The biggest whisky bottle ever filled, Luther launches a bar and TWO ‘and finally’ stories… It’s all in the Nightcap: 17 September edition.
It might not have registered with you but this Wednesday saw the first ever National Hospitality Day. Now, we realise that there are a lot of these things to keep up with: British Pie Week, World Whisky Day, and Talk Like a Pirate Day, if it’s still going. But National Hospitality Day is one that’s particularly close to our hearts. During all the lockdowns, almost as much as we missed our parents and grandparents, we missed the convivial fug of our favourite bars and pubs. Though it’s good to be back, many venues didn’t make it through Covid, and with talk of possible restrictions on the way (noooooooooooo!), we’re urging readers to make full use of their local. So grab your phone, tablet, or portable electronic device, head out, order your usual and settle back with the Nightcap: 17 September edition. Cheers!
As well as being National Hospitality Day, it’s also Negroni Week (13-19 September) so Millie Milliken brought us seven twists on the classic including the intriguing-sounding ‘wanky Negroni.’ Then we shined our New Arrival spotlight on an underrated Scotch whisky style, single grain, with a special bottling from McMurray David. Things took a turn for the unusual as we invited customers all aboard the Hendrick’s airship. On Wednesday, did we mention it was National Hospitality Day? To celebrate, MoM staff got all misty-eyed about their locals and we finished the day by making a Vesper Martini because there’s a new Bond film out this month. An eclectic week finished off with a trip to Normandy to sample some Sassy cidre.
Now it’s on with the Nightcap: 17 September edition!
World record smashed for the biggest whisky bottle ever filled
Gather round, gather round and gaze upon its magnificence: the biggest whisky bottle ever filled! Yes, in the Scottish town of Huntly a world record breaking-sized bottle of Scotch, was unveiled this week containing a staggering 311 litres of Macallan single malt. Household names Fah Mai Holdings Group Inc (FMH) and Rosewin Holdings PLC (RH) joined forces to fill the beast on 9 September, which beat the previously-held record, established by The Famous Grouse Experience in 2012, by a landslide 83 litres. There’s two sister casks of 32-year-old Macallan single malt whisky, married together by Duncan Taylor, in the 1.8m (five ft. nine inches) tall bottle, which took an hour to fill. The leftover whisky has been used to produce a limited-edition bottling run called ‘The Intrepid’. Each set consisting of a replica of the record-winning bottle featuring the faces of different famous explorers, athletes and adventurers. The feat was done to raise money for a number of charities so the whisky will now travel to a London auction house, where the hope is that the bottle will end up breaking a second world record for the highest price for a bottle of whisky ever purchased. “To put it into perspective, a single 70cl bottle of original 30-year-old Macallan Oak sells for £4-5k and a similar independent bottling fetches £3k plus,” says Fah Mai Holdings Group and Rosewin Holdings owners Louis Haseman and Daniel Monk. “What we have here in our mega bottle alone is around 444 of those. We’ll leave you to do the maths…”
Big spirits sets influencer standards
A group of the largest spirits companies including Diageo, Beam Suntory, Brown-Forman, Bacardi and Pernod Ricard has launched an initiative to set standards for influencers. The giants are part of 12 booze companies in the International Alliance for Responsible Drinking (IARD), and they’ve teamed up with 13 marketing firms. The idea is to prevent minors from being influenced by the influencers. Henry Ashworth, IARD president and CEO, explained: “This is a world-first initiative in raising collective standards of responsibility across multiple digital channels, and we call on our partners in the alcohol, advertising and influencer industries to join us in our ongoing work to ensure that alcohol marketing across all forms of media is responsible.” He added: “This is a major step in preventing minors from seeing any alcohol marketing and IARD is proud to have united the world’s leading agencies to help raise global standards.” All very laudable but it seems to us that the main problem with influencers is not that minors might see them, after all alcoholic imagery is everywhere on billboards, films and in shops. Far more worrying is that it’s often not clear that when a top influencer is by the pool in Dubai enjoying a bottle of big brand booze, they are being paid to do so. We look forward to hearing about the new transparency regulations soon.
Belvedere completes its biomass capture facility
Belvedere has opened an ambitious on-site biomass capture facility that’s been three years in the making. In 2018, the Polish vodka maker became the first spirits distillery to receive a grant from the European Commission to pilot such a facility, and it will now be able to accelerate its Made With Nature commitments set forth in 2020. The facility will start producing 100% renewable energy, and subsequently reduce energy related CO2 emissions by 95% by 2022. President & CEO of Belvedere Vodka, Rodney Williams, commented that the build marks a “major step forward towards Belvedere making good on our belief that better business practices create a better world,” adding that the brand is “building on these achievements by setting the bar even higher for ourselves with eight sustainability commitments achievable by 2025.” The eight commitments include initiatives such as converting to fully organic farming from 2023, restoring landscapes through a regenerative soil program, reducing water waste, pursuing renewable energy solutions, reducing use of plastic by 50% and recovering heat waste by converting the distillation by-product into fuel. We always welcome progress in the name of sustainability, so nice work Belvedere. We think you’ve earned a Martini. Or a Vesper, perhaps…
Irish whiskey legislation is tightened
The Irish Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM) has helped further the cause of transparency in Irish whiskey by introducing new legislation regarding how brands label and market their products. The new terms state that if your liquid was not produced at a distillery your brand owns, then the label must say ‘Produced for’. The Irish whiskey industry has been undermined by a number of brands which have been less than forthcoming about the whiskey it markets, often misleading consumers with labels that suggest it produces its own spirit. You might have thought this move would come from one of four distinct entities which claim to represent Irish whiskey producers – the Irish Whiskey Association, the Irish Distillers Association, the Irish Whiskey Guild, and the Irish Craft and Artisan Distilleries Association – but no it’s come from a government department. Many producers have publicly stated their dissatisfaction with the lack of transparency in Irish whiskey, such as the outspoken Blackwater Distillery founder Peter Mulryan. A tweet by the distillery reacted to the news positively, stating, “It’s great to see DAFM insisting that Irish whiskey labels now say ‘Produced for’ when liquid is not produced in-house by brand. Expect gnashing of teeth from shite brands and faux-distilleries. #irishwhiskey”. One suspects we haven’t heard the last about this, but for those who are passionate about protecting the good name of Irish whiskey should have something to raise a glass to this week.
Spirit of Manchester plans second site
It’s been a hard year-and-a-half for the spirits industry but that hasn’t stopped the impressive growth of The Spirit of Manchester Distillery. The maker of gin, rum and more is having to open a second facility outside Manchester city centre just to meet increased demand. A 5,000-square-foot facility called The Vault, will provide additional space for bottling, labelling and shipping, the chance to hire two new workers for its production and warehouse team, and the opportunity to produce more than one million bottles annually. The Spirit of Manchester currently operates its flagship distillery in the city centre in a grade two-listed building on Watson Street, which is also home to a cocktail bar and gin school (all of which are excellent, as an upcoming blog will reveal…). The company says it expects to grow sales by more than 30% on pre-pandemic levels in 2022 as a result of ‘booming’ consumer demand and increased production capability. “Having come through a tough period for the industry, we’re delighted to be looking to the future and investing in our growth,” says master distiller Seb Heeley. “By expanding our production facilities, we’re also able to plan exciting enhancements to our distillery tour and gin tasting offering and look forward to sharing the magic that is The Spirit of Manchester.” We can honestly say this couldn’t happen to nicer people. Congrats, guys.
Idris Elba and David Farber to launch Porte Noire bar
From Luther to luxury fizz, Idris Elba is launching a wine bar! He’s teaming up with David Farber from Connaught Wine Cellars and wine and Champagne brand Porte Noire. The bar will be located at the foot of Gasholders (yes, an old gasholder), by the Regent’s canal towpath London. Expect an extensive selection of wines from around the world, cocktails and a selection of classic French brasserie-style dishes split into tasters, bar snacks, starters, mains and desserts. Designed by leading design agency Kanvass, Porte Noire will feature an outdoor space, a dining room and a bar which can seat up to 70 guests. The new bar and shop will also be home to around 800 wine bins as well as one of the largest fine wine tasting rooms in London. Chosen by Farber, the wine selection will include some of the best and rarest bottles to a more accessible selection of wines on tap to suit all tastes. Most bottles will be available to purchase in the shop that sits by the entrance of the bar. “David has been working in the wine space for a long time, I know he is going to take the Porte Noire name and create something special,” says Elba. The Porte Noire Bar and Shop is set to open on Monday 18 October.
Edrington UK to host a month of events for London Cocktail Week
Need some ideas of how to spend London Cocktail Week? Well, Edrington UK, the company behind Macallan, Highland Park and Laphroaig, has announced an interesting sounding series of workshops and events dedicated to the trade across the capital. Designed for those working in the bar and hospitality industry, the brand has put together three different sessions taking place throughout London Cocktail Week, which is taking place across the entire month of October. The first is Tending to the Tenders at Lyaness, a partnership with the bar to create a community space that’s focused on great food, delicious cocktails, wellness, and mental health. From cocktails to food, massages to interactive sessions, yoga to cinema nights, trade can attend all of these events for FREE. Lovely stuff. Then there’s Laphroaig at The Gibson, which sees whisky specialist David Miles talking all things “Peat, Heat, Sour and Sweet” alongside Marian Beke. Finally, everything from bar economics to fixing glassware will be tackled in one-off trade workshops at Maker’s Mark x Tayēr + Elementary Workshops. Just follow the links if you want to book your tickets, hopefully, we’ll see you there!
And finally… anyone for gin made in a fish smokehouse?
Forfar distillery Gin Bothy has partnered with smokehouse Alex Spink and Sons to enter a new addition into our classic Nightcap category: weird and wonderful gins. The local fish smokehouse, has been specialising in the art of making ‘Arbroath Smokies’, which are a traditional type of smoked haddock cured in salt before being slow-cooked in a fire-filled barrel, since the 1970s. It’s actually a geographically protected method, like Champagne. Now Alex Spink and Sons has applied the same traditional technique to botanicals including juniper, orange peel, coriander, and lemon, which were then used to make the smoked gin. You’ll be pleased to know that the distillation itself took place at the Gin Bothy distillery, half an hour’s drive away from the smokehouse, preventing the aroma of fish from penetrating the spirit. The Gin Bothy Smoked Gin is said to have notes of burned orange, deep citrus flavour with a smoky finish and its makers recommend sipping it neat, or pairing it with chips. Just kidding, a light tonic and a slice of orange should do the trick. Some smoked salmon on the side wouldn’t go amiss, all jokes aside. Gin Bothy founder Kim Cameron says the inspiration behind the gin was to bring together two of Scotland’s oldest traditions in one unusual product. “The smoking of ingredients and products has long been part of Scottish culture,” she said. “The bothy smokehouses dotted along the north-east coasts offer culinary secrets from recipes of old and it is here that we created our smoked gin.” The gin is priced at £35 per bottle and is available from Gin Bothy’s website.
… or penis-shaped wine?
Well, we were bound to get there eventually. One Napa-based company has made penis-shaped bottles to house its wine. It’s called Just the Tipsy, obviously, and is hilariously described as “fairly anatomically correct”. Launched in June, the $37 genitalia bottle houses sparkling rose Seurat (not Penis Noir, before you ask) that’s described as being dry and crisp with a long, ahem, finish. Pairs excellently with coq au vin. Ha, ha, ha. Anyway, as you might expect, the initial idea was to market the wine for hen parties and “girls’ wine nights”. The project has been in the works for nearly two years, and CEO Matthew Shore says he was surprised by how many winemakers in Napa were open to participating. He also said that he can “neither confirm nor deny who the model(s) may have been, but we made sure to go through many rounds of design to make sure it came out perfect”. Isn’t that comforting? The penis-shaped bottle is available for purchase on the company’s website.