In a week with an election (think we can all agree the true winners were the pooches at the polls), the world of booze still managed to churn out plenty of news. And it’s all in the Nightcap!
With Christmas on the horizon, you’d think the world of booze news might slow down, that schedules get filled up with gravy tastings, awkward extended family small talk planning meetings and scheduled downtime to watch gift wrapping tutorial videos on YouTube. Nope. The news keeps happening, and we keep on compiling it every week in The Nightcap. Here’s another edition of it. Please, enjoy.
Before we talk about all the amazing goings-on in blog land, just a quick reminder that there’s still time to enter our fantastic Starward competition, where you’ll visit the actual distillery in actual Australia! Hope you’ve been working on your knifey-spoony game…
Now, back to the fabulous features, you might have missed this week what with that election thing happening. #WhiskySanta announced what this week’s SuperWish would be (it’s another absolute corker, folks), but, not to be outdone, the Drinks by the Dram Whisky Advent Calendar also gave us some great whisky over the course of the week. Check out days #7, #8, #9, #10, #11 and #12 if you don’t believe us. Elsewhere, plenty of our pals stopped by to revel in the festivities. Diageo brand ambassadors TJ Littlejohn and Colin Dunn tasted their way through the 2019 Diageo Special Releases, Black Rock co-founder Matthew Hastings talked whisky with Annie and Edrington-Beam Suntory’s David Miles caught up with Adam to predict this season’s Christmas trends. Neil Ridley and Joel Harrison (or Noel and Jeal, to their friends) even popped by to talk all about their latest book with Henry, who also enjoyed some exceptional rum and his very first Snowball cocktail.
Now, let’s get stuck into the Nightcap!
World’s largest private whisky collection to go to auction unveiled
Earlier this week, the largest private collection of whisky ever to go to auction was revealed! What quantifies the largest, we hear you ask? Well, this particular collection is the most significant by both value and volume, having been dubbed ‘The Perfect Collection’. The impressive array of whisky is courtesy of Mr Richard Gooding, with over 3,900 bottles, primarily consisting of Scotch, estimated to be collectively worth around £8 million. Whisky Auctioneer will be selling the collection next year. You can be sure there are a few iconic names among the thousands of bottles, with The Macallan, Bowmore and Springbank making appearances, as well as some lost distilleries such as Stromness and Dallas Dhu. Some individual bottles are valued at over £1 million! Would you believe it, until recently this magnificent collection was just sitting in the Gooding’s house in Colorado? “It was clear to us as a family that collecting Scotch was one of Richard’s greatest passions,” said Nancy Gooding, wife of the late Mr Gooding. “He was always so pleased to acquire the bottles that he was searching for over the years – his mission was to collect a bottle that represented every single distillery, but his favourite was always Bowmore.” The Perfect Collection by Mr Richard Gooding will go live on Whisky Auctioneer in two separate auctions, from 7 to 17 February and 10 to 20 April 2020, so collectors, get it in your diaries!
US threatens to increase Scotch tariffs
In a continuation of a story determined to prove that we can’t have nice things, the US has been talking tariffs in regard to Scotch whisky again. Following the imposition of a 25% import tariff on EU products, including single malt Scotch whisky, single malt Irish whiskey and liqueurs on 18 October, the US is now considering increasing tariffs again in response to an ongoing feud regarding aircraft subsidies (we’ve covered this dispute in greater detail here and here). In early December, the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) said a World Trade Organization (WTO) compliance panel rejected the EU’s claims that it complied with WTO rules by making adjustments to Airbus subsidies, adding that the WTO recently valued the “harm caused by these subsidies at US$7.5 billion”. As a result, the existing tariff rates are being assessed and additional EU products could be targeted, with tariff hikes focused on imports from France, Germany, Spain and the UK – “the four countries responsible for the illegal subsidies,” according to the USTR. The Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) has reiterated the importance of removing tariffs for Scotch, which it previously warned could result in a 20% decline in exports to the US. “We have been clear that the removal of the tariffs on both Scotch and American whiskies should be the highest priority for governments on both sides of the Atlantic,” said a spokesperson for the SWA. “We continue to urge all parties to get round the table and agree to de-escalate these trade disputes, which are damaging unrelated sectors.” I think I speak for all of us on this issue when I say: Booooooooooooooo!
Last Drop Distillers releases ghost grain whisky from Dumbarton
Specialists in rare spirits Last Drop Distillers has announced another gem. This 17th release from the company is a 1977 single grain from the lost Dumbarton distillery on the banks of the Clyde. The distillery was opened by Canadian firm Hiram Walker in 1938 to produce a maize spirit for its Ballantine’s blends. After changing hands a number of times, it was closed in 2002 and its famous tower was finally demolished in 2017 to make way for houses. A sad day for Scotch whisky. But Last Drop Distillers has managed to get hold of a few lost casks from Dumbarton. One of these yielded just 150 bottles to go into this 1977 releases which will sell for £2,500 ($3,000). Managing director Rebecca Jago (this week’s Nightcap is quite Jago heavy) commented: “1977 is an extraordinary year in our collective memory, as it is the year that our founders James Espey and my late father, Tom Jago, first met. The two became life-long colleagues and trusted advisors to each other, moving between industry roles, largely in tandem. Our 1977 Dumbarton Single Grain seems a fitting tribute to such an unusually rare and special friendship and will be remembered as a truly rare and covetable gem.” But you don’t have to take her word for it, Jim Murray (for it is he) gave it 97 points and made it his Single Grain of the Year in his 2020 Whisky Bible. So there you go.
Shortlist announced for André Simon Food & Drink Book Awards
It’s a bit like the Oscars only much more glamorous; yes, it’s the annual André Simon Food & Drink Book Awards, and the shortlist has just been announced. On the drinks side, we are pleased to see a couple of our favourites chosen: A Brief History of Lager by Mark Dredge and The World Atlas of Wine by Jancis Robinson and Hugh Johnson. Joining them are: Christie’s Encyclopedia of Champagne and Sparkling Wine (4th edition) by Tom Stevenson and Essi Avellan MW, Drinkology by Alexis Willett, Tales of the Tea Trade by Michelle and Rob Comins, Wines of the French Alps by Wink Lorch, Wine Simple by Aldo Sohm with Christine Muhlke. There are also some food books but we’re not quite so interested. The judging of the drink books was presided over by former Berry Bros. & Rudd CEO Dan Jago who knows a thing or two about drinks. Johnson and Robinson have to be the favourites but Lorch has form at Simons so might worth having a flutter at Ladbrokes. The winners will be announced on Monday 20 January at the Goring Hotel in London. Time to start planning your outfit.
Absolut Elyx launches pop-up boutique and cocktail bar in Copenhagen’s Magasin du Nord
If you’re in Copenhagen between December 9th – 22nd, then be sure to pop-in to high-end department store Magasin Du Nord to enjoy an exclusive pop-up from Absolut Elyx! Visitors to The Absolut Elyx Pop-up Boutique and Cocktail bar can purchase items from the boutique’s winter 2019/2020 holiday collection, check out the new Absolut Elyx bottle design for the first time and frequent a beautifully decorated copper Absolut Elyx bar, which will serve signature Elyx Martinis and the tropical, coffee-infused Horsepower cocktail, between 4pm-8pm on December 12th-14th and December 19th-21st. The popup boutique’s collection includes industry-standard bartender essentials kits and bespoke glasses, including the Copper Owl Drinking Cup inspired by wildlife found in the forests of Sweden. Because whose life wouldn’t be improved by the addition of a copper owl drinking cup?
Largest ever bottle of whisky goes to auction
It looks like it’s been a week of fun-filled auction news this week! This large auction is a rather large one, though it’s just one bottle of 14 Year Old Tomintoul. Here’s the best bit: it’s 105.3 litres! That means the bottle itself is around 1.5 metres tall and would fill 5,250 drams. Even the cork is 20cm long! Why does a bottle so large exist, you’ll be wondering? It was commissioned by four Tomintoul residents “who wanted to create something iconic to promote the village and the distillery on a global stage”. Well, that’s certainly been achieved. The bottle was filled at the Speyside distillery on 29 August 2009 and took a team of 14 people led by distillery director Robert Fleming. “Every now and then the opportunity to purchase a truly unique bottle of whisky occurs – this is one of those times,” said Graham Crane, director and co-founder of Just Whisky. Bids for the whisky are open until 8pm on Sunday 15 December at auctioneer Just Whisky’s Christmas auction. Whoever leaves the auction victorious with the bottle will have a fun time getting it home, with it weighing more than 180 kilograms!
Talisker Atlantic rowing challenge sets off
And they’re off! Competitors in the Talisker Atlantic Whisky Challenge, the world’s toughest rowing race, set off from La Gomera in the Canary Islands today. Their destination Nelson’s Dockyard in Antigua, 3,000 miles away. It’s the biggest edition of the event yet with over 100 people taking part and 35 teams. Competitors include a team made up of American veterans called, natch, Fight Oar Die, a group of four German women inspired by the Four Women On a Boat documentary and the only man who could play both Doctor Who and Prince Phillip, Matt Smith. The day before the start, Talisker created an island wilderness accessible only by sea with wild cocktails from Giorgio Lupi, winner of Talisker’s Wild Spirit Bartender competition, accompanied by foraged food cooked on a FireTable which was created by Guy Ritchie. Yes, that Guy Ritchie, truly he is a man of many talents. Natalia Montigny, head of global marketing for Talisker commented: “For the sixth year, Talisker is proud to be the title sponsor of the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge– one of the world’s most challenging and exhilarating adventures. Our founders, the MacAskill brothers, rowed from Eigg to Skye to found the Talisker Distillery in Scotland almost 200 years ago and so as a brand we share the same sense of passion and adventure as the participants. It’s been incredible to hear the rowers’ stories first hand this week and share special moments with them and our tribe of wild spirited adventurers who joined us at the Talisker Wilderness Bar experience and other events this week. We wish all rowers success as they undertake this incredible journey.” The fastest teams are likely to take around 40 days to make the crossing subsisting entirely on powdered food. You’ll really want a dram after that.
Aberfeldy teams up with World of Zing to launch Hot Toddy Syrups
There are few things as enjoyable as a good Hot Toddy in the winter months, an opinion Highland Scotch whisky brand Aberfedly and pre-batched cocktail specialist World of Zing clearly shares if its recent collaboration is anything to go by. The duo has created three new interpretations of this traditional cocktail with a range of syrups that, rather pleasingly, are made with a base of British honey to support local beekeepers. The first expression is the Classic, a traditional hot-toddy with seasonal spices, including allspice, star anise, nutmeg, cinnamon and Earl Grey tea which, when mixed with Aberfeldy 12 Year Old, creates an aromatic and warming profile with “crisp apple notes and a smooth honeyed finish”. There’s also Chilli Mocha, a syrup blend that builds on the Classic with the addition of coffee, cacao and smoky chipotle chillies. When mixed, you can expect notes of “rich, robust dried fruit with a gentle chilli warmth and a smooth honeyed finish.” Finally, there’s the fabulously festive Gingerbread expression, again which builds on the Classic with the seasonal favourite flavours of gingerbread using ginger and galangal root. Pair it with the same whisky again and expect a character that is “aromatic and bright with gentle ginger warmth and a smooth honeyed finish.” Part of the appeal of the syrups will be how easy they are to use. Just add 15ml of each syrup into 35ml of Aberfeldy 12 Year Old and top up with hot water and you’re set. Georgie Bell, global malts ambassador for Aberfeldy, commented: “The Hot Toddy is such an iconic whisky serve, it really is a great winter warmer. Each syrup blend we’ve created with World of Zing melds harmoniously with Aberfeldy 12’s honeyed flavour profile to give three different variations on this traditional and sometimes forgotten serve.”
Discarded creates rum infused with waste banana peel
Are you tired of leaving rogue banana peels out for your enemies to slip on? Do you think you could be doing something more sustainable with those slippery yellow scoundrels? Enter Discarded, the very same folks who made vermouth from the waste flesh of the fruit from coffee berries, have now created a Banana Peel Rum! The banana peel comes from a flavour house that uses the fruit but throws away the skins. Well, no longer! Now the peel is snatched up by the Discarded folks, dried out, fermented and then steeped in alcohol for two weeks. Then, the rum and banana peel extracts are left for another two days and matured in whisky casks before it’s bottled. Described as ‘liquid banana bread’ by Tom Stannard, global marketing manager, innovation at William Grant & Sons (a catchy title), you can expect notes of toffee, spice and of course, banana sweetness. Daiquiris at the ready, people!
And finally. . . new gadget prevents ice from touching your teeth
Don’t you just hate it when you’re swigging a drink and the ice hits your teeth? No, you don’t? Well, we can assure you that some people at MoM get quite irate when this happens and they’re very excited about a new gadget called IceBloc designed to prevent this from happening. It’s the creation of Adrian Potter of Hampshire who became irritated with ice preventing him from taking a good swig from his G&T. His invention consists of a bit of plant-based material rather like a bib that holds ice in the glass while letting the boozy goodness out. It turns your glass into a kind of sippy cup for grown-ups and unlike a drinking straw, it’s reusable. Potter commented: “Whilst I wanted to come up with a practical and useful design, the environmental element was also key to me. The IceBloc is made of plants and is completely re-usable, however, I still wanted to contribute more.” All yours for £4.99 for six. We expect to see it next year sitting in G&Ts at the smartest venues in the land.
Correction: 8/1/2020: We originally reported wrongly that the Icebloc was made of plastic. This has now been updated accurately to ‘plant-based material’. We apologise for the error.