This week’s Nightcap stars Skepta, two MoMers who are in contention to be the IWSC Spirit Communicator for 2022, and some truly rubbish wine.
October. It’s October. October 2021. How is this even possible? Time is making a shambles of us all. Our 2021 to-do lists mock us. Halloween is this month. Christmas is on the horizon. It’s all too much, isn’t it? Well, we’ve got just the tonic. Lots of gin. Just kidding. Although we do have lots of gin, our actual solution is light reading about all the goings-on in the world of booze. It’s called The Nightcap. Here it is.
Things were extra exciting on the blog these last few days because it just so happens to be MoM Week! Amazing, and exclusive to us, Glengoyne, Hermitage Cognac, and more are here and ready to be enjoyed.
Oh, and we have a 71-year-old Macallan knocking around. Plus, news on Diageo’s Special Releases 2021 as well as some fascinating insights into why whisky can break the bank, how Crabbie’s is restoring a whisky legacy and why St. James Bar is so great. We also made a delicious cocktail called The Brooklyn and reported on the shock news that John Campbell is leaving Laphroaig. All in a week’s work. A MoM week’s work. Do check it out.
Now, let’s crack on. It’s the Nightcap: 1 October edition!
Two MoMers make the IWSC Spirit Communicator 2022 shortlist!
If you’re aware of the IWSC Spirit Communicator 2022 award (sponsored by Chivas Brothers), you’ll know that it’s a pretty big deal in our industry. The award aims to recognise someone who is making an “exceptional contribution towards promoting spirits to the public”, and “reward those who have succeeded in using an omnichannel approach to communicate their spirits message to their audience”, according to the IWSC. For 2022, applications were at an all-time high, so it’s especially impressive to make the list of nominees, which is just five outstanding candidates. We are delighted to say that on the shortlist for this year’s Spirits Communicator of the Year award are former MoM editor Kristiane Sherry and current MoM contributor Millie Milliken! Ok, so technically Kristy is now head of spirits at Fine & Rare, but she spent part of this year here at MoM Towers so that counts as far we’re concerned (and she still hosts Pour & Sip tastings), while Millie has been writing all kinds of outstanding content for our blog in the last year. The other nominees are the excellent Moa Nilsson, or the ‘Swedish Whisky Girl’ as you probably know her best, the wonderful Felipe Schrieberg of ‘The Rhythm and Booze’ project and Forbes fame, and Billy Abbott from the enemy (just kidding, we love you really Billy). For more information on each nominee, visit here. Congratulations to all of them for making the shortlist, it’s a stellar lineup and any one of the five would be a worthy winner. You will forgive us if we have a couple of people we’re rooting for though…
Havana Club unveils limited-edition rum with grime star Skepta
Havana Club and international music icon Skepta are proud to announce the next chapter of their global collaboration, a limited-edition rum created by the artist himself. The collaboration began in 2019, when Skepta first visited Havana, Cuba, and noticed parallels in Cuban traditions and those of his own West African Yoruba heritage through paths of migration. The first two chapters of the collaboration – a pair of redesigned Havana Club 7 Rum bottles – captured this cultural infusion in their labels, which featured traditional Nigerian symbols. But this is much more swanky. In fact, it’s described as “a truly unique spirit for the next generation of rum drinkers”, which was made as a “celebration of excellence and the cultural links between Cuba and Skepta’s homeland of Nigeria.” It’s also £85. Which is swanky, right? The rapper himself is also said to have been involved in the creation, collaborating with maestro del ron Cubano Asbel Morales, to make Rum of Skepta in a limited-edition batch of just 3,000 bottles. The press shots are a tad goofy, given Skepta appears to be drinking from a sealed bottle (maybe he’s just that good?), but we actually think this could prove very fruitful. If it opens the world of rum to a diverse set of new people, then that’s always welcome. As is the fact that I can do a Super Hans impression to anyone who brings this rum up in conversation and say “the secret ingredient is grime”.
The Scotch Malt Whisky Society (SMWS) launches new podcast with Vic Galloway
The Scotch Malt Whisky Society (SMWS) has partnered with Vic Galloway for a special podcast series dedicated to great music and stunning whisky. You might remember they collaborated before, but now they’re taking things to the next level, with the Whisky Talk: Malts & Music podcast series. Along with a tasting pack of five Society single cask malt whiskies, each of Vic’s guests will explore their creative loves, their passion for whisky, and most importantly, how each of the five Society drams has inspired a favourite piece of music. Hosted in the Tasting Room at The Vaults, the Society’s home in Leith, the podcast will feature a whisky-fuelled chat with well-known whisky fans from Scottish cultural life like Norman Blake from Teenage Fanclub, writer Val McDermid, Justin Currie from Del Amitri and Stina Tweeddale of Honeyblood. Whisky Talk: Malts & Music kicks off on Thursday, 7 October with crime writer Ian Rankin, who pairs his Society drams with tunes from John Martyn, James Yorkston, and more. “Good whisky and good music go hand in hand. I had such a great time pairing 12 music genres with the 12 Scotch Malt Whisky Society flavour profiles earlier this year, and that gave us the idea for Whisky Talk: Malts & Music,” says Galloway. “Asking a whisky-loving creative person to match five malts with five pieces of music and chat to our guests about the experience was a huge amount of fun. As the whisky flows, we go off on unexpected tangents about creative work, opinions, and life in general. Join us for a good chinwag and spectacular drams!” Whisky Talk: Malt & Music is on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, iTunes, Google Podcasts, and Stitcher, or you can watch the videos of the conversations on the SMWS YouTube channel.
Santa Teresa 1796 announces first female master blender
News this week from Santa Teresa rum reveals that Nancy Duarte will take over as its new master blender, the first woman to hold this position within the company, and just the fifth altogether in the history of the brand. Holding a Superior Technical degree in food and beverage, specializing in wines and fermented drinks, since 1990 Duarte has held several positions in the production area of Ron Santa Teresa, including the supervision of quality control, development, and formulation of liquids as well as innovations in the productive process and new products for the company portfolio. Couldn’t be more qualified, by the sounds of it. A vital part of her responsibilities has been to supervise the entire production process, from raw materials obtained at the Hacienda Santa Teresa to the finished product, to guarantee the quality and consistency of the blends. Duarte points out that, out of all the areas she is in charge of, the aging stage is one of her great passions because it is where the transformation of alcohol into rum takes place and where the mastery of the rum blender helps create exceptionally aged rums.
Sipspresso Coffee Gin released for World Coffee Day
Did you know that today, 1 October, is World Coffee Day? We only knew because last night we were at the launch for Sipspresso Coffee Gin at the Artesian Bar in London. We were fortunate enough to chat with Mr. Sipsmith himself, Jared Brown, who seems to have more ideas in 10 minutes than most people have in a lifetime. But his wife seems even more interesting. Apparently, she’s uncovered some startling revelations about the history of gin in England. We can’t say anymore. But back to the point of the evening, Brown commented: “We crafted Sipspresso Coffee Gin to our exacting standards. We ensured the same level of uncompromising commitment to quality and sustainability in our coffee supplier – Pact Coffee – who work with farmers from three continents to ethically source the finest ingredients for their premium coffee. Layering Pact’s Brazilian and Rwandan ground coffee with cinnamon and fresh vanilla on top of our original London Dry Gin base creates a delightfully rich, warm, and indulgent gin with a smooth and balanced finish.” Naturally, we tried it in Espresso Martinis but even better was the Coffee Negroni served with peach which has to be one of the most delicious things we’re ever tried. So hats off to the Artesian team for such amazing drinks. Sipspresso will be landing at Master of Malt very soon.
Emily Roux and The Balvenie create immersive dining experience
The Balvenie has come up with a nifty way to celebrate its newest release, 25 Year Old – Rare Marriages, by teaming up with distinguished chef Emily Roux to create a one-off immersive experience. On Friday 8th October, Harvey Nichols in London’s Knightsbridge, will host a gastronomic experience in a forest-like space featuring a six-course menu Roux made to perfectly complement the liquid and tell the story of how the whisky was made. Expect smoked beetroot tartelette, fresh Scottish langoustines tartare, roast venison saddle, and more deliciousness, along with specially concocted Balvenie cocktails and a tasting of The Balvenie Twenty Five. Paper quilling artist, Yulia Brosdskaya has also made a three-dimensional artwork that will be on display at Harvey Nichols as a full window display for the month of October. Tickets are £45.00 and are redeemable against £45.00 off a purchase of The Balvenie Twenty-Five in-store or online at Harvey Nichols. We also wrote a feature on the 25 Year Old – Rare Marriages if you’d like to get an idea of what to expect.
The Whiskey Thing at The Distillery Portobello Road
This week we went over to the rainbow streets of Portobello Road to (finally) try The Whiskey Thing, the newest experience from Jake Burger (of Portobello Road Gin) and the team behind The Ginstitute at The Distillery. Over three hours, Burger took us through everything you need to (and could) know about whisk(e)y, with the evening culminating in the chance to blend your own creation and take home the bottle. There’s no actual whisky distilling going on here – rather, Burger has selected 18 whiskies from around the world to showcase all that the spirit has to offer. Beginning with a journey through the production, from fermentation to maturation, it’s a fun and interactive experience. Peat is set alight with a blowtorch, and foam banana sweets are presented to mirror ripe ester-y flavours, as is shortbread to demonstrate the flavours of American oak. A mini crème brûlée is brought out alongside a Mexican corn whisky to amplify those buttery notes – and all of this is before we get to the official tasting! There are 18 whiskies to create your blend from, and we taste nine of them (18 glasses would be a little intimidating, we all agreed). The tasting is blind, and only after we’ve created the blend does Burger reveal what we’ve been sipping. No spoilers here, but ours was a mix of Irish, Indian, Scotch malt, and grain whiskies. All in all, a thoroughly enjoyable, refreshing evening. Huge thanks to the whole team – if you want to brush up on your whisky knowledge and tasting skills, head on down!
Irish whiskey sales slumped in 2020
The Irish Spirits Market Report 2022 from Drinks Ireland is here and it makes sobering reading for the country’s whiskey business. Global sales by value were down by 4% mainly due to Covid and the resulting collapse of global travel retail, the second biggest market for Irish whiskey, and the closure of bars and restaurants. Though whiskey seems more resilient than other categories – overall spirit exports were down 16%. Bryan Fallon, chairman of Drinks Ireland commented: “The report shows that the spirits sector did not escape unscathed from the Covid-19 pandemic. Irish hospitality venues are a vital component to the continued growth and prosperity of Ireland’s spirits and craft spirits sector, allowing companies to engage with consumers, so their closure was very much felt.” To help the country’s industry, Drinks Ireland is calling for a cut in excise tax, Ireland has the third-highest tax on spirits in the EU. Fallon explained: “While 2020 has shown that our sector is resilient and adaptable, this resilience and adaptability will be tested in the post-Covid world, and the government must support our sector’s recovery through an excise cut.”
Award-winning drinks magazine Tonic celebrates its second issue
Many people talk of starting their own magazine, but husband and wife team Robert Ellison and Benita Finanzio made their dream a reality when they founded Tonic, a magazine devoted to drinks and travel. They got some money together, commissioned some articles and the first issue landed last year… just in time for Covid. It’s been a struggle as Ellison admitted at the launch party for the second issue last night. But at his lowest point when he was thinking of jacking it all in, he got a phone call from someone saying he loved the magazine and wanted to help out financially. It was none other than William Borrell from Vestal Vodka who had a bit of spare cash after selling half his business to Halewood. Not only that but Halewood sponsored the launch at their City of London Distillery. The first issue has proved a triumph: lighting up awards lists up and down the country with contributors, Juliet Rix and Claire Dodd both shortlisted for awards, and Will Hawkes winning a Fortnum & Mason award for best drink writer. Plus the magazine is a finalist in the Travel Media Awards for the Consumer Publication of the Year. All this from a team with a lot of passion but no publishing experience at all. Now there’s a second issue out (go here to buy), and it’s even better. Moral of the story: dare to dream.
And finally… rubbish wine anyone?
We love making use of leftovers here at Master of Malt. Rarely a week goes by when we don’t have bubble & squeak for breakfast but we’re recycling amateurs compared with two Aberdeen students. For a couple of years now, Elliott Martens and Lasse Melgaard have been taking advantage of the amount of perfectly edible food that supermarkets chuck out every day. Dubbing themselves Two Racoons, the pair told the Daily Record that they could “eat like kings” on food that had been binned. Now, they’re taking their Womble-tendencies up a notch with a range of wines made from surplus fruit. Varieties include ‘Strawberry Feels Forever’ and the not-quite-so-catchy ‘Overripe Raspberries Make Good Wine’. It’s worth following them on Instagram @tworaccoonswinery and see the Press & Journal for the full story. These lads have turned more than four tons of unwanted fruit into 10,000 bottles of wine that’s literally rubbish.