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Master of Malt Blog

Author: Master of Malt

Master of Malt Dram Club – June 2019

June. It’s June. Somehow, right now, it is June! 2019 is speeding past! With that in mind, let’s take a look a what Master of Malt Dram Club members will…

June. It’s June. Somehow, right now, it is June! 2019 is speeding past! With that in mind, let’s take a look a what Master of Malt Dram Club members will be receiving this month…

We’re halfway through 2019, which often comes as a shock. It feels like just yesterday we were toasting to the new year, crossing our fingers and hoping that 2019 was going to be cooler than 2018. That was many yesterdays ago, and now it is today, the first day of June 2019 already. If you fancy taking a moment to slow down and reflect with a tasty tipple, and you’re a Master of Malt Dram Club member, then you’re in luck – we’ve got the scoop on what you’ll be receiving in your Tasting Sets this month! Let’s have a gander…

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The Nightcap: 31 May

It might have been our final short week until August, but the barrage of booze news didn’t let up – it’s The Nightcap! This week for us, and we’re sure…

It might have been our final short week until August, but the barrage of booze news didn’t let up – it’s The Nightcap!

This week for us, and we’re sure for many of you, was Fèis Ìle week. A seven-day extravaganza of delicious Islay-based booze, bands and banter. You’ve probably noticed on the blog this week Kristy and co. enjoying the spoils of another fantastic Fèis Ìle, from an action-packed ‘Day 0’, to all sorts of wonderful adventures with Lagavulin, Bruichladdich, Caol Ila and Islay Ales, Laphroaig, Bowmore and Ardnahoe and Kilchoman. And there’s still more to come!

Elsewhere on the blog we announced the winner of our Cotswolds Distillery competition! Adam then reported on the new Macallan whisky that has entered the world, before enjoying the fourth batch of Dingle single malt, our New Arrival of the Week, and finding time to celebrate Ableforth’s eighth birthday. Meanwhile, Annie talked Ketel One vodka and Henry made The Long Sloe Summer his Cocktail of the Week. Ian Buxton also asked some big questions in his guest column inspired by The Macallan Archival Series.

Now, onto the news!

The Nightcap

Introducing: Whyte & Mackay Light

Whyte & Mackay Light launches low-ABV ‘spirit drink’

Yes, you read that correctly. This is not new whisky from Whyte & Mackay. Instead, this is a spirit drink, created in an attempt to appeal to new consumers in a reaction to the growing popularity of lower ABV drinks. It’s a trend we’ve certainly noticed here at MoM Towers, so it’s little surprise to see more and more drink producers embrace it. The new product, Whyte & Mackay Light, was bottled at 21.5% ABV, which means that it cannot be legally labelled as whisky, which has a minimum ABV requirement of 40%. Hence the term ‘spirit drink’ being used in this case. “We’re continually looking at trends in drinks and listening to our consumers across the UK, which is why we’re delighted to announce the launch of Whyte & Mackay Light,” said Ruairi Perry, head of brand at Whyte & Mackay. “It’s a different product, built with the same younger, lighter consumer in mind. We see a different type of drinking occasion emerging – and Whyte & Mackay Light has been developed to satisfy that occasion.” Whyte & Mackay Light will launch in early June, and is expected to set you back £12.

The Nightcap

The fabulous Craft Cocktails range!

That Boutique-y Gin Company launches ready-to-drink Craft Cocktails

That Boutique-y Gin Company has launched a new canned range of craft cocktails made using the brand’s delicious gins mixed with a host of interesting ingredients. Craft Cocktails, which will be available this summer, will also come in keg form so the on-trade can take advantage of the growing opportunities found within draught cocktails. An initial wave of five variants will be released, including Moonshot Gin and Citrus Tonic, Spit-Roasted Pineapple Gin Mule, Cherry Gin and Craft Cola, Strawberry & Balsamico Gin Fizz and Squeezed Yuzu Gin Collins. The Boutique-y team has briefed that it will embrace an approach to the category akin to craft brewing and so expect the range to continuously evolve with future variants, one off batches, collaborations and seasonal lines in the pipeline. “We want more people to have access to interesting drinks in more places. We know that drinkers are looking for increasingly exciting and sophisticated flavour combinations, and that putting these in cans or on draught will allow both retailers and bars to satisfy the demands of convenience and ease of service without compromising on flavour,” TBGC’s Selina Raggett explains. “For the cans, we’ve embraced the true Boutique-y style at its boldest, moving away from the traditional gin in a tin look and feel. That Boutique-y Gin Company is well known for pushing the boundaries with exciting releases and new flavours, and the Craft Cocktails will continue this ethos. We’re already working on an exciting wave of new releases!” While the Craft Cocktails range has launched with gin, we will also get to see That Boutique-y Whisky Company and That Boutique-y Rum Company get a chance to shine in a ready-to-drink format in the future.

The Nightcap

The future is here. And it’s boozy

Grey Goose launches world’s first sub-zero draught cocktail tap system

Grey Goose has its pioneering boots on this week, it seems. The vodka producers have responded to the current trend for ‘tapped’ and ‘draught’ cocktails by creating the world’s first sub-zero draught tap system. In a move designed to put premium vodka at the forefront of innovation within the drinks industry, Grey Goose has attempted to come up with an innovative solution to revolutionise cocktail culture with a system that can provide consistently delicious cocktails for any occasion. The draught cocktail tap system was designed to allow for a variety of drinks to be served with quickly and with ease to exacting standards, all at sub-zero temperatures. It can be charged with nitrogen to add a rich and creamy texture to your Espresso Martini, for example. “We began with the desire to be able to create innovative drink serves in a way that has never been seen or done before,” commented Marc Plumridge, the European programming director at Bacardi who drove the development of the draught tap system. “The cutting edge technology used delivers spectacular cocktails, dispensed at speed, all housed within a transparent casing – allowing individuals to have a full view of the technology at work.” To launch this new technology, Grey Goose has invited consumers to see the system in action at The 12th Knot rooftop bar on London’s Southbank from Friday 31st May – 2nd June.

The Nightcap

Limited edition private cask bottlings could be yours…

Bimber Distillery debuts founder’s club

This week, London’s Bimber Distillery announced that it’s formed its very own Founders’ Club, and they’re taking applications now! Very swanky. This means that it will release a limited number of private casks for members to purchase. All of this is in celebration of the distillery’s first whisky casks finally reaching their third birthday. If you sign up, you can expect your first exclusive cask strength single malt in December this year. Among other treats, members will also be able to purchase their own 30 litre cask (for the meagre price of £895), filled with either Bimber’s peated or non-peated new make spirit, which after maturing at the distillery for three years, will eventually set them up nicely with around 49 bottles of whisky. The club aims to bring together people who “want to be part of a distillery whose mission is to produce true handcrafted whisky”, says sales director Farid Shawish. “Our members will always be welcome for a chat, and their input will play an important part in shaping the future of Bimber Distillery.” Membership will set you back £395.

The Nightcap

Miles Beale, CEO of the WSTA

WSTA claims the drinks industry is ‘vulnerable’ to no-deal Brexit

Following the announcement that Theresa May will step down as UK prime minister on 7 June, with no replacement named, The Wine and Spirit Trade Association (WSTA) has warned that the industry “remains vulnerable to a disastrous no-deal scenario”. The latest Brexit deal was overwhelmingly rejected in the House of Commons three times in the weeks running up to the original scheduled exit date at the end of March. Miles Beale, CEO of the WSTA, has branded May’s Brexit approach as “neither clearly defined nor successful”, adding that “as a result we remain vulnerable to a disastrous ‘no-deal’ scenario. A change of leadership neither provides our industry with the answers it needs, nor change the WSTA’s long stated position – which is for the government to deliver an outcome that allows this industry to continue international trade in its products without delays, barriers or additional costs.” Beale also commented that a no-deal scenario “has never been categorically taken off the table” and that it is “imperative that a new leader confirms that the UK will not leave without a deal and moves quickly to find a solution”. As a result of the current situation, Beale has claimed that nearly 80% of the trade body’s members had made preparations for the original exit date of 29 March and will have to prepare again ahead of the new Brexit date on 31 October. He said: “It’s difficult for businesses to determine the exact cost of Brexit contingency planning, including stockpiling and other measures, but we have heard estimates ranging from £20,000 to £5 million.”

The Nightcap

Maison Brillet, a family vineyard in the heart of the Cognac region

Rémy Cointreau to buy Maison de Cognac JR Brillet

French drinks group Rémy Cointreau has announced this week that it has entered into negotiations to purchase Maison de Cognac JR Brillet from the Brillet family. While financial terms have not been disclosed, it is understood that the deal would also include part of the Brillet family’s vineyard estate which is located in the village of Graves-Saint-Armant and has a history which dates back to the 17th century. Rémy Cointreau’s interest in Maison JR Brillet is motivated by the chance to “integrate spirits with genuine development potential into its portfolio” and increase its inventory of eaux-de-vie and vineyards “of the highest quality”. The signing of the deal, which is subject to administrative procedures, is expected to take place in autumn 2019. The news comes off the back of positive full-year sales that Rémy Cointreau posted last month which showed a growth of 7.8% in 2018/19, driven by a double-digit gain for its Cognac portfolio, with the Rémy Martin Cognac brand proving to be the standout.

The Nightcap

The new Plymouth Gin bottling, which we enjoyed a delightful tasting session!

Plymouth Gin launches special edition craft gin from 177-year-old recipe

There are so many new gins emerging all the time it can be difficult for a drinks producer to stand out amongst the crowd. Plymouth Gin may well have just done that, however, with Mr King’s 1842 Recipe, the first special edition in a series of craft gins made to celebrate the spirit of exploration. It was distilled using a recipe found deep within the vaults at the Plymouth Black Friars distillery (the oldest gin distillery in England) that dates back to 1842. That was 177 years ago, people. Master distiller Sean Harrison has reimagined the recipe to create a new product and thanks to the technological advancements in gin production today, he was able to replicate the distillation process that was attempted in 1842, with even more precision. Mr King’s 1842 Recipe was made with just two ingredients – orris root and handpicked juniper from a single harvest day in the mountains of Frontignano, Italy, after Plymouth uncovered the original sales record that linked the purchase of juniper to the renowned Italian region over 170 years ago. Due to the hyper-local sourcing of the ingredients, this one of a kind gin cannot be reproduced. “Mr King’s 1842 Recipe is a truly one-off craft gin that we will never be able to recreate again. Even if we were to visit the same Italian hillside next year, the climate and harvest conditions would affect the juniper resulting in a different taste profile,” Harrison explained. “At a time when other brands are using many different botanicals throughout the distillation process, Mr King’s 1842 Recipe focuses on just two and the result is something very special.” We went to a tasting of this delightful drink and can confirm that it’s as delicious as it sounds!

These tariffs are not good news for the booze industry

US tariffs impact agave-based spirits and EU booze

In concerning news this week, US president Donald Trump announced plans to impose a 5% tariff on all imported goods from Mexico from 10 June, including Tequila and Mezcal, in response to what was termed the “illegal migration crisis” at the US-Mexico border. Trump was quoted in a statement posted on the White House website saying he was “invoking the authorities granted to me by the International Emergency Economic Powers Act” in order to “address the emergency at the southern border”. The US president has also warned that if the ‘crisis’ persists, tariffs will be raised to 10% on July 1, 2019, 15% on 1 August, 20% on 1 September and 25% on 1 October if the US is still not satisfied that Mexico has taken the action it requests. This follows news from just yesterday, which revealed that trade bodies in the US have called for the removal of EU spirits from proposed retaliatory tariffs from the States in response to an ongoing dispute with the World Trade Organization (WTO). The US has been embroiled in a “long-standing” spat with the WTO over civil aircraft subsidies and, on 8 April, the United States Trade Representative (USTR) revealed a draft list of EU products that could be hit by retaliatory tariffs which included alcohol. Trade groups representing the alcohol industry in the US, including the Distilled Spirits Council, have made it clear they oppose such tariffs, however, commenting that they “strongly oppose the inclusion of beverage alcohol production” and that they are “gravely concerned that this escalation would compound the negative impact of the tariffs on a sector that is already feeling the damaging impact resulting from unrelated trade disputes.” The groups, which include alcohol suppliers, wholesalers, importers and retailers, have quoted industry analysis which warns the proposed retaliatory tariffs could affect almost US$6.8 billion worth of imports and could result in a loss of between 6,600 and 45,800 US jobs. Hopefully we’ll have better news on these matters in the future.

The Nightcap

The Johnnie & Ginger, a light and summery treat

Johnnie Walker celebrates National BBQ Week with Berber & Q

Johnnie Walker and East London BBQ restaurant Berber & Q have teamed up to create a new cocktail for National BBQ Week (it’s a thing, a very important thing). The limited edition Johnnie & Ginger, made by barbecue pioneer and Berber & Q founder Josh Katz, was designed to complement al fresco dining, summer sunshine and BBQ food, particularly Berber’s Joojeh Chicken Kebab, as Katz explains, “the smokiness of the charred chicken is offset by the smooth whisky and is given a spicy lift by the inclusion of ginger ale.” The light and summery Johnnie & Ginger cocktail is available at Berber & Q Grill House from 27th May – 2nd June and priced at £9. Katz describes it as “a taste experience and the perfect start to a barbecue.” But don’t fear if you don’t manage to get a table at Berber & Q, the Johnnie & Ginger cocktail is easily recreated at home. All you need to do is mix 50ml of Johnnie Walker Black, 15ml of lime juice, 35ml of pressed Granny Smith apple juice and a little pinch of Zaatar, which you’ll shake with one ice cube for no longer than 5 seconds. Then place the mix in a highball glass filled with ice and top with 35ml of ginger ale. Garnish with a dehydrated apple wheel and mint sprig, and there you have it!

The whisky takes its name from Lake Samilpo

And finally… North Korea launches its own whisky

Reports have emerged this week that suggest that North Korea has distilled its own brand of whisky and plans to launch it at the end of this year. According to the South Korean Hankook Ilbo newspaper, this would be the first time the country has produced whisky, although it’s worth noting that it has not been mentioned yet in North Korea’s own media. The source of the story is the Young Pioneer Tours tourism company, based in China, which specialises in visits to North Korea and other places that “your mother would rather you stay away from”. The tour operator claims to have laid its hands on a couple of bottles of the elusive spirit and described Samilpo’s design as “closely resembling” that of Johnnie Walker, a “well-recognised whisky in North Korea”. According to Pioneer Tours, Samilpo, which takes its name from the lake near Mount Kumgang, will launch three expressions: a ‘40% ABV black label edition, a 42% ABV red label edition and a 45 edition which has not been bottled yet. It is not known what types of grain that goes into the spirit, or how old it is. It has also been reported that the owner of Samilpo hopes to export the whisky to other countries once North Korea’s ‘political situation’ improves. You’re not likely to get your hands on some anytime soon, for those who might have been intrigued.

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The Nightcap: 24 May

Powers, plastic straws and pineapples – plus a few things that don’t begin with ‘P’. It’s all here in yet another edition of The Nightcap! Today is Friday, and many…

Powers, plastic straws and pineapples – plus a few things that don’t begin with ‘P’. It’s all here in yet another edition of The Nightcap!

Today is Friday, and many of us will be heading into the final Bank Holiday weekend for a few months. There’s one at a seemingly random time in August, but the smattering of three day weekends throughout April and May occur in such a cluster that we almost become used to it. We must not become complacent! We must approach this three day weekend with the same vim and vigour as we did previous ones! Oh, and also we should start it as we do other weekends (extended ones or otherwise), with The Nightcap! Obviously.

In a week in which we announced that we’re going to Fèis Ìle 2019, we also launched two new competitions, one to win the entire Game of Thrones whisky range and the other to win a VIP trip to Bombay Sapphire’s distillery. Nate Brown then extolled the virtues of sherry, Jess took a look at Diageo’s new Italian gin, Villa Ascenti and Annie explored where to imbibe in Bowie’s old haunt, Berlin and who the up-and-comers of alcohol-free are. Adam enjoyed the latest chapter in Balvenie’s story, then picked Big Peat Fèis Ìle 2019 Edition to be his New Arrival of the Week, for obvious reasons, while Henry enjoyed Redbreast’s new expression, video masterclasses from Mortlach and Johnnie Walker and even manged to find time to make the Grand Sour his Cocktail of the Week. Phew…

Now, on with the news!

Nightcap

Our PR manager Mariella Salerno holds up our shiny new prize!

MoM named DB Awards Online Retailer of the Year!

It was celebration station on Tuesday afternoon at the DB Awards, hosted by the team over at trade magazine The Drinks Business. We were delighted to pick up the Online Retailer of the Year award! The ceremony took place as part of the London Wine Fair, so we got to join the jubilations early, enjoying some really rather marvellous tipples from across the world. They said loads of nice things about us, and we picked up a shiny trophy. Oh, and #WhiskySanta got a highly commended nod too, for his excellent work spreading festive spirit far and wide through the social realm. Cheers, Team DB – you made our week!

Nightcap

Look everyone, it’s Kent’s first single malt whisky!

Kent’s first single malt whisky is here

Kent is something of a booze hotspot with its hop gardens and breweries, orchards and cideries, vineyards and gin distilleries, and of course, it’s the home of a certain online retailer. Now the Garden of England has its first single malt. The whisky is a collaboration between Andy Reason and Norman Lewis of the Anno Distillery in Marden (who make a fine gin) and the Westerham Brewery. The mash was made with English barley and fermented with two strains of yeast comes from the brewery. It was then double distilled in a tiny 300-litre copper pot still named, appropriately enough, Patience. The spirit came off at 63.5% ABV into an ex-bourbon cask that previously held a Speyside single malt. After ageing, the resulting whisky was bottled at 40% ABV. Norman Lewis said of the partnership: “It’s been a wonderful experience working with Robert Wicks from Westerham Brewery. Our combined expertise has come together seamlessly and resulted in something which we’re extremely proud of. We hope those who are lucky enough to taste this limited-edition whisky enjoy savouring it as much as we enjoyed making it.” It’s such a limited edition that customers are being limited to three bottles (at £120 each) and it’s available directly from the distillery and Westerham Brewery. Hurry, while stocks last.

Nightcap

They might seem delightful, but they need to go.

England moves to ban plastic straws and stirrers

Great news, folks! The government this week confirmed it will ban plastic straws and stirrers in England (and plastic cotton buds, but less relevant to us) from April 2020. There are some sensible exemptions for those with medical needs or a disability (pubs and bars will still be able to give them out on request), but we can wave goodbye for good to unnecessary plastic in our drinks. The move follows a government consultation which found 80% back a ban on straws, and 90% on stirrers. About time, too. Apparently, we use 4.7 billion plastic straws and 316 million plastic stirrers each year in England alone! And yes, alternatives are available (we sipped through some fancy bamboo ones recently), but the government reckons a whopping 95% of straws are still plastic. Boo. Even more boo: it’s thought there are more than 150 million tonnes of plastic in the world’s oceans, and that every year one million seabirds and 100,000 sea mammals die from eating or getting trapped in plastic. This ban can’t come soon enough.

Nightcap

Introducing: Scarabus Islay Single Malt

Hunter Laing releases Scarabus Islay Single Malt at Fèis Ìle

Peat heads of the world, unite! A new release from Hunter Laing & Co. is always exciting news, especially when it’s an Islay single malt like Scarabus. Appropriately, the whisky is being released at this year’s Fèis Ìle. If you’re down that way then you’re in luck, because the very first drams will be poured (and tasted) throughout the festival at Hunter Laing’s newly-opened distillery on the island, Ardnahoe. Scarabus means ‘rocky place’ in Nordic, and the whisky is named after a mystical area of Islay, complete with equally mystical golden packaging. “We’re extremely proud of the Scarabus whisky and the Fèis Ìle Festival is the perfect place to release the first bottling”, said Stewart Laing, Managing Director. “We aimed to produce an expression that showcases a traditional Islay whisky style, and the unmistakable Islay smoke matches wonderfully with the rich, sweeter notes that linger on the finish.” If you’re not down Islay-way, fear not, as Scarabus will soon be available in the UK and beyond. Keep an eye on our social channels for updates.

Nightcap

Hit the books spirit nerds, we’ve got a new challenge up ahead!

WSET Level 3 Award in Spirits is live!

Great news, spirits geeks! There’s a new qualification in town, and it’s the toughest one yet. Developed in response to our collective (and global) thirst for all things spirits and subsequent desire to know all about them, the Level 3 Award builds on the Level 2 course (Team MoM highly recommends) but digs down into greater production detail while covering new spirits categories, like baijiu. It’s a much tougher assessment process, too, with a blind tasting exam as well as multiple choice and short-answer question paper. In all, candidates will need to put in at least 84 hours of graft. We’re excited! “The spirits industry has been crying out for a more advanced qualification in spirits,” said course developer Nick King. “Candidate numbers for WSET spirits qualifications (Levels 1 and 2) have grown significantly in the last 10 years (from 540 in 2009 to 6600 in 2019) and are now taught in 33 countries worldwide reflecting growing global demand. We are delighted to now be able to offer the industry a Level 3 Spirits qualification that develops candidates’ knowledge and understanding of the category in great depth and also builds their tasting skills, teaching them to identify the structural and aromatic elements that make up a spirit and to make a compelling quality assessment.” The first UK courses get under way in October!

Nightcap

All the delights of Powers Irish Whiskey with none of the effort? We’re in.

Powers Irish Whiskey’s first ever bottled cocktail

If stirring and, ugh, waiting aren’t for you, Powers Irish Whiskey has your back because the brand has just unveiled its first-ever pre-mixed cocktail, Powers Old Fashioned! Pow! The cocktail sees a combination of the classic Powers Gold Label, sugar syrup and bitter herbs flavouring. The recommended serve is, of course, over ice with a twist of orange peel – well, how else could you garnish an Old Fashioned? The bottle boasts a whole new look, with sleek modern packaging which you’d be hard-pressed to recognise as Powers. “A careful balance of the rich history of Powers with an eye on the future, we are confident that the refreshing ritual of ‘Ice, Pour, Twist’ will appeal to whiskey fans and the cocktail curious alike who are looking for simple and convenient ways to create new Irish whiskey experiences at home or in their local pub”, says Brendan Buckley at Irish Distillers. The cocktail will be launching in Ireland from the end of May, and if it finds success then hopefully we can expect to see it much further afield. Old Fashioneds all around!

Nightcap

Counting oysters by hand, that’s commitment to conservation

Glenmorangie & partners plan to return native oysters to Europe’s seas

Oyster-loving folk, gather round. In historic marine-related news, a landmark Native Oyster Restoration Alliance (NORA) conference on reef restoration was held in Edinburgh this week. It was hosted by The Glenmorangie Company and its partners, including Heriot-Watt University, bringing together conservationists, administrators and oyster producers from across Europe to develop a ‘blueprint’ for native oyster reef restoration. Oysters were overfished to the point of extinction in the 1800s, and it turns out oyster reefs are among the most endangered marine habitats on Earth. The restoration is going to be done through the Dornoch Environmental Enhancement Project (rather aptly abbreviated to DEEP), which was established in 2014 and has already returned 20,000 native oysters to the Dornoch Firth in the Scottish Highlands. The aim? To increase this population of 20,000 to four million (!) by 2025, and in turn the reef will become self-sustaining. “We are incredibly proud to be pioneering DEEP’s vital environmental work with our partners, not only protecting but enhancing Glenmorangie Distillery’s environment for future generations,” says Glenmorangie President and CEO Tom Moradpour. It looks like the world really is our oyster.

Nightcap

Happy Anniversary guys!

The Coral Room celebrates its first anniversary

We got our party shoes on this week and headed up to London to join The Coral Room’s first-anniversary bash! The sleekly cosy cocktail bar is part of The Bloomsbury Hotel, but very much comes with its own character, look and feel. And on Wednesday, that feel was celebration! There was cake, a confetti cannon, and even a sneak peek at the new cocktail menu, which includes such deliciousness as the May Day Spritz, made with Tanqueray, Italicus, orange blossom and honey bitters, and English sparkling wine; and the Drinking in Newquay, with Cîroc, Crème de menthe, Blue Curaçao and Belsazar Riesling Supreme. There was even a Rinomato Sorbet, too! Very festive. Do pop in raise a cocktail to the team – congrats to everyone at The Coral Room!

Licor 43 lays down cocktail and coffee challenge

There’s nothing more on-trend than putting coffee and cocktails together. So, it’s appropriate that Licor 43 has just announced the opening of the UK round of its Bartenders & Baristas Challenge 2019. Now in its third year, this competition lays down the gauntlet to both bartenders and baristas to create serves with coffee and Licor 43 (the details of how to enter are here). Winners will go to a grand final in Gran Canaria this autumn. UK brand manager Charlotte Oswald said: “There is a natural marriage of aromas and flavours between Licor 43 and coffee and we’ve been communicating this with our Carajillo 43 signature serve. We are often amazed at the creativity, knowledge and passion from contestants and this really went up a level with the introduction of the coffee element last year – bartenders who were very well-versed in all things spirits were finding a whole new world of cocktail creation. We can’t wait to see what they come up with this year!” Licor 43, a blend of spices and citrus fruits, is something of a cult drink in Spain. There’s now a special Liquor 43 Baristo made with coffee beans from the Canary Islands which the company has produced a film about (above). So, what are you waiting for bartenders and baristas, get experimenting!

Nightcap

Happy International Pineapple Day, folks!

And finally. . . shake your maracas cos it’s International Pineapple Day!

From the Piña Colada to Carmen Miranda, we all know that the pineapple is the most exotic of all the fruits. No wonder it has a special day devoted to it: 1 June is International Pineapple Day! To help things go with a swing, That Boutique-y Gin Company is putting on a Pineapple Gin Parlour pop-up at 15 Bateman Street, in Soho, London on 1-2 June. There will be masterclasses and food historian Tasha Marks on hand to explain the history of the king of fruit. In the 18th century pineapples were high-value status symbols: having a pineapple was the Regency equivalent of a Ferrari parked outside your house. The neighbours would say ‘oooh, get her, who does she think she is with that pineapple, Lord Byron?’ Thankfully, drinks at the pop-up will be rather more affordable. Simply say the code word ‘mule’ and your Pineapple Mule will cost you nothing at all. Isn’t the modern world brilliant?

No Comments on The Nightcap: 24 May

Win a VIP trip to Bombay Sapphire Distillery

WIN the trip of a lifetime to Bombay Sapphire’s home, the beautiful Laverstoke Mill Distillery Enjoy a hosted tour, cocktail-making class, two nights accommodation and more Everyone’s a winner – £5…

  • WIN the trip of a lifetime to Bombay Sapphire’s home, the beautiful Laverstoke Mill Distillery
  • Enjoy a hosted tour, cocktail-making class, two nights accommodation and more
  • Everyone’s a winner – £5 off Bombay English Estate

We love gin. You love gin. It’s not just the refreshing nature of a good G&T in the garden or the joy of a well-made gin-based cocktail that charms us. We want to learn the stories and witness first-hand how our favourite spirits are made. Hence the rising popularity of distillery tours. And there’s few as comprehensive as the one that the lovely folks at the Laverstoke Mill Distillery in Hampshire provide. The home of Bombay Sapphire is not only a delightfully picturesque scene of the English countryside, but it’s also a working distillery filled with all kinds of experiences that any gin geek would enjoy.

Good thing then that we’re offering you the chance to win a VIP trip to see it in person (with a plus-one)!

Bombay Sapphire

Laverstoke Mill, one of the most beautiful distilleries in the country

“What exactly do I win?!”

Lots of lovely things. The winner (and their plus-one) of this competition earn a VIP visit to Bombay Sapphire’s distillery where they’ll then enjoy a hosted tour called ‘A Taste of Bombay’. This curated experience includes a visit the Mill House for an introduction to the heritage and sustainability of Laverstoke Mill, where refreshments will be provided, before a walk along the River Test to take in some horticultural. A complimentary cocktail will also be provided at the Mill Bar, as well as the opportunity to make the ‘cocktail of the month’ with one of the brand’s specially trained hosts.

Oh, and the winner will also enjoy a tasting of Bombay Sapphire’s gin portfolio, explore the Gin Shop, and enjoy two nights’ accommodation with UK travel and lunch included. If you’re a gin fan, you’re probably already scrolling down to find out how you can win this wonderful competition. Which is handy, because that’s where the ‘How to Apply’ bit is.

Bombay Sapphire

The wonderful Botanical Dry Room and Dakin Still House

The ‘How to Apply’ bit

You will be automatically entered into the competition if you purchase a 70cl bottle from the distillery range. It’s that simple. Indulge yourself in any of the following, Bombay Sapphire, Bombay Sapphire East, Star Of Bombay London Dry Gin, Bombay Original London Dry Gin and Bombay English Estate from 22 May to 16 June 2019 and you’re in it to win it (For more details, see the competition terms below). There’s no limit to how many bottles you can buy, so get as many as you want.

It gets even better. Since we love you all so much we’ve also reduced the price of Bombay English Estate for the length of the competition, saving you a whole £5! The limited edition bottling was inspired by the landscape surrounding the brand’s home at Laverstoke Mill in the Hampshire countryside and made with an infusion of three new botanicals: Pennyroyal mint, rosehip and toasted hazelnut. With a bottle of this beauty, you’ll feel like a winner regardless of whether you win the prize or not.

Please note there are set dates the prize can be claimed, which are as follows:
– Thursday 18 July 2019 13:15
– Thursday 29 August 2019 13:15
– Thursday 12 September 2019 13:15
– Thursday 10 October 2019 13:15

Bombay Sapphire

There’s £5 off Bombay English Estate!

Good luck, all!

MoM Bombay 2019 Competition open to entrants 18 years and over. Entries accepted from 22 May to 16 June 2019. Winners chosen at random after close of competition. Travel only provided from a UK location. Prizes not transferable and cannot be exchanged for cash equivalent. Prize must be claimed on specific dates and times. Entry also available with no purchase. See full T&Cs for details.

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Sherry – the bartender’s secret weapon

Sherry shouldn’t be sitting at the back of the cupboard gathering dust. From sweet PX to bone dry fino, sherry’s incredible variety makes it a great friend when mixing drinks,…

Sherry shouldn’t be sitting at the back of the cupboard gathering dust. From sweet PX to bone dry fino, sherry’s incredible variety makes it a great friend when mixing drinks, says bartender Nate Brown. And don’t turn your nose up at Harvey’s Bristol Cream.

I think it fair to say that Mummy Brown had a few of-the-moment tastes: she dressed me in red corduroys and a knitted green jumper, (which when matched with my hair made me look like a 3ft broken traffic light). She married my Dad when he had a mullet. She made a mean pasta salad: tinned sweetcorn, salad cream and all. Her favourite dessert was pavlova. And, most worryingly of all, her Sunday afternoon staple was a glass of Harvey’s Bristol Cream.

She made me pour it for her every week as she cooked the customary roast dinner. Naturally, it wasn’t long before I indulged in a sneaky taste. It was somehow both syrupy and sharp, bitter and sweet. It burned my throat despite it’s modest ABV. I hated it and could not for the life of me understand why she chose to drink it. Although, as this habit was partaken shortly after enduring a Church sermon, I assumed it was some sort of penance. The road to perdition it seemed, was drenched in Harvey’s Bristol Cream.

Nate Brown

Nate Brown, pouring vermouth, thinking about sherry

Fast forward two decades and what was my attitude then seems to be the general consumer attitude now. Mention the word ‘sherry’ to guests in a bar and you’ll likely garner little more than a smirk and a comment about diabetes.  Even the Spanish shun it.

How embarrassingly wrong we all are. Fools, the lot of us.

Is there a booze product out there with a worse, less deserved reputation? Not on your nelly. Even the worst regarded consumables have a serve that lifts them from the depths of disgrace. Tequila? Sure, mass market brands are pretty much widely regarded as nasty. But even cheap Tequila has the Margarita escape act. Absinthe? Still has the association with the Bohemians and mad artists. Sherry’s equivalent doesn’t extend further than lobbing it in a trifle. Ouch.

And yet, I’d argue there isn’t a category on the market better suited to current trends and tastes. Its low ABV backbone, crisp, unapologetic flavours, the variety of styles and expressions (Lustau alone has over 40), and the smaller, friendlier bottle sizes. Sherry is the complete package. You can keep your bitters, this is my bartender’s ketchup.

Take the rising low-ABV zeitgeist. Two years ago if you asked for a Bamboo cocktail you’d have the bartender sneaking off to google it. Today, it’s a staple on the menu of the pioneering Mint Gun Club and ordering one across town has become something of a bartender’s handshake. Simply mix one part dry vermouth with one part dry sherry. Serve stirred down, or over ice. Add orange bitters if you really must, but none in mine thanks. The base provided by the sherry gives license for the aromatics of the vermouth to sing. Prebottle the serve if you like and take it to the park. Just remember, the fresher the better.

Bodegas Hidalgo La Gitana

Bodegas Hidalgo La Gitana, makers of fine manzanilla

Remember Pedrino, those fino and tonic RTDs (ready to drinks)? Ahead of their time. Fresh fino and decent tonic is as good as any G&T I’ve ever had. But a word of advice: if the dry sherry in the bar fridge (or worse bar shelf) has been sat there for longer than a month and no longer excites the sides of your tongue, throw it away (or in a trifle?). It’s not expensive, anyway.

Not in the mood for a refreshing serve? Take a trip over to the other end of the dry sherry spectrum. Guests are moving further and further away from the dreaded sugary profiles whilst still loving the darker end of drinking. We are seeing low sugar versions of everything, none of which quite fills the void the sweetness has left behind in our cocktails. In steps oloroso with its ‘hold my beer’ attitude. The oxidative ageing has allowed sweet notes to perpetuate without any of the sugar remaining. Look at the descriptors used: walnut, caramel, cocoa nibs, rich orange, this is the equivalent of fat free chocolate cake that actually tastes delicious. How is this not a game changer?

Add a splash of oloroso to your stirred down and brown recipes. 15ml will give your Rum Old Fashioneds dryness and depth. 5ml in a Manhattan will clean up the otherwise cloying finish. Heck, even bung it in a Highball for savoury accents.  

As for PX, the raisiny plump and jolly cousin? It isn’t just for Christmas. Some of these can be over 40% residual sugar, making it pretty much a sugar syrup when used correctly (read sparingly). Stick it in a dash bottle and add a few drops to make a richer Whisky Mac, or Rob Roy. In fact put it in nearly everything richer, I don’t care, just don’t be embarrassed to love it.

Manhattan

I said sherry, not cherry! A drop of oloroso will take your Manhattan to the next level

But best of all is the Martini. Taken more as a style than a recipe, the oh-so-cool King of Cocktails can be opened up to an endless catalogue of variations. Which is appropriate given that gin is no longer a singular profile. Forget the wet or dry, olive or zest approach. Instead, try three parts dry gin to one part fino or manzanilla sherry. Keep the gin classic and green, like Plymouth. Try it before you garnish it. You’ll probably end up going without the fruit. The saline, umami sherry will cleanse your Martini adding more structure and bite than even a fresh vermouth ever could. This is how Martinis are meant to be.

And as for Harvey’s Bristol Cream? That lonely, dusty, ocean blue bottle in the back of the drinks cabinet? It is essentially a blend of all the types of sherry that a bodega produces. Think of it less of slop bucket and more of a team effort. Serve it over ice with an orange slice. Honestly, just try it. It’s bloody delicious. It’s still simultaneously bitter and sweet, syrupy and sharp. Only now it’s everything I could ask for. You’ll thank me for this.

This isn’t so much a revolution as a renaissance. Looks like, as with everything, Mummy Brown was right all along.

Nate Brown has owned and operated spirit specialist cocktail bars in London for the better part of a decade. He’s a regular speaker on industry panels, a judge for various spirit awards and has been known to harbour an opinion or two.  

 

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Watch out, Islay – Team MoM is Fèis Ìle-bound!

It’s that time of year again, folks – and we’re buzzing. Fèis Ìle is just around the corner, we’re going to Islay for the frivolities, and here’s how you can…

It’s that time of year again, folks – and we’re buzzing. Fèis Ìle is just around the corner, we’re going to Islay for the frivolities, and here’s how you can join in!

Ah, Islay. It really is a whisky-lover’s paradise. We returned to the Isle after a significant hiatus last year, and we loved it so much we bounced right back. In fact, two of our number are already on the road!

The best part? Whether you’re on the island for Fèis Ìle or not, we really, really want to make you part of the action. Why? Because whisky is way more fun when it’s shared. How?! Read on, friend!

Firstly, whether or not you’ll be at Fèis Ìle is irrelevant for this. We’ve got access to the island’s most exciting distillers, ambassadors, ops managers, blenders and more. We’re going to be quizzing them every single day. But we want YOU to ask the questions. That’s right! If you’ve ever dreamed of putting one of your Islay heroes on the spot, drop us a line. We’re videoing the whole shebang, and will give you a shout-out, too. Want in? Send us your questions on social or leave a comment below!

There’s more! Regardless of whether you’re on the Isle or not, you can still experience it all through the medium of taste with our fancy MoM-exclusive All-Islay – Islay Blended Malt bottling! Apparently we’re not allowed to say much, but I will just put the emphasis on its name: ALL-Islay. And it’s ALL been made possible thanks to our pals over at That Boutique-y Whisky Company. Oh, and it’s bloody lovely, too. It’s available right over here!

Feis Ile

Mouthwatering stuff

That’s all great, you may say, but what else is going on?

Boo. I’m not going

In the first instance, fret not. We’ve got your back! We’re going to be reporting every dram, tasting, tour, masterclass, adventure, dog (there were loads of excellent hounds last year) and more on our social channels, especially Instagram Stories. So follow with haste! (It’s @masterofmalt, FYI). There will, of course, be action over on Twitter and Facebook, too.

Want more? Good, because that’s just the start. You can also expect daily bulletins right here on the blog, plus video interviews, and more. MUCH more convenient than that epic journey.

Feis Ile

The whisky awaits…

I’m at Fèis Ìle!

Ace! See you there, pal! Seriously, we’re gearing up for a right fun knees up. We’ve got drams of our very own aforementioned All-Islay – Islay Blended Malt bottling, released with our friends over at That Boutique-y Whisky Company, to nab. We’ve got some pretty nifty MoM Islay 2019 t-shirts to give away, too. Want to get your mitts on the swag? We’ll be at every distillery day; come find us! We’re keen in selfies too, so why not snap yourself in your shiny new shirt and tag us in your post?

Phew! That’s it for now. We’ve got packing to do. Well, except for the bonkers duo of Dan and Jake who are literally driving all the way to Islay from MoM Towers in Kent… Godspeed, chaps.

All that’s left to say is stay tuned for all the fun of the Fèis right here on the blog and @masterofmalt on social!

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Win the entire Game of Thrones whisky range in our YouTube competition!

As Game of Thrones reaches its dramatic finale, we’re offering you a chance to WIN the entire Game of Thrones Single Malts Collection, plus White Walker by Johnnie Walker! All…

As Game of Thrones reaches its dramatic finale, we’re offering you a chance to WIN the entire Game of Thrones Single Malts Collection, plus White Walker by Johnnie Walker! All you have to do is get involved with a little YouTube choose-your-own adventure we’ve created…

“Whisky is coming”. So went the headline of our most-read blog post of 2018. Huge news it was! Then it came, and sold out immediately. Then we managed to get hold of a little more and it sold out again (we’ll keep trying to source more if we can!). It seems that many of you – and us! – love both Game of Thrones and delicious whisky. You’ll be pleased to know, therefore, that we’re offering you the chance to win the entire Game of Thrones Single Malt Scotch Whisky Collection plus White Walker by Johnnie Walker!

For your chance to win, you’ll need to watch a show other than Game of Thrones, however (sorry). One of our own making that’s now showing over on our shiny YouTube channel. It’s a sort of choose-your-own show, in fact, as you’ll need to help guide the characters. Their fate is in your hands! Successfully make it to the end and you’ll be able to enter to win this epic prize.

Due to the licensing agreements involved with a record-breaking hit HBO show, the eagle-warged among you may notice that our show isn’t in fact set in any kind of medieval fantasy world. But it is set in the next best place: a spaceship in space. Let’s call it… the Interstelleros. And we’ll call the show… Contest for the Captain’s Chair. Yes, that’ll do. Aid the crew in their quest and the glorious bounty of every Game of Thrones whisky could be yours!

That’s nine bottles of highly sought-after whisky including Cardhu, Clynelish, Dalwhinnie, Lagavulin, Oban, Royal Lochnagar, Singleton of Glendullan and and Talisker single malts, representing House Targaryen, House Tyrrell, House Stark, House Lannister, the Night’s Watch, House Baratheon, House Tully and House Greyjoy from Game of Thrones respectively. It seemed churlish not to chuck the aforementioned White Walker blended Scotch in to complete the set!

Not bad for simply killing some time on YouTube, eh?

Game of Thrones whisky

Hold the door! Just look at this incredible haul that’s up for grabs!

Just follow the on-screen options to navigate through the videos until you to receive the super secret passcode at the end. To enter, subscribe to our YouTube channel (natch) and email the passcode to gotwhisky@masterofmalt.com along with your YouTube username. Best of luck!

Competition open to entrants 18 years and over. Shipping restrictions apply. Entries accepted from 18 May – 13 June 2019. 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 May

It’s Friday, and around these parts, that means one thing – it’s time for another edition of The Nightcap! Imagine the scenario – last Friday evening, you felt a bit…

It’s Friday, and around these parts, that means one thing – it’s time for another edition of The Nightcap!

Imagine the scenario – last Friday evening, you felt a bit tired. You yawned, looking at your watch or at a clock on the wall or at your phone – it doesn’t really matter where you look to find out the time. All that matters is that it was time to go to sleep. However, instead of sleeping in a bed, you decided to go to sleep under a rock. For a week. Imagine that. Now, if you have been under a rock since last week, you’ll want to know what’s happened during said week, and we’ve got all the booze news right here in The Nightcap for you! Wow, that was a pretty far fetched introduction, even for us.

On the blog this week Henry kicked things off on World Cocktail Day (on a Monday, of all days!) with our Cocktail of the Week, The Pornstar Martini, then talked Venezualan rum with The Diplomático Distillery. Guest writer Nate Brown made a passionate plea for bars to prioritise all customers, Annie explored the new range from Sweden’s High Coast Distillery and Kristy indulged our love of Japanese spirits with our New Arrival of the Week, Haku Vodka. Adam meanwhile helped you prep for Fèis Ìle 2019 in the only way we know how, before he and Camden’s Croque Monsieur celebrated absinthe. Oh, and we’ve also launched another incredible competition, where you could win a VIP trip to Mortlach Distillery!

Now, on with the news!

The Nightcap

A classic of the genre returns!

Classic Islay whisky book reissued

One of the best whisky books of the last 20 years was Peat Smoke and Fire by Andrew Jefford which was published in 2004. Jefford, best known as a wine writer, applied a lyrical touch in this hymn to Islay’s culture, history and whiskies which were at the time relatively unknown except by the cognoscenti. Back then, you could pick up a bottle of Port Ellen, for example, for around £100 as opposed to the thousands you’d pay today. Oh, to have saved a few then! Fast forward 15 years and the island is booming with two new distilleries since the book was published, Kilchoman and Ardnahoe, and Fèis Ìle, the island’s annual festival, becoming an international tourist event. So, it’s a good time to republish this classic book now under the slightly less evocative title of Whisky Island, with a forward by Dave Broom. It’s a must read for peatheads everywhere.

The Nightcap

Who wouldn’t want a garden full of gin botanicals?

Kyrö brings first Finnish garden to Chelsea Flower Show

The Chelsea Flower Show and Kyrö Distillery have joined forces, with the distillery bringing the first ever Finnish garden to the ‘Space to Grow’ class! The brains behind this stunning show belong to Finnish landscape designer, horticulturist and environmental biologist Taina Suonio. The garden is inspired by Kyrö’s delicious Napue Gin, with plants native to the Finnish meadows and woodlands, while the display will also stress the importance of pollinators with a butterfly garden. “Taina has done excellent work in creating a garden that reflects the Finnish countryside and the botanicals we use to make our gin”, says Kyrö’s Managing Director Miika Lipiäinen. “Out of all of the raw materials presented in the garden, we could actually distil a gin.” Maybe we’ll take our still along to the show…

The Nightcap

Introducing: Ardbeg Drum!

Ardbeg Day and Ardbeg Drum

Look past the busy bank holiday weekend to 1 June, because that’s Ardbeg Day! This year’s celebration ‘Drum Roll Please…’ is taking place in London’s Regent’s Park. What to expect? A fantastic afternoon marrying the best of Islay and Caribbean flavours, games and influences, from steel bands to ceilidh dances, Ardbeg whisky to Caribbean food. Ardbeggians are also encouraged to arrive on the day in Caribbean-meets-Islay finery, and we can’t wait to see how that turns out! All this to celebrate the limited edition Ardbeg Day release, Ardbeg Drum, and you can be sure there’ll be a tasting of that peaty treat at the celebration. This expression is pretty special because for the first time Ardbeg has finished the single malt in rum casks from the Americas. If you say ‘Ardbeg Drum’ really fast, it sort of sounds like ‘Ardbeg rum’… Coincidence?

The Nightcap

Don’t fear the spirits…

Beefeater Gin and The London Dungeon: Partners in crime

In a somewhat unlikely partnership, Beefeater and The London Dungeons have teamed up to present Dungeon LATES. Kicking off on 24 May, these nights are said to be darker, scarier, and definitely more alcoholic, so it goes without saying they’re adult-only. Guests can sip while they’re scared, and in between screams it looks like they’ll be drinking Beefeater Blood Orange. After a tour of the dungeons, you’re then treated to a cocktail with said gin, which will have been wholeheartedly deserved. We’re sure their choice of tipple was no coincidence. Now blood orange takes on a whole different tone.

The Nightcap

Prince Charles was guest of honour at the annual Fortnum & Mason awards

Prince Charles rocks the Fortnum & Mason awards

As we have outlined before on the Nightcap, where there’s fine booze, you are often likely to find Prince Charles. First, it was the distillery visits, and then on Thursday afternoon, he was guest of honour at the annual Fortnum & Mason awards. The awards celebrate the best in food and drink writing, photography and broadcasting in Britain. But he wasn’t just there to knock back the Champagne with Chris Evans and Claudia Winkleman, Prince Charles was presented with a special award for his services to the sustainable food industry. Other winners included Nina Caplan winning Debut Drink Book award for The Wandering Vine; Mary Berry won Personality of the Year; Marina O’ Loughlin from The Sunday Times won restaurant writer of the year; Nadiya Hussein was a popular winner of TV Programme of the Year for her ‘Asian Odyssey’. And finally, we are delighted that Alice Lascelles from the Financial Times won the most important award of all, Drinks Writer of the Year. Everyone partied responsibly long into the night.

The Nightcap

Scenic views, delicious whisky and plenty of local culture will be on show

The first ever Hebridean Whisky Festival begins next week

We hope you’ve kept your diary clear between the 21st and 25th May 2019, because that’s when the first-ever Hebridean Whisky Festival begins! A celebration of the four distilleries along the Hebridean Whisky Trail, the festival will feature free tours, tastings, music, casks and special events at Talisker, Torabhaig, The Isle of Raasay Distillery, Harris distilleries and the Aros Centre, Portree. Proceedings kick off with two days on Skye at Torabhaig Distillery on Tuesday 21st May followed by events at Talisker on Wednesday 22nd. Then it’s across the water to the Isle of Raasay Distillery on Thursday 23rd May 2019, where whisky pilgrims will witness the launch of the exclusive new warehouse and enjoy whisky and chocolate tours. The self-guided whisky trail route up will then lead festival-goers to Isle of Harris Distillery on Friday 24th May. Meanwhile, in Portree, the Aros Centre will showcase the distilleries at a special Hebridean Whisky Festival tasting stand for the duration of the festival. The finale is the ‘Big Day at Slig’, where the four distilleries will come together at the Sligachan Hotel on Saturday 25th May for a day of whisky tastings, Hebridean Whisky cocktails, distillery vehicles, cask displays, craft ales and a visit from the Isle of Skye pipe band. These events are free entry and the choice is yours whether you want to experience part of the festival or follow the full trail over five days by land or sea. We’re sure those who are attending will have a smashing time!

The Nightcap

It’s been a good week for the folks at Winchester Distillery!

Winchester Distillery smashes first crowdfunding target by over 200%

As Winchester Distillery acknowledged its fifth years anniversary this week the English gin brand it quickly found out there was cause for further celebration as the distillery’s crowdfunding campaign had already reached over £240,000 from 94 investors, exceeding its first 30 day target by over 200%. The need for external investment was first made public in April 2019 by Winchester Distillery as it announced plans to increase the production of its premium spirits, install a brewhouse, further develop its whisky & rum, increase marketing activity, pursue export opportunities and open an onsite gift shop. To date, the £375,000 for 8.1% equity campaign has been in ‘private mode’ on Crowdcube, which means it was open only to followers of Winchester Distillery, and the target during this time was to reach 20% of the overall amount. However, at the time of writing, 65% of the funding has been achieved. There’s still a month to go, during which time the Winchester Distillery pitch will go public on the Crowdcube website. Founder Paul Bowler commented: “The news this morning that our supporters have pledged almost a quarter of a million pounds, plus the overwhelming amount of support we’ve received over the last month, has been the best fifth birthday present for Winchester Distillery. We’re really excited that our Crowdcube campaign will be open to all later this week and that we’re another step closer to being able to proceed with our expansion plans.” For more information about Winchester Distillery’s crowdfunding campaign and how to invest from just £10, (rewards are available from £20) then visit http://crowdcube.com/winchesterdistillery.

The Nightcap

Anyone doing lifts to Manchester?

Lucky Manchester diner given £4500 bottle of Bordeaux by mistake

On Thursday night a customer at Hawksmoor in Manchester got rather more than they bargained for when instead of a bottle of bottle of Château Pichon Longueville Contesse de Lalande worth £260, they were accidentally given a bottle of one of the world’s greatest wines, Château Le Pin 2001. The restaurant lists this cult wine from Pomerol at £4500 a bottle! The restaurant tweeted on Friday morning: “To the customer who accidentally got given a bottle of Chateau le Pin Pomerol 2001, which is £4500 on our menu, last night – hope you enjoyed your evening! To the member of staff who accidentally gave it away, chin up! One-off mistakes happen and we love you anyway”. The customers in question then tried to order another bottle, but it was the only one in the restaurant. What we want to know is, when will this member of staff be working again? There will be queues around the block.

The Nightcap

The Pineapple Daiquiri Slushie, our stand-out serve from the event

Jerk & Beyond Festival

We were lucky enough to head down to Limin’ to grab a sneak peek of the wonderful treats that are going to be on offer at rum and food festival, Jerk & Beyond! Created by Sham Mahabir, a native Trinidadian-turned-Londoner, the late May bank holiday weekend will see Old Spitalfields’ Limin’ bar showcasing the diversity of Caribbean food for three days. Mahabir founded Limin’ and has partnered up with Plantation Rum for the festival, with cocktails including Rumgria (we’re sure you can guess what combo that is), Mai Tai, Limin’s (in)famous Rum Punch and, perhaps our favourite, a Pineapple Daiquiri Slushie, made with Plantation Pineapple Stiggins’ Fancy. These were accompanied by some delectable Caribbean canapés, including traditional Trinidad street food. Limin’ is an abbreviated version of ‘liming’, a Trinidad expression for ‘hanging out’, which is exactly what this whole-family-friendly festival is encouraging. Surrounded by music, delicious food, fabulous cocktails and even two daily Plantation rum masterclasses, what more could you want?

The Nightcap

This actually happened. And we really want one.

And finally… Lambrini doughnut launched for National Doughnut Week

Doughnuts and Lambrini, you say? That’s right, in honour of National Doughnut Week (11-19 May), Shrewsbury’s Planet Doughnut has launched a new Lambrini doughnut! Freshly cooked, it’s frosted and filled with Lambrini, dusted with edible gold, sprinkled with more gold and finally crowned with a doughnut tiara (where can we get one of those?). Though this launch happens to coincide with Lambrini’s new release, this isn’t merely frivolous fun, oh no. The bakery will donate a portion of each doughnut sold (we assume the money from the doughnut, not the baked good itself) to The Children’s Trust. In case you’ve missed it, National Doughnut Week has been running for 28 years after its launch in 1991, and last year it raised a smashing £33,679. Time to get your Lambrini hats on and contribute to a deliciously good cause.

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Win a VIP trip to Mortlach Distillery

WIN the trip of a lifetime to Speyside and the Mortlach Distillery! Enjoy a VIP private tour, tastings, two nights at The Craigellachie Hotel and more! Everyone’s a winner –…

There are few Scotch whisky fans who wouldn’t jump at a chance to see inside the wonderful Mortlach Distillery. It’s one of Scotland’s finest distilleries and is well known across the globe for its unusual and unique distillation process known as ‘The Way’ and the spirit this produces, which is affectionately known as ‘The Beast of Dufftown’ for its bold, muscular and robust character. It’s such a shame it’s not usually open to the public. Somebody really should team up with the creators of those distinctive drams to offer an incredible VIP trip for one lucky person and their plus-one.

Somebody did. Us. Yes, that’s right people. We’ve launched another fantastic MoM competition and we’re taking one fortunate human being and their chosen human companion to Mortlach Distillery!

VIP trip to Mortlach Distillery

Mortlach distils its whisky 2.81 times in a process unique to the distillery

“What do I win?! What do I win?! What do I win?!”

It’s quite the prize. The winner of this competition will earn a VIP visit to Mortlach Distillery, including a private tour and tasting for themselves and a lucky plus one (they’ll certainly owe you one after this). We’d like to take this opportunity to remind you that this is particularly special because Mortlach is not usually open to the public so this is a rare opportunity for Scotch whisky fans to see an iconic distillery like few people have before!

If that wasn’t enough, you’ll also be treated to tours of Speyside cooperage and Cardhu Distillery, two nights’ accommodation in the Craigellachie Hotel (UK travel and food included) and you’ll even receive a bottle of the sensational Mortlach 20 Year Old.

Any Scotch whisky fan reading this will be aware of what an incredible opportunity this is. A VIP trip. To visit not one, but two classic Speyside distilleries. One rarely seen by the public. Open to explore for your pleasure. Plus food. And Flights. And food. And a bottle of delicious Scotch. Also free food. All this is just one competition? Applying is a must.

VIP trip to Mortlach Distillery

This beauty could be yours if you win.

“I’m in. How do I enter?”

I’m glad you asked. You will be automatically entered into the competition if you purchase a 70cl bottle of Mortlach 12 Year Old, 16 Year Old or 20 Year Old from 16 May to 16 June 2019 (For the nitty gritty details, see the competition terms below.) You can buy as many bottles as you want, and just in time for Father’s Day too!

Plus, for the length of the competition, we’ve reduced the price on each bottle of 12 Year Old, 16 Year Old and 20 Year Old by 10%! So even if you don’t win, you still win. What a world.

Good luck, all!

MoM Mortlach 2019 Competition open to entrants 18 years and over. Entries accepted from 16 May to 16 June 2019. Winners chosen at random after close of competition. Travel only provided from a UK location. Prizes not transferable and cannot be exchanged for cash equivalent. Entry also available with no purchase. See full T&Cs for details.

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Bars should make all guests feel special

This week our in-house bartender, Nate Brown, gets hot under the collar with highly-regarded bars that have two levels of customer service: great for those in the know, lousy for…

This week our in-house bartender, Nate Brown, gets hot under the collar with highly-regarded bars that have two levels of customer service: great for those in the know, lousy for the ordinary punter.

There’s a universal truth in the hospitality world: “We don’t go to the bars which we know best, we go to the bars that know us best.”

There’s little more comforting or uplifting that acting like a character from Cheers and strutting into your favourite bar, being greeted by name by the bartender who already has a hand on your favourite glass for one of your usuals. This is magical. It makes sense to reciprocate and lavish praise on these places that make you feel so special. They deserve it.

Having a great time!

They’re receiving excellent customer service, but are you?

However, if this is true, then the inverse is also possible. Walking into a venue and being met with an unwelcoming lack of interest and a feeling that you’re not wanted can be a pretty destructive experience. The bigger chains can try to sidestep this with scripted steps of service and welcomes, although a little repetition exposes the shallow illusion. At times, the generic ‘Is everything alright with your food/drinks?’, can be as fake as TOWIE. An old friend counters this with a big grin and a nod whilst mumbling vile obscenities. It seldom gets a reaction.

We all want to feel special, or more accurately to be first, best or different. To balance the oxymoronic stance of making everyone in the room feel special is the art of the hospitality trade. Only the best can manage it.

Unfortunately, the more hype around a bar, the further wide of the mark they seem. The bar community is a close-knit affair. This can be a great thing, with lots of potential to do a hell of a lot of good. It can also be a bit of a clique.

I’ve been in hip East London cocktail bars, sitting excitedly at the bar and being ignored for 20 minutes whilst the bar team offers high fives and free shots to a brand rep sat next to me. I watch closely. I know the brand rep, I know what’s happening. Their bill appears with no charge, only a smiley face drawn onto a bit of till roll. That’s all fair and well, but I also see the other guests sat three yards away with empty glasses in front of them on a dirty bar top in desperate need of wiping. The most they can hope for is a ‘yes, guys, what do you want?’

This is bad for everyone. The brand ambassadors and industry visit each other’s bars, enjoy a stellar time, leave feeling like a million dollars, and preach the good word of how awesome that new bar is. Potential guests might hear of these recommendations, the ‘have-you-been-to-such-and-such-yet’, hurriedly visit and are told this is what a good bar is even if the experience fails to live up to the hype.

At which point, a peculiar thing happens. Rather than the wave of underwhelming responses lowering expectations, the hype increases. No-one wants to admit that this place they’ve been to isn’t all that. They want to join in, to be a part of it. So the hype continues. New guests hear, arrive, don’t enjoy, at worst they don’t return. In any other town, this would be dangerously short-lived. London’s masses, however, can sustain an of-the-moment bar for months or even years.

Nate Brown

Nate Brown, making a stranger feel special

As industry professionals, we have a responsibility to be aware of the situation. We know how the system works. Instead of commenting on how our friends made us feel, we should be looking closer at how our friends made others feel. When was the last time you heard a colleague observe how a bartender rocked a stranger’s day? Surely that’s the name of the game? Dare I say that we as an industry can be guilty of being a little self-indulgent from time to time? Lord knows I can.

We could do with moving the goalposts back to where they belong. The quality of a bartender should be determined by how they make the room feel, not just those that they know. The paying guests, should always take precedence. We should look to treat everyone like a superstar, not just those who return the favour.

I guess all guests are equal, just some are more equal than others.

Nate Brown has owned and operated spirit specialist cocktail bars in London for the better part of a decade. He’s a regular speaker on industry panels, a judge for various spirit awards and has been known to harbour an opinion or two.  

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