New whiskies from Glengoyne and Glen Moray, Singleton turns a feast into art, and a man who pretended to be a wine merchant to hide model train obsession. As you do. They all feature in the penultimate Nightcap of 2021!
We had so much content on the blog last week that we worried it was going to buckle like the truck in that old advert for Castlemaine XXXX. But luckily thanks to IT boffins at MoM Towers it held firm, like that bit in Gladiator where Russell Crowe goes “AS ONE!” But there’s even more to come in the form of the Nightcap. Let’s hope it holds!
But first a recap of this week’s embarrassment of riches. We had not one but four competitions. One with Brown-Forman to win a trip to America, another to win a year’s whisky subscription with Pour & Sip, and a chance to get your hands on some delicious Bushmills Irish Whiskey. Then #WhiskySanta was back with a chance to win a bottle of 40-year-old Glenfiddich. Compmegeddon!
We also had two visits to the Drinks by the Dram Advent Calendar to see what was behind this week’s doors. But that’s not all. We looked at a new single harvest, single field Tequila from Ocho, made a twist on a G&T with Fever-Tree tonic water, and rounded up our favourite Ports just in time for Christmas. Plus Adam visited Aber Falls in North Wales, Ian Buxton outlined his seven rules for investing in whisky casks, and our glorious leader Justin took over the blog to let us know that carrier choice is now a thing. Oh and the Connaught in London won the best bar in the world award. Again. I think that’s it. Phew, what a week!
But the blog still has the capacity for some more information, so let’s round up all the news from the world of booze. On with The Nightcap: 10 December edition!
Glengoyne releases sherry bomb Teapot Dram Batch 008
The latest batch of Glengoyne’s Teapot Dram is here! No, it isn’t distilled in a teapot, though wouldn’t that be brilliant? Instead it harks back to the time when workers were given a dram of whisky straight out of a sherry cask. When some younger workers couldn’t finish theirs, then they would pour them into a teapot for more seasoned employees to enjoy. Or so the story goes. Anyway, every year the distillery releases a limited-edition heavily-sherried young whisky in honour of this practice. The eighth release was aged exclusively in first-fill European and American oak ex-sherry casks and comes in at 59% ABV, so if you like sherry bombs, you’ll love the Teapot Dram. According to Barbara Turing, brand manager at Ian Macleod Distillers, the ageing process has given it “a luscious dark copper colour and a rich, mouth-coating palate of cooked apple, subtle spice and soft oak.” Only 3,000 bottles have been filled and they are only available from the distillery or via its website. Yours for £120.
Turn your evening into art with The Singleton
Have you ever enjoyed an evening so much that you wish you could preserve it somehow? Well, thanks to The Singleton, this might now be possible. The single malt brand is offering to create bespoke dining experiences for (very wealthy, we imagine) customers. Then at the end of the evening, guests receive artwork inspired by their movements throughout dinner, in the form of a moving digital piece and a solid piece of actual art that you can hang on your wall. The first such event, entitled ‘The Course of a Feast’ took place recently and featured a five-course feast created by top chef Ollie Dabbous to celebrate the launch of The Singleton of Glen Ord 39-Year-Old. Master of malt (nothing to do with Master of Malt) Maureen Robinson explained: “The Course of a Feast was an unforgettable experience to be a part of. To see the flavour journey of The Singleton 39-Year-Old, some of my life’s work during my 40 years at Diageo, come to life and inspire the menu by Ollie Dabbous was incredible.” If you’re interested in having your own art feast go to Malts.com for more information. Bring your goldest credit card. Or it might be simpler to buy a bottle of The Singleton of Glen Ord 39-Year-Old and accept that pleasures are transitory.
Guinness supports pubs with £30m fund
More than 3 million Brits have already booked a reservation at a pub or restaurant over the Christmas period, because we all love a good festive celebration. Guinness obviously does too, because it has donated £30 million towards keeping pubs, bars, and restaurants open in 2021. The brand will be lighting up locals up and down the country with a dazzling Christmas light display, celebrating each pub’s role in bringing local communities together. 22 pubs nationwide have been selected as part of the display including The Lock Tavern in Camden, Queens Vault in Cardiff, and The Pickled Sprout in Harrogate. To help ease another challenging festive period ahead, Guinness will also provide financial support, staff training, and equipment to help operators weather the impact of cancellation rates, currently at 10% (UKHospitality) as well as other factors through owner Diageo’s Raising the Bar programme. The initiative has already supported over 30,000 publicans and the 500,000 bar staff throughout the UK to help weather the impact of the pandemic measures and ensure pubs are safe environments. Guinness says there will be further investment in the fund in 2022. Hopefully, there’s a pub near you taking part in the ‘Light Up the Local’ campaign, but if not, be sure to support your town’s watering holes this Christmas. It’s good for the economy, after all. And fun.
GlenWyvis Distillery launches first whisky
The world’s first 100% community-owned distillery, GlenWyvis Distillery, has launched its first-ever whisky. The first 3,600 individually numbered bottles of the three-year-old GlenWyvis Highland Single Malt Scotch Whisky have been allocated to GlenWyvis Distillery shareholders as it was their investment that enabled the build and development of the distillery. There were a further 2,000 bottles that were available to pre-order in October 2020, but they unsurprisingly sold out almost immediately. There will also be 200 bottles available at selected local retailers, which again is a really nice idea. That does mean we don’t have a drop of it, but we’ll let them off this time because they seem very lovely. As for what those who have got the whisky can expect, it’s made from a batch of 18 casks, including 15 first-fill ex-Tennessee whiskey (80%), two first-fill ex-Moscatel (15%), and one refill hogshead (5%), and is described as a grain-forward whisky that showcases the unique fruitiness of extra-long fermentation. The whisky is 50% ABV, non-chill filtered, and no colouring added, which are all big ticks for us, and also has the distinction of being the first whisky to be produced in Dingwall in almost 100 years. The last whisky distillery in the region, Ben Wyvis, closed its doors in 1926. Congratulations, guys.
British Airways to recruit a Master of Wine
What do you do when your wine offering is described as “rock bottom”? Get a new Master of Wine, of course. At least, that’s the course of action British Airways is taking. A report in The Daily Mail stated that the airline is looking to recruit a Master of Wine to overhaul its drinks selection, which has come in for some flack. Until 2010, British Airways (BA) employed noted wine experts like Jancis Robinson MW to choose the wines that would be available on flights. However, the carrier opted to appoint a single exclusive supplier for each of its three classes, and Robinson subsequently resigned. Now it would appear BA is going back to the method that worked before. The airline is looking for a “passionate individual with a strong knowledge of all drinks categories – particularly wine”. So, if that sounds like you or someone you know and you’d like to be responsible for the wine you basically can’t taste at that altitude anyway, why not apply?
Glen Moray releases new Waterhouse 1 Manzanilla bottling
If you like a limited cask strength Speyside bottling at a reasonable price (and who doesn’t?) then the Warehouse 1 range from Glen Moray has long been a happy hunting ground. Now the latest release is here, or nearly here, it’ll be at Master of Malt soon, and it’s delicious. It was distilled in 2008, aged in ex-bourbon casks before finishing in Manzanilla sherry barrels. As you might expect if you know Manzanilla, the lightest crispest style of sherry, the result is very much not a sherry bomb. The Manzanilla provides a lick of salt at the end to go alongside the fresh orchard fruits, and subtle toffee and vanilla notes. Brand ambassador Iain Allan elaborated: “We started to wonder what would happen if we brought Glen Moray spirit and Manzanilla casks together? If Speyside met Cádiz in the barrel, what would the results be? Soft with salt? Citrus with herbaceous? Questions like these can get the team quite animated, to say the least, but only time can ever answer their restless curiosity – and these results have been worth waiting for.” Only 1,240 cask strength (54.6% ABV) bottles have been filled and as usual with this range the price is reasonable, £74.95. We’re hoping to get some in before Christmas.
Port and sherry prices set to rise
There’s no need to panic buy but…. Port and sherry are about to get much more expensive. Fortified wines have been undergoing a revival recently but this might be jeopardised by chancellor Rishi Sunak’s proposed changes to the tax system. Previously fortified wines had a set rate of duty, currently £2.98, now they, like others drinks, will be taxed on a sliding scale depending on their alcoholic strength. Under the new measures, the duty on a bottle of 20% ABV Port will be £3.88 and then you have to factor in 20% VAT on top of that. As you can imagine, fortified wine producers are not happy. Andrew Hawes from Mentzendorff, the agents for Taylor’s, Croft, and Fonseca Port described it as “the largest single alcohol tax rises in UK history” and went on to say: “Ultimately I fear it will be the consumers who will pay the price. which is a shame especially as we’ve invested so much to attract a new following to the joys of these fortified wines, which to date have offered incredible value.” We are sure Nightcap readers will be especially interested in what Miles Beale from the WSTA has to say. So here he is: “Government needs to ensure that we aren’t left with a new system that is demonstrably less fair and more administratively complex, which were the tests the Treasury set itself.” Unless the industry’s pleas are heeded, these changes will come in next year. It might be an idea to stock up now.
And finally… Man pretends to be a wine merchant to hide model train obsession
Well this is one of the strangest stories to appear on the Nightcap. This week, Simon George from Yorkshire unveiled an enormous 200ft (61m) miniature railway that he had been building in his basement for eight years. It’s a replica of the Calder Valley line at Heaton Lodge junction in Kirklees exactly as it was when George was a boy in the 1980s right down to period-specific cars. The model railway is currently on display in Wakefield Market. It took three lorries to transport it. A tremendous achievement no doubt but in the end just another story of a hobby getting a bit out of control. But where it gets peculiar is that George tried to hide this gigantic railway from his girlfriend. He commented: “She knew I leased a mill with a huge basement, but I kind of led her to believe I was a wine merchant because that sounded cooler than building a model railway.” Of all the excuses he came up with to hide a nerdy hobby, he came up with something even nerdier, wine. In fact, there are probably many wine merchants out there who have pretended to be into model trains to impress potential lovers.