It’s the final Nightcap of the year and we’re signing off with an absolute cracker thanks to stories on new whisky from The Balvenie, a Port ‘speakeasy’, and the best home bar we’ve ever seen…
Well folks, that’s it for another year. As next week is Christmas Eve (ahhh) and the week after that is New Year’s Eve (ahhhhhh) we’re afraid this is the final Nightcap of 2021. It’s been an absolute pleasure to spend the last 12 months bringing you the best of boozy news every week and we’ll be back in 2022. In the meantime, please enjoy the last Nightcap of the year, preferably with a dram of something delicious in your hand. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you all.
Just because it’s the most wonderful time of the year, that doesn’t mean we’ve slacked off from writing to eat mince pies. There was plenty of goings-on in the world of MoM this week, including a new competition with Atom Labs, a feature from Millie on how agave spirits can be sustainable, and a superbly seasonal Cocktail of the Week. There was also the usual delights of Super Wishes, Advent calendar revelations (twice!), and plenty of delicious whisky, including ten of our favourites by flavour and a new Fettercairn release. We didn’t forget about the festive fizz either, and even managed to squeeze in some time with the wonderful Louise McGuane from J.J Corry and Dr. Jim Beveridge of Johnnie Walker fame.
Phew! Lot’s to enjoy. But there’s more to come. Onto The Nightcap: 17 December edition!
Texas authorities investigate whisky investment scheme
We’ve run a lot on the blog recently about the dangers of whisky investment schemes making outlandish promises. Now, it looks like authorities are taking an interest. The Texas State Securities Board recently announced “an emergency cease and desist order to stop an illegal international whiskey investment scheme.” The scheme in question is the Whiskey & Wealth Club Limited, a business headed up by Jay Bradley with offices in London and Dublin. “We’re alleging that Whiskey & Wealth Club is touting its success in profiting from sales of casks of whiskey that are at least three, five or ten years old,” said Joe Rotunda, TSSB enforcement director. “That’s misleading. The company has not even been incorporated for three years.” And as the TSSB noted, its accounts with Companies House are overdue. Rotunda and team also claim that Whiskey & Wealth Club is deceiving customers in other ways including refusing to show investors the contract until a deposit has been received. It will be interesting to see how this plays out and whether authorities in Britain or Ireland will get involved. Meanwhile, if you’re thinking of investing in whisky, read Ian Buxton’s guide to avoiding scams.
The Balvenie concludes Tun 1509 series with Batch 8
The Balvenie has launched the eighth and final bottling in the distinguished and much loved Tun 1509 series. The creatively-titled The Balvenie Tun 1509 Batch 8 demonstrates the expertise of malt master David C. Stewart MBE brings to the table in the blending of rare aged stocks. This latest releases is a combination of 18 whiskies from the distillery stocks, married together in the Tun, a large oak marrying vessel that sits proudly in Warehouse 24, which gives the series its name. The liquid is left to marry for three months after a long maturation in ex-bourbon barrels, second-fill sherry butts, refill puncheons and new sherry butts before being bottled without any filtration. “The Tun 1509 series draws to its completion with Batch 8. This Batch is a remarkable marriage of casks which result in a deep and rich Balvenie,” Stewart commented, “To taste we have a rich toffee sweetness, buttery vanilla and a swirl of the house honey style – layering to candied ginger and aromatic spices” Sounds delicious, so good thing we’ve got some.
Cabrach Trust whisky distillery gets £3.5m funding
The Cabrach Trust has moved one step closer to building a Scotch whisky distillery in Moray after securing a multi-million-pound investment. The distillery and heritage centre first received planning permission in September 2017 and work was due to begin work on the site in 2018 after securing £310,000 in funding, but those efforts have been boosted by a further £3.5m investment and construction is now expected to start in February 2022. Funding has come from the The Ethos Foundation, the William Grant Foundation and the Vattenfall Clashindarroch Wind Farm Community Fund, while distilling equipment provider Forsyths is also one of the project’s backers and the Bently Foundation gave a significant grant to the scheme in 2021. The site, which is due to be operational by spring 2023, is in the Cabrach area which is said to be one of the birthplaces of the Scotch whisky industry and famed for illicit stills and smuggling. The Cabrach Trust aims to regenerate the area as a sustainable community, restoring a 19th-century steading at the trust’s Inverharroch base and incorporating a renewable energy source. The distillery and traditional dunnage warehouse will occupy two wings of the steading, with the additional two wings used for the heritage centre, community bistro, tasting room and visitor reception. Intriguingly, the trust has also revealed the distillery will use ‘historic methods’ that reflect the production of malt whisky from the 1800s. We can’t wait to see what they make.
Henson’s in Soho offers ‘Flights of Fancy’ cocktail menu
Top Soho nightspot Henson’s at the Mimi’s Hotel has a new cocktail menu! It is divided into five sections including Forgotten Classics, Icons Reinvented, and Classico Italiano. There’s even a No-Alcohol section for those doing Dry January, or who just fancy a break from the hard stuff. Bar manager Francesco Delfino commented: “We can’t wait to re-introduce a selection of classic cocktails to our customers old and new. We have always prided ourselves on serving the heroes of modern cocktail culture, with a strong focus on Italian serves and feel this is one of our strongest menus to date.” We, however, were particularly taken with the fifth section, called Flights of Fancy, which features three mini cocktails for £12. The Martini flight, for example, “takes drinkers on a journey from the first documented ‘Marguerite’, an early days Martini, in 1888, through to the first two parts London Dry to one part dry vermouth created in 1906.” So even if you can’t fly, you can still take a flight.
Port ‘speakeasy’ opens in London
The first of two speakeasy stories this week, we received word that the ‘Rebel Port Club’, a collaboration between Port giants Symington Family Estates and the Chiltern Street Deli in Marylebone, is opening. Sounds edgy! Rob Symington explained the idea behind it: “Port used to have some colourful associations, which were rooted in how and where it was traditionally drunk – particularly in private members’ clubs. Rebel Port Club takes this association and flips it on its head. Our objective is to create a cosy, welcoming and informal space where people can discover the full range of Port styles (ruby, tawny, and white) in both classic serves as well as some more rebellious cocktails. With the rise of UK visitors to Porto, we are seeing a new wave of excitement for Port, as people learn more about the category and return home eager to replicate the serves and pairings from their holidays. We are excited to bring a bit of Portugal to London this Christmas season.” The pop-up will be open on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays until 24 December from 5-8.30pm, and then recommence in January. Tickets cost £25 and consist of two Port cocktails, and a glass of vintage and tawny, plus charcuterie, cheese and pastel de nata. So even if it’s not particularly rebellious, it does sound pretty tasty.
Jim Beam gives $1m to help Kentucky tornado victims
Beam Suntory has made a big pledge recently to provide assistance following the tornado that hit western Kentucky last week, killing more than 80 people. The whiskey giant has responded by donating US$1 million to support organisations providing aid to those affected by the disaster. The donation is spread between the state’s Team Western Kentucky Tornado Relief Fund, which has been established by governor Andy Beshear, and the American Red Cross’ disaster relief fund. Meanwhile, Beam Suntory is also matching personal donations by its US workers to relief organisations and donating single-barrel bourbons from Maker’s Mark and Knob Creek to a charity auction organised by the Kentucky Distillers’ Association (KDA). “While our facilities and teams were spared the worst of this catastrophe, we stand with our neighbours and offer this support on behalf of the more than 1,200 people of Beam Suntory in Kentucky,” Beam Suntory CEO Albert Baladi says. It’s a great gesture and we hope it has the desired impact for the people of Kentucky.
Karakana opens in Brixton offering fine Indian cuisine and cocktails
Ever wanted your London cocktails offerings to contain a little Indian innovation? Well, that’s exactly what you can get at Brixton’s Karakana, a restaurant that opened this month. Styled as an Indian diner and bar, the concept came from Pat and Elly Foster of Satay Bar, Market House and Nanba bar fame, and MasterChef champion Tim Anderson. General manager and 20-year industry veteran Harry Rustan has made a simple but sublime selection of drinks such as The Karakana, a mix of vodka, amaretto, lassi, mango puree and crushed pistachios, the Pina Co-Lassi, which combines rum, coconut cream, lassi and pineapple juice and garnished with a pineapple slice, as well as a Tamarind Whisky Sour which combines whisky, sugar syrup, tamarind and lime juice with an orange and cherry garnish. Co-founders of Brixton Brewery Jez Galaun and Mike Ross even brewed a spiced wheat beer especially for the restaurant. Head chef Khilesh Anand, formerly of the Cinnamon Club, made a menu consisting of tapas-style small plates like lotus blossom onion bhajis and cheese and potato samosas as well as hearty curries and innovative tandoori dishes to life. So if you fancy sipping on creative Indian serves while wolfing down lamb chops, pork ribs and even currywurst, then you know where to head.
And finally… woman reveals speakeasy bar behind kitchen cabinet
We’ve heard of a home bar but the set-up one woman can boast in her house is another thing entirely. TikTok user @theresapizzaaa has caused a stir by revealing a huge speakeasy bar hidden underneath her kitchen, with a door sneakily hidden behind a cupboard in the kitchen island. The astonishing underground speakeasy is the same size as her house and boasts racks of wine at the bottom of the staircase, a private cinema room, an old telephone box and fully-stocked bar area. There’s a live band playing in the bar for good measure. @theresapizzaaa actually first posted the footage back in May, but a recent trend to share your ‘most viral’ of the year on the app has led to renewed interest. The original video has racked over 35 million views, while the reposted version is already well over five and a half million views. We’re very happy to verify its awesomeness in person, if @theresapizzaaa fancies sending an invitation our way…