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Master of Malt Blog

Category: News

The Nightcap: 18 September

This week on the Nightcap: Octomore and Lagavulin launch new whisky, Bob Dylan brings back the Theme Time Radio Hour and dog-themed cocktails… A whole week has been and gone…

This week on the Nightcap: Octomore and Lagavulin launch new whisky, Bob Dylan brings back the Theme Time Radio Hour and dog-themed cocktails…

A whole week has been and gone since we last went Nightcapping, which means that a brand new Nightcap is required. Fortunately, the world of booze is always churning out all kinds of news stories. We’re not sure what we’d do if it stopped. Perhaps we’d just write about some of the drinks we’ve enjoyed recently or post a series of amusing photos of cats. Thankfully this week there’s been plenty of excitement to write about, so the funny feline pictures will have to wait. Although one of the stories this week does feature a cracking photo of a dog, so if we’ve got you in the mood for pet-based content you won’t be disappointed. Onto The Nightcap!

If you’re a fan of big whisky news stories then the MoM blog was the place for you this week. Jim Murray announced his 2021 World Whisky of the Year and Richard ‘the Nose’ Paterson confirmed that he would step back from Whyte & Mackay to focus his energies on The Dalmore. Elsewhere, we spoke with Dr Rachel Barrie, Benriach master blender, about the brand’s recent makeover before Annie tasted one of the good doctor’s finest creations, a well-sherried 29-year-old single malt released to coincide with the upcoming release of The King’s Man. Other delightful drinks we tried this week include a very special new range of Cognacs from Delamain, a category-defying spirit from Belvedere and a cocktail made with one of the world’s unique spirits, Metaxa. Internationally-renowned bartenders Joe and Daniel Schofield also popped by for a chat, while Jess kicked off our Classic Bar series with the wonderful Coupette, which has just launched a new menu.

The Nightcap

New Octomore is terrific news for peated whisky fans

New series of Octomore whisky unveiled

We’ve got good news for fans of peated whisky this week as Islay-based distillery Bruichladdich has announced the imminent arrival of some new Octomores. First is the Octomore 11s series, which is set to launch on 1 October and includes three expressions, Octomore 11.1, Octomore 11.2 and Octomore 11.3, all of which retain the ultra-peated style that the brand is known for. Octomore 11.1 was malted to 139.6 PPM and matured for five years in first-fill ex-American whiskey casks from Jim Beam, Heaven Hill and Jack Daniel’s before it was bottled at 59.4% ABV without any chill-filtration or additional colouring. Octomore 11.2 was malted to the same PPM and also aged for five years on Islay, but it was matured in two separate casks: 25% of the whisky was aged in Pauillac ex-wine casks, while the remaining 75% was aged in ex-American whiskey casks before being transferred into St Julien wine casks for 18 months. This expression was bottled at 58.6% ABV without added colouring or chill-filtration. The third whisky in the new series, Octomore 11.3, was malted to a massive 194 PPM before it was aged for five years in first-fill American whiskey casks from Jim Beam, Heaven Hill, Buffalo Trace and Jack Daniel’s. The whisky was bottled at 61.7% ABV without caramel colouring or chill-filtration. Bruichladdich will also release a bonus bottling alongside the range. It’s a 2020 edition of Octomore 10 Years Old which was malted to 204 PPM and matured in a mix of virgin oak, and first- and second-fill ex-American whiskey casks from Jim Beam, Heaven Hill, Buffalo Trace and Jack Daniel’s before it was bottled at 54.3% ABV without chill-filtration or additional colouring. We will write more fully on the Octomore 11.1 and 11.3 soon when they arrive at Master of Malt. Octomore 11.2, however, will only be available direct from the distillery here and in global travel retail. Not fair!

The Nightcap

Monkey Shoulder wants to see you back in bars. Responsibly, of course.

Monkey Shoulder spends £250k to entice you back to the bar 

Monkey Shoulder is so keen to get you back to the bar (responsibly, natch), that it has spent £250,000 on an advertising campaign called ‘The New Rules for Mixing.’ The blended whisky brand won the money as part of OCEAN’s Crucial Creative Competition and decided to put it to good use. The campaign will take the form of a series of local ads with partner bars in cities around the country that will go live on 24 September as well as generic national posters. The press bumf described the campaign by ad agency Tommy as “a playful take on the brand’s ‘made for mixing’ tagline; using Monkey Shoulder’s cheeky tone and distinctive branding style to bring to life the social distancing measures in a fun and memorable way.” Social distancing is fun! To further entice people to venture out of their homes, each venue will be offering a free drink to customers. The participating bars are Glasgow’s The Dam, Edinburgh’s Uno Mas and Kin, Liverpool’s Present Company, Newcastle’s Mother Mercy, Manchester’s Cane & Grain and Science & Industry, Birmingham’s Theatrix, Nottingham’s Brass Monkey and Leeds’ Watermark Bar. Let’s hope another lockdown doesn’t muck things up. The best-laid plans and all that.

The Nightcap

This year’s Islay Jazz Festival might be online, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get your hands on delicious whisky!

New limited edition Lagavulin Jazz bottling is here, or rather, there.

We all know that there’s no better way to enjoy your bourbon than with a blast of rock and roll, but what should you listen to with a Scottish single malt? Some might say folk music, but we’ve conducted totally scientific tests here at Master of Malt and discovered that jazz is, in fact, the perfect accompaniment. Especially with a smoky Islay dram, you can’t beat a bit of John Coltrane or Miles Davies, hence the long-running Islay Jazz Festival. Ever since 2011, Lagavulin has released a special jazz bottling and now the latest edition is here. Or rather, there, it’s a distillery only release with only 2004 bottles available at a meaty £405. It’s matured in mainly refill American and European oak, with some active casks, for a minimum of 22 years and bottled at 52.6% ABV. Distillery manager Pierrick Guillaume had this to say: “The Islay Jazz Festival has become a pilgrimage for many whisky and jazz lovers around the globe and we hope our friends will join us for the online event to celebrate 22 years of the festival. This will be my first festival having taken over as distillery manager of Lagavulin and although we are unable to host the event in Islay, we wanted to continue to honour the occasion by creating a remarkable bottling. This year’s 22-year-old bottle is a glorious and unique Lagavulin from an interesting mix of casks that have given an extra twist of rich, smooth and sweet fruitiness to the palate and finish.” On 3 October at 7pm BST, go to the  Lagavulin and Friends of the Classic Malts where Guillaume and global whisky master Ewan Gunn will be hosting a jazz and whisky odyssey. Nice!

The Nightcap

Great news music lovers! Bob Dylan’s Theme Time Radio Hour is back

Bob Dylan’s Theme Time Radio Hour is back thanks to Heaven’s Door Spirits

Bob Dylan’s Theme Time Radio Hour is back, this time with added whiskey. For those who don’t know, Theme Time Radio Hour was a series of shows on NPR hosted by his Bobness where he would play records and riff around certain themes such as ‘fruit’ or ‘weather.’ The music was always an education, but the real fun was just listening to Dylan talk, dispensing wisdom, offering recipe tips or being totally baffling. Equally amusing and baffling, were the celebrities such as Tom Petty or Marianne Faithful who would call up to join in the fun. There’s never been like it before, or since. 100 shows were recorded with the last one airing in 2009, and now thanks to Heaven’s Door Spirits, Bob’s bourbon brand, it’s back. There will be a special one-off episode airing on Monday 21 at 12pm EST on SiriusXm. It will then be available on Heaven’s Door website and social channels, Bob Dylan’s website and social channels, as well as other streaming services from 25 September. And the theme of this one-off special? Whiskey, of course. 

The Nightcap

It’s quite the coup for Last Drop Distillers

Colin Scott joins Last Drop Distillers

Back in June, we raised a glass to Colin Scott, former Chivas Regal master blender, as he waved goodbye to the brand after an enormous 47 years at the nosing glass helm. News reached us this week that he’s back at it, and is now consultant master blender at high-end bottler The Last Drop Distillers! According to the company, Scott’s appointment is the first stage of becoming ‘not only curators but also creators’. And it’s not the first time they’ve worked together. Back in the 1990s, The Last Drop founders James Espey and Tom Jago teamed up with Colin on a number of projects, including the creation of the now-iconic Chivas Regal 18 Year Old. “We are absolutely delighted that Colin Scott will be joining The Last Drop as master blender,” said Rebecca Jago, managing director at The Last Drop. “One of the many attractions for both Colin and The Last Drop is that he will have the widest palette to paint from.” Scott himself added: “The Last Drop is very much a luxury brand in a very niche market. They have a global reach but have maintained their integrity and vision since they began, which is hugely important to me. This is a new chapter that I am very much looking forward to: carrying on the story that began with Tom and James some decades ago. As my much-missed friend Tom Jago said, “If you can’t have fun in the drinks industry, and in what you create, you can’t have fun anywhere!” Rebecca and the team do just that!” We can’t wait to see what comes next.

The Nightcap

The week-long programme will unite professionals from around the world

Imbibe Live goes global with BCB Berlin, BCB Brooklyn and BCB São Paulo

If you like boozy worldwide networking and education events, then you’re in luck. There’s a biggie on the way. Imbibe Live Online has joined forces with BCB Berlin, BCB Brooklyn and BCB São Paulo to create Global Bar Week uniting the international drinks industry at the first-ever global, online drinks exhibition. From 12–18 October topics such as how hospitality venues can rebuild, drive customer footfall and loyalty, build a sustainable business, tap into consumer trends and improve diversity and inclusion will be discussed by a selection of experts such as Lynnette and Ivy from Speed Rack, award-winning bartender Chelsie Bailey, and Diogenes the Dog founder Sunny Hodge. Drink-focused masterclasses and tastings will also feature in the week-long digital programme, which you can check out here. While it will never be the same as the classic Imbibe Live, the on-trade magazine’s inaugural digital event back in June saw hundreds of drinks brands and on-trade professionals come together to share insights, trends and much more in what we’d say was a pretty successful experiment so it makes sense that it’s gone global. Drinks brands have until the end of September to sign up for this virtual event, while UK drinks industry professionals can now sign up to Imbibe Live Online to access a range of educational and inspirational content and be part of a worldwide celebration of the people, brands and businesses who are shaking up the drinks industry. Registration for the week-long virtual event is free and tickets are available at https://live.imbibe.com/.  

The Nightcap

Kane and Rawcliffe impressed the judges in the Bottled Cocktail Challenge

Diageo’s World Class competition returns 

New people, new partnerships and new competitor challenges await as Diageo’s World Class competition comes back after taking a brief pause due to recent events. Featuring a revised approach that adapts to a new competition environment, the internationally recognised competition has announced a series of activations at this year’s London Cocktail Week (now extended to the full month of October), at Whisky House in Kings Cross’ Goods Way. Three masterclasses a week will be hosted by the World Class team with Johnnie Walker, Tanqueray and Ketel One ambassadors sharing cocktail recipes and tips. Diageo has also revealed who the winners of the Bottled Cocktail Challenge are: James Rawcliffe, Tigerlily (Edinburgh); Kuba Korzynski, Black Rock (London) and Stevie Kane, Baccarat Bar (London).The GB Top 100 were split into three groups – Ketel One, Johnnie Walker Black Lable and Tanqueray No. Ten – and tasked with creating cocktails based on three classic serves: Espresso Martini, Tom Collins and the Highball. The winners have secured a spot in the GB Top 15 and will have their cocktails produced in a cocktail kit for consumers to buy via Cocktail Porter, featured here. Finally, the World Class family has been bolstered by a trio of new appointments. Pippa Guy (previously senior bartender at the Savoy’s American Bar) is now the new Tanqueray brand ambassador; Jo Last (formerly of the Savoy’s Beaufort Bar) has been given the title of whisky brand ambassador and Mimi Schofield is now TLA account executive. “We are incredibly excited to bring World Class back to GB, with a new and adapted program to champion bartender creativity in the face of adversity,” said Jack Sotti, head of advocacy GB at Diageo. “Most notably World Class is about people, and so it gives me the utmost pride to welcome Pippa, Jo and Mimi to our diverse and passionate team.” 

The Nightcap

Is this the best idea ever? It might just be.

And finally… Dog-themed cocktails for Skylight’s Charity Dog Day

Picture this. You’re at a gorgeous rooftop bar, you’ve got great company, delicious drinks – what more could you want? Oh right, dogs! Next Sunday (27 September), Skylight over at Tobacco Dock is combining all of those things on Dog Day! The annual event is run in collaboration with UK charity Dogs On The Streets (DOTS), which supports rough sleepers and the homeless community with dogs. Not only will you be able to bring your actual dog, but there will also be dog-themed cocktails – for human consumption, of course. No, really. With serves like the Pugtail and the Frenchie 75 this is just too good to miss, and between midday and 4pm the cocktails are all 2-4-1. If you’re wondering if your pooch will feel left out, fear not because there’ll be some treats on offer for each dog-bringing guest (and their pup, of course). Proceeds from the cocktails will go towards DOTS, so grab your furry friends and get down there! 

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Jim Murray’s Whisky Bible 2021 winner announced

Jim Murray has spoken. The 2021 World Whisky of the Year is Alberta Premium Cask Strength Rye! If only it was available in the UK. Autumn is a very exciting…

Jim Murray has spoken. The 2021 World Whisky of the Year is Alberta Premium Cask Strength Rye! If only it was available in the UK.

Autumn is a very exciting time in the whisky world because everyone knows it’s when Jim Murray publishes a new version of the Whisky Bible. And with it comes the Whisky Bible Awards, where arguably the world’s most famous whisky writer announces his favourite drams of the year. And whether you’re a fan or not, his selections always provoke debate. This year is sure to be no different.

The theme of the 2021 edition (which will be arriving at MoM Towers very soon) is new releases, new distilleries and letting the past be the past: “But the one thing that tasting 1,250 whiskies a year for this book has reinforced in my mind, is that for people to really enjoy whisky of whatever type, then they have to let go of the past and learn to swim,” Murray says. 

But what you really want to know is which expressions make up the big four. For those who are new to all this, Murray doesn’t just announce a World Whisky of the Year, but a top three and single cask winner. So, here they are:

The 2021 World Whisky of the Year: Alberta Premium Cask Strength Rye! (Sadly not available in the UK. Boo!)

Second place: Stagg Jr Barrel Proof (64.2%)

Third place: Paul John Mithuna

Single Cask: Glen Grant 1956 Mr George Centenary Edition Gordon & MacPhail

Jim Murray's Whisky Bible 2021 winner

The 2021 Edition will be available here very soon

It’s a huge victory for the Canadian rye whisky, which scored an incredible 97.5 out of a 100, and marks the first time it has won the coveted top prize. The Alberta distillery has long supplied high quality rye to such lauded American brands as Whistlepig but has only recently began bottling such magnificent whiskys under its own label. Made from a mix of malted and unmalted rye, Alberta Premium Cask Strength draws its water from the Rocky Mountains and was bottled at a massive 65.1% ABV. It’s also received the Double Gold Medal at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition, so I’d chalk that up as being a pretty good year.

Murray, who tasted 1,252 new drams for the 2021 edition of the Whisky Bible, described the expression as being a “truly world-class whisky from possibly the world’s most underrated distillery. How can something be so immense yet equally delicate? For any whisky lover on the planet looking for huge but nearly perfectly balanced experience, then here you go. And with rye at its most rampantly beautiful, this is something to truly worship.” Alberta Premium was named Canadian Whisky of the Year in Murray’s 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2009 Whisky Bibles, so his love for the Canadian distillery is already well-established.

Fans of the Whisky Bible will have noted that, for the first time in five years, the US has been knocked off the World Whisky of the Year top spot. Kentucky distiller the Sazerac Company made have swept the board in 2020 with a unique 1-2-3, but the “mind-blowing” Stagg Jr Barrel Proof, had to settle for the runner-up spot in 2021. 

Jim Murray's Whisky Bible 2021 winner

Being named in Murray’s top list is a coveted award for whisky brands

Arguably the most eye-catching podium entry of all is Mithuna, however. The Paul John expression, a distillery in the tiny Indian state of Goa, is the first South Asian whisky to have taken a top three gong in more than a decade. Jim Murray says sampling its sensational chocolate-and-spices complexity is: “Like after you have just made love…and you are unable to speak or move while your senses get back into some kind of normality”. Sexy!

All this means it’s another relatively barren year for Scotch as far as Murray’s awards go, although his love for Glen Grant clearly remains undiminished. The brand won three of the six categories Scotch whisky can compete in, including Scotch Whisky of the Year, Scotch Single Malt of the Year (Multiple Casks) and Scotch Single Malt of the Year (Single Cask). The category’s most significant win, however, was on the single cask side of things where the old and rare Glen Grant Mr George stole the show, which was dubbed Mr George Centenary Edition in honour of George Urquhart, creator of Gordon & MacPhail’s wonderful Connoisseurs Choice range.

The last time a Canadian won World Whisky of the Year was in 2016 when Murray selected Crown Royal Northern Harvest Rye. Not only did it spark renewed interest in the category, but caused the demand for the bottle to be so high that police in Toronto were called as drinkers fought over the last bottles still on the shelf. Hopefully, we don’t see a repeat of such antics this year. We’ve got plenty of lovely Candian whisky right here that you don’t have to fight over.

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Richard Paterson ‘steps back’ from Whyte & Mackay

Big news at Whyte & Mackay as Richard ‘the Nose’ Paterson celebrates 50 years at firm and announces that he will give up his current role to concentrate on The…

Big news at Whyte & Mackay as Richard ‘the Nose’ Paterson celebrates 50 years at firm and announces that he will give up his current role to concentrate on The Dalmore.

There’s about to be some big shoes to fill at Whyte & Mackay as it has been announced that Richard Paterson will be stepping back from his role at the Glasgow whisky makers. Today marks exactly 50 years since Paterson joined the firm, 14 September 1970. Since then he’s gone on to be one of the most respected master distillers in the business, known as ‘the Nose’ for his unerring palate. We at Master of Malt have had the privilege of tasting with him on more than one occasion and can attest not only to his amazing senses but his natural showmanship that has made such a successful ambassador for Scotch whisky.

But Paterson isn’t going to be golfing full time. He will remain at the company’s flagship distillery, The Dalmore. There’s plenty going on: back in December we reported on a very special 60 year old expression which will go under the hammer this December at Harrods in London. And next year will see the release of six whiskies called “The Decades of The Dalmore”, part of an ongoing series of whiskies that have been nurtured by Paterson over his long years at the company. We’ll bring you more on them as we know more. 

The Dalmore Aged 51 Years

Paterson will be staying on at The Dalmore

Paterson commented: “I have been fortunate to have enjoyed each and every one of my 50 wonderful years. I have had the opportunity to work with many incredible people down through the years, and incredible whiskies too of course. I am truly proud of what we have achieved together as Whyte and Mackay. For myself, I have the great honour to care for the truly extraordinary whisky we create at The Dalmore. I look forward to sharing some very special releases of The Dalmore in 2021”. 

Whyte & Mackay CEO, Bryan Donaghey, added: “To work for one company for 50 years is a fantastic achievement that few will repeat. Through all those years Richard has made an outstanding contribution to the continued success of Whyte & Mackay, and especially The Dalmore.  His energy and passion for what he does is remarkable and an inspiration to all of us. My thanks and congratulations to Richard on this incredible achievement.”

With Paterson concentrating on the Dalmore, this means that there is a very big nose-shaped hole at Whyte & Mackay. That noise you can hear is distillers and blenders throughout Scotland (and further afield) polishing their CVs.

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The Nightcap: 11 September

Robot bartenders, enough whisky to buy a house and a tiki bar full of priests rescuing a drowning man. The Nightcap doesn’t get much better than this! We’re in that…

Robot bartenders, enough whisky to buy a house and a tiki bar full of priests rescuing a drowning man. The Nightcap doesn’t get much better than this!

We’re in that part of the year now where the weather is totally unpredictable. In a matter of minutes you could be made to look a fool by a cold snap, a sudden downpour or baking heat just as you’ve started an hour long walk in a woolly jumper (I’m not venting, why do you ask?). In such times, home comforts, familiar settings and dead certainties are needed. Like a weekly update of all the happenings from the world of booze. Good thing we’ve got you covered. Enjoy!

On the MoM blog this week Henry welcomed a wonderful new collection from The Character of Islay Whisky Company called The Stories of Wind and Wave and then enjoyed a cocktail named after the fanciest college in America, Jess demonstrated the delights of Irish single malt The Sexton and Adam sampled all kinds of delicious new whisky from Glengoyne. Elsewhere, Ian Buxton popped back in to explore how you can own a little bit of your own booze business through the magic of crowdfunding, while Annie cast a spotlight on Storywood Tequila, examined the evolution of cask ownership and then turned her attention to the history of the world’s first luxury whisky. We’d also like to say a big thank you to all who attended Scotch & Sofa and to remind those who missed it that the videos are still available to watch on Facebook!

The Nightcap

What whisky fan wouldn’t want their own cask? No wonder they’re fighting over it

SMWS offers members cask from Holyrood Distillery whisky

The Scotch Malt Whisky Society (SMWS) is offering members the chance to win an entire cask of whisky from a partner distillery for the first time at its annual gathering this year. The prize, from Holyrood Distillery, is worth approximately £10k and includes all associated costs including the production of spirit, maturation for up to 10 years, bottling and duty. The distillery, which is Edinburgh’s first city centre single malt whisky distillery for nearly a century, runs a custom cask programme, which provides fully customisable options that you can read more about here. “Can you imagine owning your own full cask of single malt whisky? That’s the incredible prize that is up for grabs to all the members of the SMWS,” says Helen Stewart, head of marketing and membership at The SMWS. “Without a doubt it’s the biggest prize we’ve ever offered to our members and with our global festival The Gathering beginning on 31st August, it’s the perfect time to show the world what we do at SMWS – but you have to be in it to win it”. This year’s gathering, which is taking place throughout September, will unite a global community of over 27,000 SMWS members through a series of tastings (both virtual and in-person), whisky webinars, global ambassador at-home tastings, virtual pub sessions with global guests and a Twitter Tasting. The SMWS has also encouraged members to host their own gathering events at home, with home tasting kits available to download. The competition went live on Monday (7 September), which SMWS members can enter here, while tickets for the full calendar and info on all the gathering events can be found here.

The Nightcap

The 18-year-old Aberfeldy is finished in barriques from Pauillac, home of some of France’s greatest wines.

Aberfeldy launches ‘aristocratic’ 18 year old finished in Bordeaux wine casks 

Aberfeldy has gone right to the top with its new 18-year-old wine cask finish, Pauillac in the Medoc, home of some of Bordeaux’s greatest wines such as Lafite, Latour and Mouton-Rothschild. The whisky spent 18 years in first-fill bourbon barrels followed by 4-5 months in ex-Pauillac barriques. Those months weren’t wasted, we were given a little sample and it really smells distinctively of the Medoc. Think pencil shavings, blackcurrants and damp earth on the nose with tannin on the palate and an unctuous nutty texture, all wrapped up in the classic honey and toffee of Aberfeldy. The double cask ageing really works. Malt master (not to be confused with a Master of Malt) Stephanie MacLeod commented: “Pauillac casks are the aristocrats of the Médoc, they provide notes of black cherries, blackberries and a cedar wood spice. Aberfeldy’s wonderfully soft signature honey and creamy vanilla notes are invigorated with swathes of plush ripe fruits and lovely nutty aromas to create an incredibly elegant and fruitful whisky.” It’s bottled at 43% ABV and on sale for a very reasonable £95. It is, however, only available from the distillery which reopened in July. Later it will be on sale in certain markets including USA, China, Taiwan, Germany, and France but not, for some reason, Britain. We think a trip to Aberfeldy might be in order. 

The Nightcap

The project might have been delayed but it’s back on course now

Johnnie Walker Princes Street update

Diageo never seems to stop churning out boozy updates and this week is no different after it opened the online doors to the Johnnie Walker Princes Street global flagship visitor experience. The spirits giant had already reaffirmed its £185 million investment programme in Scotch whisky and tourism by resuming physical construction at the landmark building in the heart of Edinburgh in June (in compliance with all government COVID guidelines, naturally) following a three-month lockdown pause, but the new website for the attraction was launched this week on Tuesday (8 Sept). The Princes Street site is now expected to open in the summer of 2021. If you’re after detailed plans for inside the eight-story attraction then you’ll have to wait, but the website does provide pre-sale ticket opportunities and exclusive updates on the project. “The last few months have been so difficult and disruptive for everyone and we know there is still a long way to go, but we keep walking with confidence and we are looking to the future with positivity,” says managing director of Johnnie Walker Princes Street, Barbara Smith. “Johnnie Walker Princes Street is progressing well following the restart of construction and we are delighted to be launching our website so that our future guests can share in the excitement and anticipation we feel as we build towards opening our doors to visitors next year.” 

The Nightcap

Congrats to you Nate, any chance of a Nebula Negroni on the house…

Nate Brown opens a new bar

Hey, you guys know our friend Nate Brown, right? He’s contributed a fair few cracking articles on the MoM blog over the last year or so, but that’s not why he’s making headlines this week. It’s because tomorrow (Saturday 12 September), he’ll open the doors to Nebula, a new bar on the Hackney Road, London. The pizza, beer and cocktail joint, which is styled as a ‘neighbourhood oasis with cosmopolitan spirit’, was created in collaboration with Shane Long (not the Republic of Ireland international, but the founder and owner of the Franciscan Well Brew Pub Ltd), and will be led by Sam Morgan (ex-Star and MEAT). Heading the cocktail menu will be the bar’s signature Nebula Negroni, which has a ‘herbaceous twist’ and is available for take away in bottles or eco-friendly reusable pouches. There are also three Spritzes, three Highballs, and three Low-balls plus three straight-up, easy-drinking serves, all of which have an emphasis on local, with house gin and vodka made a stone’s throw away by 58 gin and East London Liquor Co. The wines, meanwhile, will be sourced from Renegade Winery in Bethnal Green and many of the beers are brewed in East London. Nebula will be open from midday until 11pm, seven days a week, and we’ll certainly be popping by for a Nebula Negroni, or two!

350 1960s will be released to celebrate 350 years of Warre’s

Warre’s celebrates 350 years with release of rare Port

Warre’s is celebrating its 350th birthday in style with the release of some seriously rare vintage Port. The company was founded in 1670, and while it doesn’t have any wine left from then, it is offering 350 bottles of 1960 Port from its cellars, the last bottles of this vintage that will be sold to the public. RRP around £320. More affordably, the company will be offering special anniversary editions of Warre’s Warrior and its LBV (Late Bottled Vintage) wines. The company is probably the oldest British Port firm and has a rich history in the region. Williams Warre fought with the Duke of Wellington to liberate the country from Napoleon. His descendant George Warre was one of the first British shippers to buy land in the Douro. One of his purchases, Quinta do Retiro, provides the fruit for the 1960 vintage. In the 1960s the firm was bought by the Symington family who still own it today. Chairman Johnny Symington commented: “We are extremely proud to be celebrating Warre’s 350th anniversary: three generations of my family worked alongside the Warres until the mid-1960s when they decided to return to the UK. We have continued a great tradition that dates back to 1670. This incredible milestone is a moment for us to reflect on our heritage and our uniqueness as a family business. We also celebrate the alliance between Portugal and England, the oldest in history, which has been such an important part of the history of Port.” That’s worth raising a glass to.

The Nightcap

This is how I die. And I’m OK with it.

The robot bartender is here!

The machines are taking over! We’ve just received information about a bar where the drinks are made by machine. Named Yanu, it’s described in the press bumf as “the world’s first contactless bar.” It’s the brainchild of Alan Adojaan who is working with top cocktailist Kristo Tomingas to make sure the drinks are tip-top. The machine costs 150,000 euros to buy outright or it can be rented. Adojaan is expecting to sell them to airports, casinos, shopping centres etc. with the current COVID-friendly sales angle that your drink will be untouched by human hands. The set-up consists of a round standalone bar that looks like something from Star Wars with a robot arm at the centre. Approach, state what you want, swipe your card and marvel as the arm makes the drink by pressing the glass to optics located in the ceiling of the bar. From the video, it looks quite basic, we were hoping for something along the lines of the octopus barkeep from Who Framed Roger Rabbit. However, It’s certainly much faster than any human, able to make around 100 drinks an hour and it won’t spend time admiring its muscly tattooed arms instead of serving customers. 

A load of these is worth a lot money

Son sells 28 years of birthday whisky to buy first home 

This week over in Taunton, Matthew Robson didn’t look to his savings account for his house deposit, but his whisky cabinet! Really though, it’s his father Pete who’s to thank. Matthew was born in 1992, and every birthday since his father bestowed upon him an 18-Year-Old Macallan. Now that Matthew is the ripe old age of 28, that adds up to… 28 Macallans! “I thought it would be interesting if I bought one every year,” Pete said, “and he’d end up with 18 bottles of 18-Year-Old whisky for his 18th birthday”. While Pete spent around £5,000 over the years on the pressies, the collection is now worth more than a cool £40,000. It may not surprise you to know that Pete is originally from Milnathort in Scotland, who bought the first bottle of 1974 vintage Macallan to “wet the baby’s head”. Matthew was “under strict instructions, never, never to open them,” and somehow he managed to resist temptation. Whisky broker Mark Littler is selling the “perfect set,” as he described it himself. “The value of Macallan has risen massively over the last five to 10 years,” he said. “To have such a vast collection of bottles is the real selling point of these.” Excuse us, we’re off to have a word with our parents… 

The Nightcap

This story has, quite literally, everything

And finally. . . . Drowning man saved by tiki bar full of priests

Now that’s a headline that sounds like it sprang from the mind of Chris Morris but it’s actually a true account of a recent incident on Lake George in New York. Jimmy MacDonald was out kayaking when he fell into the water with a badly put on life jacket. Within seconds, he was struggling to stay afloat and thought his days were numbered. Talking to the Catholic News Agency, he said: “I thought I was going to die. I was waving my hand and asked God to please help me.” And lo, his prayers were answered in the unlikely form of a tiki bar boat rented Paulist Fathers from St. Joseph’s Seminary in Washington, D.C. The seminarians and priests helped him onboard and saved his life. One, Noah Ismael, quipped that it was “a movement of the Holy Spirit”. The final twist to this almost too-good-to-be-true story is that MacDonald is a former alcoholic who has been sober for seven years. Truly, God moves in mysterious ways. 

No Comments on The Nightcap: 11 September

The Nightcap: 4 September

There’s a whole smorgasbord of big Scotch whisky news in this week’s Nightcap, as well as reports on new celebrity booze and Whisky Tea. Yes, really! Intrigued? Then read on……

There’s a whole smorgasbord of big Scotch whisky news in this week’s Nightcap, as well as reports on new celebrity booze and Whisky Tea. Yes, really! Intrigued? Then read on…

We hope you all enjoyed your Bank Holiday weekend. Whether you set off on an adventure, popped down to your local or enjoyed some well-earned R&R indoors, we’re sure you made the most of the opportunity to take a breath and enjoy a break. Fortunately for us, the world of booze never seems to stop churning out new products, projects and passions for us all to get all geeky and gleeful about so The Nightcap this week isn’t any lighter even with a day off. Take a look and see for yourself.

The MoM blog this week was also as busy as ever, and almost turned green thanks to the number of stories we had on Irish whiskey. First Ian Buxton examined its growing pains, then Annie learned why the progress of Sliabh Liag Distillers is proving cause for excitement. Certified organic distilleries also caught Annie’s eye, as Henry gave us a lesson in fortified wines casks to mark the arrival of The Epicurean Rivesaltes Finish. Elsewhere, Adam enjoyed a gin-based delight and one of the finest prohibition-era cocktails in The Southside, before wishing That Boutique-y Whisky Company a happy birthday by announcing another terrific new MoM sale.

Arguably the biggest news of all, however, was our announcement of the launch of Pour & Sip, our all-new, kick-ass whisky subscription service. Check out the blog post for more details. We’re also issuing one last call for you to tune in to our virtual whisky extravaganza Scotch & Sofa, which is taking place tomorrow. Oh, and don’t forget, Drinks by the Dram’s incredible booze-filled Advent Calendars are available to pre-order now!

Right, on with the news!

The Nightcap

CEO Jean-Christophe Coutures’ didn’t mince his words for the Scottish government.

Chivas Bros. criticises Scottish government over COVID response

It was a difficult results time for Chivas Brothers, which we’ll get on to in a moment, but the most interesting thing from this week’s press conference was CEO Jean-Christophe Coutures’ strong words for the Scottish government. He talked about a “bumpy period in March/April when we were not so clear about the direction the Scottish government wanted us to take. We know that we were not seen as an essential business to the economy even though Scotch whisky is the second-largest export for Scotland.” Happily (for everyone, not least Master of Malt customers), Chivas Brothers managed to keep the whisky flowing. Coutures praised the workforce and the unions for their helpful attitudes, and now the company is “almost back to full operations”. He added: “I still believe that the Scottish government needs to back us up and they need to understand that keeping this category operating is absolutely critical not only to the Scottish government but as well to the people of Scotland.” Meanwhile, on to those results: total organic sales were down 11%, in large part due to the lack of travel retail, with Ballantine’s shrinking by 8% and Chivas declining 17%. But there are grounds for optimism, with The Glenlivet cementing its position as number one single malt in the US, up 16%, Royal Salute expanding in Taiwan and South Korea, and Chivas growing in 34 markets including Turkey, Russia and Germany. Overall, there was confidence that Pernod Ricard had weathered the COVID storm as well as could be expected. Coutures added: “Our business and brands have responded with agility and resilience in the face of unprecedented market conditions, in many instances outperforming the category. We remain confident in the strength of our portfolio and the Scotch category as a whole, especially in its ability to withstand and overcome external challenges.” Now, if only the Scottish government could be a little more helpful… 

Long-time master distiller Jeff Arnett is to step down from his role at Jack Daniel’s

Jack Daniel’s master distiller to step down

Big news from Tennessee this week. Jeff Arnett, the man at the production helm of Jack Daniel’s for a whopping 12 years, announced he was leaving his role. This is significant stuff for Jack Daniel’s, the world’s biggest selling American whiskey. Arnett oversaw milling, fermentation, distillation, charcoal filtration and maturation, so these are some pretty sizeable shoes to fill. Parent company Brown-Forman hasn’t said why he’s leaving, or given word of his replacement. But Jack Daniel’s senior vice president, Larry Combs, did say: “Jeff has worked tirelessly on behalf of the distillery and brought with him the creativity and the expertise that makes Jack Daniel’s the most valuable whiskey brand in the world.” Arnett said his time with the brand had been “an incredible chapter”, but didn’t say what he’d be up to next. We’re thoroughly intrigued by the proceedings, and wish Arnett all the best!

The Nightcap

Is there anything he can’t do?

Snoop Dogg announces his latest creation: INDOGGO Gin

Not content with being a hip-hop legend and all-round entertainment icon, Snoop Dogg has once again turned his attention to conquering the booze industry. The creator of the classic hip-hop anthem ‘Gin and Juice’ has founded his own gin brand: INDOGGO Gin. Following a partnership with Treasury Wine Estates to release a California red blend under the 19 Crimes brand called Snoop Cali Red earlier in the year, Snoop Dogg teamed up with his friend and spirits veteran, Keenan Towns of Trusted Spirits and spirits importer Prestige Beverage Group this time to release INDOGGO Gin. The expression, which is housed in a purple bottle features a white logo with upturned ‘G’s in a hat tip to the fruit-infused gin being a remix on the classic juniper-dominant style, was distilled five times and features seven botanicals, including orange, coriander and cassia and is infused with “all-natural strawberry flavour” with no added sugar. “I can’t wait for the world to taste my remix on gin! When I wrote Gin & Juice back in ’94 it was about good feelings and real experiences, it just naturally became an anthem,” Snoop Dogg said. “When creating Indoggo, I wanted to give those feelings new life with an approachable juicy gin that’s smooth like the D.O. Double G.” INDOGGO Gin will first launch in Snoop’s home state of California in late September before it’s released throughout the rest of US through 2021, so if you can’t get your hands on it you can at least pour yourself something delicious and sing those seminal words: “Rollin down the street, smokin’ indo, sippin’ on gin and juice/ Laid back (with my mind on my money and my money on my mind.”

The Nightcap

It’s rare to see Ardbeg of this age so it’s particularly exciting news!

The second batch of Ardbeg Traigh Bhan is (nearly) here!

The second batch of Ardbeg Traigh Bhan is here! Or nearly here, it will be arriving at MoM towers soon. We liked the first release so much that we travelled up to Edinburgh with a film crew to listen to Brendan McCarron wax lyrical about it, video link here. The series is named after the beaches of Traigh Bhan (pronounced tri-van) on Islay which are known locally as ‘the singing sands’ because the noise the tide makes on the sand. This latest batch was matured in American oak and oloroso sherry casks for 19 years and bottled at 46.2% ABV with an RRP of £199. There’s a higher proportion of first-fill bourbon casks in the blend alongside refills and sherry casks. Dr Bill Lumsden commented: “To me, this whisky is the epitome of an aged Ardbeg. It somehow manages to balance the complex with the classic. It’s a truly unique bottling and we hope Ardbeggians everywhere look forward to comparing notes with the previous batch. I know I did!” Not only is the whisky special but the packaging is innovative too: each Traigh Bhan whisky carries its own unique batch code, batch symbol and signature from one of the Ardbeg team; this year it’s Jackie Thomson, the visitor centre manager. She said: “the small quirks and originalities on the bottle itself make it highly collectable – something we know our Ardbeg fans love.” They certainly do. Watch the New Arrivals page of the MoM website. It should be with us soon. 

The Nightcap

We can’t wait for this book to come out in October

Johnnie Walker book is coming

Have you ever wanted to know more about the man behind the world’s best-selling whisky, Mr John Walker? No? Well, we do. And now our curiosity is about to be sated with the imminent arrival of a new book called Johnnie Walker: A Long Stride. Its author, historian and Diageo’s grandly-titled head of whisky outreach Dr Nick Morgan, has been labouring in the company’s extensive archives for a good few years, and we can’t wait to find out what he has uncovered. It’s not just the story of the man, but also the brand up to the present day. According to the press release: “By doing things their own way, Johnnie Walker overturned the conventions of late Victorian and Edwardian Britain, survived two world wars and flourished despite the Great Depression to become the first truly global whisky brand, revolutionising the world of advertising along the way.” And you thought they just made delicious whisky. We’re hoping to host Dr Nick on the blog sometime soon to tell us more. 

The Nightcap

We’re very jealous of whoever gets their hands on this 47-year-old single cask whisky

Gordon & MacPhail launches 47-year-old whisky to mark 125th anniversary

Gordon & MacPhail has announced that it will launch four rare bottlings of single malt Scotch whisky to commemorate the company’s 125-year history. The independent bottler and distiller has been doing its thing since 1895, releasing all kinds of delicious single malts from over 100 celebrated, little-known, or closed distilleries. Each exceptionally rare whisky will come from casks from a closed distillery or made on Lomond stills that are no longer in production and will be released periodically during the rest of 2020. The first of which is the Gordon & MacPhail 1972 from Coleburn Distillery in Speyside, which is particularly fitting given the distillery is situated just four miles from the company’s Elgin home. The 47-Year-Old single cask whisky is said to be sweet, intense and complex with notes of butterscotch, apricot, cooked apples and mint, a profile it attained after spending its entire maturation in a refill sherry puncheon (cask 3511) before it was bottled at cask strength, 62.4% ABV. “The whiskies we have chosen to commemorate our 125th Anniversary are all truly unique and seldom seen in the market,” says Stephen Rankin, a fourth-generation member of Gordon & MacPhail’s owning family and the company’s director of prestige. “They are bottled from the last remaining casks we have from these distilleries, and marks an emotional moment for my family as they leave the Gordon & MacPhail warehouse after being left to mature by my grandfather many decades ago.”

The Nightcap

We’re delighted to see one of London’s finest bars return

Tayēr + Elementary opens its doors

Award-winning cocktail bar Tayēr + Elementary re-opened its doors following its closure during the lockdown period. Alex Kratena and Monica Berg will stagger the return in two phases, Tayēr will return in October and the venue’s front bar concept Elementary opening from at the beginning of this month from 3pm until midnight Tuesday and Wednesday, and 3pm-1am Thursday – Saturday. Its new outside terrace to help enable social distancing will make its debut and food from new chef partners Kitchen FM will be available, including the pig’s head croquette (mmmmm, pig’s head), served with kimchi and oyster mayo, deep fry chicken, with a smoked and spicy maple glaze and pickles and desserts such as the plum jam with ginger ice cream. Elementary’s drinks offering will feature the bar’s signature classics such as the One Sip Martini, Whey Sour and ēe Frozen Coffee alongside new highballs, beers, wines and seasonal cocktails. The Bottle Shop will be available for takeaway, serving all of the bar’s own ready-to-drink cocktails, which were launched by the team during lockdown, such as the Bergamot Margarita and Palo Santo Gimlet, as well as a selection of beers and wines to takeaway. 

The Nightcap

Congratulations Pierrick!

Lagavulin gets a new distillery manager

Big transfer news on Islay: Pierrick Guillaume is moving from Caol Ila to take up the role of distillery manager at Lagavulin. Frenchman Guillaume has been with Diageo for eight years with stints at Mortlach and Talisker before the move to Islay and Caol Ila in 2017. Having met and tasted with Guillaume we can vouch that not only is he a lovely chap but extremely knowledgeable. He commented: “It is a great honour to be asked to take on the role of Lagavulin distillery manager. Lagavulin is a whisky that is revered around the world and it’s a great privilege to be joining the outstanding team that makes this exceptional Scotch whisky and I can’t wait to get started.” Meanwhile, there are some big boots to fill at Caol Ila and stepping up is Samuel Hale who is currently the manager of Port Ellen Maltings. If you want to know more, why not tune into our Scotch and Sofa whisky festival tomorrow, 5 September? At 2pm both Guillaume and Hale will be taking a boat trip to Islay alongside Colin Dunn from Diageo and Henry Jeffreys from Master of Malt. 

The Nightcap

The Delevigne sisters are the latest celebs to embrace the world of booze

Celebrity booze continues with Pimm’s competition and Delevigne Prosecco

Celebrities and booze go together like caviar (the celebrity of the seafood world) and Champagne (the celebrity of the wine world). As such, we’ve got double trouble on the celebrity booze front for you this week. First up, we have the Delevigne sisters who have launched their own Prosecco! The sisters, Chloe, Poppy and Cara, called their creation Della Vite, which, although it sounds a lot like their last name, actually translates as ‘of the vine’. Having partnered with the Biasiotto family, two expressions are being launched this month, Della Vite Prosecco Superiore (DOCG) and Della Vite Prosecco Treviso (DOC). “Placing sustainability first and using agricultural methods that don’t rely heavily on the industry is at the core Della Vite’s values,” said Cara. “We spent four months looking for the perfect winery to align with our vision and are so proud to have created two exceptional Proseccos that are both sustainably produced and 100% certified vegan.” There’s no label, with the bottle sporting the brand signature created by Poppy Delevingne. Well, that’s one way of getting her autograph. From Prosecco to Pimm’s, the latter has launched a competition to try and make up for the strange summer Britain has had! Louise Redknapp is spearheading this one, giving the public the chance to win an afternoon with the Pimm’s O’Clock Truck! The winner will get to enjoy it at home for the day with a small gathering of friends and family (complying with COVID regulations, obviously). If you want to enter, snap a photo-sharing Pimm’s with your pals onto Instagram. Make sure you follow @Pimmsgb on Instagram, tag @Pimmsgb and use #TheOriginalTasteOfSummer. You have until 7 September to get your photos up, so get the pitcher out quick!

The Nightcap

Keep an eye out because this historic whisky is on its way to MoM Towers!

Isle of Raasay inaugural release sells out (yes, we will be getting some in)

If you were hoping to get your hands on a bottle of Isle of Raasay Distillery’s inaugural single malt, set to launch in November 2020, we have bad news. It’s already sold out. Before it’s even been bottled. Okay, let us explain. Out of its expected outturn of 7,500 bottles, the distillery set aside 4,350 bottles for an online pre-sale. Obviously these went like hotcakes, while the rest of the bottles have been snapped up by a selection of international markets, specialist retailers, restaurants and bars. It’s no wonder too, with the lightly peated whisky matured in first-fill American oak and set to be finished in 21 first fill Bordeaux red wine casks. “We are delighted to have sold out of our Isle of Raasay Single Malt Inaugural Release before it’s bottled in November,” said Isle of Raasay co-founder Alasdair Day. “This is the first legal whisky from an island rooted in centuries of illicit distilling, so it really is a piece of Scotch whisky history!” There is still hope for a bottle though! Make sure you keep an eye out on MoM new arrivals because we’ve got your back and will be stocking the historic whisky. Keep your other eye on its social channels (@RaasayDistillery), because we also heard that the distillery is launching a competition in October with the chance to win one of the prized bottles. 

The Nightcap

We recommend this tea made with whisky. It’s much nicer than it sounds.

And finally… WHISKY… TEA?

When we heard about Whisky Tea, we thought of the great Peter Kay and his cheesecake routine: “WHISKY…. TEA? Are my ears playing tricks on me?” Well, this is no joke, it’s the latest product from Edinburgh-based Pekotea. We were sent some samples and suitably impressed. These are quality teas, not a gimmick. One of the brains behind it, Jon Cooper, filled us in: “There are some close analogies between whisky and tea and we wanted to create something that would reflect this in tea blends. Just like the different regions of tea giving different flavours and aromas, we thought it would be great to make teas that reflected the main Scotch whisky regions. Each of the teas contains a different blend of base tea with added fruit and spices as well as the whisky and a little flavour oil to highlight the nose of each of the whiskies. We wanted to bring out the main aromas associated with each area.” For example, the Campbeltown expression is made from a blend of black tea with cacao nibs, currants and cornflower steeped in high strength whisky with essential oil and then dried. It tastes rich and fruity, the perfect after-dinner tea instead of coffee, or indeed a dram. 

No Comments on The Nightcap: 4 September

Introducing Pour & Sip: a new subscription club for whisky lovers

Hey, look! There’s a new monthly whisky subscription service in town. And it’s powered by us! It’s called Pour & Sip, and we’d love to tell you all about it….

Hey, look! There’s a new monthly whisky subscription service in town. And it’s powered by us! It’s called Pour & Sip, and we’d love to tell you all about it.

Do you ever wake up and decide you’re going to do things differently? Like convincing yourself that you’re going to start running 5 miles every morning (I’d take making it to the kitchen without pulling a muscle at this rate) or that you’re going to stop staying up until 2am every night arguing with strangers online that Girls Aloud’s Biology is a masterpiece of pop music composition (it is, and I regret nothing).

Well, here at MoM Towers we decided to change things up and have actually gone through with our big idea. Which is how we’ve arrived at Pour & Sip. It’s a new monthly whisky subscription service we created to change the way whisky lovers engage with and share the spirit while still providing the newest, most exciting and much-loved expressions around.

Pour & Sip was built to be a flexible platform for drinks discovery, tailored to customers and with community, accessibility and inclusion at its core. The founding team recognises that whisky can be intimidating, and has worked to develop a club that is welcoming for all (apart from those under the legal drinking age, obviously). Whisky is for anyone who enjoys flavour experiences, regardless of gender, ethnicity, background, or anything else. It’s basically one big happy family that welcomes connoisseurs to novices alike, all enjoy tasting and talking about the water of life. Sounds neat, right? 

Pour & Sip

Welcome to Pour & Sip. It’s as badass as it looks

Here’s how it works. Each month, customers who subscribe will receive five different 30ml measures of very tasty whisky. How do we know it’s so delicious? Because the selection has been curated by our passionate expert buyers and writers who boast years of experience in the whisky industry. Yay for us! Members are encouraged to join twice-monthly online tastings which provide an opportunity to explore each taster in detail, ask questions, and generally immerse themselves in all things whisky. 

They can also enjoy bespoke blog content, and will even receive access to exclusive discounts on full-price bottles at Master of Malt. Pour & Sip boxes ship monthly, with members at complete control of their subscription. Deliveries can be paused and resumed at any time at no cost, and set two- and three-month gift options are also available. Oh, and new customers receive a welcome pack containing a pair of tasting glasses, a ‘how to taste whisky’ card, detailed tasting notes, plus the first five 30ml whisky samples. 

“I am absolutely thrilled to announce the launch of Pour & Sip. We’re so excited to share our new whisky finds and passion with everyone, making this an experience less intimidating,” Giovana Petry, Pour & Sip lead, said of the launch. “Every monthly box is distinct, different, and filled to the brim with flavour. All our members have to do is sit back, Pour & Sip!”

Pour & Sip

Sit back, relax and let us do the hard work for you. All you need to do is pour and sip!

Pour & Sip is now open to new members, with the first welcome packs shipping in September. So, check it out: https://pourandsip.com/

1 Comment on Introducing Pour & Sip: a new subscription club for whisky lovers

The Nightcap: 28 August

Hollywood whisky, interactive distillery maps and the Black Forest coming to London. It’s just another regular week in the wonderful world of booze! It’s basically the last Bank Holiday weekend…

Hollywood whisky, interactive distillery maps and the Black Forest coming to London. It’s just another regular week in the wonderful world of booze!

It’s basically the last Bank Holiday weekend of the year (Christmas doesn’t count) in England and Wales and this is obviously incredibly exciting, because who doesn’t love a long weekend? It’s particularly good news if you’ve lost all sense of time like me and had no idea it was on the horizon. I feel like I’ve found a £5 note in an old coat pocket. A weekend as good as this deserves to be kicked off right. So, pour yourself a dram of something delicious and settle in with some delightful reading material. Like this lovely edition of The Nightcap…

It was another terrific week on the MoM blog as we announced that Drinks by the Dram’s delightful Advent Calendars have returned and also launched our incredible Bank Holiday weekend sale! Annie then kept the good times rolling by tasting new whisky from Tobermory, Deanston and Bunnahabhain and explored why coconut water has become the hot new mixer on the bar scene, while Jess cast an eye on a few awesome specialist bars that are pros in specific spirits, reported on BrewDog’s impressive environmental commitment and asked what’s the deal with bitters? Spoiler: they’re awesome. Adam then enjoyed the delights of a smoky summer sipper with an incredible backstory while Henry tasted an innovative rum that thinks it’s a gin. Oh, and we reviewed the 2020 edition of Diageo’s Special Releases. Spoiler: they’re also awesome.

Don’t forget that next weekend the incredible Scotch and Sofa will take place! Now, to The Nightcap! 

The Nightcap

The Glenlivet is helping to uncover illicit whisky past and highlight the impact of Scotch.

Glenlivet joins project to uncover whisky’s illicit past

Speyside whisky giant The Glenlivet has announced a first of its kind partnership this week with The National Trust For Scotland. The duo has launched the ‘Pioneering Spirit’ project, which pairs archive research with archaeological digs in a bid to highlight the impact that Scotch whisky production has had on Scotland’s cultural heritage and its modern way of life. Led by the Trust’s head of archaeology, Derek Alexander, and The Glenlivet’s archivist, Chris Brousseau, the digs will aim to uncover the illicit stills and forgotten bothies that were used to illegally produce and smuggle Scotch across the highlands in the early 1800s. “We are proud to be supporting the National Trust for Scotland and the amazing work they do to protect, and celebrate, what makes Scotland unique,” says Miriam Eceolaza, global marketing director of The Glenlivet. “As a brand that holds so much history in the distilling of Scotch whisky, we are looking forward to learning more about the illicit trade that our founder was involved in, as well as the lasting impact it has had on the country’s rich heritage”. Once underway, the project will enlist the help of visitors and Scottish residents alike to uncover more about the country’s illicit past and the role that whisky played in defining Scottish culture. To find out more, visit www.theglenlivet.com and www.nts.org.uk

The Nightcap

Are you a booze fan looking to holiday in Britain? Well, you’re in luck.

WSTA creates interactive distillery map

Do you know what would be handy for ‘staycationers’ who are also booze fans? An interactive map that showcases some of Britain’s best distillery and vineyard destinations. Oh, wait, that already exists thanks to The Wine and Spirit Trade Association! This week the WSTA launched its delightful map, which should prove useful for those who want to learn more about the art of wine and spirit making and see which locations offer tours, tastings and places to eat and stay on-site across the country. Currently, the map features over 50 distilleries and vineyards, which are marked by a spirit bottle and grape icon respectively. Simply click on them and you’ll get all the info you need about the brand and what experiences they offer. “The ginaissance has led to a huge wave of investment in exciting new distillery visitor centres and tours. There are now more English vineyards offering tours, tastings and dining experiences than ever before. To celebrate our great British distillers and winemakers we have launched the UK’s first digital wine and spirit map,” says Miles Beale, chief executive of the WSTA and Nightcap homie. “The pandemic means that more people are choosing to enjoy a staycation over the summer and this August Bank Holiday weekend. The WSTA’s interactive map has been designed to encourage people to find out more about the wave of exciting new wine and spirit experiences on their doorsteps.” Where will you go first? Britain now boasts over 763 vineyards and over 440 distilleries, so you’re spoilt for choice!

The Nightcap

Think you can make a delicious, locally-sourced cocktail? Then Jameson wants to hear from you!

Jameson launches new web series

Last year, Jameson brought bartenders, local farmers and producers from across the globe together to create locally inspired cocktails. Now fans can enjoy this adventure thanks to the brand’s new six-part web series. ‘Grow Your Own Cocktail’ will feature episodes from Dubai, Tel Aviv, Kuala Lumpur, Shanghai, Stockholm and Cork (home to Midleton Distillery) and aims to educate and inspire the global bar community. Alongside the series, Jameson is encouraging bartenders to proactively support their local community by launching a new competition that challenges them to create a Jameson cocktail using locally sourced ingredients. To enter you need to post your cocktail on Instagram, outlining the local ingredients used, the background to the collaboration, and explain why Jameson should support them, along with the hashtag #GrowYourOwnCocktail. A €1,000 cash prize will be split equally between bartenders and producers who work in collaboration and winners will also be encouraged to invest their prize back into their community through further local sourcing. “The bar community has faced serious challenges in 2020, so now, more than ever the industry needs solidarity, creativity and innovation to help it through these times. It’s Jameson’s mission to support this creativity and encourage bartenders to use their own environments in truly innovative ways,” says Irish Distillers’ international marketing director Brendan Buckley. Episodes of the web series will be released throughout August and September via @JamesonHosts and Jameson’s YouTube channel. For more information on how to enter the competition, head to Instagram. The deadline for entries is 14 September 2020. 

The Nightcap

German Gymnasium is bringing the Black Forest into the heart of London

The Black Forest comes to London 

There’s been a lot of teaming up this week, and German Gymnasium and Monkey 47 Dry Gin have got in on the act to bring a little slice of Black Forest charm to London through the wonder of gin cocktails. The duo presented A Schwarzwald Summer yesterday (Thursday 27 August), which is a two-month-long celebration designed to help people make the most of the many inevitable staycations that will take place this summer. The Schwarzwald, also known as the Black Forest, is where the Monkey 47 Gin brand is from. Naturally, it has created quite the cocktail list for the event, featuring two refreshing G&Ts, as well as variations on the Negroni, Spritz, Martini and a highball called the Schwarzwald Summer made up of Monkey 47 Gin, elderflower, mint, cucumber, lemon and tonic. There’s also going to be hearty German bar snacks like Black Forest ham and Currywurst, and for the duration of the partnership the outdoor bar will also be completely covered in vibrant pink, red, lilac and yellow flowers to reflect the traditional flower-laden houses seen throughout the Black Forest in the summertime. So, if you head on down, be sure to don your best Trachten, resist the urge to bring up gâteau every forty seconds and enjoy the Schwarzwald Summer!

The Nightcap

Cheers to 60 years of Macduff Distillery!

Macduff Distillery celebrates 60 years

Macduff has some celebrating to do next week as the Highland distillery marks 60 years since its official opening on 1 September 1960. Founded by four Glasgow businessmen, it was one of the first single malt distilleries to go into operation following the Second World War and its first whisky was released in 1968 – a five-year-old labelled ‘Macduff Pure Highland Malt Scotch Whisky’. You probably know the distillery best for creating The Deveron and Glen Deveron Scotch whisky brands, which were named in reference to the River Deveron, which runs alongside the distillery and its whisky has also been used in blends for William Lawson’s. The Macduff distillery, which is currently under Bacardi ownership following their acquisition of Martini Rossi in 1992, was designed to ensure it was as energy efficient as possible and the focus on sustainability and technology remains key for the distillery. “Production at Macduff was simple and compact, focusing on energy-saving techniques such as lagged pot stills which were also steam heated and the use of gravity instead of pumps. It’s fantastic to see that respect for the distillery’s beautiful natural surroundings still firmly in place today,” says Jacqueline Seargeant, global heritage manager for Bacardi, is responsible for archiving the rich history of Bacardi’s distilleries in Scotland. “From changes in ownership to adapting to changes in technology and whisky production techniques, it’s been a fascinating journey for Macduff over the last six decades, and I have no doubt there will be many more amazing stories to come.” There’s only one way to celebrate such an occasion, pick yourself up some Macduff whisky and raise a glass!

The Nightcap

The GlenDronach Kingsman Edition 1989 Vintage, looking very swanky indeed

GlenDronach announce new Kingsman whisky

Regardless of whether you’re a fan of the franchise or not, if you love whisky you’ve got to respect the Kingsman films because with each new movie comes delicious whisky! Delicious Glendronach whisky, to be precise. This week the GlenDronach distillery has announced that it will once again release a tie-in tipple in collaboration with director Matthew Vaughn to mark the upcoming release of The King’s Man: Tokyo Drift. The GlenDronach Kingsman Edition 1989 Vintage is a 29-year-old single malt matured in Oloroso sherry casks initially and finished in Pedro Ximénez casks. All 3,052 bottles have been labelled, numbered and wax-sealed by hand and each box comes with the Kingsman insignia and the signatures of both Barrie and Vaughn. This 1989 vintage is inspired by the oldest bottle of whisky housed at The GlenDronach Distillery — a twenty-nine-year-old whisky bottled in 1913, just before the outbreak of the First World War. According to Glendronach, three friends had each purchased a bottle before leaving for war, vowing to open the whiskies together upon coming home. Tragically, only one friend returned. Having never opened his bottle, his family later gifted it to the distillery, where it remains unopened and displayed in remembrance of fallen friends. “I have selected casks of the most exceptional character for this rare 1989 vintage, with smouldering aromas of dark fruits and sherry-soaked walnuts, vintage leather and cedarwood,” says The GlenDronach master blender, Dr Rachel Barrie. “On the palate, dense autumn fruits meld with date, fig and treacle, before rolling into black winter truffle and cocoa. In the exceptionally long finish, notes of blackberry, tobacco leaf and date oil linger to conclude the rich tasting experience”.

The Nightcap

We’re looking forward to the Android vs iPhone debates on which one can track blood alcohol better

And finally… Your phone could track your blood alcohol 

People joke about phones being able to do everything these days, but in reality, it looks like that really is becoming the case. The latest thing our gadgets are able to do is to track our blood alcohol concentration! Researchers over at the University of Pittsburgh discovered that the phone sensors can identify high blood alcohol concentration. If you’ve got a Nokia then, unfortunately, that won’t do the trick, you’ll need a smartphone for this one (though if you drop it that’s a whole different story). The devices were used to measure walking speed and movements after participants had been given a drop or two of the hard stuff, and it was all rather successful – the phones were more than 90% accurate in detecting when blood alcohol concentration had exceeded the legal limit for driving (which is 0.08%, for future reference). Obviously the hope for this is that it will discourage people from driving under the influence, seeing as they can check it themselves. But like we always say folks, sip, don’t gulp!

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Pre-order your delightful booze-filled Advent Calendars now!

Whether you’re the super-organised type who has everything ticked off their Christmas list by Halloween or the kind of person who just can’t wait to get their hands on a…

Whether you’re the super-organised type who has everything ticked off their Christmas list by Halloween or the kind of person who just can’t wait to get their hands on a selection of delicious drams, you’ll be thrilled to hear that Drinks by the Dram’s Advent Calendars are available to pre-order now!

I think we can all agree that we’d like 2020 to end better than it started. Thankfully, we can be the bearer of good news. Drinks by the Dram’s incredible boozy Advent Calendars are almost here! We’re delighted to reveal the new collection for this year which is so good you’ll be putting up decorations and singing for #WhiskySanta in September. 

If you’re new to this, here’s the deets. You can now put your order in for Advent Calendars from MoM Towers that are filled to the brim with 24 different 30ml drams of brilliant booze, one for each day in the Christmas run-in. You can choose from whisky produced all over the world as well as gin and rum editions. Plus the exciting Explorer calendars have returned and once again we’ve collaborated with That Boutique-y Gin Company and That Boutique-y Whisky Company. Whatever your tipple of choice, we can provide in style (look how pretty they are. They’re very pretty.). It’s the perfect gift for the drinks geek in your life, although don’t forget how important it is to treat yourself every now and again… 

Pre-order your delightful booze-filled Advent Calendars now

Look, Drinks by the Dram’s Advent Calendars have returned!

Don’t take our word for it, though, see for yourself! Check out the full team line-up of the 2020 Advent selection and pre-order* yours now!

Main Collection

Pre-order your delightful booze-filled Advent Calendars now

The Whisky Advent Calendar – £149.95 

Pre-order your delightful booze-filled Advent Calendars now

The Premium Gin Advent Calendar – £84.95 

Pre-order your delightful booze-filled Advent Calendars now

The Bourbon & US Whiskey Advent Calendar – £134.95 (Currently down from £149.95!)

Pre-order your delightful booze-filled Advent Calendars now

The Rum Advent Calendar – £149.95 

Pre-order your delightful booze-filled Advent Calendars now

The Scotch Whisky Advent Calendar – £149.95

Pre-order your delightful booze-filled Advent Calendars now

The World Whisky Advent Calendar – £149.95 

Pre-order your delightful booze-filled Advent Calendars now

The Single Cask Whisky Advent Calendar – £199.95 

Pre-order your delightful booze-filled Advent Calendars now

The Japanese Whisky Advent Calendar – £199.95

Pre-order your delightful booze-filled Advent Calendars now

The Premium Whisky Advent Calendar – £249.95

Pre-order your delightful booze-filled Advent Calendars now

Old & Rare Whisky Advent Calendar – £999.95

Explorer Editions

Pre-order your delightful booze-filled Advent Calendars now

Whisky Explorer Advent Calendar – £99.95

Pre-order your delightful booze-filled Advent Calendars now

Vodka Explorer Advent Calendar – £99.95

That Boutique-y Gin and Whisky Advent Calendars

Pre-order your delightful booze-filled Advent Calendars now

That Boutique-y Gin Company Advent Calendar – £49.95

Pre-order your delightful booze-filled Advent Calendars now

That Boutique-y Whisky Company Advent Calendar – £99.95

* Estimated despatch is 8 October.

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Diageo Special Releases 2020: Details are in!

It’s that time of year again – Diageo has just released the details of its Special Releases 2020 haul and we’ve had a taste! Here’s everything you need to know….

It’s that time of year again – Diageo has just released the details of its Special Releases 2020 haul and we’ve had a taste! Here’s everything you need to know.

It’s always a big day in the whisky calendar when the embargo lifts for Diageo Special Releases. A collection of unusual and generally pretty rare cask-strength single malt Scotch whiskies (no grain this year – obsessives of that style collectively stifle a sob), Special Releases celebrate distillery character, notable firsts, and often, pleasing quirks. 2020’s haul is no different!

The Rare by Nature theme returns, which is a deliberate throwback to 2019. And the eagle-eyed among us will note that the distillery line-up is a repeat from last year, too. The liquid, however, is all new. 

“The first selection we did of Rare by Nature was really well received,” explained Ewan Gunn, Diageo’s global Scotch whisky master, when he introduced the Special Releases 2020 line-up on a Zoom call. “People liked that they were all related to each other, the spread of piece points.” 

Diageo Special Releases 2020:

Eight delicious whiskies, the highlight of which for our money is that young Talisker…

Stand-out highlights? The first pot still Jamaican rum-finished Talisker expression – hello! – and a 20-year-old Cragganmore, the first release of that age from the distillery. It was also an absolute treat to get to sample a 30-year-old Pittyvaich, liquid from the ghost distillery. 

“For those who enjoy spicy flavours, my recommendation would be to try our Cardhu,” Dr Craig Wilson, Diageo’s master blender, who curated the collection, said in a statement. “For those who favour rich, intense and smooth flavours my choice would be Mortlach 21-year-old.”

But enough of the recommendations! Here’s the glorious line-up in full, complete with our tasting notes.

Cardhu 11-Year-Old

ABV: 56.0%

Region: Speyside

Cask: From refill, new, and ex-bourbon American oak

Availability: Limited quantities worldwide 

RRSP: £85

On the nose, this is a pretty juicy, wood-forward wonder, rounded out with loads of green fruit (mouth-watering apple especially), and some boiled sweets – pear drops and rhubarb and custard. On the palate, it’s creamy, buttery and lifted by a smidge of pepper. The finish is long, lingering and warming.

Diageo Special Releases 2020:

Cragganmore 20-Year-Old

ABV: 55.8%

Region: Speyside

Cask: From refill casks and new fresh-charred casks.

Availability: Limited quantities worldwide 

RRSP: £130

A pretty relaxed dram for the ABV, with banana, pear and vanilla pods on the nose, along with a cedar wood quality. The palate is more savoury than you might think with toasted bread, black pepper and some pecan nuttiness. On the finish, there’s sweet chilli and more toast.

Diageo Special Releases 2020:

Dalwhinnie 30-Year-Old

ABV: 51.9%

Region: Highland

Cask: From refill hogsheads 

Availability: No. bottles available: 6,978

RRSP: £550

A mega-aged Dalwhinnie, often thought of as the gentle dram. And this continues its reputation! The nose is soft, herbal and shortbread-led, while the palate comes through with soft sweet spices – a smidge of cinnamon with a helping of orchard fruit. The finish plays up on the spices.

Diageo Special Releases 2020:

Lagavulin 12-Year-Old

ABV: 56.4%

Region: Islay

Cask: From refill American oak casks

Availability: Limited quantities worldwide  

RRSP: £125

An earthy delight! This packs an ashy punch, with pronounced smoky notes, but with lashings of boiled sweets, too. It’s lively, packed full of sweet spices, and there’s a vanilla ice cream cone note in with all the medicinal qualities. The finish is super long, with waft after waft of smoke. 

Diageo Special Releases 2020:

Mortlach 21-Year-Old

ABV: 56.9%

Region: Speyside

Cask: From Pedro Ximenez & Oloroso Sherry seasoned casks

Availability: No. bottles available: 7,692 

RRSP: £575

According to Dr. Wilson, this is “the Beast of Dufftown tamed”. But fear not – if you like robust whiskies, this still more than stands up. The PX and Oloroso casks preserve the meatiness, while on the palate there are loads of tannins to make the mouth water. The finish is bursting with savoury notes. 

Diageo Special Releases 2020:

Pittyvaich 30-Year-Old

ABV: 50.8%

Region: Speyside

Cask: From first-fill ex-bourbon casks

Availability: No. bottles available: 7,056

RRSP: £400

An absolute gem, overflowing with tropical fruits on the nose, plus a linseed oil quality and forest-floor leaves. The palate holds up fruit-wise, with peppery vanilla and a mouth-filling oiliness keeping it complex. While the finish is on the shorter side, it gives a surprisingly spicy warmth. 

Diageo Special Releases 2020:

Talisker 8-Year-Old

ABV: 57.9%

Region: Isle of Skye 

Cask: From pot-still Caribbean rum casks. 

Availability: Limited quantities worldwide 

RRSP: £90

The expression of Special Releases 2020 for us. And the first from the distillery to be matured in ex-pot still Caribbean rum casks! It’s aromatic and smoke-led, but with pear drop, seaweed and even a meatiness on the nose, too. The palate adds in tropical fruit hints and peppery spices, while the finish blends in chilli pepper, too. 

Diageo Special Releases 2020:

The Singleton of Dufftown 17-Year-Old

ABV: 55.1%

Region: Highland

Cask: Matured only in refill American oak hogsheads.

Availability: Limited quantities worldwide  

RRSP: £110

A more chilled out expression, but still all-round delicious. The nose is waxy with honeycomb and magnolia vibes, while on the palate there’s a cream soda suggestion, along with British orchard fruits. The medium finish has hints of ginger, too.

What’s on your shopping list? Any expressions you can’t wait to try? Let us know in the comments – and keep an eye on the New Arrivals feed for availability!

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BrewDog becomes the first carbon negative beer company 

We have mega news from Scotland’s ever-awesome BrewDog – it’s now officially carbon negative across the entire business! That’s right, not even carbon neutral, but negative. Talk about setting an…

We have mega news from Scotland’s ever-awesome BrewDog – it’s now officially carbon negative across the entire business! That’s right, not even carbon neutral, but negative. Talk about setting an example…

We’ve long been saying that companies need to take more accountability for their carbon footprint, and distilleries and breweries are far from exempt. While news surrounding the environment and climate change can seem like a barrage of negativity, every so often something miraculous comes along. Like the news that BrewDog is carbon negative! Seeing as CO2 levels are nearly at the highest record in human history, this news couldn’t come quick enough. 

BrewDog carbon negative

BrewDog is planning on planting an entire woodland

It’s easy for companies to make a small contribution to the cause of climate change, sit back and be happy with their performative eco-initiatives. Which is what BrewDog was doing, with its total carbon footprint coming to 67,951 tonnes CO2 in 2019. “And then it hit us,” write James Watt and Martin Dickie, co-founders of BrewDog, “the blindingly stark realisation that we were not doing anything like enough. And in fact, we were massively contributing to the current existential problem that our planet and our species are facing.”

This news from BrewDog is far from performative. “We double offset our scope 1, 2 and upstream scope 3 carbon,” the duo continue. That all sounds rather technical, but what it actually means is that BrewDog offsets the carbon in its supply chain as well as just in its production processes. This is true commitment. 

From 22 August 2020, the company pledged to remove twice as much carbon from the air each year as it emits. So, how is BrewDog achieving this improbable task? Firstly, by 2022 the company is planning to have planted one million trees in the Scottish Highlands in a 2,050-acre plot of land it bought. We’re not talking about a monoculture here, but actual biodiversity! The ecosystem will be built with the Woodland Carbon Code accreditation program. It’s also dedicating 550 acres to peatland restoration because peatlands are ridiculously effective carbon sinks. 

This is all very impressive, but you may be thinking that action isn’t enough in itself. Education is crucial too. BrewDog thought of this and is also planning an educational campsite at the site which will run sustainability retreats and workshops in what will be known as the BrewDog Forest. Give a man a fish, and all that.

BrewDog carbon negative

Local wind turbines will power all of BrewDogs UK breweries

This is also all well and good, but why work so hard on removing carbon from the atmosphere if you’re just going to keep contributing to the emissions? BrewDog thought of this too, and it has a multifaceted 24-month plan to reduce its carbon footprint. Waste malted barley will be turned into biomethane, relieving the dependence on fossil fuels. All of the electricity used to brew BrewDog beer in the UK will come directly from local wind turbines, while all of its vehicles will eventually be electric. By 2021, an anaerobic digester bio-plant will be in use, turning waste brewery water into H2O that can be reused in production. And last but certainly not least, perhaps the most creative out of all the initiatives, CO2 produced during fermentation will be captured and, hopefully, used to carbonate BrewDog beers!

Much of these initiatives are simply reducing and repurposing what was previously perceived as a waste product into something useful. Surplus beer is turned into vodka. Spent spelt is turned into dog biscuits. The brand’s MEGA (Make Earth Great Again) lager is made by replacing 20% of the barley with surplus fresh bread.  But, unfortunately, once the beer is produced there’s even more scope for waste. BrewDog reported that every year, almost one billion drinks cans in perfect condition aren’t even used, due to changes in branding or production errors. So, what did they do? Repurposed those cans with new labels! This seems like a logical solution, but time and effort are often prized over reducing waste. With a little bit of creativity, dedicated time and an open mind, waste almost ceases to exist! 

BrewDog carbon negative

All parts of BrewDog’s business are carbon negative

What is really inspiring here is not only BrewDog’s dedication and achievements but its transparency. An entire page was dedicated to its carbon footprint breakdown in the press release, all of its secrets laid bare. “We will regularly update and refine these numbers and share the latest estimates in each edition of our sustainability report,” BrewDog has pledged. Transparency has always been needed in the industry, but particularly when it comes to sustainability. 

Because of this hard work, BrewDog can now proudly say that all parts of its business are carbon negative. That encompasses its beers, bars, spirits, e-commerce and breweries across the world. “It has been a joy to work with BrewDog on these first big steps of their transition. Going forwards they won’t be perfect,” writes professor Mike Berners-Lee, lead scientific advisor at BrewDog. “They’ll make mistakes and they’ll need to be honest about them. They won’t need to beat themselves up but they mustn’t let themselves off the hook either. The message they send to the rest of the business world is that if they can say it like it is, everyone else had better do likewise.” This is crucial – there is always more to be done. It’s better to try and make mistakes, though there is never a time to sit back and rest.

“We want to make BrewDog a catalyst for change in our industry and beyond,” state the co-founders. We can only hope that this is the case. This is truly fabulous news, but the industry still has so far to go.

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