The Nightcap this week features whisky cask bass drums, very old single malt and bubbles. What, you want more? OK, how about vodka made of bones? How about that, huh?! Happy?!
It’s getting to the point of the year where we can almost start putting together preliminary lists about the best things of 2019. A wonderful time, where you can look back at the best albums and books you’ve enjoyed in the past months, while still taking the time to find some surprises. There are quite a few contenders for the title of ‘Best Sandwich of 2019’, but we’re pretty sure no one is going to be able to top the one Sam made in June which had three different types of crisp in it (Wotsits, Pickled Onion Monster Munch and Skips). You’ll have to think long and hard about what your favourite edition of The Nightcap was this year – it could be this one…
On the blog this week we welcomed a new guest writer to MoM Towers, Ian Wisniewski, author of The Whisky Dictionary, who never drams without the right accessories, while in-house bartender Nate Brown returned to take issue with those who think they know best. Annie, meanwhile, caught up with Cape Byron Distillery’s Eddie Brook and the Scotch Malt Whisky Society’s Philip ‘Pip’ Hills, before Adam had a chat himself regarding Irish peated whiskey and the upcoming Ardara Distillery with James Doherty of Sliabh Liag Distillers and then found time to pick the 1796 Spritz to be our Cocktail of the Week. Elsewhere, Henry made the pun-tastic East London Liquor Company Bacchus to the Future Grape Scott Part 1 our New Arrival of the Week.
But we can’t sit around all day making Back to the Future puns, there’s too much boozy news to cover. It’s The Nightcap!
Glenrothes launches first-ever 40 Year Old whisky
The Glenrothes distillery has announced that it will release its first-ever 40 year old single malt. The heavily-anticipated dram has been maturing in a combination of selected sherry-seasoned and ex-bourbon oak casks since December 1978, and was distilled in copper stills that were retired soon after. That means this particular whisky will never exist again. The Glenrothes 40 Year Old is the sixth whisky to joins the Soleo Collection, which was launched in 2018. Only 594 bottles will ever be released, individually numbered and presented in a crafted oak box, and they will be made available from 1st October exclusively at Berry Bros & Rudd, RRP of £2,900. “Forty years ago The Glenrothes distillery was different in many ways, yet our whisky character has remained unchanged. To be able to release some of the last remaining spirit from the original still feels like we’re celebrating the end of an era and is incredibly rewarding,” says Gordon Motion, master whisky maker at The Glenrothes. “This whisky will never exist again and that’s what makes the release of our 40 year old so special and highlights the true rarity of this expression.” To celebrate the launch, The Glenrothes is giving away 20 pairs of tickets to an exclusive tasting of the 40 Year Old at No. 3 St James’s Street in which whisky-lovers will also be able to taste The Glenrothes full Soleo collection. Entries close on Wednesday 18 September and can be made here, with the winners be notified on the 19th September.
World’s first Scotch whisky cask bass drum created
It’s all well and good maturing whisky in a cask, but have you ever felt like all that wood could be something more? If yes, then you’ll appreciate the groundbreaking work done by The Rhythm and Booze Project, who have built the world’s first bass drum made from an entire Scotch whisky cask. The musical duo of Felipe Schrieberg (vocals/dobro) and Paul Archibald (drums/percussion), who have specialised in events and videos that combine live music with whisky tastings since 2018, collaborated with Islay’s Lagavulin Distillery and vintage drum specialist Majetone Industries to create the instrument, which had previously only served the trivial purpose of housing bourbon and then Lagavulin single malt Scotch whisky. The drum itself is built like a Viennese timpani (I’m sure you’re all nodding knowingly at this reference), with the skins on either side of the drum stretched over the top of chime hoops, metal hoops normally used to help hold the cask together. The heads are then attached via a specially designed system of lugs, bolts, and hooks. To showcase their creation, the band have chronicled the drum’s construction in the video above, which also includes a cover version of John Lee Hooker’s classic blues tune ‘Boom Boom’. “The idea for the drum began as a light-hearted chat that we didn’t think would actually happen, but when we asked Colin Gordon (Lagavulin’s distillery manager) about it, he was on board,” explains Schrieberg. “We’re delighted and proud of the result. It sounds like thunder.” “Our first visit together to Lagavulin in 2012 is one of our most memorable whisky experiences,” added Archibald. “Because of that trip, we now play at the distillery every year during the Feis Ile. This drum is the representation of that personal connection, our passion for Lagavulin, and for Scotch whisky in general.” The drum is currently on display at the Lagavulin distillery on Islay so visitors can appreciate it in all its majesty.
The Kyoto Distillery releases Ki No Jyu gin
The Kyoto Distillery has announced the launch of a new expression Ki No Jyu, the first in a new collection from Japan’s first dedicated gin distillery. The gin was made in collaboration with Horii Shichimeien, a historic tea farmer in Uji, Kyoto, whose teas are also used for the distillery’s other expressions, including the multi-award-winning Ki No Bi. Ki No Jyu features a type of Gyokuro (a green tea known for its distinctive method of cultivation; being grown in shade under nets rather than the full sun) called Okuno Yama (meaning ‘deep mountain’). It was grown in Uji’s oldest tea garden which dates back to the 15th century. In order to extract the essence of the tea, the distilling team, led by head distiller Alex Davies, used a small copper pot for distillation and spent nearly 12 months blending and experimenting to complete the final product, which is said to possess notes of rich green tea and fresh citrus. Interestingly, The Kyoto Distillery recommends that you serve Ki No Jyu, which was bottled at 47% ABV, neat to experience “the floral aromas and the hints of sweetness”. Typical from the Japanese gin producers, the spirit is housed in an elegant bottle featuring an intricate label design hand-printed on Kyoto-made washi paper from a hand-carved woodblock created in collaboration with Kira Karacho, part of the Karacho karakami atelier founded in Kyoto in 1624. The velvet cloth and tung wood box are also made by Kyoto craftsmen. “Ki No Jyu is an expression of the very finest craftsmanship of Kyoto, underpinned by the attention to detail which passes through generations,” commented founding partner Noriko Kakuda Croll. It has been initially launched in Japan in very limited quantities at ¥50,000, which is approximately £350, a seriously hefty price for a gin. If you’re still interested regardless, unfortunately, you’ll have to wait to get your hands on it elsewhere. The international release is planned for 2020.
640East launches new Bubbles Menu
Everyone likes bubbles, right? We’re not talking about the kind you make with washing up liquid (though they are a lot of fun too), we’re talking about the delicious kind made out of grapes. 640East, a cool day-to-night coffee shop-cum-bar in Bethnal Green clearly agrees, having just released its new menu named… Bubbles! We’re sure you can guess what’s on it. Expect fabulous fizzes from France, Italy, Spain, Canada, Australia and England. We sipped our way through four different bubblies from Italy, Spain and France. All were very different, though equally delicious, with a tasty sparkling rosé saved until last. Contrary to popular belief, a bottle of fizz in London doesn’t have to break the bank. The menu boasts a Sparkling of the Month as well as 2 for 1 happy hours on selected bottles throughout the week. The site is based under Victorian railway arches where (not-so-coincidentally) the Bubbles car wash previously resided, with some of the original car wash installations still remaining in the venue. Okay, maybe there’s more to do with soapy bubbles than we first thought… In true East London style, there’s also exposed brick and neon lights, with a cosy back garden filled with plants, graffiti and filament bulb fairy lights. A very cool and friendly spot to get your fizz fix. Soap bubbles not included.
WSTA announces full line up for 2019 Industry Summit
A full line up of booze boffins will take the stage at the 2019 Industry Summit on Wednesday 18th September thanks to the Wine and Spirit Trade Association (WSTA).The theme of this year’s summit is Reinventing the Wheel. The likes of Michelle Brampton, managing director of Europe at Treasury Wine Estates, Pierpaolo Petrasssi, head of trading at Waitrose, Tamara Roberts, CEO of Ridgeview Wine Estate and Brad Madigan, managing director for Campari Group UK will discuss opportunities for the trade, as well as the complex current landscape (maybe they’ll discuss Brexit, it doesn’t feel like anybody does that anymore). This will be followed by two keynote speakers, Henry Dimbleby, co-founder of Leon Restaurants looking at sustainability, and Kathleen Murphy, vice president of innovation and new business for Family Coppola, who will address how new and traditional products are being delivered or produced differently. Putting the pair to the test and having the unenviable job reading out those job titles will be conference chair and former ITV political correspondent Alex Forrest Whiting, as well as any members of the audience who fancy getting stuck in. “We are delighted to announce another interesting, experienced and inspiring line up for this year’s revamped annual events for our members. The WSTA Industry Summit promises to provide guests with topical and forward-thinking debate, as well as giving everyone a chance to come together and discuss one of the toughest trading landscapes our industry has ever faced,” commented WSTA chief executive and Nightcap regular Miles Beale. “Our summit comes at a time when we are teetering dangerously close to a no-deal Brexit, something we have been campaigning against since the 2016 Referendum. If ever there was a time to unite the UK wine and spirit industry and to think differently about the future, it’s now.” Tickets are on sale now for the conference which is taking place between 2- 6pm at The British Library Knowledge Centre in Kings Cross.
Guinness and nightlife app DUSK offer free pints in London
Attention everyone: there is the potential of free pints in London. Free pints of Guinness. For nothing. Nil. Nada. This is not a drill. The reason? A collaboration between nightlife app DUSK and Guinness, which will encourage Londoners to make the most of the last days of summer and head to the pub for a refreshing pint after work. DUSK was created to showcase the best bars and newest openings and claims to be the UK’s ‘leading bar discovery platform’ (Google works fine for me). To claim this offer you’ll need to download the app, but c’mon people, it’s for free pints. For those of you who are DUSK users, you can claim your prize weeknights from 5-9pm until the 1st October at Laine’s pubs across London. Which pubs, you say? The full list of the 23 venues is as follows: The Joker, The Black Lion, Owl & Hitchhiker, Ninth Life, The Charles Holden, Rook’s Nest, The Honour Oak Pub, The Birds, The Four Thieves, The Griffin, The Adam & Eve, The Ladywell Tavern, The Aeronaut, The Old Nun’s Head, The Camden Eye, People’s Park Tavern, Prince Albert, The Hare & Hounds, The Griffin, The Great Exhibition, The Glasshouse, Three Compasses and The Candlemaker. So, there you have it. An after-work drink in London that doesn’t require remortgaging your house. What a world. We’ll get the first round.
Asterley Bros crowdfunds expansion
Booze alchemists, Asterley Bros, is looking to take its business to the next level through the magic of crowd-funding. The company was founded in 2014 by Rob and James Berry (they chose their mother’s maiden name, Asterley, because Berry Bros was already taken) currently make a small range of utterly delicious liquids: London Fernet, Dispense Amaro and a English vermouth made in conjunction with Gusbourne vineyards in Kent. Now the brothers are looking to raise £100,000 through Crowdcube to expand production and develop a range of everyday vermouths wines as well as RTD vermouth cocktails. Rob Berry told us: “Making British versions of classic Italian liqueurs has long been a labour of love for us. We’ve come a long way since the days of making amaro in jam jars in our kitchen, but we still have a long way to go.” All investors will receive a share in the business as well as 20% off all products, now and in the future. Investors over £2500 will receive pre-emption and voting rights also. At the time of writing the dynamic duo have already raised 62% of the required total. The next product in the pipeline is an English vermouth made in conjunction with another sibling outfit, the Schofield Brothers bartenders. Berry went on to say: “English Vermouth has the potential to rival the Spanish and Italians in terms of its quality.” That sounds like fighting talk.
Bloomsbury Club Bar launches occult cocktail menu
Open-minded drinkers can explore an evening of divination, telepathy and all things mystical within the enchanting walls of The Bloomsbury Club Bar in London this September. Its new cocktail menu takes influence from the 1920s and ‘30s, a time which saw an increased interest in the occult due to the aftermath of the First World War. Designed by UK World Class finalist Scott Gavin, the new menu is an immersive experience, each one of the 14 drinks is designed to evoke a certain state of mind or being and is presented on it’s very own tarot card. Upon entry, the bar’s own cocktail diviner (think Zoltar from Big) will select a card to reflect your innermost desires. Set against the Bloomsbury Club Bar’s moody and decadent interior, you really feel like you’ve been transported through time to the golden age of cocktails, ready for a night of prophecy and premonition. As for the drinks, we can highly recommend the Persian Mist, a heady mix of Luksusowa vodka, Cognac and Indonesian coffee, though who can predict what the Diviner will assign you?
Bartenders make music in new Bacardi video
The best bartenders bring grace and rhythm to the important job of making you a drink. Now Bacardi has captured the music of bottles clinking and shakers shaking in a new film with music from Swizz Beatz called the Sound of Rum. Directed by Tucker Bliss, the video features bartenders from around the world: Lawrence Gregory (UK); Julia Rahn (Germany); Raysa Straal (Netherlands); Adrian Nino (France); and Nicole Fas (Puerto Rico). But you can’t just watch the video, you can drink it too (sort of) as each of the featured bartenders has created a special cocktail. For example, Lawrence Gregory from the Curtain Hotel in London has created the Flamingo Domingo with Bacardi Añejo Cuatro and Carta Blanca, Cognac, falernum rosé and chocolate bitters. He commented: “I’ve created is a good fierce cocktail with floral notes and a smooth finish – a light calypso dance on the palate!” Sounds delicious, and the best thing is that you can try it because all these special cocktails will be available this month at each of the bartender’s home venues.
And finally… Doom vodka is here and it’s flavoured with marrow, bone marrow
You remember terrifying 1990s computer game Doom, don’t you? The one where you blast demons from hell. Well now Bethesda Softworks is launching a new version called Doom Eternal, and there’s an official vodka to drink alongside it. Called Bone Vodka, it’s made by Rebel Distillers, a company who we have written about before on the MoM blog. A limited amount will be produced before the game’s launch in November. The bone moniker isn’t just for laughs either because it’s made with real bones! *Throws head back and laughs maniacally* Not human or demon bones (if demons have bones), we hasten to add, but leftover bones from top butchers The Ginger Pig. The vodka is made from organic wheat spirit flavoured with roast bone marrow. Matt McGivern from Rebel Distillers filled us in: “They’re one of the best butchers in the country where animal welfare is unparalleled, and a product often wasted can be put to good use.” Doesn’t sound quite so diabolical now, does it?