Starward Distillery – where our winner will be headed!

To be in with a chance to win, all you had to do was snap up a bottle from Starward’s lip-smacking range and your name would be in the hat. Many names went into the aforementioned headgear, but only one name has been pulled out, and they are our winner. That name is…

Andy Woods!

Much applause and many congratulations to our winner, Andy! We very much hope you enjoy your trip! We’d also like to give a big thank you to everyone who took part as well!

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Burns Night poetry competition – win a bottle of Aerolite Lyndsay Single Malt

It’s back, the Master of Malt Burns Night poetry competition. If you fancy yourself as something of a bard, why not enter for the chance to win a bottle of…

It’s back, the Master of Malt Burns Night poetry competition. If you fancy yourself as something of a bard, why not enter for the chance to win a bottle of Islay single malt whisky?

Last year, we put on our first ever Burns Night poetry competition. Frankly, dear reader, we were amazed, not just by the number of entries but by the quality. Who would have guessed that Master of Malt customers would be so talented? You can read Richard Foster’s winning entry and the runners-up here. 

So we’re doing it all again this year in the run up to Burns Night on Saturday 25 January. All you have to do is write a poem about whisky. You can take your inspiration from the Bard himself but don’t feel constrained. If you want to do it in the style of Omar Khayyam (wine-loving Persian poet of 11th century), then we’d love to see how you get on. There are no restrictions on length or style, all we say is that the poem must be in English or Scots. To enter simply email us at marketing@masterofmalt.com or comment on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or below. Entrants must be of legal drinking age and based in a country that we ship to. We will be accepting entrants from 13 until 22 January (see full terms and conditions below). 

Aerolite Lyndsay

Chocks away!

All entries will be judged by the (extremely discerning and well-read) team here at MoM. The winner will receive a bottle of Aerolite Lyndsay, a single malt from the Character of Islay Whisky Company. The name might make it sound like the sort of aeroplane flown by a man called Ginger during World War One but it’s actually an anagram of ten year old Islay. Three runners up will receive drams of Aerolite Lyndsay.

So, what are you waiting for? Time to sharpen those quills, get out your finest vellum and channel your inner Orpheus.

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The Nightcap: 10 January

The Nightcap has returned for 2020, and with it a fresh batch of boozy news, including an alcohol-free bar, a £1m crowd-funding campaign, and the UK’s ‘highest’ whisky distillery. After…

The Nightcap has returned for 2020, and with it a fresh batch of boozy news, including an alcohol-free bar, a £1m crowd-funding campaign, and the UK’s ‘highest’ whisky distillery.

After a few weeks in a regenerative cocoon made out of Stilton and Yule log, The Nightcap has emerged with wings and those weird bug antlers that are actually eyes, ready to chow down on all the news from the booze world. That was a long-winded way to say that The Nightcap is back after a bit of a Christmas break, but the enthusiasm remains the same. We’re excited to see what drinks news this new year (and new decade) will behold – and it all kicks off… Now!

The blog was still full of fabulous features even throughout the festive period. We announced the winner of our Where’s #WhiskySanta 2019 competition the same week our supernatural, omniscient, festive, heavily-bearded sadly went on his holibobs. We then looked back at 2019: the delightful drinks we enjoyed (bartenders also had their say), the most read posts on our blog and an honest review of our trend predictions, before cracking out the crystal ball and to do it all again for 2020. Not always that seriously.

Our Dry January coverage kicked off at the Small Beer Brew Co., before Fiona Beckett and Claire Warner dropped by for a chat. Annie then explored the world of no-ABV cocktails, embraced #veganuary and the use of plant milk in cocktails and even looked to the future of AI in booze. Elsewhere, Adam enjoyed some warming rums, cast a spotlight on Micil and then Luxardo Distillery, while Jess brushed up on her Armagnac knowledge, and Henry reported on the developments at Port Ellen Distillery. Even among all that content, there was still time for a couple of new arrivals, including Bob Dylan’s own whiskey and a single malt from Yorkshire, as well as a fruity little number for Cocktail of the Week. Oh, and Dram Club returned for 2020.

Phew, talk about blog-mageddon! Now, for the first time in 2020, let’s enjoy the Nightcap!

The Nightcap

The Cat and Fiddle Inn opened in 1813 and is 1,689 ft (515m) above sea level

Funding secured for UK’s ‘highest’ whisky distillery

There’s another new distillery on the way, folks! This one’s got a pretty cool story, too. Take one historic pub, The Cat & Fiddle, situated 1,689ft above sea level in the Peak District. It’s beautiful but didn’t do so well as a pub (the whole driving a long way to it thing wasn’t really working…). It opened in 1813, but ‘reluctantly’ closed its doors in 2015. Business was far from booming. But step in the Forest Distillery team! Eager to expand production, and to find a space for casks to mature, it teamed up with the pub’s Robinson family to kick off a crowdfunder to refurbish and transform the pub into a whisky distillery. An initial crowdfunding exercise raised £55,000, and now the team says it’s well on the way to reaching its eventual £250,000 goal. The site will be renamed The Cat & Fiddle & Weasel, after the adorable motif on the Forest Gin bottle. As well as the pub and distillery, there will also be an onsite shop with takeaway options for picnics and a visitor centre. And the best bit? The Forest Distillery team reckon the new site will be ready to open come August! We’re VERY excited. Wondering the elevation of the current highest whisky distillery in the UK? That title goes to Dalwhinnie, perched at an altitude of 1,164ft. The only way is up!

The Nightcap

The AF Bar features 15 taps of pure draft zero-ABV goodness

BrewDog launches ‘world’s first’ alcohol-free beer bar

Sound the ‘Dry January’ sirens, folks, we’ve got a big one here. BrewDog has launched a bar dedicated to alcohol-free beer. A whole bar. 15 taps of pure draft zero-ABV goodness. Launched this week in Old Street, London, it’s the first time the independent Scottish craft brewer has featured a line-up solely devoted to drinks without alcohol at a bar where visitors will be able to enjoy activities such as Hip Hop Karaoke, Dabbers Bingo, Famous First Words, and more. But, perhaps most excitingly for the thrifty among us, BrewDog will also be running the ‘Drink All You Can Jan’ programme across all its bars, which will offer drinkers unlimited refills of its alcohol-free beers for the entire month. BrewDog previously dipped its toes into low-ABV waters with the release of Nanny State in August 2009, which is now the UK’s best-selling alcohol-free craft beer. It followed that up with an alcohol-free version of the flagship Punk IPA, Punk AF, and two new additions, Wake Up Call, a coffee stout, and Hazy AF, an alcohol-free take on its existing New England IPA, Hazy Jane. BrewDog referenced a UK Beer Market Report from Mintel in 2018 that said that 24% of beer drinkers are choosing more low- or no-alcohol options, and that 28% of beer drinkers are cutting back on consumption because of health concerns, so the brand clearly feels this is a timely initiative. “Drinkers opting for low- or no-alcohol are in danger of compromising on quality, taste and experience. And that’s just the beer – forget about places in which to enjoy it,” said James Watt, who is apparently the ‘captain’ of BrewDog (lame). “We are going to change that. We exist to be a point of difference, and our first BrewDog AF Bar is just that. It is a beacon for anyone in London after an alcohol-free alternative. Alcohol-free does not need to be synonymous with taste-free. ‘Drink all you can Jan’ is our anti-Dry January. Whether you have cut alcohol out or are cutting back, we want to show that alcohol-free doesn’t mean compromising on quality or taste.”

The Nightcap

The new-look Powers range

Powers Irish Whiskey unveils new look

Powers Irish Whiskey has revealed a new bottle design for its range of premium Irish whiskeys, which will debut on core expression Powers Gold Label in the USA from March 2020. The makeover was undertaken to reach a new generation of drinkers to the classic Irish whiskey brand, which is made by Irish Distillers at Midleton Distillery, and follows the launch of Powers Old Fashioned, the brand’s first-ever pre-mixed cocktail and the Powers Quarter initiative, a collaboration between six Dublin bars to tell the story of Powers and its history. The updated design for the bottle shape is inspired by the distinctive pot still silhouette from the brand’s historical home at John’s Lane Distillery and the label is styled on the Powers ‘diamond P’, which was one of the first-ever trademarks registered in Ireland. Each whiskey will also have a different colour label, with Powers Gold Label in red as an homage to the original red Powers diamond marque, Powers Three Swallow in blue as a nod to the bird’s feathers and Powers John’s Lane Release in metallic ink, to reflect the industrial nature of the original distillery established in 1791 on John’s Lane, Dublin. “Powers sense of identity has always focused on the diamond P; that became very clear to me as I worked my way through the historical archive. The diamond P was everywhere; on the casks, stationery, on bills and receipts, emblazoned on everything that left the distillery, and notably on the wonderful Powers mirrors that still hang in Ireland’s pubs today,” says Carol Quinn, archivist at Irish Distillers. “Workers at the old John’s Lane distillery even took to wearing a diamond P pin on their lapel, such was their pride to be part of the Powers family.  For me it’s wonderful to see the diamond P front and centre on this new label, symbolising all the history of this great whiskey since 1791.” Conor McQuaid, chairman and CEO of Irish Distillers, added: “We are excited to introduce this new look to the world and inspire a new generation with the unique history and personality of Powers.”

The Nightcap

The future is bright in the Cotswolds

Cotswolds Distillery raises £1m in crowdfunding campaign

The award-winning Cotswolds Distillery has been feeling the love this week at it delightedly reported that its recent fundraising had already raised £1 million. In early December 2019, the producer of delicious English spirits (we’re big fans of its whisky) launched the campaign through its Angel’s Share 2 fundraising platform in order to “maximise whisky production and continue its brand-building programme”. It’s little surprise that the initiative attracted such interest from investors, as back in 2018 the distillery successfully raised £3m of equity which was subsequently invested in building the brand and senior management team. “We pride ourselves on creating award-winning English whiskies that are enjoyed across the world, and, are always looking for new investors to join us on this journey,” says Dan Szor, founder and CEO of the Cotswolds Distillery. “It is a very exciting time for them to be involved with the company and we’re hoping that this new investment will carry us through the next chapter in the distillery’s evolution and help support us in creating even more delicious whisky!” If you fancy investing yourself, you can do so here before 13 January 2020.  

It’s Alissa!

The Balvenie kicks off Stories tour

Single malt Scotch whisky brand The Balvenie is poised to take its Stories tour of bar takeovers on the road, with stops including London’s Lyaness (Sunday 12 January) and The Artesian (13 January), as well as Glasgow’s Kelvingrove Café (15 January). And there’s an antipodean twist: six of Australia’s leading bartenders are coming along for the ride. Alicia Clarke of Jangling Jack’s in Sydney; Jessica Arnott of Foxtrot Unicorn in Perth; Nicola Dean of Maybe Mae in Adelaide; Kayla Reid of Nick and Norah’s in Melbourne; Chelsea Catherine of The Black Pearl in Melbourne; and, Alissa Gabriel of Mjolner in Sydney will all make drinks using The Sweet Toast of American Oak 12 Year Old. Serves have been based on stories shared with the group of bartenders by Kelsey McKechnie, The Balvenie’s apprentice malt master, and creator of the expression. “I’m thrilled to be welcoming such an incredible cohort of bartenders onto UK shores to share stories and these special drinks with UK consumers,” said Alwynne Gwilt, UK ambassador. “Our new whisky series, The Balvenie Stories, is all about connecting through storytelling and I’ve no doubt this latest event series at these leading bars will give us some great tales to tell as the year goes on!” It’s not just about the booze – 10% of drinks sales from the tour will be donated to charities fighting the devastating bushfires in Australia. So what are you waiting for? If you’re in London or Glasgow, head on down!

The Nightcap

The Impact Fund is a commendable cause

Symington Port launches environmental initiative 

2020 has seen Port producer Symington Family Estates off to a flying start, celebrating some rather impressive milestones with the 200th anniversary of Graham’s Port and the 350th anniversary of Warre’s Port. To celebrate, the Symington family didn’t just throw a massive party and sip on the delicious fruits of their own labour (who wouldn’t?), but created a force for good in the world! The family has created a new Impact Fund with an initial pledge of a whopping €1 million euros. The purpose of the fund? It’s threefold: community wellbeing and health, environmental protection and conservation, and cultural heritage and education, all in the Douro and Greater Porto regions as well as the Alto Alentejo. They’re currently working with Volunteer Emergency Services of the Douro region (they’ve donated 13 ambulances so far) and Bagos d’Ouro, a charity that provides education and opportunities for underprivileged children in the Douro. “We have always sought to run our family business in a way that benefits people – be they our employees or the wider community. We are also committed to protecting the beautiful natural environments where we produce our wines,” said Rupert Symington, CEO of Symington Family Estates. “We have consistently reinvested in the Douro region and have a long history of supporting social initiatives in the areas where we work. The Symington Impact Fund is a way of formalising this commitment and ensuring we support projects which are most aligned with our values and where we can have the maximum positive impact.” What a way to celebrate! 

The Nightcap

George Duboeuf, the man who turned Beaujolais into an international sensation, died this week at 86.

The King of Beaujolais dies at 86

This week the wine world lost one of its greats: George Duboeuf, known as the King of Beaujolais. Duboeuf was a marketing genius who took the annual release of the young wine, generally enjoyed only in local bars, and made it a global news story in the 1970s and ‘80s. On the day the wine was released, always the third Thursday of November, there were races to be the first to bring that year’s vintage back where it was sold with the slogan: ‘Le Beaujolais nouveau est arrivé!’. At a time when in Britain wine was still seen as something elitist, Duboeuf made it unpretentious and fun. He was born in 1933 into a vine-growing family in Burgundy and set up his own merchant business in 1964. It came to dominate the region through its own-label wines, with the pretty flowery labels, and by producing wines for retailers. Dominique Piron, head of Inter Beaujolais, commented: “Through his vision and his work, he gave life, colour, aromas and joy to the wines of Beaujolais. He was a catalyst, taking with him other merchants and other winemakers which made Beaujolais the first vineyard in France to make the headlines in newspapers and televisions, in France and around the world.” He went on to say: “The family business is in good hands with his son, Franck Duboeuf, at the helm and the adventure will continue.” Au revoir, Monsieur Duboeuf, and thank you for all the wine.

The Nightcap

Congratulations to WASE!

English start-up chosen for final of $1m Chivas Venture Fund

A London-based company WASE, which makes wastewater treatment systems, has won the England & Wales heat of this year’s Chivas Ventures. This annual competition run by the Scotch whisky company gives away $1 million to help with worthwhile businesses around the world. So far, Chivas has given away $5 million and, according to its figures, benefited over two million lives. WASE will now compete with 25 other companies in the global final in June. Before that, all 26 competitors will go to London for an intensive three-day training programme with experts and industry professionals. Founder Thomas Fudge commented: “I’m super excited and honoured to be representing England and Wales in The Chivas Venture global finals. Can’t wait to show the rest of the world what WASE has to offer and fight for my spot in the finals. Watch this space!” According to the press release: “WASE develops decentralised wastewater treatment systems that embrace a circular economy to recover energy, nutrients and water in wastewater  providing sanitation and energy in under-served communities.” Sounds very worthwhile. Good luck to WASE for the grand final in June!

The Nightcap

The Calming Coral cocktail

The Coral Room and MEDA kick-off 2020 with CBD-infused zero-alcohol cocktails

The Coral Room is getting its zeitgeist on in 2020 by kicking off the new year with a range of cocktails made by head mixologist Stefan Pohlod that are CBD-infused and non-alcoholic. The core ingredient in each serve is a drink from lifestyle brand MEDA’s range, GLOW, CALM, RECOVER and Espresso Medatini SKUs, which were created by blending of 5-15mg of liposomal CBD (cannabidiol) with synergistic ingredients. The offerings include the Glow Spritz which combines lime juice, cardamom bitter and elderflower syrup, the Calming Coral which features lemon juice, peppermint cordial and strawberry purée, the Recover & Revive which mixes Seedlip grove with grapefruit and lime shrub and the Wake Up Call which sees caramel cream, chilli bitters and coffee tonic paired together. The cocktails are priced at £10 each and the brand claims that they are “the perfect way to detox after the prolonged festive celebrations whilst restoring the balance of both body and mind through the inimitable benefits that CBD has to offer”. Apparently. Essentially they should appeal to anybody partaking in an alcohol-free start to the new year and those who are buzzed about CBD cocktails.

 

And finally…  Tottenham Hotspur and Beavertown launch collaboration beer

Tottenham Hotspur’s ‘Official Craft Beer Supplier’ (I didn’t even know that was a thing. Is this a thing now?) Beavertown has launched a new beer in collaboration with the club just in time for the first home game of 2020. Fans of the club (ok, my dad) have described the development as “much needed”, given the team’s performance so far this season. The beer is called One Of Our Own, a name chosen by Tom Rainsford, a Spurs fan who recently joined Beavertown as marketing director, presumably inspired by the North London side’s chant for star player Harry Kane. A Tottenham fan (again, my dad) has described the timing as “typical”. Jokes aside, One Of Our Own is a significant launch as the classic British IPA was crafted with purely European hops (Callista, Mandarina Bavaria and Barbe Rouge) in the microbrewery operated by Tottenham-based Beavertown inside the Club’s new home – a world-first for any football stadium. The beer is said to have notes of stone fruit and malt-sweetness, matching the flavours thirsty supporters have favoured since the stadium opened last April. “Beavertown’s Neck Oil is already a half-time favourite, and we wanted to add to this by offering something new at the start of 2020,” says Rainsford. “Supporting a club is in your bones, and this beer feels the same. It’s familiar, yet distinct. A satisfying pint that makes you feel at home. We see Spurs as the beating heart of the Tottenham community, a central hub for football fans and residents alike. We both share values of bringing people together, creating revolutionary experiences and even world firsts like our microbrewery inside the stadium.”  One Of Our Own will be sold exclusively at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, and will be available at tomorrow’s huge Premier League clash against Liverpool. Will it bring them luck?!

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Master of Malt Dram Club – January 2020

Just like we predicted, 2020 did in fact appear right after 2019 ended. And with that, another batch of Master of Malt Dram Club Tasting Sets is ready – what…

Just like we predicted, 2020 did in fact appear right after 2019 ended. And with that, another batch of Master of Malt Dram Club Tasting Sets is ready – what a way to start the New Year!

Like clockwork, a new year has arrived. This time it’s called 2020, following the same sequel naming format of ‘adding one to the number on the end’ that movies and video games pioneered. Predictable, but pleasing none the less. What wonders does 2020 hold? Will someone finally invent better crisps? Will there be hot new memes? Only time will tell. However, right now is the time for the first mystery of 2020 to be unveiled – let’s find out what drams are in January’s Master of Malt Dram Club Tasting Sets!

Dram Club Whisky for January:

Dram Club Premium Whisky for January:

Dram Club Old & Rare Whisky for January:

Dram Club Gin for January:

Dram Club Rum for January:

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And the winner of our Where’s #WhiskySanta 2019 competition is…

We’ve got just one more #WhiskySanta-themed surprise for you. One lucky person has successfully located our supernatural, omniscient, festive, heavily-bearded friend and has nabbed themselves a £250 Master of Malt…

We’ve got just one more #WhiskySanta-themed surprise for you. One lucky person has successfully located our supernatural, omniscient, festive, heavily-bearded friend and has nabbed themselves a £250 Master of Malt voucher! The question is, who…

It wouldn’t be Christmas without a jolly game of hide and seek, right?! We certainly think so here at MoM Towers. So, during the great festive run-in, we set you the challenge to locate our chum somewhere in a mega distillery montage in our Where’s #WhiskySanta competition!

And it really was quite the challenge. You searched low and high (hint!) in all manner of distilleries. Still houses, tun rooms, warehouses (ahem) and more. And where was he lurking? Right at the top of a stack of casks at England’s very own St George’s Distillery!

There he is, the sneaky sort!

Loads of you looked, and a fair eagle-eyed few located #WhiskySanta. To enter, you had to subscribe to our YouTube channel and email us your YouTube username and time stamp of the moment you spotted him. And one very lucky person is about to embark on a £250 Master of Malt shopping spree…!

And the winner is…

Christopher Edgington!

Where's #WhiskySanta

Cheers from #WhiskySanta, Chris!

Congratulations from Team MoM and #WhiskySanta!

All that’s left to say is… charge the tasting glasses, and have the most fantastic Christmas, folks!

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The Nightcap: 20 December

It’s the final Nightcap of 2019, so for the last time year let’s all enjoy a fresh batch of boozy news! Christmas is just around the corner, and then New…

It’s the final Nightcap of 2019, so for the last time year let’s all enjoy a fresh batch of boozy news!

Christmas is just around the corner, and then New Year’s Eve will happen, and then we’ll be in a brand new decade. Yes, another one. They just keep on happening, don’t they? There won’t be a Nightcap next week, for reasons that have nothing to do with being full of pigs within blankets. So, for the very last time of the 2010s, let’s check out what’s going on in the world of boozes with a plethora of brilliant bite-sized news chunks. It’s The Nightcap!

On the blog this week we launched our fabulously festive Where’s #WhiskySanta? competition in which you can win a £250 MoM voucher! Speaking of competitions, you’ve only got a few days left to enter the Starward competition, so be sure to pick yourself up a bottle from the Starward distillery range if you fancy a free boozy holiday down under… Elsewhere, #WhiskySanta announced his final SuperWish, the incredible Glenfarclas 50 Year Old Decanter, while the Drinks by the Dram Whisky Advent Calendar continued to impress with its selection of spirits on days #14, #15, #16, #17, #18 and #19. Adam meanwhile rounded-up some cracking Christmas table tipples to ease your shopping woes, before checking out Amazónico, a new rainforest-inspired bar and restaurant in Mayfair. Henry then enjoyed the company of Cognac maverick Alexandre Gabriel and the spicy, bold WhistlePig Ten Year Old – Pitt Cue Exclusive. Annie made a case for The Alpine Toddy to be your winter warmer of choice this year, and cast her eye on an upcoming trend, the rise of the mini Martini.

Now, for the last time in 2019, let’s motor on with the Nightcap!

The Nightcap

The West Indies Rum Distillery issued a statement this week. Also, look at that view!

Barbados rum GI conflict hots up

The ongoing debate over the proposed geographical indication (GI) for Barbados rum has just gone to DefCon 3, after the West Indies Rum Distillery (WIRD) issued a statement this week. It was signed by Andrew Hassell, managing director of the distillery, and Alexandre Gabriel, owner and master blender, and makes a few notable (and potentially controversial) points about what should be allowed in Barbados rum. Here we go: 1) Ageing off the island. They want a mandatory year’s ageing in Barbados, but the allowance of secondary maturation elsewhere like Cognac or England. “The 350-year-old double ageing historical practice must also be preserved,” they say. 2) Sugar additions should be allowed. “History shows that Barbados rums have been made for centuries both with and without the inclusion of sugar and caramel,” the statement reads. 3) Wood varieties: WIRD wants to continue using varieties of wood other than oak: “We are currently using seven types of sustainable wood for our rums and are studying further with local and international historians and established barrel-makers. Limiting Barbados to American oak barrels would be a great mistake that would obliterate historic practices,” they say. 4) Still types. In addition to pot and column stills, WIRD uses an archaic chamber still which they think should be allowed in the GI. Phew. This statement will no doubt be noticed by Richard Seale from the Foursquare Distillery, who has been vocal in the past about sugar additions, off-island ageing and described maturation in other woods in a recent interview as “marketing novelty”. There are stories of heated online debates over some of these issues. The statement from WIRD ends: “The future of the diversity of Barbados rum depends on this GI outcome.” Looks like this is an argument that will run and run.

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Hendrick’s does love a good pop-up

Hendrick’s Gin brings a giant snow globe to Heathrow Terminal 3

We know that we can always count on Hendrick’s Gin for a marvellously quirky pop-up, and the latest one is a rather festive activation in London Heathrow’s Terminal 3! It takes the form of a giant snow globe that’ll reside there until 7 January, with an army of aproned brand ambassadors ready to talk all things Hendrick’s. Get to the gin already! Alright, alright, yes, you can grab a free sample of either a Hendrick’s G&T, or a Gin Buck, which is paired with ginger ale and lime juice. That’s not all though. If you’re passing through the terminal, you can turn the ‘Key of Curiosity’, and you’ll be treated to a Hendrick’s cracker filled with either a 50ml bottle, a cucumber pin badge, or a Little Guide to Conjuring magic book. It’s like Hendrick’s read our Christmas list! Oh, but we haven’t even got to the best part yet. At some mystery point, one lucky traveller will get to pull an extra special cracker containing the rare stainless steel Hendrick’s penguin pourer, with his top hat on and all. Manjot Riyait, head of marketing for William Grant & Sons GTR, said of the T3 snow globe’s activation: “There has been a constant buzz of passengers around the globe, taking photos and enjoying a Hendrick’s and tonic, and we look forward to delighting many more happy travellers over what we expect to be a busy and fruitful festive period for global travel retail.” Who even needs to go on holiday after you’ve had all this festive fun?

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I think we can all agree that the Safe Ride KY coalition is a superb initiative

Kentucky revellers get free taxis

Here’s a good idea. The Kentucky Distillers Association (KDA) has put $10,000 in a kitty so that party-goers can get a free or discounted ride home from a night out (depending on where they live). The initiative, run by the Safe Ride KY coalition, runs from 5pm on Friday 20 December until 5am on Wednesday 1 January. All you have to do is download the Lyft app on your phone, enter promo code SAFERIDEKY2020, and claim $10 in ride credit (more information here). KDA president Eric Gregory said: “We are proud to lead the coalition in offering discounted safe rides this holiday season for the third consecutive year. We encourage all who will be venturing out to celebrate to do so responsibly and plan your transportation ahead of time.” So if you’re going out in Kentucky this Christmas, you can have that Old Fashioned or two, and get home safely. Would be great if someone introduced something similar in Britain. We’re looking at you SWA.

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The delightful 2019 Distillery Exclusive

Royal Lochnagar launches distillery-exclusive bottling for 2019

As the year comes towards an end, Royal Lochnagar has gone and released its 2019 Distillery Exclusive! The Highland distillery matured the single malt in European oak and refill casks, bottled at 48% ABV. What to expect? The distillery tells us there are notes of warming wood spice, green apple, vanilla and toffee, with burnt cocoa and candy floss in there too. The limited-edition bottling has been released with a run of only 5,004 bottles. “This special liquid perfectly captures the spirit of Royal Lochnagar distillery character, with a wide range of outstanding flavours and aromas which are inspired by the experience of being out in the open landscape of our home in the Cairngorm mountains,” Neil Murphy, the senior site manager at Royal Lochnagar said. “This rare and exclusive single malt has been selected by our expert team and represents a rare memento of whisky history for visitors to take and enjoy.” Here’s the catch: if you want a bottle, you’ll have to go to the distillery itself to nab it. Trip to the Highlands, anyone?

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The WSTA feels consumers in the UK pay too much tax on their Christmas booze

WSTA calls for cuts to wine and spirit duty

This time of year might be one for giving, but sharing the boozy love will set you back a pretty penny if you’re in the UK, according to The Wine and Spirit Trade Association (WSTA). Your basket of Christmas booze is set to cost an all-time high this year, with 49% of consumers’ cash going straight to the taxman. The French, by comparison, will pay just 21% tax. In fact, the UK alcohol industry is one of the most heavily taxed in Europe, with British drinkers paying an extraordinary 69% of all wine duties collected by all 28 EU member states and 25% of all spirits duties. This is by far the most of any member state despite accounting for only 11 per cent of the total EU population. That’s why the WSTA is calling on the government to cut alcohol duty. Wine is the UK’s most popular drink, enjoyed by 33 million Brits, but income from wine receipts actually decreased from last year’s take by 2.1% according to the HMRC Alcohol Bulletin figures released last month. If the 2.1% drop plays out for the whole year then Treasury would be set to lose £92 million compared to 2018. The WSTA attributes this to the chancellor’s decision to single out wine for a duty increase at the last Budget, and claims these figures are proof that raising alcohol duty is not only bad for business and consumers but also bad news for the Treasury. It’s worth remembering that the wine and spirit industry supports some 369,000 jobs and generates £49 billion in economic activity. “Comparing the wine and spirit tax regime in the UK to that in France puts the UK’s excessively high rate of excise duty firmly in the spotlight. The Treasury will be taking more money than ever from British businesses and consumers this Christmas while our French cousins’ booze bill will be much more palatable,” says Miles Beale, chief executive of the WSTA and certified Nightcap legend. “We are calling on the Chancellor, Sajid Javid, to support British consumers, pubs and the wider hospitality trade by cutting alcohol duty.”

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William Borrell, founder of Ladies and Gentlemen and knitwear model

Ladies and Gentlemen goes dry for January

Yes, Dry January’s a thing. And yes, we’re thanking the booze(-free) gods that there are delicious low- and no-ABV alternatives out in the world. And now, London bar Ladies and Gentlemen is doing a full-on alcohol-free takeover, complete with Mindful Thursdays, throughout the month. From 10-31 January, no drink will have a higher ABV than 0.5%, with a menu based on Willow, a low-alcohol spirit that brings together CBD with the flavour of pineapple, star anise, blue agave and cherry tomatoes. Low-alcohol wines and beers with also be available. Feeling especially stressed? Pop down on a Thursday for Lego-based therapy, a mindful activity that will also raise money for The Toy Project, which recycles toys and distributes them globally. There will even be low- and no-ABV cocktail-making workshops, too! “The no & low-alcohol category has kept growing with no sign of slowing since 2001. said William Borrell, Ladies and Gentlemen founder. “With more products available on the market, we wanted to cut through those questions we are asked on a daily basis to help build this exciting category. I believe that no and low is perfect for those who want to hold off on alcoholic beverages and don’t need to miss out on the experience of enjoying a beer with friends or a non-alcoholic cocktail with all the cues of alcohol. What better place to host a month of wine , spirit and beer than a rock and roll dive bar.” Hurrah!

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Big shoes: hip-hop icon Future

Hip-Hop artist Future and 1800 Tequila present ‘1800 Seconds Vol 2.’

1800 Tequila and Grammy award-winning hip-hop artist Future have partnered together to curate 1800 Seconds Vol. 2 as part of an initiative to support up-and-coming talent. Seven rising artists chosen by Future and the A+R team were given the platform to write and release new tracks with major label resources and one major co-sign. The seven artists are Aurora Anthony (New York, NY), Herion Young (Memphis, TN), Juiicy2xS (Cincinnati, OH), Lihtz (Philadelphia, PA), Seddy Hendrinx (Jacksonville, FL), Shaun Sloan (Los Angeles, CA) and Test (Baltimore, MD). All beats and executive production came from Nick Papamitrou (aka Papamitrou or Nick Papz), who created the album in one week with Future in November, with the latter guest appearing on a number of tracks. The album, which is being distributed by UnitedMasters, is available now on all music streaming platforms. “When I got into music, I did it my own way, I made a path for myself. I’ve created shoes to walk down my path and I made them big enough for someone else to walk after me,” says Future. “Curating this project with 1800 Tequila gives me a platform to find and collaborate with young artists, help them shape their voice and push their vision.  Everyone has a different vision for themselves – real success and magic happens when we come together and work collectively.” To download the full 1800 Seconds album, meet the artists and watch the behind-the-scenes documentary, you can visit 1800seconds.com. So, grab yourself a Margarita and enjoy the sounds of the future…

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Anyone for a J&B Rare Manhattan?

The Rex Whistler at The TATE Britain reveals the J&B Rare Manhattan

Now, it’s not proven that cocktails that are only available for a limited time taste better, but knowing that not everyone will have the chance to try something may add that extra pizzazz. Which brings us to The Rex Whistler restaurant at The TATE Britain, which has created a J&B Rare Manhattan! Mind you, it’ll only be on there for the next month or so only, until January 2020. If you’re not sure what The Rex Whistler is, it’s been open since 1927 and was described as ‘The Most Amusing Room in Europe’ when it opened because of its unique mural, ‘The Expedition in Pursuit of Rare Meats’. Nearly a century on, we wonder if it would still uphold its title. Matthew Randall, General Manager at The Rex Whistler has put his own unique twist on the classic cocktail, having aged in a sherry barrel for two weeks. “The Rex Whistler is a classic restaurant, and we wanted to create a classic cocktail to showcase the different elements of J&B Rare,” Randall said. The barrel-aged sweet sherry matches this timeless whisky to create a delicious seasonal cocktail.” Well, certainly sounds like the kind of treat we’d want after gazing at art for a few hours. Or maybe we’ll just skip that part altogether…

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The seductive Scent of Stilton

And finally… Eau de Stilton

Ah, the seductive scent of. . . . cheese?! Yes, at a Christmas party this year you might be sitting next to someone with a uniquely seasonal smell. No, it’s not because they have some horrible fungal infection, it’s a new limited edition range of fragrances from PerfumeDirect.com. There’s Eau de Christmas Pudding, Pigs in Blanket Parfum and the Stench, sorry, Scent of Stilton. We certainly wouldn’t mind getting close to someone wearing the Christmas pudding perfume containing as it does notes of berries, citrus, almond and apple, vanilla, clove and Cognac, and carnivores might go wild for some of that piggy goodness. But even Jonny Webber from Perfume Direct sounds a bit sceptical about the last one: “The Stilton perfume is certainly different and will probably turn a few heads when the wearer walks past.” And probably not in a good way. But really, who are we to judge. It’s nearly 2020, man, whatever blows your hair back.

And and finally… how do you feel about a lickable beer igloo?

In the spirit of Christmas, we felt it appropriate to have not one, but TWO And Finallys this week. (Also, it’s clearly silly season and neither of these stories are sensible enough to make The Nightcap proper.) News reached MoM Towers this week of a new structure to come to Southwark in London. It comes complete with sleeping bags. You can fit two adults in it. And… you can lick it?! Yes! The Anchor Bankside pub has commissioned an actual igloo made from 1,000 litres of its new Ice Breaker ale. “We’ve never seen a real frozen igloo, particularly one where the walls are made from real beer,” said Matt Starbuck, Greene King managing director. “If it’s successful, we might even roll it out to our pubs up and down the country – it could be the ideal overnight stay for people who don’t fancy getting a taxi home at closing time!” We’re all up for sharing a pint, but licking walls that have been enjoyed by goodness knows how many others… we’re not sure we’re ever going to feel that festive. But if you are? Get to Southwark with haste, the igloo’s only there until it melts…

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