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Master of Malt Blog

Category: News

Diageo Special Releases 2019 details are here!

Diageo has just this moment released early details of its Special Releases 2019 collection – eight cask-strength Scotch whiskies under a ‘Rare by Nature’ theme. We’re excited! While pricing, full tasting…

Diageo has just this moment released early details of its Special Releases 2019 collection – eight cask-strength Scotch whiskies under a ‘Rare by Nature’ theme. We’re excited!

While pricing, full tasting notes and availability have yet to be disclosed, the octet features liquid from Mortlach, The Singleton of Glen Ord, Cragganmore, Cardhu, Lagavulin, Talisker, Pittyvaich and Dalwhinnie. So no Port Ellen, and no single grain this time round.

The ‘Rare by Nature’ theme refers to the surroundings of each distillery, as well as the distillers and blenders who made them, and “the whisky lovers who will enjoy them”.

So. What’s in the line-up?

Cardhu 14 Years Old

Said to be a “supremely elegant” expression of the “warm-hearted” Speyside Scotch.

Cragganmore 12 Years Old

A “complex and intriguing” bottling, bringing together Speyside character with “a touch of spice and smoke”.

Dalwhinnie 30 Years Old

And “extra matured and unusual” one, with an “undeniably” gentle character.

Lagavulin 12 Years Old

“Truly spirited yet youthful” – one from the classic Islay distillery.

Mortlach 26 Years Old

The Beast of Dufftown apparently at its “most impressive”.

Pittyvaich 29 Years Old

A “rare sighting” from the closed distillery.

Talisker 15 Years Old

“Sweet yet deep and spicy”. Delicious.

The Singleton of Glen Ord 18 Years Old

“Different and delicious” expression, said to never have been previously bottled.

We know they’re only skeleton details, but which of the Special Releases 2019 expressions are you most excited to taste? Let us know on social or in the comments below!

Diageo Special Releases 2019

Such mystery

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The Nightcap: 19 July

It’s a bumper week for The Nightcap, with stories about Lizzo, Champagne, crystal, Snoop Dog and millennials. What a time to be alive. Welcome to yet another Friday! No, it’s…

It’s a bumper week for The Nightcap, with stories about Lizzo, Champagne, crystal, Snoop Dog and millennials. What a time to be alive.

Welcome to yet another Friday! No, it’s not a surprise sequel to the classic ‘90s flick Friday, though that would be pretty great. However, another Friday means another edition of The Nightcap, our weekly round-up of all the booze news stories. It’s almost like a movie, except much shorter. Which, honestly, probably a good thing. Did you see that superhero movie from earlier in the year? It was like nine hours long and didn’t even have an intermission to let me go get an ice cream. Take all the breaks you want reading The Nightcap this week. Grab me a Cornetto if you think about it.

So, on the MoM Blog this week we had Annie in charge of Cocktail of the Week, mixing up a Piña Fumada, and then she chatted to Ron Zacapa master blender Lorena Vásquez. Adam checked out the upcoming releases from Royal Salute – a blended malt and a peated treat. Henry took on a fun New Arrival of the Week which doesn’t even have a name, had a good nosey at some new Ocho Tequilas and continued the agave theme by having a natter with Björn Kjellberg.  Guest columnist Nate Brown turned his eye to the word ‘terroir’ and what it means for spirits marketing. Kristy met with Highland Park’s Martin Markvardsen and filmed a pretty detailed video interview with him, getting the scoop on all things Orkney. 

Oh, and then there was all this…

Yayyyyy Team MoM!

MoM marketing team scoops digital award!

We got all glammed up and headed to the big smoke on Wednesday night. Not just for cocktails (although we did head to the wonderful Swift afterwards) but to the UK Digital Growth Awards! And it was a particularly exciting evening. We picked up the In-House Team of the Year trophy for our marketing squad! It’s fair to say we were over the moon, and so proud of each other’s achievements. From the editorial and content teams to campaigns, film, email and proper geeky stuff like PPC, we genuinely love what we do. And it all loops back to sending the good people their booze! Hurrah!

Francois Saurel (The Serious)

Macallan parent company picks new leader for Asia Pacific region

Some big news just in from Edrington, The Macallan’s parent company. Frenchman Francois Saurel will be the new regional marketing director for Asia Pacific. The vacancy was created in March when the previous occupant, Igor Boyadjian, became managing director of The Macallan. Saurel who previously worked with beauty company Coty has spent over 20 years with luxury brands in both Europe and Asia. He will report to Boyadjian who commented: “I am pleased to welcome Francois to Edrington as the next regional managing director, Asia Pacific. His leadership skills, global luxury brands experience and his proven commercial track record, make him an excellent addition to an already talented team. Saurel said: “It is an honour to be leading the Edrington teams across Asia Pacific, a key strategic region for the business with many exciting opportunities and where Edrington is ideally placed to capitalise on premiumisation trends. Edrington is set up for significant long term growth, thanks to its unrivalled portfolio of brands, great people and unique culture.” Bon chance, Francois!

Seafood-specific Champers? Go on, then.

Piper-Heidsieck launches special seafood-friendly Champagne with Wright Brothers

Champagne house Piper-Heidsieck has created a special cuvée in conjunction with Wright Brothers. No, not the aviation pioneers from Ohio, that would be strange. No, these Wright Brothers are the London fishmongers. Glad we’ve cleared that one up. Anyway, this extra brut Champagne is called Essentiel by Wright Brothers. It’s drier than most Champagnes (only 5g of sugar per bottle) and it’s specifically designed to go with seafood, especially oysters and other shellfish. “We believe together we have created the perfect accompaniment for seafood and shellfish,” said Robin Hancock, co-founder of Wright Brothers. Emilien Boutillat, chef de cave at Piper-Heidsieck added: “A shared vision of sustainability and excellence made Wright Brothers the natural choice to visit us and take part in the creation of a bespoke Champagne to suit their seafood-focused restaurants. Champagne and oysters both strongly express their place of origin, and when enjoyed together make for a memorable moment.” Not so keen on seafood? We expect Essentiel probably tastes delicious with vegetarian options, too.

The Glencairn glass: taking over the world.

Glencairn now sells 65,000 whisky glasses a week

Award-winning Glasgow glassware firm Glencairn Crystal has just released some impressive figures. The company which supplies the likes of the Houses of Parliament, Liverpool Football Club, Diageo and the SWA with whisky tasting glasses, has been growing without a pause for 15 years. Sales have doubled sales every five years since 2004; in the latest figures Glencairn turned over £11.3m, up from £858k in 2004; now more than 65,000 Glencairn glasses are now sold per week globally. The world whisky boom has been great news for this family-owned business. Scott Davidson, new product development director said: “We are so proud of the success we have achieved in this past year. Our hardworking team and the worldwide growth of the spirits market, specifically whisky, has meant that we have been able to capitalise on what we do best – provide clients with a high-end customer service they can’t get anywhere else.” So let’s raise a glass, a Glencairn Tasting Glass, to this great Scottish success story. 

Happy 5th birthday, team ELLC!

Happy fifth birthday, East London Liquor Company!

On Monday we headed to deepest, darkest Bow to join some very special celebrations: East London Liquor Company just turned five! The distillery, bar and restaurant made the most of the weather, with guests spilling out across the courtyard, enjoying a barbeque, G&Ts and, in true ELLC style, Negronis on tap. It was a delight! An additional highlight? A gorgeous cake with sparklers for candles, and a really cute dog pottering about the place. Yes please. We highly recommend a visit: there’s a cocktail bar complete with seasonal menu, the food has a strong Italian emphasis, and you can check out the gorgeous stills while you sip! The distillery is open for tours, too. Check out the ELLC site for more details, or snap up a gin, vodka or rum right here. More whisky to follow!

I mean, fizz always makes travel better

Searcys Art of Travel launch with Sipsmith and Veuve Clicquot 

If your Eurostar trip feels like it’s missing that final touch, we might have just the ticket! Searcys Champagne Bar at St Pancras station is kicking off the summer with its brand new The Art of Travel Afternoon Tea, a collaboration with Veuve Clicquot, GlobeTrotter and Sipsmith Gin. Each of the 12 booths (it’s the longest Champagne bar in Europe, don’t you know) represents a different European destination, while the table has been transformed into a map alongside rather aesthetic pastel seating. Meanwhile, the tea itself brings together tasty delicacies from different European cities, from passion fruit Swiss meringue pie to smoked salmon crumpets. There’s even an avocado and quinoa wrap for the more health-conscious. The best part is, it’s even served in a suitcase! No kidding. To sip on, of course there’s a selection of delicious Veuve Clicquot Yellow Label, Rosé and other cuvées, or a whole host of cocktails showcasing Sipsmith Gin. Best of both worlds is the scrumptious ‘Take on the French 75’, which marries both gin and fizz! It’s available now until 9 September, and while you’re there just don’t forget to push the ‘Press for Champagne’ button. You’re welcome.

Drop it like it’s hot

The Coral Room brings actual Gin & Juice to Snoop collab

Have you heard the news? The Coral Room will be channelling its inner Snoop. How, you wonder? Well, the team will be serving Gin & Juice slushies at Soho’s Dogg House. It’s all in aid of one of the summer’s biggest footwear collaborations – Duke + Dexter and Snoop Dogg’s Limited edition loafers and sliders. There’s a delicious colour palette too:  leafy and acid greens against coral – that’s the shoes and the drinks. The Coral Room team will be bringing the West Coast lifestyle with its Gin & Juice serves. To add to the atmosphere, a DJ will play some of the iconic artist’s most famous work, while screening his best music videos. It’s the perfect backdrop to the limited-run collaboration. The Coral Room and its Gin & Juice will take up residence at 40 Berwick Street until 21 July, where the artists will be showcasing all 15 styles from the collection.

She like chardonnay, get better over time

Absolut teams up with Lizzo for a juicy summer

The new drink of the summer? According to Absolut, Absolut Juice is set to be the must-have spirit of the season. A new base for spritzy serves, it’s available in two delicious flavours: Strawberry and Apple. There are no artificial flavours, each drink is made with 5% real fruit juice, and at 99 calories per serving, it’s a lighter option, too. The most exciting thing? It’s in partnership with actual Lizzo! “When I heard Absolut was launching a new product called, ‘Absolut Juice’ it was like they made it just for me,” the Juice and Cuz I Love You singer said.  “It’s an honour to celebrate the success of my first single with Absolut’s new product launch and the synergy is almost too perfect.” The drinks you could make with the new ‘juicy surprises’ include the Absolut Juice & Soda (you’ll need 1 part Absolut Juice and 2 parts Club Soda) and the Absolut Juice Spritz (1 part Absolut Juice, 1 part Club Soda and 1 part Sparkling wine). If you’re feeling more adventurous, there’s also the Absolut Juice Strawberry Punch, with 1 ½ parts Absolut Juice Strawberry, 1 part lemonade, ½ part cranberry and a splash of club soda, garnished with a lemon peel. Another plus? They have a recommended price of US$19.99. We’re hoping both Strawberry and Apple will arrive at MoM Towers later in the summer!  

What cycling in 40°C looks like

Mentzendorff cycling team braves heatwave to raise £35,000 for The Benevolent

From 24-28 June, Equipo Mentzendorff slipped into their skin-tight cycling gear, got on their bikes and rode around Tuscany to raise money for The Benevolent Charity, an organisation that provides help and support to members of the UK drinks industry and their families. During the so-called ‘Giro di Toscana’, the team, made up of Mentzendorff staff members, customers and consumers, covered 300km during the recent heatwave with the thermometer hitting 40°C every day. Tough work – but they raised £35,000 for the charity! Mentzendorff is the agent for Bollingers Champagne, Taylor’s Port and many other big names, as well as producing a legendary brand of kummel. Team leader Andrew Hawes said: “I would like to thank the twelve riders, our support team and our incredible hosts, Ciacci Piccolomini and Fertuna, for their amazing efforts. Thank you also to everyone who has supported us and donated to this great cause.” Ross Carter, CEO of The Benevolent added: “We are incredibly thankful to Team Mentzendorff for their on-going support of The Benevolent and a huge congratulations for nearly doubling their fundraising target and for doing so in such intense climatic conditions!” Well done to everyone concerned. 

Join the Zero Likes revolution

And finally… Kahlúa reckons millennials are missing out on life’s key moments because phones

Kahlúa brings us some hilarious and somewhat concerning news this week, as the brand took it upon itself to survey a group of millennials about social media. The stats are… interesting. Over 90 percent believe it’s important to live in the moment, while, rather conversely more than half have also missed an important moment because they were too busy trying to capture it on social media! Perhaps even more alarmingly, one third of those surveyed said they would miss social media more than sex if they were stranded on an desert island. Geez. So, Kahlúa teamed up with actress Jackie Cruz (who you’ll likely recognise as Flaca from Orange is the New Black) to put on the Zero Likes Given exhibition in New York! Fabulous pictures without a single like on Instagram will be displayed, to ease the pressure of likes. Speaking of which, the coffee liqueur brand also created the Bottom Nine website, which generates your nine least liked pictures on Instagram! Go on, try it. We promise it’ll be funny.

Have a wonderful, phone-free weekend, folks!

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Royal Salute adds two whiskies; revamps look

Royal Salute is toasting a couple of delightful additions to its signature 21 Year Old range with its first ever blended malt and permanent peated whisky, as well as a…

Royal Salute is toasting a couple of delightful additions to its signature 21 Year Old range with its first ever blended malt and permanent peated whisky, as well as a fancy new makeover.

Back in May, I was fortunate enough to be invited to Aynhoe Park, a Grade I listed, 17th-century country house in the Cotswolds, by Royal Salute, who promised big news. But before we get to that, we need to discuss the venue. It’s like the Mad Hatter’s summer house. There are stuffed giraffes with bow ties and bowler hats. A herd of (unstuffed) white stags roam in the fields outside. There’s even an underground nightclub. Somehow, none of this was the most exciting part of our adventure, however. That was to come in the form of delicious Scotch whisky, as Royal Salute revealed the reason why we were all assembled was so it could show off its brand new look and two delicious drams: The Lost Blend and The Malts Blend.

We’ll get to the makeover later, but we know you really want to hear all about the two additions to the signature 21 Year Old range. Master blender Sandy Hyslop was visibly excited about them himself at the event. “As master blender for Royal Salute, there is no greater honour than protecting the continuity of the blend that was first created in 1953 and has remained exceptional ever since,” he explained. “But to have the opportunity to create something entirely new for this sensational portfolio – an elevated Scotch evoking the signature Royal Salute style but with its own unique characteristics – that’s truly the dream.”

Without further ado, let’s take a look at them…

Royal Salute

Aynhoe Park: it’s wild.

Royal Salute The Lost Blend

Our first newcomer is The Lost Blend, which includes scarce whiskies from distilleries no longer in production such as Caperdonich and Dumbarton (much like the Lost Distilleries Blend). Whisky from the Imperial Distillery is said to be at the heart of the blend, which is a fitting choice for Royal Salute, a brand that has obvious connections to royalty. Imperial was named in honour of Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee, while the distillery itself topped with a gilded cast iron crown in tribute to the momentous event. Available exclusively at Duty Free stores around the world, the Lost Blend is the first permanent peated whisky to join the Royal Salute range alongside The Signature Blend. The expression is, of course, presented in Royal Salute’s new-look packaging and housed in a crafted porcelain flagon. “Including some of the scarcest whiskies in our inventory, The Lost Blend celebrates the legacy of some of the best whisky distilleries in Scotland which I am proud to immortalise in an exceptional new 21 Year Old blend”, Hyslop said of the whisky. In the press notes we were told to expect notes of sweet, juicy pears, orange rind, hazelnuts and aromatic peat from The Lost Blend. Here’s what we thought of it:

Royal Salute

Royal Salute 21 Year Old The Lost Blend

Royal Salute 21 Year Old The Lost Blend

Nose: Bergamot, banana milkshake and crème brûlée initially, then ripe barley, some drying ginger and sharp Granny Smith Apples. An aroma of incense and charred pineapple add depth underneath.

Palate: Through bonfire embers, cinder toffee and conference pear there’s light oak char, freshly baked gingerbread and earthy vanilla. There’s a note of lemon and orange sherbets present in the backdrop.

Finish: Caramelised tropical fruit and aromatic peat linger.

Royal Salute The Malts Blend

The second addition is The Malts Blend (my personal highlight), which was crafted with more than 21 single malts aged for a minimum of 21 years from the five whisky regions of Scotland. Royal Salute’s hot new makeover is also present in The Malts Blend’s packaging, which is housed in a crafted porcelain flagon. Because consistency is key. “Like a symphony, each of the single malts ‘performing’ in this blend complement and enhance one another’s unique flavours and together create the final composition,” commented Hyslop. “Working with the finest single malts to create The Malts Blend was extremely special, and from the moment you taste the super-sweet richness of this blend, with its hints of spice, it’s clear that this whisky is nothing short of magic. Royal Salute says that The Malts Blend is an “indulgent and profound Scotch whisky” that’s bursting with notes of orchard fruits and enriched by subtle spices. Once again, here’s what we think:

Royal Salute

Royal Salute 21 Year Old The Malts Blend

Royal Salute 21 Year Old The Malts Blend

Nose: Ripe nectarines, homemade blackberry compote and crème brûlée, then stem ginger and cardamom ponds. The nose then develops into notes of apricot yoghurt, marzipan icing and vanilla ice cream with golden syrup drizzled on top. It’s a deeply beautiful, nostalgic nose.

Palate: More baking spice, ginger powder this time and a rush of tannin oak initially, followed by sticky sultanas, toffee apples and sponge cake drenched in honey. Delicate florals and a little black pepper heat are present underneath.

Finish: Stone fruit in syrup, which lasts an age, with a hint of cooked banana.

Royal Salute

Royal Salute showed off its new look at Aynhoe Park

The new-look Royal Salute

The makeover, meanwhile, was created in collaboration with artist Kristjana S. Williams. “We wanted to create something special for our Signature 21 Year Old. This is, after all, a whisky first created for royalty. The result is a fun, vibrant take on our rich heritage that brings to life our royal legacy with a colourful depiction of the British Royal Menagerie at the Tower of London, and it’s unlike anything we’ve seen from a Scotch whisky,” commented Mathieu Deslandes, Royal Salute’s marketing director. “There has never been a more exciting time for our brand. With a bold new look across our packaging that speaks to our unique quality, craft and personality, we’re raising the bar for Scotch whisky. And we’re only just getting started.” The packaging really is something, especially the Royal Salute lion, crooked crown and all, looking over his colourful kingdom. It’s quite the scene. There are patriotic fluttering tartan butterflies, one very fashionable owl and plenty of nods to the production process of Royal Salute whisky like oak casks, a rushing river and Speyside distillery. It’s a quite a departure from the classic Royal Salute look. It also has to be said, the more you look at the design, the more Aynhoe Park makes sense as a venue. It literally had a lion with a crown in the dining room. I want to go back.

Things are certainly looking good for Royal Salute, in and out of the bottle. We’re looking forward to seeing what they do next.

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The Nightcap: 12 July

It’s Friday which means it’s time for the news. This week we’ve go a celeb booze special with Jon Bon Jovi, Breaking Bad, Charlie Sheen and cocktails named after your…

It’s Friday which means it’s time for the news. This week we’ve go a celeb booze special with Jon Bon Jovi, Breaking Bad, Charlie Sheen and cocktails named after your favourite Tory politicians. Plus two Johnnie Walker stories. Double trouble.

As the country gets steamier, the need for high quality refreshment increases. So, we hope you’ve prepared a suitably delicious drink to accompany this week’s Nightcap. Without wishing to blow our own trumpets, there’s some particularly interesting, amusing and surprising stories, so do read to the end. Maybe make yourself another drink. But first, let’s have a recap of the week on the blog:

We announced the winner of our Spirit of America competition! Elsewhere, Ian Buxton was on hand to ask some questions over a recent claim by Glenfiddich Distillery, while Annie enjoyed some British apple brandy and looked at the science behind the dreaded hangover. Meanwhile, Adam reported back from a a sobering Imbibe 2019, then talked the Sexton Single Malt whiskey with its creator Alex Thomas before kicking off our Rum Month coverage by picking a bold, spicy rum as our New Arrival of the Week! Henry then made the delightfully refreshing Slingshot his Cocktail of the Week.

Johnnie Walker Blue Label

The snappily-titled Johnnie Walker Blue Label Ghost and Rare Glenury Royal will be available soon

New Johnnie Walker Ghost & Rare release revealed

The third release in Johnnie Walker’s  Blue Label Ghost & Rare series highlighting lost distilleries is here (well, nearly, you’ll have to wait until October to get your hands on it). This latest edition celebrates Glenury Royal, a distillery that was founded in 1825, by Captain Robert Barclay (for some reason there are a lot of Captains in Scotch whisky history), but closed in 1985. It’s not the only lost distillery in the blend, there’s Cambus, a grain distillery that closed in 1993, and Pittyvaich, a Speyside malt distillery that was demolished in 2003, too and five non-ghostly distilleries, Glen Elgin, Inchgower, Glenlossie, Cameronbridge and Glenkinchie. Master blender Jim Beveridge said: “We have waited patiently for that moment when we turn our thoughts to this exceptionally rare whisky, carefully watching over our maturing casks until the time was right to explore its uniquely indulgent character”. Some single malt purists might think it a crime to blend such rare whiskies but having tried a little sample, we have to disagree; it’s absolutely sumptuous with layers of dark chocolate, dried apricot, orange peel and fudge. All this for £275 for a 70cl bottle.

Bendict Ainsworth

Benny Ainsworth at the head of the table declaiming a little Shakespeare

Shall I compare thee to Santenay? 

Wine and food matching is old hat and putting drink with music so last year; the latest thing is booze and poetry. Coin Events and Shelved Wine are putting on a series of events called ‘Shakespeare and Wine’ which unsurprisingly consists of someone reading Shakespeare while you drink specially-chosen wine. Not just anyone though, at each event the lines will be declaimed by a trained actor alongside wines chosen by a top sommelier, for example Valentino Minotti from the Hakkasan Restaurant and Benny Ainsworth (who you will be pleased to know, has played the Dane.) The creator of the series of events Adam Burak said: ““We recognised with disappointment that all the wine tasting experiences are almost the same. They have their essential elements and sophisticated art, but we were eager to give more. We aimed to explore a brand new multi-sensory experience. ‘Shakespeare and Wine’ is a joyful conversation between actor, sommelier, and the guests about love, wine, passion, and poetry.” The evenings start in August and will take place twice a month in a variety of “secret locations” around London. Oooh mysterious! Perhaps after Shakespeare, the company could turn its attention to other poets such as Burns: “my love is like a red red rosé ” has a certain ring to it.

Breaking Bad

Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul from Breaking Bad

Celebrity agave rush with Charlie Sheen and Breaking Bad 

Move over Chris Noth and Clooney and co, there’s a new Tequila player in town – and it is none other than celebrity bad boy Charlie Sheen. The tee-total actor surprised us all when he announced he’d taken a stake in Don Sueños and joined the team as co-owner. Founded in 2017, the brand offers a range of Tequilas, all made from Blue Weber agave. Sheen joins Kumiko Zimmerman as co-owner.“As a native of Japan, where fine spirits are quite popular, I’m well aware of what goes into making a superior product, as well as the importance of having a strong team to promote the brand and tell our story.” she said.  “We believe Charlie will be a great addition to team Don Sueños.” said Zimmerman. Sheen himself added: “When the company reached out to me with an opportunity to get involved with their organisation, I was instantly interested and excited, as, in the past, Don Sueños’ Tequila Blanco was one of my favorite sipping spirits due to its superior taste and quality. While I am proud of my sobriety for over 19 months now and am firmly committed to living a clean and sober lifestyle, I chose to become a part owner of Don Sueños because I know their tequila is of the highest quality. I’m excited to be able to work with Kumiko and the team to help Don Sueños continue to grow and to bring awareness, both to its outstanding products and to the charitable organisations it supports.” There we go. But that’s not the only celebrity agave story this week, as we have just learned the Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul from Breaking Bad have launched their own brand of mezcal called Dos Hombres. Those Hollywood types sure do love Mexican spirits.

Look how tall the Cambridge agave flower is!

Cambridge agave plant flowers for the first time in 57 years

Forget Mexico, nowadays if you want to go and see a flowering agave you only have to travel as far as Cambridge! Cambridge University Botanic Garden has been nurturing an agave plant since 1962, and it began flowering on 19 June. The flower is already three feet tall, growing 12cm in just 24 hours at one point last week, and is showing no signs of stopping. Wild agave can grow up to six feet tall when flowering. The folks tending the plant are even planning to take out the top glass panels from the greenhouse. Its growth rate is literally through the roof! The bad news is once the plant has flowered it will die, though horticulturalists over in Cambridge reckon it could be another month before it fully blooms. Of course the real question is, can we make mezcal from it? Nobody can be sure exactly what species it is until it flowers, they believe it may be the Agave heteracantha species, but alas, the garden did confirm that this particular agave can’t be used to produce any tasty spirits. Even so, that’s one impressive plant.

Macallans

Rare Macallans go under the hammer tonight!

Rare Macallans go under the hammer

Starting from 5pm today a bumper quantity of rare whiskies will be up for auction on the Just Whisky website. This includes a 72 year old Macallan in a Lalique crystal decanter that was released to celebrate the opening of the company’s new distillery last year. Other notable Macallans include the aptly-named ‘The New Range Rover’ which was bottled in the 1990s to commemorate the launch of a new Range Rover; a 50 year old 1949 in a Caithness Glass Millennium decanter; the 1948 Select Reserve and a 52 Year Old, which recently went for £58,000 on Just Whisky, a record for the company. Graham Crane, director at Just Whisky, said: “Every now and then an auction line-up comes along that has collectors and aficionados on the edge of their seats with excitement. This is one of those times. We are delighted to offer such high quality lots in July’s auction and includes some incredibly rare bottles which you won’t find at retail or in the resale market for years. The price for Macallan has gone through the roof with demand resulting in new, age statement releases being sold for tens of thousands of pounds more than the original retail price and non age statement selling for up to 800% more that the retail price within a month.” The auction runs until Sunday 21st July. Better start collecting those pennies now.

The Clean Vic

A Seedlip cocktail

An alcohol free pub, whatever next?

In a move that is sure to have booze traditionalists muttering into their real ale, a new pub has been announced that will sell no or low alcohol drinks, and nothing else. On the 24 and 25 July the Old Crown in Holborn, London will only be serving drinks containing less than 0.5% ABV. It’s a takeover by Sainsbury’s who are calling it the ‘Clean Vic’, geddit?, and will be serving drinks by Seedlip, and the world’s first alcoholic ‘whiskey’ Celtic Soul. Anne Cooper, buyer at Sainsbury’s, said: “We’re seeing a really exciting spike in the no and low alcohol category, which has been growing since 2001. From speaking to customers, we know there is still some uncertainty about what these no and low alcohol products taste like and how they are made. So, our specially curated workshops in the Clean Vic will help customers learn more about these drinks, providing key tasting notes given by the experts.” So put on your most sensible trousers and get down to Holborn this July. You know it makes sense.

Jon Bon Jovi

Jon Bon Jovi and son enjoying some rosé

Jon Bon Rosé launches in the UK

Top soft metaller Jon Bon Jovi’s pink wine produced in collaboration with his son Jesse Bongiovi and Gérard Bertrand launches in the UK this week. And for some unfathomable reason it’s not called Jon Bon Rosé nor is it called Bed of  Rosés (after the band’s 1993 power ballad). Instead it’s been named Hampton Water, apparently that was Jesse Bongiovi’s idea, after the Hamptons where rich New Yorkers go on holiday. So the name is a bit rubbish but the wine, as you might expect from one of France’s top winemaker’s is excellent. It’s a blend of Grenache, Cinsault and Mourvèdre from the Languedoc and has already picked up some rave reviews in the States. MoM were given some to try and we give the contents a big thumbs up. Though someone should tell the Bongiovi family what a Hampton is in Cockney rhyming slang so Hampton Water sounds a bit like. . .  oh, never mind. You can work it out for yourself.

Johnnie Walker highball collection

Serving suggestion

Are Highballs the future? Johnnie Walker thinks so

Refreshing, easy-sipping and oh-so delicious – the Highball is certainly a versatile serve. And now Diageo’s blended Scotch behemoth Johnnie Walker is hoping to ‘elevate’ the drink through a new global campaign. “The popularity of the whisky highball is soaring right now – and it’s easy to see why,” said John Williams, Johnnie Walker global brand director. “It’s where the ease and refreshing taste of a cool beer meets the colourful, visceral world of cocktails. And for those who think they ‘won’t like whisky’ it’s a real game-changer.” So what is the brand going to be doing in its quest for Highball domination? There’s a focus on mixing the whisky with five key flavours: peach, lemon, green tea, elderflower and ginger, in the Johnnie Walker Highball Collection. It’s designed to appeal to non-Scotch drinkers, but, to be fair, they all sound pretty good to us, too. Expect to see loads of ads across, digital activity and experiential goings on, alongside in-bar and in-store activations. And if you live in a “trendsetting neighbourhood”, to quote the release, you’ll be first in line to see the campaign. “We’ve celebrated the highball at Johnnie Walker for the last few years, but with the trend for longer drinks on the rise, it feels like now is the right time to really explode the amazing possibilities which this category can offer,” Williams added. Highball, anyone?

The winning bidder Rogan Chester with his prize

Gin created at the top of Mount Snowdon becomes one of the UK’s most expensive

The award-winning Aber Falls Distillery has made history this week with the first gin to be distilled at the top of Mount Snowdon after it was sold at a charity auction for a staggering £1,085 (which, fittingly, is the same height in metres as Mount Snowdon). The sale has made it one of the UK’s most expensive gins, and given that of the three bottles made there was only bottle made available for the public, it is also one of the rarest gins in the world. The first distillery of its kind in North Wales for more than 100 years produced the bottle of Summit Gin: Mountaineers Cut using botanicals picked from the side of Mount Snowdon, which had to be specially approved by the local government given the area’s protected status. “It’s not my usual thing to spend this much money on a rare bottle of alcohol but I was fortunate to have a little win on the Grand National and was looking for an investment,” said the winning bidder, Rogan Chester, a 29-year-old man from Porthmadog. “To be the owner of the most expensive bottle of Welsh gin, and one of the most expensive in the UK is a surreal feeling, but I’m a proud Welshmen and hopefully it will be worth a bit more in the future.” Congratulation to Mr. Chester, who we are not even remotely jealous of. Nope. Not at all. Not one bit. Nada.

Dark'n Tory

This is a Dark N’ Tory, looks rather nice actually

And finally, Dark n’ Tory anyone? 

For those who like a little satire in their drink, the Blue Boar Bar at the Conrad London St. James’ is offering cocktails inspired (that’s not quite the right word, is it?) by the Conservative party. The menu will be launched on Thursday 18 July with a special evening with cartoonist David Lewis in the house to do caricatures of guests. Customers at the bar, a well-known politicos hangout, will be able to choose between a Maygarita, a Boris on the Rocks and a Dark n’ Tory. Hurry, they won’t be around for long. The cocktails that is, what did you think we meant?

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The Nightcap: 5 July

Tune in to The Nightcap this week for news about new distilleries, very old Talisker, and… Oh, tariffs again. Great. It’s been a busy ol’ week here at MoM Towers,…

Tune in to The Nightcap this week for news about new distilleries, very old Talisker, and… Oh, tariffs again. Great.

It’s been a busy ol’ week here at MoM Towers, only somewhat hindered by the sunburns acquired in a field in Somerset. However, with plenty of after-sun lotion at hand, we have made it all the way through to Friday, and we’re ready to provide you with all the news from the world of booze, because it’s once again time for The Nightcap!

On the blog this week we went competition crazy, announcing a Spirit of America edition in time for the 4th of July, while also declaring the winners of our VIP Bombay Sapphire and Mortlach competitions. Elsewhere, Nate Brown returned to shine a light on two distilleries doing something a bit different with new-make spirit, before we talked all things barley at Bruichladdich. Henry had an action packed week, enjoying an old favourite as his Cocktail of the Week, a new Starward expression for his New Arrival of the Week and four special iterations of Johnnie Walker Black Label inspired by key Scotch whisky regions. He even checked out all the good work the clever clogs at Circumstance Distillery are doing. Adam then reported on the major blaze that engulfed a Jim Beam warehouse facility, while Annie was on hand to spill the beans on Chivas Brothers’ Secret Speyside single malts  before telling us all about the return of Jigger Beaker Glass. If all of that wasn’t enough, we also showed you what Master of Malt Dram Club members will be receiving in July!

Phew. Catch your breath for a moment, we’ve not even started with the rest of the booze news yet…

The Nightcap

Not the Scotch, please anything but the Scotch…

Scotch whisky targeted by new US tariffs

The US continues to play the role of the Darth Vader of the drinks world. This week, Scotch whisky was named among a list of imported products in line for possible new tariffs. Just to underline how significant this is, here are some numbers. They are really big. The US is the world’s largest export market for Scotch whisky by value, snapping up £1.04 billion-worth in 2018. It’s also the second largest by volume, with 137 million 70cl bottles heading its way last year. Scotch also makes up 12% of the total American whisk(e)y market. While we don’t know yet when the tariffs could be imposed, we do know that they could affect European Union imports worth up to $4bn (£3.2bn) including luxury goods: think cheeses like Parmesan and Gouda (please no), pasta (hold me), olives (they wouldn’t dare) and Irish whiskey (now they’ve gone too far). The issue stems from a 15-year long dispute at the World Trade Organization between the US and EU over subsidies given to plane-makers Airbus, from Europe, and the US’s Boeing. It was only back in April that the US announced proposed a whole different set of tariffs on $11bn-worth of EU goods. “Exports of Scotch whisky to the US have been zero-tariff for 20 years, so it is disappointing that Scotch whisky has been drawn into this dispute,” a spokesperson for the Scotch Whisky Association commented. “The Scotch whisky industry has consistently opposed the imposition of tariffs, which harms economies on both sides of the Atlantic which depend on trade for their continued prosperity.” Scotland’s devolved government also weighed in on this issue, stating it was “deeply concerned” that Scotch whisky was being implicated in the dispute. “We are calling on the UK government to make urgent representations to the EU to ensure that Scotch whisky is not collateral damage to this long-term dispute between the EU and the US,” a spokesperson said. The Distilled Spirits Council of the United States was equally condemning of the move, warning that it may harm both jobs and consumers in the country. Hopefully, sense prevails and we can report some good news on this issue soon.

The Nightcap

You can get yourself a bottle of hemp rum here

Dead Man’s Fingers creates CBD-infused rum

The buzz around hemp and spirits just keeps on growing. That’s right, what is said to be the first CBD Hemp Rum has been brought into existence by Dead Man’s Fingers! The original rum has been infused with hemp, which naturally contains around 20% CBD (cannabidiol). Most importantly though, it definitely doesn’t contain any THC (tetrahydrocannabinol, try saying that five times fast), which is the psychoactive compound in the plant. “Flavoured and spiced is the fastest-growing rum sub-category, driven by penetration of younger consumers, yet almost a quarter of rum drinkers are frustrated with lack of choice, the highest out of all spirits categories”, says Lucy Cottrell, brand manager for Dead Man’s Fingers. “Dead Man’s Fingers Hemp Rum is an exceptional spirit that pushes the boundaries where others haven’t dared, and fulfils rum drinkers’ very clear expectations for something more exciting and experimental. With this launch, Dead Man’s Fingers will bring fun back to a category which has become stale in recent years.” The rum weighs in at 40% ABV, and is said to have notes of “cola, coffee, hops and pine with a grassy herbal back note”. We rather enjoyed the suggestion of a twist on a classic, a ‘Dankuiri’. If you fancied giving it a go, you’re in luck, because you can nab a bottle from your favourite online retailer!

The Nightcap

Look! It’s all new and shiny and wonderful!

New Lagg Distillery opens on Arran

Good news, everyone: Lagg Distillery has officially opened its doors to the public and is now welcoming visitors to the brand new site! The second distillery on the Isle of Arran, Lagg has already begun whisky production, with the first middle cut of spirit recorded on 19 March 2019. The spirit is expected to mature into a rich, smoky, heavily-peated (50ppm) single malt, a departure from the style produced at the original Isle of Arran Distillers site in Lochranza, which opened in 1995. Both distilleries are expected to draw over 200,000 visitors by 2020. The visitor centre includes a shop, an interactive video showcasing Arran’s whisky history, a café and restaurant, with ingredients sourced locally, as well as two new copper stills and four wooden washbacks. Within the same room. The experience means visitors can be guided through every stage of production, and highlights Arran’s place in the story of Scotch, with frequent references to past distillation in the island, both legal and illicit. Production will be overseen by both distillery manager Graham Omand, an Islay native who has spent the past eight years at the Lochranza distillery, and master distiller James MacTaggart, who has over 40 years of experience in the industry. “We’re all thrilled to be celebrating the opening of our spectacular new Lagg Distillery and to bring production back to the heart of whisky-making on the Isle of Arran,” Omand said. “We can’t wait to start writing the next chapter of this story and welcoming whisky-lovers from around the world to Lagg.”

The Nightcap

It might be small gin, but it packs a big taste!

Hayman’s launches Small Gin as low ABV alternative

Hayman’s of London made its mark on the low-to-no alcohol market this week with the launch of Small Gin, a full-strength tipple with stronger botanical flavours designed to reduce the amount of spirit required to serve a Gin & Tonic. The small 20cl bottle is theoretically so intensely flavoured with botanicals that you need just 5ml of Hayman’s Small Gin to make a balanced G&T, in theory reducing alcohol consumption by 80%. Having tried a cheeky G&T at Imbibe, we can confirm that it does indeed work. It’s one small G&T for us, and perhaps one giant leap for low-alcohol drinks. “Many consumers are actively looking to reduce their alcohol consumption but are keen to continue enjoying that classic gin flavour they have grown to love,” fifth-generation family member Miranda Hayman said. “Small Gin is the perfect solution – a real gin that allows you to mix a true G&T with just a fraction of the alcohol.” Distiller Sam Pembridge added: “We based the flavour profile for Small Gin on a classic London dry and getting all that wonderful botanical character into such a small serving size was an incredible challenge. We are working at the outer limits of what can be achieved but the flavour profile is spot-on. In blind tastings completed at our distillery, even the most experienced of gin drinkers were unable to tell the difference between a Small Gin & Tonic and a London dry Gin & Tonic.” Small Gin will available to pre-order at haymansgin.com for delivery in August, and is priced at £26 per 20cl bottle.

The Nightcap

The impressive second expression from the Bodega series.

Talisker releases oldest official single malt as part of Bodega Series

The Talisker Bodega Series, a range we’ve previously enjoyed in the past, has added a second stunning Scotch to its selection. Are you ready for this? It’s a 41-year-old expression. A 1978 vintage. Matured in Manzanilla sherry casks. Bottled at 50.7% ABV. The oldest official single malt to date from Skye’s oldest distillery. Limited to just 2,000 bottles. All of what you just read there should be said out loud in that sultry voice from those M&S food adverts. It will set you back £2,900 per 70cl bottle, obviously. Nothing can be perfect in this world. The bottling continues Talisker’s exploration of sherry cask finishes on some of its most valuable stock. In this case, the 41-year-old was finished in Manzanilla sherry casks from Delgado Zuleta, the oldest Sherry producer in the famed Sherry Triangle in the Marco de Jerez region. It’s also where Talisker historically enjoyed a trading connection, dating all the way back to 1900. Talisker’s master blender Dr Craig Wilson worked alongside the sherry masters at the bodega to craft the precious liquid. He hand-picked only six casks for finishing, all of which once held La Goya, the Bodega’s flagship wine and a very fine Manzanilla aged in casks for more than a century. The result is said to be a remarkably rich whisky, with notes of sultanas, orange peel, sandalwood, salty sea air, smoky raw sugar. “This is a magnificent example of Talisker, which initially holds back on the nose, but blossoms with spice in the mouth,” whisky writer Charles MacLean said. “It is a privilege to be able to taste such a memorable dram.”

The Nightcap

The new Black Rock Tavern, an izakaya inspired whisky pub

Black Rock becomes London’s first whisky hotel

Many a fellow whisky fan has enjoyed the odd dram at the award-winning Black Rock. A visit will see you sampling cocktails and expressions from its considerable range, and imbibing from its enormous 185-year-old oak tree table because, well, when in Rome. Very soon we’ll also get the chance to extend our experience as the whisky-centric bar is set to undergo a five-floor expansion of its Christopher Street location over the course of the summer! The new space will include a tavern, a blending room and a three-room hotel. Hurrah! The subterranean bar, which was launched in 2016 by spirit enthusiasts Tom Aske and Tristan Stephenson, will extend through the four-storey building above it, but don’t worry – the stripped-back decor and ace soundtrack will remain. And the tavern part opens today! A more casual alternative to the original bar, it will serve five beers on tap alongside a library of 40 to 50 whiskies. The decor will feature Japanese-inspired twists, including a reclaimed oak bar, bamboo ceiling panels and graffiti wall art by artist Ryan Gajda. The upcoming blending room, meanwhile, will host tasting experiences in which guests can enjoy a cocktail and blend their own 500ml bottle of whisky using a flight of single malts. And the best part? You can take your own blended whisky home with you. As for the three lodging rooms, they will be situated on the second and third floors, with two compact lodgings and one larger suite, the style of which will be “minimalist but luxurious”. It sounds fantastic, but good luck getting a reservation. We may have to book up the whole summer for err… research purposes, of course.

Redbreast’s new look has landed

Irish whiskey brand Redbreast is clearly feeling chipper after showing off the results of a makeover for its entire range. The refreshed look includes raised ‘Redbreast’ lettering at the base of the neck and ‘Single Pot Still’ on the reverse, while the labels are now a lighter cream colour with an embossed, textured background. The highlight is the reimagined classic – and let’s face it, adorable – robin redbreast, which is now represented in hand-drawn form by celebrated Irish illustrator Denise Nestor. Nestor, whose work has been published in The New York Times, The Atlantic, Variety and more, reinvented the bird in different flight positions for each whiskey expression. The idea is to represent the evolution of the brand over time and “the continuous journey of discovery that Redbreast drinkers find themselves on”. To complement the illustrations, Redbreast has also introduced a new colour palette of red, copper, navy, green and steel blue to distinguish each variant; with Redbreast 21 Year Old presented in a premium, handmade wooden box. You’ll also find tasting notes on the front labels, presumably with the words ‘delicious’ or ‘yum’. The new designs will be released initially on Redbreast 12 Year Old, 15 Year Old and Lustau in July and August, but you’ll have to wait until autumn to see the revamped Redbreast 21 Year Old and Redbreast 12 Cask Strength.

The Nightcap

Inver House MD, Martin Leonard

Old Pulteney propels Inver House to ‘significant’ growth

Old Pulteney, Balblair, Knockdhu, Speyburn and Balmenach parent company Inver House Distillers submitted a financial glowing report this week, with 2018 sales climbing 7.4% year-on-year. The stand-out superstar? Old Pulteney, which enjoyed bumper 20% growth for the 12 months to September. Caorunn gin also notched up double-digit growth, according to the chief bean counters. Seems fitting, interest in Scottish gin, in general, is definitely on the up. “This is the result of having consistently invested in our people, in production at our distilleries, in the quality of our spirits and in their sales and promotion,” said Inver House MD, Martin Leonard. “We also now have the channels in place to grow our brands in markets around the world, so our focus is very much on rolling out some exciting plans and building further success in 2019 and beyond.” If that means more delicious whiskies, we are well on board.

The Nightcap

Delamain Cognac will cultivate its own vines after more than century

Delamain Cognac returns to grape growing after more than 100 years

Big news from on-trade booze fest Imbibe this week. Cognac house Delamain announced it has bought 20 hectares of vines within the Grande Champagne region. The firm, which makes the legendary Pale & Dry XO, used to own vines until 1910, but since then has made its reputation with bought-in eaux-de-vie. This new venture guarantees the firm’s access to some of the finest grapes in Cognac. Charles Braastad, managing director of Delamain, said: “After over a century, we are very pleased to once again be cultivating vines. We originally abandoned the practice in 1910 upon the sale of our “Bois Clair” property in Saint-Brice which, at the time, allowed us to focus on selection, blending and ageing of Grande Champagne Cognacs. From 2019, the house of Delamain is re-committing to the very first moments in the lives of our Cognacs, to their birth and growth in the vineyards. We are certain that this decision to tend such extraordinary vines will permit us to continue creating ever more exceptional Cognacs for future generations.” It will be interesting to see whether, with its own vineyards, Delamain is tempted to follow Hine with a single vineyard and vintage bottling. That would be really exciting.

The Nightcap

Best of luck to Tim Etherington-Judge!

And Finally… Healthy Hospo’s Tim to run 42 marathons in 42 days

We like a more unusual or outlandish story for And Finally… and this week is no exception. The founder of on-trade wellness initiative Healthy Hospo, Tim Etherington-Judge, is about to undertake an especially ridiculous challenge. He’s preparing to run 42 marathons over 42 consecutive days in the year he turns 42 (a marathon is also 42 kilometres long. All the 42s). It’s a ludicrous feat – but also an incredible one, for an incredible purpose. He’s hoping to raise £42,000 for industry charity The Benevolent to build a brighter, better future for those working in drinks, and especially to shine a light on mental health. Etherington-Judge was diagnosed with severe depression after attempting to take his own life in 2016. Ever since, he’s been an advocate for better mental health across the on-trade and in society in general, and 424242run is a huge part of that. “On January 9 2019 I turn 42 years old, conveniently the same distance as a marathon and I plan to take my mission to the next level, to create as much attention, support and money as I can for improving the mental health of the hospitality industry by putting it all on the line and pushing my mind and body to the very edge,” he writes on Healthy Hospo. “Why am I doing this? Because I can and because we need to take the mental health of people in our industry seriously.” The challenge kicks off at industry event Tales of the Cocktail in New Orleans on 20 July, and also takes in New York, Amsterdam and London. To find out more and to support Etherington-Judge, either as a sponsor or to pledge to run with him, check out the 424242run site. Godspeed, sir!

No Comments on The Nightcap: 5 July

Jim Beam loses 45,000 whiskey barrels in warehouse fire

Unfortunate news came from Kentucky this week: Jim Beam suffered a major warehouse fire that needed multiple fire service crews to bring it under control. 40 firefighters from five counties…

Unfortunate news came from Kentucky this week: Jim Beam suffered a major warehouse fire that needed multiple fire service crews to bring it under control.

40 firefighters from five counties were called to help battle the blaze that erupted around 11:30pm on Tuesday. The fire totally destroyed one of Jim Beam’s warehouses, estimated to hold around nine million litres of ageing whiskey. A second warehouse also caught fire, but that fire was quickly dealt with. It’s been reported that the flames generated so much heat that fire truck lights melted.

 

First things first: no one was injured in the incident, so that’s a huge relief.

The bad news is that about 45,000 barrels filled with whiskey were lost, potentially costing the brand millions of dollars in lost stock. Parent company Beam Suntory has not yet specified the exact financial loss and was quick to explain in an email that the spirit that went up in flames was “relatively young whiskey”. The company added that “given the age of the lost whiskey, this fire will not impact the availability of Jim Beam for consumers”. The losses are also insured, and total just 1.4% of spirit maker’s product in the state, so it’s not a total disaster.

The world’s top-selling bourbon brand said it was grateful to the “courageous firefighters” who brought the blaze under control and kept it from spreading. The cause of the fire has not been confirmed, although weather may well have been a factor, with some suggesting that a lightning strike was responsible.

The focus has turned to the environmental impact of the leaking bourbon, with state officials worried that whiskey running off from the site could seep into nearby waterways and kill fish. The distiller has hired an emergency clean-up crew, and state environmental officials were coordinating efforts to control bourbon runoff.

major fire at Jim Beam

Jim Beam is the world’s best-selling bourbon brand

The Beam fire was the latest warehouse loss suffered by Kentucky distillers, who collectively produce 95% of the world’s bourbon, according to the Kentucky Distillers’ Association. A warehouse belonging to OZ Tyler collapsed on 17 June, while back in June 2018 half of a warehouse collapsed at the Barton 1792 Distillery in Bardstown. The other half came down two weeks later.

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A first taste of Johnnie Walker Black Label Origin

Last week we met some of the blending team at Johnnie Walker to try four very special iterations of Black Label inspired by four key Scotch whisky regions: Johnnie Walker…

Last week we met some of the blending team at Johnnie Walker to try four very special iterations of Black Label inspired by four key Scotch whisky regions: Johnnie Walker Black Label Origin.

Blender George Harper described the four elements in Johnnie Walker Black Label as “smoke, fresh fruit, rich fruit and creamy vanilla. No one flavour can dominate.” But with four new blends, his brief was to do the opposite. “The idea was to pull it apart, focus on one element, and accentuate the regions,” Harper said. Master blender Jim Beveridge described it as an “amazing brief to be given”. 

Diageo, as we have reported, is putting £150m into Johnnie Walker tourism with a new HQ under construction in Edinburgh, and upgraded facilities at four distilleries, Caol Ila, Clynelish, Glenkinchie and Cardhu, that will carry the flag for their region. 18 months ago, Harper, who created the successful White Walker release earlier this year, was given the task of creating four new whiskies to represent these four corners of Scotland. 

And so, how could we refuse when we were invited up to Edinburgh for a tasting and discussion with Harper, Jim Beveridge, brand ambassador Tom Jones as well as the managers of Caol Ila and Cardhu, Pierrick Guillaume and Andrew Millsopp? These new, limited edition whiskies span three blended malts and a Lowland malt/grain blend, and bridge the gap between traditional multi-region blends and single malts. According to Harper, the hardest one to get right was the Highland because of the sheer variety of styles in the region. Beveridge said, “you’ve done a great job, George!” And he really has. The other blends were more straightforward: the Speyside was based around Cardhu, and the Islay Caol Ila; whereas the Lowland was a mix of Glenkinchie and Cameronbridge. 

Johnnie Walker Black Label Origin

Cocktail hour!

Jim Beveridge said that they are “aimed at Johnnie Walker drinkers and people wanting to know more about Scotch. More and more people are interested in flavour, they are increasingly very open-minded. Knowledge is the new currency.” Whereas in the past, Beveridge continued, “blends tended to be secretive. Now the story is opening up more.” Guillaume told me that many visitors to his distillery have no idea that they have already drunk Caol Ila, in Black Label.

The Origin series encourages traffic between blend and malt customers, but the team at Diageo also sees them as breaking down barriers in other ways. These are meant to be as happy mixed in cocktails as in dram form. To prove the point, we tried them in a series of cocktails made by bartender Joey Medrington: the Islay in a Highball with Fever Tree orange and ginger; the Highland in a Rob Roy made with PX sherry, the Lowland in an Old Fashioned with honey syrup, and the Speyside in another long drink with elderflower and soda water. I was particularly taken with the Islay Highball, but there’s no doubt that the Lowland with its creamy profile is particularly cocktail-friendly.

All four whiskies are 12 years old and bottled at 42% ABV. They are great tasting whiskies, and a testament not only to the skill of the blenders at Johnnie Walker but the amazing palates they have to play with. But the best thing about them is the price: they will sit just above standard Black Label. We expect them to be very popular. 

Johnnie Walker Black Label Origin Islay 12 Year Old

Johnnie Walker Black Label Origin Islay 12 Year Old

Johnnie Walker Black Label Origin Islay 12 Year Old 

Blend of Islay malts with Caol Ila as the base, some Lagavulin in here too.

Aged in refill casks. 

Nose: Iodine, toffee, orange, you’d swear there was some sherry here though apparently there isn’t. 

Palate: In the mouth it’s peppery with dried fruit, fresh red fruits and honey, with the smoke lingering but not dominating. Meaty and full.

Finish: Smoke and a little toffee.

Johnnie Walker Black Label Origin Highland 12 Year Old

Johnnie Walker Black Label Origin Highland 12 Year Old

Johnnie Walker Black Label Origin Highland 12 Year Old

A blend of Highland malts including Clynelish. 

Mainly aged in European oak ex-sherry casks.

Nose: Fruit cake nose, marmalade and fresh wine notes, takes on some tobacco with time.

Palate: Very fruity, both dried and fresh fruit, winey tang to it like a Cognac.

Finish: Marzipan and dried apricot.  

Johnnie Walker Black Label Origin Lowland 12 Year Old

Johnnie Walker Black Label Origin Lowland 12 Year Old

Johnnie Walker Black Label Origin Lowland 12 Year Old

Blend of malt from Glenkinchie and grain from Cameronbridge.

Aged in ex-bourbon casks. 

Nose: Light on the nose, some floral and toffee notes.

Palate: What a treat on the palate though: creamy vanilla, toffee, butterscotch, very smooth and sweet, then some wood spiciness with pepper and even a little chilli. Rich and round.

Finish: Vanilla, quite short. 

Johnnie Walker Black Label Origin Speyside 12 Year Old

Johnnie Walker Black Label Origin Speyside 12 Year Old

Johnnie Walker Black Label Origin Speyside 12 Year Old

Blend of Speyside malts with Cardhu providing the base. 

Aged in refill casks and ex-bourbon.

Nose: The smell is all about fresh fruit, apples and pears, with a spiced apple pie quality.

Palate: Vibrant and fruity on the palate, more orchard fruit, with some toffee and cloves.

Finish: Warm spices, cinnamon, cloves and lingering apples.

The Johnnie Walker Black Label Origin Series will be available in travel retail later this month, with an RRP of £35 / $46 USD for a 1L bottle. We’re hoping they’ll be available to us next year, but, of course, if they arrive at MoM Towers sooner than that we’ll let you know!

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The Nightcap: 28 June

Well, it feels like summer might finally be here to stay. We were up in Edinburgh this week and the city was bathed in sunlight. Everybody seemed a bit surprised….

Well, it feels like summer might finally be here to stay. We were up in Edinburgh this week and the city was bathed in sunlight. Everybody seemed a bit surprised. This weekend the lidos, paddling pools and beaches of Britain will be full of cheery people eating ice cream and sipping cold drinks. And the main topic of conversation among those over 18 will be… booze, of course! You thought it would be something else beginning with ‘b’ didn’t you? And so, to make you king of the conversation, we’ve rounded up the most interesting stories of the week. Simply read, learn and regurgitate to your friends and they will be amazed at how ‘with it’ you are. Though perhaps don’t use the phrase ‘with it’.

On the blog this week there was even more delightful Fèis Ìle 2019 coverage to enjoy as we put your questions to Ardnahoe, Ardbeg, Bowmore, Kilchoman, Bunnahabhain and Jura. Meanwhile, we announced the winner of our Game of Thrones competition! Ian Buxton then looked into the drinks industry’s flirtation with cannabis, while Annie enjoyed five minutes with the founder of Native in Singapore, Vijay Mudaliar, before shedding some light on Mexico’s most popular plant, agave. Henry’s New Arrival of the Week was a collaboration between That Boutique-y Gin Company and a Yorkshire distillery that rose phoenix-like from the ashes, while his Cocktail of the Week was an old school favourite, the Sherry Cobbler.

Right, let’s take a look at those stories. 

 

You can carry this on Eurostar, but you can’t drink it

Eurostar booze crisis resolved

There was panic among Britain’s booze enthusiasts this week when it was discovered that Eurostar had changed the policy on carrying bottles on its trains. Previously travellers were free, unlike on planes, to carry wine, spirits or beer in their hand luggage, but the new rules limited passengers to one bottle of wine, four bottles of beer and no spirits whatsoever. The drinks world was up in arms. Joe Fattorini from The Wine Show said: “This new rule from Eurostar officially ends the whole point of Eurostar for any wine producer coming to the UK.” When people asked for clarification, Eurostar commented the rules had changed to “maintain a pleasant environment on board for all our travellers”, and that passengers could pay to have their baggage checked, at £30 per item. Suddenly all the money you have saved on that bottle of Cognac has disappeared. But thanks to a concerted effort from, among others, travel writer and campaigner Mark Smith, aka. the Man in Seat 61, Eurostar clarified its rules: passengers are only allowed one bottle of wine, four beers and no large spirit bottles, to drink on the train, but “we are happy for customers to bring unopened bottles of alcohol to take on to their destination”, it now says on the site. Problem solved. Thank you, Eurostar, for listening to your passengers. 

 

Laphroaig 1995 (2)

This Laphroaig 1995 could be yours via new online auction site, Cask 88

New online auction site launches for whisky in cask

There can be few whisky lovers who haven’t dreamed of owning their own cask of the good stuff. Now acquiring your dream barrel has got that bit easier with the launch of a new online auction site especially for whisky in casks, called Cask 88. Just register with the site and you’re ready to go. Casks are listed with a photo and information about distillery, age, cask type, ABV and roughly how many bottles you could get out of it. So, for example there’s currently a cask of Laphroaig at £25,000 which was distilled in 1995. It weighs in at 55.4% ABV and you should be able to get 186 bottles of delicious smoky goodness. The site takes a 10% commission and offers two years storage free, after that it will cost £50 per year. And when the time comes to bottle your cask, you will have to pay VAT and duty. Auctions will take place monthly, including valuable old whiskies like that Laphroaig as well as young casks that should, hopefully, grow in value. And of course, don’t forget that even if you don’t make any money, you do have whisky. Which you can drink.  

 

Cooper Smith new make

One day this will be whisky

Yorkshire’s self-built distillery begins whisky production

The wonderful Cooper King Distillery over in Yorkshire has officially announced the start of distillation of its inaugural single malt whisky! Clearly everyone is just as excited as we are, as the distillery sold out of its pre-order whisky casks after just 10 days. Locally-grown Yorkshire barley will be traditionally floor-malted in England’s oldest working maltings, before it is mashed and fermented at the distillery itself. It will be distilled in a unique Tasmanian copper pot still, and matured on-site. “We may be one of the smallest whisky distilleries in England, but what matters to us is not the quantity of whisky produced, but the flavour of that whisky, its provenance, and the story behind the spirit,” co-founder Abbie Neilson commented. “Sourcing great barley, working with a superb master cooper, and carrying out mashing, fermentation, distillation and maturation under one roof allows us to truly celebrate terroir.” The new spirit will be “robust, flavourful, and unlike any other in the country”, and influenced by the founders’ work with award-winning Tasmanian whisky distilleries. “Five years ago Abbie and I quit our jobs, flew to Australia, and fell in love with the Tasmanian way of making whisky,” added fellow co-founder, Chris Jaume. “Since then we have worked incredibly hard to realise our dream of distilling an English whisky underpinned by craftsmanship, honesty and adventure. We are thrilled that the day has come, and malt spirit is flowing at the distillery.” We, along with many others, eagerly await the day that the spirit will come of age, and be enjoyed as whisky. May the countdown begin!

 

There’s no added sugar in Pinkster gin (though there is in the tonic)

Tabloids take aim at sugar content in gins

Gin fans have been on a bit of a rollercoaster ride the last few days. Yes, we’re in the midst of Negroni Week (more on that shortly). That’s always a winner. But we’ve also seen a raft of press coverage around the unexpectedly high sugar content in gin – with contemporary pink gins very much highlighted (just have a search on social if you want to see the article(s)). Whether you would just rather not know, or reckon that being well-informed is the best course of action (the side we come down on), there was a WHOLE load of chatter. Pinkster Gin even weighed in. “The report on sugar levels in flavoured gins makes for disturbing reading as many gin-lovers will simply have no idea that they’re playing sugar roulette,” said MD Stephen Marsh, stressing that there’s no added sugar in its production. That Boutique-y Gin Company was also in the social spotlight for its ‘no added sugar’ claim when Chocolate Orange Gin went viral. Do you care whether or not your gin has added sugar? What about your tonic water? Or would you just rather kick back with a refreshing G&T and forget about all the nutritional deets? Let us know on social or in the comments below. 

 

Circolo Popolare

Circolo Popolare is Italian booze heaven

Circolo Popolare throws open its doors

We love a good shindig at MoM Towers, so when we were invited to the launch night of new Italian bar and restaurant Circolo Popolare, we knew we were in for a treat. The save-the-date said there was 400 litres of spritz to get through, for goodness sake! What we weren’t quite prepped for was the exuberance of the flower-filled space, the chandeliers, the general opulence. This is a Sicilian embassy in the middle of Fitzrovia, complete with a terrace! The banquet was incredible – if the initial impression of the burrata, pizza and gelato is anything to go by, one could happily feast there for days. And there was a Negroni bar (a tip-top way to celebrate Negroni week). AND the alabaster walls were lined with 20,000 bottles of Italian spirits! No need for a passport, Circolo Popolare brings all the celebratory summer vibes we need. London folk: get in there quick. 

 

Smooth AmblerJPG

This is what’s known as a ‘cookout’

Smooth Ambler Cookout comes to London

Diaries out, folks 4 July is approaching, and US whiskey brand Smooth Ambler is determined to get Londoners in the mood for all things Americana. On Sunday, the Smooth Ambler Cookout is coming to East London! Strongroom Bar’s outdoor terrace is playing host, and guests can expect bourbon, bluegrass and barbeque food aplenty. So what is a ‘cookout’? Basically it’s the word for the whole event – we Brits might refer to the whole shebang a ‘barbeque’, but in Smooth Amber’s West Virginia, a ‘cookout’ encompasses it all. Want in? Tickets are £10, and include a Smooth Ambler cocktail, and unlimited access (mmmmmm, unlimited access) to the barbeque from 3-5pm. More info is available here. Time to start working up an appetite!

 

Kraken's Perfect Storm,

Kraken’s Perfect Storm, frankly it looks terrifying

Kraken Rum launches restaurant inside a thunderstorm! (Literally)

You’ve heard of 4D cinemas, but how about a 4D dining experience? The Kraken Black Spiced Rum has taken the phrase ‘cooking up a storm’ quite literally to the next level, with a brand new immersive 4D restaurant where you are, indeed, inside a storm. It’s called ‘Dining in a Perfect Storm’, inspired by the tumultuous waters home to the mythical Kraken. You’ll be subjected to state-of-the-art technology, recreating extreme stormy weather indoors. Expect real rainfall (1,000 litres of rain will fall from the ceiling every minute), howling cyclonic winds, flashes of lightning and booming thunder. You’ll be given a raincoat, though perhaps skip on the blow-dry for this dinner date. It all sounds rather intense, though we’ve been assured that The Kraken cocktails are best without a hefty serving of rain water, so perhaps it’s not as bad as it sounds. After the worst of the (indoor) weather, slightly damp diners will enter the ‘eye of the storm’, where the winds drop and the rains subside. Luckily it’s during this time that dinner is served, with a jet-black menu of dishes crafted using naturally black ingredients and natural black food colouring, with options such as squid ink linguini or even The Kraken black ice cream. Better be snappy though, it’s only running for two days on 12 and 13 July. 

 

Tokyo Mule at Kurabu

Tokyo Mule at Kurabu

Cocktails at Chelsea’s Kurabu

There’s a new addition to Chelsea’s plethora of cocktail bars and restaurants; we headed over to Kurabu (which means clubhouse in Japanese) at Dinings SW3. Up on the mezzanine, it’s cosy and modern while still retaining a somewhat traditional feel. We started the evening with the super floral and delicate Kurabu Spritz, containing Umeshu plum sake, Tio Pepe Fino sherry, rhubarb, cardamom and R de Ruinart Brut. Quite literally perfect for a summer’s evening. Then there was the super zesty Haru Gimlet, with Roku Gin, lemongrass, elderflower, ginger and fresh lime. It must be said, the food was also exquisite. The standout dishes for us were the fabulously innovative Crispy Rice, deep fried sushi rice with fish tartare alongside, and the deliciously decadent Mini Buns, homemade and soft steamed burger buns filled with either teriyaki wagyu beef or shrimp tempura dressed with spicy sweet chilli and sesame. Truly mouthwatering. We then finished with a Kurabu Negroni (well, it is Negroni week after all) and a delicious Tsuyo Old Fashioned with Nikka From Barrel, chocolate bitters and fig leaf liqueur. Truly outstanding drinks, and while the Tokyo Mule also caught our eye, with Hennessy VSOP, MUYU Vetiver Gris and blueberry shrubs, topped up with ginger beer, you can’t have ‘em all. We’ll try them all one day!

 

Balcones Single Malt - Batch 2 - 3 Year Old (That Boutique-y Whisky Company) (1)

Balcones – wonderfully experimental

Balcones Distilling launches legendary Texas independent bottlings

In exciting whiskey news, four fabulous new bottlings have been announced, the products of a partnership between the wonderfully experimental Balcones Distilling in Texas and That Boutique-y Whisky Company. As you would expect, they’re wonderfully experimental. Firstly, there’s the first batch of  Balcones Two Year Old, a two-year-old single malt finished in a Balcones brimstone cask, said to have notes of smoky bacon, hickory, mesquite and camp fires. Then,  Balcones Three Year Old, and this single malt that has been part-aged in a Tequila cask for 24 months. Super exciting and interesting stuff. Finally, there’s  Balcones Two Year Old, another single malt spirit, though this one has been finished in an oloroso sherry cask, making it the third sherry cask matured single malt from Balcones. Dave Worthington, That Boutique-y Whisky Company’s brand ambassador stated, “Balcones has a special place in my heart as the first ever whisky festival I worked was for Balcones, so I’m so happy to see some of their Texan spirits wrapped up in our Boutique-y labels. Y’all gonna love this y’all (in my best Texas accent).” Finally, there’s also a mysterious fourth spirit which has yet to be released, made exclusively from Balcones’ signature corn grain, blue corn. You’ll have to wait until September for this one, though, which has been finished in Pedro Ximénez casks. “We are delighted to partner with our friends at That Boutique-y Whisky Company to release these rare and special spirits, all of which are a nod to our passion for exploration and testing the waters of what’s possible,” said Balcones’ head distiller, Jared Himstedt. “We wanted to share some single casks that showcase some of our fun experiments and finishes, alongside the versatility of our blue corn spirit, which we’ve not release in sherry casks before.” Oh, and would you look at that, the first three bottlings are available at your favourite online retailer right now! (That’s us, by the way.)

 

 

And finally. . . Moretti launches Deliver-A-Nonna, an Italian grandmother delivered to your door

Wouldn’t it be great if you when you were hungry an Italian grandmother would turn up at your house and cook for you? So much better than Deliveroo. Well, dream no longer because next month Birra Moretti is launching ‘Deliver-A-Nonna’. This will operate between 22 and 27 July in Brighton and London. Izabela Glodek from the Italian beer company said: “Our team of nonne will be ready and waiting to jump in to their Moretti motors and head to people’s houses to cook up a storm this July.  Our knowledgeable nonne will not only provide a delicious feast but also pass on valuable skills and recipes that have been around for generations inspiring people to get together for home cooked meals around the dinner table more often.” I wonder if they’ll do the washing up as well. You will be able to sign up from 7 July for a chance to have a real Italian grandmother delivered to your door. Mamma mia! Or maybe that should be nonna mia!

No Comments on The Nightcap: 28 June

The Nightcap: 21 June

Record-breaking distillery visits, 100 years of the Negroni, and Sex on the Beach – it’s all here in the latest edition of The Nightcap! It’s sunny outside. Not that fake…

Record-breaking distillery visits, 100 years of the Negroni, and Sex on the Beach – it’s all here in the latest edition of The Nightcap!

It’s sunny outside. Not that fake ‘sunny but when to step outside you’ll curse the sky for tricking you into leaving a jacket indoors’ kind of sunny. It’s actually warm. Frankly, it’s taking all the power in our hearts to not distractedly write “MILPOOL” on the blog and scamper off into the sun, ice-cream in hand. Do you know why we’re so determined? Because it’s Nightcap day, and you people deserve to know all the stories that happened this week in the booze world. But just know that some of us may have been wearing big, floppy sun hats while putting this blog post together.

On the blog this week our Fèis Ìle 2019 coverage continued as we put your questions to Port Ellen, Lagavulin, Bruichladdich, Caol Ila and Laphroaig. Elsewhere, we announced the winner to our Teeling #BagThisBottle competition, while Nate Brown used his guest column to champion the art of slow drinking. Annie had a busy week, discovering the joys of urban foraging with Bushmills, kegged cocktails and Tequila and tonic. Adam then made J.J. Corry The Battalion, an Irish whiskey with mezcal and Tequila cask influence, the New Arrival of the Week, before Henry chose The Bronx to be our Cocktail of the Week.

Now, let’s take a look at the news!

The Nightcap

There are now 68 Scotch whisky visitor centres open to the public and you had plenty of fun checking them out!

Scotch whisky distillery visits top record 2 million

Did you visit a Scotch whisky distillery last year? If so, you’ve officially helped to set a new record! The Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) has just released its annual report which shows distillery visitor numbers soared by 6.1% year on year, pushing the total count to more than two million for the first time. That’s a lot of us seeking out Scotch! It’s good news for distilleries, too: the average spend at each one climbed by 12.2% to a combined total of £68.3 million – that’s a lot of whisky, branded Glencairns, hats, cheeses and the like. More than 20 different nationalities were Scotchland-bound last year, with the most whisky tourists coming from Germany and the US. Numbers were up from France, Spain, the Netherlands, India and China, too. As a whole, Scotch distilleries are the third most-visited attraction in all Scotland. “We’re delighted that Scotch whisky distilleries have become such popular places to visit,” said Karen Betts, the SWA’s chief exec. “The growing number of visitors to distilleries reflects in part the growth in tourism in Scotland in general, and people coming to Scotland want to see our local crafts and sample our local food and drink.” She continued: “Distilleries offer something of an antidote to today’s fast-paced world, where visitors can see the slow, careful craft, rooted in a distinct sense of place, that creates Scotch whisky. The growth in whisky tourism is also playing a crucial role in Scotland’s rural economy, with more stays at hotels, more bookings at restaurants, and more customers for local businesses, helping communities to grow and prosper.” Which is your favourite distillery to visit? Where’s top of your dream travel itinerary? Let us know in social or in the comments below!

The Nightcap

Scott McCroskie, Edrington chief executive

Highland Park-owner Edrington celebrates “strong” year

Edrington, which produces and sells the likes of The Macallan, Highland Park, The Glenrothes and The Famous Grouse whiskies, as well as Brugal rum, has released its financial results for the year. And the bean counters are happy! Core revenues from its products climbed by 9% to £679.8 million, while it spent an extra 7% on brand investments (to the tune of £137.3m). The all-important profits were up 4% on 2018 (quite a big deal really when you consider the £140 million cost of that distillery build). Most brands are doing well, with Highland Park and The Glenrothes recognised for their “strong” growth. While The Famous Grouse posted some declines, Edrington said in a statement it increased its market share in a number of places, including the UK. But Brugal was really the star performer, posting “double-digit” growth, mostly through successes in its native Dominican Republic. “The business has delivered strong international growth that reflects continuing consumer demand for our products, particularly in China, South East Asia and the USA, which is the world’s largest market for premium spirits,” noted Scott McCroskie, Edrington chief executive. All systems go at Edrington!

The Nightcap

Congratulations, Cameron!

Cameron Attfield named Diageo Reserve World Class GB

This week, Diageo bestowed the title of Diageo Reserve’s World Class Bartender of the Year 2019 upon Cameron Attfield of Disrepute, London. The competition spanned two days, and the first challenge saw competitors showcase a British ingredient through techniques of flavour extraction or manipulation, creating a serve with Ketel One Vodka as the base spirit. The second challenge required a Singleton whisky serve taking inspiration from a chosen country, using ideas of travel and adventure for the drink. Moving onto the second day, competitors had the chance to take over the World Class bar at Taste of London for the final challenge, the speed round. Let us tell you, it is speedy indeed, with the task of making a round of five cocktails for the judges in just four short minutes. Just imagine if it was always that quick to secure a cocktail! Each serve was drawn from fifteen bespoke World Class classics, ranging from a Don Julio Blanco Paloma to a Bulleit Bourbon Boulevardier. Just to mix things up, one of the five drinks was also selected by an audience member, while the bartenders were asked to tailor the drink to them. Now that’s a true test of audience engagement and hospitality. “We’re absolutely delighted to crown Cameron World Class GB Bartender of the Year 2019 and have every faith in a fantastic performance at this year’s Global Final in Glasgow,” said Jack Sotti, World Class GB Brand Ambassador at Diageo Reserve. Attfield himself added: “I’m over the moon to be crowned this year’s 2019 World Class GB winner. But, it’s not over yet and now my focus will turn to preparing to represent Great Britain in the global final in Glasgow – game on!” Huge congrats, Cameron!

The Nightcap

Swift Bar’s Bobby Hiddleston creating a wood smoke cocktail

Ardbeg launches Masters of Smoke programme

Islay distillery Ardbeg has kicked off a new global campaign to spread the good word about the “delicious possibilities” of smoke. Named Masters of Smoke, the bartender education initiative will deliver training designed to break down the science of smoke with help from a whole range of experts, from barley maltsters to barbecue chefs. We were lucky enough to attend the launch event, which was really something (and, obviously, held in a room filled with smoke). Each component part of the smoke was broken down into a category, including medicinal, coal, herbal, savoury and wood, with each getting their own stand to show off a prepared cocktail and food pairing. It was delightful stuff; you might even go as far to say it was ‘smokin’’ The Mask style (we stand by this joke). “Whisky lovers have long appreciated the peaty power of Ardbeg, but we think there’s an opportunity to further explore the intricacies of smoke as a flavour,” said Ludo Ducrocq, Ardbeg education and advocacy director. “Through Masters of Smoke, we hope to spread the word about the delicious possibilities of smoke through rich, in-depth training which is really rooted in science. From Port Ellen, to Portland, we want to unleash the power and potential of smoke in the on-trade, working with bartenders worldwide to lead a glorious smoky revolution.” Masters of Smoke training sessions will begin from September 2019 and bartenders can register their interest at ardbeg.com/en-gb/mos.

The Nightcap

An artist’s impression of the revamped Clynelish Distillery

Planning permission granted for Clynelish visitor centre

Exciting times at Clynelish as planning permission has been granted for the expansion of visitor facilities at the distillery. This is part of Diageo’s £150m investment in Scottish whisky tourism and as a key part in the Johnnie Walker blend, Clynelish is a natural choice to grow visitor numbers. It sits next to the legendary Brora distillery that Diageo is bringing back into production, so a visit to this part of Scotland will soon be a must for whisky lovers. Jacqueline James-Bow from the distillery said: “This announcement is very exciting and we wish to thank the Highland Council and all our neighbours for their continued support.” Other parts of Diageo’s master plan for whisky tourism include a flagship Johnnie Walker experience in Edinburgh and upgraded facilities at 12 distilleries in total. Clynelish, along with Cardhu, Caol Ila, and Glenkinchie, has been chosen to represent “the four corners of Scotland”, Highland, Speyside, Islay and Lowland. That’s some responsibility.

The Nightcap

London’s Coral Room created an exclusive Negroni menu

The on-trade marks 100 years of the Negroni

In case you haven’t heard, Monday 24 June begins the most exciting week of the year: it’s Negroni Week, of course! What were you thinking? Celebrations are taking place all over the world – unfortunately, we can’t cover them all, so we’ve picked three of our favourites. Firstly, London’s Coral Room has teamed up with Italian dry gin VII Hills to create an exclusive Negroni menu, complete with seven serves. Of course, you can grab a Negroni Classico, or if you’re fancying a twist then perhaps the Negroni Tropicale is for you (it combines coconut and dried pineapple-infused VII Hills Gin with Italicus Rosolio di Bergamatto and Chazalettes Extra Dry). Meanwhile, L’oscar’s The Baptist Bar is launching the Homage to Negroni cocktail menu based around L’oscar’s attributes: Passionate, Theatrical, Bohemian, Seductive and Lavish. The five serves include the Bohemian Americano, made with yoghurt-washed Classic Bitter, Seedlip Spice, Cocchi Vermouth di Torino, soda and bay leaves; as well as the Lavish Cardinale, with VII Hills gin, Campari, Procrastination (you can bottle that stuff?), and Cardinale wine finished off with a beet rim. They are the creation of head bartender Luca Rapetti, and the even better news is that these cocktails aren’t just available for Negroni Week but until the end of 2019! Finally, Giuseppe Gallo’s Italspirits has created the Negroni Experience, a four day pop up at Six Storeys in Soho, London, from 23-26 June. Names such as Martini Riserva Speciale, Italicus Rosolio di Bergamotto, Amaro Montenegro, VII Hills Gin (again!) and Peroni have come together for the event, complete with cocktails masterclasses. There’s also a tasting flight inspired by the Italian flag, sporting a classic, a white and a green version of the cocktail. An entire seven days dedicated to the iconic Negroni, aren’t we lucky?

The Nightcap

There’s plenty to see, including the new Bulleit Visitor Experience Cocktail Bar

Bulleit opens newest visitor experience on The Kentucky Bourbon Trail

Next week will see the opening of a brand spanking new visitor centre for Kentucky’s Bulleit Distilling Co.. From 25 June, it will be the 17th stop on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail, and the 11,570-square-foot site will boast an immersive and intense multi-sensory tasting experience, complete with olfactory balls and a timed light-and-soundscape to enhance the whiskey flavours. Reassuringly, the new centre is also heavily focused on sustainability, having partnered with Oceanic Global to ensure the tasting experience and cocktail bar aligns with The Oceanic Standard (TOS), committed to eliminating single-use plastics. There’s also an organic cocktail garden developed in partnership with The University of Kentucky, to integrate local and sustainable ingredients and garnishes for the in-house cocktail bar. What’s more, the distillery has committed to sourcing 100% renewable electricity by 2030 and is home to the first industrial solar array in Shelby County, which runs most on-site exterior lighting. It even boasts an eco-friendly, green fuel-powered graffiti bus for the Visitor Experience Tour. “We wanted the Bulleit Distilling Co. Visitor Experience to be reflective of our approach to flipping the script on the whiskey category by curating an immersive, personalised consumer journey steeped in design, technology and of course, our delicious family of high rye whiskeys,” said Sophie Kelly, Sr. Vice President of Whisk(e)y at Diageo North America. What exciting news, an interactive visitor centre which is kind to the environment!

The Nightcap

Ruth Spivey, the founder of Wine Car Boot

Take your dog wine tasting as Wine Car Boot returns to London

Think wine tastings are all about spittoons, white tablecloths and red trousers? Well, think again because Wine Car Boot is back this summer. Now in its seventh year, Wine Car Boot was invented by wine impresario Ruth Spivey in 2013 as a way of introducing interesting wines and merchants to the general public in an informal manner. This summer there are three events, Saturday 29 June, Saturday 17 August (both at Coal Drops Yard near King’s Cross Station) and Saturday 14 September (at the Bloomberg Arcade in the City of London). There’s not just wine from quality merchants such as Berry Bros. & Rudd and the Sampler, but also beers from London breweries like Redchurch and exciting liqueurs from south London’s finest, Asterley Bros. Entry is free, though you do have to pay for tasters. Children and especially dogs are welcome.

The Nightcap

The swanky new Macallan Boutique at Dubai International Airport

The Macallan launches distillery-inspired Boutique series in Dubai

Fancy heading to The Macallan distillery but not up in Scotland? Well, something similar could be coming to an airport near you (or your holiday destination). The single malt Scotch brand has kicked off a programme of fancy new Boutiques with a shiny store at Dubai International Airport, in partnership with Le Clos. It’s the first in a “multi-million-pound investment” that will see the brand open a number of stand-alone stores and experiences around the globe. Everything from the architecture to the materials used in the construction and even in-store features are inspired by the mega £140 million new distillery that opened in Speyside last year. But back to Dubai. There’s an oak lattice centrepiece which echoes the distillery roof, display cases that give a museumy vibe, and it’s all super-sleekly done. And, as well as all the posh bottlings you might expect, there are Boutique-exclusive expressions, too. “It has been a year since we opened the doors of our new distillery and visitor experience, which was one of the most exciting moments in our history as a brand,” said Suzy Smith, Edrington Global Travel Retail managing director. “The next chapter in our story is the launch of our Boutique programme, which will bring whisky-lovers across the world even closer to our home on Speyside. Each store will be a gateway to the world of The Macallan, from the stunning cinematography of the Easter Elchies estate to the exceptional whisky available to taste.” Dubai not on your itinerary? We’ve got a whole bunch of Macallans right here!

The Nightcap

SEMrush provided the world with this vital data. Sex on the Beach? C’mon people!

And finally. . . the British are searching for Sex on the Beach, the cocktail that is

Data analytics company SEMrush has released figures for the most searched for cocktails last month and they make interesting reading. Tied in first place are the Manhattan and the Cosmopolitan with 135,000 searches each. Sounds like the ‘Sex and the City’ favourite is back (or maybe it never went away; it’s been joint number one all year). Looking at those yearly figures, the Old Fashioned spikes in December and January but then drops out of the top five in May, suggesting that it’s a winter cocktail. Whereas more summery serves, like the Americano and the Sex on the Beach, have moved up the league table in May. In fact, when you look at the stats for the UK on its own, Sex on the Beach moves up to the number one slot in May. We are so classy!

No Comments on The Nightcap: 21 June

Unusual Scotch ahoy! SWA widens permissible cask types

Good news if you like your Scotch on the esoteric side of things, or felt the rules on cask maturation were too restrictive. The Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) has announced…

Good news if you like your Scotch on the esoteric side of things, or felt the rules on cask maturation were too restrictive. The Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) has announced a broadening of allowable cask types, and the changes are already in law!

If you thought the days of ‘innovation’ in whisky solely referring to cask types were over, think again. The floodgates are about to open: the legal requirements for Scotch have been amended to include more cask types, and we sense there’s a wave of experimentation about to hit the warehouse shelves.

Essentially, there is now a list of casks that distilleries can’t use. Before, whisky-makers could only use casks types that came with evidence of ‘traditional use’ in the industry – a pretty vague definition that left many scratching their heads.

The rules now state that:

The spirit must be matured in new oak casks and/or in oak casks which have only been used to mature wine (still or fortified) and/or beer/ale and/or spirits with the exception of:

  • wine, beer/ale or spirits produced from, or made with, stone fruits
  • beer/ale to which fruit, flavouring or sweetening has been added after fermentation
  • spirits to which fruit, flavouring or sweetening has been added after distillation

and where such previous maturation is part of the traditional processes for those wines, beers/ales or spirits.

It’s an exciting development, and one that opens up possibilities for the likes of Tequila and mezcal cask finishing, and even experiments with things like Baijiu, Calvados and some fruit spirits (none of those with pesky stones, though). It means that previously unreleasable experiments (or those that simply couldn’t be labelled ‘Scotch’) may now see the light of day. It’s really is a big development.

There is a note of caution in the Technical File, however:

Regardless of the type of cask used, the resulting product must have the traditional colour, taste and aroma characteristics of Scotch whisky.

So no lurid colours or out-there aromas – the rules do still set out a standard expectation for Scotch whisky, which should keep more traditional folks happy, too.

SWA’s chief exec days the new rules provide ‘clarity and some additional flexibility’

The move comes after a consultation with the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (aka, DEFRA), the official Technical File has been updated, passed through the European Commission, and is now law.  

“This amendment provides clarity and some additional flexibility on the range of casks in which Scotch whisky can be matured,” said Karen Betts, SWA chief exec. “The change is consistent with Scotch whisky’s heritage and traditions, and strengthens our foundations into the future.”

Alan Park, legal director at the SWA, added: “The global reputation for the quality and origin of Scotch whisky has been built over many decades, aided by strong legal protection. The legal requirements are vital to protecting the reputation and quality of the world’s premier spirit which millions around the world know and love.

“A wide range of wine, beer and spirit casks have been used over the years to mature Scotch whisky and clarity about what is allowed under the law should be provided in the Scotch Whisky Technical File.

“The amendment is consistent with the continued use of all those categories of casks where there is evidence of longstanding traditional use in the industry. But it will also create more flexibility, particularly in the range of spirits casks which can be used, subject to a number of safeguards which protect the reputation of Scotch whisky.”

What do you think about the development? Is there a type of whisky maturation or finish you’d like to see? Are you worried that the traditions of Scotch whisky are being eroded? Let us know in the comments below, or on social.

1 Comment on Unusual Scotch ahoy! SWA widens permissible cask types

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