The stars of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia make a whiskey, and ingredients such as invasive crabs and hot dog water are being used in booze production. It’s all true, and it’s all in The Nightcap!
It’s July, the month where we all look at each other and say “where’s the year gone” in bafflement, even though this happens every year. We will never get used to the strange passage of time. Just as the world of booze will never stop being ridiculous. Look at this. The most expensive drink in the galaxy. A $5,000 Star Wars-themed creation. We are bonkers. But it doesn’t stop there. Just scroll down and see for yourself. It’s The Nightcap: 1 July edition!
At least, it will be after a quick blog round-up. With Independence Day approaching over the pond, Jack Daniel’s invites you to win a trip to Tennessee and we recommend some tip-top American whiskeys. For Pride Month we celebrated some of Soho’s finest, made a cocktail so simple that it’s almost impossible to muck it up, visited the Parisian bar making French spirits cool, and held our own spirited summer festival. Whisky lovers, meanwhile, will enjoy our look at the often maligned category of flavoured whisky, and our fresh batch of Wire Works.
The gang launches a whiskey
Glenn Howerton, Rob McElhenney and Charlie Day have collaborated to create Four Walls Whiskey. The producers, writers, and stars in FXX’s hit sitcom It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia (which also stars Kaitlin Olson and Danny DeVito) have launched this brand to capture the spirit of Paddy’s Pub, the Irish bar the characters run in South Philadelphia and as a means of supporting the hospitality industry in the city. McElhenney says: “We were shooting Season 15 when bars were shutting down all across America. So, we decided to source some really great whiskeys and create something as a tribute to the bar and kick it off by giving back”. All proceeds will be donated to the Pennsylvania Restaurant & Lodging Association’s Hospitality Assistance Response of Pennsylvania. Two expressions have launched initially, The Bartender’s Blend and the Cask Strength Single Barrel Collector’s Edition. The former is appropriately an American-Irish marriage of malt Irish whiskeys with Pennsylvania Straight Rye Whiskey that retails at $89.95, while there are just 755 bottles of the latter, which was made in pot stills and matured in ex-bourbon barrels for 15+ years, which signifies the record-breaking number of seasons the show has aired for, and costs you $999.95. It’s a long way from Fight Milk and rum ham.
Make a Maccarita with Sir Paul McCartney
Sir Paul McCartney put us all to shame this week by putting together a smashing show on Glastonbury’s Pyramid Stage at 80 years old. But if that wasn’t enough, the legendary ex-Beatle also made a video showing how he makes his signature cocktail on his daughter’s cookery show Mary McCartney Serves It Up. Called the Maccarita, it’s a twist on a Margarita that’s made by adding three shots of Tequila, one shot of Cointreau, one shot of another triple sec (we’re not sure why he’s doubling up on a second orange-flavoured liqueur, but then we also didn’t write ‘Here, There, And Everywhere’ so what do we know?) and the freshly-squeezed juice of two clementines and one lime to a shaker with ice. You then give it a good shake “until your hand gets cold” according to Macca, then pour it into a Margarita glass. Don’t forget to salt the rim of the glass first. We could make some poor Beatles-based puns here, but honestly, we’re just going to admire the man for a moment, if it’s all the same to you. With a Maccarita in hand.
Master blender Maureen Robinson steps down
Another big name departs as whisky-maker Maureen Robinson prepares to set down her blending glass after 45 years in the industry. One of the first women to hold the prestigious title of master blender, Robinson has been making great Scotch whisky (and Scotch whisky great) since the 1970s by working on a number of huge brands. As well as blazing a trail for other women to succeed in the business. During her time at Diageo, she put her expertise to good use across the company’s incredible 10 million cask inventory on brands like The Singleton, Johnnie Walker, Buchanan’s, and Old Parr, building a galaxy-size whisky brain and being an instrumental part of developing s projects like the Special Releases, the Casks of Distinction programme, and the highly sought-after Prima & Ultima series. Diageo malts archivist Jo McKerchar now has her blending notes, to preserve her legacy and ensure future generations can learn from the master. Robinson was made a Keeper of the Quaich in 2012 in recognition of her exceptional contribution to the industry, and was inducted into the Scotch Whisky Hall of Fame in 2019. We salute her, and hope she enjoys a well-earned break.
Scotch Whisky granted certification trademark in the US
The Scotch Whisky Association has successfully secured trademark protection for Scotland’s national drink in the United States. ‘Scotch Whisky’ has now been registered, giving it greater protection from the US Federal Code, a legal barrier the SWA deems as being “vital to the industry’s export success”. The trademark ensures that any product labelled as Scotch whisky on the US market must be produced in Scotland according to established production requirements, dealing a blow to counterfeit products, and the approach has already achieved similar success elsewhere, including South Korea. “This registration offers Scotch Whisky a greater degree of legal protection and will allow us to take action against those who seek to cash in on the heritage, craft and quality of genuine Scotch,” summarises SWA chief executive Mark Kent. “The trademark registration is another sign of the industry’s determination to build back in the United States and ensure that consumers in a dynamic and competitive spirits market can be confident that the Scotch whisky they purchase is the genuine article.”
Warner’s Gin creates wildlife film in a pub garden
Doug Allan, one of the talents behind David Attenborough’s epic Blue Planet series, has just released a more intimate film in conjunction with Warner’s Gin. Rather than locations all over the world, the entire documentary which can be watched here is set in the garden of a pub, the Castle in Bishop’s Castle, Shropshire. It catalogues the extraordinary amount of plant and animal life that goes on under our noses while we’re enjoying a G&T. The film launches Warner’s Gin’s new ‘Nature Marque’ accreditation scheme which will be awarded to pubs that encourage natural life through things like bee-friendly flowers and bird boxes. Allan commented: “My career as a nature filmmaker has taken me to the Antarctic and the Pacific Ocean but never a pub garden in England. But a garden like the one we filmed in was just as teeming with nature and wildlife as any habitat I’ve shot in. The whole time we were here at this pub filming we were never short of nature to capture on camera, even when the garden was busy with people. It’s brilliant to be part of Warner’s Gin documentary that’s set to transform the way people see pub gardens across the country and hopefully make a difference to nature and in turn, the planet.” This isn’t the first drinks collaboration Allan has done. In 2019 he shot a film with Sustainable Surf and Old Pulteney as part of its ‘Rise with the Tide’ campaign. It seems Allan really has the spirits/ nature short film market sewn up.
Inverness welcomes first distillery in nearly 40 years
The heart of the Scottish Highlands is set to welcome a new £6 million whisky distillery and brewer: Uilebheist. It’s named after the Scots’ Gaelic word for ‘monster’, and the brand says its ethos is “inspired by thousands of years of Scottish folklore aiming to connect Scotland’s ancient past with the present”. The low carbon distillery which will be sustainably powered through onsite heat pumps which take water from the River Ness to provide heating and hot water which is also distributed throughout the Glen Mhor Hotel complex. The process will be the first of its kind in Scotland and further development stages are planned which will see significant expansions to the site, which will also create around 40 jobs.The distillery and brewery will be headed up by Bruce Smith who has a masters degree in brewing and distilling from Heriot-Watt University. He spent the last decade working in the craft beer industry which involved ageing beer in ex-whisky barrels, and he says the distillery is on track to officially open in November 2022. Beer production will commence then, with whisky to follow, although on a small scale (around 200 casks annually). The Uilebheist Highland Single Malt Scotch Whisky will be created as the core whisky product and will be released once matured, as will rare cask finishes and single cask bottlings in the years ahead.
Distillery makes whiskey from green crabs to protect the ecosystem
Tamworth Distilling has found a use for New Hampshire’s unwanted green crab population: make a whiskey with them. In collaboration with a University of New Hampshire team, the green crab-flavoured whiskey is dubbed Crab Trapper. It’s pitched as a solution to the invasive species which first arrived in North America via European merchant ships in the 1800s and have since plagued the coastal ecosystem in the New England region, consuming up to 50 clams, oysters, or mussels per day. You can’t really eat the problem away, as they’re notoriously low yield for food, despite apparently making tasty empanada meat. So the distillery came up with a modified sour mash bourbon base infused with ideal crab essence from green crabs harvested from Seabrook, New Hampshire, that were cooked down to a crab stock, fortified with neutral grain spirits, and distilled. Crab Trapper whiskey, which is bottled at 51% ABV, is described as presenting notes of maple, vanilla, and caramel on the nose, followed by flavours like cinnamon, clove, and all-spice. There’s no indication of what the crabs bring to the flavour of the whiskey.
And finally… Hot dog water hard seltzer, or rugby-flavoured gin?
Any regular readers of The Nightcap will know that a classic And Finally… story is booze made with mad flavours. This week we have two for the price of one. The first is a gin made by a Warwickshire distillery using turf from Rugby School where the game was invented. The homage is adding botanicals extracted from grass from ‘The Close’, the famous pitch at Rugby School where William Webb Ellis picked up a football and ran with it in 1823, marking the creation of the game, or so the story goes. Martin House Brewing Company, meanwhile, is launching a flavoured hard seltzer this summer “to respond to demand for popular flavours”. At the Fort Worth event Glizzy Fest in July, the brand is debuting a barbecue sauce beer called Murph Juice and, even more troubling, a hard seltzer called ‘Bun Length’ which is made with hot dog water. This is not new territory for Martin House Brewing Company, whose previous hits include Space Pizza, made with tomatoes and oregano, as well as a mustard pickle beer and a brew in ode to the film Elf named ‘Cotton Headed Ninny Muggins’ that was made with Maple syrup, M&Ms, and spaghetti in the tanks. Sometimes drink makers really do spoil us.