Yep, we’ve not quite calmed down yet, but there are two more shiny trophies to add to the Master of Malt awards cabinet – and we’re so excited! We’re beyond…
Yep, we’ve not quite calmed down yet, but there are two more shiny trophies to add to the Master of Malt awards cabinet – and we’re so excited!
We’re beyond thrilled to share some marvellous news – last night we picked up not one but two trophies at the glitzy eCommerce Awards in London: Food & Drink eCommerce Website of the Year, and eCommerce Social Campaign of the Year for everyone’s favourite supernatural, omniscient, festive, heavily-bearded being, #WhiskySanta!
Yes, folks, it was another celebratory evening, and today the whole team is buzzing. It means so much to be recognised for something you love doing – purveying delicious boozes is never not going to be a joy!
Charlotte and Dan from the digital team picking up our UK eCommerce Awards trophies!
We’re pretty chuffed that the UK eCommerce Awards judging panel chose to celebrate all things Master of Malt. Dan and Charlotte from our digital team were our reps on the ground, picking up the two shiny trophies and raising a glass on behalf of us all.
The Food & Drink eCommerce Website of the Year was a big one for us. We were up against some stiff competition, and the judges said they were especially impressed by our advanced search function, which makes it even easier to track down those mouth-watering bottlings. Anything to make it easier to find that perfect tipple.
And then #WhiskySanta only went and bagged a trophy, too! We’re super proud. This year’s campaign was bigger than ever before, with £250,000-worth of the finest spirits handed out as gifts, either in response to wishes on social or tucked away in parcels through November and December. No wonder #WhiskySanta has to take the rest of the year off. That’s a lot of booze to haul about!
We’re delighted – and we’ll keep it up in our quest to bring our incredible customers the best drinks experiences possible. It’s our very favourite thing to do, after all!
Pinch, punch, the first of the month, March is here! Happy St. David’s Day if you’re celebrating, and happy weekend, too! But before you crack on with the festivities, we’ve…
Pinch, punch, the first of the month, March is here! Happy St. David’s Day if you’re celebrating, and happy weekend, too! But before you crack on with the festivities, we’ve got all the booze news stories you need from the week that was.
Spring has sprung! Birds are singing, the daffodils are out… and this week MoM HQ has been sweltering in temperatures most usually seen in July. We’ve cracked out the Highballs, the floral gins, the light mark rums, and we’ve had a lovely time (global warming concerns aside). But it’s not all been high-jinks – there have been news and features aplenty, too!
But what else has happened in the world of booze? LOADS, that’s what. Don’t believe us? Just read on, my friend.
We can’t wait to see the transformed Bunnahabhain distillery
Bunnahabhain gets £10.5 million distillery revamp
Islay fans: we have big distillery news. Bunnahabhain, tucked away on the island’s north coast, is in the throes of a significant expansion project! The £10.5 million transformation, funded by parent company Distell International, will see the creation of a ‘brand home’ and visitor centre complete with a shop and café overlooking the stunning Sound of Islay. Also new will be a shiny filling store, while the production building and cottages will be restored, creating on-site holiday accommodation. A number of original distillery buildings will be also be revived, while others, notably old warehouses, will be removed to make room for the new buildings, and improve operational flow. Work is already underway, with an impressive 99% of materials removed already repurposed for use on-site. “The plans aim to make the navigation of the site much easier for the visitor and to, in simple terms, declutter it,” said Derek Scott, Distell’s brand director for malts. He continued: “As the most remote and northerly distillery on the island, our transformation will give those who have made the journey time to pause, forget about the rest of the world and enjoy the serene surroundings.” The visitor centre should be ready in time for the 2020 season – we can’t wait.
Hopefully things will begin to look up for the Gautier Cognac parent
La Martiniquaise owner to take over most of Marie Brizard
French drinks group Marie Brizard Wine & Spirits looks likely to be taken over by main shareholder COFEPP, hopefully concluding a troubled couple of years for the Gautier Cognac and Sobieski vodka parent. In a statement, the company said the French authorities had approved the COFEPP bid, as long as certain conditions are met. These include selling off Porto Pitters and Ticaz Tequila to meet competition concerns. It’s an interesting move for COFEPP, which already owns both La Martiniquaise and Bardinet (think: Glen Moray single malt Scotch, Label 5 blended Scotch, Saint James rum and Poliakov vodka). Could France be about to see a new super-power drinks group take shape?
One of Port Ellen’s oldest, and most exciting, releases.
Port Ellen releases a 39 year old single malt In a move that will get Scotch whisky lovers salivating, Diageo has announced that it will release a 39 year old single malt from Port Ellen in April. This is one of the oldest ever releases from the distillery that closed in 1983 (but is scheduled to start distilling again in 2021). The new release is grandly called Port Ellen: Untold Stories The Spirit Safe, and is the first in a new series of releases called the Untold Stories Series. It has been matured in both American oak ex-bourbon and European oak ex-sherry refill casks. “This release has been selected from a small number of casks, it is very different to other Port Ellen releases,” said Tom Jones, global prestige brand ambassador. It’s being released at 50.9% ABV and only 1,500 bottles have been filled. As you’d expect from perhaps the most in-demand ghost distillery in the world, it’s expensive, weighing in at £4,500 (although something of a bargain compared with some recent Macallan bottlings…).
Too much paperwork means less time to spend on wine
Spare a thought for wine inspectors set to ‘drown in paperwork’
Yep, more Brexit news, folks. The Wine & Spirit Trade Association (WSTA) has issued yet more warnings as part of its #NoToNoDeal campaign. The association is claiming that wine inspectors will be left ‘drowning in paperwork’ in the event of a no-deal Brexit, with red tape expected to result in 600,000 additional forms. The cost of all this extra admin? £70 million, according to WSTA stats. Why? Importers will need oodles more boxes to be ticked, from laboratory tests to potential tariffs. V1 forms – currently required for wines coming in from outside the EU – cost £20 per form, and must be filled in by hand. Best stock up on ink cartridges, as 55% of wine consumed in the UK comes from the EU. “The additional form filling and laboratory tests required for a no deal scenario will come as a real blow to exporters and importers alike,” said Miles Beale, WSTA chief exec. “Wine inspectors will find themselves drowning in paperwork and – unless they can double their workforce – wine consignments are going to be held up by unnecessary additional red tape. The reality is that if we leave the EU without a deal, wine businesses, big and small, will be facing a catalogue of extra costs which will ultimately be passed onto the British consumer.” But there’s no need to panic – by all accounts, importers are already stocking up. The wine should keep flowing.
Say hello to the wonderful Method and Madness Gin!
First release of Method and Madness Gin
Irish Distillers has unveiled Method and Madness Gin, the micro-distillery’s inaugural gin release! The bottling pays homage to the historic links to gin in Cork, while also pushing the modern boundaries of (g)innovation. The spirit was predominantly based around Irish Distillers’ pot still Cork Crimson Gin in 2005, which also took inspiration from traditional recipes dating back to 1798, found in a notebook kept in the distillery. It is distilled in ‘Mickey’s Belly’, Ireland’s oldest gin still, first commissioned at the site in 1958. The equipment is named after Michael Hurley, who was a distiller at Midleton for 45 years. Both he and the still came from Cork to Midleton, and so it was christened. The earthy citrus gin marries 16 botanicals, and Henry Donnelly, apprentice distiller, commented that to “combine the knowledge and tools of the past with the skills of the present to create a gin for the future has been a real honour”. The range is a fine use of Shakespeare’s iconic line, we’d say. Method and Madness gin is available in Ireland and global travel retail from March, and will be released globally from July.
Campbell Brown, who shouldn’t have any trouble finding a dram to toast this success
Double-win for Brown-Forman at the 2019 Icons of Whisky America Awards
What’s better than one award? Two awards, of course! The Brown-Forman Corporation will know all about that after Whisky Magazine has named the company Distiller of the Year and Juan Merizalde Carrillo of Old Forester Distilling Co. as Distillery Manager of the Year at the 2019 Icons of Whisky America Awards! Brown-Forman will now hope they can repeat the trick at Global Icons of Whisky presented in London this spring, where competition will come from contemporaries in Whisky Magazine’s other regions; Australia, India, Ireland, Rest of World and Scotland. “We are honoured to receive this award in recognition of our almost 150-year history as distillers and for our contributions and commitments to the spirits industry,” said Lawson Whiting, Brown-Forman CEO. “We continue to craft American whiskeys the best way we know how – with care, patience, and pride.” Campbell Brown, president of Old Forester added. “We are proud to celebrate Juan who is a great contributor to the success of Old Forester. Juan’s balance of technical expertise and passion for crafting great bourbon ensures that the Old Forester promise is as it has always been – to produce bourbon of the finest quality and utmost consistency.” Congratulations guys! I think a celebratory dram is in order…
Penderyn celebrates Welsh whisky ancestors on St David’s Day
Patriotic Penderyn has made a habit of honouring the patron saint of Wales with great whisky, and that’s not about to stop this year. The first distillery in Wales for 100 years has created a new Penderyn ‘Icons of Wales‘ single malt expression, the sixth edition in the series. Named Penderyn Royal Welsh Whisky as a nod to its distilling predecessors, the previous Welsh Whisky Company, it’s a peated whisky with a port wood finish that was bottled at 43% ABV. It was modelled on an original 19th century bottle that became the Royal Welsh Whisky after it received a royal warrant on 26 July 1895 (Queen Vic was obviously impressed on her 1891 visit). However, the company was wound up in 1903 after period of difficulty and little is now known about the original whisky. Adverts state that it was a five-year-old peated malt and, rather fancifully, was “the most wonderful whisky that ever drove the skeleton from the feast, or painted landscapes in the brain of man”. Little wonder bottles of Royal Welsh Whisky now sell for several thousand pounds! Stephen Davies, managing director of Penderyn, commented: “This is a great chance to celebrate Wales’ whisky heritage and the original Welsh Whisky company at Frongoch. Creating a global brand is a massive challenge, and we are proud to create award-winning whiskies which travel from Wales to the world, and this bottle pays homage to those early Welsh whisky pioneers.” Penderyn Royal Welsh Whisky is priced at £45 and sounds royally delicious – Dydd Gŵyl Dewi Hapus, everyone!
Diageo just can’t get enough of this stuff!
Diageo gets taste for baijiu, wants more of Shui Jing Fang
Last year we reported that Diageo wanted in on the baijiu action, upping its stake in producer Shui Jing Fang from 39.7% to 60%. This week, the company confirmed it is after more, and has made an offer to increase its shareholding to 70%. And given baijiu’s popularity, it’s an interesting move. The Chinese white spirit is the most widely-consumed liquor in the world – and is the most valuable (yes, even beating whisky!). According to the 2018 Brand Finance Spirits 50 report, baijiu brand Moutai alone is worth a whopping US$21.2 billion. By comparison, Johnnie Walker, the world’s most valuable Scotch brand, is worth US$4.3bn. The time for baijiu has come!
Books and booze are a brilliant combination
The Bloomsbury Club Bar unveils literary cocktails for World Book Day
A good book plus a delicious dram? We’ve fallen in love all over again with that simple joy recently. So when news reached us that London’s The Bloomsbury Club Bar has created a literary-themed cocktail menu for World Book Day on 7 March, we were all ears. To honour the Bloomsbury Set of writers, philosophers and artists, the bar is encouraging guests to bring in a paperback book which they can trade for a complimentary cocktail. The books will then be donated to a local charitable bookshop! The four cocktails on the special menu include the mysteriously smoking JK Rowling, make with Chivas Regal 12 Year Old, ginger, honey, lemon, and Lapsang tea aroma; and the Roald Dahl, crafted with Havana Club Seleccion de Maestros, peach liqueur, dry vermouth, and grenadine, and comes complete with a giant chocolate ear. Other authors in the line-up include TS Eliot and Charles Dickens. The whole thing was developed by newly-appointed head bartender Scott Gavin in partnership with drinks group Pernod Ricard. Can’t bear to give up a beloved book? You can still enjoy a serve, you’ll just have to part with £12 instead.
BrewDog takes to the skies
And finally… BrewDog Airlines takes off
Not content with making beer, running pubs and launching a hotel, self-effacing Scottish brewer BrewDog has now taken to the skies. This week, the inaugural flight of BrewDog Airlines took off from London Stansted to Columbus, Ohio. On board, a group of paying customers along with a smattering of journalists were treated to a selection of brews, including an IPA especially designed to taste good at altitude. One of the lucky few was award-winning beer writer Adrian Tierney-Jones who told us it was a very jolly experience: “everyone was very well behaved. I’ve seen more pissed people on a flight to Tenerife.” The only slight problem was that the lavatory tanks on the Boeing 767 weren’t designed to cope with all the, ahem, liquid produced by 200 British beer lovers. Tierney-Jones tweeted on landing: “Loos had to close two hours before landing such was the volume of micturition…” Apparently there were some serious queues for the toilets when they landed. We can picture the debrief at BrewDog HQ: “We’re going to need a bigger plane.”
Greetings and welcome to Friday – you’re tuned in to your weekly round-up of all things booze news, The Nightcap! Yes folks, it’s Friday once again! Not only that, it’s…
Greetings and welcome to Friday – you’re tuned in to your weekly round-up of all things booze news, The Nightcap!
Yes folks, it’s Friday once again! Not only that, it’s also National Margarita Day, so if you’re not reading this edition of The Nightcap with a freshly-prepared Margarita, please feel free to prod anyone in arm’s reach and ask them kindly if they’d like to make you one. Or go make one for yourself and the aforementioned person in arm’s reach. Either way, ensure a tasty lime-and-Tequila-based beverage is in-hand before proceeding to read The Nightcap.
Your love of Jim Beam meant it exceeded 10 million case sales!
Japanese gin and Jim Beam bolster Beam Suntory’s 2018 results
It was Beam Suntory’s turn to unveil those all-important 2018 numbers this week, and they make encouraging reading. Bourbon first, and Jim Beam continued its “strong momentum” to exceed 10 million case sales, while Makers Mark posted “double-digit” gains, passing the two million case-mark for the first time (that’s a lot of bourbon). Cognac brand Courvoisier and Canadian Club whisky contributed “high single-digit growth”, with Hornitos Tequila also performing well. But gin is well and truly in for Beam Suntory. Sipsmith’s growth was in double figures, while ROKU Japanese Craft Gin, which entered 31 new markets, “inspired strong sales”. Overall, Beam Suntory posted “mid-single-digit” sales gains. Cryptic, but clearly all’s well at the American-Japanese drinks group. Looking to future growth, Takeshi Niinami, Suntory Holdings Limited president and CEO, said in the financial results: “The key will be to continue providing high quality products like The Premium Malts and Jim Beam, and creating strong brands that are loved by consumers. In order to do this, we need to develop and grow premium products that have new value, which our rivals cannot offer.” Bring it on!
So this is what the future looks like…
Penderyn gets the green light for its second distillery!
Exciting distillery news alert, especially with St. David’s Day approaching – Welsh whisky producer Penderyn has got the go-ahead to open a second distillery! Planning permission for the new Swansea site was granted earlier this week, meaning work to transform the historic Hafod Morfa Copperworks site can get under way later this year. “Penderyn is delighted to bring a copper-based industry back to this area,” said Stephen Davies, Penderyn’s chief executive. “Once opened, we hope to see up to 100,000 visitors a year, and it will become one of the major attractions in the area. This all helps us promote our whiskies from Wales to the world.” The Lottery Heritage Foundation awarded £3.75 million to the project, which will comprise an exhibition area detailing the history of the copperworks, shop, tasting bar, conference suite and, of course, the distillery It’s all expected to open in 2022. Llongyfarchiadau, Team Penderyn!
A work of art – and that’s just the whisky!
Compass Box releases Leonardo da Vinci-inspired whisky
Just to remind us that blended whiskies can be seriously swanky comes a new release from the master of mixing, Compass Box. Called Tobias & the Angel, it’s named after a work by Verrocchio-Leonardo (meaning that it was painted at the school of Andrea del Verrocchio by Leonardo) hanging in the National Gallery in London depicting the biblical story of Tobias. The whisky is a blend of 24 year old Clynelish aged in American oak hogsheads and a peated Caol Ila of “considerably older age”, according to Compass Box. Founder John Glaser said: “For nearly 20 years, since we created our malt blend called Eleuthera in 2002, we have held a special reverence for the two distilleries used in Tobias and the Angel. That’s when I first discovered how perfectly these single malts complement each other. When we were recently offered extremely old and special parcels of whiskies from these two distilleries, I was compelled to put them together again.” He went on to say: “For this whisky, the name of the biblical story Tobias & the Angel just felt right; it seemed to reflect the personality of the two whiskies in this recipe. Searching through the many depictions of the story over the centuries, the Verrocchio-Leonardo painting had the beauty and the gravitas we wanted for this special creation.” Only 2,634 bottles will be produced and they will retail for around £450 ($500).
It’s time to party like your distillery manager used to work at a rum distillery in the 60s.
Ardbeg Day 2019: Time to get out your maracas
Well, have we got news for you. It turns out that the Islay-based Ardbeg distillery actually has some old connections to the Caribbean. Hamish Scott, Ardbeg’s distillery manager from 1964 to 1967, used to fill the same role at a rum distillery! Ardbeg Day has quite a reputation, with locals transforming everything from tractors to wheelbarrows into magnificent floats. Hence, on 1 June, during the famed Fèis Ìle Festival, Ardbeg Committee Members from around the world will gather in celebration of this year’s limited edition bottling, Ardbeg Drum. Dubbed a “peaty excuse for a party”, the single malt whisky has been matured in bourbon casks and finished in rum casks from the Americas, which should make for a rather interesting dram. It looks like this bottling will be as flamboyant as the celebrations surrounding it! The Committee release will go on sale from 5 March, though only a limited number of bottles will be released – let the festivities begin!
The GlenDronach 1993 Master Vintage, in all its glory.
The GlenDronach announces limited release 1993 Master Vintage
If you’ve ever enjoyed the pleasures of a Scotch whisky from Highland distillery GlenDronach (if you haven’t you need to correct this ASAP), then you’ll know that the brand specialises in bold, rich and predominantly sherried single malts. The distillery’s new release, The GlenDronach 1993 Master Vintage, is no exception. The liquid in some sherry casks filled in 1993 proved so exceptional that the distillery did the sensible thing and bottled some of it! The GlenDronach master blender, Dr Rachel Barrie, personally hand-selected the Pedro Ximénez and oloroso sherry casks used in this twenty-five-year-old expression, which was bottled at 48.2% ABV without chill-filtration or additional colouring. “With a quarter of a century slowly maturing in our renowned Andalucían casks, The GlenDronach Master Vintage 1993 Aged 25 Years has developed profound layers of depth and complexity, leading to an exceedingly long, voluptuous and memorable finish,” said Dr. Barrie. “Fans of The GlenDronach’s traditional Highland Single Malt can expect rich brandy-laced fruitcake on the nose, cocoa-dusted coffee and sultana brioche on the palate and lingering pecan toffee notes in the finish. I hope sherry cask connoisseurs around the world enjoy The GlenDronach 1993 Master Vintage, as an example of the finest sherry cask maturation.” Well, that sounds amazing. Is anyone else salivating a little?
Behold: Balcones Texas Pot Still Bourbon
Balcones readies new pot still bourbon
Hang on to your hats, American whiskey fans! Waco-based distillery Balcones has a new addition to its core range. Behold: Balcones Texas Pot Still Bourbon! Made using the brand’s Forsyth pot stills and aged for 24 months in new charred oak barrels, the mash bill features roasted blue corn, Texas wheat, Texas rye and malted barley. The result? An intriguing straight bourbon bottled at 92 proof (46% ABV). “Texas Pot Still Bourbon is about inclusivity,” said Jared Himstedt, head distiller at Balcones. “We wanted to create something that both long-time Balcones enthusiasts and people who are experiencing us for the first time can appreciate. By delivering flavour complexity within an approachable taste profile, we can introduce more people to the nuance of what we do.” Balcones Texas Pot Still Bourbon should be with us in the second half of 2019, but if you really can’t wait and fancy a trip to the US, you can get it from Texas, Florida and California now, priced at US$29.99.
The Dalmore and Massimo Bottura Present The Dalmore L’Anima Aged 49 Years.
Folks, we have Dalmore news! There’s a new expression on the block, and this one comes with some significant age. The Dalmore L’Anima Aged 49 Years was created by master distiller Richard Paterson and Massimo Bottura, owner of three-Michelin starred Osteria Francescana in Modena (voted the best restaurant in the world by the World’s 50 Best Restaurant Awards in 2018). 49 years-matured. Michelin-star chef. Dalmore. This should be good. Dalmore L’Anima – meaning soul in Italian – was inspired by Bottura and Paterson’s shared love of creativity, innovation and flavour. The 41.5% ABV cask-strength, natural colour expression is a marriage of Dalmore expressions previously matured in freshly-emptied small batch bourbon barrels; Gonzalez Byass casks which previously held 40 year old Pedro Ximénez sherry; and Graham’s vintage Port pipes. How does it taste? Sunkissed raisins, bitter chocolate, old English marmalade; freshly brewed Java coffee, Demerara sugar, pecan pie and crème brûlée, according to the tasting notes. But the most pleasing aspect of this new expression? It will be auctioned at Sotheby’s later this year raising funds for Bottura’s non-profit Food For Soul, which tackles fight food waste through social inclusion. “Bottura’s approach to deconstructing and reinventing daring food pairings is very similar to the way I approach whisky making,” said Paterson. “The coming together of our passions allowed me to create a whisky that is bold, different, full of warmth and completely unforgettable – it is a true reflection of the love, blood and balsamic that unites us.” Delightful.
The House of Peroni is a fully immersive experience
Introducing The House of Peroni 2019
Peroni Nastro Azzurro has kicked off its House of Peroni 2019 activation! The multi-sensory immersive experience is set London’s Covent Garden and features eight different spaces, inspired by eight emerging fashion designers. For example, the Sicily space focuses on light that recreates the Sicilian sky, the Nature and Maximalism room is full of botanical scents and a wall of man-made flowers, and the Future and Sci Fi area transports visitors to a futuristic time through industrial city sounds. Then there is, of course, the bar! Visitors are invited to sip on a selection of Peroni-infused cocktails crafted by Manchester-based bartender Sam Taylor, who has been mentored by Peroni Nastro Azzurro’s master of mixology, Simone Caporale. Taylor was scouted from a nationwide search for the best bartending talent, so expect great things from his creations! Each tipple is inspired by each of the eight designers, plus there’s Peroni Libera 0.0%, an alcohol-free serve just as stylish as its boozy counterparts. Just goes to show the Italian beer brand can keep up with current low alcohol trends. 2019 marks the seventh outing for the House of Peroni concept, which runs until 9 March.
Congratulations Scott Gavin!
Scott Gavin appointed bar manager at The Bloomsbury Club Bar
The Bloomsbury Club Bar, London, has a new bar manager. It’s UK World Class finalist Scott Gavin! With over 10 years of international experience in high-end hotels, independent cocktail bars and immersive bar outfits, Gavin began his career in 2006 in sunny Malta at Twentytwo, the island’s most prestigious bar. He returned to the UK in 2012 to become head bartender at the award-winning Limewood Hotel in Hampshire, before spending two years as senior bartender at the sublime Scarfes Bar at the Rosewood London. His first managerial role was at industry haunt NOLA, where he helped relaunch the bar. He also frequently collaborates with Michelin-starred chef Tom Kerridge. That’s some career, and we’re looking forward to seeing what he can bring to The Bloomsbury Club Bar. “I’m thrilled to be joining the team,” said Gavin. “The Bloomsbury Club Bar has been really innovative in the way it works with brands and other bars across the world. This position will be a new challenge for me and I’m excited to help continue raising the profile of the bar in London and worldwide.” Best of luck, Mr. Gavin!
Behold! The golden barrel!
And finally… For the wine lover who has everything, how about Champagne aged in 24-carat gold?
Winemakers love experimenting with fermentation vessels. Wines can be made in oak casks, concrete tanks, stainless steel vats, and even clay amphora, just like in Roman times. But now one Champagne producer has come up with the blingiest way to make wine yet: in a gold barrel. According to The Drinks Business, Champagne house Leclerc Briant will be releasing a wine fermented and aged in a stainless steel barrel lined with 24-carat gold some time in 2021. When asked what was the point of a gold-plated barrel, winemaker Hervé Jestin talked about “a resonance between solar energy and the wine”. He then went on to say that the gold would “increase the level of solar activity during the first fermentation” and “makes a connection with cosmic activity”. We’ll have what he’s having!
Last night was the Gin Magazine Awards in London, which saw the Icons of Gin 2019 named. There were many trophies up for grabs, including the coveted World’s Best Gin…
Last night was the Gin Magazine Awards in London, which saw the Icons of Gin 2019 named. There were many trophies up for grabs, including the coveted World’s Best Gin slot (and, spoiler alert! One had our name on it!). We have the full story.
Last night, we arrived at the Honourable Artillery Company (HAC to its friends), a massive seven-acre site in the City of London, to be confronted with the biggest G&Ts I’d ever seen. We were clearly in the right place for the Gin Magazine Awards. The evening was divided into three sections: Icons of Gin (honouring brands, retailers, bars and people), World Gin Awards (looking at liquid quality), and finally the Hall of Fame (individuals who have made notable contributions to the world of gin). Paragraph Publishing, the company behind Whisky Magazine, launched Gin Magazine in 2017 and the accompanying awards last year.
The trophy! And in the background Laura Carl and Angus Lugsdin from Salcombe Gin
Regular readers will know that we love gin here at Master of Malt, so much so that we just launched our very own bottling. We were delighted therefore to win Online Retailer Award for the second year running! The judges were particularly impressed with the range, the simplicity of the website, and the quality of the tasting notes and the blog. There to collect the award were campaigns executive Laura Carl, managing director Justin Petszaft, campaigns manager Jake Mountain, Atom Nucleus MD Joel Kelly and features editor Henry Jeffreys (that’s me!).
The winning team, from left: Mountain, Petszaft, Carl, Jeffreys and Kelly.
Also honoured in the Icons of Gin category were our friends over at That Boutique-y Gin Company: Steph DiCamillo won Gin Brand Ambassador of the Year, and the company won Brand Innovator of the Year.
There was then a short break where a couple belted out opera classics and a bit of Tom Jones at full volume. I think they were paid entertainers, but may have been waiting staff with an urge to entertain. When they had finished, it was time for the World Gin Awards section of the evening.
In this section, all the gins were blind-tasted by a panel of judges led by David T. Smith, someone who will be familiar to gin lovers. There were lots of categories, but the overall World’s Best Gin award (sponsored by Wade Ceramics, mustn’t forget to mention the sponsor) went to Dingle Gin from Ireland, which also picked up the London Dry Gin Trophy. Congratulations to the team at Dingle! Their gin really is superb and their whiskey ain’t bad, either.
Christopher Hayman with a gin still called Marjorie
For the finale, two gin legends were inducted into the Hall of Fame: Jon Hillgren from Hernö Gin in Sweden, and Christopher Hayman from Hayman’s Gin in London. These were two extremely popular choices, especially Hayman who kept the faith with gin in Britain when it was unfashionable. Hayman said a few words about how things have changed since he joined the business: there were very few brands and spirits were still shipped in cask. He finished by concluding that “gin runs in his family’s veins”.
The Irish capital now has three working distilleries! We travelled to the opening of the newest, Dublin Liberties, to meet head distiller Darryl McNally and taste the new make spirit….
The Irish capital now has three working distilleries! We travelled to the opening of the newest, Dublin Liberties, to meet head distiller Darryl McNally and taste the new make spirit.
The Irish whiskey revival steams on. On Tuesday, Simon Coveney, Irish minister of foreign affairs and trade, officially opened the newest whiskey-maker on the block: the Dublin Liberties Distillery. “Irish whiskey is one of the fastest-growing spirits in global markets and one of the leading lights of our food and drink export industry,” he said. “I am delighted to turn on the Dublin Liberties Distillery stills today, as the first liquid gold flows into casks for expert maturation with the promise of a premium, uniquely Irish product.”
Master distiller Darryl McNally, added: “Making whiskey is my passion, my lifeblood, and to be doing it in the heart of Dublin’s historic distilling district is nothing short of a dream come true for me”. We were given a guided tour by McNally on the night of the launch party.
The distillery is so new that it smells like a car fresh off the production line. So far, the team has only used two of the three stills. According to McNally: “The quality of liquid is unbelievable after two distillations, but haven’t done a third yet.” He let us try some, and it was packed with sweet cereal notes and incredibly smooth, clearly full of potential. The three stills were built by Carl of Germany to McNally’s exacting specifications.
When it comes to the raw materials, “it’s all about quality and provenance”, McNally said. The distillery uses water from an underground spring found by boring 30 metres beneath the city, and the barley comes entirely from two maltsters in Ireland. The team runs two-tonne mashes – according to McNally, double what a craft producer would make (though a long way behind what he was used to at Bushmills where he worked from 1998 to 2015). The mash is given a 60-to-72-hour ferment using distillers yeast.
Darryl McNally and his ‘Disney’ casks
Not all will be triple-distilled. “I want to grow the category, to innovate, so will do some double-distilled and some peated expressions,” McNally continued. “One of the reasons I left Bushmills is they wouldn’t let me innovate,” he joked. Dublin Liberties currently has capacity to produce 700,000 litres of pure alcohol per year, which works out at about 2.1 million bottles of single malt. He will continue to buy in grain whiskey for blends.
One thing he won’t make is a single pot still expression. “I’m aiming for an old-style Irish whiskey, pre-1850 malt tax,” he told us. Other distilleries have already approached him and asked about whether Dublin Liberties will make some malt whisky for them. The current, confirmed plan? To produce malt whisky for Dublin Liberties brand but also The Dubliner and The Dead Rabbit, a collaboration with the renowned New York bar. All three are currently made with malt sourced from other Irish distilleries, “but I am not allowed to tell you which ones”, McNally said.
While visiting the distillery we also got to try some exciting new Dublin Liberties expressions, which Master of Malt will be receiving soon. McNally agreed when I suggested that some customers might expect a whiskey called ‘The Dubliner’ to be distilled in the city. But of course, we won’t see any Dublin-distilled whiskey for at least three years, perhaps longer (though enthusiasts will be able to buy casks in advance).
The distillery cost around€10 million to build. It’s owned 75% by Quintessential Brands, the company behind Thomas Dakin and Greenall’s Gin, and 25% by Eastern European drinks company, Stock Spirits. Dubliner and Dublin Liberties are currently sold in 30 markets, with sales totalling more than 37,000 cases in 2018. The brands’ biggest export markets are the US, Russia, Germany, Australia and Eastern Europe.
The handsome Dublin Liberties stills
“Darryl is a constant source of ideas, and combined with his unrivalled distilling skill, there’s no limits for Irish whiskey,” said Shane Hoyne, chief marketing officer for Quintessential Brands. “It is also fantastic to be partnering with a company of Stock Spirits’ calibre. Their involvement will also provide an opportunity for the brands to expand further in to new regions such as Poland and the Czech Republic. Right now, we’re taking a moment to celebrate the team’s achievement in building this fantastic distillery but with much more to come from us this year.”
There are now 22 distilleries in Ireland in various states of readiness, with another 22 planned. “Some won’t survive; the route to market, that’s hard,” McNally remarked. Nevertheless, he is bullish about the category: “We need more distilleries, Irish whiskey is about to go off the Richter scale, and we will run out.”
The Dublin Liberties Distillery is geared up for tourism with a big bar, lots of branded merchandise, and windows into the stills so you can see the whiskey distilling. The team even has half-barrels attached to the walls which McNally described as “a bit of Disney”. The whiskey will actually be aged in County Wexford.
This part of the city looks set to become a mecca for whiskey fans from all over the world with Teeling right next door, Pearce Lyon nearby and, soon, Diageo’s Roe & Co revival.
It’s great to see Irish whiskey back in Dublin where it belongs.
The delicious tipple is a celebration of all things MoM. Developed in collaboration with those fab folk at That Boutique-y Gin Company, MoMer’s Web Page Gin is a classic dry gin with a rich, warming and distinctive profile.
Introducing: MoMer’s Web Page Gin!
Its signature style is the result of the herbaceous awesomeness of its botanicals (basil, rosemary and thyme to be precise), which were distilled separately under vacuum before being expertly blended with a more traditional pot-distilled base. It doesn’t just sound delicious. We can confirm that it very much tastes delicious (see the tasting note below for more detail).
But now for the question that is surely on all of your lips: why MoMer’s Web Page Gin? Well, the name was inspired by an episode of everyone’s favourite cartoon family. The label is a reflection of this, and of today’s online culture of memes, gifs and stickers. As you can see below, the light-hearted front illustration is a smorgasbord of MoM’s pioneering history, as well as memes, in-jokes and plenty of familiar faces!
The MoMer’s Web Page Gin label in all its glory
Here are our top five MoM-tastic references that feature on the label:
1. The Charity Run of the Bumblebee, not the hero we deserved, but the hero we needed.
2. The MoM Mobile expertly parked on top of a bent bollard, which is definitely what was meant to happen.
3. The famous Instagram dog that our editor Kristiane Sherry met and fell head-over-heels in love with.
4. The top of MoM digital executive Phillippa Round’s head. If you’ve seen any of our recent VR video content, you’ll know that her head, as well as her hands holding a GoPro handle, are something of a regular feature.
5. The shed where the masterofmalt.com adventure all began. Time really does fly when you’re not in a shed full of broken (but not discarded) printers.
But it’s not all memes and mayhem. If you know us well, you’ll be aware that we love a bit of technological innovation. This super-duper futuristic label actually harnesses the power of augmented reality! MoMer’s Web Page Gin celebrates the inventive side of the business, blending memory and magic like David Blaine doesn’t to bring the label to life!
Embrace the future, people!
The best part is, it’s really simple to do. Even if you are something of a technophobe. So here’s a little walkthrough to help you out:
1. Buy a bottle of MoMer’s Web Page Gin. You can’t really miss this step out, people.
2. Download the Zappar app on your fancy-pants smartphone or mobile device.
3. Open the app and aim your phone at the Zapcode on the neck tag of the bottle.
4. Once it’s scanned, aim your phone at the label (make sure to get close and get that whole label in).
5. Marvel at the result. You have conquered augmented reality (sort of).
The AR platform also features a host of exclusive content, including recommended serve demonstrations and an interview with Stuart Medcalf, liquid production manager at That Boutique-y Gin Company, on how MoMer’s Web Page Gin was made.
Naturally, the animated elements of the label can also be found and used as stickers in Instagram Stories or on Snapchat. Just search for MoMer’s Gin and you’re good to go!
So, that’s our new gin. We’ve listed our tasting notes below with a couple of special cocktails. The first batch is available exclusively from Master of Malt now. There are only 660 bottles priced at £29.95, so move fast if you want some of that batch one brilliance.
MoMer’s Web Page Gin
Tasting note by The Chaps at Master of Malt
Nose: Through aromatic cinnamon and earthy herbs – basil and thyme – there’s warm citrus from orange peel and cardamom as well as refined, pine-y juniper and additional floral touches.
Palate: The palate has a wonderfully rich mouthfeel. More baking spice emerges among a waft of orange blossom, lemon peel and a warm honey-esque sweetness. Bittersweet earth and garden herb notes are prominent throughout.
Finish: It’s a peppery, piney and long finish, with a sprig of rosemary thrown in for good measure.
Overall: Pretty darn excellent – if we do say so ourselves…
MoMer’s Web Page Gin suggested serves:
You’ll be pleased to know that MoMer’s Web Page Gin makes a great G&T. But everybody loves a good cocktail these days, so we enlisted the help of That Boutique-y Gin Company brand ambassador Stephanie DiCamillo to develop two signature serves. What she came up with are simple enough to be recreated by gin lovers at home and really make the most of the basil, thyme and rosemary trio.
MoMer’s Gin & Coconut Water
MoMer’s Gin & Coconut Water:
50ml MoMer’s Web Page Gin
100ml Coconut water
Add both to an ice-filled Highball or Collins glass. Garnish with a small sprig of basil and a lime wedge
All the Muck That’s Fit to Shake
All the Muck That’s Fit to Shake:
50ml MoMer’s Web Page Gin
50ml lightly sweetened chai tea (200ml brewed tea with 1tbsp sugar)
2 big tablespoons of frozen blueberries
3 basil leaves
1 thin lime slice
In a shaker, muddle the basil, lime and blueberries. Add the gin and tea, and shake hard with ice. Strain into an ice-filled tumbler and garnish with a basil leaf.
Had quite enough love-themed media to last the rest of 2019? Good, because there is no room for emotions here – time to get down to cold, hard, newsy facts…
Had quite enough love-themed media to last the rest of 2019? Good, because there is no room for emotions here – time to get down to cold, hard, newsy facts with The Nightcap!
Valentine’s Day has been and gone. All the vibrant pink balloons and ribbons in the shops have all been replaced by some very early Easter displays. While the shape of the novelty chocolate may have changed from hearts to eggs in your local supermarket, one thing doesn’t change – The Nightcap and its dedication to bringing you weekly bundles of booze news! This may have been one of the most tenuous ways to introduce The Nightcap yet, and honestly, I’m OK with that.
MBWS waves goodbye to turbulent 2018 with 6% sales decline
French drinks group Marie Brizard Wine & Spirits (MBWS) has had a sorry time of late, as regular readers of The Nightcap will know. After a 25% profits slump and ongoing troubles in its home market, we’re sure the company won’t be sad to see the back on 2018. A sentiment surely underlined by its full-year results, released this week, which showed that sales fell 6.3% over the course of the year to €389 million (about £342 million). But while the French market continued to slow, there was at last some good news in the fourth quarter: sales climbed 17.1% in Poland, signalling a “progressive recovery”, and there was “solid sales growth” in Spain. Let’s hope the tide has now turned for the Sobieski, William Peel and Gautier Cognac-maker.
An artist’s impression of the Johnnie Walker Edinburgh store
A fancy Johnnie Walker store is coming to Edinburgh!
Earlier this week, Diageo formally submitted plans for a flagship Johnnie Walker visitor centre in Edinburgh, the focal point of Diageo’s £150 million investment in Scotch whisky tourism. Well, we’ll certainly drink to that. Johnny Walker’s new home will be a rather remarkable seven-floor space on Princes Street. The project will see the grand building renovated, with heritage features preserved wherever possible. David Cutter, chairman of Diageo in Scotland, stated that they hope to “restore it to its former glory as a cornerstone of the city”. The exciting space is set to include a multi-sensory immersive experience across three floors, allowing visitors to experience the 200-year history of the brand. As well as a flexible events area for music, theatre, arts and more, at street level there will be a retail space. Its interior is inspired by the stunning Johnnie Walker retail flagship in Madrid, which opened in November. Meanwhile, there will also be rooftop bars (yes, plural) so you can enjoy some of the best views of Edinburgh while you sip your Scotch. Excuse us, we’re just off to book some flights…
Say hello to Big Peat 10 Year Old!
Big Peat celebrates 10 years with commemorative bottling
Independent bottler Douglas Laing & Co had a big birthday this week. Big Peat is now a decade old. Where does the time go? The family firm behind the blended malt from Islay, made with whiskies from Caol Ila, Bowmore, Ardbeg and Port Ellen, marked this occasion with a new, commemorative 10 Year Old bottled without colouring or chill-filtration at a punchy 46% ABV. According to the brand’s tasting notes, you can expect “peat smoke, damp earth, smoked barley, BBQ ash, streaky bacon, tobacco, toasted marshmallows and a sea-salt tang balanced by a leathery sweetness”. The label features a collection of emblems, stamps and hand-drawn illustrations inspired by a vintage scrapbook in honour of Big Peat’s Islay home. A platinum-foiled (no expense spared here) book telling the legend of Big Peat and his whisky adventures will accompany each bottle. Fred Laing, chairman at Douglas Laing, said: “Back in 2009, I dreamt up a feisty Ileach fisherman who would later become Big Peat, a brand that would grow at an average of 29% year on year, and subsequently be joined by Scallywag, Timorous Beastie, Rock Oyster, The Epicurean and The Gauldrons to deliver what we so modestly designate our ‘Remarkable Regional Malts: The Ultimate Distillation of Scotland’s Malt Whisky Regions’.” Just 850 cases of Big Peat 10 Year Old will be available globally, priced at around £65.
Congratulations Alessandro Palazzi!
Legendary Duke’s bartender Alessandro Palazzi, honoured at CLASS Awards
On Tuesday night, the cream of the British booze world met for the annual CLASS Bar Awards. The winners were chosen by the CLASS Collective, a group of over 70 bar experts from all over the country. Lots of well-known venues scooped awards including Callooh Callay, Three Sheets, the American Bar at the Savoy, Coupette and Dandelyan. Individuals honoured included Max Venning, who won Bartender of the Year, and Declan McGurk from the Savoy, who picked up Bar Manager of the Year. But the biggest cheer of the evening went to Alessandro Palazzi from Duke’s Bar in London who won the Lifetime Achievement Award. Anyone who has experienced the Palazzi magic knows what a fine bartender he is, mixing great drinks, but also making one feel like the most important person in the world, if only for half an hour. His fearsomely strong Martinis were described by the San Francisco Chronicle as the “best in England”. We hope that he let someone else make the drinks on Tuesday night. Congratulations Alessandro!
The Future 50 initiative champions the next big things in wine and spirits.
WSET and IWSC seek out awesomeness in booze with The Future 50
Are you an incredible human-type under the age of 40 who works in booze? Know someone who is? If so, the Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET) and the International Wine & Spirit Competition (IWSC) want to hear from you! To celebrate their coinciding 50th anniversaries, the organisations have palled up to create The Future 50, an initiative that champions the next big things in wine and spirits. The list, set to be revealed in November, aims to recognise people from across the industry, from product development, design and distribution to marketing, journalism, hospitality, and everything else. As such, WSET and IWSC are calling on folk to nominate themselves and their talented colleagues! The judging panel includes the likes of Joe Fattorini (off of The Wine Show), Stephanie Macleod (Dewar’s master blender), Christine Parkinson (group head of wine at Hakkasan), Richard Paterson (Whyte & MacKay master blender), and Xavier Rousset MS (restaurateur), so there are some big names to impress. “As 2019 marks 50 years of success for each of our organisations, it offers the perfect opportunity to emphasise the importance of developing new talent through education and awards to secure an equally prosperous future for the industry,” said WSET chief executive Ian Harris. “At WSET we are delighted to be looking to the future and showcasing the next generation of talent in the wines and spirits industry through our joint Future 50 project.” For more information or to submit a nomination, head to future50.wsetglobal.com.
Sotheby’s enjoyed a fruitful 2018
Asia continues to dominate wine auctions according to Sotheby’s
Auction house Sotheby’s has just released its 2018 market report which shows the auction market for fine wine is in robust health. It was a record-breaking year for Sotheby’s, with auction sales up 50% on the previous year. Total sales of wines and spirits topped $100 million for the first time. The Asian market continues to expand, up from a 58% share in 2017 to 63% of the market this year, followed by North America and Europe. This is reflected in Hong Kong’s dominance with 53% of sales, followed by New York at 29% and London at 18%. Of the big names in wine, the number one producer by value was Burgundy’s Domaine de la Romanée-Conti at $24 million with 21% of sales. Indeed, one bottle of Romanée-Conti sold for $558,000 last year at auction in New York. Wine is all very well but Master of Malt readers will be pleased to hear that the most expensive bottle sold was a whisky, a Macallan 1926 with a label by Sir Peter Blake which went for $843,200. Yeah, whisky!
The initiative includes a fiery Flambé Masterclass!
D&D London Launches My Hospitality World
Starting on Monday 25 February, restaurant group D&D London will launch a two-week initiative called My Hospitality World, to encourage young people into the industry and demonstrate that opportunities are not confined to front of house or kitchen staff. This is in response to the industry’s growing skills gap. The initiative aims to encourage talented youngsters to see hospitality as a viable career path by offering a series of events in D&D London restaurants. There will be a full restaurant takeover of the Blueprint Café by students from London South East College, giving students an authentic taste of what goes on in the professional kitchen. There is even a dedicated event in support of International Women’s Day (8 March), to inspire more young women to become professional chefs! D&D London chairman & CEO Des Gunewardena commented: “Working in restaurants is viewed by many people as not being an occupation to aspire to and we want to change that.” Good luck to them!
Keep an eye out for The Hendrick’s LOVE Campaign
Hendrick’s seduces travellers with LOVE Campaign
Love is in the air! Well, almost – love is in the airport! The Hendrick’s LOVE Campaign is taking place throughout February and, in some places, into March in bars and shops at airports in the UK, Europe and across the Middle East and Asia. Under the headline, ‘Sublimely SIMPLE, yet curiously COMPLICATED – a gift much like LOVE’, Hendrick’s is charming travellers with a giant sharing teacup, a heart glorifier (thing that shows off the bottle), and copious amounts of rose petals and cucumbers. A surefire way to anyone’s heart. However, the most exciting part of the campaign is the exclusive airport serve named ‘A Rose Story’: a delightful combination of Hendrick’s gin with rose and elderflower syrup, and tonic, garnished with – to nobody’s surprise – rose petals and a cucumber slice. And there’s more potential Hendrick’s-themed fun on the horizon because on the 14th June, it’s World Cucumber Day. We’re rather intrigued to see how Hendrick’s will celebrate its favourite green salad fruit.
I beg your pardon, I never promised you a gin garden
Visit Britain’s first Gin Garden
Gin distillery tours are two-a-penny these days. You know the drill: admire the gleaming copper, try the gin and then buy a bottle. One distillery though, The Old Curiosity in Edinburgh, has come up with something a little different. From 23 March, you can visit its Gin Garden, located by the Pentland Hills to the south west of the Scottish capital. There you will be able to smell all those wonderful living botanicals that go into gin, witness the entire process from picking to distillation, and, of course, try the gin (it would be a pretty poor gin garden if there was no gin to drink). Not only is it a fun day out, but for gin nerds, it’s a great way to train your palate. The distillery has produced a video with distillery owner and top herbologist Hamish Martin that explains everything. It sounds like this Scottish distillery has raised the bar for gin-based experiences in Britain.
Bitters, Boulevardiers and big left entorhinal cortexes is how we roll at MoM Towers
And finally… Bitter-loving people are cleverer, say scientists
We lovers of bitter things like Campari or IPA have always felt ourselves to be somewhat superior, but now research by actual scientists shows that our tastes might not only show sophistication, they might also be linked to intelligence. Research into tonic water by Dr Daniel Hwang from the University of Queensland and published in New Scientist suggests that how people perceive bitterness is linked to brain size: “Researchers scanned the brains of 1,600 people and asked them to rate the bitterness of a quinine solution. Those who found the drink less bitter tended to have a bigger left entorhinal cortex”. In other words, if you like bitter things, you probably have a bigger brain. So next time someone tells you that adding Fernet Branca to your Negroni is neither big nor clever, point them to this study, and assume your genius face.
The only cask strength Jameson is back! It pays homage to Jameson’s Dublin heritage by being matured at Bow Street, home of the old distillery. We travelled to Ireland to…
The only cask strength Jameson is back! It pays homage to Jameson’s Dublin heritage by being matured at Bow Street, home of the old distillery. We travelled to Ireland to learn more. . .
Irish whiskey fans, rejoice! From August 2019, you will be able to get your hands on a new batch of Jameson Bow Street 18 Years Cask Strength. Bottled at 55.1% ABV without chill-filtration, the blend of pot still and grain Irish whiskeys was produced by Irish Distillers in Midleton Distillery where it was matured initially for 18 years in both ex-bourbon and ex-sherry casks under the watchful eye of master blender, Billy Leighton.
In January 2018, the expression was then re-casked in first-fill ex-bourbon American oak barrels to finish its maturation for a final six to 12 months in Dublin’s only live maturation house in the brand’s original home in Bow Street. The warehouse, which you can see for yourself if you tour what is now an award-winning visitor centre, can only hold 84 casks at any one time. Now that’s small batch.
The whiskey is a celebration of Jameson’s Dublin heritage
Leighton commented on the process: “As a tribute to the Jameson distilling legacy in Smithfield, we’ve introduced some methods that would have been employed in days past. The final maturation period in Bow Street is our nod to the traditional ‘marrying’ method – I like to think of the whiskey getting engaged in Midleton and then ‘married’ in Dublin! It brings the provenance and heritage back to where it started. It is the ultimate expression of Jameson.”
Jameson Bow Street 18 Years Cask Strength comes in a luxury bottle that features 18 facets, one for each year of maturation, housed in a wooden box that references the traditional pot stills used in distillation. A special copper coin underneath the bottle provides fans with the opportunity to access an exclusive online portal where they can explore the whiskey’s story.
Good cheesy fun at Bow Street Distillery
To mark the launch, Jameson has partnered with artisan Dublin cheesemonger Loose Canon to create a luxurious whiskey and cheese pairing and you’re encouraged to do the same this St. Patrick’s Day.
Leighton commented: “I hope that together with our cheese and whiskey pairings, we can inspire the world to match the strong flavours of the Jameson 18 family with the perfect Irish cheese to make a truly unique St. Patrick’s Day experience.”
Jameson Bow Street 18 Years Cask Strength will be available in the USA, Europe and Asia at an RRP of €240.
Jameson Bow Street 18 Years Cask Strength Batch 2
Tasting note by Billy Leighton, master blender at Midleton Distillery:
Nose: Rich wood-driven influence with deep toffee notes and spice.
Taste: Toffee and oak remain consistent with hints of leather and vanilla along with a subtle sherry nuttiness creating depth and complexity.
Finish: Long and full with the sweet toffee notes slowly fading while the toasted oak and spice linger throughout until the very end.
Is the gin boom over? Not by a long way, according to figures just released by HMRC. We take a closer look at this great British export success story. It’s…
Is the gin boom over? Not by a long way, according to figures just released by HMRC. We take a closer look at this great British export success story.
It’s not often you get good news from HMRC, but something that landed today made us smile. British gin is booming. Export sales in 2018 reached a record £612 million, meaning that they have doubled in value since 2010, and increased by 15% on 2017.
The EU is the biggest market for British gin worth nearly £290 million and up 14% on 2017. Next comes the USA, worth £191 million and up £13 million since 2017. Other places that can’t get enough of that good old British gin include Australia (£24 million, up 100%), South Africa (£14.5 million up 222%) and Switzerland (£6.6 million, an increase of 38%). With the EU such an important market, one hopes that some sensible arrangement can be reached post-Brexit. Miles Beale from the Wine and Spirits Education Trust (WSTA) commented:
“Europe represents a huge market for British gin, therefore it essential that the UK does not leave the EU without securing a deal which allows frictionless trade. It is hugely important that Government also secures free trade deals with the rest of the world and we are encouraged by mutual recognition agreements already signed with countries like Australia and Switzerland. However more must be done, and quickly, so that we maintain our position as the world’s largest spirits exporter and further boost the UK economy and provide more jobs.”
Meanwhile back at home, we’re no slackers when it comes to drinking gin. In 2018, the British got through 66 million bottles of gin, up 41% on the previous year. That’s a lot of Martinis. Put together, the domestic and export markets for gin are more than £2.5 billion.
Here at Master of Malt, gin sales in 2018 were up 50.5% by volume on 2017. Much of this growth comes from fun, sweeter products like flavoured and pink gins. Our 2018 top ten bestselling gins included: Peaky Blinder Spiced Dry Gin, Aber Falls Orange Marmalade Gin, Whitley Neill Blood Orange Gin, and Malfy Gin Con Arancia. According to the WSTA, the flavoured gin category is now valued at £165 million up 751% (no that’s not a typo) on 2017. Some people might sneer at flavoured gin, but clearly the public disagrees.
Where some of that British gin is made, the stills at Hayman’s in South London
Bee-saving beer, new Bladnoch, Brexit gubbins and more stories about things that don’t start with B. The Nightcap is here! Hmm… Something seems different around here… Why does everything feel…
Bee-saving beer, new Bladnoch, Brexit gubbins and more stories about things that don’t start with B. The Nightcap is here!
Hmm… Something seems different around here… Why does everything feel much sleeker and generally cooler? Has the MoM blog had a haircut? Maybe it’s wearing a new pair of shoes that really complements its digital eyes? Anyway, I’m sure someone will say something about that in due course – right this moment, The Nightcap is at the forefront of our minds!
What an interesting week, and how attractively presented, don’t you think? Enough hints, if you haven’t noticed by now, you’ll never notice. It’s time for the Nightcap!
Finally, some good Brexit news
Good Brexit news! The US and UK agree divorce-proof booze terms
Forget the stalemate, ignore the sagas. We have good Brexit news! Some of our most beloved boozes were safeguarded last week after the US and UK agreed they would protect names and the definitions attached to them. The mutual agreement means that post-Brexit, Scotch whisky, Irish whiskey (which is made in both Northern Ireland and the Republic), Tennessee whiskey, and bourbon will all be recognised in bilateral trade. This might not sound like a big deal, but it can take years to secure protection for spirits, and the protections that do exist are largely arranged with the EU, rather than the UK. The Continuity Agreement, as it is known, has been welcomed across the industry and beyond. “Ensuring that our flagship spirits exports – bourbon and Tennessee whiskey – will continue to be protected provides our companies much-needed assurances as the UK negotiates its departure from the EU,” said Distilled Spirits Council president and CEO, Chris Swonger. Meanwhile, Scotch Whisky Association international director, Sarah Dickson, commented: “Scotch Whisky already enjoys legal protection in the US Federal Code, but this agreement mirrors the protection currently offered under the US-EU agreement and secures the continued recognition of all UK and US whiskies. This will give US consumers the confidence that after Brexit the Scotch whisky they enjoy is distilled and matured in Scotland in accordance with UK law.” Hurrah all round!
Andy Simpson and David Robertson from Rare Whisky 101
Whiskey auction market up by over 60% according to Rare Whisky 101
A report just published by Rare Whisky 101 shows that the value of Single Malt whisky sold at auction rose by a staggering 62.7% from 2017. The report is packed with fascinating stats (for whisky nerds anyway). Over 100,000 bottles of rare whisky were sold at UK auctions last year. The top end of the market looks particularly strong with the number of bottles going for £10,000 or more increasing from 91 in 2017 to 265 last year. Who can forget the record-breaking Macallan 1926 which sold for £1 million? Investing in whisky still looks like a good bet for the time being. The Apex 1000 Index (which tracks the values of rare whiskies) was up 30% this year, out-performing the FTSE, fine wine, crude oil and gold. Andy Simpson, director and co-founder of Rare Whisky 101, said: “The secondary market for rare whisky continues to outperform our expectations. With the average bottle price increasing by around 15% from the half-year stage to year-end…. Across the board, we’re seeing an increased number of valuable bottles selling for greater value than ever before resulting in phenomenal growth within the market for over £1,000 bottles.” Gazing into his whisky crystal ball, co-founder David Robertson said: “The UK auction market remains the biggest and most active market worldwide, and there’s nothing to suggest that will change. However, with the uncertainty of Brexit hanging over us, it is extremely difficult to second guess what will happen with cross border trade and access to bottles. From both a volume and value perspective, 2019 is very difficult to predict!”
Martell was a star performer for Pernod Ricard
Martell bolsters Pernod Ricard’s H1 sales
This week it was French drinks group Pernod Ricard’s chance to crunch the numbers. The company, which owns the likes of Jameson, Chivas Brothers (think: Chivas Regal, The Glenlivet, Ballantine’s), Martell, Beefeater and more, saw its sales climb 7.8% to €5.18 billion (about £4.53bn) for the six months to 31 December 2018. Its ‘Strategic International Brands’ (featuring Martell, Jameson, Scotch, gin and the Champers brands) contributed 10% gains, while Lillet, Monkey 47 and Altos were specifically named as giving the ‘Speciality Brands’ division an 11% boost. While the Americas region showed ‘robust’ growth, Asia-Rest of World soared by 16%. Pernod didn’t have it all its own way, with Europe ‘stable’ as Western Europe failed to shine. Looking ahead, chairman and CEO Alexandre Ricard said, “For full year FY19, in an environment that remains uncertain, we aim to continue dynamic and diversified growth across our regions and brands.”
Oz Clarke didn’t win, despite our prediction. Here he is with judge, Victoria Moore.
André Simon drink book winner announced
The great and good of the food and drink world (and your features editor Henry) turned out at the Goring Hotel in London for the annual André Simon food and drink writing awards. You may remember last year we tipped Oz Clarke to win in the drink category with Alex Maltman’s book on vineyard soils as dark horse. We got it hopelessly wrong. Drink Book of the Year went to The Sommelier’s Atlas of Taste by Rajat Parr and Jordan Mackay. Oh well, we can’t always be right. The most emotional moment of the evening was when Together: A Community Cookbook won the Special Commendation. This book was created by a group of London women affected by the Grenfell Tower fire and they turned out in force to collect it. Food Book of the Year went to Diana Henry’s How to Eat a Peach which was described tantalisingly by judge Meera Sodha as, “as good in bedroom as in the kitchen”. Blimey!
Fiery stuff from Douglas Laing
Douglas Laing releases collection inspired by fire, air, earth and water
Leading Scotch whisky specialist Douglas Laing & Co has announced a series of Old Particular single cask limited edition bottlings for 2019, inspired by the four elements of fire, air, earth and water. Each expression will be bottled at natural cask strength without colouring or chill-filtration. The series launches with the “fire” bottling which, very aptly, is a mocha-spiced Craigellachie 12 Years Old from a well-fired and characterful sherry butt. The specialist bottlings will each be packaged with designs that depict an intricate illustration of each of the four elements. Cara Laing, Douglas Laing’s director of whisky, who selected the whiskies, commented on the new collection: “Our cask selection and packaging design pays tribute to the natural elements that contribute so significantly to the production of Scotch whisky. From oak trees to charred casks, peat and of course water, this specialist single cask collection celebrates the role of the elements in the whisky-making cycle.” What an exciting release! So exciting, in fact, it sold out in a day. It probably deserves a few flame emojis, but we can’t do those so you’ll just have to imagine them yourselves.
Martin Siska from Rosewood London
Martin Siska appointed as director of bars at Rosewood London
Rosewood London announced this week that Martin Siska has taken on the role as director of bars, effective 5 February! Originally from Slovakia, Siska first moved to London twelve years ago and ever since has worked across the luxury bar scene, including stints at Le Pont De La Tour, HUSH, and The Donovan Bar at Brown’s Hotel. He spent four months working with the legendary Javier de las Muelas of Dry Martini in Barcelona in 2015, which led to him launching its first UK outpost, Dry Martini London. Siska, who we spoke to back in May 2018, was appointed bar manager at Scarfes Bar in September 2016. This has led to nominations for industry awards, including Tales of Cocktail’s Best 10 Hotel Bars in the World; Imbibe’s Drinks List of the Year; and Class Awards’s Best Cocktail Menu. Scarfes Bar is inspired by the atmosphere of a drawing room and features canvases by renowned artist and caricaturist Gerald Scarfe, most famous for his political cartoons that have been featured in newspapers from The Sunday Times through to The New Yorker.
Say hello to Bladnoch 17 Year Old!
New year, new Bladnoch Single Malt!
Lowland distillery Bladnoch has kicked off 2019 in style with a new single malt Scotch. Bladnoch 17 Year Old, which was bottled to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the distillery, was crafted using locally-sourced barley and pristine water from the River Bladnoch, the inspiration for the distillery’s name. The most recent release from the southernmost distillery in Scotland was originally filled into ex-bourbon barrels in 2001. It was then disgorged and re-filled into Californian ex-red wine casks over two operations in March 2016 and January 2017. A blend of two vattings, the expression was bottled at 46.7% ABV without chill-filtration. Bladnoch Distillery describes the new release as being “rich and composed on the nose, with dried fruit, coffee, cherries, toffee, vanilla and sweet oak; lively but smooth on the palate, with spicy oak, prunes, orange marmalade, cherries, with hints of liquorice and cinnamon and quite complex on the finish, with malty, dried fruits, shortbread and spicy lightly peppery oak”. Sounds delicious!
The Cosmopolitan marks the Chinese New Year in style!
The Cosmopolitan in Vegas unveils Year of the Pig cocktail (it’s suitable for vegetarians)
The Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas is celebrating Chinese New Year the only way it knows how: decadent cocktails, delicious food and a lion dance! Celebrations to commemorate The Year of the Pig kick off on 7 February. Guests can indulge themselves with a 10 course (that’s right, 10!) ‘Emperor’s Feast’ for dinner. Of course, we’re more interested in the Year of the Pig Cocktail, created by chef mixologist Mariena Mercer. Capturing the traditional tastes of Chinese culture, the signature drink mixes a plethora of ingredients: Whistlepig rye, Umeshu plum sake, ceremonial-grade matcha tea, maraschino liqueur, lemongrass ginger syrup, lemon juice and egg white, all topped off with an edible pig garnish (which consists of paper made from potato and tapioca starches rather than a piece of pork). Alternatively, guests can celebrate with the Grass is Always Green cocktail, a concoction of Hong Kong Baijiu, Bombay Sapphire East, yuzu, orgeat, shishito and Szechuan pepper. Happy Year of the Pig to all those in Sin City!
Bee saving beer is a cause we can get behind.
Bumble Beer looks to crowdfund £50k to launch its bee saving bee-r!
Bumble Beer has created quite a buzz with the announcement of its Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign to raise £50,000 to kickstart its eco-beer. The aim is nothing less than to help save the bees! Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ll know that our pollinating friends are very much in trouble, though the facts are still shocking: 97% of Britain’s wildflower habitats have been destroyed since the 1940s, and nearly 10% of Europe’s wild bee species are facing extinction. Bumble Beer to the rescue! The inaugural product is a vegan 5% premium Pilsner, brewed with organic ingredients grown completely without any harmful pesticides, the most direct risk to bees. You can register pre-launch interest here, with the campaign going fully live on 1st March. Sustainability is at the forefront of every production stage; even its beer crates contain around 30 wildflower seeds, while the brewery has also developed wildflower-seed-infused recycled paper coasters. We love to see packaging that does more good than harm, for a change! Hopefully these ingenious brewers will inspire more to follow in their footsteps. So, join founder Jason Winter on his “beer loving, bee-friendly revolution” – well, it would be rude not to! Who knew ethics would taste so good?
Behold, the Negroni Segreto!
Well, that certainly got your attention. To celebrate the launch of ‘Entering Red’, a new short in Campari’s Red Diaries film series, the company is giving away 1,000 Negronis. But these aren’t just any Negronis, oh no. They have been created by award-winning bartender Joe Schofield to celebrate the 100th birthday of this legendary cocktail. The special version is called a Negroni Segreto and it contains Campari (naturalmente), Bulldog Gin, Cinzano Rosso 1757 vermouth, rosewater and fresh raspberries. Sounds splendid! There are ten bars participating in London and Manchester. Each bar has 100 Negronis to give away. In order to claim your free drink, just watch the film and then say the phrase that the Ana de Armas character says when she enters the bar for the second time. The offer is open from Friday 8 February (that’s tonight!) until Sunday 10 February from 6pm (see here for full details.) Time to watch that film.
Head distiller Iain Robertson with a wee cask
And finally… Raasay Distillery launches baby whisky casks. Awwwwwww, cute.
Many distilleries, especially the newer ones trying to raise funds, allow customers to buy casks but they tend to be quite expensive. So, for the (comparatively) budget-conscious Scotch lover, the Raasay Distillery is something a little smaller. Distillery co-founder Alasdair Day said: “We wanted to make our first single malt more accessible in these new smaller casks. Depending on the angels’ share, after three years we expect to get around 40 bottles from the 30 litre casks, each offering a distinctly different character of Raasay whisky to our other bottlings.” A little cask costs £999, compared with £5000 for a 150 litre one (though you will have to pay VAT and duty on delivery). We were rather hoping that you’d be able to take your cask home after filling. Sadly, SWA rules don’t allow this, so it has to remain on Raasay while it matures. But you can visit it at the distillery, and maybe sing to it or just tell it your problems. Whisky casks are good listeners. Then, after bottling, you get to take your empty cask home with your bottles so you could then decant the whisky back into the cask and then you’d have your very own little cask to mature in your cellar, shed, or by your bed so you can say good night to it.
And on that sweet thought, it’s time to say goodbye, and have a great weekend!