In this week’s round-up of news from the wide world of drinks, we say hello to some incredible new booze, Scotland’s first ‘vertical distillery’ and goodbye to a great publication.
Friday the 13th is meant to be unlucky, but then so are black cats and it’s a known fact that all cats are amazing with no exception. So maybe we should pay no heed to this superstition. After all, today is Friday the 13th and another edition of The Nightcap has arrived, packed to the brim with brilliant boozy happenings as always.
Another week, another chance to win incredible boozy prizes. We do love to spoil you. This time we launched our #MissedMoment competition which runs until the 19 November, so get those entries in! Elsewhere on the MoM blog, there was plenty of exciting whisky coverage, Henry revealed that Irish Distillers relaunched Blue Spot after a 56-year hiatus, got a sneak preview of the upcoming Johnnie Walker film and introduced a mysterious long-aged bourbon from Tennessee. Adam then got a taste of Benromach’s new 21-year-old expression and Annie took a fresh look at New World whisky. Elsewhere, we whipped up the Caipirinha, a Brazilian classic, rounded-up a top ten of bargain gins and then put together a selection of staff favourites chosen by the team here at MoM Towers.
Goodbye to Imbibe magazine and imbibe.com
We said a very sad goodbye this week at MoM Towers to an industry stalwart and our friends at Imbibe magazine and imbibe.com this week, as editor Robyn Black announced they are to be wound up in December 2020. After 13 years of providing us with outstanding coverage of all aspects of the drinks industry, it’s hard to hear that the shutters are coming down. Black revealed in a statement posted on Imbibe’s website that the publication is another unfortunate casualty of the COVID-19 crisis. “It is wreaking its worst on our industry and unfortunately Imbibe has not escaped its clutches,” said Black. “Thanks must go to everyone who has ever been involved in the magazine and website for their hard work in building them into what they are today. It is testimony to Imbibe’s culture that a large number of former staff still write for us and are very much still involved in our portfolio of competitions, tastings and events. It has been a pleasure to work with them all.” Thankfully, the show will, quite literally, go on at least, as Imbibe Live is still scheduled to entertain and delight as usual on 5-6 July 2021 at London’s Olympia. You can click here to register for Imbibe Live 2021. We hope to see you there!
Work starts on Scotland’s first ‘vertical distillery’
Foundations have just been laid for The Port of Leith Distillery which is projected to be completed by 2022. The brainchild of boyhood friends Patrick Fletcher and Ian Stirling, the completed distillery will feature a top floor double-height whisky bar, with views to Edinburgh Castle, two copper stills hand-crafted by the Speyside Copper Works in Elgin and the capacity to produce up to million bottles of single malt a year. The distillery should provide a welcome boost to the local economy and is supporting more than 30 jobs during construction – including six staff in the distillery team – and will create around 50 long-term jobs once complete. Given the project’s proximity to the Royal Yacht Britannia, visitor numbers play an important part in the distillery’s business plan, however, the success of its Oloroso sherry and award-winning Lind & Lime Gin means this is now less critical to the company’s plans. “Our ambition is to create an outstanding new style of Scotch using a modern approach, based on years of research we have already undertaken – and building on the remarkable heritage of the historic whisky district of Leith,” Stirling says. “Although our distillery has a very modern outlook, we’re very proud to be bringing the whisky trade back to one of the places it all began,” Fletcher concludes.
Taylor’s releases 90-year-old Port to toast the new Kingsman film
November is traditionally when wine lovers start to think about Port (though here at MoM, we’re all year-round Port drinkers.) So it’s with perfect timing that Taylor’s has unveiled possibly its snazziest Port yet. It was created to tie in with the release of the latest Kingsman film, The King’s Man, in February – now there’s a film franchise that knows how to drink. It’s a very old tawny with an average age of 90 years blended from some of the rarest casks lying in the company’s cellars at Vila Nova de Gaia. Taylor’s MD Adrian Bridge explained: “This Taylor’s limited edition Port will not only appeal to Kingsman devotees, but it is also an exceptional Port of great age which will grace the cellars of collectors and connoisseurs of fine and rare wines. Our blenders have used their skill and expertise to create a unique blend matured for almost nine decades in seasoned oak casks and displaying the multi-layered complexity which only Port can achieve.” The new film is a bit of a change from the previous ones as it is set during the first world war but as before it’s directed by Matthew Vaughn so expect the usual blend of action, sharp suits and general silliness. Bridge described the collaboration as “the perfect fit” while Vaughn said: “A true Kingsman will never forget to pass the Port to his left, but this Taylor-made vintage will certainly test his resolve…” Wise words. Only 700 bottles have been filled and will be on sale for £2950. Might be a bit too expensive for us but we will be getting in some 1961 Taylor’s, almost as tasty and much more affordable.
Sotheby’s to offer complete Black Bowmore series
Want to get your hands on the complete set of the incredible Black Bowmore series? Well, auction house Sotheby’s and the Islay distillery have announced that you will get the chance to do just that in Hong Kong next spring (date to be confirmed). The five bottles, spanning each release from 1993 to 2016, will be presented in a bespoke ‘Archive Cabinet’ made by the craftsman John Galvin and have a pre-sale estimate of £400,000. The first release of the Black Bowmore was in 1993 when it was 29 years old, with subsequent releases over the following years, most recently, in 2016 at 50 years-old. The spirit, which was distilled in 1964 and aged in ex-Oloroso sherry casks, was initially sold for £100 a bottle but has gone on to become one of the most collectable whiskies in the world, with bottles now going for many thousands of pounds each. “Its value has increased exponentially over the years, which can be attributed to its undeniable quality and, now that so many bottles have been consumed, its newfound rarity,” said Johnny Fowle, Sotheby’s spirits specialist and now something of a Nightcap regular. “We are thrilled to partner with Bowmore for this landmark offering in the world of collectable whisky.” David Turner, Bowmore distillery manager, added: “Black Bowmore truly is the jewel in our crown and it takes its rightful place in the distillery’s history for firmly putting Bowmore on the map as an iconic, collectable whisky.” The winning bidder will also receive an invitation to the Bowmore distillery for a tasting of other old and rare malts, while the proceeds of the sale will be donated to an Islay-based charity.
Waterford launches Ireland’s first certified organic whiskey
Given that it’s Ireland’s most barley-forward, terroir-driven distiller, it was no surprise to learn this week that Waterford Distillery will launch the country’s ﬁrst certified organic single malt whisky: Organic: Gaia 1.1. It’s the first part of the brand’s new Arcadian Series, a provenance-driven range of Irish whiskies made from organic, biodynamic and heritage grains, which the brand says “celebrates radical barley growers and alternative farming philosophies”. Organic: Gaia 1.1, which takes its name from the Greek goddess symbol of the Earth, was distilled in 2016 from 100% organic Irish barley grown by six farmers before it was matured in a combination of ﬁrst-ﬁll US oak (42%), virgin US oak (17%), premium French oak (23%) and Vin Doux Naturel sweet fortified wine casks (18%) and bottled at 50% ABV without any additional colouring or chill-ﬁltration. “At Waterford, we have placed barley – where and how it is grown – at the heart of what we do, curious about where the real whisky ﬂavour may be found,” says Waterford Distillery founder and CEO Mark Reynier. “A natural progression of this philosophy is to see what not only single farm origins can accomplish but what organically grown barley can do when it is given the right platform. We’re not playing at it; we lay down 400 to 600 casks of organic spirit a year, we buy all the Irish grown organic malting barley that can get our hands-on. Waterford Organic will be a main player in our ongoing portfolio for the discerning whisky drinker.” Organic: Gaia 1.1 will be available from MoM Towers soon, so keep an eye out on the New Arrivals page.
Famous Grouse renews commitment to rugby union
It’s fair to say that Britain’s top whisky brand Famous Grouse is pretty committed to rugby. This week it launched a new Spirit of Rugby campaign and announced that it will be the official whisky of the Premiership Rugby for the next three years. The Edrington brand will also sponsor both the British and Irish Lions and the South African team for the forthcoming Lions tour of South Africa. But that’s not all! On top of all that, the brand has announced another three-year partnership with Glasgow Warriors. Aristotelis Baroutsis, Famous Grouse’s global managing director, commented: “The Famous Grouse has been investing in the sport of rugby for the past 30 years, and we are very proud to have reaffirmed our commitment to this great game by agreeing these three exciting new partnerships at both international and club level to celebrate The Famous Grouse as The Spirit of Rugby.” Mark Brittain, chief commercial officer at Premiership Rugby, added: “We’re delighted to welcome The Famous Grouse on board as the official whisky of Premiership Rugby for the next three seasons. It’s fantastic that The Famous Grouse has shown a commitment to Premiership Rugby during these times and is a testament to the growing strength of the competition within the U.K. sporting landscape. The Famous Grouse has a proud track record of developing strong relationships with rugby fans as a result of decades of involvement in this great sport. We’re excited to work with the brand to engage with supporters throughout the season.” Cheers to that!
The Malt Whisky Trail teams up with Book Week Scotland
The Malt Whisky Trail announced this week that it will virtually welcome esteemed author Alexander McCall Smith during Book Week Scotland when he collaborates with The Glenlivet Distillery in Speyside (one of the nine iconic whisky sites that make up the trail) next week. The author of No.1 Ladies’ Detective Agency, the 44 Scotland Street series and more will narrate stories and poetry from his home in Edinburgh in a live stream hosted on The Malt Whisky Trail Instagram channel on 17 November at 1pm (GMT). With a warming Glenlivet dram in hand, McCall Smith will also treat viewers to a special treat in the form of a poem from his new collection, In a Time of Distance. “Visiting The Malt Whisky Trail is a marvellous way for visitors to Scotland, as well as Scots themselves, to discover a part of the country rich in historical associations. Whisky and storytelling in Scotland have more than a passing acquaintanceship,” says McCall Smith. “Book Week Scotland and the Malt Whisky Trail are natural partners, and I am really looking forward to being a part of this.” The Malt Whisky Trail prides itself on taking visitors on a journey to discover the best of whisky country including its landscape, larder, stories, and whisky has partnered with Book Week Scotland which takes place Monday 16 to Sunday 22 November. A full list of 2020’s programme can be found here and you can pick up McCall Smith’s latest works at independent bookstore The Bookmark in Grantown-on-Spey.
Take part in a virtual Christmas party in aid of the Drinks Trust
Well, it looks like the annual Christmas party won’t be happening this year. There will be no partying responsibly long into the night before ending up in a karaoke bar with your tie around your head belting out ‘I Will Survive’ like every word is deeply significant. Or perhaps that’s just us. But never fear, because those clever cats at the Liana Cocktail Co. have the answer. On 1 December between 6-7.30pm, you can take part in a virtual Christmas cocktail party. Register and purchase here and for only £19.99 you will receive a box of delicious cocktails made by experts with the finest ingredients known to humanity and details of how to attend the party. Best of all, for every ticket sold, LCC will donate £1 to the Drinks Trust; not only will you have fun, but you’ll be doing some good too. So dig out your tackiest reindeer jumper, round up your friends and take part in a virtual Christmas party. And if you’re feeling tired and emotional at the end, no one is going to stop you from putting on Gloria Gaynor. You will survive!
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And finally… TOWIE star gets her very own gin, probably
It’s a case of ‘move over George Clooney’ and ‘Ryan Reynolds, who he?’, because we’ve heard rumours that a proper celeb is about to launch her own drinks brand*. Yes, the word on the street is that Gemma Collins, star of The Only Way is Essex, Dancing on Ice and I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out of here! will be releasing her own gin in the near future. The most famous person to come out of Romford, after Richard Madeley, may soon be in the distilling business. ‘The GC’ is currently on a mission to reach number one on the music chart with a Christmas charity cover single, proving what a renaissance lady she is. We don’t have many details about the rumoured gin yet, but seeing as Collins is usually pictured in pink, we reckon it is likely to have a pinkish hue. When we know more, we’ll let you know. These babies are likely to fly out the door.
* The rumours were true. More information about the gin liqueur here.