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Master of Malt Blog

Category: News

The Nightcap: 4 December

Hurrah! The first Nightcap of the festive season is here and it’s full of Christmas cheer, interesting stories and boozy news. We’ll raise a glass to that. Those who welcome…

Hurrah! The first Nightcap of the festive season is here and it’s full of Christmas cheer, interesting stories and boozy news. We’ll raise a glass to that.

Those who welcome the “Christmas creep” that now begins before Halloween might disagree, but I think it’s fair to say that, for most of us, the true Christmas season has begun now that December has arrived. Nobby Holder has emerged from this den, the decorations are up all over the place and I can longer shame my mum for watching Christmas films (although I was definitely right to do so in early November). 

You might have noticed that we’ve got into the Christmas spirit on the MoM blog, mostly thanks to #WhiskySanta incredible Super Wishes, which this week featured two Scotch whiskies matured for more than 40 years, one from Tomintoul and another from Tamnavulin. We also opened up our Whisky Advent Calendar and enjoyed the spoils of what appeared behind windows #1, #2, #3 and #4.

Elsewhere, Adam learnt all about Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul’s new mezcal, what drinks trends to look out for this year, why the Octomore 11 Series is so tasty and which rums are not only tasty but available for less than £40. Henry, meanwhile, tasted some extraordinary Cognacs (one of them spent 110 years in cask!), Annie made the delicious and delicate White Negroni, Kristy investigated why Jura is so enchanting and Nate Brown returned to explain why his bar will remain shut this December

Oh, and we launched a competition that offers you the chance to win a VIP Trip to Bowmore and Laphroaig. Phew! Talk about blog-mageddon. Now, on to The Nightcap!

The Nightcap

The sale of this bottle has just made one man’s Christmas very festive indeed (image credit: Sotheby’s)

Macallan whisky bought for £80 sells for £57,500

I think it’s fair to say a lot of us have picked up a pretty pricey bottle of whisky with a special occasion in mind. But I imagine there won’t be many of us who look up the price of the whisky 37 years later and realise it’s worth tens of thousands of pounds. That’s exactly what happened to one lucky man, whose son bought him a bottle of The Macallan’s 50-year-old Anniversary Malt for his 50th birthday in 1983 for £80, with plans to drink it when he turned 80. But, after learning what it might be worth, the eventual seller instead contacted auctioneers Brightwells and ended up fetching a remarkable £57,500 for the bottle, according to the Scottish Daily Record. Most bottles of the expression, which was one of a 500-bottle release distilled in 1928, have been drunk so demand was high and the whisky attracted bids from Belgium, Germany, Scandinavia and Hong Kong as well as the UK. “This release has acquired mythic status as the best-tasting Macallan ever produced,” Paddy Shave of the auction house said (best name ever, by the way). “It’s described as the Holy Grail for malt whisky lovers, so we knew there would be worldwide interest.”

The Nightcap

Anyone got a spare 10k lying around?

Glenturret releases a 33-year-old whisky

Scotland’s oldest working distillery has made the most of 2020, relaunching its brand in the autumn and now unveiling a very swanky limited-edition single malt series in collaboration with glass experts Lalique. The first release is The Glenturret Provenance, which was bottled today and is now available on www.theglenturret.com for just £9,800. It’s a 33-year-old single malt whisky drawn from three casks filled in 1987 that was bottled in 320 French crystal decanters at a cask strength of 43.7% ABV without any additional colouring or chill-filtration. It is said to possess rich notes of ginger, brandy-soaked cherries and plump, juicy sultanas, followed by hints of cinnamon sticks, dates and soft whispers of oak and green apple.  2020 has been a challenging year for all but also a very exciting year for us. We recently introduced a fresh visual brand identity as well as six new expressions,  hand-crafted by our incredible team at the distillery in Crieff,” John Laurie, managing director at The  Glenturret, said of the launch. “Adding The Glenturret  Provenance is an important milestone for us – this is a whisky to be savoured slowly, which fits in perfectly with our distillation process as we still do everything here by hand. The Glenturret Provenance is all about reflecting on time, memories of places and people have gone before”.

The Nightcap

The range is a first for Aberlour and features some of its oldest ever bottled whisky

Chivas Brothers unveils rare aged collection 

Fancy getting your hands on three exceptionally rare limited-edition collections of Scotch whisky comprised of over 600 bottles available across the three distilleries from the Chivas Brothers single malt portfolio? Then you’re in luck. The whisky giants unveiled The Glenlivet Cellar Collection, The Aberlour Cellar Collection and The Scapa Single Cask this week, featuring some of the oldest whiskies released from these great distilleries and for the first time ever, they will be available for UK-based customers to order direct from the distillery from the comfort of their own homes. The Glenlivet Cellar Collection comprises of a 30-year-old, a 33-year-old, a 38-year-old and a 40-year-old, The Aberlour Cellar Collection, a 39-year-old and a 44 year old, while The Scapa Single Cask Vintage Editions consists of a 29-year-old, 41-year-old and 42 year old, its ever oldest release. “It has been an incredibly challenging year and we recognise it hasn’t been easy for Scotch enthusiasts to travel to our distilleries in Speyside and Orkney. We’re so pleased that we’re now able to give Scotch whisky fans the opportunity to order some of the most exceptionally rare aged malts from our portfolio straight to their door,” says Miriam Eceolaza, marketing director for Malts at Chivas Brothers. “The exclusivity of these expressions is unlike anything we have ever released before, and we hope our fans relish the opportunity to taste real history with these delicious collections.”

The Nightcap

Spirit Guide is a tale of founding an English whisky distillery. There are no spooky ghosts

Cotswolds distillery founder writes book

Is there no end to the man’s talents? Not content with setting up a distillery that produces superb gin, single malt whisky, Amari and now a rum, but The Cotswolds Distillery founder Daniel Szor has now written a book. It’s a hard-boiled crime novel set in the murky Belgrade underworld…. Not really! Called Spirit Guide: In search of an authentic life, it’s Szor’s own story. He is the son of Polish immigrants to America who made a packet in finance before moving to the peace and tranquillity of the Cotswolds. It was there that the idea came to him to start a distillery. Szor’s passion was whisky and the idea came to him to make single malt in England. Not such an unusual thing now but back in 2014, this was considered a bit peculiar. He enlisted the help of the late Jim Swan and results have been, it has to be said, extremely impressive. Szor commented: “I am delighted to have written my first book and to share my journey with readers. I really hope this book will provide some inspiration during these unprecedented times and if I have one message it would be ‘following one’s heart is never the wrong direction’’”. Wise words, though we would recommend making a packet in finance before following your heart.

The Nightcap

Having enjoyed a tour of this place before, we can confirm the accolades are well deserved

Jameson Distillery Bow St. named world’s leading distillery tour again!

I hope the shelves were fitted securely at Irish Distillers because it must have a tonne of awards to display, especially now that it has completed a treble at the World Travel Awards (WTA)! For the third year in a row, its Jameson Distillery Bow St. attraction has been named the World’s Leading Distillery Tour at the 27th Grand Final Ceremony, which took place virtually, but was still able to acknowledge, reward and celebrate excellence in global travel and tourism. Having already scooped the prize for Europe’s Leading Distillery Tour earlier this month, Jameson Distillery Bow St. had to beat off stiff competition from the likes of Macallan, Hennessy, Jack Daniels and Jose Cuervo. “To win three years in a row is incredible and, given the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, and the disruption that the travel and tourism industries have faced globally, this acknowledgement is particularly special this year,” says Greg Hughes, managing director, Jameson Brand Homes at Irish Distillers. “The award honours and recognises our commitment to excellence at the spiritual home of Jameson and is an acknowledgement of the incredible work of our team at Bow St., who provide every visitor with an unforgettable and unique experience – in-person, and now, virtually.” Congratulations, guys!

The Nightcap

Fair play to Couture, it is a much better use of money than wine and dining a load of freeloading journalists…

Pernod Ricard donates Christmas lunch money to charity

It’s one of the highlights of a drink writers year, the annual Pernod Ricard Christmas lunch. It’s a time when the great, the good, and those who blagged a ticket at the last minute of the booze world meet to feast, gossip and sample lots of delicious drinks from Pernod Ricard’s extensive portfolio. For obvious reasons, it’s not happening this year so, according to a statement signed by Chivas CEO Jean-Christophe Coutures, CEO of Chivas UK David Haworth and CEO of Pernod Ricard Travel Retail Mohit Lal: “We have relocated funds normally set aside for this event and combined with support for a number of organisations that will help those in need this Christmas and beyond.” These charities include The Drinks Trust, Mind, Crisis and many others. The company will also be supplying 18,000 litres of hand sanitiser to help the on-trade as well as donating to local food banks on Speyside. What an excellent initiative. 

The Nightcap

So often the outsider, Gabriel has finally been accepted into the inner-circle!

And finally…. ‘Renegade’ Alexandre Gabriel is new Cognac vice president

Is it a case of poacher turned gamekeeper as it was announced today that Alexandre Gabriel is the new vice-president of the BNIC (Bureau National Interprofessionnel du Cognac) alongside Christophe Véral, the new president? It’s a move that nobody expected. Well, we didn’t anyway, having met Gabriel and heard his views on the Cognac establishment. Gabriel, the owner of Maison Ferrand, has previously been described as a ‘renegade’ for his vociferous querying of Cognac rules on what kinds of casks are allowed to be used for ageing. He even released a non-AOC brandy called Renegade no. 2 that was not allowed to be classed as Cognac because it was aged in chestnut barrels. The election took place on the 24 November and included 14 other members of the industry joining the standing committee.  Véral, a grower distiller in the region since 1994, described his job as: “part of the century-old history of Cognac, in the service of a strong, united, responsible sector.” Gabriel commented: “After 31 years in Cognac, I am humbled by the privilege of adding our small contribution to the great destiny of cognac as vice president of the BNIC.” We are keen to see what changes having someone with Gabriel’s unconventional views will have on this extremely conservative industry. 2021 is going to be an interesting year for Cognac!

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The Nightcap: 27 November

On the Nightcap this week we applaud some forward-thinking brands, celebrate 750 years of Frapin and look at some intriguing new releases, including one made to honour Her Majesty… This…

On the Nightcap this week we applaud some forward-thinking brands, celebrate 750 years of Frapin and look at some intriguing new releases, including one made to honour Her Majesty…

This week there was presumably plenty happening in the worlds that exist outside of booze, no doubt misery-filled and relentless bits of news about how terrible everything is. But here at MoM Towers, this was a good week. A great week, in fact. Because he’s back: Whisky Santa has returned! That’s right, the dram-loving do-gooder is here once again to give away £250,000 worth of booze in the name of Christmas cheer! You know the drill, get wishing now and you could get everything you want this year with just the click of a button. 

Being the lovely omniscient, festive, heavily-bearded thing he is, he’s already popped up on the MoM Blog this week to name his first Super Wish: a £1,500 bourbon from Woodford Reserve! And there are even more bargains to be found in our Black Friday 2020 sale. Was November always this busy?  Elsewhere, Adam virtually ventured to Mexico to the country’s first whisky distillery and then turned our MoM-branded spotlight on Satryna Tequila, while Annie also cast her eye on another fine Central American brand, the family-owned Flor de Caña. Jess then explored how you can get your cocktail fix without even leaving your home as Henry enjoyed the rumification of a burger joint classic, a new Springbank whisky so good it sold out before you could say ‘Hey, look everyone, new Springbank!’ and then put together a list of ten of his favourite budget-friendly bottles of Scotch. Hey, speaking of Scotch… 

The Nightcap

Michelle Dockery “being both feminine and strong, while enjoying whisky.” Photo credit: Misan Harriman

Glenfiddich challenges stereotypes in campaign with Michelle Dockery

Giants of the category Glenfiddich has announced this week that it plans to use its prominent position to “progress the perception of whisky to new audiences” and break the mould to “encourage greater gender inclusivity”, which we like the sound of very much. The Speyside distillery has launched a new campaign featuring the award-winning actress Michelle Dockery, star of Downton Abbey and The Gentlemen in a shoot that attempted to reimagine the whisky imagery through a contemporary lens, with each image chosen to reflect a modern woman making her own choices. The whisky featured was Glenfiddich Grand Cru 23-Year-Old, which you can find here. “I am thrilled to be a part of Glenfiddich’s new campaign which celebrates mavericks. That’s what drove me to be a part of this latest campaign,” Dockery said. “The shoot is authentic, it reflects a modern woman making her own choices: being both feminine and strong, while enjoying whisky.” While more and more women are making whisky their drink of choice and working in the industry, the sad truth is that too many still see it as a man’s drink, which marketing companies and campaigns can address. It’s good to see Glenfiddich do that here.

The Nightcap

Cheers to another 750 years!

Frapin celebrates 750 years with vintage Cognac

Cognac house Frapin is celebrating 750 years in the business. 750 years! The first Frapin recorded was a vine grower called Albert Frapin way back in 1270. At the time the Cognac region would have been part of the Duchy of Aquitaine, a possession of the English crown. Ah, happy days! Anyway, Frapin is celebrating in the most appropriate way possible by releasing some fine Cognacs. These include the Château Fontpinot XO 750, and a special vintage Cognac. No, not from 1270, that would be ridiculous. No, it’s a 40-year-old from 1979. This is the first vintage that the house ever released, in 1988. One cask, however, was kept back to be bottled at a later date. Cellar master Patrice Piveteau commented: “A limited edition of only 180 bottles coming from one cask jealously kept since four decades in our dry cellars…” He went on to describe the taste as “going off like a firework. Pow!” We were fortunate enough to be given a sample and can only concur. It’s an impossibly complex Cognac and we’re delighted to have some in stock. But that’s not all, we also have the 1992, 1990, and 1988. Why not collect the set? 

The Nightcap

The rum has just arrived at MoM Towers and we’re happy to say we’re big fans

La Hechicera releases rum aged in banana casks 

We sampled a delightfully distinctive rum this week with La Hechicera for the launch of the second expression in its ‘Experimental’ range. Led by co-founder and managing director Miguel Riascos, we enjoyed the playful new limited-edition bottling, which is a blend of rums aged up to 21 years in American white oak barrels that were infused with organic sun-dried banana flesh before being bottled at 41% ABV. It pays homage to the brand’s history as three generations of the Riascos family’s original traded bananas, before moving in to the rum business. “Serie Experimental No. 2 is an amazing liquid that we are proud to share with the world,” said Riascos. “Rum is a category that is continuing to gain popularity and Serie Experimental No. 2 is a unique product that will help drive interest in the category by recruiting new consumers to the category and offering rum consumers something new.” We very much enjoyed our tasting, it’s a beautifully balanced rum, mixing refined sweetness of vanilla, toffee and hazelnut with notes of freshly baked banana bread, coffee, tobacco, dark chocolate and some salty minerality. If you fancy trying it for yourself, Serie Experimental No. 2 is available from MoM Towers now!.

Diageo launches ten-year sustainability action plan 

Diageo has announced this week a range of 25 bold goals as part of its ‘Society 2030: Spirit of Progress’ plan. Designed to make a positive impact on the world by 2030, Diageo has broken down its ambitions into several achievable key goals. The first is to reach 1 billion people with messages of moderation, partly through ‘SMASHED’, its award-winning alcohol education awareness programme, and to increase representation by ensuring that, by 2030, 45% of its leaders are from ethnically diverse backgrounds and 50% are women. Diageo has also committed to working towards a low-carbon future by harnessing 100% renewable energy to achieve net-zero carbon emissions across direct operations, making sure 100% of its packaging will be widely recyclable and making every drink it produces with 30% less water to make than it does today to achieve a net positive water impact. Alongside the ‘Society 2030: Spirit of Progress’ plan, Diageo has also introduced Sustainable Solutions, a global platform that will provide non-equity funding to start-up and technology companies in order to help Diageo continue to embed sustainability in its supply chain and brands. “As a global business, we are committed to playing our part to protect the future of our planet and to leading the way for others to follow,” CEO Ivan Menezes said. “I am immensely proud of Diageo’s sustainability and responsibility achievements to date, and this new, ambitious action plan will challenge us even further to deliver more over the critical decade to 2030.” 

The Nightcap

Is this the go-to gin glass?

Glencairn presents the gin goblet

You probably know Glencairn as the brand behind the official glass for whisky, which sells over 65,000 units every week around the world, but the family-owned crystal glassware company has now set its sights on the world of gin too. Responding to the huge rise in the popularity of the spirit in recent years and consumer demand for a dedicated gin glass, Glencairn used its Mixer Glass, originally developed in consultation with the Canadian whisky industry, as a starting point and adapted it make something that considered the needs of the gin drinker, bar staff and distillers. The result? The Gin Goblet. The new glass has plenty of classic Glencairn features you’d expect, it’s made from crystal to enhance the clarity of the drink, it’s curvy in shape to help focus and enhance aroma and it was designed to require less ice, meaning that your gin doesn’t become too diluted. “At Glencairn we are proud of our innovative history, having been at the forefront of ground-breaking crystal design and creation for nearly forty years,” says Scott Davidson, new product development director. “We always strive to listen and respond to customer demand with the ultimate aim of enhancing the spirit lover’s drinking experience. We hope that we have delivered the perfect glass for gin lovers worldwide.” Sounds like the perfect present. If only there was some gift-giving occasion coming up…

The Nightcap

We love this gorgeous new drink and travel magazine. Great work, guys!

New drink magazine is just the Tonic

A couple of weeks ago we announced the sad news of the demise of Imbibe, so we were especially pleased when we received a copy of a brand new magazine called Tonic. It’s a drinks magazine with a difference, you won’t find articles about Glenmorangie’s newest expression or quotes from Miles Beale from the WSTA. Instead, it combines travel and drinks writing with gorgeous photography and very high production values. As well as hardened drink professionals like Imbibe founder Chris Losh, Will Hawkes, Claire Dodd and our very own Henry Jeffreys, there’s more off-beat stuff such as Douglas Rogers on how his parents tried to start a vineyard in Zimbabwe, Father Thomas Plant on holy wine, and Juliet Rix on boozing in North Korea.  It’s edited by travel writer Tristan Rutherford, and the publishing team are Robert Ellison and Benita Finanzio. They wrote: “The genesis of Tonic is our fondness for convivial, communal experiences with friends and strangers alike, sharing drinks and stories.” Just what we need in these difficult times when many of us can’t even go to the pub. We can’t wait for the next issue.

The Nightcap

Look out for this beauty, it will be at MoM Towers soon…

Coming soon: Glen Moray Sauternes Cask expression

It just doesn’t stop over at Elgin distillery Glen Moray. Head of whisky creation Dr Kirstie McCallum is always hunting around the warehouses for rare and unusual barrels to release as limited editions. Now it’s the turn of some Sauternes casks. This latest release is made up of five special sweet Bordeaux French oak barrels, filled in 2006 and left for 14 years. It’s bottled at cask strength with none of that chill-filtering or colour added. McCallum commented: ‘We’re very proud to be releasing our Sauternes Cask Matured expression in time for the festive season – and as the first whisky in our new Warehouse 1 Collection. This is an absolute cracker of a dram, and a perfect marriage of Glen Moray’s spirit with all the rich, deliciously sweet flavours you would enjoy in a glass of Sauternes. It’s a real celebration of flavour and Glen Moray’s passion for unusual cask maturation.” We have to agree with the good doc, the marmalade and spice character from the Sauternes casks is indeed a happy fit with the fruity Glen Moray style. Just 1248 bottles have been filled and as usual with these rare Glen Moray releases, it’s a bit of a bargain with an RRP of £79.95. Watch the New Arrivals page for its imminent arrival at Master of Malt.

The Nightcap

The brand says the plans will ensure The Old Mill is at “the heart of the Kilmacthomas community once again”

Another new Irish whiskey distillery is on the way

It appears that not even a global pandemic can slow down the growth of the Irish whiskey industry as another new distillery is reported to be in the works. Gortinore Distillers, which was co-founded by Aidan Mehigan, along with two friends and his father and markets the Irish whiskey brand Natterjack, has revealed in a post on the brand’s Facebook that it has been granted planning approval for the construction of the €8 million project, which will entail renovating The Old Mill in Kilmacthomas, County Waterford. Gortinore Distillers acquired the lease of the building, which started life as a woollen mill in the 1850s and was later the home to Flahavan’s Irish porridge, back in 2016 and plan to install three copper pot stills and create warehouse space to store whiskey casks. A visitor centre, also said to be in the works, will add further value to the local tourism industry. Once complete, the distillery will have the capacity to produce one million bottles every year and will create 15 full-time jobs. “We are delighted to say that we have been granted planning approval for a distillery to be built at the site of The Old Mill in Kilmacthomas, Co. Waterford. It has been a long process, but big plans deserve big consideration and we are honoured to be taking this stunning piece of history on its next adventure,” Gortinore Distillers announced in the Facebook post. “We may have big plans, but the premises, sitting on the banks of the River Mahon in County Waterford already has a story all of its own.”

The Nightcap

Congratulations, Michael!

Michael Urquhart appointed as 2021 president of IWSC

Former Gordon & MacPhail managing director Michael Urquhart has taken up a high-profile industry position after being named the 2021 president of the prestigious International Wine & Spirit Competition (IWSC). He replaces 2020 president Tamara Roberts, CEO of English wine producer Ridgeview, and is tasked with promoting the production of quality wines and spirits throughout the world. Urquhart retired as managing director of Elgin-based Gordon & MacPhail, the fourth-generation business owned by the Urquhart family, in 2014 and stepped down from the board in 2017 after serving over 36 years in the company. In 1999 when he was made a Keeper of the Quaich and in 2012 a Master of the Quaich in recognition of services to the promotion of Scotch whisky worldwide. “It’s a real privilege, and I’m humbled, to be chosen as president of such a prestigious organisation as the IWSC. “I’ve always had the greatest respect for the IWSC and the excellent work it does in maintaining and developing the high-quality reputation of the global wine and spirits industry,” Michael Urquhart said. “I’m very much looking forward to getting behind the IWSC and ensuring it continues to work in the best interests of the entire industry.”

The Nightcap

The Queen is known to be a gin lover, but this is getting a bit much

And finally… the Royal Family gets another gin!

The Royal Family really do love their gin. Not only is Charles partial to a Martini and the Queen a Gin & Dubonnet, but both launched their own brands this year, Highgrove Gin and Buckingham Palace Gin (see Nightcap 17 July) Well, now it seems that two gins are not enough because we have just learned about the arrival of a Sandringham Celebration Gin. It’s made on the Norfolk estate by local distiller Whatahoot using botanicals from the gardens including sharon fruit and myrtle. Apparently, it is “a full-bodied gin with rich juniper tones and a lingering citrus finish” and the price is suitably regal too, £50 for a 50cl, available direct from the estate. So what next for the gin-loving Royal Family? A Balmoral gin? Or perhaps Harry and Meghan will ape their LA celebrity pals with the release of a Sussex Tequila. Watch this space!

No Comments on The Nightcap: 27 November

How to win at Black Friday 2020!

Whether you’re stocking up the drinks cabinet, eyeing up some wallet-friendly bargains, or getting ahead with the all-important Christmas shopping, here’s everything you need to know to max out our…

Whether you’re stocking up the drinks cabinet, eyeing up some wallet-friendly bargains, or getting ahead with the all-important Christmas shopping, here’s everything you need to know to max out our Black Friday deals and discounts.

Ahhhhhh, Black Friday. Love it or loathe it, there’s about to be a whole host of bargains up for grabs. Our Black Friday event is stacking up to be our biggest ever! If you are in the market for new whisky, gin, rum, or pretty much anything else, there will be oodles of old favourites and many a new name at incredible prices over the next couple of weeks. Yep, we’re in Black Friday mode from 23 November to 1 December. That’s pretty tasty.

With so much deliciousness on the horizon, it can be tricky to know how to navigate the bargains. Don’t fret: we’re here to help. One thing’s for sure – you can take advantage of it all from the comfort of your own home. No fractious queues or squabbling over shelves here!

Black Friday 2020

So many deals await… Head to our dedicated Black Friday page to check them out now!

Daily Deals

This is where you’ll find our most exciting offers – and they’re fresh for you every single day! Yep, for 24 hours we’re applying incredible discounts to some of our very favourite bottlings. What are you waiting for? Check out our Black Friday page with haste!

Can’t be bothered to visit every day? We won’t judge (although we are questioning your dedication to deliciousness!). Don’t fret – we’ll send the highlights straight to your inbox. Just sign up to our mailing list over there on the right-hand side of the page. Got it? Great! You’re all set.

Week-long Deals

We’ve also got a handful of top bottlings that will run as special offers all week! Check out our Black Friday page, and you’ll be able to catch up with what’s going on. Plus, we have an array of Black Friday-exclusive Tasting Sets (think, Gin #1, Gin #2, Whisky and American Whiskey) at awesome prices that are sure to tickle your tastebuds (while keeping your wallet on-side)

Black Friday 2020

There’s never been a better time to join the club!

Pour & Sip

Adore discovering new whiskies? Love the idea of getting five samples to your door every single month? Well, you’re in luck! Pour & Sip is our whisky subscription cluband we’ve got an awesome Black Friday Deal for you. Take £20 off our three-month gift subscription, and £30 off the six-month option – and join the club today! We’re not just about the drinks (although we love them!). We’re a community, too. We have exclusive blog content, discussions on social (we’re @pourandsipclub, by the way), and we have twice-monthly live tasting events on Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and Instagram, where you can taste along with our experts. And Pour & Sip makes the perfect Christmas gift, too! (Psssst… 

Black Friday 2020

Want to save a bundle on this boozy marvel? Say no more. We’ve deals for you!

Drinkworks deals for Black Friday!

Have you heard about the revolutionary new machine for exquisite at-home drinks? No?! Let us fill you in! The Drinkworks Home Bar gives you perfectly chilled and exactingly balanced cocktails at the push of a button. Just pop in a Pod and you’re good to go! We’ve got special offers on a bunch of Drinkworks bundles all week long. Just check out the page! Want more information? We gave the machine a Master of Malt rundown, and the verdict is right here

PLOT TWIST!

Here’s something fun. Remember those Daily and Weekly Deals? Well… as long as there’s still stock, we’re going to bring them all back for the weekends! Yep, you’ve got a second bite of the succulent cherry that is our Black Friday deals. But remember, if you spot something you really want, it’s always better to snap it up on the day. Because once it’s gone, it really is gone. You have been warned. Otherwise, long live the deals!

Phew! How’s that for a round-up? All that’s left to say is good luck, and happy shopping!

1 Comment on How to win at Black Friday 2020!

The Nightcap: 20 November

It’s the only place you’ll find rare whisky, pop stars and Kentish Pinot Noir all in the same place. The Nightcap is here! We’re now officially at that time of…

It’s the only place you’ll find rare whisky, pop stars and Kentish Pinot Noir all in the same place. The Nightcap is here!

We’re now officially at that time of year when Christmas shopping and decking the halls becomes less a joyous celebration of the festive season and more a stressful exercise in ticking boxes off a seemingly never-ending to-do list. In order to combat the chaos, we recommend a cosy chair, a good dram and some entertaining light reading. Like a round-up of everything that’s happened in the world in the booze. The Nightcap should do the trick. Read on.

The MoM Blog continues to be the place to be if you want to get your hands on tremendous drinks as we offered you the chance to win a VIP trip to the wonderful Jura Distillery. Elsewhere, Henry enjoyed the latest Exceptional Cask Selection from Foursquare, while Adam tasted his way through GlenAllachie’s Virgin Oak Series, picked out some bargain bottles of Irish whiskey and found out why Tequila is a spirit in demand. As for Annie, she had a week that made us long for the return of our favourite drinking holes, sitting down with cocktail trailblazer Julie Reiner, looking into the science behind mixing a cocktail and making a twist on an Old Fashioned that’s a long-time favourite at Sexy Fish.

The Nightcap

Raise your glasses, folks, to one of the greats

Port loses one of its greats, James Symington

The Port business lost one of its most influential and dynamic figures this week in James Symington. Born in 1934 in Oporto, his family had been in the Port business since the late 19th century. After serving with the British Army in Kenya, he joined the business in 1960 shortly after marrying his wife, Penny. It was a difficult period for the industry with sales in the doldrums. Symington was a vital force in the revival of the region. He worked as a taster and blender for the firm, and created such legendary vintage Ports as Dow’s and Warre’s 1966, and Graham’s 1970, and he was instrumental in turning the family firm into one of the most important in the Douro region. Later, he moved to the commercial side of the business, developing markets in the US, Canada and Scandinavia, regions that now have some of the keenest appreciation of Port. In 1987, Symington and his wife restored Quinta da Vila Velha, a derelict property in the Douro valley, which now makes some of the best wines in the region. He is survived by his wife, two daughters Clare and Miranda, and son Rupert who is the CEO of Symington Family Estates. Let’s raise a glass, Dow’s ‘66 preferably, to one of the greats of Oporto. 

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It could be you pouring this exceptional whisky…

Glengoyne to open rare 50-year-old whisky at someone’s special moment  

Glengoyne is doing something pretty amazing with the launch of its oldest ever expression. A decanter of its limited-edition 50 Year Old Highland Single Malt, priced at £22,500, will be given away via an online ballot, open to groups of five or more friends or family. All you have to do is submit an entry alongside a description of your perfect moment for savouring the Glengoyne 50 Year Old together next year. The Glengoyne team will then make that special moment a reality, delivering the highly sought-after whisky for one group to enjoy and savour. “At Glengoyne, we believe that patience is always rewarded. This year we’ve all had to sacrifice spending time with our loved ones or delay celebrations. That’s why we want to make these moments extra special in 2021 with a memorable whisky that, after waiting so long for just the right moment, is truly ready to be opened and savoured,” said Robbie Hughes, master distiller at Glengoyne. The 50 Year Old comes in a special crystal decanter, alongside a 25ml sample of the 50 Year Old whisky, as well as individually numbered books which are signed by Hughes. Available from next week, this extremely limited-edition release will join a new 30 Year Old Glengoyne and the present 25 Year Old whisky, as part of the distillery’s new ‘Fine and Rare’ range. If you’d like a chance to taste this incredible whisky, then you have until Monday 14th December to gather your group and submit your moment here.

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Dua Lipa and great whisky. Two things we love!

Johnnie Walker takes centre stage with Dua Lipa’s Studio 2054

Music and malt have always gone together particularly well so it’s no surprise to see a brand take advantage of a major collaboration. In this case, Johnnie Walker has launched a new partnership with Dua Lipa’s Studio 2054 Livestream event. The digital music experience will be live-streamed globally on the 27 November and will see Lipa sing and dance with a cast of guest stars, surprise performers, acrobats and artists to tracks from her eponymous debut album, the multi-platinum Future Nostalgia and her most recent Club Future Nostalgia. Johnnie Walker, as the exclusive spirits partner, is tipped to feature throughout and has created a set of unique Studio 2054 Highball serves which celebrate global club culture throughout the decades. “This partnership is an opportunity for Johnnie Walker to be involved in a truly unique cultural moment that could only be delivered by a trailblazer like Dua”, says Julie Bramham, Johnnie Walker global brand director. “Our own ‘Keep Walking’ philosophy is all about a constant desire to push the boundaries and Dua is the perfect partner to do that with.” Further information and ticket access for the Studio 2054 live stream event can be found here and more details will be shared across Johnnie Walker social channels pre, during and post the event.

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Russ and Gemma Wakeham, founders of the world’s first carbon-negative rum distillery

Big week for environmentally-friendly rum

It’s been quite the week if you’re into sustainable rum. First, plans have been submitted for the construction of a new £10 million carbon-neutral rum distillery and visitor centre in Cornwall, which will be powered by geothermal energy. Entrepreneur Matthew Clifford, founder of the Cornish Geothermal Distillery Company (CGDC) wants to create a 100% sustainable rum cask maturation facility, visitor centre, cooperage and geothermal energy centre. The project even includes an “ultra-high-tech” Eden Project-style biome which can recreate global temperature and humidity profiles and will house the patent-pending carbon-neutral rum cask maturation pods. It all sounds a tad Bond villain, to be honest, but exciting nonetheless. Elsewhere, Two Drifters revealed it surpassed its fundraising target of £150,000 in three hours. The Devon-based brand (what is it with the south-west and green rum brands?), which was launched in 2019 by Gemma and Russ Wakeham and claims to own the world’s first carbon-negative rum distillery, began its crowdfunding campaign on Monday 9 November on Crowdcube to raise funds to secure larger retail opportunities and improve the distillery’s operations. “We are now in a position to take Two Drifters further to more people,” said Gemma Wakeham. We can also help out in that regard by pointing out that you can check out Two Drifters range of spirits here, which includes a British white rum, dark rum and an overproof spiced pineapple rum.

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All the joys of Whisky Live without having to change out of your PJs. Bliss

Whisky and Gin Live are coming to your home 

To help us through the boredom of lockdowns, there have been many online tastings such as our own Instagram Live series or the Whisky Show, and now this year’s Whisky Live is taking place at home. It’s called… wait for it… Whisky Live at Home! Brilliant! The standard ticket (click here) costs £89 and includes 29 x 30ml samples, the equivalent of around one and a quarter full-sized bottles of whisky. You also get a Glencairn glass, magazines, oatcakes and water. The whole jamboree launches on 30 November but the clever thing is that you can tune in any time to Whisky Live TV and watch masterclasses, seminars, interviews and tasting sessions all hosted by top whisky personality Christopher Coates and his new evil genius beard. You can also buy more upmarket tickets giving you fancier drams and access. Plus, the team is also putting on Gin Live TV (click here) which works in a similar way only with gin (we didn’t need to explain that though, did we?) Those lockdown evenings are going to fly by. 

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The Titanic dry dock and pump house building could soon be home to a new distillery

Whiskey distillery to open at Titanic Dock in Belfast

The Irish whiskey scene looks like it will welcome a new player as businessman Peter Lavery and Belfast-based venture capitalist firm Norlin Ventures have announced plans to construct a new distillery at Titanic Dock and Pumphouse in Belfast. Assuming the full planning application that will be submitted next month is granted in the first quarter of 2021 (which is expected), the new site should be open by the end of next year. This will allow the brand to relaunch the Titanic Whiskey brand in April 2021 to coincide with the departure of Titanic’s maiden voyage in April 1912. “Before Prohibition, Belfast was the largest producer of Irish whiskey on the island of Ireland,” said Lavery. “Whiskey has therefore played an important part in the history of our city and we are excited to tell this story through the relaunch of our Titanic Whiskey brand and the development of a new distillery at Titanic Dry Dock and Pumphouse.” Lavery has got experience in the distillery game, having been involved in the long-delayed distillery plans at the Crumlin Road Gaol prison in Belfast, which resurrected the McConnell’s Irish whiskey brand after more than 90 years in 2020.

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Kentish Pinot Noir, anyone?

Le Kent Nouveau est arrivé

Do you remember when you used to see signs outside Victoria Wine saying “le Beaujolais nouveau est arrivé”? Come to think of it, do you remember Victoria Wine? Showing my age here a little. Anyway, people still get quite excited when the young, so-fresh-it’s-almost-still-fermenting Beaujolais from the current year arrives on these shores on the third Thursday of November. Well, now there’s a challenger, as this Wednesday, one day earlier than Beaujolais, Balfour near Tonbridge, released an English nouveau made with Kentish Pinot Noir. Now, even in the heat of the Garden of England, Pinot Noir isn’t that easy to ripen but we’ve been blessed with a particularly warm vintage this year, perfect for creating a juicy fruity wine. Head winemaker Fergus Elias commented: “The fruit from this parcel was so early, with a lovely strawberry jam character, that we thought we would never have a better opportunity to make a Nouveau style red wine. This fruit was the forerunner of a harvest of exceptional quality”. He described the wine as “brimming with rich red autumnal fruits combined with delicate hints of spice and coffee”. All this for £20 with free delivery. Go to https://hushheath.com/ but hurry, as only 1000 bottles have been produced.

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I’m lost for words, to be honest (Image credit: Hendrick’s)

And finally… Hendrick’s Gin launches £1,800 exercise bike

If we told you that a gin brand had branched out into exercise equipment, you’d probably be quite surprised. But, if we showed you a picture of Hendrick’s limited-edition penny farthing-inspired exercise bike, you’d probably nod and say “yep, that is so Hendrick’s”. The gin-makers has had its fair share of Nightcap coverage thanks to its weird and wacky approach, but The Hendrick’s High Wheel is probably the most ridiculous story yet. Particularly as it will set you back £1,889 (plus shipping from the U.S). The bike is made of iron and comes equipped with a “hydration holder”, a “pedal-powered incandescent bulb”, a small bell, an adjustable seat and a built-in bookstand. This can be used to hold the High Wheel Exercise Manual, which includes photographs of a bike journey through Scottish landscapes to Girvan’s Gin Palace – no wifi or electricity here. If you’re interested in embarrassing your children and you fancy picking yourself up a Hendrick’s High Wheel, then note that to mount the olive-green machine you need to use the cucumber side-pegs or a staircase at the rear. Oh, and that it sits upon a synthetic lawn complete with fallen rose petals. Of course it does. 

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The Nightcap: 13 November

In this week’s round-up of news from the wide world of drinks, we say hello to some incredible new booze, Scotland’s first ‘vertical distillery’ and goodbye to a great publication….

In this week’s round-up of news from the wide world of drinks, we say hello to some incredible new booze, Scotland’s first ‘vertical distillery’ and goodbye to a great publication.

Friday the 13th is meant to be unlucky, but then so are black cats and it’s a known fact that all cats are amazing with no exception. So maybe we should pay no heed to this superstition. After all, today is Friday the 13th and another edition of The Nightcap has arrived, packed to the brim with brilliant boozy happenings as always.

Another week, another chance to win incredible boozy prizes. We do love to spoil you. This time we launched our #MissedMoment competition which runs until the 19 November, so get those entries in! Elsewhere on the MoM blog, there was plenty of exciting whisky coverage, Henry revealed that Irish Distillers relaunched Blue Spot after a 56-year hiatus, got a sneak preview of the upcoming Johnnie Walker film and introduced a mysterious long-aged bourbon from Tennessee. Adam then got a taste of Benromach’s new 21-year-old expression and Annie took a fresh look at New World whisky. Elsewhere, we whipped up the Caipirinha, a Brazilian classic, rounded-up a top ten of bargain gins and then put together a selection of staff favourites chosen by the team here at MoM Towers.

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Thanks for all the amazing drinks coverage guys!

Goodbye to Imbibe magazine and imbibe.com

We said a very sad goodbye this week at MoM Towers to an industry stalwart and our friends at Imbibe magazine and imbibe.com this week, as editor Robyn Black announced they are to be wound up in December 2020. After 13 years of providing us with outstanding coverage of all aspects of the drinks industry, it’s hard to hear that the shutters are coming down. Black revealed in a statement posted on Imbibe’s website that the publication is another unfortunate casualty of the COVID-19 crisis. “It is wreaking its worst on our industry and unfortunately Imbibe has not escaped its clutches,” said Black. “Thanks must go to everyone who has ever been involved in the magazine and website for their hard work in building them into what they are today. It is testimony to Imbibe’s culture that a large number of former staff still write for us and are very much still involved in our portfolio of competitions, tastings and events. It has been a pleasure to work with them all.” Thankfully, the show will, quite literally, go on at least, as Imbibe Live is still scheduled to entertain and delight as usual on 5-6 July 2021 at London’s Olympia. You can click here to register for Imbibe Live 2021. We hope to see you there!

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What the Port of Leith Distillery will hopefully look like by 2022

Work starts on Scotland’s first ‘vertical distillery’

Foundations have just been laid for The Port of Leith Distillery which is projected to be completed by 2022. The brainchild of boyhood friends Patrick Fletcher and Ian Stirling, the completed distillery will feature a top floor double-height whisky bar, with views to Edinburgh Castle, two copper stills hand-crafted by the Speyside Copper Works in Elgin and the capacity to produce up to million bottles of single malt a year. The distillery should provide a welcome boost to the local economy and is supporting more than 30 jobs during construction – including six staff in the distillery team – and will create around 50 long-term jobs once complete. Given the project’s proximity to the Royal Yacht Britannia, visitor numbers play an important part in the distillery’s business plan, however, the success of its Oloroso sherry and award-winning Lind & Lime Gin means this is now less critical to the company’s plans. “Our ambition is to create an outstanding new style of Scotch using a modern approach, based on years of research we have already undertaken – and building on the remarkable heritage of the historic whisky district of Leith,” Stirling says. “Although our distillery has a very modern outlook, we’re very proud to be bringing the whisky trade back to one of the places it all began,” Fletcher concludes.

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That is one swanky Port. Anyone want to start a whip-round for a bottle?

Taylor’s releases 90-year-old Port to toast the new Kingsman film

November is traditionally when wine lovers start to think about Port (though here at MoM, we’re all year-round Port drinkers.) So it’s with perfect timing that Taylor’s has unveiled possibly its snazziest Port yet. It was created to tie in with the release of the latest Kingsman film, The King’s Man, in February now there’s a film franchise that knows how to drink. It’s a very old tawny with an average age of 90 years blended from some of the rarest casks lying in the company’s cellars at Vila Nova de Gaia. Taylor’s MD Adrian Bridge explained: “This Taylor’s limited edition Port will not only appeal to Kingsman devotees, but it is also an exceptional Port of great age which will grace the cellars of collectors and connoisseurs of fine and rare wines. Our blenders have used their skill and expertise to create a unique blend matured for almost nine decades in seasoned oak casks and displaying the multi-layered complexity which only Port can achieve.” The new film is a bit of a change from the previous ones as it is set during the first world war but as before it’s directed by Matthew Vaughn so expect the usual blend of action, sharp suits and general silliness. Bridge described the collaboration as “the perfect fit” while Vaughn said: A true Kingsman will never forget to pass the Port to his left, but this Taylor-made vintage will certainly test his resolve…” Wise words. Only 700 bottles have been filled and will be on sale for £2950. Might be a bit too expensive for us but we will be getting in some 1961 Taylor’s, almost as tasty and much more affordable.  

The Nightcap

The Nightcap is full of seriously impressive booze this week!

Sotheby’s to offer complete Black Bowmore series

Want to get your hands on the complete set of the incredible Black Bowmore series? Well, auction house Sotheby’s and the Islay distillery have announced that you will get the chance to do just that in Hong Kong next spring (date to be confirmed). The five bottles, spanning each release from 1993 to 2016, will be presented in a bespoke ‘Archive Cabinet’ made by the craftsman John Galvin and have a pre-sale estimate of £400,000. The first release of the Black Bowmore was in 1993 when it was 29 years old, with subsequent releases over the following years, most recently, in 2016 at 50 years-old. The spirit, which was distilled in 1964 and aged in ex-Oloroso sherry casks, was initially sold for £100 a bottle but has gone on to become one of the most collectable whiskies in the world, with bottles now going for many thousands of pounds each. “Its value has increased exponentially over the years, which can be attributed to its undeniable quality and, now that so many bottles have been consumed, its newfound rarity,” said Johnny Fowle, Sotheby’s spirits specialist and now something of a Nightcap regular. “We are thrilled to partner with Bowmore for this landmark offering in the world of collectable whisky.” David Turner, Bowmore distillery manager, added: “Black Bowmore truly is the jewel in our crown and it takes its rightful place in the distillery’s history for firmly putting Bowmore on the map as an iconic, collectable whisky.” The winning bidder will also receive an invitation to the Bowmore distillery for a tasting of other old and rare malts, while the proceeds of the sale will be donated to an Islay-based charity.

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Organic: Gaia 1.1 will be available from MoM Towers soon

Waterford launches Ireland’s first certified organic whiskey

Given that it’s Ireland’s most barley-forward, terroir-driven distiller, it was no surprise to learn this week that Waterford Distillery will launch the country’s first certified organic single malt whisky: Organic: Gaia 1.1. It’s the first part of the brand’s new Arcadian Series, a provenance-driven range of Irish whiskies made from organic, biodynamic and heritage grains, which the brand says “celebrates radical barley growers and alternative farming philosophies”. Organic: Gaia 1.1, which takes its name from the Greek goddess symbol of the Earth, was distilled in 2016 from 100% organic Irish barley grown by six farmers before it was matured in a combination of first-fill US oak (42%), virgin US oak (17%), premium French oak (23%) and Vin Doux Naturel sweet fortified wine casks (18%) and bottled at 50% ABV without any additional colouring or chill-filtration. “At Waterford, we have placed barley – where and how it is grown – at the heart of what we do, curious about where the real whisky flavour may be found,” says Waterford Distillery founder and CEO Mark Reynier. “A natural progression of this philosophy is to see what not only single farm origins can accomplish but what organically grown barley can do when it is given the right platform. We’re not playing at it; we lay down 400 to 600 casks of organic spirit a year, we buy all the Irish grown organic malting barley that can get our hands-on. Waterford Organic will be a main player in our ongoing portfolio for the discerning whisky drinker.” Organic: Gaia 1.1 will be available from MoM Towers soon, so keep an eye out on the New Arrivals page.

The Nightcap

The charming little bird has teamed up with some of the biggest names in rugby.

Famous Grouse renews commitment to rugby union 

It’s fair to say that Britain’s top whisky brand Famous Grouse is pretty committed to rugby. This week it launched a new Spirit of Rugby campaign and announced that it will be the official whisky of the Premiership Rugby for the next three years. The Edrington brand will also sponsor both the British and Irish Lions and the South African team for the forthcoming Lions tour of South Africa. But that’s not all! On top of all that, the brand has announced another three-year partnership with Glasgow Warriors. Aristotelis Baroutsis, Famous Grouse’s global managing director, commented: “The Famous Grouse has been investing in the sport of rugby for the past 30 years, and we are very proud to have reaffirmed our commitment to this great game by agreeing these three exciting new partnerships at both international and club level to celebrate The Famous Grouse as The Spirit of Rugby.” Mark Brittain, chief commercial officer at Premiership Rugby, added: “We’re delighted to welcome The Famous Grouse on board as the official whisky of Premiership Rugby for the next three seasons. It’s fantastic that The Famous Grouse has shown a commitment to Premiership Rugby during these times and is a testament to the growing strength of the competition within the U.K. sporting landscape. The Famous Grouse has a proud track record of developing strong relationships with rugby fans as a result of decades of involvement in this great sport. We’re excited to work with the brand to engage with supporters throughout the season.” Cheers to that!

The Nightcap

Want to hear Alexander McCall Smith do what we does best? Then be sure to tune in!

The Malt Whisky Trail teams up with Book Week Scotland

The Malt Whisky Trail announced this week that it will virtually welcome esteemed author Alexander McCall Smith during Book Week Scotland when he collaborates with The Glenlivet Distillery in Speyside (one of the nine iconic whisky sites that make up the trail) next week. The author of No.1 Ladies’ Detective Agency, the 44 Scotland Street series and more will narrate stories and poetry from his home in Edinburgh in a live stream hosted on The Malt Whisky Trail Instagram channel on 17 November at 1pm (GMT). With a warming Glenlivet dram in hand, McCall Smith will also treat viewers to a special treat in the form of a poem from his new collection, In a Time of Distance. “Visiting The Malt Whisky Trail is a marvellous way for visitors to Scotland, as well as Scots themselves, to discover a part of the country rich in historical associations. Whisky and storytelling in Scotland have more than a passing acquaintanceship,” says McCall Smith. “Book Week Scotland and the Malt Whisky Trail are natural partners, and I am really looking forward to being a part of this.” The Malt Whisky Trail prides itself on taking visitors on a journey to discover the best of whisky country including its landscape, larder, stories, and whisky has partnered with Book Week Scotland which takes place Monday 16 to Sunday 22 November. A full list of 2020’s programme can be found here and you can pick up McCall Smith’s latest works at independent bookstore The Bookmark in Grantown-on-Spey.

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Look, the tasty cocktails in store if you take part!

Take part in a virtual Christmas party in aid of the Drinks Trust

Well, it looks like the annual Christmas party won’t be happening this year. There will be no partying responsibly long into the night before ending up in a karaoke bar with your tie around your head belting out ‘I Will Survive’ like every word is deeply significant. Or perhaps that’s just us. But never fear, because those clever cats at the Liana Cocktail Co. have the answer. On 1 December between 6-7.30pm, you can take part in a virtual Christmas cocktail party. Register and purchase here and for only £19.99 you will receive a box of delicious cocktails made by experts with the finest ingredients known to humanity and details of how to attend the party. Best of all, for every ticket sold, LCC will donate £1 to the Drinks Trust; not only will you have fun, but you’ll be doing some good too. So dig out your tackiest reindeer jumper, round up your friends and take part in a virtual Christmas party. And if you’re feeling tired and emotional at the end, no one is going to stop you from putting on Gloria Gaynor. You will survive!

 

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A post shared by Gemma Collins (@gemmacollins)

And finally… TOWIE star gets her very own gin, probably

It’s a case of ‘move over George Clooney’ and ‘Ryan Reynolds, who he?’, because we’ve heard rumours that a proper celeb is about to launch her own drinks brand*. Yes, the word on the street is that Gemma Collins, star of The Only Way is Essex, Dancing on Ice and I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out of here! will be releasing her own gin in the near future. The most famous person to come out of Romford, after Richard Madeley, may soon be in the distilling business. ‘The GC’ is currently on a mission to reach number one on the music chart with a Christmas charity cover single, proving what a renaissance lady she is. We don’t have many details about the rumoured gin yet, but seeing as Collins is usually pictured in pink, we reckon it is likely to have a pinkish hue. When we know more, we’ll let you know. These babies are likely to fly out the door.

* The rumours were true. More information about the gin liqueur here.

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Blue Spot Irish whiskey returns after more than 50 years

The final spot is here! For the first time since the 1960s, there are four colours in the ‘Spot’ range of single pot still Irish whiskey with the arrival of…

The final spot is here! For the first time since the 1960s, there are four colours in the ‘Spot’ range of single pot still Irish whiskey with the arrival of the Madeira-aged cask strength Blue Spot. We spoke to people behind its rebirth and, most importantly, had a little taste.

In November 2018, we visited Dublin for the relaunch of Red Spot single pot still whiskey and while we were there, Kevin O’ Gorman from the Midleton Distillery hinted heavily that the team were working on the release of the final spot in the range, Blue. Well, now the wait is over. 

But before we dive in, first a bit of recap. The Spot range of whiskeys, of which Green Spot is the best known, are a relic of the old days when the big distillers didn’t bottle their own whiskey. Instead, merchants all over the country would buy and age new make spirit and sell it under their own brands. One such was Mitchell & Sons wine merchants in Dublin. They began buying spirit from John Jameson and Sons distillery on Bow Street in 1887 and filling it into empty wine casks, mainly sherry, Port, Malaga, Madeira and Marsala. 

Master distiller Kevin O’ Gorman

These casks would mature in the firm’s Fitzwilliam Lane cellars and then daubed with a spot depending on its ageing potential with red being the highest designation. At one point the firm sold four designations: Blue, a seven year old, Green, a ten, yellow, 12 and red, 15 year old. Gradually, however, the mighty Irish whiskey industry contracted and independent bottling died out. Green Spot survived, now made at the New Midleton distillery in Cork, but the other Spots were discontinued in the early 1960s.

At one time, Green Spot was the only single pot still whiskey available. It was hard to get hold of and often a welcome present for Irishmen living abroad. Peter Dunne from Mitchell & Sons told a story about two men coming into the shop and buying six bottles. He’d never sold so many before and was curious about who they were for. Apparently, these men were friends of Samuel Beckett on their way to visit him in Paris. 

Now, of course, things are very different, the style is revered and Green Spot is available globally.  Now an NAS expression, it contains whiskeys between seven and ten years old. Yellow Spot was reintroduced in 2012 as a 12 year old whiskey aged in sweet Malaga casks followed in 2018 by a 15 year old Red Spot aged first in bourbon and then Marsala casks. Now the final piece in the jigsaw is here. Sadly we weren’t able to travel to Dublin this time but instead did a Soom tasting with Katherine Condon and Kevin O’ Gorman from Irish Distillers, Jonathan and Robert Mitchell from Mitchell & Sons, and Humberto Jardin from Henriques & Henriques in Madeira.

This relaunched version is aged in bourbon and sherry casks like Green Spot, but adds Madeira, a wine which would have been imported by Mitchell & Sons. According to O’ Gorman, they didn’t really know what the original Blue Spot tasted like beyond that it was seven years old and had some Madeira influence, nobody has seen a bottle for years.

It’s back!

Jonathan Mitchell explained: “The inclusion of whiskey aged in Madeira casks adds flavours that would have been originally introduced into Irish whiskey by the Mitchell family. As the full Spot range comes back to life, we find ourselves bursting with pride for the role our family played in the creation of this treasured range of whiskeys.” These casks were coopered in northern Portugal before being sent to the island of Madeira for seasoning in Tinta Negra, a full-bodied medium sweet wine, for three years before they’re ready to be sent to Ireland to be filled with medium style pot still spirit. 

It’s a seven year old whiskey but according to master distiller Kevin O’ Gorman, it contains much older Madeira cask whisky including some barrels that were filled when he first joined the company. He commented: “It is with absolute pleasure that we reintroduce Blue Spot and bring a piece of Dublin’s rich whiskey history back to life. Over the years I have had the honour of collaborating with the Mitchell family, who for generations have celebrated the influence of fine wines on Irish whiskey, as we have reintroduced expressions to the beloved Spot range. I am incredibly proud to celebrate with Jonathan and Robert Mitchell on this historic day as Blue Spot takes its place alongside Green, Yellow and Red Spot, reuniting the whole family once again.”

This reborn version is non-chill filtered and bottled at cask strength in batches so the alcohol will vary. Our sample was 58.7% ABV. There’s a full tasting note below but it really rounds off the spot range: the Green being all about that fresh green apple note, the Yellow honey, peaches and creme brulee while the Red Spot majors on dried fruit, rum and nuts; the Blue, in contrast, is bigger, burlier and spicier but with no shortage of elegance. Those Madeira casks provide nuttiness and the alcohol comes through more as flavour than heat, making it dangerously drinkable for such a strong whisky. According to O’ Gorman, it just tasted so right at cask strength that he thought there was no point adjusting it. We have to agree. 

Tasting note from the Chaps at Master of Malt:

Nose: Big hit of spices on the nose, ginger, nutmeg and cinnamon, followed by a medley of puddings: banana custard, apple pie, and frangipane tart. 

Palate: It’s a spicy one, with plenty of black and sichuan peppers. It’s full-bodied and super creamy with vanilla green apple, peaches, lemon peel and toasted hazelnuts. 

Finish: There’s a milk chocolate creaminess that goes on and on with fresh fruit and nuts lingering, and just a lick of rum at the end.

Overall: Masses of pot still character, a powerful, charismatic and distinctly Irish whiskey. 

Blue Spot will be arriving at Master of Malt soon. Check the New Arrivals page for more information. 

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The Nightcap: 6 November

The first Nightcap of the second lockdown has arrived just in time to provide some much-needed cheer and levity. It’s packed full of boozy goodness so enjoy! As we all…

The first Nightcap of the second lockdown has arrived just in time to provide some much-needed cheer and levity. It’s packed full of boozy goodness so enjoy!

As we all brace for Lockdown 2 (or 2 Lockdown 2 Furious), the team at MoM Towers has been searching for silver linings. Maybe we’ll have some more time to try to understand the electoral college system and even more time to watch old James Bond films after we’ve inevitably given up. We’ll also be able to do some important research, like finding out what the implications of Sam’s snack grid are (someone grab some dark rum and popcorn for the Bond marathon, while I think of it) and why we haven’t done more coverage of distillery pets. Of course, with Black Friday, Christmas and who knows what else on the way we probably won’t have any more free time, but we can guarantee that there will always be a fresh, warm Nightcap ready every Friday evening, just how you like it. That’s a pretty good silver lining, at least.

Things might have ground to a halt around us but the MoM blog was as busy as ever this week as we launched another #BagThisBundle competition, this time with the wonderful folks at Cointreau. Then, as it’s #SherrryWeek, Annie looked at the vibrant vermouth scene in Jerez and the rest of Spain, before learning about the story behind a gin created to raise money for a historic endeavour and how Nikka is spoiling us by launching not one, but two new Japanese whiskies. Henry then shook up a special seasonal cocktail for Bonfire Night and created a shopping list of the essentials bottles you need to make your home bar the envy of your friends. As for Adam, he had a pretty whisky-soaked week, finding out what makes Scandi spirit-makers Stauning so stellar and tasting a 60-year-old single cask whisky from Glenfarclas Distillery. 

Johnnie Walker film coming soon

First, there was the whisky, then there was a book, and now we’ve just got the news that there’s going to be a Johnnie Walker documentary. Slated to appear on the 12 November we don’t know terribly much about it, only to say that it’s the story of the world’s most famous whisky brand. Called ‘The Man Who Walked Around the World’, it features contributions from Cappadonna from the Wu-Tang Clan, advertising guru John Hegarty, and noted booze enthusiast Alice Lascelles. It’s been directed by award-winning filmmaker Anthony Wonke for independent production company Something Originals and Partizan films. Check out the jazzy trailer above. When we know more, we’ll let you know. 

The Nightcap

We can now officially say this is an artist’s representation of The Cairn

Gordon & MacPhail unveils The Cairn 

Do you remember that distillery that Gordon & MacPhail was building in Cairngorms National Park? Well, the family-owned whisky specialist has given it a name: The Cairn. Which makes sense. Must have been a short meeting. The brand has said it was chosen to honour the stunning surroundings of the park (it really is glorious) and that it wanted a brand that would be easy to communicate globally, which presumably rules out any hard-to-pronounce Scottish Gaelic and prevents them from stepping on the toes of its other distillery, Benromach. “We wanted the new brand to complement, not compete. It’s eye-catching and contemporary and the approach to developing it put the consumer at the centre of our thinking,” said Ian Chapman, The Cairn brands director. “It is the same approach we have taken to designing The Cairn Distillery itself. The modern building takes advantage of the outstanding views across the River Spey to the Cairngorms and has been designed with the customer at the centre of the experience.” An icon has been developed to symbolise the brand; the fragmented shape representing the coming together of many pieces to form a cairn. Scheduled to open in spring 2022, The Cairn Distillery will include a visitor experience, tasting rooms, retail space and coffee shop.

The Nightcap

It was bottled at 95% ABV, folks. 95%. You read that right.

Anno Distillers launches world’s strongest gin

Our Kent-based neighbours Anno Distillers informed us of some pretty astounding news this week, it has created what is believed to be the world’s strongest gin. Anno Extreme was bottled at a frankly alarming 95% ABV Gin, smashing the previous record of 82.5% ABV and made in Sweden. Naturally, the gin is available in smaller bottles, just 20cl, and even comes in a presentation box with a 25ml scientific measuring beaker, perfect for accurate measurements with the suggested serves. There’s the Light G&T, a 5ml measure of Extreme poured over ice and served with premium tonic and a slice of grapefruit which is said to deliver “full flavour G&T with 75% less alcohol” (so a Hayman’s Small Gin kind of deal) and the Strong G&T, a 25ml measure of gin poured over ice and topped up with at least 120ml of premium tonic (the equivalent of an ordinary double measure, Anno says), garnished with a sprig of bruised thyme. “We wanted to make a gin which packs more punch and flavour drop-for-drop than any other spirit in the world,” says Dr Andy Reason, co-founder of Anno Distillers. “As scientists we really wanted to push the limits of possibility and create the spirit of alchemy, turning something ordinary into something extraordinary.” 

The Nightcap

Of course Sam Neill makes booze, he’s so awesome.

Sam Neill meets Samuel Gelston’s whiskey

Samuel Gelston’s has announced the launch of its latest expression and it’s honestly one of the coolest collaborations ever. You see, Johnny Neill, who runs the brand, teamed up with his cousin who owns a vineyard in New Zealand called Two Paddocks and matured the single pot still Irish whiskey in Pinot Noir casks. Who is that cousin, you ask? Sam Neill. The Sam Neill. The actual star of Jurassic Park, Peaky Blinders and more. Amazing. Anyway, back to the liquid, it was triple distilled and matured for 19 months in ex-bourbon casks, before spending a further 21 months maturing in the French oak casks and is said to have notes of strawberry, nutmeg, tropical fruit, blackcurrant and more. “The Neill family have been making quality spirits for generations. My great, great grandfather Harry Neill set up the successful McCallum Neill & Co in Australia in 1851, and Percival, one of his younger brothers set up Messrs Neill & Co in 1882 – Percival was Sam’s great grandfather,” said Johnny. “Sam and I have continued this legacy in our respective sides of the world. For the first time in 150 years, we’re bringing together the expertise from both sides of the family  – the result being an incredibly exciting sweet, honeyed and very inviting single pot still whiskey”.

The Nightcap

The World’s Best Bar has been announced, just as we can’t visit!

Connaught in London named World’s Best Bar

In a bit of cruel timing as much of Europe goes back into lockdown, the World’s Top 50 bars have been revealed just as we can’t visit them. Oh well! Sitting astride the world is the Connaught Bar in London. Mark Sansom, content editor for The World’s 50 Best Bars, commented: “Hats off to Connaught Bar, undoubtedly one of the finest cocktail bars of our time. The institution has earned a place on the list every year since 2010 and it has gradually grown in stature to become the world-beating bar it is today. Ago Perrone and his team are dedicated to excellence and look at every element of the guest experience to choreograph a faultless service.” Runners up were last year’s winner Dante in New York followed by the Clumsies in Athens. It’s been a great year for London with three in the top ten: Tayēr + Elementary were at number five and newcomer Kwant at number six. All in all the list features bars from 23 countries: the Best Bar in Asia award went to Atlas, Singapore; the Best Bar in Australasia is Sammy in Sydney; Zuma, Dubai picked up Best Bar in the Middle East and Africa, while Florería Atlántico, Buenos Aires, is The Best Bar in South America. Elisa Gregori from main sponsors Perrier added: “The pandemic has heavily impacted the entire hospitality industry and the situation remains shaped by uncertainty, yet the industry is adapting quickly and we believe it will return stronger after these difficult times.” Congratulations to everyone who made the list and we’re hoping that we’ll be able to visit some of them in the not too distant future.

 

The Nightcap

Dr Bill says Glenmorangie Malaga Cask Finish is an “indulgently sweet and rich” dram

New small-batch Glenmorangie is on the way

We can never hear the words ‘Glenmorangie’s launches new whisky’ too much so we were obviously delighted to learn that a small batch edition was on the way (keep an eye out for it). The 12-year-old bottling was finished in Malaga wine casks, which aren’t the most common sight in Scotch whisky. Dr Bill Lumsden, Glenmorangie director of whisky creation, sourced the rare handful of first-fill Malaga ‘dulce’ casks (which once contained wines at the sweeter end of Malaga’s range), then filled them with an eight-year-old whisky initially aged in bourbon casks. After four years of finishing, Dr Bill chose the best of these casks in July 2020 to be bottled for the Distillery’s Barrel Select Release. “The honeyed aromas and fruity, chocolatey tastes of Glenmorangie Malaga Cask Finish take me straight to the sun-kissed south of Spain, where Malaga’s famed fortified wines are made,” said Dr Bill. “By finishing our soft, creamy whisky in Malaga ‘dulce’ casks, we’ve created an indulgently sweet and rich small-batch single malt. Our Barrel Select Release is a delicious treat for whisky lovers old and new.” You can see for yourself if Dr Bill is on the money, as Glenmorangie Malaga Cask Finish will be available soon from Master of Malt. 

The Nightcap

The industry needs support like this from those who have the resources to provide it

Diageo relaunches Learning for Life

This is a critical time for the hospitality industry with COVID-19 restrictions set to have a continued impact on the sector, so now would be the moment for some big players to step up. Diageo has set its sights on doing just that this week by relaunching Learning for Life, an award-winning bartender and hospitality training programme that aims to assist the sector to meet the demands of dealing with COVID-19. Learning for Life has been designed to help to develop and engage the industry’s hard-pressed staff, including those on furlough, by providing key training, alleviating isolation, improving practices and updating ways of working during these challenging times. The £1m-per-year programme will work alongside Diageo’s Raising the Bar programme, which pumps £30 million into the UK hospitality trade to create a safer infrastructure, for example through the introduction of hand sanitiser units or personal protective equipment for staff. “People and businesses in the hospitality industry across the UK are fighting for their future and we stand alongside them in that fight,” said Nicola Reid, Diageo Learning for Life Manager. “That’s why we’ve refocussed our Learning for Life programme so it offers the best training opportunities possible to support bar staff and businesses with skills that will help them weather the current storm”.

The Nightcap

Ten expressions from The Glenlivet form the bulk of the range

Chivas Brothers unveils 2020 Distillery Reserve Collection

Chivas Brothers latest single malt collection is on the way! There are 48 new single cask expressions ranging from four to 29-years-old that were sourced from 13 of Pernod Ricard’s distilleries, including The Glenlivet, Strathisla, Aberlour and Scapa. The full Distillery Reserve Collection is now available for purchase from visitor centres of the aforementioned distilleries (visit here for full information on opening times and restrictions to operations) but, due to the current travel restrictions, for the first time, a smaller selection of bottlings will also be available from The Glenlivet website. “Our distilleries are the beating heart of Chivas Brothers and the Distillery Reserve Collection celebrates the heritage, innovation and style that make each one unique. This one-of-a-kind collection has been hand-selected to showcase the breadth of character and bold flavours single malt distilleries can achieve,” says Miriam Eceolaza, marketing director, single malts at Chivas Brothers. “I’m thrilled to be able to invite whisky lovers to join us in celebrating the stories of Speyside and delve even deeper into the vast world of single malt whiskies.”

The nation’s favourite on-screen boozers revealed

Liberty Games has done some vital research this week and conducted a survey to find out the nation’s favourite on-screen boozer, as well as analysing the price of a pint, the location and the IMDb score of each pub. The games retailer can reveal that The Nag’s Head from Only Fools and Horses is the nation’s favourite on-screen boozer in the UK. with 17.2% of Brits saying they would love to have a drink there, although it does tie with Harry Potter’s The Leaky Cauldron for having the most expensive pint, costing £5. Typical London prices. The cheapest pint can be found in the pub from Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps’, the Archer Hotel, at just £3.20. Liberty Games also found London has the most on-screen pubs, but that Yorkshire has the majority of the nation’s favourite on-screen pubs. It is God’s own county, after all. The Woolpack from Emmerdale and the Leaky Cauldron are the second and third favourite fictional pubs with 13.4% and 12.6% of respondents agreeing they are the pub they would most like to have a drink in. The Crab & Lobster from Doc Martin, Heartbeat’s The Ainsfield Arms, The Drovers Arms from All Creatures Great and Small, Life on Mars’ The Railway Arms, The Boatman from Four Weddings and a Funeral and The Slaughtered Lamb from An American Werewolf in London also made the top ten. Which fictional pub would you like to visit? Let us know in the comments.

The Nightcap

If any of our family are reading this, then yes we want one of these

And finally… Bacardi combines a bar with a turntable

According to Bacardi, a fifth of British people will be hosting a virtual cocktail party this Christmas while 60% will be celebrating with friends and family over Zoom. And in the best marketing tradition of revealing a problem and then solving it, Bacardi has the antidote to all this enforced staying at home. Designed by “famed furniture designer” Hugh Miller (surely, you’ve heard of him?), it’s called the Mixing Console, and it’s a freestanding bar with a walnut top and an actual turntable and speakers built-in. And not just any turntable but an “attractive and well-engineered” Fluance RT80. Not my words but the words of What HiFi magazine. So you can mix your drinks while spinning your records. Just be careful you don’t get the two confused or it could get messy. Also, this magnificence doesn’t come cheap, £1700. But Bacardi’s research also stated that: “treating yourself, family and friends more are top 2021 New Year’s resolutions”, so come on family, treat me!

No Comments on The Nightcap: 6 November

The Nightcap: 30 October

It might be the spookiest time of year, but that can’t stop us from rounding up the latest happenings from the world of booze. It’s The Nightcap! Happy Halloween, folks!…

It might be the spookiest time of year, but that can’t stop us from rounding up the latest happenings from the world of booze. It’s The Nightcap!

Happy Halloween, folks! However you’re choosing to mark it this strangest of years, we hope you’re able to make the most of the sweet treats, pageantry and gothic pomp of it all as safely as possible. And for those who have absolutely no interest in Halloween, we’d like to think you’ve found some alternative entertainment in the form of The Nightcap. It’s filled with all the best kinds of spirits.

This week on the MoM blog some of the finest names in whisky featured, with the Buffalo Trace Antique Collection 2019 and Ardbeg Wee Beastie making their way to MoM Towers (eek!), Chris Morris filling-us-in on all things Woodford Reserve and Nicholas Morgan giving us a glimpse of the story behind the world’s no. 1 Scotch whisky. We also captured our time at The Lakes Distillery on video and spoke to Victoria Eady Butler about her incredible family legacy, but not before we made sure you can indulge in style for Halloween and Bonfire Night, make the most of overproof spirits and imbibe mindfully.

The Nightcap

See the Chase Distillery for yourself with our amazing VR tour!

Diageo acquires Chase Distillery

Spirits giant Diageo loves nothing more than adding brands to its swelling portfolio, so it was little surprise to see that Chase Distillery has become its latest acquisition. The premium British vodka and gin distillery based in Herefordshire was founded by potato farmer William Chase in 2008, after he created and sold upmarket crisp company Tyrrell’s. Unsurprisingly, the distillery’s spirits are made from scratch using British-grown potatoes, as well as apples and botanicals on the Chase Farm, which also employs steam energy to power the distillery thanks to a biomass boiler fueled by apple orchard prunings. The portfolio is made up of seven gins, four vodkas and an elderflower liqueur, including the very popular Chase GB Gin, Pink Grapefruit & Pomelo Gin and Aged Marmalade Vodka. William Chase said the acquisition, which is tipped to close in early 2021, is “inspiring” and that Diageo “believe in the potential of our field to bottle spirits and will build on our mission to develop our sustainable distillery in Herefordshire.” Diageo certainly believes in gin, given that it’s already bought Ryan Reynold’s Aviation Gin and invested in German craft gin maker Rheinland Distillers GmbH this year. As for William Chase, he’s kind of running out of potato-based business ventures. Maybe I can interest him in an experiment I did at age six when I powered a lightbulb with a humble potato. It’s sustainable energy, after all…

The Nightcap

Rum was the drink of choice for many of you, and a fine choice it is!

WSTA figures reveal rum is the drink of lockdown 

The Wine and Spirit Trade Association (WSTA) has crowned rum the “drink of lockdown”, as the latest figures show it enjoyed the biggest growth across all spirits during the lockdown. In the three months from April to June 2020, 38% more rum was sold than in the same period in 2019, while total rum sales were worth £119 million in the quarter alone. Rum now places behind only whisky, vodka and gin in value terms. The flavoured & spiced rum category was the biggest mover and shaker, growing 53% by volume between April and June, and outselling white rums over a three month period for the first time. Even though pubs and bars couldn’t open, total alcohol sales in supermarkets and shops are up 8% over 12 months and 35% over the lockdown period. The figures show, however, that the growth in off-trade sales did not off-set the losses seen by the closure of the on-trade – total alcohol sales slumped 20% by volume, showing that, despite all the stories, the British did not booze their way through the lockdown. “Our latest numbers show that rum is lockdown’s champion, as the experimentation Brits liked to enjoy in pubs and bars carried over to their homes. However, this also underlines the importance of on-trade venues as the shop window for new innovations in the spirits category,” explains Miles Beale, chief executive of the WSTA. “With news just last week of further restrictions being placed on the hospitality sector, the climate for our distillers, many of whom are SMEs and have come to represent such a great British success story of recent years, continues to get tougher”. 

Our favourite feature of the new-look Glenkinchie? The psychedelic Johnnie Walker

Revamped Glenkinchie Distillery reopens

We’ve reported before on Diageo’s £185 million investment in whisky tourism in Scotland. With perhaps not the best timing, it has just been announced that phase one of the plan has been completed and the refurbished Glenkinchie distillery near Edinburgh is once open to the public. The elegant Victorian brick warehouses have been turned into a visitor experience with a landscaped garden and a distinctly psychedelic statue of Johnnie Walker complete with dog. Visitors will be able to purchase a special commemorative release called the first in the Four Corners of Scotland collection, a 16 year old Glenkinchie bottled at 50.6% ABV with just 2,502 available at £150. Barbara Smith, managing director of brand homes (they do love a grand job title at Diageo) commented: “We are acutely aware of the difficult times many people are going through, particularly our colleagues in the tourism and hospitality sector across Scotland. We know there’s a long way to go and a lot of uncertainty ahead. Still, we believe in the resilience of our business and our communities, and we will be doing all we can through our investment to sow the seeds of recovery and future growth.” Distillery manager Ramsay Borthwick added: “Glenkinchie will give people a thrilling first taste of the new visitor experiences we are creating across Scotland. We will be offering people an experience like no other distillery in Scotland at Glenkinchie and that will be followed as we transform Clynelish, Cardhu and Caol Ila over the coming months, and as we build towards the opening of our global Johnnie Walker Princes Street attraction in Edinburgh next summer.” Let’s hope they all open as planned.

The Nightcap

Book Two, ‘Building an Icon’, will be available here soon…

Laphroaig expands the Ian Hunter series

Following the huge success and popularity of Ian Hunter Book One, Laphoraig has launched the second instalment in the Ian Hunter Story, which consists of five annual releases and honours the legacy of the last founding member of the Johnston family to run the distillery. Book Two, which is entitled ‘Building an Icon’ and is limited to just four hundred cases, was matured in sherry casks for 30 years before it was bottled at 48.2% ABV without chill-filtration. Hunter, who joined the distillery in 1908, had a lasting legacy, doubling production and managing to sell Laphroaig to America during Prohibition by leveraging the spirit’s unique character, which meant that it could be sold for medicinal purposes. “You cannot enjoy Laphroaig’s exquisitely smokey and complex liquid, without paying homage to the legendary Ian Hunter,” says John Campbell, Laphroaig distillery manager. “His influence in our whisky production techniques and our iconic brand as a whole is undeniable. The second book in our Ian Hunter Story celebrates his legacy in shaping Laphroaig to what it is today.” The limited-edition whisky will be available from MoM Towers soon…

The Nightcap

It’s been quite the week for impressive expressions!

Gonzalez Byass releases sherry from 1878

Tio Pepe isn’t just the world’s bestselling fino sherry, he was also a real person, a winemaker and uncle of the company’s founder Manuel Maria Gonzalez Anger. Now, Gonzalez Byass has released a wine made by Uncle Joe (for some reason Pepe is the diminutive of José) himself. It’s a very special Pedro Ximinez laid down in 1878 to celebrate the investiture of a new pope, León XIII. It was recently uncovered in the company’s vast cellars (think that last scene in Raiders of the Last Ark) by current head blender Antonio Flores. It comes from a single butt containing, after all these years, only 80 litres of super-sweet wine.  It’s unusual because it was made in the days before sherry was routinely fortified so it comes in at only 9% ABV, yet because of all that sugar, it’s has lasted all these years. Mauricio González Gordon, current chairman and fifth-generation family member, said, “This wine was created in the mid-19th century: a Pedro Ximénez, made before phylloxera arrived in Jerez. We are delighted to be able to release this jewel of a wine as part of our rare Finite Wines Collection, but there will only be 78 bottles for sale – the remaining 20 will be stored in the González family’s bottle archive, El Aljibe.” The price is suitably papal at €1800 a bottle. 

The Nightcap

Once you start thinking of Spocktail ideas, it’s hard to stop. Captain Kirsch, anyone?

And finally. . .  Jim Beam me up, Scotty

If you made a Venn diagram of cocktail lovers and fans of Star Trek (Trekkingtons, we believe they’re called), we wonder how big the overlap between the two categories would be. Well, the people behind a new book called Star Trek Cocktails: A Stellar Compendium clearly think there’s a large market. It’s been put together by cartoonist and writer Glenn Dakin in conjunction with ‘mixology consultants’ Simon Pellet and Adrian Calderbank, and with photos by David Burton and Jess Esposito. It’s full of fairly standard cocktails given a Star Trek twist with names like Ferengi Wallbanger or Guinan Fizz. We’re sure they will go down a treat with hardcore fans but we can’t help feeling that the whole thing is something of a missed opportunity in the punning department. So the team here at Master of Malt had a lot of fun coming up with our own Spocktails (see what we did there?) like Star Trek: the next Gineration, Deep Space Wine or the irresistible Captain Kirsch. Live long and Vesper!

No Comments on The Nightcap: 30 October

Buffalo Trace Antique Collection 2019: lotteries and charity auctions

It’s taken its time but the Buffalo Trace Antique Collection 2019 is finally here! While you try to contain yourself, we’ll remind you why each year we split our allocation between…

It’s taken its time but the Buffalo Trace Antique Collection 2019 is finally here! While you try to contain yourself, we’ll remind you why each year we split our allocation between a 30ml dram lottery, a bottle lottery, and a charity auction. 

To find out when and where the action will take place, see the timeline below.

If you want to make a whiskey lover squeal with excitement, then say the words ‘Buffalo Trace Antique Collection’. If you want to make them go seriously bananas, then tell them they’re in with a chance to get their hands on something from it. Which is exactly what we’re doing now. That’s right. The 2019 Collection has landed at MoM Towers.

But demand is going to be bonkers so, like always, we’re using our patented ‘least-worst’ three-pronged approach to make sure our humble supply is allocated as fairly as possible. What are those prongs? We’re glad you asked:

Prong 1) A third of the allocation will be turned into 30ml Drinks by the Dram samples (drams). This allows as many people as possible to taste the whiskey. These drams will be allocated for sale by lottery.

Prong 2) Another third will be sold as full bottles. Again, these will be allocated by lottery with the following statement on the back of each: “I hereby swear not to sell this bottle – but to drink it with my chums. May my taste-buds and olfactory bulb shrivel and die if I should break my word.

Prong 3) The final third will be sold via auction with everything over RRP (net of any applicable VAT) going to Malaria No More UK. Your love of whiskey can help to eradicate this awful disease, which is especially deadly to children under five.

So, I hope everybody is clear on how this works (if you’d like to learn more, our handy post from 2016 explains everything in great detail). Let’s have a look at the whiskeys:

Buffalo Trace Antique Collection 2019

The Buffalo Trace Antique Collection 2019!

So, first things first, we should clarify again that these bottlings are the 2019 releases, not the 2020 collection. Also, as we’re sure you know by now, limited quantities will mean some of you are going to be disappointed. But we pinky swear that everything we receive, we will sell, as per our stockholding policy. Still as true as ever.

The Antique Collection 2019 is made up of five limited-edition expressions sourced from rare stocks at the Buffalo Trace distillery, all of which we have in our possession:

George T Stagg (2019 Release)

Sazerac 18 Year Old (2019 Release)

Thomas H. Handy Sazerac Rye Whiskey (2019 Release)

William Laure Weller (2019 Release)

Eagle Rare 17 Year Old (2019 Release)

Buffalo Trace Antique Collection Lottery and Auction Timeline:

As usual, the excitement will take place on the individual product pages, which are all located on our handy Buffalo Trace Antique Collection page (all timings are GMT). Be sure to pop the times in your calendar, and good luck to everyone taking part!

Dram Lottery
Wed 28 Oct 17:00 – Thu 29 Oct 15:00

Bottle Lottery
Thu 29 Oct 16:00 – Fri 30 Oct 14:00

Bottle Charity Auctions
Fri 30 Oct 16:00 – Mon 2 Nov 14:00

7 Comments on Buffalo Trace Antique Collection 2019: lotteries and charity auctions

The Nightcap: 23 October

Friday has finally arrived, and you know what that means! It’s time to pour yourself a dram and catch up on another busy week of boozy news with The Nightcap….

Friday has finally arrived, and you know what that means! It’s time to pour yourself a dram and catch up on another busy week of boozy news with The Nightcap.

This week we received some devastating news. Fungie, the world’s oldest solitary dolphin, has not been seen in his 37-year Dingle Harbour home for over a week. The unlikely local celebrity appeared in the seaside town in Kerry, Ireland, in 1983 and he’s been a mainstay of Dingle ever since, becoming a major tourist attraction who even has his own Wikipedia page. News like this really makes you appreciate how quickly things can change and why we take comfort in the things that are always there for us. Like a weekly round-up of news from the drinks industry. Never leave us, sweet Nightcap. Speaking of which, let’s get on with it, there’s plenty to get your teeth into this week!

The MoM blog was jam-packed with boozy goodness, as usual, this week, including the launch of a new #BagThisBundle competition, this time with five bottles of delicious James Eadie whisky, aged up to 26 years, up for grabs. Ian Buxton then returned to outline how your taxes help small distillers, Henry learnt about why it’s been a difficult vintage in the Douro valley and Annie marked 20 years of Compass Box. Adam then continued our Sober October coverage by casting a spotlight on the mimic masters, Lyre’s, tasted the first single malt from the Milk & Honey distillery and recommended some devilishly delicious drinks for Halloween. Jess, meanwhile, welcomed Silent Pool’s shiny new Rare Citrus Gin, while our Cocktail of the Week is a real labour of love which  Aaron Wall, co-owner of London bar Homeboy, talks us through.

The Nightcap

Congratulations on your new role, Richard!

Wolfcraig Distillery appoints Richard Paterson as master blender

Fresh from announcing the plans for its upcoming £15m distillery, Wolfcraig has dropped another huge news bomb: Richard Paterson has been appointed as its master blender. Whyte & Mackay fans need not panic, however, as he will continue his commitments to the brand he recently celebrated his 50th anniversary with. The press reveals that it was Paterson’s “continued passion for Scotch Whisky” that drew him to the Wolfcraig project, which will allow him to play “a leading role in the foundation of a new distillery, in the heart of Scotland”. Paterson, a third-generation master blender who followed in the footsteps of his father and grandfather, is one of the most highly regarded greatest whisky makers of his generation, even being nicknamed “the nose” for his olfactory skills, so it’s quite a signing for Wolfcraig. How did they do it? Well, Wolfcraig co-founder Michael Lunn is the former chairman and chief executive of Whyte & Mackay Group, so maybe this appointment wasn’t so out of the blue after all. “This will be an opportunity for me to use all the knowledge I have learned over 55 years in the business to create a truly exceptional Highland single malt, one that can be enjoyed the world over,” Paterson said. We look forward to seeing what you create, sir. If you need anyone whose free for taste tests, you know where we are…

The Nightcap

Guinness 0.0 is described as “the Guinness with everything, except alcohol”

Guinness launches non-alcoholic beer

Ever longed for the taste of a fresh (properly poured) pint of Guinness but didn’t want to consume alcohol. Well, you’re in luck, because Diageo’s colossus Irish stout brand has announced the launch of a new expression this week: Guinness 0.0, “the Guinness with everything, except alcohol”. Apparently, it was made using the same ingredients as the original; water, barley, hops and yeast, except that the alcohol is then removed using cold filtration. This process is said to avoid the pitfalls of presenting thermal stress to the beer, “protecting the integrity of its taste and character”. You’d like to think the brewers at St. James’s Gate got this one right because the press release says this zero-alcohol beer was made following a four-year process led by the technical and innovation teams at the brand’s home. “Guinness has always had an unwavering commitment to quality and our entire brewing team is hugely proud of the care and effort that has been put into the four-year development process for Guinness 0.0,” says Aisling Ryan, innovation brewer (sweet job title) at St James’s Gate. “We have created a taste experience that we believe is truly unrivalled in the world of non-alcoholic beer and we can’t wait for people to finally be able to try it!” Guinness 0.0 will be available in pubs across Ireland and Great Britain from Spring 2021 and in more markets throughout the world later in 2021.

The Nightcap

We were given a little taste of the special 30-year-old Rosebank whisky. We enjoyed it

Rosebank releases 30-year-old whisky from 1990

We’ve been eagerly following the revival of the legendary Rosebank distillery in the Lowlands so we were very pleased to be given a sample of a very special single malt from before the distillery closed in 1993. Called Release One, it’s a 30-year-old single malt with only 4,350 bottles made. Every year, Ian MacLeod, the distillery’s now owners, will release a vintage until the whisky from the revived Rosebank is available. As you can imagine, it’s quite expensive, £1,600, but is it any good? Well, in a word, yes. It’s very pale and for such an old whisky, the wood is in no way overpowering. There are delicate peach and lemon fruit all wrapped up with crème brûlée, cinnamon and almonds, with a finish you can taste ten minutes later. Truly, a dram to savour. Robbie Hughes, group distillation manager explained a little further: “It was matured in 62% refill sherry butts and 38% refill bourbon hogsheads for decades, patiently waiting to be awoken, and delivers layers of incredible flavour that you won’t find in other whiskies.” Furthermore, the first 200 buyers to scan a QR code on Release One will be able to enjoy a dram of Release Two at certain outlets (to be confirmed) as well as an early chance to buy a bottle of it. And that’s not all! To celebrate this release, Ian MacLeod has produced a video of top whisky writers including Felipe Schrieberg and Alice Lascelles talking about Rosebank. You are really spoiling us now! At the moment, Release One is only available directly from the distillery but we will let you know if MoM is lucky enough to get any in. 

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English wine producers are very excited about this year’s harvest (photo courtesy of Chapel Down)

2020: a quality year for English wine

This year English wine has snatched triumph from the jaws of defeat. In spring it looked like the vintage would be a disaster with severe frosts damaging delicate buds. But the day was saved by an unusually warm summer (remember that?) and a September heatwave leading to one of the earliest harvests on record. While there hasn’t been a repeat of the bumper grape crops seen in the last two years, there’s an air of excitement among producers with a harvest described as “corking”. Ian Edwards, co-owner of Furleigh Estate in Dorset said: “The quality of the grapes this year is excellent. It’s the ripest fruit we have had in 15 years of growing.” This quality harvest has coincided with a huge increase in visitor numbers to English wineries which, in the midst of difficult economic conditions, has given producers a much needed dose of positivity. Adam Williams, sales director at the Hush Heath Estate in Kent commented: “The increase in visitors to our cellar has been extremely encouraging… all our tours, tastings and dinners remain fully booked. A positive story amongst all this doom and gloom! One can only hope all this adds up to a big boom in English wine!” We are pretty sure it will.

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The face paint comes separately.

Rock band Kiss releases debut rum

Get set to rock and rum all nite – iconic and heavily made-up brand Kiss has released its first expression! Kiss Black Diamond Premium Black Rum is made using Caribbean liquid aged for up to 15 years and references the closing song on the band’s eponymous debut 1974 album. Swedish spirits producer Brands for Fans is behind the release and says the bottling offers apricot, date, vanilla fudge, cinnamon and chocolate notes, along, interestingly, with arrack vibes. The zazzy label references the band’s costumes and aforementioned make-up from the early days, making it a nostalgic treat as well as a tasty one. “It’s an amazing match for a band who were pioneers both musically and visually in the world of rock ’n’ roll,” said Brands for Fans’ Sari H. Wilholm. “When I taste this rum by KISS and look at the bottle, I feel proud of what we’ve achieved with this product. It’s damn good. Listening to Black Diamond still gives me the chills, and the rum makes me just as excited!” It’s available in Sweden now for the equivalent of £33, and it should land at MoM Towers soon!

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A paradise where beautiful rum is made. Why aren’t we living there?!

Takamaka Rum announces distillery expansion

Takamaka Bay Rum will unveil a slick new look in November as it completes a major expansion of its Seychelles-based distillery. The family-owned brand, which has also launched a brand redesign, new bottle and an increase in its international distribution, has added new stainless steel and copper column stills to facilitate the production of molasses rum. Takamaka already makes traditional pure cane sugar pot still rum at its facility in La Plaine St Andre, but can now make 250,000 litres per annum of molasses rum. Given there’s no sugar industry in the Seychelles, the molasses is sourced from East Africa. A new visitor centre will also allow visitors the chance to learn about the rum’s production and the 228-year-old heritage site the distillery is located in, “This expansion is a pivotal part of our plans as a business,” says Richard D’Offay, Takamaka co-founder. “Not only will it allow us to showcase our amazing rum, and how it is produced, to guests visiting the Seychelles, it has also been designed to be scalable to allow for larger production as we increase our international distribution and emerge into new territories.” 

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A 100% sherry-aged, cask strength so rich you can stand a spoon up in. Now we’re talking

Cotswolds latest whisky is sherry heaven  

Cotswolds Distillery has just announced its richest whisky yet. How rich is it? Well imagine Bill Gates marrying the Queen, and you’re nearly there. It’s fully aged in sherry casks, both American and Spanish oak hogsheads and butts, seasoned with both Oloroso and PX sherry. It’s then bottled at a mighty 57.4% ABV. So how does it taste? Pretty rich, as you’d expect. The nose is all about muscovado sugar, dark cherries and chocolate, and the palate is so thick you could stand a spoon up in it, but, paradoxically, that big ABV keeps the richness under control. The finish is all sticky toffee pudding, dark chocolate and pungent gingery spice. Head of production Nickolas Franchino commented: “I love a sherry cask whisky as it is one of the truly iconic single malt whisky styles. Good sherry casks give rich, fruity, spicy and nutty flavours that marry perfectly with the underlying malt character and are a joy to savour.” Available only direct from the distillery, you don’t need to be an oligarch to buy a bottle, all this richness comes in at a very reasonable £64.95.

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We won’t be stocking any sherry as big as the one pictured, before any of you ask (Image credit: Rob Johnson)

And finally… Fake news is so 2016. This year, it’s all about Fake Booze

You may have seen some rather surprising headlines doing the rounds on drinks social media: “Shock find at Jerez dig proves that dinosaurs ‘invented sherry’”, “Bacardi Bat latest victim of Coronavirus” or “Rum celebrates 100 years as ‘next big thing”, and thought that the world has gone mad. Well, it has, but these headlines are in fact creations of a new site that describes itself as the “world’s first satirical drinks magazine”. Called, naturally, Fake Booze, and with the motto “Like Truth But Better”, it is dedicated to mocking an industry that can sometimes take itself a bit too seriously. It’s the creation of former Imbibe editor, booze enthusiast and all-round amusing human Chris Losh. He told us: “It’s basically a chance to raise an eyebrow at the world of drinks the inconsistencies, the misplaced ego and the well-intentioned plans that go awry. Sometimes it’s sharp, sometimes it’s whimsical but I’d hope that it comes from a place of affection not anger”. Thank you, Chris! In these dark times, what we need is a good dose of Fake Booze. 

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