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Master of Malt Blog

Category: News

The Nightcap: 24 June

Tormore and Lough Gill Distillery are sold to ambitious new owners and the world’s first pub for plants opens. It’s all in the Nightcap: 24 June edition! It’s hot, isn’t…

Tormore and Lough Gill Distillery are sold to ambitious new owners and the world’s first pub for plants opens. It’s all in the Nightcap: 24 June edition!

It’s hot, isn’t it? It might be too hot. But then as soon as you say that, you’re worried the weather will desert you because you’ve tempted fate. Best to just make the most of it. Grab something cold and boozy, sit out in the sun, and enjoy this week’s round-up of drinks news.

Just a quick breakdown of the blog before we begin, we welcomed the oldest ever release from Teeling as well as a cocktail in a bottle combining sparkling wine, orange liqueur, herbs and spices, and recommended ten great single cask whiskies. We then celebrated Pride Month with a cracking cocktail, the craft behind Lyaness, and the skill it takes to become a serious bartender, while turning to more sober thoughts regarding AI and whisky investments.

The Nightcap: 24 June edition!

tormore

Why don’t they make distilleries like this anymore?

Pernod Ricard sells Tormore to founders of the Whisky Exchange

Big news from Speyside as we have just learned that Pernod Ricard has agreed to sell Tormore Distillery to Elixir. According to Alexandre Ricard, his firm is selling Tormore to concentrate on Aberlour and Miltonduff which are being massively expanded. The deal is somewhat complicated by the fact that the new owners will be Rajbir and Sukhinder Singh who recently sold most of their business including the Whisky Exchange to Pernod Ricard, but kept hold of Elixir Distillers. Sukhinder Singh explained: “Tormore is one of the most visually stunning distilleries in Speyside. It produces a beautiful spirit and fits in perfectly with the Elixir Distillers flavour-first philosophy to bottle only the very highest quality whiskies. We are hoping to build on the work that’s been done by Pernod Ricard to bring to life the magic of Tormore and show consumers around the world just what a hidden gem it is. We are humbled to be the new custodians of Tormore; we couldn’t have asked for a better distillery to welcome to the Elixir family alongside our new Islay distillery, Portintruan.” We are pleased to learn that there are plans for a visitor centre so that whisky lovers can appreciate this most striking of distilleries, designed by Sir Albert Richardson and opened in 1960, close up. 

Lough-Gill-Distillery-Aerial-Shot

Lough Gill distillery – it’s about to get bigger

Sazerac announces purchase of Sligo’s Lough Gill Distillery 

In perhaps the worst kept secret in Irish whiskey, it has finally been announced this week that American spirits group Sazerac, owners of Buffalo Trace and Paddy, has bought Sligo’s Lough Gill Distillery. It was reported in the Irish Independent back in September last year that the company was looking for a brand home for its Paddy Irish Whiskey. Now it has found it in the form of Lough Gill which was founded by David Raerthorne in Sligo in the west of Ireland and began distilling in 2019. It currently produces the Athrú Irish whiskey brand from bought-in stock. Raethorne commented: “This is a major announcement for Sligo and a vote of confidence in the potential for Sligo to become a major player in the booming global Irish whiskey market. The acquisition will enable Lough Gill Distillery to fully develop as a world-class visitor destination and will have significant long-term economic and tourism benefits for Sligo, which, for me, was always a personal goal.” Sazerac plans to increase capacity with new warehousing, bottling lines and a hospitality infrastructure to welcome 150,000 visitors per year. Irish whiskey keeps getting bigger and bigger.

the Macallan

It’s another pricey, premium trio

Macallan M Collection launches 2022 whiskies

The distillery that never sleeps has created a brand new collection. The Macallan has launched a trio of limited-edition single malt whiskies as part of the brand’s M Collection, designed to celebrate the brand’s ‘six pillars’: natural colour, mastery, curiously small spirit stills, the estate, exceptional oak casks, and sherry seasoning. The first of the three, The Macallan M 2022 Release, was matured in sherry-seasoned oak casks and tasting notes include chocolate, dried fruit and spice. The Macallan M Black 2022 Release, meanwhile, is a peated whisky aged in ‘rare’, black-ended sherry-seasoned oak casks, and The Macallan M Copper 2022 Release aims to reflect the distillery’s small stills and is said to taste of fruit and sweet malt. Each whisky comes in a 700ml decanter, and are priced at £5,000, £5,700, and £6,250 respectively, and will be coming soon to Master of Malt.

Fettercairn

We love this kind of initiative

Fettercairn 200 Club launches

Whyte & Mackay has unveiled the Fettercairn 200 Club, a partnership with local farmers to supply Fettercairn Distillery with 100% the barley it needs to produce whisky. Teaming up with malt producer Bairds Malt, the scheme will see barley farmers within a 50-mile radius of the distillery supply the producer with 100% of the barley required to produce its whisky, ensuring ‘end-to-end transparency’. Eventually the plan is to make its own single-origin single malt whisky. “We talk about being progressive and defying convention and the 200 Club truly supports this commitment,” says Stewart Walker, distillery manager. “Working with local farmers not only supports our vital community, but also ensures the highest quality of locally-supplied barley is used in our unique distillation process while truly cementing our relationship with the land”.

Bladnoch

Bladnoch rolling out the big hitters

Bladnoch releases oldest whisky to date

Lowland distillery Bladnoch is going big with its oldest ever whisky. The brand has been making up for the six years it spent dormant before 2015 by revamping its core range and creating a slew of limited-editions. This one is a 30-year-old single malt whisky aged in Oloroso sherry and Moscatel casks, bottled without chill-filtration at 45.5% ABV. “Our 30-year-old was designed to showcase the pinnacle of our range with the unique combination of oloroso and Moscatel casks. This unique cask combination, rarity and character will inspire our future whisky making for many years.” says master distiller Dr Nick Savage, who joined Bladnoch from The Macallan in 2019. There’s just 950 bottles priced at £1,000.

Chelsie Bailey lands the biggest job in British bartending

Chelsie Bailey lands the biggest job in British bartending

Chelsie Bailey takes over at the American Bar at the Savoy

Following the surprise departure of Shannon Tebay in May, there was a vacancy for the biggest job in British bartending, head bartender at the American Bar at the Savoy. And now it has been filled! Stepping into the giant shoes of legends like Ada Coleman and Harry Craddock, will be Chelsie Bailey who was previously general manager at one of our favourite London bars, Happiness Forgets. In her career which began in Bristol, she has won some big awards including Chivas Masters in 2016, Monkey Shoulder in 2017 and Bacardi Legacy in 2019. So it’s fair to say she knows her way around a shaker. She commented: “I’m thrilled to be joining the Savoy team and working with such a group of talented and dynamic people; together writing the next chapter of the American Bar’s history. The Savoy has always had a reputation for innovation and quality; so the role carries with it a sense of responsibility and challenge, but that is what’s so exciting about this iconic position within the bar industry.” Meanwhile we have just learned that Tebay is now beverage director at London events company Outernet Live. So there is life after the American Bar.

Royal Salute

Another welcome step in the right direction

Royal Salute cuts carbon footprint by 70% with new packaging

Royal Salute’s signature porcelain flagon is set to be replaced. A more sustainable coated glass flagon is on the way from this month, starting with the 21 Year Old Signature Blend. The recyclable vessel will then be rolled out across the full portfolio, resulting in a 70% reduction in carbon footprint of the primary packaging. The plan is in line with Pernod Ricard’s sustainability and responsibility roadmap, ‘Good Times from a Good Place’ and all Royal Salute packaging will be 100% recyclable, reusable or compostable by 2025. “Sustainability isn’t a nice to have, it’s a high priority, and I’m proud to see Royal Salute’s iconic bottle transition from ceramic to glass – this represents a key milestone in Chivas Brothers’ journey towards 100% recyclable packaging,” says Jean-Etienne Gourgues, chairman and CEO of Chivas Brothers. 

Wire Works Whisky

Can they keep up the high standards set by the first release?

White Peak bottles new Wire Works whisky

We were there when White Peak Distillery unveiled its first whisky and now we’re pleased to see it follow up with a new single malt: Wire Works Whisky Small Batch. Max Vaughan, who co-founded the distillery with his wife, Claire, days they were “incredibly humbled by the fantastic reaction to our first release of Wire Works Whisky in February,” which we really enjoyed, so we’re excited to see what’s coming next. The Small Batch which is bottled at 46.2% ABV, is a lightly peated single malt aged entirely in STR (shaved, toasted and re-charred) casks, and ex-Bourbon barrels. Tasting notes include sweet popcorn and orchard fruits on the nose, brandy baskets and sandalwood on the palate, leading to a sweet vanilla finish with a hint of nutmeg. The brand will launch just over 4,300 bottles of Wire Works Whisky Small Batch soon for a price of £60.

pub plants

No, we don’t get it either

And finally… a pub for plants?

A couple of weeks ago we had a press release from Heineken that had everyone scratching their heads. It was something to do with a ‘real life’ Metaverse bar opening in Shoreditch. Even the youngest, hippest cats in the office, ‘digital natives’ we believe they’re called, were baffled. Now Heinken’s PR people have done it again with a ‘pub for plants’ event to promote its cider brand Inch’s. It’s called ‘The Seed and Sip’ and it is “designed specifically with plants in mind, the first pub for plants will play host to an array of forna-inspired events including the first gig for plants performed by Red Rum Club.” Us neither. Perhaps someone could head down to the Freemount, the Manchester pub where this is happening, at 6pm on 29 June, and report back what all this is about because we haven’t a scoobie. 

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British national linked to $13million whisky scam

With the news that a British national has been arrested by the FBI over a $13m whisky scam, we take a closer look at dodgy whisky investment schemes and wonder…

With the news that a British national has been arrested by the FBI over a $13m whisky scam, we take a closer look at dodgy whisky investment schemes and wonder how long it will be before British and Irish authorities take an interest.

A British national, Casey Alexander, was arrested last week by the FBI over a reputed scam where 150 investors lost around $13m dollars. He worked with three companies Charles Winn LLC, VWC LLC and Windsor Jones LLC which would phone older people in the US and promise them huge returns on their investments for rare whiskies including 2017 Craigellachie, as well as fine wine. 

Some were told they would double their investments in three years while others were lured in by the promise of high roller parties in Scotland. According to Cleveland.com, the high pressure salesman used “aggressive and deceptive tactics” and fake names and British accents to sound more convincing. 

It was an 89 year old man from Ohio who eventually called the authorities after losing $300,000 to the scammers. The FBI investigated the companies and discovered many cease and desist letters from state security agencies.

Alexander travelled to the US to meet with potential investors. In addition to working to lure in clients, he also handled money for the three companies implicated and his name is on the financial paperwork. Alexander was arrested last Tuesday and is awaiting trial.

Windsor Jones Scam whiskies

Detail from Windsor Jones website

Convincing websites 

If you’re interested in whisky, like we are, we’re sure that you have been bombarded with adverts from companies promising lucrative returns. And looking at the websites for the three companies implicated, Charles Winn LLC, VWC LLC and Windsor Jones LLC, they look very slick and convincing, showing smart young men and women in suits with tempting figures about how much you can make from investing in whisky. They have offices in London and the US. There are videos on the VWC site explaining different aspects of whisky and the business. These chaps really look like they know what they’re talking about. And like legitimate enterprises, they are committed to ending whisky elitism: “Our main goal is to rebrand the taboo of whisky and bring youthfulness to the market,” it says on the website.

It’s hard to tell what’s real and what’s not, especially as despite Alexander’s arrest, he is still being quoted* in an article on another whisky investment company’s website, VCL Vintners

American authorities crack down

It seems like the American authorities are far more awake to the potential for investors to be misled than those in Britain or Ireland. In December last year, the Texas State Securities Board recently announced “an emergency cease and desist order to stop an illegal international whiskey investment scheme.” 

The scheme in question was the Whiskey & Wealth Club Limited, a business headed up by Jay Bradley with offices in London and Dublin. “We’re alleging that Whiskey & Wealth Club is touting its success in profiting from sales of casks of whiskey that are at least three, five or ten years old,” said Joe Rotunda, TSSB enforcement director. “That’s misleading. The company has not even been incorporated for three years.” And as the TSSB noted, its accounts with Companies House are overdue. Rotunda and team also claim that Whiskey & Wealth Club is deceiving customers in other ways including refusing to show investors the contract until a deposit has been received. 

How to protect yourself

So as usual with these things, it pays to do a bit of research. It’s worth reading Ian Buxton’s article on the subject. Companies House is your friend here. If the directors have been involved in a large number of short-lived companies, then potentially alarm bells should be ringing. In about two minutes on Google, I discovered that Charles Winn has something of a chequered history. See this thread on Wine Berserkers. According to a cease and desist order from the State of Washington from 7 January 2021:

Charles Winn and its sales agents have engaged in a cold-calling scheme to target investors throughout the United States to invest in its wine brokerage program. Charles Winn claims it will identify and purchase a portfolio of fine wines on behalf of investors, which will be held in a bonded warehouse until sold for a profit. Charles Winn raised at least $5 million dollars from investors nationwide. Between approximately January 2018 and October 2020, four Washington residents invested approximately $68,000 in Charles Winn’s wine brokerage program. The Washington residents received repeated cold-call solicitations and were told they could make a lucrative return on an investment. To date, none of the investors have received a return on their investment.”

We wonder how long it will be before the British and Irish authorities take an interest in potentially fraudulent whisky investment schemes. 

* Since this article was published a spokesman for VCL Vintners has been in touch with the following statement: “VCL Vintners have never spoken to or had communications with Alexander Casey, and as soon as they found out, they took the syndicated article down with immediate effect”.

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Teeling 38 Year Old lands at Master of Malt

Big Irish whiskey news as Teeling 38 Year Old Very Rare Casks, the oldest ever release from Teeling, has just arrived at Master of Malt. Here’s how you can get…

Big Irish whiskey news as Teeling 38 Year Old Very Rare Casks, the oldest ever release from Teeling, has just arrived at Master of Malt. Here’s how you can get your hands on a bottle.

The Teeling family have been extraordinarily influential in shaping the current success of Irish whiskey. It was John Teeling who broke the monopoly of Irish Distillers, which at the time owned both Bushmills in Northern Ireland and Midleton in Cork, when he bought an old potato alcohol distillery in 1985 and converted it for the production of whiskey. 

Bringing whiskey back to Dublin

The set-up at the new Cooley Distillery allowed both the production of grain and single malt whiskeys, and he revived the great Tyrconnell brand which had lain dormant since the 1920s. In 2012, Jim Beam made him an offer he couldn’t refuse and he sold up, and went on to found the Great Northern Distillery in Dundalk. Meanwhile his sons, Jack and Stephen Teeling, founded the Teeling Whiskey Company in Dublin bringing whiskey back to the capital for the first time in nearly 50 years.

The brand launched with a series of whiskeys made from acquired stock including single malt, blended and single grain whiskeys. Then in 2019, their first Dublin-distilled whiskey, a single pot still made from a traditional mash bill of 50% unmalted barley and 50% malted barley, was launched to huge acclaim and demand. 

Teeling 38 - Note of Authenticity (1)

Comes with a certificate of authenticity!

Now, the team is releasing its oldest ever whiskey, called the 38 Year Old Very Rare casks. It’s a single malt Irish whiskey which has spent nearly four decades in used bourbon barrels before being bottled at 41.2% ABV. Irish whiskey fans should be able to deduce where the whiskey comes from. 

As you’d expect the packaging is suitably lavish and it comes with a certificate of authenticity. The tasting note from Teeling is pretty fancy too: “earthy, tropical fruits, white grapes, and caramel. Citrus mouthfeel with fruit flavours such as ripe citrus, sultanas, and raisins. Spicy, dried herbal finish”.

The market for very rare Irish whiskeys has exploded in recent years with old releases from Irish Distillers and independent bottlers like JJ Corry. Demand is likely to be extremely high. 

You can register your interest in this exceptional whiskey here.  

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The Nightcap: 17 June

Lots of big whisky news this week as casks of Port Ellen and Brora sell for big bucks, Bowmore and Aston Martin combine to launch a 52-year-old whisky, and the…

Lots of big whisky news this week as casks of Port Ellen and Brora sell for big bucks, Bowmore and Aston Martin combine to launch a 52-year-old whisky, and the Irish Whiskey Association takes on a small New York distiller. It’s all in the Nightcap: 17 June edition. 

So, Father’s Day. The big day literally no dad in the world asked for is upon us. This is something of a last reminder if you haven’t sorted it, and an opportunity to pat yourself on the back if you’re the organised kind. Maybe an extra little gift you could get the old man would be to introduce them to the joys of The Nightcap? We’re sure they’ll love our irreverent little newsy round-ups, but if not then the old adage of ‘it’s the thought that counts’ will suffice. 

You could also tell them about all the stellar content we had on our blog this week, where we welcomed Macallan’s oldest whisky to the site, uncovered the craft behind Craigellachie whisky, and launched a new competition with Redbreast to help you win a bottle of the latest Dream Cast expression. We also pondered if spirits qualifications are worth the investment, made a Dry Martini for World Martini Day, had a taste of a super fancy gin that has taken America by storm, and whipped up a fresh batch of Father’s Day gift ideas, like ideal BBQ booze and ten top wines. But most of all, we said goodbye to the funniest man at Master of Malt, no, probably the funniest person in the drinks business, Sam Smith, who is leaving after eight glorious years. Goodbye Sam, you made us laugh a lot. 

Right, we’re wiping back the tears, holding back the years, because the show must go on, it’s The Nightcap: 17 June edition!

Kings County

Here’s the bottle that’s causing all the problems

IWA takes on US distiller over ‘Irish-style whiskey’

It’s all hotting between the US and Ireland as the Irish Whiskey Association (IWA) has sent a cease and desist letter dated 1 June to Kings County Distillery over its Irish style American whiskey claiming it is “misleading to consumers”. Irish-style in this case means a mixed mash bill and triple-distilled. Rather than acquiesce, the New York-based producer hit back with a public statement on Twitter. “How is ‘distilled in Brooklyn’ or ‘wholly produced in New York from local ingredients’ misleading? How could any consumer read the statement on the bottle or our website and reasonably be confused?” Co-founder Colin Spoelman also added that their label had been approved by the TTB (Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau). “We answer to our government, not to any foreign trade organisation,” he added. Yee haw! It’s not clear how this one will play out: whether the IWA will double down on this, SWA-style, or let it go which sets a dangerous precedent. The irony is, as many have pointed out, that many Irish whiskey labels are far more misleading and the IWA doesn’t crack down on those. Furthermore, the ‘Irish-style whiskey’ which was distilled for St. Patrick’s day is only aged for one year so by Irish, British and EU standards, isn’t even whiskey. This one is likely to run and run. 

Glenlivet 12 and 15

Swanky new packaging and liquid

The Glenlivet relaunches its 21 and 25 Year Old whiskies  

The Glenlivet has revamped its 21 and 25 year old whiskies. The two expressions, from the Sample Room Collection, have been finished in different types and combinations of casks to create two expressions. They also have a new bottle and box design, but you really want to hear about the liquid, right? The 21 Year Old was triple finished in first-fill Oloroso sherry, Troncais oak Cognac and colheita Port casks, which apparently creates a spicy, fruit profile full of notes like caramelised pears, juicy sultanas, and warming ginger. As for The Glenlivet 25 Year Old, it was also finished in Troncais oak Cognac casks (they must have had a few lying around), as well as PX sherry. We’re told to expect a rich and intense dram here, “enticing flavours of sweet fig and blood orange, deriving from the sherry influence, are complemented by the Cognac casks’ warming notes of ginger, toasted oak and a hint of charred pineapple”. You’ll be able to find out for yourself soon, as the full Sample Room Collection will be available in the UK from July. 

Bowmore Aston Martin

Err, how do you drive this thing?

Bowmore and Aston Martin collaborate again to launch 52-year-old whisky

The ongoing collaboration between Bowmore and Aston Martin has produced another whisky, this time one of our oldest ever released form the Islay distillery. Bowmore ARC-52 is, as its name suggests, a spirit matured for a remarkable 52 years in a marriage of two cask styles, 50% American oak hogshead and 50% from a European oak sherry butt, which is said to have created a spirit that’s creamy and fruity with notes such as  vanilla, custard cream, kumquat, mandarin, eucalyptus, peach melba, hazelnuts, and subtle peat ash. Love a bit of subtle peat ash. Aston Martin’s contribution is to “bring the design to life” which basically means you can expect very extravagant packaging. Techniques from 3D printing to hand-crafted clay modelling have been used here, and you can expect all kinds of extras like a magnetic key which releases the aluminium top. Once again, we’re always going to be more interested about what’s inside that hand-blown glass. But this is one of those releases few will taste, as you no doubt guessed from that age statement. There’s just 100 decanters available at an RSP of £65,000 (ex VAT/duty), and we’re told to expect it from late summer 2022. If you do get to try it, let us know what it’s like. And don’t forget to say “vroom” when you lift the glass up.

Brora rare cask

That’s a lot of bacon Frazzles

Rare Port Ellen and Brora casks go for £1.75m the pair. 

When you mention distilleries like Brora and Port Ellen, you know what’s coming next. Rare whisky for big prices. This week a cask from each was auctioned at Sotheby’s in London on Tuesday. And the big number was £1.75m, that’s £875,000 each which is actually a little disappointing as the estimate was £700,000 to £1.2 million each. Still, that’s a hell of a lot of bacon Frazzles. The auction was a collaboration with Diageo, which describes the casks as “the rarest and most valuable in the world”. The Brora cask dates from 1982, while the Port Ellen example is from 1979. If you’re terribly bored of the auction market and its silly prices, you might at least get some joy from the news that the company will donate 5% of the total sale price to help with the Ukrainian crisis. So that’s something. As for what will happen to the casks? We wouldn’t hold out much hope of anybody tasting the liquid in them anytime soon.

Prima & Ultima Talisker

If you ever get offered a 1984 Talisker, say yes

We taste new Prima & Ultima collection containing both Brora and Port Ellen

We might not to get to taste those rare casks, but we were lucky enough to attend a tasting this week of the new Prima & Ultima with master blender Dr Craig Wilson and brand ambassador Ewan Gunn last night. This is likely to make whisky fans very jealous as this year’s collection contains both Brora and Port Ellen. And not just any from these former ghost distilleries but the last casks of Brora 1981 and the oldest ever release from Port Ellen, 1980. These were both extraordinary whiskies but we were also captivated by a mellow spiced Royal Lochnagar from 1981 which was aged in special casks designed to limit the angels’ share, a ridiculously youthful-tasting Talisker from 1984, a cherry blossom-scented Singleton of Glen Ord 1987 from refill casks, a hugely-sherried Lagavulin 1993, an off-the-scale spicy virgin oak Mannochmore, and last but not least, a Cragganmore from 1973, the first year steam-heated stills were in use. Somehow this last one tasted of mint choc chip ice cream. Time does strange things to whisky. Stunning whiskies and, we’re afraid, the price is pretty stunning too: 317 sets are available £36,500. But for the first time individual bottles will be on sale. Go here to register your interest. We reckon the Singleton of Glen Ord might be the bargain of the bunch. Though such things are relative.

stauning

Stauning distillery in Denmark looking very pretty

Sustainability the focus for World Whisky Forum 

Next week, 21-23 June, the fourth World Whisky Forum will be taking place at Stauning Whisky Distillery in Denmark, where sustainability will be the key topic of discussion. The Forum, which brings together distilleries and stakeholders from around the world, will examine how sustainability can affect production, distribution and consumption, to the sustainability of cereal crops and supply of wood, to the design of next-generation whisky distilleries and the future of packaging. Scene setting and a keynote speech from Tommy Rahbek Nielsen of sustainable energy provider Vestas Wind Systems is on the agenda, as is a presentation from Whyte & Mackay master whisky maker Gregg Glass, Magali Picard from Demptos Cooperage Research and James Brosnan from the Scotch Whisky Research Institute entitled ‘The Use of Finite Resources’. The likes of Annabel Thomas from Nc´nean Distillery, Alex Bruce from Adelphi Distillery, Bastian Heuser from Stork Club Whiskey, Mr Lyan himself Ryan Chetiyawardana, and Peter Kreiner from Noma will also be offering input at the forum, which was co-founded by Jan Groth, Ingvar Ronde and Dave Broom. The latter will moderate all panel discussions, and comments that “No topic is more important than sustainability and navigating this complex area successfully will only be achieved by collective action and debate. I am looking forward eagerly to see what emerges at Stauning and encourage anyone interested to either attend in person – or virtually.” For the first time, attendees can purchase tickets to participate virtually, to watch panel discussions and even tour the distillery.

Irish Distillers Midleton 2.jpg RS

Not quite so pretty, it’s the New Midleton in Cork

… and Midleton Distillery and Bruichladdich make steps in that direction

Speaking of sustainability, a couple of big brands have already demonstrated their intention to do their bit. Irish Distillers has announced its flagship Midleton Distillery will become carbon neutral by 2026. Just a week on from the Irish Whiskey Association announcing big plans to make the category the most green around (as in from an environmental perspective, not more Irish), the country’s biggest producer has pledged to invest €50 million, the largest-ever investment by an Irish distillery in pursuit of a carbon neutral ambition, over the next 4 years to fund several projects. These include the reduction of overall energy use by improving on-site energy generation efficiency and recycling waste heat in the distillation process, before eventually fulfilling any remaining energy requirements by generating power from renewable sources (green hydrogen and biogas are being considered). Investment in highly efficient boilers which will require less fuel to operate is the part of the initial phase, while Mechanical Vapour Recompression (MVR) technology is being implemented to create a closed looped system capture, compress and recycle waste heat distilling process. The first three phases of the roadmap alone are expected to reduce emissions by up to 70%. Bruichladdich, meanwhile, is removing outer packaging across its core single malt brands starting with Port Charlotte single malt whisky. It’s a step to reduce unnecessary packaging to save carbon emissions, weight and waste. 

Sussex PDO

Mark and Sarah Driver contemplating a nice glass of ‘Sussex’

Controversy in English wine as Sussex gets its own PDO

Big news for English wine as the application from a group of producers for Sussex to have its own Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) has been ratified by the EU following approval by DEFRA (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs). Only one sentence in and already three abbreviations. But keep reading because it does get more interesting. This means that only wine from Sussex qualifies. Furthermore, according to Mark and Sarah Driver from Rathfinny, the driving force behind the PDO, “Wines labelled as ‘Sussex’ must pass a stringent analytical test and qualitative analysis by an independent tasting panel. As Simon Thorpe the CEO of WineGB stated, “This is a great step forward for English Wine. This PDO application is a nod to the future of PDOs in England and Wales.” But not everyone is so impressed. Victoria Moore writing in the Daily Telegraph thought “it wasn’t the best thing for British wine or the right thing for wine drinkers” and went on to point out that as yet there were no discernable differences in wine between counties. Furthermore many of Sussex’s best-known producers like Nyetimber and Ridgeview don’t qualify for the PDO as they source grapes from outside the county. The new rules come in on 5 July. It will be interesting to see how many Sussex producers join the PDO and whether other counties lobby for their own. 

Susan Friday

The exact moment when the ball landed in Susan Friday’s pint

And finally… Cricket fan’s beer goes for a six

One cricket fan got the shock of her life when there she was, minding her own business, enjoying a day at Trent Bridge, when a cricket ball landed in her pint. It occurred when New Zealand allrounder Daryl Mitchell hit a ball for a six, over the boundaries and into the stands, landing in a full pint belonging to Susan Friday. See the footage on the Barmy Army Twitter feed. “Well, it just went straight in, I didn’t really have time to think!” she explained. “It just went straight into the pint.” The story has a happy ending as following an innings of 81, Mitchell apologised to the fan, Susan Friday, and bought her a replacement pint joking that: “You have got to catch it next time with your hands instead of with your beer!” Though actually it was cider, not beer. Still, what a nice chap. 

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Our Sam moves on to pastures new

The man who has written more words than Shakespeare and THE authority on snacks is sadly moving on. Here’s to you, Sam Smith. If you’re reading this, then it’s almost…

The man who has written more words than Shakespeare and THE authority on snacks is sadly moving on. Here’s to you, Sam Smith.

If you’re reading this, then it’s almost certain you’ve read something – or no end of things – that Sam Smith (not that one) has written. In fact, it’s frankly difficult to quantify just how much he has done for Master of Malt over more than eight years in our content team, not least through his prodigious output of entertaining product descriptions and invaluable tasting notes.

As he leaves to apply his delightful brand of wordsmithery (geddit?) in the world of education, we’re all raising a glass of something particularly delicious to a special colleague, and encourage you to join us.

The man himself with plant friend Illidan 1 R.I.P. (We’re assured Illidan 2 is doing just fine.)

Better than Shakespeare? Yes.

Sam isn’t one for the limelight. He doesn’t attend events and launches (although he got excited when he caught a glimpse of Dave Broom once back in 2014), he cares not for bylines, and seeks no fanfare as he leaves MoM Towers and rides off into the sunset to continue the next installment of his adventure like the letter-wrangling gunslinger/pokémon master he is. Well, that’s just tough, we say, because he deserves enormous fanfare!

“In a sane world, Sam Smith would be a household name or at the very least a legend in the drinks business.”

– Henry Jeffreys

Shakespeare wrote 884,647 words between 1589 and 1613. After some fag packet maths, we’re pretty sure Sam Smith has written well over two million words on product pages alone in a mere fraction of that time. Does he leave a greater legacy than the Bard of Avon? Well, let’s just say he’s far, far better than a thousand monkeys at a thousand typewriters. If you equated his MoM oeuvre to Scotland’s single malt whisky output, he’d be our Glenlivet, Glenfiddich, Macallan, and the next 37(!) highest producing distilleries. Only we’re not sure any distillery could possibly produce as uniquely and consistently as our Sam has.

That’s not even taking into account copy for Master of Malt emails, social media posts, press releases, bottle labels, banners, list pages, other work across Atom Group, and such classic blog posts as Jake & Sam’s Top 10 Greatest Ever Whisky Appearances in Film & TV, The Importance of Cats in the Workplace (Specifically in Distilleries), or his art-level expertise in the spirits and snack pairing game mentioned above.

He’s a whizz on MS Paint too, as evidenced by this piece titled ‘The Douglas Laing Force’. Eat your heart out Jim.

The tributes (we’re not crying, you are)

Here’s a small taste of what his colleagues have to say:

“He established the Master of Malt tone of voice as much as anyone. The DNA of everything we write is at least 30% Sam, which is more Sam per word than you would find at any other online retailer of booze and such. He’s, by some distance, the most underrated writer in drinks. We’re waving goodbye to our secret weapon. And the most surreal and fantastic company. I’d have absolutely no idea how to explain Sam to someone who hasn’t met him. But I can also guarantee you’ll love him the moment you do. Christ knows what Jake is going to do now.”
– Adam O’Connell, writer and former Sam Smith padawan

“I honestly can’t imagine Master of Malt without Sam Smith, he was one of the first people I met when I started and has been both a fantastic colleague and friend for many years. He helps out everyone who crosses his path and literally everyone in the company is going to miss him. Even those who don’t know what he looks like, because he’s like a ghost in the machine working remotely for many years in Ireland. But they’ve all been affected by his work of getting bottles live on the site and writing words for them.”
– Charlotte Gorzelak, social media maestro and queen of bees

“Having worked with Sam for so long that we can communicate solely in an intricate language of finishing each other’s tangentially-related quotes, spirits in-jokes, binary – Oh, aye? – and things that had us in tears years prior, I’m basically just terrified nobody around here’s going to have a bloody clue what I’m on about half the time now.”
– Jake Mountain, doer of things and MoM Towers furniture part

“Sam is a word-druid from Somerset, who has shared with me all of his wisdom about jam. I’m confident in my condiment knowledge and it is all down to him. I hope Sam can one day pursue his dream of creating his own jam (Sam’s Jam), before he finally takes early retirement to become the mascot for the Chicago Cubs… Go Cubs! (Please, please don’t go Sam…!)”
– Emma Symons, content exec and Sam Smith’s protégé

I don’t think I’ve ever come across a writer with a more natural ability to put words together in an order that makes people laugh. Truly Sam Smith is Eddie Izzard of the tasting note, the PG Wodehouse of drink bloggery. My only regret is that the four years I worked with Sam coincided with his retreat from the wide-open pastures of blogging, to the more narrow confines of website copy. In a sane world, Sam Smith would be a household name or at the very least a legend in the drinks business.”
– Henry Jeffreys, features editor and noted PG Wodehouse expert

I’m still trying to deal with the fact I’ll no longer have 1:1 meetings with Sam Smith every week. Who am I going to talk to now about spotting random birds, driving classes, flying, and the wonderful things we conjure in our imaginations?! Sam’s always been my go-to person for anything and everything, and he is one of the most talented, caring, hilarious, and knowledgeable people I’ve had the pleasure to work with.
– Giovana Petry, head of brand & subscriptions

Compelling evidence.

Here’s to you, buddy

Some say that Sam Smith performed a rap at his job interview, that he thinks whales evolved from dinosaurs who lost their legs and arms and just became big heads, that he doesn’t like otters even when they’re being all cute and holding hands, that he’s the world’s biggest fan of the Tom Hanks movie Big, and that the first words he wrote for the MoM blog were “Garr! What be this shiny box? What be a blog? Can I fight it? Garr!” And that would be because all of those things are true.

Here’s to you Sam Smith. Thank you for the words. (And the many, many laughs.)

1 Comment on Our Sam moves on to pastures new

Macallan’s oldest ever whisky lands at Master of Malt

We’ve just had news that the oldest ever release from Macallan, an 81-year-old single malt distilled way back in 1940, has landed at Master of Malt. Yes, Macallan Reach is…

We’ve just had news that the oldest ever release from Macallan, an 81-year-old single malt distilled way back in 1940, has landed at Master of Malt. Yes, Macallan Reach is here! 

Macallan Reach caused something on a sensation when we reported on its launch earlier this year. Now it has arrived at Master of Malt.  Scroll down to find out how you you can get your hands on a bottle. But first a recap:

An 81-year-old Macallan

Macallan Reach is very very old. It’s an 81-year-old single malt, distilled in 1940, just before the distillery closed down for the duration of the second world war. And it’s very very rare. It comes from a single sherry-seasoned cask and only 288 bottles have been filled. RRP is $125,000 / £92,000 / €110,000.

But what the most striking thing about the Macallan 81 Year Old isn’t the price, the age, or the rarity. It’s the packaging. We’re used to carved wooden boxes and hand-blown decanters but the Macallan has really gone to town with this one.

The Macallan The Reach A

Reach for the sky

Three hands

The Macallan Reach comes in a glass decanter, naturally, but then the decanter is held up by three hands cast in bronze by sculptor Saskia Robinson. According to the press bumf: “Each hand represents characters in The Macallan’s history and their unique story. One commemorates the Distillery workers of 1940 who crafted the spirit into existence, in challenging times, over eight decades ago. Another is the hand of one-time chairman, Allan Shiach, whose grandfather headed the company when this remarkable spirit was first consigned to its cask. The third is that of today’s master whisky maker, Kirsteen Campbell, who carefully selected the 1940 cask used to create The Reach, deciding that now was the time to share this precious whisky with the world.” 

Kirsteen Campbell added: “It is an honour to introduce The Reach. Created during a turbulent time in the world, this extraordinary expression showcases The Macallan’s history, ingenuity, and unmistakable strength of character. The creation of many hands, The Reach has been a truly collaborative effort. It’s also a tribute to the people who made this precious whisky, and their enduring spirit which never wavered.”

To register your interest in this remarkable whisky, go to this page

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The Nightcap: 10 June

The Spot whiskey range adds the golden touch, an all-singing gin trolley, and the oldest Talisker ever released. These are just some of the stories to feature in this week’s…

The Spot whiskey range adds the golden touch, an all-singing gin trolley, and the oldest Talisker ever released. These are just some of the stories to feature in this week’s Nightcap 10 June edition!

Hey, did you know we won a shiny award this week? Our trade team was awarded Distribution Company of the Year at The Drinks Business Awards, while there were special commendations for Social Media Campaign of the Year for our Whisky Icons campaign, and Online Retailer of the Year. What a lovely treat that was. A bit like The Nightcap is, every Friday. Including today. 

Let’s crack on, starting with a look at the blog this week. We gave you the opportunity to eat Michelin star food thanks to a new competition with Glenfiddich, then gave you top tips on how to spot a fake whisky as well as a handy guide to explain what the heck a London dry gin is. We also gave Miltonduff Distillery a well-deserved spotlight, made a Tiki treat for our Cocktail of the Week, gave you some more Father’s Day recommendations (not long now) for both gin and whisky, and turned our attention to cracking African spirits like Matugga Rum and Procera Gin.

But we’re not done yet. It’s The Nightcap: 10 June edition.

Port Ellen

Congratulations, Alexander!

Port Ellen appoints first distillery manager in 40 years

One of the most prestigious jobs in Scotch whisky has just been filled as Port Ellen gets its first distillery manager since 1983, Alexander MacDonald. Last year he took over from Georgie Crawford as project manager for the distillery’s restoration after she jumped ship to Elixir Distillers’ new Islay outpost, Portintruan. MacDonald has some serious Islay pedigree having worked at Kilchoman before joining Diageo with stints at Caol Ila and Lagavulin. The plan is to bring the distillery back into production next year. The revived Port Ellen will produce both a traditional style of whisky using replicas of the original stills and an experimental spirit using a pair of smaller stills.  MacDonald commented: “It is an honour and a privilege to be appointed as Port Ellen distillery manager. This is an incredibly exciting time for everyone at Port Ellen and I look forward to leading the team as we prepare for the historic moment when spirit flows through the stills once again.” Let’s hope he lasts longer than recent Diageo Islay distillery managers.

Talsiker 44

This was amazing, although we’re not sure what the benefit of the ‘maritime maturation’

Talisker launches oldest ever whisky

This week we had the pleasure of tasting the oldest ever whisky to be released by the fantastic Talisker Distillery, and learning about how massive sea kelp can get (think Nelson’s Column in Trafalgar Square). It’s called Talisker 44 Year Old – Forests of the Deep, and, as you might have guessed, it was matured for a massive 44 years before being bottled at 49.1% ABV. Parley, Talisker’s partner in ocean conservation who plan to protect and rewild 100m sq. metres of marine ecosystems by 2023, provided the inspiration for the bottling following an expedition to one of the world’s largest sea kelp forests near the Cape of Good Hope. The whisky was finished in casks charred with shavings from staves on board Parley for the Oceans’ Cape of Good Hope expedition and sustainably sourced Scottish sea kelp. Our Jake was in attendance at an official tasting this week to give us some thoughts beyond the brand’s own notes. “I got the shitake mushroom note off the bat on the nose (and dare I say it… petrichor? Clichéd note these days, right?), and you definitely get more of the venerable oak on the finish” he says. We’re unclear what the ‘marine cask finish’ has been responsible for (is it helping prop up some of those classic marine notes, or just marketing and not ‘interfered’ with whisky too much?!), but recommend a drop of water after your initial tasting, as it really did unlock the sweeter side with maple syrup and lemon sherbets. There’s just 1,997 bottles available globally, and we have a few ourselves, so if you have a few quid spare then you know what to do.

Gold Spot

We’re expecting the gold standard here.

The Spot whiskey range expands with Gold Spot whiskey  

Incredibly exciting news came from Irish Distillers this week, which has expanded its Spot whiskey range. The always interesting series, apparently not content with a shedload of gold medals, welcomes Gold Spot Single Pot Still Irish Whiskey, a limited edition whiskey that marks the celebration of 135 years of whiskey bonding in the Mitchell family. It was back in 1887 that the original creators of Spot, wine and spirits merchants Mitchell & Son, first sent empty wine and fortified wine casks to the local Jameson Distillery in Bow Street to be filled with new single pot still spirit for maturation in its underground cellars. Once filled, the fortified wine casks would be marked with a daub or ‘spot’ of coloured paint, to determine the age potential. While the family didn’t have a gold themselves, this tribute whiskey from Midleton Distillery is a marriage ex-bourbon and ex-sherry cask whisky that has been matured for a minimum of nine years with a proportion of aged in Bordeaux wine casks and Port pipes. The latter is a first for the Spot range, and a nice reflection of the style of barrels that would have been available to the Mitchell family. It will be available soon with an RRP of £105, which is high for its age. But the demand will be crazy regardless, so we’d suggest if you want some, you don’t hang around.  

Sliabh Liag

We can’t wait to see what these guys do here

Sliabh Liag Distillers seeking €2m to expand 

Sliabh Liag Distillers (pronounced ‘sleeve league’) plans to raise €2 million in crowdfunding as part of a new equity round in a bid to further the reach of its Irish whiskey. On 20 June its Crowdcube campaign launches and will run for four weeks, inviting investors to revitalise peated Irish whiskey and to help boost production capacity as demand for Irish spirits explodes. The whiskey category alone is expected to double to almost 25 million 9L cases by the end of the decade, according to an international trade report from 2021, while sales volumes for all the Sliabh Liag Distillers’ brands – Silkie Irish Whiskeys, An Dúlamán Gin, and Assaranca Vodka – grew by 166% across the same year. It’s not the first time the brand has sought fundraising, with major investment from one of Europe’s most successful food and beverage crowdfunds of 2020 helping to build the Ardara Distillery. Since then, as the first legal distiller in Ireland’s north-west for 175 years, the company has increased its global footprint to 40 countries, including the launch of its Legendary Silkie range in 41 states across the USA. The investment will see its newly-built Ardara Distillery move to 24/7 production and increase output from 440,000 litres to 600,000 litres per annum. It’s all a sign that Irish whiskey continues to thrive and we couldn’t be happier, and we’re very excited by Sliabh Liag’s aim is to make Donegal to Irish whiskey what Islay is to Scotch. 

Royal Salute

Of course these guys would celebrate the Jubilee in style

Royal Salute releases Platinum Jubilee Edition 

If you thought Royal Salute was done for the year with its 26 Year Old Scottish Oak edition, think again. For the Platinum Jubilee, the blended Scotch whisky brand kept it pretty low-key, and only took over the Tower of London for dinner, drinks, and the launch of its Platinum Jubilee Edition whisky. No biggie, right? The whisky itself is inspired by seven brooches from the Queen’s seven decades on the throne, the designs of which have been engraved on seven different decanters and box designs, with a colour palette a nod to her famous wardrobe. The well-aged blend is crafted from seven different distilleries too, a few of them now silent, such as Caperdonich, Lochside, and Inverleven, finished for over two years in ex-tawny Port casks (a wine served during a Coronation Banquet in 1953). Of course, a whisky of this calibre is housed in a hand-blown Dartington crystal decanter, of which there are only 147, each retailing at $20,000 USD (around £16,000). Master blender Sandy Hyslop said: “It is an honour to have had a role to play in this piece of history; a task that has allowed us to release a prestigious whisky that also acts as a precious collector’s item for whisky lovers to cherish.” A whisky for a supremely special occasion – if anyone ever cracks a bottle of it open, that is.  

Prima and Ultima

As usual, this looks insane

Diageo’s third Prima & Ultima series to feature Port Ellen and Brora

The third iteration of the Prima & Ultima series of single malts is here as Diageo has opened registration for the bottlings, which are drawn from casks that are the first or last of their kind. It includes bottles from both Port Ellen and Brora, a first for Prima & Ultima, but an appropriate inclusion as the eight bottlings were chosen by Dr Craig Wilson, who played a key role in the restoration of the Brora spirit and oversees new releases from Port Ellen. He says he selected the last ever Port Ellen 1980 cask as it’s the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee and Her Majesty visited the distillery’s maltings back then. The Brora bottling is taken from the last ever 1981 cask, so it’s also extremely rare, while the range will feature a 1987 vintage of The Singleton of Glen Ord, the first and only one to be released from the brand’s remaining casks. Other additions to the line include a bottle from the last Talisker casks from 1984, a 28-year-old Lagavulin, the oldest casks of Cragganmore in the reserves, and the debut appearance from Royal Lochnagar and Mannachmore. Whisky collectors can register their interest online until 30 June at www.theprimaandultimacollection.com

Irish whiskey

It’s fitting that Irish whiskey would be the most green, right?

Ireland aims to have world’s most sustainable whiskey distilleries

A new roadmap set out by the Irish Whiskey Association is aiming to make Irish distilleries the most sustainable in the world. The strategy supported by state agencies Enterprise Ireland and Invest NI has outlined the following as its key targets: to reduce water usage and deliver accredited water stewardship training for distilleries; to buy more grain from Irish farmers, including the purchase of over 100,000t of Irish barley and malt annually; to convert over 350,000 tonnes of waste and by-products like spent grain/pot ale into high-quality animal feed every year, per annum. The roadmap also commits to strengthening Irish whiskey’s place in the circular economy, as well as proposing a signature project to support innovation on energy efficiency within the industry and outlining support for tree planting in partnership with Trees on the Land. “We are committed to minimising the life-cycle environmental impact of our production practices and our supply chains while maximising our support for Irish farming and local suppliers”, summarises William Lavelle, director of the Irish Whiskey Association. “This is not just an environmental strategy. The roadmap also addresses the importance of economic and social sustainability,” he added.

Bushmills

By order of the Peaky Blinders, we demand endless whiskey brands

Peaky Blinders gets official whiskey from Bushmills

Even more Irish whiskey news: Peaky Blinders gets an official whiskey. Yes, there is already another brand that has cashed in on the success of the TV show, but just to be extra confusing, Bushmills has announced a collaboration with the team behind Peaky Blinders, Endemol Shine North American and Caryn Mandabach Productions, to release a limited edition Bushmills Prohibition Recipe Whisky. It corresponds with the show’s sixth and final season, which hits Netflix today. The whiskey harkens back to a style common around the 1920s, with master distiller Colum Egan blending three whiskies that were aged in ex-bourbon casks for three, four, and five years. The result is a powerful 46% ABV expression that, according to Bushmills, “bursts with flavours of rye bread, orange marmalade, almonds, and cinnamon.” The bottle design is also a recreation of the bottles used in the Peaky Blinders-era, complete with a cork lid and noticeably blue-tinted glass. The labels are also marked ‘By Order of the Shelby Company’ and feature a sketch of Tommy Shelby in his signature cap. His own words, “whiskey is good proofing water, it tells you who’s real and who isn’t”, are also printed on the back of the bottle. 

scrapegrace

If the Lord of the Rings had a distillery, this would be it

Scapegrace plans to develop largest distillery in New Zealand

The New Zealand whisky category is slowly but surely gaining a foothold thanks to the likes of Cardrona, but a new plan from Scapegrace Distilling Company is about to take things up a notch. The award-winning producer has announced the arrival of a new £13m distillery, the largest in New Zealand, which will make vodka, gin, and single malt whisky. Located on Lake Dunstan on the South Island in Central Otago, the distillery will eventually produce the entirety of its current portfolio, with plans to expand into other products further down the line. The prominent 36-hectare property will boast views of the historic Bendigo mountains and include facilities to entertain visitors. The first building is already under construction and will contain the new Scapegrace head office, bottling hall, warehouse and the first barrel room which is due to be open in August 2022. Each barrel room holds almost 2000 casks of whisky with an additional three barrel rooms planned over the coming years, while the second building which contains the state-of-the-art distillery will open in October 2023. If you’re not familiar with Scapegrace, which was founded almost 10 years ago by brothers-in-law Daniel Mclaughlin and Mark Neal along with Richard Bourke, with the kind of output this site is planning, you will soon enough.

50 best bars

The Connaught were the victors at last year’s ceremony

World’s 50 Best Bars goes to Barcelona

The annual list of The World’s 50 Best Bars will be unveiled at a live awards ceremony on 4 October in Barcelona this year. That means the most-respected global bars ranking leaves London for the first time in its 13-year history and instead heads for what would be a sunnier setting. Since its 2009 inception, the ceremony has united the global bar community in recognition of the best bars in the world in England’s capital. “London has been a fantastic home for us but, as we come out of the pandemic, we are excited to have the opportunity to shine a spotlight on other great cocktail cities, starting with Barcelona, which has three outstanding venues on the 2021 list,” says Mark Sansom, content director for The World’s 50 Best Bars. There’s also a few new awards on the cards, including the Michter’s Art of Hospitality, given to the bar where 50 Best members received the single best hospitality experience, and the Altos Bartenders’ Bartender, voted for by the bartenders who will name one peer who has done more to further the craft of bartending than any other. In addition to celebrating the 1-50 List, the ceremony will also unveil the winner of the inaugural 50 Best Bars The Blend Scholarship. It’s sure to be a knockout ceremony, and if they would like anyone from Master of Malt to attend we will endeavour to make the journey. We’re very committed to our art.

The Act

It’s a beautiful trolley. We just wished it actually sang.

And finally… The Act to launch a singing gin trolley

The recently opened Notting Hill bar, The Act is launching a brand new Singing Gin Trolley to celebrate the nation’s favourite spirit on World Gin Day this year. Across the weekend of the 11 and 12 June, guests at The Act will be offered a vast selection of gins and mixers to create endless G&T combinations, served up throughout the evening by an all-singing, all-dancing waiter who will arrive at the table serenading guests with Judy Garland’s Trolley Song and other theatrical numbers. The Singing Gin Trolley is only one part of the non-stop programme of live entertainment and cocktails which runs seven nights a week. Guests can expect performances from The Act’s own team, as well as appearances from stars of the West End stage discover their new favourite combination in celebration of World Gin Day, while enjoying live performances of the best crowd-pleasers. It sounds great, although we are a little disappointed that the trolley doesn’t actually come alive and sing. Is that expecting too much?

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The Nightcap: 27 May

Glengoyne goes offline with new whisky, Glenlivet goes online to change perceptions, and a football manager goes to his vineyard to show some gratitude. It’s The Nightcap! Before we get…

Glengoyne goes offline with new whisky, Glenlivet goes online to change perceptions, and a football manager goes to his vineyard to show some gratitude. It’s The Nightcap!

Before we get into this week’s round-up, we thought we’d let you know about some recent changes. You may have noticed our home page has become all fancy thanks to a bit of refurbishment, and there’s some hot new additions like The Vault. There’s also a page where you can register your interest in the truly top-tier releases. This week, for example, it’s the oldest ever whisky from The Macallan. An 81-year-old single malt Scotch whisky, drawn from a single sherry-seasoned cask that was laid down in 1940, called The Reach. You can register here, and admire the new-look-MoM (Master of Malt, not your actual mother) whenever you feel like it.

Things might be all change on the front page, but on the blog, it was business as usual as we churned lots of cracking content. There was our preview of all the delicious independent bottlings launched in That Boutique-y Records, as well as our look at the simple but sublime Americano cocktail. We also welcomed a Platinum Jubilee Edition of Taylor’s Very Very Old Tawny Port and put together a new competition with Mermaid Gin to offer you the chance to win all kinds of gin-based treats. Father’s Day prep also began, with our pick of presents, expert advice on how to become more original in your gift-giving, and our own testimony on what we’ll be getting our own dads here at MoM Towers. There was still time to preview the upcoming Fèis Ìle, with our round-up of what to expect, and Dr. Nick Morgan’s explosive story of a festival corrupted by greed.

Phew, what a week! And there’s still more to come. It’s The Nightcap: 27 May edition.

worlds-largest-whisky

Hey, look. It’s that massive bottle of whisky again!

World’s largest bottle of Scotch whisky sells for £1.1 million

Remember that story we covered about the massive bottle of whisky? Well, somebody stumped up over £1m for it. The Intrepid, which stands at 5ft 11 inches tall and is filled with 311 litres of 32-year-old Macallan single-malt whisky, went under the hammer on Tuesday (25 May) at international auctioneers Lyon & Turnbull and fetched £1.1m (it’s hard not to say that in Dr. Evil’s voice). The project is supporting various environmental, physical, and mental well-being charities such as Marie Curie and Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM), chosen by the 11 explorers honoured by the expression, including Sir Ranulph Fiennes, Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, and Karen Darke MBE. The Glenfiddich was also in a fundraising mood, raising £150,000 to help with the long-term support of the people of Ukraine. It auctioned 460 bottles of its 2022 edition (The Cooper’s Cask) on Whisky Auctioneer, with proceeds from the auction going to the Disasters Emergency Committee’s Ukraine Humanitarian Appeal, www.dec.org.uk. Look at all this expensive whisky doing good for the world. We’ll overlook the driving of crazy auction prices for this week…

Glengoyne

Put your phones away and enjoy. Or don’t. It’s your life.

Glengyone launches ‘world’s first offline whisky’

Did you know that over a third of Brits admit to checking their phones frequently when spending quality time with friends and family? Surely, it’s nearer 100%. If you had the urge to use your phone to Google that, then you’re part of the problem. It’s this fact, and an overactive marketing department who presumably used their phones incessantly in the creation of this expression, that has led to Glengoyne releasing The Offline Edition. Billed as the “world’s first offline whisky”, the key thing here isn’t so much the liquid as the packaging, which contains aluminium inner cylinder to turn the whisky box into a digital black spot, blocking out electromagnetic signals for up to four smartphones. The packaging was inspired by the original Faraday cage, invented just three years after Glengoyne began making its whisky in 1833. “No matter where we are, or how hard we try, there’s a temptation to check our phones, or be distracted by someone else’s screen lighting up at the table. It’s no surprise that time away from our tech has become one of the greatest luxuries of all”, Barbara Turing, brand manager at Glengoyne, said. “As Scotland’s slowest distilled malt, we’ve always celebrated being unhurried. The Offline Edition gives a new meaning to the term ‘second use’ – a special box that gives us all some time back for our own special moments with others and to savour a great-tasting dram.” It’s the same kind of obnoxious as those signs in cafes and bars that say “there’s no wifi password, talk to each other”, but this will still probably sell out in about 15 minutes. If the actual whisky means anything to you, the box includes a 700ml bottle of Glengoyne Legacy Series: Chapter Three, the final bottle in the Legacy collection. 

The Glenlivet

The Glenlivet is trying to paint a more accurate picture

The Glenlivet aims to challenge whisky stereotypes

Changing the outdated stereotype of the whisky drinker is a fight many of us have subscribed to in recent years, and The Glenlivet is taking the fight on with its #BreakTheStereotype initiative. It kicks off with a scheme to infiltrate search engine algorithms and purposefully plant images so that when you search ‘whisky drinker’ using Google Images (not sure who actually does this, but ok) you are greeted with unique and diverse depictions of real whisky drinkers in 2022. This means it won’t be all middle-aged, white men, basically. Research conducted by Pernod Ricard shows that the modern whisky drinker has evolved, with a third of whisky drinkers globally being women, so that search really shouldn’t return such one-dimensional results. It is great to see the industry finally challenging these kinds of stereotypes, even if it cultivated them for decades. As part of the initiative, The Glenlivet has partnered with the excellent Equal Measures through its Education and Mentorship Scheme by providing up to 30 participants from marginalised communities with access to qualifications, one-on-one mentorship, and opportunities. The brand is also inviting whisky drinkers to the #BreakTheStereotype pop-up bar taking place at Coupette in London from 13–19 June, where guests who post a photo of themselves with a cocktail with the hashtag will enjoy a free drink. Talk about infiltrating the algorithm. A portion of proceeds from each cocktail purchased from the menu beyond the complimentary drink will be donated to Equal Measures too. We’re not quite convinced the Google Images route will have any real impact, but Glenlivet does seem awfully committed to moving the dial to make the drinks and spirit industry a more welcoming and inclusive place, and we’re all for that.

Queer Britian

We’re a big fan of a brand this huge visibly supporting this cause. Image credit: John Sturrock, Kings Cross

Diageo partners with LGBTQ+ museum 

Expect joy, celebration, and Pride in abundance from Diageo in the coming months as the drinks giant celebrates 50 years of the UK Pride Movement. To kick things off, it’s announced a new two-year partnership with Queer Britain in London, the UK’s first national LGBTQ+ museum. The first-of-its-kind partnership will provide funding to the site that aims to capture some of the lost LGBTQ+ contributions to history and culture in the UK, as well as resources to support the museum’s archivists in their mission to grow an archive of valuable stories and artifacts. Archivists for brands such as Guinness and Johnnie Walker will work with the recently opened museum in Granary Square at King’s Cross to upskill volunteers and create archive best practices that will enable the museum to preserve LGBTQ+ history. Diageo’s own global archive covers the equivalent of 55 football pitches, so it’s safe to say they know what they’re doing. “We’re so proud to be supporting Queer Britain in their mission to celebrate queer culture in the UK”, commented Conor Brown, chairman of Diageo’s Rainbow Network Group at Diageo GB, “As part of Diageo’s ongoing commitment to creating a fairer, more inclusive society, we’re honoured to support an archive that strives to reinforce that all-important sense of belonging and connection for the community.” Alongside Diageo’s support for the Queer Britain archive, Diageo will also be announcing a number of other exciting collaborative initiatives and events in the coming months, with vodka brand Cîroc hosting the stage for the first of the festivities. 

The Savoy

The Pocket Rocket, one of the new creations at The American Bar

Top London bars launch new menus

A whole host of swanky London bars have been launching new bar menus recently, so much so that we thought we’d do a little group round-up this week. Starting with The American Bar at the Savoy, which has revealed Re:Invented, which coincides with the bar reopening to the public for the first time since last year. As Shannon Tebay departed, drinks expert and former manager of the Savoy’s Beaufort Bar Anna Sebastian stepped in to create a menu that pays tribute to the bar’s fabled place in history, whilst transporting some of its most famous cocktails into the future. Expect cutting-edge techniques, the latest sustainable practices, seasonality, forgotten ingredients, and fascinating stories. Oh, and great drinks. It’s The American Bar after all. Elsewhere, St James Bar at Sofitel London St James hotel has created three cocktails in celebration of the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, including serves like the Lilibet Fizz which features two of her best-loved beverages: Pimm’s Cup N.1 and Bollinger Champagne. Should be delicious, and fitting way to salute her Maj. It’s donating £1 of every Ray cocktail (which has the Pride colours) purchased at the bar to the estimable charity London Friend. Finally, the team behind innovative cocktail bar Eve, located beneath Michelin-starred Frog by Adam Handling, will launch a new cocktail menu inspired by Handling’s favourite drink, The Perfect Manhattan. It’s called ‘V’ as the ‘PM’ is made with five ingredients, and features five different spirit categories, stories, and tastes created by five bartenders. Serves include the Brusketta Martini, a combination of sourdough vodka, Ginepraio gin, tomato, rosemary, and brine. Now, go and check them out. You won’t regret it! 

Tamnavulin-Distillery

Exciting times ahead at Tamnavulin Distillery…

Tamnavulin appoints Leon Webb as new distillery manager

Tamnavulin has a new distillery manager: experienced whisky maker Leon Webb! He joined the team in early May, returning to his native Scotland following a period of five years in Canada where he worked as master distiller and blender to acclaim for Shelter Point Distillery on Vancouver Island. Originally from Aviemore in the Scottish Highlands, Webb has an MSc in Brewing and Distilling from Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh and has produced award-winning drams in Scotland and Canada. He’ll now bring that experience to the Speyside distillery to work alongside distiller Sam Douglas and blender Kirsty Hodge. “Leon will be a fantastic addition to Tamnavulin and our distilling team,” says Shane Healey, distillery director at Whyte & Mackay, which owns the brand. “I am confident he will build on all the great work already done at the distillery and make a great contribution to the extraordinary growth of the Tamnavulin brand around the world. Leon joins Tamnavulin at an exciting time, fresh after the Spirit of Speyside Festival.” Best of luck, Leon, and congrats on the new role.

Balblair

John MacDonald, star of Precious Time. He also does whisky stuff

Balblair wants you to ‘embrace the unrushed’ 

More single malt Scotch whisky campaigning comes this way from Highland distillery Balblair, which has partnered with Scottish photographer and director David Eustace to encourage the nation to “embrace precious moments” with a new film. Entitled ‘Precious Time’, it explores the making of Balblair’s single malt with lots of picturesque shots of the Highlands that surround the distillery and stars distillery manager John MacDonald. He emphasizes how the Balblair’s slow distillation and lengthy maturation in the traditional, earthen-floored dunnage warehouses underpin its ‘unrushed approach’, explaining that “a respect for time is a must in whisky production and we never manipulate or control it”. He adds that the film ‘Precious Time’ is about “appreciation; the anticipation before the whisky touches your lips and savouring that moment in time.” Viewers can check out the film at www.balblair.com.  

Ardbeg

Our Jake and Phoebe, looking ‘Ardcore!

We rocked down to Ardbeg Day in London

Ahead of Fèis Ìle and Ardbeg Day ‘proper’ on Saturday 4 June, we spent World Whisky Day at the distillery’s punk rocking London bash. This year’s Ardcore release, and even the London celebration, won’t be news to regular Nightcap readers. So what’s the update here? Well, basically that it was really fun! We tasted the roasted black malt Ardcore – think Glenmorangie Signet chocolate malt vibes, with rich bran notes and ‘spiky’, peaty goodness – alongside the recent Ardbeg 8 Years Old Committee Release, and got into everything the day had to offer. The sun was out, they had Islay whisky slushies, there were games (the ‘welly-wanging’ was, of course, done with DM boots), and we caught up with friends (Matt from Whisky For Everyone, Simon and Franchi from Simply Whisky, and even Andy off of @londonwhiskyguy and our own Pour & Sip). For just a moment, on a glorious Saturday afternoon, it was like being back at Ardbeg’s festival day at the distillery itself. Just, you know, without the sea and scenery and stills… We did our best to make up for that by pogoing to some live Buzzcocks and Stooges tunes though. There were, we’re told, “as many as three” punks on Islay back in the ‘70s, after all.

Napoli wine

How come nobody ever gives us free booze?

And finally… Napoli manager thanks journalists with his own wine

Covering football for a living is a pretty sweet gig (yes, we know covering drink is too), but it’s even better when you’re given Tuscan wine as a bonus. That’s what happened to journalists attending the final press conference of the season for Napoli football club manager Luciano Spalletti, who thanked with a bottle of his own wine. His family has a 50-hectare estate called La Rimessa which sits just west of his hometown of Certaldo in Tuscany. The grounds boast farmhouses for tourists to stay in, as well as tennis courts, olive groves, a lake, and even an ostrich. Grape varieties Sangiovese, Merlot, Vermentino, and Trebbiano grapes are hand-picked from Spattetti’s vineyards, who is said to have become serious about winemaking after he was sacked by Internazionale in 2019. The Bordocampo he gave out is actually from the 2019 vintage and is made from 100% organically cultivated Sangiovese, and Antonio Petrazzuolo of Napoli Magazine posted his gratitude to the manager for the gift on Twitter this week, saying “Thanks to #LucianoSpalletti for the kind thought towards the press @napolimagazine @sscnapoli”. It’s a lovely gesture, but we can’t help but wonder what he’ll whip out if Napoli wins the Scudetto

No Comments on The Nightcap: 27 May

The Nightcap: 20 May

On World Whisky Day Eve we report on stories like £150k worth of Glenfarclas whisky being stolen, the Lakes’ Dhavall Gandhi going solo, and the revelation of whisky’s wackiest tasting…

On World Whisky Day Eve we report on stories like £150k worth of Glenfarclas whisky being stolen, the Lakes’ Dhavall Gandhi going solo, and the revelation of whisky’s wackiest tasting notes.

Tomorrow is World Whisky Day so we’re going to celebrate with a touch of holy, healing Tequila. Har, har, har. We’re just kidding. No, it’s the water of life for us this weekend, and if you’re struggling to find anything ideal for the occasion then we think we might just have a couple of options to help. Of course, if you really want something special, you can always register your interest in some truly breathtaking bottles from Bowmore – 50-year-old Islay whisky awaits…

You can accompany your World Whisky Day dram with some reading on our beloved spirit, as the blog was full of it this week. We told the tale of Tamdhu, considered the changing role of the whisky distillery manager, and celebrated the distillery architects who made the mould. A Scotch-inspired twist of the Sidecar was also on the menu, as were drinks that help the environment and taste great, including a new gin from Hendrick’s. There was still time to preview our upcoming virtual gin festival, and learn how the world of Irish cream liqueur is evolving.

The Nightcap: 20 May edition!

Glenfarclas

It’s the sight no distillery ever wants to see

Thieves swipe £150k worth of Glenfarclas whisky

Devastating news came from Glenfarclas Distillery this week, as it reported that more than £150,000-worth of whisky was stolen. The Grant family, who own and run the business, revealed on Facebook that the visitor centre had been broken into at 2:45am, stating that the thieves “clearly knew what they wanted” after smashing cabinets and making off with 20 of the most expensive bottles, including the oldest and most valuable Family Casks and a bottle of 60-year-old. The average worth of bottle is estimated to be £7,500. Police say they are looking for two men who broke into the distillery sometime between 5.15pm on Friday 13 May and 10am on Sunday 15 May. The family reveals that the team is understandably very shaken up by these events and asks that anyone who has any information related to this crime or are offered these bottles to “please get in touch with us immediately, and please share this post.” It’s likely the thieves will look to sell on the stolen whisky, which does give some hope that they could be found, and detectives in the North East have urged the public to be aware of alcohol being sold at a discounted price. Let’s hope they are recovered, and if you do know or suspect anything be sure to get in touch with the distillery.

Dhavall Gandhi

Best of luck, Dhavall! Thanks for all the lovely Lakes whisky

Dhavall Gandhi announces new solo project

The Lakes Distillery has been one of the brightest new distilleries to emerge in the last few years and key to its success was its outstanding cask programme, overseen by director of whisky and former Macallan man Dhavall Gandhi, who is now establishing a creative studio called Dhavall Gandhi Whisky (how did he think up that name?). It’s been described as the “private bank of the whisky consulting world” and aims to “elevate the expectations” of the whisky industry. How? By partnering with firms with “a shared passion for whisky to define what is next” for the category on projects with exploratory concepts and stock transformation endeavours. “I founded Dhavall Gandhi Whisky as a creative studio with an über-niche focus,” Gandhi explains. “We believe that whisky is much more than how it tastes – it is about the emotional impact. Through creativity, thoughtful blending, and unrivalled expertise in sherry casks, we can help create whiskies that lead to better human connections.” The studio, which officially launched in 2022, will continue to work with The Lakes Distillery, one of its first clients. He told us: “Although I am not involved in the day-to-day running of the operations, I still maintain full creative control of the liquid from NMS to final product. This is a novel approach and it allows me to focus on things I do best.” He has also secured customers in New York and Tokyo. Gandhi has been über busy, it seems, as he will also announce details about another project set to launch in September 2022. Exciting times for the Lakes man, and we wish him all the best.

Jim Beam

Like father, like son

Freddie Noe to become master distiller of the Fred B. Noe Distillery

The James B. Beam Distilling Co is keeping it in the family again by announcing the appointment of Freddie Noe to be master distiller of the Fred B. Noe Distillery. The site officially opened last year as part of parent company Beam Suntory’s $60 million investment to revamp the James B Distilling Co in Clermont, Kentucky, in the US. Freddie previously surprised and honoured his dad, seventh-generation master distiller Fred Noe, by announcing the name of the distillery would be a tribute to him. This time the father turned the tables on his son by revealing his new title, and in doing so marked the first time in the history of JBBDCo that there are two family members, working alongside one another, sharing the master distiller title. Fred revealed this week that one of his biggest regrets is to never have distilled alongside his own father, Booker, adding that “working side-by-side with Freddie will be a dream come true”. Freddie himself said it would be “an honour beyond words to follow in my father’s footsteps.” He’ll now get to experiment with new fermentation, distillation, and blending techniques at the Fred B. Noe Distillery, while Fred Noe will maintain his role overseeing the James B. Beam Distilling Company’s portfolio of brands that include Jim Beam Bourbon, Knob Creek Bourbon, Basil Hayden, and others.

Redbreast

It’s as good as it looks

Redbreast launches Dream Cask Double Cask Edition 

To mark World Whisky Day tomorrow Irish Distillers is wheeling out its big hitter Redbreast and expanding its celebrated Dream Cask series. The fifth edition in the range, Redbreast Dream Cask Double Cask Edition is a 30-year-old single pot still Irish whiskey aged in two casks hand-selected by master blender Billy Leighton, and blender Dave McCabe. Each picked a favourite from Midleton’s considerable inventory with Leighton plumping for a first-fill ex-Oloroso sherry butt in May 1990 and McCabe favouring a first-fill ex-bourbon barrel in November 1991. These two were then combined. It’s a really interesting idea because what we see here is the two distinct components of the Redbreast DNA brought together, but also how the more established blender favours the more classic sherried style, while the heir apparent goes for the intriguing, alternative option. “The traditional Redbreast style is so often associated with the influence of sherry casks that we sometimes overlook the role bourbon casks play in its composition,” McCabe says in the press release. Indeed. The whiskey is bottled at 56.9% ABV, and the resulting liquid is “rich in robust spice with wood-driven characteristics and notes of dark-roasted coffee, sweet liquorice, orange peel and smoked amplified by the wine cask’s influence,” according to Leighton. Ok here’s the bad news, the bottle is 500ml, it costs €550, and it’s only available through an online ballot. The good news is, Redbreast Dream Cask Double Cask Edition is outrageously good, right up there with the initial Dream Cask launch. Kudos to those who get their hands on it.

The Glenlivet

The new generation of The Glenlivet is here (Lisa and Kevin, respectively)

The Glenlivet bids farewell to Alan Winchester

Chivas Brothers is waving goodbye to an iconic whisky man this week as former Glenlivet master distiller Alan Winchester leaves his ambassadorial role for the single malt brand. The 48-year industry veteran, who was recently honoured with The Spirit of Speyside Lifetime Achievement Award in recognition for his work in the whisky, retired as master distiller for The Glenlivet in 2018 but now heads for pastures new as an advisor at the upcoming Cabrach Distillery. The announcement has been framed as a retirement, so it’s possible that’s a part time role. What will be a full time task is continuing his legacy, and for that Chivas Brothers has announced the appointment of a new team of The Glenlivet Makers, comprising of distillers and a cask expert. New distillery manager, Lisa Glen, will lead the new team, alongside lead distiller, Kevin Reid, and cask expert, Kevin Balmforth. Glen began her career as an engineer in the Merchant Navy before becoming a distillery operations technician and later team leader at The Glenlivet, where she oversaw the operations and processes of the plant for eight years. The departing Winchester says that being master distiller of The Glenlivet “was truly an honour,” adding that “representing such a revered, quintessential single malt has been nothing short of a privilege”. Thanks for all the good times Alan, and best of luck.

Wire Works whisky

White Peak Distillery is one of the founding members

The English Whisky Guild publicly launches

It’s been on the cards for a while but now it’s official: we have an English Whisky Guild. The EWG publicly launched this week equipped with an aim to showcase and protect whisky crafted in England and bolstered by data that suggests the volume of spirit produced by distilleries in this country will soar by 189% from 2019 to 2023, with the number of bottles sold expected to rise by 418% from 2019 to 2023. A legal definition for whisky that would establish protections for the English whisky industry is the group’s first project, and it’s already submitted a geographical indicator (GI) to the UK Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra). The EWG will also look to support its community of producers while building awareness of the category. Drinks writer Dave Broom calls it a “significant and hugely welcome step in the evolution of English whisky,” while EWG’s inaugural chairman Andrew Nelstrop, says the group will welcome other English distilleries to join “at this exciting time.”

Compass Box

The Circle, No.2 will be here soon

Compass Box Whisky Releases The Circle, No.2

Compass Box is launching a new whisky that’s all about tapping into the phenomenon of synaesthesia. It’s the second edition from The Circle programme, which serves to connect the creative processes of the blending room with those of the bar trade. A bartender gets to put their input into this whisky’s creation after winning the competition, and 2019’s victor Mannie Monaghan, owner of the bar Below Stairs in Leeds, UK, asked the Compass Box whisky makers: “Is it possible to make a whisky that evokes the colour coral?” Synaesthesia refers to a blending of the senses that can entail hearing shapes or tasting colours, and Monaghan is a self-described synaesthete – unlike whiskymaker James Saxon, who relied on the bar owner to first identify whisky that matched the colour in his mind. What he’s made is described as a soft, and sweet whisky took shape, with more than half of the recipe coming from tropical, pineapple-accented spirit of Glen Elgin Distillery. Whiskies aged in ex-sherry casks add warmth and a clinging texture, while dashes of a peated whisky, and a little malt whisky further matured in STR wine casks, bring contrast and depth. You can see for yourself if The Circle, No.2 hits the mark, and it will be on our virtual shelves soon.

Glen Moray

Our Henry, endeavouring to circumvent any verbose descriptions

And finally… Glen Moray reveals whisky’s wackiest tasting notes

Another World Whisky Day tie-in came from Glen Moray, who revealed the results of asking experts to reveal the strangest tasting notes they’ve encountered. Leading writers including, Dave Broom, Jim Coleman, Ian Wisniewski, Mark Gillespie, Brian Townsend, Philip Day, and our own Henry Jeffreys all rose to the challenge, outlining their pet peeves, guilty pleasures, and funniest finds while suggesting some modern alternatives. “My bete noir for tasting notes, and I’m as guilty as anyone, is being unnecessarily specific, for example saying Conference pear, rather than just pear, Manuka honey rather than just honey, wild strawberries and Colombian coffee,” our Henry says. “I think they are used to give a false sense of exactness. But, that’s not to say that tasting notes have to be a plain. I love silly comparisons. My favourite ever tasting though, comes from wine and it is ‘sturdier than Robert Mitchum’s trousers press’. Beat that!” Coleman revealed one tasting note that has stuck with him is ‘tastes like the left wing of a dead seagull on an Islay beach,’ while Broom had his own favourite avian analogy, citing Charlie MacLean’s taste of ‘dead guillemot’. Other top notes include roofing tar and plankton, pork scratchings with dusted paprika, and dirt. While examples of more far-fetched, descriptive whisky lingo included: ‘Like a young cricket bowler joining the senior squad too young: some of the delivery is wayward but the power, energy and enthusiasm is there in abundance.’ It’s hilarious stuff, but this particular writer is also a little concerned about their own notes now…

No Comments on The Nightcap: 20 May

The Nightcap: 13 May

Guess who stars in The Nightcap this week? If you said top pop singer Paul Heaton, Ryan Reynolds’ mum, and the Fortnum and Mason’s Drink Writer of the Year 2022,…

Guess who stars in The Nightcap this week? If you said top pop singer Paul Heaton, Ryan Reynolds’ mum, and the Fortnum and Mason’s Drink Writer of the Year 2022, then give yourself a pat on the back.  

This week on the blog we were discussing the resurgence of flavoured vodka, which was all the rage back in the ‘90s. It got us thinking about which trends we’d like to see resurface. Pokemon never really went away and Tamagotchis were too hard to keep alive. Your favourite girl power and/or Britpop records live on every time you play them. As does The Macarena, which we all remember how to do. Seinfeld is on Netflix and Friends is literally everywhere all of the time. It’s hard to pick just one thing, but what we miss most might be just walking around Blockbusters on a Friday night and visually picking one film from every movie ever, all in one place. You can’t really stumble upon a random movie you end up falling in love with now, not with a load of faulty and/or cynical algorithms. It’s either that, or reviving Iced Gems. 

Anyway, aside from whipping up a flavoured vodka-based cocktail, it was a week of whisky on the MoM blog. We found out what makes distilleries like Knockdhu, Teeling, and the Cotswolds so great, recommended some out-of-this-world bottles, welcomed the arrival of a certain Wise Owl, pointed out the best places in Scotland to enjoy a wee dram, and fondly remembered the Spirit of Speyside festival.

But there’s always room for more stories. Let’s crack on with The Nightcap: 13 May edition!

Henry Jeffreys

WOOOOOO!!!!

Our Henry wins Fortnum and Mason’s Drink Writer of the Year 2022!

You might recall that we mentioned that our editor Henry Jeffreys was up for Greatest Writer of all Time at the annual Fortnum & Mason Food and Drink Awards recently. Well, he won! Recognising his work in the Fence magazine and his platform World of Booze (the mighty Master of the Malt blog goes without saying, of course), our Henry scooped up the Drink Writer award ahead of stiff competition from last year’s winner Will Hawkes, nominated for his work in Tonic and Pellicle magazines, and Felipe Schrieberg from Whisky Magazine. If you’re unaware, the awards are like the Golden Globes, only far more glamorous, and aim to celebrate the best writers and publishers working in food and drink. In its 10th year, the ceremony was co-presented by Claudia Winkleman alongside chef and judging panel chair, Angela Hartnett OBE, while judges included Alice Lascelles, Freddy Bulmer, Georgina Hayden, Jaega Wise, Mark Diacono, and Tara Wigley. Impressing them is no mean feat. But Henry did just that and posted some words on his Instagram in response to the award. He said that he was “about 60% blanc de blanc Champagne” last night, and thanked the judging panel “for their wisdom in giving me this peculiar looking award”. He also thanked The Fence Magazine for “letting me write whimsical things” and his wife Misti “for encouraging me to enter more personal articles”. We’re proud as punch, and will insist you refer to him by his proper title in all future communications (that’s Henry Jeffreys, Fortnum and Mason’s Drink Writer of the Year 2022, if you’re having trouble keeping up).

Ryan Reynolds and his mum star in Aviation Gin ad 

Nobody sells his spirit quite like Ryan Reynolds and for Mother’s Day (in the US it was on 8 May, don’t panic, our one was ages ago) he managed to rope his mum, Tammy, into the latest Aviation Gin advert. Together, they create a Punch recipe to celebrate Mother’s Day. By which we mean Reynolds tries to make some Mother’s Ruin Punch while being mothered. The Canadian actor invested in Aviation Gin in 2018, and Diageo acquired the brand in 2020, but part of the deal meant they secured the services of his incredible ability to actually sit and make you watch an advert. If you want to actually make the Mother’s Ruin Punch, just mix together half a cup (eight-ish tablespoons) of sugar and 180ml of soda water soda, and stir until the sugar dissolves. Add 350ml of grapefruit juice, 180ml of lemon juice, 180ml of sweet vermouth, and 350ml of Aviation Gin, and stir. After the mixture has chilled for an hour, top up the punch with Champagne. Garnish with a slice of grapefruit and there you have it. A drink only a mother could love.

Ardbeg-Ardcore

Don’t miss out on this one

Ardbeg returns to London for Ardbeg Day 2022

If you’re lucky enough to be going to Fèis Ìle this year then you’ll surely be heading to Ardbeg Day on the final Saturday of the festival. But for those who need an alternative Ardbeg fix, the Islay whisky brand is hosting a punk-themed event (see our Ardcore coverage in a previous Nightcap) on 21 May in London. In celebration of the first physical festivities since 2019, Ardbeg is calling “all rabble-rousers” to join them between 2-7pm at Strongroom Bar, London, where attendees will have a chance to try their hand at all kinds of punky activities, like at the supervised live graffiti wall and ‘Punk your look’ stations, to the Ardbeg Fling, or ‘welly wanging’ (no idea) and rebel portrait artists. Food will come in the form of BBQ smoky burgers and sweet treats from the customisable donut station, made to complement the smoke of Ardbeg whisky. Which includes this year’s festival bottling, Ardcore, and plenty of ‘Rock-tails’ to savour as you pogo to a live punk band to end the day. Tickets are priced at £40 and include 3 cocktails, canapes, all activities, and an Ardcore tasting session. You can find them here.

elixir-distillery

Welcome to Port-nah-truan. Say it with us. Port. Nah. Truan. Got it?

Elixir Distillers announces name of new Islay distillery

Just over six months after breaking ground, and after much speculation from whisky enthusiasts around the world, Elixir Distillers has confirmed its new Islay distillery will be called Portintruan. It’s pronounced ‘Port-nah-truan’ and not ‘purring’ or  ‘puree’ or ‘portakabin’ as Irish journalist Bill Linnane joked on Twitter, and takes its name from the historic farm estate where the distillery is located and means ‘place of the stream’. The site promises to be home to both old-style production techniques and modern technology with a focus on sustainability. There’s also going to be an experimental distillery within the site – so it will be two distilleries in one. This will enable the team to produce not only different Scotch whisky styles but also rum. Plans for the distillery site also include 14 houses for Islay families working at the distillery, a visitor’s centre, a bar and restaurant, a tasting room bothy overlooking the sea, and a multi-purpose educational facility that will serve as a base for an apprentice programme to train the next generation of distillers. Work on the site is well underway and Portintruan is anticipating starting distilling from early 2024.

The Dalmore Distillery

The Dalmore Distillery will look quite different soon…

The Dalmore unveils new investment programme 

It feels like nearly every week there’s a distillery expanding and this week it’s Highland stalwarts The Dalmore who have outlined a new investment programme. It proposes a new whisky-making facility and visitor experience featuring the classic Charles Doig-style pagoda sitting atop The Old Dalmore Kiln at the heart of the reimagined distillery. Parent group Whyte and Mackay’s sustainability strategy The Green Print, which set the objective to become net-zero by 2040, is said to be right at the heart of this reimagining, thanks to an exacting set of standards that will transition the site to a green energy solution. The brand also promises to preserve the Dalmore DNA, which has been a key factor in it becoming the fastest-growing single malt (according to them, anyway). Formal planning application has been submitted, while whisky industry authority Forsyths are consulting on the process and the whisky-making aspect of the development. We’ll keep you posted on any key updates.

Macallan New York

Want a bottle? Register your interest now

Macallan’s Distil Your World New York arrives

You may have noticed that The Macallan Distil Your World series, which aims to transport whisky enthusiasts on a sensorial trip across the globe, was bolstered by the addition of a new bottling recently. This one takes us on a trip to the Big Apple (that’s New York, if you’ve never watched any TV or films in your life) through a spirit aged in a combination of American and European oak casks, selected to reflect the flavours and ingredients that define New York. “We really looked towards the quintessential tastes of New York – sweet candy, waffles, peanut brittle, chocolate, and pecans. The city’s thriving street food scene was a great source of inspirations,” says Macallan whisky maker Polly Logan. Given this is a  range made in collaboration with the Roca brothers, who own the three Michelin-star restaurant El Celler de Can Roca, we’re confident they’ve hit the flavour mark. The news of this launch was actually shared a couple of weeks ago, but we held off reporting it then because we can add another exciting layer to the story. Only 1,000 bottles were produced and we’ve been lucky enough to get our hands on some. As there’s likely to be a mad scramble for these, we’re setting up a dedicated shopping page where you can register your interest in a bottle. We’ll be in touch once we have dates for the private auctions we hold. Just head here for more info.

The Kraken Roast Coffee

The Kraken Roast Coffee is here!

Kraken Rum launches first flavoured rum: The Kraken Roast Coffee

When we told you that Guinness was making a coffee-based creation, you all got very excited. So you might also like to know that The Kraken Rum is launching its first new product since its inaugural launch in the form of The Kraken Roast Coffee. And we’ve already got some (hence the link on the name). Kraken Roast Coffee is described as a “fusion of spiced Caribbean rum and fine Arabica bean coffee,” and drinkers can supposedly expect “a rich, dark, and smooth taste of coffee that balances perfectly with the variety of spices in Kraken rum”. Yummy. The press release also has a perfectly reasonable story about sailors harnessing the dark aroma of roast coffee to ward off Krakens. You can have a good hearty laugh at that while making an Espresso Rumtini if you like, using a recipe the brand provided. Just shake up 50ml The Kraken Roast Coffee, 40ml cold-pressed coffee, and 10ml sugar syrup for up to 10 seconds and strain into a chilled Martini glass. Garnish with cinnamon powder and three coffee beans. Lovely. No promises it will ward off any Krakens, however… 

Picon

Picon lovers, rejoice!

Campari acquires cult French aperitif Amer Picon

Big news for fans of bitter drinks as the biggest name in bitterness, Campari, has just acquired one of the smallest, Amer Picon. The Italian drinks group paid Diageo €119 million for the Picon brand and related assets. The brand dates back to its invention by Gaétan Picon in 1837 and blends oranges and herbs into a deliciously bitter concoction. It comes in two varieties: Amer Picon Bière which is somewhat bizarrely used for mixing with beer; and Amer Picon Club which is essential for making cocktails such as the Brooklyn. The only trouble is that while it is widely available in continental Europe, it’s not so easy to get hold of in Britain and not sold at all in North America. Meaning that Brooklynites are unable to make a proper Brooklyn. Pity the poor people of Brooklyn! But the press release states: “With the acquisition of Picon brand, Campari Group aims to further enlarge its brand offering in its core bitter aperitifs category in international markets and increase its critical mass in France and Benelux.” We asked for further clarification about whether this means that Amer Picon will be coming to America but as yet have not had a response. American bartenders have their fingers crossed.

La Piñata Tequila & Mezcal Festival

For fans of Tequila and/or mezcal, this festival was a real treat

La Piñata Tequila & Mezcal Festival brings agave awesomeness to London

Last weekend we paid a visit to La Piñata Tequila & Mezcal Festival at London’s Tobacco Docks, and had an agave-filled adventure! With over 20 brands exhibiting, it was a fab opportunity to hear their stories and, of course, sample some products. It would be impossible to mention them all, but we particularly enjoyed trying the small-batch, one-off, single-agave expressions from brands like Sin Gusano and Pensador. The QuiQuiRiQui gang was there showing off its new range of pechuga mezcal (which was incredible!), whilst The Lost Explorer Mezcal team showed us how pairings such as olives and salted chocolate really enhanced the character of the agave in its different expressions. We ducked into a splendid masterclass with Jesse Estes from Ocho Tequila, who enlightened us on the fascinating subject of terroir in agave – it’s definitely a thing! The turnout looked good and there was a fair bit of buzz around some of the stands, so patience was required at times, but overall, this probably allowed a sensible bit of time between all those neat samples. Food stalls were on hand serving up Mexican street snacks for those who did need some extra sustenance (but queuing skills were a must here), with some additional Mexican stalls adding to the atmosphere and selling some extremely fetching alpaca patterned jumpers (yeah we bought one), an unexpected, but treasured souvenir from the day. Overall much fun was had, and our takeaway fact, which we were reminded of throughout the day – there is so much more to mezcal than just smoke.

Paul Beautiful South

Nice one Paul, mine’s a Courage shandy

And finally… Beautiful South singer is buying the drinks for his birthday

Drinkers at various pubs in Britain and Ireland are celebrating as top pop singer Paul Heaton, of Beautiful South and Housemartins fame, is buying them a pint for his birthday. He announced his intention on Twitter earlier this week: “To celebrate my 60th birthday (on Monday 9th May) I’d originally intended to do another bicycle tour, visiting & performing at 60 pubs across the UK & Ireland. However, due to recording delays caused by the pandemic, I’ve had to shelve these plans for the time being. Instead, I’ve decided that the next best way to celebrate this coming of age is to handpick 60 pubs across the UK and Ireland and put a given amount of money behind the bar of each one.” Go to Heatons’ Twitter feed to see if one of the pubs is near you. But you’ll have to hurry as you’ll see that people around the country are already getting stuck into their free beer. Cheers Paul! And happy birthday!

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