A Dubonnet shortage hits Britain, the boffins on University Challenge are stumped by Kümmel, and an English vineyard is threatened with legal action for evoking a little too much of Middle Earth. It’s The Nightcap: 16 September edition!
This weekend in the UK is a long one as Monday will be the state funeral of Queen Elizabeth II. As the nation says its final farewells to Britain’s longest-reigning monarch, whether attending or watching from afar, we’re sure you’ll join us in raising our glasses one last time to Her Majesty.
That was the week that was
Did you know that Royal Warrants are attached to individual monarchs rather than the institution of the Royal Family? Well, you do now thanks to this article in the Drinks Business which looks at what’s going to happen to those warrants following the recent death of Elizabeth II. We reported earlier this month on the massive expansion at the New Midleton distillery in Cork. If you want to know more, this thing from the Irish Examiner is well worth a read. The scale of the distillery is already pretty staggering but it’s going to get much, much bigger. We hope you’re thirsty. It’s not quite Irish whiskey yet, but English wine is booming. Victoria Moore in the Daily Telegraph tastes the most expensive wine this country has produced to date: Gusbourne Fifty One Degrees North 2014. Meanwhile, Whisky Magazine looked at distillers making whisky in the world’s harshest climates like the Arctic circle or the Dead Sea. Extreme whisky making! Finally, we’re pretending that summer isn’t quite over with this guide to the joy of the Spritz by Kate Hawking in the Guardian.
Over on the MoM blog, meanwhile, we toasted the 30 years Dr Rachel Barrie has spent making whisky better, welcomed a new batch of cask strength Laphroaig, and rounded up some Scotch whisky bargains. We also whipped up the rye-based Ward Eight cocktail, got enlightened on the humble muddler, and put together a competition with the lovely lot over at Black Cow Vodka.
And we’re not done yet. It’s The Nightcap: 16 September edition!
Dubonnet shortage hits Britain
The late Queen Elizabeth II was famously keen on Dubonnet. Apparently, her pre-lunch drink of choice was a Gin & Dubonnet. Now following her death last week, it seems that the nation is remembering her long life with a comforting glass of this bitter French aperitif. The only problem is that as a rather niche product, there isn’t a lot of it about. We at Master of Malt sold our stock within a couple of days, and there were reports that certain Waitrose stores were also sold out. We recommend you try a Dubonnet substitute like Byrhh. Whichever you’re using, we recommend drinking it in an Opera though as Fake Booze points out, many recently-purchased bottles of Dubonnet are doomed to gather dust on the shelf.
Laphroaig names Francis Mallmann as global culinary ambassador
Does your favourite whisky have a global culinary ambassador? Well, Laphroaig does. ‘Fire chef’ Francis Mallmann is now the brand’s ‘global taste trailblazer’, as part of an initiative that aims to “celebrate culinary pioneers pushing the boundaries of flavour”, specifically those who have a passion for all things salt, fire, and peat. Mallmann’s dedication to Patagonian open-fire cooking was seen as an ideal match for Laphroaig’s smoky character and the Argentinian chef will kick off Laphroaig’s Taste Trailblazers event series in New York on Tuesday. Further events are to come in 2023. “Like Laphroaig, I find inspiration and passion by going beyond the status quo and finding ways to be inventive through my cooking techniques,” Mallmann says. “I am delighted to partner with Laphroaig, and I’m looking forward to taking people on an adventure of flavour through our collaboration.”
We taste Batch 004 of Fettercairn’s Warehouse 2 range
Fettercairn, and certainly the recent releases, has a growing reputation, with its slightly earthy yet bright mango/papaya tropical character. Hot on the heels of its (frankly excellent) new 2022 Fettercairn 16 Year Old, we tasted the freshly released Warehouse 2 range (Batch 004) with Whyte & Mackay single malt specialist Andrew Lennie at Milroy’s of Spitalfields last week. The latest malt in this more experimental range from whisky maker Gregg Glass and the team utilises wire-brushed and re-charred Hungarian oak German Pinot Noir casks! These make up just 6% of the recipe, but appear to help bring different fruit notes and tannins, which combined with some comparatively younger spirit (it’s a 2014 vintage) hints at an older style of more peanutty Fettercairn, but honey and melon sweetness are never far away. Fettercairn Warehouse 2 Batch No. 004 has just arrived at MoM Towers!
Lawyers threaten English vineyard over Hobbit House
The star attraction at Oastbrook winery in East Sussex, apart from the excellent wines, is that there is an actual Hobbit house on site where visitors can stay. But we learned this week that the owners America (yes, that really is her name) and Nick Brewer had been instructed by the lawyers representing Saul Zaentz and Co. who own the rights to the Lord of the Rings saying that they are not allowed to use the name ‘Hobbit’. It really seems like a classic example of using a sledgehammer to crush a walnut but, America told us, she had no choice but to change the name: “As we are just a small vineyard we don’t have the wherewithal to contest this.” But ever the publicist, America has come up with a competition to come up with a new name for the House Formerly Known as the Hobbit House. Go to the Oastbrook Instagram page and tag three friends below, along with your suggested name. The winning entry gets a stay for four people in the Hobbit House. Sorry, ex-Hobbit House.
Caol Ila’s Four Corners of Scotland bottling is well worth the journey
We reported earlier this month that Caol Ila is back open to visitors with an all singing, all dancing multi-million-pound experience. If it’s half as good as the one at Clynelish, then you’re in for a treat. Naturally for those who brave the CalMac ferry or the frightening descent into Islay’s airport, here’s a reward in the form of a distillery exclusive bottling. We were lucky enough to get a little taste. It’s a 14-year-old bottling aged in American Oak refill casks and freshly charred American Oak casks, and bottled at 53% ABV. Yours for £150. We loved the maritime, bonfire nose, with a hint of smoky bacon crisps. On the palate, it’s vintage Caol Ila, peppery and spicy, with a discrete sweetness and meaty body. The influence from the freshly-charred casks is beautifully done, accentuating the classic Caol Ila smoke, without smothering it in sweetness. Well worth the journey, we reckon.
And finally… Kümmel baffles contestants on University Challenge
On University Challenge (clip here) this week there was more evidence, if evidence were needed, of the decline in educational standards among young people. Harrumph, harrumph! Host Jeremey Paxman asked: “what liqueur takes its name from the German for the spice caraway? It is said to steady the nerves hence the name ‘putting mixture’ at golf clubs?” Not only did the team from University College, Oxford not have a clue, they couldn’t name any liqueur and had to pass on the question. O tempora, o mores! As we are sure all Master of Malt customers knew, the answer is kümmel. But it wasn’t all bad, we learned from one business commentator this week that “kümmel with the Wolfschmidt branding will be relaunched by a new distiller next year”. One wit quipped that the investor behind the relaunch was “The Wolfschmidt of Wall Street.” Brilliant!