Belvedere vodka has Daniel Craig dancing, Ardbeg Distillery breaks a record with a 1974 vintage whisky, and we can reveal that somebody royal really likes a Martini. It’s The Nightcap: 11 November edition!
We’re not sure how things have been for our global readers but in Britain, it feels like it has been raining non-stop since September. Huge pools of water have accumulated outside MoM Towers, we worried at one point that the whole edifice might float away. But this week, the clouds finally parted, the sun shone, and we got a much-needed dose of vitamin D. Just in time as some of us were beginning to develop scurvy. Or is that vitamin C? Vitamins are not really our area of expertise, but booze is, so without further ado, procrastinating, or general beating about the bush, here’s our weekly round-up of booze news. It’s the Nightcap: 11 November edition!
This week on the Master of Malt blog we gave you the chance to get your hands on a bottle of Bowmore Aston Martin 22 Year Old Masters’ Selection, a year’s supply of Tomatin whisky, and Woodford Reserve Baccarat (courtesy of the returning #WhiskySanta) as well as an exclusive chance to enjoy the new Starward Ginger Beer Cask #7. We also rounded up some perfect Christmas present choices for Scotch whisky fans, heard from the buying team what they’re eyeing up this festive season, welcomed a meaty batch of new MoM exclusives, and concluded the Barbados Rum Experience, There were also big stories from contributors Kristiane Sherry who lived up to her name and exposed shady sherry seasoning practices, while Ian Buxton got his abacus out to examine rising whisky prices. After all that, a Rusty Manhattan was well-deserved.
But there’s still more to come. It’s The Nightcap: 11 November
Belvedere announces new global campaign starring Daniel Craig
It looks like Bond takes his shaken Martinis with Belvedere vodka. The Polish brand has teamed up with 007 actor Daniel Craig (is he still Bond until another is announced? Answers on a postcard) to create a short film directed by Academy Award-winning filmmaker Taika Waititi and featuring an original track by Rita Ora and Giggs. It basically imagines how life might look when the cameras are not rolling. Craig moves out of a gathered crowd and passes across the Pont Neuf bridge in Paris, sashays (you hardly ever hear about people sashaying anymore) his way through the lobby, the hallways, and the rooftop of the Cheval Blanc Hotel, before dancing towards the Belvedere bar. Then just as he is about to take an ice-cold sip, Waititi yells cut, making a cameo to ask Craig to take it from the top once more. Such fun. If you want to drink like Bond, we actually have some advice on that.
Ardbeg sets record auction price
Whisky Auctioneer has a new record breaker to show off, this time from Islay headline maker Ardbeg Distillery. A bottle from the smallest-ever official single cask release from the distillery has achieved a hammer price of £35,000, a record for a single bottle of Ardbeg. It was one of only 36 bottles from cask #2742, which was filled on 14 June 1974 and bottled 31 years later on 20 September 2005. The vintage makes it so desirable because 1974 was the last year the distillery made spirit with exclusively on-site-peated malt, meaning what was distilled that year represents the final ‘old-school’ Ardbegs. The bottles from this cask #2742 were originally only available to hotel bars around the world, so many will have been opened or consumed. Luckily for the wealthy victor from Switzerland, there was one available to stick behind a glass case and look at occasionally. “As Whisky Auctioneer continues to grow, instances of auctioning a bottle for the first time have become rarer yet all the more special. We were hugely excited to be lucky enough to encounter this near-mythical single cask from Ardbeg, notable for its important vintage as well as its tiny 36-bottle yield,” says Joe Wilson, head curator & spirits specialist at Whisky Auctioneer. “Ardbeg is a distillery with a somewhat tumultuous past, but since the turn of the century has deservedly become one of the world’s most desired whiskies, as evidenced by the high international interest in both this bottle and its incredible result.”
Tamdhu Quercus Alba Distinction II is coming
Regular readers of the Master of Malt blog will know that we love a bit of Tamdhu here. Rich, sherried Speyside single malt at a reasonable price. That’s our sweet spot. But we get particularly hot and bothered about Tamdhu special editions like the new Tamdhu Quercus Alba Distinction II. That sound you hear is us fanning ourselves like Victorian ladies about to swoon. Those with a classical education will have spotted that this is aged in 100% American oak, quercus alba. But not bourbon casks, these are made by Spanish coopers and seasoned with oloroso sherry. Sandy McIntyre, Tamdhu distillery manager, commented: “We’re dedicated to sherry casks at Tamdhu, and our Distinction series allows us to take an even closer look at how American oak sherry maturation impacts our whisky. Distinction II has a wonderfully nuanced profile that’s noticeable when compared to our European oak bottlings while still retaining that classic Tamdhu style – fruity palate, indulgent mouthfeel, soft oak, and unmistakable hints of sherry.” It’s bottled at 48% ABV. There’s no age statement but we’re not fussed as we’ve never had a Tamdhu that’s been anything less than superb. Best of all, it should be coming soon to Master of Malt.
Port pipe Oxford Artisan rye is a Master of Malt exclusive
Another whisky producer we’re particularly taken with is the Oxford Artisan Distillery. So taken in fact, that we’ve bought an entire pipe of rye whisky and we’re selling it exclusively through Master of Malt. You won’t find this anywhere else. It’s made from a mash bill of 90% maslin and 10% malted barley. What on earth is maslin, we can hear our readers saying to themselves while scratching their heads. Maslin is a mixed crop of rye and wheat, heavier on the rye, which was traditionally how the two crops would have been sowed. Following a long ferment, and a double distillation (you can read more about the process here), it was aged for one and half years in new American oak before transferring to a single tawny Port pipe, a traditional 550-litre cask. This particular one had held Port for over 30 years so while it would be well impregnated with wine, the wood influence would be negligible. Master distiller, Francisco Rosa explained: “Through a long-standing relationship with Portuguese coopers and winemakers, I was very lucky to be able to obtain a cask of this age and quality. Tawny pipes are the oldest casks being used in Port, so the wine has had decades to soak deep into the wood and leave its character; they are full of big oxidised sweet Port flavours.” Oxford Artisan Rye whisky – the Tawny Port Pipe is bottled at 56% ABV and did we mention it’s only available from Master Malt?
Bar Swift Borough opens as Oriole closes
Swift has brought its brand of award-winning hospitality, art-deco aesthetic, and world-class cocktails to Borough as its third venue opens. Alongside Swift Soho and Swift Shoreditch comes a two-story space on Borough High Street with the classic upstairs/downstairs Swift layout with a bright no-reservations space upstairs serving favourites like the Swift Irish Coffee and Sgroppino as well as a more intimate, seated-only area with an original, high-concept menu with 11 original cocktails downstairs. Borough Upstairs also hosts the Swift Aperitivo Hour every day until 6pm, with all aperitivos for just £7. So what have got to look forward to? We like the sound of Biscuit Town, which comes from an old nickname for the area following the establishment of the Peek Freans biscuit factory in 1873, and is made with a malt milk Scotch whisky base, laced with dark cacao and infused with chocolate and vanilla bitters. Meanwhile, city jazz club and speakeasy Oriole will sadly have to close at the end of the year due to the ongoing redevelopment of Smithfield market and the relocation of the Museum of London. Speakeasy Entertainment, who own Oriole as well as Nightjar and Swift, have come to a surrender deal with The Corporation of London and New Year’s Eve will be Oriole’s last night of operation in its current form. The process has begun to find a new location. We wish them the best of luck.
Lyaness launches The Ancestral Cookbook menu
In other bar news, on the back of winning World’s Best Bar at the prestigious Spirited Awards, Lyaness has created a new menu called ‘the Ancestral Cookbook’. Progressing from last year’s edition, ‘the British Cookbook’, it explores how food (and drink) has shaped our cultural outlooks over generations. There’s five core themes, Nature vs Nurture, Circularity (repetition), Taught History, Ceremony, and Extreme Conditions, which form a flavour guide for the 15 all-new drinks on the menu, and much like last year, there’s also five key new ingredients that are used in the basis of each serve. There’s Everything Vinegar, made using apple juice and plants from Growing Underground’s Zero Carbon Farm, as well as Tree Caramel created from African Braai wood to create a tea-like substance made by subjecting the specially harvested and dried invasive woods to cycles of extreme heat, cold and pressure to manipulate the material and extract a range of truly unexpected flavours. There’s also Death Bitters, made by extracting flavours from a lemon tree the team submerged into liquid nitrogen to instantly freeze it (would have loved to seen that), and B + B, created using toasted grains which are then blitzed and infused into alcohol and are combined with elements such as pea amazake and an array of cordials to create the final iteration of B + B. Finally, Thunder Mushroom (brilliant name), meanwhile is a blend of grains and legumes that are inoculated with koji spores, fermented, fortified, and finally electrocuted to oxidise and harmonise to create something that’s close in profile to a savoury chocolate. It’s the basis of the Hart Old Fashioned, made using Thunder Mushroom, bread bitters, Henrietta’s tea, Stauning, and Craigellachie whisky, which will be the first thing we try.
The Drinks Trust opens The Emergency Energy Crisis Fund
Not the most cheery news as we enter the season to be jolly™, but important all the same, is that opened the Drinks Trust opens The Emergency Energy Crisis Fund. Cost of living and the financial hardships being experienced by many within the industry workforce has prompted the trust to offer a grant-giving initiative of £350 per person to support colleagues struggling to pay gas and electricity bills and otherwise unable to heat and power their homes this winter. The Drinks Trust is asking for donations, qualifying the plea by saying “we understand this winter will be hard for everyone, but even making a small donation will help those who will be in extreme hardship this year.” It’s a worthy cause, and if you need to apply to the Emergency Energy Crisis Fund just click the link.
And finally… shock, horror the King enjoys a Martini
Finally, the worst-kept secret in the drinks world is finally out. No, it’s not about the sherry casks that aren’t. It’s that Charles III… wait for it… really quite likes a Martini. The rumours had been swirling for a while on anonymous message boards and late-night conversations between ex-Diageo staff but now it can be confirmed that the King enjoys a Martini before dinner. It was top Romanian aristocrat Count Tibor Kalnoky who let the cat out of the bag in the Channel 4 documentary, ‘The Real Windsors: The Outspoken Heir’. “He likes a Martini before dinner, that’s for sure”, the count said. He also said something about the Pope being somewhat keen on Catholicism.