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Master of Malt Blog

Category: News

The Nightcap: 15 November

Celebrity booze, a motorcycle built in collaboration with Smokehead whisky and the goodest of boys (#dogbassador). It’s another wild and wonderful week for The Nightcap. We all have our personal…

Celebrity booze, a motorcycle built in collaboration with Smokehead whisky and the goodest of boys (#dogbassador). It’s another wild and wonderful week for The Nightcap.

We all have our personal moments when we start to feel just a little bit festive. For some, it might be when the town lights come on, for others it might be that first bag of turkey and stuffing-flavoured crisps. At Master of Malt, however, there’s a very clear sign that it’s safe to get out the reindeer jumpers, start stocking up on mince pies and trying to think of amusing puns based on the word yule: it’s the first sighting of #WhiskySanta! And lo, he has been spotted, and verily he’ll be giving away all kinds of boozy goodness. Yule be mad not to get involved (see what we did there, first yule-based pun of the season). Right, that’s enough Christmas dad jokes, nothing is going to hold back this week’s Nightcap!

On the MoM blog this week we heard the sound of sleigh bells jingling, ring tingle tingling too as he returned. That’s right, #WhiskySanta is back at MoM Towers! Elsewhere, we launched another fantastic competition, this time with the fab folks at Starward! Henry then managed to pin down Dave Broom to chat about his new whisky film The Amber Light, before he enjoyed a sacrilegious gin liqueur, and made the classic The Corpse Reviver No.1 our Cocktail of the Week! Annie, meanwhile, looked at the future of flavour and cask whisky investment, before Adam talked Comte de Grasse with its founder Bhagath Reddy and uncovered the magic behind the latest bar menu at The Savoy’s Beaufort Bar.

Now, onto the Nightcap!

The Nightcap

Congrats to you, David!

Isle of Arran Distillers names Lochranza distillery manager

Lochranza Distillery, the second spirits-maker of the Isle of Arran, has a shiny new distillery manager! Say hello to David Livingstone, who is set to touch down on the island to take on the top job. He’s hot-footed it over the water from Islay, where he was previously assistant manager at Laphroaig before he helped in the set-up of Ardnahoe distillery. Sounds like the ideal candidate to oversee Lochranza operations, a site that will produce around 600,000 litres of spirit per year when it’s fully up and running. James MacTaggart, who has been master distiller at Isle of Arran Distillers since 2007, will take on a new role as director of production and operations, overseeing both the Lochranza and Lagg Distillery sites. “It’s an especially exciting time to take on this role at such a remarkable whisky company and I’m very proud to be given the opportunity to look after the future of these great spirits,” Livingstone said. “Being from the islands myself, I recognise how important distilleries are to island communities and that’s something I’ve always been passionate about.” MacTaggart added: “As the company continues to grow and develop, it’s necessary that we have the best whisky people around us. We’re delighted to have David on board for the next part of our journey and know that we can learn plenty from his wealth of knowledge and experience.” Bring on the whisky!

The Nightcap

The special Ducati motorcycle built in collaboration with Smokehead whisky

Man rides motorbike into whisky tasting, nobody hurt

“I’m getting TCP, I’m getting wood smoke, I’m getting petrol.” Petrol? From a whisky? No, from that enormous throbbing motorbike being ridden indoors. Don’t worry our whisky event hadn’t been invaded by Hell’s Angels, we were at the Bike Shed Motorcycle Club in London’s fashionable Shoreditch district for the unveiling of a special Ducati motorcycle built in collaboration with Smokehead whisky. We were sipping delicious Smoker cocktails made with Smokehead, lemon juice, honey syrup, ginger liqueur, and activated charcoal (so much nicer than deactivated charcoal) when the beast arrived. Also called The Smoker, it’s a Ducati twin built by Edinburgh-based bike customiser Tyler Lunceford. From the sound of the machine, the crowd were expecting Meat Loaf crossed with Beelzebub to get off, but in fact, the bike’s builder is a mild-mannered American, who after switching off the noise, quietly told us about his creation. For those struggling to see the connection between a motorcycle and an Islay single malt, Lunceford explained: “Smokehead whisky is not for everyone and neither is The Smoker – it’s bold, it’s intimidating and it’s loud. It’s really loud. It attracts a certain crowd. It’s certainly not for everyone.” Makes sense.

The Nightcap

The wonderful St. Vincent will be hosting the bar

Veuve Clicquot launches Souvenir Bar with St. Vincent

Give us great music and a good glass of Champagne, and we’re happy. If that sounds good to you, then you’ll want to head over to Veuve Clicquot’s very own bar in Covent Garden, Souvenir, opening from 22 to 23 November. The Champagne house has teamed up with American musician St. Vincent (aka Annie Clark), who will be hosting the bar, though this isn’t any run-of-the-mill establishment. The bar is described as a part speakeasy, part sensory space, aiming to transport visitors far away from reality with a glass of Veuve Clicquot in their hand. The bar will be filled with a unique mix of sounds, specifically designed to trigger memory, and feeling of past, present and future. Consider our interest piqued. To create the space, St. Vincent collaborated with a collective of creators, designers, and mixologists. Every detail has been thought through, with St. Vincent determining what people will eat, drink, see and hear. It also looks like there will be a few unexpected twists and turns throughout the night, as she will also play with the notion of unexpected characters and appearances… It’s all very mysterious, though we’re thoroughly intrigued. What’s the souvenir then, we hear you ask? It’s the memories created when you’re in the space, of course! Plus maybe a slight headache the next morning. Remember folks, sip don’t gulp.

The Nightcap

The great whiskies will raise money for a great cause.

Islay whisky collected on 110 miles row up for auction

This weekend, 16/17 November, you can take part in a very special auction to get your hands on some Islay whiskies and raise money for the RNLI. The Islay Sea Collection is a collection of whiskies from each other island’s coastal distilleries gathered by a team of enthusiasts who rowed from Northern Island, stopping off at each distillery to pick up the goods. Yes, rowed, talk about commitment to the cause. It took over nine hours to row the 110 miles to Islay and three days to collect all the whiskies. We imagine they probably stopped for a dram or two to keep out the cold. A film has been made about their amazing voyage. The collection is made up of Bowmore 15 Years Old Feis Ile 2018 bottling, Caol Ila 12 Years Old, Bruichladdich Scottish Barley The Classic Laddie, Bunnahabhain 12 Years Old Small Batch Distilled, Laphroaig 10 Years Old, Ardbeg An Oa, and Lagavulin 16 Years Old, plus a special cask created with wood from each distillery. Graham Crane from the auction site Just Whisky commented: “This is a really exciting collection and we are honoured to have been asked to auction it in support of the RNLI. We are in awe of the journey these men took and hope to fetch £XXXX for the charity. We look forward to seeing the bids rolling in.” Keith Gilmore lifeboat operations manager at Portrush Station added: “This is a really exciting and novel way to raise funds for the two stations. We often have to work with Islay, and this is a great way to work with one of our neighbours and local supporters to raise funds for the RNLI.” So a worthwhile cause and a unique collection of whisky. Auction closes on Sunday 17 November at 8pm.

The Nightcap

Ryan Chetiyawardana and co’s swanky new menu has launched at Lyaness

Seven-ingredient new Lyaness menu is pretty damn tasty

Last week we hightailed it up to London to check out Ryan Chetiyawardana and co’s shiny new menu at Lyaness. Taking a cook’s approach to bartending, it’s the result of playful experimentation – you can try a twist on a classic, or you can go “off piste” and base a drink around a favourite flavour profile. And it’s all focused around seven core ingredients, each prepared in the Lyaness kitchen: Infinite Banana, Lyaness Tea-mooth, Peach Emoji, Vegan Honey, ONYX, Golden Levain, and Purple Pineapple. The whole shebang is very much designed as a guide book, not a rule book, or as the team describes it, “a mechanism, to help people think differently about cocktails”. And the hours that go into the prep for each is unreal: the Peach Emoji, for example, is designed to “pull a peach apart, dissect it and put it back together again”. The stones are roasted then steeped, the flesh is rested in enzymes until it becomes a liquid, while the rest is lacto-fermented. Fancy. Lyaness recognises that drinking can be creative, fun and unique, and that success should be in the palate of the beholder, rather than in the eyes of someone dictating the rules. Go check it out!

The Nightcap

Get involved, guys!

The Benevolent launches 2019 Online Silent Auction

Following the success of the “Thanks for Giving” Online Silent Auction in 2017, the wonderful folk at The Benevolent are launching a new silent auction to raise £10,000, and they need your support! The online auction will start on Friday 22nd November at 9am and run until 5pm on Friday 6th December. The charity seeks to help those within the UK drinks industry who are in need of support. The auction also provides an ideal opportunity to buy some exceptional Christmas presents, as items available range from Michelin starred restaurant vouchers, coveted sporting memorabilia, tickets to prestigious events as well as several incredible items generously donated by members of the trade. You will be able to browse the lots before the auction goes live in order to plan your bids. Whilst this auction is primarily aimed at people in the drinks trade, nonetheless, it is certainly available to anyone, whether involved in the trade or not so there’s no excuse not to get involved. In order to bid, you will need to register first. To do so, as well as browse and prepare to place your bids, click here. Good luck!

The Nightcap

Porto Protocol is taking action against climate change and environmental degradation.

Drink Port, plant trees

Here’s a charitable initiative we can all get behind, drink Port and help fund a reforestation project in the Douro Valley. When you buy a bottle of Taylor’s Select Reserve Port from the Co-Op, some of the money will go to a charity that plants trees. It’s part of Porto Protocol, an organisation mentored by Taylor’s to take action against climate change and environmental degradation. Adrian Bridge, Taylor’s CEO commented, “we are delighted to have Co-op’s support for this important project. By allowing us to plant more trees, Co-op’s investment will significantly increase the positive impact of the reforestation. As custodians of the unique environment and landscape of the Douro Valley, we understand the importance of extending our environmental initiatives beyond the vineyard itself.” Co-op wine buyer, Sarah Benson, added: “We’re thrilled to be exclusively supporting Taylor’s on this important project through the sales of this brilliant Port, which will help bring new life to the Douro Valley.” The Co-Op expect to sell enough Port to plant 2,500 trees, that the size of four football pitches so the more Port you buy, the better it is for the environment. Everybody wins.

The Nightcap

The vodka was inspired by events Hudson hosted at her former home on King Street in New York

Welcome to the celeb booze club, Kate Hudson!

All aboard the celebrity booze bandwagon! The latest passenger to jump aboard? Actor and entrepreneur Kate Hudson, who this week launched her King St. Vodka in the US. The spirit has been ‘distilled seven times’ in Santa Barbara, California, is gluten-free (like all spirits), and is made with alkaline water, said to result in an ‘insanely smooth and clean’ tipple. Hmmmmm. According to Hudson herself, it was inspired by the evenings she used to host at her former home on King Street in New York. “I have always found the spirits industry fascinating, and I love Dirty Vodka Martinis,” she said. “The creative side of me thought it would be a fun challenge to develop a vodka for my palate, and in a beautiful package that I would love to have on my bar and share with friends. The business person in me is now looking forward to the challenge of building a brand in an entirely new industry.” She’s previously co-founded Fabletics activewear, and recently launched her own clothing label, Happy X Nature – so booze really is a new venture. She should be in safe hands though; also involved in King St. Vodka is David Kanbar, the spirits entrepreneur behind the likes of Skyy Vodka and Bulldog Gin.

The Nightcap

Keep an eye out on the MoM Blog for the full story on this one…

Sir Ranulph Fiennes gets his very own rum

In the week that Kate Hudson launched her very own vodka, top explorer Ranulph Fiennes has unveiled his very own rum made in conjunction with English Spirit. You’d think that they would have checked the celebrity product launch calendar. Sir Ranulph Fiennes’ Great British Rum, as it’s called, is a bit unusual. It’s distilled from molasses but rather than being aged in casks, different woods representing Fiennes’s adventures such as sequoia from Canada, pine from Norway and date palm from Oman have been added during distilled. What strange alchemy is this? Distiller Dr John Waters explained: “This launch represents a milestone for British rum production. We are putting a marker into the ground that Britain can produce a premium, quality rum and it’s the perfect testament to a legendary British expedition leader.” Sir Ranulph commented: “Rum has always been associated with exploration and adventure, but I only wanted to work with a distillery that was daring and determined. When Dr John told me of the world’s doubt that Britain could make a truly great rum, well, that sealed the deal. From that moment, we aimed to tread new ground”. We have the full story coming soon in an interview with Sir Ranulph (Kate Hudson, though, has not returned our calls).

The Nightcap

Is this the best story we’ve ever had on the Nightcap? Yes. Yes it is.

And finally… Early Times’s dogbassador Earl ‘graduates’ service dog programme

Yes, we love whisky. And yes, cats are our collective first love of the animal kingdom. But there’s always going to be space for a good dog or two, too. And goodest boys don’t come much better than Earl, the ‘dogbassador’ for Early Times whiskey! The one-year-old hound just graduated from the K9s For Warriors programme, which sees dogs trained up to become service animals for military veterans in the US. The specialist pooches don’t just look cute – they also help those who have served post-9/11 and are suffering from PTSD, brain injuries and other trauma. The programme is part of a four-year partnership in which Early Years has donated more than US$225,000 to K9s for Warriors. “The minute our team met Earl, we knew he was special and we had high hopes he would graduate and be matched with a veteran,” said Dallas Cheatham, Early Times senior brand manager. “50% of the dogs who begin training do not complete the programme due to medical or behavioural incompatibilities. It takes a specific personality to become a service dog.” Not only does Earl respond expertly to verbal cues (the typical ‘sit’ and ‘down’), but the training also improved his focus and sensitivity to touch. He’s now been paired with a veteran and, after three weeks of side-by-side training, the new pair will head home for their happily ever after. Just look at Earl’s face. We’re not crying, you are.

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The Nightcap: 8 November

Greetings, one and all! Another week has been and gone, so that means there’s a fresh harvest of stories for The Nightcap! OK, so Halloween is done. Bonfire Night has…

Greetings, one and all! Another week has been and gone, so that means there’s a fresh harvest of stories for The Nightcap!

OK, so Halloween is done. Bonfire Night has passed. Pancake Day was ages ago. I wonder if there are any other events coming up that people are very excited about and won’t stop posting about on the internet and making us slightly panic…? If only we could see past the piles of mince pies and giant sock-shaped boxes of chocolate bars in the shops, we might be able to see if they’re advertising something (as that is where we look to find out what’s happening in the world – the displays in shops).Well, I’m sure we’ll know soon enough. In the meantime, let’s see what’s been going on in the world of boozes this week – it’s The Nightcap!

On the MoM blog this week we excitedly announced the launch of The Three Drinkers Cask Selection No. 1, the first official whisky bottling released by the Amazon Prime TV show released exclusively with, well, us! Elsewhere you’ll have noticed the return of Dram Club and Ian Buxton, who celebrated a true whisky hero in his guest feature this week. Annie then talked with Kirsteen Campbell, the new master whisky maker at The Macallan, and then created a handy little guide to sherry. We also marked Old Fashioned Week by making the classic serve our Cocktail of the Week, while Adam round-up some sublime whiskies that feature intriguing cask-finishes. Oh, and don’t forget to check out video tour of Glenrinnes Distillery!

Now, onto the Nightcap!

The Nightcap

Six Kingdoms, the new 15 Year Old Mortlach expression

Diageo reveals bonus ninth Game of Thrones single malt Scotch

Now, deep down we all knew that when Game of Thrones ended back in May that this wasn’t really going to be the end. The worlds of Westeros will live on through prequels (if they don’t all get cancelled) and, more importantly, through whisky! You guessed it, there’s another Game of Thrones expression out. Diageo announced the ninth and final bottling in the Game of Thrones Single Malt Scotch Whisky Collection, and it’s a 15 Year Old Mortlach dubbed Six Kingdoms. If your memory is a bit hazy, Westeros’ Seven Kingdoms, mentioned many times throughout the show, became six in the finale. Remember the independence of the North and all that? Anyway, the single malt was matured in first-fill sherry casks, with a finish in American oak bourbon casks. Flavour-wise, we can expect those hallmark beasty notes with “vanilla and spice befitting of those with a noble palate”. “Eight fantastic scotches toasted the coming of the final season of the show, and we now look back on the most captivating television show of all time and raise a ninth glass in celebration,” said Jeff Peters, vice president, licensing and retail, at HBO. It comes in a metallic gold presentation tube, decorated with an intricate pen and ink drawing of the three-eyed raven, who we’re sure would be great company to share a dram with. If this all sounds right up your street, then keep an eye (or three) on our New Arrivals page!

The Nightcap

Be sure to have an Old Fashioned yourself!

The UK celebrates five years of Old Fashioned Week

A landmark of the international cocktail year stirred up some action once again as Old Fashioned Week returned to bars around the world. It was the fifth anniversary of the event and in such a short amount of time it’s become quite the success. Last year 1,300 bars participated across 60 countries, an estimated 205,000 Old Fashioned cocktails were sold and the likes of Cambodia, Czech Republic, Netherlands, South Africa, Sudan and Vietnam took part for the first time. But what was on offer to enjoy this year? Aside from the obvious answer, sponsors Woodford Reserve hosted an array of experiences, events and limited edition menus with 285 bars from London, Manchester, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Bristol and Cardiff. Working alongside some of its leading bartenders, the American whiskey brand created a map across the UK, featuring the likes of Swift, Murder Inc, Discount Suit Company, Three Sheets and Homeboy. “Woodford Reserve really is the perfect base for all kinds of twists on the Old Fashioned, our most popular serve,” said Mia Johansson, co-owner of Swift, Soho. We’ve taken inspiration from the ‘sweet aromatics’ flavour segment of Distiller’s Select – the backbone of the complex whiskey flavour – to craft a complex, wholesome Old Fashioned with notes directly from the award-winning mashbill. We’re delighted to have partnered with Woodford Reserve for Old Fashioned Week and look forward to welcoming cocktail lovers from across the country.”

The Nightcap

The new-look Blue Label

Timorous Beasties reveals limited edition Johnnie Walker Blue Label

Last night we attended the launch of a new-look Johnnie Walker Blue Label entitled the Rare Side of Scotland. It features a limited-edition bottle and pack designed by the Timorous Beasties, an award-winning Glasgow-based textile design studio. The aspect of the design you’ll notice first is the image of Aurora Borealis (the Northern Lights), shining theatrically over the Scottish Highlands, which serves as a backdrop for three of Scotland’s rare large birds: the white-tailed eagle, the curlew and the rapid eider duck (best bird name ever). These aren’t the only ‘beasties’ you’ll find, there’s also the narrow-bordered bee hawk-moth, and Scotland’s smallest butterfly – the Small Blue, as well as floral depictions of machair, saxifrage and mountain havens. “Exploring the rarest spirits from the four corners of Scotland has been a remarkable privilege and a personal passion throughout my four decades at Johnnie Walker,” says Johnnie Walker master blender Dr. Jim Beveridge. “The celebration of rare, exceptional Scotch whiskies – paired with the rare craftsmanship of our team of expert whisky makers – will always be at the very heart of Johnnie Walker Blue Label. We know that our devotion to our craft is mirrored by Timorous Beasties, and this is highlighted by these beautiful bottle designs.” Johnnie Walker Blue Label Rare Side of Scotland will be available from MoM Towers soon.

The Nightcap

Winter rooftop terraces are all the rage this year, darling.

It’s festive rooftop winter terrace season!

You may be thinking that, as we descend into the cooler months, it’s time to stay inside and wrap up warm. You’re mistaken! This year it looks like winter rooftop terraces are all the rage, so we thought we’d give you a sneak-peek roundup of what to expect. Firstly, Fentimans has an exciting new release, Pink Ginger, a lightly spiced botanically-brewed soft drink combining pear juice, orange and herbal extracts. To celebrate, the brand is taking over the ninth floor of London’s Skylight, which will now be home to a life size, pink gingerbread house! We’re not joking. It will be decorated with icing, candy canes, and inside you’ll find edible sweet-filled walls. (Okay, so the sweets are edible, the walls aren’t. Just to be clear.) Hansel and Gretel, eat your heart out (literally). It’s available to book in three-hour slots for groups of eight throughout the festive season, with each group receiving a cockle-warming Fentimans hot Pink Ginger cocktail on arrival. You can also just visit Skylight itself and treat yourself to a whole menu of festive Fentimans ginger drinks. Get ready to fill your boots with pink, gingery goodness from Thursday 14 November until January. Secondly, the iconic Madison’s in St Paul’s is teaming up with Belvedere Vodka and being transformed into a winter haven, dubbed The Enchanted Woods, filled with fairy lights, warm cocktails and blankets to boot. We particularly like the sound of ‘Drop It Like It’s Hot’, which sees a warming blend of Hennessy VS, Quaglia Chamomile Liquore and Italicus, with lemon and chamomile tea. It’s certainly a panoramic spot to snuggle up at and enjoy the festive views of London, and opened this week on 6 November and is running all the way through to February. So go on, get out there and get into the Christmas spirit(s)!

The Nightcap

At Balthazar London you’ll find a unique bottling of Maker’s Mark

Balthazar London launches whiskey in collaboration with Maker’s Mark

Not many restaurants can boast its own signature whiskey, but Balthazar, the New York-style brasserie in Covent Garden, is one of the few that can, following its partnership with Maker’s Mark Private Select. A first-of-its-kind barrelling programme, Private Select allows brands to purchase a barrel from the Kentucky distillery and create a truly bespoke spirit that encapsulates the restaurant’s distinct character. Two of Balthazar’s team spent a day at the distillery creating eight different blends, eventually settling on a mix of French and American oak finishing staves, as a nod to the inspiration behind the restaurant. Essentially a variation of Maker’s Mark 46, the whiskey was then aged for an additional nine weeks and bottled in bespoke-labelled Balthazar whiskey bottles. Expect notes of sweet butterscotch, honey, cinnamon, coffee, wood oak smoke, tobacco and dark bitter chocolate. “Balthazar was the ideal partner to work with on this new whiskey. The restaurant already boasts such an impressive collection of American whiskies so we were pleased to work with them on a unique blend,” commented Amanda Humphrey, brand ambassador for Maker’s Mark. “Its flavours of vanilla and butterscotch, mixed with bitter chocolate and cured tobacco, make it the perfect drink for both seasoned whiskey drinkers as well as the uninitiated.” Guests can enjoy the whiskey as part of a cocktail or on its own, while the chefs have also created two specially-paired dishes: a Chestnut Tortellini with Smoked Delica pumpkin and vanilla beurre noisette as well as a Gingerbread soufflé and whiskey ice cream for dessert. We can say from personal experience that they’re both delicious, as is the whiskey. You can purchase the bottling from the restaurant itself, or online for £100.

The Nightcap

The Chosen – due to land at MoM Towers soon!

JJ Corry unveils 27 year old The Chosen

In a really rather exciting treat for our taste buds, JJ Corry has teamed up with J. Hill’s Standard Crystal and John Galvin Design for something really rather special: The Chosen. Just 100 hand-cut decanters of the 27 year old Irish single malt single cask have been released. We checked it out at the official launch this week, and can confirm each decanter is both slightly different and as beautiful as they look, evoking the grasses on the beaches on the Wild Atlantic Way, close to the JJ Corry brand home. The ash wood cabinet is pretty swanky, too. “The Chosen is a celebration of excellence in Irish whiskey and contemporary Irish design,” said Louise McGuane, JJ Corry founder. “Irish whiskey has not been celebrated for its quality and rarity, as perhaps other categories have. We have some of the finest mature stock of whiskey in the world and yet I feel the industry undersells itself. I wanted to change that. Our approach to making Irish whiskey celebrates tradition, embraces change and has the modern whiskey drinker front of mind. All of this is reflected in The Chosen.” Each 52% ABV decanter is priced at £6,500 – keep your eyes peeled on our New Arrivals feed, they’re due in soon!

The Nightcap

The sign. The sign has wisdom.

On Tuesday evening, we hot-footed it up to London for one of the liveliest and most affirming bar takeovers of 2019. For one night only, Artesian bar manager Anna Sebastian brought together a dream team/army of talented women bartenders from across the industry for an evening called Celebrate Her. There were too many epic faces behind the bar to possibly name everyone, but with the likes of Pippa Guy, Sophie Bratt, Megs Miller, Cami Vidal and Sebastian herself crafting an array of signature drinks, the packed room was treated to delicious serve after delicious serve. The evening even ended with sparklers. And £1 from every drink spent went to industry wellness platform Healthy Hospo! “Celebrate her every day, celebrate this industry, celebrate each other, celebrate yourself, but above all, build a community and make the industry better,” Sebastian wrote on social after the event. Cheers to that!

The Nightcap

Nightcap favourite Miles Beale

Boris Johnson promises to review alcohol taxation

Boris Johnson has pledged to review Britain’s alcohol taxation system if the Conservative government win the next election. On a visit to Diageo’s Roseisle Maltings near Elgin, he said that he would conduct a “review into excise on Scotch whisky”. This is partly to alleviate the effect of the 25% tariffs that have been imposed by the US administration on Scotch whisky imports. Britain currently has some of the highest taxation on spirits in the world with an average of £3 in every £4 spent going to the state. Karen Betts from the Scotch Whisky Association commented: “A simplified alcohol duty regime in the UK to better reflect alcohol content would be fairer for consumers, increase competitiveness and remain an important driver of tax revenue.” Nightcap favourite Miles Beale, from the Wine and Spirit Trade Association, also had something to say: “The current excise duty regime doesn’t work for UK business, consumers or the Exchequer. The EU framework is unnecessarily complex and has created a distorted market and an uneven competitive playing field. Once the UK has left the EU, it would be appropriate to review the operation of excise duty. A thorough review will, however, take time. In the short term, and in order to maintain the UK position at the heart of the world wine and spirit trade, the next Chancellor should take the opportunity to take immediate action and cut excise duty ahead of any review. This would benefit UK consumers, business and increase revenue to the Exchequer.” We can but hope.

The Nightcap

It’s like the Terminator. But with booze.

Coming soon, a gin created by AI

The team at Circumstance Distillery in Bristol are not afraid to do things differently, whether it’s issuing their own cryptocurrency or experimenting with yeast and cereal (triticale anyone?). But this time they’ve really taken the biscuit with a gin created by artificial intelligence. Yes, just like in the Terminator, but with booze. The gin is a collaboration with technology scientists Tiny Giant and Rewrite Digital who have created a neural network that they have christened Ginette which was fed information on botanicals, recipes, labels etc. with some of the data coming from Master of Malt (that’s us!). She even came up with the gin’s name, Monker’s Garkel, from analysing 500 different brands. Oh well, at least it tastes good. Liam Hirt, co-founder of Circumstance Distillery, commented: “AI and machine learning are exciting new tools. We do a lot of contract distilling and wanted to know if these tools could make a meaningful contribution to new product development. At present they are not a substitute for the skill of the distiller, but we have clearly shown that they can make a valuable contribution to all aspects of the development process, from the recipe to the naming and labelling. We trained Ginette well, and with a little human help and guidance, her product is interesting, attractive and, most importantly, delicious.” Kerry Harrison, co-founder of Tiny Giant, added: “The creation of Monker’s Garkel has demonstrated that it’s perfectly possible to align machine predictive power and human creativity to make something delicious, valuable and commercial”. The gin will only be available from Master of Malt or direct from the distillery for £42 for a 50cl bottle.

The Nightcap

Graham’s 1977 was the Queen Mother’s favourite

And finally… Queen Mum’s undrunk Port goes up for auction

The Queen Mum had quite a reputation for being fond of the sauce, so when she visited The Winter Gardens Theatre in Margate in 1983, the team got in plenty of her favourite Port, Graham’s 1977. It seems they rather over-catered because 36 years later, there are still 40 bottles of the stuff left. Apparently it’s been counted in stock takes all this time, but when the last food and beverage manager retired, the new one had the brilliant idea to auction it. It goes under the hammer at Chiswick Auctions in London on 5 December. The three sealed cases of 12 are expected to go for £700-800, with an odd lot of four bottles expected to go for £100-150. Back in 1983, this wine would have been much too young to drink, perhaps why the dear old Queen Mum didn’t get through much of it. But now it should be perfectly mature. Sam Hellyer, head of Chiswick Auctions wine department, described the wines as: “Luscious, smooth, with the last hurrah of thick tannins lining the tongue and laying down a plush carpet for the chewy fig and lingering acidity to mingle on. With them came a hint of smoky and chocolately notes, the smell of cigar boxes and freshly sanded wood.” Cor!

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The Nightcap: 1 November

The Rock’s Tequila distillery, the arrival of Port season and bourbon-infused cheese, it’s all in this week’s Nightcap! This week, The Nightcap has been mostly powered by the leftover sweets…

The Rock’s Tequila distillery, the arrival of Port season and bourbon-infused cheese, it’s all in this week’s Nightcap!

This week, The Nightcap has been mostly powered by the leftover sweets that weren’t claimed by trick-or-treaters. Our fingers are propelled by chocolate and our brains are running on toffee, but our hearts… Our hearts are driven by the love of bringing you all the stories from the world of boozes which occurred this week. Plus lollipops. We knew there was a good reason to pick up significantly more sweeties than we could ever hand out.

If you push past the cobwebs in the haunted MoM Towers you may have glimpsed the terrifying amount of activity that occurred on the blood-curdling blog this week. Nate Brown returned to lambast the deification of bartenders before Adam rounded-up a smoky selection of spirits perfect for Bonfire Night. Annie then acquainted herself with Kinahan’s Kasc Project and Five Hundred Cuts Rum from BrewDog Distilling Company, while Henry also enjoyed a delightful rum from an unusual source as Hayman’s Merser & Co. Double Barrel rum was our New Arrival of the Week. Henry also marked the upcoming Día de Muertos (it’s tomorrow) by making The Red Devil our Cocktail of the Week.

But the frightening fun doesn’t stop there! It’s The Nightcap!

The Nightcap

Congratulations Dr Kirstie McCallum!

Dr Kirstie McCallum is Glen Moray’s new head of whisky creation

There’s a new sheriff in town at Speyside distillery Glen Moray. Dr Kirstie McCallum has been appointed head of whisky creation, a new role which will see her take responsibility for brands such as Cutty Sark, Sir Edward’s and Label 5 as well as Glen Moray. McCallum has big shoes to fill, as she will take over from Graham Coull who was master distiller for 14 years. In that time he oversaw the expansion of Glen Moray Distillery and developed several award-winning cask expressions, but he has since moved to pastures new, becoming the master distiller at Dingle Distillery in Ireland. This won’t phase the good doctor (McCallum has a PhD in analytical chemistry from Glasgow Caledonian University), however, as she boasts quite the résumé herself. Her last role was as senior blender at Distell International, where she worked in various roles for over 12 years and was responsible for single malts Bunnahabhain, Deanston and Tobermory as well as the company’s blended whiskies. “I am really excited about the opportunities this role will offer, working with world renowned brands such as Glen Moray, Label 5 and Cutty Sark and Sir Edward’s,” says McCallum. “There is a great opportunity to experiment with new cask types and to develop new expressions, using the expansive knowledge of other wine and spirit experts within the La Martiniquaise-Bardinet group.”

 

 

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The name is official: Ladies and gents, I proudly bring you, TEREMANA TEQUILA 🥃 TERA is meant to represent “Terre” which means of the earth and MANA is our powerful Polynesian spirit that guides us. Spirit of the earth. Our goal is to create a tequila that is the best of quality and taste, but done the right way – by hand. Small batch, hand crafted tequila from our Teremana blue agave, maturing in the highlands of Jalisco, for everyone to enjoy. After years of hard work, this blessing is truly a dream come true – but it’s just the beginning and there’s much work to be done. I’m committed with my team to bring you the best tequila, because quality and legacy are what matter most. From all of us here at Distilleria’ Teremana, we invite you to COME HAVE A DRINK. The tequila of the people. #TEREMANA #tequila #ItsAlmostReady #Q12020 @hhgarcia41 📸

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Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson reveals new Tequila distillery

It’s been an eerily long while since we’ve heard about a new celeb getting in on the Tequila madness. In all honesty, we were starting to get a little anxious. Luckily for us, Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson calmed our worries by announcing his newest venture, Destileria Teremana! This hasn’t come completely out of the blue though, as back in March Johnson posted a little teaser on his Instagram. It was also on Instagram this week that he revealed his new distillery, Teremana, explaining that ‘Tere’ translates as ‘earth’, while ‘Mana’ means ‘spirit’. So there you have it, spirit of the earth! We’re no hashtag experts, but we’re pretty sure that ‘#Q12020’ means that hopefully we can expect to actually taste some spirit early next year. When we do though, we’ll make sure to have it… on the rock(s).

The Nightcap

It’s quite the array of Scotch

Hunter Laing releases retrotastic Old & Rare Heritage whiskies

Independent bottler Hunter Laing has been busy sniffing out some rare casks for a splendid new series of whiskies which are both old and rare. Each bottle comes from a single cask and is bottled at cask strength with no colouring or chill-filtration. The line-up is likely to get whisky enthusiasts swooning on the chaise lounge with such bottlings as a 30 year old Mortlach, a 37 year old Aultmore and a rare sighting of a Glen Elgin 44 year old. Smelling salts, please! The MD, Stewart Laing, said: “There are some whiskies which are so remarkable that they deserve a little extra recognition, and our heritage series was created to celebrate these incredible malts. My two sons and I have personally selected each of these whiskies from our finest and most prized stocks.” Son and export director Andrew Laing added: “2019 continues to be both a busy and exciting year for us at Hunter Laing & Co with the opening of our first distillery Ardnahoe, the launch of the Scarabus Islay single malt and entering the travel retail market with Scarabus and our Journey Series of blended malts.” While we are sure the contents will be tip-top, we are particularly taken with the look of the series with its squat green bottles and retro-tastic labels. Naturally, they will be arriving soon at MoM. Keep an eye on the New Arrivals page.

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The commemorative bottling will be released in time for 11th November

The English Whisky Company to launch Remembrance Sunday whisky

Some people drink to forget but now you can drink to remember with a special whisky to commemorate the dead of the First World War. It’s been released in time for Remembrance Sunday on the 11th November by the English Whisky Company. The label features the silhouette of a Tommy, the words ‘Lest We Forget’ and the St. George’s Cross, particularly appropriate as the St. George’s Distillery is the home of the English Whisky Company. Andrew Nelstrop, whose father founded the distillery in 2005, had this to say about the new release: “We are delighted to launch this special centenary whisky to mark such an important time in the history of this country. In 2014, we released a similar bottling to remember those that fell in World War 1 and it proved so popular that due to repeated requests for another batch, we felt it only fitting to launch one to commemorate the 100 year anniversary of the Treaty Of Versailles which formally ended WW1,” he adds. It will go on sale on 7th November with an RRP of £49.99.

The Nightcap

It’s Port season, don’t you know?

Taylor’s announces the arrival of the Port Season

You might think that a Port digital marketing campaign would be an oxymoron, like military intelligence, but perhaps we should not be surprised that Taylor’s, consistently one of the most forward-looking Port houses, has announced just such a thing. The campaign, created by Keko London who have worked with such swank merchants as Bentley and Bugatti, designates a season for port that begins when the clocks go back and goes on throughout the winter taking in Halloween, Bonfire Night, Christmas and New Year. Andrew Hawes from Taylor’s UK agents Mentzendorff writes: “There is no getting away from the fact that people like Port. The quality versus value equation has never been better and there are strong recognisable brands in the market that are consistently invested in. Taylor’s launching the new digital advertising campaign will support the brand’s very broad trade distribution at a time of the year when family and friends gather, and Port represents a warm and affordable luxury, often described as “the oil of good conversation”. The campaign which will feature on Instagram, Facebook and YouTube depicts a glamorous dinner party having a splendid time enjoying a drop of Port. We’d like to see that uncut version which shows what happens when someone inadvertently drops the B-word after a few too many glasses.

The Nightcap

So much lovely whiskey…

Over 9 million barrels of whiskey now maturing in Kentucky

Well, it’s only taken 86 years but it looks like Kentucky has finally recovered from Prohibition. Figures just released by the Kentucky Distillers’ Association (KDA) show that last year more than 2.1 million barrels of whiskey were filled taking the total ageing to 9.1 million. That’s a lot of Mint Juleps. KDA president Eric Gregory commented: “This is a historic day that cements Kentucky’s rightful title as the one, true and authentic home for bourbon and distilled spirits.” Sounds like fighting talk! According to the KDA, Kentucky bourbon industry is worth $8.6 billion and generates more than 20,000 jobs. But it’s not all gravy in Kentucky, whiskey is a heavily taxed industry in the States with a levy on maturing stock and then there’s that pesky trade war with the EU. Gregory went on to say: “Kentucky Bourbon is collateral damage in a trade dispute that has nothing to do with us. While we remain hopeful for a resolution soon, the impact on our industry, our partners and our farm families is significant and growing.” The figures just released are the highest of the modern era beating a previous best of 8.7 million total barrels in 1968 and 1.9 million barrels filled in 1967. After that America went mad for white spirits in a big way and the bourbon market collapsed. But that couldn’t happen again, could it?

The Nightcap

BenRiach wants to bring its sensory palette to life through art

BenRiach to be turned into art

It was Elvis Costello who said “writing about music is like dancing about architecture”. Or maybe it was Frank Zappa. There is some debate. Whoever said it, we wonder what he would make of painting about whisky because this is exactly what’s going on at BenRiach. The Speyside distillery has commissioned Ellis O’ Connor, an artist from Dundee, to produce a three landscape paintings inspired by the three types of casks, bourbon, oloroso and virgin oak, used in the make-up of BenRiach 10 Year Old. The paintings will be displayed at London bar TT Liquor during Scotch Whisky Weekend in January 2020. Ellis O’Connor said: “Speyside is renowned for its big skies, fast-flowing river and of course, whisky, so when the opportunity arose to bring this climatic corner of Scotland to life on canvas on behalf of its most creative distillery, I jumped at the chance. BenRiach is packed full of innovation, experimental heritage and flavour and I wanted to depict that through the essence of its flagship whisky BenRiach Aged 10 Years and how it speaks to me through the colours and movement on the canvas. Each canvas will have a distinct colour that explores the flavour profile of the single malt and its cask journey.” Master blender Dr. Rachel Barrie added: “Partnering with this talented young Scottish artist is such a wonderful way to bring BenRiach’s flavour journey to life and we can’t wait to see Ellis’ creations on canvas.” We can’t wait to see the results.

The Nightcap

The Guinness Japanese Brew Series

Guinness launches the Japanese Brew Series

Ireland and Japan are joining forces through the form of a good old brew! Guinness has launched three limited edition Japanese-inspired brews in celebration of the Rugby World Cup (which is in Japan, just in case you’ve been living under a rock). Though Ireland is no longer in the tournament, we can still all get in the spirit with the Guinness Japanese Brew Series, boasting three new beers. There’s Ginger and Wasabi Stout, which is flavoured with ginger spice and dark chocolate, and weighs in at 6.2% ABV. Next, there’s the Yuzu Amber Ale, with a slightly lower strength of 4.8% ABV, where a base of Irish red ale is paired with yuzu fruit and hops. Last but not least there’s a (nearly) non-alcoholic stout, Stout of the Rising Sun, which at 0.5% ABV boasts notes of hojicha, a charcoal roasted green tea from Japan. “As Official Sponsors of Belief, Guinness is delighted with our new limited-edition Japanese Brew Series,” Peter Simpson, lead brewer at Guinness Open Gate Brewery said. “These three special beers are our latest innovation where experimentation with Japanese inspired tasting notes and an evolution of classic Irish recipes has created a unique celebration and union of culture and craft.” Where can you find these tasty brews? For those of you down south, the Yuzu Amber Ale is available at London’s Flat Iron Square for a limited time, so best get on down there, or pop over to Dublin for the rest!

The Nightcap

May Fair Bar will soon be alive with all kinds of wintry wonderment

Belvedere + Ice Winter pop-up to launch at May Fair Bar

We’re approaching that time of year, folks. You know, the one people call the ‘most wonderful’. And you know what that means, a whole host of festive and seasonal celebrations from various brands and establishments will start to pop-up all over the place. Like Belvedere + Ice, a 7-week pop-up at May Fair Bar that will attempt to bring some winter-based wonderment to the space with bespoke cocktails and pan-Asian small plates. Expect blue and white accented forestry and frosted detail all over May Fair Bar’s cosmopolitan interiors. The exclusive collaboration with Belvedere Vodka will last from Tuesday 12th November to Tuesday 31st December, and guests can anticipate brunch to bottle service, a soundtrack from May Fair Bar’s resident DJ’s playing late into the night and, on centre stage at the bar, Belvedere + Ice, a luxurious Champagne cocktail priced at £300 that features Richard Hennessy Cognac, Madagascan vanilla-infused Belvedere Unfiltered vodka, Dom Perignon Brut Vintage 2009 & gold leaf. Tis the season to be spendy, after all. Five other vodka-based cocktails will also be on offer between £14 and £18, including the Rosé Negroni, Old Fashioned Blanc, Jasmine & Fig Sour, Ice Melon Martini and The Socialite. You can find more information here.

The Nightcap

A fine addition to your cheeseboard

And Finally… Basil Hayden’s wins Christmas already with bourbon-infused cheese

Now it’s actually November it feels entirely appropriate to start mentioning Christmas. The dinner, the drams, the all-important cheeseboard. But it seems bourbon brand Basil Hayden’s has already made our festive dreams come true, ticking at least two of those three boxes of indulgence, hitting peak Christmas and winning our hearts and taste buds in the process. Behold: Pour Me a Slide bourbon-infused cheese! It’s been made in partnership with Utah-based creamery Beehive Cheese from semi-firm Jersey cow’s milk. The infusion is said to result in cheese that “tastes sweet with a hint of spice”, thanks to the high-rye profile of the whisky. Count us in. “Our goal is to craft cheeses that bring people together through their elevated, artisanal flavour,” said Pat Ford, co-founder of Beehive Cheese. “We’re excited to partner with Basil Hayden’s because the trademark spice of this bourbon adds a really unique flavour to the cheese that makes it perfect for a gathering or gifting.” Sadly it appears to be a US phenomenon, but if you’re listening, Team Basil: we need Pour Me a Slice this side of the pond, too! (All is not lost – Team MoM have sampled and can personally vouch for the deliciousness of Laphroaig cheese and Springbank cheese. No need for all-out dairy-based whisky panic.)

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The Nightcap: 25 October

Record-breaking whisky, intriguing rums and wine tasting in the dark – it’s all here in this week’s Nightcap! OK, look, the way the days have fallen this year, this will…

Record-breaking whisky, intriguing rums and wine tasting in the dark – it’s all here in this week’s Nightcap!

OK, look, the way the days have fallen this year, this will be the closest we get to an edition of The Nightcap falling on Halloween – next week Friday is the 1st of November, at which point we’ll have set aside our zombie costumes for another year and will be busy stockpiling sparklers and jacket potatoes in anticipation of Bonfire Night. With that in mind, you’re just going to have to put up with an early spooktacular here. Ahem. WoooOOOooo! It’s (almost) Halloween! The haunted ghouls of the underworld have crept into MoM Towers and they’re knocking over printers and… Oh, our hearts aren’t really in it. Let’s just get on with the booze news from the week that was.

It’s been a blog-maggedon kind of week here at MoM Towers. Firstly, congratulations are in order to the respective winners of the Lakes Distillery (#BagThisBundle) and Kingsbarns Distillery competitions! There was then some delightful video-based adventures with Ardbeg and Penderyn, while Adam also rounded-up some spooky spirits for Halloween. Then there was the exciting news that Douglas Laing had bought Strathearn Distillery as Annie talked Sullivans Cove with head distiller Patrick Maguire and rare pepper cordials with Monin and Alex Kratena. Henry had discussions of his own, from mezcal with Dr Iván Saldaña, to cocktails with Joe and Daniel Schofield, but still found time to make the intriguing Gin Rummy our New Arrival of the Week.

Phew! Now, to The Nightcap!

The Nightcap

£1,452,000. One bottle of whisky. £1,452,000. Wow.

Macallan and Brora break records at Sotheby’s in London

Hammers were banged, money was waved and records were broken at the latest wine and spirits auction at Sotheby’s in London this week. Some 460 bottles of rare Scotch from an American collector went under the hammer. The star was inevitably a Macallan, a 60 year old from 1926 which went for £1,452,000 ($1,873,951). Jamie Ritchie, chairman of Sotheby’s, said: “There was an electric atmosphere in the room today for our first-ever single-owner spirits auction. This sale marks a historic moment for the spirits market, with new benchmark prices and a fresh approach to selling whisky.” According to Sotheby’s, the strongest interest came from Asian buyers. In total, the collection went for £7,635,619 ($9,854,530), out of which a whopping £3m ($4m) was accounted for by just four bottles of Macallan. But it wasn’t all about Macallan. Other exciting bottles included a 50 year old Springbank distilled in 1919 which went for £266,200 ($343,558); bottle number one of 54 year old Bowmore Crashing Waves went for £363,000 ($468,488); and a Dalmore Eos 59 year old, one of only 20 bottles, achieved £99,220 ($128,053). All this excitement makes the £54,450 ($70,273), a new record, paid for a bottle of Brora 40 year old seem like pocket change. Perhaps you could mix it with ginger beer.

The Nightcap

Balcones master distiller Jared Himstedt, who won’t be singing

Balcones teams up with Texan singer-songwriter Jarrod Dickenson for UK tour

We all know that whisky and music go together: from Keith Richards with his Jack Daniel’s to, erm, Billy Idol with Rebel Yell. Now Texas whisky pioneer Balcones will be bringing the spirit of the Lone Star state to Britain in more ways than one by sponsoring the tour of top Texan singer-songwriter Jarrod Dickenson. Balcones and Dickenson have so much in common. Not only are they both from Waco, Texas but Dickenson and Balcones’ head distiller have almost the same first name, Jarrod and Jared. They’re made for each other. The tour titled Unplugged & Distilled will run from 22 November to 7 December 2019, and consist of Dickenson playing 13 acoustic dates around the country (details here). And while you listen, and perhaps dance, if you get the urge, you can sip delicious Balcones whisky. It’ll be just like being in Texas, except when you leave the gig, it’ll probably be cold and wet.

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Introducing: the Samurai Scientist!

New Boss Hog from WhistlePig finished in Japanese umeshu casks

A new Boss Hog from rye distiller WhistlePig is always something to be excited about but this latest edition sound particularly epic. It’s called the Samurai Scientist and it’s a sixteen-year-old whisky named after a chemist called Jōkichi Takamine who brought a Japanese form of alcohol production, koji, to American whiskey in the 19th century. The Samurai Scientist is a collaboration with a Japanese company, Kitaya who produce sake, shōchū and umeshu. It was created using koji fermentation (in Canada) and aged for 16 years before being finished in a cask that previously held an aged umeshu – a Japanese fruit liqueur. Pete Lynch, master blender, explained: “We finished one of our oldest whiskeys in barrels that held Kitaya’s eleven-year-old umeshu. With umeshu being an intensely aromatic spirit, it does not take long to impart deeply complex flavours. Only 90 barrels exist and each bottle notes the barrel number and proof, ranging between 120 – 122 [60-61% ABV]”. Jeff Kozak, CEO of Whistlepig added: “Dave Pickerell committed to five promises for The Boss Hog, including being distinctly unique from anything we’ve done before. He had a thirst for exploring and trialling techniques from around the world, and Takamine was like-minded in propelling whiskey innovation across continents.” The Samurai Scientist complete with pewter samurai on the stopper should roaring into MoM towers sometime in December. Now we know what we’re going to ask #whiskysanta for.

The Nightcap

Is this the world’s first Afro-Caribbean rum?

Burrell and Seale launch Equiano, the world’s first Afro-Caribbean rum

Two distilleries. Two different continents. Two key figures within the rum industry. That’s the story behind Equiano, which is believed to be the world’s first Afro-Caribbean rum. Created by global rum ambassador Ian Burrell and master distiller Richard Seale, Equiano is described as an “east and west” collaboration and is said to be the first rum crafted from liquid from two different distilleries based on two different continents. The name is a tribute to Olaudah Equiano, a Nigerian-born writer, abolitionist, traveller and freedom fighter, as it follows his journey, from Africa to the Caribbean and the UK. It’s a blend of molasses rums from Mauritius-based Gray’s Distillery that was aged for 10 years in a combination of French Limousin oak casks and ex-Cognac casks and Foursquare rum that was matured in ex-bourbon casks. It has no added sugar, spices or colourants, was bottled at 43% ABV and is said to deliver notes of dried fruits, sweet toffee, butterscotch, orange peel, vanilla, oak, anise, sweet pepper and buttered wood. “Equiano is a first for a centuries-old craft,” said Seale. “We have created an entirely unique blend through a collaboration between two rum distilleries on two different continents.” Burrell added: “Premium rum is on the rise, and more importantly the consumer that wants quality is demanding clarity, authenticity and intrinsic value in their rum. Equiano is a new style of rum; one that combines two rum cultures: African and the Caribbean.” A percentage of the profits from every bottle of Equiano sold will be donated to an equality-focused charity annually.

The Nightcap

It’s a blow for those who like to flip bottles like this on the auction market…

New Daftmill will only be available by the dram

Watching great whiskies disappear into collections or bounce around auction markets is something we’ve all become used to seeing. Lowland distillery Daftmill isn’t interested in taking part with its latest release, however. In an effort to side-step ‘bottle flippers’, it will offer Daftmill Single Cask 2008 #68 by the dram in select Scottish bars in collaboration with Berry Bros & Rudd. The duo has teamed up to sell the 2008 vintage single cask expression in 25ml measures for the price of £10 (US$13). It will be available at venues operated by Scottish chain The Independent Whisky Bars of Scotland from the 1 November, including The Ardshiel (Campbeltown), Artisan (Wishaw), The Bon Accord (Glasgow), Dornoch Castle Hotel (Dornoch), Fiddlers Inn (Drumnadrochit), The Highlander Inn (Craigellachie) and The Malt Room (Inverness). That’s right. Bottles will not be available to buy. Described as a first for the industry, the move was taken to ensure that the spirit can only be sampled by “genuine whisky lovers”. Bottles of the 2008 single cask released earlier this year sold out in minutes and then began appearing on auction sites at hugely inflated prices. “As much as we appreciate the high demand for our whisky, we’ve always distilled with the goal of it being opened and drunk by people that really enjoy a dram,” said Francis Cuthbert of Daftmill. “Releasing this single cask with The Independent Whisky Bars of Scotland is a great way to ensure that every bottle we release will be opened and drunk over the next few months.” Daftmill Single Cask 2008 #68 is the first single cask to be released from this vintage. The whisky was matured in a first-fill ex-bourbon barrel and selected by the bar chain to be bottled at a natural strength of 55.5% ABV.

The Nightcap

Brewdog is the latest brand to experiment with ‘botanical rum’

Brewdog launches Five Hundred Cuts botanical rum

To the Physic Garden in Chelsea for the launch of Brewdog’s new botanical rum, Five Hundred Cuts. And first off, who knew there was a walled botanical garden right in the heart of London? This sweet-smelling oasis was the perfect setting for the launch. There was even a ‘herbal storyteller’, Amanda Edmiston, on hand to give us an insight into the inspiration for the rum, an Aberdonian botanist called Elizabeth Blackwell. And what of the rum itself?  We’ll be running an interview with distillery Steven Kersley next week but here’s our first impressions: the rum is based on a high ester spirit distilled from Algerian molasses (the best according to Kersley) and flavoured by distillation and infusion with a variety of spices including cardamom, ginger, orange peel, cloves and tonka beans before sweetening with muscovado sugar. The result (RRP £24) is quite remarkably aromatic and tasted excellent in a series of cocktails created by Laki Kane’s Georgi Radev but it also worked wonders sipped neat as a seasonal cold cure. It just breezes through that blocked nose.

The Nightcap

Feliz Día de los Muertos!

Patrón Tequila celebrates Día de Muertos

This November, Patrón Tequila will launch a series of events in celebration of Día de Muertos (Day of the Dead). The traditional Mexican celebration will be marked by immersive art exhibitions and bar takeovers all over Europe by Patrón Tequila. In London, a three-day immersive event will take place at the six-storey 19 Greek St in Soho from 1st to 3rd November 2019 featuring the works of Mexican artists Lourdes Villagomez and Lola Argemi. But if you want to kick off the celebrations earlier, Patrón will be offering themed cocktails within a colourful setting that evokes the key symbols of the Día de Muertos in a number of bars, such as The Den (100 Wardour Street), Swift, Hovarda, Thirst and Soho Residence in Soho, Raffles and Callooh Callay in Chelsea, the Harvey Nichols 5th Floor Bar in Knightsbridge, Eve Bar in Covent Garden, Red Rooster in Shoreditch, Playa in Marylebone and the London Cocktail Club in Oxford Circus. To all of our Mexican friends, we wish you a Feliz Día de los Muertos!

The Nightcap

It’s the oldest whisky ever released from the Campbeltown Distillery

Glen Scotia releases its oldest and rarest expression

Get ready for Glen Scotia’s oldest ever expression! The Campbeltown distillery has only gone and released a 45-year-old single malt. Distilled back in December 1973, it was aged in refill bourbon casks, where it rested until 2011. Then the liquid was transferred to first-fill bourbon casks until 2019, when it was bottled at 43.8% ABV. “Glen Scotia 45 year old is one of the most magnificent expressions to be produced by our Campbeltown distillery and we are excited that after 45 years we are now able to unveil it to the world,” said master distiller Michael Henry. “It embodies all of the unique elements which Glen Scotia is known for, delivering a long mouth-watering finish with notes of sea salt and lime citrus. On the palate, the liquid presents caramel sweetness at first, then juicy fruit with pineapple, mango and watermelon rounded by vanilla and honey.” Each bottle comes in a handmade British walnut case, with an engraved tile featuring the individual bottle number and tasting notes. If that wasn’t enough, inside the case you’ll find embossed leather lining. That all sounds pretty dandy, doesn’t it? Here’s the catch: only 150 bottles have been released worldwide, priced at £3,795. If you do fancy on getting your hands on one, then we recommend keeping a very, very close eye on your favourite online retailer…

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The ‘Kingdom of Light’ cocktail

Mr Fogg’s Winter Festival Of Lights lands in Covent Garden

Mr Fogg’s Gin Parlour and Tavern is a quintessentially British spot for a tipple or two in Covent Garden. However, the bar has teamed up with House of Suntory for the Winter Light Festival, a magical Japanese-inspired illuminated festival. It’s a sensory experience inspired by Japanese nature, a delight of sight, taste and sound, launched this week on 23 October. Of course, there are also Japanese-inspired cocktails, made with Roku gin, Haku vodka and Toki whisky. You’ll be met at the entrance to the tavern with a red torii gate framed with pink cherry blossom. There are two menus to choose from. The first you’ll find downstairs, inspired by different locations throughout Japan, with cocktails such as ‘Kyoto’, marrying Toki whisky, elderflower cordial and lemon juice, topped with ginger ale. If you follow the lantern trail upstairs you’ll find the second menu. This is no ordinary menu, with the cocktails listed on Roku bottles filled with fairy lights. The serves here are named after Japanese festivals such as ‘Kingdom of Light’, made with Roku gin, Luxardo Bitter Bianco, umeshu plum sake and rhubarb bitters. If you were umming and ahhing about going, we should probably let you know that the bar will even be streaming the Rugby World Cup straight from Japan. Whether that’s a good thing or not is up to you…

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Lidl wants to challenge your preconceptions

And finally. . . . wine tasting in the dark with Lidl

When conducting a wine tasting most professionals agree on what you need, wine, obviously, you can’t have a wine tasting without wine, clean glasses, white tablecloths and plenty of light so that you can appreciate the colour. Well, Lidl is throwing all this out the window with its new pop-up wine tasting tour. It begins in London on 8 November before continuing to Manchester and Glasgow. Tastings will be hosted by Master of Wine Richard Bampfield and take place in a Cellar Noir where wine will be served in the pitch black by waiters wearing night-vision goggles, and in a nightmarish-looking Discombobulation Chamber. The idea is to shake off people’s preconceptions about labels and wine colour, and trust in their senses of taste and smell. It all this sounds much too confusing for you, to finish up there’s Salle de Noel featuring Christmas trees, mince pies, a cheeseboard, and, most importantly, some light so you can see what you’re doing.

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Douglas Laing acquires Strathearn Distillery

Douglas Laing, independent spirit bottler, is now in the distilling business after buying Strathearn Distillery near Perth. We have the full story.  It has just been announced that Douglas Laing…

Douglas Laing, independent spirit bottler, is now in the distilling business after buying Strathearn Distillery near Perth. We have the full story. 

It has just been announced that Douglas Laing has taken 100% ownership of Strathearn for an undisclosed sum. The Perthshire distillery, which has been producing spirit since 2013, was one of the first of a new wave of small Scottish distilleries. It released its first batch of single malt in 2017 and also produces gin, rum and cider brandy. Founder and head distiller Tony Reeman-Clark will no longer be involved with the business. The acquisition is the first venture into distilling for this old family firm though there are plans for a purpose-built distillery in Glasgow called Clutha.

From left: Chris Leggat, CEO; Fred Laing, chairman; Cara Laing, director of whisky; Danny MacLennan, director of finance

Cara Laing, director of whisky, commented: “Today marks a proud and historic landmark for Douglas Laing. For its first seven decades in the wonderful world of whisky, our family firm has been renowned amongst the finest independent bottlers, celebrated for our Remarkable Regional Malts and Exceptional Single Casks brands. 2019, our 71st year in business, is the year we take a monumental leap, adding ‘distillery’ to our credentials and beginning a new chapter in our journey. A distillery very much in its infancy, Strathearn affords us the opportunity to create an extraordinary brand home for our family business and a global single malt brand steeped in our family firm’s history, heritage and passion”. 

CEO Chris Leggat added: “Strathearn is a wonderful addition to our portfolio. The distillery’s handcrafted and premium approach to single malt Scotch whisky production is entirely aligned with our own values, with no attention to detail spared. The acquisition comes at a time when Douglas Laing & Co is truly thriving. We are particularly proud to report double digit growth for a fifth consecutive year, plus nine new recruits to our team and several new markets opened recently for our core brands. Douglas Laing’s Strathearn Distillery allows us opportunity to now invest further in our team, whilst becoming masters of our own destiny in terms of Scotch whisky distillation”.

Independent bottlers becoming distillers seems very much to be a thing with Hunter Laing (of the same Laing family as Douglas Laing) opening Ardnahoe Distillery earlier this year, and Brian and Jamie Morrison from Morrison & MacKay with Aberargie in 2017. 

 

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The Nightcap: 18 October

Nick Offerman’s own whisky, pricey Macallans, new distilleries, rums, cocktail menus and more – there’s only place you’ll find all of this boozy news: The Nightcap! If you think about…

Nick Offerman’s own whisky, pricey Macallans, new distilleries, rums, cocktail menus and more – there’s only place you’ll find all of this boozy news: The Nightcap!

If you think about it, our round-up of the booze news from the week that was (which was so cleverly named The Nightcap, many moons ago) is kind of like a gin. The botanicals for most gins are different from each other, but the core of juniper remains the same. Just like the stories within each edition of The Nightcap are different, but the core of “All these tales are about the world of drinks” remains constant. We are the distillers. Our computers are our stills. The words are… I guess maybe the heat that distils the spirit? Is your computer or phone screen the glass from which you enjoy the gin? The somewhat off-the-wall story we usually include right at the end of The Nightcap each week is that botanical you look at and wonder “Does that really count as a botanical? How can ‘a book that Mary Shelley once looked at’ count as a botanical? Am I going to have to phone up the producers of Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus Gin and question their integrity?” This simile/metaphor has gone on far too long.

It’s been quite the week on the MoM Blog once again. We announced the details of Diageo Special Releases 2019 and Jim Murray’s World Whisky of the Year 2020, before Henry talked to gin legend Christopher Hayman, and then united two of Italy’s great aperitifs in one glass for our Cocktail of the Week, the Americano. Annie was busy exploring spirits both innovative and unusual, but managed to find time to make Teeling Single Pot Still our New Arrival of the Week. Adam, meanwhile, rounded-up some of the best new booze around and then ventured to Penderyn, where we got some incredible (and exclusive!) video footage.

Now, on to The Nightcap!

The Nightcap

Gordon & MacPhail may begin work on building its new distillery by the end of the year.

Gordon & MacPhail’s new Speyside distillery moves one step closer

Attempts to build another new distillery in Speyside have made a major breakthrough! Scotch whisky bottler Gordon & MacPhail has secured planning approval to build a distillery and visitor centre in Craggan, near Grantown-on-Spey in Cairngorms National Park. Gordon & MacPhail first announced its plans back, in May 2018, but it wasn’t until 11 October that the site was given the green light by the Cairngorms National Park Authority (CNPA). The new distillery will be the company’s second following the purchase and refurbishment of Benromach Distillery. It’s been designed to take advantage of its views across the River Spey, and has a circular shape to disguise much of the day-to-day workings of the distillery. The multi-million-pound facility will have an annual maximum capacity of two million litres of spirits, equivalent to 100,000 cases of whisky. “This is a major development for the area and this will be the first malt whisky distillery to be approved by the Cairngorms National Park Authority since it was established in 2003,” said Eleanor Mackintosh, CNPA planning committee convener. “The food and drink sector and the tourism industry are both extremely important to the National Park economy – often going hand in hand as is the case here”. It caps a great week for Gordon & MacPhail, as the brand’s director of prestige and fourth-generation member of the owning family, Stephen Rankin, was announced as a Master of the Quaich at the biannual Keepers of the Quaich ceremony at Blair Castle.

The Nightcap

It’s about goddamn time. Look at that facial hair. Magnificent stuff all round.

Nick Offerman gets his own Lagavulin Scotch whisky

You might be familiar with the fact that actor Nick Offerman likes Lagavulin whisky. A lot. Maybe it’s because you’ve watched him as Ron Swanson in Parks and Recreation, where his character extols the many virtues of the Islay distillery. Or perhaps it’s the five years of work he’s done with Lagavulin, which includes the My Tales of Whiskey YouTube channel, complete with videos such as ‘Nick Offerman’s ‘Yule Log’ a 45 minute epic where he simply sits in front of a fire drinking Scotch (which now has over 3.6 million views. Not bad). Now he has a new connection, surely his finest yet: his own limited-edition Lagavulin whisky. Lagavulin Offerman Edition Aged 11 Years is a single malt created by the man himself in collaboration with distillery manager Colin Gordon. The brand says that the expression, which was bottled at 46% ABV bottling, “carries the signature Lagavulin peatiness but with extra spices and notes of dried fruit to carry the smoke”. Offerman’s involvement also extends to the design the packing, which features a rather glorious portrait of himself with typically sublime facial hair, as well as his signature and a quote: “I have travelled the world and sampled many attempts at pleasing nectars, but it is solely this distillation of Islay, a tiny, charismatic Scottish isle, that has claimed my palate. Yea, and my heart into the bargain”. To help promote Lagavulin Offerman Edition Aged 11 Year, new Offerman Edition content will be added to the My Tales of Whiskey channel later this month. We could end on a typical Ron Swanson quote here, but he was a man of very few words. So we won’t. Cheers to you, Nick.

The Nightcap

If you have a spare £100k laying around, then you can grab one of these for yourself as well

Two rare Macallan Lalique 50-year-olds fetch over £100,000 each

A Macallan whisky has made an awful lot of money at auction. Which probably doesn’t shock you. It tends to happen a lot. However, the two bottles of The Macallan Lalique 50-year-old Scotch whisky that were sold recently did actually raise a few eyebrows as the price paid exceeded the estimated value. At Bonhams Fine Whisky sale in Edinburgh last week, the impressive expressions fetched a whopping £100,062 (US$126,515) each, when they were expected to set some lucky wealthy whisky lover back somewhere around £67,000-£93,000 (US$84,712 – US$117,586). The Macallan Lalique 50-year-old is the first release from The Lalique Six Pillars collection, which was launched between 2006 and 2016, and is said to have aromas of cumin, cardamom and maraschino, and flavours of dark prunes and plain chocolate. But none of us will ever know for sure. Because life is unfair. At the same auction, a bottle of 50-year-old Karuizawa 1965 sold for £27,562 (US$34,848), also breaking its estimated sale price of between £23,000-£25,000 (US$29,080-US$31,609), and the bottle was part of a collection of Japanese whisky that eventually sold for a total of £200,000 (US$252,874). It would appear the appetite for rare and expensive whisky is relentless.

The Nightcap

How do you like them apples? Quite a lot, to be honest. They’re very tasty.

New eau-de-vie made from a thousand different apple varieties

Tiny Cotswolds distillery Capreolus has made quite a name for itself with its superb eaux-de-vie and innovative Garden Swift Gin, but the latest release might just take the biscuit. It’s called 1,000 Trees Apple EDV and it’s made from fruit from 1,000 different varieties of apples. Did you know there were a thousand different varieties of apple? This treasure trove is on Prince Charles’ estate – don’t worry Capreolus’ founder and distiller Barney Wilczak actually bought the apples. What’s more, £5 from every bottle sold goes to The Prince’s Countryside Fund to help develop sustainable farming. Wilczak told us more about this very special orchard and spirit: “It’s an incredible resource, textures, aromas, and flavours [of apple], that would never be available in the shops and, of course, important for future breeding and the preservation of historic varieties. We are doing an annual field blend, and with the varying performance of each variety, this will always be unique. Totally organic, zero additions and wild fermented, we are very happy with the outcome.”

The Nightcap

This is the kind of refuge for weary shoppers that we can get behind!

Blend your own gin while you shop

We all know that some people (hi Dad!) really don’t enjoy shopping, especially at Christmas. But we think even the grumpiest of grandpas will want to visit Bluewater this autumn because from October until the end of December, you can blend your own gin. How good is that? The team at Anno Distillers are the people behind this brilliant idea. They have also just released a Honey & Orange Gin as well as earlier this year Kent’s first single malt whisky. Back at Bluewater, weary shoppers can select different flavours and meld them together to create their own unique gin or vodka. Then while their creations are bottled and labelled, they can enjoy a Gin and Tonic made using their own gin. The experience costs £75 and takes two hours. Then there’s just enough time to glide into Oliver Bonas, grab the nearest thing to hand. Job done. Shopping will never be the same again.

The Nightcap

The new cocktail menu is a tasty journey around England

Coral room launches England-inspired cocktail menu

The Coral Room manages to transport drinkers within into a chic, coral-coloured country house in the midst of all the London madness. Now, whereabouts in the country that house is up to you, as with its new cocktail menu you can take your taste buds on a journey around England! From Newquay to Ascot to Windermere, the 14 different serves are inspired by 14 different spots. In the ornate menu, each serve is accompanied by a bespoke Art Deco-style drawing. ‘London Calling’ (we bet you can’t guess where inspired that one), a Tequila-based tipple, depicts a couple of punks wandering around Camden Lock, an obvious nod The Clash. Pop over to Glastonbury and try ‘Play the Pyramid’, a Roe & Co. Irish whiskey-based serve with ginger, honey and, of course, pear cider. Well, it is Somerset! If you venture to Sussex, there’s the ‘Garden Party’, and general manager Giovanni Spezziga tells us they wanted to pay homage to the invention of banoffee pie (which was indeed in Sussex!) with this cocktail. There’s Diplomático rum, vodka, crème de banana, cream caramel and tonka bean bitters, so it’s totally reminiscent of an indulgent dessert. Then, there’s ‘The Full Bloomer’ from Kent, with strawberries and rose from the Garden of England, topped with an awesome smoke-filled bubble, which is way more fun to burst than it should be. The whole menu is an experience, from flicking through to brightly-coloured book, discussing the beautiful illustrations and then picking which location to venture to through the art of the cocktail. And if your home town is on there, then, of course, you’ve got to try it!

The Nightcap

Introducing: Livener and Nightcap!

Three Spirit to launch two new no-ABV expressions

Three Spirit has announced the release of two new no-ABV bottlings to join its first release, Social Elixir, which the brand described as ‘the world’s first plant-powered social spirit’. The two new additions are Livener and Nightcap, which were created to serve different functions that mirror the ways in which we enjoy alcohol. The first is a “pick-me-up and party starter” and the latter is a blend to “help you relax and unwind”. Livener was made with ingredients including Guayusa, Schisandra berries and energising plants and is best enjoyed in Margaritas, Daiquiris and Bellinis, while Nightcap features ingredients such as Valerian, turmeric, ashwagandha, lemon balm and hops that’s delicious in Old Fashioneds and Penicillins (the latter we can say from experience). ‘For this new breed of Conscious Hedonists – people who love to go out, let their hair down and have fun but who still want to be on form the next day – we offer the dream,’ said co-founder Tatiana Mercer. ‘Great flavour, new function and unique drinking experience.’ Three Spirit was launched in January 2019 and its expressions are created from a collaboration between Mercer and co-founders Dash Lilley and Meeta Gournay, as well as ex-Dandelyan bartender Robin Honhold, Tristan Stephenson and Thomas Aske, of Fluid Movement, Black Rock and Worship Street fame, and Professor Michael Heinrich, head of the Centre for Pharmacognosy and Phytotherapy at UCL School of Pharmacy. Livener and Nightcap will arrive at MoM Towers soon.

The Nightcap

The God Save The Queen cocktail, which we can confirm is very delicious.

100 Wardour Street debuts satirical cocktail menu ‘The Politicians’

Of late, it may feel like the state of the current political climate can get a bit too much. Perhaps you’d like to go for a drink or two, to take your mind off it. Or, conversely, pop down to 100 Wardour Street to try out their new satirical cocktail menu, ‘The Politicians’! We popped down for a taste and certainly weren’t disappointed. Caricature sketches of each politician accompany their cocktail in the book-like menu, and the vodka-based ‘Pride’ sees Vladimir Putin vandalised with a full face of makeup. Perhaps one of the most tongue-in-cheek is ‘The Wall’, a mezcal-based cocktail accompanied by a sketch of Donald Trump with Day of the Dead face paint on, served in a terracotta vessel to top it all off. Even Pope Francis gets his own serve titled ‘Amen’, an aptly alcohol-free kombucha-based serve. It’s not all surface, and the cocktails are genuinely tasty. Alongside the smoky-sweet ‘The Wall’, one of our favourites was ‘Le Roi’, inspired by Emmanuel Macron, a floral serve with Tanqueray Gin, chamomile, elderflower and bergamot, topped with fizz. Of the new menu, head bartender Federico Pasian noted that, “Being able to tease out the humour and satire surrounding the reputations of these political individuals has resulted in a daring and experimental cocktail menu which I hope makes people laugh, especially in the current climate of uncertainty”. It’s a menu that’s set to divide opinion, but also provide a lot of laughs. So go on and raise a glass to your favourite (or, perhaps least favourite) politician.

The Nightcap

Historic rums are some of our favourite rums!

Mount Gay launches first single pot still rum since the 19th century

Mount Gay’s newest master blender Trudiann Branker, she took over in April of this year, was in town this week with a very special rum. It’s a single pot still spirit, probably the first such rum released since the 19th century when column distillation came to Barbados. Mount Gay dates back to 1703 and Branker described this new release as: “a celebration of how we made rum.” It’s the second in the distillery’s Master Blender range, product of a single distillation run from 2009 filled into American whiskey barrels. 10 years in the heat of Barbados is a long time. Branker said, “our angel’s share is ridiculous, we have very happy angels.” Only 4920 bottles have been filled at 48% ABV. The UK allocation will be tiny and should be arriving with us in early November with an RRP of around £140. We tried it next to the always wonderful XO, and though both shared a ripe banana note, the pot still was very different, winey and fruity on the nose, and intensely aromatic, almost menthol, in the mouth with dark chocolate and vanilla on the finish. It’s a very special taste of history.

The Nightcap

At $23 (£17-ish) a night, this stay will set you back less than a bottle of White Label!

And Finally… Stay in Jim Beam’s distillery cottage for just $23!

Whiskey-loving AirBnB users, listen up. You can now add the stay of dreams to your US itinerary! This week, Jim Beam’s 1919 three-bedroom, two-and-a-half-bathroom (what does a half-bathroom look like?) distillery cottage popped up in eagle-eyed AirBnB users’ searches. It comes with a fully-stocked bar, a fireplace, a back garden with cowboy cauldrons (basically a fancy fire pit) and there’s even a fishing dock. And Jim Beam will even throw in a distillery tour and bourbon tasting. The best part? Each one-night stay costs at just $23! “We like to say that anyone who visits us comes as friends and leaves as family, so we’re thrilled to welcome our extended family for some bourbon and Kentucky hospitality,” said Fred Noe, Jim Beam’s seventh-generation master distiller and now AirBnB property host. The only snag? Availability is SUPER limited (we gather just 23-24 November and 7-8 December) with bookings opening on 21 October. Laptops at the ready – this could prove trickier than nabbing Glastonbury tickets…

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1792 Full Proof is Jim Murray’s World Whisky of the Year 2020

Kentucky has come out on top in Jim Murray’s Whisky Bible 2020, with 1792 Full Proof Kentucky Straight Bourbon from the Barton 1792 distillery scooping the World Whisky of the…

Kentucky has come out on top in Jim Murray’s Whisky Bible 2020, with 1792 Full Proof Kentucky Straight Bourbon from the Barton 1792 distillery scooping the World Whisky of the Year accolade. 

1792 Full Proof  is a non-chill-filtered expression, bottled at 62.5% ABV. It’s hugely full-flavoured, bursting with toffee penny, burnt sugar and nutmeg notes – but as a limited-run, is sadly sold out (we’re trying to get more in – keep you posted!).

Jim Murray's Whisky Bible 2020 1792 Full Proof

Mr Murray’s top drop

Second place went to William Larue Weller 125.7 proof, an updated version of the winning 2019 expression, with third place nabbed by Thomas Handy Sazerac Rye 127.2 proof.

1792 Full Proof is made at Barton 1792 Distillery, while William Larue Weller and Thomas Handy are both made at Buffalo Trace. All three are owned by Sazerac. 

“To not only be named World Whisky of the Year but also to have our whiskeys named second and third finest is astonishing,” said Mark Brown, Sazerac president. “We could not be happier or more motivated to continue to strive for perfection in the American whiskeys we make.”

Murray chose his 2020 winners from 1,250 new drams. Sectional winners include: the Taiwanese Nantou Distillery Omar Cask Strength Bourbon Cask (Single Cask of the Year); Glen Grant Aged 18 Years Rare Edition (Scotch of the Year); Johnnie Walker Blue Label Ghost & Rare (Blended Scotch of the Year); Penderyn Single Cask no.M75-32 (European Whisky of the Year); and Nikka Taketsuru Pure Malt (Japanese Whisky of the Year).

Jim Murray's Whisky Bible 2020 Scotch Glen Grant

Behold, Jim’s Scotch of the Year!

“There will be eyebrows raised and claims of favouritism which, of course, is never the case with the Whisky Bible: I call it exactly as I see it,” Murray said. “Once I knew the top three were from the same company, I spent two extra days running through my top ten whiskies once more…and the results came out exactly the same!

“For the 1792 Distillery to win World Whisky of the Year is extraordinary because when I first went there some 25 years ago, the then-owners had no interest in high-end whiskey. The oldest they produced was a six-year-old, which I thought was one of the most complex on the market but still under-cooked. I implored them then to bring out something much older.” He added that the team has “turned a potentially great distillery into something truly magnificent”.

Jim Murray’s Whisky Bible 2020 is due to arrive at MoM Towers imminently! 

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Team MoM tastes Diageo Special Releases 2019!

MoM Towers received a very important delivery yesterday: The Diageo Special Releases 2019! Naturally, we had a taste of the Rare by Nature-themed collection… There are certain annual releases of…

MoM Towers received a very important delivery yesterday: The Diageo Special Releases 2019! Naturally, we had a taste of the Rare by Nature-themed collection…

There are certain annual releases of whisky that makes everybody stand up and pay attention, like a dram-thirsty meerkat. The Buffalo Trace Antique Collection. The Midleton Very Rare series. The Master of Malt Single Cask Series (ahem). The Diageo Special Releases is certainly one of those stellar collections.

This year, the theme is ‘Rare by Nature’, a concept inspired by the surroundings of each distillery, the distillers and blenders who made them, and “the whisky lovers who will enjoy them.” The line-up includes bottlings from Mortlach, The Singleton of Glen Ord, Cragganmore, Cardhu, Lagavulin, Talisker, Pittyvaich and Dalwhinnie. Noticeably, there’s no Port Ellen, no Brora, no single grain of any kind, and no new creation like Cladach or Collectivum XXVIII. There is, however, eight different, but delicious cask-strength Scotch whiskies to enjoy.

And in that spirit of sharing, we decided to divvy up the drams among Team MoM. That means there’s eight different reviews from a variety of people within our office badass tower. Now, let’s see what the Diageo Special Releases 2019 has to offer!

The dram: Cardhu 14 Years Old

ABV 55.0%
Region: Speyside
Cask: Double matured in ex-Amontillado hogsheads
No of bottles: 4,860
RRSP £120

Diageo Special Releases 2019

Look, it’s Mariella!

Tasted by: Mariella Salerno, PR Manager

When I first nosed it, it seemed very mild and sweet, but then it started to open up, becoming floral and somehow crisp. Its deep golden appearance brings some richness, which adds to the elegant experience. It feels autumnal with the softly spiced orchard fruits. A treat!

Appearance: Clear and deep gold

Nose: Clean – initially sweet fruity aromas – after adding water it becomes more flowery

Palate: Medium – smooth – pear orchard – hint of vanilla

Finish: Medium with some complexity – very good to outstanding

The dram: Cragganmore 12 Years Old

ABV 58.4%
Region: Speyside
Cask: From medium peated, refill American oak casks
Limited quantities worldwide
RRSP £85

Diageo Special Releases 2019

Say hi to Adam!

Tasted by: Adam O’Connell, Writer

Cragganmore is often regrettably overlooked but there’s simply no excuse not to indulge in this expression. There’s heaps of distillery character here, from the lightly peated malt to the complex blend of citrus, orchard fruit and dry spice. It’s quintessentially Cragganmore, and all the better for it.

Appearance: Light gold.

Nose: Lemon peel, Conference pear and rhubarb and custard sweets lead, with tanned leather, sandalwood and a hint of earthy peat in support. With water, there’s grilled pineapple, marmalade, soft toffee and a hint of green cardamom add depth.

Palate: More orchard fruit, some drying spice and a little honey initially, then water reveals a savory hint of gamey meat is followed by a note of peppery oak and then a sweet layer of vanilla sugar.

Finish: A beautiful balance of sweetness, smokiness and spice lingers, with a faintly tart citrus element underneath.

The dram: Dalwhinnie 30 Years Old

ABV 54.7%
Region: Highland
Cask: From refill hogsheads and butts
No of bottles: 7,586
RRSP £500

Diageo Special Releases 2019

Here’s Jess!

Tasted by: Jess Williamson, Content Assistant

At first nosing, I thought it would be creamier and slightly sweeter than it was on the palate! Then, taking the first sip, the hit of spice just gets you right on the tongue, and it just builds and builds. It’s creamy, mouth-filling and subtly fruity, with a really interesting smoky hint. My tongue was literally left tingling for minutes after the last sip. A fresh, sweet and thoroughly warming dram!

Appearance: Golden, like clear honey, with a very subtle amber tint.

Nose: Fairly spicy, with root ginger, clover honey, a slight mineral hint and subtle smoky, ashy notes, a touch of Lotus biscuits and a buttery caramel undertone. With water, it’s much more creamy, with sweet malt, condensed milk, vanilla cheesecake and prominent floral honey this time, and a very subtle grassy note.

Palate: A huge hit of spice straight off, with peppery oak, a continued flinty mineral note, set honey and just a hint of tinned pear. With water, it’s all cream soda, fresh hay and just a hint of sea salt, with the spice more tempered this time, and dried apple.

Finish: A mineral finish, with white pepper, dried apricot, waxy vanilla and a gentle lingering smoke…

The dram: Lagavulin 12 Years Old

ABV 56.5%
Region: Islay
Cask: From refill American oak casks of high peating levels
Limited quantities worldwide
RRSP £110

Diageo Special Releases 2019

Chris enjoyed a warming dram

Tasted by: Chris Wood, Spirit Buyer

A classic in the line-up, and much loved every year. And I was not disappointed at all! If you like Lagavulin, you’ll love this expression.

Appearance: Light gold.

Nose: Everything you would expect from the annual Lagavulin 12 Year Old. Sweet peat smoke like a recently extinguished bonfire accompanied by memories of sparklers on 5th November. Salty sea breeze, shellfish and seaweed. Tangy fruity aroma, like Bramley Apples ready for a homemade apple pie. Add a little water and you get freshly cut wet grass and autumn leaves after a downpour.

Palate: Citrusy, spicy and smoky. Like taking a drag on your Grandad’s cigar. Intense ashes to start, smooth in texture with a warm finish. Being at natural strength allows the water to not diminish the character.

Finish: A nice warming sweet smoke with lemony tones. A dash of salt through the smoke.

The dram: Mortlach 26 Years Old

ABV 53.3%
Region: Speyside
Cask: From fresh-toasted first-fill Pedro Ximenez & Oloroso Sherry seasoned casks
No. of bottles: 3,883
RRSP £1,500

Diageo Special Releases 2019

That’s Henry and a hint of office!

Tasted by: Henry Jeffreys, Features Editor

One look at the colour and you know you’re in for a treat. And it doesn’t disappoint on the nose. Pow! Chocolate, walnuts, tobacco, they’re all here but there’s also more delicate notes of apple and orange peel. In the mouth, it’s absolutely sumptuous, full and creamy, lovely texture full of sweet sherried notes with classic clubland aromas of cigars and leather. Sweet fudge and chocolate finish goes on for a good 15 minutes

Appearance: Look at the deep copper colour on that! They don’t call it the Beast of Dufftown for nothing. What a beast!

Nose: Leather, polished wood and furniture polish, it’s like an antique shop in here. There’s also walnuts, cooked peaches, dried apricots and dates. Water brings out more aromatic notes like tobacco as well as cooked and fresh apple notes.

Palate: Full creamy texture, oily even, with savoury notes of leather and tobacco, joined after some time with sweeter fudge, chocolate and vanilla with a touch of wood tannin and some dark cherry fruit. Water does tame the beast to some extent, highlighting the fruit and sweeter elements.

Finish: Very long; to begin with its pepper and orange peel but the lingering taste is sweeter, chocolate and salted caramel note that goes on and on.

The dram: Pittyvaich 29 Years Old

ABV 51.4%
Region: Speyside
Cask: Double matured in Pedro Ximenez & Oloroso sherry seasoned bodega casks
No of bottles: 4,976
RRP £330

Diageo Special Releases 2019

Say hello to Avi!

Tasted by: Avi Karia, PPC Executive

This is a beaut of a whisky from a closed distillery! When first nosing all I could pick up was baked apples, after a brief moment I found myself discovering more tannic notes of tea along with dried flowers. The palate is sweet, but not cloying, dried fruits first with potpourri at the back. The finish is wonderful and spicy; it just goes on and on. A whisky I could sit and drink over hours. Truly wonderful!

Appearance: Clear – golden amber.

Nose: Clean, light-medium intensity. wonderful fresh malt, followed by cooked apples, hints of sultanas, light fruit, a little spicy ginger, dried flowers, searching further I find buttered sponge. With water, the flowers are very apparent, more toffee.

Palate: Dry, warm and mouth-filling, very smooth, more sultanas on the palate, a little toffee, followed by a hint of black tea. With water, a little more delicate now, more toffee notes

Finish: Long and smooth, quiet complex now with woody notes more apparent, more spicy ginger, baked apple in a puff pastry with a dusting of powdered sugar. With water, it’s still long and complex, but perhaps a little smoother.

The dram: Talisker 15 Years Old

ABV 57.3%
Region: Skye
Cask: From freshly charred American oak hogsheads
Limited quantities worldwide
RRSP £110

Diageo Special Releases 2019

It’s Kristiane, everyone!

Tasted by: Kristiane Sherry, Editor

Oh, I do like to be beside the seaside! And this dram is the embodiment of that. It’s got sea-breeze freshness, but also a depth and warmth that comes with a sunny day on the coast. It’s richly textured too, with lovely sweet spice notes adding interest throughout. And don’t forget that signature Talisker smoke! A treat indeed.

Appearance: Bright gold

Nose: A seaweed iodine note is the first to spring from the glass – but it’s sunny and inviting, not industrial and heavy. Kelloggs Cornflakes, honey-roasted cashews, tangy cinnamon, warm nutmeg, and caramel notes build on the sense of sunshine, while an undercurrent of peat smoke brings depth. Water rounds it all out a bit and gives more of a velvety impression.

Palate: The rush of sweetness is a real surprise – on the front of the palate there are peach notes, raisin and perhaps red cherry. Then it’s all about that rich spice, along with the peat – a delicious abutment of pepper heat, bright allspice and rolling smoke. With water, it gets even sweeter and a little quieter, but still really tasty and mouth-filling.

Finish: Long and rich, but with a happy lightness, too.

The dram: The Singleton of Glen Ord 18 Years Old

ABV 55.0%
Region: Highlands
Cask: From fresh charred American oak hogsheads
Limited quantities worldwide
RRSP £130

Diageo Special Releases 2019

And last, but not least, Charlotte!

Tasted by: Charlotte Gorzelak, Email and Social Marketing Assistant

The Singleton of Glen Ord has a nice gold colour, and it is perfect for sipping. Pretty smooth but still warming which is good for autumn. Adding a bit of water brings out the underlying flavours and gives it more body.

Appearance: Bright gold.

Nose: orange peel and berry fruits. Post water is more fruity with more orange coming through.

Palate: warming orange with a prickle of spice. Smooth mouthfeel and long finish. Chocolate and caramel notes. Post water is sweeter and smoother and first dip is still quite warming. Still spice but more orange and berry fruits.

Finish: long finish, warming taste. Drying mouth feel. But in a good way. Post water still a long finish, smooth and spicy on the tongue.

The Diageo Special Releases 2019 will be available from MoM Towers soon…

Which dram appeals most to you? Let us know in the comments below or on social!

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The Nightcap: 11 October

Dig into The Nightcap this week for stories on a new Keeper of the Quaich, architectural awards, and a surprising amount of basil. It’s cold. It’s officially cold. There have…

Dig into The Nightcap this week for stories on a new Keeper of the Quaich, architectural awards, and a surprising amount of basil.

It’s cold. It’s officially cold. There have been laboured hints and knowing nods towards the weather turning, and while we’ve been staring cautiously at the amassed pile of knitted jumpers and fingerless gloves on that chair in our own respective bedrooms, there’s been the voice in the backs of our heads saying “No, not today.” We continue to walk outside without a jacket, as if trying to will the weather into staying at least tepid. But, despite our valiant efforts, it’s cold. While this may be disappointing to some, this does mean you can cosy up before the weekend kicks off proper with The Nightcap! Maybe wear some warm slippers or something.

The week the MoM Blog kicked off in style with a Cognac masterclass from Eric Forget from Hine. Henry also found the time to write about a triple-distilled new release from the English Whisky Company and learned all about Irish Coffee with John Quinn from Tullamore DEW! Where does he find the time? Meanwhile bartender Nate Brown didn’t like the dress code or the Martinis in a famous London bar, Annie visited the East London Liquor Company and we announced the lucky winner of our fabulous Mackmyra competition. Oh, and there’s a special offer on six sensational gins, buy one, get a second bottle half price. Bargain. Right, that was the week, now this is the news!

The Nightcap

Dr Rachel Barrie, in all her glory!

Dr Rachel Barrie inducted as a ‘Keeper of the Quaich’

Dr Rachel Barrie, the master blender for The GlenDronach, BenRiach and Glenglassaugh has received the prestigious accolade of being inducted as a ‘Keeper of the Quaich’. At a private ceremony held at Blair Castle on Monday 7 October, the first female Scotch whisky master blender to receive an Honorary Doctorate and be inducted into Whisky Magazine’s illustrious ‘Hall of Fame’ was invited into the international society established by the Scotch whisky industry to celebrate the outstanding commitment of those who produce and promote the spirit. It’s fair to say that over 27 years in the industry working with the likes of the Scotch Whisky Research Institute, The Glenmorangie Company, the Scotch Malt Whisky Society, Morrison Bowmore Distillers, tasting in excess of 150,000 casks of whisky in the process, Dr. Barrie has met those requirements. “Being inducted as a Keeper of the Quaich is a very proud moment in my career. The society brings together those leading the way in Scotch whisky from all corners of the world, and to be part of this highly revered body is an honour, as we continue to push boundaries in perfecting our magnificent spirit,” said Dr Barrie. “My ambition has always been to unlock the secrets of Scotch whisky-making and provenance, to develop and nurture richness of character and celebrate it with the world; it’s an honour to be recognised for this and to be in such esteemed company.” Congratulations Dr Barrie!

The Nightcap

The Macallan distillery: award-winning and somewhat hard to spot.

The Macallan Distillery and visitor experience wins architectural award

The Macallan can’t seem to stop winning awards and receiving plaudits. Now it can even boast recognition from the world of architecture! The firm that worked on its impressive new(ish) distillery and visitor centre, Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners (RSHP), has taken home this year’s Andrew Doolan Best Building in Scotland Award from the Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland (RIAS). This year’s judges visited and assessed the shortlisted buildings against a range of criteria including architectural integrity; usability and context; delivery and execution; and sustainability, saying of the Macallan Distillery and visitor experience that, “The attention to detail and the consistency and control of aesthetic decisions in this building is incredibly impressive. A worthy winner.” The owners of Macallan and RSHP client, Edrington, had wanted a building that could reveal the production processes of its single malt Scotch whisky and welcome visitors, all while respecting the idyllic landscape of the Speyside region, and RSHP created the structure’s profile to resemble ancient Scottish earthworks. “We are thrilled that The Macallan distillery has been awarded the Doolan for 2019,” said Toby Jeavons, associate partner and project architect of RSHP. “It was an incredible project to have been a part of and which was only possible due to our forward-looking and ambitious client in The Macallan.” George McKenzie, head of UK engineering at Edrington added that “The RIAS’ Doolan Award is an extremely humbling honour to be bestowed on the team that created The Macallan Distillery Experience. The award is testament to the vision, and collaboration from our team and our partners. Together, we have been able to deliver this unique and striking piece of contemporary architecture.” It’s certainly an impressive structure, as we found out ourselves when we invited for a sneak-peak tour.

The Nightcap

Manchester United fans have really scored with this Chivas bottling.

Chivas celebrates the 20th anniversary of Manchester United’s treble

Last week it was Irish whiskey and rugby and now it’s Scotch with another one of those ball games that have proved so popular in recent years. The Chivas Ultis 1999 Victory Edition has just been released to commemorate the 20th anniversary of Manchester United winning the treble. For those who don’t know, this is when they won the Premier League, FA Cup and UEFA Champions League, all in one season! That’s a lot of silverware. To chime with the three theme, this special Chivas is a blend of three single malts distilled in that memorable year. Sandy Hyslop, Chivas director of blending, said: “The treble-winning season of 1999 is a historic moment in world football, and we’re honoured to be marking it with a new moment in Chivas’ history – our first-ever 20-year-old blended malt Scotch.” He went on to describe the taste: “The three single malts artfully come together to create a wealth of flavour characterised by notes of milk chocolate, orange and a delicate sensation of spicy ginger and cinnamon.” So if you love football and whisky, and have £199 burning a hole in your pocket, then this might be for you.

The Nightcap

10 points to whoever can spot the hidden bottle of Smirnoff…

Smirnoff unveils global advertising campaign

In a move that likely to enrage language purists, Smirnoff has unveiled its latest advertising campaign called “Infamous Since 1864.” We think they mean famous. Anyway, enough pedantry, the campaign is subtitled: “Invention, Intrigue and Survival Against the Odds – the Extraordinary Story of Smirnoff Vodka”. And what a story it is! Founded in Moscow in 1864 by Pyotr Arsenjevitch Smirnov, following the October Revolution the business moved to Turkey, followed by Poland and then opened a distillery in France. In 1933, production began in the US which is the beginning of Smirnoff’s (somewhere along the way the spelling changed) rise to becoming the number 1 vodka brand in the world. To celebrate this 155-year history, Rupert Sanders has directed a film tracing the Smirnoff’s journey. Parent company Diageo developed the worldwide campaign with ad agency 72andSunny. Neil Shah, global marketing director of Smirnoff, said: “This will be the first truly global campaign on the brand in more than 25 years and will launch with significant media investment in markets including: North America, Europe, Latin America and Africa. It’s been a privilege to work with renowned director Rupert Sanders, who shared our bold ambition for this campaign, and we are thrilled to soundtrack the film with an original composition of El Michels Affair’s cover of the iconic hip hop track “Shimmy Shimmy Ya”. Sounds great, but surely it can’t be as good as the Ol’ Dirty Bastard original?

The Nightcap

No matter how much you love Bond, please don’t shake or stir this Bollinger.

Bollinger celebrates 40 years as Bond’s Champagne

James Bond has been sipping Bollinger Champagne ever since Moonraker starring Roger Moore was released in 1979. Since then there have been three more Bonds, Dalton, Brosnan and Craig, some highs, Casino Royale, and some lows, Die Another Day (sorry Pierce) but the Champagne has been consistently excellent. Etienne Bizot from Bollinger commented: “It brings me an immense amount of pride to be celebrating 40 years of partnership between Bollinger and James Bond, it is a testament to the friendship started in 1979, between my father Christian Bizot and James Bond producer Cubby Broccoli. A friendship based on our shared values such as excellence and elegance.” To celebrate this beautiful friendship, Bollinger has released a Tribute to Moonraker Limited Edition consisting of a magnum of Bollinger 2007 in a Saint Louis crystal ice bucket housed in a pewter and wood veneer case by Eric Berthes inspired by the space shuttle from the film. Only 407 have been produced with an RRP £4,500. If that’s out of your price range, there’s also 007 Limited Edition Millésimé 2011 to mark the release of the 25th Bond film, No Time To Die. It’s an unusual Bolly as it’s made entirely from Pinot Noir from the Grand Cru village of Aÿ. Yours for £150. The film doesn’t come out until April 2020, but the Champagne is available now so you have something to drink while you wait. 

The Nightcap

Filey Bay, making history and looking suave by the sea.

Spirit of Yorkshire distillery launches the county’s first single malt

Three and a half years ago, the very first spirit flowed from the stills of Spirit of Yorkshire distillery. You know what that means, that spirit has been having a swell old time in casks for all that time, and is now a whisky! Launched on 5 October, Filey Bay is the county’s first single malt and is inspired by the bay that you can see from the distillery. “From our very first distillations, we have always set out to create a defined house style and a light, fruity whisky,” says Spirit of Yorkshire’s whisky director, Joe Clark. “Our First Release is a combination of our two distillate styles matured in select oak casks to produce a whisky that is creamy, light and fruity with flavours of vanilla, honey, citrus and caramel.” Spirit of Yorkshire co-founder, David Thompson notes, “you only get to release the county’s first whisky once and we’re thrilled to now share it with customers old and new.” Only 6,000 bottles of Filey Bay First Release have been produced, with the bespoke bottle boasting the distillery’s mascot, the gannet, bringing together land and sea through the decoration. Rest assured, bottles will be landing at MoM Towers soon, very soon…

The Nightcap

BCB says goodbye Station Berlin, and hello Berlin Messe in 2020!

BCB bids farewell to Station Berlin

Bar Convent Berlin (BCB) probably the biggest bar trade show in Europe took place in Berlin this week, and we were on hand to take in some of the action (we’d love to say all, but it’s genuinely so huge you’d probably need five lives and 13 livers to get round all 1,200-plus brands from 446 exhibitors, numerous seminars, and the fiesta of parties and bar takeovers in the evenings… phew). People from more than 48 countries were there, either showing off the newest boozes (or non-boozes as well as all the low- and no-alcohol drinks, there’s a dedicated coffee section, too), or seeking out said newness for their own bars and shops. It was a lot of fun. We spotted ALL the rum (2020 really could be the year), heaps of botanical spirits (could gin be on the wane?), and a bizarre amount of basil. Yes, basil. Seminars ranged from how climate change will affect drinks and looking at spirits through a diversity lens, to social media how-tos and future trends. One of our favourite quotes was from Samson & Surrey’s Kyle McHugh in a session on work/life balance, when he literally shouted: “it’s ok to be happy!” Truly relevant whether you work in drinks or not. And the biggest newsy news from the show? BCB is relocating to the sizeable Berlin Messe for the 2020 edition, to allow it to grow even bigger. See you there, drinks pals!

The Nightcap

Head over to the Rum Kitchen to try out Bacardi Legacy serves.

Tails Cocktails bottles Bacardi Legacy serves for LCW

In case you hadn’t noticed, it’s London Cocktail Week (heading down and want some ideas? It’s still on this weekend, and you can check out our post right here). Well, batched drinks brand Tails really is bringing the party, and has become the first to bottle serves from renowned cocktail competition Bacardi Legacy! Global champion Ronnaporn Kanivichaporn’s winning ‘Pink Me Up’ Bloody Mary twist (with rum as a base), and UK winner Chelsie Bailey’s ‘Rum Reverie’ have both been immortalised (or as good as) in pre-mixed form especially for LCW. We went along to check them out, and can confirm they are DELICIOUS. “Batching finalist cocktails from the Bacardi Legacy competition is a real game-changer,” said Tails Cocktails founder, Nick Wall. “Since I started the company, it has always been our vision to elevate drinking experiences by making high-quality cocktails more accessible to a broader audience. Batching some of the world’s best rum cocktails brings this vision to life.” Check out both serves at The Rum Kitchen in Soho before 13 October!

The Nightcap

The quality of froth on that cocktail is pure wizardry!

Gabriel Boudier Wizard finalists announced

We’ve all fancied making our own booze especially at this time of the year when the hedgerow fruits are out but not many get a chance to have their concoctions adopted by one of France’s greatest liqueur companies, Gabriel Boudier. Which is just what will happen to the winner of the annual Gabriel Boudier Wizard competition. This week, the company announced the names of the finalists. The chosen three were: Lorenzo Gavelli from The Chambers at The Chamberlain Hotel in London with his pandan leaf liqueur, Luke Bensley from Legna in Birmingham with his beetroot liqueur and Matthew Cusworth from Hoot the Redeemer in Edinburgh with a nori seaweed liqueur. Each entrant also had to come up with a special cocktail based on their liquor. The finalists dubbed Wizards of the South, North and Scotland respectively will go on to a grand final in Dijon. But the judges were so impressed with other entry, a chipotle & pineapple liqueur from Dominic Saunders from the Royal Academy of Music, that they’re sending him to the final too as a wild card. The eventual winner’s liqueur will sit alongside such former winners as Lime Leaf Liqueur by Samuel Boulton (2015) and Dijon Mustard Liqueur by Maria Vieira (2017) in the Gabriel Boudier range as well as £1000 in prize money. Congratulations to all the three and may the best liqueur win.

The Nightcap

You can be sure a few of those glasses didn’t make it back in this year’s Oktoberfest…

And finally… Disappointing Oktoberfest: beer sales down on last year

Oktoberfest, Munich’s festival of all things Bavarian, well mainly beer, sausages and lederhosen (is lederhosen good, though?), has just finished, and in thorough German fashion the numbers have been crunched and the stats are in. The most notable being that beer enthusiasts tried to steal nearly 100,000 glasses. 96,912 (love that Teutonic precision) glasses were confiscated by eagle-eyed stewards. That sounds like a lot but apparently, it’s fewer than last year. Those famous steins were also used as weapons 32 times. Ouch! But most shocking of all, beer sales are down too, visitors drank 7.3 million beers, that’s 200,000 fewer than in 2018. Very disappointing. Must do better next year Bavaria.

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The Nightcap: 4 October

The world of booze doesn’t stop producing news, so we don’t stop rounding it all up into one handy blog for you to take into the weekend – it’s The…

The world of booze doesn’t stop producing news, so we don’t stop rounding it all up into one handy blog for you to take into the weekend – it’s The Nightcap!

Greetings, friend. I hope you’re sitting uncomfortably, be it on your sofa, armchair, or beanbag if that’s how you choose to live your life. We’ve reached October, and everyone knows October is the scariest month of the year for a variety of reasons. The first Thursday of October is National Poetry Day, meaning all the terrible poems you wrote as a teenager will somehow find their way on to the internet without you knowing. Horrifying. The clocks go back one hour on the last Sunday of October, which means an extra hour for malevolent stripy-jumper-wearing spectres with pointy gloves to run amok in your nightmares. And of course, Halloween. But you know what’s not scary? Your weekly bundle of booze news – The Nightcap!

So, what’s occurred already this week at MoM Towers? Well, it was announced that our beloved Scotch whisky would be hit by US tariffs, a subject that Ian Buxton tackled on his return, who had small distillers on his mind. Adam had some good news to celebrate at least, as he tasted the newly launched Midleton Very Rare 2019 and then previewed the wonderful London Cocktail Week, which starts today! Annie Hayes continued the good vibes by showcasing not one, but three brilliant Balcones bottlings for our New Arrival of the Week before she enjoyed an Aged Botanical Spirit from the fab folk at the lovely (but hard to pronounce) Nc’nean. Henry, meanwhile, was in high spirits as he explored the use the CBD-infused rum from Dead Man’s Fingers as the base for a cocktail, the Hemp Highball. Oh, and Dram Club returned!

Don’t forget there’s still time to enter our competition to win a VIP trip to Kingsbarns whisky distillery! Now, on to The Nightcap!

The Nightcap

Italian-inspired all-day restaurant-bar Dante was victorious!

New York’s Dante named World’s Best Bar at 50 Best

Last night was a glitzy affair for all in the drinks world – The World’s 50 Best Bars ceremony took place in London! And top of the crop for 2019? New York’s Italy-inspired all-day restaurant-bar Dante! The watering hole climbed a huge eight places since last year – enormous congrats to the team, led by Linden Pride, Nathalie Hudson and Naren Young. Second place was London’s sleek, chic Connaught Bar, while Florería Atlántico, Buenos Aires’ celebration of all things Argentina, scooped the bronze medal. All in all, there were 17 new entries, with 15 debutants. The UK accounted for 10 of the World’s Best, with the USA fielding seven. In total, bars hailed from 26 cities spanning 21 countries – we highly recommend checking out the full list if you’re making any kind of travel plans. The 50 Best Bars list is decided by a cohort of drinks writers, bartenders and other cocktail aficionados from around the world, who must have visited each of the seven bars they vote for (including three outside their home country) at least once in the past 18 months. “Huge congratulations to all bars that have been included on this year’s list,” said William Drew, Director of Content for The World’s 50 Best Bars. “This list is a reflection of the open and diverse nature of the international bar scene today.” Cheers to that!

The Nightcap

Congratulations Kirsteen!

New master whisky maker at The Macallan

It’s just been announced that Kirtseen Campbell has landed one of the biggest jobs in Scotch – master whisky maker at The Macallan. She will lead the six-strong ‘whisky mastery team’, as it’s grandly known. Campbell, who is from Thurso, joined Edrington, Macallan’s parent company, in 2007 and has worked on such prestigious brands as Cutty Sark, Famous Grouse and Glenrothes. She holds a diploma in distilling and has also worked at the Scotch Whisky Research Institute. Campbell commented: “I feel a real sense of honour and pride to be entrusted as the custodian of The Macallan. Having been a part of the wider Edrington whisky making team for over a decade, I’m really looking forward to working more closely with the team at The Macallan.” Igor Boyadjian, managing director, The Macallan, said: “It is with great pleasure that we welcome Kirsteen Campbell to the position of master whisky maker at The Macallan. Kirsteen will join the whisky mastery team and together they will use their skills and craft to continue to create and enhance our exceptional portfolio of whiskies.” Congratulations, and we’re looking forward to trying those whiskies.

The Nightcap

Welcome back Ardbeg Supernova!

Prepare for a close encounter with Ardbeg Supernova

It’s been four whole years since we’ve seen a bottling of Ardbeg Supernova, a whisky which has elevated the phrase ‘out of this world’ to a whole new level. The Supernova Series is a collection of limited edition Committee bottlings first released in 2009 to celebrate the groundbreaking Ardbeg space experiment. What experiment, you ask? Oh, just that time when Ardbeg sent up a vial of whisky which orbited the earth for three years aboard the International Space Station, making Ardbeg become the first whisky brand in space. Yeah, that experiment. It’s also the peatiest expression to come from the Islay distillery. “The way the flavours build and build and then explode in a burst of pungent peat and smoke is truly astonishing,” says Dr Bill Lumsden, Director of Distilling, Whisky Creation and Whisky Stocks says of the most recent bottling. Supernova 2019 was released to members of the Ardbeg Committee on 2 October, and Mickey Heads, Ardbeg Distillery Manager notes that “Supernova 2019 is the fifth edition in the series, and I’m sure it will be snatched up in no time at all.” All good things must come to an end, and Ardbeg has confirmed that this is the last Supernova expression to land on earth’s shores. Although, the previous Supernova bottling in 2015 was also described as the final expression… Just saying.

The Nightcap

The bottling is a tribute to Ian Hunter, the last of the founding Johnston family to run the Laphroaig Distillery

Laphroaig unveils The Ian Hunter series

Exciting news from Laphroaig! This week the Islay distillery announced a new series of whiskies honouring the legacy of Ian Hunter, the last of the founding Johnston family to run the Laphroaig Distillery. Each limited edition annual release will be set into a book that will document a part of Hunter’s legacy. One of Hunter’s most notable successes was managing to sell Laphroaig to America during Prohibition, doing so under the guise of medicine. The inaugural release, Book One: ‘Unique Character’ (its full name) has been revealed, a 30-year-old whisky reflecting the characters of both Hunter and Laphroaig. It’s aged in first-fill American white oak bourbon barrels, a decision which is fairly obvious, as it was Hunter who introduced American oak casks to the Laphroaig maturation process. “If you visit the Laphroaig Distillery today its clear to see the impact of Ian Hunter through the practices and innovations that are still followed. For good reason, Ian is credited as the pioneer and innovator of this incredible whisky,” John Campbell, Laphroaig distillery manager, comments. “Without Ian, the Laphroaig we know today would not exist, so we have much to thank him for. It is this legacy that we celebrate throughout the series.” You can be sure that Book One will be landing on MoM shores very soon, though you’ll have to wait until 2020 for Book Two.

Sustainable surfs up at Old Pulteney

Following in the footsteps of the announcement last week that the Pulteney Distillery has teamed up with acclaimed wildlife cameraman Doug Allan, comes some even more exciting news from mainland Scotland’s second most northern distillery. For the second instalment of Old Pulteney’s ‘Rise with the Tide’ campaign, the distillery has collaborated with Sustainable Surf, a California-based non-profit founded in 2011 by Michael Steward and Kevin Whilden that encourages surfers to be more environmentally aware. You might be surprised from watching Point Break or listening to the Beach Boys, that modern surfboards are not good for the ocean. Steward filled us in: “We’re stoked to be collaborating with Old Pulteney to have this platform for sharing our story. When we first jump-started the movement for building dramatically more ocean-friendly surfboards about a decade ago in California, no one knew what an “Ecoboard” was – now you can buy a certified ‘ECOBOARD’ from over 250 participating brands all around the globe, and the world’s top professional surfers are using them in competition on the world stage and winning!” Malcolm Waring, Pulteney distillery manager, commented: “Kevin and Michael know all about the power and rewards of the sea, and that’s a value we hold dear here at Pulteney. They work tirelessly to harness the power of the global surfing community to protect the future of their ocean playground. They changed the game by recognising that their sport can be used as a platform to encourage a more sustainable, eco-friendly way of life.”

The Nightcap

Look, it’s Schofield’s Dry Vermouth!

Asterley Bros team up with Joe Schofield for new vermouth

This week we zipped up to London for the launch of a delish new vermouth – and it was well worth the trip. Joe Schofield, perhaps best known for his time at Singapore’s highly acclaimed Tippling Club bar, has teamed up with the actual brothers at Asterley Bros to create something mighty delicious indeed: Schofield’s Dry Vermouth! It’s a tasty concoction of all things quintessentially English, including a base wine made with English Bacchus, along with botanicals like rose, chamomile, jasmine, coriander and yarrow (and a whole load more, too). “I want to drive the dry vermouth market a little bit – put a bit of an interesting take on that,” Schofield told us as we sat down to enjoy a Four Leaf Clover serve during the event at Three Sheets (50ml of the vermouth, four mint leaves and 10ml elderflower liqueur, stirred in a highball and topped with soda, in case you were wondering). It’s 16% ABV, vegan, and the bottle even comes with a handy QR code so you can access more low(er) ABV serves if you like. We approve – keep an eye on the New Arrivals page and our social channels for more updates!

The Nightcap

The spectacular addition will mean more delicious Tequila, including aged expressions!

Patrón adds the Francisco Alcaraz Barrel Room to Hacienda

Hacienda Patrón has a swanky new addition that it’s keen to show off: a state-of-the-art aged barrel room. Two times the size of the present barrel room, it will allow for an increase in production of current expressions and continued innovation of the brand’s aged Tequila portfolio. The 16,850 square foot expansion provides more space to run ageing trials and Hacienda Patrón will store over 20,000 barrels of Tequila between both barrel rooms combined. The new building also features an upstairs tasting room for educational sessions, and an underground private bar, La Cava, an exclusive speakeasy bar, available for select VIP guests featuring a custom cocktail menu developed by head mixologist Oskar Murillo. “At Patrón we don’t cut any corners and we completely understand that aged Tequilas require patience to achieve greatness,” said Antonio Rodriguez, director of production. “The new Francisco Alcaraz Barrel Room gives us the capacity we need not only to increase the production of our current portfolio but to keep experimenting and create new innovations under different conditions. This expansion allows us to increase our Tequila production and provides another opportunity to continue to educate our guests at Hacienda Patrón through guided tastings in the new tasting room. Through a hands-on and interactive experience, guests will have the ability to fully understand the many nuances, variables and complexities of ageing Tequila.” Hacienda Patrón is located in the Highlands (Los Altos) of Jalisco and also features distillery buildings, a liquor facility, environmental areas, gardens, and a luxury 20-room guesthouse. Anyone else suddenly feel like they need a vacation? I hear Mexico is nice…

The Nightcap

Any excuse for a rum-based party…

Angostura brings Trinidad to London for one night only

Our job is booze but even we find it hard to keep up with all the various special days, weeks, months and even years of something or other. July was Rum Month, 16 August was National Rum Day and now, according to the House of Angostura, National Rum Week is coming up later this month. Still, any excuse for a party. And what a party the Trinidadian company has for you. It’s turning 640 East at the Arches in Bethnal Green, London into a West Indian Carnival on 17 October and you’re invited. Tickets cost £10 and include two cocktails made with Angostura bitters, rum and/or amaro by top drinks team Wet & Dry. And to get you in the mood there will be calypso, soca and live drumming from Just Vibez. Head over to the Angostura Global Facebook page for more information. Rainy autumn in London suddenly looks a whole lot hotter.

The Nightcap

What could be better than cheering on London Irish while enjoying Irish whiskey?

St. Patrick’s Distillery official whiskey of London Irish

There’s a Rugby World Cup on, in case you hadn’t heard, and what better time for St. Patrick’s Distillery to announce a partnership with everyone’s favourite London Irish rugby team, London Irish! The distillery (which we wrote about earlier in the year) is now the official whiskey supplier to the team and will sponsor the Man of the Match award at home games. Afsun Smith from Moonshine Inc Ltd, St. Patrick’s UK distributor, said: “We are proud to be partnering up with London Irish. Their core values mirrors ours: the pursuit of excellence, the love of a sporting life, a dedication to the community, and a superior offering. It’s a perfect match.” Sam Windridge from London Irish added: “We are delighted to be working with St. Patrick’s for this season and look forward to offering our adult supporters their fantastic range of products.” So now you can enjoy a drop of the Irish while you cheer on London Irish.

The Nightcap

Not wine. Not gin. Beer reigns supreme still in the UK

And finally… Beer remains the UK’s most popular alcoholic drink

If you’ve heard enough about the gin boom in the last few years to last you a lifetime, then this news may come as a surprise: beer is in fact Britain’s most popular alcoholic drink! Thanks to the British Beer & Pub Association’s (BBPA) latest handbook, we can pour you some boozy facts. As a nation, we enjoyed an eye-watering 8.5 billion pints in 2018, compared to only a measly 7.4 billion glasses of wine. However, the slightly disheartening news from the findings revealed that beer is majorly overtaxed in the UK. Apparently, unwitting Britons are paying 11 times more duty than beer lovers in Germany or Spain! All is not lost though, as the BBPA is backing a campaign calling on the Chancellor to cut beer tax. Surely that’s worth raising a pint!

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