It’s Friday and that means The Nightcap cometh. What has caught our eye from the world of booze this week? Read on to find out what’s in The Nightcap: 16 April edition.
You may have seen the news already, but this week is a big one here at Master of Malt as we’re saying a tearful goodbye to our wonderful editor, Kristiane Sherry who is moving on to pastures new. This humble blog wouldn’t be what it is today without her contribution and we hope you’ll join us in wishing her all the best in her new role. Thanks for everything, Kristy.
Elsewhere, we launched two different competitions, each one offering you a chance to get your hands on some delicious booze. So, if you’re a fan of Darkness and/or River Rock whisky, be sure to check them out. Adam then cast our MoM-branded spotlight on Black Cow Vodka, Henry spoke to Lady Armagnac herself, Amanda Garnham, Kristy heard from Jake Burger about his new book and how the bar trade will endure and Scott Davidson from Glencairn Crystal spoke to Lucy Britner about 40 years of making exceptional glassware. We also enjoyed new Kilchoman whisky, the El Presidente cocktail and ten delightful drinks from independent distillers.
Now, on to the Nightcap!
These are London most mediocre pubs
We’re used to listicles outlining people’s favourite venues; we’ve even seen round-ups of worst places, but The Fence Magazine (an extremely funny newish magazine that we’d highly recommend subscribing to) has come up with an entirely new kind of clickbait when this week it published its top 25 most mediocre pubs in London. The thinking behind it was that the capital’s best pubs would be rammed, what with lockdown restrictions easing in England, so here are some places that nobody in their right mind would queue to get into. The list included such legends of mediocrity as the Mitre in Holland Park, “an archetypal non-place”, the Zetland Arms in South Kensington, “the kind of place you end up going to regularly for a few months, never develop feelings about and, occasionally, go again”, and the World’s End in Finsbury Park, “an adequate place to drink a few pints.” It might be because we’ve been deprived of pubs for so long, but the mention of these ordinary boozers made us feel moderately nostalgic.
Beefeater celebrates 200 years with snazzy new book
The Beefeater story begins in 1820 when James Burrough began distilling in Chelsea. Since then, the brand that became Beefeater gin has stayed true to its London roots being based since 1958 in Kennington. To celebrate 200 years, Joel Harrison and Neil Ridley, the Ant and Dec of drinks writing, have produced a lavish new book. Murielle Dessenis, global brand director for Beefeater, explained “This book is not a time capsule but a creative visualisation of Beefeater’s history, and its future, told by those who have helped shape it.” We were fortunate enough to see an advance copy and it’s very snazzy indeed as it’s laid out as ‘triptych’ so the book opens up three ways. But it’s much more than a pretty face, the book contains a history of the company, insights from master distiller Desmond Payne MBE and evocative old adverts and photos from Beefeater’s long history. The lads commented: “It is London, this city of contrasts, that has provided the backdrop for Beefeater’s greatest moments and achievements. This was a fantastic project to work on as we were able to take a look at what gin means to the people behind Beefeater and to the location in which it is crafted.” It’s something that no gin lover should be without so you’ll be pleased to know it’s available from the Beefeater shop for £50.
Copper River Distillery in Chatham opens fine dining restaurant
You don’t often hear the words ‘fine dining’ and ‘Chatham’ in the same sentence but all that is about to change as the Copper River distillery has just announced that it will be opening a fancy new restaurant. Called the Pumproom, after the beautiful Italianate building (above) housing the distillery in Chatham’s historic dockyard, it’s first service will take place today, Friday 16 April, with diners distanced on a deck overlooking the historic River Medway. Copper Rivet Distillery’s commercial director, Stephen Russell, explained a little about what to expect: “Outstanding food creations by head chef Will Freeman are complemented by expertly curated wines from Kent and from around the world, as the Russell family has had expertise as wine buyers for over 40 years.” And maitre d’ Dom Schefferlie added: “Our team at the Pumproom will be using seasonal ingredients to maximum effect and, in keeping with the ethos of the distillery, will be taking a keen interest in provenance – using local ingredients wherever possible, be they locally grown-vegetables, locally-reared meat or locally-landed fish such as Rye Bay cod. Both the restaurant and the distillery count food miles and the minimising of waste as key deliverables.” There’s both tapas and more formal dining. We have to say that the menu sounds delicious with the thought of a starter of bone marrow, chicken crackling, smoked eel, cockles, radish & toast really getting our juices going. Sounds worth a visit.
Innis & Gunn launch Islay whisky cask beer with Laphroaig Distillery
Any fan of Scottish brewer Innis & Gunn will know it loves to do a bit of innovation and its new limited-edition beer demonstrates just that. Islay Whisky Cask is a 7.4% amber ale aged in ex-Laphroaig 10 Year Old casks. During its 12-week maturation in barrel, the beer is said to have extracted some hallmark Laphroaig notes of peat smoke and brine, as well as cask influences of vanilla and floral aromas. Combine that with the rich, warming malty flavours from the malted barley and it sounds like something that’s right up our alley. Like when Ardbeg made peaty beer. Dougal Gunn Sharp, founder of Innis & Gunn, says the collaboration is a perfect example of the “quality that can be achieved when you work innovatively with your craft and unite with other complimentary talents”. He also comments that the beer “truly evokes the island that inspires both our brew and the iconic Laphroaig” and that the result is evident “even before you take your first sip, as you open the bottle, you’re welcomed with the distinctly peaty, complex aroma that defines Laphroaig”. Just 3,400 bottles of Islay Whisky Cask have been available to buy in the UK from today via the Innis & Gunn online shop, so you might want to hurry if you want to get your hands on one.
Buffalo Trace Distillery begins oak research project
This week we learned that two Kentucky giants, Buffalo Trace Distillery and the University of Kentucky, are teaming up to learn more about white oak. This is handy, seeing it’s the wood bourbon is matured in. The two are joining forces on a 15-year research project called the White Oak Initiative. The idea is to ensure the long-term sustainability of America’s white oak by studying the genetic responses of trees from various regions to different white oak forest establishment techniques in a rural field application. The study kicked off with the planting of 1,066 trees on the farm at Buffalo Trace Distillery this week featuring seedlings from 40 different parent trees from Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Maryland, Missouri, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia. Dennis Walsh, homeplace manager for Buffalo Trace Distillery, explains further, “We’re excited to partner with University of Kentucky on this project. It’s important that we look towards the future and how we can contribute to the sustainability of the white oak industry. The project will also assess the cost per board foot required to maintain a sustainable supply of new white oak long into the future”. Buffalo Trace is considering adding tours in the future of its farm, which would include education about its participation in the White Oak Initiative. Long term, Buffalo Trace may be able to use some of the oak trees it has planted for future barrel experiments.
Jose Cuervo helps you celebrate Cinco de Mayo at home
With the Mexican holiday Cinco de Mayo coming up (5 May in case your Spanish is a bit rusty), you can expect to see a host of Tequila and mezcal brands marking the event in the next few weeks. For Jose Cuervo, 2021’s festivities will include teaming up with award-winning chef James Cochran to launch the Around the Cluck X Jose Cuervo Cinco de Mayo at-home-kit. Featuring Cochran’s signature Around the Cluck fried chicken, his favourite Sauce Shop condiments, and exclusive Margarita pairings from Jose Cuervo, the restaurant kit looks like ideal way to celebrate at home with loved ones. The Twisted Piña Margarita combines Jose Cuervo Especial Silver Tequila, with pressed pineapple juice, fresh lime juice, coriander, jalapeño and agave nectar with garnishes of cracked black pepper and a fresh lime wheel. Oli Pergl, Tequila educator at Jose Cuervo, says: “Cinco De Mayo is an important date in the Mexican calendar so what better way to celebrate than a partnership between award-winning chef, James Cochran, his restaurant 12.51 and Jose Cuervo Tequila. Delicious food complemented with perfectly paired cocktails will transport you, figuratively not literally, to Tequila Valley… enjoy!” The kits are available to order from this week until the 3rd May at https://www.1251.co.uk/
And finally…. Crisp-flavoured beer??! WTF?!
Crisps are wonderful things. We’re particularly partial to salt & vinegar flavour Chipsticks here at MoM. And beer is brilliant too. These are things we can all agree on. But what about if you put them together? No, not beer-flavoured crisps, that would be too straightforward. We’re talking crisp-flavoured beer. It’s taken an all-Yorkshire partnership of Seabrook’s crisps and Northern Monk brewery to make this unholy creation come true. The idea was first aired on 1 April so was widely thought to be a joke, but they did the old switcheroo and made their joke a reality. There’s two versions: a 5.4% ABV Cheese & Onion lager which is said to have “notes of cheese and onion”, and a 5% Prawn Cocktail Gose “with the tang of prawn cocktail.” Northern Monk founder Russell Bisset commented: “After one of the most challenging periods in recent history, we decided to take this quest into uncharted territory, creating an experience that would make people laugh – or grimace actually – as lockdown lifts.” We’re not going to knock them until we’ve tried them but, let’s face it, they sound horrible. We’ll stick with a pint of Landlord and a packet of salt & vinegar Golden Wonder, thank you very much.