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Master of Malt Blog

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The Nightcap: 22 January

In the Nightcap this week we cover the cancellation of some of our favourite whisky festivals (boo!), plenty of great work from The Drinks Trust (yay!) and the US Supreme…

In the Nightcap this week we cover the cancellation of some of our favourite whisky festivals (boo!), plenty of great work from The Drinks Trust (yay!) and the US Supreme Court’s verdict on a parody dog toy that upset Jack Daniel’s (???).

Hello again everyone. We hope you’re all staying safe and managing the seemingly endless lockdown ok. We found a useful way of doing that is to appreciate those small moments of joy we can overlook. Like hearing a new song you love or making yourself a plate of delicious carbohydrates to inhale. Plus, there’s vaccines and dogs and all kinds of exciting and wondrous things happening in the world of booze to enjoy. Which is why we do The Nightcap. This industry never fails to amaze. Did you ever think you’d see Fatboy Slim, pre-French Revolution Cognac, pirate-themed whisky, CBD gin and the US Supreme Court in one article?

On the blog this week, we introduced our solution to the blandness of the season with Try January! Then, we looked forward to a different but still delightful Burns Night by checking out the most exciting virtual events taking place and recommending some cracking whiskies to enjoy on the night. We also had our fill of tasty cocktails, from a classic gin-based pre-Prohibition serve to serves that can transport you across the world. Expressions that caught our eye included a terrific dram from Aberlour was our New Arrival of the Week, a non-alcoholic spirit inspired by the historical distinction of London Dry gin and a selection of bargain white wines.

Now, on to The Nightcap!

On The Nightcap this week: Fèis Ìle,

It’s heartbreaking to know we won’t be going back again, but safety is the priority.

Fèis Ìle and Campbeltown Malts Festival cancelled

In unsurprising, but still terribly sad news, there will be no Fèis Ìle or Campbeltown Malts Festival this year. Much like in 2020, the organisers of the two internationally-renowned events were moved to axe them in the face of huge uncertainty over the impact of coronavirus restrictions. Planning a programme, buying/selling tickets and booking accommodation in advance as normal hasn’t been possible due to the ongoing curbs on travel, social gatherings and events. Virtual versions of  both festivals will take place instead. Springbank Distillery announced last night on Instagram that the Campbeltown distilleries felt it was the only option, “as the UK is currently in the midst of lockdown restrictions and it is unlikely that mass gatherings will be allowed by May”. Islay’s hugely popular music and malt festival released a similar statement. “With deep regret, we announce that this year’s festival is cancelled. We have discussed this with our distillery partners, and we have come to this decision together,”. The organisers went on to say, “We know you won’t like hearing this news. We don’t like saying it. But please just keep Islay in your hearts for a little longer: hold on to the love of the island, the music, the whisky and the company, and the embraces when we see you again will be all the sweeter.”

On The Nightcap this week: Arrrrrrrdbeg

It’s a most fitting tribute. Arrr!

Ardbeg reveals new whisky: Arrrrrrrdbeg

There can’t be many jobs that reward you with leaving presents as cool as the drinks industry provides. Just ask Mickey Heads. As regular Nightcap readers will know, the well-regarded distillery manager announced his retirement last year from his role at Ardbeg (although he will be continuing in his role as chairman of the Ardbeg Committee). So the Islay-based distillery has created a new whisky to celebrate his time there. How cool is that? The new whisky is a pirate-themed expression called Ardbeg Arrrrrrrdbeg (hell yeah) and is the distillery’s first-ever whisky matured in ex-rye casks. The brand’s tasting notes describe flavours such as gunpowder, smoked banana, rye bread, sweet vanilla toffee, an aniseed breeze, Brazil nuts and gentle smoke. Sounds delicious. But, sadly, this is an Ardbeg Committee exclusive bottling. That means if you want to get your hands on a bottle you’ll have to head on over to the Ardbeg website and join the committee before it is released in the UK on the 2 February 2021. Members are due to receive an email that morning with a link giving them the chance to buy a bottle. Dr Bill Lumsden, director of whisky creation at Ardbeg, described the dram as a “perfectly peaty parting gift” and thanked Heads for his time there, commenting: “Working with Mickey has been an absolute joy. He’s somebody with a genuine passion for Ardbeg and we hope that this bottling will take pride of place in his collection. He’s presided over many momentous Ardbegs over the years, but this ‘end of an era’ edition is a special one”. You can still pick up all kinds of tasty Ardbeg whisky from us, however, and raise a glass of that to the man who led Ardbeg to three IWC ‘Distillery of the Year’ titles in a row and was named Distillery Manager of the Year 2014 instead. Slange var! 

On The Nightcap this week: Fèis Ìle,

The Drinks Trust welcomes Troy Christensen, Jaega Wise, Ian Burrell and Becky Paskin.

The Drinks Trust welcomes new chair and patrons

We got some good news courtesy of The Drinks Trust this week as it appointed a new chair of its board of trustees, Troy Christensen and welcomed three new patrons, Ian Burrell, Becky Paskin and Jaega Wise. Christensen, who first joined the charity in 2018,  brings 15 years’ experience in the drinks trade with Constellation Brands and as CEO of Accolade Wines from 2011 until 2013. He was appointed CEO of Enotria Wine Cellars in June 2014 and oversaw the acquisition of Coe Vintners in 2015. “This remarkable charity has represented and defended employees of the wine and spirits industry for over a hundred years. After the unbelievable challenges 2020 presented to our industry through the impact of Covid and government policy, this is a very relevant time for The Drinks Trust,” he commented. Helping Christensen and co. to raise awareness and increase the charity’s reach and impact are new patrons Ian Burrell, rum ambassador; Becky Paskin, spirits journalist and co-founder of Our Whisky; and Jaega Wise, TV and radio presenter and head brewer at the Wild Card Brewery. They will join existing patrons Matthew Rhys, Jancis Robinson MW OBE and Olly Smith as well as Founder Patron, Tom Yusef who said, “The help and time from our new patrons to further our causes whilst helping The Drinks Trust to reach new audiences is greatly appreciated. We are excited to be working with such dynamic and inspirational people in the drinks industry”.

On The Nightcap this week: rare Macallan

This beauty is sure to fetch an eye-popping price

World’s most expensive whisky tipped to set new records

The second half of an incredible collection of whisky will go under the hammer next month in a sale that is set to enter the record books. From 12-22 February 2021, over 1,900 bottles of the rarest single malts in existence, will feature in the sale hosted by Whisky Auctioneer. Leading the auction is The Macallan 1926 Fine and Rare 60 Year Old, which is expected to beat the current world record hammer price of £1.2m, which is held by a Macallan from the same original bottling batch. Other standout whiskies include The Balvenie 1937 50 Year Old, Bowmore’s legendary 1964 vintage and a 1921 private cask bottling of Dallas Dhu which has not been seen on the secondary market for over 25 years. The Perfect Collection Part Two, which initially launched last April, was postponed following a major cyber attack. Part one took place in February 2020, fetching a total hammer price of £3.2million as Whisky Auctioneer became the first online auction house to sell a million-dollar bottle. The collection was amassed by late American businessman and philanthropist, Richard Gooding and is one of the largest and most significant ever to go to public auction. “Mr Gooding’s Collection is nothing short of extraordinary and we are honoured and delighted to bring it to auction,” says Iain McClune, founder of Whisky Auctioneer. “Collectors, investors and whisky lovers alike will have their interest sparked by the truly astonishing array of whiskies on offer”. 

On The Nightcap this week: rare Cognac

Want to own Cognac distilled when Napoleon was eight years old? Now you can.

Pre-French Revolution Cognac goes under the hammer

We got quite excited last year at getting hold of some 1895 Cognac from Hermitage but new lots going up on Whisky.Auction on Sunday 31 January make that venerable liquid look positively sprightly. The collection belonging to Jacques Hardy, from a well-known Cognac family, contains bottles from 1802 and 1777. The last one a pre-Revolutionary vintage distilled when Napoleon was just an eight-year-old boy with big dreams. It boggles the mind that you might be able to taste such a piece of history. The grapes came from Domaine de la Vie in Grand Champagne and after distillation, the liquid spent around 100 years in oak before being transferred to a demijohn and finally bottled in 1936. It was given to Jacques’ uncle, James Hardy, on his wedding day by his new family-in-law. Much better than new linens. It’s one of only five such bottles in existence. Sukhinder Singh from Whisky. Auction commented: “I am pleased to have tried this around 10 years ago when it was available at The Lanesborough Hotel in London. What a privilege it was to taste such old liquid that was still fresh and full of life with the lingering rancio flavour that you find in pre-phylloxera Cognac.” The rest of the collection is equally mind-blowing as alongside the 1777 and 1802, there’s an 1812, a 1906 and a mere baby, the 1914. The bottles are being sold as individual lots, and the auction will go live on Sunday 31 January 2021, running for ten days until Tuesday 9 February. Happy bidding!

On The Nightcap this week: The Drinks Trust,

The money goes to a great cause, so do check it out

Fatboy Slim signed prints up for auction for The Drinks Trust

How’s your living room looking? A bit bare, perhaps? What you need are some gorgeous limited edition prints which have just gone on sale called A Shot in Time. These five pictures celebrate five emotions associated with hospitality: togetherness, happiness, resilience, family and, not forgetting, shenanigans. Remember shenanigans? The creator of these prints is drinks photographer Addie Chinn. Each one costs £50, is A3 size and part of a limited run of only 50. Best of all, all the profits go to The Drinks Trust, to raise essential funding to those needing critical social, medical and financial help for them and their families in the hospitality sector.  Go to Our Future Proof Website to buy yours. But that’s not all! Mr Fatboy Slim himself, Norman Cook, has signed and captioned a set of prints which will be auctioned at Whisky.Auction of 31 January 4pm. It’s all happening there this week. Follow @OurFutureProof for more information. 

On The Nightcap this week: spaniels

It’s not a story of Jack Daniel’s getting into a fight with actual dogs, but it’s no less ridiculous.

And finally… Bad Spaniels beat Jack Daniels

In a long-running legal battle between a small dog, VIP Products, and a big animal, Brown Forman, it looks like the little dog will, at last, have its day. It all started with the launch of a dog chew toy called Bad Spaniels that looked a lot like a bottle of Jack Daniels, with the words ‘Old No. 7 Tennessee sour mash whiskey’ replaced with ‘The Old No.2 on your Tennessee carpet’. Clever! Following cease and desist letters from the whiskey firm, VIP products sued Jack Daniel’s in 2014. Initially, a court found that the toy did infringe on Jack Daniel’s trademarks but then in 2020 the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled in favour of Bad Spaniels. The big boys at JD weren’t done yet, so they petitioned the Supreme Court but this month the highest court in the US declined to hear the case. So it looks like, finally, the spaniel has won. Moral of the story: don’t get in a fight with a dog over a chew toy. Not only will you lose, but you’ll be left looking foolish.  

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Introducing: Try January!

We’ve got a solution to the blandness of the season. A way to try a whole bunch of whiskies, literally risk-free. Behold: Try January! Ahhh January. A time for new…

We’ve got a solution to the blandness of the season. A way to try a whole bunch of whiskies, literally risk-free. Behold: Try January!

Ahhh January. A time for new starts, resolutions, turning over a new leaf. It might be a time for forming new habits, learning a new skill, upping the exercise regimen. These things can all be good. But January can also feel, well… a bit dull. A bit grey. Somewhat lacking in excitement. So let us help. We’ve come up with a way to inject some flavour into a time of year that can be somewhat bland. Ready the tasting glasses and get set for Try January!

What’s this, you say? We’ve got a whole bunch of drams set aside for you that we reckon you’ll really like. Some of these are old favourites, some are more unusual bottlings. Some are the slightly fancier version of a drinks cabinet staple. We’ve even picked out some delectable samples that we highly recommend for whisky newbies (now’s the time if you’re trying to get your friend into whisky over a Zoom tasting!). Basically, each 30ml taster has been chosen by our team here because we really like it. And we want to make it super easy to try before you buy!

Here’s how it works. Buy one of these drams, and we’ll zip you over a Master of Malt voucher to the value of that dram. So you’re basically getting to try it for free! We hope you’ll love your dram so much that you use your voucher towards the cost of a full bottle. But really you can use it for anything you like on the site. We’ll get vouchers out to you by 5 February, so keep you eyes peeled!

You can see the full list over on our Try January page, but here’s just five to whet your whisky appetite.

Here’s the Try January lowdown:

Literally try before you buy with Try January!

Seaweed & Aeons & Digging & Fire 10 Year Old Cask Strength

Got a taste for all things smoky? Then you need to try this 10 year old single malt from an undisclosed Islay distillery. 10% of it has been finished in first-fill Oloroso octave casks, so there’s a good helping of sweetness in there, too. 

Literally try before you buy with Try January!

Talisker 8 Year Old (Special Release 2020)

A tip-top Talisker from 2020’s sought-after Diageo Special Releases collection. It’s been finished in ex-pot still Caribbean rum casks – the first time the distillery has used this sort of oak! It’s simply a delight for the palate. 

Literally try before you buy with Try January!

Tomatin 18 Year Old Sherry Cask

A classic single malt here from Highland stalwart Tomatin, aged for a whopping 18 years and finished in Spanish oak ex-Oloroso sherry butts. If you like your whisky bursting with notes of sweet spices, vanilla fudge and honey, this is a must-try.

Literally try before you buy with Try January!

Craigellachie 17 Year Old

A firm favourite here at MoM Towers, Craigellachie 17 Year Old really showcases the distinctive meatiness of the Speyside distillery, thanks in part to its wonderful worm tub condensers. One to really sit with and savour!

Literally try before you buy with Try January!

Loch Lomond Single Grain

New to whisky, or know someone that is? Give this light, bright and breezy single grain a go. It’s perfect for sipping, and also highly ideal in Highball form. Just mix with ice, soda and garnish with a lemon slice – tasty!

Literally try before you buy with Try January!

Literally try before you buy with Try January!

We want to know what you’ve tasted, what you’ve loved, and what you’ve spent your voucher on! Let us know on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram, or in the comments below. And Happy Try January!

T&Cs

18+ only and shipping restrictions may apply. Complete purchase of any qualifying drams on masterofmalt.com between 20 Jan 2021 and 3 Feb 2021 (inclusive) to receive an electronic gift voucher of the same value (excluding delivery and any other charges) to use on masterofmalt.com at any time. Subject to Master of Malt standard consumer and gift voucher T&Cs. 

1 Comment on Introducing: Try January!

The Nightcap: 15 January

In this week’s edition of The Nightcap, we lament tariffs again, celebrate the arrival of some charming new booze and try to comprehend how delicious Bordeaux wine made it to…

In this week’s edition of The Nightcap, we lament tariffs again, celebrate the arrival of some charming new booze and try to comprehend how delicious Bordeaux wine made it to space and back without being drunk…  

Welcome everyone, we hope you’re keeping safe and warm during Lockdown III: Lockdowner and enjoying the outdoors when you can. We’re trying to stay chipper ourselves, although we were irked when we noticed in our dictionary that the definition of the word ‘nightcap’ was somewhat lacking. There were references to an alcoholic drink taken at the end of the day, a cloth cap worn with nightclothes and the final race or contest of a day’s sports. But what there wasn’t any word of was this perfectly suitable definition: a charming weekly round-up of all things boozy and newsy, best enjoyed with a dram in-hand. Clearly an oversight. Step-up your game Merriam-Webster. Anyway, here’s another edition of the Nightcap. Perhaps you could pop a jaunty little cloth cap on while you read it?

On the blog this week we announced some good news regarding shipping to Northern Ireland as well as two new competitions: one being our magnificent Burns Night poetry competition, back by popular demand, and the other offering you the chance to win a VIP trip to Benriach Distillery. Ian Buxton returned to cast an eye on a new generation of distillers who are creating whisky with all sorts of uncommon grains, while Adam also embraced the weird and wonderful by enjoying some tasty new baijiu. Elsewhere, we rounded up some of the most delicious low- and no-alcohol drinks on the market for Dry January, showed you how creating your own cocktail ingredients is easier than you might think and enjoyed the marvels of vermouth by welcoming a new expression that honours the father of mixology, Mr Jerry Thomas and using another impressive creation in our delightfully simple and sublime Cocktail of the Week

Now, on to The Nightcap!

The Nightcap

Karen Betts from the SWA was on hand to sum up the mood

US tariffs to remain on Scotch whisky

We reported last month that the UK would be dropping the tariffs on American whiskey now that it was out of the EU. We finished by anticpating that the Americans would reciprocate by dropping their 25% tariffs on Scotch but it seems that this won’t be happening in the foreseeable future. It was hoped that a deal could be pushed through in the last days of the Trump administration but it seems that the president has more pressing concerns. According to a story in The Times, the British team don’t hold out much hope that Katherine Tai, the incoming US trade representative, will be prioritising ending the tariffs. Karen Betts from the SWA commented:Tariffs remain on Scotch whisky: A missed opportunity to straighten out subsidies to aerospace and lift hugely damaging tariffs on Scotch Whisky. There’s certainly deep disappointment across the industry. Over £400m in losses and counting.” And there was us hoping that 2021 would begin on a positive note.

The Nightcap

The distillers signed the bottles. All nine of them!

Torabhaig to auction two rare whiskies for charity

There’s already plenty of excitement around the launch of Torabhaig’s first whisky, but that hasn’t stopped the brand from generating even more anticipation by announcing that it will auction two rare signed bottles of Torabhaig Single Malt ahead of its general release in February. The auction, which will start on the 31st January on Whisky Auction, includes a single cask bottle from the Torabhaig Family Reserve (future expressions from the Family Reserve will remain in a private collection and unavailable to purchase normally) as well as a bottle of the ‘Legacy Series 2017’ peated single malt, both of which have been signed by all nine Torabhaig distillers. All proceeds of the sale will go to the National Centre for Gaelic Language and Culture, Sabhal Mòr Ostaig and the Dr MacKinnon Memorial Broadford Hospital. Given the upcoming launch is from the first whisky distillery to be built on Skye in 190 years and only the second legal whisky distillery ever to operate on the island (after Talisker), many of us whisky lovers are understandably very excited to get our hands on its inaugural whisky. Good thing we can reveal that the Legacy Series 2017 will be available from MoM Towers, but keep in mind that this is a limited single distillation vintage issue with just over 3,000 bottles available for distribution in the UK and 6,000 in the USA so demand is likely to outstrip supply.

The Nightcap

The hospitality industry has welcomed the government’s vote

UK government votes in favour of hospitality minister

Given the state of things right now we’re always delighted to welcome some good news in our industry and we got some this week after MPs voted in favour of creating a minister of hospitality in the UK. The notion was debated by the UK government after an online petition secured more than 200,000 signatures and following a 90-minute debate in Westminster on Monday 11 January, the vote gained the support it needed. While this doesn’t guarantee the role will be created, the hospitality industry has welcomed the government’s recognition of the sector’s importance, with issues like extending the VAT cut and the business rates holiday and often forgotten parts of the sector like nightclubs, wedding venues, conference centres and the industry’s critical supply chain receiving attention. This has raised hopes the debate will prompt senior leadership within the Conservative Party to seriously consider the proposal. “It was incredibly positive to hear so many MPs being vocal advocates of the hospitality sector. There was unanimous recognition of our importance economically and socially. It is striking that, in the end, the petition got more than 200,000 signatures,” Kate Nicholls, UKHospitality chief executive, said, in her second Nightcap appearance in as many weeks. “We all understand the importance of what we do and it is good to see the government recognise the importance of working closely with the sector to ensure that we are properly supported, not just during this crisis but more generally.”

The Nightcap

Over £36k for a great cause has been raised. Thanks to all who took part!

Our Macallan auction raises £36k for Hospitality Action 

We always knew that the Macallan Red collection, consisting of whiskies of up to 78 years old, would be seriously in demand with Master of Malt customers. That’s why when we received our allocation, we decided to sell them through a charity auction, as we do for all in-demand whiskies. Well, the whiskies went quickly, no surprise there, and we’re delighted to announce that we have raised £36,510.00 for Hospitality Action, which offers a crucial lifeline to people of all ages, working and retired, from the hospitality industry. Justin Petszaft, Atom Group CEO, commented: “It’s been a hard year for everyone, but particularly those in the hospitality sector, so we’ve been looking for ways to help them weather the storm until they can fully re-open in the summer. Macallan is always highly collectable, so we knew demand for this collection would be high, and it seemed like the perfect opportunity to help raise some much needed funds for our friends in the on-trade. When we set this live none of us could have imagined how much it would raise: £36,000 is a huge amount of money and will make a real difference to so many people’s lives who desperately need our help right now. I’d like to thank both Macallan for providing such a fantastic set of bottles for us to auction, and our incredible customers for being so amazingly generous in their bids. As ever, you guys rock.”

The Nightcap

Orkney Distillery is one of many embracing its environmental responsibilities (image credit to Colin Keldie)

Distilleries go green with government initiative

The winners of the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) Green Distilleries Competition were announced on Friday 8th January 2021, with 17 distilleries receiving the first phase of £10 million government funding to go green, including Bruichladdich, The Orkney Distillery and Highland Park. The government initiative aims to find ways of decarbonising the distilling sector and the fund will assist distilleries in the search for lower-carbon alternatives to generate heat for processes such as malting and distilling. Bruichladdich revealed last week that more than £70,000 has been awarded to its project partner, Protium Green Solutions, in order to complete a feasibility study on incorporating innovative hydrogen combustion technology as part of ambitious plans to decarbonise its production process by 2025. Highland Park and The Orkney Distillery, in Kirkwall, are also set to take part in a £58,781 research project led by the Stromness-based European Marine Energy Centre (Emec), along with industrial decarbonisation experts from Edinburgh’s Napier University. The HySpirits 2 project in Kirkwall follows research completed last year by Emec at The Orkney Distillery, which investigated the feasibility of using a hydrogen-fuelled thermal fluid heating system there. “We understand that there is real potential for a  hydrogen‐based solution to decarbonise our industry,” says Allan Logan, production director of Bruichladdich. “We are thrilled to have the support of Protium, Deuterium and ITPEnergised to help us assess the feasibility of employing a green hydrogen fuel switching solution for our distillery – a move we hope benefits the broader industry”. It’s terrific to see that, despite everything that’s going on, there are those who are focused on planning for a better future.

The Nightcap

Smoky French Martinis, anyone?

Thomas Lowndes creates RTD cocktail range

The ready-to-drink (RTD) market is booming at the moment, which is understandable given you can’t turn to bartenders to provide delicious and convenient complex serves at the moment. In fact, RTDs are forecast to remain the fastest‐growing alcohol sector over the next five years, according to the IWSR Drinks Market Analysis. As the category widens and develops new products naturally follow and this week learned that Edrington-Beam Suntory UK has made a serious step into this market with the launch of the Thomas Lowndes 1826 range of RTD products. The Glasgow-based firm Thomas Lowndes has been part of EBS UK since 2015 and has named its new range after the year Mr Lowndes founded the business. It comprises four bottled cocktails: an Old Fashioned and a Mint Julep made with Maker’s Mark bourbon, a Cognac Espresso Martini that features Courvoisier and a Smoky French Martini made using Laphroaig whisky instead of vodka or gin, all of which are available from us (just give those links a click). “This exciting new range by 1826, associated with premium whiskies, Cognacs and bourbons gives us the perfect opportunity to showcase how easily bar-quality cocktails can be created in the home,” Moira Jacques, general manager of Thomas Lowndes, said. “We want to show customers that you can create premium, top-quality drinks in the comfort of your own home.”

The Nightcap

Beefeater’s new look will save 410 tonnes of plastic every year

Beefeater gin unveils sustainable bottle

Beefeater London Dry Gin has announced this week a plan to reduce the amount of plastic it uses by unveiling a more sustainable packaging design. The new bottle is made entirely from recyclable glass and is said to save the Pernod Ricard-owned brand 410 tonnes of plastic every year. The previous plastic cap has been replaced with an embossed, aluminium cap and the label has been changed from PVC to paper and the bottle, the shape of which you might have noticed was inspired by London bricks, was also designed with bartenders in mind as it makes pouring the gin easier. “Whilst our packaging has evolved our award-winning gin remains the same, with every drop distilled in the heart of London. The design of the bottle, from its shape to its label, paints a picture of what the liquid inside will taste like,” said Murielle Dessenis, global brand director of Beefeater. “The new design has performed well with bartenders and consumers alike, and we’re proud to have designed this new iteration of Beefeater’s iconic bottle with sustainability in mind, taking the brand on to the next step in its journey with a natural evolution for today’s gin enthusiasts.” The new design will be rolled out globally from this month and will cover the whole Beefeater range, with the exception of Beefeater 24.

The Nightcap

How you can resist cracking open a bottle of wine in space, we’ll never know.

And finally… Bordeaux wines return from space, undrunk!

If you were floating around on the International Space Station and there was a case of wine lying around, you’d crack open a bottle, wouldn’t you? Well, miraculously a case of Bordeaux that spent a year in space landed in the sea this week off the coast of Florida, completely intact. Not a drop had been drunk. The package also contained 160 canes each of Cabernet and Merlot. No, this wasn’t a psychological experiment in resisting temptation, it was part of a research project by a company called Space Cargo looking into the effects of extreme conditions on vines and wine to understand the stress they might endure from climate change. This isn’t the first time Bordeaux has been into space, a bottle of Chateau Lynch Bages 1975 went up on the space shuttle in 1985, and also came home intact because nobody had drunk it. Amazing willpower these astronauts.

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Win a VIP trip to Benriach Distillery!

Fancy winning a dream trip to a tremendous Scotch whisky distillery? Of course you do. Good thing we’ve got a new competition for you to enter… There’s no shortage of…

Fancy winning a dream trip to a tremendous Scotch whisky distillery? Of course you do. Good thing we’ve got a new competition for you to enter…

There’s no shortage of delightful distilleries to visit when in Speyside, but one that should definitely be on your bucket list is Benriach. The Brown-Forman owned distillery is intriguingly home to both peated and unpeated whisky and makes use of a diverse cask profile, maturing its malt in barrels such as ex-bourbon, sherry, Jamaican rum and sweet Marsala. If you’re someone who is interested in the way in which whisky is made, this is a great place to witness the process in action. Just ask the folks who won our last VIP trip competition there…

VIP trip to Benriach Distillery

Fancy heading here? Then get entering!

That’s right, we’re back with another competition and we’re offering you another chance to sample the delights of one of Speyside’s finest. Up for grabs is UK travel to the Benriach distillery for two people including a tour and tasting experience as well a visit to the incredible Speyside Cooperage. There’s also going to be time for another Speyside-based activity (which is TBC and time of year dependant), as you’ll be spending two nights in Scotland at either the Craigellachie hotel or the Highlander Inn (subject to availability) with breakfast included. And there’s also a 3-course dinner for two with 2 drinks one evening at the Castle Hotel. It’s basically the break you all deserve after that year, frankly.

So, how do you put yourself in the running? By purchasing a full-size bottle from the Benriach distillery range* (for the nitty-gritty details, see the competition terms below). That’s all. Easy as pie. And even more delicious. Best of all, right now the Benriach The Twelve and Benriach The Smoky Twelve are available for £5 off.  So you get to enter a competition, pick yourself up a bottle of tasty booze and save a few quid in the process. 

VIP trip to Benriach Distillery

The core range was revamped last year and is better than ever

Best of luck to all of you and be sure to keep an eye out on the MoM blog for when we announce the winner…

MoM Benriach Distillery Competition 2021 open to entrants 18 years and over. Entries accepted from 14 January to 23:59 28 January 2021. Winners chosen at random after close of competition. Date and travel restrictions apply. Postal route available. See full T&Cs for details. 

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Burns Night poetry competition – win Islay single malts

It’s type to sharpen your pencils because our great Burns Night poetry competition is back by popular demand. You could win two delicious bottles of Islay single malt, plus a…

It’s type to sharpen your pencils because our great Burns Night poetry competition is back by popular demand. You could win two delicious bottles of Islay single malt, plus a Glencairn glass.

UPDATE: We’ve been inundated with entries and will announce the winner ASAP once each work of poetic genius has been subject to due consideration.

For the third year running we are calling on Master of Malt customers to flex their poetry muscles for a chance to win whisky. When we launched the competition back in 2019, we thought maybe we’d get 10 entries. Instead we got many times that and the quality was surprisingly high. Just take a look at the winning entries from 2019 and 2020.

This year Burns Night, Monday 25 January, is going to be a little different for all of us. But we can still eat haggis and neeps, drink some whisky and, most importantly, celebrate the words of the Bard himself, Robert Burns: “Wee, sleekit, cowrin, tim’rous beastie, O, what a panic’s in thy breastie!” Great stuff, we love a bit of Burns at Master of Malt. To help you on your way, we are giving away: a bottle each of Seaweed & Aeons & Digging & Fire 10 Year Old Islay single malt and Seaweed & Aeons & Digging & Fire 10 Year Old Cask Strength Islay single malt from our friends at Atom Labs, plus a Glencairn tasting glass to sip them out of. 

Seaweed & Aeons & Digging & Fire

All you have to do is compose a poem about whisky. We had some Ossian-esque epics last year so we’re limiting entries to 25 lines. All poems must be in English or Scots. Apart from those rules, let your imagination run wild: you can write a haiku, a sonnet or maybe something experimental a la E.E. Cummings. Poems will be judged by the discerning team here at Master of Malt. There’s at least one second class English degree from a redbrick university among us, so we know what we’re doing. Before you set pen to paper, we’ll offer you a couple of tips: try to be amusing, if we have to read 50 poems, we are going to remember the ones that made us laugh; if you can’t make us laugh, make us cry; please don’t rhyme ‘whisky’ with ‘frisky’, it’s an automatic disqualification.

The 2021 MoM Burns Night poetry competition is open to entrants 18 years and over with postage to UK addresses only. Entries accepted from 12:00 GMT on 13 January to 23:59 GMT 21 January 2021. Full T&Cs are below, but to enter simply email us at [email protected], or comment on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or below with your poem by 21 January. The winner will be announced on Burns Night, 25 January.

Good luck and may the muse be with you. 

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Top ten: Low- and zero-ABV drinks

Yes, it’s Dry January, for some, anyway. But whether you’re cutting out the booze completely or just fancy a change, here are the most delicious low- and no-alcohol spirit substitutes…

Yes, it’s Dry January, for some, anyway. But whether you’re cutting out the booze completely or just fancy a change, here are the most delicious low- and no-alcohol spirit substitutes rated by Master of Malt customers.

The low/ no ABV ‘spirit’ category is now firmly established. All it needs is a snappy name, we can’t go on calling them spirit substitutes or zero ABV gin-style drinks. Any suggestions on a postcard to MoM HQ, or you could comment below. Rather than pick our favourites as we normally do, this January we’ve picked the ones with the highest ratings on the Master of Malt website. So these are the drinks that our customers liked enough to leave a rating. There’s some five star products here…

bax-botanics-sea-buckthorn-spirit

1) Bax Botanics Sea Buckthorn

A non-alcoholic spirit from Yorkshire’s Bax Botanics. The main flavour is sea buckthorn and distilled alongside herbs and Seville orange. With absolutely no sugar added, the spirit boasts a complex and satisfyingly bittersweet fruity profile. 

How does it taste?

Highly aromatic, with rich savoury herbal notes and bittersweet fruit. Serve on ice and garnish with a ribbon of orange peel.

everleaf-bittersweet-aperitif-spirit

2) Everleaf Bittersweet Aperitif

Everleaf Bittersweet Aperitif is an apero, like Aperol or Campari, only with no alcohol. It’s made with a medley of 18 marvellous ingredients including gentian, iris, saffron, vanilla, vetiver, orange blossom and more. 

How does it taste?

Enjoyable herbal bitterness, with hints of anise, lemongrass, honey and caraway in support. Exceptional in a spritz with ice, tonic water and a fair whack of fresh orange. 

aecorn-bitter-spirit

3) Æcorn Bitter

Æcorn is a range of non-alcoholic aperitifs created by the Seedlip team.  The bitter version is made from Pinot Noir, Meunier and Chardonnay grapes flavoured with citrus fruits, bay leaf, oak and quassia.

How does it taste?

Bitter peels and juicy grapefruit, balanced by earthy herbs and a touch of pine resin. Try it in a Nogroni with Seedlip Spice (below) and Aecorn Aromatic.

william-fox-juniper-syrup

4) William Fox Juniper Syrup

From Liverpool-based William Fox, this delightful syrup uses juniper, the base of all gins as it flavour, so it’s sure to be popular. Add to a variety of drinks for reassuring gin-like flavour. 

How does it taste?

Slightly bitter, warm and savoury, with a tangy citrus-y backdrop. Try mixed with pink grapefruit juice and soda water. 

xachoh-blend-no-7-spirit

5) Xachoh Blend No. 7

Here we have Xachoh’s (pronounced ‘Za-ko’) second non-alcoholic spirit, Blend No.7. It contains botanicals inspired by the Silk Road, including ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon, crystal dark malt, star anise, saffron and sumac. 

How does it taste? 

Full of fragrant spicy notes, namely ginger, nutmeg and cinnamon, accompanied by sweet malty notes. Mix with ginger ale and a good squeeze of lime. 

lyres-non-alcoholic-american-malt-spirit

6) Lyre’s Non-Alcoholic American Malt

This is a bourbon substitute made by an Australian brand that makes a huge range of non-alcoholic drinks to use instead of rum, gin, amaretto etc. The brand is named after the Australian Lyrebird, which is renowned for being able to mimic the calls of other birds. 

How does it taste?

Smooth caramel and a hint of oak with a slightly spicy finish. Makes a great Old Fashioned substitute, see here for more recipes. 

pentire-adrift-spirit

7) Pentire Adrift

A uniquely maritime spirit, this is inspired by the North Cornish coastline and made from botanicals including rock samphire, sea fennel, sage, citrus and Cornish sea salt, either sustainably sourced or organically grown. 

How does it taste?

A hint of anise, salty and herbaceous notes intertwine, with a dash of lively citrus and mineral sea salt, with a warming finish. It’s great with tonic and a twist of lemon peel.

three-spirit

8) Three Spirit Social Elixir

After much experimentation, the Three Spirit team of botanical alchemists settled on 11 plant-based ingredients from around the world, including lion’s mane, cacao, damiana, and yerba mate. 

How does it taste?

Stewed fruit and banana aromas fade into rich notes of dark chocolate and coffee. Makes a great Espresso Martini, details here

feragaia-spirit

9) Feragaia

Feragaia is a Scottish alcohol-free spirit marrying 14 botanicals including seaweed, bay leaf and chamomile. Before bottling, it’s then blended with Scottish water. Feragaia means ‘wild earth’, taken from Fera in Latin meaning ‘wild’, and ‘Gaia’ in Greek mythology translating to ‘earth’.

How does it taste?

A floral top note leads into earthier root flavours, with a balanced salty note and a warming, spiced finish. Try it with ginger ale and a sprig of mint to make what Feragaia calls a Winter Wanderer. 

seedlip-spice-94-spirit

10) Seedlip Spice 94 

We had to include the mighty Seedlip, the brand that started it all. Some people love it, it has five star ratings galore, and some people don’t, but there’s no denying its influence. This version is based around allspice, cardamom, grapefruit, lemon and oak.

How does it taste?

Warming (almost Christmas-y) notes of nutmeg and clove, with a balancing sweetness of fresh citrus. Serve over ice with tonic and a pink grapefruit twist.

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Good news re: Northern Ireland shipping!

We come bearing good news this Tuesday. If you’re based in Northern Ireland, fret not. The drinks deliveries shall flow! It’s been a bit of a tricky logistical time these…

We come bearing good news this Tuesday. If you’re based in Northern Ireland, fret not. The drinks deliveries shall flow!

It’s been a bit of a tricky logistical time these last few weeks, what with the ongoing impacts of Covid-19 and the changes we needed to make due to that little thing called Brexit. But there’s good news. While shipping has changed slightly between us here on the UK mainland and Northern Ireland, the drinks can indeed get to you!

Now, two quick caveats. You’ll need to allow a little extra time for delivery, as there are still a whole bunch of new processes to be worked out. We reckon for time-sensitive stuff add two days on top of the delivery stated at checkout. This could well change and get shorter once our marvellous logistics partners get familiar with the new systems. Secondly, we know there are likely to be some further changes that come into effect from 31 March. As soon as we know what these mean, we’ll of course let you know. 

The plus side? There won’t be any duty issues shipping to Northern Ireland. Hurrah!

We also have a snippet of news on the EU shipping front, in that there will be more news to follow very soon! We’re excited that it’s looking like we’ll be able to resume sending to some countries shortly. So if you’ve been missing us (and we have for sure been missing you!) then hold on to your tasting glasses, as deliciousness could soon be coming your way.

On that note, happy Tuesday, folks! 

For all the latest delivery updates, click here.

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The winner of our VIP trip to Bowmore and Laphroaig is…

One of our finest competitions to date has come to a close and somebody very lucky is about to find out that they will be heading to both Bowmore and…

One of our finest competitions to date has come to a close and somebody very lucky is about to find out that they will be heading to both Bowmore and Laphroaig distilleries. 

Ok, folks, cast your mind back to 2020. We know we all want to put that awful year behind us, but the reason why we bring it up is actually all kinds of merry and marvellous. You see, back in December, we offered you the chance to win a VIP trip to two iconic Islay distilleries, Bowmore and Laphroaig, including flights for you and a chosen travel buddy to Scotland, accommodation and dinner for two nights and tours of both distilleries and the beautiful island itself. Plus a bundle of merchandise. 

The winner of our VIP trip to Bowmore and Laphroaig is...

Our lucky winners will see all this and more…

Now, of course, 2020 has been and gone, as has our exciting competition. And it’s time to announce the winner of this incredible prize. It’s…

Guy Williams!

Congratulations and thanks to everyone who took part. If you didn’t win, at the very least you got to enjoy something delicious, like Laphroaig 10 Year Old or Bowmore 12 Year Old, which is still pretty great, right?

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The Nightcap: 8 January

We’ve got a couple of weeks of news to catch up on for the first Nightcap of 2021, so this week is full to the brim of boozy happenings! Well, we’re…

We’ve got a couple of weeks of news to catch up on for the first Nightcap of 2021, so this week is full to the brim of boozy happenings!

Well, we’re one week into 2021 and it wasn’t exactly the turnaround we might have hoped for. But, while you might be inclined to cancel your subscription to the new year after a pretty underwhelming 7-day free trial, we’re optimistic here at MoM Towers. Why? Well, if there’s one thing The Nightcap demonstrates is that each week is filled with something that will make you laugh or get you excited and 2020 proved that nothing can stop the influx of brilliant and bonkers boozy stories. So, assuming aliens don’t invade or a chunky asteroid doesn’t land in Speyside, we think there’s cause for optimism. And if you don’t believe, wait until you read this week’s And Finally…

On the MoM blog, we saw off the last of that wretched year by acknowledging some of the better aspects of it, including our most-read and personal favourite posts, before casting an eye towards 2021 and predicting what it might bring. The new year on the blog, meanwhile, kicked off with our ongoing auction for The Macallan’s incredible Red Collection, which will raise money for Hospitality Action and some delightful new arrivals, including an apple brandy that was aged in Japanese whisky casks and bourbon which is made from four grains. There’s also been plenty of cocktail coverage from Annie, who made the underappreciated Vieux Carré and the real star of Netflix’s The Queen’s Gambit, The Gibson, championed the humble muddler and put together 10 classic cocktail recipes, presented with both boozy ingredients and non-alc alternative and Henry put together a list of splendidly affordable red wines. Elsewhere we found time to run the rule on Tomatin’s core range, look inside the English Spirit Distillery, find out how Irish mead is making its mark in the 21st century and why you should know all about Maidstone gin

The Nightcap

The US will finally allow 700ml bottles, hurrah!

US to allow 700ml bottles for the first time

You’ll be pleased to know that 2020 ended with a rare bit of good news for the drinks industry as it was announced that the law regarding wine and distilled spirits containers in the US were amended to allow the importation of European 700ml bottles. The Treasury Department’s Tax and Trade Bureau, which regulates alcoholic beverages at the federal level, published new regulations on 29 December 2020 which updated the so-called “standards of fill” for wine (355ml, 250ml and 200ml) and spirits (1.8L, 900ml, 720ml and 700ml), which means that brands will no longer have the burden of spending time and money making unique US size bottles, granting producers greater flexibility and consumers with more choice. Previously drinks makers were forced to produce 700ml bottlings for the European market and special 750ml bottlings to sell in the US, which led to many small independent producers opting to avoid the extra costs by not exporting their tasty goods to the US. While there’s still some work to be done (allowing for  3+ litre sizes for spirits to save on packaging, for example) it’s a welcome bit of economic and logistical relief after a torrid year for the industry. Now wouldn’t it be great if we could reciprocate by allowing 750ml in the UK which would help a lot of small US distillers?

The Nightcap

The Walking Man’s impressive new home edges ever closer to opening…

Johnnie Walker offers glimpse inside Princes Street

If you’re a Nightcap regular you’ll have read all about Johnnie Walker’s exciting new whisky visitor experience in Princes Street, Edinburgh, which is set to open in the summer of 2021. But now, for the first time, the Scotch whisky giant has revealed a glimpse of the eagerly anticipated attraction to fans, which will feature rooftop bars, private dining areas, modern sensory tasting rooms, personalised tour and tasting experiences, and live performance areas. The interior of the building, a closely-guarded secret, is on show, as is The 1820 bar, a cocktail bar and outdoor terrace with views of the Edinburgh famous skyline, The Explorers’ Bothy, a whisky bar that will stock over 150 rare bottles and one-of-a-kind cask editions, and the Johnnie Walker Label Studio, a performance space that will host live events and performances. For more info, click here. The Johnnie Walker Princes Street visitor attraction is at the centre of Diageo’s £185m investment into the transformation of its Scotch whisky tourism, having already revamped Glenkinchie Distillery, while further investment into the remainder of Diageo’s 11 Scotch whisky brand homes as well as the revival of lost distilleries Port Ellen and Brora is also in the works. So there’s something to look forward to in 2021!

Water of Life film to launch among virtual festivities 

The Water of Life, a new feature documentary that focuses on those at the heart of the Scotch whisky revolution that turned the industry of the 1980s into the titan it is today, is on the way. Which is exciting. Even more thrilling, however, is that the film won’t launch with an ordinary premiere, but instead a week-long Burns Night Celebration that you can take part in! Kicking off on the 22nd January and running through the 27th January, the virtual online program includes a screening of the film followed each night by a unique hour-long session featuring the stars of the film. There will also be an option to purchase tasting kits specifically curated to accompany the film and take viewers on a taste journey. “Our biggest challenge, as with any food or drink film, is you can’t taste the screen. When putting this event together it was important that we found a way to bring not just the story to the screen but to engage the audience in a way whisky does,” said director Greg Swartz. “Our Burns Night  Celebration will bring all the senses together through watching the movie, pairing that with the tasting kits, and offering the opportunity to join the stars to hear them talk more about their passions.”  For tickets, tasting kits and more info just click here and if you’d like to see a trailer for The Water of Life, featuring Bruichladdich legends Jim McEwan and Mark Reynier as well as Billy Walker, Dr Rachel Barrie, David Stewart, Kelsey McKechnie, Neil Ridley and Joel Harrison and more, then simply click on the video above!

The Nightcap

Could bars and pubs switch from dispensing beer to dispensing vaccines?

Brewers offer their pubs as vaccination centres. 

Like many things in the modern age, it began with a tweet. Keir Shiels, consultant paediatrician at the Great Ormond Street hospital in London, suggested on the 31 December: “Pubs could be turned into vaccination hubs. There’s space. There’s staff. There’s fridges. There’s refreshment facilities. There’s one in every village.” Since then things have snowballed with both Brewdog and Shepherd Neame pledging their help. Jonathan Neame CEO at Shepherd Neame commented: “We have offered up some of our pubs to act as vaccination hubs, in target areas, in the main they are well located, spacious and with large refrigeration capacity.” Nothing has happened yet though James Watt from Brewdog announced that he is in talks with the Government. Let’s hope something comes off this as it would really help speed up distribution of the vaccine especially if brewers could offer a pint to enjoy while you wait. We’d be first in the queue.

The Nightcap

Some good news from 2020 was that fortified wine got some well-deserved love

A bumper year for fortified wine 

Port and sherry have been rocking this year. There was an article on the BBC website about the so-called ‘tapas effect’ as people unable to travel recreated their summer trips at home with a bottle of sherry. Meanwhile, we reported back in October that Taylor’s Port sales had grown despite, or maybe because of lockdown. Figures just released by the WSTA bear this out: the fortified wine category has seen an increase in sales of nearly 10% in 2020, a remarkable feat considering the impact lockdown has had on on-trade sales. Despite on-trade orders being down 42% (by volume), the category grew from £270 million in 2019 to £303 million last year. This increase was coupled with the category’s best quarter for five years, giving hope that despite such a tough year, Christmas traditions remained as strong as ever in 2020. Miles Beale, chief executive of the Wine and Spirit Trade Association, said: “In such a difficult year, the news that we have been enjoying more Ports and sherries at home recently to arrest slow stagnation in the category is welcome… Santa loves his sherry, and in 2020 many consumers will also be rekindling their festive love affairs with fortifieds!” But as we always say, fortified wine is not just for Christmas and if you’re looking for inspiration, we’ve got some great wines right here.

The Nightcap

Nightcap favourite Miles Beale is back for 2021

WSTA reacts to Brexit deal

It’s a very special Nightcap this week as we have two stories featuring everyone’s favourite chief executive Mr Miles Beale from the WSTA. Beale has been one of the most vocal voices standing up for the drinks industry and warning of the perils of a no-deal Brexit, so he more than most was relieved that the EU and the British government managed to come to an agreement at the end of last year. Doesn’t it seem like a long time ago? Anyway, here’s what Beale had to say: “Today’s announcement will be a welcome relief to the UK’s wine and spirit sector. We look forward to seeing the detail and to its swift ratification. The threat of the introduction of wine tariffs and the uncertainty over the ability to move goods into and out of the EU were weighing heavy on the minds of businesses already reeling from the effect of Covid restrictions, while also having to prepare for the end of the transition period in a week’s time.” But it wasn’t all good, Beale added: “Businesses have been working hard to prepare for the introduction of new customs processes and systems, new labelling rules, new import certification rules for wine all of which will add to the cost of importing and exporting wine and spirits. And yet, astonishingly, those businesses are still waiting for the government to grip the reins and confirm some of the details to allow trade with Ireland and the rest of the EU to continue next year.” So plenty more work to be done, we haven’t heard the last of Miles Beale in 2021.

The Nightcap

Richard Paterson was one of the drinks industry figures honoured

Richard Paterson and Kate Nicholls honoured by Queen 

The New Year’s Honours list had plenty of interesting names as usual on it for 2021 (although nothing for Sam Smith yet. Give the people what they want, your majesty), including some drinks industry giants such as UKHospitality boss Kate Nicholls and The Dalmore whisky blender Richard Paterson. Nicholls, who was appointed an OBE for service to the hospitality, was singled out for her tireless support of the beleaguered hospitality industry during the ongoing Covid crisis, while Paterson was also appointed an OBE for services to the Scotch whisky industry, including over a half a century at Whyte & Mackay. It caps quite a year for the legendary master blender, aka ‘The Nose’, who made the move to step back from some of his Whyte & Mackay duties and also lend his expertise to the exciting Wolfcraig Distillery project. Other members of the hospitality industry recognised included Michelin-starred chef Fergus Henderson and Richard Curtis, the landlord of the Portsmouth Arms in Basingstoke (not the director of Notting Hill and Love Actually) was made a Medallist of the Order of the British Empire (BEM) after raising over £52,500 for local charities by holding weekly virtual quizzes in his pub after it was closed in March. Given what a rough time this industry is having at the moment, it is at least nice to see these efforts being appreciated.

The Nightcap

American whiskey lost one of its greats this week

Michter’s master distiller Willie Pratt dies at 78

We were sad to hear this week about the death of an American whisky legend, Willie Pratt, master distiller at Michter’s. Born in Kentucky in 1942, he began his career with Brown-Forman where he worked in all aspects of the business before retiring at the age of 65. But in 2007 he was lured out of retirement and took up the role of head distiller at Michter’s where he became known as Dr No for his refusal to bottle any whiskey until he thought it was ready. Here he oversaw the design and building of Michter’s ultra-modern new Shively Distillery. In 2017 he was inducted into The Whisky Magazine Hall of Fame. Michter’s president Joseph J. Magliocco commented: “To work with Willie and to have him as a friend was a tremendous gift. When the challenges seemed overwhelming, that’s when Willie’s leadership would shine through. He was a paradigm of strength and courage.” Distilling is now in the safe hands of Dan McKee who added: “Times like this make me realise how fortunate I was to be able to learn from one of the greats in the industry. I’m going to miss standing back in the distillery with Willie, talking about making whiskey and listening to his life stories.”  Thank you Willie, we’re raising a tumbler of Michter’s Rye to you now. 

And finally… Gin flavoured with car?

We’ve had some pretty strange gins on the Nightcap: gin infused with Brussel sprouts, gin made from peas, we even stock a gin that has been into space, but gin flavoured with car? Sounds like something from the fevered imagination of Jeremy Clarkson but Piston distillery in Worcester has come up with just such a spirit. It’s infused with leftovers from the production of Morgan cars in nearby Malvern. If you had images of bits of oily steel steeping in neutral grain alcohol then think again because Morgan produces gorgeous cars that in many ways haven’t changed much since the 1930s. Part of the car is made from wood, ash to be specific, and it’s these ash shavings that are used to flavour the gin (which is available from Morgan’s online shop for £45). Toby Blythe from the Morgan Motor Company explained: “Ash wood forms one of Morgan’s three core materials, alongside aluminium and leather, and as such is intrinsic to our coachbuilding identity. When we worked with the expert distillers at Piston Gin, we were curious to find out how this material could be infused with their acclaimed gins. The result, we believe, speaks for itself.” Grace Stringer, distillery manager at Piston Distillery, explained to us how the gin was made: ash is distilled with the company’s London dry gin with a little apple to sweeten it, and then some ash is added at the end for colour and mouthfeel. Apple and ash-infused gin, not so barmy after all.

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Charity auction: Macallan The Red Collection

Remember when we reported that The Macallan had launched the most unbelievable collection of whiskies you’re ever likely to see in your life? Yeah, well we’ve just got some of…

Remember when we reported that The Macallan had launched the most unbelievable collection of whiskies you’re ever likely to see in your life? Yeah, well we’ve just got some of them in. No, really.

The Macallan is a brand that truly understands how to get us whisky lovers all hot and bothered. There are few distilleries who can cause a stir like the Speyside giants when it launches a limited-edition expression or breaks yet another auction record. But the brand managed to out-do itself back in October when it revealed The Red CollectionSeriously, who else could produce a range in which the youngest bottling is 40-years-old and the oldest is 78-years-old? The latter is the oldest bottling ever released in the history of the distillery, and it just so happens that we have one. In fact, we were lucky enough to get a small allocation of the following:

The Macallan 40 Year Old – The Red Collection

The Macallan 50 Year Old – The Red Collection

The Macallan 71 Year Old – The Red Collection

The Macallan 78 Year Old – The Red Collection

Macallan The Red Collection

The Red Collection is one of the most astonishing ranges of whisky we’ve ever seen

But, given the demand for these was always going to be insanely high and the supply is scarce, we won’t be offering these beauties to you in the usual manner. Instead, we’ll be doing one of the things we do best. Selling remarkable booze as part of a charity auction (for a little more detail on why we’re doing this, check out our handy little sweary blog post from 2016). This means everything over RRP (net of any applicable VAT) going to Hospitality Action, which offers a crucial lifeline to people of all ages, working and retired, from the hospitality industry. It’s a cause that we’re obviously very supportive of and I’m sure you can all imagine why it’s as important now as it has ever been.

Auction Timeline:

As usual, the excitement will take place on the individual product pages, which are all located on our handy Macallan The Red Collection page (all timings are GMT). Oh, and please remember to use the same email address to bid as the one you intend to purchase with. For more info, check our terms of business.

Be sure to pop the times in your calendar, and good luck to everyone taking part!

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