Celebrity booze, a motorcycle built in collaboration with Smokehead whisky and the goodest of boys (#dogbassador). It’s another wild and wonderful week for The Nightcap.
We all have our personal moments when we start to feel just a little bit festive. For some, it might be when the town lights come on, for others it might be that first bag of turkey and stuffing-flavoured crisps. At Master of Malt, however, there’s a very clear sign that it’s safe to get out the reindeer jumpers, start stocking up on mince pies and trying to think of amusing puns based on the word Yule: it’s the first sighting of #WhiskySanta! And lo, he has been spotted, and verily he’ll be giving away all kinds of boozy goodness. Yule be mad not to get involved (see what we did there, first yule-based pun of the season). Right, that’s enough Christmas dad jokes, nothing is going to hold back this week’s Nightcap!
On the MoM blog this week we heard the sound of sleigh bells jingling, ring tingle tingling too as he returned. That’s right, #WhiskySanta is back at MoM Towers! Elsewhere, we launched another fantastic competition, this time with the fab folks at Starward! Henry then managed to pin down Dave Broom to chat about his new whisky film The Amber Light, before he enjoyed a sacrilegious gin liqueur, and made the classic The Corpse Reviver No.1 our Cocktail of the Week! Annie, meanwhile, looked at the future of flavour and cask whisky investment, before Adam talked Comte de Grasse with its founder Bhagath Reddy and uncovered the magic behind the latest bar menu at The Savoy’s Beaufort Bar.
Now, onto the Nightcap!
Isle of Arran Distillers names Lochranza distillery manager
Lochranza Distillery, the second spirits-maker of the Isle of Arran, has a shiny new distillery manager! Say hello to David Livingstone, who is set to touch down on the island to take on the top job. He’s hot-footed it over the water from Islay, where he was previously assistant manager at Laphroaig before he helped in the set-up of Ardnahoe distillery. Sounds like the ideal candidate to oversee Lochranza operations, a site that will produce around 600,000 litres of spirit per year when it’s fully up and running. James MacTaggart, who has been master distiller at Isle of Arran Distillers since 2007, will take on a new role as director of production and operations, overseeing both the Lochranza and Lagg Distillery sites. “It’s an especially exciting time to take on this role at such a remarkable whisky company and I’m very proud to be given the opportunity to look after the future of these great spirits,” Livingstone said. “Being from the islands myself, I recognise how important distilleries are to island communities and that’s something I’ve always been passionate about.” MacTaggart added: “As the company continues to grow and develop, it’s necessary that we have the best whisky people around us. We’re delighted to have David on board for the next part of our journey and know that we can learn plenty from his wealth of knowledge and experience.” Bring on the whisky!
Man rides motorbike into whisky tasting, nobody hurt
“I’m getting TCP, I’m getting wood smoke, I’m getting petrol.” Petrol? From a whisky? No, from that enormous throbbing motorbike being ridden indoors. Don’t worry our whisky event hadn’t been invaded by Hell’s Angels, we were at the Bike Shed Motorcycle Club in London’s fashionable Shoreditch district for the unveiling of a special Ducati motorcycle built in collaboration with Smokehead whisky. We were sipping delicious Smoker cocktails made with Smokehead, lemon juice, honey syrup, ginger liqueur, and activated charcoal (so much nicer than deactivated charcoal) when the beast arrived. Also called The Smoker, it’s a Ducati twin built by Edinburgh-based bike customiser Tyler Lunceford. From the sound of the machine, the crowd were expecting Meat Loaf crossed with Beelzebub to get off, but in fact, the bike’s builder is a mild-mannered American, who after switching off the noise, quietly told us about his creation. For those struggling to see the connection between a motorcycle and an Islay single malt, Lunceford explained: “Smokehead whisky is not for everyone and neither is The Smoker – it’s bold, it’s intimidating and it’s loud. It’s really loud. It attracts a certain crowd. It’s certainly not for everyone.” Makes sense.
Veuve Clicquot launches Souvenir Bar with St. Vincent
Give us great music and a good glass of Champagne, and we’re happy. If that sounds good to you, then you’ll want to head over to Veuve Clicquot’s very own bar in Covent Garden, Souvenir, opening from 22 to 23 November. The Champagne house has teamed up with American musician St. Vincent (aka Annie Clark), who will be hosting the bar, though this isn’t any run-of-the-mill establishment. The bar is described as a part speakeasy, part sensory space, aiming to transport visitors far away from reality with a glass of Veuve Clicquot in their hand. The bar will be filled with a unique mix of sounds, specifically designed to trigger memory, and feeling of past, present and future. Consider our interest piqued. To create the space, St. Vincent collaborated with a collective of creators, designers, and mixologists. Every detail has been thought through, with St. Vincent determining what people will eat, drink, see and hear. It also looks like there will be a few unexpected twists and turns throughout the night, as she will also play with the notion of unexpected characters and appearances… It’s all very mysterious, though we’re thoroughly intrigued. What’s the souvenir then, we hear you ask? It’s the memories created when you’re in the space, of course! Plus maybe a slight headache the next morning. Remember folks, sip don’t gulp.
Islay whisky collected on 110 miles row up for auction
This weekend, 16/17 November, you can take part in a very special auction to get your hands on some Islay whiskies and raise money for the RNLI. The Islay Sea Collection is a collection of whiskies from each other island’s coastal distilleries gathered by a team of enthusiasts who rowed from Northern Island, stopping off at each distillery to pick up the goods. Yes, rowed, talk about commitment to the cause. It took over nine hours to row the 110 miles to Islay and three days to collect all the whiskies. We imagine they probably stopped for a dram or two to keep out the cold. A film has been made about their amazing voyage. The collection is made up of Bowmore 15 Years Old Feis Ile 2018 bottling, Caol Ila 12 Years Old, Bruichladdich Scottish Barley The Classic Laddie, Bunnahabhain 12 Years Old Small Batch Distilled, Laphroaig 10 Years Old, Ardbeg An Oa, and Lagavulin 16 Years Old, plus a special cask created with wood from each distillery. Graham Crane from the auction site Just Whisky commented: “This is a really exciting collection and we are honoured to have been asked to auction it in support of the RNLI. We are in awe of the journey these men took and hope to fetch £XXXX for the charity. We look forward to seeing the bids rolling in.” Keith Gilmore lifeboat operations manager at Portrush Station added: “This is a really exciting and novel way to raise funds for the two stations. We often have to work with Islay, and this is a great way to work with one of our neighbours and local supporters to raise funds for the RNLI.” So a worthwhile cause and a unique collection of whisky. Auction closes on Sunday 17 November at 8pm.
Seven-ingredient new Lyaness menu is pretty damn tasty
Last week we hightailed it up to London to check out Ryan Chetiyawardana and co’s shiny new menu at Lyaness. Taking a cook’s approach to bartending, it’s the result of playful experimentation – you can try a twist on a classic, or you can go “off piste” and base a drink around a favourite flavour profile. And it’s all focused around seven core ingredients, each prepared in the Lyaness kitchen: Infinite Banana, Lyaness Tea-mooth, Peach Emoji, Vegan Honey, ONYX, Golden Levain, and Purple Pineapple. The whole shebang is very much designed as a guide book, not a rule book, or as the team describes it, “a mechanism, to help people think differently about cocktails”. And the hours that go into the prep for each is unreal: the Peach Emoji, for example, is designed to “pull a peach apart, dissect it and put it back together again”. The stones are roasted then steeped, the flesh is rested in enzymes until it becomes a liquid, while the rest is lacto-fermented. Fancy. Lyaness recognises that drinking can be creative, fun and unique, and that success should be in the palate of the beholder, rather than in the eyes of someone dictating the rules. Go check it out!
The Benevolent launches 2019 Online Silent Auction
Following the success of the “Thanks for Giving” Online Silent Auction in 2017, the wonderful folk at The Benevolent are launching a new silent auction to raise £10,000, and they need your support! The online auction will start on Friday 22nd November at 9am and run until 5pm on Friday 6th December. The charity seeks to help those within the UK drinks industry who are in need of support. The auction also provides an ideal opportunity to buy some exceptional Christmas presents, as items available range from Michelin starred restaurant vouchers, coveted sporting memorabilia, tickets to prestigious events as well as several incredible items generously donated by members of the trade. You will be able to browse the lots before the auction goes live in order to plan your bids. Whilst this auction is primarily aimed at people in the drinks trade, nonetheless, it is certainly available to anyone, whether involved in the trade or not so there’s no excuse not to get involved. In order to bid, you will need to register first. To do so, as well as browse and prepare to place your bids, click here. Good luck!
Drink Port, plant trees
Here’s a charitable initiative we can all get behind, drink Port and help fund a reforestation project in the Douro Valley. When you buy a bottle of Taylor’s Select Reserve Port from the Co-Op, some of the money will go to a charity that plants trees. It’s part of Porto Protocol, an organisation mentored by Taylor’s to take action against climate change and environmental degradation. Adrian Bridge, Taylor’s CEO commented, “we are delighted to have Co-op’s support for this important project. By allowing us to plant more trees, Co-op’s investment will significantly increase the positive impact of the reforestation. As custodians of the unique environment and landscape of the Douro Valley, we understand the importance of extending our environmental initiatives beyond the vineyard itself.” Co-op wine buyer, Sarah Benson, added: “We’re thrilled to be exclusively supporting Taylor’s on this important project through the sales of this brilliant Port, which will help bring new life to the Douro Valley.” The Co-Op expect to sell enough Port to plant 2,500 trees, that the size of four football pitches so the more Port you buy, the better it is for the environment. Everybody wins.
Welcome to the celeb booze club, Kate Hudson!
All aboard the celebrity booze bandwagon! The latest passenger to jump aboard? Actor and entrepreneur Kate Hudson, who this week launched her King St. Vodka in the US. The spirit has been ‘distilled seven times’ in Santa Barbara, California, is gluten-free (like all spirits), and is made with alkaline water, said to result in an ‘insanely smooth and clean’ tipple. Hmmmmm. According to Hudson herself, it was inspired by the evenings she used to host at her former home on King Street in New York. “I have always found the spirits industry fascinating, and I love Dirty Vodka Martinis,” she said. “The creative side of me thought it would be a fun challenge to develop a vodka for my palate, and in a beautiful package that I would love to have on my bar and share with friends. The business person in me is now looking forward to the challenge of building a brand in an entirely new industry.” She’s previously co-founded Fabletics activewear, and recently launched her own clothing label, Happy X Nature – so booze really is a new venture. She should be in safe hands though; also involved in King St. Vodka is David Kanbar, the spirits entrepreneur behind the likes of Skyy Vodka and Bulldog Gin.
Sir Ranulph Fiennes gets his very own rum
In the week that Kate Hudson launched her very own vodka, top explorer Ranulph Fiennes has unveiled his very own rum made in conjunction with English Spirit. You’d think that they would have checked the celebrity product launch calendar. Sir Ranulph Fiennes’ Great British Rum, as it’s called, is a bit unusual. It’s distilled from molasses but rather than being aged in casks, different woods representing Fiennes’s adventures such as sequoia from Canada, pine from Norway and date palm from Oman have been added during distilled. What strange alchemy is this? Distiller Dr John Waters explained: “This launch represents a milestone for British rum production. We are putting a marker into the ground that Britain can produce a premium, quality rum and it’s the perfect testament to a legendary British expedition leader.” Sir Ranulph commented: “Rum has always been associated with exploration and adventure, but I only wanted to work with a distillery that was daring and determined. When Dr John told me of the world’s doubt that Britain could make a truly great rum, well, that sealed the deal. From that moment, we aimed to tread new ground”. We have the full story coming soon in an interview with Sir Ranulph (Kate Hudson, though, has not returned our calls).
And finally… Early Times’s dogbassador Earl ‘graduates’ service dog programme
Yes, we love whisky. And yes, cats are our collective first love of the animal kingdom. But there’s always going to be space for a good dog or two, too. And goodest boys don’t come much better than Earl, the ‘dogbassador’ for Early Times whiskey! The one-year-old hound just graduated from the K9s For Warriors programme, which sees dogs trained up to become service animals for military veterans in the US. The specialist pooches don’t just look cute – they also help those who have served post-9/11 and are suffering from PTSD, brain injuries and other trauma. The programme is part of a four-year partnership in which Early Years has donated more than US$225,000 to K9s for Warriors. “The minute our team met Earl, we knew he was special and we had high hopes he would graduate and be matched with a veteran,” said Dallas Cheatham, Early Times senior brand manager. “50% of the dogs who begin training do not complete the programme due to medical or behavioural incompatibilities. It takes a specific personality to become a service dog.” Not only does Earl respond expertly to verbal cues (the typical ‘sit’ and ‘down’), but the training also improved his focus and sensitivity to touch. He’s now been paired with a veteran and, after three weeks of side-by-side training, the new pair will head home for their happily ever after. Just look at Earl’s face. We’re not crying, you are.