A metaverse distillery, a white wine emoji, as well as new whisky from Glen Scotia, Tamdhu, and Craigellachie. It’s all in this week’s round up of booze news, the Nightcap: 1 April edition!
It’s 1 April and that means April Fools. But fear not, this is a real Nightcap. Honest. And every story is real. Trust us. We haven’t fallen for anything… We don’t think. Ok, we might have fallen for something. But then half the stories in The Nightcap are usually quite silly. It’s very hard to tell sometimes. So this is our attempt at a good ol’ fashioned Nightcap on a ridiculous day. Promise. You wouldn’t get this from any other blog…
Speaking of the blog, this week we gave you a chance to bag a bundle of Singleton of Dufftown single malts before showing off some new Darkness sherry cask whiskies and Japanese spirits. Henry, meanwhile, made the drink of New Orleans, Ian asked if the words ‘master distiller’ carry any meaning, and Adam introduced Jameson’s new Anthology series and helped you Spritz your way to Spring. Oh, and we launched a new Islay whisky.
So, let’s get on with it. It’s The Nightcap: 1 April edition!
Glen Scotia unveils oldest whisky
Glen Scotia is having a moment – not only was it awarded Scottish Whisky Distillery of the Year at the Scottish Whisky Awards last year, but it’s just unveiled its oldest and rarest limited-edition to date. It’s a 46-year-old single malt Scotch whisky with just 150 bottles available worldwide and a retail price of £6,750. It began life in 1974 when it was laid down in refill ex-bourbon casks for 36 years, before being re-casked in first-fill ex-bourbon casks in 2011. It was then moved again for a four-year finish in ex-Oloroso sherry butts before being bottled at 41.7%. As you’d expect with whiskies of this price, there’s lots of slick presentation and the Campbeltown distillery has also gone all out by partnering with whisky writer Dave Broom to create in a short film, shot at the distillery’s dunnage with distillery manager and master distiller, Iain McAlister. “This is such a remarkable liquid: more than just age, it is a time capsule that tells you about how Campbeltown and Glen Scotia have changed over the years,” Broom said. “The whisky has the tropical fruit funkiness which only comes from long ageing in refill casks. The subtle, sweet, toffee elements mid-palate reflect the change in direction when mature, elegant single malts were desired, while the rich sultana-like fruit harks back to the late 19th and early 20th centuries when sherry casks were the preferred choice for Campbeltown’s whiskies.” We’re keeping our fingers on the pulse of whether this will arrive at MoM Towers, so you’ll be the first to know.
Craigellachie launches range inspired by its worm tubs
John Dewar & Sons has also got an exciting new launch to shout about, the first expression from the Craigellachie Cask Collection. The series is inspired by the distillery’s use of old-fashioned worm tub condensers, which make heavier-style spirits, and involves finishing using casks from producers who also stick to traditional methods and use worm tubs. For the inaugural edition in the Cask Collection, the award-winning 13-year-old Craigellachie Single Malt, which is initially matured in a combination of refill and re-charred ex-bourbon barrels, was finished in ex-Bas-Armagnac casks for just over a year. In Armagnac, worm tub condensers are required by law, and are a key part of a process that creates a spirit distinct from other French brandies like Cognac. The distillery says the cask has rounded Craigellachie’s weighty style with “warming notes of baked apples, dusted with heady cinnamon,” as well as “rich flavours of caramel shortcake are offset by signature syrupy pineapples and fiery bonfire night aromas”. Master blender Stephanie Macleod summarises: “Craigellachie is a distinctly bold and brooding malt; full-bodied and meaty so we are using these cask types to complement and elevate the signature character of the distillery, not mask it, to add an extra dimension of flavour and intrigue.” Craigellachie 13-year-old Armagnac Cask Finish, is bottled at 46% and will be here at MoM Towers soon.
Tamdhu unveils 18-year-old for anniversary year
The third distillery to create a cracking new dram this week is Tamdhu, who announced the long-awaited arrival of its 18 Year Old. The latest addition to its range is, like every other Tamdhu expression, matured in ex-Oloroso sherry casks, in this case with both American oak and European oak being used. The 18 Year Old was bottled at 46.8% without chill-filtration, and is said to boast notes of rich dark fruits, ripe cherry, zesty citrus, nutty milk chocolate, and honey-baked oats. “Tamdhu has rightfully earned a reputation for producing the very best sherry matured whiskies, so crafting, bottling, and launching our 18-Year-Old will go down as a true career highlight,” says Sandy McIntyre, Tamdhu distillery manager. “The entire distillery team has an innate understanding of the Tamdhu sherry maturation process – so we selected a combination of casks that deliver a truly special drinking experience, befitting such an important age statement.” The distillery has also announced that for its 125th-anniversary celebrations it will open its doors to the public for the Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival – with tours, tastings, and a luxury ‘Spain to Speyside’ experience. Something else to look forward to. Oh, and guess where you can expect to see Tamdhu 18 Year Old soon? That’s right. Here!
1,841 pubs were opened in the UK in 2021!
You don’t really expect to hear good news when it comes to pubs in the UK after two years of lockdowns and setbacks but Instant Offices has analysed Companies House data and found some heartening results. By looking into the population to startup ratio across the country’s top cities, it discovered a 21% increase in the number of new companies started in 2021 compared to 2020, with company registrations surging in every city analysed. The company was also able to identify which locations saw the highest concentration of entrepreneurs in the last 12 months, and was able to apply these findings to pubs. With restrictions easing and more people able to socialise, it found that 1,841 pubs were opened in the UK in 2021! The highest number was in London (surprise, surprise) with 267, followed by Bradford (didn’t actually expect that) with 94, then Liverpool with 89, and Glasgow with 78. Other big cities like Manchester, Birmingham, and Edinburgh also made the top ten, and overall the findings demonstrate that this country isn’t going to give up on hospitality and pub culture without a good fight.
MoM visits Mr Lyan’s newest haunt, Seed Library
Mr Lyan (real name Ryan Chetiyawardana) has treated us to another brilliant bar! Moving away from the ‘-lyan’ theme, as with his previous bars Mr. Lyan and Lyaness (formerly Dandelyan). This one’s called Seed Library (not Lybrary – a missed opportunity?), found in the basement of One Hundred Shoreditch. The colour scheme is all burnt orange and red, with panelled wood, bespoke furniture. It’s proud of its analogue sound system and, according to the press material, the bar takes the same old school approach to cocktail making. Which brings us onto what we’re all here for – the cocktails! The menu will change frequently, but when we popped over there was a small selection of absolutely drinkable creations. Standout serves were the clean, fresh Coriander Seed Gimlet, made with Beefeater Gin and coriander seed cordial; the Curry Leaf Stonefence, made with Eminente Cuban rum, curry leaf, lemon, and wild ferment pear cider; and the Galangal Penicillin, a spicy blend of Patron Tequila, mezcal, galangal honey, and lemon. You can reserve, but walk-ins are actively encouraged, and if you go down on the weekend you might be lucky enough to catch a vinyl DJ. Congratulations again, Mr Lyan!
Irish whiskey reaches new heights at auction
Auction stories tend to be about Scotch, Japanese, or American whiskey so it’s great to see that the demand for Irish whiskey is alive and well too. This week, two rare bottles of Midleton Very Rare sold at auction for a combined €94,000, a new record for the category. The history-making whiskeys, put up for sale by private collectors, were sold separately at auction on Sunday 21 March, with the first – a 2020 bottling of Midleton Very Rare Silent Distillery Collection Chapter One – fetching €48,000 (€50,952 including fees), the highest price paid for an Irish whiskey at public auction. The second, a bottle of the 2021-released Chapter Two, sold for €46,000 (€48,829 including fees). Both are exceptional drams distilled in the signature style of Old Midleton, which means you won’t see their like again, so it’s no surprise demand was so high. “Irish whiskey now has bottles that are comparable to the bottles of Scotch and Japanese whiskies that command ultra-premium prices on the world stage,” Anthony Sheehy, founder and owner of www.IrishWhiskeyAuctions.com says. “It is something that we should be shouting from the rooftops to show the fantastic growth and interest that exists for premium Irish whiskey.”
Jose Cuervo creates first-ever metaverse distillery
Jose Cuervo is a brand of heritage. It claims to be the first Tequila producer and the founder of the still-operational oldest distillery in Latin America. But now, the brand is going in a more futuristic, and frankly absolutely ridiculous, direction. Cuervo will open the very first “metadistillery” in the 3D virtual world Decentraland this summer for those over 21 years old. It promises to be a space of “unforgettable virtual experiences, Tequila education, as well as limited edition products and entertainment”, as well as a “permanent fixture in the metaverse for Tequila lovers to visit for generations to come”. Which means something to someone, presumably. In fact, the distillery even quoted a poll that reckons seven in 10 Gen Zs and millennials are interested in “interacting” with the metaverse. Why they want that is frankly just beyond us, to be honest, but you all have fun, kids (over 21 years old). “Cuervo first came to the U.S over 70 years ago and helped establish America’s favourite cocktail, the Margarita. It’s time for Cuervo to take on a new frontier and bring tequila to new audiences by opening the first-ever distillery in the metaverse,” Lander Otegui, senior vice president of marketing at Proximo Spirits, summarises. We’ll be sticking to enjoying the Tequila in our glass, if it’s all the same to you.
And finally… we demand a white wine emoji!
Normally we finish with a funny but this week we’re highlighting an important campaign from New Zealand Wine. The trade body is asking people to sign a new petition demanding a white wine emoji. Yes, in a shocking example of discrimination there are only emojis for red wine and sparkling wine. An earlier white wine emoji petition was rejected in 2019, no doubt because of the power of the shadowy Champagne and Bordeaux lobby. This is grossly unfair to countries like New Zealand, and indeed England, which make predominately white wines. Charlotte Read from New Zealand Winegrowers explained: “We hope that by requesting the white wine emoji from the Unicode Consortium it will shine a spotlight on the breadth of high-quality white wine that New Zealand produces, as well securing the emoji that has long been missing from the keyboards of digital devices since their creation in the late 1990’s.” We have yet to substantiate rumours that the Provencal Wine Marketing Board is launching its own petition to demand a rosé wine emoji.