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Master of Malt Blog

Category: News

The Nightcap: 5 April

It’s been a big week for Irish whiskey, BrewDog, and our very own blog. The Nightcap is here with all the stories from the week! April has arrived, and with…

It’s been a big week for Irish whiskey, BrewDog, and our very own blog. The Nightcap is here with all the stories from the week!

April has arrived, and with it came news both real and fake. Of course, the storied tradition of ‘spend the first morning in April lying through your teeth at every opportunity’ continued this year, but that’s not what we’re here to talk about. We’re here for the news. The newsiest of news! The news built upon facts, but also built upon booze. The Nightcap is held up by those two pillars: facts and booze. Like Stonehenge, except not big rocks.

Anyway, it was a busy week on the MoM Blog, which we colloquially referred to as Blogmageddon here at MoM Towers (we know how to have fun). Henry celebrated the news of Bruichladdich’s plan to build on-site maltings, treated us to a Daiquiri for Cocktail of the Week, and then found out the buzz around mead. Jess showed off Mackmyra Äppelblom for New Arrival of the Week, looked at the announcement of a new distillery in Donegal, Ireland, and finally met batman. Not that one, the other one, the one with the mezcal. Adam took a booze-based tour of Scotland’s whisky regions, and chatted with The Whisky Works’ Gregg Glass. Annie got us all hyped up about the upcoming Scotch whisky distilleries that we can’t wait to visit. We had a guest blog from Nate Brown about how not to launch a new drink, we announced the winner of our Yellow Spot competition, and we launched Google Pay as a payment option. Then we got involved with the whole ‘lying through our teeth thing’ (but then came clean about it). Blogmageddon indeed!

After all that, it’s probably time to bring you what else went down this week!

masons

We wish the team at Masons Gin a speedy recovery

‘Still explosion’ causes fire at Masons Gin distillery

Sad news came from Yorkshire this week. Masons Gin, set up in the Dales six years ago by husband and wife team Cathy and Karl Mason, suffered an explosion. According to numerous reports, one of the stills blew out, causing a major fire. The Masons team put a statement on social media shortly afterwards. “We’d like to thank everybody for their concern and well wishes following a fire at the distillery today,” it read. “We can report that all staff are unharmed and there are no injuries sustained. We’d like to express our thanks to the emergency services and staff at SPAR for their support this morning.” We’re thinking of everyone at the distillery and hope things are back up and running soon.

Dublin-Liberties

A ‘momentous achievement’, says The Irish Whiskey Association

Irish spirits get GI recognition

Top news, folks! Irish whiskey, Irish cream liqueurs and Irish Poitín have all secured geographical indication (GI) status in the EU. What does this mean? Basically, both in the EU and markets that the EU has trade agreements with, a product can only be labelled as Irish whiskey, gin or Poitín if it was made on the island of Ireland to set production methods and standards. Single malt Irish whiskey, pot still Irish whiskey, blended Irish whiskey and grain Irish whiskey were all included in the GI agreement, which the country’s drinks industry first submitted in 2014. It essentially means it will be much harder for people to fake Irish drinks or make misleading statements on non-compliant products. The Irish Whiskey Association called the development a “momentous achievement”, giving the drinks the “strongest possible protection”. Best raise a dram of something Irish!

Pernod Ricard to ban single-use promo plastics by 2025

Global drinks group Pernod Ricard, which owns the likes of Beefeater, Chivas Regal, The Glenlivet and Havana Club, has published its 2030 Sustainability & Responsibility roadmap (see video above). The document sets out eight “ambitious and concrete” targets, each developed to support the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. Under Biodiversity, Pernod Ricard has pledged to have a dedicated project with evert affiliate, and as part of Regenerative Agriculture, there will be projects to improve topsoil, watershed and ecosystems in eight wine regions. As part of its Equal Pay and Future Leadership banner, the group has pledged to ensure equal pay by 2022 and gender-balanced top management teams by 2030. Shared Knowledge and Learning will see 10,000 bartenders trained in being anti-waste and plastic-free, and on the topic of Packaging and Waste, all promotional single-use plastic items will be banned by 2025. A Water Balance and Carbon Footprint focus will see the company’s total carbon footprint cut by 50%. Pernod Ricard’s Alcohol Misuse focus will see every affiliate have at least one programme to fight problem drinking; while under the Responsible Party pillar, more than one million young adults will learn about responsible consumption. “These 2030 commitments provide us with a focused framework across our business in helping to address some of the biggest sustainability issues, so consumers can enjoy our products in a convivial and sustainable way,” said Vanessa Wright, VP Sustainability & Responsibility. Go Pernod!

Scotch Whisky collection

The most extensive and famous private whisky collection in the world is set to stay!

Diageo Claive Vidiz Scotch collection to stay in Edinburgh

Anyone who has visited the Scotch Whisky Experience in Edinburgh will remember the Diageo Claive Vidiz collection. The 3,384 bottle-strong haul includes some seriously rare and covetable expressions, including a Buchanan’s whisky bottle dating from 1897! It was Brazilian businessman Claive Vidiz who gathered the collection over 35 years before it was acquired by Diageo in 2009. It’s been on display at the visitor attraction ever since, attracting a whopping 1.5 million whisky fans. And a deal has been struck to keep it in situ for another 10 years! “The Diageo Claive Vidiz Collection is uniquely eclectic, with brands from across the whole industry and ranging from extremely rare bottlings to everyday drams from years gone by. It really gives visitors a fascinating insight into our whisky history,” said Christine McCafferty, Diageo’s chief archivist. The Scotch Whisky Experience has just revamped its display units for the collection, to make sure the bottles are kept in prime condition for the next decade. Susan Morrison, chief executive of the Scotch Whisky Experience, added: “After 10 years of seeing the collection every day we still have the privilege of seeing the reaction of surprise and delight on the faces of each of our visitors as they enter the collection vault for the first time.” We’ll be up again soon!

brewdog

The BrewDog Distilling Co. has arrived (complete with scary wolf)!

BrewDog reveals more spirits, plans a beer hotel

Sound the klaxons, The BrewDog Distilling Co. is here! Yes, BrewDog, responsible for your favourite craft beer, has launched some quite incredible spirits. Although it’s still fairly shrouded in secrecy, here’s what we know. Flagship gin LoneWolf has been on our radar for a while, and is juniper heavy with a touch of lavender. But there’s now another gin, Zealot’s Heart, a small-batch expression “made by zealots for zealots”. Then, we are also treated to Rogue Wave, “a vodka you won’t forget”, dedicated to the co-founder’s cousin, One-Armed Alex, who you can spot on the label. Finally, the distilling team has collaborated with a trio of leading spirit-makers to create the Boilermaker Series, sporting three limited-edition whiskies that are actually designed to be paired with BrewDog craft beer. What a spread! If you think BrewDog has forgotten a certain spirit, fear not. Next on the cards is an authentic spiced rum aged in oak, though you’ll have to wait a little longer for that one. But there’s more! The team has certainly been busy, because this week it also revealed it’s planning the UK’s first craft beer hotel. Known as DogHouse London, it will have its own craft beer museum, fresh craft beer you can pour for yourself in each room, and something called a shower-beer fridge. At least being in the dog house won’t be such a bad thing now. We’ll wag our tails to that, BrewDog!

Glenfiddich

Say hello to the new Glenfiddich UK ambassador: Alex Walker

Meet new Glenfiddich UK brand ambassador, Alex Walker!

We have a new national brand ambassador at Glenfiddich, folks! Independent family distiller William Grant & Sons has confirmed Alex Walker has taken on the role with immediate effect. Walker, who began his career in Australia before working in prestigious hotels bars The Beaufort Bar at The Savoy and Artesian at The Langham, will be tasked with talking all things Glenfiddich Distillery as often as possible (or ‘elevating brand awareness’, to use the industry term). He’ll also keep up comms between the brand and whisky drinkers, bars and restaurants, retailers and the press. Stephen Rutherford vacated the role after taking up the Glenfiddich UK brand manager position. “Alex has proved himself to be an exceptional candidate and a passionate whisky enthusiast, ticking all of the boxes for the role,” he said. Walker added: “I am extremely excited to be joining the William Grant & Sons UK family. It is a huge honour and privilege to work for a brand that represents over 130 years of history, heritage, and experimentation. I can’t wait to be part of this journey and help craft future success for Glenfiddich!” Congratulations, Alex!

Dewar’s releases film starring Game of Thrones’ Iwan Rheon

To celebrate the launch of its new Double Double range of whiskies, Dewar’s has teamed up with a whole bunch of glitzy actors to produce Four: four short films set in the Savoy Hotel in London. First up is Tuppence Middleton (you might remember her from TV series such as War and Peace and Black Mirror), alongside the likes of Iwan Rheon, who plays the baddest of all the baddies from Game of Thrones, and Jack Farthing from Poldark. The film is named after the four-stage ageing process used in these whiskies (step 1: ageing individual grains and malts separately; step 2: blending malts together and ageing, blending grains together and ageing; step 3: marrying the two; step 4: finishing in sherry casks). The Double Double (2+2=4, geddit?) range consists of three luxury age-statement whiskies: a 21 year old finished in oloroso casks; a 27 year old finished in palo cortado wood; and a 32 year old finished in PX barrels. We had a sneak preview with master blender Stephanie Macleod (at the Savoy, natch) and were extremely impressed. According to Macleod, the special ageing process is all about “the pursuit of smoothness”. It’s not unusual these days for drinks brands to make starry promotional films but, Macleod reminded us, Dewar’s was the first. Tommy Dewar commissioned a cinema advert for his whisky way back in 1898. Now there was a man ahead of his time.

talisker

It’s the Wild Spirit tour and bartender competition!

Talisker kicks off Wild Spirit tour and bartender competition

Isle of Skye’s Talisker Distillery has launched a fancy new bartender training programme and competition – the Wild Spirit Whisky Tour! That’s right, no more Race to Skye. Instead, we’ve got a new initiative which kicks off with a 20-stop UK-wide Wild Spirit Whisky Tour inspired by Talisker’s ‘Made by the Sea’ campaign. It runs until 19 April, and events will be delivered by Talisker brand ambassador Jason Clark. He’ll educate bartenders on the distillery’s history and production, and will explore Wild Spirit cocktail techniques. Once that’s wrapped up, bartenders will be invited to submit a Wild Spirit serve, from 20 April to 15 May, on behalf of their bar. The three bars chosen by a judging panel will win a Talisker Wild Spirit adventure for three members of staff! “For two years running, Talisker’s Race to Skye competition was a huge success and we’ve been delighted with the support and excitement received from the nation’s bartenders,” said Clark. “This year, we’ve mixed things up a little and have advanced the event into an all-new training programme and competition, the Talisker Wild Spirit Whisky Tour, which aims to reach and engage as many bartenders as possible.”

Tempus Fugit Spirits

The Tempus Fugit Spirits range was on show at Ziggy’s Bar at the Hotel Cafe Royal

Tempus Fugit Spirits eyes up cocktail bars

We found ourselves at Ziggy’s Bar at Hotel Cafe Royal last week for an extra-special tasting of Tempus Fugit Spirits. Founded in 2007 by John Troia, the brand’s birth coincided with the reintroduction of absinthe into America. Troia and his partner collected old absinthes and paraphernalia, so when the ban was lifted in 2007 they decided to corner the market. And now time has come for a push into cocktail bars! Tempus Fugit has an expansive portfolio of liqueurs and digestifs, as well as many absinthes. The range of spirits are all made from historic recipes, dating back to the 19th century. Including Gran Classico Bitter, Creme de menthe and Fernet del Frate. Jack Hanlon made some fabulous cocktails with the spirits, including a 20th-century cocktail using Creme de Cacao, Kina L’Aero D’Or and gin, and a Banana Bliss from the Cafe Royal Cocktail Book 1937 using Creme de Banane and Cognac. Yum.

hangover free alcohol

You can always avoid a hangover by drinking responsibly, of course

And finally… could hangover-free alcohol actually become A Thing?

While we always intend to drink responsibly, many people have, on occasion, slightly over-indulged. The resulting hangover is NOT fun. So we read a story from Food & Wine this week with interest. A chap called David Nutt from Imperial College London has been working on something called ‘alcosynth’ for some time. It’s billed as a synthetic form of alcohol that gives you all the fun effects but none of the nasties. Up until now, he’s not been too optimistic about the timeline, suggesting it could replace regular alcohol by 2050. But there’s been a development! Apparently, he’s consumed the stuff himself already, and has cut the projected pipeline to a mere five years! The bad side? Nutt says he has to mix it with fruit juices to mask the taste. We’re not sure what the alternative is if you’re into Martinis or Negronis, but if a super-sweet Piña Colada floats your boat, you could be hangover-free before you know it. But remember, folks – sip, don’t gulp.

And that’s a wrap for this week, folks. We hope you enjoyed The Nightcap – have a tip top weekend.

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Whiskey to return to Donegal with Ardara Distillery!

Irish whiskey (and gin) fans, we bring you good tidings. Sliabh Liag Distillers has unveiled plans for its new Ardara Distillery in Donegal – yes, Ireland looks set to get another whiskey…

Irish whiskey (and gin) fans, we bring you good tidings. Sliabh Liag Distillers has unveiled plans for its new Ardara Distillery in Donegal – yes, Ireland looks set to get another whiskey maker!

The company has acquired the Show Field in Ardara, and will be formally submitting a planning application to Donegal County Council for the new distillery this week. This is the beginning of its ambitious plan to return whiskey distilling to Donegal for the first time in 177 years. Now that’s a long old time. Company directors James and Moira Doherty and James Keith stated that the construction of Ardara Distillery is scheduled to start later this year (subject to planning approval, of course), and if all goes to plan distilling operations will commence in 2020. Exciting stuff!

The brand already produces some familiar names, including Dúlamán Irish Maritime gin, and also The Legendary Silkie Irish whiskey. The company is also planning to create a number of new brands at the new distillery. We can expect to see a couple of peaty treats, such as Ardara and Sliabh Liag single malt and pot still whiskeys, which will remain faithful to the style of 19th century whiskeys from the county.

With a €6 million investment, Ardara Distillery will employ at least 40 people, and will have the capacity to produce 400,000 litres of pure alcohol a year. That’s the equivalent of around 1,700 filled casks, and over 1.2 million bottles of whiskey. Our mouths are already watering.

It’s not just the whiskey itself which is impressive here. The company has put a lot of thought into the design of the new Ardara Distillery building, with a particular focus on how best to complement the village and its natural surroundings. CornerStone Architecture has been called on for the task, and has designed a building that will make use of traditional shapes and materials. It will be “truly unique but will look very much part of the town”, according to Gavin Shovelin of CornerStone.

Ardara Distillery

The shiny proposed Ardara Distillery!

The An Dúlamán gin still, named Méabh, currently resides just outside the village of Carrick at the existing production site, and will be moved to the Ardara Distillery so whiskey and gin are both under one roof. A visitor centre has also been planned, and featuring a Poitín museum, exhibition space, tasting bar and shop. In a rather interesting but admirable move, there will be no café or restaurant, as the directors wanted to encourage visitors to make use of all that the local village has to offer.

“The design of the development is a mix of contemporary and traditional finishes which complement the village of Ardara,” said James Doherty, Sliabh Liag Distillers managing director.

“It is important to us that local businesses benefit from the foot fall, and if we can get visitors walking in the village, increasing their dwell time, then it’s so much the better for the entire community.” We wholeheartedly agree. As well as supporting the village itself, a large portion of the land surrounding the new distillery will be kept as an open green space for anyone to enjoy. Sliabh Liag Distillers clearly has huge respect for its natural surroundings and community, and it’s great to see a company so invested in preserving both.

There was a public consultation in Ardara yesterday (2 April) and the Planning Application is due to be submitted tomorrow (4 April). We’ll keep our fingers crossed!

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We’re Icons of Whisky’s Online Retailer of the Year!

MUCH excitement, folks. Last week we were named Icons of Whisky’s Online Retailer of the Year 2019 – and we’re still not over it! On Thursday we donned our glad…

MUCH excitement, folks. Last week we were named Icons of Whisky’s Online Retailer of the Year 2019 – and we’re still not over it!

On Thursday we donned our glad rags and headed up to London for the Whisky Magazine Awards. As did a whole host of distillers, brand ambassadors and bartenders – just being there was super exciting.

The likes of Teeling Whiskey 24 Years Old Vintage Reserve, Four Roses 130th Anniversary 2018 Limited Edition Small Batch, and Hibiki 21 Years Old all took home major awards (for World’s Best Single Malt, World’s Best Bourbon and World’s Best Blended Whisky respectively). Tobermory and Bunnahabhain parent Distell won Distiller of the Year, and Angela D’Orazio of Mackmyra and Mike Miyamoto from Suntory were inducted into Whisky Magazine’s Hall of Fame. It was a cracking evening of great whiskies and wonderful company. What more could you want?

Online Retailer of the Year 2019 Icons of Whisky

(L-R) Justin Petszaft, group managing director; Kristiane Sherry, editor; and Jake Mountain, campaign manager, pick up the Online Retailer of the Year award from Rob Allanson, Whisky Magazine editor

THEN we were named Icons of Whisky’s Online Retailer of the Year 2019!

This means so much to us. The Icons of Whisky accolades are voted for by the drinks trade, and it’s incredibly special to be recognised by our peers. And it’s the seventh time in eight years we’ve won Online Retailer of the Year. The whole team is still buzzing days on!

Icons of Whisky Online Retailer of the Year trophy

Most importantly though, a HUGE thank you to you, our epic customers. We love bring delicious, delicious drinks to the world, and we literally couldn’t do it without you. Thank you for supporting us, sticking with us, and making us your booze purveyor of choice. Here’s to you!

 

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Bruichladdich to build on-site maltings

As part of its sustainability efforts and commitment to investment in Islay, Bruichladdich has announced plans to build at an in-house maltings by 2023 and confirmed the purchase of a…

As part of its sustainability efforts and commitment to investment in Islay, Bruichladdich has announced plans to build at an in-house maltings by 2023 and confirmed the purchase of a farm, Shore House Croft.

One of Scotland’s most innovative distilleries, Bruichladdich will build a maltings, due to be operational by 2023. Plans are subject to change and planning permission, but the proposed facility will consist of Saladin boxes rather than floor maltings. It will be used predominantly to malt small batches, including barley grown on the island, organic grain from Elgin, and bere barley from Orkney. The aim is that it will provide about 50% of the distillery’s needs, and may expand to 100% in time.

Bruichladdich

Bruichladdich, local barley

Bruichladdich has been at the forefront of trialling different types of barley, as the innovative Bruichladdich Bere Barley bottling attests. To help with further experimentation, the distillery has purchased the 30 acre Shore House Croft where it can run barley trials. At the moment Bruichladdich uses 100% Scottish barley, with 42% of this grown on Islay.

The new maltings will enable this barley to be processed on the island rather than being sent to Inverness, cutting down on food, or rather booze, miles. It’s all part of the distillery’s drive to be more sustainable. The team is currently looking into using renewable energy sources such as tidal power, water turbine and biomass. It already uses electric vehicles and hot waste water to run the central heating.

“Running a business from an island makes us distinctly aware that our social, economic and environmental impact must be a positive one,” said CEO, Douglas Taylor.  

“We feel strongly about our responsibility to the island the people of Islay. In recent years, we have endeavoured to be more sustainable in our operations and more environmental in our actions. Some have been straightforward, like stopping using bottled water and introducing electric vehicles, or more complicated, like habitat protection, wildlife corridor agreements with landowners for barley growing and engineering a solution that reuses hot water-water from distillation.”

Douglas Taylor

Douglas Taylor!

Bruichladdich dates back to 1881 but has existed in its present form since 2001 when it was revived by Mark Reynier, Simon Coughlin and Jim McEwan. It was acquired by Rémy Cointreau in 2012. The distillery produces one million litres of pure alcohol per year, which goes into a range of spirits including The Botanist gin, and the Bruichladdich, Port Charlotte and Octomore whisky brands.

Expansion plans also include new warehouses.  There are four in the pipeline, meaning that all its casks can continue to be matured on Islay. You might be surprised to learn that the distillery is the largest private sector employer on the island. It employs 80 people (and a further 20 on the mainland), more than Diageo, and second only to the council. Good work, team laddy!

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The truth about the Master of Malt Luxury Trilogy…

This morning we revealed our incredible new range of innovative single malt Scotch whiskies with its accompanying Sven Nekyan film. Since then we’ve received plenty of feedback across social media….

This morning we revealed our incredible new range of innovative single malt Scotch whiskies with its accompanying Sven Nekyan film. Since then we’ve received plenty of feedback across social media. Now it’s time to come clean.

The Master of Malt Luxury Trilogy, comprising of the eminently covetable Limitless, Opulence and Kryptós expressions, will not be available to buy later this month. We’re extremely sorry for the inevitable disappointment this must cause you and whisky lovers around the world.

Fry

The whisky-craving masses just this morning.

As hard as it may be to believe, for example, we’re not going to release a whisky with a palate that’s “Full and buoyant, akin to a private party submarine drifting beside the Lucayan Archipelago on the way to a festival on the island of Great Exuma”.

In fact, isn’t Sven Nekyan an anagram of Kenny Evans, the Master of Malt Digital Media Manager?! We’re sure some aspects of these whiskies “like no others” are giving us deja-vu, too…

All we can say for sure is that Limitless, Opulence and Kryptós are as real as Handsome Clive’s Ginder profile.

(And that we had a lot of fun in the lead up to 1 April! Huge thanks to the good people at The Warren in Tunbridge Wells where the ‘Opulence’ scene was shot.)

The gang hard at work. [left to right: Jack (procurement buyer), Laura (campaign exec), Jake (campaign manager), Kenny (digital media manager) and Phillippa (digital creative planner)]

Tom Ball, goods in supervisor and part-time birdperson

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Introducing the Master of Malt Luxury Trilogy

It’s with enormous pride that we’re able to bring you an incredible new range of single malt Scotch whiskies, like no others that have come before. Meet the Master of…

It’s with enormous pride that we’re able to bring you an incredible new range of single malt Scotch whiskies, like no others that have come before. Meet the Master of Malt Luxury Trilogy.

*UPDATE: It’s time for you all to know the truth about Limitless, Opulence and Kryptós.*

Today represents the start of a journey, one that will lead drinkers to new worlds and new possibilities. Leave all your preconceptions at the door and join us…

It was important to us to bring the concept for each of these new whiskies to life and to convey its meaning in a coherent manner. By working with acclaimed filmmaker Sven Nekyan, we hope you’ll agree the video above does just that and more.

The Master of Malt Luxury Trilogy is made up of three innovative whiskies, each representing a different story. Be brave and invite a little glamour, or perhaps some mystery, into your life and into your glass.

Limitless

Your destiny is in your hands. Be who you want to be in your limitless life with this majestic single malt Scotch whisky. Aged patiently in carefully selected American and European oak casks for at least three long years, this expression is beautifully presented in a decanter bottle complete with sterling silver stopper and matching wings. We leave it up to you to embrace the infinite.

Opulence

Eau de Vie de grain vieillie en fûts de chêne. Pour Homme ou Femme. Or simply for everyone, actually. Everyone to whom style and grace speaks. Adroitly assembled for this very purpose by a perfumier par excellence and leading aromachologists, this is an expression that’s certainly not to be missed. You only get one life, make it opulent.

Kryptós

The most enigmatic expression of all is saved until last. The excitement in life is often in the unknown, thusly we offer fewer details for Kryptós than for any of the rest of the Luxury Trilogy. The elegant, opaque bottle, adorned with its greek name (meaning ‘secret’), contains a liquid inspired by the science of cryptography. Based on an incredibly ancient recipe that’s been reinterpreted for a thoroughly modern experience, we’re committed to not revealing any more information about this whisky until this time next year.

So there you have it. Three extraordinary whiskies borne of the desires of now. Although currently produced through unprecedented exclusive partnerships with the very finest distilleries, within a couple of years the already celebrated Master of Malt Luxury Trilogy will become the first releases from our cutting-edge 3D-printed distillery.

Limitless, Opulence and Kryptós will be available to purchase later this month. You will, of course, also be able to experience these whiskies digitally through our multi-sensory Joculus Snift eDramming headset.

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The Nightcap: 29 March

Carbon neutral distilleries, robots that scare birds away from grapes and a farewell to vintages. It’s a particularly varied week for The Nightcap. You’re tuned in to The Nightcap, Master…

Carbon neutral distilleries, robots that scare birds away from grapes and a farewell to vintages. It’s a particularly varied week for The Nightcap.

You’re tuned in to The Nightcap, Master of Malt’s round-up of booze news stories from the week that was. If there was a way to make sound happen automatically when you open The Nightcap in a way that wasn’t completely terrifying (it scares us every time a website just randomly decides that we’d love for a video to make noise right away, or that we just have to hear this royalty-free classical music while reading about something on the internet), you bet it would be one of those cool ‘dun-dun-dun-da-daaaah’ type melodies that all good news shows on TV have.

So, what have been the happenings on the MoM Blog this week? Adam got a taste for new releases, firstly showing off HYKE Gin, and then even more lip-smacking new arrivals to MoM Towers. Annie got out a magnifying glass to check out what could be the smallest gin distilleries in Britain, and followed it up with a look at the rise of cocktail-specific booze. Henry mixed up a French 75 for Cocktail of the Week, and met with Glenlivet’s Alan Winchester to taste a 50 year old single malt. Jess headed to London for a night of perfume and cocktails with Theodore Pictish Gin. Kristy was lucky enough to try something completely new from Tobermory – a gin!

More news? More news!

Balblair

No more vintages: the new Balblair core range

Balblair replaces vintages with age-statement whiskies

Some of us thought we’d never see the day. Age statements instead of vintages at Balblair? That’s the news this week from the Highland distillery, who confirmed a departure from the distillery’s ‘vintage-only’ approach in favour of four age-statement expressions. The new collection of single malt Scotch whiskies will be available in the UK this month and globally from April 2019. It consists of: a 12 Year Old, matured in American oak ex-bourbon and double-fired American oak casks; a 15 Year Old, aged initially in American oak ex-bourbon casks, followed by first-fill Spanish oak butts; an 18 Year Old, matured initially in American oak ex-bourbon casks, followed by first-fill Spanish oak butts; and finally, the standout in the range is a 25 Year Old that was initially aged in American oak ex-bourbon casks then re-casked in Spanish oak oloroso casks. John MacDonald, Distillery Manager at Balblair, said: “As one of the oldest working distilleries in the Scottish Highlands, Balblair has a long and rich history of crafting premium single malt Scotch whisky. Our new collection is intrinsically linked to our heritage and is testament to the place and the people behind our whisky, while being emblematic of our ‘True Highland Spirit’.” We’re sad to see the vintages go, but we’re looking forward to seeing what’s to come from this new era for Balblair – and tasting those age-statement whiskies!

don julio

The ‘world’s first’ Añejo Claro Tequila in a White Negroni

Don Julio brings ‘world’s first’ Añejo Claro Tequila to the UK

As everyone who is studying for the WSET Level 2 knows, or should know, Tequila Añejo is aged for a minimum of one year in oak so that it takes on colour and flavour from the cask. Well, that was true up until now because Don Julio Tequila has just launched an Añejo Claro into the UK market. It is aged for 18 months in American oak barrels but then filtered, rather as with some white rums, so you have all (or most) of the flavour of an aged spirit but without that pesky colour. It’s called Don Julio 70 and, coincidentally, will retail for around £70. Richard Larkin, head of Diageo Reserve GB, said: “This first-of-its-kind Tequila showcases the talent and skill of master distiller Enrique de Colsa who has created an Añejo Claro to challenge conventions and support the growth of super premium tequila in the UK. It’s a masterpiece of innovation.” First of its kind? Masterpiece of innovation? We’re always a bit sceptical when we hear that. So we did some investigating. It’s certainly new to the UK, although it sounds very much like a product called Hornitos Cristalino, also a filtered colourless Añejo. The folks at Diageo got in touch to tell us Don Julio 70 was first conceived in 2011 though, so it does indeed have claim to the ‘first-ever’ Añejo Claro title after all.*

ailsa bay

The new technological tipple

Ailsa Bay unveils blockchain whisky bottle

News that will please whisky geeks and, well, geeks in general came from William Grant & Sons this week, which announced the launch of a new Ailsa Bay expression that features blockchain technology. For those of you scratching your head, blockchain is a list of registers, or blocks, that contain information about the previous block and transaction data between the two blocks. Essentially, it acts as an open ledger to track authenticity and (in this case) allows shoppers to digitally track the whisky’s production journey. This new whisky features data acquired from William Grant & Sons including cask types, filling dates and bottling dates. The brand’s use of blockchain captures the full distilling and manufacturing process, allowing customers to track their whisky from source to store and trace the origins of their whisky via a web experience, which is individually tailored to each bottle. All you have to do is scan the QR code and you’ll be presented with a visual history of your whisky. William Grant & Sons partnered with specialist blockchain technology company Arc-Net to create this bottling. Dominic Parfitt, head of E-commerce at William Grant & Sons, said: “Innovation is a key part of our business. We’re constantly looking to evolve our offering and learn new things in order to push the boundaries within the drinks industry. We’re doing something now that we hope will set the bar for the future experience of spirits, and we look forward to seeing how other brands follow suit as innovation within the industry continues to develop in the next few years.”

greensand ridge

Greensand Ridge becomes carbon neutral

Kent-based Greensand Ridge is the UK’s first carbon neutral distillery

It’s 2019, and with environmental concerns becoming more pressing than ever we are happy to announce that craft distillery Greensand Ridge in Kent has become carbon neutral. It’s the first distillery in the UK to achieve this milestone, so we’ll certainly raise a glass to that! When the distillery opened in 2015, it already had the goal of having as little impact on the environment as possible, and it’s taken the last four years of hard work to reach this point. It uses surplus produce from local farmers that supermarkets won’t take, which is why you’ll see a fair few fruit spirits from the distillery such as Apple Brandy or Raspberry Ghost. With a zero target for chemical use and non-recyclable waste, and powered by 100% renewable electricity, Greensand Ridge truly has its eye on the sustainability ball. Greensand Ridge founder and distiller Will Edge says that becoming carbon neutral “doesn’t change our spirits, but it’s a statement of what is important to us as a new and growing business.” If you happen to be in the area, you can visit the distillery and even make your own bottle of carbon-neutral gin! Let’s hope more follow suit.

patron

Best of luck and many thanks to Dave Wilson!

Patrón global president and chief operations officer Dave Wilson to retire

Bacardi Limited has announced this week that Dave Wilson, global president and chief operations officer of Patrón Spirits International and the Patrón Spirits Company, will retire as of 1 April 2019. During his tenure, Wilson helped establish Patrón, which was acquired by Bacardi Limited in April 2018, in the ultra-premium Tequila category and to become one of the most recognisable agave-spirit brands around. With Wilson’s retirement, Pete Carr, president of Bacardi North America, will now lead both the Bacardi and Patrón organisations for North America, while Wilson will continue as a senior adviser to Patrón. Mahesh Madhavan, CEO of Bacardi Limited commented: “During his tremendously successful 40-year career, Dave has made an everlasting imprint in the spirits industry driving pioneering marketing, world-class operations, and innovative environmental programs. On behalf of Bacardi and our newest colleagues from Patrón, I thank Dave for his contributions to the industry and for supporting the union of two incredible organisations that are Bacardi and Patrón.” Best of luck in all future endeavours, Mr. Wilson!

valour

Is there anything more fashionable these days than gin?

Fashion designer partners with start-up distillery to launch bespoke designer gin

It seems that fashion and booze go hand-in-hand these days. Fashion designer Scott Henshall has partnered with Cooper King Distillery as part of Henshall’s new ‘Valour’ brand which launched during York Fashion Week. Don’t worry, we didn’t forget any prefixes, this is Yorkshire’s very own fashion week. Henshall, who has worked with the likes of Victoria Beckham and Paris Hilton, became, at the age of 22, the youngest designer to show during London Fashion Week. Originally from York, he wanted to celebrate his 21st year in the fashion industry by going back to his roots. The Valour range urges people to ‘be courageous in all you do’. Co-founder of Cooper King Distillery Chris Jaume said that it had been great fun working on “a unique gin which articulates the luxury and courage which Scott’s Valour brand signifies”. Among the botanicals is local honey from Cooper King’s own beehives, and lemongrass. With at least 1% of all proceeds going to the Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust as part of Cooper King Distillery’s 1% for the Planet initiative, the gin not only looks fabulous and tastes amazing, but even has a positive environmental impact. If that’s not fashionable, we don’t know what is.

luxardo

Gareth Franklin, Luxardo global brand ambassador

Luxardo launches ‘Modify This’ masterclass tour

Italian drinks company Luxardo is taking its products on the road with a series of guest nights and masterclasses at bars around the country. The initiative is called ‘Modify This!’ and it’s fronted by global brand ambassador Gareth ‘G’ Franklin. The journey begins in Wales at Pennyroyal in Cardiff on 10 April and will take him all over this great country of ours. The point is to encourage bartenders and customers alike to look at liqueurs like Luxardo Maraschino or Bitter Bianco as the headliner rather than the supporting act. Mr G said: “Liqueurs are by far the largest and most diverse category out there, but they are often seen as a lower priority on the list and in terms of the location where they are placed at the bar. I want to change this. With fresh thinking, bartenders will re-discover the benefits, authentic style and distinctive flavours of liqueurs, and how they can transform popular, simple spirit plus mixer drinks into original cocktails.” To make his point, G has come up with a special serve called the Iceberg Slim consisting of Luxardo Bitter Bianco mixed with tonic, lemon essential oils and fresh dill. Sounds like a definite contender for Cocktail of the Week.

Yeah, you can chuck those out

Gin: from mother’s ruin to Mother’s Day

It’s Mother’s Day on Sunday, but on the same day the clocks go forward meaning less time in bed. What’s that all about? Better make sure you have a good present for the mother in your life to make up for that extra hour awake. According to the WSTA, gin is now the gift du jour on Mothering Sunday. Figures released yesterday show that in the last two years gin sales spiked in March. In the first quarter of 2017, 6.4m bottles of gin were sold in UK shops, and of that 2.6m, 41%, were sold in March. Last year was even stronger, with 9m bottles of gin sold in January, February and March of which 4.7 million, 52%, of those were sold in the run up to Mother’s Day. Marcus Pickering of Pickering’s Gin whose company offers a personalised gin wrapping service said: “After years of giving flowers and chocolates we have discovered what mums really want is gin”.

bombay sapphire

Bombay Sapphire Limited Edition English Estate is a summer-inspired gin

Bombay Sapphire launches new gin inspired by the English countryside

Bombay Sapphire announced this week that it planned to release more gin-based deliciousness in the form of Bombay Sapphire Limited Edition: English Estate. It’s a gin inspired by the landscape surrounding the brand’s home at Laverstoke Mill in the Hampshire countryside. The first in a series of limited editions, Bombay Sapphire English Estate was made with an infusion of three new botanicals: Pennyroyal mint, rosehip and toasted hazelnut to create a summery profile. But be warned, this gin will only be available for 12 months from April 2019. Two bespoke cocktails were created to showcase this drink, ‘The Secret English Garden’, which blends English Estate gin with Fever-Tree ginger ale and cloudy apple juice served long with lemon, apple, thyme and ice, as well as a twist on the classic G&T, combining English Estate gin with Fever-Tree tonic over ice, garnished with mint and a lemon wedge. Ivano Tonutti, Bombay Sapphire master of botanicals, commented on the expression: “Each botanical in our gin is carefully balanced to create a smooth and complex taste and the new Bombay Sapphire English Estate is no different. Hand-selected from the English countryside and drawing creative inspiration from the Hampshire home of Bombay Sapphire, the additional botanicals produce a summer-inspired vibrant gin.”

bird that hates grapes

It’s saying: “I’m gonna eat your graaaaaaaapes!”

And finally… Drone to deter birds from stealing wine grapes

Grapes have made a few enemies over the years. Phylloxera, for example. One grape enemy you may be more familiar with is birds. Birds have trouble resisting those little globes of deliciousness, and while making sure birds enjoy a balanced breakfast is a noble cause, we can all agree that this should not come at the cost of wine. In a report from The HeraldDarren Fahey, the viticulture development officer for NSW Department of Primary Industries, estimated that birds cause $300 million-a-year crop and winegrape losses in Australia. That’s where Zi Wang, a Sydney University School of Aerospace Mechanical and Mechatronic Engineering PhD candidate, comes in with his plan to use a drone to scare away the hungry birds from Australian vineyards. The drone, which is being trialled in Hunter valley, Hilltops and Orange vineyards, can be piloted remotely, and the aim is to make it so the system can detect birds and automatically launch into action. It can emit mimicked bird distress calls, and even has a dummy crow attached to it, to make it look like the drone has just caught it. Perhaps if Heathrow starts having drone problems again, the way to defeat them is to send out a rival drone with another drone attached to it…

That’s it for The Nightcap this week, folks. Have a good one!

*An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that Hornitos Cristalino was first to market – apologies, folks. 

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First taste of Glenlivet 50 Year Old Winchester Collection

We were given a very special personal tasting with master distiller Alan Winchester ahead of the release of Glenlivet 50 Year Old Winchester Collection Vintage 1967, the distillery’s new $25,000 expression….

We were given a very special personal tasting with master distiller Alan Winchester ahead of the release of Glenlivet 50 Year Old Winchester Collection Vintage 1967, the distillery’s new $25,000 expression.

The Glenlivet was still in family hands when the youngest component in this 50 year old whisky was distilled in 1967. It was run by the great Captain Bill Smith Grant, descendent of distillery founder George Smith. In those days the stills would have been direct-fired by coal, and yet, according to the current master blender, Alan Winchester, the spirit has the same character today.

Alan Winchester, Glenlivet

Alan Winchester with very old cask

We met in the Punch Room at the London Edition Hotel along with Bethan Gray, the noted furniture designer, who has created a spectacular box for this very special Glenlivet. It’s inspired by the distillery, the landscape and her father, who was raised in the Cairngorms. It features stained maple wood inlaid with copper representing the charred casks and the stills, and mother of pearl, a nod to the freshwater mussels in the Spey. The whisky is housed in a hand-blown bottle by Brodie Nairn. It’s a work of such extraordinary craftsmanship that I didn’t dare touch it.

I felt the same about the contents; I was reluctant to risk spilling a precious drop (only 150 bottles have been filled) until Winchester picked his glass first and began describing it to me: “The whisky started life in European oak but spent most of its life in Amerian oak casks, it was then taken out and put in a refill ex-bourbon hogshead, that‘s why there’s still so much distillery character,” he said.

On the nose I could see what he meant. It was dominated by sweet peachy fruit followed by notes of apricot jam and toffee. On the palate there’s dark chocolate and orange peel. It’s very smooth despite the high alcohol. The finish has toffee, coconut, and “banoffee pie”, according to Winchester.

He went on to say, “at 48% ABV, it’s kept a lot of strength in maturation, and retained lots of Glenlivet flavours. It’s full of sweetness and has not been dominated by European oak”. Adding water brought out aromatic floral notes and spices like cardamom. Winchester put it more poetically: “it’s like heather after a shower of rain, everything is fragrant.” He reckoned the release is “in keeping with the fruity floral Glenlivet style. This is how it was produced a few generations ago and this is how we are producing it today, they were right and we’ve followed them. Good news!”

Glenlivet

Ah! the smell of heather after rain

Winchester is a native of Morayshire. His father had a farm that supplied barley for Glenfarclas and indeed, that is where Winchester got his start in whisky. He moved to Glenlivet in 1979 and became master distiller a short 40 years later in 2009. It’s an immense responsibility. “Glenlivet is the holder of the Speyside style,” Winchester said, “and it’s been handed over to me. You can change everything if you like but you must make sure the whisky doesn’t change.” When this whisky was distilled two generations back, the master distiller was Bob Arthur. It was a more formal time, “you called the manager Mister, it’s all Christian names now,” he said, with perhaps a tinge of regret.

After a period with Seagram, the distillery was bought by Pernod Ricard in 2000. Production at Glenlivet has been ramped up in recent years. “Glenlivet has been expanded three times in my career, the last two I was heavily involved in,” Winchester told me. “This has given us more capacity to meet the demands of anticipated growth”. But, he said, “though it’s a large distillery we speak about things in terms of craft.”

This Glenlivet 50 Year Old Winchester Collection Vintage 1967 (which will be released later in spring at $25,000 per bottle!) is part of the Winchester Collection of rare whiskies named, of course, after the master distiller himself, who is due to retire soon. I asked Winchester about retirement but he corrected me: “semi-retirement.” He was cagey about who was lined up to replace him (“there’s a few folk being groomed to take over, I hope they’re jostling for position”). He seems reluctant to leave (and who can blame him?), but soon the responsibility for this famous name will be in someone else’s hands.

 

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Distell unveils super-local Tobermory Hebridean Gin!

Are you a gin magpie with an eye for shiny, new juniper-based concoctions? Then listen up. Mull-based distillery Tobermory is in the process of releasing its first gin expression. Behold –…

Are you a gin magpie with an eye for shiny, new juniper-based concoctions? Then listen up. Mull-based distillery Tobermory is in the process of releasing its first gin expression. Behold – Tobermory Hebridean Gin!

Tobermory Distillery has been closed for a two-year renovation period, and the first fruits of that investment were on display at an event in London last night (27 March).

Not only did the distillery reveal its new Tobermory 12 Year Old, an unpeated bourbon cask-matured, virgin oak-finished Scotch whisky expression, but it surprised guests with a sneak peek at the new gin, too.

Tobermory Hebridean Gin

Tobermory Hebridean Gin – Tobermory’s first gin!

Tobermory Hebridean Gin is a 46.3% ABV small-batch-distilled gin made with local botanicals including elderflower, tea and wild heather, and a dash of Tobermory new-make spirit.

The new-make is used more as another botanical rather than the full base. The result means the oily, cereal character is a flavour contributor, rather than overwhelming the whole expression.

We were particularly impressed by the bottle, which showcases the iconic, colourful houses that border the shore in Tobermory, the island’s biggest town. The clear glass and label design are in line with a sleek brand refresh for the wider spirits range. 

Dr Kirstie McCallum, Distell’s master blender, told us that the gin release was the result of the investment in the distillery. It’s currently being produced in 60-litre still named Wee Betty, with a larger dedicated gin still set to be installed in the new spirits stillhouse (separate from the existing whisky-producing space) later this summer.

Once the larger still is in situ, the gin will be released more widely.

Tobermory 12 Year Old

The shiny new Tobermory 12 Year Old!

McCallum also confirmed Tobermory 10 Year Old has been discontinued with the launch of the 12 Year Old expression, and that we can expect to see more changes to the distillery’s core Scotch whisky range soon. In addition to the unpeated Tobermory range, the site also produces heavily-peated Scotch whisky under the Ledaig name.

Keep an eye on the blog for our full interview with McCallum, including further details on Tobermory Hebridean Gin and Tobermory 12 Year Old, coming soon!

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An evening of cocktails and perfume with Theodore Gin

We headed to London’s Eve Bar to check out the perfumery of Theodore Pictish Gin, the inaugural release from Greenwood Distillers. The wonderful folks from Greenwood Distillers hosted an evening…

We headed to London’s Eve Bar to check out the perfumery of Theodore Pictish Gin, the inaugural release from Greenwood Distillers.

The wonderful folks from Greenwood Distillers hosted an evening of gin, cocktails and perfume to celebrate their very first release, Theodore Pictish Gin. The brand was founded in 2018 by Barthelemy Brosseau, while the first Theodore gin expression was only released in February this year.

The gin takes its name from the Picts, an ancient tribe that once settled in Ardross in the Scotland’s Northern Highlands. Meanwhile, Theodore de Bry was a 16th century engraver who brought the Picts to life through his art, hence the gin’s name. The spirit was crafted with the help of olfactory expert and perfume designer Barnabé Fillion, so it made perfect sense for the brand to link the gin and perfume, and it was illuminating to understand how the botanicals and their scents interact together in order to fully grasp how the gin works.

Behold the Oud Gimlet!

We were welcomed through swirls of incense with a rather delicious cocktail that we found out was a ‘Celery Spritz’, a mix of Theodore Gin, celery cordial, salted honey and a dash of fizz. There were also three other cocktails which celebrated the botanicals in Theodore Gin, curated by the fabulous team at Eve:

Holy Collins: Theodore Gin, clear lemon, Makrut lime tincture, holy wood, and soda

Sakura Fizz: Theodore Gin, sakura blossom, lemon, and benzoin gum

Oud Gimlet: Theodore Gin, jasmine cordial, and oud essence.

Theodore Pictish Gin contains 16 botanicals including pine, lavender, pomelo and bourbon vetiver. As part of the sensory experience we were given each botanical to smell in its purest form, most of them as oils, as though the gin had been deconstructed into its key components. During this we also had a glass of the gin in hand, and it was fascinating to have the botanicals right in front of us as well as the finished product.

Now, these potent pure scents weren’t all sweet as roses (although we may note that Damask rose was in fact one of them!), some were downright weird and fairly unpleasant. Brand ambassador Keivan Nemati began to explain that “off-flavours are essential to composition”. If you were to separate out the compounds of let’s say, Makrut lime, remove the aromas that didn’t smell nice on their own and take all the ‘best’ or ‘nicest’ scents of, you would perhaps expect it to be some sort of extraordinary Makrut lime scent? You would be mistaken!

Scents that aren’t necessarily pleasant are still crucial when combined with other components. For example, in terms of the gin, bourbon vetiver is not the most alluring scent on its own, though it is exactly the addition of botanicals like vetiver that help others shine through and also bring balance.

Perfume and gin – an atmospheric combination

It was then time to enjoy the rest of the gin and have a chat with founder Barth Brosseau. Needless to say, the packaging of the gin is really quite something. The wonderful bespoke bottle is simultaneously refined and rustic, while the presentation tube is elaborately adorned with two strong and fierce Pictish warriors, surrounded by ornate drawings of the botanicals in the gin, drawn by the fabulous Carlotta Saracco. Brosseau mentioned that the male and female Picts are on opposite sides of the tube to reflect the same balance that is seen in every aspect of the gin.

It was fabulous to see Brosseau talk so passionately about the history that inspired him to create such a gin, as well as his vision for Greenwood Distillers’ future which is set to include Armagnac, mezcal and much more. Currently, half of the gin is produced in France and half is produced in the UK. But the brand is in the process of building its own distillery in Scotland, where it will be closer to the history which inspired Theodore Gin. Watch this space.

Wonderfully refreshing, this stuff…

 

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